Nov 182016

Being a think-and-write person:

…the hard things when you’re not thinking or writing and as far as you know
you are dead
or might as well be, with no word for yourself, just that suction-shush like a heart pump or straw in a milk shake…”
[CK Williams, Writers Writing Dying, Pp59]

It’s for keeping an eye on you, that’s what being a think-and-write person is for, for watching you, the you yourself
not a dream sequence at all “floating in the sidereal void”,
the you with a yellow hard-hat on, swamped wet,  and looking about to burst into song, or a snatch of song
shifting a word or two here or there like in a Prayer for the Dying (Lisa Hannigan, 2016),

to feel all                                      the ripples

and some mis –                        understood

gleefully taking liberties:

-singing songs or not even songs, just lolly-molly syllable sounds
and you’d escaped from language, from having to gab, from having to write down the idiot gab.”
[CK Williams, Writers Writing Dying, Pp60]

On the Road Again

 Posted by at 8:33 am  Echo Effects, Exodus, OUT in the WILDERNESS  Comments Off
Nov 152016

Carrying on, in times like these I turn to poetry. CK Williams is working best right now, The Collected Poems (up to 2003).I’ve also just bought Writers, Writing, Dying (2013).

I like his poems that are often slowly unfolding stories, long sentences, with spaces to pause and breath, both personal and political, moral and cosmopolitan.

Is this grief, he asks at one point. I have been feeling lost for words too, swamped.
We should walk the fens outside town today,
I say to him, the native wetlands, and we can go shopping on the way back.
The spring waters are clear and cold,
as I reach down for a smooth gravel stone lying on the bottom, and wonder
about slipping in deeper. Later I look up
that the statistical chance of this happening is less than 1:200.

Jul 252016
VIA 2008

Try Aeon

- “Aeon is a digital Magazine. It is better than the London Review of Books.. and it is FREE”.

I was talking over breakfast on Sunday with a woman called Penny. She is a literary agent living in upstate New York, working mostly with non-fiction writing.

Aeon is the closest publishing thing I’ve seen to the Feuilleton.

You read it online. Select the topics, or writers you want to follow, and so on.

Nice pics too, and Vid’s as well as writing.

Jul 102016

“I prefer the teeming crowd of souls to the teeming soul itself”, walkingtalkingwriting, please join the conversation:


I prefer the teeming crowd of souls to the teeming soul itself. This has
nothing to do with my material condition. Every kind of virtue is
found in a crowd: that humans in a crowd create their own paths as if
they are water that creates its own stream of water. How an individual,
alone, can do almost nothing. She cannot make children or be a poet
alone. If she grows carrots they are less delicious for she has no one
else to taste her carrots. She has a crowd of carrots but carrots alone.
How if she dies alone she is less than dead. How in a disaster, humans
in a crowd. How he might, alone, drinking a Michelob and watching
television, but in a crowd in a disaster carry an immobile man down
the stairs. The building falls around him but the man carrying the man
he does not know is not Hobbesian. He may die in this moment being
completely ordinary so not Hobbesian. Only the state and the man
who loves it are Hobbesian and even in a crowd, how at a party,
humans in a crowd. What causes the women to shout out in high
voices a woo-hoo in the parking lot, one two or three of them? What
causes the men, in the parking lot outside of the velvet room, to make
those deep dog woof cheers as they walk in the path the crowd has
made like how water makes a stream? This is the crowd, how it turns
the voice of one man or woman into a voice without words, and this
voice without words is the voice for the crowd. How this voice without
words is another poetry. How the remedy for the state is always the
crowd. How the state exists to blanket the crowd how poets exist to
advertise against the crowd how poetry is often the service of the state
how oh what a piece of work is the crowd that we work so hard
together to work against it. Every architect works against the crowd.
The architect is building only stadiums to corral it. How in a stadium
there is that fear of falling into it. How in a stadium there is so much
obedience not to the crowd but to what is not the crowd. How the
poets wish to sing the national anthem in the stadium. Where are the
grand halls, flat and open, in which the crowd can gather? Where is
the lack of elevation? In secret the architect builds for the crowd She
makes grand halls, flat and open, but these are only in her dreams, at
night, when she is sleeping as the crowd also sleeps. To dream with the
crowd is her cognitive surplus. At daylight the architect wakes alone
and sets off alone to plan against the crowd. At daylight the
philosopher wakes alone and goes back to his rational inquiry and does
not wonder, “what makes the crowd like water making a stream?” At
daylight the statesmen sends secret cables to the other statesmen who
send secret cables to the other statesmen who sends secret cables and
all of these statesmen and cables are against the crowd. How the crowd
is the first to go hungry. How the crowd is always leaking. How the
crowd is never neoliberal in its desires. How the crowd is its own
ideology. How the crowd will kill you and barely notice it. How it will
save you or rage if the state has made you dead. How the men and
boys who stand there with the guns shake and grit their teeth and
suffer, a little, as do the young male elephants who are exiled from the
family of elephants. How the crowd so often starts with women
together conspiring. How for this reason you are not allowed to see
women together in the movies conspiring unless it is about clothing or
a man. How the young male elephants who are the humans like the
young male elephants can hate the conspiring women and also the
crowd . I watch the girls I watch conspire as they play and this is the
seed of the crowd that could become later revolution or a party. I
prefer the crowd itself to what makes up the crowd. At night I dream
of a poetry for the crowd. I imagine the bodies pressed against each
other until there is not one set of feet left on the ground.

from My Common Ground (2011), Anne Boyer.

Jul 082016
Guest Kiosk 2, Izmir station

‘entitlement’ was the word I was remembering. I added it between these other two, “death … hospitals”, when we were meeting yesterday in the city-centre Cafe.

We were in the spirit of walkingtalkingwriting, and one aspect of the entitlement word we were on about was (entitlement/un-entitlment) the dialectic, in which both of us were entitled to step out, or into a city-centre Cafe in Exeter to meet. Or to a Hospital to die.

the national choice,

or not,

were death,



I was asking you about your poetry. “Not knowing the difference between You and your better self”, you had written or something that had ended along those lines. I was saying it seemed like a beginning:

‘.. there is only one kind of poetry (these days): Jacobin and unyielding’ (Joshua Clover b. 1962)

This was quoted in a review article I had read by David Lau called Poetics of Resistance in the latest copy of NLR

in which the following poem by Anne Boyer was provided as one of the ‘new signs of collective practice, salto mortale* rhetoric’:

were death,

‘ I wake up singing “death, courtrooms and hospitals”. The next verse is “banks, boardrooms, and universities”. There is a chorus “IT companies! Armies! Films!” ‘

* (Salto mortale : like stepping out of the the cafe-kiosk at the end of the freeway. Anne Boyer’s 2012 collection of poems is available free online: My Common Heart)


Dismal Deaths and How to Avoid Them

 Posted by at 11:48 am  Exodus, Old Men Travelling  Comments Off
Apr 082016
tripe stew131

“How unbearable the body of a living being who fights with death, and now seems to win, now to lose. I don’t know how long we remained like that”. The Days of Abandonment,  Pp 145. Elena Ferrante explores in this story what happens to us when our lives results in an unbearable absence of sense.

Nose bleed. Now I seem to win, now to lose, he is saying. To begin with the dying experience has to be told from the narrator’s perspective. Because to be able to follow the story there are some essential personal details to fill in and a few other thing we need to know. Rat poison!

The reader gets pulled in. I don’t know how long we remain like that. Unlike her four volume Naples Novels, The Days of Abandonment by Elena Ferrante is under  200 pages long. It is gendered and includes references to other women with unbearable stories of an absence of sense, “the pages in which Anna Karenina goes toward her death…”, “…leafed through the ones about women destroyed”, Pp183. Sophocles’ Antigone, comes to mind as well: these are stories in which, as regards the unbearable absence of sense, the men by and large do not die well.

I haven’t stopped reading simply because I have reached the end. And I don’t know how long we remain like this.

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’.

Feb 092016

This is the title of a book by Gabrielle Wittkop.

No, I’d not heard of it either. Neither the title nor the writer. I find an excerpt in the latest copy of the very excellent Sonofabook magazine

The book was published postumously: “…a celebratiion of death and life , Eros and Thanatos, beauty and ugliness…”


Pages torn from the secret narrative of a journey through India.’ – this is an excerpt – ‘Recapitulative notes inseparable from the figure of the Canadian sales representative, if only for his role as a simple informer.’

A first meeting takes place in the post office on the M.I. Road. I am on my way