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.

Thursday, April 06, 2017

Our Death 32 / Memoir (after Miyó Vestrini)

I would wake up. I would hate. I would fuck. I would rarely think about Bakunin. I would walk around the town. I would think about the careful differences between anarchism, epilepsy, addiction, psychosis, the dialectic, various syndromes and panic. I would think about their rhythm. I would get slightly horny. I would refuse to leave the house. I would spend 20 euro on a bag that was barely worth 5 then consider murdering the dealer. My biggest fear is that one day I will murder someone. I like the rain. I won’t tell you why. Instead I will tell you how much I am fearful of food. I chew it thirty times. I spit it out onto the ground. It makes me sick. I am losing weight. I don’t care. When people tell me I am losing weight I say so what the sun, the sun too is losing weight. It is the law of the cosmos. I actually do say that. After I say it I start to cry. Someone puts their arms around me. I rarely care who. I think about the wind and the insects that live there and make a mental note of the number of my friends who are in analysis. I am not in analysis. I would rather be like the insects who live in the wind and do something remarkable with silk but instead I am crying in a strangers arms and they would really rather I would stop and this has fuck to do with the magnificent silk made by the laughter of insects. I remember meeting a hippy once who told me I was going to have a very long life. Shit in your mouth, I murmur, to the memory of the hippy. I run out into the middle of Kottbusser Tor. Its 3 in the morning and there is very little traffic. I go crazy again and start to recite poems. The ancient poems known to all of us. The ancient poems that could kill us if they wanted, each single syllable. I fall asleep in the bar. I don’t go home. I think a little about the moon, its relation to marxism, to the riots of five years ago and the predicament we find ourselves in now. Its a full moon. It hides very little. There is a great pain in my chest. Please don’t leave me.

When you were born, which you were told on several occasions was 1969, there were a group of Americans tramping about on the moon. You didn’t think about them. You were screaming your head off . Whatever. The furniture changes places every night. There is blood in your nose. You don’t know who your family are. That’s ok. Each morning they break your arms. They tell you it is fatal. They tell you it will help you breathe better. Alphabets come from your mouth and they tell you they are fake. Fake the words that come from your throat and fake the unpredictable furies. Fake your burnt skin. Fake your blue eyes. Last night you said to yourself I am so sick of being unable to sleep I will take 37 of these pills. They are like milk in my mouth. Like spittle and spectres. Like childhood. And all those other things. You don’t know what those things are. You drink some beer. You go out looking for smack. The men stomping around on the moon didn’t think about beer or smack, you’re sure of it. You lie down in some kind of stupor singing Beethoven to yourself. The men in the moon didn’t think about Beethoven. They said to each other, do you love me. Wankers. There are stains on all of your clothes. You don’t know what the stains are. You lie in bed and wonder about the men on the moon, and if they are still there. Dying, you decide, takes much time, much dedication.