My ‘central’ problematic, hum drum but bellicose, does not exist in reality, yet peculiarly it is still enduringly present. Fragments of muted storytelling emerge throughout this work, which are led in many ways by incessantly affective active representations, or re-presentations (see Dewsbury et al., 2002); consequently it relies upon representations to obliquely push forward a non-representational agenda, perhaps this seems a little strange to some. However, with another rush and a push here, the land that we stand on is again neither representationalist, discursive idealism nor not-representational. It has been before in work (softly) humming non-representational theory and it shall be again. So why can’t it be now?
I want to emphasize the day on which I am writing this. It is Armistice Day 2009. Silence befalls the nation, as befell the guns on the 11th November 1918, when years of brutal, bloody trench warfare ended. A lost generation, of many nationalities, is remembered formally for the 90th time. Britain sadly marked the occasion without a surviving veteran of the conflict present. Bill Stone, 108, Henry Allingham, 113, and Harry Patch, 111, all died this year taking their war time memories with them. After the death of Harry Patch, Carol Ann Duffy wrote the commemorative poem, Last Post. Standing by the Poets’ Corner memorial in Westminster Abbey, actor Jeremy Irons read the resonant poem aloud. No one moved, everyone stood in silence, waiting. Words drifted amidst the magnificent stone arches, as sounds to be gathered from the silence, sounds that were never fully comprehendible. Then it was over. End of a poem, end of a remembrance day. A poignant moment in life had occurred where the present is touched by a flash of horrific past events, bleeding time like seeping ink across the pages of history. The ebb of meaning and memory, of time, of place, of people surged back into being beneath the memorial, if only as a fleeting flicker. The Great War hovers now on the precipice of living memory, art, poetry perhaps in particular, in blurring times and places, permits us to cling to and grasp these memories for a moment here and there.
Towards the end of the poem, Last Post, Duffy writes, ‘you can see the poet tuck away his pocket-book and smile,’ who the poet is, is unclear, as the poetic toll of the Great War is great. The poet could be Wilfred Owen, John McCrae, Isaac Rosenberg, Charles Hamilton Sorley, Arthur Graeme West, or Edward Thomas; all were lost to the trenches. By walking to the grave, memorial stone, and following the paths through landscape of one of these poets, Edward Thomas, a non-existent problematic, alluded to earlier, can be forgotten. There are more important things to write (see above); hopefully this preface will prevent this superfluous problem from rearing its ugly head again later in the work.