As if I didn't have enough to distract me, a few weeks ago I went and started another blog. Perhaps because I can foresee a time when I'll either retire Luca Antara or use it only to post material directly related to the book of the same name, which will be out in a couple of month's - three, actually - time. The link's over there on the right, but I might was well put it here as well: White City. There's not much there yet and what there is seems fugitive, a bit mysterious, ontologically imprecise but trying to focus that imprecision, that ontology. We shall see; or we shan't.


Hmmmm ... or, hummmm ... just sent my essays off to the publisher, always a good feeling to get another obsession off the desktop. Strange how fixated you can become on something like this. As if, somehow, every one of the 80,000 or whatever word-number it is has to be logged in order in the mind, their configuration understood, their cross-references, their repetitions. The fact that this is more or less impossible does not seem to be a disincentive to trying to make it so. Is it artefact or artifact? World War Two or the Second World War? Delusion or illusion? Here's how I described my preoccupations in the afterword: ... surrealism and expressionism; psychedelics and the nature of perception; landscape, with its intimations of paradise lost or found; the City; the far reaches of spacetime and the means used to probe it; above all, the workings of memory and what it can tell us of time, mind and world. Is that all, I'm thinking now? Is that everything? Am I missing something? What about love?


getting & spending

I have been remiss; I have not contributed to, or even visited, the blogosphere for weeks. My excuse, if an excuse is needed, is that I have in effect been working at two jobs. Beginning to drive again set off a welter of activity as I attempted to devise strategies that would perhaps bring the money I need to live without driving. These proposals are done and gone now, although who knows if they will be successful or not? Yet I have found, I think, both a book and a film I would like to write ... given the time. And also, unexpectedly, I decided to try gathering up bits and pieces of prose written here and there over the last thirty years or so to see if I could make a book out of them. This too is done, or almost, though it's not yet gone. Like drawing a line under the present, so that the past is truly past. If such a thing can be. Now I feel like I'm beached on some further shore, which is neither present nor past. Nor quite the future either. Some limboland, some littoral that, when I have the strength, I'll get up and start to explore.


It came to me in a dream

... must be one of the weariest tropes in our culture. I have never quite believed it myself, until Sunday night that is. Or should I say Monday morning? A friend had reminded me, serendipitously, of the due date for a certain grant application to be in. I was about to go back driving, imminently (I started that Blue Monday) and was feeling a sort of mild desperation about my prospects: what an earth could I contrive that might save me from the phantasmagoria? I had no new book to write, nothing I could legitimately ask for money to do.

During the night, while I slept, a name came to me. It loomed in my dreaming consciousness, crossing from vision to vision with enigmatic insistence. No particular narrative was associated with this name, nor did I see the person it belongs to. What there was, came down to this: Mr Oort, Master of Illusion.

Well, I love to dream and I particularly like dreaming enigmas. They are gifts that can entertain my usually scattered and fractious thoughts for a long time. When I woke, with this title and phrase intact in my mind, I began to wonder who he was and what it meant? Within a very short time, perhaps an hour or two, answers began to flow through my synapses - a first name, Jakob, a history, a mystery, a calling, a disappearance, a quest. It was an extraordinary feeling, to see, as it were without agency, this plot, or plat, constitute itself before me. The projection seemed not to require anything of me except that I witness it.

And the writing down, of course. The application I'm going to make insists that you produce a sample of the proposed work, an idiotic requirement I feel - as if with a brick you could show the house you are to build - but there we are. With equal parts anxiety and wonder, I started tapping out the first ten pages of my tale. There they are, floating like a tracery of dark threads on the blue pool of my screen. They may not earn me the grant, but I no longer care about that. There will be a way.


Very Sturdy Rogues

... so Louise Varèse translates the first sentence of Rimbaud's Parade - Des drôles très solides. Been thinking about this word, sturdy, because there was a category of miscreants in Elizabethan England who went by the name of sturdie beggars, viz:

... all Fencers, Bearwards, Common Players in Enterludes & Minstrels not belonging to any Baron of this Realm ... all Jugglers, Pedlars, Tinkers and Petty Chapmen, and have not Licence ... shall be taken and adjudged to be deemed Rogues, Vagabonds and Sturdie Beggars ...

This is an excerpt from a statute that was used to prevent travelling players travelling and playing ... but why were those beggars sturdy? Turns out that behind a modern, if rare usage - vigorous and determined - is an older meaning - reckless and violent - from the French verb, estourdir, to stun or daze; and behind that is a Latin word ex + turdus, thrush, used to describe a kind of drunkenness, that is, presumably, drunk as a thrush.

But what I always think about is a pop star hero of my youth, the lead singer in a band called Larry's Rebels, whom I once saw live at a dance in a country hall out the back of Morrinsville when I was about 16. Well, Larry went down a few years later for selling LSD to a policeman and part of the demystification process, I guess, was the revelation that his real name was Larry Sturdee. Not a Rebel after all but a Very Sturdy Rogue, perhaps.