Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Paternoster Row" - a drabble



As our forces advanced to reclaim the city, a dazzling patch of green sat at its heart. Had the suffocating high rises been temporarily eclipsed by the remnants of the smoke? Or perhaps they had been levelled by the aerial bombardment, restoring the city to its Medieval origins. The green park, the former common lands choked off by private capital, now unshackled so it and we, would be free to breathe freely once again. But as we converged on the city centre, we saw that the green was pulsing. A host of iridescent green blowflies colonising the city’s charred corpses.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Etiquette Of Party Bags - A guide





        

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From the forthcoming novel

published by Dead Ink Books

out soon 


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Manichean Synchronicity - Flash Fiction



The jeroboam smashed into the hull, signalling the liner’s launch ~ as the pub brawler wielded a jagged broken bottle to slash his foe’s face.

The HiFi was playing Mongolian overtone singing ~ as the lover’s fingers snapped the hyoid bone in her throat.

The sculptor’s chisel released the form that was inside his imagination from the marble ~ as the prisoner plunged a self-fashioned blade into another man’s gut.

The dignitary pulled on the sash to part the drapes so revealing the painting ~ as the burglar tightened the curtain tie around the homeowner’s jugular.

The mayor cut the ribbon to declare the arts centre open ~ as the barren woman drove the scissors into her rival’s pregnant belly.

She laid the final rocks in the Zen garden ~ as the crowd pelted the adulterer with stones in the public square.

The farmer was handed a machete by his field labourers for symbolically reaping the final sugar cane of the crop ~ as the genocidal slaughter was propelled by machete wielding militias.


William Burroughs shot paint tins to Jackson Pollock his canvases, (not his best work) ~ as the gambler shot fifty-eight concert-goers in Sin City

Paingyric - Short Story


Like a suicide bomber, regard this video to be my last will and testament, only unlike him I do not proclaim myself martyr and will not be ushering anyone else into death with me. I have spent a lifetime wreaking both effects on those unfortunates in my orbit in any case. I have taken to the camera lens since I can no longer cradle an actual pen between fingers, contorted by freshly minted muscle memory of clenched teeth and cramped hands. Cruel perhaps that this reflex strikes at such strategic loci for the production of words, when both are the furthest peripheries removed from the actual epicentre of the pathology. My pathology, the rest of my corpus in revolt against me. And perish the thought of my digits ever dancing across a keyboard ever again. But my mouth still functions. Little surprise to those colleagues and peers in the industry that it would be the last constituent of me to seize up and relinquish the fight. Alas however, the pen is not mightier than the sword, judging by the rotisserie blade that has impaled my liver and convolutes it above my internal infernal fires, sending off a shower of metastasised sparks to all other parts of my benighted body. Particularly having a liking for and coming to rest on my brain. Because it’s relatively spongy up there I suppose. Soft landings for terminal take-off. 

Even though my name bears considerable commodity value, there will be no pecuniary charge to access this video, as it shall be made readily available on the free file sharing sites. My offspring have been well provided for already by my career, though it cannot compensate for the other incommodious dearths that came about in its wake. Was one contingent upon the other? I already know their answer, so that my response matters not, for it carries no weight. This may be my testament, but only they can testify to the fallout of its contents. See who turns up to my funeral I imagine. A veritable dead reckoning.

Every so often you’ll have to excuse me as I pull on my metal straw of liquid morphine. Here in my sippy-cup, forged from metal as betokens the status of a seething adult. I have to adjudge the optimal time to imbibe, as close to the Richter Scale peak of crescendoing spasm as to be able to maximally alleviate it, without leaving it too late from evacuation so that the pain quake obliterates all other competing consciousness. In such a way the opiate serves as an inkwell, dipping the pen in to prevent the flow of words becoming sundered and surrendered. A sharpening of the senses emerging only with the assistance of anaesthesia.

So, to the meat of the matter, albeit marinaded in morphine. Reading is a hybrid art form. That I say this might surprise you since the author’s sole tool, his only palette, is that of language, which makes it perhaps the purest of art forms, unmediated by its materiality; no coloured pigment on canvas; no 50-piece orchestra, conductor and opera singers; or no electrified amplifiers for the screech of guitars. No, it’s hybrid because it requires both senses of sight and hearing, without privileging one over the other. We read the words with our eyes, but ‘hear’ them sounded inside our heads and that way we hear the voice of the absent author. Alive or dead. Or somewhere in between, soon to pass from one state to the other. It’s a different mechanism from listening to an interlocutor who is stood there in front of you. So why have I taken to this filmic medium that most definitely privileges the optic sense over the aural? Because in one respect there is very little visual variegation to keep your eye entertained, so you would ordinarily have to focus solely on the words. No mis en scene, no carefully constructed image within the frame. Yet what ocular paucity on offer, is, I rather feel, vital. You see before you a middle-aged man in decline. Though unless you are a part of my serrated inner circle, you would not see me incrementally enough to be able to discern any such decline. I was fortunate enough to be an artist in the pre-social media age. My putative audience had and have no idea what I really look like beyond the fly leaf photo with all its high production values. A fiction for a fiction. So it is not this image of a crumbling man that you should or could fix on. It is this flask. Because the flask is the central image. Even though it has no magical powers. It is no elixir restoring me to life. Nor does it hold back the press of barbarian hordes of tumescent incoherence from the Palatine redoubt of my upper stories. At best it allows me to reach the end of my sentences.

But why it is so important for this image to be front and central, is because it represents something that no amount of skilfully composed words can ever achieve; it stands for death. It represents and embodies pain in a way I could never harness simply through language. Morphine, the tincture of dreams, the realm of Morpheus after whom it is named, when actually it serves as the very antithesis of dreams; death as the eternal dreamless sleep. Palliative care while the pall-bearers are merely suiting up. No matter how intricate and resonant I articulate, death resists my metaphors. Here I am, throwing liquid analgesic down my gullet to try and allow me some fleeting joined-up seconds to contemplate what it is I’m grappling with. Yet it is really too late in the day to really come to grips with the intractable. Interesting word ‘palliative’, it bears a sense of extenuating or mitigating pleas in law, or apologies of which I have none. And yet its Latin root is the word for a large mantle or cloak, that you’re concealing or shrouding something. Which brings us back to the pall cloth over a coffin. As if we could tuck death out of sight. Like an unsightly coffee stain under a doily. Or look here, a morphine smear on the table’s glass top. See, the flask is to be in plain sight at all times during this broadcast. The flask is the motif of this talk; motif of course as in motive… Oh the pain siren is a howling… Motile, as in both one’s fructifying semen and the free movement of metastasising cancer cells, which is most assuredly unfructifying. 

Sometimes I wonder if these twinges are the prod of some sort of internal critic or censor, outraged at myself. Even though I have never once felt any compunction to retract what I have written. I stand by everything I say, or in this present case, sit doubled over in agonised throes… There, that’s better, sucking succour. A blessed modicum of damnable relief. Until even Morpheus’ soothing powers are dulled through what is laughingly called ‘tolerance’. At that point you can only beseech morphine not to relieve you, but to release you. For you will probably self-medicate yourself to death before the cancer culls you. Ironic that the root of the word ‘release’ is to loosen or relax, which is what you count on the drug to do for you in these last knockings, yet the apposite word ‘relief’ has a connotation of getting you back on your feet, of raising you up from being prostrate. Neither are related to the word resurrect which has an etymological root of resurgence. More’s the pity. The surging going on is in one direction only and it’s to my absolute detriment. There, that hits the spot. You know, the most galling thing about this self-medication, is that as an inveterate smoker of cigarettes, which as you can see, I still do because, hell what’s to lose, but the action of lifting the flask to my lips and puffing on the straw, is akin to vaping. I suppose I could have opted for an audio only rogation, but who listens to the wireless these days anyway? The word wireless now standing instead for networks of frenzied, swarming airwaves that have superannuated the original wireless with its singular stentorian voice. But no, I rejected the Godcast, because the flask has to be up front and central. A flask will and testament if you will. And you will, unless the disarticulations of Alzheimer’s gets you first. 

I had always thought I was offering our species profundities in my writing. But this pewter flask tells me I fell oh so far short of that. Not that my work wasn’t more insightful than the drivel the vast amount of other writers produce… Excuse me… That coughing jag would have been produced irrespective of my current blight. The carcinogenic splutterings of most other writers stops up one’s breath, through the audacity of their musings being so feeble. Some of them even choose to pontificate on the contents of this flask, yet couldn't see what was staring them in the face. Reflected in the adulterated silver sheen. Alloyed with lead, the supposed barrier against radiation but proffering a differing poison of its own. Same duplicity as morphine, on both counts… Even abutted hard up against it, yet still these so-called writers (with apologies to the ‘so-called Islamic State’) couldn’t see what was clearly right under their noses. Or in it in the case of some, trying to shortcut the creative process, to get to the lesser seen parts of their selves, when in truth they weren’t worth accessing in the first place and even if they were, just put in the requisite bloody work! You can't mainline genius! Instead they all plumped for the fanciful altered reality vistas offered by Morpheus, rather than the ineffable singularity of death.

But who am I to cavil and carp, when in the greater scheme of things, I now question the merit of my own endeavours and even that of all possible writing? In the manner of the Classical Greek philosophers and the Christian theologians who squatted on their shoulders, I was pursuing the wrong lines of inquiry. It is not a question of what constitutes a ‘good’ life, or an ethical one. It is just the question of life itself we should be interrogating. As framed by our flagrant mortality. I’d employ the word ‘blatant’ rather than the hyperbole 'flagrant', only its root is to prate and babble, when we never speak of death at all, so the word does not befit. Yet ‘flagrant’ isn’t quite right either, with its sense of flaming and fulgurant, iterative of an enlightenment that is anything but. Words fail and break down in quietus’ vestibule. You have no power to lobby once in Death’s lobby. At this late stage I am afeared that writing and language itself just isn’t up to the task. Sculptors of stigmatic saints and martyrs have got to better grips with pain and agony and their corollary of surcease. Whether theist or humanist in their outlook, many rendered the wound of humanity right on the nose. Because it is non-lingual. An expression of pure emotion which always eludes language that has to take the roundabout route of metaphor. Pain etched into skin is far more pertinent than printed words etched into the grain of paper. Let alone on a monitor screen which possesses no grain at all. The pain wreaked across my features says more about life than my entire wrote oeuvre. Wrought for nought… 

How we are obsessed with origins. Ting. With original sin. Ting. With formative Oedipal relations. Ting. With identity and founding myths. Ting. When everything should in fact proceed from eschatology. Ting ting. Flask your father, oh you can’t, he’s dead. While we're about Herr Freud, if we are to invoke his Oedipal theory, why not also his oral, anal and phallo-genital stages as well? We writers should play with ludic language with orality, with anality as well as genital gay abandon. In our linguistic sandbox, we should throw words around like our own shit. James Joyce did, not that I'm comparing myself to the master. We ought to bite and gnaw and lacerate text with our teeth, I mean words emerge from our mouths right? But we don't, we meekly succumb to the superego of grammar for arranging our words into syntactically governed, linear sentences, instead of bloodied smears and seminal gobbets. In doing so we mute language’s energies. But cancer won’t stand for that, for it is a mutiny against any and every muted energy. So I also am not immune from such criticism, as I too yielded before the publishing proprieties suggested by my various careworn editors over the years. Consider the beginnings and ends of novels. Every reader is thrown in the deep end at the opening of a novel. They have to find their way into the world and the language of the book, enter into the voice of their character guide. Consequently authors devote a lot of attention to the beginning, to hook the reader in. But the ending of books? How many endings have ever truly satisfied you the reader? They just seem poor apologies for concluding the book there, like it ran out of steam, or offered a lumpen twist to try and give the novel some last minute perspectival weight. The attention given is the wrong way round. The beginning will always remain inchoate as the reader comes to it blind. But the ending...? The ending must be utterly defined, even if it leads to inchoateness beyond the final full-stop, for after all, death ushers in the inchoate. 

Oh, the flask is empty. Out of juice. Out of words. Out of time. I'll just unclip my throat mic here and set the flask upon the table next to it.




Thursday, 28 September 2017

Always Date A Nail Biter (Never A Bed Wetter) - Flash Fiction


Three and a half minutes to soft boil an egg. Less if you’re at altitude because of the thinner air. Then you have to open it up to get at the nutritious albumen. A spoon or knife to trepan the shell, but then it’s filagree finger work to peel away the brown calcite shards. Tough to do if you’re a nail biter rather than a bed wetter. I reckon he’s both.

A minute and a half to hard boil a man’s brain. Like at altitude, the oxygen gets thinner until he passes out. With your hands around the carotid arteries, the brain in his stupid ovoid shaped head will seethe and boil. He will grab at your hands in a desperate bid to free his airways. But because he’s an onychophagist, he causes you no pain since he has no acuminated keratin to pierce the surface of your skin. Same way he could never peel away a cracked egg shell. Bitten to the quick for a real slow death. Not only is he unlikely to scrape any implicating DNA material from you, even if he did, there’s no finger nails to lodge it under for safe keeping and later forensic reconstruction.


So much easier than drowning the bed wetters in a bath tub.  


Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Future History Of Demythology - Flash Fiction


Avant-garde is time bound. Hidebound. In our age of rapid technological change and shrinking attention spans, the avant-garde are the nostalgics. The left-behind, derrière-garde guardians of the remembered past, (forlornly) demanding concentration and application..

Body Politic was a metaphor that came into use through a fifteenth century understanding of medical anatomy. With the human genome and the structure and function of DNA becoming known, new metaphors present themselves which we currently remain insensible to.

Consciousness will not reveal itself from human genomics (see B). For how can we objectively observe fully in the round something in which we already stand within? Anticipating our consciousness to demurely deconstruct itself for us, as us. Consciousness forever as the dark side of the moon.

Decidedly deciduous deicide, yet dread of death and the dangled deal with a desperately conjectural afterlife, denotes the divine obtains still.

Ethics derived etymologically from a group or cultural disposition or mien and then back engineered to apply as obligations for each individual member of that group or culture. Only in this atomised age, singular group cultural identities evanesce. All morals and moral behaviour are relative. Ethics have become superannuated, duty obsolete and there is nothing binding us together, be it natural or moral law. 

Freedom: if you are reading this of your own free will, then you have a reasonable degree of freedom. If you disagree with even a single proposition here, then you are enslaved by your programming. If you agree with every single tenet here, then you are enslaved until you break free of what they counter. What lies on the other side once you have burst through? Who can say as it is unexplored terrain. Probably a whole new set of super-subtile myths to enslave you afresh. 

Game Theory is applied to many aspects of life, positing that when humans calculate that cooperating with one another, it best redounds to their mutual interest. The deterrent argument follows this flawed logic, since as David Hume explained through his white swans, a single appearance of a black swan on the pond erases the proof of your senses for the entirety preceding that occasion; that is, the nuclear deterrent argument only has to be disproved from holding once and we are all finished for eternity anyway.

History is the Butterfly Theory in effect. Yes it constantly repeats itself (since its actors are all humans given to repetitive behaviours), but the starting conditions are different each time so that the outcome will not be the same as previously. Once upon a time and only once indeed…

I is not in the word ‘team’ (more’s the pity) but it is in ‘time’, which is ironic seeing as after a brief span, the I drops out permanently. I is not only in the word ‘identity’ but actually leads it; but what is the point of spending as lifetime establishing an identity, only to have mortality erase it permanently? I also leads the word ‘intimacy’, yet this proves nothing. 

Je t’aime… Je m’aime (consider that phonetically) more like it. For we are but a clump of sensory information receptors, who have hit upon the evolutionary decision (randomly of course) that they are best served by aggregating and maintaining a unified outlook of the whole. But they are still in control of this consciousness rather than the other way around (see C).

K, Josef was guilty and he knew it, Kafka knew it, Max Brod knew it and now you dear reader know it. 

Language is not fit for purpose. Conceals as much as it communicates. Slippage and seepage. Ellipsis and elision.   

Myth is pernicious since it dresses up ignorance (of cause and effect in the natural world) in supernatural pretence in order to justify the exigencies of the local institutional and power relations among humans. Though science has provided better approximations of cause and effect to strip away the supernatural and replace it with ‘reason’, science itself is a myth-based body of knowledge (see S).  Myth, like ethics (see E), is man-made and therefore self-imposed and should only be demanding of voluntary adherence.

Nouns are Plato’s Ideal Forms in linguistic form. That is, they don’t actually exist either. Objects classified as one noun or other are approximations and simulacra. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” et al.

Once upon a time (see H).

Pangram of “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” only holds for the temporary duration of the ban on fox hunting perhaps, when the fox knows it has legal protections from the dog. An example of the viral algorithm infecting language,with periodicy, permutation and prosaicness.

Quantum Mechanics are scientists hedging their bets. Mathematically proven probability. Probably.  

Reality is a construction of the human mind. The notion of an objective reality is merely a human consensus. The templates of what we take for reality are imprinted in our brains and our senses only scan for deviations referenced against the template in order to prompt our responsive action. Our reality templates are premised on our three-dimensional perceptions, yet scientists posit 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see S).

Science bears more of an elegant, logically consistent canon than religious beliefs, but it is no less a credo. Whatever the equations prove, our limited perceptional apparatus means we can only conceive in three dimensions, four at a stretch, yet current theories are up at around 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see R). 

Tripartite human brain, reptilian, mammalian and human, does not represent unalloyed progress and upgrade. Greater processing power yes, but we have barely progressed from reptilian filial infanticide, to mammalian killing of a rival’s offspring, to human kind’s targeting of any and every one of its own species (see G).

Uroborus is perhaps of all mythic symbols the one that resonates most. However, take your pick of the myriad of symbolic representations it proffers: Circle of Life; creative renewal; duality, synthesis and integration; immortality; eternal immutability; perfection; kundalini energy; hermetically closed systems; feedback loops; the philosopher’s stone; the singularity from which all existence stems. Go pick the bones out of that little lot. 

Vicious circle applies to not only language (words defined in terms of other words), but to this very exercise itself, (many of these definitions refer the reader on to other definitions listed here). There is no inertial frame for logic, nor language (see C,L). 


W; literally double ‘u’, itself already the elongated sound of twin oo’s. Tautologically redundant as an outcome of an alphabet whose characters and their sound bear no relationship to the meaning of the words they delineate (See L). 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Honeyed Tongue - Flash Fiction




More jaundiced eyes might charge she pouted every one of her words. But my vision was more forgiving, seeing as I was in thrall to her beauty. So I would submit, the way speech puckered her lips was more akin to a child blowing bubbles. With the same blend of beguilement and tremulousness; breath bated hoping they would sustain and float, rather than evanesce and dissolve. Close my eyes and hearing the timbre, I picture her with the heel of her open hand osculating her chin, so that she could blow the word-kisses from her palm runway, as if helping a ladybird take wing. But when those gossamer words that take so long to sail across to me, finally moor at my ear canal, their brutal lading becomes plain. Iron waspish sting delivered by the tip of a velvet tongue.