An Island of Delay

Smashed_clock_south_on_building_of_abandoned_glass_factory_stralau_berlin_13_december_2009_edited-1_copy

A breakthrough.

Monday was a beautiful clear autumn day, so I chose to walk from my home to the Tiergarten with my camera, goal as much as I had one being to wean myself further off the automatic settings. I stopped en route for lunch at a café. The moment I’d finished eating, I began to gather my things and get ready to go. And the whole of me resisted: my body, my feelings, my instincts said ‘NO!’ Even the part of my mind that was on the side of the resistance won its case almost instantaneously. What was I rushing off for? This was not the moment to leave, it was the moment simply to sit, to take time not as theft but in appreciation. And so I sat, perhaps for ten, fifteen minutes; I don’t know because I had no time-telling device and anyway it really didn’t matter. I did nothing in particular: looked at other customers with neither special interest nor special aversion, studied a postcard-clad cupboard and cakes-in-waiting on a back sideboard, noticed that the café wall bore a large reproduction of a James Gillray cartoon of France and England personified at table, carving up the globe between them in the form of a plum pudding. A stream of inconsequential thoughts I now no longer remember doubtless coursed through my mind. Then another moment came, and I simply gathered up my things, left the café and carried on with the day. Continue reading “An Island of Delay”

Opposites Distract

Angel_closer_to_chimney_invalidenfriedhof_berlin_5_june_2010

It’s nothing original to summon the opening stanza of W. B. Yeats’s ‘The Second Coming’ to point up the predicament of now:

Turning and turning in the widening gyre 

The falcon cannot hear the falconer; 

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; 

Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world, 

The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere 

The ceremony of innocence is drowned; 

The best lack all conviction, while the worst 

Are full of passionate intensity.

But it struck me that the poem seems to speak distinctly – or, it suddenly came into my mind so speaking – of an aspect of this predicament that tugs repeatedly: the habit of polarisation, being on the inside of a civilization that, in so many aspects of its existence, seems almost hypnotically driven towards fixed extremes. Continue reading “Opposites Distract”