For the continued publication of critical writing and the essay form in Glasgow.
About Info, Contact  /  Issues 01, 02, 03  /  Contributors Text, Art  /  Programme 

BLISS


an extract
















There are about 14 wasps in the studio, they create a constant background-hum as they whirr about beside the window. I don’t know why they are still alive, or how. They seem to spend every day trying to get out and don’t succeed, rattling against the window like hail. The windowsill beneath is littered with little bodies, wasps dried up and curled inwards like autumn leaves. Some are black, dry looking shells, others are fully formed and fresh, very recently deceased. It’s pathetic and it’s funny and it’s sad in a way and so is everything, to an extent. I film myself pushing one of them around, cutting off it’s head with the blade of a scalpel. The wasp I chose was a dead drone, dry and hollow and it split apart in two pieces that flew in opposite directions. Immediately I felt stupid for thinking it’d make good footage and I didn’t bother their bodies again.




In the evening we walked down to the beach and lay on our backs to look up at the inside of the dome. It felt safe, and for a period we were all silent, just looking. I saw another shooting star, a bolt of light or a white pebble thrown suddenly and skimming the surface but not for long. I started to view the night sky as one would a magic eye drawing, and remembered a technique my brother taught me by which you cross your eyes slightly but still focus on the centre of your field of vision. The blur (in the case of the magic eye) slowly comes into focus, and the hidden depth to the image is crystal clear for as long as you stare at the in-between space. Looking up at the stars I did just this, and noticed first that all the stars repeated themselves, mirrored themselves on both sides. Everything took on a kind of muddy red tone and felt much closer and flatter, and if I could lift up my hand and stroke it. A carpet with holes bitten into it, little hollows. I stared into this new, flatter sky for some time until, as I’d hoped, it “unlocked” so to speak, and I was able to see into it. I cannot really explain what happened but for a period of a few minutes the whole sky seemed to be rushing past me, the stars drifted at different paces through the darkness and I could track them, watching them float like clouds in the wind. I couldn’t help but smile, the liquid sky continued to glow and spin like this for a few more minutes before slowly stopping, each star slotting into place, resting somewhere.




A week in and the wasps have started coming down from the window and floating around the room, I had to duck my head as one flew too close to me. They are dropping out of the air and twitching on the ground, thoraxes ululating, panting (or whatever the equivalent is for them). I hate them and I fantasise about pumping some kind of gas into the room that kills them all or simply spraying them with a poison so that they all drop out of the sky.




I imagine a clear green pool of water on a body farm in Illinois

I imagine hot holes in it’s skin water pooling in the craters and soft openings

and I imagine wasps laying eggs in them

and a body becomes a fig and a body becomes a black fig




During dinner I had the overwhelming desire to be alone, to not have to be surrounded by yapping mouths and mouths in turn full of food and water, screaming at each other. I can hear water rushing down some pipe when I’m in my bed, as though my room might fill up and flood at any moment. I felt at the centre of something deep blue and catastrophically loud, howling from every direction.




I ended up going for a walk to a supermarket in which I twisted and span on my heels and ran my hands across and between clothes hung up on rails. I wanted a pit to open up, I wanted to be swallowed and it’s so generic a feeling to want to disappear

everyone wants the option to opt out

or to log out, to vanish for a while

to be underwater

to be, as we were before birth, oblivious, surrounded by and held up on all sides by a flat and all encompassing warmth, total intimacy.

It has always been a fantasy of mine to melt, to lose physical form and instead be a fluid or a breeze or something non physical without limits. I want to blend with and become part of the ground instead of walking on top of it, I am struck by immense yearnings to lie down on the road, at the side of paths, as though if I stay there long enough I may become part of it. Leaking into the soil, filtering through the sediment.

burning off like so much morning fog

when somebody dies, and their body goes into purification

they will enter various stages of decay

of which the penultimate is “purge”

in this stage the body splits open, a black fluid is released that kills all nearby vegetation

flowers die and a year later they grow back more vibrant and beautiful and sweet smelling than ever before.

It’s a pretty picture to paint in your head




on the way back from the supermarket I saw three men with head torches stalking the deep woods at 21:15, nobody need be up there at that time. I imagined crooked noses and long stretched hands twisting the doorknobs of unlocked rooms. A bony knuckle dragged behind a long thin wrist. why were they here? looking for frogs? I convinced myself that they were killers, out to rob, fuck and murder everyone in the house while we were all asleep in bed. I collected my belongings in a bag and kept it in the kitchen.




We all danced in the kitchen, I was so aware of my own thinness. Just smoke, my legs are contrails and my body is a pre-pubescent jet.

Later, whilst walking back to the cottage I could see a shaft of light cast across the driveway from one of the rooms. I crept over and peered through the frosted window of what turned out to be a bathroom and could make out a girl huddled over the sink, she had thrown up, she was crying. I went to bed.

I’ve seen a kingfisher once and it’s blueness was so unexpected that It still doesn’t feel real.

watching it dart beneath the bridge I was stood on




A storm hit, grey gold clouds and rain. It was a kind of misty rain outside, the kind that soaks you slow enough that it feels warm and your skin is slick. We were walking back, through the soft gloom when we stopped at a tree the trunk of which was jet black, glistening and muscular looking like some dark contorted body. It looked like skin, stretched out and twisting upwards with leaves blossoming at it’s base. I couldn’t stop staring, it was and is still unlike anything I have ever seen. Flanked on either side by things thin and brown and unremarkable it stood out it glowed it hummed somehow like a bell chiming. It was the leg of a black horse, so strong! stood beside it I expected it to twist around me, serpentine and tight.




It occupied my thoughts for the rest of the evening, at dinner I thought of nothing else. I dreaded seeing it dry, seeing it in any other state than this.




Later I found myself running to it, through the rain, out into the storm in the near dark, in the deep green fog of something. I ran my hands all over it, I lay my head on it’s trunk, I filmed my hand sliding across it. It was a strong horse, or the muscular back of somebody sleeping. I wanted to melt, but I couldn’t and so I just stood with it for a while as the storm grew louder and more violent and bliss and bliss and bliss again.




James St Findlay has a solo show at 16 Nicholson Street that will open on Valentine’s Day, 2019. He performed at Love Unlimited’s Social Event as part of Glasgow International 2018. BLISS is still available to buy, contact perfect.girlfriend on Instagram for more information. 

Copyright Art Review Glasgow 2018. All Rights Reserved.