DOWNSTREAM ON THE BOULEVARD
'Most people write shit, they don’t write poetry. They write what they are: insignificant self-conscious words that say nothing. You cannot lie in a poem. You cannot lie on a page. Either you have it or you don’t have it. There’s nothing to define what poetry is. It either has life or it doesn’t'.
Jack Micheline, 1987
Ten years ago, the musician Charles Gonzalez gave me a painting. The focal point is a large purple dog with long ears and snout. Only one of the dog’s feet is touching the ground
– it’s not clear if it’s running to welcome us, or scare us away. Behind it, a white house with a magenta peaked roof shimmers, reflecting the gleam of a full pink moon. The roof becomes a floating pyramid, the dog caught suspended: a sphinx. The cliché symbols of Home take on the archaic proportions of myth. The painting is signed ‘Micheline ’90’. It is the work of Jack Micheline, the artist-poet. In 1997 Gonzalez collaborated with him on an album of country songs – this gift from Micheline, to Gonzalez, to me, hangs on my wall and makes Micheline’s work far more real for me than it had ever been before.
Imagine it is an ordinary weekday. You leave work mid-afternoon and walk to the bus stop, chatting on your mobile with a friend that you’ve arranged to meet. You check the time on your watch and mentally count the number of stops to work out how late you’re going to be.
UNIVERSAL PICTURES: A TRANSEPT IN TECHNOLOGICAL TIME
Universal Pictures’ 1941 production of the The Wolf Man opens with Larry Talbot returning to his ancestral home after a long stay in the United States. The film is set on the Universal back lot, which means that it could be taking place anywhere, which is also absolutely nowhere. Universal horror star Lon Chaney Jr. plays Larry and from the moment he appears on screen you just know something bad will happen to him – like turning into a wolf when the moon is full, and trying to kill the woman he loves.
A sailor sets out on a frosty morning...
And it wasn’t quite light, the horizon barely visible in the west. There were stars and there were swirling patterns of cloud – a pale grey against the darkness.
It was the end of the line when Christopher woke up, less than eight hours earlier.
Discovering there were no trains back, he had stumbled into a pub one street away and began to drink again.
ENDURING THE APOCALYPSE
Many say that this is an era of discontent: civilisation is rumoured to be on the brink of extinguishing itself in a narrative of post-truths, existential threats, the age of terror, nuclear and petroleum warfare, and a resurrection of populist right-leaning dictator politics.
FRANKIE MATHIESON: Do you think it's harder to know someone in the digital age?
OLIVIA SUDJIC: I do think it’s harder to know someone in the digital age if you have a predetermined idea of what they are like before you actually meet them. That multiple selves’ idea was not just about having an Instagram persona and a Twitter persona, it was also about the relationship we as individuals have with the internet itself, and how the internet thinks it knows us…