I lie in the dark

09Dec11

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These are some of my books. I didn’t curate this picture, honestly; I even left the self-help book in.

I would like more time to read and re-read them, and the other piles I have, and the still more piles which keep getting bought before the other ones are read.

But time is in short supply. I don’t do too badly for time, compared to the next person. Still, it isn’t enough, to get things in order, to create things.

It doesn’t feel right, historically, in the long sense. It seems people might look back and laugh at the commandeering of time away from us, at the semi-moral imperative to fill it so thoroughly with work.

Artists have time, and because of this, they are usually poor. They have to make time, and make space. James Ellroy, when he was asked by David Peace (in possibly the coolest interview ever) how he wrote, said ‘I like to lie in the dark, Mr Peace. I just lie in the dark and I . . . think.

Those are personal, optimum conditions for thinking and then making things, but it’s no surprise that silence, space and time have traditionally led to creativity or discovery.

The Buddhist monks who try and find true knowledge through austerity, silence and stillness.

ImageBon Iver who retreated to a snowy cabin to write For Emma, Forever Ago, no smartphone and its short but frequent interruptions, tapping away at you like a woodpecker; long hours, tinned food.

Henry David Thoreau, who went to live at Walden Pond to find out things about himself and by consequence, about humans and what they really need. He went out to find out what is what like to be wild.

We grow up and forget how to be alone. Learning to be in the world is too often forgetting all the other possibilities.

I love romanticising these quiet, rural scenarios. Conveniently I put the boredom, isolation and loneliness out of my mind. When these stories start to fill my mind again, I can tell I am gagging for some time and space.

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