the m john harrison blog

Month: June, 2019

two for one

1. the magus zoroaster

I bumped into myself on the street & just talked & talked.

The late life doppelganger is the worst. You aren’t being shown anything you haven’t already seen. You don’t learn anything you didn’t already know.

The truth about the doppelganger is that you were always what you were seeing. People avoid that for as long as they can, on the grounds of banality, & who can blame them. But a writer’s job is to rub their noses in it.

2. who is the 3rd who always walks beside you

Tarkovsky was such a successful prophet. Every colonisation, every gentrification, re-enacts itself across a generation or so, first as its own myth–a landscape of risk, death, unknown rules & nightmare struggle; then as a tourist destination. This is the contemporary meaning of the Zone. In Chernobyl and on Everest we see how every motive the Stalker rejected in his would-be female client at the beginning of the film is now the commodified norm of the edgeland.


salt slow

A cohort of bright and lively Catholic schoolgirls, required to watch sex-education videos– “censored Health and Safety movies from the 1970s, heavy on abstracted metaphors and light on biology” –suddenly grow “slack and strange from too much inactivity” and spend their time boasting to each other about their physical flaws. These competitive lists of defects quickly yaw towards the macabre. “I dream in sheddings,” the narrator tells us; soon enough we begin to suspect that her skin problem might be something more than metaphor… Julia Armfield lays tender but surreal fantasies like nets over a deep comic savagery, structuring them like films from another country. My review of her debut collection Salt Slow in the Guardian; and of the astonishing short “The Great Awake” at Jonathan Gibbs’ A Personal Anthology (scroll down).