Tuesday, 26 May 2009


This is a transitory place, there is a sheen to the floor and a rigid, uniform comfort to the furniture. Inoffensive local radio seeps into your hearing and old songs - those ones you recognise with unmistakeable hooks - loop with rapid frequency. The extractor fan hums. Oil sizzles. The crisp sound of a newspaper page turning hiccups between loud sips. One man circles with a Biro in apparent random bursts. His face is studious and furrowed. His lips pursed and vision narrowed.

Scarlett buses lurch and roll. White vans - with their blank, identical canvasses - form a train.
Very few people sit, most are passengers in time, carried through by a need to progress.

Take the idea that life is transitory: we are passengers in time. The places we inhabit are clean, clear open spaces. Blank canvasses at all times Because we move on so much, never really staying in any one place. The current theme is to build from glass - open structures made of light. We decorate in white and magnolia: pastel shades. Borders are soft, lines undefined.
The natural order is to descend into chaos. Entropy increases.

I scribbled this down when I was in a cafe by the tube station in Turnpike Lane. I like cafes: you can sit there, drinking coffee and eating a bacon sandwich while watching everything float past. It got me thinking about transience. (Note: in my notebook, I couldn't tell if I had written 'clear' or 'clean'. But then I realised: aren't they just the same thing? So I put both in.) Also, Warren Ellis talked about this idea in his graphic novel Desolation Jones. He referred to it as Supermodernism; I have never been able to find any other reference to it.

On the subject of transience, I made this slow/rapid (I can't remember which) half formed thought while sitting on the back steps behind my house:

One of Paul Pope's essays struck a personal chord with me recently. It discussed, in the most part, Hugo Pratt's "Corto Maltese" and some of the devices he used to portray that character. At one point he flashed upon the idea that life is a transitory thing, but that we attempt to make it static and unchanging for fear of that very thing.

That resonated with me as I was stumbling, and attempting to run, with a short story weaved around that very same idea.

I've made extensive notes on that story, took a break from it, and returned to it today. It feels like it might finally be coming back together.

This will be a line in it (sort of).

"Isn't it funny how, in the English Language, the phrase 'fair weather' has a similar meaning to insubstantial? I think that says a lot about us as a people."

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