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I, too, felt ready to start life all over again. It was as if that great rush of anger had washed me clean, emptied me of hope, and, gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe. To feel it so like myself, indeed, so brotherly, made me realize that I’d been happy, and that I was happy still. For all to be accomplished, for me to feel less lonely, all that remained to hope was that on the day of my execution there should be a huge crowd of spectators and that they should greet me with howls of execration.

– Camus, The Stranger (tr. Gilbert)

The great tornadoes of intuition

We have waited a long time for an artist who is brave enough, is at ease enough with the great tornadoes of intuition, to grasp that the break with the outside world entails the break with the inside world, that there are no replacement relations for naive relations, that what are called outside and inside are one and the same.

– Beckett on Bram van Velde (via here)

‘Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday’

He can imagine me as a boy, W. says, cycling out through the new housing estates, and through what remained of the woodland – muddy tracks along field-edges, fenced-in bridleways and overgrown footpaths. —‘You were looking for something’, he says. ‘You knew something was missing.’

He sees it in his mind’s eye: I’m carrying my bike over the railway bridge. I’m cycling through glades of tree stumps in the forestry plantations. I’m following private roads past posh schools and riding academies. I’m looking for barrows and ley lines, W. says. I’m looking for Celtic gods and gods of any kind.

And what do I find as I wheel my bike across the golf course? What, in the carpark of an out-of-town retail park? What, on the bench outside the supermarket, eating my discounted sandwiches? The everyday, W. says, which is to say, the opposite of the gods.

*

Religion is about this world, about the ordinary, the everyday, W. says, over our pints at The Queen’s Oak. Why does no one understand that? W. says. Why will no one listen?

But when it comes to the everyday itself, I am the expert, not him, W. says. Only I understand what it means to reach the depths, which is to say the surface, of the everyday.

It has to be felt, the everyday, W. is convinced of that. It has to have defeated you. Humiliated you. A man who hasn’t been brought to his knees by the everyday can have no understanding of the everyday, says W., aphoristically.

I’ve certainly been brought to my knees, W. says, that much is clear. I’ve spent whole years on my knees.

*

‘We are ferociously religious’, says W., quoting Bataille. Are we? —‘Oh yes’, W. says, ‘especially you. Especially you!’ That’s why he hangs out with me, w. says, he’s sure of it: my immense religious instinct, of which I am entirely unaware.

It’s all to do with my intimate relationship with the everyday, W. says. It’s to do with my years of unemployment and menial work, he says.

When he thinks of religion, he immediately thinks of me working in my warehouse, he says. He thinks of me in the warehouse with no hope in my life.

Only the hopeless can truly understand the everyday, W. says. Only they can approach the everyday at its level. And only those who can approach the everyday in such a way are really religious, W. says.

– Lars Iyer, Dogma

Concentration

A foggy day, like a pause in time. A chill that gets under your clothes, under your skin. The rows of cabbage slope out of sight under the mist. A cow moans in the distance.

All this cant about the everyday… When what you really want is to escape the everyday, its endless tedium. To go home, play with your phone, drink beer, watch your friends’ TV.

You used to be able to concentrate, didn’t you? You used to be able to read a book to the end. The more distracted you get the heavier the everyday becomes, the less strength you have to face it.

The sun comes out, the mist lifts and little birds emerge from their places in the trees, hopping and tweeting. You take off your jumper and put it in your backpack.

You veer off the public footpaths, lose your way for a time in wild meadows, find the stream and try to get your bearings. A brief fear of straying from civilisation.

To see your life from the point of view of the everyday – to let the everyday live in you. Only then, perhaps, would these complaints and indignities stop. But that’s precisely what you fail to do every day, what you can’t but fail to do.

You hear road traffic and feel relieved.

Something quite different

A grey day after a spell of sun. Dark heavy clouds, but the farmers talk of a drought, the rain won’t come.

Your daily two-hour walk along the public footpaths and farmers’ roads, between ditches and razed copses littered with shredded branches and shrubs. A bare tree here and there. You startle a deer. It jumps over the stumps, surprisingly bony and powerful: something quite different. The deer in turn scares a flock of crows that wheel cawing over the field.

A huge charred tree, split by lightning.

The desolation of the everyday. What else can the everyday be for you? The ruination of all plans. That which wipes out the path behind and in front of you.

At the edge of a field you come across a strange sight: a dead pigeon tied to the arm of a mechanical device, moving in a circle. ‘I’ll never shoot no pigeons with you standing there, mate.’ You whirl round and see a man with a shotgun, disguised behind the thicket. You say sorry and move on. Crossing private land as you make for the road, you hear a shot ring out.

Church of the Pines

Spring, spring, flowers blossom and bloom
Squirrel, squirrel, jump down onto my roof
Sparrow, cardinal, hummingbird
Redwood, holly tree, juniper

The service moves slowly through the hills
Faint sound of the highway
Night sets on the church of pines
Ending the day, they lay down to rest

From my room, I look at the street
And see the youths passing along
While I unwind, head in a song
And in my bed, I play the guitar
I loosen the strings till I find a tone
And if it don’t come, then I’ll put it down

Howl, howl, dogs of the neighbourhood
Moon glow, over the gravestones
Dense vines, strangle the black oaks
the lamp light, the fallen fence posts
The sun rises over the treeline
With welcoming morning light
Day sets on the church of pines
one day we’ll all be laid to rest

From the hills I look up at stars
And feel the darkness swell like a bruise
And in my head I’m playing with words
I scramble and strain to find the right ones
sometimes there are none
sometimes they don’t come

–  Mark Kozelek/Sun Kil Moon, ‘Church of the Pines’

Interlude

The closeness of our bodies, the way we walked upstairs – these too were like things from a dream out of time, and so they would remain in my memory for many years. I saw understanding and disquiet in her glances and I felt grateful to her for the way she expressed her feelings with her eyes. There, once again, it was clear that Füsun and I were made for each other. I had undergone all this anguish on account of this awareness and it did not matter in the least that she was married; just to feel as happy as I did now, climbing up the stairs with her, I was ready to undergo any further torment. To the visitor stubbornly wed to ‘realism’ who cannot suppress a smile at this, having noticed how small that Cukurcuma house is, with the distance between that table and the upstairs bathroom being perhaps four and half paces, not counting the seventeen steps, let me state with categorical and liberal-minded clarity that I would readily have sacrificed my very life for the happiness I felt during that brief interlude. After closing the door to the bathroom on the top floor, I decided that my life was no longer in my control, that my connection to Füsun had shaped it into something beyond my free will. Only by believing this could I be happy, could I indeed bear to live.

–  Orhan Pamuk, The Museum of Innocence (tr. Freely)