Smog text excerpts


What happened was that they went into the Smog and saw things that might be likened to drug experiences. Very real and strange, yet concrete visions of other realities, pasts, futures. Explaining it to others was difficult, impossible even. Of course as soon as someone saw how those who had been into the Smog looked, they wanted to experience it for themselves. The strange thing was that once they entered it, the effects seemed to differ for different people. Not everyone, for example, wanted to go back. Although the well-publicised reports seemed to prove that any prolonged contact was dangerous, it definitely appeared that at least some of those who had ventured into the Smog came out of it invigorated.


“I mean, have you heard of Monet?”

“Yeah, yeah, course.”

“So you know he’s considered the father of Impressionism.”

“Well, no, but…”

“Well, he did a painting called ‘Impression’ where the light on a field or some water is all weird and that’s what kicked off the movement.”

“Right, right.”

“But the thing that’s less well known…”

“Well, I didn’t even know that.”

“Ha. Yeah well anyway, the thing that’s less known about is that it was in London that Monet got the idea.”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean, the painting itself is of a field, but the story actually starts in London. You see he was on the run from the War in Paris, around the turn of the century. He was holed up in London, in a hotel by the river. And at that time the ‘London Particular’ was at it’s height. I mean the smog was fucking unbearable. The sky was purple and green, people were dying. They invented the word ‘smog’ cos it was such a new thing.”

“So what about Monet? I mean, I know all that, about the smog at that time.”

“Well the strange thing was that Monet was buzzing off it, he really got into it. He was interested in what it did to the water, to the sky, how it changed the light, how it made you see things in new ways. A lot of the buildings began to look completely different, depending upon the levels of smog and darkness. I swear, there’s a series of paintings he did, of the Houses of Parliament, over the river, with the sky in the background. There’s five or six of them. And some of them are really crazy. In one of them, the buildings look like they’re on fire, tumbling into the water. It’s like he’s reaching into a completely different reality. So that’s what I mean, do you get it?”

“No, what?”

“The smog. The fucking smog is what gave him eyes.”


The circle, the ‘o’, is the defining shape of smog, of fog, of cloud, of smoke. The o is the exact centre of the words fog and smoke, it is literally at the heart of them. They are circles, symmetrical symbols, surrounded by unevenness.

What does it mean to blend the two and create from three and five letter words a four-letter word? What does it do to the circle at the heart? It decentres it, privileges it, top loads it towards the s, towards the smoke. It’s already a pollution at its moment of creation as a word.


Put into me, whatever you want to see. Mine eyes are of no use so I open my ears more. I went up to her to say hello. She said to me, “Your hair is different and you’ve put on weight.” I told her I thought she was dead.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you purposely acting weird? Why all these different aliases? You just need to shut your mouth and look at the ground. You are not going to get anywhere by shouting your mouth off on Twitter and Facebook. Think about it. Think about the smog. It is not about being seen. It is about not being seen. It’s about who is best at not being there. Don’t look. Thats the best thing to do. Always.”

The smog is where I see what I was.