What is that 

which the key unlocks? 
Who calls the key to the text or is it the text that must come to the key. 
Come word, come key, come co-mingle:

Jangle, jangle…

Archiving systems impose an illusory structural order on the radically chaotic and indeterminate nature of everything.
of nature indeterminate and at root chaotic
is ordered as an illusory structure imposing an archival system.

Some fumbling in the dark
but persevere, if this is key; perspire if need be, for something shall come tumbling out.
Isms, prisms, lenses…
Prisons… but let us say fences…
Sometimes the very same text acts here as liberation and there is a dowdy don’t know what demanding all hush up and sit down.

If we make a list let’s pretend it will be a ladder.







“…based on the pursuit of vertigo and which consist of an attempt to momentarily destroy the stability of perception and inflict a kind of voluptuous panic upon an otherwise lucid mind. In all cases, it is a question of surrendering to a kind of spasm, seizure, or shock which destroys reality with sovereign brusqueness.

Bungee jumping: A young man hangs upside down in the air, suspended by his right ankle from a wooden gibbet. His hands appear tied behind his back and his left leg hangs loosely behind his right. On his face an expression of calm detachment, sometimes you will see that his head is surrounded by a halo. The Hanged Man produces a third dimension, an interaction between unity and duality that is understood as renewal, salvation. 

Community Care; the hero has confronted this stone-raging lion and knows it to be his very own shadow which makes architecture come alive and wrestle with him. He becomes agonisingly aware that he is not one person, the conscious self he identifies with, but only part of a greater whole. Antagonistic fragments that are yet complementary. He cannot got back and reclaim the assured selfhood of youth, not least of all because it is a chimera created of his old age; yet still he must not submit to his shadows. His only hope is to become free, to step back into a balanced void that is no longer a void because his presence transforms it. 

Bungee Jumping: You realize that in casting yourself off from solid ground you are likewise casting off from the solidity of past consciousness. You must trust that a larger power will support you, will stop you falling into a psychic void. To proceed you must have the courage to let go of all that you have learnt, voluntarily surrender the grip of the intellect, and allow deeper forces within take the rein. To deliberately float oneself on the tides of the unconscious implies a deliberate reversal, an acceptance of the risks which accompany such transgression. 

No work: the seeker now has to pass two trials – that of courage and that of faith. Courage to sacrifice all that the conscious mind holds dear – and to renounce the instinctual demands of shadow. Faith, in continuing to search for a higher self that possesses grace enough to renounce mere transgression; that will not stagger on the restraints of taboo or consciousness but shall actually see horizon upon horizon unfold to reveal an all-encompassing glory, to show that the transcendent in the everyday. 

Abject / Collect

… let none of the nuances or small happenings escape even though they might seem to mean nothing. And above all, classify them

There is nothing much to say: I could not pick up the paper, that’s all.
I very much like to pick up chestnuts, old rags and especially papers. It is pleasant to me to pick them up, to close my hand on them; with a little encouragement I would carry them to my mouth the way children do. Anny went into a white rage when I picked up the corners of heavy, sumptuous papers, probably soiled by excrement. In summer or the beginning of autumn, you can find remnants of sun-baked newspapers in gardens, dry and fragile as dead leaves, so yellow you might think they had been washed with picric acid. In winter, some pages are pounded to pulp; crushed, stained, they return to the earth. Others quite new when covered with ice, all white, all throbbing, are like swans about to fly, but the earth has already caught them from below. They twist and tear themselves from the mud, only to be finally flattened out a little further on. It is good to pick up all that. Sometimes I simply feel them, looking at them closely; other times I tear them to hear their drawn-out crackling, or, 
if they are damp, I light them, not without difficulty; then I wipe my muddy hands on a wall or tree trunk.
So, today, I was watching the riding boots of a cavalry officer who was leaving his barracks. As I followed them with my eyes, I saw a piece of paper lying beside a puddle. I thought the officer was going to crush the paper into the mud with his heel, but no: he straddled paper and puddle in a single step. I went up to it: it was a lined page, undoubtedly torn from a school notebook. The rain had drenched and twisted it, it was covered with blisters and swellings like a burned hand. The red line of the margin was smeared into a pink splotch; ink had run in places. The bottom of the page disappeared beneath a crust of mud. I bent down, already rejoicing at the touch of this pulp, fresh and tender, which I should roll in my fingers into greyish balls… I was unable.
I stayed bent down for a second, I read “Dictation: The White Owl,” then I straightened up, 
empty-handed. I am no longer free, I can no longer do what I will.
Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Low collection, lowly collection.
“Objects should not touch…”
“I am afraid of being in contact with them…”

If classification is an order, is that order an expulsion? We collect things in order to throw them away – visibly. To see these things rejected, ordered; collected, exiled.

We live in an anaphobic society, in the idolisation of novelty it fears repetition. A phobia of phobia, there is a continual call to face your fear. Stick a pin through the spider.

“Been there, seen that, done it.” We have all heard this refrain; it may be advertising, it may be real life, this may be someone you know: Thrill junkies, world travellers, the beautiful people (and we can collect group definitions as we horde resentments). “They”; we allow ourselves to believe, are forming into a special class of collector. Emotion turned to ephemera, sensation packaged as series of statements.
The trip.
The buzz.
The vibe.
The high.
And that special mania of the field which is tourism; the collector as eye and bowel movement, opened up onto a previously unimaginable scale. This is partially achieved by simply denying that this is tourism. People will pay for the luxury of no luxury. A series of life style statements.
A traveller.
An explorer.
Sports enthusiast.
Snow boarder.
Mountain biker.
Not the tourist thing at all, this collection of places and sensations, seem barely to class as a purchase at all.
Something money cannot buy.
I was there.
No fear.

And that is just what I am trying to find, a fear so palpable it becomes an object. An object that does not touch. Because it is not alive it should not touch. The dead object touching the living object makes an abject subject. A collation of subject and non-subject make for a suspect deviation.

But look, if you can collect then you can order, nothing need ever touch. Death. No touching, not without my say so. Only knowledge can circumnavigate a collection. At best it is perfectly solipsistic: Choose any object within the collection and from the information embedded therein, the inevitable references, reverberations, echoes and clues, we will be cast out on an adventure. Albeit and adventure within a frame. The routes are prescribed, predicted, and perfectly calibrated so that eventually, if not repeatedly, the seeker is turned around all the far corners of the collection to find, at end, beginning; the original object.

As an ego will presume it is complete, so a collection presupposes completion. It might not be complete, but that does not exclude it from the hope. Indeed, to be excluded from the hope of completion would be to destroy the collection before it has properly begun. To complete the collection would be to kill both the hope and the desire. This of course is exactly what we cannot say.

Yet how pointless; to embark upon a collection that will be killed if complete and will kill us if never completed.

Imagine; nothing from outside needed. Yet given the end, it persists. When it was meant to finish, instead it lingers. It corrupts, it seeps. The waiters hum the tune (from your collection). A melody returns while one is at one’s ablutions… Abstract.

Abstraction collection: copulation, excretion, consumption, and contamination. These are the biological regions to be vitally usurped if capitalism is to have any success at all. (One does not have to be a capitalist in order to collect.)

Is the C word a success word? Is your record collection complete? Records, vinyl records, will happily proclaim themselves as food, sex, shit; the sort of shit one finds gold in.

Sometimes there need only be one classification. Or rather, the binary trick; there need only be a series of coupled terms linked but forever held separate by their mutual antagonism. (It is to be fervently hoped that these terms will never actually touch.) The fixity of exclusion demands an order to which everything proceeds:

No taxonomy will ever be pleased to deal with “and”.

“And” implies an existence in two (or more) frames. The subject (and object) that can so elude fixity immediately effects a collection’s status. By the rules of collection a subject becomes an object in the collection and therefore must be placed somewhere, it must be classified as something. Frame A or frame B? There is a decision to be made and, because of “and”, this decision begins to appear arbitrary. The decision may be accompanied by a series of rationalisations and yet, because of “and”, the rationale might also be arbitrary. Rational argument becomes an additional content in the collection, it was not anticipated and, taking on the air of an improvisation, another “and” is added as this rational adage must now be rolled forward to future objects and cast back across the pre-existing collection. An osculate object so kissing slips toward being a subject. 

White owl.

It may be that this “and” is denied a classification. “And” refused is abject, and this abjection is also a classification. That replete sense of self, complete even in the striving toward completion, can no longer be anything other than lack. A refusal might therefore be a revenge for undermining the collection’s solipsistic knowledge.

To proceed by denial is hardly satisfactory however. To be conscious of the denial even less so. All the elaborate games of taste and the connoisseur may come into play but still there will be a nagging unease; something missing. Or rather, not missing at all; below mattress A and mattress B there is a pea. Uncomfortable, this tiny thing that does not belong to bed nor to bedroom and most certainly it is not appropriate for the sovereign comfort of this situation and yet it still cannot be wholly excluded. Indeed, the story demands its inclusion. This present abjection is “and” could be. Identity comes to be defined via the defect. If eventually this osculate object must become present to the collection then its intimacy insinuates a gestation period. A rearrangement is born wherein A and B is subsumed to AB which is coupled to DC while held – forever – separate.

White owl in black night.

Someone placed a clay toad in amongst the collection of frogs. It could have become a collection of amphibians but instead the toad was taken aside and smashed.

She has thousands of frogs: 
Clay frogs. 
Plaster frogs.
Metal frogs.
Stuffed cloth frogs.
Knitted frogs.
Frogs fill every available nook and cranny of her flat. Special frogs are associated with special events; a visit here, a niece there, the day such and such happened. If something particularly upsetting happens she will select certain frogs and destroy them. More than merely breaking the item, the condemned ones will be pulverised, meticulously unstitched, or melted down to a formless slag. Following this destruction her anger is purged, some bad memory or association has been cleared away, and she has created space for new frogs.

The metaphor is now Colonel Kurtz. He collects the dead. He has responded to abjection in a brutal but thorough fashion. Any confusion surrounding classification is, he believes, resolved. The enemy are dead. Traitors are dead. The dead are dead. Yet objects should not touch and he is subsumed within this collection. Living still, he touches the dead; moving still, he shifts amongst the no-longer mobile dead.

How to destroy the dead? How to clear space so as to replace the dead (“and” their associated emotion, story, memory) with more dead. The dead must make way for death and in this rain they will not stay buried. A mountain of white ash; mounds of blackened, charred remains. The dead know the dead. There is an “and” and an abjection to their intimacy. AH! Nonetheless, the Kurtz character is, we say, alive.  Nonetheless, his collection is so large that it begins to frame him, as if these burning bodies take up more space not less; as if they were getting inside of us.

You see the dead might become ornamental if the collection is not properly ordered. This is what is meant by the phrase: “He is operating beyond any reasonable control.”

The Kurtz collection positioned within the larger field reveals itself as a mere hobby. An amateur collection. The proper military classification of the dead is impressive. If the hierarchical demands are rigorous it is only because of the need to make sense of so huge a collection. Precision is required for classification: This is alive. This is dead. Body bag, tags, autopsy report perhaps but proper medical certification certainly, paperwork aplenty for without these stabilising influences the object simply cannot be admitted into the collection. Terror is not lessened specifically by bureaucracy, not tamed essentially, but it is channelled. A controlled use of alienation, taxonomy is terror sublimated.

Value slips when touched.
The warmth of a living beast.
“You put them back in place […] they are useful, nothing more.”
The horror, the horror.
A white owl in a black night and I am no longer free.

Collecting is about meaning, is it not? What else might there be?

A pen, a packet of batteries, Humbrol enamel paint tins, sausage rolls, party poppers, a clockwork toy soldier, a pencil, a tube of PrittStick, a troll, two yellow felt tips, a chocolate did, a packet of iced gems, a balloon, a plum, a pear, a banana, Rose sweets, a Mars bad, a hamburger-lookalike candy, a lipstick tube, an eyeliner, a yoghurt, a milkshake, two cartons of Ambrosia rice, some wallpaper borders and a large tin of paint from Fads.

The above named is a collection made in February 1993. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged ten, allegedly stole these items prior to their abduction and murder of James Bulger, aged two.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.2 No.2 1997.

Beyond Zero

For as above, below; below; above.

There has always been a Theory of Everything.

Time goes forward, from one moment to the next, from day to day, year to year: our experience appears to confirm us in this linearity. That is to say, time is usually considered to flow, it is an arrow

it moves us.

It moves with us through space even as it is but another expression of space. And this movement of space has thrown time’s arrow out: a fixed direction, the universe’s expansion. All clocks go forward from the big bang.

Now, it is also expected that one day, the mass of the universe being what it is, unless we lose some of the dark matter not yet found, the universe’s combined gravitational pull will eventually put the brakes on its expansion, hence slowing time, to eventually reverse the process. So

We will start jumping out of graves and diving back into wombs, returning to the trees and eventually the seas. The calculation and consequences of this big crunch, big bang in reverse, remain open to debate. And of course, from our point of view, debate only. However, maybe mathematician’s intuition counts for something here when they posit the symbol:

That central juncture could well be big bang and its looking glass cousin. 

Whichever phase the universe might be in


our standardised sense of this experienced time flow will persist in couching that experience as one of progression. As long as time is a linear construct within and/or of space so it will remain impossible to go in any direction other than forward.

Thus and

in subjective terms =
Theology aside, there is no memory we might securely presume will persist to experience time’s arrow boldly going in both directions. (No memory other than the universe’s own elusive tracings.) In other words, it will not be like rewinding a video, Indeed, who is to say that our current measurement of a universe expanding is not in fact a mirror observation of the reverse? Right now we could be rushing toward our birth yet the mechanism indicated by    


does not allow an easy recognition of such a possibility.

We should consider further where our time is leading us. What could be the target, no matter in which direction our time arrow might be pointing? Would it be fair to say that both 


are intent on reaching 0? 

The imperative of an entropic system.

Yet if the big bang

 is also its own mirror image

then might not that simultaneous crunch and bang make of the universe an oscillating system; two universal timings balanced around a mutual cataclysm.

0 cannot be stable, 0 cannot be the conclusion to this – unless some of the universe (dark matter) is missing and we drift infinitely on into a state of No Heat and No Energy wherein even drift will become, eventually, No Thing. 0.


was a statistical blip, a glitch in some presumed constant,0, or both

are united in this self-organising system:
A meta-self-organising entity.

a closed system?

If so there can be no infinity. A bound infinity is not forever, it is simply local. On the other hand, the parts may be greater than the whole.

Time could be delineated as 
 and this time is experienced and measured, unique and normalised – it is also standardised 

Our moment might become GMT, nano-seconds, pico-seconds, hours or minutes and time is money. Calendars and years in which there is working, playing, surviving, and negation; seasons and decades to be weighed and sold, to be smuggled out, to be treasured. Thus      
 when placed under a managerial regime. Not that naming controls per se,
but the control mechanism does flow out from it, This naming and measuring is the basis for regulating activity, for feeding ourselves, for agriculture, government, and for the exploration of space. Yet activity is not forever regulated: 
 because of our attention.
Yet it also changes via our inattention, boredom, consumption of sugar, alcohol, or numerous other metabolic eruptions.
It went on forever
I stood outside of time
Everything happened so fast

Such a variable experience of 
 cannot be correct.
To observe

and term it
is to describe
as flat of steady state background radiation. There can only be one rate of expansion for the universe and everything else must be delusion, a hallucination of fluctuation over consistent and constant time. Such an obvious account of the obvious. And yet still it is a granular universe rather than a smooth and steady state. In fact, we inhabit a decidedly lumpy place which somehow pivots around the singular uniqueness that is our allowed and possible existence. There was a probability of gravity and gravity was admitted. One collision (with what), a reorientation of photon, the grand cumulus of gravity beginning the inevitability of one split atom. A sky was acceded to, the heavens seeded with stars, and the stars shed planets, and the planets cooked gases and the gas made water and water allowed life….

Our naming 
is a collision,
a division that admits for further subdivision. Our variable and subjective experience of 
is in and of itself fission.
Within the macro scale
movement from
there is actually another entirely different progression towards 0. The infinity which is

understood as
 which is not infinite but bound,

may in fact be infinitely fractionalised. 
Therefore our experience
of time is moving away from 0. Further, it would seem that finally we can admit to a supersedence of a linear notion – or notation – of 

is understood as an attempt, or a probability of an attempt to revert to that original state, 0, then we must immediately realise this to be a flawed progression. The movement is not towards 0 but to a rapid spiralling out into fractal infinitude. A quantum action that will move relentlessly towards 0 while never being able to reach 0 as it is already and always beyond 0.

While not flush with

 a multitude of infinities are generated from its progression, from the gravitational disruption of our interactions with it, and from out of this infinite matrix of possibility we still have the surprising paradox, perhaps the only paradox: Apparently we are able of selecting only a finite number of singularities and stringing them out along

This poor selection we call “Our Time on Earth.” Eternity is to be found tangentially to time, it is not the product of infinity. Our time out of the earth is infinity probable, yet it is eternally actual in the life of consciousness.

In modelling the world we understand it. In modelling we interact with the world, in interaction we gain new models. In all this everything is changing all the time: the world, the model of the world, ourselves (our model of ourselves), and the quality and quantity of interaction along all axes.

What possible reason could anyone possess for attempting to establish the shape, and thus by implication also its beginning and end, or otherwise, of the universe? There is no pure research.

A new paradigm may be counted as an evolutionary factor in how the human brain and nervous system develops physiologically. A different quality of vision generates a different quality of living. The ability to see the tool held within the flint, the extension beyond the tool, to imagine the Earth with an orbit, to calculate such an orbit and then to become one with the orbiting… Evolution as a process may prevent our complete stagnation, it might be the vital undertow to any rationality. While not rational in and of itself the evolutionary, to be touched as a model rather than an actuality, offers a limited guarantee against an ultimate death. Evolution is an event in consciousness, therefore it partakes of the eternal rather than negotiating with infinity.

(That things have to be this way; that we as species are deemed evolved and rational and able, is a claustrophobic notion. Expanding the paradigm will only take us up to that claustrophobic point whereupon demolition is urgently required. There is panic, a need to breathe more easily. To puke up old knowledge and clear the smell by removing its previous frame; to set one’s sights, once more, upon the furthest horizon. Which is? What is the shape of the universe?)

Outside of the closed system, there can be no perfect paradigm. A closed system will always open. A model of perfection is transitory and hence perfection can always be improved upon. Actual perfection is elusive, it is far more common to encounter the model. Sometimes, therefore, the model of perfection becomes confused with the unattained, elusive actuality. 

To further and further expand and investigate our modelling of the universe is an action founded on desire. 

In the most pervasive presence we sense the most elusive essence. 

To confirm a lived experience that evolves into multiple singularity. 

To reject entropic degradation of matter by rediscovering it in a self-organising dynamic (many selves and many dynamics).

To seek the liberation of immaterial actuality. 

Eternity is to be found tangentially to time, it is not the product of infinity.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.2 No.3 1997.

a frozen lake skated upon. Around its edge, the mind has a regular pattern of grooves. 
In the middle it is empty. 
Empty apart from a gradually freezing over hole. The crack opened briefly for an adventurous child, and then shut.

Waiting on the stupid inside of you like a classroom caught agog at the sight of books, piled precariously and held aloft by an ajar door; Go conk me pan.
As if the foot were not already an embarrassed aching of the floor.

And as driving is an ability to miss things so is the daily lyrical, a spray of glitter, pillow stuffing for a prison existence (made a prison because one repeatedly misses the walls).
Terrorists are failed artists who are failed terrorists while musicians are only confused djs and djs are writers while writers are kitchen porters and the waiters are always actors who are waiting to be politicians and they handle larger budgets than terrorists.
When digging a hole keep digging but ensure that one changes direction. Now one is tunnelling.

Twins parted at birth, lost to each other and yet sensing a residual shrapnel from the broken heart which is buried deep in the body; so does the expanding post-inflationary universe suffer from separation anxiety. Stars and void suffer from a sense of loss. This additional dimension of emotion cannot be explained, nor admitted to, unless stars and void move into a lived dimension that our un-living observation will find difficult to pursue. Beyond its stretch marks, this universe is satiated with the love of its own conception.

In separation anxiety there is a deep seated desire for connection linked to an oft destructive wariness of intimacy. We understand this because to some extent we are all twins of the broken bond, our better sibling abandoned in the womb. We are both jealous of and saddened by this absence. Such intimacy re-attained – the unattainable – implies a connectedness that rapidly reaches a state of unconditional telepathy. The universe is pulling back from speeds greater than the speed of light, just as we are frightened of how questions posed in one nebula may be immediately answered in another; if this is allowed, so will hurt felt in one place be immediately experienced by the entire body. 

How is this space, both around and intimately within us, to pass through its own sense of elasticity? To turn a hysterical stopping from ravaged apathy to heavenly stillness. To move from tripping over a complex of blockages to building blocks raised in contemplation. 

Of mountains and people, in condos and complexes, of insects and water, of blue sky; clear blue vast azure; mountains. Of ankles and photography; prayer, wind, and heat haze; of a cloud coming, of a tree pointing, a lake batting against a damn. Of walkers and hikers and elevation and rattlers imagined and birds blown by in bad poetry, barely an attempt at note taking. The air is thin this high, although that does not do as an excuse. The air is brilliant, snow draped extravagance. The pen must, by its very nature, fail to stand up against this landscape. Yet also fools must scribble thus in order to say: Look, small furry things bouncing up scree. And what are they one must wonder, while the rodents blithely chink chink chink. The lake beats out its own time and we, at last, are quiet for a while.
How is this space, both around and intimately within us, to pass through its own sense of elasticity? It is impossible to ever possess this land, such is the conclusion from the high place. Even if it were offered, it would be impossible to possess this land. At most one may be able to put a mark upon it. And for a time, perhaps, one could put a claim to that mark, but nothing more. More is miserable fantasy and even mark-making can become something of an embarrassment. What poor temptation is this idea of possession!
The true morality tale or the truth of a moral tale does not lie in its closure. Messy, because it is messed in with our lives, and yet we are able to make stories. So there is no closure although we can draw to a close, which would be to pull up a moral without necessarily having directly heard it in the story. Nothing here may be true and yet we can still see that the truth will seek us out. And there was Dr Ruth dancing on the wing of a downed Stealth Fighter in a field in the Balkans in a war at the end of a century, laughing and jumping on four hundred and thirty million. She was saying; “One should really not have any hang ups anymore.”

The melancholy of flat roofs 
in a rainy town.

Drunken gestures overreach the pictorial space of sobriety. Neck and knuckles get hopelessly confused. Drop it in the moon; finish it tonight.

Anxiety in my ears: the septic build-up of years, a waxy re-routing of tears. Not deep thoughts but slow ones.

Ear – Door.Mouth -Trap door.
Form – Body.Content – Thought.  Process – Thought and body.
Meaning – Process convoluted form – Force.

Thus – Thought will erase itself in event – Pattern.

The liquidity of thought will erode or otherwise attack any concrete expression. Through the dumping ground of brain and mineral heart this fluid, disallowed from common or open flow, is a leachate in which magnificent and terrible residues are dissolved, to be then deposited in the elsewhere of our attempted communication. If you cannot bring yourself to God then at least be wary of all other substitutes.

Night is the first physical material with which consciousness must grapple. It contains the day itself, all imagining. Consciousness came as a sigh.

I listen to the clack of escaping skateboards as they tumble down the stone steps of civic buildings and I do not know if the force of human evolution has always been to get us off this planet or off our faces. 

There is an injustice in having to be in one place at one time. One suspects that we are creatures destined to be multiple and connected; all points, all places. It is discovered that a window in a gothic cathedral can be described as “not a hole in a wall but the abolition of the wall.”

And then one will be very still. Although keeping silent is a mistake, it is the method I habitually employ so as to try and prevent further mistakes. Mistakenly, I believe words irreversible while thinking the shush in between them may be redeemable.

The concierge says that the key is functioning perfectly. Perhaps it is the door that is causing you problems?

He was writing a novel and had had to stop because everything he wrote came true. Someone suggested that he carry on but give the novel a happy ending.  And who, he asked, would buy that?

Jimmy’s amazing jissom astonishes his gang as it leaps through his blurred fist to dance before them in animated tableaux. His come forms an amazing cartoon into which they enter so as to rescue the Princess: twice they succeed and twice she is recaptured. Jimmy’s friends are enthralled by this adventure and yet on Jimmy’s third and final orgasm his spunk is done and the vision gone and the gang are horrified for it is all over and the Princess remains locked up and they, although ashamed to admit it, feel responsible for this. They suspect, deep down, that they have conspired so as to allow for the easy recapture of the Princess. Jimmy’s balls are aching. All he ever wished of his special juices was that his friends would appreciate them. Instead those friends now turn on him, ridicule him; in the school playground they openly comment on his degraded appendage and how it came to be that way.

If given a choice of laughing at the disadvantaged and not laughing at all then, who would not laugh? Such is the human race’s tenacious wit and capacity for joy. There are remarkably few people who are not able to turn some minuscule ‘error’ or difference in the kin, the clan, or between neighbour into disadvantage, that is, into an advantage for humour.

As the seas are polluted all islanders are asked to turn inwards. In this manner xenophobia may be confused with good health.

A fine show of turning the tide will always be appreciated, irrespective of the dubious mud flats this leaves behind. Yet a sizeable expanse of water is no longer an effective social barrier. If water is not a barrier then true island status dies. Inevitably there follows an expansion of interaction. To counter this there is a considered vanishing. It is commonly procured beneath a proliferation of appearances, a large scale modulation of images. Images of difference, images that are difference made banal, burnt down by reproduction or context; worn away to simple and unnoticed vacuity. Real difference is rarely encountered – that somewhat theoretical meeting allowing one to empathize along true points of contact while likewise recognizing otherness within oneself.
Identity and identification: we are confidently informed on how these matters are dealt with otherwise in those distant, drug producing countries. Over there, it is said, they have no common right to be registered at birth nor to a name on a grave or even to a certificate proving death. Without such things a person is unrecognizable. Bodies are not identified. Bodies are cut up, exploded, removed from sight – removed from name. Bodies born and transformed into lumpen matter.
In this we are meant to be assured that our own I.D.’s are of a wholly more reliable order. Travel thankful of names. Rely on that apparatus of registration and recognition, citizen, and turn away from trouble spots. Blotches, smears, difficult stains.
No, turn away from such things, turn away. Do not look. Look to this island. To this island we are bound, to a green and pleasant land.
A field system created by an act of parliament – defoliated moors kept in private ownership to privilege the slaughter of grouse: coppice preserved primarily to favour the continuation of the fox and thus the fox hunt and thus the subjection of rural communities to an organized thuggery that is indeed so organized its victims would shout loudest for its furtherance – this green and pleasant land – a structure tongue lashed by lyric poets and idealized by commissioned oil paintings. Hurrah for such land, inextricable as it is to the Grand Game, or dame, or game dame that is the Mother of Democracy. A parliamentary model as ‘gift’. A twisted potlatch, a giving which binds us to an image of our Capital, our capital; to cities, to great metropolitan pools of labour which were born by no act other than the inaction of parliament, thus making her a rare mother. She had twins, this Mother of Democracy, one a bastard and one legally sired. Green and pleasant land in the latter instance, dark satanic mills in the former.
From the very beginning, then, this image demanded an expansive trade. A busy trade in images if nothing else. So; borders are no longer an efficient social barrier. Trade routes lacerate any sense of border. At best it is a fine mesh, a net of rhetoric cast abroad by Home Office and sports fan. Yet still borders remain. A limitation which is continually transgressed against, a transgression which is to be policed. For although this traffic and rupture must not be allowed to halt, so too are we to be saved from its effects. Trade at all levels to mediate all contact. A protection racket that also functions as P.R.
P.R. is a vanishing beneath a proliferation of appearance.
Tourism and P.R. have a close emotional bond if not a direct genealogical linkage. We are to be assisted in our transgression of the border. Spectacles or scandals, monuments or ways of life; we are helped to attend these sights, these constructed landscapes. And once on site to see we are further catered for by a vast array of experts.
Although no more than gauze, the border never quite relents its grip. It clings. Your personal mist of border checks and passport controls. It is not just the camera nor the funny clothes, sunburn, and inebriation; it is a list of quirks and tics and presumptions and attitudes, subconscious or otherwise, too long to list and not all your own making. It is where you are expected to spend time and money.
So in the very midst of difference that somewhat theoretical meeting – the abreaction of a real space – remains a rarity. It is a matter of hygiene, if nothing else. A paranoid situation of presumed camouflage is established: That beef be not wholly beef, nor water water, and the air hides many things. Pollution is an interface between chromosomes and cities, between global environment and the lymphatic system. Meanwhile fear itself becomes the connective tissue, a rip tide confirming vast and entirely promiscuous linkages. Borders are required. They begin to seem desirable. We want invisible walls to defend against these invisible attacks. Yet borders are the transgression.
In the hoped for vanishing borders remain visible; in the proliferation of appearances they disappear. Little surprise, then, that no matter how privileged one may feel to be recognized in the given identity of a given name, still people will seek as if a detour. To avoid the border utterly. To strip off this gauze. To travel liberated of being a tourist. To travel liberated of travel, as if to have health without hygiene. And to thus seek and sometimes succeed is a functional flaw in the constructed landscape. It is a door shut whilst open, a double articulation embedded within the very fabric of this landscape handed down, from generation to generation, as if complete.
Nothing is ever complete, obviously, and a floating island might one day become a mountain range within a larger continent.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.1 No.1 1995