Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Culture
8 February 2017updated 24 Feb 2017 1:34pm

Hutton’s Unconformity, Siccar Point, Berwickshire, Scotland

“The day feels infinitely long. We’ve come here / for this.”

By Tarn macarthur

The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking
so far back into the abyss of time . . .
— John Playfair

The day feels infinitely long. We’ve come here
for this. To give a greater sense to our finite
moments through glimpsing an abstract mass
of rock. Past the Brittonic dun and ancient
parish chapel falling beyond its second half-life
to a place we’d surely miss but for its present
historical significance. It’s where history begins.
Or, rather, where giddy minds are left to plumb
their deeper misconceptions of deep time.
Either way, the here-and-now proves irrefutably
selfie-worthy. And so we stare into the screen
for a brief stay against mortality. That other
timeline we update with catastrophic regularity.
We’ll be scrolling to this point our whole lives.

Tarn MacArthur lives in Edinburgh and is at work on his first collection of poetry. He was previously the Walter and Nancy Kidd Fellow in Creative Writing at the University of Oregon.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. A weekly newsletter helping you fit together the pieces of the global economic slowdown. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
“I learn something new on every trip"
How data can help revive our high streets in the age of online shopping
Why digital inclusion is a vital piece of levelling up

This article appears in the 01 Feb 2017 issue of the New Statesman, American carnage