Friday, June 16, 2017

In Fever: Notes on Les Chimères de Gerard de Nerval

for Eva Collé

Don’t wait up for me tonight, the sky will be black and white

Yeh I’m in a bad mood as well. Cops are everywhere. But we know that - we murdered them. Lets talk about black stars.  Something stretched strings between them, and now they flutter like chords. Stars, a very bad mood. Pasolini wrote about singing, called it the “divine wind that doesn’t heal but rather makes everything sicker”. This is the fifth day of our fever. Cops make everything unreal. Songs get sung outside their cellular systems, from the centre of some kind of secretive world. Whisper those songs, then scream them. After that, kill all straight men. You know they want it.

Was thinking about that for a while this morning, then I thought about the human world. I’m sick of it as well. Was thinking that murder in the suburbs is the only real expression of the continued need for human love, where everything is turning to ice, yet everything is frozen in gold. When the sun hits the earth it shatters into all human data, calendars of the places music goes when its notes disappear. The same places the dead live, I guess. But this has little to do with what we say when we’re wasted, and everything is flooded with animal light. The human horizon covered in ashes.

A guy walks into the ocean. Kill him. The gesture is futile. He walks out of it again. Won’t shut his mouth, talks for several centuries about the devil and the hunger of screaming birds. Don’t waste your sympathy. The sky is packed with them, terminal birds that screech of all the terrible things that might happen. And behind them, timeless bells transforming all to the metal stains of what has already happened. And behind all of that are stars tracing out the fixed raptures of what ought never to have happened. There is no death anywhere. Our hatred of the rich is entirely justified.

Toward the end of his life Antonin Artaud wrote a poem complaining that no-one ever touched his body. But he seemed to think it was a good thing, that if anyone did then it would split to a million fragments and fill the known sky. Poor Artaud. Little did he know this goes on every night. There are bodies that fragment each dusk, that split into countless wild lenses that fall to earth at dawn and form a strange calendar of imaginary incidents, frozen cities, addictions, etc. What this implies is not utopian. The straight world never touches anything. It’s victims never do anything else.

Because I’m fearful the sky will shatter I would like to turn it to stone, to turn it to seven pebbles, each to mark a day of our fever. As in set fire to cars, put glue in locks, sugar in petrol. Also include bodies. Also include the shock and the curse of our loss. As in recite that curse, until the voice becomes a song, or the word becomes something outside its borders, the barricades we built across this life of great mourning in which the seeds of our hurt would bloom. The fascists who murdered Pasolini are now the owners of the world. Do not mourn or forgive. Shriek one time. Shatter glass.

The thirteenth returns, and everything we once thought inaudible. There is gunshot, there is fire in the suburbs, the fixed stars falling like cops or roses, the darkened rituals of the middle class. We replace them with pinpricks, with new forms of arson, and the dreams of a thousand archers haunting Trafalgar Square. Nothing returns. Our bodies, the names of stars. But nothing is forgotten, everything falls. Thirteen the only number, the sounds of thirteen fevers crackling inside our dreams. There are no dreams. We never sleep. An unknown light in the corner of our room.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Our Death 35 / Abject 2 (after Baudelaire)

Oh great love, that will crush the human world, I wish we could do something to help each other. But today I am surrounded by the most tedious of enemies. Look at him there, for example, leaning against the wall, asking me again and again about my fever. I would smash him if I could. I would explain to him that fever, in the way that he would speak it, is merely a strange reflection of his smile, his sense of rightness within the so-called world. That fever, when he uses the word, is merely an arrangement of five letters, whereas for me it is closer to the five senses, to all of human history, to the cities of the sun and the devastation inflicted there. Oh great love, if only you could whisper to me the language needed to describe that devastation, so I might fill his mouth with the thorns of our great loss. It seems that everything we once knew has been stolen from us, and now idiots are reciting it, idiots who don’t know how to close their mouths, and the sounds those mouths make are razors scratching words into our chests. Oh great love, I cannot read the language written there. I wish I could say to you just one soothing word. But today I am the filthiest of brides. Only the stains around my mouth make me less repellent than those whom I most despise. 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Our Death 34 / Abject (after Baudelaire)

Wine is a dull disk that encircles the law. It will check your passport, will make sure that your sense of rhythm never exceeds the accepted patriotic patterns. Opiates, meanwhile, will run subtle holes through the length of the calendar. The city’s windows, your systems of memory, both of them become an alien landscape, an inaudible language that speaks at times of human love, which apparently is all we are ever supposed to desire, a golden net about as plausible as the sounds made by cash, that fictitious mirror, that city of no language where every night you lock the door and scatter coins across the floor until they reflect the farcical stars: “oh you tedious razor'd meat, you pompous junky filth. When will the day come when you can die beneath some weird lovers’ fists”.

Saturday, May 06, 2017

That Thing Out There

in the interest of promoting William Rowe's recently published Collected Poems, here is the afterword that he asked me to write. The book is available here

The catastrophe has already taken place, it’s just that all of its light has yet to reach us. It’s not clear from what or when that light might be coming. A burning city. A barricade. A refugee stumbling out from an already decided future, an insistent and illegible memory of something that happened long before any of us were born. A light that might yet illuminate the location of the emergency brake. A brake that by now is glowing far too hot too touch.

Its five years since the riots. Sometimes I think I might have left an important part of myself back there, leaning against a wall, completely at my ease as a gang of kids ran past all screaming “let’s go shopping”, the crack of joy in the final syllable seeming to articulate everything I understood about Johnson’s London, about austerity Britain. The windows in the shops were boarded up for weeks afterwards. These days it all seems about as real as the time I woke up in my room in Berlin to find some kind of night-demon, some kind of plastic ghost staring me down, terrifying and somehow familiar. That thing was illuminated too.

The same kind of irreality runs through these poems, a stark heat-shimmer, an absolute realism. A central text is simply a list of all the businesses that were looted in the weeks of the riots. As far as I know, they are all still trading, are still living, are un-dead. Counter their names with a list of all of those who have been suicided since Cameron’s gang of spectres took power, say that most days Britain stinks like a charnel ground, and if you’re not with the dead you’re with the vampires. This is the cargo Rowe’s poems carry. The darkness is dazzling. A bomb goes off in Athens. Thatcher’s corpse opens its mouth. The ghosts of the miners slaughter a thousand cops at Orgreave. The body of Boris Johnson is tossed into an oubliette somewhere on the other side of the border, any border. Solar winds on the rim of the system. Missiles on Blackheath. Nothing stops. Nothing speaks.

On the day of the last Tory election victory, Rowe ended a poem with the line “start the civil war”. Now, a couple of days after the referendum, it looks like that war has started. It won’t be declared. Every declaration, every sentence spoken by every public figure has been a lie. The poems that Rowe writes seek to take measure of those lies, of the public wound those lies would deny - to break open the mephitic syllables of a Johnson or a Farage and find inside them the voices of their victims, all of the nameless and insulted dead of the centuries. We’re deep inside the apocalypse now. Rowe’s work can now only be seen as part of a collective effort to get us through to the other side. No sleep. No dreams. Just a grim determination to defeat those fascists who would murder us, and to cast them intact into the hell of worms.

Sean Bonney
Berlin, 27th June 2016.

Monday, April 24, 2017

Our Death 33 / On the Hatred of the Sun

Every evening its like the sun smashes into the earth. Its been doing it now for a few weeks. The sky splits into two and all the details of our lives - desires and facts and seizures - flare up from somewhere behind the horizon and produce embittered maps, random shreds of detritus that seem almost to be meaningful. All human data is scrawled across the sky. There is the date of your birth, for example, that arbitrary pivot. There, next to it, perhaps, a set of fairly random memories. Somewhere further off is the tenderness you feel at the thought of a loved one’s beating heart. But then unfortunately that tenderness gets entwined with the screams of the victims of the Peterloo Massacre, gets entwined with the hideous noises something like George W. Bush would make when they look into the mirror at midnight. The darkness of that mirror, which is not quite equal to the darkness and silence inside the opened mouth of someone being burnt alive. So many things to hear and see etc., in the dreams of the dying sun. Fortunately, all of this passes after half an hour or so, the sky closes and the calm night begins, but still it leaves us feeling raw. The calendar, that particularly esoteric version of music, was invented as a means of warding off the fear associated with that rawness. But us, we embrace it. What else are we supposed to do, as we sit here waiting for the end of everything. Re-invent prayer? Behave yourself. As the sun nears the rim of the planet we stare directly into it. We are unsmiling and terrified. We can feel it etching itself into our retina. The shapes it makes are repellant. Here is the burning hospital. Here is the salivating fascist. Here is the eternal ringing of the imaginary city walls. When the sun goes down we can still hear that ringing. It is our voices. A huge cacophonous reckoning before the night silences us with its fists.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Film 8


On the Refusal of Spite / Discipline / Memoir (after Miyó Vestrini)

Our Death 30 / On The Refusal of Spite

extensive rewrite of this here

On the fourth day of my sickness I lay in bed getting more and more freaked out by the status of a memory I couldn’t shake: a village at twilight, uninhabited houses, several animals burning. I had never been to this village. The texture of the sky, the nameless blue of the mist, everything suggested an apocalypse it was impossible for me to have lived through. It reminded me slightly of the early scenes in Haneke’s film The Time of the Wolf. You know the bits I mean. The father has just been shot dead. They have yet to reach the wasteland. Great gusts of silhouette. No shelter to be found. The countryside a splinter of spiteful knives. Blah blah. It put me in mind of the mass incineration of farm animals that happened in Britain, in 2001. Remember that? The foot and mouth thing? When they burnt all the animals? I remember watching that on TV, back in 2001, and saying to everyone who’d listen that Britain was in danger of putting a hex on itself, behaving like that. I mean, obviously. Ghost mathematics. The absolute content of the 1990s. From the Poll Tax Revolt to the death of Diana Spencer. From the Criminal Justice Bill to the insipid immolation of Britpop. Bang bang. All of it compressed and spun, baked and loaded, until it was transformed in its sleep into incinerated invisible villages. That type of thing. Obviously I was right. But it wasn’t that was bothering me. It was simply the light, the unnameable blue at the centre of this nameless memory, a still-point that could but shouldn’t be passed through. Thats what the end of the world looks like, in The Time of the Wolf, which is a film I watch quite often, three times a week etc. The end of the world, and how you can’t tell whether its just happened or is merely about to happen. An endless stillness. An aching blue. A scraping sky. A screeching of blackened burning bells. A sleepless night. An endless regret. All of these things stripped of their names. Their dates. All constellations aimed and loaded. Typewriters and falling bombs. As if you had 87 parallel lives. And each of those lives was passing from you. Was falling from you. Like a hex that you’d dropped. Like the eyes of boiling pigs. You would recognise nothing. Like that part of the land that is also part of the sea. A sadness so great you have to invent new words to express it. Like in The Time of the Wolf, when they’re all standing there, outside the station, waiting. All of them saying to each other “I have, of course, been sick for a very long time”. So what. Who hasn’t. New bombs squealing. New reasons to be fearful of the stars. Oh blah blah. To hate the stars. To dream that one day you will go out into the streets of this quite possibly non-existent village, and it will be very quiet, and there will be new constellations in the sky, and you will know they are new because they will already have names.The Body Fluids of the Electorate. The Kids Who Jumped Into the Fire. The Boiling Bones of Boris Johnson. The Blood of Horses. The Strangled Bird. The Broken Strings. The Incineration of the Pigs. The Deserted Houses. The Marriage Feast. The Defence Speech of Emile Henri. Devotions and Buildings Falling. A huge meteor will be approaching. Contains all of your unlived memories. Your 87 unspoken names. The other half of a helplessly oppositional sky.