The Gaps Between Chat

With some people we live our lives. With most people we talk about lives lived, or lives about to lived, or lives that will never be lived. We talk about the lives we’d like to live, the lives we should live, and what life would be like if we could only live it properly. We talk about action past and action future. To put it another way, life is largely made up of conversations about life. There is very little actual living, and rather a lot talk about it. Life is what happens in the gaps between chat.

The penultimate part: Chapter Ten, Part One

The Spirit of Life

‘To write sentences in which the spirit of life resides’

(Jean-Pierre Sertin, when asked about his literary aims last night at The Crippled Bee)

Being and Drawing

‘Life is the process of reflecting on the process of life.’ (Leo Barnard)

‘Early on in life someone told me about unconscious sexual imagery. I spent the rest of my life trying to draw anything but genitalia. I have, as a result, a very small artistic output.‘ (Max Lauder)

Time and Underpants (or What Is It All About?)

To be typed into a search engine one day: Why do people insist on asking search engines questions they can’t possibly answer?

As long-time readers will be aware, search-terms fascinate me. There is a tendency for them to be either eccentric, banal, or both. Here, for instance, is a recent example:

what was the european novel about?

I can’t help thinking that this particular web-surfer has unrealistically high expectations. Like any tool, the internet will help you get a job done. It may provide the nails for you to build a cabinet – what it won’t do is assemble the cabinet all on its own.

Having said that, I am a kindly soul in a kindly mood, so here – for your immediate edification – is a brief answer to the question above:

Apes, abstinence, adventure, amorality, baguettes, bathos, bathrobes, Belgium, coiffure, coffee, combat, death, delinquents, delicatessens, eugenics, eternity, equivocation, France, farce, families, gigolos, Germany, glamour, hagiography, hesitation, heretics, Iceland, indoctrination, infants, jam, jounalism, jurisdiction, kissing, kleptomania, knives, light, life, love, machinery, masculinity, marmalade, nihilism, nostalgia, nouveau riche, old wives tales, oligopoly, onanism, paradise, pretence, politics, quarrels, quarantine, quattrocentro, rats, relics, retribution, sex, Scandanavia, seafaring, tea, testoterone, time, underpants, unification, uprooting, valuation, variation, vegetables, women, weaponry, weakness, xenophobia, xylophones, x-rays, yesterday, yogurt, Yugoslavia (former federal republic of), Zionism, zoophytes and zealots.

Common Knowledge

‘It is common knowledge, but it bears repeating. No one alive will ever be remotely qualified to talk about death. What we need is someone with real experience. What we get is a series of pointless stabs in the dark. It’s like asking an embryo to teach you to ride an elephant’ (Koira Jupczek)

Death is the Envelope…

‘Death is the envelope that seals the letter of life. You live when alive, but your “life” comes into force only when you are dead. Death is the last brush-mark; the one that makes the painting what it is. Without this last mark, the work is but a mess of untidy lines: random strokes of swirling, glutinous paint. Death lets your life really live. Death should not, therefore, be treated lightly.’ (Koira Jupczek)

Extra-marital Protocol

It’s been a while since I last buried my old ostrich head into the strange sands of ‘search terms’, so here’s a little something that has for some days been bouncing about like some misshapen rubber ball in the playground of my mind. Sometime over the last month, an anonymous web surfer entered a sentence into a search engine, and ended up at a page in Underneath the Bunker. This was the page – and this was the search term: Does a man love his mistress?

Let’s not throw any time away relating the term to the page. Though the issue in hand may not be explicitly answered in Heidi Kohlenberg’s review of Stephen Harringer’s biography of George Forthwith-James, one can see easily enough why a search engine might think the article relevant to anyone posing what is, at heart, a rather bizarre sort of question. Does a man love his mistress? What kind of answer might our anonymous ponderer be expecting? Is it right for a man to love his mistress? Could there possibly be some sort of consensus regarding the duty of a man who is, essentially, not doing his duty? The question is so beautifully general; so stunningly free of specifics. Does whatman love his mistress? Perhaps our unknown searcher has a mistress, or desires one, or desires love, or desires… what? It’s hard to say what he/she desires; what he/she is after. The internet is a wide, weird world, but it is no oracle, and can no more stand peculiar queries than any of us. And yet it’s nice to see someone put these questions forward; these unfathomable, unanswerable, inexplicable musings, tossed into the air like rare goose feathers, like fine grain, like paper snow, like dry grass in a stiff summer wind.

In honour of this, allow me to answer the unanswerable. If art is a man’s wife, and a man’s wife is his mistress, why then he loves his mistress.