Sunday 27 November 2011

Oh please come at once to the nursery, sir

The children are playing with something that looks like a dog and is not a dog

Friday 14 October 2011

Monday 10 October 2011

Theresa May speaks

"The illegal immigrant who cannot be deported because - I am not making this up - he had a pet cat."

Wednesday 5 October 2011

Cameron speech: Let's show the world some fight

Let's bring on the can-do optimism. Let's summon the energy and the appetite to fight for a better future. And you ... just keep your hands where we can see them until the revolutionary guards come to take you to your cell.

Monday 3 October 2011

Friday 23 September 2011

Tuesday 13 September 2011

Apollo's Lyre

Then I saw the keyboard of an organ which filled one whole side of the walls. On the desk was a music-book covered with red notes. I asked leave to look at it and read, 'Don Juan Triumphant.'

Thursday 8 September 2011

Sunday 31 July 2011

Wednesday 27 July 2011

A found poem

Valmeras loved Raymonde's melancholy charm
She put the gun to her shoulder, calmly took aim and fired
Two huge letters, each perhaps a foot long, appeared cut in relief in the granite of the floor
'We're going out now. What do you think of my cockle-shell, Beautrelet?'

Monday 13 June 2011

Friday 10 June 2011

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Sunday 24 April 2011

Sunday 27 March 2011

Every Man His Own Fantômas: or, Away With Nostalgia

This piece was first published in Black Lightning #1. I reprint it here to mark ... not the centenary of Fantômas's birth, but a century of his rampages, in which we must join.

Do you know where the masked gaze of the Master of Terror first burned into you? I was in a second-hand bookshop in Balham. His cape swept over the city, and I felt those demonically empty eyes drawing me in. Edward Gorey compared the characters to Looney Tunes cartoons, and The Silent Executioner launched me on a night journey into sheer malicious wonder.

I was entranced.

These evil black pearls were magical and I wanted more. This was my discovery, nobody could ever have heard of Fantômas before, and I soaked up every empty coffin, every rubber-armed disguise, every deadly-perfumed flower. I was frenzied with the poison of these texts, and later with the deadly toxins of Feuillade’s films. I lived the swooning dread of the Unseizable One’s reign.

Along the way I came to realise that not only was I not, in fact, the first to succumb to his malevolent darts, but that many of the people I most admired had also written with similar frenzy of his iron grip. The early Surrealists, contemporaries of the novels and Feuillade’s films, were also swept along on their narcotic clouds. Apollinaire seems to have lifted the title The Poet Assassinated from a customarily vicious episode in a Fantômas novel. (Such a theft is itself worthy of the Genius of Crime).

And of course this was only to be expected. I was responding to the same febrile marvels as the earlier Surrealists had.

But I began to notice another trend, too, as I became more involved with contemporary Surrealism. Liking Fantômas had been sanctioned by our forebears. It was acceptable and appropriate to admit liking Fantômas. How many people borrowed my Feuillade DVDs because they felt they ought to, and then had nothing to say about them afterwards? How many people were prepared to drop the name of Fantômas whilst clearly having no interest in his crimes? Fantômas had simply become canonical.

The canon has a dead hand, but I didn’t love Fantômas because Desnos had written a poem about him, because it was permitted. I loved Desnos’s poem for the same reason I loved Fantômas: I wanted to sweep everyone and everything away in an amoral cataclysm that was not permitted, I wanted to send an actor to the gallows in my stead so that I might achieve my terrible plans. In a world which treats us with callous contempt, Fantômas’ coldly rational and unexplained fury is the doorway to our release.

We will always make lists of things we love. We will always look behind us at doors that have already opened, but their value lies in what is still found behind them, not in who told us they were open, nor in when they were unlocked. This is no nostalgic wallow. Yes Fantômas lives, but so do such convulsive descendants as T-Bag in Prison Break, the Joker, or President Lex Luthor. Only by sending the piteous Gurn summarily to his doom will we also be able to find these new Fantômases here and now, will we be able to open new doors. To break the skeletal grip of the canon we must not admire Fantômas. We must be him.

To the sewers!

Wednesday 9 February 2011

Thursday 27 January 2011

Monday 10 January 2011

Slippery Ghosts

At other times footsteps have been heard and horrible sliding, serpentine rustles, as of gigantic snakes slipping about on the brick steps. Water fills the tunnel to within a few steps of the top. It is extremely probable that the river has broken in at some time and flooded the passage. This has given rise to stories that the tunnel is inhabited by great eels ...