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Lautrémont’s ‘chants of the good’

I read the Comte de Lautréamont’s Les Chants de Maldoror at some point in my twenties, drawn to the intensity of its gothic, absurdist imagery and the enigma of its author (Lautréamont was a pen name; the author’s real name was Isidore Ducasse).

I recently discovered that Ducasse had planned to write a companion volume: a ‘chants of the good’, as a counterpoint to or repudiation of Maldoror’s revels of evil. In what may have been a preface to the new work, he announced his intentions thus:

I replace melancholy by courage, doubt by certainty, despair by hope, malice by good, complaints by duty, scepticism by faith, sophisms by cool equanimity and pride by modesty.

It’s fair to say that, in general, I swerve toward the negative value in most of Ducasse’s binaries above, especially melancholy, doubt and despair. This has been particularly the case over the last few years, having found myself at times overwhelmed by feelings of failure and fraudulence.

But it helps to know that there are alternatives, whatever challenges may stand in the way of realising them.

A fight between Christoph Waltz and a dog

This morning, just before I woke, I dreamed a scene from an unmade Tarantino film. We’re in a garage — a locked, wide-angle shot — looking side-on at a large sedan or small pick-up. It’s daytime. The passenger side door, closest to us, hangs open. In the driver’s seat, furthest from us, there’s a man. The man is Christoph Waltz. He is slumped low in the driver’s seat and he isn’t moving. Next to him, in the passenger’s seat, there’s a dog. The dog is a German Shepherd. It lies on its back, spilling out of the car, muzzle stretching to the garage floor, its body bent to a hoop of breastbone and throat. The dog moves, but barely. Blood leaks from a wound on its chest; we can guess it has been sliced through the heart. As the dog takes its dying breaths we feel it is already an unliving thing and this is its ebbing. Tarantino makes us watch its final moments.

How like a person it sounds, when it faintly pants and gasps.

By now we have noticed sounds from outside the garage. They’ve been going on all this time. Voices, the clattering of tools. Human activity. The world goes on, even as beasts die.

The car is European, I think, since it points to the left of shot and the driver’s seat is furthest from us.

Just when we are about to lose interest, Christoph Waltz gives a start.

He moans, and slumps a little further in the seat.

Now we realise that Christoph Waltz must have won the fight between the man and the dog.

We mentally intercut a burst of flashback: the snarling and thrashing, the teeth, the knife, the cramped confines of the large sedan or small pick-up. What a fight that must have been, between the German Shepherd and Christoph Waltz.

By now we realise the dog is no longer breathing. Someone says something outside, but we can’t hear what they’re saying.

Tarantino does such good soundtracks, man.

‘Pursuing a writing career in spare time can feel constrained—like paddling in a kiddie pool when you could be crossing the ocean’

Pursuing a writing career in spare time can feel constrained—like paddling in a kiddie pool when you could be crossing the ocean

Kelly Robson on the dream of writing full time

“To rise through the stack of the past”

Most of what calls itself contemporary is built, whether it knows it or not, out of a desire to be liked. It is created in imitation of what already exists and is already admired. There is, in other words, nothing new about it. To be contemporary is to rise through the stack of the past, like the fire through the mountain. Only a heat so deeply and intelligently born can carry a new idea into the air.

A Poetry Handbook, Mary Oliver

“There’s no magic to it…”

The point, the bit I live for, is the rare moment of satisfaction when a smell or a quality of sadness comes into perfect verbal focus. That’s how my family know the day has gone well: I have a lightness which comes from the absence of panic, the knowledge that, for once, I did what I’m best at doing.

I was much relieved to realise that the first paragraph of Charlotte Mendelson’s ‘My Writing Day’ entry for the Guardian was a wind-up. On the other hand, the final paragraph, quoted above, feels perfectly genuine.

My micro life: 10:42pm, 12 April 2016

Chris Miles can currently be seen in the middle distance of the little-known Hieronymous Bosch triptych ‘Waiting for the 86 tram’.

My micro life: 6:35pm, 9 April 2016

My favourite light and appetising pop star is Peter Entrée.

My micro life: 9:09pm, 24 March 2016

I reckon even George Clooney forgets he was once Batman.

My micro life: 9:52pm, 23 March 2016

I have reluctantly accepted that I’ve reached a stage in my life in which I no longer know what different iPads there are.

My micro life: 10:25pm, 18 March 2016

I have, in the course of this evening, been forced — by circumstances beyond my control — to broaden my definition of ‘chocolate’.

My micro life: 1:05pm, 16 March 2016

My favourite column in ‘Mermaid’s Weekly’ is ‘Mere Mermale’.

My micro life: 9:46am, 10 March 2016

‘Sound of Kubaz informant notifying Empire of presence of droids at Mos Eisley’ has become my signature morning fart.

My micro life: 9:25am, 7 March 2016

Decided not to run for the train so as to spare its passengers from being in close quarters with a hyperventilating man-shaped blancmange.

My micro life: 10:51am, 5 March 2016

It’s muggier out there than the mug showfloor at Muggy Meg ‘Crazy For Mugs’ Muggleton’s Mug Emporium.

My micro life: 9:50am, 4 March 2016

Always the bridesmaid, never the brideshousekeeper.

My micro life: 9:28am, 3 March 2016

Wanted to cross the road before the green signal but there was a guide dog in training next to me and I didn’t want to give it bad habits.

My micro life: 3:56pm, 2 March 2016

This oil bath* is going to feel so good. (* water shower)

My micro life: 4:51pm, 22 February 2016

Just saw a golfer employing the services of a self-propelling buggy. Just removing literally the only strenuous part of golfing there.

My micro life: 2:14pm, 19 February 2016

I wish I’d remembered, prior to going in for a big cuddle with him, that my dog had earlier today enjoyed a bit of a nosh on some chunder.

My micro life: 9:27am, 18 February 2016

It’s almost as though with each release of Internet Explorer the team at Microsoft reads a different 62% of the current CSS specification.