Ignore the Neurosis

Clarifying my thoughts about and my intentions with Egress is undoubtedly an unnecessary endeavour that reveals far more about my own neuroticism than it reveals about the book itself.

The present obsession with defending the presence of Bataille and Blanchot feels wholly ill advised and boarding on obsessive, and I’d take it all down if it wasn’t actually really useful for getting my own head straight.

Unfortunately, as of late, I have allowed the book to become wholly defined by its readers — for better and for worse. The death of the author has been embraced as an opportunity for needless self-flagellation and cringe over-protection but, worst of all, it has also allowed my own understanding of the book to be diminished and distorted in my own head. And that’s been quite a sad process — to forget or lose sight of why I cared so much to write something; to lose sight of that initial motor that made the thing worth pursuing. Without that, what is left behind isn’t pretty.

But in trying to keep sight of it I’m aware that I’ve become increasingly one-track minded. It’s not a good look and it feels pretty shite as well.

The problem is that, although Egress isn’t about me, it nonetheless feels like so much of me is in there, just under the surface, from my proudest memories to some of the memories I hate most about myself.

Anyone who knew me at Goldsmiths during the time described in the book will likely be able to confirm just how much of a fucking mess I was. I’d wager half the book was written drunk just so I could just get through it, which begs the question: why bother?

But who ever said writing was a healthy outlet?

When I write at the start that the book is as much a product of mourning and melancholy as it is about those two things, I don’t say that for effect. Frankly, publishing it has been a massive headfuck as echoes of depressions come around with every bit of shilling and press coverage and I’m sure it has showed. I’m far too close to it, even now, and, with the book coming out immediately prior to lockdown, it has been hard to find my distance. That distance is needed and desperately, or else I’ll continue to crowd the book and the discussion around it, killing it and the impact I hoped it would have.

I’m sure no one cares about any of this, of course. Suffice it to say that my oversensitivity is becoming deeply embarrassing with the slightest bit of hindsight but it’s a sign of something deeper than an author’s narcissism, so forgive me.

I’ll figure a way out of this headspace eventually. Unfortunately, the usual way I get out of headspaces is by writing about them…


  1. In editing mine i’m feeling a lot of the same resurgences, especially as it was/is written out of the same kinds of feelings and emotions, and is in a way a product of the same time.
    Stay strong as safe, pal, and know that most people will totally get that this weird little part of you that now exists separately from you is such a weird thing anyway. Like an odd paper child that, now made, can no longer belong to you any more. Perhaps all writers are over protective about their work? either way, i think it’s p brave to say so

    1. Thanks, Lucy. “Paper Child” is exactly right. I joked about that a lot in the lead up — like sending a kid off to school and hoping all the other kids are nice to it in the playground, peering through the fence looking like a weirdo whilst it tries to live a life. Didn’t think that would be the case after it actually came out but it has been. The solution to it is obvious: gotta fence off your personal life and disconnect from the commentary, but that’s hard to do when the very core of the thing is arguably over-sharing lol, as if you’ve gotta go cold turkey on your own feelings. But they don’t put any of that in the manual, obviously.

  2. Hey Xeno, for something entirely different I read the article on mythologies and true norvegian black metal and it is brilliant, I could really relate to how i’ve been creating mythologies around epehemeral music scenes and its participant in a counter productive way.

    I haven’t read Egress, but plan to. hope you can find space to distance yourself and gain back some ground from all the mess releasing a book can bring

  3. I have a question: I’m still puzzled at the vitriol leveled at Mark after the Vampire Castle piece was published. Perhaps it’s because I’m older and I do not embrace identity politics to the extent younger generations do, but I’m curious about your thoughts on this matter. What I read was clear and sober and something which needed to be said. I have my own ideas about the emotional rebukes of it, but I’d like to hear yours. If I’ve missed it in a previous post, could you link that for me? thx.

    Egress is still queued for me. Looking forward to reading it.

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