the m john harrison blog

opening paragraph

Bear with me. I’m exploring some territory here. I’m looking for a password. I thought when I left this town that I was finished being apologetic. But I came back in a different mood, set up an office, waited for business–the things you’ll do when you have to. All anxieties contain their own mirrors. You’re always looking for some space to inhabit between the two. I am, anyway.

thinking about the short story collection

I want to include flash fiction from the blog, so if you have any favourites nominate them in the comments here.

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the way we live now

Stories of lost property. Stories of property lost then found. Stories of property found then lost. Stories of self storage of property. Self storage as self storyage. Stories about property stored by people who are now dead & unable to claim it. Stories of property sold sight-unseen from the self storage bins & units of the recently dead. Stories about people who have inadvertently self stored themselves. Stories of mutilated but curiously unbloodied bodies found in self storage bins & units, the flesh is recorded as being “translucent, whitish” “weighty & substantial” and “falling heavily apart along strong clean cutlines”. Stories of mutilated unbloodied bodies found in self-storage bins & units but without the head. The head is missing. The owner of the head is now dead & unable to reclaim it, but it can’t be sold. Limbs flung into rivers. Self storage in other countries.

when i think of viriconium

now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium now, it seems very far away yet having an unrealistic clarity, like something seen through optical glass. When I think of Viriconium

–December 11, 2009

alternate world

Long horizons, rising downs. West Sussex pub, full of the ghouls of money. 1947 Concours d’Elegance Bentley in the car park. Light aircraft float to & fro across the ghouls’ own sky won in single combat from the Nazis all those years ago. The weather is fine, blowy mid-May, but when we say we’ll sit outside, the barman responds with a kind of knowing servility, “You’re going to brave it, then?” Yes, we’re going to brave it. We’re going to meet today’s minor but satisfying challenge, we’re going to brave the May weather & have our lunch outside, the way the ghouls braved the Nazis in the blue enduring sky to protect their power & money all those years ago. You can’t be the rulers if you have no country to rule.

The Russians sent tortoises into space in 1968. You couldn’t make it up. All I remember from the time is being bitterly frustrated when no one came back from low earth orbit as a walking cactus & had to be incinerated after they infested the Houses of Parliament.

bad behaviour

I don’t know what to make of Richard Powers’ Orfeo. One minute I’m luxuriating in its complex weave of themes & thinking it’s the best Booker contender I’ve read so far. The next I’m writing: “In the late 50s/early 60s, JG Ballard would have taken the three or four central images & concepts of this book, compressed them into somewhat less than ten thousand words & made out of them the something astonishing that’s long-windedly hinted at here. I know it’s unforgiveable to say this, but Powers’ Orfeo lumbers by comparison to the Orfeo Ballard never wrote.” This isn’t just bad behaviour, it’s a failure to accept one of the threads of Powers’ argument about the fate of the experimentalist aesthetic over the last fifty years. I’m quite excited by the internal dialogue it’s sparked. (Although I’ve already spotted the upshot, which he telegraphed only a few pages in, & suspect Chuck Palahniuk would have been the man to write that. See? I did it again.)

norbiton restorational

This essay is hypnotic and astonishing and just a real delight–

Are you really well now? Or are you fatally winged and hurtling earthward, mistaking frictionless movement, freedom from pain, for freedom to move? it is impossible to tell, given that the future, on the shapeless brink of which we always hover, is dimensionless, unrelational.

Restorational, Anatomy of Norbiton.

signal to noise 2

The ordinary grifter works with what the mark wants. The clever grifter works with what the mark needs. The really outstanding grifter works with the mark’s confusion between the two. The easy mark thinks he can hide what he wants; the difficult mark can often hide what he needs: the really elusive mark unwittingly deploys his own confusion between the two as a kind of emotional smoke screen. Is this in itself a kind of manipulation? In such engagements there must come a point when neither party knows who manipulated who.

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