As Good As A Mile….

“Your eyes, Sister, Brother

And your mind are but another

Weapon of imperfection

With which to damage one another”


These words were written by Matthew Webber as part of a poetry experiment he was doing last year, where we would take technical drawings of different machines and replace the labels signifying each component with lines of verse. It was a good idea that worked well rhythmically and aesthetically, and made up a decent portion of the magazine we were writing; the now legendary ‘Spiricalism’ magazine that nearly littered the floors of New Cross and Deptford.  Matthew is still one of the only people I know who can rhyme tastefully; he is an annoyingly good poet and a frighteningly well read, thoughtful individual. I very much hope we can collaborate again soon, as I have a hopeful suspicion that he will consider moving to Bristol, or that at the very least we will be within shouting distance of each other again soon. I’ve been nagging him to relocate to this cultural hot-pot (it really is, if you know where to look) for ages now; in fact, ever since he began painting and moving his work in a particular direction. It’s a sad fact (well, less fact, more paradigm) that he will not be able to launch any sort of serious artistic career in London, and its a difficult thing to discuss, that his work won’t be looked at twice in the smoke, well, not as a painter or conceptual artist – it is a near impossible feat unless you have gone through the Royal Academy, or the Chelsea College of Art. I have known many try and fail. However, I believe he could do it in Bristol. His work has a great balance of abstract expressionism and cynical, messy realism that I feel has a market in both the public and private sector in a small city such as ours. Given the right space or gallery in which to display his work, he could very much succeed on the local scene. Put together enough of a spectacle, and he could become a very serious, highly lauded artist indeed. Anyway, we shall see.

It was when Matt and I were in an insect infested hotel room in India last year (really high off some honest-to-goodness black Kashmir hashish to distract ourselves from the fact that we were completely unable to sleep, as every twenty seconds something heavy and wing’d would land on us and start hissing…seriously. It was horrendous), we had this fantastic idea for a novel we would write together, and filled half a notebook with notes, sketches and character studies. The idea stemmed from a piece of paper which I found in my wallet with a man’s name on it – something bizarre, I think it was Noah Teresan but I may be wrong. To this day I have no idea who he was, why he had written his name on a torn scrap of menu from The Retreat, and why it ended up in my wallet. From this name, an impressive and extensive story arc descended upon us: part Steppenwolf, part Brave New World, part fairy tale (I apologise if that sounds presumptious, I’m not claiming it was anywhere near as good or accomplished as Huxley or Hesse, just thematically similar). The main concept of the piece was that a global society had developed in the future that held the medical practice of prescribing pregnant women, a few weeks before giving birth, would be given an injection to ease the pain of labour and produce healthier offspring. However, this drug had a strange effect on the feotus; it would give put them in a state of ecstasy and provide vivid hallucinations (these hallucinations would, of course, be unique in the sense that they are not based on memory, sight, or any tangible experience, for how can a feotus access such things?). As the children grow up, they would occasionally experience something akin to a ‘flashback’, which they would read as some sort of religious experience, in a very private sense (I don’t believe I mentioned that secularism had become all-pervading, religion was well and truly dead) and a movement arises to try and find some way of expressing these experiences, to talk about and address their existence. I think we discussed the possibility of having one character whose mother did not receive the injection, and this man (or woman) could either have their faith strengthened or destroyed by this. Goodness knows how it would end, but as I’m writing this now I am starting to get ideas.

Must call Matthew. Must discuss this further. If anyone has any suggestions, I’d be very glad to hear them.

About Benjamin Norris

Published writer of short stories, long stories, poems. Well received art critic and cultural commentator for Berlin magazines. Collaborator with operatic societies. Co-writer of fictional historic psycholinguistic journals. Lecturer of architecture and art history at a Budapest University. View all posts by Benjamin Norris

One response to “As Good As A Mile….

  • matt

    nice one. i’d forgotten about that novel. sounded like the best thing ever, though that may have been the hash.
    i’ll get some more.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: