(Peter Culley point’d out the photograph and “The complete works of W. N. P. Barbellion (1889-1919)” here.)Cold. Skittish in headband for the bicycle skitter in. Barbellion’s got moments of existential naught worthy of Sartre. Here, (March 8th, 1915):
On the top of an empty omnibus to-day I cast my eye for a second at a little heap of dirty used-up ’bus tickets collected by chance up in one corner. The sight of them unnerved me. For a moment I felt almost physically sick. This feeling was so instantaneous that it was some time later that I discovered the cause of it, when I began to reflect upon all the implications which the little heap of tickets sent ramifying through the eye to the brain—the number of persons, for example, that daily boarded this vehicle, each one bent on his little project, making use of the ’bus, then passing out of it again; the number of miles the ’bus traversed each day, the number of ’buses “honking” through the streets and all this cataract of London life. My nerves throbbed with the ache of it all. In London even the names over the shop windows scuffle and fight with one another and with you as you pass; advertisements on hoardings, walls, windows, scream at you, wheedle you, interrogate, advise, suggest. At all times the ear catches fragments of conversation as the crowds pass along the streets, or the trample of their footsteps as they rush up and down wooden stairways to the trains—both above ground and below ground—a maelstrom of activity.Middle of the Great War, the young carrot-top Pound skulking about, reaping bitterness. Modernism about to forego trying to digest modernity in any “meaningful” way.