Die Wunderkammer, Or Notes from an Austrian Journal by Darran Anderson


The woods have been strangely silent since the temperature dropped. A week of electrical storms and sheer walls of rain advancing in from the sea [a note of recognition in rereading – Toni Kurz, die Mordwand, “Ich kann nicht mehr”] and then stillness, a curious unnatural stillness and the air a second from freezing before our eyes. A moth, made of dust and feathers, bounced around every angle in the room when I turned on the cabin light and scanned the rows of books for one to bring on the journey, besides a battered copy of Trakl that had accompanied me to the tropics. A black hardback with a funeral procession caught my eye. The Last Days of Mankind: Karl Kraus and His Vienna by Frank Field (1967). It looked so irredeemably grim I knew I would be compelled to take it, whether I wanted to or not.

Before leaving the cabin, I switched off the light and stood for a moment in the darkness and listened. Every night I’d lain here, for months, I’d heard the woods teeming with life, more so than I’d ever imagined, allocating every sound to a bestiary of impossible animals in my deluded city-bred mind. The mice scuttling along the moss-covered slates and the cats prowling and the crows conspiring in the canopies were easy to distinguish but there were other sounds, more difficult to differentiate. I’d walk through the woods after dark, watching the fishing village lights across the lough or mistaking distant headlights for will o’ the wisp. Often the last straggling dregs of sunlight set the skies ablaze before moving on to other continents and I wondered in those moments if another soul, man, woman or beast, was seeing it too.

One night in the half-light of a slowly-vanishing moon, I heard something breathing laboured breaths and wavered between curiosity and a fear I had not felt since childhood (avoiding mirrors at night for fear of what they contained and a landing window for the possibility of a face appearing at it, even though it was on the first floor). I never found out what creature it was that made those sounds and my search was admittedly tentative. A wounded fox perhaps or a deer. Recently the sound of owls had joined the night-chorus as well as the sight, as I walked the roads, of a hawk cruising above the harvested field at speed, scanning the land for movement. The world reveals itself when you have neither camera nor torch. A deer had bounded out of the crops during the lightning and two had watched us from across the fields several days earlier. The sea and the rusting abandoned granary and the pill-boxes lain as traps for an invasion that never came lay in the distance. What they were watching for I do not know. For now, the woods were silent.

Signs of life were few along the coastal road to the train station, bar the lights of a satellite mimicking the stars overhead and the last sullen drinkers staggering from isolated lamp-lit inns back to whatever world they were avoiding. The houses were silent, lightless, more inert than ruins, bar the odd golden window against a shadow landscape. The village near the station was a curious characterless place, only notable for once having been destined for nuclear obliteration due to its housing an RAF base. Now it’s just another nowhere; re-enacting a future that never arrived in the air raid sirens that still crept across the tides, and fighter pilots performing unseen tricks in skies otherwise forgotten. We stepped out onto the platform to find that night had gotten colder and deeper still. The station was locked but the lights were still on. We stood waiting for the Caledonian Sleeper to rattle down from the Highlands. C was pale and shivering. I don’t think she or anyone else has ever looked so beautiful. She laughed at the book I’d taken. One of these days, I’ll just take a guidebook instead of some morbid suicide-manual. It’s a particularly ludicrous way to navigate new cities; using incarnations of places which no longer exist beyond the lie of the city name and the skeletons of the buildings and the words of the dead. But then again perhaps there’s something in it. Words, when all is said and done, remain.

The train came slowly through and we boarded and entered a tiny tea-chest of a cabin that soon felt like a ship in a gentle swell. And the nightlands rolled past us for hours and I lay on the top bunk writing this by the blue glare of a night-light, my sleeping love beneath me and our sleeping baby inside her like a Russian doll, as I lay there wondering, who in God’s name was Karl Kraus?


Slept abysmally. When I was a child I used to lie in bed watching the shapes of car lights climb the walls and flit across the ceiling, sifting through the sounds of the city. The snatches of drunken conversation, the tides of rain, the omnipresent army helicopters (in all those years in Derry and Belfast I never once heard of the helicopters having caught anyone but then again that was never the point). Last night, I found myself doing the same again, judging the speed and the terrain from the different drones of the train. I’m not sure if I slept at all, lingering in that slightly feverish, slightly hallucinatory state of consciousness. It seemed purgatorial. In desperation, I took to reading, first of Kraus then, when my mind had become heavy, the train brochure. “People are not the only passengers; the Inverness-Euston sleeper conveys crabs, lobster and langoustine five nights a week destined for London’s best restaurants.” I thought of Chekhov’s body being transported in a frozen railway car marked ‘For the Conveyance of Oysters.’ “During the Second World War, sleeper services were reduced.” There’s a statement. “During the Second World War…” I found myself wondering what a train looks like from altitude at night, lit up like a procession, moving between secret cities.

C was still sleeping. In the starved pale blue light of morning, it was possible to look around in more detail. The cabin looked like the space capsule of a former soviet republic; all handles and switches and levers and seventies decor. A sign marked ‘Alarme Incendie’. ‘Feuerwarnung’. A voice down the corridor. “We’re earlier than expected.”

I remember the first time coming into London as a young man and being mesmerised by the number of radio stations appearing on my radio, filling up the bandwidth, ‘What glorious Babel was this?’ and being irritated when a writer (I forget who) noticed the same thing. No doubt it is the same place now but no longer it seems so for me. This time the entrance seems furtive, in a crawling train with the shutters nailed down. Thoughts of Lenin in a seale train being allowed to cross Germany towards the Finland Station, Petrograd. What was it they called him? Their secret weapon? Their bacillus? Who knows? Who cares anymore? The train calls to the listening dark in layers of drones and creaks, a symphony of dissonance. A ship sinking unseen on some starlit night centuries ago.

I return to Kraus and a cast of familiar characters who populate my head in the way saints would a pious medieval village idiot; Freud, Wittgenstein and Schoenberg, Rilke and Kafka. “The problems and anxieties of the intelligentsia of Prague and Vienna in the early years of the 20th century have now attained a universal significance.” Except now we lack the figures to stand against these problems and anxieties or at least explore them, I jot down. Pessimism. Score a line through it. “So much of [Kraus’] satire is concerned with a society that is now vanished.” Underline. Something we’d all live to see, if we lived long enough. Underline it again. Then pause and score it out. “In the document now known as Die Dritte Walpurgisnacht, [Kraus] had foreseen something of the unspeakable evil which was about to break loose.” The sound of the rain on the train roof.

Who was this Kraus? He refused to return greetings on the street for fear of becoming part of a clique. He slept 5 hours a night. He made so many enemies through his writing his lawyer planned to write a book on all the lawsuits he faced. What was it all for? Children were running up and down the train aisles. An old man in the next cabin struggled to clear his chest. “Whenever the satirist ventured out of Austria or Germany, his whole being would gradually relax and the tensions within him would disappear; “It is another world”. Why then did he not escape? Why did he not leave earlier? It occurs to me that the depth and complexity of the human soul lies in these unanswered questions. “Whenever he and his elder brother, Richard, were taken for a walk in the park by their governess, he was frightened that they would never return home. Consequently he was always carried under his arm the one thing he loved most in the world – his marionette theatre.”

An Indian man several cabins down is talking to his grandchildren in a slow, kind voice. They are talking about swimming and sinking. One of the children runs out into the corridor. “Where are you going?” is the last words I hear from them. It seems they have moved the engine around to the other side of the train. I didn’t realise for some time that we were moving backwards.


A walk through the rain to the station, past the library where Marx read and wrote (Was it Das Kapital or Duck Soup?) and a homeless lady lying in a portico having a full-blown conversation with herself, words unintelligible. Glossolalia. Speaking in tongues. In an earlier age, they’d have made her a saint or burned her at the stake, now they, and by they I mean I, just avoid eye contact. Beneath a giant clock and the iron lattice web of a Victorian station, I have time for a drink, a quick double Bushmills to settle the stomach. The next station is Blackfriars. The next station is Elephant and Castle. The Beta Band ‘Gone’ on my headphones. Skyscrapers dissolving in the mist outside. Change here for the underworld. Mind the gap. A passage, not Kraus but Hofmannsthal, “For me, everything disintegrated into parts, those parts again into parts; no longer would anything let itself be encompassed by a single idea. Single words floated around me; they congealed into eyes which stared back at me and into which I was forced to stare back – whirlpools which gave me vertigo and, reeling incessantly, led into the void.” And with the slowing of the train, we’d arrived.


The first solitary light on the plains of Mitteleuropa appeared as we descended down through a frozen storm of clouds. It was impossible to tell which country it belonged to and it was some time and miles before it was joined by multiplying networks of lights. By that stage, the plane had descended further and we had travelled back into the shadow of the earth and an hour ahead in time.

We were met by C’s godmother, an exceptionally-kind and stoically-happy Austrian lady, who brought us home for supper. She apologised about the state of the lobby, draped as it was in scaffolding and white sheets. Some vandals had broken in and rolled in a burning bin, scorching the marble. “My son turned up to help us. He looked like the ghost at the banquet coming through the smoke.” You could still detect the Art Deco beneath and in the Art Nouveau lift, straight out of a Stefan Zweig story, remnants of earlier ages. A living archaeology. She pointed out, as we passed, a now defunct series of doorbells, each linked to a name now long since departed, which was kept as a memorial. I did not ask where they had gone or who they were and she did not answer.

C’s godfather greeted me with a large Jamesons and, despite a recent illness and a fall, came to life discussing Kirchner, Grosz and Schiele, on whom he is a leading authority. He tells me of a criminally-overlooked painter from the time who I’d never heard of by the name of Klein. “Find her work” he instructs me and I promise him and myself that I will. We talk of Ludwig Meidner and the story that he was so forgotten after the war that he turned up at a posthumous retrospective and had to shout from the back of the gallery, “It’s me, Meidner! I’m not dead!” When I mentioned Dada and Hannah Höch, he flashed a smile and murmured “Dada” to himself several times quietly as if remembering unsaid places and people. They laugh when C mentions my unfortunate physical resemblance to Egon Schiele, a back-handed compliment, wild-haired after the flight and naturally gaunt.

They are extraordinary people. She studied philosophy and lived around the world and regaled us with tales of Vienna’s recovery from destruction and how it was split into different zones by the Allies. The Russian soldiers were tight-arses who’d take deliberately long inspecting your papers, an experience which chimed with every time I passed across the Irish border growing up, being held up and casually abused by British soldiers. The aim, in both cases, was demoralisation and to instil a sense of being a stranger in your own land. I did not tell her we would respond in kind as children by stealing the soldier’s money for errands, walking back across the border through covert paths through fields and woods, and occasionally bouncing rocks off their lookout posts when particularly aggrieved.

C’s godfather is a writer and art dealer. His family are Viennese and Jewish. They had to flee the Nazis, making it to Yugoslavia before his mother was forced to leave him to escape to England. He wrote two highly-acclaimed award-winning books on the theme of exile, told through the rooms he stayed in. He’s been working on the third part of the trilogy ever since. I want to ask them questions and listen forever, so dazzlingly far from mediocre are they, but they politely include me in conversation with tales of how Irish monks settled in Salzburg but were mistaken for Scots and how, learning I have been an avid reader of Trakl, I must go there. We talk of what is lost in translation and what is gained by accident and we talk with sadness of the loss of Max Sebald and Michael Hamburger. When I mention my colleague Will Stone, a descendant of the latter pair in many ways, her godfather sits forward in his seat and raises his glass slightly, not as if toasting me but toasting those working in the building of linguistic bridges, aqueducts, tunnels, thankless and essential as they are. It seems almost shameful to me that they take such interest in what I have to say (‘when did you start reading German poetry?’) given the scarcity of what I know and the immensity of what they do but it is a sign of their kindness and good manners. Everyone talks so much and so much at the same time these days that quiet thoughtful genuine listeners seem something like saints.

On the drive to the apartment, I notice signposts to Bratislava, Budapest, Prague. A police car speeds past with an unfamiliar siren. As we wait beneath a red light, suspended on squares of cables above the junction, our hosts tell us of places here to visit; the gardens of the Belvedere, the Breughel room at the Kunsthistorisches, the Schieles at the Leopold. There are countless other places displaying the treasures built, purchased and stolen by an empire that no longer exists bar street names and ignored statues. We haul our bags to a lift decorated with black iron flowers and pass out face-down to the rumble of innocent planes overhead.


Different cities, different areas within cities, different rooms even, run at different speeds. Sometimes these can be ascertained straight away as slower or faster but what seems initially to be true is very often deceptive. Just as we take several days to acclimatise to a place so too do we, whether we realise or not, adjust to a different flow of time.

From every window, there are courtyards. In one, a tree climbs up the storeys, almost escaping into the sky. There are dogs barking at the bottom of the stairwell and the morning light is translated through squares of stained glass. In Paris, there had always been the sense of gazing into the lives of others from the windows. Here it was different. The windows revealed no more or less than monochrome paintings. Occasionally, depending on the angle, you might see your voyeuristic self in them. I hear C in the shower and she passes shortly after, swathed in towels, smiling through the doorway. I find Bryter Layter and Five Leaves Left amongst the records and the songs change the rooms, as they always somehow do.

The apartment is unconventional in terms of rooms leading to rooms and in terms of what it contains. It is filled with ephemera, except ephemera is rarely ephemeral. There are matryoshka dolls and Congolese masks. Puppets that might come alive at night. A wicker bull’s head. A butterfly, wings outstretched and coloured like the map of an unknown country, in glass-frozen flight. Matchboxes from long-closed cabarets. A model boat from Heligoland. An outstretched kimono from Japan. Grimaldi and Pierrot. The Nutcracker and The Magic Flute. Empty birdcages. Renaissance maps of utopia. Caligula bringing his bounty of shells from Neptune; better this, a million times, than all the stolen hoard of empire. In earlier times, I used to regard such objects, as those which filled this apartment, as flotsam but I was wrong. These are treasures, wunderkammer, a cabinet of curiosities like the narwhal’s tusks of Olaus Wormius, the phoenix tails of John Tradescant, the feathered crown of Montezuma in a Hapsburg museum. These things have resonances and stories, the aura that Benjamin incorrectly believed to be close to extinction, because the aura does not exist within the thing but within the viewer and the context in which it is viewed. They are fragments of history, hiding cleverly as junk. I remind myself to remember this for some future rambling essay and then promptly forget it.


Post-lightning rain. The bells ringing for the passing of another hour, where once they rang to ward away fevers and plagues and devils or to summon them. Getting soaked between the doorways. C smiling under her umbrella. There are angels in the concrete on the street corner. I cannot quite escape the tendency to regard cities as the scene of some great and unacknowledged crime, clues in strange markings, gargoyles frozen in mid-sentence in stone and graffiti awaiting translation. The city as sphinx.


The occidentalism I had of a place of ghosts and wonders hasn’t been entirely misplaced and there’s plenty of old world Austro-Hungarian charm if you’re inclined to want to holiday inside an ornate petrified wedding cake (there are lifts so old and stylish they resemble train carriages and can only travel upwards). The days have been long and full; metros and museums, cafes and parks, the spray of the fountain by the Red Army monument and the trams gliding through white marble. We drank in the Palmenhaus amidst glass and rioting vegetation and church bells, and lay on the grass outside, the sun splitting the trees and the warmth on our faces and the clouds slowly swirling in the heights above when we finally opened our eyes, and sat by the water outside Karlskirche as the day slowly ran out. We joked with a psychiatrist friend that collective psychoanalysis should appear on the news in the place occupied now by weather reports and the stock market and watched as an elderly ludicrously-fit gentleman performed exercises or mating rituals on a public green.

We stood before Kirchner’s Green House, Le Corbusier’s Villa Savoye, Klimt’s Death and Life, Duchamp’s spinning discs and copies of Minotaur, a battered Rodchenko first edition and patriotic poster exaltations for successive generations to throw themselves into the threshing machine of war. An art house film’s subtitle claimed, “I was so shocked it took me some time to recover.” I jotted down the notes next to a large Balla canvas titled Mercury transits the sun, seen through a telescope (1914). “The Futurists were enthusiastic about the idea of war, and shortly before the First World War, Balla’s pursuit of astronomy aimed for the Utopia of a Futurist occupation of outer space.” Where do the unrealised utopias go? And where too the realised dystopias?

Schiele’s paintings had the most impact. The figures seemed lit from within, in a way I’d only seen before in El Greco but unlike the latter who had some eternal faith, or the mimicry of it, the light of Schiele’s figures had a half-life. They would come to be extinguished eventually. I found myself, as has never happened before, being unable to move from his painting of a Dead Mother and Child. My legs felt heavy as if my boots were lead and when I shook myself to walk my head reeled as with the first steps onto a dock following a long journey at sea.


I scribble down some notes, which later will prove indecipherable. C walks over “You’re writing; what for?”

There’s a question I’ve been asking myself.

In the Kraus book, I read, “A characteristic feature of the Viennese theatre was the magic comedy (Zauberposse), a typical baroque art-form combining the fairy story with elements of social criticism.” I think of her godfather and the puppets and clowns and Schiele and Kraus and Trakl and I wonder, not doubting for a second the magic part, if it really is a comedy? That would imply that everything ends well. Both imply there is an end. Time continues irrespective of what we deem comic or tragic and we can no more halt time for one single second than Canute could command the sea.

We spend a day at home when my old leg injury starts to play up. Feeling more tired than usual, C is lying on the sofa. The baby is kicking to Leonard Cohen’s ‘Sisters of Mercy’. She says he likes it. Waltzing around the womb. My mother used to play me the same album as a child. Outside night is falling. A stone bird is perched above on a balcony railing, I mistake it for real initially and watch to see if it moves. Perhaps it only does so when no-one is looking.

Returning to Kraus, I wonder about my unhealthy fascination with minor writers. Marie Under, Jakob van Hoddis, d a levy, Lola Ridge, Bruno Schulz, Georg Heym, Trakl at a push, in the English-speaking world at least. It’s not obscurity for obscurity’s sake, not anymore. Perhaps it’s because I am aware deep down of being a minor writer myself or, more correctly, aspiring to being one eventually. Or perhaps because they are not minor at all and by somehow proving it, you may somehow achieve a reprieve for yourself. Then again, might there not be a bliss in avoiding the perpetual narcissism of the modern world and saying, enough of this infernal ‘I’ and handing over your mind to the writing of another for some escape? To think, for some wondrous instant, outside of yourself.

Strange how life turns out, thinking back to several years ago and a decade and a half of bedlam, once you push beyond the fear of it all, sitting here, playing music to our unborn son, just above the sound of the rain, “We climbed and we climbed / Oh, how we climbed / Over the stars to top / Tiger mountain” as night rises over the city.


We make our way through torrential rain to the flea-market. A figure huddles under a railway arch. A beggar is praying theatrically on his knees. A girl wearing a hijab sits on a staircase singing. I’d been thinking recently of how Catholicism, when shorn of political and social power, resembles a vast Outsider Art project. The flea-market has similar echoes. Its contents fall into junk and kitsch at times but never without secret stories. How did each object get here? The coins, medals, portraits and lockets. A painting of Hitler nestled behind the rest of the junk. Its purpose there puzzling me over drinks in the refuge of a nearby bar as the rain lashed down on the objects and the sellers and the little alleyway I’d passed marked with a single word, in memory or prophecy, ‘Plague’.

C’s godmother makes us a hearty traditional lunch and shows around their apartment as her godfather rests. The sign to his study commands, from the perspective of the room itself, ‘Do not clean me, I like to be messy.” It is filled with a thousand and one treasures. For a writer, it is Ali Baba’s cave, with almost too much to take in. I tell her of how it reminds me of a wunderkammer and she seems instantly delighted and tells me her husband will be delighted as that was his, perhaps unconscious, aim. “You will have your own one day, you are young.” She points out a recurring cherished theme of owls and a pin cushion fashioned from the yellow Jewish star they were forced to wear, reinvented by someone who had outlived a thousand year reich.

I think a great deal of those kind people and their living wunderkammer. To have maintained against all pressure a refuge of free thought, exploration and curiosity, sometimes in exile, sometimes in the belly of the beast, whilst the world changed and went to hell around them, that is an extraordinary achievement. Perhaps the one we should strive for more than any other. You can take all the writers tips and glorified self-help books and cast them into the deep blue sea. This is all that matters; the building of such places amidst barbarism and philistinism. A refuge built high and open enough to have a view of the world. I remember teachers at Catholic school telling us of the legend of Irish monks ‘saving’ Europe from the dark ages by transcribing knowledge and keeping it in monasteries and round towers. Perhaps this was the modern equivalent and crucially this was no myth. In hind-sight I think it is something I’d always subconsciously sought (and which we all do in different ways), papering the walls and roof of my room in collages, creating something resembling a sovereign space, somewhere between a sanctuary and Captain Nemo’s submarine. Walter Benjamin Arcades Project, for one, would be diminished without the wunderkammer aspect, the quality of the explorer and collector and that inestimable aspect of never being complete or finished, a magic that books you can’t read or lives you can’t live seem to possess and while you’re searching impossibly for these, the relics of the life you are living accumulate as wonders and if you are fortunate enough, you begin to notice them.


We are moving across the landscape in a morning dream, a grey-green misted landscape punctuated by churches and palaces. The spires look gothic, Romanesque then eastern, a reminder that the Ottomans were once at the gates and stayed in the sense that an absence can become a presence. The horizon dissolves into the sky until it is impossible to tell where one ends and the other begins and we’d be lost without the train-tracks, guiding us east. The land vanishes altogether as we enter the tunnels and an underwater pressure forms in the head like the mountain closing up around the Hamlin children. I flick through the history book. Wolves have been sighted within the walls of Vienna. The English ambassador disappears on his journey home. Mozart is buried in a mass grave. My business, if I have one, is elsewhere; to track down the ghost of the poet Georg Trakl.

There are other places to read of Trakl; his breakdowns and addictions, the final cataclysm of war, looking after a shattered barn full of mortally wounded men and how Wittgenstein, in the end, was too late to save him. I’m presuming there are essays on the presence of incest, music and mysticism and the role of landscape in his poems. If there isn’t we might imagine them into being. The poems are here, as thought-objects, now that he is no more.

The poems take us past Linz and through thoughts of what a deranged postcard painter had intended for it and the modernist building sites and rusting railway stock that underline what did not happen. They take us rising up into the alpine reaches, skirting through the edges of evergreen forests to a salt fortress on the frontier, where the air becomes clear and chill, and the mist rises off the mountains like smoke, to gardens with blind-struck statues where Trakl had walked and wrote, past grotesque drunks and churches carved into cliff-faces and empty tables reserved for ‘Herr Wagner’ and stern copper bishops and horses galloping in stone and the faceless pieta and the bridges and the castle and tramlines and an old man in a beret mumbling at unseen enemies and the swollen river and the carved angels and St Sebastian’s arrows and his unseen assailants.

The next day, I make my way to Trakl’s house, a pilgrimage site I’d dreamt of fifteen years previously after chancing upon his poetry, and find in authoritative tones that it is full (a coach party) and perhaps I would come back another day and I nod knowing I will never ever come here again. And I know from her look there is no point pleading and no words to explain and I walk utterly deflated down the stone steps back into Trakl’s courtyard and sit there and sigh to the silence, listening to nothing, fooling myself that the universe conspires against you when you only really ever conspire against yourself; a magic comedy then but one where the laughs are at our expense. Later, we will sit in the Mirabell gardens where he once sat, next to a stone plaque bearing his words and I take out the folded translation by Will Stone and read as you are now the following,

   Music in the Mirabell
     Version II

     A fountain sings. Clouds stand
     In clear blueness, white, tender.
     Thoughtful people wander silent
     At evening through the old garden.
     The ancestral marble has gone grey.
     A flight of birds streaks to the distance.
     With dead eyes a faun gazes
     After shadows, gliding in darkness.

     From the old tree the leaves fall red
     And circle down through open windows.
     Firelight glows in the room
     And paints bleak spectres of dread.

     A white stranger steps into the house.
     A dog dashes through decayed passages.
     The maid turns out a lamp.
     Nightly are heard the sounds of sonatas.

There are sacred places of pilgrimage for even the heathens among us. I’ve dragged my wretched bones to Harry’s Bar where Hemingway used to drink festooned in birds he’d shot in the lagoon off Torcello and Kafka’s tiny house in the shadows of Prague Castle and a hundred other rooms and graves where the ghosts are supposed to reside from here to Indochina. I go there each time and I’m not entirely sure what to expect, what purpose it serves; for the ghosts are most definitely not there. Perhaps it’s to see something they saw, a view from a window, the same creak on a stair, to inhabit the same air, to hear the same music but it’s gone or it’s different. Time usurps space. The gardens do not convince as a simulacrum. The sun is too warm and the birds are too loud and life is too sweet and Trakl’s ghost deserves to rest. If the past is anywhere it’s locked in the objects gathered, the works created and left behind, the books and the paintings and that folded poem and in the heads of the living and the dialogues we engage in with them. All art may be time travel and clairvoyance but the living world is ours. And I tell myself that the entire train journey back in the moving rooms of the carriage where you rest your head and in every window films flash by of the present whilst you’re chasing things you’ve already found, all the while, and all of us, hurtling into the future.


Darran Anderson is the author of Histoire de Melody Nelson (Bloomsbury), Tesla’s Ghost (Blackheath Books) and the forthcoming Imaginary Cities (Influx Press) and Jack Kerouac: Critical Lives (Reaktion Books). His essay, The Magnet Has a Soul & Everything is Water, How Modernism is Ancient, was published in gorse no. 1.

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