Susan Sontag book

The Central Library was selling off vast numbers of books today, and Ioana and I filled both my bike panniers and a rucksack with books. As if we don’t have enough books! I guess they’re good insulation: might save on heating bills. On book we bought is a volume of Susan Sontag essays. The first time I read Sontag was in the kitchen/living room of the youth hostel on the island of Iona. It pissed it down with rain one day, and blew a gale, so we sat in and read some books from the bookshelf. I read Sontag’s book on the depiction of pain in photography, without finishing it. Outside the picture windows was the sea, grey as goose down, and, on the machair a few tens of metres away was a group of whimbrels, poking their long, curved beaks into the soft ground. Inside, it was cosy, with a cup of tea never beyond reach. (The room is clad with wood from dismantled whisky vats). It’s funny that the thought of an American essayist can unfailingly bring up memories of the pleasure of that particular reading (the atmosphere of Iona, the tea, the drizzle, the whimbrels, the undulating machair, the maddening corncrake); and that that pleasure can make me anticipate the pleasure of reading the book I just bought. As if pleasure, like bank interest, or flexi-time, can be carried-forward and invested for the future.

[Written 22 October 2009]


Hanging model aeroplanes from the ceiling

Places to hang model aeroplanes: Heinkel 111 above the bookcase, in characteristic tail-down flight attitude. A literary bomber and angel of death; black cloud. Subtle placing: as if about to fly out of the room: just caught in passing.
Junkers 87 ‘Stuka’: I tried to hang this above the bog, as if it was depositing a bomb in the john, but the staples wouldn’t stay in the polystyrene ceiling tiles. So I hung it at a 45-degree angle in the hall, just above the bottom of the stairs, so that you can see its underside when reaching the bottom of the stairs.
The Heinkel casts a satisfying shadow on the wall, but it looks somewhat like a bee when you see it from the doorway.