HAPPINESS.THE OTHER BOOKSHOP:TANGENTS AND EXPLORATIONS. BY STEVEN BENSON.

It is Sunday time; it is liminal time. The man in the coffee-tasting emporium ( a rather-aporically-pleasant bastion of {bourgeois}capitalism):- he liked Kafka:) He REALLY liked Kakka; he really did. A serendipity, on the ramparts of the bastion. He was affable: I recommended Sebald {he has now read “Vertigo”, including the inspired-by-Kafka “Doctor K takes the Waters at Riva”!)…………………………

Anyway, I am now seated in the other book shop (the big one, begins with a W :P) looking out on a vista of joy{sarcasm}:capitalism unbounded: a kitsch (no, just naff!) garish silver Christmas appendage (aspiring to be a tree), peppered with heart symbols. MMMM…..

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You need to buy, at least, a coffee (later told, you don’t : you just ask, but the subtle pressure is there) to get a toilet code on a receipt (when you actually prise your way into them, they are filthy: no soap; I complained, politely yet ballistically). Things are going wrong, in minor or major way with this entity for which we commonly use the shorthand “capitalism”/unfettered  free market et al. Dirt, inability to have a meaningful conversation because an endless stream of customers/”customers” are testing various coffees they may well not even intend to buy. Money upon money… funding with tickbox restrictions… money  makes the world go round….   Well, I am no economist (and could probably make a stronger argument for kind/responsible;/watered-down capitalist Keynsianism if I were {I shall have to trust Jeremy and his famous economic advisors for that}) ; but something is well wrong… and never mind/mention the May “government”, which is itself (Tory) having to justify market-lead economies because Jeremy Corbyn is now setting the economic agenda… Wow! Jezzy setting the economic agenda( well, it MIGHT be a disaster; but I think metered municipalism and partial statism and old-fashioned investment in infrastructure are worth a go; and he loves the gays and trans people:)). Co-incidentally(?) I concomitantly bought a book on the theme of the collapse of the USSR; no-one is advocating command economy Communism (well, there are a few:); but I vaguely think of Dubcek and “Communism with a human face” or perhaps something in-between… Well, you are going to have to read Paul Mason or some economist on the Left for more details. (not Owen Jones; he abandoned Jeremy at key moments then jumped back on the {winning} bandwagon)


TEASE OUT THE LINKS(I would do it for YOU):
1. Repressed sexual identity (invariably a non-hegemonic, ie non straight one), eg Kafka/Dr. K, brought on by :

2 Market commodification of women’s and lgbt peoples’ bodies; a control/compulsory heterosexuality  through out mainstream society’s many streams: established churches, political establishments etc etc. Until 1967, in the UK, the state OWNED the bodies of men who had sex with other men: to ensure reproductive futurism’s well, future was guaranteed; you couldn’t use your OWN body’s penis to do what you liked (consensually, of course). Gay men were useful for the military-arms complex (mum liked that phrase), ie canon fodder; then they were illegal in the Armed Services. There is some link between endemic unfettered capitalism and gay mens’ bodies and pre-Woolfenden that I am not quite getting; it is sort, but not at all wholly, like women (and THEIR bodies) having been chattels of men; marriage, of course, perpetuates that… Marriage props up capitalism by neatly dividing people into twos and families, who buy stuff. But then, we hit a contradiction: the Pink Pound,(which even existed, clandestinely, pre 1967)as it is known. THAT compounds  free markets flourishment. MMMMM….

Come on Jeremy and voters… get in power: Jeremy with his love of things BEYOND money and its self-devouring need for renewal:

African poetry

Shelley (“for the many not the few”)

Radio 3

allotments

Nuclear disarmament (did you know he has a shadow minister for Peace and Disarmament?; no-one to shadow, of course)

The Right Honourable Jeremy Corbyn.. from allotment to (excruciatingly; apparently a few thousand votes away from a minority government because of SCORES of tiny Tory marginal; suspicious: SO MANY tiny marginals??) near power. Tick the realpolitik boxes so that you can actualise your dreams (and OUR dreams: the faithful) and sort it all out(or, at least, make a start!)


We need something FAR better than this masculinist, hetero-patriarchal troubled capitalist charade(if its ramifications weren’t so serious): I DO see alternatives (Laurieston Hall, for example; housing co-ownership schemes); but they are very patchy and not joined up. Or the LGBT groups I run, successfully; ok, they use capitalist (non-chain) venues but they are not built on the shaky foundations of funding nor are they profit-making or businesses: they are myself, a couple of helpers, my computer and a lot of time advertising. “News from Nowhere” is another outpost/outlier: it, like the rest of us, as the world is currently constituted, NEEDS capitalism, but it weaves its way in and out of it, and is a hub, to an extent, for activism, lgbt rights, womens’ rights, BAME rights, working class rights, disability rights. Utopia means “Nowhere”: is the pun/uncertainty knowing?; ARE we nowhere… or are we getting SOME where (over the rainbow…P).

Soz, this was meant to be about happiness; the attempt at arriving at a microcosmic (personal) happiness is, naturally, unentanglable from macrocosmic(societal/world) happiness or the lack of … and political ideologies are, at one and the same time, manifested in PERSONAL ideologies..

…………………………………………………………………………………………………

But, meanwhile, back at the base (and superstructure) happiness, currently is, to me :

  1. Jeremy Corbyn and his (limited?) potential to change society, tame capitalism around the edges and his manifold plans to increase the rights of lgb people, and, particularly, those of trans people(read the 2017 manifesto).
  2. Bookshops and managed joyful, purchasing: after uninhibited browsamania(and a good quality espresso; see my “The {other/the proper} Bookshop series), outposts, still(just!) there, enmired in the marshes of the internet.

 

Deeper shoots of happiness

Kind and intellectually-stimulating friends (they know who they are!), sharing feelings and critical thinking about books, music and the world; sitting in my eyrie, watching the wild parrots and squirrels from my new espresso table and stool, Oryx Lps playing behind me, the village-green-in-the-city in front of me.

Ultimately, we have to GRAB happiness; it is ours (if we are lucky enough to live in a country where we are not persecuted/killed for being who we are, as lgbt people): this happiness, a compound of capitalist-driven quick-fixes and stronger, deeper stuff.. more enduring.

 

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WATCHING YOUR GAY PAST IN PUBLIC VIEW. THE MUSEUM OF LIVERPOOL’S “TALES FROM THE CITY” EXHIBITION.MY PERSONAL TAKE.BY STEVEN BENSON

IMG_8327

What mixed feelings I have about this exhibition! Positive, first: To have this, at all, even is 2017, is still pretty ground-breaking (sadly and disgustingly), so credit to National Museums Liverpool (and for their-more artistically based-_”Coming Out” exhibition at the Walker Art Gallery). Secondly, it is in a PUBLIC arena; when I came out as gay, from 1984, there was much societal pressure to heavily compartmentalise your life; and the gay and lesbian (the then nomenclature) venues there were: all up stairs or downstairs, still subject to Police raids, ie, HIDDEN. Now, in the UK anyway, we are not (so ) hidden: making your sexual orientation or gender identity public, if you are lgbt, is always complex. So, walking round this space-full of glorious artefacts- made me feel I was 1. walking around my own past (Anti Clause 28 involvement and gay clubs of yore); but I was doing it MORE publically than I had when I was actually in those clubs( though the Anti Section 28 campaign was VERY public https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2015/09/05/section-28-the-fight-against-it-in-merseyside-reportagelgbt-archiveunwritten-histories-by-steven-benson/  )

2. made me see my own, lesbian and gay activist past, through one remove: my memories were unearthed via an EXTERNAL process( the exhibition and mementoes). This had been compounded by being the Organiser of the community group chosen for an NML consultation fairly recently on the content of the net collection, “Pride and Prejudice”, from which some of the artefacts were drawn. In the displayed list of acknowledgements/thanks, there was no mention of our group; so, ironically, the Museum was obliterating and invisibilizing(and thus mimicking and replicating) the very process of societal lgbt marginalisation. This made me angry; though I still appreciated the work of the Museum and the contributors of stories and physical remembrances.

So, as I said, complex feelings.

There was our banner IMG_8379there were posters for the erstwhile 80s bars, Sadie’s and Scarletts, scenes of former adventures(of multiform sorts:P)

IMG_8339IMG_8338

Most poignantly of all was a picture (?mid 80s) of the second incarnation of the radical bookshop, “News from Nowhere” in its Whitechapel home (all now demolished), where I had bought all my Gay Mens Press and other gay fiction and political books; the verisimilitude of these memories, initiated by the madeleine of the materials in this exhibition, was hard to inhabit…IMG_8350

There it is….. somewhere in there is my 25 year old self: burrowing, assiduously, through the three gay mens fiction shelves, keenly (if not desperately) seeking mirror images of my own self and life, as a (young, then)gay man, to re-inforce that shaky selfhood, because of what heterosexist, hegemonic “society” had done to me: not feeling like a  victim but re-grafting my life back onto my self, via literary representations of people like me…https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/07/20/the-role-of-gay-mens-fiction-in-identity-formation-of-a-gay-man-by-steven-benson/

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I shall be back at the exhibition to listen to the audios of lgbtq people and their life histories… and to write some post-it note comments…………………………………

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CORNWALL RAMBLINGS(PART 3):ENTRAPMENT AND FREEDOM. BY STEVEN BENSON.

IMG_7950Yes, I remember Liskeard,

The land of lost content,

For, on an October day,

The branch train

Terminated there

Wontedly.


Bad hommages (or postmodern collages?:P) aside:-it is, again, a day of porous time boundaries: 2005/2006??. Somewhere around then… THEN… and NOW(October 2017).

I felt as if I had(mainly) re-emerged from a year of illness, back to the land of Network Rail trains (after two successful sojourns on Merseyrail as a warm-up). The 3-day Rail Rover of then (doing the Cornish and Devon branchlines :)); the one day epic, 6 trains-there-and-back- St Ives to Looe(via Liskeard) of now.

IMG_7947

Here/there we are: St. Ives Central(sponsored by Blue Chip). It -just -survived the Beeching cuts and now boasts  temporary coffee and booking office(independently run) shacks; so it is not even unstaffed; and the train was not one spamcan but FOUR coaches{I am getting a bit traingeek pre-orgasmic:P}.

“This train will call at Carbis Bay, Lelant Saltings and Lelant. Please note, Lelant is a request stop only and the guard must be informed, at the start of your journey, that you wish to alight there.”

 


Being gay in Liskeard(the change point for the Looe branch, with its own separate, cute little station,nomenclatured “platform 3”), IMG_8021

must be no mean feat. It would have been pleasanter to have come to these remoter Cornish spaces/places- the UNgay- with a gay/queer friend with a strong gay/queer sense of self/identity: they/HE would have “got” it: the displaced, malaise-ridden feeling{ the ersatz sebaldian narrator, Steve, felt he was about to revert to periphrastic prose, interweaving clauses set in a miasma of torpor and that Sebald word “malaise”}, the need to(joyfully!) gay up those (already somewhat queer in the sense of “quaint”) Cornish branchlines and the pretty but,ultimately, tedious,blue-and-white art saturation. (My friend had gone to Suffolk at, strangely, the same time: on a Benji Britten and Sebald pilgrimage: I was a bit envious, because I felt he had had the chance to have a queer encounter, with his/our heroes; but I was, simultaneously, pleased for him:)).

…..I am rambling : as, indeed, is this crazy woman in the photogenic trainspotter’s heaven of a buffet at Liskeard interchange: she has been here most of the day. She likes diesel engines, according to the café staff; in fact, they say she is here ALL day EVERY day. She could be ME :P….IMG_8008between trains… junctions/changing points … liminal areas…  These (usurped, used images) trail away or, perhaps, just hit the buffers, like my train(s) and my prose………IMG_7945

——————————————————————————————————————————– etc

 

 

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CORNWALL RAMBLINGS(PART 2): GAY IN ST.IVES(?). BY STEVEN BENSON

I wouldn’t like to be gay/trans/bi/queer and live-permanently- in St.Ives. It was alienating and lonely enough being there for a week.


“you are gay gay gay {etc}{blah blah blah}{YAWN}”; “you are TOO{sic} gay}{bigger yawn}”. WHATEVS…. Ha Ha: BUT, HE mentioned “Gay Street” (it really is called that!) in Bath at the start of the conversation…{IRONY/SARCASM ALERT!}. Us gays are SO fucked up; rather, hetrosexual/ist hegemonic society has fucked us up; we internalise it and turn on other queers. How depressing and circular is that… Many a time and oft have I stood on yonder battlements; I cannot really be bothered unpicking it all- all the WEIGHTY baggage-again….{I had written a big psycho-social explication, when I was actually IN Cornwall, but it is a waste of time, and too upsetting, to type it here. Read this instead: https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/09/08/the-lgbt-diaspora-by-steven-benson/

and this: https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/institutions-for-merseyside-lgbt-creative-writing-group-mixed-genre-by-steven-benson/   )

But then to -possibly-misquote someone famous :”Mankind cannot bear too much{socially constructed} reality”…….

SO. BEGONE, AWAY….I am now PRETENDING(writing this on the blog AFTER ST Ives, but having originally written it, in my notebook, IN St.Ives), I am in an ideal world, where your sexual orientation and/or gender identity doesn’t matter… Ok, I miss/will miss my vibrant, variegated gay/queer (sub?)- culture; but,in this (semi-imaginary) the-world-as-it-should be- space, St. Ives maintains a poise and equilibrium, a sunshine rainbow promise (though however much of it is a shimmering, rainbow mirage is another matter…), sans oppression(external and internalised)IMG_8273IMG_8322 Is that a ship(unfreighted with baggage) I see on the horizon…….

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CORNWALL RAMBLINGS.1.NOW..AND THEN… AND THEN….MY ROSE GARDEN OF THE IMAGINARY.BY STEVEN BENSON

IMG_7710NEAR THE SHORE, I SHORE UP THESE FRAGMENTS

We came here, then, in 2000: I was emaciated and could not eat properly. Today, I am in (somewhat) more stable health; and weigh 2 and a half stone more . Today, I am staying in a pent house (room)

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It is St.Ives: visual heaven and commercial trashcan (blue and white “St Ives School” paintings flood the town; there is no respite).

Back again,via the 2000 excursus, to another, far more distant  THEN:Aberystwyth in 1980/81. So, as , NOW(2017) I draw the curtains on my first morning(and like the uncanny ABC drapeIMG_5672, I draw it onto my past) I have a view that equates, in many ways, with my sublime demesne of that sweet yesteryear: South Marine Terrace(Number 9, “The Mariner”; now, ironically,self-catering apartments).It is still the Irish Sea, there is  a not dissimilar promontory. Even a graveyard, in Cornwall as there was in Y Castell grounds in Aber.IMG_7713 IMG_7711Aber was present, yet distant; beyond; but also, queerly, ATHWART time, in the counterpoint of memories and the here and now. Two places; and ONE place.

Unlike the spectral revenant which was the return to the Isle of Man https://decayetude.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/isle-of-man-final-part-a-la-recherche-ou-ne-point-ramsey-by-steven-benson/

this was not a slightly sinister, negative experience. I suppose the fact I had last visited St. Ives 17, rather than 42, years ago(I.O.M) was a factor; and Aber is NEVER an uncanny or eerie place to re-visit.:).

So, three times, two places… now… and then.. and then…

POSTLUDE

Of what nature are these across/beyond time sebaldian, liminal experiences and co-incidences IMG_7569

?:… Visiting the failing Great Eastern Hotel(in the un-refurbished Liverpool Street station)at , roughly, the same time as Sebald; being “Benson”/Benson, me and Michael Carson’s character(in “Stripping Penguins Bare”) BOTH gay male English Lit students with the same surname at (very approximately) the same epoch, both at Aberystwyth !!!! All I needed was to see Max-himself-stood there on the promontory, as he did, in a photo inserted in “The Rings of Saturn”, in Suffolk, looking out to sea….IMG_7734

 

 

 

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Archiving Time (4)

Wolflin’s considered, considerable and beautifully penned response to my chaos-with-order archive. Exqusite:) xx

Attic Fantasist

We entered the study proper. This is where the archon attends to the business of everyday life. It is also a space of precious artefacts. The messy stuff of life sorted on one side, a life curated on the other where the bookshelves are situated. A constantly shifting curation of books, booklets, pamphlets, recorded material is ‘faced off’ (in the bookseller’s lingo) in line with the archon’s current remembrance of time past. Like drawers being opened here, there and everywhere. Some of the titles already archived under the aegis of our existing project have found their way into the study proper, the inner sanctum of the inner sanctum, the beating heart of a rainbow-coloured ark. Archiving liberates the hidden into the faced-off. You look at the book looking at you, there’s a moment of instant recognition, its contents or some idea of its contents hove in sight on the horizon…

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GAY/QUEER HERMENEUTICS. BARRIERS AND TRANSFORMATIONS. BY STEVEN BENSON.

“hermeneutics are a branch of knowledge that deals with interpretation{eg of texts}”

“hermeneutics are a method or theory of interpretation”

STRAY THOUGHTS

  1. A VERY vexed field, SOLELY because societal homophobia/heterosexism/heteronormativity has MADE it so.
  2. Reflects each lgbtq person’s (self) positionality on the spectrum from heavily internalised homo/cisphobia upto (relative; it is NEVER complete) RE-ENVISIONNING of the world in my/your/our queer/gay/trans terms (It takes a lot of therapy and a context in a queer/gay subculture of support networks/friends. That is just for starters!)
  3. {I am attempting to read Holly Furneaux “Queer Dickens:Erotics, Families, Masculinities” (2009), specifically in relation to my parallel reading of “David Copperfield” https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/the-tangled-skein-of-memory-my-life-and-david-copperfield-by-steven-benson/ ; and, even more particularly, the gay hermeneutics of the relationship of Steerforth and the protagonist; as well as the queer hermeneutics of Mr. Dick and various other bachelors, surrogate parents and spinster ladies. (Compare my own and Helen Finch’s work on the queer hermeneutics of Sebald’s oevre, especially his narrators https://towardsutopia.wordpress.com/2011/09/14/wg-sebaldcritics-responsenon-response-to-the-large-amount-of-homosocialityclose-male-friendshipsand-of-homosexualbisexual-characters-in-his-work-with-particular-reference-to-the-character-of-h/ )}
  4. The whole panoply of heterosex is arrayed, in its ostentatious display(flaunting itself and thrusting it down our fey, gay throats). Literary interpretation is no exception to what is both an unconscious and CONSCIOUS/disingenuous barrage. Of course, this leads to:
  5. Us gays/queers INTERNALIZE this (keeping) control bid (“the aggressive heterosexual”:P); and we reverse the situation and feel WE are imposing a worldview on THEM (I really do not want this “us and them” but it is necessary, temporarily at least, to make the point, as was radical separatist feminism). So, when someone says, “there can’t possibly be a homoerotic sub{its always sub, like subaltern}text(blah, blah, blah….”, we (us gays and queers) feel we are up against the heterosexualized worldview and our own internalization of that as “the norm”; so we ARE, we think, IMPOSING a queer/gay hermeneutic; compounded by
  6. (legal and,thus,self) censorship pre Woolfenden (and that is only in the UK, and sans consideration of the complex invisibilization process of lesbians) so us gays/queers are MADE to feel we are arguing against the (textual) grain. It is tiring; AND, it is, self-evidently, an aporia:
  7. Its Catch-22. We struggle to prove a queer/gay {forget the sub} text because censorship edited it out, so we have to be ever so tentative (not Holly F. though!:)); then THEY say, there isn’t one (“you are reading too much into Steerforth’s affection for DC and vice versa”; you re “gay, gay , gay”{meant to be a “joke”}) TEDIOUS….HOMOPHOBIC)
  8. Heteronormativity has made interpretation, like life(sometimes!) hard for us(though there is something joyful in re-appropriation, and queer hermeneutics,a stand for selfhood!:))So,
  9. You have to ACT into queer/gay hermeneutics, bolstered with previous gay/lgbt/trans/queer theorists- the brave trailblazers-; use tangents (like Furneaux’s idea of the “body double”- man to man love emblemised(DISTANCED, in effect) by having female characters take the place, as love-object, of the same-sex(actual!) beloved/desired.
  10. Just as in life (and literature is one of the superstructures of that essential base, to be a bit Marxist) we have always had to DIG our gay/queer/trans selves out of the rubble of heterosexism/normativity, strewn in our way; (not to mention reproductive futurism). WOW! No wonder its a hard endeavour.
  11. {ENOUGH, for now, anyway, this unearthing has fatigued me greatly}

 

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ARCHIVING(CONTINUED); RADICAL RANDOMNESS. BY STEVEN BENSON.

When Chris and I archived for the second time, I had the (random) idea to  pick out, randomly- and hopefully serendipitously and pertinently- groups of 5 “naughty” (please read for that: thinking outside the hegemonic/heteronormative box) books, especially books that the straight academy like to dispute as “that cannot possibly be homoerotic” et al.. blah, blah, blah…they HAVE to dispute (from psycho-social deep insecurities in their selves:”Oh my God{subconsciously, in a fear reaction}”I might be gay”: you hear their strangulated inner voices crying this plea). This is boring and stressful. I am working, here, from the PRO-LGBT/gay/queer place/space/time where EVERY TEXT IS (at least possibly) gay/queer UNLESS THERE IS REASONABLE evidence that there is opposite-sex affect. This is only temporary; it is NOT heterophobic because it, briefly, corrects an institutionalised (and,thus,internailesd homo/transphobic) imbalance. In short, it turns the tables:)! {deal with it !}. …. Imagine saying, in a literary class, with (putative?) heterosexual people in attendance,that this “cannot possibly be heterosexual” when there is clear(OR mooted!) textual evidence to the contrary. It is clearly offensive( do you see where I am going?). { I recommend this book  if you can find it! It REALLY DOES turn everything on its head .}

Some of the “examples”, of where there can definitively (allegedly) be no homo-erotic (sub) text, are risible: the sperm scene and marriage bed scene (between two men) in Melville:”Moby Dick”; or plainly homo-affective parts of Forster’s (non “Maurice”) oevre. Others are-for the gay/queer, alternative academy, harder to argue- and require close textual exegesis, bearing in mind (self) censorship was rife of overtly homosexual material (an example would be Mary Elizabeth Braddon’s “Lady Audley’s Secret”, which, after minimal digging, turns up a homosexual man, Robert). Well, any doubt… and they are gay, in my book(!). I am being bad, and playful; yet I MEAN it:P!. From a logistical point of view the physical display/shelving of my books reflects this psychological mindset: the (primarily) straight content books-novels and critical theory- are at the BACK of double-layered shelves!The same-sex/queer affect content ones are ALL at the front/on display/FLAUNTING IT {they love that put-down} And my queer/gay study SOLELY contains same sex/queer love-affect content material


So the putative randomness is not so random and was a tad disingenuous: I picked/grabbed, for Chris to catalogue,”contentious” (as perceived by the heteronormative conglomerate and aggregate) texts: I stole from the precious, insecure heterosexual canon (I robbed from them: books they claimed as theirs:Dickens, James, even Shakespeare!:P). I also chose samizdat, pre-Woolfenden texts, by obscure publishers, with garish colours, which- somehow- got away with “flaunting it” in full daylight (Panther, New English Library imprints). I WRESTED and WRESTLED back OUR gay/queer territory, which had, for centuries, been subject to a massive land-grab.

(More archival ramblings soon:))……

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NOW AND THEN;FREEDOM AND MEMORIES.BY STEVEN BENSON.

I sat outside the Bookshop,as I had sat in “The Cabin” café (and, frequently, visited Ystwyth Books, Aberystwyth, looking for book nougats,THEN,as I do NOW). Now is 2017; then is 1978. Liverpool now; “Aber” (as affectionately known by present and former denizens) then. Time boundaries(place boundaries?) collapsing, melding and melting…

NOW: the Bookshop(and associated café) is quite full: the students are back, of course; it is the 20th September.

THEN: I was 18 and 19; it is the gap between seminars/lectures, a Monday morning, in the café in Pier Street, lecturer co-mingling with his students. I didn’t (fully) know who I was, then, but there was an UNknowing, blythe happiness….and some angst… One of the most beautiful(yet painful in re-ignition: in the gap/passing years betwixt now and then, the erstwhile, foregone time of yore, {so painful I am reduced to archaic tautologies, to put the pain at a distance})memories is walking down Penglais Hill{ 1 in 7 }, in October 1978, from the new university to the old, replete with briefcase, swinging it as I walked. It was just before my birthday, my first birthday in Aber and I was both looking forward to being back in Liverpool and celebrating my new home in West Wales (I had hardly even been homesick: I had surprised myself!). It was a Wednesday: I remember that because we had no lectures on that day; so I would go to the arts library on the hill, rather than the shorter(hill-less) walk to Hen Coleg/Old College, where English Lit students(still, then) had lectures. Image result for old college aberystwyth

It was a month after I had moved into Bridge Street, a B and B where the landlady housed students for 8 months per year(on account of the seaside town’s very short tourist, summer season).  Image result for sunnymead aberystwyth

{It looks just the same: I had , in fact, re-visited it, in the early 2000s, and the landlady Mark 2 had allowed me to go up to my former room; a bit modernised but mainly as it had been; a real time-slip}.

Everything-in a vague, blythe way- seemed to play for….THEN; NOW(thirty-eight years later!) this is difficult (again beautiful yet painful) to recall….You can’t {platitude} re-gain/re-possess the past: we HAVE ONLY remembrances and memories….

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A RANDOM ROLL-CALL OF REMEMBRANCES

is it REALLY 38 years ago that:-

….I went with mum-IMG_6276IMG_6280{the one on the left is me) to the remote outpost of Aberystwyth on the (British Rail!) train, calling at all stations to Aberystwyth, Image result for aberystwyth railway station three weeks before term-start(because I had-luckily-got into that university through the administrations of the HeadMaster at the last minute): to look for “digs”. We had 6 hours,till the last train to Shrewsbury: we, eventually, located the canary yellow “Sunnymead Guest House”. Mrs Morgan; and her husband…he played the Organ(honestly:”Organ Morgan”; seriously!). We liked the house, resplendent in gay (!!!!!) colours and we liked Mrs Morgan{Mark One because, this being Wales/Cymru, there was a second Mrs Morgan; I kid you not}. I was sorted… I arrived to stay at the end of September, with luggage( in a massive ship’s trunk) to follow by the single-track railway; I made friends, with fellow demesne-dwellers, and chatted, in the makeshift kitchen, with the marijuana man.

….I went to lectures in Hen Coleg/Old College and came home to Sunnymead in between; I boiled my primitive kettle (it did not turn itself off!!); well, actually, it was, at first, merely a flask; I dutifully, yet(weirdly) avidly, read my Latin and Greek works (in translation). …

{They say your most ETCHED memories are from the teen years; fixed forever).

{I just want to recall static captures-as memory does, FIXING images-like photographs,stood still in time’s unceasing flow}:

“The Cabin” Image result for aberystwyth the cabin per street{as modernised}

The other (tacky) Pier St cafe

Galloways Uni bookshop

Herberts Little record(vinyl) emporium {no picture of that on the internet(:}

South Marine Terrace,; and “The Mariner”(No 9) where I later lived in sea-view, bay-window splendour Image result for aberystwyth south marine terrace

The labyrinthine passages and turrets of Hen Coleg Image result for old college aberystwyth university leading to one knew not where, lectures on the fifth floor(sans lift!).

 

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SEPTEMBER IS THE CRUELLEST MONTH (now); NOW and THEN:

NOW: the students gather in the Book and coffee shop and environs: me (then); them(now). You see the pain?! Not that I ever REGRET going to Aber(instead of Oxford, where they wanted me to go; but I never got the grades): it is, surely, the most exquisitely beautiful small city(it SHOULD be a city, but failed its bid), nestled, with steep-toppling streets {an ersatz Dylan Thomasian phrase from an early poem!} betwixt sea and mountains… But, you see, Aber was-and IS- a trace, blasted from my past into my present and future, HERE/NOW , sitting outside The Bookshop, as the summer evaporates into autumn. I see, NOW, the students going through a similar, archetypal rite of passage, leaving their birthplaces; freedom from parental control and intervention; freedom to make friends; freedom to be gay, straight, bi or trans; freedom to study…. I had that too…

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MORE REMEMBRANCES

I am walking down Great Darkgate Street(eerie name) to my bank

I am walking along the seafront to “kick the bar” ( a local superstition, for what purpose, I am uncertain: it was just a rail at the end of the sea-front, by Constitution Hill).

I walk round(in memory) my bridge Street little room: convector heater, aforesaid kettle, orange alarm clock(on my one bookshelf), the double bed 3/4 filling the room, old gramophone, rickety table(doubling as a desk).

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CAN you regain the past? No. But you can preserve and treasure it in your memory(and with the help of photos and internet captures),You can RECORD it in writing  (however haphazardly,as in these askew memories). It is better than obliteration… but it hurts… Now.. and… then…

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I WREST myself, back to NOW, outside The Bookshop, in autumn 2017, amidst the self-contained campus of, not Aber, but LIVERPOOL. Now.. and then: the freedom I lived in the past aids freedom in the present and future.

The Bookshop,University of Liverpool campus, 20.11.17; AND

“SunnyMead”, 34 Bridge Street, Aberystwyth, Ceredigion.

 

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Archiving Time (3)

Wolflin, my archivist’s, further creative ruminations, definitions and anti-defintions of an archive. p. s you can call me a puff, Chris(if u want); I LIKE the word, baggage and what not :P:) x

Attic Fantasist

Archiving Time is an occasion and a process, the ‘sessions’ to which I have been referring and the sense in which history is (being) mined. There are dates, many of them, and they construct time as much as we are constructed by them. The irregular dates of the archon’s life in relation to their books drizzle the official dates indicated in the bibliography like rain. Have a look at the archon’s annotations of ‘the list’ (‘list’ remains a problematic term): inscriptions hailing from the books are enlarged after the fact, but some annotations are offered as post-facto inscriptions. Here and there, Archiving Time bears the irregular marks of the archon’s signature – not the one required to make a payment, of course, but the one in which the self signing can be discerned.

Archiving Time happens in a place. In the previous post in this series, I referred to the…

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