Wednesday, 5 October 2016

Evoking Senses and Stuff.

The song Ghost on the Shore by the American band Lord Huron begins with the lines:

I’m just a man
But I know that I’m damned
All the ghosts seem to know where I am

They’re unusually poetic in their own unpretentious way for a modern rock and pop song. They do what, in my opinion, good writing should always do: they evoke a sense rather than merely offering a simple, unequivocal narrative.

All my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay

… is a simple, unequivocal narrative. If there’s any sense to be taken at all, it’s a single layer sense of regret which is stated rather than evoked. You hear it, you understand it, but you don’t actually feel it.

So what sense do the Lord Huron lyrics evoke? Well, I suppose that depends on the listener. To me they evoke a sense of cold resignation to the inevitability of retribution. For what? We don’t know, but presumably something mysterious in the past, some deed or series of misdeeds that have engendered a pursuing wraith which will one day catch up with the haunted offender and bring him to book. The mystery makes the words evocative, and the impossibility of escape makes them chilling.

*  *  *

The priestess asked me recently whether I’d ever read the novel The Woman in the Dunes by Kobo Abe. She called it ‘eerie’, and said that some of my emails carry the same tone. That was recommendation enough, so I’ve ordered a copy. I always order the priestess’s recommendations and I’ve never been disappointed yet. And it’s interesting (to me) that he was both a writer and photographer. Writing and photography are the only two activities which ever captured my heart consistently over long periods, so maybe I’ll find common ground. I’ve absolutely no doubt that he was leagues ahead of me in every respect, but I don’t mind being a shadow occasionally.

*  *  *

Today has been full of pain and feeling ill, so I’m miserable. I did, however, make friends with a little old lady dog, and later saw that her humans had bought a child’s sweater from a charity shop and kitted her out with it. It covered her torso and front legs like a glove and suited her well. It seemed an original, practical and inexpensive solution to the approaching coldness, contrived by a young man and woman who had the look of the poor about them. She looked happy, and I do so like it when people care for their dogs like that.

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