The Constancy of Merriment and Dirt by Daniil Kharms

Cool Water gurgles in the river

and the mountains’ shadow lies on the fields

and light fades in the sky. And birds

are already flying in dreams.

And the yardman with the black moustache

stands all night by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

A day goes by, then a week,

and then the years go by

and people vanish

in neat ranks into their graves.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands for years by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

The moon and the sun have paled,

constellations have changed shape,

motion has become sticky

and time has become like sand.

While the yardman with the black moustache

stands again by the gate

and under his dirty hat he scratches

the back of his head with dirty hands.

And through the window come merry shouts,

the stamping of feet and the ring of bottles.

 

by Даниил Иванович Хармс (Daniil Kharms, 1933)

translated by Robert Chandler

Thoughts While Visiting Cardiff On A Quiet Saturday In February

Opticians are always young women. Where do they go afterwards? Optometry isn’t something you just study in order to go work somewhere for a few years then move onto another career… Do any men do optometry? Maybe it is just me and all I see are young women in this career? I went into a number of stores and passed by a few opticians and I saw no male staff.

John Lewis: More makeup means a woman looks like she has more of a jib… an attitude displayed by the jutting out of the lower lip in a defiant manner though there is nothing to challenge the in their immediate vacinity as they only go certain places, wih certain people so such a gesture is a display of a close minded individual indicating their prejudice to anyone who does not fit into their social caste. In hindsight maybe she was just a very confident shoplifter who made people around her think she was meant to be there unlike someone with a heavy coat and deep, opaque, bag wandering around with ‘eagle eyed action man’ darting glances observing their surroundings.

St Davids II Shopping Centre: Store workers are dressing very casually recently… no it would be more appropriate to say they are dressing stylishly but it is increasingly hard to tell who is or is not employed at the shop. I saw a girl with fake tan, platinum blonde hair and wearing a white dress with smudges of primary colours on it and only realised she worked in the shop when she started to handle stock by the arm full. One day someone walked up to me and asked me to help them as if I were a member of staff when I wasn’t. As much as I wanted to go along with it and lead them into purchasing the least appropriate item my morality stopped me and I informed them to go hence to the nearest optometrist and purchase a pair of corrective eye lens with which to better conduct themselves. Also to perform an act of masochistic onanism upon themselves post haste. I find shops are too casual nowadays.

Card Shop: I saw a card with a very funny phrase. I noted it down on my phone and will use it in due course. I suppose I could do that with any card that had a good idea. Especially those Hipster lookin gones where the image is a very basic doodle of a joke. Its all just a question of morality as I doubt the staff will walk up to you and ask what you are doing just assuming you are texting someone and it is none of their business.

Park Plaza: Privileged women enter the reception taking one of the few footstools for themselves across the room next to one of the open fires. The youngest looking one, face reddened by makeup and skin cleansers removing the top layer of dead skin fro her face, looks blankly ahead in doing this act. Hair crisply styled, grey hoodie, leather gilet and jeggings. All very expensive items no doubt but also very generic looking. Tall. Very, very, thin. Model, sickly, physique unfit to bear children without medical intervention. The caesarean scar no doubt would be a badge of honour for their motherhood being too posh to push’ unlike the common folk they view as cattle, worthy only being beasts of burden, to ensure their ongoing lives of luxuriating being sustainable. Her companions who did less look older due to makeup and what looked like dyed blond hair contrasted against black shawls hiding their physiques apart from tree trunk legs held in by calf high boots.

They read self-help books. They look the sort. On audiobook of course while they work out at the gym, if not running down the narrow country road holding up traffic, to ensure as many people as possible see them leading a ‘morally responsible’ healthy life as endorsed by social doctrine. It is the only tie sweat is allowed even if it means purchasing non-running makeup to wear especially for this act.

‘Own the space you inhabit’ – self-help books often state such a mantra but in practise it is an endorsement of acting in a sociopathic manner. It is a vicious circle in which the advice tells you to act like those who do not consider you and in turn you become such a person to someone else who themselves goes seeking advice only to be told to do the same and thus the ouroboros of societal behaviour perpetuates itself leading to a loss of humanity for the sake of perceiving one’s self as ‘alive’ according to the perceptions of others.

It’s a vicious circle. The polite etiquette the British are known for is gradually being eroded away and will be lost one day. Every generation fears this believing it will happen within their life time but although it is put aside as a foolish notion it is happening much in the way that even with beaches the coast is gradually eroding away gradually no matter how slowly it is perceived to be doing so. It can be padded and defended with certain concrete defensives but one day it will be irrevocably lost. What Henry James’ generation feared in ‘Daisy Miller’, where we adopt the brashness of American societies ever revolving need for conquest and self-empowerment, will finally come to pass.

In thinking that I am being unfair with this notion I dismiss it and go to the toilet.

There are three urinals against the wall. A man in the standard uniform of t-shirt and blue jeans of the casual relaxed yet casual smart man stands at the central urinal with his legs wide apart. ‘Own the space you inhabit’. He is breaching the understood social convention to use the furthest urinal and leave at least one urinal empty between users. In the scenario he should have taken the furthest and I the one furthest from him. But no instead he had all three to himself.

I go into the lone cubicle and do not hear the taps nor the hand drier, the latter being directly outside the cubicle, being operated so I have to assume he also left without cleaning his hands. Obviously he intends , like a feral dog, to smear his scent all over the place to mark his territory I suppose. The hand drier has that slow uncomfortable heat like the breathe of an old age pensioner invading your personal space speaking to you or hugging you in a deathlike grasp betraying their age.

Outside Walking from Queens Street towards the New Theatre: Along a wrought iron fence walks an old woman. Face like crumpled leather. Hair dyed gregarious ginger. Spindle legs hang out of a very heavy fur coat giving the impression she is in fact wearing a modifiyed gorilla costume. Danging out of the arms are her hands clad in red leather gloves and a cigarette hangs lazily from her right hand the smoke and ash drifting onto everyone behind her wake.

Two compatriots walk with her. They are of similar age in luminously sun-bleached yellow and pink padded coats respectively. They walk three abreast spaced just enough to give the impression you could wak past them but in approaching realising you do not in fact have enough space to do so. By which point the still warm ash has drifted onto any exposed skin burning you.

I thought I saw my English teacher from my first year of Secondary School. If so she hadn’t aged so it couldn’t be her. She always looked like the stereotype of what you would expect a young female literary student to look like. She had a doctorate when she taught me. Why would someone with a doctorate teach in a Comprehensive School? I didnt know then and I don’t know now.

Apparently there are only 500 ‘real’ people in the world and everyone else is just a bit player. However there are multiple coexisting dramatis personae consisting of 500 people all overlapping so it is not the cause of an existentialist crisis for anyone.


A few days away.

Nothing to say.

Here is a rambling number of notes.

I read too many things but Charles Bukowski and Daniil Kharms.

More to follow. What it is cannot be said… because I do not know.

The Faux Wisdom And Miscellany Of A Partially Filled 2012 Notebook

In 2012 I decided to start writing a haiku a day in a pocket size, faux leather bound, notebook. I quickly stopped this and did not use the notebook again until the end of the year. By then it was just random turns of phrase or odd thoughts.
Therefore these scribbled notes mean nothing or if they did once upon a time I have clearly abandoned them and so put will put them here so they may be of some use…


In Case of Emergency Please Inform: 999‘ – is what I wrote on the information page. This makes perfect sense. I have no one who could come and help. There are people nearby I know but they would not come. Therefore I must take precautions in everyday life as only those obligated would aid me and even then begrudgingly.

26/11/11:
Friends enjoy each other
Not ‘out of sight out of mind’
Gone by Tomorrow

27/11/11:
Narratives fill day
Staged laughter of paid actors
Hollow joy and mirth

28/11/11:
Screaming Winds and Rains
The year coming to an end now
Depression sinks in

29/11/11:
The assassin dead
Who will lead them from now on?
Templars will find out

30/11/11:
Dead days of the year
From Christmas until New Year’s
A cold sombre fear

31/11/11:
BBC Breakfast
This year’s obituaries
The final send off

07/01/12:
There’s too much to do
The stress is corroding me
I died long ago

15/01/2012:
Narratives half heard
Always interrupted yet
See it tomorrow

16/01/12:
Tooth deviated
No damage so no treatment
Good health yet ugly

18/09/12:
I would if I could, but I can’t so I shan’t

24/01/12:
They would rather lose limbs than lose face

25/01/12:
If rules are not consistent then they are pointless

01/10/12:
The homoeroticism of Sports:

“No, no, fair doos…he kicked a ball about a manicured field and we all worshipped him like a demigod.”

02/10/12:
“Aye good bloke. I ____ed the corpse at the funeral.”
“Aye we all ____ed it before then. Nothing special like.”

[unknown date due to being on a scrap of paper]
Everyone is in purgatory earning release just as acting on stage is a transitional act.

05/11/12:
A galloping gorilla.

06/11/12:
This is not a love story. It is only a tale of romance.
“Do not lock them in that room, it shall become their tomb!”

27/11/12:
Irony is that the superhero Ironman can afford to pay someone else to do his ironing for him so doesn’t bother himself.


Even before knowing who Daniil Kharms was I apparently had some urge to keep notebooks filled with ridiculous comments and miscellany. Admittedly this is nothing compared to his works and is the most bare bones of the note books I filled due to the long period of not using it during that year. The others, not that I have dug them out, are probably far more peculiar and eclectic… It all seems very dull to me though. These are past thoughts I discarded and only now put here as otherwise I would have posted another morose entry about how miserable life is. I am Eeyore and Marvin the Paranoid Android incarnate.

Today I Wrote Nothing Like Daniil Kharms

16. Today I wrote nothing. Doesn’t matter.

Daniil Kharms,The Blue Notebook, 9 January, 1937

23. To have only intelligence and talent is too little. One must also have energy, real interest, clarity of thought and a sense of obligation.

25. Enough of laziness and doing nothing! Open this notebook every day and write down half a page at the very least. If you have nothing to write down, then at least, following Gogol’s advice, write down that today there’s nothing to write. Always write with attention and look on writing as  a holiday.

Daniil Kharms,The Blue Notebook, 11 April, 1937


So I didn’t update for a few days due to my cat dying and issues at work. Over the next few days hopefully I will be able to knock out a few reviews of some DVDs I watched recently. Now I made the effort to type something it should hopefully come back into motion again.

Daniil Kharms  (Russian Дании́л Ива́нович Хармс; 30 December [O.S. 17 December] 1905 – 2 February 1942) was an early Soviet-era surrealist and absurdist poet, writer and dramatist..He came to be known for his children’s literature. Not too much of his work is available in English, or at least it doesn’t feel like it is as so much of it was composed of notebooks, letters, etc which were passed around as he was deemed to be in direct conflict with the state approved and enforced Realism movement in the arts. Kharms was arrested on suspicion of treason in the summer of 1941. He was imprisoned in the psychiatric ward at Leningrad Prison No. 1. and died in his cell in February 1942—most likely, from starvation, as the Nazi blockade of Leningrad had already begun.

If you are at all interested in Russian literature or Absurdist/Surrealist writing I would recommend hunting out some of his works as, despite their fragmented style, they are amusing and an insight into the repressed counter-culture of Stalinist Russia.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daniil_Kharms