I did my opening sermon for Shadow Channel, the video production course at Sandberg Institute to which I am visiting tutor. Listened to Ash Sarkar be much smarter than me beforehand. My students, a marvellously diverse group, are wonderful humans all, and the extended introductory drinking session was superb. I have great hopes for them, and they are all as curious and hungry and angry as I had hoped.
Amsterdam, which I had never visited before, feels oddly familiar.  The broad low buildings, the little food places and bars slotted between warehouses and wastelands. I could get to like it here. De Ceuvel feels like it could be home base, maybe? I’m back here in January to see what my initiate are making. It may be a start of something new for me, too.
Not so bad.
Time to go home.


Jumping to Amsterdam today, to commence Shadow Channel on Saturday, a course to which I am a visiting tutor. I am sad to leave Juvet. I could sit outside and watch this view forever. I sleep in a box on the river’s edge, I eat food from the valley, I watch the sun crawl over the mountains and I drink all the coffee on earth because I’m having to wake at the entirely atavistic time of 8am.

Let’s see what’s next.

Someone’s Flying A Drone

I saw the Milky Way last night. A bit of it, anyway. So many stars. I’m in a shallow valley in northern Norway. Someone’s flying a drone overhead, because everyone here is overwhelmed by the loveliness of the place. It’s been years since I’ve seen the mirrored mountain lakes of this region, and I’ve never seen the Milky Way before, not even a bit of it. The air is crisp and scented, the water blue and cold in the way you forget river water is supposed to be. The sun is creeping across the mountains, picking out the gold amongst the green. 
The others just scattered away from the drone. I’m just going to sit up here in the open air with my coffee while they set themselves on fire. Letting the world stop for a bit.


Eight months since I’ve been on a plane, more or less. Reeling from barely five hours sleep to make this flight, hoping against hope that I make my connection, facing up to another two hours in a car at the other end, to spend a week in a remote location in conference with a bunch of people I mostly don’t even know. Feels like a leap into the void, but the location is very hermit-friendly.  Travelling without a laptop, which seems almost transgressive these days.

My phone just pinged to let me know my space between flights has just been shaved to an hour. I hate these transient spaces where everything is just probabilities and numbers.  I also hate running across airports.

Going dark. Going up. 

The Flowstate

Writing through the next twelve days before I get on a plane to a private conference in an almost absurdly remote location.  Looking for the flowstate, which is a term I just lifted from Nick Harkaway’s GNOMON, because it fits so well.  In writing, you hope for that magic hour where everything just fits and “all the synchronicities are winking” (that’s from Jamie Delano, I think) and time drops away and it’s just you and the stream of words that are effortless and right and good.

(And then you look at them a day or two later and no, they’re not all good, but that’s okay, because now it’s all out in front of you and you can fix it before anyone else can see it and recognise you for the obvious idiot you are.)

It’s close.  I can feel it.  It better be.  I’m finishing the second volume of the thing below, which has its first volume released next month.

I don’t mind the days of chipping at the rock to find the sculpture hidden inside.  I don’t mind the days of solving problems like a codebreaker, hunched over the notepad and scribbling numbers and maps and arrows. But I want to live in the flowstate.


Reading: GNOMON, Nick Harkaway (UK) (US)  It’s an advance copy.  It’s superbly written. I kind of want to kill him.


After The End

What I need is a post-death internet service.  This is something people have been talking about a lot over the last few years. I don’t know if any true solutions were found for the thing that, this morning, I think I’d like the most.  A year after I die, I’d like to post to Twitter or something. Hell, who even knows if Twitter will be there by then. He said, as if he were likely to outlive any internet service.  Maybe it should go to my newsletter system instead.

But: just a message, a year after I die. Saying, hi, I died a year ago, but I just wanted to tell you something.

Which, yes, is unsettling enough on its own, I know. It’s not unamusing to me, obviously.  But.

Hi.  I died a year ago, but I just wanted to tell you something. I loved being with you all, and I hope you’re all making the most out of life, because we only get one go on the ride. Hold on tight.

But I think mostly I probably just want to scare the shit out of people.

I’m not buying an URL for a digital haunting service DON’T LOOK AT ME

Reading: ACADIE, Dave Hutchinson (UK) (US)


Folklore Situationism

NORTHERN EARTH gives me joy.  The September issue has a big, rich piece on psychogeography, phenomenology, landscape writing, history and, most tellingly for me, folklore.  For me, it tied right in to the mechanic of myth in STAR SHIPS – the transmission of lore through story. I’m still thinking about this talk I have to do next month, Myth And The River Of Time.

Moving through America, I always find myself noticing and thinking that American roads and bridges are named after Americans. I live in a country where roads and bridges are named for ghost stories.  Screaming Boy Lane and Boggart’s Bridge.

Dramatising the landscape, which we’ve done since megalithic times and before.

Landscape writing seems to eventually take a turn into nationalism.  I never quite got that. Myth is a commonwealth.  And you know that, somewhere, sometime, someone drives on one of those roads or bridges in America and leans back and tells a myth of the person it’s named for, a truth grown in time, a thing they did or saw that becomes story in the telling.

They have a website where you can buy a year’s subscription for ten pounds British.


Twin Peaks: The Curtain Call

It was never going to end well.

From Wikipedia’s entry on David Lynch’s unmade film project RONNIE ROCKET:

Ronnie Rocket concerned the story of a detective seeking to enter a mysterious second dimension, aided by his ability to stand on one leg. He is being obstructed on this quest by a strange landscape of odd rooms and a threatening train; while being stalked by the “Donut Men”, who wield electricity as a weapon.

Cooper attempted a classically heroic thing in an age and place where classical heroes have no agency or ground. Good can never win. Laura Palmer will always be dead, her murder will never have meaning extracted from it, and the continual attempt to do either will doom Dale Cooper forever.  This is what we do.  We destroy beauty and invite abstracts of hate to live inside us and we will never be free.

Eighteen hours that destroyed almost every remaining rule around American television. It made television experiential in a way it hasn’t been for a long time. And nobody is going to make an episode of television as mesmeric and magisterial as Episode 8 for a while.

If those of us who work in storytelling aren’t picking this show apart for the rest of the year, then we are walking away from an immense gift Mark Frost and David Lynch gave us that we did not deserve.

I’m probably going to get into this more in my newsletter on Sunday.  You can subscribe at this link.


Randoms 6sep17

  • 30-minute mix of “This Corrosion” created by Andrew Liles of Nurse With Wound
  • Blair Thornburgh: “Never forget: the Icelandic word for computer (tölva) combines the words for “number” and “seeress,” so basically a computer = number-witch.”
  • 115 years pegged as “maximum human lifespan”  but if you’re one of those restricted-calorie people then you die at 65 but it just feels like 115 years
  • next time you read one of those “geniuses wear the same uniform every day” things, ask yourself if you are in fact Albert Einstein? No? Then wear what you fucking like. Failing to take pleasure in your life will kill you quicker than deciding what to wear.

Just arrived on Kindle: ACADIE, Dave Hutchinson (UK) (US)


No Less Than Mystic

I have many fine-looking books by many excellent authors waiting to be read, and I’m desperate to read them, but I have a confession. When NO LESS THAN MYSTIC by John Medhurst arrived, I dropped everything to start it. And it hasn’t let go.

It’s a history of Lenin, the Bolsheviks and the Russian Revolution.

I feel like I need to yell HEAR ME OUT.

The brilliance of Medhurst’s political histories — and some of you will remember me praising his previous THAT OPTION NO LONGER EXISTS — is his sharp eye for the pivot points and the alternative routes history could have taken. Or, put another way – alternate histories are buried in his actual histories. He will lead you to fly off into fascinating could-have-beens, big ones that start with small corrected missteps or slightly different arrangements of personalities. There are wonders compressed in his books.

The additional pleasure of NO LESS THAN MYSTIC is that he looks back from a 21st Century perspective, with no interest in being chained to the previous moment. From the blurb, in fact, he:

continually examines the Leninist experiment through the lens of a 21st century, de-centralised, ecological, anti-productivist and feminist socialism. Throughout its narrative it interweaves and draws parallels with contemporary anti-capitalist struggles such as those of the Zapatistas, the Kurds, the Argentinean “Recovered Factories”, Occupy, the Arab Spring, the Indignados and Intersectional feminists, attempting to open up the past to the present and points in between.

This fills out the book in remarkable ways, and, frankly, allows Medhurst to put the boot into Lenin from a number of different angles.

(It could be usefully read in tandem with Catherine Merridale’s LENIN ON THE TRAIN, which was not nearly as soft and romantic a book as some idiot reviewers would have you believe.)

This is a big, energetic, ambitious book that deserves every success. A hell of a performance.

NO LESS THAN MYSTIC, John Medhurst (UK) (US)