Darkness Visible

There is an insufficiency of words when describing the smell of green mango. It is chthonic. At once mineral and metallic earthiness combined with a sharp bitterness that is like biting into chocolate and collecting foil wrapper in the mouth. It is also tropical which is evocative but not a particularly accurate descriptor. There is a palm tree that grows near beaches in Queensland – I first noticed them as a child in Noosa – they produce inedible orange fruit that falls from the tree when ripe. This fruit, when it falls during summer, on the forest floor and the paths and that lead to the beach, begin to ferment in the heat. That smell, too, is hard to properly describe although it is perhaps more difficult since it conjures other scent-memories: coconut oil lotion, drying salt on the skin, cigarette smoke. Green mangoes have, in their smell, the same potential to sweetly ferment.

Take a breath. Feel your feet on the ground. You’re standing on a ball that’s spinning at a thousand miles an hour. And the ball is moving through space at sixty seven thousand miles an hour. You’re doing all that without even trying. Whatever the next week brings, it’s not going to be too much trouble for someone moving at sixty seven thousand miles an hour while spinning around at 1000mph, is it? You can do anything. See you next week, speedy.

Every Monday morning I wake up to find a newsletter from Warren Ellis. And at the very bottom, there’s always a little encouragement, a mantra of possibility broadcast from a mage on the Thames Delta to his acolytes.

Wilson on an abandoned section of the rail trail

On an abandoned section of trail, the air scented with licorice, as we skirt blackberry brambles and brush against wild fennel.

“…my greatest skill has been to want but little”

— Henry David Thoreau

“It’s to do with knowing and being known. I remember how it stopped seeming odd that in biblical Greek, knowing was used for making love. Whosit knew so-and-so. Carnal knowledge. It’s what lovers trust each other with. Knowledge of each other, not of the flesh but through the flesh, knowledge of self, the real him, the real her, in extremis, the mask slipped from the face. Every other version of oneself is on offer to the public. We share our vivacity, grief, sulks, anger, joy… we hand it out to anybody who happens to be standing around, to friends and family with a momentary sense of indecency perhaps, to strangers without hesitation. Our lovers share us with the passing trade. But in pairs we insist that we give ourselves to each other. What selves? What’s left? What else is there that hasn’t been dealt out like a deck of cards? Carnal knowledge. Personal, final, uncompromised. Knowing, being known. I revere that. Having that is being rich, you can be generous about what’s shared — she walks, she talks, she laughs, she lends a sympathetic ear, she kicks off her shoes and dances on the tables, she’s everybody’s and it don’t mean a thing, let them eat cake; knowledge is something else, the undealt card, and while it’s held it makes you free-and-easy and nice to know, and when it’s gone everything is pain. Every single thing. Every object that meets the eye, a pencil, a tangerine, a travel poster. As if the physical world has been wired up to pass a current back to the part of your brain where imagination glows like a filament in a lobe no bigger than a torch bulb. Pain.”

— Tom Stoppard, The Real Thing

“They always say that time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself.”

— Andy Warhol

“Let the young soul survey its own life with a view of the following question: “What have you truly loved thus far? What has ever uplifted your soul, what has dominated and delighted it at the same time?” Assemble these revered objects in a row before you and perhaps they will reveal a law by their nature and their order: the fundamental law of your very self. Compare these objects, see how they complement, enlarge, outdo, transfigure one another; how they form a ladder on whose steps you have been climbing up to yourself so far; for your true self does not lie buried deep within you, but rather rises immeasurably high above you, or at least above what you commonly take to be your I.”

— F. Nietzsche

“How odd, I can have all this inside me and to you it’s just words.”

— David Foster Wallace, The Pale King

“[t]his account of so trivial an event would be rather pointless, were it not for the instruction that I have derived from it for myself; for in truth, in order to get used to the idea of death, I find there is nothing like coming close to it. Now as Pliny says, each man is a good education to himself, provided he has the capacity to spy on himself from close up. What I write here is not my teaching, but my study; it is not a lesson for others, but for me. And yet it should not be held against me if I publish what I write. What is useful to me may also be useful to another. Moreover, I am not spoiling anything, I am only using what is mine. And if I play the fool, it is at my expense and without harm to anyone. For it is a folly that will die with me, and will have no consequences.”

— Montaigne

“I have so much of you in my heart.”

— John Keats, Letter to Fanny Browne, 8 July 1819