false starts

A guillotine and van Bentum

a bearded man, in profile. No, not that one. Oh, it’s Shakespeare is it. Portal to Shakespeare land.

Turn around.

I wanted me to write about how the English South Downs were formed over millions of years through the accumulation of the remnants of small and microscopic fauna. How the chalk of the Downs is almost entirely bodily remains.

I wanted you to believe that we were writing about writing…the accumulation being of words written but no, the writing is about reading. Hiding in reading and then forgetting.

Another day, another run. A good run.

We don’t often meet fellow travellers out on the wastelands, the sheep walks, the uplands. When we do meet others the advice is to make cuts, to draw lines but above all to take it easy. Rimanere tranquillo. We heed the advice, try to absorb it but also to examine it. It makes sense of a sort. But how to follow this advice? Looking across this #langscape we are moved to think of a new enclosing, less contentious now but also somehow uncomfortable (for the encloser). But these will not be parting words, certainly not in the sense of bidding farewell. They may though be parting words in the sense that these words form a part through their wording; through their becoming-here.

[a drone circles the protagonists, offering stunning cinematic footage as the awkward figure(s) move(s) haltingly through the #langscape. A map is consulted. The ground appears barren and spoiled.]

“We should beat the bounds.” Is the announcement. We must find a high place and look out and through; that will be our starting point. Certainly some areas will be hidden from us by the folds of the #langscape but at least some shape can be given to things. We will follow the obvious lines in the #langscape to provide a circuit of possibilities. We may still look out and in, not that there are such places. Choices will need to be made; some will appear strange for the moment but a suitable shape will form through minor adjustment.

Stuttered starts will have to do (what they are told).

pin sand needless

[although the days have lengthened imperceptibly the scene remains the same. We return to it, or rather we are still here observing it. Maybe now we will take a part (take apart, see?).] Is that you bent down at the side of the excavation? What can you see there? Excuse me, can I move a little closer? Well, it looks human to me. [The human remains…in the excavation are most strange. They seem to be of a male but have outward-facing needles filling the orbits of the eyes. This needle-eyed man will have encountered great spells of acuity yet one can’t help thinking that between the needles much fell and was lost. The experience will have been one of extremes, great extremes, splitting and tearing apart. We must ask why these figures, these beings lived out here in such upland areas. We ask this question now when the climate is less amenable but we must understand that once, in the distant past, the conditions will have been much more munificent and certainly will have encouraged a good living. It may even have been enjoyable.]

I’ve come up here today to look out across (and through) this langscape. I look with a certain sense of pride but also an unhealthy dose of discomfiture. Will we ever really be able to pull together all these traces and make some sort of sense of them? Even though I’m alone here today I brought you with me in a sense and will use this artificial “you” as a sounding board I suppose. I think I know what they meant by the image of the needle-eyed man. This knowing has come about through a tried and tested process of failing to remember things.

Running (and walking) is an important part of this research and frequently ideas will occur whilst running—words, phrases and even whole sentences can take shape (or maybe existing ones will be shaped a little more) yet they disappear on re-entry to the orbit of the writing desk. How can it be that this well rehearsed routine of running and thinking and then immediately forgetting can still be going on? You would have thought I would have learned by now. But the forgetting is not one of complete absence for an imprint of the idea remains. This imprint is enough to irritate but not enough to summon again the full thought. A similar thing sometimes happens at night; within that time at which the body has relaxed towards sleep and the mind is closing down. An exciting notion emerges, suddenly…but by morning, even if it is remembered, it seems comparatively dull. The volume of the idea has thinned out and a mere husk remains, one that seems pathetic in the cold light of day.

[looking away from the excavation, the land slopes gently downwards to some form of watercourse before rising gently back up again and then merging into the monochrome sky through a series of relatively featureless gently fading skylines.]1


1. I dedicate the pointed imagery found in this post to the pins and needles sensations that I am currently experiencing in my feet and hands.

Upon the heath

[The sky is a monochrome bright grey. There is a wind from the north which finds its way in through the gaps in clothing and deters standing still. The land is relatively featureless and made up of drab ochres and browns. As we look the land tilts up slightly towards the horizon. There is little vegetation beyond a few balding remnants of heather. There is some activity in the distance—against the skyline. A sound of an individual digging in the soil with a shovel or spade, arhythmically punctuated by the sound of a pickaxe or mattock reaches down. From the right, a heavy, solid object is being slid across hard, frozen, gravelly ground. Preparations are taking place for an event of some kind. It is uncertain from this distance if the event is celebratory or one of mourning. In fact, it could be deduced that an event has already occurred and debris is being cleared away. A third figure is now just about apparent crouched down beside the excavator. But wait, the figure digging has found something…or somebody. Some body. A closer view will be needed to understand further.]