Main Shelf

black and white photo of the spines of collected william hazlitt in hardback, sunlight playing on them

Posts that, however imperfectly, either express or contribute to the loose framework of my thought. The pompous stuff.

  • Unfinished Letter to a Friend: Las Vegas #1
    It’s about this time of year that I leave the soft skies of this damp, north-western archipelago of the European continent, just as spring starts to unfurl, with its gusts and constant showers and wild extravagant clouds and head to Las Vegas, with its diamond hard desert skies, unforgiving landscape, and total artificiality.
  • Untitled
    Sometimes phrases or sentences ring round your head for a long season, with meaning beyond that apparently contained in them. A few years ago, the line ‘I spent that summer in the pursuit of an idea’ was like a flickering compass needle, impelling me to a way of thinking, acting and being. The line itself … Continue reading “Untitled”
  • Le Samuraï
    An old post from an old blog Are intellectual teenagers still into existentialism? or have we exited that age? is it all about theory now? Students downing Badiou and Laruelle to the strains of Tristan Murail? If so, they’re right to. It seems more intellectually demanding, more crazy, more of a shibboleth between the old … Continue reading “Le Samuraï”
  • “It was as if the surface was holding everything together.”
    In their exacting Germanic determination to be as faithful to the original as possible, his Berlin team were in danger of being more Miesian than Mies himself. The big surprise, for an architect renowned for his attention to detail, was quite how badly the building was made. “It was like opening the bonnet of a … Continue reading ““It was as if the surface was holding everything together.””
  • The Perfect Kiss – Notes on Dublin Books 1: The Chester Beatty Library, MS 751
    Logos: The word he utters, the truth that it contains…
  • Berberian Sound Studio
    Repost of an old tumblr entry, prompted by exchanging some mild pleasantries with Toby Jones this morning at the local market.
  • The Keshiki Round Here is Not Profound Enough
    There’s a kind of project in which I’ve found myself involved – trying to connect my internal emotional life to my internal rational life and the external emotional world. I haven’t been very successful at this, but it feels psychologically necessary. When I was a 15/16 year-old in south-east England, i used to clamber up … Continue reading “The Keshiki Round Here is Not Profound Enough”
  • The Pleasures of the Vandal
    Since I set this down, some time ago, it’s become slightly outdated even in terms of my own thinking. I’d want to plug in my reading from Seeing Like a State, and how what Scott calls ‘cadastral legibility’ necessitates a structural uniformity, and using the two different imaginative models outlined here, see how that might … Continue reading “The Pleasures of the Vandal”
  • The Ascending Logos
    Last year I went through a long period where I couldn’t read. This was nothing new; boredom, laziness, indifference, computer games, have all led to this pass before. This time it was because reading caused me pain. I was going through a period of emotional trauma – love, grief, the usual – and this meant … Continue reading “The Ascending Logos”
  • O My Lamb
    This post originally appeared on my old blog, and is reposted here in response to a twitter query: ‘which books have made you cry’. How I hate this world. I would like to tear it apart with my own two hands if I could. I would like to dismantle the universe star by star, like … Continue reading “O My Lamb”
  • The Pram in the Hall
    A year or so ago I wrote something prompted by reading a 2017 piece by Claire Dederer about the art of ‘Monstrous Men’. The piece focused on Woody Allen, but moved on to talk about the complicity of accusation – how it is a denial of one’s own monstrosity – and how she herself, as … Continue reading “The Pram in the Hall”
  • Woolgathering
    The other day, I had a good example of one sort of liminal thinking that goes on when you’re not actually doing any proper thinking, and which for quite long periods seems to do the duty of proper thinking.
  • The Squalid Rag
    The notion of the palimpsest has a sort of fame, outside its technical sense, as a minor tool in the armoury of criticism and theory. At its most basic it’s a writing surface that can be cleansed for reuse. Intrinsic in its theoretical meaning is reference to the imperfect scouring of parchment in the early … Continue reading “The Squalid Rag”
  • A Private View
    I wrote this blog entry after a period of the usual sort of struggle – not really just a matter of writing or thinking, but more generally of lack of direction and general uncertainty. I think it’s an ok piece. Jocelyn Brooke deserves some decent criticism, and there isn’t that much around. It’s 50 years … Continue reading “A Private View”
  • First Step
    The question of the utility of literature and of art generally is never quite scotched. If someone asks me about the value of literature, or more bluntly says that they don’t see the point, there are are all sorts of thoughts and statements that come crowding in, an abundance of personal, emotional and intellectual objections, … Continue reading “First Step”
  • MR James, R Kipling, D Welch – Three Ghost Stories for All Hallows’ Even
    Reposted from 2009 1 ‘Ah,’ he said, ‘Count Magnus, there you are. I should dearly like to see you.’ ‘Like many solitary men,’ he writes, ‘I have a habit of talking to myself aloud; and, unlike some of the Greek and Latin particles, I do not expect an answer. Certainly, and perhaps fortunately in this … Continue reading “MR James, R Kipling, D Welch – Three Ghost Stories for All Hallows’ Even”