Monthly Archives: August 2010

We work in the dark — we do what we can — we give what we have. Our doubt is our passion, and our passion is our task.

— Henry James

In the pub

‘The pub’s empty apart from a young couple at one end. They’re looking down at their phones. She sits back and plays with her hair. He sips from his drink. I sit against the opposite wall and sip from my tepid ale. The publican stands behind the bar staring into space. A stupor settles on us all, uniting and dividing us. Don’t talk, let the silence spread like frost. The publican looks bored, he’s on the verge of talking. People should have the decency not to talk. Find another space, think of something else. No, don’t think, drink, take out the notepad and wait for the words. They come, the words, and I shape and lose them in the same breath. Swallow the dregs, order another. Stay calm. If I don’t talk they won’t. If they talk I won’t. I’ll listen only for the words that come to me, that appear in this grey space, that rise and disappear like smoke, if they don’t talk, if he doesn’t turn on the radio, in this space where I think and am thought, where I write and am written, where I can neither think nor write. Scribble, it doesn’t matter what anymore. Drink, it doesn’t matter what anymore. Now maybe I can talk, now that I’ve drunk and talked myself into this space where anything and nothing is possible. But no one talks, silence spreads like frost. The couple fiddle with their phones, the publican wipes the counter. I’ve made it clear perhaps that I’m not a talker, and isn’t that what I wanted…? Where was I? In the pub, where the publican was wiping the counter. The young couple are gone, only the publican remains and he’s fading too, out and away, along with the pub, into the pale orange sky, leaden now, grey now, nothing now, and I’m sitting in a chair in this nothing, in this grey space which is my room passing back into being around me, scribbling.’

Music so wishes to be heard that it sometimes calls on unlikely characters to give it voice.

— Robert Fripp

The expulsion from paradise

The Expulsion from Paradise is eternal in its principal aspect: this makes it irrevocable, and our living in this world inevitable, but the eternal nature of the process has the effect that not only could we remain forever in Paradise, but that we are currently there, whether we know it or not.

— Kafka, The Zürau Aphorisms (tr. M. Hamburger)

Wanting to die

Since you ask, most days I cannot remember.
I walk in my clothing, unmarked by that voyage.
Then the almost unnameable lust returns.

Even then I have nothing against life.
I know well the grass blades you mention,
the furniture you have placed under the sun.

But suicides have a special language.
Like carpenters they want to know which tools.
They never ask why build.

— Anne Sexton, from ‘Wanting to Die’