Pernod in the Interwar Years

Political, Papers, Personal, Prosaic

On my way here today I got an ad for Wix, I wondered: who’s paid off Google to translate “Wordpress” to “Wix” first, or is it all just some damned mistake…that some ad agent somewhere, paid more than the freak curating our children’s futures, just happened to confuse one ‘w’ word with another, relevant, ‘w’ word. I feel like these kinds of mistakes cannot reasonably be made with nouns.

I’ve been away from the blogging world – and from writing – for a little while now, and I’ve hated it. Nightmares from childhood crawl through my skull even in broad daylight, a substantial marker in my mental landscape of sustained failure. A warning that arises unbidden when I’ve spent too long writing cheques that won’t be honoured. Metaphorically of course. Show me a 20-something of today that ever wrote a recogniseable cheque from their own account. Even when I had my Mary Poppins Kiddie Account at the Halifax (I think I was 13) I didn’t write cheques and I’m pretty sure that was the only way you could use the account. Perhaps I dislike banks and even money altogther. Perhaps we all do, secretly, even while we profit from them. But more of that kind of rant later.

Editing other people’s writing for content rather than style is a disgusting activity that should only be conducted at times of definite intoxication. I have been undertaking this kind of task, sober, for extended periods of time. This had been part of the source of my break from writing. There are other things: transitory things that don’t make the cut here. What you need to know is that I shouldn’t be editing anyone for content, I should be exposing their own lies to them or singing out their truth. Editing doesn’t come into it. But style – if they want a different style to their own, if they want a unified publication style, well, that’s something I can disagree with but also something I can enforce while employed to do so. That’s something I can edit, but that’s also something that’s not part of my employment description. Time will tell however. Manoeuvrings and strategems, possibly even ruses, will enable me to gamble at the kind of position I desire. Inklings already here, staining my fingers.

Enough of gambling, however. Writing has to return to my life, and this is the allocated medium. Content production must occur, ideally with some extravegance or flair or other expressive quality. I adore neutrality but language isn’t neutral. It’s like some disgusting fizzing pot of chemistry full of PH papers and overshadowed by distillation tubes and pipettes and other extreme scaffolds with distinctly menacing connotations. The right amounts of love and bile must be associated to produce something approaching a middle ground, or at the very least a highly entertaining segment of nothing at all.

People don’t respect a writer who’s not writing. They don’t understand the alcoholism, the binge-watching, the binge-eating, the long walks, the hibrow cultural gatherings – they’re not pretence, they’re all an effort to convince the psyche and soul to reinvest their myriad energies in the act of verbal description. Coaxing a mouse into a bottle, except this is no ordinary bottle. The acoustics are fantastic, and there’s a thin crusting of rum salts at the bottom and up the sides. It’s been a struggle bringing myself back to this point, I can’t pretend to you it hasn’t been. But the nightmares have led me here safe and sound. I don’t want to be dealing with them anymore. I’ve had enough of childhood recollections taunting, without reason, without logic, except the undeniable fact of my own failure to pursue my own designated purpose. Got to get back on the horse, got to carry on up the path, or down it, at least until the next town.

But these distractions! For someone such as myself, who takes pride in low self-esteem, who hails it as a philosophical attitude, it can become painfully easy to get sidetracked. I mean why should I do any better, the question comes. My answer has to be tight. I have to navigate my own internal highways with great care, understanding, and above all, integrity. I can’t be intimidated by myself or else the plot will be lost for at least another day. And that’s another day of nighttimes and youtube advertisements and trips to the shops. If only the shops would go away. I don’t know if I can take the consumeristic bent of it all any longer. I can, but I’d rather not. And it’s that preference that scares me. More stable types than I have probably been lost to insane delusion. Firebombings and riots and even ideologies…all seductive to the head, all very sinister. I myself nearly became an ad man, once. It took the death of my father to stop it – Fate speaking a clear message with a completely unexpected heart attack. Or was it co-incidence? And is this ignorant arrogance?

Too soon to tell. Too soon. The memories will well up and consume eventually, and then the truth of it all will be reality, for better or worse. Or perhaps this is already the present, the great procession of Septimus Hodge marching and shedding in perpetuity, despite both fires and equations.

These times for the individual are like the interwar years were for Europe – a time of both certainty and uncertainty. A time when the controlling forces change more or less and begin to understand things, while the masses ignorantly celebrate every last moment they’re allowed, safe in the knowledge that they can do so without being randomly exploded. Now, once again, they will only be exploded for transgressions against more powerful parties within their own society. Elsewhere in the world will largely leave them be, for now. The individual is both – the thinking master and the wishing-they’d-rather-not-have-to victim. We’re each an ouroboros, infinitely changing, infinitely the same. At least, we are if you interpret it like me. And this is where the self-hatred or at least deprecation comes in as a natural response to an uncertain new world for humanity. We don’t want master-slave anymore and yet our biological hard-wiring struggles to make the change, on the personal level and on the social level. It can’t provide the internal stability our ideals prefer. So we work at it: we want democracy, we get representative oligarchy, we say that’s good enough for now. Maybe that’s all there is for us. The next generation will do better if they can.

We must destroy these kinds of assumptions. We must carefully and knowingly unselve, in select ways. Unravel our own stiching to do a better job than the Great Seamstress in the Sky. This is willful evolution, a new process often ignored or rejected by right-thinking scientists and pseudo-Darwinians. More on that another time.

Jean Rhys wrote some good books in the interwar years, and in one of those books her detached character liked Pernod. I have to say it’s an excellent discovery. I’m not drunk on it now, but I will be shortly. Then to the pub? No, no. Not enough pay for that. More importantly – not enough certainty of positive social contact. Who’s there? It could be somebody, it could be nobody. It could be some demented bat with a perfect tan and bleached hair, his eyes guarded by overly keen cheekbones. A heavy ordeal to encounter as the light fades on such a seasonal evening.

No, I’ll stay back and edit that last poem. Drink some more Pernod. Drive it forward with minimalist synthwave drumbeats etc.

The time could be near.

Is there any more to be said?

Perhaps not yet…the prey must be led with breadcrumbs, not brought to escape with a labyrinthine thread. That’s what they say at ad school. That is…unless you want to make them escape from their own heads, their own realities…but no ad man is genius enough to come up with that kind of manipulative scheme. The unreality on us now is sheer accident brought about by centuries of corruption crushing layers one upon the other. The sort to make a conspiracy aren’t advanced enough for it. More stuff, more, more for the fire. Break all the chairs, break all the pots, the food, break everything you made the fire for, just to keep it going. The burning must go on.

I have to escape now, before the anti-capitalism takes me away for hours…….and so the Pernod comes, an aniseed twist up the nose, dreams of green oblivion……it must be allowed to take effect…poetry must be drafted, writing must unfurl and snarl and beak at the uncertain consistencies all up the walls, the procession must go on…

Thirteen

Papers, Poetry

The lights that show us through the dark are burning away our days

In crowds of black&white commuters, stark against the background sound quiet, glaring on, petty mumblings, headphone pendants, votive coffee cups left in temple alcoves

Or

Shellshocked private school boys in red scarves and brown wool overcoats the colour of dead leaves in Winter shining gold to be embezzled

Dulux charts of navy swimming in that grounded sky blue perpetual in the night and

Listed buildings stand testament to our strange obsession with memorials of the damned&angelic

Global Corporate Golgotha

All the tombstones have personal names that mean hotels, finance, property, alcoholics, pharmaceuticals like the way we give God a personal pronoun: Lloyds will handle it, Marks will handle it; He will handle it

Violent partially-erect sexual aids consume our city finances

Smoking&fire&loss&alarm&prevention&free paper are red

Security cameras are blue because they are comfortingly sad, or grey because they are not there

The harsh butcher lamps in shops saying come&buy&leave, in homes saying come&sleep&leave, in hospitals saying come&die&leave

The city heaves great lumps of dripping profit

Streetlamps making you drive & closed parks

The ant-hill windows burning on condemned estates

Then a thousand artists iridescent in pointless silver running onto railway tracks

To report on suspicious citizens & see it & say it & sorted.