An Island of Delay


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


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”