Autunno After Cy Twombly The sadness breaks tonight it breaks at sevenit cheats all tender efforts to get evenit remembers what I did not we were Autumnand the way it falls away and gives to auburnw… Read article
I’m standing at the bus stop. Waiting. For the number 29. I look about me but unseeingly, eyes glazed in post-meetinged, post-memoed, post-spreadshat vacancy. I stand and enjoy the still. Still, I t… Read article
As a child, I had three answers to the perennial question of what I wanted to do when I grew up. The fact that at the age of 32 I am yet to entirely dismiss two of these ideas probably means the growi… Read article
A few months ago I watched a swan brain itself against the Cat and Mutton Bridge near Broadway Market in Hackney. I was walking on the towpath; it was flying along above the water, following the curve… Read article
No-one knows what time really is. One theory holds that it is granular, like sugar. It can slip through your fingers, it can pile up. All of it is here; an accretion of buried presents. On Bankside, … Read article
Reality is hard to fake. While it is relatively easy to create a visual simulation of a static object, it is almost impossible to reconstruct convincing environmental phenomena and atmospheric effects… Read article
There’s a moment in Arnold Bennett’s 1923 novel Riceyman Steps when the scullery maid Elsie, having secretly taken in her sick lover, discovers that besides being a down-and-out ex-convict, Joe ha… Read article
The President Abraham Lincoln 12" poseable action figure in period attire and equipped with a display stand, available for near-on $30 at the Gettysburg National Military Park Visitor Centre, is sayin… Read article
Perhaps I should not have been a fisherman, he thought. But that was the thing that I was born for. (The Old Man and the Sea, Ernest Hemingway) I do not fish. I have fished, I have been fishing, bu… Read article
When we build, we build around water. Our cities compromise with the rivers that pull in and out of them; as the cities reach for permanence, the rivers undermine them. Even canals, monuments to human practicality, cannot be fixed.
Several pieces in Junket 7 explore this paradox. In ‘Death and the Canal’, Jon Day considers the murky, trangressive canal, a place that colludes with death, ‘dissolving the evidence’. Just because we can’t make something out doesn’t mean it’s absent. So with Arthur House’s ‘Bankside’, where history, potential and various iterations of place seem to co-exist in the hulking figure of Tate Modern. His pointed tour takes in art and electronica, the Luftwaffe and William Blake, resolving into something like T.S. Eliot’s notion: ‘If all time is eternally present / All time is unredeemable.’
Lawrence Lek makes much of time too, by looking at the Thames as an illusive (and arguably elusive) being. Attempts to represent it, to fix it in an image or a film, flounder in its depths. And the closer technology takes us to perfecting the illusion of representation, the further away we might move from our source.
Where once the river was an efficient way to travel, it’s largely been supplanted in our cities by other, mechanised solutions. We rarely exploit natural forces to move us around, instead creating alternative arteries, for buses or cars or trains. However, as Philippa Geering explores in ‘On the Buses’, the better our systems the more they come to feel almost natural. In the quiet moments waiting for a bus that never comes, she reflects on the wider implications of stopping. What are we waiting for? In El Salvador, foreigners don’t take the bus, though they do play cricket. As a fixture in the national side, Patrick Alexander fulfills a version of his life-long dream while coming to terms with the often uncomfortable gap between his experience of life as an ex-pat and the realities of the country.
For Kristen Treen, a visit to American Civil War battlefields prompts ‘Can Not Hallow’, a haunting, poetic reflection on how we revere and process our past. As an English woman on American soil, what is she entitled to feel when confronted with the memory and aftermath of such trauma? Who is she to interpret? Dan Stevens’ short story ‘Beyond the Scanners’ also holds the promise of travel, but in its comic take on the difficulties we have with ourselves, acknowledges that there are times when self-reliance is not enough.
Of course, while writers can use their words to question identities, governments tend to want them fixed. James Purdon’s ‘Mistaken Identities’ considers a hugely ambitious and deeply problematic initiative in India to do just that. In his ‘Five Poems’, Thomas Marks undertakes a rather different task: using poetry to explore identity by wringing meaning from the places where domestic, changeable, emotional impulses meet things larger than themselves. Though we can’t step in the same river twice, we might as well try.
List of Contributors
Patrick Alexander captained El Salvador on their 2010 tour of Belize. He is currently teaching in London. @i_padawan
Jon Day lives in London, where he works as a bicycle courier. He is seeking more gainful employment. @Jonhinius
Philippa Geering is a radio producer and researcher. She has produced documentaries and features for BBC Radio 2, 3, 4, 4 Extra and the BBC World Service. She lives in London. @geerip
James Purdon is a Fellow of Jesus College Cambridge, and an editor of The Junket. @jamespurdon
Dan Stevens is an actor and writer living in New York. He was one of the judges of the Man Booker prize 2012. @thatdanstevens