Near Window 30 +1

and now, the end is near, and so I face the final curtain.

Well this has been one hell of a journey. I’ve been inside for 56 days, and I’ve written so many little things it’s a bit mental. Mostly, I’ve felt cut off or lost; the spring playing theatrics at the window: thunderstorm, sunshine, blackbird, fledgeling, flight, and a bee.

Through the window comes the image of the first day:

A square of gold on crumpled white linen. A warm left knee catching the first few days of March sunshine. A sky clean as kitchen walls, and air the colour of breakfast, if breakfast has a colour at all.

I wanted Near Window to be an experiment in writing every day. I didn’t quite manage it, there’ve been about 20 days where I didn’t write anything for the blog. I’ve written a lot of things in the meantime, I’m still working on a big Olsen Mythos post, and I’m still working on rewriting the book. In a way, I feel like writing this every day has brought out, and brought about, more things that I was expecting. I’ve made connections to people I had never expected to, I’ve built something out of it, in a way. I didn’t think I’d find connection, when connecting was forbidden.

You know how, when you show your favourite films to someone, and it feels like you’re sharing all these little fragments of who you are and why you see the world the way you do? Or, like when you’re at a party, and you’re talking about music and you start talking about songs that form up your romantic viewpoint?

That’s what I feel Near Window has been for me.

Reading them back yesterday, on the last day of actual Confinement (though we’re still ostensibly confined) I was struck by the yearning I found therein. Such a simple feeling, desire. If the unconscious mind is a kind of theatre, as Deleuze and Guattari say, and that desire is itself based on a factory model, then the desiring-machine unleashed by my involuntary incarceration in this Parisian garret, is for the simplicity of connection. To be recognised, and to be understood. Like when you reach the zenith of a night out, and you turn to your friend and scream “i love you” in their faces, and feel the music enter somehow inside your lungs.

I wrote most often about friendship, about it being the last vestige of the divine in secular life. I wrote about dreams of a life outside of these four walls, and I wrote about letters reaching each other across the gulf of separation. What I discovered, through this writing, is that I am simply a common or garden romantic. I want to be wooed by the theatre of clouds, and by the theatre of my own desire. Is this desire destructive, though, as it is in the case of Deleuze and Guattari’s desiring machines? Does it destroy social assemblages in its becoming-machine? I don’t think so, I think it’s a strange hybrid assemblage that only desires the social assemblage after the moment of exit from those structures.

I don’t know, I think the desire for connection is the way to exist from those structures. My daily life, in which I flitted from one establishment to another like a pigeon searching for scraps, left me with no room to acknowledge that deep seated desire for actual connection with others. Being in a country that wasn’t my home, in which my skills at language weren’t good enough, and in which I often felt like a fish out of water, the desire to connect was perhaps an acknowledgement of the fact that I didn’t fit. Perhaps not fitting is already having exited, perhaps D+G would suggest pursuing the line of exit to its conclusion. Not for me, though. I want to be connected, even if it’s by arbitrary and loosening tethers.

I wanted simply to hold your hands. I wanted simply to have my hand held.

Near Window has been about putting my arm out of the glass to catch raindrops, or passing conversation, or blown kisses.

…and that’s all from me.

Keep your peepers peeled for the inaugural edition of Near Window 1: Confinement which should be coming out some time in the next week-ish.

Near window 27

I really don’t know clouds at all

In my mind, this year was gonna be a white table cloth spread with breakfast for one. Eggs and avo on toast and freshly brewed coffee steaming, sunlight streaming through open windows juiliette balconetted with views of a small place. The trees outside would hush themselves in gentle breezes and the rooftops of the city would range away from me to a river and to hills and beyond.

It looked like a cross between an Instagram post and a Monet. Soft strokes and warm light, like waking up well rested, like seeing the world through a glass of rosé: tinted and tilted.

In a way it has been that. It’s been a dream I’ve felt like I was living through. I felt like my life was running through my fingers like water, like I kept trying to pull one out of an ocean of lives around me and coming out with nothing. I think, in a way, I’d felt that for so long that I became content to be taken with the tide. Paris has not been about floating with the tide.

When I was about 21, my uncle’s wife asked me what I was going to do with the rest of my life. What a question to ask of someone so young.

At the time I said something like this:

I’m going to live my life by taking all its pieces and putting them on a table cloth. Then, every time I need to make a decision I’ll just flick the tablecloth and see where everything lands, and I’ll just do whatever feels right once the chips have landed.

That’s what Paris has been: putting the bits of my life onto a table cloth and flicking them into the air. This weird weird situation we’re all in has left me feeling like the chips still have yet to land. They’re caught in the air like clouds.

It’s clouds illusions I recall/ I really don’t know clouds at all.

I am feeling very at the brim today. It would have my been my parents’ 33rd wedding anniversary. I feel like it would have been a day they’d have spent together in confinement doing nothing much of note, like the day we’ve all had.

It rained all day. It’s a public holiday in France so I was thinking about how pissed off i would have been if I’d been working and had a bank holiday ruined by tempests.

Joni Mitchell’s “Both Sides Now” came on the radio. It’s conversational tones, and the sound of her voice as it sounds like it might break.

I told someone I didn’t love them anymore once beside a canal in London. It was about this time of year, and the sun was so bright it hurt to keep my eyes open. It hurt them to look at his face when I said the words I just don’t love you. Not anymore. I sometimes think of him when I hear this piece of music. It sounds to me like the earth turning under me, like water breaking against the canal walls, and like endings:

It’s love’s illusions I recall/ I really don’t know love at all.

This isn’t really a blog post, today. I’m sorry. It’s just me saying that I’m feeling alone in a way that I can’t express and in a way that isn’t assuaged by friendship, or by anyone really. Life is sometimes just lonely, and lonelier still when you wilfully upturn it’s contents because you’re tired of living it.

I wonder if the habit I have of picking up my life and rearranging its pieces is as a result of having had it rearranged for me when my dad died. I wonder if the process of flicking that table cloth feels safe to me because it’s a rehashing of what I’ve already done.

I keep thinking about all the lives half begun which have amounted to nothing. I keep thinking of the one life I’ve carved out for myself. life is rich and fast and then suddenly slow. At the moments of deceleration you’ve an opportunity to turn the viewfinder back on yourself. I’ve lived a life that was never the life I imagined for myself. I will continue to live a life that surprises me. I hope so anyway.

It’s life’s illusions I recall/ I really don’t know life at all

Near window 24

Ghost flies

I am standing on the stairs to the attic with my left foot above my right foot and my left fingers touching the raised pattern of the wallpaper in the dark. I am waiting for my eyes to adjust to the gloom and it smells like mothballs and misery and misheard arguments in here. I am frightened of the attic. It is dark and dusty and filled with the ghosts of a hundred dead flies who’ve met their ends in its many spiders webs. or met it batting their heads against uncomprehending glass trying to reach the outside. Or perhaps they met it somehow else. Don’t come up here, whisper the ghost flies, it’s a trap.

But I go up anyway. Step by unsteady step like I am 5 and 105 alternately with each one. The flies are nervous they hover about my ears with a tinny something. Like a telegraph pole in a field, humming discontent.

I can smell the inside binding of bleak house curling down the stairs like I’ve fallen asleep with it over my face in the garden on a summer evening. I can smell burning.

The door at the top of the stairs has a face and he looks distraught that I might dare to grasp his handle. He is worried. He twists his wooden mouth as if to say “this isn’t wise” and I whisper into the dust that “I am not wise” and twist the handle. The flies hold their breath, the door is unhappy, the dust sips loudly on his cinema Diet Coke and i can hear the rustle of his hand in the popcorn. Here comes the jump scare. My heart has run a marathon in three steps and is safely situated 26 miles down the road in Helmsley and then

And then

Nothing much, really. The door swings inward to the hallway and a shaft of morning sunlight breaks into the stairwell revealing the dust for what he is. A moth makes a break for downstairs. On one side by two windows the dessicated carcasses of my companions shift in the draft. Behind me the door inches closer to its frame, his face set in consternation and worry. On the other side of the attic a shadow shifts it’s weight taking over a little extra space than usual. A photo album twitches it’s memory on the shelf. The flies are still worried but I don’t think they mean anything by it. You would be worried too if you found yourself at the site of your own demise.

The door closes. The shadow shifts. The pages flutter. The flies hum. The sun: dims.

The flies r silent. Hush listen here it comes.

You r hovering behind my shoulder to get the best shot of it as it swells. The music has taken on that pastiche of Hitchcock, all tight strings and tension. The light dims a little and we hard cut to my face backlit by the sunshine, and you wonder at the directorial choice of setting this movie in the day time and then it dawns on you that things that come out at night can be explained away by low light and superstition. In the day time things are harder to chalk down to an overactive imagination. I am walking down the corridor and you are hiding your face behind a cushion. Then suddenly the music stops with a bang. There’s the jump scare come late.

“Its only the door slamming” I say to the flies, but the flies whisper amongst them self that the door closed quietly earlier. You’re sitting there saying the same thing. I can’t hear you though, so I just keep walking towards the other side of the attic, the other room. It gets dimmer and dimmer. The music is gone now, we’ve got no score but the sound of socked feet on carpet creaking intermittently with the age of the boards. Please don’t, whisper the ghost flies. Shhh, says I.

The mirror on the wall of the hallway glints in response to my shh. I thought I heard it sigh. I thought I heard it whisper that I’d come up here to die. But perhaps I’d only heard another whisper of the flies. I put my hand on the frame of the attic bedroom door and poke my head over the threshold. It is like making the sign of the cross. I announce my presence. One bed is already made but another has been slept in. The wall paper peels revealing dreams papered over through the years. As My feet cross the boundary of the room it is like someone’s out their hands over my ears. The flies have stopped their pleading. I can hear only the breaking waves of my own blood flow against the flood barriers of the self.

My shadow shifts its weight in the corner and I pick up a picture from the bedside table.

You’re on the edge of your seat.

My shadow shifts again as I move around the room and I sit on the made up bed and look uncritically at the crumpled linen of the other. It’s just been slept in — just left.

On the floor is a photograph face down and I pick it up. The ghost flies clamour at the doorway, light dims.

Near Window 23: Far Window

Today’s near window is a photo essay from Eliza Cox.

Eliza Cox is from Adelaide, and can currently be found in Paris. She takes a million photos but hasn’t posted anything on Instagram since 2017. She also has stacks of undeveloped film.

Near Window 21

D e m o t i v a t i o n

Yo. Sorry I’ve been away, I’ve been feeling pretty demotivated. I don’t really know what to write apart from « I watched tiger king and read a book and thought about what will happen when this is all over »

I feel like I’ve written a lot of lovely things about feeling bored, but writing about boredom is boring. I am bored of doing it. I’m sure you’re a bit bored of reading it. Besides, today I feel really sad, and writing anything at all has made my nose itch and Judas tears start to bud at my tear ducts so… you know, not sure I’m too hot on this any more. I’m sorry.

I went for a walk this morning. The trees are in leaf and I nearly cried and their newly minted green goodness and thought that things might be easier if I was a tree.

If I was a tree I could stand outside in the weather and wave my arms in the wind like a child. If I was a tree I’d shut myself up inside myself in the winter, draw all my sap to the core and wait it out sleeping. If I was a tree I’d grow new leaves every year and in some way be reborn in the spring. If I was a tree you could look inside and see my rings and see how long I’ve been living here. If I was a tree there’d be no obligation to isolate because I’d have no friends anyway because I’d be a tree.

Trees are witnesses, but they do not engage. Trees don’t write blogs for no one to read and they don’t try to have careers and they don’t have lives for people to approve or disapprove of. Trees don’t have to make decisions and they do t have to listen to anyone and they don’t have to do anything except make oxygen and even that I think they do without thinking too much about it.

It might be quite nice, i think.

To b a tree.

Near Window 20

Time

This morning I said I’d get up, but I didn’t. I said I’d do work but I didn’t. I said I’d do a lot of things but I haven’t.

Instead I put on this song and danced in my room around the sunsquare, like the breeze coming in through the window, like hot coffee in the air.

Arm over arm dancing in euphoria thinking of all the times I’ve moved like this with someone else and realising that I much prefer moving like this by myself. Reason no.1 to be thankful.

Reason number two is that the song speaks to me so. About the way it feels to be inside, all these days as just one long day. Too much time to do anything, not enough time to get things done. All times are now, there is no now only always, there is no always except for…. except for what?

Time keeps on coming

I’ve been all around

I’ll keep on running

‘Til time catches on

I’ve been on the run

Except I’m not running. I’m inside. Windows flung wide.

Arms waving, body rippling like it’s underwater, legs out at an angle, sweeping under to project a leap to the corner of the room, I spin to face my audience of plants. They wave in the breeze, or in enjoyment, I don’t care which, I think it is the latter. The song becomes all songs, becomes heartbeat. Outside of my window I hear people cooking, I hear children in trouble, I hear a shower, I hear laughing. I do not hear my blackbird, still. They all make the song, the song becomes all of them.

My hair raises from its roots like I’m in antigravity. My arms become the boughs of a great weeping willow, my legs the swift river. My heart the beating hand of time striking my sternum as though to reverberate the ribs, my lungs the caged leaves , my mouth a furnace, my eyes two lonely headlamps on the shooters hill road. Fading, melting, passing through.

The song comes to an end and I am out of breath. I put it in again. Leaping like billy Elliot but badly, floorboards creaking slightly, carpet ruckled. I wonder if my sisters remember how I used to refuse to dance the steps they choreographed on our carpet, where moving from one flower to another was a significant move. It reminds me still of dancing to one ariana grande song on the dance dance revolution machine. It reminds me still of standing under a whole flock of swallows murmuring as they go to bed.

I don’t know if you’ve seen it, they move in the air like fish in water, a shifting mass of feathery bodies moving like one body. A murmur. My heart murmurs. My mouth murmurs, the radio murmurs. Paris murmurs. My body is my body and is a thousand swallows taking flight, a line of flight from the self beyond the wall. The french road for wall is mur. A double wall is a murmur. The music is a mur, I am a mur, together we murmur as swallows do. as I do. As moving is. As dancing does.

This time last year mum and I saw one at the quoits, the sky stained blue purple in sunset, the water rippling beneath like soft percussion, the wind still and the two of us holding our breath. When they feel overhead we wanted to spin under them, run with them, dance with them.

As the final notes play out through the speaker, the wind rattles the plants to make a rousing applause, a standing ovation, even the dead ivy on the sill rustles his brown leaves in appreciation.

Near Window 17

The body is a cathedral

It is easter week.

For all lapsed catholics its an interesting thing, to remember the traipse to mass, the week long vigil you spend running back and forth to church. The emotional release of maundy thursday, weeping in a pew for all those whove gone before, holding vigil like youre in gethsemene yourself. Good Friday when you try not to put your lips to the feet of jesus because you cant bear the thought of all the lips on jesus’ wooden feet so you make a parody bise. You stoop and you pucker your mouth, and then you get up quick before anyone can stop you. To arriving on Saturday night, to find the tabernacle open and all the lights extinguished. Then, one by one, candles are lit from the bonfire, from the easter candle, spreading throughout the church until youre all bathed in the amber light of the flame, a symbol of the rekindling of faith after all was lost in grief and pain and death the night before.

I feel emotional just thinking about it. I sometimes miss the ritual, i miss the comfort and surety of faith. But i have none, and the doctrine sits wrongly with me these days.

The coming of spring is like the lighting of the candles for me. Illuminating each day more and more as the candles illuminate the faces of the congregation. What a beautiful sight it must be for the priest, to see the faces of your flock flare into becoming from the darkness. What a beautiful thing it is for me to see light restored to mornings and evenings, and watch new leaves and new flowers spring from where there was nothing before.

From my confinement hole, i feel like as the spring becomes, i flare into becoming myself. Awakening from the slow death of winter, like Juliet from her fake death, Except only to find Romeo dead by her side. I awake from mine to find the spring is dead, too. It might as well be, because I can’t access it. The blackbird has stopped singing for some reason, i feel like another little piece of the spring has died with it.

Ive got an ivy plant a friend left in paris for me. He’s survived the whole winter. A couple of days ago he started to look sad so i watered him and popped him out on the windowsill for some sun. Today i saw he’d died. Once green leaves are now shriveled and brown, rustling in the breeze. The amber hush of an unseen sunset blushing a wall in the distance. A square of springtime allowed to me, so brief, so fleeting. Empty and void as the tabernacle after a good friday mass, i hold vigil in the hope that some good may come of it.

I wrote to a friend about Marconi’s notion that sound never dies. I talked about the notion that, if that were true, it would mean that every word you have said or heard is recorded in you, reverberating on your skin or in your blood. She said, then, that triggering things must reverberate on the same frequency as that which they trigger. I said that that was like how in cathedrals, when choristers sing, they have to sing in a certain way to bounce the sound. She said, then, if your body were a cathedral, how would the choristers sing?

On easter sunday, the spring is allowed into the church. Its been becoming on the outside for a long time, but the church in its lenten austerity has barred it from entering at its heavy doors. On easter sunday, though, the church is resplendent in gold and green. Daffodils bob their merry heads, and green gold leaves spill over from the alter. Even the priest dons green and gold on his cassock to welcome it in.

Maybe spring is a sound, as well as sight. Maybe throughout lent, it sings in mass, but not in a way to allow it to reverberate fully within the cathedral. Maybe On easter sunday it opens its lungs and sings fully. Maybe throughout the long winter, the spring sings in the cathedral of our bodies, and with each flare of spring-flame lit, on each candle of a day, the spring sings louder within and without us.

If this is the unsprung spring, one which came into being only to be shut out, then perhaps it awakens in me the singing of all the springs which came before it. It is spring in me as much as it is spring out there.

It is spring in me as much as it is spring out there.

Disclaimer: took this snap a long time before confinement. Don’t start thinking I’d take my lapsed self out to mass during confinement when I haven’t been in about 10 years ✌️

Near Window 16: One near one far

I listened to the queen.

You can find here two poems about listening to the queen. One from @extrajugo and one from me. Both written following the queens speech. Not that I didn’t like the speech, which I did, and not that that negates my anti-monarchy political leanings. But just that I thought you’d enjoy these two specimens.

The whale in question

Near Window 13

This is just to say

That I have eaten

All the biscuits

That we’re in

the cupboard

Of which

I should probably

Have saved you

At least one

Forgive me

They were quite nice

Even though I

Sicked them up after

A hungover poem from me to my flatmate after we drank all our alcohol, i ate a bad egg, and cried in my bed about eating all the biscuits. to clarify I was sick bc I was really very hungover and the sugar hit was just too much ✌️

PSA: do not buy biscuits in quarantine- I will eat them