Idleness, a dog’s lot

The Rock (not the muscle-headed Hollywood Rock who doesn’t perform his own stunts but looks hard like he does) in T.S. Eliot’s play explains,

The lot of man is ceaseless labour,
Or ceaseless idleness, which is still harder,
Or irregular labour, which is not pleasant.

Now assuming idle here isn’t a play on idol—which, with a lit-crit cone on my head I’d argue it almost, incontestably, must be—I get this, really, in a knuckling way, a dig in my plexus; especially the difficulty of idleness, especially when the idleness in question breeds guilt. Our 0 hour contractors would surely agree with that about ‘irregular labour’ too, I haven’t met any of them, but they must, mustn’t they?

I am idle. Yes, idle. It isn’t my fault, I don’t think so anyway, I won’t take that slap in the gob. My routine is a binge of uncertainty. I wake early, read (a sort of reading. I re-read most of the lines) whilst my attention is drugged by the early morning roster of horrible American sitcoms, fuzzy and warm, a safety net cueing us when to laugh, the correct level of laugh-intensity, so we fit in—how else would we know otherwise? Every fibre of my snobbish taste rebels against the magnanimous push to be involved.

Why my dad watches these I just don’t know, they are bloody awful. One features the archetypal fat guy, who inflects his sentences, a cue for us to be hysterical, in the present tense. His wife is gorgeous of course, which dismantles the reality of the aesthetic pecking order, when, we ugly people have expended enormous energy accepting the bottom-tier ranking genetics plugged us in.

There is 24hour news to cheer me up. I am become an inveterate consumer of all news. I’ll even stomach the berating tactics of the indefatigable Piers Morgan, God bless him and his uncompromising, style (?). Actually, the way that he is programmed entertains me immensely.

Despite the exorbitant sum of money Susanna Reid receives for stomaching the patriarchal knob rash that is Piers Morgan, I can’t help but pity her. She can hold her own of course, she’s probably got a PhD in political science for all Piers might know. If you watch carefully, as I have inevitably begun to do, you can see her gnawing through her bottom lip when he folds his arms, gathers himself and starts to expound; sure she’ll draw blood one day. The live, brutal bludgeoning with a stiletto at 7:30 a.m. of Morgan, will be a good day for women, and I for one will rouse from my idle stupor and petition Reid’s release.

The irony of this idleness is multifoliate.

First of all, looking for work these days seems to encourage idleness. I went to a local agency in town the other day & they had one job: a warehouse packer, part time, night shifts. Everything being done online, you find gob-shite jobsites, upload CV, scroll lists of a billion menial jobs you could do standing on your head, despite being worded in such a fashion as to make them sound impossible to do, and with a single click you have applied. There is endless disappointment when you look at a job for laboring only to see you need a special permit; or gardening or even data input, where you need a special qualification—as if you need a special dispensation by some ruling-body to be slow-roasted with boredom. This goes on until you start to feel disorientated, vomit in your mouth a little, collapse with such force on your keyboard a key lodges under your eyelid—what follows is rage, panic & a visit to the NHS, where a nurse will tell you off for wasting resources & time.

I cannot adequately express in English how soul-crushing a task this is. The inexorable sadness of it makes me loath our systems, which have infiltrated this process because of the encouragement we tacitly approve via our reception to convenience.

My father has always been a hard worker. It is etched into our family’s moral compass. I agree with it. Yet I can’t help but think that idleness is really something I need to explore, something that might actually need to be more encouraged in society.

I often hear people whine about work, but then before they’ve exhaled, they’ll admit how it halts any uncomfortable thoughts, helps them regulate what simmers beneath the surface of themselves: an existential crisis. Thinking is a terrible thing. This is a limit of consciousness, so people think. It is easier to complain about doing something you don’t want to do consciously or otherwise, than it is being left to be conscious of one’s human frailties. I think there is a certain idleness to be scared or unwilling to participate in your own humanity. We are estranged from animals because of our thinking, to sacrifice this for repetition is to fear the immense complexity and duty to being aware of ourselves. The irony is, the idler is potentially more inclined to this pit of existential waywardness than the hive-minded and duteous.

People (those bloody people) these days, often ask me what I will do with myself now. I have explained my plan to do my MA, then to work toward a PhD. Explaining that PhD’s are funded, has on numerous occasion provoked an outcry: “Why do I have to fund you reading books?” Some, more than makes me comfortable, think PhD’s are funded through taxation. Terrifying isn’t it. As far as I am aware, PhD’s are funded through universities or by businesses. It isn’t the taxpayer’s burden. (Brief aside: these same people forget the miniscule amount of the British budget that goes to people out of work, most of the money for the benefits budget, goes towards pensions, some 100 odd billion.)

Ironic then that that which un-idles us establishes idleness in other areas, areas essential to our development as human beings. Therefore, it takes a daring escape into idleness, to go without the securities afforded by employment, in order to work on yourself. Eliot was onto something, who’d have thought? Because of societal resistance to this, few people are afforded the luxury of being inveterate readers, having hobbies that involve training oneself to be proficient at an art or in studious pursuits. It is in the interest of those that structure society to demonize such pursuits. I think I half believe this, I mean I don’t really think our overlords demonstrate a keen enough intellect to sully our efforts to, get smart. I do still think this was why Gove said what he said about nobody wanting to listen to experts, and why education is no longer hailed as the cornerstone-decision of every school leaver. Plenty of statistics have been produced on how much more money non-graduates are paid than graduates—Google it. What is never remarked, is how little a properly educated person really wants. Maybe I am sheltered by my own requirements and a few I know, who manage with so little and while not exactly happy, probably wouldn’t  trade what they have figured out for flash cars and holidaying twice a year. Puerile aren’t we. Daft. Stubborn. Doomed to a life of misery, to be sexless, saggy, ugly, useless: human.

It is complicated. Everything is. Idleness simplifies. While I am not open to an extended period of doing nothing, I will try to make the most of my current idleness. Everyone’s doing something, a lot of those doers are making a right pig’s ear of what they do, I don’t see how it can hurt to just stop being a doer for a while and watch what’s going on.

There is in idleness the sensation of feeling invisible; I could do with disappearing for a while.

Granny, get your chequebook out

Granny, get your chequebook out

On May 19th of this year, the [happy] Prince Harry got married. We all saw the boy in his Saville-Row-Dege-&-Skinner-tailored-frockcoat-of-the-Blues & Royals, soldierly, bold & brave— pride of Britain. He looked so charming— & his wife Meghan in something that looked recycled, it was according to Elle or something, but nevertheless sparkling, elegant, belle of the ball.

It was a day for doleful Brits to dote on their traditions, a day for fantasizing, to remark how fairytale Britain continues to be, how magic still spouts from the root of ritual, where princes marry, turning successful, rich, Hollywood actresses into princesses. Britain, having its very own, live action rom-com. Even the weather behaved. God? Buddha? Jehovah? Allah? All in agreement for the afternoon? A fantasy the royal family have become exceptional at curating. I half expected headlines to rhyme Markle with sparkle; I wouldn’t know, I didn’t bother to read them.

There is no room for criticism, no attention given to the unpatriotic in the run-up & especially during such events, all such killjoys are rebuked.
An old school friend of mine posted on Facebook, something along the lines of: why are people complaining about Harry’s wedding, can’t people just let people be happy. I know I should have held my tongue, but I kindly commented that it may probably be something to do with the cost to the taxpayer. Within minutes an obviously copied & pasted list, to Harry’s defense, ready prepared for someone like me, was plastered beneath my criticism, it read (I copy & pasted it to retain it in its original Helvetica & Inherit fonts & truncated ellipsis or double period):

•Volunteered for 2 tours of Afghanistan.
•Set up Invictus games helping wounded service personal.
° Numerous unpaid charity volunteer appointments all over the world.
•Family brings in 400 million a year in private revenue that under the “ sovereign act 2011” the government keeps £360 million of.
•Family brings in £1.8 billion per year in tourism.
•Country better off by £2.1 billion a year.
Remind me how the wedding is waste of tax payers money ?
° The wedding is paid for by the Royal heritage and private funding not the tax payer and that includes her dress!
° The tax payer will pay for the public security not private security. The same way the tax payer pays for public security at football matches etc.

Dont [sic] be a zombie and believe everything you see and read on the Internet, do a little research before sharing propaganda. Like it or not, the Royal family is a British tradition and icon.
Let’s not forget that most the twats complain about spending tax payers money are the ones who sit and sign for that money every Wednesday or daft liberals who haven’t got a clue about reality.

Shared from another source..

Not wanting to play the bull at a barn door routine, without the facts to memory & knowing if I simply made the “Afghanistan was a pointless war” speech, I’d get nowhere, I kept my gob buttoned.
This whole list plays the patriot card, which is every card in the deck of a patriot. If you don’t just agree, you are suspected of hating your country. I admit, I (sort of) hate my country, because England is a joke democracy, because of our, not only tolerance, but love & admiration of our monarchy, who utilize public spectacles, with public money, to garner public support; Joe Public is expected to lap it up like a good subject. It’s an embarrassment. I sound so puerile, but it’s just so bloody obvious.

After a handful of Google searches, on just the first point, there is enough to charge Harry with wasting tax payer’s money & maybe even for getting his granny to get her chequebook out. The wedding was estimated at about 40 odd million, Lizzie could cover that with the wave of a silk-gloved hand.

Of course the above list explains (in detail?) how the cost of this lavish propaganda event, had already been covered— ah but…
What about Harry’s service in Afghanistan? Well this is quite revealing, if you’ve any moral scruples to gauge the pressures of war on the innocent, which the red-faced, gammon-like supporters of the protectors-of-the-realm, don’t have. The implication from the list is that he did something noble by serving, by protecting his country from the big bad Taliban. What people forget is that we were never attacked by the Taliban until we invaded their country, America was, yes, our ally, but never Britain.
Invading Afghanistan brought about all terror attacks in England, since. Just let that breathe a moment…This is common sense. The July 7th attacks in 2015 when 53 were killed & 700 plus injured; Lee Rigby’s murder; & of course last year, the Westminster Bridge attack, leaving 6 dead & 49 injured; The Manchester Arena bombing, leaving 22 dead & 129 injured & finally the London Bridge & Borough Market attacks, leaving 11 dead & 48 injured.
We can assume on firm grounds that Harry felt it right to go to war with a country that had never threatened us directly, a country that the main attacker of our ally, Osama bin Laden wasn’t even a citizen of. Happy Prince Harry did 2 tours after all & ended the first one only because an Australian newspaper got wind of him fighting there . I don’t know the inner mechanics of Harry’s thinking, but he seems to have quite enjoyed being one of the boys in uniform. He went back. I suppose he ain’t got much else on. Charity? Yes, that’s easy when you don’t have to make a living, when you are more symbol than cog in the machine. When the money comes to you, you never have to move in its direction.
I didn’t want to bring his mother into this, I perhaps it is bad form, but she would surely have been ashamed of him for fighting in such a fruitless war, after all the good work she did & the humanity she displayed in her short life.

Well, if the human price isn’t enough (& for many it isn’t—collateral damage; inevitable consequence of war. Just plain humanity!) if it isn’t enough that a royal, an emblem, a supposed symbol of UK identity, felt it correct to fight in a war that exacerbated, no, instigated a concerted effort to attack the innocent people of Britain, then we can tally the cost.
There isn’t any concrete, irrefutable data on this, but plenty to rouse suspicions. In 2013 the Guardian published an article, quoting a book by Frank Ledwidge called Investment in Blood, that “on a conservative estimate” it was costing 15m a day & up to that time was at 37 billion . How many royal weddings would that pay for? The war has continued since then & continues now, no doubt at roughly 10s of millions by the day. The Queen & her family don’t pay taxes, so they haven’t footed a single penny for the cost of that war. They just sent their brave prince.
So not only has Harry condoned a foolish, ugly war that brings fear to UK streets, but moreover condoned & taken part in a war that has turned swathes of the Muslim population against British citizens, Muslims who were born & raised in the UK, some even sneaking off to join ISIS. He has condoned & taken part in a war that, because of the void caused by destabilizing the political & economic structure of Afghanistan, enabled the rise of ISIS. He has condoned & taken part in a war that may have paid for everybody in Britain to have a wedding at their local church & a damn good buffet reception afterwards, to have helped stabilize the budget of the NHS, housed the homeless, put a little extra in the pay checks of working people who visit food banks every week.

But what I have failed to mention so far is that the people who defend Harry aren’t really defending Harry as such; they are really defending their interest in something that gives them a sense of identity; they are wooed by the flash & bang of a ceremony. An excuse to watch famous people swan about in fancy clothes. It exposes how reliant people are on small talk round the water cooler. Something to lighten the fatigue of Monday morning. Little do they realize how muddy the facts become? The likes of Harry & his guests have nothing, or at least little in common with Wendy & Bill, blue collar workers, scraping a living out the skid marks of society.
The list quotes 400 million in private revenue, money the royals bring in through tourism; as if tourism exists only because the queen might be sat on her throne in Buckingham Palace. According to the UNWTO Tourism Highlights of 2017, France, Spain & Italy all topped the UK for International tourist arrivals. France & Italy have no monarchy. What could the pull be? Actually culture: art, architecture, food, atmosphere? When was the last time you heard someone say they are visiting Spain to maybe catch a glimpse of King Felipe VI? Who knows the name of a monarch in Europe? A monarchy is not what people necessarily visit a country for. Were there no monarchy, then tourists would still visit London, only we wouldn’t have our laughable democracy; we would actually be a democracy.
Because of the UK monarchy, people associate British people with royalty, they have this skewed idea of what British people are like. Having lived in Korea for nearly 10 years, I have come toe expect, when people first meet me & discover I’m English, to mention royalty & gentlemen. I dislike that my identity is tied up with a bunch of potentially inter-bred, aristocratic, millionaires, who have little will to improve the quality of life for the poorest in the UK & gentlemen.

There isn’t a slid figure, only estimates, as to the royal’s wealth. “Forbes reports Queen Elizabeth has an estimated private wealth of $530 million.” So we can assume Charles & his cohort of cousins & what-not are in that ball park, making the royals worth billions of untaxable revenue. Most of their wealth comes from inherited, private lands . When the Paradise Papers were released it was found the Queen had been keeping millions in off shore accounts .

It is moreover, a myth that the royals don’t interfere with government. The Guardian, after a 10 year battle & a personal cost to the paper of 10s of thousands of pounds, revealed that Prince Charles had been writing to various people in government, including then Prime Minister Blair, on a range of topics he has no authority meddling in. Here is a sample, just one very damaging & worrying paragraph from a large cache:

Dear Prime Minister,
It was very good to see you again the other day and, as usual, I much enjoyed the opportunity to talk about a number of issues. You kindly suggested that it would be helpful if I put them in writing — despite the Freedom of Information Act!

This sort of influence goes above what a royal, other than the Queen perhaps, in her weekly meet up with the PM, is expected to push. In fact, it is generally understood by most people that the monarchy shouldn’t attempt to press a matter at all, they merely stand as an identifying symbol of Britishness, a tourist magnet; they shouldn’t be writing personal letters, in order influence policies in a direction favourable to their opinion, which is clearly what Charles does in the ominously titled Black Spider Letters.

No irony wasted in returning to the fallible list’s conclusion, to hold the mirror up (except I’ll switch the font):

“Dont be a zombie and believe everything you see and read on the Internet, do a little research before sharing propaganda. Like it or not, the Royal family is a British tradition and icon.
Let’s not forget that most the twats complain about spending tax payers money are the ones who sit and sign for that money every Wednesday or daft liberals who haven’t got a clue about reality.”

Toward a Critical Habit II

V

There were 3 major terrorist incidents in England in 2017. Morally despicable acts of cruelty designed to spread panic & to inflict suffering on innocent people, & by enlarge, to terrify the country into a constant state of anxiety. The crimes were committed by a minority sample of Muslims who were radicalized because they listened to the propaganda of another minority sample of Muslims.
This has aggravated the schism in British public opinion: people who once defended their dislike of Muslims under a belief in each country taking care of their own, has become unadorned racism.
There are non-Muslims in England, organized bodies of them, who from this, deduce that the population of around 2 1/2 million Muslims in England are all sleeping terrorists. i know at least 10 people (my own aunty being one, along with her clique of equestrians) personally who believe this & have harvested the information from a wider organization of people who accept this as fact. Britain First propaganda informs them. An organization that went to refugee camps, asked Syrian refugees who could hardly speak English, where they wanted to go, when they replied England they forcibly told them not to go, then when they noted the smart phones in the refugees’ hands, quizzed them, as if they’d caught them red handed as frauds, on where they got them. It never occurred to this Britain First supporters that Syria did once have economic structures in place or that these refugees came from relatively wealthy families that could afford such objects. Nor, whether there might be an industry of used phones sold on the cheap, despite the war.
What is more absurd is how they’d fix this problem: “just send them back.” How many times i’ve asked these Britain First supporters what they’d do & received this answer is astonishing.
An insignificant amount of critical thinking exposes the immense complexity of doing this. A great many Muslims have lived in England for generations. How do you determine where “back” is for young Muslims who never visited the countries their grandfathers came from? Young people who identify as Brits. The extreme right often forget that Muslim isn’t a country. Let’s say you do have a system to decide, which is unlikely; who will pay for the transportation to return 2 1/2 million Muslims, or even half that amount? If no one, then do they expect them to be herded by force to Dover & forced onto boats? What then of European countries where they will perhaps land? Will they pick a single country to drop them all, or send vessels to the multitude of countries where Muslims live? What boats will be used & who will pay?
The logistics to successfully carry out such a ludicrous solution is fraught with difficulties; considering that there will never be a clear majority that believe this a morally just course of action; in that case, there would never be a majority vote to shoulder the pecuniary responsibility for something they find morally reprehensible.
An eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, has become the apothegm of some, Darren Osbourne, for example, who took his ideology to the point of mowing down Muslims outside Finsbury Park mosque, killing one & maiming several others. He transmuted his nationalistic anger & anxiety to protect his country into belligerent action, as if there were a holy war we’d all agreed on.
The truth is that people living inside the borders of England just go about their busy, their ideologies or opinions, remaining dormant until they are provoked into use. People don’t tend to think about, or to correlate information, if they do, it is from sources similar in scope to each other. This means the dialectic in society is largely passive, then a slanging match.
i’m with Northrop Frye on the value of argument:
“I detest arguments because you’re going to lose any argument with an ideologue because you can only argue on the basis of a counter ideology, and I’m not doing that. I think that the ideologue addresses his public and wants to make a kinetic effect on it. He wants people to get out there and do something.” He goes on to say “The actual technique of argumentative writing is something I avoid as far as possible because when you argue, you are selecting points to emphasize and there can never be anything definitively right or wrong about an emphasis. It’s simply a choice among possibilities, and consequently argument is always a half truth.”

VI

Guillaume Chaslot, a computer engineer who worked on the Youtube algorithm, discovered during the 3 years he worked on & with it, that how the algorithm decides the Up Next videos in the Youtube side bar, are dangerously skewed. Search terms often lead people down a rabbit hole of conspiracy videos. His website Algotransparency, gives the likelihood of Up Next videos when we search a term such as “Global Warming”. If we do search this in Youtube we are 5.6× more likely to have a video on the predictions of Nostradamus appear in the Up Next side bar. Can you imagine what sort of effect this has on elections? How this affects learning?
A lot of people watch Youtube videos & Google is the leading search engine—Google owns Youtube, so the algorithm is probably similar. What might begin as an effort to inform yourself on an important topic, can quickly lead you down a rabbit hole of questionable authorities. Someone with poor critical faculties can be led into a belief system filled with irregularities; without defense, without critical habits, we are open to suggestion & manipulation.
i don’t believe Google is evil. i don’t think Larry Page is a bad bloke, but i do think the technology is flawed in regards to the freedom it must maintain to be what it is. In this case, we must take measures ourselves rather than place the blame on the engineers of these tools, which can be utilized for as much good as the bad habits they induce.

Conspiracy Theories are probably the most peculiar form of questionable authority. i say authority, because they have a lot of reach these days: Alex Jones as millions of listeners & David Icke sold out Wembley.
Although, in the opinion of a locked in conspiracy theorist, due to the non-conformist (& often bizarre) restructuring of what they accept as the status quo, they are in fact, hyper-critical. They are able to read symbols planted in plain view, within society; usually in advertising, Hollywood movies, subliminal messaging in popular music & the geomancy of monuments or architecture. To them, a logo may be a code that interpreted correctly, reveals clues to the agenda of the puppet masters pulling the strings. They are warring against shadowy government agencies, a global cabal with infinite resources to silence its opponents. Conspiracy theorists, interpret a wholly other narrative from the news reel of the day, because they understand reality in the context of secrecy. Their efforts to expose this puts them at daily risk, they do what they do for liberty & democracy, just like those who accuse the shamed.
One of the major anxieties of the conspiracy theorists is mass de-population. David Icke & Alex Jones frequently raise this topic. Their evidence comes mostly from the Georgia Guidestones, an admittedly peculiar monument in Elbert County, Georgia. On it are written 10 instructions, in 8 modern & 4 ancient languages. The 10 instructions are:

I. Maintain humanity under 500,000,000 in perpetual balance with nature.
II. Guide reproduction wisely — improving fitness and diversity.
III. Unite humanity with a living new language.
IV. Rule passion — faith — tradition — and all things with tempered reason.
V. Protect people and nations with fair laws and just courts.
VI. Let all nations rule internally resolving external disputes in a world court.
VII. Avoid petty laws and useless officials.
VIII. Balance personal rights with social duties.
IX. Prize truth — beauty — love — seeking harmony with the infinite.
X. Be not a cancer on the earth — Leave room for nature — Leave room for nature.

i’ll just say something about number 1. There are 7,000,000,000 people on the planet. The extermination of 6,500,000,000 human beings is a messy business. The logistics of it, would mean, that of the 500,000,000, a reasonable percentage would need to be responsible for this. A conspiracy theorist might say the trade of labour for life, is one we already make & a work force could be selected with this promise. No doubt. However, would they have to kill us or be party to it? That’s a different conundrum. Cleaning up the already dead corpses of the entire planet is one thing but having to kill them, you have to be desensitized, propagandized and manipulated. They might say this is already being done. However the slow pile up of our bodies littering the planet & decomposing will cause famine if the select to deal with this don’t work constantly. In which case, we have an example at our disposal to illustrate the monumental strain this has on a power: the Nazi’s worked diligently to exterminate 6,000,000 over a period of a few years & it was fraught with logistical problems. & we are talking a number of much greater magnitude. How are even a million people going to clean up this? Moreover, the architects of this depopulation are supposed to be men who run businesses, whose interests are vested in manufacture & thus need a work force, on top of that, someone to buy their products. Why decimate the population of consumers? Isn’t the consumer supposed to be always right?
These are questions that are never raised by conspiracy theorists, because they want to believe. It gives them an advantage over the uninitiated, makes them feel they figured out a mystery.
Their anxieties are founded on an insanely improbable act of cruelty. But what knowledge can we harvest from merely denouncing them as crazy? It seems more profitable to be critical, then if they cannot answer us, they are forced to search themselves for a reply, from that we can put them in a position where they must interrogate their belief. That is what true criticism does: if the question cannot be answered, then there must be an attempt to uncover one.

VII

Moral obligation in public life should not begin & end with accusation, the act of the accused needs to be corrected; disciplinary action should follow. To explain what someone did wrong takes more effort than pointing a finger. The accused must be guided to understand the mechanisms & triggering of the act.
We have never been more informed, it is no excuse to blame over abundance for ignorance; that doesn’t sit well with me. Quality may be more difficult to obtain & even maintain. But if that is the state we find ourselves in, an open mind to the changing tides of information that inform a problem, should keep us alert to questioning & being questioned.
Why is critical thinking difficult for people? People are often confused about what it really is to criticize something. It is not an act of negation, it is an act of analysis, a practice of reasoning to evaluate & even classify information in order to better understand. It is not an opinion that needs to be defended with the best efforts of the ego. It is not something that shames, blames, points or belittles. It is the power of understanding. It is a device for regulating society’s behavior; for keeping an informed eye on ourselves.

That day | when the Man Dressed like a Forest…

That day | when the Man Dressed like a Forest
yodeled into the gash of a valley |
the rising echo no reply but

the semblance of his voice “which tragically
has neither eyes nor sense to register itself.”
First the ozone then the ocean

masticated Kim’s missile | the whole world
has gone ballistic. At risk of rousing ire |
in Kim’s mind he’s the revolutionary

flipping his rocket finger up the wall of sky |
toward the meddlers of the world’s affairs that want
him flayed & neutered “being a good boy— there there now.”

Instead of this it appears to me
more pertinent | “to go out & make friends
with a giraffe” | to set rags of tissue paper

alight & toss them into dark | written
on them | all our anxieties & phobias
quickly flaming into CO2 & vapour.

i must believe | only today
the 30th Nov 2017 | could be the day
on which these lines might be born | no other day

— while clouds range the blue spectrum
from over the sea | cramp grey | fixed about
the mountain | my mistakes accompanying.

Man: you unnerving parameter— “gob-shite!”
What would Dr. Z. Busner prescribe
for all these disembodied “gob-shites!”

with their idiolect scansion & negligence?
Google told me Topamax or Lamictal
but i would rather squeeze the juice

from the blue air
& feed it them.

Hiatus

    i have decided after some deliberation this week, to take a hiatus from blogging. Perhaps a month or so, until the summer is over— i think it may be searing my brain, short circuiting some of the neuronal connections, my dendrites are firing blanks.
    i furthermore, received a high number of rushed rejections from journals which tells me a number of conflicting things: that the journals didn’t even bother to read the poems properly, further adding to my inkling that there is a hell of a lot of cronyism going on. My poems are not good enough. i am not presenting myself as best i can; i have no ego for this; i don’t like myself enough to be confidant in the etiquette of the submitter’s voice. i am trying to write for the journals, which is showing in the poems, absent of the honesty in my usual poetic voice: i am not an experimental poet, it seems & need to know the boundaries of my experimenting with syntactical units to affect my themes— i blame Roy Fisher. i am thus choosing the wrong journals to submit my poems. i just don’t know what the hell is going on anymore, the world terrifies me more & more each day & i don’t know how to be happy about anything anymore because i am so confused about the positions we can take because taking one omits others & that leaves us standing on an ever encroaching shore on all sides that is eating the land around us, until we are marooned on a 4 by 4 bank of sand surrounded by a boisterous ocean. i am struggling to produce enough poems for journals & the blog. i want to post my best poems on the blog & to journals, but i don’t have the time to write for both, so i feel my writing is getting sloppy. i think some time out will allow me to replenish my stores & focus on finding some matching journals. Anyone who thinks a journal or magazine would be interested in my poems, please let me know & i can look into that journal & submit.
    i am sure in the chaos of everything & the uncertainty of my mind these days that i am missing a lot. As much as blogging helps me write, it is a cause of anxiety at the moment, because i have gotten a glimmer of attention & worry if i don’t perform i will loose the few readers i have worked hard to form relationships with. Have i worked that hard? i dunno. i sure feel an obligation to post & continue dialogues with the poets & bloggers i enjoy reading. i feel now that as my stores are dwindling, i am perhaps writing with less attention & branching to themes i might not have a decent enough grasp of to justify writing about. i need to spend some time considering again what kind of poet i want to be & how i am going to unify any new directions to the voice i know i am confident with. i take poetry very serious, perhaps too serious & witnessing myself lose sight of what kind of poet i want to be, i must reel myself in & give myself a decent talking to, make sure of my purposes.
On top of this i have a bag of bones narrative poem which i want to but a good deal of focus on. i want to get it into shape for sending to publishers. A few bloggers have been kind enough to read my first draft & steer me a little (you know who you are) but i could do with more strong readers willing to help me. i particularly need a woman to help me get the voice of my protagonist right. So if you want to help me, please email me at danielpaulmarshall85@gmail.com & i’ll send you my draft to read over. Any feedback would be helpful.
    So i’ll take my little hiatus & see what i can do. This all sounds very dramatic, but i felt a message worthwhile if only to not seem ignorant if i don’t reply or give the poets i enjoy reading any attention. i will return with, i hope, sacks of poems & maybe some prose.

Thinking out loud in no particular order

Roy Fisher in his Jacket2 interview, explained that his poetry could sometimes be explained as thinking out loud. i’ve been quite taken by this & for the past 3 days i have written something like 25 pages or round there about of this thinking out loud poetry & i am quite pleased with the results & the oiling of the pistons encouraged. i don’t know if i’d call it experimental or even poetry, but it is something & the product is too tantalizing for the method to be cast to the dogs.  Here’s a palm through to scrape your brain across.

Thinking out loud
in no particular order

—blah blah Black Sheep have you
any bank notes made
of human skin
a neo-liberal, whachya-call-it
-thingy-ma-jig
y’ know, for key changes

— a post-structural
rustic dance with bells,

a popular tune,
rabbits in weak light
bending shadow
with the pulse
of their tails.

What are the gestures of unreason?
In the spotlight
gold tussocked clods of men

Boris here, Tony there
blazers with Eleusian emblems, meaning
something to them;
the sort of men who
consult harridan oracles.

: (a)versions of a meme
what’s that?

Graves would whisper
Greek nothings in the ears
of sex & love gods
in Deià Majorca, before
the Brits made it shit,
occupying villas, turning
the local cuisine to
egg, chips & mushy peas with bread n’ butter
or banger’s & mash, Sunday’s
for roasting, obviously
—where he buried himself
in unpopular ideas
that made so much sense & rose
to brain the Times’ academia
with its own absence
of curiosity.

24 hour news
is a dull, great abstract
the separation of truth,
the surface of it, but not
it: too many ifs &
not enough humility.

i’ll plagiarize myself
truly Modern
then blackmail me
for the ransom.

Falling (part A)

We’ve all done it & you might say, we never stopped nor did we begin, but we’ll probably end someday, maybe.
i do not really understand these equations, but i wanted precision & recently read in Foucault that equations had a brevity akin to poetry (at least i think it was Foucault). i also kind of liked the inversion of mathematics explaining language rather than language explaining mathematics. High praise for anyone who can tell me what the equations are without resorting to copying & pasting them into Google.

Falling 1

i can say everything falls. If stuff falls
at c = 3.0 x 108 m/s, like the under garment
of reality, do they remain stationary?
F = Gm1m2/r2 is how a scientist will
explain a fall, maybe— i loosen my grasp
on anything & hear it hit the floor. i read
a Syrian’s account of Saydnaya prison camp,
now a hostage to memory, despite freedom,
as if his memories are fed through a drip
against his will. The sun doesn’t bleed light,
nor light shadow, they are a consequence of a type
of falling. The wind’s ruckus of updrafts
cannot pack rain into a cloud;
only the sun can do that, in good time

& with the help of chlorophylls.

Grenfell Tower

This poem just happened. i have been so angry about this, the senselessness of it & the cruel irony that some of these people immigrated to England for a better, safer & more secure life & then this happened to them, when a few basic requirements would have averted the tragedy. This is what greed does. This is the bare face of it.

Grenfell Tower

Perhaps, at that time, around midnight,
a Jamaican woman, preparing her family’s
lunches for school the next day after a late shift;
English pensioners listening to radios, watching the tele;
a West Indian chap listening to music;
a Syrian lad trying to Skype his friend
or brother still trapped in Aleppo;
a Muslim reading the Koran, a Hindu reading the Vedas;
a Bangladeshi father studying his bills
while his wife finishes off ironing & yawns;
teenagers messaging friends on Facebook
or posting pictures on Instagram
when they should be sleeping;
or somebody painting, writing or reading
— for most, the crumbs of the day,
coalescing into the uneasiness of dreams
the anxieties & worries of poverty.
120 homes, full of memories, a few possessions,
full of the chatter of families, the thrum of life,
full of the comforts of each other, stock phrases
from that time & of better times yet to come
simple but direct language
—life taken, as it should be, for granted,
so much of each other putting distance
between them & any consideration of death,
waiting around the blind corners of chaos.
How infuriating: a little extra purchase, a few quid
& this would have been a minor hiccup
for just a handful, or maybe a single person;
maybe a lick of paint, a bit of a fix up,
a bandage, a bit of ointment for a burn or cut,
a brief visit from the fire brigade, or just
the sprinklers to douse the flames &, done.
Forgotten as quick as it came, an anecdote
to tell the neighbours, something to forget.
Not, the realization something is wrong,
the incoherent noise of panic, feeling heat rise
as the floors below caught fire, the sense
that something is wrong, but not knowing
as you cannot see it coming, all the while
the flames catching the incendiary materials
like a Chinese whisper— it was too late
once the outside had spread up the cladding,
the heavy amalgam of unknown scents,
the fear of the unknown, so many new
confrontations in so short a span of time;
for some, it brought piecemeal, jittery
flashbacks of a past escaped from, done with,
back home in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Eritrea,
Somalia & the cruel irony of that escape
come to haunt, just as the fire began
engulfing the windows, the fire exits,
any hope, all packed with flames without
regard for the material blocking its path
the hell of Holy Books ripping habits apart.
Giving yourself up to prayer, in desperate moments,
where there is no longer choice, but only
the inevitability of what is to happen to you.
i hope despite all your prayers,
you never became discouraged, that you
continued to believe, God would see
you through the ordeal in some way;
that your inability to understand the terror
& silence became the reason everything was illuminated.
Did you think or became thankful for the life you had,
could you keep it together for the sake of others?
It’s ok if you didn’t, you’re only human.
A death so complete, it is scored in the mind
as a total absence: no body to mourn over,
nothing to fill a grave or urn, nothing to shroud
& weep over, nothing to remember a loved
one by, no item, nothing.
Just Grenfell as monument, ineradicable
like your memory & love for the dead.
But how brave to trust your child
to the capabilities of a stranger, how brave
for stroking the forehead of your child
& telling them everything is going to be alright,
hushing them to calm, as the fire took control
of your right to pick another narrative;
how brave of you to knock on doors, to raise
the alarm, though the fire spread with such ferocity,
to wait until the last possible moment;
how brave to walk into that oven of teeth
& fight it, square on, to salvage, any life;
how brave of you all to endure & try & stick
by each other though culture diversifies you.
Grenfall, i never visited you, i don’t
know you, i only learned of you when
you suffered; so i cannot take responsibility
for this poem, it is yours, you wrote it
& it may not do or be much, but when systems fail
us & we only have our influence to see & love,
we must realize that strength & explore it,
even though a minor poem, it is a recognition,
for words are what separate us from the animals,
they are in tandem with love, our means
to express sincerity, our sorrow & anger, to rebel
against those that seek to take from us
& use us to their profit, words help us destroy that.
This is all i have to offer
& nothing will ever be enough.

Sewol Tragedy Soliloquy

Sewol Tragedy Soliloquy

Bamboo has the elegance of Chinese symbols,
tells of winters, keeping your chin up when
cold delves in bone. The 3 year anniversary of the Sewol
tragedy is in a few days— try telling those parents
to keep their chins up; they’d pull the plug on the ocean,
cause mass extinction to marine life, just to cradle
the wet-through corpse of their child, apple
of their eye, turned coral, caked in the dank
viscera of sea & memory. It’s all over the news
: men are working night & day to raise
the ferry, 3 years late— looks like the sea’s being
dredged through a colander— we’ll say,
when the yellow water’s run off, a memory
the ocean’s had time to rub salt in, haunts us.

(Image by Argus Paul, a pal of mine, you can see his series on here.)