attempts at living

to make a system out of delusions

Tag: despair

Despair, and hope.

A central issue for the therapist in working with hope in therapy is the balance between action and reflection. Both positions are necessary to enable hope to be rediscovered after despair, rightly balanced, has done its work. Too much action or reflection without the tempering benefit of its counterpart leaves the client either prematurely thrust back into a life of frantic, instrumental action or drowning in a pool of interminable navel gazing. The therapist, acquainted with the healing work of despair, knows that the dark night of the underworld has a legitimate place. The work of hope then can proceed with a discovery of a new and realistic hope grounded in an awareness of what is possible and attainable.

Dennis O’Hara. Psychotherapist and researcher into hope as an agent of therapeutic change. From ‘The dialectic of hope and despair’. Here.


The Irrevocable

It isn’t that the melancholic has got a problem and then wants to express it, but that wanting to express is actually a part of the problem.

In mourning, we grieve the dead; in melancholia, we die with them.

Darian Leader. 2009. The New Black: Mourning, Melancholia, and Depression.

common jumping molecules

calm comes over

    i am a serenity
    a placid forcelessness
    a disolute identity

you are a dance

    a delirium space
    the body’s clear address
    to a lost still place

such abundance

    a suspended antechamber
    an annex to time
    recoiling from all danger
    of the original crime;

    collisions can’t save us
    when whispers are metallic shrieks
    and love and labour have lost the shroud of mystique

    where are we
    that our organisms decline
    and our roots
    contort towards the sun’s glare
    while our flowers bury themselves
    in the deepest pits of stale despair?

where am i today
that i am so far from dancing?

Don’t despair!


I like to imagine its for hiding your tears and muffling your screams whilst you are caught by an attack of despair whilst on public transport. That’s just me though.

simple words for simple hurts

what on earth is going on?

A perfect week
Kisses in the night
The kind of sex angels
Fall from heaven just
To sneak a voyeurs repentance at
Mostly in bed
Shed of intellect
Free of culture
And the weight of banality called
Forward motion
Sharing in the sweetest
Stickiest, honeyed inertia

A perfect week made nothing
Because i’m empty
Because there is no adjective left
Inside the sadness of this skin
I have to break her
Because i am broken
Because you have broken me

Because that is my truth now
That where my heart should be
All there I find are remnants of the claws
You used to tear it out

There is no smoke
And there is no fire but in the flesh
Beyond that i can’t make any promise
And she deserves it

I am the wrong thing
Doing the bad thing again
And again
Trying desperately to make good


I am lost and i don’t know what I’m doing
And i hurt
Spurning happiness, stumbling from mess
To tortured mess.

dance with me

I was dancing among the young, all of us young and intoxicated and body without thought, desire without guilt. And then the end of the night comes and with it the walk home in the cold and bitter night alone. Hands deep in pockets. A taste of vomit on the lips. Swerving while walking, stumbling sometimes. Toward the mess with a bed among it. Toward the wardrobe full of a remnants. Aching. Tears come as I climb the stairs. I fear sleeping and I fear waking up. I’m sweating a profound loneliness. Flakes of dandruff settle on my shoulders. An almost mystical sense of separation. The certainty that nothing means fuck all. I stare at the bicycle I never ride gathering rust and I know that beneath this mottled skin I too am rusting. I try not to think about burning my skin. I try not to think about monstrosities. I murmur to myself a fragment about love and cruelty, some nonsense I take to be profound. I know the centre of everything is empty and that this life, this earth, this universe is one continuous error that will sometime meet it’s correction. But still, I had danced. I had danced and laughed and felt wonderful things.


Why go on living? The answer must encompass the irrationality of this insistent attachment, this inability to depart the earth even while it swallows one whole. It’s a compulsion also, a compulsion to endure the lows in the name of the highs. And having said that it becomes obvious. There is only one word for this kind of behaviour. Addiction.

I am an addict and I don’t know what I’m doing and I hurt.

sunday lunch

its inevitable;
the regurgitating horde
telling stories
about the lives they wish
people might lead,
as if the terror of boredom
might smother them
as they walk upstairs
or down the hall
towards a blank class room
or endless supermarket aisles
that taunt them with the produce
that will sit in the fridge
and wither.

“i worry about you”, she says
wanting something to come
from late night laughter
and offers of sharing a bed.
i’m a monster, i should tell her.
i’m using you to let the absence
be erased and not felt quite so keen.

we sit in D’s and eat.
a long languorous day in good company
and spirits. but underneath it
the sense of death perfected
come to life inside me.
i can’t even smoke
because of these fucking renunciations;
another attempt to keep living,
to keep living so as to forget
i have no reason to keep living at all.

and then we ate cake and listened to
our favourite songs, gathered up
our belongings and left while
D went to work on throwing out the
carcass and cleaning things away.

and i love these people so much,
these friends who won’t let me disappear
who keep me tethered to the world
a day at a time.

unnecessarily confessional post

Amor Fati: let that be my love henceforth! I do not want to wage war against what is ugly. I do not want to accuse; I do not even want to accuse those who accuse. Looking away shall be my only negation. And all in all and on the whole: some day I wish to be only a Yes-sayer.
– Nietzsche

I cannot remember a time I wasn’t dissatisfied with life. Of course there have been moments, hours or weeks, even months, when this unimportant absurdity, made to seem so vast and harrowing by the confines of mortal consciousness, has been a continuous joy and wonder. And I would not expunge from those moments their claims to truth but remain in fidelity with the causes that lead me to those experiences in which misery seemed a distant error of an eternal child. And I thank those who led me to those moments of forgetting. Not enough. Always the return. The tenor and the leitmotif, the climate of my existence has been a collapse in suspension. An old joke of mine: it took me a long time to build a life for myself out of disappointment and despair. It is difficult to live a life, even in this place and time of abundance and relative ease, and even then I’m not sure I have lived even that. There are only ever attempts at living (never lives) and it has only been the certainty of death that has propelled me forward. Maybe that’s why I am most able to make others laugh and behave as though I were free, light and ridiculous when in despair.

This is why I can interpret the quote that opens this post in one way alone. This moment in Nietzsche’s writing is often taken as his attempt at overcoming the sink into nihilism that he diagnosis Western civilisation of having fallen into. It is a moment, among others, that set the tone for a philosophical attitude that has been characterised as affirmationism. Why give into resentment, to the negative passions? Only act affirmatively, produce but do not destroy!
But Nietzsche doesn’t say this. ‘Someday’, he says, ‘I wish’. These are the crucial words. The nihilistic attitude is in thought negated but the affirmative moment is deferred to some nondescript time to come that the ‘wish’ element does not even make into a certainty. There is no necessity here, no Messianism of happiness. This is a wish. A fantasy that prevents the fall into the abyss of a night with no dawn. Our wishes keep us distant from our goals but likewise keep at bay the temptation not to exist any longer.

Perhaps despair is what makes it possible for me to go on. Perhaps, prior to anything else, despair is precisely that to which one must say Yes.

for what’s gone

The pain of love is the pain of being alive. It is a perpetual wound.
– Maureen Duffy

what remains
a thin veneer
a skin of oil
stubborn in refusal
but collapse
is the fact
is the cold dead
truth of this

there you are
beside me
invisible to each other
as histories erase
and landfills rise
debris drifts
circling around debris

this is a mess
better to let it go
tear it down
better not to start again
better never to begin

but too late for that
so staple limbs together
cellotape the broken things
a surgery in the gutters
performed by no one
on the anonymity of love’s dying

and here i am still living;
an impossible thing,
bleeding on everything.