Henry [Miller] returns from his wanderings. We talk about America. I said, “Were you looking for something to love? There is nothing to love here, it is a monster, a huge prosaic monster, buying all the creative wealth of Europe at bargain prices, buying it as they buy paintings, giving jobs to the refugees, yes, but only jobs, only money, no respect or evaluation or devotion, devouring with huge, empty jaws. It is nothing, a void, a colossal robot, a commercial empire, made for caricature, all ugly because it is all materialistic. Every artist born here was killed. You escaped and found yourself, and now you have the strength to grapple with it; it cannot swallow you into its rivers of cement. Look at America for what it is: concrete, iron, cement, lead, bricks, machines, and a mass of blind, anonymous robots. It is a huge monster, but made of papier mâché with marble eyes.

Anaïs Nin
Diary entry, November 24, 1940

nasty sense of humour

July 21, 2019

Of course, I must say that I don’t think America is God’s gift to anybody – if it is, God’s days have got to be numbered. That God these people say they serve – and do serve, in ways that they don’t know – has got a very nasty sense of humour. Like you’d beat the shit out of Him, if He was a man. Or: if you were.

James Baldwin
If Beale Street Could Talk

Sound bites from the dark

August 30, 2017

Tanith Lee’s garden – a statue waiting

Tanith Lee’s Garden – face in the trees

Tanith Lee’s Garden – a pathway to infinity

Tanith Lee's house - stained glass

Tanith Lee’s house – stained glass

30th August

Donald Trump is frequently vilified by the mass media. Social media, too, is not exempt from this trend: electronic graffiti condemns the man’s actions or lack of same on a daily basis. And yet the question needs to be asked, is the real problem the American President or America itself?

Donald Trump did not seize power. He was elected by a majority – democratically. Faced with a choice between a woman and a billionaire television personality, the US electorate chose the television personality – And, yes, it is inspirational to see what democratic nations can do when they think the chips are down.

The American people awarded the imperial purple to a man who has succeeded in lowering the issues of the day to the level of triviality. To sound bites. A promise of government by twitter feed. American politics has become, under Trump’s presidency, as thrilling, and almost as much fun, as an appendectomy performed without benefit of anaesthetic.

And with regard to the media they seem distracted by each fresh utterance this president makes. Which, of course, is exactly what he wants. Major issues degenerate into a name-calling contest, while a procession of minor celebrities and wannabes appear, and as rapidly disappear, as presidential aides and advisors. Movement signifies progress – even when that movement is perfectly static or backwards! America run as a corporation by a businessman used to having his own way.

Should we be surprised? No we should not. Donald Trump exists in a world that demands twenty-four-hour rolling self-obsession. And he is there to fill this almost ecological niche in the American psyche. He is president because of hostility towards those pesky interfering liberal do-gooders who force “political correctness” on everybody; he will clean house, rid the country of all those undesirables who have slipped surreptitiously across America’s borders; he will end Muslim migration! He will make America great again!

It’s almost as if a majority of the American electorate woke up one morning with a cloying, skin-tight rage, a need to lash out at something, anything, and change the face of their society. Sick to death of fatuous, self-absorbed politicians who all seemed mired in minutia and an age old mantra of consumer democracy so inescapable, yet so reliant on carefully-marketed kitsch, that they voted for Trump.

And they got him.

#

Really good weather at the end of last week. Mowed both lawns. Caught the sun. Working in the garden my thoughts drifted to the late Tanith Lee’s incredible house and garden in Hastings where she lived with her partner John Kaiine.

Tanith’s home was so like a wild fantasy, a journey beyond commonplace reality. There, it was easy to imagine a place “more poignant than the plumage of the spring.” There, indeed, could be heard “music played by the reflection of a swan as it passes over the strings of a moonlit lake.” Dusk in that garden and the leaves on the trees seem to form strange shapes and faces. A place of irregular stones and inconsistencies…