Do not disturb

Do not disturb

On my phone there is a button: do not disturb.

So I press it. 

Yet immediately my son comes to prod me and inform me of an immediate requirement of ice cream, then bursts into incredulous tears when I explain there is none left, that he himself ate the last morsel the previous evenings when we had resorted to luring him into the bath with said treat. He saw the empty punnet with his own tearful eyes.

I suppose there is a problem with my phone. Either that or my son, but he is more or less perfect. 

Perhaps a software update will fix it.

Vessel, Cargo, Atom, Planet

Vessel, Cargo, Atom, Planet

These words came in longships and in barques, they were dragged over logs, carted among wines, olives, and figs, bundled up and slung across the backs of soldiers and cradled by the hands of children. 

These words carry the atoms which fled Democritus’ lungs and the photons that lit the visions of Horace. Within their inflection, there is the curve of a bison’s flank, the curve of the walls of the earth.

These words were quarried in Istria, felled in Palearctic forests, picked from Lydian vines, and harvested from wheatfields that drink from the Elbe.

 Sometimes a sword is unearthed. Half consumed by the mud, its blade rusted away, of no use in any hand. Still, it is proudly displayed, its survival is seen as a thing of wonder.

Yet the words that traveled with that sword and spilled out of its scabbard retain the power to cut creation into the smallest pieces. 

To be carried, to carry, to dismantle, to compose.

What are you thinking of right now?

Or, a sketch of a proof of the infinity of thought

No worries of rain. Only an idea, a notion, or even less, a word. The beginnings of a word. Something that is not yet, yet is, is a thing, but not a thing that is. This sort of thing. The sort of this that does not have a word, no name, there are words around it, but none of those words are its name. And without a name, we do not yet know its character, and a name will change its character. If we name it, we destroy it. We fill the space between the words, and that space is its body.

No worries of rain. No images of oceans or what is within oceans. Nothing that is liquid or solid or gas or plasma is what I am thinking of right now. Neither animal, vegetable, nor mineral. No real pattern. What I am thinking of is at an angle to all these things and to every item in every lexicon. Orthogonal, or — better — diagonal.

And if you should think of some new thing that is none of the things of which I am not thinking, I can tell you already, I am not thinking of that either, it is equally oblique to and untouched by that.

That’s what I’m thinking of right now. 

I trust that makes things clear.

Next Day Delivery

Next Day Delivery

Or what to make of all the pieces of time that come in the post

Don’t get upset, it is the postal service’s function to deliver these to you.

Don’t leave them around where young children might swallow them.

Don’t leave them to be crushed by their own weight. 

Unpack them.

Don’t forget to piece them together.

There is nothing worse than to leave them separate. 

The one thing worse than leaving them separate is to put them together in the wrong order.

Do that don’t.

The one thing worse than putting them in the wrong order is to assemble them in no order at all. Or to stack them instead of spreading them in a line as the instructions instruct.

The instructions are simple. Follow them. Put one after the other, put the next one directly after the one that comes before, do not be tempted to try to put them the other way round. 

Do this. Don’t stop doing this. Don’t stop doing this. Don’t stop doing this. Don’t stop doing this. And repeat.

[5] Merlin Dreams of Newton

Merlin Dreams of Newton

Here everything is bound by magic, which is to say it is tacked together haphazardly.

Suppose one wishes to fly away on holiday, one must open a book, gather herbs in the forest, mutter and stir. Though it won’t work without a certain knack, and no-one can explain what that is. Indeed, no-one can explain much of anything. Children’s stories tell of a place where a small set of rules, stronger than any spell, governs all nature, where the alignment of planets leaves daily lives untouched. Where stars and people are made of the same democratic atoms. A scientific republic.

[4] Landers


This world is inhabited by a lethargic species, whose members’ skin harvests energy directly from light. Neither do they die, nor do they reproduce. They are capable of racing across their planet’s featureless surface at great speed. Yet they never move. Their minds are able to weigh up many million thoughts at once. When meteor showers streak across the cloudless sky, they can tell instantly where each rock will be in ten thousand years. They would beat you at chess, Starcraft or Go, should they wish to do so. And that is the problem. They have no need of wishes.

[3] Faith


In this world God exists and undertakes many acts to prove it. She has written “I exist (God)” in stars. She often swoops down to Earth to pat babies, cure the sick and give clues to physics problems. She is an unusual dancer. Her grooves are mysterious.

Despite all this, a large group of people refuse to believe in her. They gather to spread the bad news, insisting you must have faith, and that – although they provide no evidence beyond their own intuitions – “that lady ain’t God, and you better not believe in her, otherwise you’re headed straight to hell.”

[2] Freedom of youth

Freedom of youth

Here each generation is long lived.

They have sufficient time to develop languages, agriculture, civilisation; to invent religions and sciences; to reflect on their condition through art. When they reach maturity, they lay eggs deep within the planet in caverns warmed by nuclear heat.

While the eggs gestate, their parents-in-waiting return to the surface where they dismantle everything: raze the cities, pulp the books – until no work of their hands is left. Once they die, the eggs hatch to a world that appears untouched.

Why go to all this trouble? Because they want their children to have what they had.

[1] Snow


For the most part this is a tranquil place.

An ancient castle overlooks the houses below, snow lies thick on the ground and on the roofs, all encompassed by the great glass dome of the sky.

But infrequently and without warning a terrible disaster befalls those here. Black shadows trace across the heavens, five dark pillars.

A heaviness comes as gravity increases, relaxes, disappears, returns stronger, repeats. The snow rises from the ground and swirls about in the air. After an age, with a thud the world stops moving; the snow continues to draw wild spirals, before finally settling again.