Andrew Brooks.jpg

tahini toast

Andrew Brooks

And I am also thinking of tomorrow

– Suzanne Césaire

Tahini and banana on toast is really one of the great breakfast combinations. Astrid says tahini is her desert island ingredient, the thing she’d eat for the rest of her life if she had to choose one thing. I’m not sure I’d go that far but it’s a pretty sublime breakfast spread.

The sky is thick with smoke today and tiny particles of ash are falling from the sky. 

 

Everyone says: it’s so apocalyptic.

I made a playlist on the way to work called ‘sesame seeds’. I put Collide by Tiana Major9 and Earthgang on it and then added Jessye Norman singing this aria from Purcell’s Dido and Aeneas called Thy hand, Belinda… When I am laid in earth

 

I couldn’t think of what else to add so I just listened to those two songs on repeat. It was a big mood.

In the third canto of The Divine Comedy, Dante reaches the threshold of the inferno. Standing on the bank of the Acheron river, overwhelmed by the incessant noise of the swarms of sinners, he encounters the famous inscription above the gates of hell: ONLY THOSE ELEMENTS TIME CANNOT WEAR / WERE MADE BEFORE ME, AND BEYOND TIME I / STAND. / ABANDON ALL HOPE YE WHO ENTER HERE.

 

Everyone says: these are dark times.

Each day we wake more exhausted to sell our labour in order to endure our lives; each day we wake still inside a history of taking; each day we wake to the uneven distribution of death; each day we wake to fires still raging; each day we wake under the sign of the commodity; each day we wake to the rule of law.

 

And yet I am not yet ready to abandon all hope.

In Collide, Tiana Major9 sings: ‘And I don't care about the future or the past.’ The idea that time stands still in the moment one attains the object of their desire is a classic refrain of the love song. It’s not that past and future become irrelevant but rather that in the moment of collision one willingly accepts they are no longer a singular being and time blurs. To be beyond time is not to be outside of history but to intuit the existence of an outside and realise the desire to inhabit it. 

I can taste smoke in the back of my throat and my eyes began to itch. I can’t help but think of Dante moving through the plain of burning sand upon which great flakes of fire eternally rain down in the third ring of the seventh circle of the Inferno. This is the hell of fire and brimstone where those who were violent against God and Nature and Art are tormented incessantly. Everything here seems to happen in slow motion which makes it all so much more excruciating.  


Here, now, the inferno rages as a long history of dispossession, extraction, and violence.

Jessye Norman is sublime. When she sings Dido’s lament, her voice is both so full of light and dark, pain and resilience. It’s so fucked up.

 

Dido and Aeneas tells the story of the Trojan warrior and the widowed Queen of Carthage, whose lives collide after Aeneas’s ship is blown off course by the gods and wrecked on the North African coast. They fall madly in love and a passionate love affair ensues. But despite the depth of feeling, Aeneas and his crew eventually depart Carthage without Dido. Broken by the betrayal, Dido sets fire to a massive pyre and as it burns she sings the lament before stabbing herself with the sword she had given Aeneas as a token of her love. 

 

but Death invades me / Death is now a welcome guest.

Both Collide and Thy hand, Belinda… When I am laid in earth  are songs with no structural shift between sections. Both are built on a single loop, with melodies stretched across a ground that repeats endlessly beneath them. I think this is partly why it feels like time is suspended, pulled almost to the point of breaking.
 

I remember falling in love.

We collect scraps of resistance and store them in our pockets and under our tongues and rolled up between our toes. We lie beside each other, our bodies a soft hum. We make a brine and leave jars of fermenting veggie scraps everywhere. We shrink down in search of an escape route, accrue a debt we will never pay.

Dante’s journey into hell is a descent through the sins of passion to the worse sins of reason. 

 

Reason is still responsible for so much violence. 

 

Jordy Rosenberg says ‘The Enlightenment is the largest lie that’s ever been told and we are still living under its fabrications.’

Astrid tells me her dreams when we wake up in the morning. Lately I’ve been unable to remember my own dreams and so I try to hold tight to hers: cherishing her bent desires, sharing in her terrors. For the exhausted, dreams do not necessarily provide respite from the creeping terror of capital but perhaps contain another way to the outside – a future wild and tender and forceful.  

Andrew Brooks is an artist, writer, and teacher who lives on unceded Wangal land. Along with Astrid Lorange, he is one half of the critical art collective Snack Syndicate. He is also a member of the publishing collective Rosa Press.

Sign up for our mailing list

Nat. Brut is a proud winner of a 2020 Whiting Literary Magazine Prize