Dingo the Dissident

THE BLOG OF DISQUIET : Qweir Notions, an uncommonplace-book from the Armpit of Diogenes, binge-thinker jottings since 2008 .

Thursday 31 December 2020

In 2020

most people realised
that they were governed by headless chickens,
many of whom were elected !

Wednesday 30 December 2020

Tuesday 29 December 2020


just say NO
to Common Humanity.

(The merely-fortunate,
such as we who are favoured by fate,
are often arrogant in our inanity.)

Monday 28 December 2020

In almost every novel I read

the word wrack appears as a verb.
Dear authors (and journalists)
WRACK (noun) is a type of seaweed
seen around many shores.
There is no verb.
TO RACK (verb) wine, brains or bodies
means (1) to separate sediment in wine by turning bottles
sitting horizontally in a supporting structure
known as a wine-rack;
(2) to torture by means of stretching the body
limb from limb on an apparatus
known as a rack, which was very popular
in mediæval and 'renaissance' Europe.

Jars of spices may rest upon a spice-rack
but (as with a toast-rack)
neither removal of sediment nor torture is involved.


against Covid were developed with amazing speed,
but there will never be inoculation
against even-more-amazing hypocrisy and greed.

Sunday 27 December 2020


from serving
as an unpretty-efficient,
reliable piss-nozzle
approaching senility,
my dick,
like myself all my life,
now greatly enjoys its
pretty-laid-back unemployability.

Saturday 26 December 2020

For as long

as I - one of the world's obscenely privileged -
keep a roof above my head
my Best Friend will remain
my sweet, faithful Bed.

Meanwhile, excavations in Pompeii have revealed
a Roman snack-bar.

Parco Archeologico Di Pompei/EPA

Friday 25 December 2020


has turned into The Emperor's
Dressing-down Box.
Politics is, of course, childish.
But, of course, 'someone has to do it'.

The weakness of democracy
is that it depends upon a well-informed
and intelligent electorate,
which is rare
and may soon be taken into care.

Thursday 24 December 2020

The British Museum

is full to bursting
of Pale Men's Shopping.
Not much of it was paid for
(not even by stolen credit-card
during a hectic Christmas Sale)
- and nobody went to gaol.

The momotheisms

tread and too often cross the fine line
between misinformation
and disinformation.

Wednesday 23 December 2020

Today's Brave New Word.

When I was a stammering child
there were only three categories of 'behaviour' :
normal, maladjusted and bad.  

I was labelled maladjusted
by a Child Guidance Clinic,
though it seems I was just 

Tuesday 22 December 2020

Old Age -

I love it.
I've risen above it,
become a real person again.
I feel more alive
than when I was five -
it's something to do with my brain.

Monday 21 December 2020

Mr Snooty.

I sneer
at veneer -
its falseness,
But I've heard people say
real veneer.
It's quite clear
that such queer
folk are not
in my moral sphere -
nowhere near...

Sunday 20 December 2020


"Within a context of [general] information overload,
doomscrolling is apocalyptic information overload."

"Since the start of the pandemic,

just 651 American billionaires have gained $1tn of wealth.
With this windfall they could send a $3,000 cheque to every person in America and still be as rich as they were before the pandemic.
Don’t hold your breath."

- Robert Reich in The Observer today.

Saturday 19 December 2020

The problem is not the suffering, but the inconvenience caused by the struggle to end it.

 "While the [British] miners were on strike in 1926 [against reduction of pay] a great many people were moved to listen to their case.
Certain high ecclesiastical dignitaries went even so far as to offer to mediate between the mine-owners and the miners.
They were convinced that the terms the coal owners weree attempting to impose upon the miners were unreasonable and would entail much suffering and poverty for hundreds of thousands of miners' homes.
Their efforts failed. The miners were beaten and driven back to work under disgraceful conditions.

"For years these conditions continued. But were those high church dignitaries moved to intervene then ?
Not at all. For them the problem was solved. It had never consisted in the suffering of the miners, but in the fact that the miners were still able to struggle, and therefore created a problem for the rest of the community.
The problem was not their suffering but their struggle."

- Aneurin Bevan, In Place of Fear (1952)

More from that excellent book:

Friday 18 December 2020

I would hate to be represented or remembered by a flag.

Nine-Eleven Twin Towers Memorial.


But I would have had no say in the matter.

The Foolishness of Graham Greene.

"The basic element I admire in Christianity is its sense of moral failure.
That is its very foundation.
For once you’re conscious of personal failure,
then perhaps in future you become a little less fallible."

(from a conversation reported by Nicholas Shakespeare)

Irrelevant and Irreverent Reflections on Great Artists' Names.

The family name of the spellbinding painter van Gogh
does not rhyme with dough,
nor dog, nor rogue, nor with loch (or lough),

and that of the wickedly-saintly Brâncuși
rhymes more with pushy than pussy
or (God forbid!) floozie.

Thursday 17 December 2020

Another Version*

Our eyes are glass birds
in glass cages.
They cannot fly.
They can see out
and have been trained
not to look inward
lest they become feather-brained.

*of an idea worked on seven years ago
while reading Malaparte's

As with horses,

(and, in another sense, houses)
civilisation broke in
and broke our brains,

crushing our natural humanity
with property and fences
and imperative inequality.

Wednesday 16 December 2020

Philosophical feedback loop.

Reason tells us that reason is more rational than instinct.
The application of reason shows us that most of what we call instinct
in humans is learned and instilled behaviour.
Reason tells us that instinct in animals is rational.

Tuesday 15 December 2020

One of many reasons why I hate television

and have never owned a receiver :

When I was a kid, people visited each other
to play Whist and Bridge; there were Whist-drives,
and Bridge-drives - there even were Beetle-drives.

Then came Canasta which I played for hours
with my schoolfriends, Monopoly too,
then Scrabble.  In 1960 my mother and I played
Bézique on the grubby train from Paris to Venice.
I loved Bézique because it, like Pinochle, was a game
that two people could play and enjoy.

TV almost killed off social games not played for money;
the hygienic internet has re-introduced them -
antisocially. No-one and nobody's mother will bring you
a cup of tea or of coffee with biscuits, nor a glass of sherry
or grappa or raki - nothing to make the occasion more merry.

Monday 14 December 2020

Surely not an unusual observation ?

With taps for flushing, domestic washbasins
make perfect urinals for men -
yet we are expected to stand and aim
accurately into a lavatory-bowl -
a feat seldom achieved by the insouciant young
and fairly old.

Sunday 13 December 2020

The DIY Skunk Skin Cap...

"...is a Frontier Fashion Forward Statement."

(I don't think many African-Americans are wearing it,
but it could become a powerful emblem for the BLM movement...)

Saturday 12 December 2020

Even as hunter-gatherers

we changed the landscape,
extinguished species
of animals and plants.
We may not yet be near the end
of our anti-evolutionary trance.


Cattle, goats, sheep and wheat have, until recently, at least,
(along with boat-building anf fire-burning)
been our principal weapons of the fast destruction
which will end only with the last farmer, shopkeeper and priest.

Friday 11 December 2020

Thursday 10 December 2020

Wednesday 9 December 2020


has sent us a gentle warning,
which, unnaturally but of course,
we will ignore.
Worse will come sometime later,
even before the First Water War.

Senility reveals

that memory is not history
but a random collection
and recollection of emotions.

Tuesday 8 December 2020

Charitable inconsistency

is the only viable (because peaceable) 
to the power of ghetto-thinking.

On Environmentalism.

Say you had enough money at your disposal
to save ten thousand square miles
of rain forest (2,590,000 hectares :
smaller than Belgium, larger than Wales) 

or build (anywhere in the world) a brand-new hospital,
and you had to make a choice -
which, dear fellow-human, would you opt for ?
(Above the cacophony of industry,
do you hear the planet's still, small voice ?)

Monday 7 December 2020

Slime mo[u]lds

not only matter: they are all the rage !
Or, as we say in French, le dernier cri.

From a blog:

'I think this might be dog vomit slime mold (Fuligo septica.) That’s an unfortunate name for a very interesting bit of nature. In the plasmodium stage this slime mold is transparent before it goes on to become a sponge-like mass called an aethalium, which is pictured here. An aethalium  is a “large, plump, pillow-shaped fruiting body.” This is also called scrambled egg slime mold because in Mexico, when it is in its plasmodium stage, it is collected and eaten like scrambled eggs. This is usually done on nights with the light of a full moon so the transparent plasmodium can be more easily seen.'

When cars were cars.

You could have moved house in this one.

photo by Jimmy Cram on FlickR


Maybe even now: the tyres aren't bad...

Elegant Entropy.


(Found while 'surfing'.
Unfortunately, I cannot trace the photographer.)

But a Danish photographer's wonderful pictures of clouds of starlings are credited here.

Sunday 6 December 2020

Every day, in every way,

I'm more ashamed of being white

and human.

Musings on a Wet Sunday in December.

The last time I smoked Weed
(just one lungful of a local cultivar)
I felt exactly as I did when I was five:
a puzzled visitor from afar,
not quite sure of what or where I was
and ignorant of the buzz which must have been around me
(Her spoiled bastard; the handless critter;
needs toughening up; needs the corners knocked off him;
needs a man to take him in hand
and show him what is what...)

They got their way - except that I did not
have the corners knocked off me:
they got sharper.  
                           Psychedelics can be
wonderfully, usefully revealing, in the right place
at the right time, in the right 'set'.

Saturday 5 December 2020

I was at least sixty years old

 before I dared to 'dog-ear' a book.

Since then I have not only marked pages with 'dog-ears'
but corrected typos, spelling mistakes, misquotations,
fake French... I have even written comments
in margins and title-pages -
sometimes even in books from a public library...

Yes, I know - I should (even at this late stage in my life)
curb my infantile (?) compulsion to be contrary.


Behind the false-face of equality
lies fake diversity.
Behind that mask
is nothing, nullity.

(inspired by lines written by Fernando Pessoa in April 1933)

Thursday 3 December 2020

Kill Transgressors!

In the Talmud
there is a bizarre, much-quoted exhortation:
'Save one [life, soul] and save the world'
- which to me makes less sense than
'Arbeit macht frei'.

Millions find a kind of freedom (usually from family, or starvation) in work,
though not, of course, in the forced labour unto death
of the Gulag Archipelago or Auschwitz/Birkenau -
and not on the Sabbath, because the prophet Ezekiel declared
that those who work on the day of rest
should no longer  be permitted to draw breath.

Enjoy your meal !



Wednesday 2 December 2020

"I caught this insight on the way

and quickly seized the inadequate words that were closest to hand
to pin it down, lest it fly away again.
But it fluttered and flapped and died in those arid words, 
and now I hardly know when I look at this sorry little corpse
how I could ever have felt so happy when I caught it."

.– Friedrich Nietzsche: Beyond Good and Evil (1886)

What makes modern humans ‘modern’

is the many-millennia-long, slow collapse of co-operativeness
and corruption of altruism
of which capitalism is only a very recent symptom
- and engine.

What makes me human is my regret at being (human).

* * *

The problem with suicide as a philosophical principle
is to judge the appropriate moment - which is not easy
when, despite swimming in the moral and political shit, 
I am feeling buoyant, calm and happy,
and (for my age) very fit.

Tuesday 1 December 2020

'The Environment'

 is not just an elephant we ignore
but the room that we and it are locked in.

Monday 30 November 2020

Lines I wrote a long time ago.


Much more is revealed

by seeing into the present
than by peering into the future.

But any forecaster can predict
that a more virulent pandemic
is on its way - and nobody is noticing.

Sunday 29 November 2020

Saturday 28 November 2020


 Some 30,000 plant species are in danger of extinction,
compared with around 5,000 animal species.


Roughly 9½ good reasons why I am not anti-Chinese

(even though I would probably not have survived there.)

1. The Chinese did not ship millions of slaves for two hundred years across the Atlantic (or the South China Sea) unlike Portugal, England, Spain, Denmark, the Netherlands and France.

2. The Chinese (unlike the English) did not force any country to import opium.

3. The Chinese did not invade Japan, though the Japanese invaded China.  The Chinese did not seize any foreign ports, whereas Europeans seized Shanghai.

4. The Chinese did not send demented missionaries to Europe or even to India to spread 'Confucianism' or 'Daoism'.  

5. The Chinese did not dictate such arrogant hypocrisies as Universal Human Rights.

6. The Chinese treatment of animals and nature has, on the whole, been more respectful than that by Europeans, North Americans or Japanese.

7. China has never been militaristic in the same degree as the European Powers, the USA or Japan.

8. Chinese rule and behaviour in Tibet is no worse than those of the English in Ireland for hundreds of years.

9. The Chinese are not colonising Africa.  They seem set on re-taking Taiwan (Formosa), but it's unlikely that they will risk an all-out war.

10. So far as I'm aware, the Chinese have never attempted genocide, unlike the European powers.

Chinese imported to work on railway construction were horribly persecuted in the USA at the end of the 19th century, and even today are suffering discrimination.

Compared with the centuries-long atrocities committed by Europeans in every part of the globe, the Chinese annexation of Tibet and its atrocious treatment of the Uighurs is very small beer.

Friday 27 November 2020

Sometimes, bad people actually think that they Do Good.

In colonial history
it was almost always the self-appointed 'do-gooders'
who did the most damage to occupied,
colonised, oppressed peoples.

Now it's not the missionaries, but the zealous eco-freaks
backed by the corrupt WWF, the EU and logging companies (!)
who are 'continuing the good work'.

And so it goes...

Thursday 26 November 2020

War and worship: an intimate connection.

 We are the religious species
that worships itself as a species,
and makes war against itself and the world.

On Mass-mourning.

The 'mourning' by millions of Maradona
(a football hero of whom I had heard thirty years ago
but, being averse to competitive 'sports', knew nothing about)
makes me think that, since the death of Nelson Mandela,
there is no-one more worth mourning than a football star,
a man responsible for no mass-murders, terrible betrayals,
nasty compromises and despicable corruptions
as committed by almost all 'important' politicians
to a greater or lesser degree.
Even by Amnesty International's former Burmese heroine,
Aung San Suu Kyi.

Whoever first said

that revenge is a dish
best eaten cold
was quite a cold fish.

Wednesday 25 November 2020

Trees matter, beetles matter, fungi matter...

photo by Eric Fisher

Brown Furry Teddy says that human lives matter too much.
What matters, he declares, is not how long a life is lived,
but how well.

Tuesday 24 November 2020

Don't think

about loneliness:
just sink gently into
the slow sweet sensuality
of solitude.

Monday 23 November 2020

Prizes, etc.

 go to the persistent, the driven.
This year's Booker Prize winner submitted his manuscript
to no fewer than thirty publishers
before it was accepted.
Bloody hell! Satan's Anus! Devil's Balls!
He must be mad.

In the 1970s I submitted my short short-story collection
to just three, then gave up - and burned it.
There is no shortage of literature,
especially not in English.  The world
would probably never be ready for
my strange little effort, which was,
at best, 'for a minority readership'.
Of one.

I love dogs
but lack doggedness.

Sunday 22 November 2020

A Musing.

I think that most of my days
have been spent
to a greater or lesser extent
in a haze
in a maze
in a daze.

Belfast 1940/1941

I wonder if my New Year's Eve anonymous
father fucked any other women
before returning to The Theatre of War,
or was it his First Sexual Experience ?
Was he subsequently killed or wounded ?
Was he just weak, or a cad ?
This was the only encounter with a penis
that my mother ever had.

Saturday 21 November 2020

A possible connection.

Areas which are rich in plants and animals
are also rich in languages.

Friday 20 November 2020

Covid is just the trigger

of the big pandemic gun:
measles, typhoid, cholera, malaria,
TB and non-infectious diseases, too,
will eagerly erupt, because its
novel rampage will undo
what health services have done.


in the unlikely event
of reincarnation
some creatures will soon re-appear
as artificial intelligences.

Thursday 19 November 2020

Another Catch-22.

"I'm beginning to notice the first signs of dementia."
 - No, you're not.
"So you think I'm just imagining them ?"

Life is scary:
your body's awake but your mind is asleep
or three-quarters asleep
and you flounder in the sliding, slippery, flickering
blurry, inconsistent, incoherent dreamworld
where time is elastic and the connection
between cause and effect is lost, or at least vague.
You are on a kind of moving walkway
between past and present; images slide by,
you can't stop and look at them, you try
walking back, but you can't. You can't
run forward - you're too old. 
You're trapped in your own little dreamworld,
and most of the time you are cold.
You can't recall where you put things,
and, while searching, drop other things
and forget what it was you were looking for...

and your eyesight is bleary,
your hearing's mashed up;
there's the continuous sound-track
of ear-worms and tinnitus (which
in French is called acouphènes).

But sometimes you feel more drunk than doolally.

As in dreams, bits of old memories bubble up,
pushing out or lying on top of
recent events which all slither and melt
to confusion.  You cannot climb out,
and have no fixed motive to do so. You can go
to the toilet, put on your clothes, go to bed, but all the while
you're trying to make sense of what is happening
around you, even of where you are, because
you live only in an untidy, unbound scrapbook 
of disconnected dreams of your past
punctuated by recent fuzzy and incoherent events. 
As in dreams, nothing is what it seems
and your head is seething with stuff that you can't,
and no-one can, get out or banish. 
You can't get out.
Words vanish.

[On reading Elizabeth is Missing, by Emma Healey,
which is not a good thing to read in your eightieth year.]

See also the notes written by my mother when she was suffering from dementia, here >

In the Museum of Sacred Art

there is one special exhibit
for the Visually Handicapped to touch.
It hasn't changed in a thousand years
and is now squirted with disinfectant
after every feeling visitor.
It is called The Buddha's Crutch.

Wednesday 18 November 2020

The Language Conspiracy

There is only one essential word:
'enough' -
overwhelmed by all the others
for thousands of years
in our world-sized, word-defined
prisons of compulsive, cosy verbiage,
deceit and narrative.

How much of our lives is language ?
How much of our lives is lies ?
How much of our lives is not enough ?

Tuesday 17 November 2020

Monday 16 November 2020

A Covid Vaccine

seems to be to be something of a fantasy, because
it has to be delivered (very expensively) to sceptical populations, and,
having been delivered, will, for the purpose of free movement,
have to be attested (like a cholera or yellow-fever inoculation)
by a document which will be relatively easy to forge...
unless each vaccination is accompanied by a tattooed number
(harder to phony-up) which will remind a few of us of
concentration-camps and totalitarian régimes,
or by some sort of electronic tag
(maybe like a credit- or health-insurance card with PIN)...
Ah dear Covid!  amuse-bouche or hors d'œuvre 
of our future - you have come not a moment too soon.

The Expulsion from the Garden of Eden

had nothing to do with trees or knowledge
or a deity who spake -
it was only Adam's sick fantasy that Eve
was having sexual relations with a snake.

And so they went.

Sunday 15 November 2020


the pursuit of one desire
in the hope of gratifying several others.

Saturday 14 November 2020

If you are sufficiently socialised

to want people to take you seriously,
you will, unfortunately,
have to take yourself seriously,
a form of self-abuse
which is the other - very common -
kind of suicide.

Friday 13 November 2020

The problem with the USA

is so simple that it's insoluble:
it hasn't enough black, brown and red people.

But we need to talk about Canada.

Wednesday 11 November 2020

Out of kilter, world in a swelter.

The Meek shall inherit the Earth.
Just a crowd of socialists sharing a desert.

Did Theseus declare an Armistice ?

and then bite off Asterion's balls ?

Or had the Minotaur been gelded as a calf ?

Detail of Theseus and the Minotaur by Burne-Jones.


Tuesday 10 November 2020

Monday 9 November 2020

Before the clamouring power

of Western cacophony enveloped Tokyo,
its more sensitive and cultured citizens
would make special and reverent expeditions to a lake
to listen to the subtle music
of water-lily buds popping into flower.

Sunday 8 November 2020


Margaret Atwood's recent poem is about a word
now rarely heard, as are 'sorrow' and 'Polaroid'.
Another is 'darling'.

I would lament the loss of the word
and, therewith, the idea: 'wholesome'.

Death, unfortunately,

is in our aggressive culture equated with failure,
and must be delayed at all costs
by a philosophically-confused,
incurably sub-Christian,
world-dominating and psychosclerotic
medical establishment, which cannot imagine
that the end of every individual life
will be a successful transition,
not just for the old or terminally-ill,
but for the stillborn as for the midwife.

Saturday 7 November 2020

Solving the face-masks-with-hearing-aid problem.

People with hearing loss have found it to be increasingly challenging to communicate with others who are wearing masks, as they muffle voices and prevent lip-reading.

Glasses must go on last.

Moreover,t he around-the-ear face mask, the most common type, makes hearing-aid-wearers -
especially those who also wear glasses (which inevitably steam up, and should be on a cord) -
liable to lose their hearing-aid, especially on removing or adjusting the mask.

Today, my hearing-aid fell out amongst the Brussels Sprouts at the Saturday market.

The free masks provided by local authorities and governments (I have received 20 already)
are all of the elastic-around-the-ears variety. 
The kind with elastic that goes around the back of the head is not easy to find.

Because of masks, beards will probably go out of fashion again.


'the world'.
They may not be a majority
but they are good at creating and
manipulating or dominating cliques.
Non-'autists' are freaks.

Friday 6 November 2020

How much further is farther ?

Columkilly, the dark Irish sorcerer
who preceded Njál and other Norse
in Iceland, became a demon of the sub-arctic deserts
and a coffee-drinker, thanks to the glottal-stopping,
whale-overwhelming Danes.
Imagine! Coffee from Arabia to starving, colonial Iceland :
such is Trade - amber from Bornholm to Istanbul...
diamonds and uranium from Ubangi-Shari to the Seine...
coltan from the Congo to Korea...
slaves from the Slave Coast to America (north and south),
'a land farther than death', according to Halldór Laxness,
whose middle name was that of another Irish saint
and who would have been amused to hear
that, in this photo on the jacket of Independent People*,
he seems to me to somewhat resemble Hitler.

*A very funny and sardonic book about Sheeple,
specially appealing to Icelanders and Irish
(Iceland was almost Denmark's Ireland)
but whose English edition was clunkily
translated by a man with a Tin Ear. 
The Danish translation is (of course) much better,
but the book could fit very well into Irish,
the tongue of Columkilly,
predecessor, conqueror of the Æsir.

'A man who is not his own master is as unfortunate as anyone without a dog.'

Thursday 5 November 2020

Even better than a beard !

And much more characterful
than the sickly make-up promoted
by the global fashion industry.
Aotearoa Does It Again !

Nanaia Mahuta, New Zealand's Foreign Minister.

Ye Olde Death and Birth

murder and rot and meta-resurrection
occur daily in the mind

often simultaneously
often undifferentiated

fed by our own
trafficked void
we are the dream-world
living the
nightmare of the trees

Wednesday 4 November 2020

More reflections on Loneliness.

Further to my blog on the 23rd October ,
here is an interesting article in Aeon online magazine
about Hannah Arendt's views on the condition or state.

However, her argument that totalitarianism and loneliness
exist in a vicious cycle, the one leading to the other,
applies even more to Consumer Capitalism, because
the USSR's type of totalitarianism (at least) 
created a variety of secret communities 
which were lumped together in the category dissident.
In viciously-capitalist societies, dissidence tends to be solitary.

Big Capitalism, whose transnational companies
more or less control our lives, dislikes democracy.
Big Capitalists like dictators - they can be bought more easily
than elected leaders who keep changing.

Capitalism, having encouraged democratic ideals at the beginning,
is now destroying them, not through power-grab
but through induced anomie and loneliness, the breakdown
of traditional systems of co-operation,
and the monetisation, commodification of everything.

My Mask-rack.

(Custom-made ones will soon be available at Ikea
and other trendy outlets.)

I am flying

I am swooping as fast
as time
and time flies past

Tuesday 3 November 2020

Masks - and cacaësque.

Some people seem to be wearing their masks all the time.
A lot of older women, however - not even wearing glasses
 - don't cover their noses.

The other day I saw one of the local, 'weird' wandering men
wearing his mask while having a crap
at the viewpoint beneath a large wooden cross

Every time I pass I remove a bulb.
(But I don't pass very often.
Soon, I'll need to bring a ladder with me.)

which, in this allegedly-secular republic of France
dominates the historically-Catholic village of Caylus,
especially at night.

Evening view from my balcony.

Caylus always supported the Throne
and opposed the Cathar, later Protestant, more-or-less dissident
village of Saint-Antonin 10 miles down the road.

As you know, I don't have a 'smart phone',
and alas! had not brought my camera
to capture the moment of Marc's Mystical-Blasphemous-Innocent Unload.

Getting up in the morning


saves other lives.

Sunday 1 November 2020

The insatiable monster

 of consumer-capitalism can only collapse
if the USA collapses.  So let us hope
that Donald Trump will either win or lose
the 2020 Presidential election.

National hypocrisy.

Since 1905 the French Republic has proclaimed and insisted
on its solid  'secularity'.  But  'wayside' crosses* are everywhere;
minarets are very rare, and it's hard to find a calendar
without all the Christian saints' feast days listed.

*Thousands of wayside crosses, mostly grotesque, many made of iron,
were erected during the Catholic Church backlash against the Third Republic
before the secularisation law of 1905.  Few have been erected since that date.

Below is one of the more elegant examples,
close to where I live, and built, in the Christian tradition, on top of a 'pagan'
(and ruined) megalithic tomb.

But it was removed (by a fellow-megalithophile ?
- if so, why leave the concrete pillar, incongruously,
on top of the sad little tomb ?  To stop people
tripping over it ?)

Saturday 31 October 2020

Slavery, colour and racism.

Every culture had its slaves,
usually from enemy tribes or subject peoples.
The Greeks had slaves from Sicily.
Galleys were rowed
by slaves and convicts from Persia to France
Nubia to Germany, Spain to the Crimea.
Romans like Cicero had Greek slaves
as secretaries, and they could be freed
by friendly masters, or buy their liberty.

But in medieval Europe, slavery was outlawed
by Church and State. A Frenchman could not keep
an Englishman as slave, nor a Spaniard
a dark Moroccan Muslim.
When the underpopulated Americas
(not subject to European law)
were split wide open for their gold and opportunities
to grow sugar-cane and cotton, the only place to go
for brute labour - not for secretaries - was Africa,
where they could be taken in their thousands,
very cheaply through networks of coastal traders.
These slaves were shades of black, completely ignorant
of European habits and hypocrisy.

So black-skinned became synonymous not just
with 'pagan' unenlightenment and stain and dirt
(white is the pure, immaculate colour
of a pinkish-grey European's shirt)
but with stupidity as well. Nor can you see
a blush or a bruise on black skin.
This is how European racism began.
The rest is ignorant indoctrination, hate, white misery
and fear of retribution.
Worst of all has been the many yokes of Christianity
still grinding down the African-American.

(Whatever the colour of the human hide
we are all hell-bent on speciecide.)

Maybe a good reason for legalising Methamphetamine ?

Man arrested after showering commuters 
with money from 30th-floor window.

Police in Chongqing, south-western China, detain man on drugs charges after his benevolence caused traffic chaos.

 The man was taken into custody in Chongqing and was receiving treatment, police said.
Photograph: REX/Shutterstock

Chinese police have arrested a man after he scattered a “heavenly rain of banknotes” on commuters from his apartment window while allegedly high on methamphetamine.

Police said the 29-year-old was “in a trance” after taking drugs at his home on the 30th floor of a building in Chongqing, in south-western China, when he began throwing cash out of the window to the streets below.

Local media reported the “heavenly rain of banknotes from the sky”, and a video of the 17 October incident has been viewed more than half a million times.

The footage shows traffic slowed to a crawl, or completely stopped in some sections, as dozens of people left their cars or walked onto the busy road to catch the banknotes.

Police were called and the man was taken into custody. The police said in a statement he had been detained for taking drugs and was under investigation and receiving treatment.

In 2017, also in Chongqing, a woman walked into traffic throwing bank notes behind her, prompting a police officer to pick them up as he followed her. Local media reported she told police she threw the 16,000 yuan (US$2,300) because she was in a bad mood.

Slashing and burning.

Europeans sneered at 'slash-and-burn' agriculture
when they encountered it during their seizure
of far-off lands. They called it 'primitive',
a word they used very liberally.
Now, as they see the whole world slashed
and burned in a more sophisticated way, 
they dream of colonising 'outer space'
rather than mending the planet they have trashed.

Friday 30 October 2020

Extremists are everywhere...

mathematical extremists,
'liberal'  (Caucasian white middle-class) extremists,
nuclear-physics extremists,
bureaucratic extremists,
academic extremists,
atheist extremists,
pharmaco-medical extremists,
extreme capitalists
extreme misanthropists
hygiene-extremists who change their underwear
more than once a week,
those with extreme wealth,
those in extreme poverty
and even (of course) extreme anti-extremists like me.

News Today

Taiwan, formerly the Chinese island of Formosa,

population 27 million,
has had fewer than 600 corona/covid cases
and only 7 deaths.

Hundreds of thousands, if not millions,
of Urechis caupo
have again been washed up on Californian beaches.

Also known as cockfish (of course) 
and Fat-innkeeper worms (a translation from the Chinese ?)
these sand-burrowers are food for sea-birds,
marine mammals such as the endangered sea-otter,
and human beings, too - especially Chinese,
Japanese and Taiwanese.

"Nature red in tooth and claw."

Humans as perceptive as Schopenhauer
and as poetic as Tennyson
have persuaded themselves
that malice and cruelty are an essential part
of  'the evolutionary process',
and not the foul corruption of the human heart.

Thursday 29 October 2020

When people talk of 'second childhood'

they tend to think of dribbling,
gabbling and other incontinences -
not the playfulness of five-year-olds
and the tendency to talk to plants and frogs,
inanimate objects, clouds and mist, the moon...
as well as to oneself and dogs.

Wednesday 28 October 2020

French Exceptionalism

If you're white
and don't live in a tower-block
or on  the street
you're alright.

If you're black
and not Muslim (or poor)
stand just slightly back.

But if you're brown
and Muslim
or one of the few remaining Jews,
and poor,
get down, stay down,

read and treasure these Holy Cartoons
and get out of town.

This man


(who doesn't photograph well,
just as my dog Oscar was unphotogenic)

greatly resembles a lover I had
for three - or more - years
just after I came out as a sort-of-a-not-quite-a-bona-fide-sort-of-a-homo
when I was forty.
This man is a great poet.

When I was a child on a big 
bigoted island
where no-one was black,
I prayed God to please make me black.
(I later learned that the great writer Jean Rhys did the same.)
Later on, I prayed God to make me go dead,
and stood out in the dank Irish cold
hoping to catch TB or Rheumatic Fever.
I still am ashamed of - dislike - 
the now-mottled pinkish-gray
of my almost eighty-year-old skin.
I never had, never missed a father.
He probably was white. Maybe Canadian. A white shite
who had a quick shag one  Second World War New Year's Eve
with my (I'd say she was, in her humble way, holy and) virgin mother. 
I wish - despite that damned fucking useless God - forever
that Shane McCrae
had been my father - or, failing that, my lover
if only for one hour of one day.

I knew of his existence (thanks to the Great God BBC)  only yesterday!
I'm absolutely sure he would not want to hear from me.

Monday 26 October 2020

Confession of a Premature Baby

"Sorry I'm early,
but I don't like parties or people,
so I'll leave before someone arrives."

Tombeau "Les regrets".

 A regrettably-young white teacher
was regrettably killed
by a regrettably 'Islamist' Chechen
for showing regrettably vieux-jeu cartoons
to his pupils in a regrettable school
as a regrettably banal example
of Freedom of Speech
in a regrettably-racist
and not-very-secular,
anti-Islamic, aggressively

'liberal' republic
not very far from Kent.

But his regrettable
death was unregrettably painless.

The English kind Henry VIII
had to send to France for a swordsman
to cut off the head of his second (of six) espoused
as cleanly and quickly as possible.
(Her daughter eventually ruled as
a canny Queen of England, but never a wife.)

Decapitation (by mutual consent
at an agreed and agreeable moment,
to music by Monsieur de Sainte-Colombe, le père,)
would be for me a marvellous way of departing
this regrettable life.

It could be me without my glasses :

a piece of public art (known as a mural) by Sainer
(signer ?) in Munich, Federal Republic of Germany.

Sunday 25 October 2020

A las cuatro y media de la mañana

At half past four in the morning -
for millions a fit moment to die -
there also comes to pass
for millions
not arrest by the police
but the extrajudicial obligation to piss.

Music and Consciousness.

The power of music, the power of radio.

Last Sunday (the 18th of October) an item on a BBC programme featured an eighty-year-old man - Paul Harvey, a former music-teacher - with dementia, whose 'party trick' had always been improvisation on the piano of any four notes he was given.

He was given four notes during the broadcast on which he proceeded to improvise.

This struck a chord with so many listeners that the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra was engaged to make a recording which incorporated Paul Harvey's improvisation with excellent orchestration.

The result is an 'uplifting' Brief Encounter mixture of 80% Sergey Rachmaninov with 10% Richard Strauss, which is a powerful reminder than music is more expressive and positive than language, and is a means of bringing consolation and joy to those whose brains are affected by dementia or other disorder. 

Music cancels out the miscarriage and measurement of time which we call 'civilisation'...and allows us to live, like cats, for the sensation of life, not for achievement.

The recording (made by members of the orchestra playing separately in Covid-isolation) will be available commercially from the first of November, 2020, and can now be heard on my website.

Saturday 24 October 2020

If I Got The Covid

 and quickly recovered
(living contentedly alone and apart).
I don't think I'd let anyone know,
but just avoid people
and keep my distance,
for otherwise I would become
another very tired victim of state apparatus
and its mindless commotion.

I guess that a lot of folk
feel the same way.

And if I got it bad
I'd just stay in bed
(having taken my
convenient suicide potion)

until (of course) I was dead.

Gangrene or Misprint

Cocks went black last night
(Beautiful Voodoo,
and, in Europe, there was
for millions of party-animals
an extra sixty minutes of curfew.

Today's Splendid Word :


For francophone readers, the Word of the Day
(referring to the Mayor of Bordeaux) is :


Friday 23 October 2020


The word and concept arrived in English
with the Industrial Revolution.
The word solitude remained, with its original,~
neutral meaning.

But the Greeks knew all about loneliness.
For them, it was a state of isolation,
outside the polis or commune,
in the bleak érema (back of beyond, the boondocks,
the sticks, the wolf-haunted wildness or wilderness
beyond the pale of masters and slaves).

An éremos was a solitary, maybe abandoned,
maybe lonely person, absent from civilisation,
lacking in amenities, possibly  one of thousands
of children abandoned 'abroad' and brought up by wolves.
On the other hand, an éremitos was solitary by choice
in a 'lonely, deserted' place teeming with flora and fauna -
hence our word hermit.  The Irish word for a hermitage
was díseart (anglicised dysart) from Latin diserta, a place without people.

Some Irish hermits lived on islands and islets
from birds' eggs, seaweed, sea-scurvy-grass, mussels and limpets
- and may not have wanted for company.

Listen on my website to a brief discussion on the BBC
of contemporary loneliness.

Loneliness goes - and is often confused with - Boredom.
But you're never alone while you still have thoughts.
Even hatred can be pleasant company.

Here is an excellent Aeon article discussing Hannah Arendt's views on loneliness.
However, what Arendt ascribed to Totalitarianism is equally a result of Consumer Capitalism.


Thursday 22 October 2020

Perhaps the most depressing poem I have ever read.


Margaret Ross

The corpses weigh nothing, nearly nothing, even your breath
is breeze enough to scatter them

We steamed them in tupperware with a damp sponge
then we tweezed the stiff wings open

The wing colors would brush off if you touched them

3,000 butterflies raised and gassed
and shipped to Evolution, the store in New York
rented by an artist hired to design a restaurant

He wanted to paper the walls with butterflies

Each came folded in its own translucent envelope

We tweezed them open, pinned them into rows
on styrofoam flats we stacked in towers in the narrow
hallway leading to the bathroom

Evolution called itself a natural history store

It sold preserved birds, lizards, scorpions in lucite, bobcat
with the eyes dug out and glass ones fitted, head turned

Also more affordable bits like teeth
and peacock feathers, by the register
a dish of raccoon penis bones

This was on Spring

The sidewalks swarmed with bare-armed people
there to see the city

You could buy your own name in calligraphy
or written on a grain of rice
by someone at a folding table

Souvenir portraits of taxis and the Brooklyn Bridge
lined up on blankets laid over the pavement

The artist we were pinning for had gotten famous
being first to put a dead shark in a gallery

For several million dollars each he sold what he described 
as happy pictures which were rainbow dots assistants painted 
on white canvases

I remember actually thinking his art confronted death,
that’s how young I was

We were paid per butterfly

The way we sat, I saw the backs
of the other pinners’ heads more than their faces

One’s braids the color of wine, one’s puffy headphones, feather cut
and slim neck rising from a scissored collar, that one
bought a raccoon penis bone on lunch break

Mostly we didn’t speak

Another life glimpsed in a detail mentioned, leaving or arriving 

She lived with a carpenter who fixed her lunches

Come fall I’d be in college

I smelled the corpses on my fingers when I took my smoke break
leaning against a warm brick wall facing the smooth white headless
mannequins in thousand-dollar shift dresses

The deli next door advertised organic toast and raisins on the vine

Mornings, I tried to learn from eyeliner
and shimmer on faces near mine on the train

Warm fogged imprint on a metal pole
where someone’s grip evaporated

Everyone looking down when someone walked through 
asking for help

At Evolution, talk radio played all day

A cool voice giving hourly updates
on the bombing of another city which it called
the conflict

The pinner in headphones sometimes hummed
or started a breathy lyric

“Selfish girl—

I watched my tweezers guide the poisonous exquisite
blue of morpho wings

Their legs like jointed eyelashes

False eyes on the grayling wingtips
to protect the true face

The monarch’s wings like fire
pouring through a lattice

Copyright © 2020 by Margaret Ross.
Originally published in Poem-a-Day on October 22, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.