Tuesday 5 June 2018

life in the day

'When I was a child I always felt as if I was on the verge of discovering something. I thought that if I was patient things would show more of themselves than other people could see. Looking at the colours in an ice cream I caught my breath just as if I had jumped into cold water up to the waist: they had somehow been made fluorescent by the sky at Skegness: it had entered them. After that, appearances had for me a kind of perilous promise, an allure, an immanence. Most children feel like that, I suppose'.

'So we went, as he put it, arseholing down the M6 with the radio turned up full: AC/DC, Kate Bush, Bowie's 'Station to Station' already a nostalgia number. 

How many times, coming back after a hard day like that, has there seemed to be something utterly significant in the curve of a cooling tower, or the way a field, between two factories, reddened in the evening light, rises to meet the locks on a disused canal? Motorway bridges, smoke, spires, glow in the sun: it is a kind of psychic illumination. The music is immanent in the light, the day immanent in the music: life in the day. It is to do with being alive, but I am never sure how. 

Ever since Gaz had fallen off into the sea I had felt an overpowering, almost hallucinogenic sense of happiness, which this time lasted as far as Bolton'.

Extracts from M. John Harrison's novel, Climbers (Gollancz, 1989). 

For a fine article about Mike Harrison's work, see Richard Lea, 'M John Harrison: a life in writing', The Guardian, 20 July 2012, here. "A good ground rule for writing in any genre is: start with a form, then undermine its confidence in itself. Ask what it's afraid of, what it's trying to hide – then write that."

Photo by muskrat