Thursday, August 25, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 10 / A Reference to the Voices

I have been living for several months in a supernatural state of mind - Charles Baudelaire

It is not a question of a belief in ghosts when you’ve been walking around with one strapped to your back for as long as you can remember. When you remember nothing but whatever the ghost thinks to whisper into your ear, softly, on eternal repeat. When you’re lost in one of the more troubling sectors of a city you lived in two decades ago, confused by subtle shifts in the angles of the buildings, the wraith-like irritability of its invisible crowds. When the exit routes have been replaced by the endless grinding of teeth and solar waste, when the voice in your ear, like the infernal tour guide that it is, mumbles on about street committees, about phone-trees and safe-houses, bailiffs and picket-lines. When you almost remember what those words mean. When you can almost smell the glue and the petrol. When the voice in your ear tells you there was a time when glue and petrol were something other than metaphoric obfuscation, that street committees and safe-houses were holes in the calendar, that bailiffs and solar waste were targets for more than melancholic metastasis. And the voice in your ear is a system of lines and threads, a storm of dates and songs, and you can almost make out the language, as it tells you the catastrophe is a depth-charge concealed in the spaces between the buildings, and that those spaces are as endless and as bleak as the sound of a stopped clock. And you remember walking up these same streets two decades ago, dressed in a green trench-coat, clutching a broken wing mirror, demanding that strangers read their faces and their systems in its cracks, and you recognise that memory as armageddon itself, as the moment when all stopped clocks start up again, an impossible syncopation, a new kind of darkness, a new kind of flame flickering just outside your sight.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 9 / Approximations of the Solar Enemy

Things are stirring dangerously around us, we who want to explode our darkness - Ernst Bloch

I don’t look in the mirror very often. Can you blame me? I’m not what you’d call a good-looking person, black rings under my eyes almost as ominous as what Shelley called the “gigantic shadows that futurity casts on the present”. Yeh. I was reading him this morning, Shelley, 5 o’clock or something. Poets, he writes, are the “mirrors” that reflect those “gigantic shadows”. Quite a job description. But not quite right. Kind of outdated. Because you’d have to be some kind of imbecile not to have noticed that whatever “futurity” might be taken to mean, its been cancelled, yeh. And if that’s true, then the same will soon be going for the “present”, for Shelley’s “mirrors”, for their “gigantic shadows”, and come to that, the rings under my eyes. Whatever. I manage to laugh about it most of the time. I joke to friends about how much I’m looking forward to sitting on my balcony and watching the mushroom clouds. When they leave I close the curtains and sit there on the floor with my head in my hands. I have no idea what I look like when I do this - I possess one mirror, and I spent most of last night crouched on the bathroom floor, scratching intricate little diagrams into it with a razor as a means of warding off something or other. Some aspect of my reflection, probably. Perhaps the bit that laughs at the prospect of mushroom clouds. Because whatever it is that I see when I look into the mirror, it is not something I wish to accept. I don’t recognise it. A small constellation of cells and forces which from one angle looks like a cruel approximation of whatever it is I think of as “my face”, and from another like a peculiar calendar of incidents both real and imaginary, both forgotten and remembered, transformed in the darkness of my apartment into the implosion of an obsolete sun or the thought patterns of a human monster or some eerie combination of the two. I sit on the bathroom floor and grind my teeth. The sounds they make mimic the diagrams I’ve been scratching into the mirror. They sound like how I imagine the edges of the cosmos must sound, mumbling wraiths, vastly incompatible alternate realities scraping together like some kind of hideous sorcerer’s rattle, the recitation of a catalogue of human incidents that I want no part of, human history as a vast accumulation of butchery and idolatry. If I was a beautiful person I would simply be a butcher. How I long for a mirror that could reflect nothing. Something sharp enough to scrape our infernal shadows from whatever remains of the sky.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 8 / "It Hurts to be Murdered"

You know how sometimes the dream cycle comes to resemble the inner workings of a solar cop. Know what I mean. Like for instance its night-time, no-one around, yeh, and you’re kicking in a door. No particular reason, just kicking. And all of a sudden like completely out of nowhere you’re surrounded by cops and they’re smashing your head into it, over and over, into the door, dragging you off, smashing you to pieces and there you are kind of screaming, yeh, screaming something like yeh yeh I admit it I was probably doing whatever you said I was thinking and as you scream that they just beat you harder, these, the cops of the living, banging your face into the astral sky and celestial dirt, until you’ve no longer got a face just a heliograph of recent incidents, a howl of anciency, a system of exchange, the decay and collapse of the profit motive. Ha. Its a city plan. Its an angle of light its a map of the stars, the gendarmerie of hell and the pigs of the ocean floor. You wake up in some kind of cellar. You wake up and you think its the shithole of the universe you’re in. You wake up surrounded by dead cops and your skin is on backwards and. They want your language. They want nothing. They want you to talk you put your hand wherever your mouth was and mumble something like but all I’ve got is a bone, all I’ve got is that I know who you are, bastards, kids of bone, cops of bone. Nothing. Like the movement of the centuries cancelled and dissolved. Nothing. Crowbar. Like a black hole or crowbar. Whatever. You list a million incidents. The squealing laughter of the dead. Whatever. The border controls of the dead. You don’t complain. Most mornings you wake up and will settle for nothing less than the obliteration of the sun.


after Roger Gilbert-Lecomte’s “Le fils de l’os parle”.
title from Diane di Prima’s “Thirteen Nightmares”.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 7 / On Being a Good Person


Time and again I tell myself I’ll stay clean tonight - David Bowie

It is important to be on good terms with the neighbours. To discuss with them your fears about the meaning of your passport. To share with them the results of your investigations into the meaning of the rent equation. It is important to explain the central mathematics of the noises they’ll have heard coming from your apartment at random hours of the day and night. To demonstrate both the internal and external nature of those hours, and their connection with the signals you receive from the lights in windows you can see from your balcony, and how those signals reflect the secret passions contained in your passport, and how all of this determines how many times a day you think about suicide, and murder. Think about, not contemplate. That’s a very important distinction, and one not unrelated to the enormous electronic screech you sometime hear coming from what you can only assume must be the centre of the earth. Always make it clear that the centre of the earth is more than likely not where they think it is. That there are storms that have been raging there for longer than the collective age of everyone who lives in this city, both documented and undocumented. That you love only sex workers, drug addicts, refugees and the terminally ill. That most mornings you think they are the only people deserving of citizenship. That you are disturbed by the hatred continually emitting from the drawer in which you keep your passport. It is important they understand how that hatred’s foul metallic shriek is in no way connected with the way in which you would like to continue to conduct your business. That your business is somehow connected with the scorched and horrific colours the sky produces as it sends murderous darts through your window each evening between the hours of 8 and 9. The reasons you have for burying those darts in the shallowest earth. The meaning of the gentle sounds you make as you do this. It is important to be on good terms, to share your knowledge, your sugar, your brightly coloured powders.

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 6 / On Throwing Bricks

“Some things are reserved for the dead and they can’t imagine them”. That’s either Artaud or Heraclitus, or more likely a combination of both, I don’t remember, but anyway its been echoing around whatever remains of my skull these past few days as I wander around the neighbourhood trying to work out exactly when it was the catastrophe took place. My routine is simple. I go to the cafe. I order breakfast. I usually eat it. I sit by the canal. I go to the bar. I talk to people. I want things. I never fuck. I’m not bothered. At some point I make minor adjustments to the flow of red and white corpuscles through my body. Eventually the day stops and I sit around in Kotti and drink beer and sometimes I spit blood and I wonder what, if any, micro-social effects my corpuscles might have on the cobblestones, kind of like if you threw a brick at a window and both of them shattered, both brick and window, and the pieces then combined and mutated and split apart and cut across corporate time and un-lived time and un-dreamt time and, well, yeh, the catastrophe, whatever that is. We all know its happened. We’re all pretty sure what it means. Most of us know that most of its light has yet to reach us. Britain’s preening little act of self-destruction was one of its more minor manifestations, of course. And the sound of the word “Britain” ringing inside my skull forces me to my feet, and I stare at the faces of a few passing strangers and wonder about the ratio that must exist between the precise number of blood-cells tormenting my body, and the precise number of unidentified stars in what we still so un-precisely call the sky. Somewhere down near the bridge I pick up a brick. It’s rough and smooth in my hand like the bones of a murdered aristocrat. I drop it again and it breaks into two pieces. I pick up those pieces. I drop them again. I keep doing this. I start to scream. I arrange the pieces on the ground. With each scream I name one of them. The bones of Boris Johnson. The face of Theresa May. The sudden screeches of a million birds descending on the broken alchemical stench of what was once called London. One of those screeches is called the Human Rights Act. One of them is called Immigration Policy. Each of them sounds like the noise I imagine a comet would make as it slammed into the earth, and smashed into roughly the same number of pieces as there are blood-cells in my body. I feel the need to sleep. I pick up another brick. I stare at nothing. Everything is silent now, silent like the noises the canal sometimes makes at dawn. Of course, none of this actually happened. I live a quiet life, and it is many years since I threw a brick through a window. I am, as the saying goes, “worried but outwardly calm”. I lean against the wall of the elevator as it carries me up to my 6th floor apartment in this more-or-less modern building in this still more-or-less working class part of Kreuzberg, and I wonder about the sounds the dead would make if they could imagine the light that surely does reach them from whatever future still remains to us. I open the door to my apartment and sit there in the dark. I feel old and tired and deeply afraid of my dreams.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 5 / About the Weather

Sometimes the heat gets so much the earth becomes invisible. This is the meaning of symbology. The imaginary walls of the city become real, become a hell of blinding mirrors and we do not know if we are gazing at those walls from the inside or the out. Everyone talks about the weather. So do we. Its been coming on with the speed of a feral hadron collider, a viscous amalgamation of water and glass, where the calendar of British incidents becomes transformed over and again into a posse of burning ballerinas advancing on the city across the landscape of some kind of scorched moon. Nobody can see anything except the murderous glare of the sky, the entirety of human history split to a constellation of more or less inaudible sound particles. The scrapings of giant beetles up and down Karl-Marx-Straße, for example. Or a righteous triangulation of the ghosts of Jean Charles de Menezes, Nat Turner and Lucy Parsons, injecting a supra-imaginary strain of Martian scabies into the collective body of the property developers of Berlin. That type of thing. Or the haunted secret corridor that leads from doing Special Brew screwdrivers in some godforsaken English town to lighting disposable barbecues under the wheels of parked cars in Friedrichshain. Or a meteor of pure plutonium smashing into the intersection of Parliament Square and Kottbusser Tor. Etc. It is difficult, in this heat, to know what a calendar or a nation is, beyond a shower of deafening bells, alterations in the so-called blood supply, corpuscles as expression of the rent equation, other specious horrors, that moment when the heat fades, and what was invisible becomes visible once more, and what was irresistible becomes unbearable, and everything is completely different to what it was before, and we wonder worriedly through the streets of the un-nameable city until the stink of dawn arises and everything vanishes once again.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Letter in Turmoil 4 / A Butcher's Lullaby


Even in Kreuzberg I can smell the burning remnants of Britain. Each morning I’m out here on my balcony, as the sky flashes from red to white to deepest black, as strange patterns of geometrical dust settle across the body of the city. These patterns I think of as a calendar of British incidents, some erased, some imaginary, some appalling. I feel like a crater as I scratch small counter-patterns into them, something equivalent to the stark anger of the circling birds, the swifts and the sparrows that shriek like shattered human things all through the morning, or whatever it is we can call the strange glow of the sky in these peculiar, hijacked days. It’s all so quiet. The shrieking is quiet. The blank statistics of the calendar are quiet. The obsolete sigils scratched onto my window are quiet. Kreuzberg is beautiful in the summer. The sounds from the canal are ever louder, the screeching of invisible time-zones blocking out the shapes of the sun.