Weil

Version 2

“There is natural alliance between truth and affliction, because both of them are mute suppliants, eternally condemned to stand speechless in our presence.

Just as a vagrant accused of stealing a carrot from a field stands before a comfortably seated judge who keeps up an elegant flow of queries, comments and witticisms while the accused is unable to stammer a word, so truth stands before an intelligence which is concerned with the elegant manipulation of opinions.”

From Weil’s essay “Human Personality” quoted in John Berger’s “Understanding a Photograph” p. 180 Penguin Classics

The photograph is a detail of the artwork “Desert Quartet” by Elizabeth Frink, situated in Worthing, England. 

Typing in England

IMG_0211 (1)

The rain comes down, misting the rooftops of the town. The faint susurration of its fall makes me think of many things: drowned ships, the whisper of memory, the third thing. It’s very English, isn’t it? To sit here and type and have the washing-machine going, and think about the sound of the rain.

I said the third thing, because it’s always important to include a third thing in a list like that, isn’t it? What is the third thing the rain makes me think of? How about: the sound of thousands of droplets?

I used the word English, there, as well, in the first paragraph. At the moment, this referendum is going on, to decide whether or not England remains part of the European Union. Here in England, a lot of the debate seems to be focused on what it is to be “English”. There is a lot of racism in the campaign, and people blaming the “immigrants”, who are not “English”.

By English, I mean English in the sense of listening to the Smiths, and being a Socialist, and welcoming immigrants. England, my England. My Socialist, egalitarian England. A drowned ship. Something underneath the rain.

The vote is on this coming Thursday and I am voting to stay in the EU.

I also meant – in that first paragraph – that I am sitting here, typing, listening to the sound of the rain, in England. Therefore, it has to be an English thing to do, doesn’t it?

And what does the washing-machine think about all of this? I don’t know because it doesn’t speak English. It has stopped now and the washing is hung up to dry. The rain, however, is still blowing across treetops and rooftops in fine clouds of mist. The trees are moving in the wind, silent through my window.

Everything £1

IMG_2611

The bourgeoisie cannot exist without constantly revolutionising the instruments of production, and thereby the relations of production, and with them the whole relations of society. Conservation of the old modes of production in unaltered form, was, on the contrary, the first condition of existence for all earlier industrial classes. Constant revolutionising of production, uninterrupted disturbance of all social conditions, everlasting uncertainty and agitation distinguish the bourgeois epoch from all earlier ones. All fixed, fast-frozen relations, with their train of ancient and venerable prejudices and opinions, are swept away, all new-formed ones become antiquated before they can ossify. All that is solid melts into air, all that is holy is profaned, and man is at last compelled to face with sober senses his real conditions of life, and his relations with his kind.

The need of a constantly expanding market for its products chases the bourgeoisie over the entire surface of the globe. It must nestle everywhere, settle everywhere, establish connexions everywhere.

Envelope

IMG_1266

Walking around the concrete and wire

of the perimeter fence is an exhausting thing

but the dogs need the exercise and so do we.

A bird flies at an acute angle across our oblong path

 

I see you open a packet of cigarettes and take one out,

the rims of dirt under your nails, it’s dirty work

and the fresh air isn’t enough we need to smoke

and see, disappearing over the tops of pine trees, a white sky

 

blank as an envelope, with no address, no location.

You speak about your wife expecting the third child

and how the girl does so well in athletics at school;

you look about yourself, as if where we were wasn’t here,

 

stamping your feet on the forest floor, you walk in a circle

and the dogs pick up your unrest I imagine

moving their ears and their tails in anxious agitation

and you pat, pet them, quite able to prove your humanity

 

but soon we’ll have to get ourselves back behind the wire

back to the desk, the endless admin, and all the rest.

 

 

empire of Marmite

IMG_0951

lacking, as has so

often been impressed

on me

 

the salt of the earth

I languish here

at the end of Xmas

 

resembling one of

those final men

who will exist

 

after everything

the no-clue men

in no-men’s land

 

listening so hard

as if the self was merely

a filter for it

 

to Shostakovich’s

rare 8th Symphony

– the anti-Stalinist timpani –

 

after folding two slices

of Sainsbury’s wholemeal

into halves like

 

a butterfly print

to supplement the salt

I require as

 

an unravelling

wanderer in

confusing temporality

 

the Russian project

after its Modernist

phase gathering

 

the dense

entropy – retreating-

due to

 

the usual

ever-predictable

territorial over-stretch

 

just like Ur, old

Babylon (a stellar place

to be on a Friday night)

 

or America itself

too thinly spread

those imperial forces