Chew.

It’d blown on in like a frigid wind, the kind of wind which’d render you glacial all the live long day, the kind of wind which’d drag along with it a rattle of shrivelled leaves and yesterday’s garbage, a shower of unwanted gifts. This wind had been an unfeeling feeling, almost palpable, a sweet sweet bitterness on the tip of the tongue. It’d sit fat in the throat, and too heavy on the chest, leaving you reeling, as if you were drowning in some nihilistic porridge, where any substance and vibrancy would lamely succumb, leaving only an easier-to-digest black and white, and where every touch would be rendered in some state-of-the-art, Active Shutter, Dolby Pro Logic agony. 

It had become so fucking clear: corruption and perversion resided at the very heart of everything. Every hope or chance we’d ever been offered had already been shattered by Eton schoolboys, or left to rot in the scorched-earth libraries or blitzkrieged galleries. Our ancestors had been cornered and collared, marched into half-deserted industrial estates or some charnel-house office space. Every last shred of warmth and decency had been gutted and shredded and fed into a vast and unholy abattoir strung together by the plebs and the serfs – a grotesquely distorted monstrosity which’d trump and belch both economic nightmare-fuel and the most degrading slices of reality TV – all this whilst being suckled on by light-starved pigs, half-blind, deranged, and fat.

We were germs, it said, or we were dust.

The only thing that I could think to do in this situation – drowning in a nihilistic porridge – was chew my way out, so I chewed. I’d chew all day and I’d chew all night. I’d chew as I clocked in for work at 7 A.M, lost in the waves of lethargy, and I’d chew as I hoovered the bulldogged straggles of cat hair tenant in the nooks and crannies of my home. I’d be chewing while taking a leak, and chewing while taking a shit, chewing as the defence fell to apart in the eighty-ninth minute and chewing as it all fell in place during the closing moments of The Last Days of Jack Sparks. I’d be chewing at Hawkesbury Junction, where the Oxford Canal met the Coventry Canal on the olde steps of The Greyhound Inn. I’d be chewing down The Devon, where the locals would stare into their pints as I passed and the lads would do everything in their power to avoid making eye contact as I chewed away on something only I could see. When I kissed my beautiful wife goodnight and told her I loved her, I’d be lay there still chewing, and she would search my churning teeth for clues as to what all of this meant. But the answers had been hidden if they’d existed at all.

I’d chew and I’d chew and I’d chew and I’d chew, drowning in this gallimaufry of despondence and gruel. And I knew I’d keep on chewin’ until the day I’d notice the blood, skulking about at the corners of my teeth.

The kettle rattled and wheezed as my wife made our morning coffee. The cat danced and mewled at her feet. The winter rain tip-tapped at the kitchen window as the things which lived in the darkness crept back into their beds, their burrows and the boneyard, as the pale sun crawled shyly over a three-spired horizon. Everything had remained its rightful place. But a wound had opened up on the inside my cheek, and it had looked a little like a waterlily – except it didn’t look like that at all. It looked like raw meat, half-eaten. It had the look of a storm cloud, black as a bruise, fit and ready to spew. It’d looked like sun-kissed shackles, fastened at the bottom of a bone-strewn pit. It’d looked like satirical news made terrifying (tangerine) flesh, corny canned laughter as cluster bombs fall, kitschy synths plastered over the faces of the soon-to-be dead. It looked like a cough you couldn’t quite shake, or an odd lump on the base of your scrotum. It looked like all of the things that had scared you as a child, the creepy house at the end of Blackberry Lane, or the dead eyed mannequin you swore you had seen poised in the shadowy hallway outside the bedroom door.

The odd wound appeared to gently sob as I studied it in my bathroom mirror, which had just annoyed me more than anything. Because I had seen this wound before, many times before. This was what would happen when the cruel taste got inside you, when you understood you’d been drowning all this time. You were helplessly lost in it, you see, until that day when you suddenly weren’t.

I stopped my chewing, brushed my teeth and splashed a little water over my face. Bingo. It’s as easy as that, sometimes, casting out a demon. You didn’t always need a white alb and a purple stole, Saint Benedict and the Archangel Michael at your side. Sometimes, these problems, they’d simply float away like a nugatory memory. I knew the wound would eventually scab over, because a wound has very limited choices: it either fixed up or bled out. 

But I also knew that I’d always feel it, this woeful lesion. It’d be an itch I couldn’t quite scratch, a rat gnawing away at the foundations. I’d be able to stash it away, of course, in the same dusty corner I kept birthdays and algebra and my patience for petty politics, but it would eventually claw its way out; blow right on in like a frigid wind, a sweet sweet bitterness on the tip of the tongue, a cruel and distorted monstrosity which would trump and belch its economic nightmares and the most degrading of reality TV. 

And I also knew that I’d end up doing the only thing I could do in such a ridiculous situation. I’d chew. 

I’d chew 

     and 

I’d chew 

     and 

          I’d chew 

and 

   I’d chew

because, sooner or later, I’d remember I was drowning.

LISTENING: Nothing Important, by Richard Dawson.

READING: Ghosts of My Life: Writings on Depression, Hauntology and Lost Futures, by Mark Fisher.

Tweet of War.

 

ALL THAT HAPPENS MUST BE KNOWN.

– Dave Eggers, The Circle.

AN EDIT-TWEET BUTTON, we had screamed, knee-deep in viscera and gore. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK? IS IT? IS IT?

It had been a touch too much, as it turned out. It had been a touch too much, a touch too far. 

Already in our possession was the awesome power to cajole and twist the words of Man to our own petty cause. We had already been left free and easy to air our illest thoughts over and over and over again. Was this not enough? they had asked. 

Of course not. Nothing was ever enough.

Costolo had stood firm and the board were right behind him. We would never get that which we had so desperately and grievously wanted. We had wanted the ability to change our collective past. We had wanted the ability to edit out the darkness and place ourselves within the light we knew was out there, waiting for each of us. We had wanted the impossible, right there on a plate.

Many of us gave in after the Market Street riots, reduced to simply sobbing and retching and wailing and howling. We beneath a sky stained red, an ocean boiled bloody and black. One hundred-forty characters lay dead and buried. It was as good as over.

When the shadow-men came, hungry and choleric, in their sharp Brioni suits and teeth like needles, they rode in on scorched-earth emojis and howled and roared like demented trolls. Edit this, they had glitched, in zeros and ones. 

Edit. 

Fucking. 

This.

In cherry and chestnut and claret and copper, the blood seemed quite impossible

           blood

blood 

           blood 

                                   blood 

                        blood 

                                             blood

the shadow-men drank up, 1.5 gallons of each of us. 

The Twitter Wars ended soon after that. Not enough people left to keep up with the fighting. The Battle of Whales Beach and it was all over.

The End.

Released!

Kaput.

READING: Heart of the Original, by Steve Aylett.

LISTENING: Periscopes, by Jilk and Haiku Salut.

CURTAINS!

Television may represent a threat to our culture analogous to the threat of atomic weapons to our civilisation.

– Reinhold Niebuhr, The Irony of American History.

I’m running the show alone again. 

I switch on the lights. I turn on the camera. I call action to a nonexistent crew of nothings and no ones. I’m so fucking tired I can barely even speak.

A million eyes expectant.

My mind has gone a blank.

The studio lights, so harsh and blinding. 

So, “Curtains,” I say. “Curtains. Curtains. Curtains.”

But it’s too late for all that, they have waited long enough. The studio-audience erupt in an orgy of pyrotechnics and canned laughter and good old gratuitous violence. Eyeballs fly (Raimi-style). Someone  screams, “You plonker!” Crying in the orchestra pit, calling for their mother.

Slight, silvery confetti dances in the floodlights above. An electronic sign is insisting that we LAUGH. The fire-escape is blocked with blood and sludge and pulp and crud, that ungodly mess we can never get enough of. The news crews enter from stage left, lingering and salivating and striking an elegant pose, perfect white teeth from the worst of your nightmares spewing filth and hate and garbage.

Old and forgotten theatre curses slither and skitter through the frenzied carnage: a hapless understudy, whistling to avoid unwanted attention, is ravaged by the cast of a certain Scottish Play before being consumed by ghost-lights and boom-mics. We listen as he squeals.

The Chairman and the Director-General, saddling their snivelling board of directors and their wild and mindless executives, are each incandescent with a white-hot rage.

Ratings will be down!

Funding will be cut!

The license-fee will wither and die! 

The bewildered public will be forced to creep into the unforgiving sunlight and pray to a newer, older God!

A seasoned stage-hand rattles and yawns, angry, so very angry. The well-trodden boards beneath her are screaming bloody vengeance.

NO SIGNAL.

The director has gone mad.

NO SIGNAL.

An old cabaret act gurgles, lurching from a bloated grave.

NO SIGNAL.

That’s someone else’s face gurning in the smouldering monitor. 

NO SIGNAL.

That’s someone else’s shadow dancing in the harsh and blinding light. 

NO SIGNAL.

Laa-Laa and Forsyth and that dirty bastard Savile waltz in the dazzling flames. A bear, bandaged and feeble, is feeding on the tired blood of the young and the helpless, winking endlessly into the abyss. An old war broadcast, blaring from the decrepit tannoy system, is spluttering and slurring in a long dead language.

Those still alive on the balcony whoop and applaud.

“They love me. They really lov

READING: The Lost Machine, by Richard A. Kirk.

LISTENING: Fire Water, by Dirty Knobs.

The Slow Death of A Thursday Morning.

All truth is crooked, time itself is a circle.

– Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spoke Zarasthustra.

This morning has been akin to a slow-motion death scene in a old John Woo film (you know the ones) but I’m now beginning to think that time might be broken. The stoic hands of the old office clock just ground to a shuddering halt and splintered, unleashing a terrible and implacable scream, and the wheels on the forklift have been uninvented (such a depressing sight, a forklift without her wheels).

A dove misses my head by inches as the timeworn wood of my cumbersome desk enters some kind of strange retrograde, appearing to be an ancient Oak tree swaying silently in an unspoilt meadow, a stone’s throw from everywhere and nowhere all at once. The walls crawl home to the quarry, the keyboard now a wave of carbons and electrons flittering in the chill air; no, particles, particles dancing to the hidden songs of existence.

I hear screaming outside… was that a mammoth? A pterodactyl? The Germanics? The Celts? The Iberians or Parthians? 

The sun, the sun appears to be shrinking; a maelstrom of dust and gas and vast clouds of darkness; the baffling blur of universes as they flicker in and out of existence, the Big Bang and the Big Crunch and the Big Bounce and the Big Rip, eight days and eight nights are over in an instant and somewhere a serpent is laughing; the sun, the sun appears to be shrinking…

… and implodes.

READING: Extinction Journals, by Jeremy Robert Johnson.

LISTENING: Ritual Spirit, by Massive Attack.

The Weak.

No one should ever work.

Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost all the evil you’d care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.

– Bob Black, The Abolition of Work.

MONDAY: Half-gnawed bones among shit-splattered pallets.

TUESDAY: Windy out.

WEDNESDAY: The bell rings and rings, for an eternity it rings.

THURSDAY: was pretty explosive!

FRIDAY: I drink coffee.

*

MONDAY: Walking home, a storm approaches.

TUESDAY: The Oil Men come, greased-up and loaded. Oil! they scream Oil! Oil! Oil!

WEDNESDAY: “Some people choose to spell box boe and that’s just fine.”

THURSDAY: (Avoiding work because everything is terrible.)

FRIDAY: I haven’t rang IT once today. They must think that I’m dead.

*

MONDAY: Satan is whispering in my ear. Lucifer is whispering in my ear. Nobody is whispering in my ear.

TUESDAY: Almost lose an eye to a case of Toilet Duck.

WEDNESDAY: A yawning chasm of boredom, bigotry and baloney appears on a blinking screen.

THURSDAY: When you gaze long into THE RATTHE RAT gazes also into you.

FRIDAY: Half-gnawed bones among shit-splattered pallets.

READING: Fungi, from Innsmouth Free Press.

LISTENING: Moth / Wolf Cub, by Burial & Four Tet.

Silence is Golden.

I decided it is better to scream. Silence is the real crime against humanity.

– Nadezhda Mandelstam, Hope Against Hope.

When the rain fell silent it was the strangest thing. The dog seemed to rattle, even attempted a bark, but found himself empty of his usual vigour, cowering at my ankles as the trees danced in a strange, undefiled stillness.

The resplendent song of the dawn chorus died a quiet death. The roar of distant traffic drew its final breath. My phone remained silent, as did the people around me; we each looked up in horror at the most aureate of skies, vicious and awful and blazing.

This was the bitter end, you understand, the Waterloo of music and language and everything.

Silence was golden, and what utter fools we were.

READING: Folk Horror Revival: Field Studies, by Folk Horror Revival.

LISTENING: A Key To The Origin, by Joseph Curwen.

The End of Every Story.

 
Death is looming at the end of every story ever told.

We may ignore it or disguise it, we may do all we can to forget of its existence, but it cannot be denied.

For many, the story will end abruptly, leaving too many loose ends and unanswered questions, a terrible heartache.

But some stories draw to a close with a wonderful flourish.

Treasure those stories.

READING: Songs of a Dead Dreamer and Grimscribe, by Thomas Ligotti.

LISTENING: Memoryhouse, by Max Richter.