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As the solitary phase of this project comes to a close I’m thinking about the flicker and chatter of the news media making the world’s head spin.

I was asked to write some short pieces during my time here which would be displayed on the BBC Big Screen here in Manchester. It’s a big outdoor screen in Exchange Square that shows a constantly changing programme for shoppers and passers-by, so that no one has to miss anything. Of course I never got to see it myself. I think my contribution was for the ticker-tape news summary that runs along the bottom of the screen. There was a thirteen word limit but they said they could probably put a couple of messages together to be shown every now and then. So I took it as a nice structural constraint. Here are some thirteen word lines, in couplets, for the BBC news.

I am no more a hermit than these words you read are real.

These marks remind us how to speak. I present the joy of listening.

World news spins on like a wheel. Does it stop at my axle?

In silence I hear the cries of history bearing down, hope flying up.

I am the opposite of the news. I watch what is fading away.

And wait without searching for that which is yet to come into being.

As I delve into the body, it cracks open, cools, disintegrates, dissolves, evaporates.

Puffs of thought are released. One drifts by saying ‘I’m not a metaphor’.

My own feelings are most pressing until on TV I see others feel.

But who’s on? My dog? A bird flying past a cloud? The cloud?

Axes of sense intersect. On my approach the invisible stridulation of crickets stops.

Do they sing of gods, as I might do when I am interrupted?

Sharing this body of an ape with creatures too small to be seen

And this moment with a time too long to remember, I stop fighting.

I’m no roving reporter. There is no Outside Broadcast van. Everything seeps in.

Beside still water, I ride through galaxies and all the stars come round.

My thoughts float on the surface of this body like a glistening slick

From a ship of fools on the Pacific. Whale song ruffles the light.

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Tom Stephenson permalink
    04/08/2009 7:40 pm

    Just listened to you on R4’s ‘Front row’. I was hoping to watch it on the webcam, but never mind.

    Will I miss you? I can’t say now, but it reminds me of an art installation here in Bath by the river near where I live, and all night this thing would be beating out African drum noises, and tribal chants – it drove me up the wall. However, as soon as the festival ended and the installation was removed, I sort of missed it. Now, every time I hear similar noises, it reminds me of that summer, about 14 years ago, and it’s not an unpleasant experience. Like you said to me, if I don’t like it, ignore you, but it’s not like that, is it? (How SHALL we fuck off?)

    You have irritated the shit out of me at times, Ansuman, and I’m sure I have with you too, and I will find out how much you have been paid for this installation, even if you do wipe that question by your moderation! These little details are important, and – in the spirit of social justice – you should tell everyone who may not have the resources to look into the museum’s finances.

    Meanwhile, I hope you find great pleasure and gratification in your children, and I hope you live long enough to find the same in their children.

    I also hope you get another commission as good as this one in the near future.

    Sorry – I like you, but I don’t want you.


  2. Marie permalink
    04/08/2009 10:16 pm

    Thank you Tom.

    Dear Ansuman, I too like you but as we are all saying we cannot want you because of course your family’s claim is deeper.

    Also to Tom I wanted to add something about Aladin who so so much now reminds me of Ansuman:

    “Tom Stephenson permalink

    “That’s another ‘Aladin Sane’, I think. A bit like asking Biswas if he was ever on Tizwaz.”

    I think in life when we are touched logic and context does not matter. I only remembered Ansuman’s friend (what a beautiful connection) as he also has spiritual qualities we would wish to find in our gurus but also the faults. After Tom mentioned ‘Tizwas’ I noticed that actually from Google that it was ‘Tiswas’ a children’s, very playful, show.

    Ansuman and his friend Aladin (whom I have at least had the privilege of meeting) have each the wisdom but also humility and playfulness which are each tangible. So not ‘Aladdin Sane’ of my beloved David Bowie but the sanity and fruitfulness of being available.

    So I must end by thanking Ansuman Biswas for being available and reminding us, like his Sufi friend Aladin, to be grounded while also being able to be a magician as Ansuman and Aladin are both*!

    My deepest appreciation.

    With a full heart,


    (* And the resemblance between the two friends you can all see: Ansuman – I understood that Aladin has Arabic ancestry as he is Sufi so I assume you are not related!)

    • Tom Stephenson permalink
      04/08/2009 10:50 pm

      I spent some time in a Sufi foundation where they were kind enough to make allowances for my spiritual short-comings by suggesting that I sleep with a copy of the sayings of Ib’n’ Al Arabi under my pillow, just in case I was unable to keep up with the content if I actually read it. I will be eternally grateful to these masters for that insight.

      They must have been right – how could I misspell Tiswas, if I were not fully equipped to absorb the real meanings of the masters?

      My favourite character in Carlos Casteneda was the Don (whose name I have now forgotten) who plays tricks all the time and spend a lot of time laughing and farting. Was it Martus? I don’t think so.

      I would spend the rest of my life following the teachings of Tommy Cooper, if it were not for the fact that it would be a complete waste of fucking time.

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