Notes from New Sodom

... rantings, ravings and ramblings of strange fiction writer, THE.... Sodomite Hal Duncan!!

Friday, October 22, 2004

The Morning After

Dead Kennedys: Fresh Fruit For Rotting Vegetables
Born Out Of Time:The Australian Indie Sound 1979-88
The Ramones: The Chrysalis Years
Radio Birdman: The Essential 1974-78
Thievery Corporation: The Richest Man In Babylon
The Jam: The Sound Of The Jam
Gotan Project: La Revancha Del Tango
The Doors: Strange Days
The Stooges: Fun House
The Doors: The Doors
The James Taylor Quartet: Blow Up!
Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds: Abbatoir Blues / The Lyre Of Orpheus
Iggy And The Stooges: Raw Power
The Clash: The Clash
The Ordinary Boys: Over The Counter-Culture
Fugazi: Repeater
Echo And The Bunnymen: Ocean Rain
The Jimi Hendrix Experience: Radio One
Public Image Limited: The Greatest Hits So Far
Jet: Get Born
The White Stripes: Elephant
British Sea Power: The Decline Of British Sea Power
Sex Pistols: The Great Rock’n’Roll Swindle
The Doors: Morrison Hotel
James Brown: Classic
The Sonics: Psycho-Sonic
Elvis Costello: Girls, Girls, Girls
The Stooges: The Stooges
Rage Against The Machine: Rage Against The Machine
Kinski: Be Gentle With The Warm TurtleMuse: Origin Of Symmetry...

CD's lying scattered on my floor after the birthday celebrations of last night. I'm not going to even bother listing the bottles.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004


I'm becoming more and more aware of this blog becoming more and more sporadic with the passing weeks. And what with trying to finish the second novel, do the revisions on the first, have a social life, and sleep every once in a while... I've decided to start throwing in a few stop-gap entries here and there to tide any audience I might have over. To that end, I thought I'd post up my Scots verse translation / arrangement of the existing fragments of Heraclitus.

Yeah, that's right. Verse. As in poetry. What? Ye got a fuckin problem with that?

Anyhoo, here goes:


It wid be wise tae listen
No ti me but tae ma Word's division,
Showing each accordin tae its kind,
Things us they ur. Maist pay no mind
Tae who they find things us they ur;
They make nae sense u thur sensations,
Simply follyin their ain beliefs.
It isnae right tae act and speak like men asleep.
E'en the posset - curdled milk wi beer or
Wine an spice - ull separate unstirred.
It wid be wise tae listen,
No ti me but tae ma Word.
All things ur wan we should admit -
Wan an the same,
The straight an crooked path uf carding wheel,
Wan an the same,
The up an doon ways uf a hill.

In the circumference ae a circle
The beginning an the end ur shared.
This Word is true forever,
But is unnerstood as little when
First heard as if heard never.
E'en though a' thit occurs
Is in accordance wi this Word,
Men, unaware u whit they dae
Awake, forgetting whit they dae
In sleep, act like this is a new
Sense tae them, hauldin court on all
The words an deeds that ah set forth
An bringing witnesses uf nae repute
Oot in support ae points that they dispute.
The eyes make better witnesses than ears,
But eyes an ears ur baith false witnesses
Tae men wi souls that dinnae know thur tongue.
The fools hear like the deif, no
Knowin who tae listen, dumb:
Absent when present, the accusin axiom.
Let us no guess about the greatest things;
Dogs bark at whit they dinnae know.
Men that love wisdom must know much indeed.
If knowing much could teach, though, unnerstaunin, then
Pythagoras and Hesiod,
Hecataeus and Xenophanes
All should huv kent.
Hesiod's teacher u maist men -
So sure he knew so much ur they -
Who didnae know that night and day
Ur one. Pythagoras, son u Mnesarchus,
Wi the scientific inquiry he practiced,
Surpassed a' other men, and then,
Selecting oot u whit was penned,
Claimed fur his wisdom only such,
This knowledge u this much. Prince u pretence
An' Homer? Homer should be ripped
Fae a' the lists an whipped like Archilochus.
C'z he wis wrang in sayin, Would
That war might disappear from gods and men!
He didnae see that he was prayin
Fur the universe's end.
C'z if his prayer wur heard,
A' things wid cease ti be.

War is the faither and the king ae a',
Makin the gods, the men, the slaves, the free.
We huv tae know that war is shared
And conflict justice, that a' things
Come intae life and die through strife.

Men dinnae realise noo just who
Whit is in conflict actually is consensus,
In a harmony uf opposites, uf tensions,
Like the bow, the lyre.
Although its work is death, the biós ae the bow
Is bíos, life. Men wouldnae know
The name u Justice if it wisnae so.
In Priene, said Bias, son
Uf Teutamus
, u mair account
Than a' the rest, Most men are bad.
But wan is worth ten thousand ti
Me, ah say, if he be the best.
Still, the physicians cut an burn
An stab, an rack the sick, demand
A fee fur it they don't deserve.
It is a weariness to work
Fur the same masters, work an serve.
The mysteries men practice ur profane.
If it wur no fur Dionysus that they march,
They wid be acting wi'oot shame,
Singin this hymn tae phallus. Hades is the same
As Dionysus in whose honour they gaw wild an rave.
Night-walkers. Magi, Bacchii, Lenai - these
Initiates a' defiled, they try in vain
Ti purify themselves, bathin in blood,
As, efter steppin doon intae the sewer,
They thought tae wash thur feet in mud.
An, knowing no the nature uf
A hero or a god they pray -
If any marked 'm doing this, they'd say
He's lost his heid
- tae icons! - as if one
Should talk tae a man's hoose: Rise and become
The wakeful watchers u the quick and deid!
The fool's heart flutters at each word,
Wisdom unknown beciz they lack belief.
The maist renowned u them kens but conceits,
And thinks them sound. Yet this is true:
A' these false witnesses
An architects u lies,
These Justice shall outdo.
Hang these Ephesians, every adult man
And lea' the city ti the beardless child!
Fur Hermodorus, the best man
U them, wi' these words, they've exiled:
We will have no-one best among us;
If there's any so, let him go
Elsewhere, be so among others.

Whit thought or wisdom dae they own?
They folly poets, take the mob
As mentor. Naw, they dinnae know
That thur ur many bad, few good.
Only the best u them would choose
Wan thing above a' thit they could,
Tae be immortal among mortals, feted;
Maist u them, meanwhile, like beasts ur sated.
Although ah know it's difficult
When we relax ower a drink,
It's best tae hide ur folly. Though
Ur sodden souls ur jolly, blind,
The drunk trips on his sodden soul;
Led by a beardless boy, he strolls
Whuriver. Wiser wits ur dry.
We must extinguish ur debauchery,
Mair so thun ony hoose oan fire.
It isnae good to get a' that we'd like;
But it is hard tae wrestle wi yer heart's desire.
To purchase whit it prizes, it pays wi yer psyche.

Wisdom is a solitary thing,
That will and will not be ca'ed Zeus.
Unlike the way u the divine,
The way u man, child tae the god -
As child's way tae a man - lacks
Compared tae the divine,
The wisest man is jist an ape,
Jist as an ape u beauty
Is grotesque beside mankind.
Men say this thing is wrang and that thing right.
Ti the divine a' things are right and gid and just.
The hidden harmony is better than the obvious.
Ah huv sought fur mahsel; ye willnae find,
Whichever way, the limits u the mind,
The measure uf it is so wide.
Uf a' whose discourse ah huv heard, though, there's
No one comes claise tae unnerstaunin this:
That Wisdom stauns apart fae a', aside,
A solitary thing. The thunderbolt u lightning guides
The courses uf a' things
, but ah am yet ti hear:
It is tae know the thought bae which
A' things, through everything, ur steered.
They things that cin be seen an heard
An learned as wisdom are ma prize
Then; seekin gold, we dig up earth,
An find only a little
- nothin
If ye don't expect tae be surprised,
C'z it is hard. Man's nature is his fate -
Tae be sought oot an difficult
Nature loves tae hide. It scatters
And it gathers, rests by changin;
It advances an retires.
Each day jist like each other,
We baith step and dinnae step
Intae the self-same river;
Ur and urnae;
An the sun is new each day.
We cannae step twice intae the same river;
Fur the waters flow fresh over and they flow forever.
Wi bitter vetches fur thur food,
The oxen ur content; the ass
Wid raither huv its straw than gold;
Pigs wallow in thur excrement,
Delightin in the mire, as fowls
In barnyard dust.
The water, pure an foul -
The sea: Fish drink it an they thrive;
Men cannae drink it an survive.
Disease is the reason gid health pleases;
Evil makes the gid the better, best.
Wealth is defined by want, while - as
A' beasts, wi blows are driven ti pasture -
Whit we find in weariness is rest.
It is the contrary that gies us gain;
Gid and evil ur wan an the same.
So the divine is day an night,
Winter an summer, peace an war,
Glut an hunger - cold things become warm;
The arid is made damp. A' thit is hot
Cools down. A' thit is wet dries up.
Things as they ur, ur hail and no hail in duality,
United an divided in dissent an harmony.
The wan is made up uf a' things,
An a' things issue fae the wan.
It takes this form or that, as fire,
Spiced with incense, takes its names
Accordin to the scents uf each perfume.
And if a' things tae smoke wur turned,
The nostrils u souls sniffin in
The underworld would still discern
It fae the fumes
: The carcass
Should be dumped as animal shit.
Mortals immortal, immortals mortal;
Each wan lives the other's death, deid in their life.

C'z, tae a soul, death is fluidity,
As death tae flux is tae become firm form.
But fluid force comes from firm form,
And from the fluid, soul is born.
This world, which is the same fur a',
Nae single god or man has made;
But it wis then, and shall forever be
As noo, the fire of eternity.
Ignitin here, there burnin oot
Fire lives the death uf air, and air
The death u fire. Fire changes first
Tae flux - the sea, half uf it form,
storm, flux lives the death u form,
Form that u flux. Liquid fluidity,
The sea dissolves, measures as much
Again as once, before it wis the earth.
A' things, like goods for gold or gold
For goods, are an exchange for fire,
And fire fur a' things.
Want and surplus,
Fire judges and condemns all in its progress.
The wakin have wan world they share;
The sleepin turn aside, each into their
Ain world in the night. Dead and alive,
Then, fur thur sel's, they spark a light.
The sleepin man, whose vision is
Extinguished, fae the dead ignites
As he thit wakes lights up fae those
Just as in slumber a'
We sense is sleep, a' that we sense
When we're awake is death. But those asleep
Are also workers in the world's events.
It is the same thing in us, this that's quick or deid.
Awakened or asleep, the old or young;
The first shift an become the last.
The last shift an become the first, in turn.
Thales predicts - as seasons bring a' things,
Each thirty years a generation - an eclipse.
The constellation u the Bear
Delimits dawn an dusk, an, there,
Facin the Bear, shining an bright,
Ye see the boundary u Zeus?
Though wi nae sun it wid be night -
Though a' the other stars try as they might -
The sun'll never dauner oot u bounds,
For if he did he wid be found
Oot by the virgin hounds u Justice,
The Erinyes. It is law.
How can ye hide fae that which never sets?

It is law, also, tae obey the laws u one.
C'z a' our human laws a' come
Fae this wan law uf the divine,
Prevailin as it will, a' things
Sufficin fur, wi much tae spare.

The people's law must be defended, though,
Like city wa's.
We must haud fast,
Speakers u wisdom, tae these things we share,
As cities haud fast tae thur law, and wi mair care.
As gods an men honour all those who're slain
In battle, greater deaths win greater gain.
So we must follow whit we share.
Yet many live, although ma Word is shared,
As if thur wisdom wus just their's and,
Fae the common, universal, constant
Touch u wisdom, they stay distant.
The lord who rules the oracle
At Delphi shows his meanin by a sign,
No declarin or disguisin:

There await men when they die things
That they don't desire or dream of.
Newborn, we a' wish tae live an meet our dooms -
Or rather rest - lea'ing ur ain newborn
Behind tae meet thur dooms in turn.
The Sibyl wi her raving lips,
Though, utters her words stripped uf
A' gaudy decorative noise,
Nae mirth or perfume; wi her voice,
She reaches - a' due tae the god within -
She reaches through a thoosan years...
Time is a wean, playin draughts,
The power ae a king in a wean's grasp.


Friday, October 01, 2004

"What Time Is It?"

I don't know what time it is. I have no idea. It's not that late, I know, because the club next door - Jack Rabbit Slim's it's called, I shit you not - is stil going strong, pounding shite dance music with fat bass beats that make the mirror on the wall buzz with vibrations. It's late enough that Claire and Ollie and Mags and Ange have all headed off to their beds, sated with the sheer poundage of Chinese food that we ate while watching Kerry and Bush scratch at the issues in their piss-poor mockery of a showdown. But it's not late enough that I'm tired, not late enough that I don't roll another cigarette and walk out into the back garden of our rented apartment, sit out on the plastic-coated wire-mesh chair, at the thick-hewn wooden table under netted awning and fairy lights, and know that it's not worth my while to even try to get to sleep.

So, I think to myself, I may as well get some writing done, try and digest the last 48 hours that's sitting as rich and heavy in my head as the Crispy Chicken and Wonton soup I couldn't finish and the Roast Pork Wonton Mee noodles I could barely start are sitting in my stomach. Writing, for me, is a way of processing what I've consumed, breaking it down, burning it off. Writing keeps me skinny, I sort of think, takes all that junk I guzzle down like there's no tomorrow, eyes too big for my stomach, and it turns it into the energy that powers me; and when all that stuff is broken down and burned off, well then, I'll feel tired then, and I'll go to sleep and I'll wake up tomorrow as hungry as I was this morning. Or rather I'll wake up this morning as hungry as I was yesterday. That's the way life should be lived, skinny and fucking hungry all the time, not fat and indolent, fat in the stomach and fat in the head. You are what you eat? Fuck that shit. Eat what you are. Devour the days of your life. Tear chunks out of your nights and chew them up till they're just soft enough to swallow. Life is a fucking feast.

I'm in the East Village. To give a little context to this rambling, incoherent rant, I'm in New York in this peachy keen little apartment on East 10th at Avenue 1 that me and some mates are renting for a week - just seven fucking days - and there's a nightclub next door, a garden out back, and I know, I fucking know, I could quite happily live here in this wee village of hipsters sort of like the West End of Glasgow's bigger, cooler brother. I fucking love this place.

I knew I was going to love it when the owner's 20-something (younger?) friend Charlie and her boyfriend welcomed us with a bottle of Muraccio Perrina 2001 at fucking 2 in the morning, Tuesday, unfazed by our late arrival. After a gruelling trans-Atlantic flight where the tail-end of Hurricane Jeane had JFK diverting planes to Newark and where the tail-end of 9/11 had us waiting for an hour to fly on to JFK (new law, they told us; if the ticket says JFK, you have to go to JFK), after making it through the Department Of Fatherland Security, after waiting in the torrential rain for a taxi, after finally fucking getting there, a wee bottle of red was just a fine fucking thought. Upstanding. Fucking upstanding. Charlie and her man waited hours to let us in and show us round, shrugged it off with the casual grace of those who don't see two in the morning as that late anyway. Just pointed us at the wine and said goodnight to these fucked-up foreigners with jetlag and airplane body odour. And that's when I knew I was going to love it here... kindred spirits and all that. Actually I can nail it down to a moment rather than just those fifteen minutes of dazed wandering round this bedroom, that one, and the futon in the living room, and this is the toilet, and the kitchen, and the garden's out here and -

And I'm standing in the kitchen and I notice the rainbow flag hanging on this unit, and the words on it: We The People Say No To Bush. I tell you this is my fucking spiritual homeland right here, so I'm not fucking going to bed just to toss and turn as I try to sleep with that dance music booming next door. No, I'm going to pour myself another G'n'T and write about it. Just a minute...

Piss break taken, hoody shucked, gin and tonic sorted. OK.

So the East Village is cool, cool enough to have these anti-Bush rainbow flags flying all over the place, cool enough to have a vintage clothing store just round the corner with the most beautiful fucking army jacket I ever saw (navy blue with red trim and gold buttons and I only had to look at it to know that it would fit me like a glove). Cool enough for the waitress and the little old black lady in the cafe up on East 14th, where we went to gorge on pancakes and bacon and maple syrup in our first brunch in the city, to be as helpful as they could in pointing out exactly what the best way was to Times Square, not the quickest or the easiest but the best. A little bit of walking to get the feel of the city, then the first underground ride just the short distance from Union Square to Times Square. A five/ten minute paddle in the shallows then a leap off the springboard into the deep end.

We were right by an entrance to the L line at that cafe near the corner of First Avenue so maybe it would have been quicker, so maybe it would have been easier to enter into the city's entrails there before dealing with the criss-crossing confusion of this line and that line at Union Square. Maybe it would have been quicker than the walk along East 14th. But it wouldn't have given us that taste of the street, and that glorious feeling of utter panic - man, how do these ticket machines work? and shit, is this the right train? this the one we want? and where the fuck are we going? and shit, here we are among the lights of Times Square, the towering signs and screens and scrolling displays of text. So it may not have been the quickest, easiest way but it was definitely the best. I wonder if that little old lady, sitting at the table behind me - I hope you really enjoy your visit, she says as we leave - if she even thought of it that way, if she just reckoned, well, you could do this or do that, bus or L train, but, well, it's not far, just a five/ten minute walk, and it's a pleasant day for it. But as it was, she gave us a path to follow that took us step-by-step into the complexity that is New York, from street to subway to skyscraper.

The music's stopped next door now and I'm going to go outside now, smoke the cigarette I've just rolled (can't smoke in the flat, goddamnit), and I'm going to listen to the sounds of the city and the music in my head. Maybe I'll write about it when I get back, because I've got some G'n'T left in my glass, and because music is a big part of this trip - the good dance music of the Thievery Corporation, or the jangly rock of Interpol's second album, the 2 CD's I picked up today in Rebel Rebel on Bleecker Street, with the friendly camp guy behind the counter and his cute-as-fuck go-fetch assistant (who I immediately fell in lust with); Death Disco, the Gasgow-born club night that we went to last night on Delancey (man, I gotta go have this cigarette); and Franz Fucking Ferdinand, the Glasgow-based winners of the Mercury Award that Mags just happens to be doing a documentary on for the wee Scottish tv production company her and Claire work for. Franz Ferdinand, who just happen to be playing Roseland Ballroom while we're here and who we are (ya fucking beauty) on the guest list for. So maybe I'll come back and write about that a bit after this fag (it's fucking sitting in my mouth just waiting to be lit).

But it is now officially late because the music's been stopped next door since I said so somewhere above and, honestly, I'm not that fast a writer. It's late, and maybe I'm just tired enough to sleep now, after I smoke my fag and finish off my drink. I do want to get up tomorrow to fucking do shit, maybe the Guggenheim we were discussing. But by fuck I wish I was more tired because right now I just want to do it all right now. It feels like morning already.

I'm already getting hungry.