Darkness Visible

“Those who read the press of their group and listen to the radio of their group are constantly reinforced in their allegiance. They learn more and more that their group is right, that its actions are justified; thus their beliefs are strengthened. At the same time, such propaganda contains elements of criticism and refutation of other groups, which will never be read or heard by a member of another group…Thus we see before our eyes how a world of closed minds establishes itself, a world in which everybody talks to himself, everybody constantly views his own certainty about himself and the wrongs done him by the Others – a world in which nobody listens to anybody else.”

— Jacques Ellul, Propaganda (1973)

“Advice? I don’t have advice. Stop aspiring and start writing. If you’re writing, you’re a writer. Write like you’re a goddamn death row inmate and the governor is out of the country and there’s no chance for a pardon. Write like you’re clinging to the edge of a cliff, white knuckles, on your last breath, and you’ve got just one last thing to say, like you’re a bird flying over us and you can see everything, and please, for God’s sake, tell us something that will save us from ourselves. Take a deep breath and tell us your deepest, darkest secret, so we can wipe our brow and know that we’re not alone. Write like you have a message from the king. Or don’t. Who knows, maybe you’re one of the lucky ones who doesn’t have to.”

— Alan Watts

The fields are covered with weeds. Beautiful weeds sprouting yellow, daisy-like flowers. And the trail edges are full of small plants, mosses and worts.

“Simplify your life. Don’t waste the years struggling for things that are unimportant. Don’t burden yourself with possessions. Keep your needs and wants simple and enjoy what you have. Don’t destroy your peace of mind by looking back, worrying about the past. Live in the present. Simplify!”

— Henry David Thoreau

“Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.”

— Antoine de Saint-Exupery

For a while, when looking up my old address on Google Maps, the Street View image would show a broken dressing table outside the house. My girlfriend and I had broken up or at least decided on a break and we were in the process of moving out of the house, an old two-storey terrace with a front door that opened directly onto the footpath. In the Street View image, alongside the broken table is its large mirror, propped against the wall reflecting my car parked across the street. You could rotate around in Street View and see my car, registration is obscured, loaded with boxes ready to leave.


Both of us felt it: That day was an island,
strewn with rocks and lighthouses and lovers,
in the generous ocean. On the mainland,
people went about their business, eating
the Times, glancing through coffee and oatmeal,
as we walked the gangway into an original dream
of attentiveness, as if a day’s pleasure
could concentrate us as much as suffering,
as if the seawall were a banquet without
surfeit, as if we could walk hand in hand
with no one nearby, as if silence and blue
wind became an Atlantic cove to float in,
and the air centered itself in small purple
butterflies flitting among the weed flowers.
In the darkening city we returned to,
our privacy completed the cafés of strangers

Donald Hall

Wilson in bed

“There is nothing certain except that nothing is certain, and nothing more wretched than Man nor arrogant.”

Pliny (inscribed on the ceiling in Montaigne’s library)