From inside the skip



From inside the skip I could hear the whipping-boy, staunch and noisome:

“no to transcripts,

no to spittle,

to high-flown scampi,

to public announcements,

to hi-tech narrow-mindedness,

varicose art-forms,

viva voce examinations,

the intelligent stubbornness

of the plywood polymath,

and girlie slams,

and beard-baiting.”


His words – sinewy and throaty, never throwaway or thuggish – electrified me.

He went on:

“Our words must be inspected for their sharpness.

When we juggle with words we raise the old pipe-dream of being able to juggle jungle and junglism.

But words are not for explanation.

And sentences are not to be economized on – like… like… parking fees.

They are not like these tables – arbitrarily dumped; they are not aspiring to the giraffe’s contemplative elevation.

They are capable of leading us to a billowing redemption at a road junction – for which purpose they must be as carefully placed as this shallow trowel, dangling from the wing-mirror: dangling there as pure facticity.”

While the whipping-boy was speaking the spectre approached the skip, carrying the obligations.  I was concerned – obligations are supposed to take the give out of words, making them, in the last resort, spadework.

But it seemed the whipping-boy was tuned-in to my thoughts, because he immediately addressed the subject:

“we must press for more open space, increasing the span between obligations through our mischievous spirits, our cloud chambers and our rootlessness.  We will not be satisfied by the sullenness of pairs or the sentence as painted lady.

We must use the subtitle, the subtext of signals, soundtracks, muckraking, peppermills, offal,

and the touchiness of touchstones.

Obligations of every kind are in fact the mothers of new art forms:

pajamas, chalices, fools, light pens, smoothies, water fowl, soda fountains, DIY, muck, countless thousands of things are there for these art forms to disentangle – or disembowel.

Imagination can consist in the bold use of a credit card, in discouraging hard cash and discovering hard backs and hardboard.

Or in seeing the evil eyes in the garlands,

in the sandwich-fillings and the lobster pots.”