Notebook (Querelle)

August 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

1966: “As I wait for the train, a youth in tight white pants sets off the usual alarm signals, but then I notice that he wears the jacket of a school where I am known, where indeed one of my dogs lives. I ask after my friends on the faculty, ask after my dog, and the air between us is pristine and cheerful. It is facelessness that seems to threaten one, strangeness, a sort of erotic darkness, an ignorance of each other, except for the knowledge of sexual desire; but standing in a public urinal and being solicited by a faceless stranger one senses some definite promise of understanding oneself and of understanding death, as if the natural and sensible strictures of society, raised in the light of day, were too heavy a burden for our instincts and left them with no immunity to the infections of anxiety and in particular the fear of death. Run, run, run ballocksy through the woods, put it in the brushes of nymphs and up the hairy bums of satyrs and you will know yourself and no longer fear death; but why, then, do the satyrs have an idiotic leer? To have the good fortune to love what is seemly and what the world counsels one to love, and to be loved in return, is a lighter destiny than to court a sailor in Port-au-Prince who will pick your pockets, wring your neck and leave you dead in a gutter.”

August 11, 2014 § Leave a comment

Picasso, Table, Guitar and Bottle (1918). Oil on canvas, 127 x 74.9cm

Picasso, Table, Guitar and Bottle (1918). Oil on canvas, 127 x 74.9cm

August 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

the bitter midnight reflection that Famous Poet X’s* instagram feed is more seductive**, better structured & more daring than yr entire poetic oeuvre

(*Famous to you, certainly holding the microfame that forms the currency of the Bloomsbury-Sussex-Cambridge poetic ultraleft)

(**technik, obvs)

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment

For E.S.

Notebook (Horace)

July 7, 2014 § Leave a comment



Culturally poetry appears within, & seems to consist of, a trick perspective. The secluded, low-budget, discontinuous, small-scale work of the lyric poem (even Ted Hughes doesn’t require scaffolding, a foundry or assistants) is continually staged on a larger ‘public’ screen – readings, publication, launches, feverish diagnostic commentary on ‘the scene’ – in rooms themselves choked w/ the ideological smog of ‘intimacy’*. Wh/ may explain the appeal of “undiscovered” poets, who went fugitive from writing or for whom poetry was a means of going fugitive from themselves: Emily Dickinson, Nicholas Moore, Bunting (thankless silence giving way to Briggflatts), Rosemary Tonks (“living for the next four decades as the reclusive Mrs Lightband in an anonymous-looking old house tucked away behind Bournemouth seafront”); they form images of liberation or revenge against the literary establishment that the unhappy consciousness of those caught in the mid-reading chat profit from. (The gypsies, drifters & circus people that appear in modern painting throughout the 1900s & 1910s – think Augustus John, or Picasso’s Rose period – perform a similar function.) They posit a situation paralleled by the shifts of scale in Benjamin’s autobiographical writings: that the microcosmic, this private work w/ all the haphazardness of subjectivity, while remaining as closed as Leibniz’s monad, will incorporate the entire shadow of totality w/in itself.

*this topsy-turvy situation prevails under the long shadow of modernism: the oracular pretensions of Pound (the capes!), Eliot, Neruda, MacDiarmid, Cocteau had a self-consciously ironic cast to them, the bitter adoption of outmoded finery, in practising a now self-consciously minority art. Already, as the novel was only just eclipsing poetry, Tennyson & Browning’s poses had become curdled, allegorical; even Yeats’ Delphic blasts appear as if in scare-quotes. The situation now, w/ ‘silver poets’ propped up behind the RFH lectern is the renaturalisation of that ideological crust, now become twee.

July 3, 2014 § Leave a comment

Thesis: most of the denizens of literary Twitter (or creative writing Twitter – it tends to amount to the same thing) are the same creatures who blog about “devouring” the new Stephen King/Robert Goddard/Kresley Cole w/out checking the title or that it’s by the correct author, merely transposed into another register. (Excitability doesn’t equal textual sensibility, an equation too easily suggested by the stimulant-economy of the internet.)


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