Thursday, 26 August 2010

The Cleaner Vacuum

Half-woken in the small hours by torrential rain, I fumble with the mosquito net to get up and cover the laptop with waterproofing. Entangled moth-like and feebly struggling, it comes to me that I am in Georgetown, not Aishalton, and I fall back exhausted. I’m insulated now, and have no need of Ortleib bags. Cause for thankfulness, a sensible person would think.

It’s strange, shifting environments so utterly, so suddenly. I was told by a proper hippy when I left China that the soul travels at walking pace. I think it might be true. I’m just about reaching Lethem tonight. My id should reach Georgetown around 19th September at 1pm. I’ll let you know her impressions of the journey when she catches up with me.

Here I am, cleaner but in a vacuum. Here, I am cleaner but in a vacuum. Similar statements, telling different truths. I read Annie Dillard and I am not sure she helps. Illuminates, maybe. “All those things for which we have no words are lost. The mind- the culture- has two little tools, grammar and lexicon: a decorated sand bucket and a matching shovel.” Words seem too blunt; words seem to blunt the raw gusting force of abandoning a home without ceremony. The richness of Aishalton laps at the edge of my mind in multifarious motley. It claims me in my dreams, and wakes me up bereft. Don’t get me wrong. I stank. I was shattered. I cursed the blaring Brazilian music pounding deep like mining drills at 2am. I worried constantly, especially since the scorpion in the bed, the snake in the shower, the monkey spider sent from heaven above plummeting towards the bedroom, and the man who got the back of his skull ripped off by a jaguar.

And yet. It is so REAL. So vibrant in its stinks. So viciously close to the unpeopled world. I want to say it is real like a child’s drawing is real, which is the nearest I can get to its strange dimensionality with my sand bucket and shovel.

Words fail me. I fail them. What remains is the attempt to finish the sandcastle I’ve been building, knowing it’s a feeble likeness, and knowing it will wash away, but rushing nevertheless to give you a representation of Aishalton’s fascinating, isolated, unique immediacy before the tide comes in.


  1. For me, part of the reward of putting thoughts out in the public, either as pictures or written thoughts, is the very different reactions you can solicit. People will have opinions on your work that may never have occurred to you. Whether they are negative or positive I tend to like hearing them.

    That rather long preface was an implicit apology in case aren't pleased at my thoughts on your post.

    Well, not so much thoughts as an observation that reading this post caused a strong feeling, similar to that which I felt reading Heart of Darkness. Or it may have been the movie, Apocalypse Now. I have seen the movie more recently than my last reading of the book, so I may be confusing the two.

    Either way, this is not fiction for you, so I hope you are not offended at me drawing an inference between your personal thoughts and Heart of Darkness.

  2. Sorry, just to be clear, the inference is not to Kurtz but to Marlowe/Willard.

  3. Any reaction is a good reaction I think. Besides, a reaction is a reaction... real. I'm pleased and slightly surprised that this post would evoke such a strong feeling. And I especially agree that negative or postive are worth hearing- although I'm not sure Marlowe is so far off just now!