the m john harrison blog

Tag: ghosts

I stood a long time watching the raindrops strike the brickwork in absolute silence then fade in the warmth and the wind.

i seen things in wales

The hair of the Dead Boys of Bangor beneath the surface of Lynn Ogwen, as they stream east towards the Siabod Cafe for a late breakfast of sausage & eggs.


just in time

I like the idea of putting periods of your life in storage for such a long time you forget them. It’s a productive repression. When you experience the return of the repressed, you experience it as the act of writing and the content of the fiction. Memories come back not as memories but in inexplicable actions or feelings, mysterious nostalgias, psychosomatic jolts and shocks of disguised language. I resent the “healing” to be gained from retrospective understanding and acknowledgement. I wouldn’t want a healthy relationship with the past.

(Tarted up from a BTL exchange with Nick Royle, here.)


For fun I put some random blog entries through I Write Like, which told me I write like: Jack London, JRR Tolkien, Chuck Palahniuk (twice), Arthur Clarke (for the “Earth Advengers” post), Cory Doctorow, Gertrude Stein, Dan Brown (for the first paragraph of a review of a Peter Ackroyd novel), Ray Bradbury, David Foster Wallace (twice, once for “Keep Smiling With Great Minutes”), and HG Wells. After that, deciding that my samples must have been generally too short to give a consistent result, I tried the whole of “Imaginary Reviews” and got Isaac Asimov; a 4000 word English ghost story, set mainly at the seaside and featuring an ageing middle class woman called Elizabeth, and got Isaac Asimov again; and then “Cave & Julia” & got HG Wells again. For the whole of Empty Space I got Arthur Clarke; but for its final chapter, which ends with that memorable sentence of crawling Cosmic horror, “First she would separate Dominic the pharma from his friends, take him upstairs, and fuck him carefully to a tearful overnight understanding of the life they all led now,” I got HP Lovecraft.

anti surrealism

The naive, the unconstructed, the accidental ghost. The ghost from the faded polaroid found in a shoebox of letters from someone else’s life. Things that might not be there; things that have no existence other than possibly not being there; things that can only have your attention drawn to them. Reading should be as close as possible to discovering those letters and seeing something in them that might not be there. The writer should offer the shoebox, or better still the stall at the flea market on which the shoebox might be found. I’m not interested in any other way of writing anyway.

message found scrawled on a door

Those who have failed to regulate the self. Those whose behaviours enact a medicating fiction. Those who flew to the Canary Islands on a cheap ticket in December 1991 & left the remains of their personality in the apartment hotel. Those who ran from everything in a zig-zag pattern, so fast they never found the transitional object. The unsoothed. The dysmorphic. The unconditional. ThoseGefco who were naive enough to take what they needed & thus never got what they wanted & whose dreams are now severe. Those who await Gefco. The confused. The pliable. Those who look at the sea & immediately suffer a grief unconstrained but inarticulable. Gefco is coming. Gefco you are always with us. Gefco we are here!

Photo: Nick Royle.


    “Yes, I don’t know why, but I have never been disappointed … without feeling at the same time, or a moment later, an undeniable relief.”

–Samuel Beckett, The Expelled (1946), my ellipsis.

wake radio

When I woke up this morning the radio was on in the big room on the first floor. It was mysterious how that happened. I heard eerily public voices behind the closed door. I listened. I went in. I didn’t knock. A woman had just referred to “nutters” & “loony bins”. Picked up on her terminology by the interviewing voice, she replied in smooth good-humoured tones with words to the effect of, “It doesn’t mean anything, it’s just my way,” & began to talk again as if nothing had happened. Then a prof was asked his opinion, which he gave at length. The three contesting voices echoed for a minute or two in this cold, tranquil, rather empty room with its odd fireplace & disappointing floorboards. I wondered if the radio had been on all night. I wondered if they had been talking like this all night. I wondered what subjects they had covered in the endless grinding contemporary three-cornered conversation of concerned mediation etc etc. Then I went downstairs & put some coffee on. When I got back it was a different trio, sitting in judgement on some useless weak-eyed shit transfixed by the spotlight of the idealisation/devaluation cycle. I wondered if we would ever grow out of late 1970s male adolescent music-reviewer BPD & free ourselves to act forwards in a useful adult manner.

not part of that

We aren’t part of that dispute at all. & we wouldn’t want anyone to know we had seen the pictures. We’re fine thank you, we just don’t like the train. The door isn’t right. We don’t like the door. Everyone else in the carriage is asleep, everyone but us. The train is so slow. The soup gave us indigestion & we don’t like the faces at the window. We are not part of that. We are not part of that. The soup gave us indigestion & we don’t like the faces at the window. The train is so slow. Everyone else in the carriage is asleep, everyone but us. We don’t like the door. The door isn’t right. We’re fine thank you, we just don’t like the train. & we wouldn’t want anyone to know we had seen the pictures. We aren’t part of that dispute at all.


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