Monthly Archives: August 2010

This tiny corner

Tomorrow I have to call the electricity company, get an extension for the washing machine hose and do the shopping, can you help me remember that at least? I ask X. Coordination, I tell him, when we’re coordinated we can do anything. But in a free moment, in the briefest fall out of time I sink into my armchair and look around at my new flat, my orderly possessions, and wonder how I even got this far in life, how I managed to organise even this tiny corner of reality with him around. How do other people do it? The closer I look, I tell him, the more it all dissolves into mist, and the closer you come, with your rank breath and your poisonous whispers.

Hurt by God

Thomas Mann once said that a writer is simply someone for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.

I wonder if this insight could also be extended into theology. Theologians are people for whom the Christian faith is especially difficult, incomprehensible, infuriating. As a rule they are not especially talented or spiritually adept individuals. They are people whose minds have been hurt by God, and they are restlessly searching for – what? Healing perhaps, or catharsis? To expect so much from the study of theology would be futile or even dangerous. At any rate there is no lack of opportunities for theological catharsis: often our worship services seem calculated to remove the difficulty of believing, to make God easy and accessible, more a cure than a wasting sickness.

Perhaps then we should define theologians like this: They are people for whom even the Christian worship service does not provide adequate catharsis of the hurtfulness of God […] This does not mean theology takes place under conditions of God’s absence. We “miss God” in the world only because God is revealed in the world, only because God is so devastatingly near. It is in the company of an intimate friend that one experiences the true depths of loneliness. Theology springs from the joy and the loneliness of God’s nearness […] God is near, and so we are lonely for God. Friendship is the small room in which we share together the loneliness and the joy of God’s nearness.

Ben Myers (via here)

What are you trying to achieve?

You’re a sycophant, X tells me, a toady, a toadstool, a stool. Who are you trying to fool? You’re the kind of man the police look for when they need a stoolpigeon. At least I’m honest, he says, at least I say what I feel. What are you hoping to achieve out there, smiling at those idiots? Why do you want everyone to like you, why do you want to be like everyone? Take a page out of my book, he says, stop being such a yes-man, at least say what you think. I used to be like you, he says, you remember, I used to need you to like me, until I realised you were my problem.

They’re looking at you

They’re looking at you, X tells me, they’re talking about you. What do you imagine they’re saying? Want me to tell you? No? You’re better off with me, he says, at least you know what you’re getting. Time to call it a day, he says, get a bottle and let’s have a quiet night in.

I’ve always thought people write because they are not living properly.

— Tom Stoppard, via here

Shut up for a second

Shut up for a second, I tell X, can’t you see I’m busy? A house move is no joke, there are a thousand things that need doing, let me concentrate. You should be helping me focus my mind and energy. Instead, it’s like having a beggar tramping around with me everywhere I go. But at least when I’m busy you talk less. That’s what I should do, stay busy. Busy, busy, busy, then maybe you’d fade away and bother someone else. Isn’t that what people do, I say, think up some project and then another, call someone and then someone else, stay busy all day, then go to bed and wake up and do it all over again or think up different things to do, isn’t that how they get through life without topping themselves, without taking up with the likes of you in the first place? That’s what you should be helping me with if you really want to help, I tell him: staying in time. It’s when I drop out of time that I’m tempted to listen to you, watch you, as you breathe your rotten breath in my face and tug at my sleeve… Just stay with me, clean yourself up and be quiet if you really want to help, I say. Do as I do and shut up for a second, I have to assemble the bed and call the council.

My assistant

Maybe I could be a kind of assistant to you? X asks me. Help me out, he says, I’m racking my brains. Maybe I could be a helper, an inspiration? You laugh, but all I need is a word from you. You’re as weak as me now, or more, and getting weaker. You need me desperately now, and you know it, help me or I’ll kill you, I’ll kill us both.

Sometimes we get along

Sometimes we get along, don’t we? X asks as we walk along the seafront on a quiet morning. Sometimes we’re calm and free. Sometimes we get lucky and like the same thing at the same time. Sometimes you meet someone who seems to know me, someone with a hanger-on like me. Then we can relax, he says, sometimes.

How are you coping?

I flopped onto your shore like some deep-sea creature, X tells me. I came into your garden like a starving dog. You didn’t know how to deal with me, did you? You didn’t know how to stop my flopping and snarling. What have you learned since, how are you coping?


It’s cavernous, this space between us, X tells me on our way to the off-licence. I feel like I’m in a dark cave and my words are echoing all around me. How do you manage to talk to people from out of all this space, with all these echoes?