Dougald hosting a discussion with Jay Griffiths at Uncivilisation 2010
Imagine the following: you board a train to journey across an unknown continent, bound for an uncertain destination. Each day, through the window of your lonely compartment, unexpected vistas appear, each bearing little relation to the one before it: an inland sea full of small icebergs; cardboard shanties tumbling down an eroded range of hills; a boy leading a partially flayed cow through a flooded field; a ruined hermitage above the tree line. One day the train stops in a bustling city at an imperial station covered by a vast wrought iron canopy with a glazed roof. I enter your compartment and sit down across from you.
Perhaps you are reticent and introspective, the kind of person who places your baggage on the seat next to you so that the newly boarded travelers will not interrupt your solitude; or perhaps you crave company, smiling at each potential traveling companion, hoping they might rescue you from the vertigo of your own thoughts — either way, it is unimportant. For whatever reason, you feel a familiarity, as though I am from a dream, and a feeling of warmth flows over you. As the train pulls away, new scenes appear beyond the window and I begin to tell you stories; some seem to relate to these vistas, while others might involve memories of myself or others, or the life I think you may have led, but again, it does not matter: my voice pleases you and you are glad to have words spoken loud, they are like the music of Scheherezade.
Still, there is no overarching plot line; like the landscapes beyond the window, incidents and themes seem to repeat and evaporate, but not in a way that quite suggests a narrative. Then it occurs to you that this isn’t so much a train journey as a book with no binding, full of loose, unnumbered pages, a circular book, that by its very circularity, has no beginning and no end. As its pages slip through your hands, reordering themselves, the same fragment might recur three ti
This Be The Verse
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world.
Dark Mountain: Issue 21
Our Spring 2022 issue is an anthology of non-fiction, fiction, poetry and artwork that revolves around the theme of confluence