Words can light fires

July 28, 2017

Words are pale shadows of forgotten names. As names have power, words have power. Words can light fires in the minds of men. Words can wring tears from the hardest hearts. There are seven words that will make a person love you. There are ten words that will break a strong man’s will. But a word is nothing but a painting of a fire. A name is the fire itself.

Patrick Rothfuss
The Name of the Wind

Words, English words, are full of echoes, of memories, of associations – naturally. They have been out and about, on people’s lips, in their houses, in the streets, in the fields, for so many centuries. And that is one of the chief difficulties in writing them today – that they are so stored with meanings, with memories, that they have contracted so many famous marriages.

The splendid word “incarnadine,” for example – who can use it without remembering also “multitudinous seas”? In the old days, of course, when English was a new language, writers could invent new words and use them. Nowadays it is easy enough to invent new words – they spring to the lips whenever we see a new sight or feel a new sensation – but we cannot use them because the language is old. You cannot use a brand new word in an old language because of the very obvious yet mysterious fact that a word is not a single and separate entity, but part of other words. It is not a word indeed until it is part of a sentence.

Words belong to each other, although, of course, only a great writer knows that the word “incarnadine” belongs to “multitudinous seas”. To combine new words with old words is fatal to the constitution of the sentence. In order to use new words properly you would have to invent a new language; and that, though no doubt we shall come to it, is not at the moment our business. Our business is to see what we can do with the English language as it is. How can we combine the old words in new orders so that they survive, so that they create beauty, so that they tell the truth? That is the question.

And the person who could answer that question would deserve whatever crown of glory the world has to offer. Think what it would mean if you could teach, if you could learn, the art of writing. Why, every book, every newspaper would tell the truth, would create beauty. But there is, it would appear, some obstacle in the way, some hindrance to the teaching of words. For though at this moment at least 100 professors are lecturing upon the literature of the past, at least a thousand critics are reviewing the literature of the present, and hundreds upon hundreds of young men and women are passing examinations in English literature with the utmost credit, still – do we write better, do we read better than we read and wrote 400 years ago when we were unlectured, uncriticised, untaught? Is our Georgian literature a patch on the Elizabethan?

Where then are we to lay the blame? Not on our professors; not on our reviewers; not on our writers; but on words. It is words that are to blame. They are the wildest, freest, most irresponsible, most unteachable of all things. Of course, you can catch them and sort them and place them in alphabetical order in dictionaries. But words do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind. If you want proof of this, consider how often in moments of emotion when we most need words we find none. Yet there is the dictionary; there at our disposal are some half-a-million words all in alphabetical order.

But can we use them? No, because words do not live in dictionaries, they live in the mind. Look again at the dictionary. There beyond a doubt lie plays more splendid than Antony and Cleopatra; poems more lovely than the Ode to a Nightingale; novels beside which Pride and Prejudice or David Copperfield are the crude bunglings of amateurs. It is only a question of finding the right words and putting them in the right order. But we cannot do it because they do not live in dictionaries; they live in the mind.

And how do they live in the mind? Variously and strangely, much as human beings live, by ranging hither and thither, by falling in love, and mating together. It is true that they are much less bound by ceremony and convention than we are. Royal words mate with commoners. English words marry French words, German words, Indian words, Negro words, if they have a fancy. Indeed, the less we enquire into the past of our dear Mother English the better it will be for that lady’s reputation. For she has gone a-roving, a-roving fair maid.

Thus to lay down any laws for such irreclaimable vagabonds is worse than useless. A few trifling rules of grammar and spelling are all the constraint we can put on them. All we can say about them, as we peer at them over the edge of that deep, dark and only fitfully illuminated cavern in which they live – the mind – all we can say about them is that they seem to like people to think and to feel before they use them, but to think and to feel not about them, but about something different.

They are highly sensitive, easily made self-conscious. They do not like to have their purity or their impurity discussed. If you start a Society for Pure English, they will show their resentment by starting another for impure English – hence the unnatural violence of much modern speech; it is a protest against the puritans. They are highly democratic, too; they believe that one word is as good as another; uneducated words are as good as educated words, uncultivated words as cultivated words, there are no ranks or titles in their society.

Nor do they like being lifted out on the point of a pen and examined separately. They hang together, in sentences, in paragraphs, sometimes for whole pages at a time. They hate being useful; they hate making money; they hate being lectured about in public. In short, they hate anything that stamps them with one meaning or confines them to one attitude, for it is their nature to change.

Perhaps that is their most striking peculiarity – their need of change. It is because the truth they try to catch is many-sided, and they convey it by being themselves many-sided, flashing this way, then that. Thus they mean one thing to one person, another thing to another person; they are unintelligible to one generation, plain as a pikestaff to the next. And it is because of this complexity that they survive.

Perhaps then one reason why we have no great poet, novelist or critic writing today is that we refuse words their liberty. We pin them down to one meaning, their useful meaning, the meaning which makes us catch the train, the meaning which makes us pass the examination. And when words are pinned down they fold their wings and die.

Finally, and most emphatically, words, like ourselves, in order to live at their ease, need privacy. Undoubtedly they like us to think, and they like us to feel, before we use them; but they also like us to pause; to become unconscious. Our unconsciousness is their privacy; our darkness is their light…That pause was made, that veil of darkness was dropped, to tempt words to come together in one of those swift marriages which are perfect images and create everlasting beauty. But no – nothing of that sort is going to happen tonight. The little wretches are out of temper; disobliging; disobedient; dumb. What is it that they are muttering? “Time’s up! Silence!”

Virginia Woolf
Craftmanship
The death of the moth and other essays

Upside down, inside out

June 10, 2017

9th June

I love her grinding against me. I love her doing that until she moans in my mouth.

I’m a creature of many addictions: women, words, whiskey…and chocolate! Chocolate brings out the primordial in me: it’s like original sin, or the sudden shock of first sexual contact; it’s a secret, eternal flame in my head, flooding my body with endorphins! And God, I always need it – not in the way you need something in order to survive, but in a way that makes life worthwhile. It is so real, so raw – like a teenage hard-on! Eating chocolate you feel yourself inside out, and you realise ‘there are no walls here anymore!’

On the other hand it’s a bit of a bugger if it melts in your hand –

And whiskey…well…it allows you to see through the flaws in your own ego. It deadens and distorts. Mists your window on the world – so that your vanity, your fears and desires become totally out of proportion to any other observable reality – which is not necessarily a good thing! However, it does also help you forget that you’ve eaten all that lovely chocolate, and there is no more!

And women – even at their worse, they are feckin’ incredible! They have always been the sunshine in my life…And, at times, the darkness, too!

So, what of words? Words have always been my life, for as long as I can remember. But not through choice, of course. Who would voluntarily chose words as their life?

Words dominate because of something darker , deeper inside of me. My demons, perhaps? Who can say – ?

I’ve been trying to think of a more realistic ending to fairy tales. Instead of ‘And they lived happily ever after’, go for ‘And she never saw him again, ever…’

How to do the writing

June 5, 2017

Fiction takes forever. One slow word against another.

Tales are told of writers who spend a day to add a single word, as the subsequent day might just be spent removing it. Yes, this happens. Others write in concentrated bursts, and very little after; at least, until the next burst.

The most important writing lesson: patience. The second: learning to recognize what works best for what it is you think you want to do. How to do the writing you do, and do it best. I think my own work a combination of the day spent adding and removing, and the productive, compressed burst. The slow, repeated carve.

Rob Mclennan
Life is too short for long fiction

21st May

Reality is multi-faceted. We inhabit this world and often describe it with words – but if you know the correct combination of words…well, then you can make this world whatever you want it to be. That’s magic, you see. And magic and words is all you’ll ever need.

#

I can’t help but enjoy her helpless pleading. It’s a silly game we play, I know, but when she cries:

‘No, not there, please….pleeeasssseee.’

And I force it to fit, and see the expression on her face in the mirror on the far wall. That moment feels so erotically charged.

#

Last summer seven of us around Dave and Mary’s swimming pool. Sophia and Vic arguing, then wrestling between a pair of sunbeds, like truculent children. Vic yowling when Sophia twists his cock. She has it out of his trunks, semi-erect, gripping it in her small fist. He is red-faced, sweating…We watch Vic forced gradually to his knees, breathing noisily, unable to free himself or counter Sophia’s vice-like hold.

‘Stop struggling.’ She orders. ‘Stop now or I’ll tear it out by the root.’

‘Alright, alright.’

His sister Babs calls out vaguely obscene acts Sophia might force him to comply with, and Vic yells out:

‘Whose side are you on, Sis?’

Sophia’s eyes are bright with this unexpected victory and the sense of power she has over him. She is on one knee beside him. The knuckles griping his twisted cock are white with the effort, while her other hand has now captured his exposed balls. His shorts are down round his thighs. One of his hands is pressed to the ground supporting his weight, the other is wrapped loosely round Sophia’s right wrist. He can’t tug at her because she twists harder, both balls and cock.

‘Come on,’ he says ‘Enough is enough. Let go now – ’

‘Make him suck Kenny’s cock,’ Babs’ suggests. She is quite intoxicated by sun and vodka. ‘Let’s see him do that…We could all use a laugh.’

Ken B rolls on his side on the bright orange sunbed. Using his thumbs he works his trunks over his hips. Fat, meaty cock standing to attention.

‘Bring it on,’ he cries. Removing his sunglasses, he gives Vic a nasty wink.

‘Come on, I’m not doing that,’ says Vic. ‘Not for anyone – ’

And he moans in pain as Sophia twists harder, her conquering smile at his shoulder.

‘You’ll do exactly as I say.’ She says this with such passion. ‘Now up you get, slave boy, and over to Kenny. You’re going to do a bit of sucking – ’

‘He can do me, when he’s finished with Ken,’ Mary calls. She props herself up on her sunbed, both tits exposed and glowing. ‘Like to lap at my cup Vic? I’ve been in the pool so it’s all washed for you.’

General laughter and applause round the pool as Vic is forced to his knees beside Kenny’s sunbed. Head forward, face brushing Ken’s cock before Vic finally takes it reluctantly into his mouth.

‘There’s a good boy,’ says Sophia. ‘You take to that like a duck to water. A baby with its pacifier.’

The sight of his bobbing head produces laughter all around. Kenny gives this slightly obscene wriggle when he cums in Vic’s mouth. The hateful expression on Vic’s face as he straightens up causes yet more laughter.

‘Me next,’ cries Mary. Dave tells her to behave herself, but she’s unknotted her bikini bottom, and raised one leg into the air. To open herself wider, she draws the folds of skin apart with her fingers. ‘Here you are. All ready for you.’

And within seconds Vic is on his knees and feverishly pressing his lips to this small pink conch shell. More enthusiasm in his movements now. Her thighs press to his ears. He licks at the growing wetness, face flushed, breathing loudly. Again applause around the pool at the climax of this vulgar ritual. Her long body shuddering in the throes of joy…

Sophia finally releases him.

Vic pulls up his trunks.

And everyone applauds the fine performance.

Even Crows can Sing

November 23, 2016

breakfast-gin

Diary 23rd November

Pass me the breakfast gin…

#

Ah, but to spot genuine relevance in this wide Sargasso Sea of possibilities. Can it be done, I ask? Surely the ravings of a blog-troll have no pertinence?

But then again…

Decisions made on a whim, an impulse grown from a passion for spontaneity, are not necessarily flawed or the “wrong” decisions to have been made. It is not as if I’ve suggested marriage to a moonbeam, or taking up residence with the Rooks in the churchyard trees, or playing a banjo in the garden past midnight. No, none of these. And yet while all the possibilities hold some attraction for me, I continue to write silences on the fragile skin of the night.

For myself, yes, but also for you.

Nothing more.

I am I. The truth of my own self. I dedicate myself to my art and my unique madness. I am my own Phoenix, and on slow burn…

So sing your rapturous love-song unto me!
Burn to me perfumes!
Wear to me jewels!
Drink to me, for I love you! I love you! I love you!

(with an apology to Aleister Crawley and his verse from Liber AL vel Legis; and to Nino who always says ‘I luvs you, I luvs you, I luvs you’ whenever he sees Dee)

#

This rain! So much feckin’ rain! Even the owls have fallen silent during the night…Waterlogged most likely.

#

A solitary sound while you were sleeping neatly dived the night into these two pure silences.

#

Well the year pulls on – rain and more rain, and mornings of white thick mist. Soon be Christmas, of course. This year we’ll be away, and I’m looking forward to that.

#

Because my blood is louder than light, I misheard your voice. But it doesn’t matter. Not really. My dreamy-head turned your words from words into pure music – a distortion not accomplished without effort, believe me. But that music floats in a circle above us now, as if crafted from the moonlight.

A poem

October 7, 2016

lauri-blank-twin-flames

Last night I wrote
a poem on your
back as the moon
ran her gentle fingers
through your hair.

did you feel it?
did the words crawl
beneath your skin
and darken your eyes?
I was hoping you could
wear them for me, the
next time your loneliness
walks you to my front door.

I’m so hungry for words,
and you know how much
I love to watch you undress.

Pavana पवन

sunlight

Socrates said, “The misuse of language induces evil in the soul.” He wasn’t talking about grammar. To misuse language is to use it the way politicians and advertisers do, for profit, without taking responsibility for what the words mean. Language used as a means to get power or make money goes wrong: it lies. Language used as an end in itself, to sing a poem or tell a story, goes right, goes towards the truth.

A writer is a person who cares what words mean, what they say, how they say it. Writers know words are their way towards truth and freedom, and so they use them with care, with thought, with fear, with delight. By using words well they strengthen their souls. Story-tellers and poets spend their lives learning that skill and art of using words well. And their words make the souls of their readers stronger, brighter, deeper.

Ursula K. Le Guin

Hard-on, Sadie Lee

Diary 3rd June

What could be worse than the tedious pieties and shameless hypocrisies of the current referendum campaign? So many lies; so much speculation presented as fact by both sides…

Sitting in the pub listening to the locals yesterday. It’s like a visit to a cliché factory. Conversations about various political problems, each then obliterated by a shotgun blast of prejudice. Clichés passed back and forth like frothing pints of best. It was like being trapped in somebody else’s bad dream.

Little Englanders. Moving meticulously across a long dead past like farmers ploughing a disused cemetery while keeping a blind-eye to obvious inconsistencies in their arguments, which turn up like incidental bones all round them.

Sweet Cheesus. Too many immigrants. Not enough hospitals, schools, teachers, doctors nurses or houses!

Is that really the immigrants fault? The EU’s fault?

Or does the blame lay with UK government – with the past three administrations – for not planning to meet the necessary requirements of a growing population?

Fail to plan, plan to FAIL!

Oh, the totemic wordiness of Dangerous Dave and that blond scruff Boris…their flow of words, a permanent logorrhea. Oh, I’m so sick of these Eton alumni…Poor, poor little rich boys. The Napoleonic wars may have been won on the playing fields of Eton ( this according to Wellington), but common humanity and honesty went out the bleeding window!

Dangerous Dave would have done much better to invest in an Ouija board rather than listen to his co-conspirators within the Conservative party. At least then, by taking the advice of the dead and clutching at supernatural straws, he would lend an element of dignity to the approaching cataclysm.

Rot inside…

May 8, 2016

Mila Photographie

certain words perpetually rot inside of me and refuse to come out.

Virginia Woolf
Diary entry