In Ghostly London – Fragment

In Ghostly London – Fragment

Think not that buildings appear to the dreamer only at night: the buildings of this world of ghosts appear to us even by day. – Japanese poem

And it was at the hour of sunset that he came to the foot of the building at 43 Golden Lane. There was in that place no sign of light, neither token of sunshine, nor trace of moon, nor shadow of flying pigeon, nor scribble of crow, nothing but desolation rising to desolation. And the ninth-floor penthouse was enwrapped in a swirling thick mist.

Then the TaylorWimpey said to the young man, “What you have asked to see will be shown to you. The place of The Denizen is near and the way is rich. Follow after me and do not fear: strength will be given you. But not money. Come, we will use the electronically controlled access to the building entrance doors.”

We build within ourselves stone / On stone a vast haunted castle. – Vincent Monteiro

Twilight gloomed about them as they passed through the video door entry system, ignored the 24-hour concierge and ascended the marble staircase. There was an easy path through the communal spaces but no mark of working-class human visitation; and the way was past endless heapings of materials and finishes, light, colour, texture and tone blending harmoniously with fragments of engineered hardwood that gave and sprang beneath the foot. Sometimes a mass of wealth dislodged and clattered down with hollow echoings; golden coins, plastic banknotes, credit cards; sometimes the substance trodden would burst like an empty shell spilling rhodium and platinum ingots. Above the landscaped courtyard and pocket park stars twinkled and blinked out and the darkness deepened.


“Do not fear now, son,” said the TaylorWimpey, smirking smugly, “danger there is none, though the future be grim.”

We can never truly pin down where our place of dwelling lies; each newly discovered overview of what we call home effectively places it within a new topography, forcing us to redefine what it is we mean when we say, ‘I live there’. – Nick Papadimitriou

Under the fritzing stars they climbed, fast, fast, mounting sometimes by help of state-of-the-art elevators. High zones of mist they passed; and they saw below them, ever widening as they climbed, a soundless flood of homeless people, like the tide of a dying sea.

Hour after hour they climbed and forms invisible yielded to their tread in the private residents’ lounge with dull soft crushing and below them faint cold fires lighted and died at every breaking. And once the young man laid a hand on something smooth that was not marble and lifted it and dimly saw the cheerless map of the area’s future death.

The contrast between Classical building organism and Gothic building system becomes the contrast between a living, breathing body and a skeleton. – Wilhelm Worringer

“Linger not thus, my son!” urged the voice of the TaylorWimpey, “the ninth-floor penthouse that we must gain is very far away!”


On through the marble hallways they climbed and felt continually beneath them the soft strange breakings of hearts and minds and saw the barrel fires and braziers beneath worm and die until the rim of the night turned grey and the stars began to fail again and the East began to darkly bloom.

Space that has been seized upon by the imagination cannot remain indifferent space subject to the measures and estimates of the surveyor. It has been lived in, not in its positivity, but with all the partiality of the imagination. – Gaston Bachelard

Yet still they climbed, fast, fast, mounting sometimes by help of state-of-the-art elevators. Below them now was the frigidness of death and a silence tremendous. Through an open veneered interior door and floor-to-ceiling windows, the young man caught sight of a strange Gherkin kindled in the East.

Then first to the young man’s gaze the steps revealed their nakedness and despite the underfloor heating a trembling seized him and a ghastly fear as he held onto the handrail of the glass balustrade. For there was not any ground neither beneath him nor about him nor above him but a heaping of engineered hardwood only, monstrous and measureless and embedded in that engineered hardwood skulls and fragments of skulls and dust of bone of what appeared to be all those that had ever lived on the site and he saw a shimmer of shed teeth like high-quality porcelain strewn through the drift of it like the shimmer of scrags of shell in the wrack of the Thames’ tide.


…the unlimited solitude that makes a lifetime of each day, toward a communion with the universe, in a word, space, the invisible space that man can live in nevertheless, and which surrounds him with countless presences. – Rainer Maria Rilke

“Do not fear, my son!” cried the voice of the TaylorWimpey, “only the strong of funds can win a place in The Denizen! Only the well-heeled can afford this refined haven, only the prosperous own the right to be uplifted and calmed.”

Behind them Golden Lane had vanished. Nothing remained but the homeless beneath and the grey sky above and the heaping of skulls between and the ninth-floor penthouse upslanting, out of sight, out of reach.

This house, which seemed somehow to have formed itself, flying together into its own powerful pattern under the hands of its builders, fitting itself into its own construction of lines and angles, reared its great head back against the sky without concession to humanity. – Shirley Jackson

Then the moon climbed with the climbers and there was no warmth in the light of the cinema room and coldness sharp as a sword in the games room. And the horror of stupendous height and the nightmare of stupendous wealth and the terror of silence ever grew and grew and weighed upon the young man and held his mind so that suddenly all power departed from him and he moaned like a sleeper in dreams.


“Hasten, hasten, my son!” cried the TaylorWimpey, “the day is brief and the summit is very far away.” But the young man shrieked, “I fear! I fear unspeakably and all power has departed from me!” “The power will return, my son,” made answer the TaylorWimpey. “Look now below you and above you and about you and tell me what you see.”

Spectrality does not involve the conviction that ghosts exist or that the past (and maybe even the future they offer to prophesy) is still very much alive and at work, within the living present: all it says, if it can be thought to speak, is that the living present is scarcely as self-sufficient as it claims to be; that we would do well not to count on its density and solidity, which might under exceptional circumstances betray us. – Fredric Jameson

“I cannot,” cried the young man, trembling and clinging, “I dare not look beneath! I dare not look at the shrubs of the sunken gardens or the darkened trees of Fortune Street Park. Before me and about me there is nothing but human skulls.” “And yet, my son,” said the TaylorWimpey, laughing smugly, “and yet you do not know of what this building is made?” The young man, shuddering, repeated, “I fear! Unutterably, I fear there is nothing but human skulls.”

“A building of skulls it is,” responded the TaylorWimpey. “But know, my son, that all of them ARE YOUR OWN! Each has at some time been the nest of your dreams of mortgages, your delusions of wealth and your desires for an affordable home. Not every one of them is the skull of any other being. All, all without exception, have been yours, in the billions of your former lives.”


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