Sometimes I return to writing out of inspiration, sometimes out of need, and sometimes through an indirect kick in the pants. Despite my dereliction, I had a post half-written in a journal somewhere, because I love how writing by hand slows the process of thinking about structure and cadence. Enough to make writing so much smoother. But that post is still mostly crap. And so you get this.

There was a blog once, that I used to follow (and still occasionally return to, hoping for an update), written by the first person I’d ever really encountered who had decided to live a life that meant something beyond accumulation. The first real, actual human being who asked the two questions “what do I believe” and “how do I live those beliefs”, and properly dedicated her life to bringing them together in an ever-imperfect, but ever-better dance.

The metaphors of light and dark are wrong. So blissfully, but deceptively wrong. Light must always win. Its advance can only ever be so. Can only, can always be met with dark’s retreat. Night’s dissolution. It is where there was none. Presence into absence. The conquering flood of what is into the space of what wasn’t.

It’s a horrible feeling when whatever ghost it is that animates writing takes leave of you for a spell. Leaves you numb, technical and without the sublime experience of an animated mind. Structure becomes the lifeless gatekeeper of the words I want to write, rather than their subtle and committed support.

Rap music in a Gottingen Subways outlet. The old kind of rap. The kind to stir a heart into resolute anger at the world and its injustices. At the institutions that deny liberty and call the result Normal. Fair. The kind of rap that no Subways would have dared to play in the 90’s, but can laugh at now. Humiliate through tinny takeaway speakers. Like the immigration official that’s taken a liking to Bob Marley, or the corporate cat who enjoys Alanis Morisette and Shirley Manson.

The river that connects Siem Riep to Phnom Penh is one of the few – possibly the only – that seasonally changes direction, depending on which end of it is being rained on at any given moment. Or so Lonely Planet told me the time. Jumping between the two cities that afternoon – now years   Read More …

Truth be told, I blame Kerouac. Later on, Dana Snyman had a hand in it too, but mostly, originally, it was Kerouac’s fault.

[Journal Extract, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2011] In Dispatches, Michael Herr titles his first chapter ‘Inhale’, and his last ‘Exhale’. I’ve been thinking about that writing tactic a lot lately. The notion that this – all of it – is like some coiled spring or compression/decompression cycle. That it can only be made sense of   Read More …

For whatever strange reason, I seem to mostly write late at night. Sometimes – if I am so taken – I might sit and compose a post in the early evening, but never in the morning and almost never in daylight. With the exception, perhaps, of periods on the road in places where internet access sets with the sun. But the ideas of ‘daylight’ and ‘daytime’ in England are ambiguous at best, and often have very little to do with each other.

It’s been a curvy, topsy year. The sort that wends and twists in its own strange ways to end up in places that you never quite expected. It’s also been pretty much non-stop, with only recent days in the Scottish backcountry as the first proper, unrushed opportunity to decompress . To reflect on just how   Read More …

26 December: Epulu Ranger Station, Democratic Republic of Congo.  But for the early arrival of the pygmies from yesterday, the morning would have started unremarkably. Yesterday’s thunderstorm delayed the trade in Ituri forest crafts, but this morning, they arrived with scores of necklaces made from forest nuts, small seeds and bark rope. Plus a musical instrument   Read More …

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