“if thou gazes long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into thee”

“And if thou gazes long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into thee”

– Nietzsche, Beyond Good and Evil

Continue reading ““if thou gazes long enough into the abyss, the abyss will gaze back into thee””

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some Kerouac style haikus of random childhood memories

wide-eyed child

awed at his sketches

and gentle guitar ditties

*

a pipe smells homely

pop inhale pop inhale

hazy calm surrounds

*

wade into a lake

where the rotten pike waits…

water gushes into wellingtons

*

An avalanche of Westies

the first thing they saw-

our beaming faces

*

sunsets & rockpool hops

wandering Welsh beaches

a bottlenose greets us!

*

cave mouths by seashore

return our whoops and wails

through the rasping waves

*

looking through loopholes,

of lofty castle remnants

time here afolly

*

He’s laughing, dancing

through bleached corridors

in a hospital gown!

*

alone skimming stones

bobs, bobs, bobs, away

under soft lilac sky

*

nb. featured image – John Constable ‘cloud study at sunset’

i am but what you think of me

i am but what you think of me

and nothing more unthinkingly

an inkling and credulity

you know as well as i

that eyes befalling from outside

see everything we try to hide

like sharks trapped in formaldehyde

but all of its a sham

for i know not you, you not i

just brushstrokes in a painted sky

just a collection of notes in a book or melody

that form a song

and who knows what i sound like to you?

“nitimur in vetitum: we strive for what is forbidden”

“Philosophy, as I have hitherto understood and lived it, is a voluntary living in ice and high mountains… from the lengthy experience afforded by such a wandering in the forbidden I learned to view the origins of morilizing and idealizing very differently from what might be desirable: the hidden history of the philosophers, the psychology of their great names came to light for me. How much truth can a spirit bear? How much truth can a spirit dare? Error, a belief in the ideal, is not blindness, but cowardice… Every acquisition and step forward in knowledge is the result of courage, of severity towards oneself… Nitimur in vetitum: in this sign my philosophy will one day conquer, for fundamentally what has hitherto been forbidden has never been anything but the truth”

Nietzsche – Ecce Homo

Continue reading ““nitimur in vetitum: we strive for what is forbidden””

the pursuit

Let us go then, let us flee
Hand in hand for destiny
Shadows dancing, cobbled straits
We run, or surely death awaits
your face by moonlight soft as snow
Carved by Michelangelo
Frantic footsteps close behind
Echoes of a troubled mind
Curtains tight like insomniac eyes
As nightmares start to crystallise
Hunter slows, now comes our chance
We share a fleeting, feather glance
Then gunshot splits open silent air
And cleaves through hearts like a knife through poetry
Falling, falling to the stones with a dull splash like toppled inkwell
Looking up from deep-sea city lights shimmering through your hair
coughs and finally I ask you whether
I can have your smile
etched upon my eyes forever…

***

my literature PhD thesis abstract

***I’m currently in the 4th year of my PhD in literature, hoping to be finished in around a year to a year and a half. Thought I’d share my abstract so people can get an idea of what it is I write about***

TITLE: The Implicit Art: Tracing the Underlying Presence of Art, Artists and Art Movements in Modernist and Late Modernist Literature

ABSTRACT: My research centers around discerning how art can be present within a text without being explicit, that is, by overt means such as actual images and allusion to specific art, movements and artists. It will be argued that the presence of art, and moreover the ideologies associated with many of the presiding art movements of the twentieth century onwards, can be felt even when a text is confined to the purely literary. Thus, whilst many of the texts discussed often experiment with graphic, visual dimensions, blurring the boundary between literature and art, it is vital to consider that such dimensions provide only a fraction of the artistic gamut engaged by these authors. Indeed, the presence of art can be felt through all manner of literary dimensions: be it through language (e.g. tone of narrative voice, character dialogue, turns of phrase, inflection, use of irony); recurrent motifs and thematics; stylistics; tonality; choice of setting; historicisation (references to specific historical figures, fashions, events, technologies, forms of language, etc.); metatextuality (which often crosses into the surface/pictorial space of texts but is by no means restricted to it); even the much more generalised ideology of the text. I will use four authors as my exemplars, all of whom have had a presiding influence by art within their work: for J. G. Ballard this is the European surrealists and especially the paranoiac-critical art of Salvador Dali; for Douglas Coupland the Pop Artists of the 60s and especially the iconic works of Andy Warhol; for William Burroughs the artist Brion Gysin, with whom he developed the legendary cut-up method; and for Gertrude Stein the age-defining cubist art of Pablo Picasso. It shall be argued that all these authors are consciously appropriating and adopting the aesthetics of these artists and movements within their texts, often as a means to channel a preexisting philosophy in order to bolster and extend on their own ideas, or in some cases, to provide a critical lens up to society. This idea of art providing a critical lens, was argued by the media theorist Marshall McLuhan, whose philosophical works often veered into artistic spheres (in part drawing on the ideas of Wyndham Lewis), and who had a seminal influence on many of the authors present, and so his theoretical approach will be utilised throughout the thesis.

***

a condensed & rewritten version of T. S. Eliot’s ‘Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’

***

Let us go then, you and I,
While evening is spread about the sky
Through the half deserted streets
Like dreams of muttering retreats
Restless nights in cheap hotels
And restaurants and oyster shells
Streets flow on like tedious arguments
Then comes a question of intent
Oh, but don’t ask ‘what is it?’
For now is the time to make our visit
To where the women come and go
And talk of Michelangelo

On this October night
Yellow fog licks at windowpanes
Moonlight mirrored in flooded drains
Wisps of chimney soot leap and fall
So soon to answer Sleep’s soft call
There will be time for smoke to slide
Along the street but woe betide
There’s time to murder and create
There’s a question sitting on your plate
There’s time for you and time for me
But first the take of toast and tea
For there’s time yet for indecision
And ample more for this revision
And still the women come and go
Still mull on Michelangelo
There’s time to wonder ‘do I dare?’
And time to wander down the stair
Time to worry on my thinning hair
But do I dare, do I dare, disturb the universe?
Perhaps, for in mere moments can I reverse..

For I have already known them all:
Evenings, mornings, afternoons
All Measured out with coffee spoons
Beneath the music in a farther room
I hear voices, whispers draped in gloom
Or maybe this too do I presume?
Those eyes that fix you, pin you to the wall
How do you even begin to tell all?
How should I presume?

I have known those already, perhaps known them all,
Those that lie along table and wrap around shawl,
Arms which are braceleted, milky white and bare
But which under lamplight are downed with soft hair,
What is it that makes me so digress?
Perhaps it’s that perfume which clings to her dress…

Through the narrow streets at dusk
Lonely smokers shed their musk
And like the silence undersea
The evening sleeps so peacefully..
Is this a sign my greatness flickers?
And can I hear the Footman’s snickers?
In short, I admit, I was afraid
Would my efforts be repaid?

Beneath the sunset, sprinkled streets
where all these questions come to meet
Tis impossible to say just what I mean!
To alight my nerves as upon a screen
To violently cast off that silken shawl
“But that’s not what I meant at all!”
For I am no Hamlet nor meant to be
Rather an attendant of great levity
Progress swills as I advise
Play the Fool ’til my demise
I grow old… I grow old…
the bottoms of my trousers rolled
Should I part my hair and eat a peach?
Wear flannel trousers to the beach?
The mermaids singing each to each
will you sing to me I do beseech?
Riding seaward on the waves
deep chambers of the sea one craves
to dance with you in seaweed gown
till voices wake us, and we drown…

***

original poem by Eliot:

Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes,
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair —
(They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”)
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin —
(They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”)
Do I dare
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?
And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
And should I then presume?
And how should I begin?

Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows? …

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.

And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head (grown slightly bald) brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it towards some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—
If one, settling a pillow by her head
Should say: “That is not what I meant at all;
That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
“That is not it at all,
That is not what I meant, at all.”

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.