a strange invitation


…if you lived here, you’d be home by now
February 10, 2007, 12:24 am
Filed under: Uncategorized

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‘Today a young man on acid realized that all matter is merely energy condensed to a slow vibration, that we are all one consciousness, experiencing itself subjectively. There’s no such thing as death – life is only a dream – and we’re the imagination of ourselves.’ – Bill Hicks

It is some four months now since I traded seaside for cityscape. Yet, as i sit, illuminated by lamplight, situated just far enough away from Bethnal Green Road to feel insulated from the constant buzz of the city below, I feel unable to recount my experiences with any degree of either accuracy or poetry.

(I’m not here to tell you about my writer’s block)

I would attempt to console myself with the fact that I had no problems writing about Paris. I sip tepid coffee and watch the cursor on my screen synchronise, every third bar with the music emanating from the stereo. I’m not qualified to write about this place, I conclude. I know little of it’s art or architecture; history is too linear for my mind; politics too dry. In short, I don’t understand London well enough to frame my own perspective within this city, let alone enough to claim authority over it.

I suppose that if writing is both heuristic and didactic, then the act of committing metaphorical pen to paper serves to cement and frame the author’s perspective. Certainly, when I raised the ghosts of the Grand Guignol and witnessed the Eiffel Tower dash itself into the Seine, I was not describing the Paris which appears in encyclopedias (Metropolitan Population 2,153,600, Urban Area 2,723km2) or within which it’s inhabitants live out their daily lives. If Paris laid hidden behind the smoke and mirrors of the written word, then producing London from the wispy remnants of such subterfuge is perhaps an even more difficult task.

When I found myself talking about London with friends, I had often claimed that London was better understood as a series of villages and communities than through an attempt to produce the urban environment in it’s entirety. However, one evening after work when I decided to walk left along Old Street rather than right towards home, I realised that however I tired to recount this place, I would always be bound by the very fiction which all of us create to produce a degree of understanding in the absence of truth.

Sooner or later I supposed, I would grow tired of weighty (s)words and semantricks. I just hope that should I eventually claim a position of authority over this city, and claim an understanding of it gels in my mind, that I don’t lose the wonder which I have found through the vague sense of incomprehension, I feel as wander, bemused, through the city streets.

And I watched the city unfold before me. The Thames merged seamlessly into St. Paul’s Cathedral, and as I ambled past the Tower of London, I couldn’t help smiling as I turned the corner and headed towards the place which I now call home.

In the meantime, you can have my seat on the tube, I don’t mind standing. I’m getting off at the next station anyway.

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