Michael Blackburn's ART ZERO


My late friend, Moravia, told me he believed that life is absolute chaos from which, if we are lucky, we can pluck a few shining, mysterious fragments of order. It was not long after this that he died, and when I went back to his stories I realised that it was his style I loved as much as the characters he wrote about, ordinary people caught in the nets of their own passions, desires and foolishness. It was as if he had discovered that style, any style, however transient, could rescue these fabulous fragments of redemption from the daily mess of our lives. It made me think about those moments of order, such as when you wake to a morning of immense golden stillness, or when you hear the sound of rain at night, continuous, gentle, like the earth meditating upon itself. And those moments, scattered throughout a life, somehow make it meaningful and significant, holding it together tenuously and without explanation; moments that are rare and beguiling, perhaps even deceitful, but the closest that most of us can ever get to what may be called the divine (whether it exists or not), moments pungent as hyacinth that give us the sweetness we crave, like fresh honey torn from the hives of angry bees.