Monday, May 31, 2010

Propaganda 2010: worketh

Art Manifesto 1: Merdisme

Merdiste Manifesto

We Merdistes refuse to take art classes. We Merdistes believe that anyone can and should be able to do things with their hands. We don't believe in prettiness. It is the meeting place of creation - the more merde the better.

Beauty by serendipity.

Merdisme is a suddenism - the abrupt and cheerful meeting of material.

The 5 Merdes:

1) The Merdiste is unaware of the use of tools. This is not to say that tools should be tossed aside, or that one tool becomes more important than the next. Rather, the Merdiste creates with what comes to hand - let the beer bottle, the coffee capsule be her brush.

2) The Merdiste produces a Merde once a day.

3) The Merdiste is open to friendly merdes - Merde can come from anywhere.

4) The Merdiste explores their position within the history of Merde.

5) The Merdiste exhibits only in Toilets.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

100 Most Commonly Used Words (1)

but out of many
call the number

how are these
to write with

from which
about all was said

a long day has been
see its use now


people may find more
than two
an other she and he

when I will part
my way
it is for you

there, at this, go


or what were we
if not
oil on your water

first did come up
then do get down

some would make her like him
so that in time
they could have had

each as one
made into them
by their word
who can be his

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Meditation: Art

Death Ship: Part 4

His story appeared in the papers the next day but would only throw further veils of confusion upon the mystery. He was identified twice.

The first article announced that the missing boy was Johan Melicertes. No family, no fixed address. It said he was a drifter, drawn to the sea. His father locked in a mental asylum, his mother dead.

The second said he was Zeno Palaemon, a Greek fisherman from Corinth. It did not explain how he came to be in Limassol or why, if it were Palaemon, he had sought work on Le Dauphin; the ship now carrying me out into the silent Mediterranean.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Review: British Art Resistance

'Oh really?' I heard him say while frowning one eyebrow.
I looked at his obnoxious stare.
'Yes, really,' I childishly answered, not caving in an inch.
'Let's step outside!'
I punched Billy Childish in the head, where I thought he was most fragile, and yanked his pointy dandy mustache. He was sniffing from rage like a bull. What a bugger I thought. He hit me back in the gut, but I felt little, a miscalculation, he pushed me over, in an attempt to make me loose my balance, but I still stood firm. He countered quickly with a jab to the liver, that hurt. I kept Billy at a distance with a grip to his neck with my outstretched arm. I punched his nose again, he started to bleed. He yelled 'you bourgeois pig', but I had no pride and barely heard him. He tripped over his lanky legs, he was awkwardly build, not an attractive man by the average standard, although there was something common about him. This sped through my thoughts as we tumbled to the dust. I landed on top of Billy, I felt the clamor of a short breath against my cheeks, squeezed out of his lungs by his body hitting the ground flat out. I felt like two puppies rolling clumsily over the ground. Neither of us controlled our own demeanor any more, pushed and pulled by the other and by gravity working on our bodies. In the end there was no purpose of course, some by-standers pulled us apart. I was panting, while Billy kept on screaming, trying to hit me with foul words and a vulgar spirit, to which I kept my calm. I thought 'what trash' while recuperating. I never liked Billy very much, although he was gifted.

Link: Stanford Prison Experiment

I am a sweet guy. I could never hurt someone. I am funny. I am a good person. I like working with people. I could not kill a fly. You can laugh with me. I am sensitive. I am really nice. I am tender. I am gentle. I am intelligent.

Landscape 2: Hush

There were no children squealing like piglets while being dragged to the slaughterhouse. There was no pop from a tennis ball slammed by a wooden bat, no short tired laughter. There was no shrill of horny teens being chased into the water. A few hundred meters squatted in the sand, two men sat like desert nomads, motionlessly conversing, in the sand. Further, a girl bend over her boyfriend on hands and knees, her lips kissing his hairy chest. On my other side, a group of chubby boys and girls wobbled like drunken cherubs into the water, attracted to each other by the sheer gravity of their fat wrapped constellations, an obese figure in bikini figured heavily at the water line, like the sun around which these planets of kids circled. But the strange thing was, I heard not a single sound. Higher up the rock, a topless man, hammering the planks for his terrace roof, not a single beat of sound. Even the sea, rolled its waves ashore tacitly. A single cloud hovered still above. A conspiracy to not disturb me.

Death Ship: Part 3

We have been divided into groups.

The first division came with the realisation that not all men were here to refit the ship; to scrape away old paint, to gut and and rebuild the cabins. The first cut is made straight from pole to pole. Asian men are grouped to one side, Europeans to another. A man we understand later to be the captain emerges from a cabin below deck. He stretches, reaching up as if to pluck the sun from its branch of cloud and walks toward the men stood facing us. He speaks. They nod their understanding and are taken away. We are told we are to work twelve hour days without breaks and for seven days a week until further notice. The ship will be at sea for four days before docking. Docking where? someone asks but the question is met with silence.

The last of the land sinks into the water, leaving us to a world of blue; shades running at one another, locking horns at the horizon.

Toward the end of day the Sun's death invites us to imagine pinks and deep reds spilt upon the ocean's surface.

A yellow claw is raked accross the waves as she dives down to rest upon the ocean's floor.

When she is gone, the silver scarred moon bleaches the ocean white and skims stones of light toward our ship.

I watch the moon through a gauze of cloud-smoke; smoke rising from the silhouettes of men leaning upon the ship's rails, clouds rising from the sea.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Found Object: Email

Dear Tom,

Thank you for your interest in LT (Literary Traveller). However, we feel this idea/article/proposal does not fit our editorial needs.

On a separate note, we feel that the concept of the article was strong, but didn't feel that NYC was evoked enough to inspire our readers. We didn't see how Nin's view was different than an average passerby's view.

Network Editorial Director


Strolling Through Anais Nin's Greenwich Village

"I rented a furnished apartment on Washington Square West. The Village has character, atmosphere. The houses are old, the shops small. In the square old Italians play chess on stone tables. There are trees, patios, back yards... I love the ginko trees, the studio windows, the small theatres, Bleeker street with its vegetable carts, fish shops, cheese shops. It is human. People stroll about."

I spent the morning drifting through pages of Anais Nin's diary, volume number three, and am now standing in Greenwich Village amid a bustle of students, waiting for Max to arrive. Today he receives an ultimatum, either he still has a job or he must move back to Paris.

A wave of construction noise floods this section of the street, washing up upon the shores of the cafes and bars that line its edges. They are constructing new apartment blocks close by, squeezing them nervously amongst the existing and fragile buildings, buildings that seem drenched in memory. They must have seen so much.

New York does this every so often, buildings and businesses die away, the city heals its old wounds and moves on. Two months ago cafe Esperanto stood two blocks away, one of the Village's few truly all night cafe's, now the windows are boarded up. Somehow New York's bricks feel more transitory than its population. Perhaps when the builders move away, the village will settle back into its old routine, its old undulating rhythms. Has much changed since Nin was here? Yes, here and there, but not so drastically. The carts have gone from Bleeker street, Washington Square Park has been remodeled a little but its spirit remains. It is human. People stroll about.

I see Max turning a corner two blocks ahead of me. He walks quickly, his hands in his pockets, his head up, his face half shadowed by the brim of his hat. As he draws closer his expression gives nothing away. We shake hands and he dissolves into laughter, shrugging his shoulders. "It's ok, I think I'm done with advertising anyway." He says.

Anais Nin had arrived from Paris, like many artists, escaping a Europe thrown into the turmoil of World War Two. This was a key moment in history, the handing over of a baton, art shifting its focus from Paris to the tempestuous upstart that was New York. A world she had known was slipping through her fingers, another wrestling to be born. In May of 1940 she wrote:

"Dark, tragic days... Desperate at the news. Paris encircled."

The Paris of the thirties must have seemed so far away.

We strolled North along Thompson Street. A calm hush ran along its length as we discussed our futures. From each building signs swung announcing apartments for rent. "What will you do now?" I asked. "I'll wait a while I guess, and if nothing turns up I'll return to Paris." Max replied. Everything felt as if it were turned upon its head.

At the end of Thompson street is Washington Square Park, the center of the village or if not the center, at least its heart. In the spring its walkways are cool and shaded. A large arch stands on its northern side through which 5th Avenue can be seen racing toward the Empire State building. As we walked, a pianist wheeled his piano beneath the shade of a tree. He settled, tested his fingers against the air and then began to play. A crowd drew around him. The fountain was running, casting water into the sky, the wind spraying it toward crowds of children who screamed delightedly and run back and forth. People sat and sang and played chess. In the summer they will play films here against a screen beneath the arch.

"Beautiful autumn days." Nin wrote, "I love the Village... MacDougal Street is Colorful. The Mews, and MacDougal Alley, with beautiful small houses of another era, cobbled streets and old street lamps... I sat on a bench in Washington Square and wrote the story of Artaud."

It is difficult to feel down for too long in the village I think. Walking north, we pass beneath the Arch. Here is Washington Mews. Still part of another era and existing just as Nin would have known it then. A small cobbled street running between 5th Ave and University Place. Stepping onto the cobbles is as if passing into another world, another time. Small ivy covered cottages and ancient street lamps defy the imposing modern apartment blocks that stand beside them. Did Henry Miller ever come here I wonder? This street feels so reminiscent of the 'Villa Seurat' he would imortalize as 'Villa Borghese'. Once, at the Villa Seurat I crept up to the window to catch a glimpse of the world Henry had once inhabited and despite not knowing who these walls belonged to, I couldn't help doing the same here. As I peered inside I saw rows and rows of books nestled upon thick wooden bookshelves. Wonderful, just as I would want it! Many of the buildings here are now part of New York University. The cottages a the far end of the Mews, facing University Place are now part of the University's School of Languages.

"Come on" Max said, "let's get a drink"

Passing south along University Place we made our way back across the park and I wondered which of these benches Nin had rested upon to write her story of Artaud. Along the street running the length of the park's north face there is an elegant row of houses. How many other writers must have strolled through this park, must have rested on its benches, watching the world roll quietly by, dreaming stories?

On the south west corner of the park we joined MacDougal Street running south toward SoHo. Minetta Lane branches off from the street, turning to become Minetta Street, which weaves and winds its way toward 6th Avenue like a small river. These were in fact once a small stream trickling through what is now Washington Square Park to join the Hudson River. In a city of grids, it's refreshing to stumble upon streets that curve gently, there aren't so many of them.

It is on MacDougal Street that Nin spent evenings drinking and dancing in taverns. The street still hosts a large number of bars which stay open late into the night. We stop at Cafe Reggio, home of the original cappuccino says its sign, and taking seats on the terrace order two beers. Would Nin still come here to drink? I wonder as tourists dart from bars to gift stores, as taxis beep and scream their was south toward Houston street. No, perhaps not but the street was important to her for more than its bars. The Provincetown Playhouse she would have known has gone, but one or two small huddled buildings are still standing and would have been here in Nin's day. At number 144 MacDougal street, on the opposite side of the street, and along half a block from Cafe Reggio is where she rented a room to set up her own printing press. It is now part of NYU's Law School. She wrote:

"The house was so old it had settled. The windows on the street opened outward, like French casement windows. The houses across the way were also small and intimate, a little like Monmatre."

I like this idea of Nin, setting type, shunning publishing houses and striking out alone. Printing copies of 'Winter of Artifice', making mistakes, learning. It must have been soothing to find a part of the city that seemed so like the Paris she loved, a part of the city that refused the size and display of gridded streets overpowered by skyscrapers that had greeted her as she arrived and that led her to write:

"Where are the cafes with only three small tables, and tottering chairs? This is Gulliver's country. But I, who love human scale, small objects, small intimate cities, small trains, small cars, small restaurants, small concert halls, do not respond to giant scales."

Here, in the village she must have found her small cafe's, the life affirming intimacy of small scale. The cafes are still here today, walking west along West 4th Street, crossing 7th Avenue, and leaving the tourist bars of Bleeker street behind, is a world of small scale, tiny streets, beautiful two story buildings. This could be Europe, could be an echo of Europe. It is no wonder that writers and artists, scattered across the city at the outbreak of war eventually found their way here.

Max and I come to the end of our beers. He is remarkably philosophical, perhaps it is the Frenchman coming through. "If I have to go back, I have to go back. I don't mind so much." I imagine Anais and her husband running from Paris, Henry Miller fleeing to Greece. What must it mean to be forced to leave a place you love?

"And if everything falls through for you too, come with me. I can get you a job in Paris."

"What kind of job?" I ask.

"Packing lorries at my Uncle's company"

The idea of packing lorries in Paris appeals to the Rimbaud in me, the me that says "to hell with this, what is life without adventure?" But the idea of leaving New York, of leaving these streets behind feels harder than I could imagine. For all my Englishness I am strangely at home here. The winding streets of the village are my Montmatre, my Montparnasse. I have found my cafes, my 'La Coupole', my 'Le Dome'. I walk these little streets dreaming, hearing the voices of the Stonewall riots rising from the past, dancing among the birdsong. I see Bob Dylan rounding the corner of Jane Street, turning onto Bleeker with cigarette in hand. I hear Jeff Buckley tuning his guitar on the stage of the Cornelia Street Cafe.

I remember reading a poem by the English Artist Billy Childish once in which he said he felt as if he were the hero of all his favorite novels, as if he lived shoulder to shoulder with his favorite writers.

This is how I feel as Max and I pay our bill, shake hands and part ways on MacDougal Street. I am Arthur Rimbaud laboring as a construction worker in Cyprus, I am Billy Childish painting and writing in my Mother's house on the outskirts of London, and I am Anais Nin, unpacking my first printing press on MacDougal Street, positioning the letters, dabbing the rollers with ink and gazing out onto a world that feels so much like Paris.

Death Ship: Part 2

And the churning silence that followed, the land falling back as a hand once sent to save but whose grip has became lost; Fingers turning on themselves and rising to become a heat haze searching amongst the buildings lining the waterfront, reconstructing the undulating hum of the ship's engine in visual form.

It was then we realised he was missing.

Sitting along the deck, basking in the sun and this moment's fleeting freedom before orders would come. Strange men who seemed as part of a mythic tribe, as if this was all somehow routine to them. Were they locked into a silence anchoring its roots in the rehearsal of old practiced friendships, or was there an unspoken language at work here that only they knew?

The heat baked upon the flaked paint of the benches along the bow of the ship. We shifted our weight against it. At intervals large black domes rose from the wood paneled deck, offering no clue as to their purpose, behaving as sudden teenage boils.

None of us had seen him that morning. No one dared remember leaving his side the night before.

The metal of the ship felt misplaced and aggressive against the gentle blue of the sky, as if climbing into bed with a gun still holstered to its waist. From within its bowels a whistle suddenly shrieked piercing the air and jolting hundreds of men to their feet. I did the same as if I understood.

Interview with Designer of Washington Square Fountain

Q: Good morning. I'm sorry I didn't catch your name...

A: You checked Wikipedia?

Q: Yes.

A: If it's not there I'm not sure I exist do I?

Q: Good point.

(Sound of glasses clinking together)

Q: So let's get started. I understand that the fountain was constructed at some point in the mid 1800s. Is that correct?

A: Yes, 1852 I believe. And then again in 1872.

Q: What was the reason for that?

A: God knows.

Q: Wait, I think you're Frederick Law Olmstead.

A: Really? Jesus Christ, I did everything. How boring.

Q: So this would have come sometime between designing Central Park and Prospect Park then?

A: Oh, I guess so. Ah... let me get into character as Olmstead before committing to exact dates though. Ok, shoot.

Q: Wait, are you hungry? I'm hungry.

A: I'm not that hungry but I could eat.

Q: Do you like veggie sausages?

A: Ah, sure.

Q: Ok, gimme 10 minutes. You can keep talking.

(Sound of footsteps followed by sizzling of frying sausages)

A: Do you want to know my thoughts on the recent move?

(Interviewer's voice is distant but audible above the clatter and scrape of pans)

Q: Yeah, go on. Tragedy or what?

(Inaudible shrug)

A: I could care less to be honest with you. The thing changed once already. And the park was never there when I designed the thing.

Q: no?

A: I'm sorry?

Q: I said 'No'? You were saying...

A Yeah, the street ran north underneath the arch, the whole thing was different then.

Q: Really? That's interesting.

(Sound of footsteps becoming louder)

Q: Do you want ketchup?

A: Thanks. Oh, it's like a hotdog.

Q: Yeah but I don't have buns so I improvised and folded a slice of bread in half.

A: Ah gotcha, it works though.

Q: It's nice with mustard as well.

(Sound of spoon scraping bottom of near empty mustard jar)

Q: Is that enough?

A: Yes thanks. Delicious.

Death Ship*: Part 1

By night the streets of Limassol dissolved quickly to a haze of rich purples; tones of purple interrupted only every so often by the screams of street lamps, haloed in orange and pitching their light against the darkness like so many feathers thrown in violence against the wind.

The four of us walked unspeaking and in the morning one would be dead. A death to strangle whispers of friendship that had dared to raise their voice. And If we thought of anything at all that night, our thoughts must have been echoes of one another, each a question trailing behind our mirrored footsteps and falling silently to dissolve unaswered as snow upon forgotten fields. Why have they brought us here? Where will they take us?

Did we walk along a high street or waterfront? I don't remember. Yes, there were palm trees prostituting glimpses of the exotic and painting pools of darkness at their feet. Did this darkness hide unimagined dangers or do I dream that now, peering back through the haze of events? Do I add white dashes of eyes beneath the palm leaves as if retouching an ancient canvas? Were they there watching us then? Could any one of us have known the truth as the ship pulled away from the dock the next morning, roaring its horn against the waves like a injured animal and bidding Cyprus farewell.

*Working Title borrowed from B. Traven, to be returned safely once a more fitting and original title is found.

The Park (Homo Homini Lupus)

Wolf was a gifted writer. His best work, if you asked Wolf, was a story entitled 'The Park'. The story explored the sexual impulses of man. Wolf was puzzled by the sexual impulses of men under extreme conditions. The tragic paths of man led into many directions. But the sexual impulse was so essential to the survival of mankind, that it should persist under all conditions.
Otto Frank was trapped in a death camp with other men, separated from his wife, his children, doomed to die. For months, every day, out of nothing that death blow could come, and it was always expected. Completely delivered to the whimsical grace or vice of fellow men, who held the power to save or sentence him. Could under such bare and deprived circumstances possibly grow a homosexual tendency from such an unlikely feeling of intimacy for a rare friend?
On the other end there was a man like Willy Hitler, the ultimate opportunist. Willy was unrestrained in embracing life, not even held back by a fear for Adolf Hitler and his Nazi apparatus. While Otto Frank sat in hiding, while thousands fled Germany, Willy was attracted like a fly to shit by his opportunist instinct and attending tea dances in the Berlin of Kristallnacht.
Both men deranged, one by a cruel fate, one by his selfish nature, but in a way also both survivalists. One corrupted by the destructive effects of the death camps, the other corrupted by his own careless, loathsome lusts. But in the end, there was always still just a man.
They meet in the dark shadows of the night, where there is no good present, no wrong absent, but only a testimony to their self. Could in a perverted way, under bizarre extremes these men recognize in each other a common homosexual desire? It was an unlikely rendez-vous in the park between two radically different men, but Wolf envisioned a common need to be loved.
Like the rest of his stories, however, the story was never published, it was never send, remaining unpublished and virtuoso, while collecting dust on the shelves. Wolf was also not Wolf's real name. Actually, the man who named himself Wolf had never send any of his stories even to any publishers, agents or magazines. His stories, like 'The Park', were a great embarrassment to Wolf. He loved his stories, but because of unbearable shame, he did not even read them, once finished. Wold feared the psychological pit of the soul. Of course, the stories were fiction, so being only their author, Wolf could not be held accountable on their behalf. But he was never able to believe in this innocence of fiction behind the real fantasies of his writing.
His friends nevertheless urged him to publish, more convinced by his talent than the torn Wolf himself.
'Wolf,' they pressed him,'everything is thinkable, there is no guilt in the imaginary, angels in heaven worry committing brutal murder, in their cells virgins imagine luscious pleasures, atheists fear a god after life, the perversities of your stories express, if anything, exactly your moral sanity!'
But Wolf was not convinced. He wrote another story and placed it on top of the others, ashamed.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Interview with Dr. Spencer Wells

Q: Doctor, welcome. It's a pleasure and an honor to meet you. You became famous to the general public with your film The Journey of Man for the PBS about the dispersal of the human genome caused by the migration of early man out of Africa. Then next in your career you spearheaded the Genographic Project at National Geographic documenting the human family tree. How do you look back on that time early in your life?

Herbert Spencer (1820-1903)

S: The sins of youth! Yes. Well, these great projects not only defined me in the eyes of the public, they also created and offered enormous opportunities that have shaped me and the path of my career. I have a lot to be grateful for to my early work.

Q: But the tone of your early work stands in contrast to your more recent studies in the last fifteen years.

S: Yes. I think that a lot of my opinions, when I was younger, came forth out of the sensation of discovery. The study of anthropological genetics was a groundbreaking field of science at the time. Now, when I look back at those days from a position of knowledge and hind-sight, I can judge my youthful ideas with much clearer insight and balance.

Q: Could one say you were naive perhaps as a young researcher?

S: Don't get me wrong, the scientific facts still hold as strong today as they did then. The facts were very real, no doubt about that. But looking back, perhaps one could argue that I was motivated by a certain naivety. One has to be when one is making new discoveries, of course, because naivety is the prerogative of discovery.

Q: So how do you explain your transformation then?

S: Well, in my opinion, there is nothing strange about it, it's not a transformation but a development. My view on genetics now are only the superlative step of my research. My current ideas are not some random opinion without base or factual foundation, they are only the logical deduction of the facts of genetic reality.

Q: Your opponents however accuse you of supremest ideas! Your lecture last week was even interrupted by massive protests of students calling you fascist.

S: Yes, yes. Well, we're back to the sins of youth again, aren't we? But let me say this in response, now that I am at least allowed the opportunity to defend myself ... I hope.

Q: Ha, ha. Of course, go ahead.

S: How is it, that these same protesters where my biggest advocates when I called to preserve the habitat and cohesion of non-Western indigenous populations while my current supporters said that I was naive, as you call it, and now when I call for the preservation of, among other, western and especially white indigenous populations, the spectrum of opposition changes radically against me again and I become a fascist!? I have always been fascinated by people, by mankind, by each single individual as a unique being possessing a valuable genetic treasure. I reject any claim to a hierarchy of races, I oppose any moral judgment of race, as I reject a moral instead of a scientific judgment of my scientific work.

Q: But you plead for segregation, does that not imply or at least lead toward a hierarchy of races? Economic scarcity, after all, forces populations to impose such a hierarchy in order to justify a claim to those scarce resources and formulate thus an ethics advocating their own prerogative.

S: I am a scientist, not a politician or a theologian. My interest is the preservation of genetic diversity, to keep the gene pool as rich as possible, to guarantee the preservation of the human race. This is not simply an interest born out of personal whim. The health and the survival of mankind depend on this diversity, and this diversity can only be guaranteed by a segregated reproduction.

Q: So you plead for a segregation of reproduction, not a segregation of social life? But is not the only way to enforce this type of reproduction to institute also segregated societies?

S: Again, those are political questions or just speculations perhaps. I realize that my theory may lead sometimes to difficult social or political dilemmas to which we not always have immediate, practical answers. This has always been the tension between science and society, from the days of early science in Greece, to the days of Galileo and the Church. But these challenges cannot be solved by ignoring the scientific facts, and the scientific facts are the only obligation of the scientist.

Q: Finally, I want to thank you for this interview. I greatly appreciated your time today. Can we expect to hear more from you soon?

S: Well, it was my pleasure. This year, I start research for a new book about the psychology of genetics. As my research became more embedded in popular culture, helping to spread an awareness of our genetic identities, I often pondered about the psychological impact of my research, what effect it had on our self-perception. Now, I will finally have the opportunity to explore this in collaboration with some of the most renowned psychologists, and I am looking greatly forward to this.

Q: Well, thanks again doctor, and we look forward to your new research as well.

The Photograph over the River Seine

The Photograph had been taken mid way across the Point des Arts.

Steven had been in Paris for almost three months now and was getting absolutely nothing from the experience. He had met no-one and had immersed himself in none of the cultural activity that he intended to. What unnerved him most was the sense of being left behind, of having missed out. He struggled to reconcile the photos of Miller and Durrell, or of Artaud and Breton that had emblazoned his bedroom walls during his teenage years with the city he now saw built up around him. He had slipped into the dusty footprint of another era finding it to be oversized and outdated.

More importantly he had written nothing. He never had in fact. the closest he came to truly feeling like a 'writer' was when he stumbled upon a second hand copy of Saul Bellow's 'Dangling Man' in an English bookstore near the river. He had hurried there hoping for solidarity, hoping that it would be peopled with other disenfranchised 'would be' writers. Instead he had found himself amongst a handful of confident American students whose French was far more fluent than his. They had tossed books to one another loudly discussing their content in a way that made him feel that he had stumbled into a literary circus. He climbed the stairs to the top floor where he had been told writers, down on their luck can find a place to crash, to gather their thoughts. Here the show was more grotesque than downstairs. His heart beat at the back of his throat. Whether he was being led through the city by the ghost of failures past or future he couldn't tell.

On the Pont des Arts he paused to look out across the Seine. The light was just beginning to dim now, the tourist boats pulling away from Pont Neuf were now draped in fairy lights, so that they seemed as haloed shadows. Steven watched the boats turn and glide toward him. He realised that he would be able to look down between the gaps in the bridge's wooden planks, that the lights would flow beneath him.

Last week he had received a frenzied phone call from his Mother asking what he hoped to achieve in Paris, why he didn't have a job. He found that he focused on the the tone of her words more than the exact details of what was said. That afternoon, wanting to feel close to other people, he had walked along the river toward the Trocadero and two quite unexpected images had pierced him, bringing him to the edge of tears. As he moved between the groups of North African men selling miniature Eiffel tower statues, he saw a small girl, perhaps three years old, chasing a pigeon. At no point did she come close to catching it, but as she ran she screamed with delight. It was a silly thing to take notice of but it suddenly made everything seem so unreal. He looked at the people around him. He tried to imagine the girl at seventeen or eighteen years old, being asked to attend interviews, to justify her 'passions'. It terrified him. Later, a tourist bus passed him on the rue de New York and he saw the same look of delight on the faces of adults peering from the windows. He realized then that writing was his pigeon as much as Paris was theirs.

He could hear the muffled tones of the boat's tour guide as it approached his bridge. The kush of the engine as it splashed amongst the waves grew louder and drowned the guide's voice so that only odd words could be heard, bubbling to the surface here and there. He heard 'Ile de Saint Louis'. Along the length of the Ile, giant posters of eyes had been pasted. Eyes looking back to meet those of the tourist. Some of the eyes were peeling away but he couldn't say whether this was the result of bad weather or the hands of angry Parisians.

As the boat pulled beneath him he saw faces looking up excitedly. He made eye contact with a fat man in a red wind breaker and the man smiled. As he looked up and back out across the river he was aware of a camera flash exploding to his left. He turned and a middle aged women beamed at him, motioning with her hands that she spoke no French. She moved further along the bridge scouring the crowd with her finger poised and ready to shoot. With his pea coat, cigarette, and beret, Steven realised that he must have seemed to her the quintessential French man of letters - Gazing out into the night, awaiting a flood of inspiration to wash over him.

The End

All his life Arthuro had been an accountant. He had a few friends with whom he drank a port or two after work, every night, on office days. They met at the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto. At the cafe there was room for four small tables, each with two chairs, while outside stood a table for four under a lemon tree. But this did not matter, for Arthuro had no more than three friends. The friends joked that there was not another friend because he would not have fitted at the table, while they laughed at their common jest. In the weekend however, Arthuro stayed home, he told his friends that he was writing. On Monday evening his friends asked what it was he had been writing on over the weekend, but Arthuro never said more than his usual reply: ‘oh, nothing. What do you drink?’ to which his friends would reply: ‘Port Arthuro, as always,’ and no one remembered that they had asked about his writing.
One day Arthuro stopped visiting his friends at the cafe. The next day his friends heard he had died in his sleep two nights ago. When they attended the wake, Arthuro’s son showed them a thick packet of papers, a manuscript of more than five hundred pages.
‘Look, this is what my father has worked on all his life. I remember, he was writing on it when I was still a child. Did he ever talk about it to you?’
‘Well yes, of course. We knew he was writing every weekend, as he was not at the cafe. But he never said what it was about.’
‘Did you read it?’ the three friends asked, naturally curious of course.
‘Yes, yes, it’s a travel adventure about four men, each living in a different capital of a different continent of the world.’
‘One friend, Tomas, lives in New York City.’
Tomas nodded.
‘Another, Vasco, lives in Paris.’
Vasco frowned.
‘And a third, Antonio, lives in Hong Kong.’
Antonio said nothing.
‘The four are brothers who know nothing about each other's lives, but they are all looking for their unknown father, a sailor named Arthuro.’
‘How does it end?’ the friends simultaneously asked.
‘It doesn’t!’ the son replied.
‘The last hundred pages are not there. There should be another hundred pages because the story abruptly ends and skips to a final and empty page, numbered a hundred pages higher. I was hoping that you would know about it. Perhaps he gave the missing pages to someone to read.’ The son looked hopeful at the three men.
The friends sighed and shook their heads with regret.
After the wake the three men went to the cafe on the corner in the Barrio Alto, sat down at their regular spots, and ordered a port.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Found Object: Postcard fom Guildford


A wash of acidic blue. A blue that makes you think of lemons. The white of the clouds - burnt to life or as if the paper has been slowly eaten away, the ink and card at war with one another.

The castle is small, boxlike and acne scarred. It stands proud but broken, its flag as one last cry against the wind. Young trees scale its walls and seem to laugh.

What is the thin fragile fence that hugs the hill beneath it? What does it protect against?

Three men frozen in time, their faces hidden. One looks down, another gazes at his watch, the third stands with his back toward us. How small they are. How easily they could be lost.


Dear Cindy

I don't know whether you got my last letter or not but I thought I'd better write just incase you didn't get it. You might notice by my address or if you heard from Stella I decided to go back in the army and it's really great this time. I'm in for Postal and Courier so I might be going to Germany after my basic training but that isn't for a while yet. In fact I'm wanting to go to Northern Ireland, I feel that I'm needed there. Well I'll finish now, I'll write a propper letter when I have time meanwhile I hope this will do.





Vienna - Jan 19, 1899
Today being the thirtieth anniversary of the birth of the postcard, its inventor, Dr. Emanuel Hermann, Professor at the Vienna Technical Institute, has received congratulations from all parts of the world. Dr. Hermann's first article suggesting the introduction of the postcard appeared in the Neue Frele Presse of Jan 26, 1869., Six months later Austria adopted the proposal, and all the other States followed its example.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Landscape 1: Puppy Love

I gulped down the last bottom of my glass of strong black wine, the local Homeric variation of home brewed wine on the island, and payed the bill, three Euro. I imagined to put down three silver drachma pieces. Would it not be better to still pay in ancient coinage? It is a wishful make-believe that everyone shared. It was night, the constellations guided my way home. The sky, the air, the tree and the road, everything was covered in pitch darkness. But in heaven the stars shone brighter than I ever saw before. I searched for Big Dipper and recognized its handle, the straight cup shape in the sky. The black blanket of night was pierced with flickering holes, a full view of curious eyes that spy on us. I walked up the hill, crossed the bend in the road and passed the trash bins. My eye fell on a carton box and the speckled white puppy head peeking over the edge.

Sarcophaga (Flesh Eater)

Most flesh flies are respectable eaters of carrion, but some have fallen to a state of resorting to feces. The sarcophage of this specie of flies stands not at the end of its life, as we humans might believe to be the proper custom, but at its beginning. The cradle of the flesh fly is a piece of rotting flesh or dried excrement, such is the humble start of its toddlers. The larva are verocious, eating their way into or out of anything edible. The womb of their conception literally a crime scene in which these murderous creatures find a home. They are carriers of common illness for man. It can hardly be a surprise that the fates of man and flesh fly meet.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Memory of an Imagined Dinner Party

I am on the corner of Prince and Mott when I call Roberto Bolano. They have set up a market in front of me and people are trying on hats, stepping back to admire themselves in a mirror propped against the church wall.

He answers just as I think the line will cut off. Roberto, I say, It's Tom. Ok he says. What time is it, I ask. 1973 he says. Listen I'm having a party, I'd love you to be there. Give me the where and when he says. Le Dome cafe in Paris I say, 1931. I hear him flicking through the pages of a diary. Ok but I'm bringing Mario. His voice clicks to silence.

I hadn't expected Mario, but I think it will be ok. I try to map out a quick seating plan. I'll head the table, and then clockwise from me: Roberto Bolano, Mario Santiago, Vsevolod Garshin, Henry Miller, and Arthur Rimbaud. We'll have to push a couple of tables together.

I arrive a little early, around December 1930 and making myself comfy at a table near the entrance, order a glass of Stella.

Garshin is the first to arrive. I see him trudging slowly toward the cafe, his hands behind his back, his eyes scouring the pavement. I wave him over and he turns to look behind as if I must want someone else. He joins me and orders a vodka. We sit in silence a while. I start the conversation badly. I explain that I've only read one or two of his stories but that I love his portrait at the MET. That's not my work he says, if you wanted to discuss art you should have invited Repin. I nod thoughtfully. An awkward silence falls. Miller arrives just in time to break it. He stumbles over a table close to us, sending it's contents flying into the street. Are you drunk? Garshin asks, but I see his eyes are alight. No, no says Miller gesturing apologetically to a waiter, well yes but only on air, on water don't you know. I can get drunk on water alone. Watch this. He takes a glass from a neighboring table, downs it in one and promptly falls to the floor.

Poetry is being shouted from somewhere. We look up. Poetry in Spanish. I see a man stood on a chair at the far end of the terrace. Long unwashed hair, arms waving. Bolano I call. Bolano, Garshin echoes. The young Chilean poet leaps from the chair and slouches towards us. Santiago is close behind. We shake hands and take our seats. Where's Rimbaud? Miller asks. I was keen to see him don't you know. He's late. We decide to order without him. Garshin and I choose fish, Miller picks out a steak dish. Bolano orders a bottle of whiskey. Miller, not to be outdone, orders a pitcher of tap water.

The meal begins well. We make small talk, we toast each other. We edge toward dessert and Rimbaud still doesn't show. It's a shame says Bolano, I'd have liked to have seen him. You should have invited Wilde Mario says shaking his head. Someone decides to call him. I have his number here somewhere says Miller rummaging through his jacket pockets. Santiago becomes very animated at this. Call him! Miller hands me a piece of paper with a number scrawled across it and I go inside to make the call.

It rings twice before a very thin and weary voice answers. Oscar? I whisper. Yes dear boy. I'm so sorry, is it late? He sighs. Yes I'm afraid so, at least 1897. I'll be stuck in this frightful place a while, there's simply no way for me to join you. I wish him well and hang up, a little sad at the news. When I return to the terrace all hell has broken loose. Gogol's Nose, out for a stroll along the Avenue de la Bourdonnais, spotted Garshin and has now joined us. The two have ordered a bottle of Vodka and are proceeding to dismiss Bolano and Santiago as frauds. What do you know about art? I hear Bolano scream, magic realism is the fraud, this nose is the fake. The nose seems offended. He explains that he is not the nose from the story but Gogol's actual nose, out to catch the air and relax a little. Therefore I'm real he yells. Where's the magic in that? Santiago upturns the table and the two South American poets disappear into the night. Miller is laughing. Garshin excuses himself and goes inside. Gogol's nose shrugs. I ask for the check. Miller overhears and says, give me two minutes, I must take a leak don't you know. After twenty minutes I decide they're not coming back. The nose agrees. I ask him if he has any money on him. He pretends to search his pockets. Well er, I really only had two shots of vodka, we're not splitting the bill equally are we? It hardly seems fair. I tell him to forget it. He tips his hat and hurries back out onto the street.

The following evening I receive a call from Rimbaud. Where the bloody hell are you? He says. Where am I? The Dinner was yesterday Arthur. What? Didn't we say Thursday evening? No Arthur, we said Wednesday. Oh for Christ sake. The line goes dead.

The Flood of the Mountain

The glass pane shudders in the wooden frame as the ripples of a sound wave hit the windows. The explosion in the clouds closely above speeds through the air. Thunder for the human soul that is shaken in the blast. The clouds are so thick and dark that I do not see the flash of lightning that announces it. I humbly shiver, my head pivoting on the thin needle of the vertebra, is shaken, my shoulders cramp toward my ears. Inferior is the brain here. Hail is released from the same clouds that are fog, that are air, that are rain, that are wind, the gods icy breath. The rain rattles the earth, the concrete ceiling of my house, the walls are drenched with water seeping through the invisible cracks, saturating the walls, within minutes water penetrates the cement. The light bulbs flicker, then, they too, give way. The hail stones hit the ground so fast, they jump up capriciously in unpredictable direction, hit the glass, hit the stone, while the rain, still, pouring, flooding. The houses of the village are gone, the sea and the horizon have disappeared, all absorbed, gorged by the hellish bright fog of the heavens flood. The mountain is washed from the earth canvas. Three nights and three days, every hour seem to last. I offer an incense of strawberry wood and olive branches, kindle the flames of the fire that stirred quietly before me. My only solace, my single hope, rose into the damp atmosphere of the chimney. On the crown of the mountain, it is not the sea that I fear, it is the heaven, broken open above, the sky of the mountain Ziggurat.

Friday, May 21, 2010

Cityscape 1: New York


A Hush of wind.

Birdsong dying away, then rising again to answer distant crying horns.

The whine of brakes or the sigh of an unseen animal.


A group of men stand outside the Catholic Worker on East 1st Street. Smiling, one singles out another, "Don't talk to this man. He's a lowlife." The men laugh and punch each other playfully. "This man's a lowlife son." The repeated joke causes silence. Was it a joke? I pass through as they search each other's eyes for an answer.


"Where are the cafes with only three small tables, and tottering chairs? This is Gulliver's country. But I, who love human scale, small objects, small intimate cities, small trains, small cars, small restaurants, small concert halls, do not respond to giant scales."
Diary of Anais Nin, Volume 3, p. 12. Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich


A sign at the Bowery Poetry Club reads:

'Rob's Word Store: Letters 50 Cents, Words 1 Dollar.'


A street called 'Extra Place', once the service entrance to CBGB's. New apartment buildings tower on either side. Construction workers noisily remove the sidewalk close by, sending plooms of dust into the air. A small hand written note taped to a window directs people to a bespoke chocolate store, three doors down the alley.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Life Re-Created

Synthetic Genome Brings New Life to Bacterium

I have no father. I have no mother. But I am not an orphan. Technically speaking, my mother is a petri dish and cow, my genetic parent is a computer program at Vita Novis. Practically, my father is a lawyer and my mother a pediatric. I grew up with the people who ordered me, in a family like any other, and received all the love a child is supposed to. My classmates behave awfully immature and call me names. I cannot really blame them, they are only biologically human, some not only are mentally mediocre as a result of their innate dispositions, but suffer from horrible genetic diseases and shortcomings. I can only imagine the torment from such traditional state. Their parents must haves been awfully narcissistic and selfish, to want to pass all the flaws and mutations of their seed on to their children.

Rivers of the Underground: Acheron

I crossed the river of pain. Some say it heals, for only when one passes Acheron, will one no longer fear the flesh of the body. Tightly clenched in my fist, I still hold the coin. This is the realm of the spirit, where I hold angels dear. For many this is the realm of death, where they feel nothing anymore, know nothing. This is a time to greet, for joy, for welcome. The water is a stream that nourishes the dead who only sense emptiness, they, Lazarus, pray like baboons. But I fear not, no need to fall on my knees. I do not shiver, but frivol. Those who think of death as life, those who fear, they pay a price when they cross, they cannot return. But to me, death is in life, with the spirit in which I joy resurrected.