Emotions can be rather like colours; red becomes compared to red, yellow to yellow, and blue all too blue. The sensation of seeing one immediately gets linked to the other almost as if there had been nothing in between. And so it can be with an emotion. In your memory you link time to time, the feeling and not the idea of the feeling to something strongly related. So as I am alone now, sitting here in my study on this bright but overcast morning, I almost instinctively will link this to moments similar to this,before. As I walk through a crowded station, as I know I shall do later, naturally the same thing occurs. When I do this today I will feel as I did yesterday and for the last few weeks before this alone, alone, and not just alone.
What interests me about this, or what I am surprised to notice is that the link from colour to colour has led back to times when I was not strictly “on my own”. Times when I thought I was with or was trying to be with someone, but later on realised that was not or should not actually have been with that person.
In one way it was quite reassuring to recognise similar moments in time, in this way. However I am almost disappointed to realise just how large a proportion of time I had thought I had been together with someone, when emotionally I clearly was not. There is a freedom to this place that I have made and found for myself. Like walking over ashes. The time is now underfoot, the colours have all turned grey and you are all that remain between the earth and the sky.
NOTES 1ST JULY
The ink spreads out of the letters and number as though the page had been rained on. The excess of black ink that had filled the nib, I wiped in broken stripes across the inside of my right arm. A numberless bar code a product without a name.
I sat to write a plan, review the letter, and fax that I received from Agnews and Gallery Forni. It’s probably a good time, the year has slipped by on the sly. Six months of constant changes, isolation, truth. Truth found in part, more now that for some time, as each week passes, I have become more used to greater isolation in my life.
Sometimes I feel sick and ill with it, paralysed by thoughts; I sit alone in an untidy room. I feel the dust, the disorder, the chaos, papers, shapes, spaces out of place, external yet internal. I feel each unordered angle, unregulated shape, as a sort of displacement of thought. So I sit with it around me, waiting for the hand to change, the moment to pass, the chain to end, so that I may be freed from these patterns. Words leave their pages free themselves from the envelopes that contain them and take flight in an orbit around the room.
THE LAST DAY OF JULY
A month between words. When remembering what it has contained I’m left feeling. If I could give this a colour I would say it was a sombre blue/grey. If it were a note it would be long and low. As for the word, well there really isn’t one.
Like falling to earth, the pain of arrivals. Words hung like wet clothes on a line. No one thanks you for the truth and on other days don’t expect to be thanked for being honest. Irony hangs out her washing to dry and we run about like children below.
So many passers by, why such faces. Stories tangled together with invisible threads, sometimes so tight, I wonder how we can move. Caught as we are, children of the in between, with laughing faces and sweet smiles of pain.
When on the outside, you look within, when inside you don’t look at all. That’s how it seems, in the passing of time, in this place of shared memories. Time shared is inevitably agreed upon. Like it or not. It’s bent into shape, remade and remembered. What each of us sees each day from their place on their journey I can only guess at. The darkness that surrounds perception, illuminated for precious moments, only to be returned to its other state. The rock, the earth, the sea remain so untouched by our gaze and yet we stubborn only believe that our windows of attention are somehow necessary to them.
But perhaps it does make some difference that I should recognise the colour of grey ash upon the grass. That the green makes the grey seem violet. That the pink clouds today were more beautiful than yesterday, that the light has changed and all the colours with it. Maybe that is all we seem to be left with, the one “maybe”.
I spoke to Riccardo the framer on Wednesday. I told him of my time. I filled the month that had passed with words for him. I spoke of the paintings I had made, and the ideas that I have. The passing of people in my life, giving fragments of their remains. My words were sombre although I tried to lift them for him while he lays in bed, his eyes wide open, unable to focus on me on anything else in that clean white room. The view from the eleventh floor window must have changed somewhat since he arrived there three months before, but he will never know how.
Unable to move, unable to speak with a pipe in his throat and tubes in his arms, he lay ended; well that’s what they say, or how they “act”, treating him like a dead man with breath.
My anger, my stubborn resistance to a fact being a fact, makes me believe otherwise. I can no more accept his paralysis any more than my own powerlessness.
All I wanted was to pick him up. Empty him of his tubes, dust him down and walk away from that place. But I had to leave this brilliant framer still and alone, covered as I was with the blue/grey dust of divine injustice.
So what people have me become then? Blind as we are to change. Saturated in fact commercialism. Emptied of our faith. Filled with fashion and constant empty mumblings of the media and the fools that own and run that sorry business. And we powerless the third with a capital P “feel like kings”, masters of our time, educated discerning, immortal participants and judges of our time. It is our time, isn’t it? The one that each generation for sakes, for routine, loves compromises and endless mindless automated repetition . That’s our time, moulded with our own hands, fashioned to our choice, lived in and taken in in deep breaths, then exhaled in a cough. The fresh air of modern times.
We are the children, the pinnacle the intended, the point of the wave. The beginning and the end, and all moments in between. Then how well can we miss the point, deluded as we are in our own immortality.
I can almost smell its presence at times. Lingering as it does to the corners of life. Waiting with the agents of decay to empty us of our material selves, at the stillest hour. How sure can we be of sanctuary at that moment. Powerless once again, the almighty consciousness we call self-fades so fast. Left to the elements, knowledge is lost, something delicate, coloured and bright, becomes broken by the sea bleached in the light and finally lost in the mind.
THE SIGHT OF OLD WOMEN
The sight of the old does not pass me by. A red faced woman carrying plastic shopping bags walks into and out of the sun light. The saturated colours only heighten her loneliness. She passes the white concrete wall and into the shadows of the steps below.
Grey faces on a grey day are hardly seen. Yet what sight there can be when you become too old to participate, when you can no longer act on your thoughts. That view of certainty is so valuable and yet so tragic.
Think again if you think I cannot oversee all that I have just said. If I can create it I can also analyse it. And if here is the content and the writing irregularity it’s not lost on me.
Narratives don’t interest me. I can’t understand why people write them. Those inevitable self-inflating journey stories about insignificant happening for them in time.
Observation maybe, but who’s that for?
For example, I met a French girl the other day; she was talking to a black guy in Subterrania . It was late, my three friends had all separated, and I was watching the dancing from the edge of the stage. I accidentally knocked her drink onto the floor. I apologised to her and a little later she turned to talk with me. She explained that she was French, worked in the Iron bar across the road, talked about home, and told me what she wanted to do. I listened as carefully as one can at three in the morning after a night of alcohol. Apparently she wanted to be an artist and liked to paint nudes from life. We talked about this for a while, I vaguely remember telling her that that’s “what I do” and pointing out that it was probably a good idea if she tried to live her dream sooner rather than later.
By that time I had sized up her friend. There was no escaping the fact that he was a faker, vain and a user. I say this not because I particularly cared one way or the other,it's just that life is full of choices and if you use your eyes well, you can avoid those characters.We spoke some more, she had a nice face, with a mole above her mouth on the right side. Her eyes were attractive, but I could see she was a liar somehow. The conversation continued a little longer, until she turned back to her friend and I in turn found mine. I think she left a short time after that. The black man was left to dance alone in the corner of the dance floor with only himself and his ego for company.
And so the story ends. What does that say? What happened before and what happened after, why focus on that moment and not the conversation with Dan and Gavin in the Bonaparte. Or perhaps the dinner party the night before, as there were some good things said, so maybe I should describe "the life" a little more sometimes.
We left by cab soon after my conversation and I jumped out at High Street Kensington. I waited for a good half an hour perched on a low piece of scaffolding. At first I found it difficult to balance but after a while my arse was so moulded to its seat that I had less trouble perching there.
The point is, you can distract yourself as much as you like, a moment ago I killed a wasp and a fly with a tea towel between sentences. The fact remains, that I have a lot of shit to sort out, money issues have been circling me constantly this month, I can’t afford to fart here without expecting a bill from the government, and they would charge for that if they thought they could.
I get really sick of it. In fact I am sick of it all the stupid "rat race" that we buy into or at least seem to have no choice but to participate in. Sure the art is creative, but look what thick unimaginative people fashion out of it for themselves, all they want from it is business and money. They want to make everything meet the lowest common denominator. So no matter what, everyone must follow their rules.Well something makes me say fuck you and fuck your fucking system, and as for your rules, well there not mine, so you can fuck them too.
I’ve spent so long staring into the dark, I don’t know what I’m looking for, when I look I can’t see anything but space. But then when I turn away and return my gaze to a particular corner I sometimes feel something else is there.
I’m not sure I can fit into this life. My values, thoughts believes, seem so different from everyone around me. And yet, I’m so part of all this too. I have been educated by the system, only to come to distrust it. The system is spiritless and soulless. It’s a con, a religion of money, full of empty gestures, only face facts, endless lines and no end. Just a constant distraction to help you to avoid the painful fact that you’re insignificant cog, alone in the machine, killing time with automated duties, until that fateful day arrives, when you become a spare part and are replaced by another, just like you.
The further you buy into the system the smaller you become. You learn to fear your own individuality, avoid having original thoughts and opinions to measure your own standards and beliefs by, instead success is judged by material gain. Yet each step taken, reveals another step ahead, the need for more and the fear of less. To be less, not equal, to not be that or this, who cares, for if you buy into the system you will always be less, no matter how much more you think you are, because of what you have.
Less is more, more is less.
A PASSING GLANCE
Are you as anal as you look? Or are you not as up tight as that? You have to ask, don’t you? When you get the opportunity, a break in the conversation, or a moment alone at a party perhaps. Or here even...you are, well that's part of the problem, you don’t see because you are all locked up inside, following the path, the one that was never made for you, but by you. Yes, as uncompromising as a rail road tracks through a desert you make that particular course fit. But that's unimportant, as we all can do this, it’s just that sometimes with you, I get the impression that you can’t see to what extent this has become into you.
So there you stand, humourless firm and rigid, dressed to impress, a face full of colour, with hands that shine, eyes that fix your shallow intent, teeth that affirm and hair that expresses, like a flag of self management.
I wonder what you miss Miss? If you could only try to describe what you feel, it might be a start. Whats that? You, your, yes your, your trying to let me know something. Precious key moments, windows of information, a status affirming husband exists. What, that you know you have one, or you have one primarily for my benefit or any other male that crosses your path, but whats that? Really? how very interesting, sound like a wonderful way to spend a Sunday. Oh more names, each has a number for relevance or irrelevance and a path attached to take, or not. How fun.
So you show me this and I show you that and if I don’t play, then the game ends. How convenient this must be, to not feel, or feel the need, to ask a question or stray away from your line. So that’s how it is, from beginning to end, if that's what you do, thats what you are, this is who you've become and will be, in reality...how very anal, madam!
Sitting in the garden at Port D’alone. The sun warms my feet on the terracotta tiles, while the ants walk in line mapping the changes.
I’m still tired; I have a sort of head tiredness, too much information in too short period of time. Change in something best left to the ants sometimes. Something ends, but I’ve been waiting for a beginning, but it has already started, this is true. But it helps if you can give things time to settle, rest before beginning again, with a minimum of words. Sometimes it’s all you need, long descriptions and a list of details don’t rely help, as it’s better to travel light, as you get to your destination quicker that way.
I’m not one for talking about making things better, after all, your always left with the same time afterwards, only someone else knows about it.
The trees in the garden are very special for me, especially the little olive tree a few metres away. Choices between things can be quite bizarre really, why this and not that, why this tree worked for my paintings so often and no other.Why this one pleases me and that one does not.
The company of opposites. The solitude must be found in company and company must be sort out when in solitude.Which you prefer, usually depends on the amount of each you have had to take and whether you are at liberty to make a choice at all. I realise I must structure my time more closely ahead. Write up plans and keep to decisions made.
George Henry Martin was late. The late Mister G.H Martin was not known as a man who was ever on time. This was all that I learnt of George or uncle George as my mother would remind me to say, whenever we spoke about him at home.
What is late, late is an odd word when you look at it. You wouldn’t say early, the early G H Martin and what does imply when you do? That he was punctual, consciousness righteous, correct? But when G. H. M is late, he must be a bit of a rogue, something of an outlaw perhaps, someone off the tracks.
Julien a friend of Julian,(my brother) also friends with Frederick and Remi the latter, who was apparently unable to get out last night, because his girlfriend whose name I haven’t learnt, was suffering from sun stroke and was feeling nosiness unfortunately. That Julien and myself were speaking late last night on a ledge at the end of the headland, after having returned from an Irish Bar in a small town roughly 8km away from Port D Alon. We had smoked some grass and drunk some of our whiskey and coke when he said “what does it mean when people say that they are at peace with themselves?” “what is it to be at peace with yourself?” I doubt it is possible” I replied. “it almost sounds religious” he added “to find yourself in that way”. It was an absurd and impossible thing we agreed.
Just a light something, a nothing serious, a nothing to think about, said so lightly forget it was said, imagine it didn’t happen and make believe it was nothing.
I returned to Arles for the afternoon. I sat in the main square a few doors down from the night café. The people quietly passed by, in the shade of the trees and between the cafes. There is no hurry here,like a breeze, they just go this way and that.
Being here and my thought inevitably turned to Vincent Van Gogh, the streets he walked, the things he saw, they then returned to Catherine and our time here last year. As with any place I find I have to first return to point where life crossed and stop to linger. There is a small red bar on the corner of the square, which I like, it's always full of gipsies, with strange looking leather tanned faces, large gestures and loud voices. What do they care about the passers by, they have their life to live here, a place in the sun, just to be.
Moments ago I walked around an old church, the one people always seem to be photographing from the outside. Judging from the floor it is certainly old, as there’s not a flat stone left in the place. The paintings inside remind me of other art taken from the fashion of each time. Churches always do this, make me stop and reflect, put a little in prospective, remind me to remember.
What was the purpose of their art, how has this changed and what is it now? How is point connected to point? Why is this so and how? What are we making now, do we see this in context of our time? Probably not. With the passing of time shapes change and so do meanings. Relevance at one time, becomes insignificant to another and so on…continually moving, never set on one certain course.
Do we know who we are? Or do we just know what we were? Memories of ourselves become us. A painting is no different. The action to do and the action is invisible, in the present we looked, but carry with us another time.
Each day our faces change, they are changed by our thoughts our emotions, yet we look the same to others. I am the same today as I was yesterday and tomorrow. Yet what journeys were made in between. How many expressions passed through my face and what were the motives for them. Yet I am the same to you. I see a face I recognise in a painting impose myself onto and into it, something as varied as the degrees of light in a day.
A man sleeps below a blood red wall.
Would you know God if you saw him? With his white stringy beard, tanned head and crumpled features. He sits in his dark blue mac and old shoes waiting while the world passes him by. Not that he cares, but then why should he, he's had so much time already for himself why should he now care about the time of day. God sits mostly alone, often under a tree in a small concrete square at the end of The Cut. Passengers come and go, pass between the train station and the theatre and return home again later the same day. Maybe God’s there then also, I don’t know, I have only ever seen him myself when journeying into my studio. I don’t think it makes much difference to him that I pass, but then for him the station is without trains, the theatre is without performances,the passers by, without lives. Perhaps he doesn’t see the dirt on his ruddy hands, the stains of his trousers; perhaps he doesn’t remember his own blue eyes when they sparkled with the expectancy of youth. Maybe that’s a good thing, now that he’s confined to life.
ALONE ALONE FOR RB
Still the number unknown she said,
The innate pleasures we have to share,
But time now wraps around his head and still he could not find it.
There’s an old man that sleep below a blood red wall,
I remembered his worlds as he slept,
“if you don’t believe in your bones deep down,
No amount of good intentions will make anything worthwhile”
Unable to be himself, still and unable to be.
When a moment is missed or a view unseen,
A journey taken than forgotten.
No longer measured yet the tracks continue on
There is no shorter time than life can be.
Paralysed by thought, I thought
I could no longer move in time
Physical just, in this unjust place
The line, lay, man.
A hideous force, taken
The brutal kiss, happiness
Green was the colour of our pain
Life passed up, regain.
Later, regained hope,
Hope regained later,
Later hope regained,
Was now gone
Still and unable to be himself, unable to be himself still.
Over there was never so far until now,
While the wall was never so red,
The real danced to mock him so,
But still it could not catch him.
His dreams are vivid,
As real as his white hair they shine
So brilliant I could not tell,
The time wrapped stories that we could never find
For ourselves, alone.
The words observed the absurd,
The nerd observed the word
The word observed the nerd
And was gone.
Three birds in a playground, a seagull, a rook and a pigeon. The seagull violently pulled at a wing while the rook agitatedly looked on. Where the rest of the pigeon was I couldn’t tell.
Dust always surrounds us.We the dust makers, fill the corners of rooms and cover surfaces with fragments of ourselves. We constantly clean the spaces we occupy, hours of thankless labour to spite the remains of life. With small steps it accumulates, then huddles together until we overhear its murmurings and interrupt the meeting. It changing colours so faintly at first, generously giving something to everything until in time, it makes all the colours its own grey matt grey veneer.
Then lights feel this grey room to add ochre to this space. A print of a painted image hangs from a nail on the wall; the nail the string the top and front of the glass all carry this dust.
The lights that gave colour to our room eventually become thirsty and start to drink, changing the spectrum into blue. Where did the colour go? The reds the pinks of flesh, the green cloth, the violet shadow? Only the unseen rectangle retains its original lustre. Behind the picture frame the colours can still dance with life, out of sight and unbleached by light.
And so we have our room, plains of grey ever changing as the moments of each day pass.
When was it in its true state? When life saw it in its place and remembered is colour,when it was in glorious technicolour, when the bands played loudly and the people cheered? But the degrees of change overtook it so. Was it only when it seemed to be, and was it any less when left the time.
When the people left they took the colours for their own, became one again with the dust. They had fought, but in vain, their energy was no match for the patient enemy. In time they turned to dust dirt and ash, and took refuge in the corners of other people’s lives. Now they settle in your hair, up your nose and on your clothes, your ancestors, your invisible cousins, waiting for the moment when you sneeze.
OUTSIDE IN INSIDE OUT
Realignment, steps upon floor boards then traced. My toes bridge the gaps between wood. A moment of change returns, a tight rope thought, stretched out upon which emotions are hung. Irony smiled at our absurdity so thoughtfully made. Time left to dry in the sun, a head full of clouds, a loud cloud startled me from the perfect blue above and became a thought, like a footprint in fresh snow.
Falling from place to place, captured incitement recited, the past was never less present.
A tongue change moment, when the word is linked to the action remembered and repeated back again. When forwards is backwards,t here is a place for it here.
The acrobats scream, the emotional mathematician turns the thought around in his mind, then repeats it. The clouds thundered overhead, but still nothing seemed to change, except the moment past. From and where too, was not for us to ask.
How were we ever supposed to know? Strung out upon our memories as we were then. Clowns under a cloudy sky, in and out of the sun, blinded by light and seeing only in shade. Jaded by choice, unwanted steps recorded in speech. Bewilder speaks of her so, but where has his love gone? Spilt between the cracks, the colour of my rope. Step over step over step again. Alight and shade, shade and light, alight departure.
Of such moments I can’t tell for you. Flat foot reality has its own path.
The mathematicians song, the silent acrobats laugh, are all that’s left of us now.
Inside out outside in.
Leonardo speaks of colour and space. Lines are drawn words are found to fit the theory. Form for life, life for form. Green was the colour that tripped him and the point was the place of his distraction. Measured degrees of disappearance. Matter recreated and air weight. Investigations in understanding. The way of this and that but not the other. Please not the other, it tastes of off and off will never be, not a this or that, but with a left not a right and with an end in sight.
He spoke abstractedly apparently. His words were remembered exactly abstractedly. But not understood. A lamentable fact to be exact he thought, obviously. The fact was not to be in fact, because as he said, it already was. Never were found the degrees of separation of which they wilfully spoke. But they still searched apparently, for the fact abstract.