As I was brushing my teeth, I noticed that my parents have changed the brand of toothpaste that they use. They’ve switched from non-fluoride, Aloe Vera based toothpaste, to a fluoride toothpaste for sensitive teeth. I remembered that as a child, if I stayed round a friend’s house, and they used a different toothpaste to the one my parents bought, the flavour seemed radically different to me, and often disgusted me so much that I could only use a tiny bit on my toothbrush. Now - using this new toothpaste - I could barely taste it at all, let alone differentiate between it and the brand that I use at my own house. I decided that it must be something to do with the amount of salt I now use on my food.

Baby Dream

I’ve been having dreams about a baby. It isn’t mine, but it looks exactly like me. And although it is a baby, it can talk, and it basically has my personality. Which is annoying, in the dream, because it took me my entire life to develop my personality to what it is now, but this baby has just picked it up straight away. That seems convoluted, but in the dream, that is a really specific emotion, and that is what the dream is about.
 I keep trying to trick the baby in to doing something that I wouldn’t do, there aren’t any specifics to how I do this. In my dreams I don’t think there are ever any actual words, just flowing thoughts and immediately understood conversations. The baby is also angry at me, which is consistent - if you think about it - with my personality. I think he is annoyed that the future version of himself has not developed a different personality. It is complex, this shared anger, because as annoyed as I am at what I feel is an overly developed sense of self for a six month old boy, he is equally as annoyed for what he sees as my failure to move on from fairly immature concerns. Not that he sees himself as immature, but he also recognises that he is young, specifically, younger than me. I’m disappointing his sense that as you get older, you get wiser, and he is doing the same for me, but in reverse. If that makes sense.
 Basically the dream goes on until I wake up needing a piss. There is a causal relationship between the need to piss and the dream. I can’t work out what it would be.
 When I go for the piss I’m always half-asleep and in my head I’m still battling with the baby who has got my personality. It makes me really angry and it is only when I’m washing my hands afterwards that I realise that what I’m thinking about doesn’t really make any sense.

Cornerhouse Commission for the ARKA group


ARKA has been commissioned to make a film-work as part of Manchester Cornerhouse's Micro-commission program.
The film will focus on the travels of a biology Professor at Newcastle University, recorded on VHS tapes which have been passed on to the ARKA group.

ARKA members, Ben Jeans Houghton and Matthew de Kersaint Giraudeau will spend ten days in January 2011 researching the circumstances of the recording of the taspes, taking field recordings and interviews, and editing the hundreds of hours of footage to create a short film exploring the oneiric journey of the Professor who shot it.
More information about how you can follow the progress of the film will be posted here in due course.

The disappearance of a relevant quote

Liverpool Fugue, the performance lecture that I gave as part of my residency at The Royal Standard, was inspired by my reading of The Rings of Saturn, by W.G Sebald.
  I've been thinking about a film I want to make, about the train journey from my home town of Colchester, to London Liverpool Street station. This would be an exploration of a landscape that has shaped me. Me and a friend would spend a month riding the slow train back and forth, stopping at each station to walk, film and take notes.

Marks Tey
Hatfield Peverel
London Liverpool Street

They are places that I know intimately, in the sense that I have traveled through them hundreds of times, and I know exactly how long it takes to get to each one, and I have spent time in every one of them, either waiting for a connecting train, or a rail replacement bus. They are also places that are totally alien to me. Places that I have never purposefully visited, places I have never walked around. They are markers towards a confused idea of 'home', rather than places in and of themselves.

I will again use Sebald as a reference point for this project. I want to explore the reality of walking around these towns and villages, but by creating oneiric histories for each of them - mixing fact and fiction to create narratives that link them together and allow them to become players in a coherent, if somewhat discursive, thread of ideas and inferences.
  The irony is that the specific passage in The Rings of Saturn that has inspired the idea is one of the few entirely factual parts of the book. In it, Sebald describes his train journey from Norwich to London Liverpool Street (the route stops at Colchester and the other stations listed above), gazing out of the window and watching the landscape shift from rural, to light industrial, to suburban sprawl, to city.

I will write a proposal for some funding for this piece - I need some money to cover costs and the time it will take me to produce - and I thought I could begin the proposal by directly quoting the passage from the book. Strangely, I can't find it. I thought I had already quoted the passage for the blog I wrote whilst on The Royal Standard residency, but I can't seem to locate it online. I quickly scanned the chapter in which I thought it appeared, and then re-read it closely. Finally, I went through the whole book, page by page, looking for any reference the Norwich-London train route.

Have I just missed the quotation, or did I imagine the whole thing? I was reading several books at the time, perhaps it was from somewhere else. But I remember Sebald's distinctive narrative voice; at once authoritative and distracted, dreamlike and concrete.
  Maybe when I thought of my film idea, I shot a glance back through my memories to see if I could link it up with anything that I had been doing, to find a causal connection between my reading and my practice. Perhaps on finding nothing, I created a passage that Sebald could have written, in order to link my ideas with his.


As I was flicking through the book, looking for the non-existent passage, I realised that the story he tells in the last section, concerning national silk production in France, is obliquely referenced throughout the earlier chapters. Silk worms are used as metaphors, or written about in passing, as well as being explicitly referenced in shorter narratives concerning historical figures. This idea of the silk worm producing a thread seems to me to be an internal metaphor, or a synecdoche, for Sebald's writing. He produces imperceptible narrative threads that link together ideas that are almost unbelievable - that these ideas are untrue is made irrelevant by the lightness of his connections and the understated nature of his writing.
  Silk worms can only be bred domestically, they do not exist in the wild. They are, in a very real sense, a human construct. Not just dependent on humans for their continued existence, but also rendered functionless without human desire for silk. The thread they spin is for us, they are not objects beyond our perception, like other animals. They fail to exist without us. They, like us, are meaningful because of the thread they leave behind them. Our thread is that of memory, or history - but like the silk worm, we do not know why we produce this thread, and so, in our ignorance, we must apply our own meaning to it.

As a postscript, I did try to search online for the passage concerning the train journey, I couldn't find it, but I did find a nice Susan Sontag essay on Sebald. Read it here.