January Sun

 Posted by at 11:40 am  Atelier, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Jan 312008

The sun is shining; halos sit lightly on the heads of passers-by; back-lit clouds bunch up like heavenly cities – the meeting place of a million glorious beings.
Beauty incites betrayal. Is it a competition? Beauty or the beast? The beast’s ugliness coagulating out of the deforming pressure of years of disappointment. Beauty arrives direct from the gods. Beauty and ugliness – both in the eye of the beholder? Do I become ugly when I can’t see a future? A future that is already spoilt. Earlier I had noticed a couple, a man, a woman, at Exeter St David’s station. Like a pair of gargoyles, they had slid, perhaps washed off, the walls of the cathedral. They chatted away entranced by the beauty of their thoughts.

The sun is shining and I can’t hear a word but I watch her mouth working, shaping; I can hear the rise and fall of tone, the rhythm of emphasis. There is a leap to be made into her body. Her being calls me to enter her, to find a door, the gaps between the words. There’s a womanly gesture. She can’t help being a woman. And I can’t help this fragmenting self; the ebb and flow of the ocean. I can’t stop the memory of a dream from last night rushing into my mind:

I suddenly realise that I’m not getting closer to home, rather I’m getting further away and I no longer know how to get back. If indeed it is ‘back’ that I need to be. I was running along narrow and twisting country lanes beneath a summer canopy of trees. Or perhaps it’s spring. In a village I seek help, directions; I seek orientation. A woman, short, middle-aged, a busy woman, tells me, shows me a map. On the map I can see where I am and I can see the journey ‘home’ is almost impossibly long. I’m too tired. But she shouts for a young man who in the distance has red hair but as he comes closer his hair darkens and his face takes on clearer features – a definite character emerges. He’s going to give me a lift. I turn to the male shopkeeper. His face transforms to that of an elderly Indian face. Is it Satish Kumar who I saw on the telly recently – the archetypal guru.


Direct Writing

 Posted by at 10:31 am  Atelier, IN Conversation  Comments Off
Jan 212008

Direct in the sense of here and now, immediate. Direct writing like this, I think, is beyond us. The best we can ever hope is the oblique; a version; a testimony; a listening -

Of something past and somewhere else. Where we no longer are; a childhood; a great city; a region as vast as Russia, to which we long to return, but are also afraid to, the fear of what has changed.

And with this knowledge, an exile with discernment, a nostalgia without bitterness, oblique writing is a way of looking back with one eye, the other set upon the road -

Which may at times, iron stylus held firmly in the hand, appear almost as good as direct.