journal: Love Universal

Sometimes you are taken by a thought or a feeling so strongly that you can actually feel it building and vibrating inside your chest cavity.


I saw a status from an old friend, someone I care about deeply, about her moving away, moving to a different country entirely. Miles away.

It got me thinking about time, and where you begin with friendships, and where you are currently. The infinite routes that people will travel down, the eternal growing number of space-times that people will end up in, and yet, friendships remain strong.

Just think of all the friends you have made.

The one night hostel friends, drunk and dancing and deliberating on nonsense and the equations of life!

The uni friends you live with for years until their skin is your skin, and their bones are your bones, and their hearts are you hearts!

The friends you have known since the age you hardly remember, but you know they were there, playing games filled with imaginary people, now talking about jobs and loves and depressions and years-old jokes that no one else in the universe understands!

All those strands of love bifurcating and mutating and travelling at lightspeed across bars and masonry jars and roads and fields and coffee cups and seas unending.

The thing I find beautiful, not even beautiful, pure and eternal and absolutely essential to my very existence, is that these invisible threads of friendship that tie us together over the miles and the years never ever get any weaker. They don’t. You may feel their pull less, but the strength of the thread is still there, just ready to wrap itself around your waist and tug you back into the hearts and minds of those you know.

Humans were never meant to evolve, the planet was never meant to develop life, you were never meant to be born, you were never meant to make friends, but the fact that all this happened in the face of insurmountable odds, the fact you can drink and dance and talk and make prophecies and make love together in a universe that never said you should, is an act that is indescribable. An eventuality so rare and pure and glowing that it’s almost too hard to believe real. How fucking immense.

All I’m saying I guess is that this person’s status reminded me that regardless of time or space, somethings do transgress past the boundaries of physical realities, and these things shouldn’t even exist. They laugh in the face of reality.

Now go give your friends a hug, or just text them to show them the universe quite literally wouldn’t be the same without them.

journal: Changes (moving to London)

Sorry it’s been a while. I really don’t know what to say. My idea for these ‘journal’ entries was originally on the basis of frequent posts. Maybe I can blame these hectic last few weeks, my trip to Prague (poems + pictures to come) or the fact I have recently moved to London for a period.

I’m never sure if I like the idea of frequency, consecutive pieces rolling on and on throughout the week, or a more relaxed, mercurial approach to writing on this blog. The analytic part of me says “Hey, if you want the viewers to see your work, to read it often, you must write often” and I agree wholeheartedly. Another part of me says, “Yo, you do you. Take time off when you need it, art doesn’t have to be produced daily. Is it art if it constantly flies off of the assembly line?”. I guess one thing I’ve learnt is that whatever you choose to do, you can never be truly satisfied.

I don’t think true, full satisfaction even exists, but that’s ok.

In my hometown I was a bit depressed. Nothing you could diagnose, nothing you’d need medication for. I’d never compare what I feel every now and then to people who struggle with that illness. Yet with any moment of depression, all thoughts of work go out the window. I guess it was because I was in a job where I was wasting myself, and my days blended into each other, and were over fast, so that I could never get anything done. You adjust to things after a few months and get tired of them, so changing things around to gain fresh horizons and perspectives is such a breath of fresh air.

My change came in the form of two things: 1) I went on a trip to Prague with a bunch of very good friends who I’d not seen in a while, and it rejuvenated me. 2) I recently got an internship at a travel writing magazine based in London, and although it wasn’t financially beneficial to me, I moved down there to do it regardless (experience > money). I’m here now, writing at my new desk in my tiny little blip of a room in a house full of people I haven’t met yet, but I’m happy.

I’ve been living off cereal for the past three days, as I’ve had nothing to cook with and all I have wanted to do is stay in my room. Even though I’m happy in this new stretch of my life, I’m a little scared. London man! Big and beautiful and fucking frightening. All I’ve ever known is a small northern town, and then Lancaster, which compared to London is still a small northern town.

It takes a few days to adjust, but I’m getting there. Plus I’ve been very tired since I moved in the day after getting back from Prague, and started work the day after that, and my diet has been poor and my feet are sore and I know no one in my area.

This bothers me, and doesn’t bother me, which I guess means lack of comfort or unease or annoyance come on different levels, the types you can brush off, and the types that hit you directly in the chest. Humans learn to deal with both. S’all part of life innit.

Changes are inherently good and bad simultaneously. They throw you into miraculous situations where you have no clue what to do. For example, I’ve been learning about tube lines and times and destinations since coming to London, and it’s exciting. I’m afraid of getting the wrong train, and I’m afraid of running out of money, and I don’t like how nobody speaks to each other, but yesterday as my train home was on the overground section of its journey, the sun was setting behind the roofs of houses which were on eye-level, and the chimneys and washing lines and antennas stood pitch black against the evening caramel Sun, and it was beautiful to watch as I passed. It may look odd to a Londoner, a lone man smiling to himself on the train as he looks out the window, but I guess they’ll have to get used to it.

Moral of this journal entry is embrace changes. There is beauty in variety. There is strength in being terrified.

Peace xo

journal: Singularities In Time

Loneliness is the feeling that affects me the most.

I feel it in my ribcage. It’s like a warm hum, but not a comforting one. The sort of reverberation, the fluid and toxic beat you get inside when ill, when every heartbeat is a sick one.

I think my biggest fear in life is growing apart. Either from family, friends, or from myself. I dream about getting every single one of my friends together, and just partying for a year straight.

Sometimes I get lonely not because I am alone, but because I realise there are a thousand possible futures with my friends that I will miss out on, because I can only live through one. Imagine if I was with my American friends right now, grabbing coffee on the streets of NYC or Colorado? Imagine if I was with my Australian friends, sun beating down upon my head as we listen to music together. Does this make me selfish? Maybe.

All these possible futures coalesce and stampede through my head, as I sit in my room, clawing at these computer keys. Life is beautiful, but it anchors you down to one place, at one time. We are contained within a linear temporal plane, confined to a singular space, moments upon moments washing up against us, through us, never to be recaptured or relived.

I think that’s one of the worst kinds of loneliness, but I think a lot of people don’t even know it exists. I want to be with the friends I haven’t seen in a long time, hold them, tell them they are beautiful and how goddamn much they mean to me. I want to tell the friends I see all the time the same, with every ounce of sincerity and emotion connecting us with bright invisible tethers that are supple but will never break.

I want to touch hands, see eyes, hear breaths, rub backs. Time robs me of this.

To all my friends, wherever you are, whether you think of me often or not at all, I have so much love for you. So much love. You are the gods of my universe, you are lightspeeds from across a bar, you are singularities in the great maelstrom of time, and for that, I thankyou.

journal: thoughts on Valentine’s day

You know I’m not really a fan of this whole ‘I don’t like Valentine’s day, it’s too commercialised’-attitude that a lot of people my age have. The interesting thing is though, I completely agree.

Most notable festivals, holidays, days-of-note etc, are capitalised upon in some way. Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s day, Mother’s Day, Father’s Day. And these are just the ones I experience in England, there are many other holidays celebrated across the world that will have been jumped upon by different brands and companies.

Let me get this straight first off, people can do what they want. People can buy stuff for Valentine’s day, be it tacky or thoughtful. Companies are allowed to create an over-exaggerated need for things that aren’t actually needed, because that’s the society we live in. Don’t argue with me about the issues with this, I realise a lot of that kinda stuff is wrong, but hey, that’s capitalism, take your issues with that process as a whole. The commercialisation of days and events is just a symptom.

I think my issue is with the people that will criticise and harangue days like this simply because of their association with the ‘big evil corporations who mass-produce shit to sell to blind consumers’. Yes, this is the case, but that doesn’t mean you should not celebrate Valentine’s day.

When Valentine’s day rolls around, I don’t really celebrate it. Why would I? What I do is allow for it to help me to remember. We go through lives with our present minds focused on many different things. Dates, products, wants, needs, dreams. That’s just how we function, so sometimes we forget things. We allow ourselves to fall into set patterns and processes, which is ok, that’s human nature! We are biological animals, and we will repeat things and get into routines simply because well, that’s life at times.

A day like Valentine’s day, or Christmas, can allow us to spend a day thinking and remembering about what that day originally stood for. Or maybe should stand for (I know Christmas was originally one of those Christian things, but I’m kinda going along the lines of ‘selfless giving’). I think Valentine’s day can be used to think about all different kinds of love. Romantic, platonic, familial, all the others kinds. Love for a friend across the sea, your mother, dead relative, boy across the road, the list could go on.

One thing we have to do when it comes to these days is not simply brush off the idea of celebration simply because all the shops go crazy and everyone seems to buy shitty cards for their other halves which don’t really mean anything. We can celebrate, but only if we reclaim. Go through the day with the genuine feeling and appreciation of love. Go through it with an open-mindedness. Learn about different kinds of love. Love for another, love for yourself! Reclaim what has been bought by a cultural and economic hegemony. Remember what it is to love or be loved because you may have forgotten. It’s like drinking a flavour of tea you’ve not had in a while. The actual sensation and taste of the tea is much stronger than the memory of the tea.

We shouldn’t allow a general public feeling of tension and forced-celebration to tarnish our own enjoyment. I see too many people at Christmas time going crazy over preparation, completely glossing over the idea of ‘selfless giving’. Giving at Christmas isn’t a duty, you don’t owe anyone shit, but it is something we get to do. The ability to choose to give, and then to actually go and do it, is much more beautiful than having to give. Valentine’s day is the same. A bought card is nothing compared to learning to genuinely appreciate a person. But at the same time, a bought card can mean everything. It’s all about the effort you put in on an emotional level I think.

Reclaim the day that may be over-commercialised, celebrate it on your own terms, and remember to try and give love out as much as possible x

Journal: My Voice

I think when I write these ‘journal’ entries I’m trying to deconstruct and then reconstruct.

Last year I attended an event in Manchester which was designed for creative writing graduates and other writers to gather and learn more about the craft they devoted themselves to. It was an incredibly enjoyable day, with many great writers there (although so many YA writers – jeez guys write something different than post-apocalyptic teen fiction!). The keynote speech that started the day was given by writer Kit de Waal, who was wonderful to listen to. The speech was called ‘The Art of Trespass’, and was all about ownership and voice. It’s a crucial topic in 2016/2017 (and definitely beyond), the idea of appropriating a voice into your own work. Some artists will wonder whether they can write from the point-of-view of another person, someone who is a different race, gender, sexuality, than their own (You get it, ‘trespassing’ into another identity). Can you truly portray the authentic voice of someone other than yourself? I think anything is possible, but as with anything, it is much easier to screw something up than to get it right.

Being in my position (white cis-male – we ruin things ikr) I think it is crucial to allow other voices to take pride of place, in a world where they have not been allowed to both in the past, and unfortunately, in the present. I therefore have to ask myself, what do I write about?

Something that has been interesting me in the past few years, something I have become increasingly more in-touch with and vocal about, is the concept of masculinity. In my second year of university I undertook a creative-critical project which studied the portrayal of masculinity within western films, and the propaganda of the body. My idea was not only to write an analytical essay on the subject, but to recreate the kind of western tropes and ‘frontier myths’ in a series of poetry and photography. Here’s one of the photographs:

western.png
(big up to my friend Lewis for being the model on a day when it pissed it down)

It was really sweet (and I got an A*!), and taught me a lot about the kind of art that I guess you could call ‘frontier literature’ – the idea that it was entrepreneurial, violent, solitary men that went west and colonised the rest of what is now America, and from that spawned an filmic obsession with this hypermasculine stoic figure that became western canon (thankyou Clint Eastwood). This was my first analytic foray into the topic, but it’s a topic I’d been subjected to my entire life, because, you guessed it, I am a man.

So I’ve got a lot of experience when it comes to male issues, such as expectations of manhood and things like lad culture (a generalisation but you understand what I mean), and feminist discourse. But I wanted, within my writing, to be a little more specific than these things.

Also in the past few years I’ve had a lot of exposure to environmentalism. I come from a fairly middle class background, I had a good education, I was outside a lot and got to travel a fair bit, and so my love of the natural world has been with me for a very long time. I’ve always believed in the facts of climate science and taken an interest in similar schools of thought, and always placed a semi-spiritual reverence on the components of nature, be they plants or animals or geographies (I also read Thoreau’s Walden a few years ago, not sure if that counts for anything), and so recently I’ve tried to alter my life in accordance with what I believe is the best for nature, that is to expand, rewild, and diversify. I’ve not done much per se, just changes regarding diet and the kind of stuff I buy ( BUT CAN WE TRULY HAVE SUSTAINABLE COMMERCE IN A CAPITALIST SOCIETY scream communist starter packs).  It’s difficult when you have little to no income and are already so ingrained into a world that consumes more than it produces. There is a long way to go for me, I’ll admit that.

So in regards to my voice, my writing voice, my topics of choice, my ol’ ball and chain, I chose a while back to focus the majority of my work on the combination of these two topics. I want to look at the relationship between masculinity and environmentalism, between the stereotypical masculine ego and the ecologies of the world. I think it’s very interesting to look at the interaction between the two. A masculine psychology meets a living god. It’s a good tagline for a movie. I want to write in my poetry (and other work) on the challenges that arise when the two ideologies meet. I want a marriage of arts and science. (For a bit of an example, check out this poem I wrote called ‘Meat’ here.)

I think ownership of a voice is a powerful thing. Kit De Waal argued that a writer can write from the point-of-view of anyone, as long as they were respectful, and did their research (you can watch the keynote speech here, and I’d recommend doing it!). But I think the thing with ownership is that it shouldn’t just be for your benefit. A good writer doesn’t write simply to tell a story, they should write to help people, be it either in feeling better after a bad day, feeling better about themselves by identifying with a voice similar to their own, or by showing the reader how to better the world. I guess that’s what I want to do. Writers sit in the best position to influence people, because they can write without agendas motivated by money or power. They can write for the unheard.

To end this ‘journal’ entry, I’d like to maybe influence you by showing you not words, but a picture I really like. I’ll be back soon with a new poem, a feminist piece about Vashti, the first wife of Persian king Ahaseurus, from the Hebrew bible (she was a badass). Bless up x.

Ego-2-Eco.jpg

(I know not all species are on there but, that would be a bloody large diagram.)

 

 

 

Journal: i sometimes can’t feel

I don’t really cry anymore, at least, not often. I feel like I may be a little emotionally numb, like I don’t get angry or upset at things I know should both anger and upset me.
Bad things which i disagree with in my core.
I know people who are captivated by things, like paintings. I know a man who, whenever he visits Edinburgh, will go to a gallery there and simply sit in front of a specific painting he loves. He sits there for ages. The painting has a profound effect on him. He’s never told me what exactly the effect is, but I think it’s that odd feeling that lingers between happiness and sadness. You know the one, it’s a rare feeling but it does exist. It happens at those points of which we don’t quite understand. A friend leaving the country to pursue their dream. A mother ending her life on her own terms. I’m sure there is a word for it but I don’t know it yet. When this man looks at his painting, it is really beautiful.

I can’t remember the last time I cried, but it was a while ago. Is it a selfish thing to want to feel sadness more often? I am not saying that I am always happy, but sometimes, I just feel empty. It scares me that I am emotionally withdrawn from sadness. It makes it hard for me to empathise with others.

I think one thing I need to do with emotions is that when they arise, I should lash them to my chest like a maroon would to their lifesaving, ramshackle raft in a storm. I need to truly feel emotion. Feel their rhythms, motions, wavelengths, their heat and their cold.

I think repressing emotions eventually numbs you to their presence. It’s good to really feel once in a while.

Journal Entry: All Is Full Of Love

All is full of love, the bird, the worm, the sagas and eddas of nature, the song of fertile volcanic ash.

All is full of love, the wheat, the cow in the field, each and every grain of sand on a beach,

glinting in their millennia-long procession from star

to gas

to rock

to stone

to dirt to sand to inevitable pummelling from overwhelming heat then rebirthed from the phoenix star it came from in the same process repeated many billions of years ago.

All is full of love.

All is full of love as I sell alcohol across a counter coloured a vapid shade of red that usually disgusts me. There is no artwork in retail. But today I am content.

All is full of love.

Inspired by Björk.