travelling :
These linguistic journeys are traced in the Online Etymology Dictionary, which has carefully compiled the movements of the English language and its growths and connections across language/s through time and geographies from a number of print sources.
              from Online Etymology Dictionary, ‘Home’, 9 November 2020, 

mirror :
This word takes me to this quote from Darko Suvin where he writes, “the mirror is not only a reflecting one, it is a transforming one, virgin womb and alchemical dynamo: the mirror is a crucible.”
              from Brian Baker, Science Fiction (London: Palgrave, 2014): 16.

the flag caught in the absence of wind :
This image of the American flag, poised above a lunar surface, is one that has captured American nationalism across time. As President Kennedy said in his speech in 1962, in the midst of the Cold War, “Man in his quest for knowledge and progress is determined and cannot be deterred. The exploration of space will go ahead whether we join in it or not, and it is one of the great adventures of all time. And no nation which expects to be the leader of other nations, can expect to stay behind in this race for space… For the eyes of the world now look into space, to the moon and to the planets beyond. And we have vowed that we shall not see it governed by a hostile flag of conquest, but by a banner of freedom and peace.”
              from NASA Video, President Kennedy’s Speech at Rice University, 2013,
the heavens have become a part of man’s world :
These words come from a phone call between President Nixon in the Oval Office and Buzz Aldrin and Neil Armstrong on the moon on the 21st July 1969. Nixon said, “For every American, this has to be the proudest day of our lives. And for people all over the world, I am sure they too join with Americans in recognizing what an immense feat this is. Because of what you have done, the heavens have become a part of man's world. And as you talk to us from the Sea of Tranquility, it inspires us to redouble our efforts to bring peace and tranquility to Earth. For one priceless moment in the whole history of man, all the people on this Earth are truly one: one in their pride in what you have done, and one in our prayers that you will return safely to Earth.”
              from Buzz Aldrin, Neil Armstrong, and Richard Nixon, ‘Richard Nixon’s Phone Call to the Moon’ (1969), Wikisource,

performed :
The idea of the American flag in space remains a powerful image. As Vice President Mike Pence said as he announced the establishment of a Space Force, “it is not enough to merely have an American presence in space, we must have American dominance in space, and so we will. And that is precisely why we are beginning the process of establishing the Space Force as the sixth bridge of our armed forces. Just, as in the past, when we created the air force, establishing the Space Force is an idea whose time has come. The space environment has fundamentally changed in the last generation: what was once peaceful and uncontested is now crowded and adversarial. Today, other nations are seeking to disrupt our space based systems and challenge American supremacy in space as never before.”
from Christian Davenport and Dan Lamothe, ‘Pence Details Plan for Creation of Space Force in What Would Be the Sixth Branch of the Military’, Washington Post, 9 August 2018,

the ultimate aerial view a triumph over matter :
These words come from Ally Bisshop’s Marble, where she writes, The very first image that declared humankind’s victory over the Earth was Blue Marble. The ultimate aerial view - it was also a projection into the future, that contained with it all the submission of the past. A trumping of the ‘natural laws’ that had attempted to enslave us: chemistry, biology, gravity, velocity, relativity.
A triumph over matter.
Blue Marble gave us the Earth as a toy, a plaything: ours to roll about, ours to clink against others, ours to thrust forward in a decisive military ploy.”               from Ally Bisshop, Marble (Lost Rocks, 2017): 1.

an inverted astronomy :
These words were written by Peter Sloterdijk as he described how for “all earlier human beings, gazing up to the heavens was akin to a native preliminary stage of philosophical thinking beyond this world and a spontaneous elevation towards contemplation of infinity. Ever since the early sixties, an inverted astronomy has […] come into being. Looking down from space onto the Earth rather than from the ground up into the skies.”

              from Bethany Rigby, ‘Watch This Space’, Migrant Journal 5: Micro Odysseys (November 2018): 13.

in the ruins of babylon :
This lost and discovered map speaks to the 2,500 year old cuneiform clay tablet discovered by the archaeologist Hormuzd Rassam in 1881 in the ruins of the ancient Babylonian city of Sippar, near modern-day Baghdad. The tablet has since been relocated to the British Museum, and Jerry Brotton writes that it is “the first known map of the world… the earliest surviving object that represents the whole world in plan from a bird’s eye view, looking down on the earth from above.”
              from Jerry Brotton, A History of the World in Twelve Maps (London: Penguin Books, 2013): 1.

in search of longitude :
Giovanni Domenico Cassini, after setting up the Paris Observatory in 1671, used the science of astronomy to find a way to accurately measure distances across the earth’s surface. As Jerry Brotton describes, “Map-makers already knew how to measure latitude - the distance north or south of the equator - by observing the height of the sun. But a way to measure longitude - the distance east or west of a point - had still to be found. Thanks to a dramatic increase in the power of telescopic lenses, Cassini found the answer by observing the eclipses of Jupiter's moons. He timed the eclipses in Paris and then compared this with the time the same eclipses were seen in Brest, 600km to the west of the city. The apparent time difference between the two observations was then used to help calculate longitude. Cassini sent out teams of astronomers to record the timing of the eclipses as they occurred along the French coastline."

              from Maps: Power, Plunder and Possession - 1. Windows on the World (BBC Four, 2010),

to make order out of the shifting sea :
In 1761 John Harrison invented the chronometer, a type of clock that enabled the calculation of longitudes at sea by accurately measuring the time of a fixed location and the time of the ship’s location.
from Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983): 173.

triangulation by triangulation
a geometric grid
the alignment of map and power proceeded :
These words come from Benedict Anderson’s Imagined Communities, where he writes, “Ever since John Harrison’s 1761 invention of the chronometer, which made possible the precise calculation of longitudes, the entire planet’s curved surface had been subjected to a geometrical gridwhich squared off empty seas and unexpected regions in measured boxes. The task of, as it were, ‘filling in’ the boxes was to be accomplished by explorers, surveyors, and military forces… Triangulation by triangulation, war by war, treaty by treaty, the alignment of map and power proceeded.”

              from Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities(London: Verso, 1983): 173.

trying to understand :
Tom Keeley uses these words as he writes about pouring over the pages of the Weetabix Wonderworld Atlas as a child. He writes, “These maps, although I couldn’t articulate it at the time, were the beginnings of trying to understand how I/we/you fit into the world. Of what it means to be from Birmingham, to be in the middle of a small island adrift in the north Atlantic, compared with Pyongyang, Tashkent, or Ulan Baator. I was interested (still am) in the way in which a map allows you to situate yourself, to know where you are in relation to everything else, and what those places mean.”

              from Tom Keeley, ‘In Another Life I Should Have Been a Travel Agent’, Building Material, no. 21 (2018): 105.

with an affinity for
control :
These words speak across to Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung who writes about the “incestuous relationship between political power and geographic knowledge. There isn’t neutrality in maps and mapping, as mapping has always been a tool for dominating groups to have political and economic control over dominated groups.”

              from Elena Agudio, Anna Jäger, Saskia Köbschall, and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, eds. I Will Draw You a Map of What You Never See: Endeavours in Rhythmanalysis. (Berlin: SAAVY Contemporary and Archive Books, 2019): 20.

an imagined spatial future :
Here the spatial speaks to relations within, beneath, above, across, upon and between lands, those which concern the geography as much as the people.

to convert into property to measure, map and register :
These words come from Andro Linklater as he writes, “A further ritual was needed to convert the wilderness into property. The land had to be measured, mapped, and registered in the name of its owner.”
              from Andro Linklater, Owning the Earth: The Transformative History of Land Ownership (London: Bloomsbury, 2013): 2.

inevitably entwined in each other :
Irene Stracuzzi writes of the relationship between cartography and state borders, as she says, “It would be hard to prove that, without the rationalisation of cartography, state borders would not exist. What is certain is that cartography and the process of bordering proceed hand in hand, one inevitably entwined with the other. Their role in shaping our collective consciousness should not be diminished.”
              from Irene Stracuzzi, ‘Drawing on Ice’, Migrant Journal 3: Flowing Grounds (November 2017): 136.

the maps grew borders :
These words come from Ama-ar-gi by Dunya Mikhail.

from Dunya Mikhail, In Her Feminine Sign (Manchester: Carcanet, 2019): 50.

a fixed imaginary line constructed through measurement :
Susan Stanford Friedman uses these words as she writes about Thongchai Winichukul’s Siam Mapped. She writes, “Before the British and French entered Southeast Asia as colonial powers, Thongchai argues, the Thai had no fixed notion of a boundary line separating one region or nation from another and no technology for surveying such fixed boundaries. Instead, areas between different ethnic, regional, or national groups were spaces of overlapping sovereignty constituting broad borderlands across which people and goods moved continuously and freely in times of peace. The British concept of a fixed imaginary line constructed through measurement and enforcing separation was at first quite alien. Thai epistemology of mapping allowed for much greater fluidity. Only when tensions flared between different groups did a concept of a boundary line demarcating difference come into play. Enforced by armies, such borders were temporary, disappearing once relatively friendly relations were reestablished. Borderlands were spaces that expanded and contracted depending on relations between different power bases. In peacetime, the border areas were wide, with considerable cultural circulation and syncretist blending; in wartime, the borderland became boundary line, a space where encounters produced confrontations, not interminglings, of difference.”
              from Susan Stanford Friedman, Mappings: Feminism and the Cultural Geographies of Encounter (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998): 154.

the pencil gliding over paper :
These words speak to the practices of bordering by colonial powers across Africa and Asia, as described by Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, as they write, “European leaders met at the Berlin Conference in 1884/85 to partition Africa. It was through this conference and later negotiations that Europe’s leaders largely created Africa’s modern political borders. They did so with limited information about the lands and peoples they were reorganizing and without input from Africans. A similar process was under way across much of Asia. Although most of the world’s political entities were bounded by relatively vague and ambiguous frontiers at the beginning of the sixteenth century, the situation had changed dramatically by 1900 as colonial powers hurried to mark the exact limits of their territorial claims.”
              from Alexander C. Diener and Joshua Hagen, Borders: A Very Short Introduction (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012): 49.

confusing itself :
These words relate to this extract from Drawing on Ice by Irene Stracuzzi, as she writes, “The introduction of the Cartesian plane, a system based on the premise that space is absolute and can be rationally explained, gradually turned cartography into a science akin to mathematics. As political objects, accurate charts were increasingly needed by European powers in order to claim new land before even conquering it. As a result of this tendency, reality started being confused with its cartographic image, and mere utilitarian representations became truly epistemological tools.
The advent of modern rationalism in the 17th century determined the apparition of the first hard state borders. Straight lines were suddenly being charted simply because it was possible to do so. However, this process did not take place overnight, and it was not until the 20th century that the nation state became generalised and, thus, naturalised. The concept of territorial sovereignty based on divisions of land became so powerful that it is now difficult even to imagine other spatial systems of political organisation. In this regard, cartographic accuracy played and still plays a fundamental role in the conceptualisation of borders and the modern understanding of space.”               from Irene Stracuzzi, ‘Drawing on Ice’, Migrant Journal 3: Flowing Grounds (November 2017): 133.

their prosthetic eye :
Bethany Rigby uses these words as she writes, “New geographies of power are being determined by the y-axis. In 2005, General Lance W. Lord, commander of the US Air Force Space Command noted the importance of altitudinal dominance when he argued ‘Space superiority is not our birth right, but it is our destiny […] space superiority is our day-to-day mission. Space supremacy is our vision for the future.’ Those who populate the atmosphere with their technologies at the highest altitude will control these new territories. The use of satellite vision and its application in public software, such as Google Maps, means we have become increasingly accustomed to a vertical perspective of the world through their prosthetic eye.”
              from Bethany Rigby, ‘Watch This Space’, Migrant Journal 5: Micro Odysseys (November 2018): 12-13.

google earth :
In exploring google earth, alongside other modes of mapping, I am reminded of this quote by Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung  as he writes, “Historic as well as recent mapping projects like Google Maps serve as means to project desires onto land, as well as crystallize – often for sheer economic reasons – interests projected onto landscapes by the powers that be. Knowledge on a piece of land is knowledge about oil, water, coltan, copper, plantations and more resources. Cartography as a discipline serves, amongst others, this purpose, no matter how hidden the agenda may be.”
              from Elena Agudio, Anna Jäger, Saskia Köbschall, and Bonaventure Soh Bejeng Ndikung, eds. I Will Draw You a Map of What You Never See: Endeavours in Rhythmanalysis. (Berlin: SAAVY Contemporary and Archive Books, 2019): 20-21.

an expanded image :
This idea of the surface of the earth as/becoming an image connects to the video essay Seed, Image, Ground by Jussi Parikka and Abelardo Gil-Fournier which explores the links between seeds, aerial operations of imaging and the transformation of the earth’s surface into data. They write/say, “Airborne, the surface is a field of operations: surveying, bombing, hydrating, seeding, replanting, calculating, quantifying… Surfaces are managed vertically… imaging in order to operate, operate in order to transform… They redefine the thin living surface as intellectual property control and as intellectual capital management: a territorial surface brought into the value systems of digital platforms."
              from Abelardo Gil-Fournier and Jussi Parikka, Seed, Image, Ground, 2020, Video essay, 2020,

an illusion of neutrality :
These words connect to this quote from Jerry Brotton where he describes how the “history of maps has never previously known the possibility of a monopoly of valuable geographical information falling into the hands of one company, and, as Google’s share of the global online search market reaches 70 per cent, those working in the Internet industry are worried… The company likes to say that, thanks to the ability of its online maps to pinpoint our location anywhere on the planet, we are the last generation to know what it means to be lost… We are on the brink of a new geography, but it is one that risks being driven as never before by a single imperative: the accumulation of financial profit through the monopolization of quantifiable information.”
              from Jerry Brotton, A History of the World in Twelve Maps (London: Penguin Books, 2013): 436.

a promise of multiplicity and a reality of singularity:
These words speak across to this quote from Bruno Latour, as he writes, “For 50 years, what is called "globalization" has in fact consisted in two opposing phenomena that have been systematically confused. Shifting from a local to a global viewpoint ought to mean multiplying viewpoints, registering a greater number of varieties, taking into account a larger number of beings, cultures, phenomena, organisms and people. Yet it seems as though what is meant by globalization today is the exact opposite of such an increase. The term is used to mean that a single vision, entirely provincial, proposed by a few individuals, representing a very small number of interests, limited to a few measuring instruments, to a few standards and protocols, has been imposed on everyone and spread everywhere.”
              from Bruno Latour, Down to Earth: Politics in the New Climatic Regime (Cambridge: Polity Press, 2018): 12-13.

1,064,035 :
This is the number of recorded scientific names for plants before the 9th November 2020.

              from The Plant List, ‘Home — The Plant List’, accessed 9 November 2020,

4,374 :
This is the number of discovered planets before the 9th November 2020.

              from, ‘The Extrasolar Planets Encyclopaedia’, accessed 9 November 2020,

803 :
This is the number of people recorded to have died in the Mediterranean at this point in 2020.

              from International Organisation for Migration, ‘Missing Migrants Project’, 9 November 2020,

26,000 :
This is the number of recorded borders drawn in the last two decades.

              from Irene Stracuzzi, ‘Drawing on Ice’, Migrant Journal 3: Flowing Grounds (November 2017): 136.

clocks, calendars, rulers, thermometers, timers, barometers, compasses, scales, tape measures, metronomes :
These words come from an extract from Pamela Zoline’s Heat Death of the Universe as she writes about the state of entropy between the scales of the universe and the domestic home. She writes, “28. TIME-PIECES AND OTHER MEASURING DEVICES. In the Boyle house there are four clocks; three watches (one a Mickey Mouse watch which does not work); two calendars and two engagement books; three rulers, a yardstick; a measuring cup; a set of red plastic measuring spoons which includes a tablespoon, a teaspoon, a one-half teaspoon, one-fourth teaspoon and one-eighth teaspoon; an egg timer; an oral thermometer and a rectal thermometer; a Boy Scout compass; a barometer in the shape of a house, in and out of which an old woman and an old man chase each other forever without fulfillment; a bathroom scale; an infant scale; a tape measure which can be pulled out of a stuffed felt strawberry; a wall on which the children's heights are marked; a metronome.”

              from Pamela Zoline, ‘The Heat Death of the Universe’, in Busy About the Tree of Life (London: The Women’s Press, 1988): 57.

the earth itself
is uncertain, unreliable,
the enduring, the reliable
is a promise made by the human mind :
               from Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed (New York: Avon Books, 1974): 252.

my home, my pyjamas :
These words refer across to this quote from Andro Linklater, as he writes, “In 1890, the pioneering psychologist William James speculated that the urge to possess was intrinsic human nature. ‘We feel and act about certain things that are ours very much as we feel and act about ourselves,’ he wrote. ‘Our fame, our children, the work of our hands, may be as dear to use as our bodies are , and arouse the same feelings and the same acts of reprisal if attacked.’ It was not so much a materialist or acquisitive desire as an elemental urge for attachment, a ‘blind impulse’ as he put it, that embraced both people and objects. Everything that could have the adjective ‘my’ in front of it - parents, spouse, and children, clothes, jewelry, and home - strengthened the inner sense of identity by offering external evidence of who a person really was.”

              from Andro Linklater, Owning the Earth: The Transformative History of Land Ownership (London: Bloomsbury, 2013): 4.

legislation conjuring :
Felix Bazalgette uses this phrase as he writes, “Legislation conjured the detention centre into being, and gathered people from all around the world inside it. Over the decades, legislation also expanded it and changed its purpose - by the late eighties Thatcher's Conservative government had introduced stiff financial penalties for airlines if they allowed someone onboard without a valid visa. As a result the border was thrown outside of the U.K. into every point of departure around the world, and airlines were made into border guards. (The recent drownings in the Mediterranean are a direct result of this legal innovation, adopted by wealthier nations from the eighties onwards). The border was also drawn inwards, with an expanding immigration detention and border force bureaucracy. Police, doctors, landlords, bank clerks and university administrators joined airline staff in the effort to enforce the border.”

              from Felix Bazalgette, ‘Home Is Always a Ship’, Failed States, no. 3: refuge (March 2019): 18.

in the mud :
This particular mud is on the Isle of Grain, where the Thames meets the sea and one of the closest sea / land borders to Lunar House.

at the edge where earth touches ocean :
Standing at a different edge to my own, these words come from an extract from Gloria Anzaldua’s Borderlands, as she writes, “Wind tugging at my sleeve

feet sinking into the sand
I stand at the edge where earth touches ocean
where the two overlap
a gentle coming together
at other times and places a violent clash.”
              from Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands (San Francisco: Spinters / Aunt Lute Book Company, 1987): 1.

translation and transition :
Adam Kleinman uses this phrase to capture the shifting nature of an intertidal zone “between that which was and that which may come next.”

              from Adam Kleinman, ‘Lofoten International Art Festival 2019 - Features - Art-Agenda’, 20 September 2019,

my body scaled beside the geographic one :
Karlo Mila’s words travelled through to reach these ones, as she writes, “my throat

an estuary
salt crystallizing
on the tip of my tongue
my veins
rivers that flow
straight out to sea”
              from Karlo Mila, ‘Oceania’, New Internationalist521 (October 2019): 31.

does it start
endless beginnings :
from Alice Oswald, Nobody (London: Penguin Random House, 2019): 13.

there is just so much sky here :
These words were overheard from a passerby on the Isle of Grain on the 17th September 2019.

a temporal body :
These words are from Ally Bisshop’s Marble, as she writes, “Like all of us, I was born in this fluid middle - in the swelling wave between the first exhale and the first intake of breath, which is a very difficult position to sustain. The wave is a temporal body; a fluid movement - that of waving. It crests in the same gesture in which it falls, scissoring the surface of the ocean body as it quivers its bowels. The wave|waving is the unquiet interval between form and movement, between the push and the suck, between being made and unmade, between all the mirrored pulses of invention and dissolution. And, it is in this interval that all of the atoms of possibility are marbled together into new and unsteady forms.”

              from Ally Bisshop, Marble (Lost Rocks, 2017): 72.

where borders are difficult to trace, to grasp, to see :
              from Giuditta Vendrame, ‘What Is the Purpose of Your Visit? A Journey towards the High Seas’, Migrant Journal 1: Across Country (September 2016): 89.

attempts :
Despite the fluidity of the sea, international conventions attempt to draw up, measure and divide its waters, as seen here in Susan Mayhew’s definition of territorial seas, “territorial seas (territorial waters): The coastal waters together with the sea bed beneath them and the air space above them, over which a state claims *sovereignty. Most countries claim twelve nautical miles. In 1983, the Law of the Sea Convention proposed a 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone, but most nations are less that 400 nautical miles apart, so a median line is drawn between the baselines of the states concerned.”

              from Susan Mayhew, A Dictionary of Geography(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015): 490.

confounds attempts at fixity :
Andrea Ballestero describes the nature of water, as she writes, “Inherently multiplicitous and predisposed to vary, water confounds attempts at fixity. Water’s defining traits are a tendency toward form-shifting, an obsession with gravity, and a material inclination to change. The French modernist poet Francis Ponge describes this condition by saying that ‘water collapses all the time, constantly sacrifices all form, tends only to humble itself, flattens itself onto ground.’”

              from Andrea Ballestero, ‘Living with Aquifers’, e-flux - Liquid Utility, 26 July 2019,

rendering people invisible in the water :
Ala Tannir writes that “forces of neo-colonial extraction have dispossessed people and rendered them invisible in the water; these same forces have also irrevocably disturbed maritime ecosystems by exploiting natural resources.”

              from Ala Tannir, ‘Blood in the Water’, Migrant Journal 3: Flowing Grounds (November 2017): 63.

turning the sea into an unwilling killer :
These words come from Liquid Traces where Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani write about the use of the Mediterranean as a border zone. They write, “migrants do not only die at sea but through a strategic use of the sea…

To understand how the sea has been made to kill, we have had to attend to the way the liquid expanse has been mobilized to alternatively connect and make movement flow smoothly or to separate and add friction to this movement…
What perhaps is most relevant in this context, however, is that not only were EU agencies aware that cutting back rescue operations would lead to an increase in the number of fatalities; these agencies were also explicitly seeking to use the increased risk for migrants as a means of deterrence…
As this discussion demonstrates, the strategic use of the maritime environment as a frontier zone turned the sea into an unwilling killer, while at the same time distancing the deaths of migrants further from the eyes of the European public and shifting the blame for them onto the sea itself. Seen from this perspective, the sea and its very materiality stop being a mute background on which tactics of border enforcement unfold, becoming instead a constitutive element of boundary making in the same ways that border guards, institutions, and surveillance systems are…
This maritime deathscape echoes with many others, scattered across time and space, in which a harsh environment – be it the sea, the desert, or the mountains – has been made to kill without touching.”
              from Charles Heller and Lorenzo Pezzani, ‘Liquid Traces: Contesting the Lethal Architecture of the Mediterranean Sea’, in After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit, ed. Llúis Alexandre Casanovas Blanco et al. (Oslo: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016): 42–52.

numbers :
The numbers of people crossing the Channel continue to grow, and the people making the journey become reduced to their number. Endlessly adding, building people as numbers and numbers as people, a fear grows, an anxiety as the numbers rise.

we other :
These words speak across to Gary Younge, as he writes, “Borders exist, by definition, to separate us from others. The primary two issues then become which “other” that will be, and on what basis we should be separated. As such they are both arbitrary and definite. Arbitrary because they could be anywhere and often move – just look at how Europe’s borders have changed over the past century. Definite, because wherever they are we have to deal with them, and because the process that determines who is allowed to move where and why is exercised with extreme prejudice.”

              from Gary Younge, ‘End All Immigration Controls – They’re a Sign We Value Money More than People | Gary Younge’, The Guardian, 16 October 2017,

we border :
The act of bordering is an act of deciding who belongs, as Felicity D. Scott writes, “Closely connected to traditional notions of selfhood, to questions of identity, and to structures of identification (social, cultural, sexual, religious, ethnic, racial and political), as well as to forms of citizenship proper to the modern nation-state, belonging is a measure at once of inclusion and exclusion.”

              from Felicity D. Scott, ‘Taking Stock of Our Belongings’, in After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit, ed. Llúis Alexandre Casanovas Blanco et al. (Oslo: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016): 24.

we decide :
The question of deciding who can cross the border and who cannot is one which raises many more, as Matthew J. Gibney conveys as he writes, “Is the modern state a morally defensible form of political organisation? Are states justified in privileging the claims of their own citizens over the claims of refugees, asylum seekers or other immigrants in need? Do states have an obligation to admit for entry any outsiders at all and, if so, from what does this obligation derive? What is the correct criterion by which to decide where anyone is entitled to reside in the contemporary world (birth? need? citizenship? preference? contribution to the maximisation of total global utility?)? At what point might states be said to have fulfilled their obligations to those seeking to enter their territory (when more entrants would increase unemployment? threaten the welfare state? cause a racist backlash?)? What gives any group of people organised into a state the right to exclusive control of a territory?”

              from Matthew J. Gibney, The Ethics and Politics of Asylum: Liberal Democracy and the Response to Refugees (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004): 18.

who is we :
These words connect to Thomas Hylland Eriksen as he writes, “This dilemma brings us full circle back to the most complex of all questions asked in social science or social theory, namely what the word “we” should be taken to mean. Probably one of the first ontological questions asked by humans, it has lost none of its potency or difficulty. And we are nowhere near a final answer.”

              from Thomas Hylland Eriksen, ‘The Destabilized Boundary’, in After Belonging: The Objects, Spaces and Territories of the Ways We Stay in Transit, ed. Llúis Alexandre Casanovas Blanco et al. (Oslo: Lars Müller Publishers, 2016): 64.

we construct illegality :
A construction that is present across time and geographies, and explicitly made visible recently in the discussions around people crossing the Channel. As Prime Minister Boris Johnson says, “We will send you back. And the UK should not be regarded as a place where you could automatically come and break the law by seeking to arrive illegally. If you come illegally then you are an illegal migrant and, I'm afraid, the law will treat you as such.”

              from ITV News, ‘Boris Johnson Warns Illegal Channel Migrants: We Will Send You Back’, ITV News, 23 August 2019,

protect our borders :
These words come from a tweet by then Home Secretary Sajid Javid amidst news coverage on people attempting to cross the Channel. He wrote, “Thank you @CCastaner for your partnership. UK & France will build on our joint efforts to deter illegal migration - protecting our borders and human life …"

              from Sajid Javid, ‘Thank You @CCastaner for Your Partnership…’, Tweet, @sajidjavid, 30 December 2018,

we question your authenticity :
Then Home Secretary Sajid Javid went on to question whether people crossing the Channel in search of asylum were “genuine”, as Alan McGuinness writes, “The home secretary has questioned whether migrants using small boats to cross the English Channel are "genuine" asylum seekers… Mr Javid also suggested that those picked up by UK authorities could have their asylum requests denied in a bid to prevent others from attempting the same journey… ‘Also if you do somehow make it to the UK, we will do everything we can to make sure that you are often not successful because we need to break that link, and to break that link means we can save more lives.’”

              from Alan McGuinness, ‘Sajid Javid Questions Whether Cross-Channel Migrants Are “genuine” Asylum Seekers’, Sky News, 2 January 2019,

words circling :
Afua Hirsch writes of Sajid Javid’s use of the word ‘illegal’, writing about “…the five small boats in which 40 desperate people attempted to cross the Channel on Christmas Day, no doubt hoping to make the case that they deserved to seek refuge in the UK. That’s no small detail – there is a legal right, established in international law, to claim asylum in a country after you arrive there, which these people were within their rights to follow. But Javid wasn’t going to let that get in the way of his ghoulish seasonal performance, having already determined their status for himself as ‘illegal’ migrants.”

from Afua Hirsch, ‘The Channel Migrant “Crisis” Is Really a Tale of British Hypocrisy | Afua Hirsch’, The Guardian, 3 January 2019,

creating the image
of the other :
These words speak across to those of Maya Goodfellow as she writes, "That there's an 'us' and 'them' is not a given; divisions are actively produced and reproduced."

              from Maya Goodfellow, Hostile Environment: How Immigrants Became Scapegoats (London: Verso Books, 2019): 194.

language is also a place of struggle :
These words come from bell hooks as she writes in Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness that, “We are wedded in language, have our being in words. Language is also a place of struggle.”

              from bell hooks, ‘Choosing the Margin as a Space of Radical Openness’, Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media No.36 (1989): 16.

enacting its own kind of violence :
These words are found within Judith Butler’s Excitable Speech, as she writes, “To claim that language injures or, to cite the phrase used by Richard Delgado and Mari Matsuda, that "words wound" is to combine linguistic and physical vocabularies. The use of a term such as "wound" suggests that language can act in ways that parallel the infliction of physical pain and injury…

If language can sustain the body, it can also threaten its existence…
Indeed, it appears that there is no language specific to the problem of linguistic injury, which is, as it were, forced to draw its vocabulary from physical injury... that physical metaphors seize upon nearly every occasion to describe linguistic injury suggests that this somatic dimension may be important to the understanding of linguistic pain. Certain words or certain forms of address not only operate as threats to one's physical well-being, but there is a strong sense in which the body is alternately sustained and threatened through modes of address…
Toni Morrison refers specifically to "the violence of representation" in the 1993 Nobel Lecture in Literature. ‘Oppressive language,’ she writes, ‘does more than represent violence; it is violence.’ Morrison offers a parable in which language itself is figured as a ‘living thing’, where this figure is not false or unreal, but indicates something true about language…
We do things with language, produce effects with language, and we do things to language, but language is also the thing that we do. Language is a name for our doing: both ‘what' we do (the name for the action that we characteristically perform) and that which we effect, the act and its consequences…
Oppressive language is not a substitute for the experience of violence. It enacts its own kind of violence.”
              from Judith Butler, Excitable Speech: A Politics of the Performative (New York: Routledge, 1997): 4-9.

explicit :
This word connects to this extract about the hostile environment written by Colin Yeo, as he writes, “As final food for thought, let us consider the definition of “harassment” at section 26 of the Equality Act 2010:

(1) A person (A) harasses another (B) if—
(a) A engages in unwanted conduct related to a relevant protected characteristic [e.g. race/nationality], and
(b) the conduct has the purpose or effect of—
(ii) creating a intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment for B.
That the language adopted by the Home Secretary herself and by civil servants actually forms part of the legal definition of ‘harassment’ in equality law is astonishing. That there is clear evidence of a wider risk of discrimination against legal foreign nationals, ethnic minorities and others and that the measures are pursued regardless is also genuinely astonishing.”
from Colin Yeo, ‘The Hostile Environment: What Is It and Who Does It Affect?’, New Europeans, 3 June 2017,

its language inherently violent
becoming normalised :
These words come from a piece written by Rossana Leal and displayed in the Hastings and Rother Buddy Project space in St Leonards on Sea. She writes about the “vocabulary of hostility that currently permeates public discourse… Its language, inherently violent - 'force' enforcement', 'bogus', 'removability' - hasbecome normalised in everyday language.”

              from Rossana Leal, ‘The Hostile Environment’, 2019.

permeating :
This quote from Ruben Andersson helps me to imagine this immeasurable permeation of the border, as he writes, “The border is as tall as a fence and as deep as the sea.”

              from Ruben Andersson, Illegality Inc. Clandestine Migration and the Business of Bordering Europe(Oakland: University of California Press, 2014), 1.

we practice/perform the border :
Nira Yuval-Davis, Georgie Wemyss, and Kathryn Cassidy write about the impact of the 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts on processes and practices of bordering. They write, “As has happened in Britain and elsewhere de- and re-bordering processes involve the territorial displacement and relocation of borders and border controls that are, in principle, being carried out by anyone anywhere – government agencies, private companies and individual citizens. The UK 2014 and 2016 Immigration Acts discussed below expand and potentially criminalise failures in border-guarding as well as unsanctioned border-crossing. Borderings are thereby conceptualised as practices that are situated and constituted in the specificity of political negotiations as well as the everyday life performance of them, being shifted and contested between individuals, groupings and states as well as in the constructions of individual subjectivities. Such bordering constructions are intimately linked to specific political projects of belonging, which are at the heart of contemporary political agendas. Their contestations are closely related to different constructions of identity, belonging and citizenship.”

              from Nira Yuval-Davis, Georgie Wemyss, and Kathryn Cassidy, ‘Everyday Bordering, Belonging and the Reorientation of British Immigration Legislation’, Sociology 52, no. 2 (2018): 230.

the machine
working because humans make it work
and humans let it work :
              from Ali Smith, Spring(Hamish Hamilton, 2019): 310.

yet an inevitable fragility :
This idea of fragility is touched upon by Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson as they write about the political theorist Wendy Brown who “has illustrated how the proliferation of walls and barriers in the contemporary world is more a symptom of the crisis and transformation of state sovereignty than a sign of its reaffirmation.”

              from Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method (London: Duke University Press, 2013), 8.

imagined :
This word refers to Benedict Anderson’s book Imagined Communities where he describes the concept of an imagined community as a way to understand and analyse nationalism.

              from Benedict Anderson, Imagined Communities (London: Verso, 1983).

always in transience, always unfinished :
These words come from Giorgos Kassiteridis, as he writes, “The idea of a common and standard language was foundational for the emergence of the nation as an inherently limited and sovereign existence. However, as with the sovereignty and the borders of a nation-state, the stability of language(s) was equally “imagined”… Language is not a fixed, biological, closed system, but a centrifugal, socio-cultural mosaic embedded in the material world; language is always in transience, always ‘unfinished’.

              from Giorgos Kassiteridis, ‘Vox Ex Orientis’, Migrant Journal 4: Dark Matters (5/18): 83-86.

a piece of earth wrapped in cellophane
carried in your pocket :
These words speak to a painting in Shezad Dawood’s exhibition, Leviathan, which contains an image of a piece of earth wrapped in cellophane. This piece of earth was collected alongside other objects and possessions carried and left behind in the water by those attempting to cross the Mediterranean from North Africa.

              from Shezad Dawood, Leviathan, 2019, Exhibition at BlueCoat, Liverpool.

the elasticity of territory :
These words are found within Border as Method by Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, as they write, “According to Eyal Weizman: ‘The frontiers of the Occupied Territories are not rigid and fixed at all; rather they are elastic, and in constant formation. The linear border, a cartographic imaginary inherited from the military and political spatiality of the nation state has splintered into a multitude of temporary, transportable, deployable and removable border-synonyms—‘separation walls,’ ‘barriers,’ ‘blockades,’ ‘closures,’ ‘road blocks,’ ‘checkpoints,’ ‘sterile areas,’ ‘special security zones,’ ‘closed military areas’ and ‘killing zones’’ (2007, 6). Shortly we return to the distinction between the border and the frontier. For now, we want to note the emphasis Weizman places on the elasticity of the territory and the mobility of techniques for controlling the limit between inside and outside in a situation dominated by what should represent the most static crystallization of the linear border: a wall, no less. Clearly the situation in the occupied Palestinian territories needs to be examined in its specificity. But what Weizman calls the elasticity of territory is also a feature that can be observed in relation to the operation of many other borders across the world.”

              from Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method (London: Duke University Press, 2013), 8-9.

made and remade, shaped and shaping, active and reactive :
Stuart Elden uses this phrase as he writes, “territory is a word, a concept, and a practice… Territory is itself a process,made and remade, shaped and shaping, active and reactive.” (page 17)

              from Stuart Elden, The Birth of Territory (Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 2013): 7-17.

hostility and hospitality :
These words speak to Jacques Derrida’s work around hospitality, as he writes, “the foreigner is first of all foreign to the legal language in which the duty of hospitality is formulated, the right to asylum, its limits, norms, policing, etc. He has to ask for hospitality in a language which by definition is not his own, the one imposed on him by the master of the house, the host, the kind, the lord, the authorities, the nation, the State, the father, etc. This personage imposes on him translation into their own language, and that’s the first act of violence… Paradoxical and corrupting law: it depends on this constant collusion between traditional hospitality, hospitality in the ordinary sense, and power. This collusion is also power in its finitude, which is to say the necessity, for the host, for the one who receives, of choosing, electing, filtering, selecting their invitees, visitors, or guests, those to whom they decide to grant asylum, the right of visiting, or hospitality. No hospitality, in the classic sense, without sovereignty of oneself over one’s home, but since there is also no hospitality without finitude, sovereignty can only be exercised by filtering, choosing, and thus by excluding and doing violence. Injustice, a certain injustice, and even a certain perjury, begins right away, from the very threshold of the right to hospitality.”

              from Jacques Derrida and Anne Dufourmantelle, Of Hospitality (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000): 15-55.

hostility and hospitality :
These two words grow from the same root: the Proto-Indo-European ghos-ti- meaning stranger. From here the root has grown in separate paths - the stranger being both a potential guest and an enemy - with the root extending into the words hostility, hospitality, guest, host and xenophobia.

              from Online Etymology Dictionary, ‘*ghos-Ti-’, 9 November 2020,*ghos-ti-.

twisted with projections of power :
These words refer to Dan Bulley’s Migration, Ethics and Power, as he writes, “The hospitality they experience may be a right or an economic transaction, it may be a form of exchange, an act of compassion or charity, or it may be clandestine and abusive. But it is always a matter of ethics, power and space.”

              from Dan Bulley, Migration, Ethics and Power (London: SAGE Publications, 2017): 3.

inclusion existing in a continuum with exclusion:
Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson write about a need for a more nuanced understanding and language of the border. They write, “We are prone to see borders as physical walls and metaphorical walls, such as those evoked by the image of Fortress Europe. This seems even more the case after the events of September 11, 2001, when borders became crucial sites of ‘‘securitarian’’ investment within political rhetoric as much as the actual politics of control. We are painfully aware of all of this. Yet we are convinced that the image of the border as a wall, or as a device that serves first and foremost to exclude, as widespread as it has been in recent critical studies, is misleading in the end. Isolating a single function of the border does not allow us to grasp the flexibility of this institution. Nor does it facilitate an understanding of the diffusion of practices and techniques of border control within territorially bound spaces of citizenship and their associated labor markets. We claim that borders are equally devices of inclusion that select and filter people and different forms of circulation in ways no less violent than those deployed in exclusionary measures. Our argument thus takes a critical approach to inclusion, which in most accounts is treated as an unalloyed social good. By showing how borders establish multiple points of control along key lines and geographies of wealth and power, we see inclusion existing in a continuum with exclusion, rather than in opposition to it. In other words, we focus on the hierarchizing and stratifying capacity of borders, examining their articulation to capital and political power whether they coincide with the territorial limits of states or exist within or beyond them. To analyze the pervasive character of the border’s operations—let alone the marked violence that accompanies them—we need a more complex and dynamic conceptual language than that which sustains images of walls and exclusion.”

              from Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method (London: Duke University Press, 2013), 7.

double possibility :
These words come from Ali Smith’s Spring, as she writes, “What if, the girl says. Instead of saying, this border divides these places. We said, this border unites these places. This border holds together these two really interesting different places. What if we declared border crossings places where, listen, when you crossed them, you yourself became doubly possible.”

              from Ali Smith, Spring (Hamish Hamilton, 2019): 196.

ambiguous :
Ursula K. Le Guin uses this word in The Dispossessed, as she writes, “There was a wall. It did not look important. It was built of uncut rocks roughly mortared. An adult could look right over it, and even a child could climb it. Where it crossed the roadway, instead of having a gate it degenerated into mere geometry, a line, an idea of boundary. But the idea was real. It was important. For seven generations there had been nothing in the world more important than that wall.

Like all walls it was ambiguous, two-faced. What was inside it and what was outside it depended upon which side of it you were on.”
              from Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed (New York: Avon Books, 1974): 1.

obscuring its complexity :
Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson write, “Fog and dirt, violence and magic have surrounded the tracing and institution of borders since late antiquity. Sources from around the world tell us wonderful and frightening stories about the tracing of demarcation lines between the sacred and the profane, good and evil, private and public, inside and outside. From the liminal experiences of ritual societies to the delimitation of land as private property, from the fratricide of Remus by Romulus at the mythological foundation of Rome to the expansion of the imperial lines, these stories speak of the productive power of the border—of the strategic role it plays in the fabrication of the world. They also convey, in a glimpse, an idea of the deep heterogeneity of the semantic field of the border, of its complex symbolic and material implications. The modern cartographical representation and institutional arrangement of the border as a line—first in Europe and then globalized through the whirlwind of colonialism, imperialism, and anticolonial struggles—has somehow obscured this complexity and led us to consider the border as literally marginal. Today, we are witnessing a deep change in this regard. As many scholars have noted, the border has inscribed itself at the center of contemporary experience. We are confronted not only with a multiplication of different types of borders but also with the reemergence of the deep heterogeneity of the semantic field of the border. Symbolic, linguistic, cultural, and urban boundaries are no longer articulated in fixed ways by the geopolitical border. Rather, they overlap, connect, and disconnect in often unpredictable ways, contributing to shaping new forms of domination and exploitation.”

from Sandro Mezzadra and Brett Neilson, Border as Method (London: Duke University Press, 2013), vii.

the skin of the earth
seamless :
Gloria Anzaldua writes in Borderlands, “But the skin of the earth is seamless.

The sea cannot be fenced,
el mar does not stop at borders.”
              from Gloria Anzaldua, Borderlands(San Francisco: Spinters / Aunt Lute Book Company, 1987): 3.

seamless :
This word can speak to the reduction of complexity, rendering difference / mess / uncertainty invisible, yet it can also speak to a celebration of complexity, the removal of artificial lines and the exposure of difference / mess / uncertainty. In this way, this word finds a way to both include and exclude, celebrate and reduce, open up and close out - like all language, it is uncertain, unfixed and in motion.

travelling through television screens
the earth landed on the moon
the footprints crisp and cold
the flag marking
red, white and blue
digging into the lunar soil
power signaled back through television static

the rocky landscape
an imprecise distance of 384,400km
in motion
held still

the following year, 1970

brazil defeated italy 4-1 to win the fifa world cup

fiji gained independence from british colonial rule

the first boeing 747 commercial flight took off from new york towards london
sprayed, instead of champagne, with red, white and blue water

a surrender paper ended the nigerian-biafran war

the first earth day was celebrated in the united states

the tazara railway, connecting tanzania and zambia, was financed by china

a solar eclipse was visible across mexico and the southeast coast of the united states

450 civilians were killed in a week in saigon, now ho chi minh city, vietnam

japan launched its first satellite
its own metal moon

the first detention centre in the uk was built, harmondsworth immigration removal centre

developer harry hyams built apollo house and lunar house in croydon, london

now 2019
lunar house belongs to the home office
uk visas and immigration
criminal casework
immigration enforcement
under one roof
40 wellesley road, cr9 2by

the site of the enactment of
uk immigration policies
where the border is

i am writing this on my phone as i stand outside lunar house
grey clouds
watching and observing the movements outside the building
feeling uncomfortable in the exposed space
the building looking down
feeling cold in the wind
rushing round the building’s corners
walking to a nearby bus stop
adding to my distance from the building
feeling watched as i write
security guards simultaneously bold and invisible at the doors
the left door for asylum screenings
the line continually growing inside the raised pavement
a step down and movements are fast
rushing by
a step up and
the guards opening the door just enough to check the papers
directing to the back of the line
and closing the door before the wind has a chance to elbow its way through
the right door for premium visa appointments
no line just a swift opening and closing of the door
feeling conscious of my presence
standing on the edge and watching
typing down what i can see
trying to understand the building
my legs getting cold under the skirt of the bus stop
wind whistling
working together
the building shaping
its contours
its edges
its speed
wanting to walk away
being able to

lunar house

travelling through the old french lunaire
pertaining to the moon,
the middle irish luan
meaning light, moon,
growing from the proto-indo-european leuk
meaning light, brightness
like to illuminate

a house as a shelter
coming from old english hus,
connecting to the old english hydan,
travelling from west germanic hudjan,
and growing from the proto-indo-european keudh
meaning to hide, conceal,
like the proto-indo-european skeu
meaning to cover
like the sky
like your cuticle
like the gothic skuggwa, meaning mirror
like sanskrit kostha, meaning enclosing wall

the naming of lunar house was to celebrate our steps on the moon
to celebrate space travel
the wonder of the universe
exploring the unknown
pushing boundaries
crossing borders
questioning the limits of human possibility
but also
a race for power
and control
the demarcation of territory
the claiming of land
the understanding of space as a contested terrain

travelling through time
the flag caught in the absence of wind
the heavens have become a part of man’s world
he said
the image static as time passes through it
power negotiated

this body of rock
simultaneously distant and close
intimate and mysterious
yet full of dreams
capturing light
keeping us company

we look up to look back
imagining our own image
reflecting in the eye of the other

this imagined reflection
becoming real
with an image beeped back
7 december 1972, 5:39am eastern standard time
through space
showing us
a blue marble
floating in darkness
the ultimate aerial view
a triumph over matter

an extended
capturing from above
looking over and holding still
shifting how we trace our own image
our understanding of ourselves
our ways of mapping
our surface
our control over it
our position on it
an inverted astronomy

we have always been intrigued
by what
the bird
the sky
the moon
can see of us
an imagined view of domination
looking down on the earth from above

a fascination
starting with
a lost map
tracing the bird’s eye
an attempt at capture
impressed into clay
in the ruins of babylon

star gazing
in search of longitude
teams of astronomers
time keepers
using the sky
to trace the earth
the soil
and measuring time
with the ship’s instability
to make order out of the shifting sea
triangulation by triangulation
a geometric grid
over the body of the earth
the alignment of map and power proceeded

mapping is
mapping is drawing directions, our house and a line, arrows at corners
mapping is blue tack, lumped in the corners of scotland, hanging on the wall, tracing our planned route, then after, tracing our memories
mapping is my dad printing pages from google maps, each a tile of a bigger territory, printed in order, flipping between them as the roads twist and turn, the order disrupted by a wrong turning, leafing back along the roads to find the right page
mapping is the world, a lost conversation, lying in bed and looking up, imagining the places to go, locating the abstract
mapping is a frantic glance up from the phone, trying to calm you in the driving seat next to me, going round the roundabout again
mapping is having it in my head, a confident stride, holding it together
mapping is sleeping in the car, knowing that you know
mapping is dreaming through google earth, the pattern of endless roads in an unknown city
mapping is an enchantment with the view from above
mapping is automatic, through my phone and out the other side
mapping is connecting me to you
mapping is distancing, allowing me to step away from you, on paper and out of reality
mapping is trying to understand
mapping is emotional
mapping is contradictory

with an affinity for
seeing, knowing, holding
the fields, oceans, mountains
with pen and paper

an alliance to
outline, define, demarcate, exclude, control
projecting to an imagined spatial future
and recreating reality
to its image
a ritual to convert into property
to measure, map and register

as a tool

to map
is to border
the processes inevitably entwined in each other

they say
the maps grew borders
a fixed imaginary line constructed through measurement

to lay claim
the ease of dividing land
the pencil gliding over paper
tracing the contours of the soil
smoothing out and carving through
the soil unconscious of the pencil
yet shifting, reshaped
moulded anew
lost in its reflection
mistaking itself
confusing itself
with the paper

the imagined bird’s eye
moon’s eye
a vantage point
a position of power
a tool of distancing

moon’s eye
in the detached
snapshots from above
from metal moons in orbit
their prosthetic eye
mapping the ground below
simultaneously distancing and connecting
producing a totalising view from above
an expanded image

the brutality
the beauty
the seduction
of the images
with an illusion of neutrality
of globalisation
with the ability to shrink time and distance
for some
a control
a promise of multiplicity and a reality of singularity

the seduction
like the glimpses in plane windows
trying to peer round the eager child
to catch the
plan view
of the world still

the seduction
at my finger tips
scrolling through google earth
clicking in and out
the ease of
soaring over landscapes

under control

sitting hunched over
between scales
the deep greens
the greys of houses
lines repeating
the red pinpoint
anchoring the landscape

lunar house
from above

a small t shape
the perspective warped

studying the shape through my computer screen
then glancing up as the train pulls in
to recognise the building
its windows
against the sky

i look out
now standing at the feet of lunar house
it’s cold and windy
and i am trying to get the right angle to see the top of the building

the building requires a tilt in the neck

i try to count the floors
but get lost on my way up

the buildings around it feel low
looking up to it
an irrational feeling as I look at some of the buildings
their reality towering above lunar house
but it is a feeling that sticks with me
as if the whole area is conscious of being surveyed by invisible guards
silently watching

once home
returning to the google earth view
inverting the angle
a cleanliness
a simplicity
holding still

even google earth
can’t hold it all
like the countless blurry images on my phone
trying to capture the moon
the earth
eludes the hold of the image
it remains
its own

the elusion exposed
in subtle cracks
of the patchwork moon
unable to hold the whole surface still
the rocky terrain
in hidden moments
is creased with satellite images
folded over each other
distorting and twisting the surface
leaving digital slices
the illusion of control
for a moment
and then it returns
to the soft glaze
over the invisibly uneven surface

yet this elusion is rendered invisible
under the surface
of the seamless images of the earth
the illusion consistent
each pixel exported
to a high definition

a movement of calm

constructing order
over the trembling land

an image of reassurance
as we try to control
and define
the moving world

google earth acts as a mirror to our other
forms on the earth

measuring the soil
the movement of time

as we measure, we name, we catalogue, we define, we list, we hold
our plants, our planets, our people, our borders
the numbers growing
1,064,035, 4,374, 803, 26,000

with clocks, calendars, rulers, thermometers, timers, barometers, compasses, scales, tape measures, metronomes
our tools growing
to find ever more accurate ways to measure
to order
to understand
to name

to hold still

the construct of control
of stability
a way to console
to calm

the earth itself
is uncertain, unreliable, unstable
but the enduring, the reliable
is a promise made by the human mind

a comfort in control
a pause
a reflection
i critique outwards and find a mirror to myself
an internal wrinkle
feeling it under the skin
in the body
i get lost

after a moment
i resurface
out of my body
and onto the land

i try to understand
moving around
turning my head to get a better angle

the land i find myself on
its borders

i retreat into my home, my pyjamas, the comfort of thick socks, the sun slowly setting, settling into the darkness, a glance up at the watching moon and I venture out along the border through the safety of a word document

endlessly trying to read the immigration acts
getting lost in the words
the order of sections

the text a map of sorts
defining, outlining

legislation conjuring the border into being
an attempt at fixity
trying to pin down the earth, the soil, the people

i venture out again
this time protected by google earth
past lunar house
and out to another version of the border
the sea

imagined as a clean line
the bodies of land and sea touching but distinct
the image is quickly disrupted

instead the land
the border
is porous
water weaving through
tentacles entwining with the land

entranced with the image
i leave my word document and google earth behind
and travel out to stand
feet planted
in the mud
at the edge where earth touches ocean

my feet slowly sinking into the space between geographic bodies
the mud a space of translation and transition
between water and land

standing here
my body scaled beside the geographic one
looking out to the water
my neck slowly going red under the sun
my skin blushing as i gaze out
at the amorphous shifting body separating
this territory from that

where does it start?
a body with endless beginnings

there is just so much sky here
says a voice on the wind
the heavens open up to the sea
the water in quiet communication with the moon
pulsing ripples
as sea slowly approaches land

the water
a temporal body
where borders are difficult to trace, to grasp, to see
it confounds attempts at fixity

looking down at my feet
the geographic border appears a naïve one
at times
the type you might colour in as a child
but that doesn’t quite encompass
its hidden complexities
seeping in and around corners
and yet still a physical reality
the waves
dividing you from me

stepping over stones
a transient material of this geographic line
as the gentle waves slowly approach
i slip a few into my pocket

rummaging in its depths
laying them on the kitchen table
as we crouch over them
trying to work out their names

i place them next to photos of lunar house
its concrete, bricks, glass with aluminium edges
two constructions of the border
lying next to each other

i look up
returning to the waves again
my feet in the mud
my eyes blinking against the sun

the salty air
catches in my throat

as I think of the waves
their inhales and exhales
becoming border
their shifting nature
their expansions and contractions
employed to
rendering people invisible in the water
turning the sea into an unwilling killer

i stand at the edge of this body
discarded barricades pile up in a hidden corner
no barbed wire here
no fence of steel
no camera
wiping the sea spit off its eye
just the sea
and the words
weaving a web with the water to stop the other from passing
no barricade needed
the water and the words are enough

as people are turned into numbers
we distance
we other
we border

we decide who is we

we construct illegality
to protect our borders
we question your authenticity

words circling
creating the image
of the other


creating boundaries and barriers of its own
constructing the border

language is also a place of struggle
enacting its own kind of violence

a hostility
open and explicit
the language of the hostile environment
creating and permeating a sense of fear
its language inherently violent
becoming normalised

the border seeping inwards
away from the sea
across the undulating land
into hospitals, schools, homes, banks, businesses, universities
we practice/perform the border

practiced/performed by people
the machine
the border
working because humans make it work
and humans let it work

i stand waiting outside lunar house
this time with the intention of going inside
she meets me just in front of the rotating doors
and we enter

i show my passport and am given a red lanyard
escorted visitor
printed in bold

we go up in the lift
each floor the same
toilets to the right
office to the left
each with a corridor we couldn’t go down

the offices are open plan
computers stacked on books so necks are at the perfect angle
flexible desk sharing
4,200 people in this building
we read that its just been refurbished under the smarter working programme

we sit down in a small room
just big enough for the two of us
the wall a deep purple
strangely sketched with lines of past conversations
drawings and words rubbed off the wall but never fully gone

we look out the window together
the plastic blinds
twisted and trapped between two panes of glass
the windows don’t open she told me

we talk about the building
her thoughts
my thoughts

we leave our small cubicle and walk back to the lift
and up
all the way to the top
as we walk out along the corridor
a man in a high vis jacket
a tired smile
pushes a trolley of milk past us
unusually large bottles
green top

we turn the corner and enter the canteen
branded the sky kitchen
it’s a thursday so the menu
stuck up on the wall
is chicken curry, basmati rice and side
vegetable pasta bake served with garlic bread and side salad
carrot cake
please note that menu items are subject to change

i look past the menu and out to the view
over london
i can see canary wharf in one direction
the shard in another
houses trace lines through patches of green
a parking lot
its roof empty
apart from a few cars neatly tucked inside yellow boxes

we wonder at the piles of rubbish on the roof opposite
we look down
the view entrancing
seeing from above

back at home i look out at the windows across the street
two flags hang as curtains
a british one on the left and an english one on the right
the blue light from the television seeping through

the flag
the nation
an attempt at
protecting, shielding, dividing
finding strength in control

yet an inevitable fragility
the fabric following the
twists of the wind
fluttering in the breeze

the nation
like language
always in transience, always unfinished

the idea of home
of belonging
its borders in constant flux

home as warmth
home as comfort
home as a piece of earth wrapped in cellophane
carried in your pocket

in an attempt at fixity
to not get lost

home as possession
mine, yours, theirs
possession of
ownership over
the earth, the land, the soil

a process
the elasticity of territory
made and remade, shaped and shaping, active and reactive

a continual process
of bordering
of keeping out and allowing in
of hostility and hospitality
the lines between the two blurred
twisted with projections of power

inclusion existing in a continuum with exclusion
the border
more than a site of double possibility
its lines confused


lost in the clean pencil on paper
obscuring its complexity

i return to the image from above
from the moon
the blue marble
the clean lines invisible
the mess of greens and browns and blues
the skin of the earth
all flowing
the complexity exposed

i look up again to try to imagine what the sky
the moon
is seeing as it looks down at us

i / we gaze out to space
to find a way back to ourselves
to try and understand
to decode
lost in our own reflection