The Practice of Being

JL Williams & Catherine Street

The Practice of Being


JW The Practice of Thinking 27th October 15:37

I could breathe quietly and slowly dreaming as if the
home was the only real place where the women sat at
the dining table shamed and dreaming their hands white
birds in the room their lips red buds red purses closed
shut tight as the men rubbed one another with
sweetened oils and the slaves walked back and forth
carrying glass jugs of wine and the poet stood in the
corner of the room declaiming that the rich are too rich
and the poor are too poor and the entire structure is
about to collapse

CS The Practice of Thinking, 27th October, 22:07

lying awake in a cool room the cosiness of the cotton
around as steam bursts through the window open with
the guttural sound of the broken boiler in the pub below.
And later an erotic train of thought but perhaps that
leads to a kind of non-thought in the end. Many
practices require the suppression of concentration in
some ways. To stop at a full stop and hang and hover in
suspense over an empty bright void precipice

JW The Process of Content 2nd November 11:31

we have to find a new way to process it is for the dog to
say what comes next and his nose is on the bone some
sleep calls for more sleep some for waking and this time
talking is the only option when the door closes the small
lines on the floor become apparent and the smell of
melons in the room the drape of the carpet on the sofa
the listing and cataloguing of many beings sometimes
the memories flood in all the mistakes and I wonder at
the notions of good and bad when really what there is

CS The Process of Content 29th October 08:05

A cooling tower in Germany or a Chinese oil platform.
Something that’s not immediately in front of our eyes
can be attended to by realism. But can all things lend
themselves. Can I be in a talk about realism can I think
about realism and these bubbles of existence sprout out
and float up into a documentary eye that blinks sticky.
She said it’s not enough. What you do isn’t enough and
you’re not enough for me. You have an iridescent
surface of a sphere or those balloons that straddle
across the ocean. Drifting to another continent where a
better life awaits.

JW The Practise of Thought 2nd November 11:38

Dig deeper into the soil of the mind the hot white flesh
whose smell intoxicates the fornicator unless my heart
dries from shedding too many hearthstones in the night I
will dig dig until the centre is reached when you were a
minute when did space relent I saw a black dog with his
nose in the air the space between men is nonexistent
we want to relent we hope for nothing there is nothing
but the present moment it is so strange to realise the
capacity of being when you step outside of

CS The Practice of Thought 30th October 22:54

The light itself is what he sees not the person as a
young child maybe ten years old he stood gaunt.
Mysteriously but purposefully striding across the grass
towards us with white lips and taut hands in pockets.
He stood there curiously light and solid whilst another
figure faded into the background. Figure and ground
that was something that I read yesterday about a
pyramid with a top that glitters bright against

JW The Practice of Being 2nd November 11:59

Gutted fried the culmination of cities the slow movement
of cities toward airlessness the hiving of men into cells
the strange desire for folding into one another the odd
terror of space in which the only isolation of the self
becomes apparent the driving driving force of space the
dust in the eye the slow decay of cities I imagine the city
imploding in a slow silent gold silver burst the way a star
would chewing its own skin off from the inside out
the only moral hook to hang your coat on before the
burning begins

CS The Practice of Being 31st October 18:23

Wits about you and flitting. Tip towards the surface and
angle you are everything in the world that’s happened
so far. And tip restrict aim for distinct. Distance and
fragmenting plates join together. You are every event as
it unfolds. Untold and unfurled resounding delight. An
escape from representation just let it open out sounds
are shared wholly more than the image in front of us. Tip
light and quick move faster than the dead tonight.
Shaking forwards towards that reflective plain and
I’m unsure now of what is going to happen next.

JW A Mode of Being 2nd November 10:35

You walked with your eyes open and unseeing trusting
to the space in front of you trusting that no beast would
attack and no branch would grab and in the distance
you could hear the sighing of a river and as you walked
through the utter dark the cold breath of the blackest
night kissed your eyes and your cheeks and your lips
and your forehead and your neck and your hands and
you walked unafraid and somewhere in the distance you
could hear hooves crushing leaves

CS A Mode of Being 2nd November 07:04

Hart floor fang dart. Fragmented recollections and
beats. A diversion tactic. Wrung same span lake.
Keeping bare and scraped down I can adopt a minimal
way of staying here. I wish you were doing something
more worthwhile he said. A straight line of being here is
just a case of not going away. Upside flat down dark and
spun. Late at night till morning always hanging on until
light spreads and keeps. Keep busy and don’t think too
much. Stop to begin. End to start. In the vast change of
day it comes as before. I wish you were doing
something a little bit more worthwhile write more slowly
now to fill the time only fifteen seconds to go now eight
now four now one.

Written for The Process of Content: on a temporality in
contemporary art Saturday 29 November 2014, Cooper Gallery Dundee



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Catherine Street is a visual artist whose installations often incorporate her own body surrounded by audio, video, drawn and written elements.

JL Williams is a poet and works as the programme manager at the Scottish Poetry Library.  Her books include Condition of Fire (Shearsman, 2011) and Locust and Marlin (Shearsman, 2014) which was nominated for the Saltire Society 2014 Poetry Book of the Year Award.


♦ Reading Lists ♦

Catherine Street

JL Williams