Monthly Archives: July 2011

A white screen

A white screen. Shut it down, open it. Start from the bottom, then, where you are. Start with what you see. (Why this need to type anyway, to start again?) Rescue what you can, or let it return to life. From nowhere. But you aren’t nowhere, you’re here. A desk under a white lamp… Runny nose, slight fever, things a little surreal. A pot of white tea… And your surroundings? Endless rain. No run today then? It’s been a week, hasn’t it? A week of illness and drunkenness, of lying in sweaty sheets. You miss the park, your beloved Victorian park, flanked by tennis courts and the pitch-and put, with the anachronistic concert pagoda in the centre. The reflecting pool where they race model speedboats. Lawn bowling, croquet, mini railway tracks. The putting green, the bush that smells of hops, the skate ramps always, in dry weather, full of kids with their boards and bikes. Dogs begging for balls to be thrown… No run for a week… Again the wish to get straight, to get right with your body, with the world, with God. To get the drink and drugs out of your system once and for all and never need them again. A massive detox: healthy at last. To have done and dealt with everything: to allow peace to grow from the inside out… Or to start over and over until all has been said that needs to be said and your life is once more a white screen and the need to blacken it has ceased. To be free of me at last.

Sometimes it is necessary to depart. Sometimes it is necessary to leave it all behind. That’s how I understood the act of blogging, back when I started Spurious, the blog which shares the same name as [my] novel. As someone who had made some progress as an academic – a journey which implies valuable training as well as compromise and despair – I thought a kind of exodus was necessary, from existing forms of published writing. Leave it all behind! I told myself. Leave the Egypt of introductory books and academic journals and edited collections behind. Leave the slave-drivers behind, and the sense you have of being a slave. Leave capitalism and capitalist relations behind. Leave behind any sense of the importance of career and advancement. Leave behind those relationships that are modelled on investment and return.

Lars Iyer

I love it. It gives you more than the rural sense . . . because you get up in the morning in the village, or wherever, and you go to get your daily load, you walk through the field and you know that at the same time most of the nation is doing the same. It gives you some exhilarating sense of being with the rest. If you look from the height of a dove, or a hawk, across the nation you would see it. In that sense it was nice. It gives you a certain insight into the basics of life.

Joseph Brodsky


Pharmaceutical wonders are at work
but I believe only in this moment
of well-being. Unholy ghost,
you are certain to come again.

Coarse, mean, you’ll put your feet
on the coffee table, lean back,
and turn me into someone who can’t
take the trouble to speak; someone
who can’t sleep, or who does nothing
but sleep; can’t read, or call
for an appointment for help.

There is nothing I can do
against your coming.
When I awake, I am still with thee.


High on Nardil and June light
I wake at four,
waiting greedily for the first
note of the wood thrush. Easeful air
presses through the screen
with the wild, complex song
of the bird, and I am overcome

by ordinary contentment.
What hurt me so terribly
all my life until this moment?
How I love the small, swiftly
beating heart of the bird
singing in the great maples;
its bright, unequivocal eye.

— Jane Kenyon, from ‘Having it Out with Melancholy’

Good night

‘Marianne. Marianne! Sorry to wake you.’
‘It’s all right. I’ll fall asleep again. What’s wrong? Johan?’
‘I don’t know. I think I’ve got, I don’t know, some fucking anxiety.’
‘Anxiety? What do you mean? Oh I see! You’re sad!’
‘I’m not sad… It’s worse. I’m anxious. It’s bigger than me. It’s trying to make its way through every orifice in my body, my eyes, my skin, my ass. It’s like some massive mental diarrhoea! It’s seeping through everywhere, I’m too small for it.’
‘Are you afraid of death, Johan?’
‘I want to scream more than anything. What can you do with a baby that won’t be comforted?’
‘Come and lie down with me.’
‘There’s no room.’
‘We’ve slept in smaller beds.’
‘We won’t be able to sleep.’
‘It doesn’t matter. Not in the last days of our lives.’
‘I have to take off my shirt. It’s soaked with sweat.’
‘Go on then.’
‘You take yours off too.’
‘All right.’
‘Come on, Johan. Come here. There… lie down.’
‘Good night, Marianne.’
‘Good night.’

— Bergman, Saraband

The big machine

With today’s model [of the orgone box], it is no longer necessary to sit in cramped quarters for a specific time. Improved and enlarged to encompass the continent, the big machine works on its subjects continuously, day and night.

Christopher Turner on Wilhelm Reich

A certain sweetness

There was just a certain sweetness to daily life that began asserting itself. I remember sitting in the corner of my kitchen, which has a window overlooking the street. I saw the sunlight shining on the chrome fenders of the cars, and thought, ‘Gee, that’s pretty’. I said to myself, ‘Wow, this must be like everybody feels’. Life became not easier but simpler. The backdrop of self-analysis I had lived with disappeared. It’s like that joke: ‘When you’re hitting your head against a brick wall, it feels good when it stops’. When you stop thinking about yourself all the time, a certain sense of repose overtakes you. It happened to me by imperceptible degrees and I could not really believe it; I could not really claim it for some time. I thought there must be something wrong. It’s like taking a drink of cold water when you are thirsty. Every tastebud on your tongue, every molecule in your body says thank you.

Leonard Cohen

The job

The job is infinite, the job is never-ending. When was it you gave up, fell away and became lazy? When did you realise it was too much for you? Not for others, perhaps, but for you, and therefore for us? When did you realise you didn’t even know what the job was?

Inexistence visible

Today art can only be made from the starting point of that which, as far as Empire is concerned, doesn’t exist. Through its abstraction, art renders this inexistence visible. This is what governs the formal principle of every art: the effort to render visible to everyone that which for Empire (and so by extension for everyone, though from a different point of view), doesn’t exist.


[The words] play, answer, echo one another. They reverberate. They reflect one another, they sparkle… And he is caught in the labyrinth of their mirrors, imprisoned in the interlacings of their reflections… He turns, mirrored from one to the other… This is the moment when we must become two persons. One half of me becomes detached from the other: a witness.

— Sarraute, Between Life and Death, quoted here