Hüseyin Sahin

Like all obsessions, Ballard’s novel is occasionally boring and frequently ridiculous. The invariance of its intensity is not something the reviewer can easily suggest. Ballard is quite unlike anyone else; indeed, he seems to address a different – a disused – part of the reader’s brain. You finish the book with some bafflement and irritation. But this is only half the experience. You then sit around waiting for the novel to come and haunt you. And it does.

Martin Amis
Review of The Day of Creation by J. G. Ballard

The War Against Cliché: Essays and Reviews 1971-2000

forest path

Of the laws we can deduce from the external world, one stands above all: the Law of Transience. Nothing is intended to last. The trees fall year by year, the mountains tumble, the galaxies burn out like tall tallow candles. Nothing is intended to last – except time. The blanket of the universe wears thin, but time endures. Time is a tower, an endless mine; time is monstrous. Time is the hero. Human and inhuman characters are pinned to time like butterflies to a card; yes, though the wings stay bright, flight is forgotten. Time, like an element which can be solid, liquid or gas, has three states. In the present, it is a flux we cannot seize. In the future, it is a veiling mist. In the past, it has solidified and become glazed; then we call it history. Then it can show us nothing but our own solemn faces; it is a treacherous mirror, reflecting only our limited truths. So much is it a part of man that objectivity is impossible; so neutral is it that it appears hostile.

Brian W. Aldiss
Galaxies Like Grains of Sand

Hover over the Fairy mounds

October 13, 2017

Ben Bulben

At night, particularly in November, lights often travel along these paths and hover over the sidhe [fairy mounds]. They sometimes move in formation. They may be all white, or they may be of different colours – ‘red, green, blue, yellow.’ A very old gentleman from Collrai, Co. Sligo… tells me that the lights move rapidly, and I have myself seen white lights moving at high speed up the side of Ben Bulben, a mountain renowned for this phenomenon. These lights have been known in Ireland since antiquity. In ‘The Colloquy with the Ancients’ Bodh Derg refers to Brugh na Boinne as ‘yonder brugh chequered with the many lights hard by you here.’ Such lights are not confined to marshy ground and so cannot be will o’ the wisps. They are genuine phenomena, but no scientific explanation has been found for them.

Peter Alderson Smith
W. B. Yeats and the Tribes of Danu

The moon is always female

October 8, 2017

The moon is always female and so
am I although often in this vale
of razorblades I have wished I could
put on and take off my sex like a dress
and why not? Do men always wear their sex
always? The priest, the doctor, the teacher
all tell us they come to their professions
neuter as clams and the truth is
when I work I am pure as an angel
tiger and clear is my eye and hot
my brain and silent all the whining
grunting piglets of the appetites.
For we were priests to the goddesses
to whom were fashioned the first altars
of clumsy stone on stone and leaping animal
in the wombdark caves, long before men
put on skirts and masks to scare babies.
For we were healers with herbs and poultices
with our milk and careful fingers
long before they began learning to cut up
the living by making jokes at corpses.
For we were making sounds from our throats
and lips to warn and encourage the helpless
young long before schools were built
to teach boys to obey and be bored and kill.

I wake in a strange slack empty bed
of a motel, shaking like dry leaves
the wind rips loose, and in my head
is bound a girl of twelve whose female
organs all but the numb womb are being
cut from her with a knife. Clitoridectomy,
whatever Latin name you call it, in a quarter
of the world’s girl children are so maimed
and I think of her and I cannot stop.
And I think of her and I cannot stop.

If you are a woman you feel the knife in the words.
If you are a man, then at age four or else
at twelve you are seized and held down
and your penis is cut off. You are left
your testicles but they are sewed to your
crotch. When your spouse buys you, you
are torn or cut open so that your precious
semen can be siphoned out, but of course
you feel nothing. But pain. But pain.

For the uses of men we have been butchered
and crippled and shut up and carved open
under the moon that swells and shines
and shrinks again into nothingness, pregnant
and then waning toward its little monthly
death. The moon is always female but the sun
is female only in lands where females
are let into the sun to run and climb.

A woman is screaming and I hear her.
A woman is bleeding and I see her
bleeding from the mouth, the womb, the breasts
in a fountain of dark blood of dismal
daily tedious sorrow quite palatable
to the taste of the mighty and taken for granted
that the bread of domesticity be baked
of our flesh, that the hearth be built
of our bones of animals kept for meat and milk,
that we open and lie under and weep.
I want to say over the names of my mothers
like the stones of a path I am climbing
rock by slippery rock into the mists.
Never even at knife point have I wanted
or been willing to be or become a man.
I want only to be myself and free.

I am waiting for the moon to rise. Here
I squat, the whole country with its steel
mills and its coal mines and its prisons
at my back and the continent tilting
up into mountains and torn by shining lakes
all behind me on this scythe of straw,
a sand bar cast on the ocean waves, and I
wait for the moon to rise red and heavy
in my eyes. Chilled, cranky, fearful
in the dark I wait and I am all the time
climbing slippery rocks in a mist while
far below the waves crash in the sea caves;
I am descending a stairway under the groaning
sea while the black waters buffet me
like rockweed to and fro.

I have swum the upper waters leaping
in dolphin’s skin for joy equally into the nec-
cessary air and the tumult of the powerful wave.
I am entering the chambers I have visited.
I have floated through them sleeping and sleep-
walking and waking, drowning in passion
festooned with green bladderwrack of misery.
I have wandered these chambers in the rock
where the moon freezes the air and all hair
is black or silver. Now I will tell you
what I have learned lying under the moon
naked as women do: now I will tell you
the changes of the high and lower moon.
Out of necessity’s hard stones we suck
what water we can and so we have survived,
women born of women. There is knowing
with the teeth as well as knowing with
the tongue and knowing with the fingertips
as well as knowing with words and with all
the fine flickering hungers of the brain.

Marge Piercy

full of harp-noises

August 11, 2017

They went in. Pine-needles are not easy to walk on, like a floor of red glass. It is not cool under them, a black scented life, full of ants, who work furiously and make no sound. Something ached in Carston, a regret for the cool brilliance of the wood they had left, the other side of the hills, on the edge of the sea. This one was full of harp-noises from a wind when there was none outside. He saw Picus ahead, a shadow shifting between trunk and trunk. Some kind of woodcraft he supposed, and said so to Felix who said sleepily: “Somebody’s blunt-faced bees, dipping under the thyme-spray”; a sentence which made things start living again. Would they never have enough of what they called life? There was no kind of track over the split vegetable grass. A place that made you wonder what sort of nothing went on there, year in year out.

Mary Butts
Armed with madness

It was while writing a Diary that I discovered how to capture the living moments. Keeping a Diary all my life helped me to discover some basic elements essential to the vitality of writing…

Of these the most important is naturalness and spontaneity. These elements sprung, I observed, from my freedom of selection: in the Diary I only wrote of what interested me genuinely, what I felt most strongly at the moment, and I found this fervour, this enthusiasm produced a vividness which often withered in the formal work. Improvisation, free association, obedience to mood, impulse, bought forth countless images, portraits, descriptions, impressionistic sketches, symphonic experiments, from which I could dip at any time for material…

The Diary, creating a vast tapestry, a web, exposing constantly the relation between past and present, weaving meticulously the invisible interaction, noting the repetitions of themes, developed in the sense of the totality of personality, this tale without beginning or end which encloses all things, and relates all things, as a strong antidote to the unrelatedness, incoherence and disintegration of the modern man. I could follow the inevitable pattern and obtain a large, panoramic view of character.

Anaïs Nin
On Writing

A journal

I got out this diary and read, as one always does read one’s own writing, with a kind of guilty intensity. I confess that the rough and random style of it, often so ungrammatical, and crying for a word altered, afflicted me somewhat. I am trying to tell whichever self it is that reads this hereafter that I can write very much better; and take no time over this; and forbid her to let the eye of man behold it. And now I may add my little compliment to the effect that it has a slapdash and vigour and sometimes hits an unexpected bull’s eye. But what is more to the point is my belief that the habit of writing thus for my own eye only is good practice. It loosens the ligaments. Never mind the misses and the stumbles. Going at such a pace as I do I must make the most direct and instant shots at my object, and thus have to lay hands on words, choose them and shoot them with no more pause than is needed to put my pen in the ink. I believe that during the past year I can trace some increase of ease in my professional writing which I attribute to my casual half hours after tea. Moreover there looms ahead of me the shadow of some kind of form which a diary might attain to. I might in the course of time learn what it is that one can make of this loose, drifting material of life; finding another use for it than the use I put it to, so much more consciously and scrupulously, in fiction. What sort of diary should I like mine to be? Something loose knit and yet not slovenly, so elastic that it will embrace anything, solemn, slight or beautiful that comes into my mind. I should like it to resemble some deep old desk, or capacious hold-all, in which one flings a mass of odds and ends without looking them through. I should like to come back, after a year or two, and find that the collection had sorted itself and refined itself and coalesced, as such deposits so mysteriously do, into a mould, transparent enough to reflect the light of our life, and yet steady, tranquil compounds with the aloofness of a work of art. The main requisite, I think on re-reading my old volumes, is not to play the part of censor, but to write as the mood comes or of anything whatever; since I was curious to find how I went for things put in haphazard, and found the significance to lie where I never saw it at the time. But looseness quickly becomes slovenly. A little effort is needed to face a character or an incident which needs to be recorded. Nor can one let the pen write without guidance; for fear of becoming slack and untidy…

Virginia Woolf
Diary entry: April 20th, 1919

Poetry remakes and prolongs language; every poetic language begins by being a secret language, that is, the creation of a personal universe, of a completely closed world. The purest poetic act seems to re-create language from an inner experience that … reveals the essence of things.

Mircea Eliade
Shamanism: Archaic Techniques of Ecstasy

25th / 26th May

Is it possible I’ve inhaled you in to me? Isn’t that you hiding behind my eyes? I can feel you in my blood, flowing, an impossible heat…

Beside the river bank, jeweled weeds: stinging nettles with translucent stems like human bones in miniature and cow parsley and foxgloves with warm, moist interiors like glowing uteruses.

Hot, sultry weather. At dawn the light seeped like a sigh into the night. Here, in the middle of nowhere, time ceases – or rather, ceases to have meaning. And my thoughts slip into lost infinities –

I hear your laughter, like co-conspirators, the pair of you: children spontaneously giggling. Last night we three drowned in dreams together, and came to realise the distances between stars is vast and lonely. Night remained framed in the bedroom window, while a solitary flickering candle reflected in the glass blotted out those stars and the monstrosities living between them.

I felt your hands running slowly across my memories –

#

Zentai, so I understand, is a term for skin-tight garments that cover the entire body. A second skin, so to speak. I think of those men and women with a latex fetish, smooth as polished black glass, but with access of some sort at the crotch –

#

It is easy to imagine Beauvoir on top of Sartre until she gives that one loud, feminine shriek of pleasure realised. Sartre, of course, is all about suppressed desires, wet dreams, and –

Beauvoir would have hated having him on top of her, stabbing her over and over, until every nerve felt split and bruised. Her pale silver body forced open by him. She would have thought of a new born desperately trying to scramble back inside its mother. She’d have hated that, but would have faked an orgasm anyway. Sartre, of course, wouldn’t have been fooled by her deception –

But he would have remained reasoned, affectionate and polite –

While I would have purchased her a dress of words; she had the most beautiful hands, you know? The slender, flexible fingers of the most lewd fricatrice imaginable. Oh, how I would have loved her to rub me in that special way –

#

Love can be such a fatal disease; kisses infect; kisses kill – like a freakin’ apocalypse of infected lips and words, drowning us all in my disjecta membra.

#

Writing is a battle between laziness and lies which, if you’re lucky, exposes truth.

#

Beside the river in such dreamy weather it is easy to image that ‘golden afternoon’ in 1862 when Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) with his friend the reverend Robinson Duckworth took the three Liddell sisters rowing on the Thames. Lorina Charlotte was the eldest sister, aged thirteen, Alice Pleasance was ten and Edith at age eight, the youngest. They had tea together on the riverbank near Godstow, and Dodgson told them “the fairy-tale of Alice’s adventures underground”. Dodgson who had many ‘child-friends’ and liked to photograph ‘naked little girls’, had a great fondness for writing ‘nonsense’, playing with mathematics, logic and words, and, welding them together, he created on that sun-filled day an immortal children’s fantasy –

Here, today, the hedgerows are a tangled mass of colour: valerian, red campion, common mallow, field ‘forget-me-nots’, and of course blue bells and daffodils grow all around. Nearby woods offer dappled shade and ‘secret places’ where blue bells run wild – as if on steroids! Often we have picnicked here or made love or just sat and contemplated our wild surroundings –

‘For I think it is Love,
For I feel it is Love,
For I’m sure it is nothing but Love!’

If ever you feel oppressed by the ‘monstrous mindlessness’ of the cosmos, walk here in the woods beside the river, and that oppression will soon fade away.

You are a witch. You warp the very energy that makes up the universe. You dig chunks of sharp crystal from the earth with bare hands and wear them as trinkets. You rip herbs from the dirt and use them to spice the air. You collect glass and bones and storm water and daggers.

Maybe you’re a different sort of witch. Maybe you write music like a siren’s song, sung to the stars, manipulating them until they shine the way you wish. Maybe you delve deep into code and weave quiet, meticulous charms into the very bones of the cyber world, feeling the flow of waves and Wi-Fi like others do the wind and the ways of the cosmos. Maybe you collect eldritch creatures, spirits and deities like others do stamps, frightened because you’re smart, unceasing because you’re brave, and know you’re much scarier than anything you welcome over your threshold.

Maybe you slip blessings into food. Maybe you slip curses under doorsteps. Maybe you draw symbols on your arms. Maybe you write incantations to be heard only by crickets, wicked, whispered nocturnes.

Whatever you do, however you do it, you are a witch. You are a warrior by default. Your strength is as innate to you as breathing. The only thing you must fear is what will happen when someone pushes you too far.

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