Haven’t been on Twitter since Russia invaded Ukraine. Hot takes, meme noise, and am-i-the-asshole all powerless when that nasty power-bloated shit decided to assert his vision as of course, guns and bombs, death, blood and soil.
Today I’m trying to stay off Instagram. Just for twenty four hours, just for today, just to feel that I have agency or something that feels like agency, though I’m not sure I actually have that agency or where it might begin and end. Me of little faith. I’ve been saying words but have I been saying words, really? Seems to me they’re a cloud of flies, a column of smoke, gibberish spoken from a mountaintop into a ferocious wind, swallowed by some much larger and unknowable conversation, of which I am not a voice. Not a voice at all. What is it that this stuff implies, what of the speaker, can you say it is real, that it has a soul? Could you have a conversation with it?
I’ve been compulsively checking it, Instagram, and it tastes sour, like going hungry through a pile of crisps, desiring more and annoyed at yourself and feeling kinda unwell and both full and empty at once. Crumbs and sticky fingers. I am mad needy, needing pings of love, wanting not to count the total after but to feel each tiny jolt of arriving heart, one by one. Reassure me you little zaps of soothe. The algorithms have us figured out you see, have learned how keen we are to see ourselves seen, to base our sense of ok-ness on validation by likes. Loves even. They’ve stolen our languages of love because they know we want this love deep down we want love and we’re suckers to feeling more of it, a river of love that has no end and maybe no beginning and maybe tomorrow the most love of all if I can only optimise my content. I check my phone for any new messages.
o p t i m i s e
It is raining. Steady heavy mild mist-rain, late September fading greens rain, here comes the dark half rain, shrinking day rain. Swallows still here but on the verge now. Packing their bags. On the wires. Or perhaps they’ve just now set off south? How in the fug is it late September? How now? All an abstraction, this time business. Maybe it’s already March 2028 or June 3045 or whatever. I go back to this again and again, same themes, the strangeness of being and oddness of time and the resistance to actually taking part in the normal schemes of life and living. I feel I run in tight circles, the same thoughts and maybe there is a loop that I have been in since I began. A little toddler bemused that he is already 1 and a half, almost two, and nothing done, nothing done at all.
What is it then? Let’s try to define anxiety without looking it up. A fine challenge for a man who figures out about 1 crossword clue from 20.
Anxiety is a humming shifting of unquiet, a buzz of fearful tension, a microphone turned up way too loud, a barking dog chasing a car’s wheel, grinding gears, a wobble in the spin of a washing machine, static in the nerves, a pot boiling dry, the heater left on, a phone ringing, driving into thick traffic, reading a newspaper, and the bit before you reach to check Instagram or whatever feed you feed.
Later I develop film for the first time in months and 6*6 negs begin to emerge with memories from last year. There are people. Some of these people are now out of reach. And places too, that feel like they were once a big part of me and are now a part of the big strange. And the melancholy that played for the whole summer and before starts to tune up again. It swoops and curves and there is a falling away, an unmooring that is always unmooring and never quite unmoored, falling with no ground below. AM I learning something about the nature of loss?
Work to do, work to do. I need to try and fix the tripod and order more fixer and figure out how to develop lots of film quickly.
I breathe yet and here breathe into that old website that feels a billion me’s out of date and receding.
Work to do. Work to do. We’re always living the dream, it’s just not always the good kind of dream.