getting defensive

will you help me understand what is going on here? Bring some words; bring many words, as many as you can carry (and more). I ask a lot of you. We will use these words to build our defence but we must not let our heads appear above the paragraph break crenellations. Keep your head (down)! They have sensed us—you and I must stand aside, get down from here and hide ourselves until this has all blown over.

Last night, travelling west in the dark of a winter afternoon the vague silhouettes of wind turbines reminded me to write this. To right the way I write things. A strange reminding; maybe it was the colours of the darkness that reminded me or the darkness in counterpoint to the previous day’s brilliance. An unpropitious opposition. Instead, it was the darknesses in and of themselves.

In establishing this defensive arrangement the words are being kept at a distance. Small skirmishes take place on occasions but the onslaughts of last week are not being repeated. To understand what is happening here a step into the melee, which has unmingled, is required. In the stillness of this examination can be seen two distinct parties and an intervening barrier. It is uncertain if this barrier retains any level of porosity although it can be surmised that some seepage is occurring. To the left of the barrier are uncountable numbers of words. The words are of an almost finite number but their possibility of repetition is unlimited. It is possible that new words may come into play but in the present stillness this appears unlikely. A loud din to this side of the barrier can be seen but not heard.

To the right of the barrier is the writer-reader. Again there is stillness and quiet here. There is also a hollowness which appears unhealthy. This assemblage needs feeding but it is clear that the barrier is permitting little interaction with potential sources of nourishment. The stillness is deceptive though, for if we freeze the action at other points it can be noticed that the writer-reader hits itself repeatedly against the barrier. The stillness witnessed above is brought on by this dashing action and may be a form of concussion. Despite this apparent deprivation of nourishment the writer-reader is able to continue its sporadic dashing moves so it can be deduced that a limited amount of feeding is taking place.

To understand this further the barrier must be studied more closely. It will in fact be noted that the barrier has fine slits along its length. On closer inspection it will be observed that these slits permit access (from left to right) of an impoverished reflection of a certain (limited) sample of the distanced words. The writer-reader apparently is able to narrowly survive on this meagre diet. This impoverished diet inevitably leads to an impoverishment in the output of the writer-reader; an output heavy with representation and classical reflection.

It is known from previous studies that a barrier similar to that between the writer-reader and the words existed between the writer and the reader. It is not known at exactly what point in time this relationship altered but it is hoped that future verbochronological corings will narrow the perameters of this particular detail. Returning to the barrier currently under scrutiny, it can be observed that the slits which permit the meagre reflections of words through to the writer-reader do not allow a return of matter of any sort. Any output (good or bad) produced by the writer-reader in this period must be endured. From the current point of view it is difficult to understand how this system can maintain any essential commodious harmony. Further research will explore the possibility that looking for a possible harmony may be a distraction from the true potential of the arrangement.


grave goods

were those words really born from anger (borne in frustration)? Did I release them; re-lease them as they surely were not my own, they were merely on loan to me (at a cost and I pass that cost on with interest)? But what is this cost? What is the currency? Whatever it is we must alter it.

I used those words but can they be re-used? Some of them simply appeared between me and the white screen that we know is colour-full. Some of the words were pulled in from their being seen. Those last were hands to hold; grave goods to get us through this latest turbulence. I nearly typewrote, “get us through to the other side,” but halted myself. Where would that have got us? Is there a nirvana to be found on the B-side? Through is not a good word for us, we should consider within instead.

I am running out of word-time now. Next time, I and you and we must go from here and see what we leave.

the vessel remains


Image source: Alex Gibson et al, “The Excavation of Two Cairns and Associated Features at Carneddau, Carno, Powys, 1989–90,” Archaeological Journal, 150, no.1 (1993): 1-45. doi: 10.1080/00665983.1993.11078053, 19.

numb before

what a difference a day makes. Plus ça change. The vessel remains (I’ll let that reverberate for a while). It may have made a good ending but instead it has forced itself in near the beginning of this post. We must attend to this vessel. The vessel needs righting and through its writing it surely will be. But how to approach this holey vessel; this vessel full of holes. How can that be? The vessel isn’t riddled like a sieve or scuttled ship. It is completely full of holes. And before you ask, definitely holes and not wholes. You know me. I feel that I’ve asked this question before…

…sorry, the washing needed hanging out. It is a bright, sunny early winter’s day today and the washing may just dry before the sun drops behind the trees. I’d like to be out walking or running, out into the night, but my feet won’t allow it. The washing is out though (articles on a line) and I am back at the keyboard attending to my web to see what I might catch. That is one model anyway—build a framework and see what becomes entangled in it and sort the catch for viable items. There is an alert passiveness followed by a more involved process of selecting and fitting together. Let’s not be so passive. Let’s go at this…problem…thing…windmill. Let’s go hunting and see what we can catch. Here what we hunt may run away from us, we will need to learn some skills. Stalk our prey; let’s get a horse. I’m glad you came this way with me.

It’s all very bitty though. Have you noticed that? It is I or you or we chasing after these things. We here, they there. Distinct points (extended) in space. This is part of the problem. This thing we wait for or hunt is not a thing. Well, if it is a thing it is only so inasmuch as a will-o’-the-wisp is a thing (and that fire will only lead us fools into deep trouble). We need to relax a little. There is something to do with attunement here but that could also mislead us (and might wake one of the Germans (at least)). We could easily think that attunement is a form of tuning, as a piano is tuned a certain perfection is desired and indeed a rummage through its etymology leads us to attunement “bringing in to harmony”. Now, harmony is very comfortable, but soporifically so as it closes things down in its cosiness. We must be cautious of this attunement and harmony. We are close though.

Our harmony needs to be discordant. [a clattering of chairs and shuffle of many feet] Be careful with those words! There are many interested parties here who like to know what we are doing with their words. Let’s continue for we do not lack heart…although there is a disagreement. A jarring? A jarring vessel? A hollow laugh. Seen through hollow eyes. Why should it all work? It shouldn’t. It can’t. Let’s watch it break down into pathetic punning and mis-hearings…mis-readings…mis-takes. Break down or break up? Breaking up is the way of analysis. It is a loosening or releasing, as a ship may be unfastened from its moorings. We must write the vessel and let it loose. We must be brave (keep counsel) as our vessel is cast adrift under this new sun.

the vessel remains

taste less, more cells

I don’t like the taste of these words this morning—they give me no pleasure. How can I expect you to attend if I have such little faith myself? Yesterday I called you “reader-viewer-listener-feeler” (I named you and called to you (for help)) and you may think that this was some clever conceit echoing, rippling, from the title of this blog, where the hyphens stitch the words together and the braces hold them apart. But instead I hyphenate your name because I don’t know who you are (any more). I said we enjoyed ourselves but I merely reflected my fun and games onto you. You and I became lost in a sound game of vowels. We (I take you along with me whether you (or I) like it or not) played a little with punctuation too…

The drip, drip, drip of the ellipses were closed down by the full stop. Truth to tell, I don’t know where this is going. The only truth is the not knowing (knot nowing). I need tricks to play to gather words to this page but my mind seems as blank as this dank, still November morning. We say it is one of those days that can’t be bothered as even by the middle of the day we would struggle to say that it has got light. I digress. What I will do today is hang some words out and see what they catch. These words could be a bait or a feed or maybe they will be like the gamekeeper’s foe strung up on the fence as a warning. This is no warning though—the moles can’t see their kin up there. Those corpses are there to say that the gamekeeper is doing his job.

It is the same with these words and I. The words are rotten and decomposing but they show somebody that I am doing my job (faire le métier?). The words stink but I will add more—I will unceremoniously pierce their flesh, fur, feathers as I impale them on the barbed wire of the composing line. The words feel no pain for they are dead already but they will become wretched, bony and angular. Dead words? Not dead…but not alive either. Did they even exist until now? That last “now” for instance (which is now joined by this new now (these new nows))—where did it come from? I know what “now” means at present I can also read that now may derive from some form of new as we trace its origin back through languages which cover much of the world (German, Greek, Sanskrit, Latin, and so on). A well-travelled word this now. But is that now my now? As I write more and more the distance between that now and I increases. But did you see the slight shifts (the sleights) as the adverbal now turned conjunctive for a brief moment? Maybe, in the future, now will become adjectival; that would be so now!

Sew now, across the paragraph gap. A slender thread. A tender tread. A narrow trod. A slight trace. Apparently that space between these blocks of text does not have a name—it is a “space between paragraphs”. But not a space, surely it is a deep breath, which is no space at all. And the spaces between the words, are they there to give less workfortheeyetodo?1 These traditionally white spaces are full of possibility, as much as the words that form them in fact. Herenow on this page the white is a trompe l’oeil of course balancing perfectly its ingredients of red, green and blue. Balancing perfectly? Who do I fool? They are not three glasses on a tray but instead three intensities pulsing imperceptibly…a conjuring trick in plain sight (in plane site).

Pull on the hawsers! This vessel is adrift and the cargo is in danger. We need those words as we knead these. This has become hopeless now. Are you talking to me? Pull through the burrowed words! We need their help more than ever but don’t let anybody there hear. The hawsers will snag on the smooth roughness of the pixels but no matter.

1. workfortheeyetodo was “a book-space organised by Simon Cutts, Maggie Smith and Erica Van Horn” begun in London in 1992. See here for more information:

a loan voice

Er, are you still there reader-viewer-listener-feeler? You didn’t recognise me did you with this assumed voice. I am borrowing words from the last post but some details get blurred. Lettering is amiss. I don’t know if I can hold this together—an abnormal sticking together of posts. Post-adhesion. Where did this stickiness come from? From a hesitation it would seem. My adhesion is born of hesitation. Have I left you behind? Will you not come with me, carried along by these journeying words? We had fun before didn’t we? These journeyman words left outstanding with/in the minefield. Cratered, pocked, deformed, reformed the ground is (a) re-surfacing.

Last time we played with the point. We played on the point. We played en pointe. Tiptoeing about trying not to wake the dead whose words live on. We just did it again, did you see-hear-feel the point and the leap? I like dancing with you, until you step on my toe. My feet are sore yet…what was the point you were trying to make. Oh, I’m blaming you now! What was the point we were trying to make? It was a point about…hold on, how can a point go around something? Point as horizon? But you mistake the viewer’s horizon for the seer’s horizon. The seer mines their horizon. We have reached a point through the surface-ground from which…careful…with which…steady…use it as a stance…breathe…

Those ellipses, are they points? Hesitations? Or are you leaving something out? You are missing something. We miss things. We mis-things with our points. Particles that we cling to in a sea of waves. Are the waves seaing? The tempo has departed from these words. If I stop typing now you will never know that I left these words saved as draft overnight and took up the keyboard again the next day. Between a full stop and a new paragraph there are hours, although there is a paragraph (or part paragraph) below that was born with the above. And I do not know now if tomorrow when I type that I may decide to insert fresher words into those tired stale ones above. I may even delete the hole.

Any borrowed words have burrowed through (have been burrowed through). Has the “borrowed” been mis-burrowed? Did you know that the stomach of an earthworm is not coiled like that of a mammal but is instead pleated along its length? I can feel them pressing against the door. Don’t let them in yet. I’m not ready. Do you recognise any of them? Keep your head down! Keep your head down here. My stammering adhesion marks empty words, a sort of hollow torque in hushed tones.A hiss and whisper that words cannot hear (here).

…ok, I’ve got my breath back now. We are a becoming-point reaching with/in the -surface-ground-. Hold (y)our tongue(s)! “Qui est à l’appareil?” Hear what you’ve done. Keep your head down, don’t answer it. One. Two. Three. Four. There, he’s gone. It is only when you say those words that we get into trouble. It arouses suspicion. It is too obvious. But how can we talk (torque) with them without anybody knowing least of all them? Many of them are dead but their words live on.

I don’t understand how this is working. (I won’t look down). It is not a crossing over held together by the spider-goat’s bio-steal. A stickiness is created by the words. It is the word’s sticking that holds them together. Not the frame of this WordPress page or the fortress of your skull (dear reader-viewer-listener-feeler). None of the words are my own, they are all borrowed from/burrowed for somewhere else at another time. I’m going to leave them here and see if the Is are picked out by carrion birds.

By the way, I am not now typing this tomorrow.

stick with it

there seems to be no adherence although there is an adhesion. There you go…my sentence is already tripping me up. Tangling and confounding in the self-destructing act(ing). I sit alone with these words and hope that by discussing lack of stick I will be able to sidle up towards it (secretly, ssshhhh) and…



…amber shit…

…the stick beats and binds. The shit bleats and blinds (not dazzlingly). This is the adhesion. Letters drop in and out. Surfaces adhering abnormally rather than the normal adhesion of scar tissue. An abnormalization that sticks the leaves together. Abnormal and normal leave together—their binaric coupling is not served here. I sit alone with these words. I slit a one with these words. A one is slit by a sleight. Off hand. Throw away. Through a way. I go at again and again to find a way through, not from one side to the other but within. Burrowing. Borrowing words to burrow through. The spoil heap builds up (scar tissue on the surface) convening through this act surface and surfacing at once. At twice. At n. Let’s fall from this point of grey to a new paragraph

a quantum leap brought us here. Us? I was alone just now. Well, the words and I. My words. My mined words. I and my mined words are now joined by you (the reader-viewer). Joined by you as in the suturing act. Your eyes provide hyphens, your is provide points, my I has no point. No point to fall from. Keep going on this calligram of stepping stones or, better, monkey bars. I reach for words but the words make me (w)retch(ed). Am I regurgitating them? I don’t remember them but then again my memory has been dulled to d/r-eflection. Try some old tricks with these new words…

(another paragraph) there is alone towards the adhesion. Adhesion normal words. Through other scar twice. There is a loan towards the adhesion (a loan that must be repaid or measures will be taken) but through adhesion normal words re-scar (otherwise). Re-scar eh? I’ve been marked and warned. Have the words also just been on loan? The words and adhesion are on lone. How can that be. Reader! Reader! Viewer? Shine a light this way. I want to alight this way but I’m pulled back (taken aback?). I do not see a way from this next point onwards.

This is becoming a game. A lazy trick to thread one paragraph to the next. The threads will not hold you know. Is that ‘you’ you or I? This I sees that but hears the tricks of the words (tricollage). We are being woven into these surface words. Too passive. At once victim and executor. Terms to be carried out against our wills. We weave this surface from our own grounds (no, I meant to say words). A Wittgensteinian slip. Quick, to the fortress doors! Prepare for an assault!

[a figure exits stage left holding a duckrabbit] Phew! I don’t think he saw us. Don’t do that again! They know you know. They know you know. They don’t know that I don’t know. These words we weave are a minefield, be careful where you tread my friend. Do you see where it said “burrowing” up above (earlier-on-but-still-there-now)? That could easily have induced the Frenchman. No, not that one, the other one, no, the other other one. Maybe both, all three or more. Our field that is a minefield must be mined. Burrowing (“Qui est à l’appareil?”) and authoring both. I/we have created this minefield and now we must live within it.

There will be times when I am too scared to move. Maybe then I can just enjoy the view (endure the vous). Wait for the weather to turn. I would like that luxury of time very much. When did time and money become so…so…when did this adhesion between time and money take place? No matter we must attend to these words. A magpie looks me in the eye. I have no words for it. Eye have now words forêt. What is going on hear? It is as though the paragraphs are being pulled through themselves, by themselves. Words have become infected with some virus. The eyes have been pecked out [say it]. Our home built of words is as blind as a mole (“though moles see…”). Can we live with the constant threat of this explosive act?

Take precautions. Act fast. Get down fast. When you see the flash there is no time to run…Stay down for at least a minute. But what if we are the flashing of the flash? How can we get down faster than ourselves? You are still with me…that’s a comfort. If you are not still here are these words


Over eight-hundred words from a lack of adhesion. Formally attack adhesion. I can sense a terminal point but can we put it off a bit longer by other means than a quantum leap? Well done! Oh, and again it worked; a double-blow for life beyond the point (or indeed beside the point) which may give us some wiggle-room…a little more breath…

a strange foretelling that the eighty-thousand words will calligramatically form an empty vessel. Not seaworthy. Well, I certainly will not put to see in it. Is this here vessel worthy of seeing riddled as it is with wholes that never quite amount to very much (certainly not the sum of their parts). A holesome vessel beyond seaing but maybe perfectly adequate for a little hearing with three good men and true. (Why did I not include any footnotes?1)

[-80x magnification]


1. This text is written in pyrrhic pent amateur.

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your kind words yesterday.

Thank you also for your offering of the notion of tactician (and for the ensuing discussion it led to). So, put simply the difference between tactic and strategy is that the latter is planned and maybe considers a broader theatre of engagement whereas tactics are much more focussed and reactive. I assume though that one can have a strategy to be a tactician?

The word tactic and its resonances have some very appealing elements for my research. The word’s etymology is found in the Greek taktike (or tekhne) meaning “the art of arrangement.” There seems to be then a paradox in the word as this military reading of a reactive response sounds a little less thought out or is it a case of being ready for the ‘unknowns’?

As I raised yesterday, the idea of tactics as reactive contains a possibility of a sort of feedback. There would surely be some sort of reciprocity in there but if so it is asymmetrical…transverse?

Apparently both Foucault and de Certeau suggest that tactics are the “art of the weak.” This statement comes from the idea that the weak, the poor have no place, no position (to be strategic from). This point to me then fits nicely with the models of the Romantic and the Cynic that I have been trying to flesh out. For the Cynic their only place (apart from a hazy ‘beyond society’) is their pera, their bag,…their world that they carry with them. How do you defend a territory you don’t have…through tactics it seems.

One further twist for the moment is that my dictionary tells me that an archaic meaning is (of course) to do with touch. Coming through a Latin root-route this time (tangere – “to touch”) that leads us to today’s ‘tact’,’tactile’ and ‘tact’. There’s something interesting in the idea of a tactor-tactician (including the alliteration!).

Sorry not to have caught up properly for a while. I’ve been a bit preoccupied…it will pass. I hope all is well with you—I thought of you recently (four times!) as I passed near Palmer’s ‘valley of vision’ and looked across from the train.

Yours taciturnly,


PS I leave you with this image of a cartwheel I took recently at Acton Scott farm in Shropshire. Apparently wheels like this are constructed from three different woods: the hub is of elm, the spokes are of oak, and the felloes (rim) is of ash. In each position the wood plays to its strength: the contorted fibres of elm are strong enough (it’s difficult to split) to accept the multiple mortices, the oak has lateral strength so the wheel doesn’t crumple under load and the ash has give in it and so provides some shock-absorption. I wonder what new surfaces Simon’s colleagues would ‘hear’ in this?