Sunday, 27 December 2009

Dmitri Nabokov: The enemy of art.

Let me preface this entry by saying Dmitri Nabokov, that I am on the one hand, forever in your debt. The book I unwrapped this morning, The Original of Laura, is tangibly beautiful. Chip Kidd's sublime design provides as wondrous a showcase for these Penguin-termed fragments as I, for one could ever have hoped for.

Let me not omit to mention either how grateful I am for the opportunity to see, nay possess, these exquisite perfect replicas of God's your father's smudged index cards... these photostat perforations of his precise, pencilled print.

But Dmitri, Dmitri. Gay Dmitri of seventy three years. You are quite repellent; Your introduction to this tome is one of the most disturbingly deluded diatribes I've ever read (and I had the misfortune to read your insisted-upon introduction to Pia Pera's Lo's Diary, you predatory pedant). Your talk of lesser minds, half-literate journalists and inferior intellects is delivered without a hint of irony; You believe this bull. You're in orbit of your own ego.
Clearly Dmitri, lifelong batchelorette Dmitri, your father cast a long shadow. I envy you not the eternal race to cheat the sun. You model your lyrical style upon him, like VN on a bad day, VN with a summer cold. You're Nutella on toast - a poor man's chocolate bar.

All this Dmitri, all this emulation and idolisation (and who can blame you for that - not I) - it just, it just never worked did it? He never really liked you. Gay Dmitri, with his supercilious, superfluous nature, living off his father's reputation, his mother's adoration. It's a vacuous life you've lead Dmitri, one of shabby Swiss hotels and Viennese Bath Houses (My italics). You have nothing to say, much less a beautiful way to say it. I wouldn't share my pen name if I were you either. We've seen your style, we've seen you flounder on the rocky shore as the retreating sea carries away your past connections. There's so much time between him and you now that you're no closer to him than we are. I'm not the only one to notice your considered, contrived Laura introduction fails to mention money. Hey nice guy, how much did desecrating Pops memory net you?

Wednesday, 16 December 2009

Saturday, 12 December 2009

Little stabs at happinesss.

I was just thinking, pursuant to something I was thinking days ago... that a reflection of a reflection of a thing is actually truer to the thing than the reflection. A reflection reverses our thing and it's the reflection of the reflection that reverses the reversal.

YES! I understand everything now.

By the false azure of the window pane.

Even after all this time
The sun never says to the earth, You owe me
Look what happens with a Love like that!
It lights the whole sky.
Hafez 1315-1390

I think love is dead. I think it died (collectively) sometime in the mid-late 20th century. I think it's a hollow word we coo at each other now. I think love flourished in a time of cholera and starved in the time of TV.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Memento Mori

I found this poem by Henry Scott Holland. Here's the first verse;

Death is nothing at all.
I have only slipped away to the next room.
I am I and you are you.
Whatever we were to each other,
That, we still are.

And I thought... really?

It's one of those pieces that from the moment I read it, I was overcome with the urge to rewrite it. It's that last line that's getting to me.... I'll explain;
I used to go to school with Freddie Mercury's niece.. and one day I overheard this exchange:

Boy: Are you Freddie Mercury's niece?
Niece: Yeah
Boy: No you're not! He's dead! Hahaha !

Did she stop being his neice when he died? Did he stop being her uncle when he died? Henry Scott Holland doesn't think so.
But look at me! I am nobody's granddaughter. There's no one on earth who would claim I am that to them. If you asked me I'd say I don't have any grandparents and you'd accept that. We'd both unwittingly agree that the relationship between my dead grandparents and I has been severed.

So Mister Holland, here's how I think your poem should read:

Whatever we were to each other
That, has been voided.

By the way, this is the chorus to Alanis Morrisette's You live, you learn, which goes

You grieve you learn, you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You live you learn

But which is clearly suffering from an acute case of the jollies because it absolutely should go:

You grieve you learn,you choke you learn
You laugh you learn, you choose you learn
You pray you learn, you ask you learn
You crash, you burn.

That one has been bugging me for years.

Friday, 4 December 2009

Laughter and forgetting.

Memory; It's a wild concept isn't it?
You know, the word Nostalgia comes from the Greek nostos meaning to return home and algos, meaning pain or ache. So the very concept of nostalgia is suffering, is an insatiable longing to return to the past.
Makes me wonder if anyone draws comfort from memories the way they claim. Me, I shouldn't mind if I befell an amnesiac loss. I cower in their shadows, I bristle with disgust at their lingering touch.
But... forgetting. Forgetting is even wilder.
Say we met, fell wildly in love and parted. We meet again in twenty years. I remember jokes we laughed at. I've remembered them all these years... sometimes I heard things that reminded me of you, of us, of our jokes, our moments... and I'd stop to catch my breath, all the while never doubting for a sceond that it's been this way for you too. That you've been reminded of me by the same things, that you've felt the same way and now, La! you're hoping just like I am that we could take on nostalgia together... and win.
But we meet... and it's strange. You don't remember the jokes I resurrect, those private themes that seemed so drenched in meaning. You talk about things we did, people we met... I shake my head and look at you with vacant eyes.
We realise our memories do not match.
It was all just stabs in the dark, who knew what would stick and for whom. You forgot all the moments I cherished and I erased all the times you enjoyed.
I made a new memory right there; a snapshot of a sorrow so sumptuous it feels like pleasure.... you didn't.

Tuesday, 1 December 2009


In Sicily, one of the worst insults you can throw at a man is Cornuto!*
It means cuckold (and if you're like me, you probably need a translation of that too... it means you're an ineffectual little man who's wife is cheating on you... brazenly.)

*so said Paul from Canada

Thursday, 26 November 2009

I am the shadow of the waxwing slain

It's a moleskine week... it's tiny precise letters in a peculiar red ink. I've eaten too much Nabokov and I'm burping little pockets of synesthetic prose.
See you soon blog, it's not a goodbye.

Friday, 20 November 2009


I don't have many regrets in life. I subscribe to that horribly hackneyed idea that everything past made me what I am today. Yes, yes I know. Why on earth would I not regret that?
There is one thing though and it occurred about a year ago.
I happened to meet James Meredith. I'll level with you - I'd never heard of him before. My extensive knowledge of key civil rights players began with King and ended with X.
Upon learning I was British he asked me What's the difference between Great Britian and The United Kingdom? I told him. So far so good.
Then he began to tell me how in the olden days, well-to-do English ladies had little black boys as pets. That they would parade the streets of London, bedecked with finery and leading a little black boy along on a piece of string. Like a dog.
I shook my head, no no no that's not true. It is true he solemnly informed me, nodding. The man had a stately way about him. What could I say... no no no that's not true again? It didn't sway him the first time around. So I gave him a small shrug and a furrowed brow and somebody else entered the conversation and the topic changed.
That's my small regret; That I didn't have an answer or a proof to give him. When I think about it I feel almost angry. He should have proffered a proof to me. He made the outlandish statement, he's the one telling a tall tale and labelling it Fact. Well it's not fact, James Meredith, it's spin.

Sunday, 15 November 2009

Hey Hombre! You put a hole in me!

Yep, Chump. That's sums it up. You did a number on me. Nice one. Well done. Gotta hand it to ya. A compliment on your shooting. Good game. Good game.

Oh no, Hey, Wait a second! What's wrong with this picture? Why am I the walking wound? Why has everybody got just what they wanted... except me? Why do I lose? If we had to pick just one of us who broke the rules, I wouldn't pick me. I'd pick you. You're the bad guy. Now I'm the fall guy. It's not right. It's not fair.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Things I'd save in a fire #1

I found this today...
[well, when I say "found", I mean I spent fifteen minutes ransacking my drawers in search of it]
Carlo wrote this on the inside of a cigarette packet. I was having a crisis of confidence, you know the spiel, I'm not this enough and I'm too much of that.
Here's what you are, Rachael he said.
And I loved him in that moment (and every moment after) but I never found a way to say it, and now its far too late, and it wouldn't have mattered even if I had so actually it's not one of those missed opportunites I beat myself up over, it just was.... and wasn't... but, Hi Carlo, if you ever find this, Hi Carlo!

Saturday, 7 November 2009

How do you want me?

I am impossibly sad. Or fiercely angry. I can't tell.

In a timeframe of less than 2 hours, these two dated, dissatisfied men have done their damnest to eviscerate me.
[and the maddening thing is, their cruel tricks almost worked]*

The option, he said, is to find a family of your own and spend christmas with them.

Let me contextualize that for you:
I was bleating dejected trains about my building christmas dread, about the sniping and the point-scoring that sit down to dinner with my mother, my father and I.
How I hate Christmas, how it's so cold and sad here in this outgrown cocoon made for three.

And then he gave me the other option.
I must be a fool... I thought there were limitless options, permutations, scenarios, possibilities. I thought I could shoot into space as an astronaut, I thought I could tour Europe as a rock star, I thought I could sail to far off shores, I thought I could dive into bottomless oceans, I thought I could run marathons, race rallies, fire arrows, sail seas. I thought I could slay monsters (allegorical of course), bestride worlds, open doors of perception... or just get so high I look down on Heaven itself.

Oh no. There's only that other option. Find yourself a family. Spend Christmas, new year, next year, life, forever, with them. Cheat on them when you start circling forty and the disenchantment stings. Grovel like Hoggle when they find out. Play dumb, play dead, do it again.
That's why you're still single he quipped.
Time stopped. As he clipped the last syllable, that little phrase hurtled through spacetime, across the room, over the dining table like a quantum packet.
Time stretched. I tilted to read the left of it, it came closer, I bended further away, we all warp a little, jelly minatures on a wobble board.
Bang. It blew up in my face.

It doesn't matter to me why you think I'm single, it doesn't matter to me why I am single, it doesn't matter to me that I am.
What matters is that you think I should be double.

I can do this alone. I know I can... you're supposed to be a feminist, you always always said you were.
How do you want me? Am I to take what I can get? That's him you know. Him and men like him. Cheats, cowards, cravens.
You're supposed to love me Daddy. Don't make me take that.

*Not on purpose, never my intention, that's not what I meant, I didn't mean it/to, you misunderstand, you're reading too much into it. - These are not valid excuses and will not be accepted.

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Funeral in Tibet

Sometimes I wonder if I should have chosen another name for this blog.

I'll explain the one it has....

Several years ago, S said to me "sex is everything"
That didn't go down well, I wanted him to be wrong, I really believed he was. I talked circles round the idea. He said "its how we came into the world". I said No, chemistry is how we came into the world. Chemistry is everything.
It just looked like sex from a distance.

So think of "On a Low Enough Level" as being a step on... or up... or completely away... from that. The thing is... I was wrong. He was right. Sex is everything.... and by that rationale, this blog should be called At Face Value or It is What it Is....

But really... what is it????

Delusions aside... here's some pictures of a Sky Burial in Tibet. I find this endlessly fascinating.

The corpse is cut in strategic places (sometimes dismembered altogether) and left on a mountain top for vultures or wild animals.
The Tibetan Buddhist belief is that the soul has left this body... it is but flesh... and to offer it up as meat to other creatures is an act of generosity and compassion.... a teaching of the inpermanence of life.

It bothers me how disconnected we (the West) are from death.

Death is your friend. He can't wait to meet you. x

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Memories #1

He once said "there's something tragic about you".

I once thought "there's something phoney about you"

He once gave me a salmon fillet and a plated single chocolate.

I once turned away to cry silent sobs in that hollow downtown apartment.

Wednesday, 9 September 2009

As shallow and empty as an American Flirtation

Your face, for cancerous gold
Was sold.
What now? Just this.

Tuesday, 8 September 2009

How to kill yourself with apple seeds.

Apple seeds average around 0.6mg hydrogen cyanide (HCN) per gram of dry seed. Since the lethal dose of HCN is estimated to be around 50mg, you will need around 85 grams of dry seeds. This is around half a cup... it requires a lot of apples.


1. Plants are variable; eat enough - at least 3 times the minimum dose; Cyanide is not a drug on which to skimp, since it can cause brain damage in sublethal doses.

2. The HCN must be liberated from the sugar it's chemically attached to. This occurs when the moistened seed is crushed, releasing an enzyme, emulsin, which does the job. You need to crush and eat the seeds fairly quickly, both to avoid evapouration of cyanide from the crushed seeds and so as not to lose consciousness before ingesting a lethal dose. A blender or a coffee grinder would be a good way to break up the seeds.

3. Effects are fastest if the stomach is empty and gastric acidity high. With minimally lethal doses, death may take up to an hour.

4. Some claim death by cyanide is painless and quick, others that it is painful and quick. Cyanide is commonly used by suicidal chemists but rarely by suicidal physicians.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Uprooted People.

I'm one.
Over here.

I sneered at the concept at first (as I'm wont to do). The truth is, I didn't even consider it. I hadn't read Weil (my high calibre misogny in play) and I didn't like (my ego didn't like) how he threw the notion out at me. It wasn't a learned discussion, he wasn't seeking new perspectives and coffee-house enlightenment. He was challenging me... testing me... and I failed the second he finished his sentence.

But days fade, weeks meld. Every night I set the two alarm cocks that would run the same race. As he himself said to me; 'Rachael that's the fabulous thing about time.... it passes."

...And when, some time later, I remembered that charged exchange, I thought how right he was. How we (the glorious multitude) need roots. How uprooted people are damaged and disfigured. How we can't live in the populised cohesive utopia that the young, the affected and the left, sell to us.
He knows it. I know it. Weil knew it.