VII

Fragments. They’re allowed, did you know that? Allowed. Encouraged, sometimes, even. People write whole novels in them. This one guy, kinda famous apparently, wrote a whole bunch of philosophy in fragments. Hysterical. There I was, trying to sellotape together my smashed and shattered thoughts into something resembling a cohesive whole, and here these guys are, just tossing out fragments like playing cards. It demonstrates that my woeful education in the scene to which I so desperately belong is full of fragments – a bit of one writer here, an echo of a name that sounds familiar there, an inkling, a sense that something new – new to me, ancient as fragments to everyone else – might be OK, if I stopped waiting for permission and went for it.

And then my mind spins off in another direction, always, always trying to sew the edges of these fragments together, imagining how they could be be together and remain a fragment. What about a database? That ever so sexy literary staple, you know, the database? What if we put all the fragments into a database, and labelled them in the order they were produced, the sequence of their final publication, their topics, their interrelations, made them searchable… what if by dumping fragments of writing into a database, you could use the meta data to produce links between fragments otherwise unrelated? Show me, all the fragments referencing Adorno, database. Show me all the ones written on a Tuesday mentioning chaos. Show me all the ones with ‘allowed’ in them. ‘Belonging’. ‘Music’. ‘Sex’. Show me the ones that mention database, database.

Listen to me performing again; ‘Adorno’. I’ve never read him. ‘Him’. It gets worse. Just call him Theodore, like you met him for coffee and that was how you came across fragments. ‘Yes, well we were having a nice latte in Costa,’ (What’s wrong with Costa? Cafe Nero is expensive, yo) ‘I fumbled my biscotti’ (do they even do that in Costa?) ‘and the resulting clatter onto the plate shattered it into… you guessed it… pieces, and Theodore, he says simply, “that reminds me —”‘

Brian Dillion, is who I’ve read. On my phone, on a crowded, sweaty train from Cardiff in December, with my posterior inches from the face of a poor woman sat behind me, and the remnants of an unusually gassy lunch barreling through me with no thought for personal space or the ban on chemical weapons. It’s a shame these are the circumstances under which I remember Brian’s essay, because he really is a wonderful writer, and the three quarters of ‘On fragments’ in Essayism I read before I manically started googling fragments and their proponents was great, as was every bit of the book preceding it. Dillon deserves more of a namecheck than Adorno in this fragment story.

Fragments, people. They’re allowed.

A Crisis of Blogging

I’ve been having a crisis of blogging for the last several months, since the summer. You can see it in the sporadic and strange posts I’ve plastered on the blog, like the stickers you see on lamp-posts and traffic lights and phone boxes. The urge to post, and to write something worthy of posting, has been overwhelming, but my satisfaction with the results has been… mixed.

In early December I read an essay that inspired me to start a small project I thought might be the answer. I thought Peanut Brittle would result in daily content for the blog for the entirety of 2020 that might even mildly interest readers, but we’re a couple of days into the year and I can already tell I don’t want to continue.

Continue reading “A Crisis of Blogging”

V

After a while the energy required to not be yourself becomes so much that simply living is exhausting.

When the exhaustion got too much, I chose to be myself — sometimes I have to remind myself why — and I hope anyone else struggling on this point will, too.

Some people come to hate themselves so much they would rather die than be themselves. I wish I could take every one of these people by their gentle, calloused hands, lead them to a therapist and make them drink.

IV

Even these fragments are composites. I’ve written them in short stochastic bursts, a line about one topic here, a quick sketch, then editing and chopping. I can still come back later and change things. Insert a missing hyperlink, or fix a typo, for instance. So these things are woven, rather than chunks, and not even in their final form. Or their only form. If I change this one in two months time, there’ll be two versions of it. That’s not to mention all the opportunities for other people’s input – comments, online annotations or simply copying, pasting and editing. I’d rather they didn’t, but what’s to stop them?

The gravel pile of fragments is very very porous.

III

Writing turns me from one person into shards of multiple people bound by nothing but a single skin.

‘Find your voice’, they says, ‘write like you,’ they says, but when you’re several different voices depending on what you’re writing and how seriously you want to be taken, or whether you’re feeling flippant today, or simply just pouring the junk out, feeling like one person is hard enough, let alone one voice.

Fiction is even worse. It requires you to get into the head of a character enough so that when someone reads a voice on the page, they can’t see me moving their mouths or my face behind their mask. After a while you begin to lose track of where you stop and they begin and vice versa.

At least, that’s how it is for me, anyway; it’s probably not a sign of something worrisome.

And sarcasm never comes across properly.

II

Some of these will be bad. Some might be good. Some might be dull, or confusing. I hope many will be interesting, or at least, entertaining. Some will relate to others. Some will stand alone. Some will be strange – sorry, it’s just the way I am. Some might try for enigmatic, but I don’t think I have the right energy for enigmatic. Enigmatic implies something reserved enough to slink just out of sight. Frenetic yeti, vibrating with anxious energy, rarely slink and certainly not just out of sight.

This list is not exhaustive.