Tuesday, 18 August 2009


April 2008

Writing, even when describing the errant, is a discipline of making words ring in a certain way so that it creates a kind of just-so-ness. Chaos. The indeterminate, the daily back-breaking grind of making do and meeting things on the run, is cobbled into a world-view that could be seen as a contradiction of terms. Even a betrayal.
That contradiction and the potential dangers of being caught in a luxurious swash of words that make the irritant and the steamy end-pieces of our nerves sound on the page like the thrill of the new, is the constant angst between what is felt and what is remembered. Writing is always a glance back and in that sense in itself it doesn’t have to deal with domestic duties but leaves that to the bodily sensing which it serenades from a distance. Once removed who could not be seduced by the gift of proximity in the stark spacing of letterheads? But maybe that is the job of writing; to describe and complete yet to show itself up in the presumption of that completion.

Yesterday I arrived to the Garden which had been trashed. Stuff literally thrown from one end to the other. Trees sawn down, all structures apart from the occupied and now “homely” shed, rendered unworkable. Useless. Fragments of broken glass, smashed flower pots, earth and brick scattered. It was the scene of pure abandonment yet in direct contrast to the careful and rather self-consciously placing of selected items in the shed. It was a statement of territorial regime change, which had probably begun with a half hearted experimentation with cutting through one piece of wood with a saw which I had left out in the garden by mistake, and had then escalated from place to place. Each place became another opportunity for cutting through.

Actually we had a good session at the Autistic club later that day. One man, having such a clear and unambiguous task ahead, applied himself to stacking and ordering scattered objects in a way which began formally but then branched into all kinds of special piles, hangings and lean-tos.
The cleared space then provided a new platform for making another kind of simple structure, with poles in the ground, string between and the broken struts of furniture hung at intervals like a necklace.

Still later on that day the kids turned up. They promised in every kind of best language they knew that they hadn’t done it and had only arrived to find the mess and had then worked hard at making the shed at least nice. I don’t believe that but I worked on the assumption it was true and asked them to help me cut up and stack the branches from the young trees cut down. They worked hard but would then lose concentration, start giggling and begin cutting down other trees.

We built a huge fire to burn all the broken furniture and I could see their leaping expanding energy when the task itself was destruction. There was a kind of calmness in everyone, including me, when the flames were at their highest. And a kind of coming full circle in that.

Maybe the garden has always been about what you do with excessive energy which in this society is stopped, internalised or squeezed out in explosive energy or violence.

The garden is a place for using excessive force so that it does not run out on itself. Is it any wonder that it should ultimately succumb to that force?

I think those kind of energies need to be utilized at each moment. Form can only be a temporary stop-gap. A sandwich stop which may last a moment or years. But sooner or later things have to turn over in order to go down. The kids, when they cut wood, call that “chomping it”.

The final phase of the garden will be using it as a mirror to witness the affects of all that is disallowed or turned back on itself, in the surrounding area of Finsbury Park. What does it actually mean to grow up as a young male in this area, thrown out of school, with Attention Deficit Disorder and with nothing to do with the thought of that going on year after year indefinitely. Are these the boys that grew up to become men in the mental health project next door who keep themselves to themselves, many of them on high medication, because any gesture catches onto the dry timber of so many inclinations that have nowhere to take them except over the edge and all the trained professionals are trying to prevent any kind of contact with that edge.
Maybe the garden, in its most recent incarnation, has become exactly the island outside of jurisdiction, or surveillance where battling tendencies have become readable in every partial object, smashed or reconstituted. That is not the battle-ground of the original autistic members, stereotypically seen in this society as “islands”, who have ritualised chaos into elaborate procedures of object arrangement- almost as a kind of joke on all the systems in place for ordering things and people- but is enacted at a far more formative and fluid state, before diagnosis and before allocation on one side of the wall or another has set in. It’s at this level that the untouchable nature of what schools, local authorities, police and national Charities alike come to see as a raw and unprocessed state almost as if it were sewage, becomes an anomaly. Yet that anomaly is a situation built into the very systems of categorisation where there are gestures that cannot or will not be seen.
The sheer level of murders and violent crimes in the area means that between the occupation of the shed and the dismantling of the garden, we are interned within our own domestic disputes with state control effectively taken up at a different level of violation. That means that we exist in a buffer zone between established regimes of schooling, recreational activities, moral guidance and punishment; a low level brewing of anarchy within the refuge itself.
This fluid state that is normally invisible and thrown back as unrelated incidents of individual “trouble-making”, must become the area of attention in the final phase of the garden, putting the autistic systems of mark-making and trace reading to use in this continuous and high speed morphing between the “tamed” and the “wild”, between “exclusion” and “inclusion”, which operate as a refrain and as such allows the playing out of a poetic paradox on this specific piece of land.

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