the m john harrison blog

Month: October, 2009

for your own good, darling

Words like “misanthropic” & “pessimistic” are coded for political meanings then used to dismiss valid positions as the product of bad temper; I always imagine them being spoken in the naice but rather determined tone with which people divert a toddler from behaviour they find unacceptable. It’s a bland & quietly hypocritical technique in the contemporary style (a meta-hypocrisy of which is to describe hypocrisy as “nuance”) & its use is not confined to neoliberals. Aren’t you sick of having your views patronised that way ? By people who make Louis Theroux seem genuine ?

this is not quite the real october I imagined

It’s warm & wet. Five crows rollick down the middle of Grove Road about twenty feet up, tumbling & mock-fighting. My latest autumn spider sits under the lead in the top righthand window corner, glumly watching her web sag into strings & long hexagons in the rain, the way her mother, grandmother & great grandmother watched in the deep historical times before her. Barnes Common has its quota of wet dogs, dead silver birches bracketed with polypore, & at corners the odd clump of sodden chamomile, petals shuttlecocked back in the rain. A morning like this is good because you can wear your Montane waterproof in anger at last; but after five minutes everything’s such a struggle you might as well be running in a hot tub.

Returning repeatedly to: paras five & six of David Cunningham’s excellent essay Re-Placing the Novel at Unable to stop listening to: Ruins of the Realm, James McMurtry. I know who to blame for this.

truelove’s gutter

There’s no such thing as character, D says. There’s only behaviour. We’re memes but we’re careful not to admit it–so careful with one another! That shouldn’t be taken, he’s quick to add, to mean that we exist in some state aside from materiality. We’re subject to material forces but won’t allow ourselves to see that either. The whole West, D says, is in massive denial of both these ideas. He suggests we have more bourbon. He likes the Bulleit bottle–it looks, he thinks, like a bottle you’d see behind the bar in an episode of Deadwood. Memes, he says, in a complex, randomly-shifting flow of other memes. Turbulence gives the flow that aching sense of depth or meaningfulness.


Listening to Truelove’s Gutter, Richard Hawley. Reviewing: Stephen King, Under the Dome, which is predicated on this excellent James McMurtry song.