Saturday, 27 December 2008

The problem with doing anything, and why we don't.

Two principles, Lambton asserted in his cosmography, were in perpetual conflict for possession of the world, sphincter and explosion, magic and dullness, rot and purification, the fermentation is never-ending. He knew enough to invoke Asia and the more common European philosophers, and in this manner drew Penshaw deeper into thrall. The fermentation, he insisted, is the key; it stands in opposition to rebellion. In rebellion we have only death, we burn the land and celebrate the new, untrained and untutored growth that comes out of it. It is a false revolution, every revolution is co-opted by hope. Revolutions have always started in ideas and ended in fanaticisms of hope. Grandfather, Mr. Squashed Fly Biscuit, had docked beneath the burial place of our ancient kings in a river swimming with coal dust, and where had it got him? Hope cannot elide into despair, despite the time it takes. No, sincere hope of a reasonable strength in a stable person of reasonable intellect either bewilders or drives into irrationality. The perpetual cynic will survive the revolutions with an iron steadfastness. And it is difficult to argue with architecture. So I must ask, my reader, that you suspend your hope and allow us to continue in a perfectly practical manner.
Pretty Rosin almost choked on her dry roasted peanuts and laughed beyond all measure, the room brushed the hair out of its eyes and glanced over.
Lambton began to talk of his early life, that is to say, he talked about how he would view the things he was currently doing at the various future points he planned to judge himself from. Twenty one is unimportant. At the age of 24 he would find himself frivolous, and blush at the thought of occasionally affecting a cravat and stippled leather shoes, he expected that he would still smoke rolled-up cigarettes for reasons of poverty, but that occasional mistresses would provide him with exotic brands of filter-less cigarettes from the various European destinations available via budget airlines. At the age of 27 he would be satisfied with himself at 16 (which of course is his age now though of course not then), though the torturous naming-parties and inward-analysis that he instigated were tedious at the time and in retrospect, but the 24 year old would have to go. He disdained both’s attitude to sex, the homosexual phase having been well worked out and now part of the furniture. He must take care of himself and the hepatitis. His limited edition prints had doubled in value over the last six months and one of the mistresses had not only become pregnant and disappeared to Ireland via the Port of Liverpool (specifically for the irony) in order to abort but also given birth and had a child christened Oliver in the anglo-Catholic tradition. At 34 he was feted with a desk at the Guardian, its no longer existing not interrupting the point of this exposition; he type onto a screen one day: Two principles are in perpetual conflict for the possession of my world, me, and my past. At 40 he would be down to a single lung and make a hasty conversion to Anglicanism for the sake of his mother and a hasty conversion to liquorice-root chewing from cigarette smoking for the sake of the lung.
Lambton continued thus throughout the rest of his life, and in different ways he achieved many different things. In all those that mattered, he achieved nothing.

Wednesday, 3 December 2008

Long Haired Cat

THE CAT WAS sitting on the cold platform licking its long black and white hair. The man sat down on the bench. It was a strange bench designed in a way that things imposed now rarely are; to last the length of the age. It was divided into three wide seats by decorative iron arm rests which were colder than the ground – the black and white long hair cat began its ritual for sitting on his lap. First it travelled in front of him whilst looking into the middle distance, its head raised proud -- he was sitting, as usual, in the middle of the three seats, this was right and proper. After passing in front of him it took great care in jumping onto the seat furthest from where it started. He opened a button on his jacket with great ceremony and the cat stepped into his lap. It extended its claws and mussed and fluffed his shirt where the material rested upon his stomach, preparing. The man widely drew his jacket around the cat gently, and it burrowed its head in under his armpit. The wind blew across his chest and he shivered, the cat’s hair was cold, and under his chilled hands it felt brittle, dry and coarse. The pads of its paws felt like soft blebs of ice and the ground glittered like sandpaper.

He remembered patterns from his childhood, a brown flower-patterned towel, thin rainbow striped wallpaper – remembered the brightness and specialness of individual objects in the accumulated and important poverty of everything else around, like polished stones sitting in dust. The cat made him think of people who throw things away; old things because they are messy; or have a room within which messiness is allowed to take place. These people terrify him – there is something in themselves that asks “W h y do we have t h e s e things?” Now he answers, "we have them because they anchor us to the ground, to places. They mark our territory, they prohibit us from leaving at short notice, they mean that someone cannot easily take our place; they mean that small provocations must be worked through, they are a commitment to specific time and specific space – they are at the very least a promise to return and organise, perhaps."

The man had lived his life carelessly, and was grateful for all the things he had lost. He gave away or missed, he never disposed of. The cat was asleep, but a train was approaching. He shifted his weight with his hips and crossed his legs, the cat stirred. He raised himself in the seat and the cat slid to his knees and stepped onto the ground.