Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Kishi's Ghost

The difference between the cartographers and the others is that they could trace their lineage back hundreds of years and they were aware that they were not acting of their own accord, but could feel the skeleton of their forbears moving beneath their skin, like a puppet master controlling his puppet. Shinzo would often feel his grandfathers ghost twitching in his muscles and ligaments, and he could feel that blood pulsing through his veins which spoke of an inter-generational project, from the time the Choshu-Satsuma alliance, recognizing its weakness in the face of the european state technology, overthrew the Tokugawa shogunate and began the process of nation building and modernization. Yet in this context liberalism was not seen as an essential component of statehood because it developed concurrently with nationalism rather than through the parthenogenesis of one from the other. This was his grandfathers battle and it was his too, to see the state as a monstrous but useful instrument for sovereignty but whose Enlightenment underpinnings were fundamentally at odds with  Japanese culture. Shinzo was a great synthesizer like his grandfather, and it was his dream to dismantle the edifice of civil society which function as a valve for regulating the power of government but which he only saw as a hindrance and superfluous Western oddity stiffening the joints of the state machine. In the end, the Japanese associate beauty not only with flower arrangement, wabi sabi, shinto and zen buddhism, but with violence and death.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The Monitor Stage

I have noticed, of late, a tendency amongst European aesthetes of a certain generation a fashion for looking at Asians looking at things through cameras. Their curiosity seems unbounded at what would seem a fairly mundane sight, peering through their half rimmed spectacles or ironic black frames, at teens and 20 somethings from Korea, Japan, China or even Myanmar taking photos at exhibitions or performances.  Commonly they will be heard to make a broad generalizing remark along the lines of, 'and this is how they look at everything here'. My attention to this phenomenon was first drawn after I had organized a performance in latter day Chosun for a one-eyed Scottish chansonier and while watching the performance, I noticed two strange figures crouched in the audience looking not at the stage, but at their fellow audience members. After the event, I discovered they were an artistic couple from Berlin who remarked bewilderedly, 'I haff nevah seen any-zing like eet bevore!'
Puzzled and perplexed by this oddly naive and yet sincere behavior I asked a German directly about his fascination.
'You see, we Europeans, with our history and culture, perceive the world through our human faculties and senses without augmentation, but the Asians, having come to Modernity and State building later, and following our example, have not developed a similar Romantic sensualist sensible distance from the world but rather perceive it through technological viewing devices as inter-penetrative, supra-mental, organisitic appendages. I have a theory that, as Lacan posed a mirror stage for the typical European infant for the point at which it sees itself in a mirror and begins the process of forming an objective ontology and Imaginary construction of the world outside of its immediate sense responses, the Asian in fact goes through a 'monitor stage', that they would first perceive their own image as an object outside, not as a reflection but as a double, doppleganged digitally on a screen. Therefore, from that moment onwards, the Asian begins the trajectory of perceiving the world through a Digital Imaginary and therefore, in fact, cannot actually see the object in front of its eyes other than through the screen which presents the amanuensis through which being is formed. That, and also I think their eyes are really small so they need to take pictures of everything so they can see them properly.'

Monday, October 19, 2015

The Contract

"Once people (colonialists) have power, they think universal truth is on their side. They will resort to any unscrupulous means to achieve their goal. If I have travelled on the sea, I will then understand that war, trade and piracy are fundamentally like the Trinity, which is inseperable and indivisible.'
("FAUST", Part 2, Act 5, Goethe)

Quoted in The Opium War, "Series of the 1st Imperialist War of Aggression Against China in English and Chinese Commemorating the Handover of Hong Kong to China and Seeing the Issue in the Right Perspective!"

Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Border (Redux)

That afternoon, an insane sage came to speak with the students, he had once served as a watchman at the border, protecting the people against the non-state's perceived enemies. He had gone mad with the idea of building a wall so high and deep that it encompassed the entire territory of the state, that the nation would consist entirely of border so that, in effect, the border could never be breached. He spoke;
At the end of his speech, the girls autonomously and unanimously stood up, bared their nails and tore the insane sage to pieces with their hands and consumed the flesh. This was an object lesson for the girls in the difference between critique and action.

A Japanese Vampire


Kishi stumbled drunkenly from the slatted shack, as Chinese bumped and jostled him in the cold Manchurian evening. He just needed a breath of air, it stank inside of sake, baijiu, cheap face pancake and perfume, opium and of course semen. It was an intoxicating funk, that in itself was revolting but through its sensory association with carnal pleasure was as stimulating to the senses as the opiate fumes themselves. Kishi was in a good mood today, he'd emptied himself in a few of the Chinese 'toilets' he had around the office, invariably drug addicted chambermaids and waitresses who were nominally employed for this purpose but were nothing more than receptacles for him to drain his desire over the course of a day. As he said years later during the war crimes trials, 'I came so much, it was hard to clean it all up'. In the afternoon, he'd made a few phone calls which had easily transferred millions of yen into his own personal account from the ministries 'black rooms' where the profits from the state controlled opium monoply, state protection money from low -ife Japanese and Korean opium dealers, were funneled into his own accounts. Kishi felt himself a kind of capitalist genius, he had visited Germany, the US and Soviet Russia and had sythesized technical specialization with Taylorist production run along the lines of state planned economy padded with what he took as his own personal innovation, an almost infinite pool of Chinese labour. Paid absolute zero wages, or whatever measly wages they were paid the coolie forfeited back into the Japanese state coffers as opium revenues.  Kishi stepped back into the izakaya, and collapsed into a heap of hair and silk, across from him was the former drug dealer/murderer, now a respected official in charge of the state opium monopoly with his pants around his ankles, heaving himself on top of a comatose Korean girl, passed out at his side was the former human traffiker, who had started kidnapping girls from the countryside in Kyushu in the 90's and now ran one of the 29 comfort stations owned by the Japanese Machuko state. Gangsters, pimps, hustlers, murderers, politicians, businessmen, we were all the same, all after money and power and all our roles were reversible.


Kishi lay dying on the tatami mate, he was surrounded by his family, his wife and children and his grandson. Yoko had married well, and he was proud of his grandson, he had already spoken with some of the children of his friends from the wild Manchuko days and Abe's political career was mapped out. The window was slightly open and he could see a single orange persimmon hanging from the tree, swaying gently in the breeze. The colour screen of the Sony television at the far end of the room was playing, and Kishi had only been absently paying attention until a commercial for Nissan came on and he let out a loud laugh, a deep wheezing yell, as it reminded him of old Yoshi who he'd helped convince to bring the car company to Japan's crown colony, though he hadn't needed much convincing since at the time Nissan were almost bankrupt and the incentive of a limitless supply of unpaid labour was obviously irresistible. He thought of the times the two spent in Dalian every month, carousing for whores and getting drunk and how Kishi would talk about his plans for Japan, how it would take its place as the dominant race in East Asia, on equal footing with the European's and how, China, Korea, Taiwan, Singapore and Indonesia would become the vast pit of resources which would drive Tokyo to become a glittering imperial capital for the Japanese. With their economic might, they would make every Asian bow their heads in awe at Japanese modernity, its technical perfection and cultural sophistication. Kishi felt at the time total war was the only way to implement his plan, and Manchuko was the perfect laboratory for testing his economic ideas. Of course the war hadn't turned out as he had hoped, perhaps they'd moved too fast, perhaps it was the damn liberalism which had infected the Japanese people when they were exposed to European modernity. But he was not sad or regretful now.
By the 60's every Asian government had come hat in hand, groveling to Japan and had asked for expertise and capital to fund their own version of Japanese state-capitalist development. His crowning achievement had been when President Park himself, had agreed to turn over reparations for Korea into Japanese foreign direct investment. Kishi laughed to himself again,  Yoko would read him articles in the Asahi Shimbun about the Japanese economic miracle, how Americans were scared of Japanese cars, VCR's, Walkmen, video games, televisions, suddenly the Japanese had become more popular than American brands! Already wages were getting too high in Japan though, and behind closed doors he had whispered to many chairmen of the zaibatsu that they needed to move their operations to China, as they had 50 years earlier and for the same reasons, abstract endless supplies of Chinese robot slaves to exploit for Japanese benefit.
Asian Tiger Economies, ha! Kishi remembered the stories by Rampo that he read as a young man in the 20's, they weren't tigers, they were monsters, vampires that would suck the life from workers, the attention of consumers and even the pleasure from sex to drink of that flowing red blood of money.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Trade Regimes of the White Ape and the Yellow Horde

"Today we will give a brief history lesson on the trade regimes of these rival empires, the deep crevasses between which we make our home. The White Ape unveiled their grand plan to link the economies of the eastern maritime front of their empire through a system they called the Trans Pacific Partnership, a kind of imaginary, invisible system of trading posts which dotted the map, which when joined together formed the image of a fence to contain the rising Yellow Horde who were consciously excluded from this great union. Though their exclusion was an act of commission rather than omission from their point of view, if you do not believe them capable of deliberate disingenuousness, since according to the laws which were written up by which membership could be granted, all were welcome through the Great Gates of the Eagle if they willingly abided by the ruling ideology of that kingdom, which they considered universal though others might claim were arbitrary and self-perpetuating. At first the Yellow Horde were vexed by this proposal, and insinuated various suspicious intrigues and plots behind the seemingly benign and magnanimous proposal though, being a pragmatic race they wasted no time in instituting a competing trade regime of their own which travelled across the far Western reaches to create 'one belt and one road' both earthen and liquid, and opened up their coffers to any tribe or polity which agreed to ally with them. Interestingly enough, the rapidity with which the Yellow Horde rolled out their trade regime, with its generous pecuniary benefits and no demand for sacrifice, tribute or the customary offerings of ones daughters, allowed them to bring in a much greater number of member states, institute their program and reap its rewards before the TPP had even been singed into effect."

"My daughters, listen carefully to the moral of this story; there was in fact an agenda to the trade regime of the White Ape, which they avowed in their rhetoric to visiting kingdoms with whom they wished to partner. It can be summarized thus;

'For many years, we have been the single dominant force for what is good and right, and we have been responsible for policing The Law which you all abide by. It is clear now that the Yellow Horde proffers a competing vision, which not only follows a different version of The Law, it also questions the axiomatic truth of The Law while they follow a rule 'by' The Law, rather than having a rule 'of' The Law. Join us, and together we can follow the path of what is good and right in unity against the Yellow Horde and walk together, hand in hand, towards the sunlight.'

"So the many kingdoms along the pacific rim agreed to follow, yet many still let themselves be courted by the Yellow Horde with its painted visions of bounteous riches which flowed from their economies of scale. The White Ape cannot contain the Yellow Horde with a ring of loyal kingdoms, because those kingdoms, from expedience, pledge their allegiance to both and neither."

A dark shadow hung over the school room from a low cloud in the late afternoon sky. If you looked hard enough, you might see a vision of battle in its fuzzy formations, of the White Ape holding the various kingdoms of this land to hostage with their mercenary armies of lawyers, who upheld the rights of The Law in the name of profit and forced their bogus medicine show on the unwitting members of its trade regime.

Monday, June 8, 2015

The lives of the cartographers

Purple was tidying the classroom at the end of the day, half watching a film about the outback, when a stranger approached her desk. The stranger was very young, but she was already over 6 and a half feet tall. She was very embarrassed about her height and often looked at the ground and walked with a stoop.

"Teacher, I would like to join your class. I grew up as an orphaned child in a village far away. My parents moved to the coast for work. One day I found an old book by a forgotten geographer that said the following:

Whoever wants to go to China must cross seven seas, each one with its own color and wind and fish and breeze, completely unlike the sea that lies beside it. The first of them is the Sea of Fars, which men sail setting out from Siraf. It ends at Ra's al-Jumha; it is a strait where pearls are fished. The second sea begins at Ra's al-Jumha and is called Larwi. It is a big sea, and in it is the Island of Waqwaq and others that belong to the Zanj. These islands have kings. One can only sail this sea by the stars. It contains huge fish, and in it are many wonders and things that pass description. The third sea is called Harkand, and in it lies the Island of Sarandib, in which are precious stones and rubies. Here are islands with kings, but there is one king over them. In the islands of this sea grow bamboo andrattan. The fourth sea is called Kalah and is shallow and filled with huge serpents. Sometimes they ride the wind and smash ships. Here are islands where the camphor tree grows. The fifth sea is called Salahit and is very large and filled with wonders. The sixth sea is called Kardanj; it is very rainy. The seventh sea is called the sea of Sanji, also known as Kanjli. It is the sea of China; one is driven by the south wind until one reaches a freshwater bay, along which are fortified places and cities, until one reaches Khanfu.

I did not know where this geographer had come from but I decided it would be a place much different from where I was. I followed the directions in reverse as best as I could and I have arrived here. I wish for you to help me to write a book, a biography of the great cartographers.


Thursday, June 4, 2015

An affair to remember

"Mother, I simply don't know how I am expected to share so many social events with Alison. Of course I don't mind her background, but its the way she holds herself that is so vile. Have you seen the way she sips her wine, and those trashy shoes that she wears? "

"Oh darling, you will find a way to cope. After all, we all make our little compromises in life to make it work."

"What about you and Daddy? What compromises did you have to make?" 

"Me and Daddy are perfectly happy, and you will be too, darling." 

But Mrs Dwynedowers did not do enough to calm Gretchen - was it a micro-expression or the tone of her voice that gave something away? One cannot hide a memory you see, for what the mind has forgotten, the body remembers. Even a glimmer of a past love, or a tinge of regret, will come to bear in the some way on the corner of one's mouth, or the quickening of one's breath, just as it might contort a minuscule synapse in the recesses of the brain. 

"Is a memory an object? " thought Mrs Dwynedowers, "well, so what if it is just a surge of electrical charge that passes from molecule to molecule, tracing a now-forgotten trail, blazed so brightly when it was learnt long ago. 

Sunday, May 31, 2015

The White Ape in Love

There was one blot on Gretchen's otherwise alabaster vision of her own future, a fly in the ointment as it were, which was her soon-to-be sister-in-law, her future husbands younger brothers wife, whom he had picked up while at Harvard. That institution had gone to the dogs anyway as it was now wholly infested with princelings of the Far East, she had a good mind to write to the dean about the situation and decry the unfair and biased valuing of academic achievement, hard work and intelligence which had supplanted the traditional core values of nepotism, racism and cronyism which had formerly constituted the sole merits for admission. Her name was Alison Ng, and Teddy as well as her own darling Archibald were in thrall to her exotic oriental beauty, such as that however many times she would snap her fingers in Archi's ruddy, puffed out face, in the presence of Alison's alluring long silken black hair (which was blond), her almond shaped, black as ink eyes (which were blue) and her creamy, coffee coloured skin (which was white), Archy and Teddy would slavishly ogle, drool and attend beneath that imperiously flat nose (which was long and pointed). Archy would often, to Gretchen's increasing irritation and annoyance, pontificate and genuflect on the superiority of the oriental wife, what that the Western woman was now full up to her brassiere-less armpits with ideas of universal suffrage and feministic claptrap ("What next? Soon you'll be telling me chimpanzee's should vote and a chap might marry another chap!?) the Western Woman had lost the ability to truly serve and worship a man. The fact that Alison was not actually Asian was a fact lost on the brothers, who could not see beyond their own mystifying Orientalisms which conjured an illusory image of the East, of dark forbidden pleasures, sexual submission, ecstasy and carnal knowledge hitherto forgotten in the West. Alison (whose last name was incidentally the abbreviated initials of her hyphenated full title Nathaniel-Grimsby) was slightly perplexed when the brothers entreated her to sing a song from her homeland, in that savage Mandarin tongue of her forebears, when she would oblige with a chorus of 'Me Japanese Boy I Love You' (which would throw the boys into paroxysms of delicious erotic rapture, the trans-sexual masquerade of which conjured a series of Bouriscot-ian homo-erotic dilemmas in itself.)

Monday, May 18, 2015

Breeding Habits of the White Ape

Gretchen Dwynedowers, soon to be Mrs Gretchen St. Regis, sat in the drawing room of her Upper-West-Side apartment with her Mother, arranging the invite list for her upcoming wedding. Soon to marry a hedge fund executive from a prominent line of Bostonians, she really could not imagine that the world could be any more perfect. Nevertheless, there were always little gripes, or as she called them, "opportunities for improvement."

She addressed her Mother, a true family matriarch, in her best (meaning most screeching) trans-atlantic whine, "Must we really invite them Mother? They are some sort of middle ages throwback! Besides, they are very happy on their medieval island - they will not to take it to heart."

"No dear, I'm afraid your cousins must be invited. Don't argue. Your Father and I have our reasons."

Gretchen knew she had no choice but to acquiesce to the iron will of her Mother, and begrudgingly added the names of Lord and Lady Wellesley to the guest list. But she was not happy about this fact, and she resolved that if they must attend, then she would see to it that they would not find their visit accommodating.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Thuggery Sven

Thuggery Sven is hiding out because he is on the run. He is on the run because he is wanted for questioning. He is wanted for questioning after he allegedly strangled a nightclub bouncer to death in a Reykjavik spa resort. Thuggery Sven became uncomfortable when the bouncer approached with a business offer, having the mistaken belief that Thuggery Sven might be able to help import and sell the bouncer's Mother's hand-sewn tapestries from Iran. There is no point asking him questions, because Thuggery Sven has no answers. He was on a meth bender at the time.

Thuggery Sven stowed away on a luxury yacht bound for Southampton. Staying away from the major roads he headed for his contacts on the Isles. He finds himself hiding in a hedgerow on the estate of Lord Palmerston-Napier. Boy, he is hungry, he has not eaten for some time. For a man so full of revulsion, he does think lustily about kebabs an awful lot.

Doris is a sheep that lives in the the backyard of Lord Palmerston-Napier. She is linked to her natural environment. She gets along well with Morris, a fellow sheep with which she co-habits.

Doris looks at Morris. Morris looks at Doris. So Doris tells Morris a joke:

"A comfort woman, a taiwanese aborigine and a nationbuilder walk into a Chinese bar. They each order a drink. The bartender cuts off his beard, a peasant movement walks out the door and everyone goes tribal."

"Your fuckin hilarious you is Dorris my love. What a bloody pisser!"

Thuggery Sven looks over and hears the baaa-baaa-baaa-baaa-baaa-baaa-baaa-baaa-ing. For a split second he looks Doris in the eye, and she at him,

So what does Thuggery Sven do? Thuggery Sven jumps out from behind the hedgerows and tears Doris limb from limb. With his bare hands as they say. Not long afterwards he has roasted her and is digesting her by the fire. "Funny," he thinks to himself, "I don't get that fucking joke at all. Don't think mutton have much of a sense for humour." 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rivers of Mercury

And the first emperor would seek to build a dark mirror empire in the afterlife, beneath the mountain he burned boulders of cinnebar with fire until they became liquid mercury which flowed through the channels of his tomb, creating shimmering, silver rivers that stood in for the eternal Chang Jiang.

Qin Shi Huang's majestic capital in Chang'an, now still secreted and unknown because of those noxious subterranean rivers of mercury are doubled about four hundred years later in the Aztec pyramids of the feathered serpent in Teotihuacan, where beyond tumbles of jade and jaguar skeletons we have found silvery rust on stone signifying the imperial rivers which might have protected the final resting places of the anonynous Meso-American emperors.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

A History of Sino-Barbarian Relations

Chatham Square lies at the main intersection of East Broadway, the Bowery and Worth Street and faces the Manhattan Detention Complex, also known as 'the Tombs' and One Police Place. The statue of Lin Xezu was erected at the cost of $USD200,000  in 1997 by the local Fujianese community, and is exactly 18 feet and 5 inches high.

Lin Xezu was a prominent Qing dynasty official who was sent to Guangdong by the Daoguang Emperor to implement hard line policies attacking the smuggling of opium into China by British private traders and their Chinese accomplices. Two acts by Xesu are of historical importance here, the first was his private letter to Queen Victoria which appealed to her better instincts and latent Confucian morality to prohibit the illicit trade of drugs into China by British nationals.

We find that your country is sixty or seventy thousand li from China. Yet there are barbarian ships that strive to come here for trade for the purpose of making a great profit. The wealth of China is used to profit the barbarians. That is to say, the great profit made by barbarians is all taken from the rightful share of China. By what right do they then in return use the poisonous drug to injure the Chinese people? Even though the barbarians may not necessarily intend to do us harm, yet in coveting profit to an extreme, they have no regard for injuring others. Let us ask, where is your conscience?

The second was his decision to have 20,000 cases of British owned opium, belonging to one William Jardine  destroyed in 1839. Jardine would successfully petition Lord Palmerston to wage war against China in retaliation which would lead to the First Opium War, the signing of the unequal treaties, opening of foreign 'Treaty Ports' across China and the succession of Hong Kong Island as a British crown colony. The origins of Jardine's power and wealth today as the worlds largest holdings company is far from obscured in their official history as evidenced in their logo.

The first waves of Cantonese from Taishan in Guangdong province first arrived in the 1850's, not long after the conclusion of the First Opium War. This accelerated with the turmoil which engulfed Guangdong province as a result of natural disasters, foreign occupation and the the disorder of the late-Qing empire until the implementation of the Chinese Exclusion Act in 1943. Second large waves of immigrants would arrive from Hong Kong after the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965 and would turn the districts around the Canal Street and the Bowery into a Little Hong Kong.

In 1972, with funds provided by the Chinese Nationalist government in Taiwan, the Cantonese community erect a statue of Confucius made from Taiwanese green marble. At 16 feet high, it is two feet and two inches smaller than the Lin Zexu statue, carved from Fujianese red granite.

Confucius faces Wall Street and the site of the former World Trade Center. The statue of Xezu is located in Little Fujian mostly populated by newly arrived Mandarin speaking migrants from mainland China and is symbolically placed with its back turned away from the tombs.  The statue is inscribed with the words 'Say No To Drugs'.

'We have to continue to fight the evils of communism and to fight you must have an army, and an army must have guns, and to buys guns you must have money. In these mountains, the only money is opium.'

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

The Ape's Lament

Purple reflected on the days lesson, and reflected on her peoples victory, the culmination of a decades, if not centuries long war fought against an immeasurably stronger force, a hegemon whose unilateral power had been unquestioned and always taken for granted. Though feelings of elation passed through her, they were unfamiliar sensations, of independence, of pride, of being at rest after a lifetime of bloodshed. It was, strangely, more familiar and comforting to imagine herself and her people as a victim and now that they were counted amongst the victors she preferred to place herself in the mind of the defeated.
She imagined herself as a white ape, with thick, tree trunk arms and solid calves who stalked the jungle tearing at the throats of the herbivores and eviscerating them without a second thought. As the white ape, she would kill, steal and rape without a thought for the smaller creatures of the forest. However, these creatures were not submissive or cowed by the white ape, rather they knew its only advantage lay its it belief in brute force and since they understood that there were many more ways to survive in the jungle, they let it think and act as it pleased with a sort of piteous obliviousness. How would this white ape react when it could no longer claim the jungle as its own, that despite its strength, it could only flail its thick arms wildly in the darkness as it was assailed from every side by the smaller creatures of the forest. Suddenly, she realized that it was a legionnaire withdrawing from the outer reaches of the Roman empire.  In the late afternoon, the apes head weighed on it a little.


Today, two big mountains lie like a dead weight on the Chinese people. One is imperialism, the other is feudalism. The Chinese Communist Party has long made up its mind to dig them up. We must persevere and work unceasingly, and we, too, will touch God's heart. Our God is none other than the masses of the Chinese people. If they stand up and dig together with us, why can't these two mountains be cleared away?

No 3: The Foolish Old Man Who Removed the Mountains According to the myth, a Foolish Old Man of 90 years who lived near a pair of mountains (given in some tellings as the Taihang and the Wangwu Mountains, in Yu province). He was annoyed by the obstruction caused by the mountains and sought to dig through them with hoes and baskets. When questioned as to the seemingly impossible nature of his task, the Foolish Old Man replied that while he may not finish this task in his lifetime, through the hard work of himself, his children, and their children, and so on through the many generations, some day the mountains would be removed if he persevered. The gods in Heaven, impressed with his hard work and perseverance, ordered the mountains separated.
The Red Flag Canal, 1972

Who knows the reasons why you have grown up? Who knows the plans or why they were drawn up?



"There was one thing I want to mention. But it has nothing to do with the attack on me. It is all so clear before my eyes...I saw the ocean, and I saw a mountain...and there were many people climbing up the mountain. It was like a procession. There was a lot of fog. I couldn't see it very clearly, the very top was Death."


Sunday, April 19, 2015

The Abject Lesson

After the previous night spent doing all the things which might not be considered homework, an incredibly difficult task to engage in as one sat in an empty room devoid of furnishings or distraction save a thin exercise book and the stub of a leaden pencil. Purple eventually spent the night with her face and belly set to the floor singing Transoxianian nationalist operas while combing her hair with the pencil and eating small balls of chewed up paper-surely this could not be thought of a homework-though she wasn't entirely certain.

It was with some trepidation that she arrived in class the next morning, hoping that again the teacher would not show or would not ask about last nights non-homework related activities.
Everyone sat in silence, only punctuated by the discreet clearing of the throat and the scrape or squeak of a wooden chair, waiting for something to happen.

From the distance, two voices could be heard approaching the class room, engaged in a heated argument though is wasn't until the teacher entered the room that Purple and the other students realized that it was one person, miming the voices of a child and an old man locked in violent debate.

'I have it!!! I now realize why you are so incredibly stupid, lazy, dirty, poor and ignorant, I can't believe I didn't understand this earlier!', said the teacher.

'Oh right, why is THAT?' the teacher replied sarcastically.

'I am so fucking great because I make so much money, and I make so much money because I don't give a shit about exploiting people who I consider inferior to myself. But then the losers come to me and say, you're creating inequality, the majority of the world suffers because of your selfishness and to prop up your prosperity we must live in abject poverty, blah, blah, blah, but now I realize the solution is-wait for it- the poor scum need to be more like me!!!'

'Oh really, do tell us more your excellency!'

'Right, because I am so fucking benevolent, generous and philanthropic, I am gonna teach you how to me like me, I'll throw you some pittances to give you basic amenities, some brutalist school rooms and some Dark Age water pump technology, then send in some 'capacity builders' and preppy, gap year, 'EM, BEE, AAYS' to teach you a thing or two about how to be a top shelf, grade 'ALPHA' entrepreneur, like myself, and ONE, TWO, THREE, PROBLEM SOLVED, YOU'RE WELCOME!'

'Wow, you really think it's that simple, you idiot?'

'Uh huh, please allow me to demonstrate...'

By now, the class of girls was severely embarrassed, not only by this bizarre internal dialogue and the offensiveness of one of the interlocutors, but also by the crude language and the fact that the teachers pants were on back to front for some reason.

Now the teacher began doing something even more bizarre, first he placed a ceramic basin in the middle of the room between the desks where the girls sat, balanced precariously between two desks, then inexplicably began flicking gold coins he pulled from his deep pockets into the basin. The poor girls began snatching the gold pieces, not believing their luck as each of their families could easily live for a month on one piece, but as soon as they collected a piece, the teacher would snatch it off them and swallow it whole. After doing this for about three hours, the teacher unzipped the fly on the back of his pants and squatted over the basin and preceded to shit the coins, one by one, which he would then pick up, lick clean and then swallow again. The entire revolting spectacle lasted an entire afternoon until the coins had gone through an entire cycle of being eaten, shat and re-injested then shat again after which he piled them in a small pyramid on his desk. When the final coin was placed on the heap, he zipped up his pants, gathered up the coins in his shirt and said,

'And that is why you should never trust anyone who claims to be a philathro-capitalist, class dismissed.'

Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Class One

The classroom was a small, mud brick situation. A notional blackboard had been elaborated on the far wall.

Fourteen students sat across two long wooden benches, each made of a long plank arranged in a separate row. The first plank was recovered from the flotsam floating down the Zê river four years earlier, when a historical yacht, once belonging to Atatürk had capsized and sunk, following a dramatic shootout after the boat became embroiled in a prostitution scandal.

The second wooden plank had once been used as part of a door frame in a small hat shop in Antalya. By small hat shop I mean that the hats were themselves small in size, the shop in fact was magnificently large. It even had a balcony. The original owner Ibrahim has wanted to sell large hats funnily enough, but local fashion dictated that a large Kalpak would not make for a valid choice in the dry summer climate along the Turkish Riviera. "Aaaaah the tyranny of the market" he would often say. It would seem that one day he finally had enough and was last reported leaving a Californian millenerian commune three days after the aliens had failed to arrive on time.

The class grew restless after waiting for their teacher. It had been at least a half hour. "Teacher is not coming," they concluded unanimously and began to leave. The youngest child interjected, "I was told to inform you that tomorrow's lesson will take place. In preparation, we are each required to do only do things that can not be considered homework."

Thursday, April 2, 2015

A Single Fried Egg

'Boo hoooo hoooo!!!!!!', 'Wehhhwehhhwehhhhh!!!!!!' screamed Harriet, 'Oh Willy, how could you say something so absolutely horrid!'
'I say Harriet, I havent the slightest idea what you're talking about! If you would be so kind as to look outside the ruddy window, I think it must be Nessie herself or some other sub-aqueous behemoth of yore.'
What Wellesly didnt realize was that there was a piece of fried egg stuck to his monocle which had been there since he had felt the urge to play some ruggers with the local lads from the leather bar who had shown up on the estate during his breakfast one morning two months ago and he had gone to fetch a ball from the ballling shed but it had been locked, so he had to force it open while still in his dressing gown which had blown open while he was balancing his breakfast plate on one hand and while he was struggling with the door, a fried egg had slipped off the plate and landed on the grass, a speck of which had somehow glued itself to his lens. 

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Out of nothing

By the time of the  funeral of Lady Edgeworth-Box, everyone who knew her had formulated their own fanciful theory as to the cause of her death. There were too many accounts to approach anything like a general consensus, but both the stable boy (confusingly named "gardiner") and the Vicar claimed that her death was the direct result of a malicious curse place on Lady Edgeworth-Box in the course of her archaeological travels. A similar opinion held that she had contracted a rare tropical disease as a result of coming into contact with a berry from a thought-to-be extinct jungle flower. Lady Wellesley was telling all and sundry how she had seen some preoccupied Russians on the island recently, and whether anybody thought that might bear some relation to the unfortunate turn of events, especially given plutonium-9 or whatever it was that she had read about in the news some time ago. Nevertheless, Palmerston-Napier insisted that his dear sister had merely died of asphyxiation brought about by blocked windpipe, the silly thing having choked on her porridge, and of course because she hadnt heeded his protestations at her putting nutmeg and cinnamon on her breakfast which of course aggravated her  delicate English constitution.

In this way the day proceeded not so much out of sorrow, but with a spirit of mystery and gossip. All the townsfolk using the opportunity to glean whatever information they could, each having a profound sense of certainty that it had fallen on only themself to solve this riddle.

There was one exception it must be said. Lord Wellesley really hadn't the time for such speculative exercises. Rather, he realised that he had misplaced (one might even say lost) the charter papers for the Double Cuneiform Club, without which he would be unable to ratify the club constitution and most likely resulting in thier disqualification from the Auxiliary Arcadian League. Should this happen not only Wellesley would be beside himself, as the club belonged to the members like a family heirloom, such as in the case of Lord Wellesley, membership going back at least 7 generations in the house of Windfroth. "Oh well, something will turn up" he decided, and funnily enough shortly after something did. Gazing out of the car window on the way back from the funeral, Lord Wellesley noticed a strange mound protruding about 100 ft out to sea. "I say, Harriet, I'm not sure I've noticed the strange mound before today." At which point Lady Wellesley burst into inconsolable sobs, completely misunderstanding her husbands words, having not brought her glasses with her. 

This handout photo taken on July 17, 2012 and released on July 24, by Philippine military western command (WESTCOM) shows newly-constructed radar dome on Chinese-controlled Subi Reef, around 15 nautical miles northwest of the Philippine-controlled Pag-asa islands on the disputed Spratly islands. The Philippines on July 24, 2012 summoned the Chinese ambassador to protest against China's plans to establish a military garrison on the disputed Paracel Islands in the South China Sea.

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Island Pop

File:Tulay Mosque.jpg

To talk of the pirate is to talk of the Zone. And before the Special Economic Zone, there was the Entrepot. Take for instance the great Sulu Sea, and the story of how it was integrated into the world economy, in conjunction with a counter-trade with nearby China. While, such amazing tropical goods were traded that even the birds nest and sea cucumber became sought after commodities (read: would be fun to make), expanding production gave rise to a new slave trade. At the time of conquest, the sea was home to many indigenous communities, many of whom belonged to the Sultanate of Sulu, and who for 400 years have fought subsequent rulers in an ongoing claim for autonomy. To the Spanish colonisers, these muslim pirates seemed all alike, so they called them the Moros, just like the Moors they had at home.

File:UvA-BC 300.068 - Siboga - Sulu.jpg

The Moro are famed for the Kris and the the Barong. This motif was taken up by the miltant islamic faction of the Moro, terrorist group Abu Sayyaf, who take thier name from the Arabic ابو, abu ("father of") and sayyaf ("swordsmith"). In a recent war, on the second front (out of sight and out of mind),  this faction of Moro militant insurgents faced the well known multi-pronged strategy, called "Clear–Hold– Consolidate–Develop" and were forced to flee into the mountainous terrain of Jolo island.  

File:Kalis seko kris moro sword 2 overall.jpg

There is a modern aphorism, not dissimilar from those of the past:  "where the road ends, terrorism starts."  Perhaps that's why some people are always so eager to build roads everywhere. To every man there are spaces that appear blank, either (seemingly) on a map or within themselves, and perhaps it all comes down to how one chooses to deal with those blank spaces. 

Sunday, March 8, 2015


Lady Edgeworth-Box made her way back to the house, where her brother was busy drawing faces on the boiled eggs he had lined up in front of him.
'Good lord, Edith, you look frightful! Where is your sense of decency coming to breakfast in your hunting breeches?'
The black slime was pooling at her feet and ants began crawling out of the cracks in the floor boards and feeding at her toes.
'Honestly, dudday would have been quite ashamed to she you, letting yourself go like this. And where, pray tell, is my newspaper? You know I simply cannot eat breakfast without the Observer and the Times.'
A few of Lady Edgeworth-Box's teeth fell from her mouth when she tried to speak and bounced onto the floorboards. There seemed to be some sort of corrosive acid eating at her skin and she could only manage glottal choking sounds as her throat filled with fluid.
'You see here Edith, I have an idea to solve the China problem. See, I've drawn big darkie-poo lips on these eggs and horrid slanted eyes on these to demonstrate. The plain egg represents your standard Englishman. See how many of these darky and chinky poo's there are and there's only one of ours, and in this breakfast, the white egg doesnt have a sporting chance when dropped in a pot of boiling water as it muddy's into a brown and yellow goop. My solution is to let the yellow eggs rule the brown ones and then leave the pot itself in the pantry in the servants quarter and pretend it doesnt exist and be done with the entire horrid business.'
By now, Lady-Edgeworth Box was slumped over the table, face first in a bowl of porridge and the acid had almost burnt a hole through to the other side of the solid oak. A boil on the back of her head suddenly burst and a spray of blood and puss spread a fine mist across Palmerston-Napier's face.
'Edith, how could you? These are my favorite silk rocket ship pyjamas and now they're completely ruined!'

Saturday, February 28, 2015

The Silver Mine

Lady Edgeworth-Box raised the hem of her skirt as she tremblingly took her first step into the mud. Her brother had mentioned the hermit that lived at the bottom of his garden for years but, until now she had never taken much notice but suddenly she realized, their father had been missing for some time now and it was time to sort out the estate and all its secrets once and for all. The first step was the worst, as her boots sank deeper into the black slime, and the darkness quickly stained her silk dress to the waist. Between the wetness, the smell and the sense that the irregularly shaped, gnarled roots she could feel beneath her feet might actually be human bones she felt a rush of scarlet behind her eyes, she held her breath, lowered herself and immersed her head in the mud. Then she stood up, dripping, her face nothing but two whites shining out from cascading layers of slime, she barely even resembled anything that could be considered human.
Modernity has a strange effect when it comes into contact with is essentially a pagan culture, it rationalizes the cruelty at his heart, blood offerings and polytheism, the forest spirits become monstrous technological forces which the hysteria of the population cannot control.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

A confederacy of hermits

Palmerston-Napier awoke with a frightful headache, seemingly the price for performing his convivial duties at the Double Cuneiform the previous night.  He soon realised that he was totally mistaken, and in fact, he had been struck down with a premonition rather than a hangover. Before he had time to even boil the kettle, the doorbell had chimed and Palmerston-Napier's estranged sister, Lady Edgeworth-Box, was helping herself to his pantry, gesticulating wildly while scoffing scones with sardines, and eggs that Sir had pre-boiled.

The relationship between the brother and sister was strained. He, always the hard-headed pragmatist, despised her bleeding heart apologetics almost as much as her pointless academic waffling. He had always considered it his good fortune that she had gone abroad to study, and spared all on the island of her zeal for enlightenment. 

"Graham, dear, so marvelous to be reunited again. I cannot believe you are still living holed up on this island, you could never believe the ways it has made you into this grump that you are. Why not try living in the rice fields or the pampas for a change, it would do you the world of good, dear."

A picture of rice fields: evidence of the interaction of culture, economics and the environment 

He grimaced. "You know very well how much I would find those, delightful, but I... simply have to much to do here. What - with managing the estate and the affairs. There is a lot of turbulence as you know, and one really can't take all the economic truths for granted these days. One can't take a breather without some poor chap seeing his opportunity to dig the boot in."

"Oh Graham, you've always used that as an excuse! Oh well, I don't mind a bit! I've missed you terribly. I'll be staying for a while you see, I am writing my new book about a smuggling ring located on the island, "A confederacy of hermits" I think I'll call it. There are all sorts of mysteries to be discovered here that we must investigate. The place is simply a treasure trove."

Palmerston-Napier felt queasy. Somehow he doubted it was due to his third martini at Wellesleys.

Artefacts looted from Syria

Wednesday, February 11, 2015


From the estate, if you rode your bicycle down the row of copses to the ha-ha which divided Wellesley's (pronounced Wall-ee) land from the sheiks you could in theory climb down into the ditch on a series of steps laid out for that very purpose and cross over to the over side where there was a helipad. The helicopter would arrive at 9am Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays and bring you to Tresco on the Scilly Archipelago. Once belonging to a confederation of hermits, it was now a rather desolate, windswept place though not without an air of charming parochialism. There was something about the way life was lived on these islands, a way in which daily stories were told which threw into relief the artifice of our more pedestrian narratives.

It was not a matter of content, indeed the dramas of family and claustrophobia, arguments heard from behind closed doors in darkened rooms are somewhat universal. It was more a fact that the architecture of the houses and the landscape, being so dimly lit and crushingly bright with skies so inescapably grey, did not allow for the melodramas of tears rolling down cheeks filmed in closeup.

Instead, crises and daily occurrences were viewed from a fixed vantage point, from a slight distance as figures moved in and out of ones frame of view so that, to a certain extent, the drama of the moment was neither directed or obscene, yet its weight felt all the more keenly as a result.

The characters are not the most important element of the drama, as they were constantly being framed within an unforgiving landscape which belittled them and inserted their foibles into a continuum of hierarchies between nature, culture and man.

There was a remarkable pathos and beauty in observing the everyday, whether the careful preparation of food, running up a hill with your sister, windswept picnics, afternoon drinks, kitchen conversations or riding a bike in the wind.

Monday, February 9, 2015

The remnants

Lord Wellesley, Baron of Windfroth was frightfully cross. He had spent all day waiting dutifully for the carpenter to arrive in order to fix his dining table, and the Mancunian dolt was nowhere to be found. Although the whole house was crumbling before his eyes, repair of the dining table was of great urgency to Wellesley, because that evening he was due to host the monthly meeting of the Double Cuneiform Club (a municipal chapter of the Auxiliary Arcadian League). And he still hadn't a chance to source some dip!

The carpenter was a dollop of a man, unkempt in all ways expect for the exceptionally coiffured and large Mancunian bowl-cut which adorned him like the halo of a Byzantine icon. By the time he entered with a sleepy "Ullo then" all the members of the club, save one, had arrived, and were sitting in a circle of chairs, holding small plates of dip in their lap and crackers in their pockets, that being the only way to drink wine at ease while not putting the Gobelin rug in peril. "Is that a small dog on your head?" asked Sir Palmerston-Napier, "I do say its a feat of balance."

"Excuse me gents, of course the house is a little bit shabby at this moment. But we are in the process of renovating, and you do know how cumbersome all the local council laws can be. Yes actually, Lady Wellesley is all about Feng Shui at the moment and if we do not balance the earth and water elements in the house everything is sure to turn out ghastly."

All in attendance nodded, knowing full well that Wellesley would never have the funds to finish the renovations anytime soon, if ever. Besides, it was quite the Sisyphean task really, with these old estates crumbling quicker than one could build. And it was not as if any of the others were in a different boat, inheriting a whole manner of old keepsakes that were hardly worth their while. And it was hard to keep track of them too, for all Wellesley knew his estate consisted of a Middle-Eastern hydroelectric dam.

Though if you were to listen to conversations they had, you could not really be quite sure. Perhaps it was just an old habit, but they still cared to keep an ear to the ground, or listening for the words of the mountains as you might say. 

"Here, these are sea people - that is what you must know" said Palmerston-Napier, "they know all the soothsayings to conjure spirits from the sea and implore aid from the waters. Its been the same song since the 80s, and even now nothing has changed. " Well, certainly that was the case for Sir Palmerston-Napier.

Despite the lack of surface on which to place their drinks, the evening went off without a hitch.  And as the guests were leaving -  well after midnight - Wellesley made sure to remind them of the next meeting, at which they were due to update the annual ratification of the Club Constitution and Meeting Procedures, to which there were only minor amendments proposed at this stage.