Monday, August 24, 2009

Escape Route Sought

Hurt and hiding and thanking the goddess for the library and my two novels a week. This time it's The Glister by poet John Burnside. An eerie story of a town once buoyed by a huge chemical plant, now poisoned by same--everyone and everything from the birds to the grass is sick, mutated, mad, despairing, violent. And then there are the disappearances. It is horribly real but has that abstract feeling of fairy tales.

I was rummaging around for more on Burnside and found this wonderful interview by William Rycroft, a blogger whose profile says he is an actor in London. More than this I don't know, but I thank him for getting these quotes:

JB: "...Seeing that this is a universal principle – that things are always in flux – helps us to overcome our local attachments – by which I don’t mean that we lose interest in, or passion for, anything, but we do see that things pass, and this moment’s pleasure or pain is clarified by the knowledge that it will pass.

There’s a tradition in Spanish poetry that I like – where the poet is in his garden, looking around, listening to the birds, enjoying the warmth and the scents, when it comes to him that one day this garden will still be there, but he will be gone, and someone else will be experiencing these things. Someone he doesn’t even know. This is a cause for celebration, though, not elegy or regret. The game continues. James P. Carse talks about this as ‘infinite play’ – there are times when we cease to play the game of being for finite ends, and play for the sake of the game itself, a game that will go on without us.

I know, I know. New age-y mysticism and such have made all these ideas into clich├ęs. I was a sub-hippie myself once. But as experiences, these things remain true, and cannot be diminished. Except, perhaps, in rambling on about them – which I’ve just done!

WR: Why do you think society has become so divorced from the reality of most people’s inner lives?

JB: Oh, God, don’t invite me to take out the soap box. Seriously, though, the problem has been well analysed and we pretty much know what has gone wrong – we lost organic connection with the world around us, everything was commoditised, our politicians and business folk became hopelessly self-serving (as they have often done, through history, but recently it’s been so blatant it saps the spirit just to watch them get away with it), we have a neo-medieval culture of celebrity, excellence became embarrassing, we began to think in soundbites, we published more and more books about ‘complexity’ but schooled ourselves to think in simpler and simpler terms. I could go on. The central thing, maybe, is that we were the first society to know – actually to see and hear – the misery that was being endured in faraway places, by people our appetites had impoverished, while we enjoyed our bland and joyless feasts at home. What a burden of guilt that is – and along with that guilt comes a feeling of helplessness, a sense that there is nothing we can do about it."

Burnside also points out in the interview that his inspiration was the toxic poisoning in Weston, via ICI. Here's more about that and some other similar sites.

On a lighter note, I'm also reading a David Liss, The Whiskey Rebels. He writes historical detective fictions set during civilization's economic system turning points. This one is set during Alexander Hamilton's establishment of a national banking system, and it really is funny and fun to read. It takes my mind off things.

Fell asleep during The Watchmen on demand. Love the book. The movie was too faithful except where it counts.

Saw Funny People. Not a waste of money. I've always found Adam Sandler to be incredibly hot. You know what was too fucking distracting in that movie? All the ironic t-shirts.

Maybe there's a secret tunnel in the basement. Or I could smuggle myself out through the kitchen, draped in white, past the steaming pasta pots and shouting chefs and clanging cleavers. Hide myself in the laundry cart, bury myself in the hay in the wagon.

Photo: You can get yours from

No comments: