February 2012

lying in long grass

your father and I have decided

we don’t believe there’s anything

after death


you don’t




there are no beautiful fields

or singing angels


there’s nothing


you just stop


given over two years ago

with no room for argument


this was a pronouncement

typical of my parents


because the opposite

could be said

to be equally true


your father and I

believe absolutely

in life after death


we are looking forward

to meeting in a beautiful field

with singing angels

who will pluck their lyres

or harps

for us


there is an eternity

heaven exists

and you live forever


the lies are mere contingency

the truth is out of reach


the lies are mere contingency

because the truth is out of reach


like trying to open a letter

when half is in the mirror


you follow the trail with your eyes

while birds eat the remaining crumbs


the picture changes

the page turns


the two are not connected


you know what you said about the unexpected

expect it


oma was always unusual


my heart has streamers on it

so we may see it



down a deep black hole


so that between the fiction

and fact





anton chekhov knew

exactly who

my mother was


a seagull


on her head

in the front seat

of the punt



on the avon


what is left unsaid is this


better to stamp your golden curls

lie with sticks

the wrong end of the book


what did they see

the dykes at the fish and chip shop

what did they say

that made her think


they wanted to pick her up


more breast

while I’m leaning over



she hated birds



in a reflected sky


you can write about us

when we’re both dead


a story

half-buried in heavy sand


it has escaped the ravages

of truth


it has escaped exposure

to the light of secrets

that are told at parties


it has escaped

wrapped in dresses

small and simple


small and simple

like a twin


gives each

a double gravity


like a thing which

has been wrapped

in dresses in layers

for centuries


and unlike a thing

that has been handled regularly

it is not worn smooth


it is sharp

it catches


a claw

a talon


on the silk and lace

of every piece of fabric


they must have known

their lives would be loud


for the rocks

in its course


but for that





she said she got fat

on school dinners

in the fifties


she said

stop writing poetry

in your head

look at the road


she also said

wait till your father

gets home


how do you feel


I don’t feel well


why not


I don’t know


where is the pain


I don’t know


silence an ocean

secrecy a din

night suddenly falls


the choir roars sleeps

by turns


the ship of the world

spins and fires


the land offends

because it floats not


noise drowns

in music


look at that

the last drops of the mixture


you shake the bottle pink

unscrew the lid white



you take out the wand

you put your lips together



a bubble pops

without a sound


it would be right

and wrong

to say

she passed away


she didn’t pass

she would not pass


and if anyone had been there

to remind her she was passing

she’d have said


no I’m not


each small perversion of the facts

doesn’t add up to one big lie


it speaks

a frail truth


how fragile

is the human heart


a model of negativity

a practical fiction


the road ends in darkness

as if darkness were only

a colour


I’m barking at shadows at the gate

bright sun


as if everywhere

a sign



a waterspout

a flood

a black beetle

a breakdown

a slow blink


the night of the night


a week hard with happening


each day

a child

a light


each day



this morning a slanting blade

and movement at the gate


the shape of it under the skin

of these events


a stranger outside

or one of us who has left


who has just left

who hesitates at the gate


no room in a world with too much sense

to account for any life


so what was mum’s about


dad and us


but put her in a theatre or a school

and she was shockingly



she only had to set foot on a playground

to organise some small child


who wouldn’t quake but connect

as if mum had access

to a special switchboard


and she only had to step

into a classroom

to calculate its average



as well as range

and modes


who the bright kids

and where the slow ones were

and where the trouble-makers


to each she would give

her full attention


which is exactly what she did

at any party


even family gatherings


it was quite wearing

for friends to pass her IQ test


but she never had to disarm a guest

grab the knife

kick him in the balls

at home


as she had at work

shockingly capable



in the application

of force


she hated housework

it was lonely


loved food and wine

and company


she pulled party food

platters of petits-fours

pâté and crackers

olives and cheeses

artichoke hearts



and whole meals together


out of the best ingredients


the credo of the good



true until two weeks ago


I like a full cupboard


her mother put her off poetry

because granny

was the last victorian


insisted on recitation

by heart and banned comics


and grandpa never spared

the rod


first year college

he asked me if I was

a fag


I misunderstood


mum rebelled and all her life

put herself against

if not above



probably why kids made

the connection


one look at dad

a dirty mick in a duffelcoat

wearing a goatee

was enough for her parents


then one look at dad

under the clock

at charing cross station

was enough

for mum


they didn’t live to enjoy a

happy old age together


but when they both had something to do

they were brilliant


they were brilliant at living


that’s not long


she told the specialist

when given only months


but you have surprised us

he said

so far



who can say


and once said

who can be sure


months passed

and on wednesday night

within the standard length

of a play

two to

two and a half hours


she not so much left us

as went without leaving


but she did do one last

extraordinary thing


as if to acknowledge us

but also and equally possibly

to graciously acknowledge

a grateful audience


to say

this is

all I am


she lowered her eyelids

raised them


a small drop

of moisture

ran from her eye


I didn’t see it

but it was there


a tear brought out

by the quietest time and also

the greatest noise in the world




mum wasn’t supposed to die

right now or




and she was expected to fight

to the end


she slipped away


as if she’d secretly rehearsed

lying at night

in the hospital bed in her room

she called her



the terrible years are gone

and the years

we laughed more

than we could have believed



I only have to look at you

to know where they are gone


they flit like shadows

on your face


they move like breath

they lift like mist

drop like rain

they pool in your eyes


they hide in pockets


look away

you will

miss them

when they’re



lying in long grass


the simple sky above


a still lake


every feature of the landscape

perfectly reflected


feeling the earth turn

and the way

time folds one

thing against the other


like the sky and the lake








[for my mother

Ianthe Victoria Taylor

29/1/1939 – 15/2/2012

the service

held at Kaukapakapa Church


point to point

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exercise #1

poetry is a muscle

what Leibniz would call an organ

it is not an Eternal Thing or Idea

although a single poem can last an eternity

poetry is part of the body

whether it is used or not

luz es tiempo

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and then perhaps I should start writing about what I am doing, begin a conceptual staging of my web project, let me know if you would like to read about it here. Until I hear from you, dear visitor, some gleanings, scratchings, fork&plate

‘Style,’ said Evelyn Waugh, ‘is not just avoiding the cliché. It’s avoiding the place where you can feel the cliché is being avoided.’

– in David Hare, Obedience, Struggle & Revolt, Faber and Faber, London, 2005, p. 140

By engagement, I mean not so much an exposition, or a critique, or both, but a path that cuts across these texts, a thought that attempts to find its way through them. Needless to say, this approach might be seen as involving a certain degree of violence. Yet this may well amount to nothing other than the irreducible degree of violence involved in the work of interpretation, which remains the sole form of fidelity toward what is most thought provoking.

– Miguel de Beistegui, Truth and genesis : philosophy as differential ontology, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2004, p. 16

I once with, with Howard Brenton, wrote a play called Pravda, about a mad South African newspaper owner played by Anthony Hopkins as a kind of maquette for his subsequent Hannibal Lecter. Anxious lest our fictional proprietor be confused with a conspicuous real-life Australian, the Board of the nervous National Theatre insisted that we consult a QC. ‘Well,’ said this highly intelligent man, ‘as far as I can see, your play portrays a megalomaniac psychopath who drags his newspapers downmarket, who has no concern for editorial standards, who has no sexual pleasure except in public humiliation and violent dismissal of his staff, and whose only real interest is in the accumulation of a massive, unscrupulous and anti-social fortune for himself. If Rupert Murdoch really wants to step forward and identify himself as the hero of the play, then my advice would be: let him.’

In fact, Murdoch’s response to the play was characteristic. In Pravda, our Lambert le Roux adopts British citizenship specifically in order to be able to own British newspapers. Please not, six months after our opening night Murdoch decided to become an American, protesting that, like Lambert, he went through ‘the normal channels, albeit at unusual speed.’ Murdoch effectively treated our play not as a work of art, but as an inspirational business plan. Is Murdoch the only man on earth who could actually asset-strip a satire?

David Hare, Obedience, Struggle & Revolt, Faber and Faber, London, 2005, pp. 127-8

if metaphysics, as a metaphysics of the ground, and of subjectivity – of subjectivity as constituting the very ground for the objectivity of objectal nature – is no longer possible, if philosophy can no longer turn to subjectivity as the transcendental site revealing the conditions of possibility of experience, and of beings as such and as a whole as a realm of objects, can it not undergo a transformation and reinvent itself, precisely out of this “crisis” of foundation? Can we not think the future of metaphysics, and the possibility of ontology, out of this very event, the event of un-grounding? And so, before proceeding with the rites of burial of philosophy, before declaring its death irreversible, and its new life as science – and, once again, that which, in the current institutional, professional, and cultural landscape, seems to testify to the good health of philosophy, in my mind only confirms the diagnosis I have just formulated – let us at least consider the possibility of a philosophy which, neither metaphysics in the sense of grounding, nor philosophy of science, nonetheless remains in relation to science, at once absolutely different from it and coextensive with it. What sort of relation would that be?

It is a relation born of this “crisis” of foundation. Yet because it is a relation, it does not coincide simply with a collapsing, whether understood as total collapse, or as a collapsing of the one (philosophy) into the other (science). Neither grounding (fondement) nor collapsing (effondrement), it is a relation of what, following Deleuze, we shall call an un-grounding (effondement). This concept is indicative of a twofold gesture, of a double possibility: the possibility of situating philosophy in relation to science anew, first of all; and, in close connection with this first possibility, the possibility of reasserting philosophy as ontology on the basis of a distinction in being between the actual, or the empirical (and the science it enables), and the virtual or transcendental horizon (which philosophy brings out) from which the former unfolds.

the transcendental no longer refers back to a transcendental subjectivity, but to the real as such. In effect, the transcendental no longer designates the conditions of possibility of (subjective) experience, nor the conditions of possibility of phenomena themselves. It now designates their real conditions of existence and is concerned with their actual generation and production.

The transcendental is therefore a dimension of the real itself.

– Miguel de Beistegui, Truth and genesis : philosophy as differential ontology, Indiana University Press, Bloomington, 2004, pp. 21-2

theatrum philosophicum

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there you see I would go so far as to say that the web project I am engaged with reads with love, reads you, read …

“There are, you see, two ways of reading a book: you either see it as a box with something inside and start looking for what it signifies, and then if you’re even more perverse or depraved you set off after signifiers. And you treat the next book like a box contained in the first or containing it. And you annotate and interpret and question, and write a book about the book, and so on and on. Or there’s the other way: you see the book as a little non-signifying machine, and the only question is “Does it work, and how does it work?” How does it work for you? If it doesn’t work, if nothing comes through, you try another book. This second way of reading’s intensive: something comes through or it doesn’t. There’s nothing to explain, nothing to understand, nothing to interpret. It’s like plugging in to an electric circuit…This second way of reading’s quite different from the first, because it relates a book directly to what’s Outside. A book is a little cog in much more complicated external machinery… This intensive way of reading, in contact with what’s outside the book, as a flow meeting other flows, one machine among others, as a series of experiments for each reader in the midst of events that have nothing to do with books, as tearing the book into pieces, getting it to interact with other things, absolutely anything. . . is reading with love.”

– Gilles Deleuze, Negotiations, quoted here

theatrum philosophicum

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ideas of novelty & privacy – which I cite because they speak to my web project which I have not really spoken of here about which feel free to contact me, yours affectionately

“First you have to know how to admire; you have to rediscover the problems he poses, his particular machinery. It is through admiration that you will come to genuine critique… You have to work your way back to those problems which an author of genius has posed, all the way back to that which he does not say in what he says, in order to extract something that still belongs to him, though you also turn it against him. You have to be inspired, visited by the geniuses you denounce… In every modernity and every novelty, you find conformity and creativity; an insipid conformity, but also “a little new music”; something in conformity with the time, but also something untimely —separating the one from the other is the task of those who know how to love, the real destroyers and creators of our day. Good destruction requires love… You have to be able to love the insignificant, to love what goes beyond persons and individuals; you have to open yourself to encounters and find a language in the singularities that exceed individuals, a language in the individuations that exceed persons” (DI, 139-140).

– Gilles Deleuze, Desert Islands, quoted here

“We are uncovering a world of pre-individual, impersonal singularities. They are not reducible to individuals or persons, nor to a sea without difference. These singularities are mobile, they break in, thieving and stealing away, alternating back and forth, like anarchy crowned, inhabiting a nomad space. There is a big difference between partitioning a fixed space among sedentary individuals according to boundaries or enclosures, and distributing singularities in an open space without enclosures or properties. The poet Ferlinghetti talks about the fourth person singular: it is that to which we try to give voice… Philosophers often have a difficult time with the history of philosophy; it’s horrible, it’s not easy to put behind you. Perhaps a good way of dealing with the problem is to substitute a kind of staging for it. Staging means that the written text is going to be illuminated by other values, non-textual values (at least in the ordinary sense): it is indeed possible to substitute for the history of philosophy a theatre of philosophy… Precisely, by virtue of those criteria of staging or collage, it seems admissible to extract from a philosophy considered conservative as a whole those singularities which are not really conservative: that is what I did for Bergsonism and its image of life, its image of liberty or mental illness.” (DI, 142-144).

– Gilles Deleuze, Desert Islands, quoted here

theatrum philosophicum

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Happy 200th Birthday, Charles Dickens: some gorgeous Russian mermaids in honour of it being on the 7th of February 1812


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everything about our camping holiday in Pataua, Treasure Island – it looks like The Island of Nose – including sacks, eggs, gulls, one cat, a cemetery, tradition, the future, and a traditional welcome after the future


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the shame of it, the shame of there being a grey area









American scientists from Princeton University have found out how much money do I need a man for happiness.

It turned out to achieve full satisfaction from life, you need to earn 75,000 dollars a year, which amounts to 6,250 dollars a month, or about 190 thousand rubles. In this case, the excess of the threshold income is no longer adds happiness, and more positive experiences of wealthy people relate purely to their personal characteristics.

– from here

“The Cult of the Amateur: How Today’s Internet is Killing Our Culture”
by Andrew Keen, Doubleday / Currency, 2007


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