the m john harrison blog

Month: February, 2012

autotelia in arc

Arc launches in late February.

Issue 1.1: China Mieville on squid. Bruce Sterling on everything. Me in Autotelia, staring about in the usual postures of wonder.

“Maybe, you think, this is something to do with marriages, births or deaths, some kind of registration anyway; or maybe it isn’t at all clear what’s going on–just people from our side buying something, dealing in something. It’s legal, though. It’s intrinsically legal. My part is to make the medical checks. They often aren’t necessary,  even so I’m required to make them. The same little adjoining room is put aside for the purpose every time, bare but very clean. Legal representation must be present, or no examination takes place; often, the representative is also the agent from our side. The women and children cover their embarrassment with smiles. The men, especially the older ones, do what’s required with an appalled dignity, as if I am an outrage that could only happen to them during war or an epidemic, a breakdown of all values and infrastructures, something to be borne but never forgotten. They are so reluctant to loosen their wide, thick, hand-tooled leather belts–a poor-quality example of which can fetch two or three thousand euros in a London  store–they tremble.”


the west yorkshire sublime

A cold dry wind blows the dust around the collection of plant pots outside the kitchen door. The old cat can’t settle. His favourite chair keeps the draughts off but it’s not close enough to the radiator. I catch him trying to lean against a two-bar electric fire. Reasoned with on the subject, he creeps resentfully from room to room. I creep around my memories of winter in Holmfirth, three feet of snow outside another kitchen door, icicles on every cable & telephone wire. “I can’t find the car.” “I think we left it next to the telephone box.” “I can’t find the telephone box.” While I’m sentimentalising the West Yorkshire sublime, eight ring-necked parakeets arrive & gang around in the cherry tree. They’re down from the bitter air of Richmond park, looking to grift these soft-living suburbs.

Re-reading: The Tin Drum. Leafing through: Grigson, The Englishman’s Flora. On order: Wittgenstein, Remarks on Frazer’s “Golden Bough”; Miller, The Drama of Being a Child.