Notes On Attention Paid

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Modern Nature, Derek Jarman

… we seem to be in the throws of the memoir writing decades… the memoir format is much more literary, much more composed… memoirists conjure up memories of things that happened long ago, which allows them to create a well rendered and, most of the time, more flattering, if quasi-fictional, account of their past… moreover, it seems to me that everyone has decided they live in interesting times and should tell the world about it…

… as i open the book to read, the sound of garbage trucks in the DMV parking lot which reminds me the garbage needs to be put out… back in the studio, i am re-reading a section which mentions the journals of Denton Welch which describes his writing as “crystalline”… i have looked him up on Wikipedia where he is described as “an English writer and painter, admired for his vivid prose and precise descriptions”… i purchase a previously owned copy of his Journals… Maurice Cranston’s description of Welch is quoted in Wikipedia:

He had no trust. This in turn connects with his greatest limitation as an artist. He built too many barricades and enclosed the range of his understanding. If he could have seen the wider human comedy with his miraculously penetrating eye, and described the world as he described his own, he would surely have been among the greater writers in our language. As it is he will survive as a minor genius, one of very few from an uncreative age.1

… DJ wishes he could write in as crystalline a way as Welch…

… names dropped, Annie Lennox, Keith Herring… the later reported as dead, the former ringing up to discuss whether to do an AID’s charity gig…

… a trip to Poland for a film festival featuring his films… the descriptions of a country in which everything is state owned… mercantile competition doesn’t seem to exist…

… then this brief paragraph:

Meetings like this, with an exchange of ideas, have quite disappeared in London. Music there is so loud no-one can hear a conversation any longer.2

… this causes me to pause, quote, it occurs to me that loud music in social settings was/is a plot to keep young people from exchanging any meaningful ideas… in this way they can’t coordinate their misery into rebellion and the capitalist machine can profit off of them… i wonder how much in our world has been constructed to keep the young from coming together and rebelling… just keep them dancing, drunk, drugged and by the time they come out the other end they have lost their will to fight…

… i am finding it interesting to read a journal, which is written as one goes… i expect it has been tidied up for publication, but the Derek Jarman i perceive in the pages would not have been one to do that much tidying… mostly editing aimed at making it more readable… by contrast, in my time, people don’t publish journals… we seem to be in the throws of the memoir writing decades… the memoir format is much more literary, much more composed… memoirists conjure up memories of things that happened long ago, which allows them to create a well rendered and, most of the time, more flattering, if quasi-fictional, account of their past… moreover, it seems to me that everyone has decided they live in interesting times and should tell the world about it… i have this thought that i shouldn’t be too critical here, as i am writing and posting things that are of little interest to anyone but me, and are hardly consequential… i am just another human making their way in the world, wishing i was consequential, writing and publishing like they i am consequential, when, in fact, i know i am not… but it’s wrong to put it that way… i am not broadly consequential… i have been consequential to a small circle of lives…


  1. Cranston, Maurice, quoted in Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denton_Welch [return]
  2. Jarman, Derek, Modern Nature, p247 [return]