April 17, 2012

The Blue Octavo Notebooks

An excerpt from:
The Blue Octavo Notebooks
by Franz Kafka

from THE FIRST NOTEBOOK

Everyone carries a room about inside him. This fact can even be proved by means of the sense of hearing. If someone walks fast and one pricks up one’s ears and listens, say in the night, when everything round about is quiet, one hears, for instance, the rattling of a mirror not quite firmly fastened to the wall.

I have been getting back into Kafka recently. I put him, rather his books, down for a while; since after Metamorphosis and In The Penal Colony I needed some time to absorb. I stumbled across The Blue Octavo Notebooks from listening to Max Richter, who has compiled an LP named after the Notebooks, featuring the song, ‘The Blue Notebooks’. I haven’t included that here since it basically quotes the above text, there was no need to reitterate. Anyway, it’s a fascinating book, full of  the writer’s ideas and moments of inspiration, a really intriguing format.

April 13, 2012

What next? Oh wait.

laurensedger:

Off to Whitechapel gallery tomorrow (http://www.whitechapelgallery.org). I thought I would casually read up on some of the context behind the Josiah McElheny exhibition (I usually fail to do this). Some of the ideas behind it are really quite fascinating, especially concerning their relevence to modernist thought. Mcelheny’s exhibition focuses, through abstract film, on modernism and avant-gardism. Taking inspiration from the discussion of enlightenment values and specifically, the poet, Paul Scheerbart. This blog post discusses the influential poet’s views. The idea of perpetual progress,of a perfect machine being created. What would drive humanity? How would the image of utopia change in literature?

Originally posted on BIG OTHER:

Two texts are now sitting on my desk.  They are still and inert — like rectangular paperweights.  I would like to activate them, to mingle their pages.  I would like to set them, if only momentarily, into motion.

*

The first text in front of me is a little gem of a book: Paul Scheerbart’s The Perpetual Motion Machine (Wakefield Press, 2011), translated by experimental poet Andrew Joron.  In late 1907, Scheerbart — a visionary German author and artist who wrote, among other things, poetry, essays, theater pieces, and a prodigious amount of fantastic fiction (he called them “astral novels”) — set out to devise, in his laundry room, a perpetual motion machine.  Das Perpetuum mobile, which was originally published in 1910 along with 26 charming diagrams, is a roller-coaster account of Scheerbart’s failed but energetically inspired attempt to set such a machine into motion; it is a fascinating record, as Joron puts it, “of a two-and-a-half-year-long tantrum of the imagination.”

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March 31, 2012

Junked up shadows

I usually think the use of junk in contemporary art is overdone and quite frankly, an apocolyptic vision of capitalist society which we have all grown numb too. (Even more so because of its excess in contemporary art, paradoxically)

But anyway, I think Tim Noble and Sue Webster’s pieces really work. They take you by surprise enough, they still perplex.

And they are, wonderfully repulsive.

March 30, 2012

Crocodile Tears

I just can’t understand why you’re crying. This is what you wanted, isn’t it?

Yeah I guess it is.

Then why are you still crying? Why are you crying in the first place?

Why wouldn’t I be crying? Everyone cries, especially in the first place.

Well yes, but mostly when they’re sad and you have no reason to be sad, especially not today.

I have every reason to be sad. I let my tea go cold this morning and had to throw it away, and then I never had a chance to make another cup so I spent the whole day craving the half cup of tea. No matter what I was doing, all I could think of was that tea.

And in truth of it all, though that was upsetting, it began much earlier than that. It began when I was dreaming. I had a chance to drink my tea before it grew cold, and I lost it; but I really never had a say in the dreaming. I had a paper round when I was younger, did I ever tell you? Anyway, I suppose most people did. Just like most people drink tea in the mornings. So in my dream, I suddenly had to do my paper round again and I was desperate to get home because some old work friends had come to see me. So I did my paper round and I really haven’t a clue how that went, since dreams have a habit of skipping the details; as if rationality would ever find a place in dreams. So I got home from my paper round but suddenly realised that I hadn’t done the job at all, I had done that awful daydreaming thing the whole way round and forgotten to deliver a single paper. So I had to leave and do it all over again. I really concentrated but I can’t be sure if I did it or not; who can really concentrate in a dream?  I’m certain they were gone by the time I returned, my heart jumped as I sat in an empty garden (not my garden), still struggling to remember if this time I had actually delivered the papers. And the funny thing was, I woke up and I was truly horrified, really, I started crying. My heart jumping and thinking about papers.

So that’s when it started?

I think so. But I’m having difficulty distinguishing between starting and finishing at the moment.

March 30, 2012

Shattered

I keep looking at this poem (of sorts..anything is a poem nowadays) and try to figure out why I’m writing about petals. It isn’t because it’s spring; I’m not that kind of person. I also would hate to make a poem overtly romantic, even if it is about love. Because I think that romance spoils love, or at least the image of it. Writing about it now I think it could be from that Ezra Pound poem:

 

The apparition of these faces in the crowd ;
Petals on a wet, black bough.
‘In a Station of the Metro’

 

Perhaps I connected the flashing of faces on the metro as you lose them to the intrinsic lostness of petals. But probably not. Most of the things I write I look back on and don’t really understand; that’s probably why I bother with it.

 

A petal in pieces on the floor, like glass,
like anything trapped in ice
like us
before
in the cold
deciding what to do
on the edge
watching ourselves pierce
the floor
our memories
feeling surprised that
we lost it
what if the flower
well
things always fall
don’t they
We wake up
but since that’s before
we can really only assume
the petals crack

Because we were scared enough.

 

 

February 17, 2012

Stranger

Vincent Van Goth, National Gallery

I woke up today with the certainty that today was not the same as yesterday. Of course it wasn’t. I know that, I probably knew it then too, but of course I wanted the problem to be on the outside. Those problems are more comfortable to us, but I’ve already told you this wasn’t. So I guess you know one thing about the curious predicament I woke up with that morning, laying inside me.

How can I explain this feeling to you with more clarity? Clarity is visible transparency. How can I make my problem more visibly transparent to you? Try to imagine a room you spend a lot of time in, perhaps your bedroom, or miserably your office. I bet you could navigate yourself around that room in a blindfold. The sense of I’m comfortable you feel there is largely a construct of your familiar relationship with it. There are no vast, mysterious spaces to interrogate. I suppose you could say your discomfort is reduced by the presence of furniture. We really have evolved haven’t we? Mastery of the environment is no longer an ability to hunt and protect, but moreover, we have achieved mastery if we can say with certainty, precisely where one may find the chair.

Anyway, so you walk into this room with you’re mental map of the air and its grid of chairs but today this doesn’t work out for you. Everything is different, but at first you can’t quite tell how, only that it is not the same as before, and until you figure that out you plunge into a whirling disorientation, whereupon your sense of the room and therefore yourself becomes altogether uncertain.

That morning my mind was the misplaced chair in the disorientated room, my body.

Given long enough in this strange room, and yes, I promise I will drop this analogy sooner or later; we will surely come to understand our conflict with it and eventually put it right or otherwise accept it. This is the basic concept of interior design, though it should really be called exterior design, interior designs are much more complicated. We measure the visible changes of redecoration by the locus of our own constant mind. In all honesty we take ourselves for granted; we should have seen that stranger creeping into our bed, head.

We certainly know what it is to wake up with a stranger, and we may comfortably attribute that to the familiar vices of humanity. Though I would argue, the shock presence of that docile body is likely to make us feel just that bit stranger about our unfamiliar selves, at least for a while as we try to remember…

I suppose our discomfort emerges as our reality begins to crumble. Our discomfort gives way to fear as we realise we are the ones crumbling, and we no longer have the control to do anything about it. We ask ourselves, what the hell am I doing? (The aggression is usually to repress the fear) and answer that it’s all in our head. But we keep breaking things, until our thoughts and ideas are fundamentally broken too. Of course by that point we’ve really gone too far to fix anything. We’ve already accepted that we are not quite ourselves at the moment and a moment is only a fraction of forever.

I suppose when the careful china of my reality shot to the floor that morning it wasn’t really that strange at all, and that daily, I had been growing stranger. So I eventually become acquainted with the stranger squatting there and certainly look forward to meeting anyone who can comfortably call themselves, themselves in this disorientating narrative.

February 5, 2012

Sucker Punch


Babes, sucking on their mothers.
Growing up, sucking on lovers.
And we’re forever sucking
Sucking on each other.
Sucking till we’re dry,
Sucking till we cry,
Sucking our ocean souls
To fit this shallow world,
Sucking ourselves old.
Sucking on our friends,
Sucking up our egos.
Not sucking alone,
Sucking our ideas till we’re rich,
So we can say to haters,
Suck on that. Bitch.
Sucking on dem pills,
Sucking on dem thrills,
Sucking on our minds till we’re interesting,
Interesting is a phase. Then
You suck, I suck, everybody sucks, sucks.

Sucking up this life,
Sucking till we dry.

I’ve decided if I want to add a bit of chat then I should probably put it at the end of the piece rather than the beginning. I don’t want to be brutally judged too prematurely now…nor do I want you to ever read something unnaturally due to any excessive ‘guidance’ on my part.

But anyway, did you read that quickly? Wrote it quickly, read it quickly; looking back on it. Then again, I think we always read repetitious things quickly; our brains think they’re ahead of it all and start to show-off. Reading it back it sounds like I’m trying to be ghetto too, I’m not trying. I am.

I joke. I guess that came more as a consequence, an after-the-event, rather than an initial intention- a bit like this introduction.

January 29, 2012

Hunger

From Liquidlives.tumblr.com

From Liquidlives.tumblr.com

Our stomachs are empty because we forgot to eat today. Perhaps we thought the food would interrupt us; that we wouldn’t be able to think properly if our bodies are busy digesting. I suppose you could say it was our sense of time (all off) that made us forget all the eating, and anyway we’re moving too fast to bother swallowing anything.

The day soon ran off with our hunger and the moon balanced  tenderly above us. It’s silky light weaving through us, enlightening our sense of self. We weigh ourselves, the space we occupy in this dark universe, trying to see if our ideas are worth its silken gaze.

We need to fill up. Whiskey drops like a miserable man to the pit of our stomachs, landing with a ting. We listen to it, and burn our insides with the sickly sweetness of tobacco and other unmentionables. Swaying, as the music grows inside us, luxuriating in the shimmer of ourselves.

Burning like we were, paper clenching into fists of charcoal before flying away with sleep. Simmering in our selves, we finally vanish from the night with only a fleeting thought towards our terrible hunger.

January 22, 2012

Fox in the snow

Courtesy of Laura Makabresku photography

I am yours until they come for us.
You touch my skin,
You breathe my air,
You take me in, to your bed
Until they come.

And we sweat together there,
I am yours in that down,
Then I hear something,
Know that it’s now.

And you said it was a fox,
But I knew it wasn’t.
I breathed the last of you then,
And clung gently,
To us breaking.

It was always wonderful
and never for long.
They’ve come for us now.

Like a fox,
we run.

January 22, 2012

The Truth

I would argue the profound truth of my words. Put my hand upon the Bible and swear. Crouch next to Hamlet’s sword and swear. Swear that my words are truth, that I am truth and have abolished all that lies between, behind and beneath. Phone my mother and tell her, honest to God, this is truth now. Phone all the people I’ve ever known and tell them everything I have ever thought of them.

From Malevia.tumblr.com

From malevia.tumblr.com

I sit at my desk and write, I think truth, I try to scrub up my words until they are so shiny and holy I can’t even see them, God that hurts. I haven’t quite cleaned up yet, so my not seeing them means they have probably gone to a better place where my soul is free from my body, whatever my soul is and whatever is wrong with my body- God Knows.

On cleaning myself up: I look in the mirror and try to find the total truth of myself. I look at my hair but the sentence will never end there because I look at it and think soon it will be shorter, dirtier blonder and don’t look at that frizz because I’m sure you will spend six hours getting that new fangled, painful Brazilian blow-dry-pull-your-scalp-till-it-wilts-treatment soon. Then I really look at my face and try to see it exactly how it is, my face. Trying to cancel out my dirty perspective I think of photographs of myself and try to see myself as others see me, my eyes like cameras. But of course that never works because the only way it can end well (and it has to end well) is my planning a trip to MAC, planning to eat more fruit, planning to drink more water, looking at my body, planning to exercise more for a new and healthier you (I wish they would stop adverts at my local gym, I’m already there), to eventually get a bike, to get back into that sport I used to be so good at. Looking up at a blank wall, I try to remember where I put that mirror.

On honest relationships: Well I’m sitting opposite my friend or lover or God or Mother and I’m thinking this is really it now, tell them the truth. You’ve both had a fair amount of wine so nobody will really remember but maybe subconsciously they will and deep down you will know each other a little better. So I open my mouth and try to establish a deep and meaningful connection, as all relationships are based on trust (if I must). I tell them the truth and I even tell myself it’s the truth; give or take a few names, embarrassing emotions, bloody break-downs, weaknesses I deem to be too weak and perhaps I painted the insistance I have totally cleaned-up. Besides, as I walk home alone, I hadn’t really wanted to leave because I hadn’t finished yet, hadn’t told them absolutely everything, but next time I will. I swear to God I will. In the mean time, I’ll put it in writing.

On writing: As I attempt to craft some decent writing, adding some metaphors to ice the fiction cake. Maybe a simile as if I’m a writer but really I’m more like a school girl trying to impress her teacher (a Freudian sexual-model, like fathers, but no one really wants to hear things like that which is probably why people laugh at Freud). Looking at the writing, aiming somewhere to find a beginning, middle and ending (it’s near). I’m aiming to compose a convincing and entertaining story, weaving in a complex latent narrative. But I think about the latent meaning, which I’ve cunningly hidden behind my words, or maybe behind those words…does that make my writing dishonest? I wipe my sweating hand on The Bible. I will never be able to tell you what I really mean and that’s because I can’t really see it myself behind all the dirt I’m wearing.

So I’m sorry, reader, if I lied to you.

I’m not even religious. I swear to God I have no idea why I write like this about The Bible.
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