Archives for posts with tag: construct

We had assembled the tower | now, we waited for people to visit it | But the channel was wrong, somehow | time was leaking away | I was growing weary, chaperoning the famous diva | the “Great Voice” | who could imitate the songs of robins and nightingales | but who sounded less | imposing ordering perfumes or cigarettes | The guards in their smart uniforms | of khaki with white fittings | flat peaked caps | trembled with yawns | and gazed stolidly out into the timeless | void of the plain | What was in their eyes? | No one waited for answers in those days | everything was rushed | Silence was a unicorn | galloping through light snow | and the air was filled with the sound | of complaints or elegies | of barter and soliloquies | theories and insults | a stew | a bruit, which | perhaps | as you drew further away | might mute and dampen | down to a murmur, like that | of a distant avalanche | destroying a village, or a helpless | party of skiers | Hotels, travelling, the endless | shopping | the desultory | rehearsals | none of this | was my real life, yet | it took up | nearly all of my days | and the diva didn’t even sing | so often | the era’s | taste was changing | and soon, plague | would close the theatres, the meteor | fall and instruct us | on the necessity for a new beginning

No one’s fault, and no one’s story | But we were restless, and melancholy | so we tried to explain, anyway | Perhaps we were too attached to Reason? | Scientists set off the beacon, plotted | the demographic | yet whole generations went missing | forgotten by love and lost in malls | Two lit trains, passing in a tunnel | your face as I kissed you for the last time | a sense of opacity even in | the slightest detail of a | fingernail and a caress | as if I were one of Odysseus’ oarsmen | watching Odysseus writhe and weep | as we rowed past the isle | of the Sirens | Bemusement, then | the tapeworm’s | view of her gut | a racket inside the sapphire, a menu | of empty compulsions | and always | it began to feel | between us | as if we were trying to build a pyramid | starting at the tip | A landscape, dotted with suicides | dipped in brandy and cologne | the deer’s | understanding of the hunting horn | That was the day | I saw the unicorn



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

It was never possible, and so I left | Writing was how | I just kept coming back | Dawn was enough | the morning followed though | noon | each day | built its own skeleton | When I touched the bones, I felt them tremble | as if | they didn’t want to be bones | On the clearest | evening of the year | they were not bones

Dropping out of school | joining the revolution | getting away when it all went bad, police to police | migrating | Tramp tramp tramp… | Making the road my lover, an excuse | to keep a greater loneliness at bay | Sleeping in an abandoned church | or factory | or school | it was the sleep caught me | made me who I used to be | and I left | no bones behind me in the morning



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

For those who owe their allegiance to a different order, life passes at a tangent, massive and undeniable, and yet with its intractable and relentless entanglements, which may lead to great suffering and despair, irrelevant.

The sun of the astronomers is not the only sun. And the geometers should not ignore their own shadow.

Supermarket chains. Conductors on buses, dabbing themselves on particularly hot days. Hunting for the tickets. Waiting at the hospital.

British Empire, with tattered colours, pith helmets and khaki. Musty aromas of kerosene and camphor. It is as if these uniforms are still worn, the lingo of wallahs and jolly is still being spoken. This, for big data or meta-fiction, for ripping up the clubs and click-bait.

The mass wearies with its noisy ghost, its unwittingly belligerent parade.

Won’t they ever shut up?

A distance enters all things. Our human distinction: our world of choosing. What power do we have over things — what power more intense and more extreme — than the power to forget them, to take the next corner? And the manner of our choosing is significance. Once, the Taj Mahal meant something to me. Once, the post box; once, the Who; once, the teardrops of Burmese jade. You open the old shoebox: you climb the ladder to the attic. Plato’s attic. The photos, the wallpaper with storks, the optical disk…

This too-solid flesh?… No, not at all. The body is a haze of arrows, a mist, a project forever postponed. The shoebox, the ladder — the souvenirs, the footsteps of climb: but each thing is only a honeycomb of distance, a spectral object constructed of the almost infinite number of ways we leave it. Will you ever kiss again, for instance?

The angle of the spirit is wrong. You don’t understand their slang, or want to take the drugs they take. But neither do you want to offend. It isn’t moral, this difference, or not especially: ultimately, maybe, it’s a question of mood, a particular gravity to your sensibility, a way the birds of prey fall in you, and not in others.

The distance. Locations, barren, remote, such as are sought out by lovers of glaciers and volcanoes.

Yes, of mood. The melancholy of looking at a person you were once in love with, but no longer love: the time that has passed, the water under the bridge, and then the bridges fallen into the water, and carried away. Later, the stream diverted. Later, the sea run dry.

The gulls in the centre of London have a particularly melancholy cry, as if they were mourning the loss of the waves and the end of land, but they no longer need either. Let the cold, beery waves crash on Silurian pebbles, the land bite out to its own gape and quiet, and the dizziness of the purely inhuman begin: the gulls on the roof of King’s Cross station have other interests, a separate limit to their concern.

All men are islands. All women, too. The continent is the sound of a stone rolling very slowly, gathering smaller stones to it — a dry, dusty rattle, and close up, a clicking and crunching drone, sometimes a roar. From the peak of the high summit, you feel as if you can hear the wispy clouds tearing on the sides of the mountain.

Blindly, from a memory that is only loosely your own, children fumble through the darkness, wanting what they must have.

It comes to them.


from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

At Tom’s. A sense of the drift of mores — of a culture at odds with one’s assumptions. Trying to remember the difference between stalagmites and stalactites. Kagemusha — the shadow warrior. A film about acting. Peter’s tragedy. Defeat in the stirring of coffee, the way the spoon is laid with a measured, clicking finality on the saucer; cataclysm in a blink.

Looking away: like the movement of a tide, the retreat or onset of an ice age. The actor who spends too long in her role — like a swimmer too far from land to get back. No self there, waiting. Just the shore, as after a great naval engagement, the beach littered with the bodies of drowned sailors, debris. Sarah still talking about the Cadillac.

We follow the seductive implication of our routine lives that there will be continuity, that the days have a certain architecture, like a building with a regular series of arches.

I realise I have spent too long at the angels’ tea party, and that I find it difficult to return to mortal company. The gravity seems heavy, my bones have adapted to weightlessness. The grossness of the vocabulary shocks me. The imprecision of the concepts is depressing. And the constant hurry — the desperate, avaricious, mortal hurry. Even the torpor is avaricious. The angels are self-satisfied, it’s true, and their levity unfathomable, given what is going on here. Scarab beetles, but human beings labour not with balls of dung but with slow-rolling boulders of hatred. Not to care is hard. Caring is easy. What mortals fear most, they also crave most: oblivion. What else drives every sentence? This one, and the next? The hurry, the hurry…



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

The present had grown mysterious. It floated like mist at the heart of a derelict building, the windows all blasted out. You had to clamber over the rubble in the street, massed before the entrance, and by the time you’d made your way into the interior, you were back on the street, facing a derelict house full of mist.

In an odd way, you never reached the present. And the place the present was kept — the past — was also inaccessible. By the time the present had occurred, or you were able to make sense of it, it had been packed into another derelict house, the house of expended things. And the house, because it had no doors hung in the doorways, and no glass in the window frames, couldn’t prevent the mist from entering it, and floating over the old, ruined armchairs and settees, drifting up the rotten stairs, dampening the peeling 1930s wallpaper with lupins and butterflies.

The future, too, was inaccessible. The future was the place all the presents pointed to: it was a kind of phantasmal museum, with collections of hopes and dreams and plans, none of which could possibly ever come to fruition, because by the time they came to fruition, they were already in the past — the future was a place people browsed round exhibits of elapsed projections. The future, therefore, made up the ghostly triumvirate of derelict houses, the three houses of time.

Of course, this ghostly triumvirate was actually just the same property, perceived from different points of view.

At the heart of the mystery of the present — and thus, at the heart of the mystery of the past and the future, too — there was the moment.

Nothing could have been more perplexing or bedazzling to your imagination than the moment. It was the trace of an enigma, or the skeleton of an enigma, an enigma that had died and lost its life. It was as if a building had had all its foundations removed, and yet, instead of collapsing, floated.

The crystal machinery of the moment was more complicated than the burning neuron forest of the human brain, yet simpler than a black crayon dot on white paper. It could be divided and divided and divided, and yet never broken down to its constituent element. It multiplied everywhere, in its billions and billions, and yet everywhere it vanished. When it vanished, it left no trace, except for the world. And the world suckled from the moment like a baby at a mother’s breast.

No one could name an individual moment. It wasn’t like a street — like Pearson Street, say, or Bokutei-dori. Too small to attach a name to, it didn’t work like that. The moment was general and anonymous, and at the same time, precious and utterly specific. It was translucent, and yet totally opaque. It contained nothing, and contained the universe. It was discrete, and yet attached to its fellows in long strings. The moment was there, whether you dreamed or not, whether you were alive or not. It had no witnesses to the way it moved, and yet every human life could be said, in a sense, to be a profound and extended testimony to the nature and effects of the movement of moments. Restless as the sea, still as a snowflake caught in a spider’s web, built in a gap in a drystone wall across a moor, on a windless day, in Yorkshire, England. It was the essence of the art of the riddle: from the Babylonians to the Anglo-Saxons to the PhD students dozing in their quantum cocoons, the moment was the spring, the first explosion, the first thought.

As for novelists, story-tellers, singers, musicians — what would they be without the moment?

The moment was a transcendental mechanism. With each new moment, the entire history of all things was transcended. Nothing was preserved, everything had to be rebuilt and the whole planet and its narrative shored up with logic and assumption, culture and hearsay. Your imagination was bound up into the moment, with its paths of orbit, divergence, bifurcation, circling, shattering. The moment’s precipice stood before you. To leap from the ledge would be to enter an entirely new world: it would be an act of sublime baptism, of absolute alchemy, of the radical and pervasive transformation of everything, from the core to the perimeter, from the edge to the centre. No one could survive that leap. You certainly couldn’t. And yet, what choice did you have, but to jump?

The moment is the supreme construct — a fabrication of such beige and vanilla humility, you can easily overlook its presence; but a fabrication, too, of such imperious and angel-subduing pride, its tremendous landscape rears up with icy peaks and vertiginous ravines even within the confines of a wristwatch or a sugarcube, to remind you of an 18th century copperplate print of the Swiss Alps, pitched at the trembling edge where the picturesque and pastoral morphs into the Gothic and sensational, where Reason plays Russian roulette with God and Satan and that whole starry crew of unleashed dogs and singed and smoking wings and letting-go…

When we’ve finished here, do you fancy a coffee?



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

What was I to do with myself? The angle of the sun, light latched on leaves, there was a heart to this day, I was sure. The stillness gathered, like water settling. My life was all around me. What would ease the pain? Giving up. But did making a note in my diary change anything? It didn’t seem likely. Small insects buzzed and shimmered in the sunshine, everyone was away, the garden was in a mess! I stood, quite motionless, for a long time. It was beautiful, but pointless. I decided that reason wouldn’t fit this world, it was a key without a lock. When all was said and done, there sat at the kernel of everything an imponderable strangeness. Thoughts didn’t work on it. Thoughts, I mean, were the wrong kind of tool to operate upon this mystery. How would I die?

The buzzing engine of my mind, driving to a party | An empty chateau, with coloured paper lanterns | glowing in the trees, and | I wondered | the old, aching thought, much more mellow now the years had passed | There were the costumes, the masks, the cloaks and hats and dresses | the splendid silks and wools | Having inherited the earth, the meek had moved on, leaving it behind | Silence filled each receptacle | perfectly | with an alien peace | the thimbles, the carts, the pans, the shoes…



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

The way to the city had changed | Tiny particles of her memory clung to the bridge as she drove over it | He knew there would be no way back for him, and, to an extent, he was glad | The years passed | When he’d first arrived in Japan, just after the war | he found a five-year-old girl begging on the streets | Half a century later, after the Bubble | it was a seventy-year-old man he found begging | Inside her, she found a slice of jungle | the green very lush and beautiful, the insects | flamboyantly excessive | The founders imbued the streets with their spirit | Later, the carnival arrived | Many people were bored, though | She found ocean, there, too, and the chalky vectors of con-trails | on a clear August sky | How quiet the body is | Silent, eerie, like a balloon floating past in the background | And he wrote,

Nothing had changed, except everything



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

He found himself, as ever, on the edge of words | As a child, he’d had a small tin globe, still pink with empire, but there was yellow and turquoise. The two hemispheres, north and south, could be separated along a gripped and twisted equator, and turned into bowls of silver on the inside, a planet on the outside, decorated as if the colourful design on a Montgolfier balloon had slipped and drifted awry.

For some reason, the globe had been removed from its plastic axis, dismantled, and was being stored at the bottom of a wardrobe, a world of obscurity, scented with camphor | His memory wasn’t clear, there were also the nettles, the sheds, the apple trees | A lake, very calm and still, she thought it might be from a film: it seemed so peaceful, as if it had accepted, without regret, all of its drownings.

Placed into storage, objects enter a voyage-like state, an abeyance of locality, which, from the human side of things at least, belongs to the unseen, the untouched, the forgotten. Such objects are set outside the benevolent maze of our consciousness, and can’t even be said to be lost. Entirely without thought — is this a sad fate? | She hurried to finish the day’s entry in her journal. She was fascinated by the words brocade and damascene, although her reflections that evening were focused on bereavement and perfection.



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

She was in the habit of forgetting things | Two lines of ants, making their way | to and from | the discarded half | of grapefruit | She loved his stillness, the knack he had | of growing poised | as if he were sitting | for a study | by a famous artist | The book in his hand | How the mirror in the bedroom | fashioned the sunlight on clear mornings | in spring | The plectrum | for her guitar

Where do you draw the line? | For the past few months, he felt as if | he had been | falling off a cliff, but that now, at last | the ground was || It was a beautiful painting | looking away | seemed a minor sin | but what could you do? | Still, the wheat swallowed him | and the crows cast such smooth shadows | as they flew

The train had bundled up a collection of lives | wrapped them in carriages | When their love was at its most acute | it felt almost unbearable | She had the sense | her life was being densely | packed with intensely | important things | the gleam | of the edge of a button | on his jacket’s sleeve | the feel | of the brush | as he pulled it | slowly through her hair | He realised there was something terribly wrong | when she wasn’t there | at the airport | to meet him

Clothes drifting out of style | Windfall fruit | Ghost towns | Washing left overnight | on the line | How her lips tasted | coated with rum | His passion | for Scandinavian bands | Blue plastic tongs | at the picnic site | Novels you leave off | part way through | Not quite saying | what he meant | The trapped | ant’s antenna’s last | twitch | as the sun | slips away | and the amber | hardens



from the series construct (2012–present, ongoing)

He stared at the ceiling, lying flat out on his back on the bed. He wanted there to be no escape, but there was always an escape. If there was no escape, his life might feel real, possess a tragic (or farcical) necessity. But his mind was too volatile. Whatever happened, he could always think it afresh. No, it was more than that: he had to think it afresh. Even if felt stale, it was new. And always, the years would come for him, with their covert benevolence of numbness and negligence. At some point, this room would cease to exist | Dust floated in the air from the demolished interior. They were keeping only the façade. Frank half choked in the honey-coloured air, and put up his goggles to protect his eyes. It was like being in the Bible, somehow… Nebuchadnezzar

She left work, and slipped out of the office into the early summer evening. Car crash, doctor, crimson gerberas, his being a Pisces…

In its long history, the hotel had been the site of several suicides. It was where the story ended. The cul-de-sac. Other people were then spliced into the story, or spliced the deceased into the living. Money was always a problem. Loss of love, or betrayed love | Those radiant splashes of colour, shot up into space like Apollo missions: the universe of the modern art gallery, the white sills, the clean black geometric lines.

Rockets. The ardour of exploration — the Sea of Nectar, the Sea of Clouds — the messy sheets, with their stinking topography, soaked and ripened by sex. How the door closed this time: how he walked away. The style and the type of his excuses, she wondered which one would he use? She could feel it coming. She could feel him separating, or rather, no longer bothering to camouflage their essential separation in signs of affection. The fatal glance at the watch, the piss in the bathroom. He would be consulting his list of cover stories. The great radiant haze, with its octopus tentacles, molten: the sun is not a solid, elsewhere it is going down. Fire on the launchpad. The presence of a stranger among them.

On the barren plain, nomads beginning to strike camp. The bleat of goats, hawking hack of camels: fur and felt. Winter pasture. Dawn in a saucer of milk. The loudmouth with the latest explanation | The van from the mortuary | He was worried he would lose his job, which he hated anyway, and wondered how had it come to this? | He entered her story at a seminal moment, a time of eros and mourning. The subtle process of hybidisation continued. They walked away from the wreck. The Sea of the Edge, the Sea of Fecundity.