Dear Farrah – poor pilgrim – pedestrian progress.


Are we in the cavemouth or are we rolling down the hill like Jack and Jill? Are we turning into the dark, holding aloft a feeble candle, and deciding to walk – right now – into the belly of a mountain?


Bunyan was in jail. And he was in jail. Was this the cave?


I am told John Bunyan was a Non-Conformist. This mode of non-conformism plays a particular part in the history and construction of England.


To be a writer is to be on an ever-dangerous slide towards fantasy. As the deeper slopes of the cave are made simultaneously fertile and poisonous because of copious bat guano, so too the writer’s imagination.


I cannot answer my question about the author of Pilgrim’s Progress; and yet he strode in his own being as well as in his imagination.


To not abandon the body. To keep hold of our haptic extension even within the slippery gestures of descent, to roll and tumble in another direction: is this ever possible or is this another form of the ever-dangerous?


Again, we protest that here in this journeying; in the rolling, the tripping, and in striding through such rank vales, so there must be gathered from this travel a poetry that lends itself to transformation.


Originating cradle of being: an honoured death site, a surety of rebirth.

The original waters never cease.

It is about diving, drinking, drowning.

To be deeply seduced by this singular oblivion which announces new birth.


Dear Farrah,

Only five years ago you were given this book.

Where are you now?

The dedication reads: May you continue to grow in Him and walk closely with Him.

Your sponsors were happy in witnessing this pivotal moment; your baptism. They were happy and yet they bought you an old book. Perhaps it was their own book they were handing down to you?


It is an old book, written in another England.


It is an old printing. Not an ancient or historic printing, just old. I do not locate a date in the book. The book I am referring to is not the abstract thing, not the story as a rarefied presence, but it is this paperback. Here is a soft and grubby paperback with a brief handwritten text on the title page. The script is for you. The writing is dedicated to you, dear Farrah.


It is an ageing book. An object becoming old.

I do not locate a date in the printed book, none apart from the date of your baptism. The pages in this book are dotted brown and yellowing.


This handwritten dedication must indicate an adult baptism. Here is text made precious not by commodity but by understanding. This is handed unto you, Dear Farrah, for encouragement. From now. To continue the journey. From this moment. This text to accompany you unto a great elsewhere.


Already you have gone to an impossible place. In baptism there is death, a going down. Here a descent which swiftly drags one past bat shit and down, further, to a depth that can be reached by no other conscious means.


Come alive, Dear Farrah, come alive from out this plunge and receive. Receive into your hand this book written out of the strictures of imprisonment. A spacious place is shown, vastness which can only be born out of constriction.


You held this book Farrah, but did you run away from it? Or were you given so many versions of this self-same text that your shelves became embarrassed and, one by one, those surplus items were to be disposed of?

Are you the pilgrim?

Are you running and seeking, both at the same time?

Are you shedding all that is worldly, even this frail paperback?

Lost and guided, each in an instant: O pilgrim of the lost, found in the losing of all.


As I walked through

the wilderness of this world


I lighted

I lighted on a certain place

A certain place where there was a den…


And, as I slept

There was a den

And I slept

And I dreamed a dream


I, your dear friend, am in myself undone


I your friend undone

By reason of a burden that lieth hard


Lieth hard on me

A burden.


We are seeking, and we are creating a new element, a radically different atomic structure. The squeezed shapes of an age.

A new element from a different geometry.

We are the creating of this new element, our joining is a different geometry.

This is the familiar fitted together in an unfamiliar fashion; its aroma pervades all things and yet the senses learn to distinguish things not by what they are but by whatever aspect suits our egoism… Only when consciousness deduces a joy foreign to every principle of temporal utility do we begin to discern the mystical significance of waves, crystals, stars…


In the cave we met people.

In the cave we met people in the form of a bull, a lion, a bear and a deer. From the cave we turned around and saw not the comforts of a campfire but, beyond beyond: a moon and many stars, a signal and all gesture, our compass and the unreeling of all wilderness.

Our good people stood close by.

For the sight of good people to them that are going on pilgrimage, is like to the appearing of the moon and the stars to them that are sailing upon the seas.

Fear promises to be recognizable, concrete, like a boot or a gun. Instead fear becomes the sneak, creeping in via unknown or intangible routes, not recognized, not considered. Fear lies through its teeth (not sharp but a powerful grip), blinking baby blue in your face and saying: Honestly, did you really expect me to approach by the front door of your meagre anticipation?
Does the Big Bad Wolf really knock politely upon the one piggy portal that so happens to be neurotically and catastrophically reinforced, impregnable pork? Well, okay, Big Bad Wolf might knock once or twice simply out of a flare for the theatrical – but he will marshal a wind that does not weep at limits nor bow down to barriers.
How can a threat persist if it allows itself to be fixed in the imagination? Fear is always innocent. The wind is breathing, that is all; you are the one who is choking.

And I just hope that I can still hope because I am sickened by this dogged fear, this thugee night cult, this inflammation thrown up by the mind but refusing to be tied by my mind; this rash which slides, which runs, rips though my tissue and yet even at the point of symptom will evade detection. From bone to skin to the hair on my chinny-winwin, perhaps if I give my body? To be assassinated, then I shall at least know some limits.
Fear says nothing.
Why should  fear say anything? It’s lived through illness before. It’s survived plagues, medical invagination, eugenic sterilizations, moral quests, crusades, and utopian vanguards. And nor does it respond to negotiation or sacrifice. But if I let you have the body?

Nothing. (Nothing for nothing, what is one expected to do with this jibbering elongation of dust?)
Nothing: will there be room for anything else in this flesh? Have I got space to breathe even? It seems I must build a bigger house. A stronger house. I will build a mud house, a wood house, a wattle and daub house, yes, a dirty protest to keep me warm and soon I shall build a strong stone tower and surely then I will be able to see fear coming.

Just keep breathing. Listen to the wind. As when the wind is still there is no wind, so fear only ceases when there is no fear.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.5 No.1 2003
“…A question occurs to us that breaks through into the open and thereby makes an answer possible… The sudden occurrence of the question is already a breach in the smooth front of popular opinion…” [H-G. Gadamer. Truth and Method.]
Each kind of seed
its own kind of body.