“That Most Terrible Pong”*

 Posted by at 10:17 pm  Atelier
Jun 262012
 

OR – A Taxonomy of Malodours in the Context of Vagabond Literature- since Vagabond Literature, you might think and possibly agree, sort of defines our territory. And it is a surprisingly sparse territory according to my latest Google search, The Vagabond in Literature (Arthur Compton Rickett, London 1906) being the most recent contribution to the outlaw corpus. Then perhaps good outlaws are always invisible. Unlike Cosmopolitan Literature, or Flaneur Literature (or Bohemianism) which you will see on full view everywhere – you will find the shelves stacked – Vagabond Literature is out of place and abroad – Mal-arias -

1. Funny Smells:
Nasty pongs as well as being offputting on the dancefloor are also invisible (except perhaps if you are a syneasthesist) jests.

2. Bad Smells:
Those from off the old, which result in the destruction of the young. While we are referring here to the lessons of history, we are also speaking in the present tense: go to the Robinson Institute if you prefer examples and argument from the leftist end of the spectrum (remember those meteorites, the xenoliths, to which I referred last week), or listen to Professor Neil Ferguson, who is giving the 2012 Reith Lectures currently on BBC Radio 4 if you prefer talk from the rightist end (so far I've only listened to the first one, The Human Hive). The bad smells of history are all pervading regardless of political persuasion, corrosive from every viewpoint, as even the great Slavov Zizek wryly admitted recently, "We - by which he meant the old -are visiting destruction upon the young" - through debt, global warning… the long litany goes on and on.

3. Fishy Smells:
These are Strange Cases (the – inverted commas - 'Strange Cases' to which I have also referred before, such as Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde) which are difficult to classify. Like missing persons: go to the Invisible: Art About the Unseen 1957-2012 for a taster. Or visit the asylums of the insane.

4. Foul Smells.
Disloyalty - The foul smell of a traitor – the very worst of smells. As Somerset Vaughan sort of once said, "You must absolutely be disloyal to be good writer".

We constantly meet with examples of all these terrible smells in Vagabond Literature:
    'Bon Soir. Je m'appelle Max, je suis soixante-un ans, j'ai des cheveux brun avec du gris, et court – not long like your pony tail. The tall strongly built Frenchman sits at the table in front of me with his back to me, his large black T shirt filling my vision. je porte un chenise blu d'azzur – light blue – nous sommes le meme. It is what you would call a cultural exchange. Cosmopolitan.
   'The man stands up and takes a white walking stick in his right hand and put his left hand on his wife's shoulder as she leads him towards the kebab restaurant door on a street south of Victoria station in London, but even so he stumbles on the step. No, he says to me in English, we are not the same.
    'There is another group of three people behind where I am sitting, two men and a woman who are also now blind to me. Then a waif Spanish chick girl comes to sit on the next door table with her lover, who may also be her father, he has grey hair, and – now I am thinking what I am writing – I am not the same.
    'Her long dark hair is platted tightly in a pony tail, which, lying over her shoulder, she strokes gently with the fingers of both hands, as if it is living like a cat. She wears a small white cotton top with thin straps over her bare skin, and large glasses with black rims. They order their meal, and – respetto – it is time for me to leave.'

* That Most Terrible Pong -
"That most terrible drug – ourselves – which we undertake in solitude" Walter Benjamin, Protocols on the Experiments with Hashish…