Notebook (south London diary)

September 30, 2012 § Leave a comment

In the coastal town where he grew up (shades of Moz) the huge opening of the cliff-bisected sky seemed to wait for him to find it. The scored-out gravel paths, the dog-haunted middle-aged couples, the cyclists ringing bells ineffectually. The malachite-flecked songbirds that live among the gorse bushes. A morning on which light falls as if from some huge azure cinema screen. He had a symbol right there: a hole at which to pick, unthreading the closed world of anonymous schmucks leaving his boys’ school for removals jobs, the white-van men who constituted his family, drinks at Aruba or a night out at Chilli White’s, the beach on summer weekends. What did it matter that nowhere else would have him (or so he thinks in worst moments). He reads a story about Verlaine, who worked as a French master in a Catholic boys’ school for two years in the chintzy middle-class suburb (where, to his astonishment, the local bookshop carries James Wilkes’ books): “He walks through the dimming light, this time towards East Cliff. Gorse burns in yellow flowers among the little shelves of the sandstone cliff; blossom stuccoes the evening. Getting lost is no longer his profession but he is unable to give it up: he wanders into the tributaries off Fisherman’s Walk and walks until the houses blur. He inhales the breath of the bushes and the gripping harshness of tobacco – a light blotted out as, around the town, one by one the gaslamps come on.”


Spleen is that feeling which corresponds to catastrophe in permanence. / The course of history as represented in the concept of catastrophe has no more claim on the attention of the thinking than the kaleidoscope in the hand of the child which, with each turn, collapses everything ordered into new order. The justness of this image is well-founded. The concepts of the rulers have always been the mirror of the means by means of whose image an ‘order’ was established. – This kaleidoscope must be smashed.”


September 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

September 25, 2012 § Leave a comment

Paradox: the purpose of social media – Tumblr, Twitter, blogs – under neoliberalism is to demonstrate how rich one’s life is (literally: one’s “meaningful opinions” form the immaterial labour whose surplus-value cyber-capital skims off). All the wonderful things one is seeing, eating, wearing! Until, that is, real life (the ‘RL’ of ‘IRL’) actually becomes full. At which point one begins apologising for having “been absent – I’ve been extremely busy”.

September 23, 2012 § Leave a comment

– He finds it hard not to conclude that sexuality itself is one vast scam.

He reproves the curlew.

– Not knowing whether it’s the fact or the degree of his self-pity that condemns him.

– She was, he says, an older woman, by less than a month. Whether he said this to her in jest they didn’t think to ask.

– Walking past the Ministry of Justice, across from St. James’s Park tube, with its odd concrete overhangs like a particularly mundane brutalist estate building, the green plaque funded by UCL: “JEREMY BENTHAM, POLITICAL PHILOSOPHER, LIVED IN A HOUSE ON THIS SITE…” Even the Underground station, home to TFL’s offices, conspire in the 1984 art-deco effect, architecture  Outside the pubs lunchtime smokers twist on the spot out of the wind, bodies made docile by so many disastrous opacities.

– The disastrous wisdom that “everyone in London knows everyone”. (File under ‘if London were a house party w/ industrial quantities of drink’)

– That the realisation of how hard a work being a human being is makes the work itself no easier. “Better never to have had to say ‘better never to have been.'”

– The unconscious hope that the performance of richness – joie de vivre, play, ambiguity, glamour, interest, observation – will, pace Augustine, make of richness a reality.

– He numbers among the punks-without-bands.

September 16, 2012 § Leave a comment

September 14, 2012 § Leave a comment

Frank O’Hara, in The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, edited by Donald Allen (University of California Press, 1995)

ht @ihatehackney


September 12, 2012 § Leave a comment

Leaving the Atocha Station is partly a description of the inner territory of a new kind of American artist: cold, lazy, artificial, yet oddly honourable given the extreme honesty and thoroughness of his self-scrutiny. One half-wonders if, in the future, this model will loom as large in the minds of young artists as the Romantics and the modernists do in ours; if young poets will anxiously scramble to prove they spent all day online, when in fact they were out in the world, shamefacedly collecting experiences.

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