the m john harrison blog

In 50 years you read a lot of writing, look at a lot of art. After 50 years, your newest “inspiration” is instantly modified by the ghosts of all the earlier ones. Meanwhile, the you that you built from all of that reading and experience is quietly repurposing a new version of itself for every new piece of work. It’s a process you perceive as an identity, an uber-ghost among ghosts, your inherent voice. It lives somewhere down inside you. It knows when to change and when not to. It always knows more than you do. Since the mid 90s, I’m often quite scared to be sharing space with it. When it comes on-stream – sometimes a bit brusquely, a bit contemptuously – it elbows me out of the way and whatever I’m writing begins to take the proper shape.

–Interview with The State of the Arts

Wind all yesterday evening and now rain. It poured in the night but I heard nothing. I was struggling with a nightmare in which it was impossible to leave the ground. Now lights burn orange behind the tinted glass of the stacked apartments: people are appearing on balconies & at windows, staring morosely out at the wet tiles & ruffled water of the swimming pools. Slick palm fronds whip to & fro in the wind. It is as dark as a winter morning in Britain out there; everything we came to escape. Drink another cup of coffee. Read the labels off the tins. “What do we think this is?” “It’s sugar.” “& anyway why would you decorate a self-catering apartment in Tenerife with crap reproductions of Goya?” La Nevada O El Invierno: gales, ice, bent trees. Five figures struggle forward, leading a donkey on to which is strapped a dead pig. They are accompanied by a dog, & they are looking as if they wished they hadn’t come. The dog can’t understand any of it. Neither can I.