Another door

 Posted by at 4:47 pm  Anti-Gravity Surgery, ON the STREET  Comments Off
Mar 182016

Is this a door I should open and walk through or is this a door to fleetingly admire and pass by? I must admit it doesn’t look like a door that is used very often. Long ago locked, jammed in its frame, remaining as a reference to the past. The past use of the building as a convent or monastery. Fifty metres back was the main arched entrance to the cloisters that have been restored, a library established, and artists or craft workshops established, those who no longer look for a religious dimension to their lives. So what is this door for? Who might use it? If one was to wait and watch would one see the ancient monk or nun who silently emerges for a late passaggiata in the moonlight, scurries on weightless feet and returns later some mission of mercy accomplished.

A door for memories? It is the memories that come and go. Look at the gaping letter box; memories would need nothing bigger.

Surely not a door for me to go through. I imagine a weed filled passage leading to a part of the monastery that has been cut off, nobody could think of what to use it for: too difficult, too awkward. Like the parts of the past that no one knows what to do with. Best forgotten. Put it (whatever it is) in a museum, an old fashioned museum with dusty glass cases which nobody looks at. “I can’t see what it is, can you?” 

But I may be able to turn the door into a door I can use. I could oil the hinges so it opens easily and silently. And maybe I can find the big key (somebody must have it!) and go through and find a further stage in life’s adventure. The unraveling and restoring of what I am.

Mar 112016

I rather liked the Wikipedia entry for deranged: 

‘Deranged may refer to psychosis, a generic psychiatric term for a mental state often described as involving a “loss of contact with reality”.

Deranged may also refer to:

In films:

*Deranged (1974 film) a 1974 American horror film.

*Deranged (2012 film) a 2012 South Korean science fiction, horror and thriller film.

*Idaho Transfer, a 1973 American film also known under the UK video title of Deranged.

In music:

*Deranged (band) a Swedish death metal band formed in 1991.

*Deranged Records, a Canadian punk record label.

In television:

* Deranged (TV series) a television series shown on the Investigation Discovery network.

Other uses:

* Deranged, a type of drainage system (geomorphology)

* Ibrahim of the Ottoman Empire (1615-1648), Ottoman Sultan called Ibrahim the Deranged.

* Derangement, in combinatorial mathematics, a permutation of the elements of a set such that none of the elements appear in their original position.’

I suppose Kafka’s Metamorphosis must be an example of the tendency towards derangement, the upsetting of arrangement. That general tendency to get lost, for things to turn into their opposites. The book that is comfortably placed in one person’s hand is suddenly seen in quite another person’s hand. The necessity of unarranging, deranging, rearranging; like looking at the world from India, Italy or wherever it is we might be imagining that we are arranged.

The Great Derangement

 Posted by at 10:13 am  Echo Effects, Exodus, IN Conversation  Comments Off
Mar 092016

Words! It took only a little verbal cunning in India to acquire the copy of the River of Smoke (Amitav Ghosh’s 2nd volume of his ‘Ibis’ trilogy) from the beloved. She had already started the book, but her visual cortex was so filled with the colours and patterns of cloth and textiles which are to be found everywhere as we were travelling in Rajahstan over the last three weeks, that she had little time and energy for reading and so she gave it up easily to me. I hardly had to plead.

Being in India for three weeks and falling into the colours and patterns of their words, I had raced through the 1st volume Sea of Poppies and was eager for more, my desire being roused further by the multiple languages which Ghosh employs in the service, as Indian people constantly are, of ‘a continuing exchange of words between generations’. He marks out the place of this exchange in The Chrestomathy, being a lexicon to be found as a pdf on his website  (

Then there is the not insignificant matter of the lecture series at Chicago University which Ghosh delivered in 2015 (akin to the ‘Reith Lectures’, a speaker is invited to develop a theme in a series of four lectures). Ghosh’s title was “The Great Derangement: Fiction, History, and Politics in the Age of Global Warming” and the four lectures can be watched on line via the above link. While this celestial decentering manifests itself, Ghosh seems to be saying, words are also not to be wasted…

…And so finally there is the economy of the ’Chrestomather’, which is the Ghosh blog. Posts are infrequent, and in them words and languages are transgressed (not infrequently over fabulous meals involving the cooking of dishes from different cultures and regionalities). There is also a complexity of named categories, and then a large number of ‘Uncategorised’ posts, which may feel familiar to us as we likewise consider our place in countries such as Italy or Ukania, or localities such as Tuscania or Dorset or Devon, or cities such as Firenze or Exeter. And the meals we consume there. As well as our place in Europe of course.

Ghosh comes from Calcutta, and as well as his fiction, he writes critical essays on India as a place from a social science perspective. He will be 60 years old this year. It seems that an ancestor of his was called Neel, and he happens to fall into the narrative of the ‘Ibis’ trilogy. Neel was also the founder of The Chrestomathy in his later life according to the claim of his descendant, who is described as the family’s present ‘wordy-major’.