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.

I’m in the mood for stancin’

Sorry, I got some dust in my; got distracted. That storeroom can become all encompassing…I can lose days in there. I still don’t really know how far back the storage area goes. Is it words, endless wor…Ach, there, you see, it’s got me going off-piste again. Right, stance. There is perhaps a positionality with the idea of a stance that could be problematic but let’s run with the notion for now. Let’s play the rope out and see where we get to. Forget the start (if there was one) because that will only send us off into a discussion around ground. We will start up a bit further but don’t get distracted by the view because that view does not exist—that would be over-working the metaphor. Climbing!

If you fall, remember no one will see
You tumbling lonely down. Only
I through this bad focus will see.
Why do you imagine Gravity lonely?1

We need to stop before the stance (if that is even possible). Not stop exactly, but have a good look at what is happening. We are thinking ahead, around, alert. Then the possibility cuts in. (This is what the matter is not what’s wrong.) This is a cut sharp enough to alter the rockface-surface, enough to form a small ledge on which to apply a little more weight and to give a longer pause. Now, this possibility is only there because we have attuned ourselves to its possible presence, its potentiality. To add a twist, this possibility could have been of our own making but, like a Get Out of Jail Free card, it cannot be used at any old moment…we need to know how to play it. We need to know when to play it, there is a certain moment that is not pre-announced but is formed by our decision to play. Of course, the possibility may have been more akin to chance, even so, we need to be in the right mood to spot it, to work with it…willing to follow it.

Like I sometimes follow these words. I push the spoil of my burrowing up in front of me so that the words precede me in a way (they certainly appear detached from me). Now I have muddled things, we’ve gone from climbing metaphors to speleological ones.2 They become the same though; didn’t I tell you not to look at the view? Run with the words, let their lines play out. It can be so exhilarating and when in the moment the stances become almost invisible, like so many commas in a sentence. Punctuation as climbing gear…that’s for another time…

1. W.S.Graham, “The Don Brown Route,” in New Collected Poems, ed. Matthew Francis (London: Faber & Faber, 2003), 174-76.
2. The proofread facility on this blog wishes to change “speleological” to “teleological”…
3. A note on the post title: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XbAM2_6jKY0 tee hee.

Dear Johnny,

I feel bad that this blog has never written to you before…that the words over here never find their way over to you. I’m sure there are words here for you, it is just a matter of having a good look round and working out where they have put themselves. It is rather a mess over here at the moment and I can’t seem to find the things I need but maybe I will stumble upon some words for you by chance. I’m not too busy now; let’s have a look. You hold the torch. By the way, do you mind rats? The rats have been moving around in here recently and getting up to some nasty tricks. Okay. Let’s get looking. It’s going to take a while as some of these boxes are very old, they’re actually quite dusty too and it is that sort of attic dust that gets in everywhere. I do know that over in that pile is a load of punctuation but  never quite know what to do with it all. I think we should start in the middle here…it’s not much of a start though as I feel I have already been looking for quite a while. If I find anything useful I’ll throw it across to you to see what you think.

Sometimes the words seem to appear from nowhere (ex nihilo) and we all know that words can come from nowhere (viz. now here, here now, when ore, new hero…boom, boom!) No, words don’t come from nowhere, but they are nothing without themselves it seems and this is what sometimes makes it hard to find them. Maybe the faded label on the outside of the box looks promising and then there is something else entirely inside. I’m not sure yet if it is a case of my not understanding the ordering of the stock or if somebody has been in here in the past and messed up the system. Some of the words are just in tattered bags, you kind of get a sense of what is inside from the shape and they connect up to what comes after them but when they see the cold light of day they really don’t make sense. This happened with something I wrote the other day.

When I wrote “eye-doubt, no?” it made sense, I thought, but looking back at it I may as well have just pointed people into this storeroom. By the way, did I say? If you see anything that takes your interest in here you can probably have it. I won’t let you take it straight away though, unless you like the dust…Turn the torch off a moment!…Where’s that light coming from? I found another way in once before but blocked it up because I didn’t want more of those crazy rats getting in. They gnaw through the words, particularly the conjunctions…and where would we be without those? That French fella would certainly be in for a rocky ride! Ay, now you’ve spotted them. I did put as many of those Is up on a shelf out of the way but they keep getting in amongst things…I’m going to blame those troublesome rats again.

I can hear the railway line over the back, I think the wind must be coming from that way today. It’s midday and it already seems to be getting dark. It just looks drab out there. The pigeons sat in the park trees are looking most unimpressed. It really is like the day can’t be bothered.

Did that change anything? We moved from a semi-dark to a sort of light at least but did it change the…atmosphere…? Like your song did? The song that mattered changed the currency of the conversation. I wish I had listened more intently to what Mattia had said (I’ll wait for the film of the book) as I don’t think I was quite there. What happened was a puff of air, a breath, which created a shift but also opened up a temporary space from which to explore options. It is a sort of stance, in the way that a rock climber might use that word. Ignore the simple reading of a rock climb having a beginning and end but think about how for the climber a stance is a pause, maybe an opportunity to change the lead (who’s ever heard of a currency made from lead (pb)?) or at least to gather thoughts ready for the next pitch. [Spot the double meanings]

I know I was meant to send you a bulk shipment of that stuff in the storeroom today but I’m afraid it will take a bit longer. I’ll blame those meddling rats. Anyway, have this offering for now and I’ll let you get away to your work. Can you leave the torch here though please?

Nothing’s the matter,

PS A distant dream of order:


quite frightening really…


Brave Cynics Favour Univocity

Hollow nameless day. Trapped and suffocated the writing suffers. It is almost dead today—but how to give it breath? The writing cannot be stepped outside of, the only way is to go deeper and see what can be invented from those darkest soils. But the breath becomes ever more laboured and there is no light. There was light but the brilliance has gone, it was another false lead; brilliance as will-o’-the wisp. It was a brightness that drew the writer in the first place. Fool’s gold that fed a greed (a need?).

These words seem the same as last week and the week before. The feet offer no metre. A misunderstanding. Are the words being dug for, mined? Or are the words doing the digging? Maybe it is a trap. The mined words need to mine more words and so become tools in the process. Or does that agglomeration of words need going back through to find what is most useful. Is that where the inventing takes place? In the choices of that selection process? In the slag heaps there are things of great value but it is not enough to just see them for they must be worked further…stop…

…Oh, weary writing! The words go round in circles, not getting anywhere (nor anything). Flattering (or fluttering) to deceive. The words are tired, tired from the writing fighting on multiple fronts. For instance, the ‘I’s are relentlessly crashing at the doors…it is becoming deafening at times. How can they be kept back…how can their appeals be ignored? Multiple fronts? Doors? Does this not suggest some sort of boundary; an inside and an outside? But the words are worked from within (or should that be of). Is the problem that this word working is being viewed as a hand-made process? Is the problem that the process is viewed at all? By viewing the process it is moved into an external space where it can be observed and worked upon. Something like a scientist’s glovebox is a useful image here, wherein the worked words are contained in a sealed unit into which the worker reaches with gloved hands. The word-hand interaction is devoid of almost all sensuosity.

The images keep imposing themselves, it is they that create the boundary.If only this image-making could be short-circuited…circumnavigated. This eye-dependence brings the ‘I’ with it and creates a state of detachedness or aloofness. This tail (tale?) eating is confusing. Is the writing the analyst or the analysand? But therein is the problem. It is in the stating it in these fixed terms: analyst/analysand might as well be here/there, I/other and so on. The imposing of these poles strangles things, snuffing the life out of them, trapping any breath that was there. The cherry on the top is the art object which seals up the artist/art object/viewer dynamic. The artwork must become verbal, and the analyst too. The analyst and analysis should be loosened off its moorings and set free not to discover new worlds but to invent of them.

The dark soils lighten slightly. A horizon of lighter deposits glistens dimly but the hours of daylight at this point in the year are limited and the light will soon fade. This will not be a dark sheet placed over all but instead it is a creeping darkness that is inhaled and finds each and every (fractal) corner.

eye-doubt, no?

I don’t know how I ever used to write. I don’t know; however, I used to write. I don’t know whoever I use to right. I doubt knowhow ever used to write. I’d out whomsoever is right. Idiot whom writes. Idiot rights. Idiotic rites.


don’t don’t don’t

know know know


ever ever

used used used

to to to to

write write write




right right







idiot idiot




I don’t! To know used write. Ever right idiot, how? However, whoever use doubt knowhow. I’d out whomsoever is. Whom idiotic rites.