Glossary for the Fragmented (Part IV)

Gary Hartley
4 min readSep 13, 2023

Note for users: None of this should be taken as read. Cross out any sentences you don’t like. Use margins for insults. Previous parts can be found here here and here.


We lie on the proceeds of coastal erosion and flick the pages of a half-baked novel as some kind of idea of a good time. The hotel will flit down the dunes to enjoy the lick of the surf and the extinction of a façade of oneness within a few decades, biding its time with great patience. The staff on the desk feel the erosion of their culture in favour of something more blandly appropriate for the mass market. Everything grinding into pieces to the will of it, to the will of us. Call it a contest. In general we don’t welcome small particles in our soft crevices, but exceptions can be made. The tantalising potential to melt it all down to make stained-glass windows displaying the philosophy of Live Laugh Love amidst a pleasing pastoral scene and some sense of the omnipotent. Try not to lay it on so heavy as the old days, it makes people uncomfortable or defensive.



Every time you fall there is at least part the brain telling you that this is how you die. It will even chip in with this information in subconscious times, as you lurch in dreams. There is some logic in this intervention, but it’s pretty useless if you happen to be falling through the air rather than tripping over your laces. The interconnected synapses sincerely demand the flailing off of skin to make makeshift, glide-ready para-wings, and make it snappy. Many say that pride comes before a fall, which is flagrant not-always-truism, though I was quite proud of myself before a recent fall, after scaling to the top of cliff with the intention of leaping into a deep spot in a river. Go, me. The whole human mortality process is a series of solid falls with some more transient numbers, love being the main example there. Love is one of those falls where the vast majority get back up again, dusting themselves down with an air of faint embarrassment. It ok, really, it’s ok. Normal stuff. Better view of the stars from that section of gutter, anyway.



It is unnecessary to run the exact numbers to know that there has been more public discourse about football than all the great philosophers combined. So why must it continue, given the endless list of bigger concerns? Because football serves as a timeless companion, and nobody talks about that. To be a fan of the game is to seamlessly link past and future, via a barely-pausing present of game after game. When chaos reigns all around, it is your compass and vehicle, a reassuring pat on the shoulder. It would be too much to call it a friend; it is too fickle in nature, too committed to disappointing at the crucial moment. Manageable, placed disappointment, though, serves as yet more reassurance, as opposed to the amorphous disappointments surrounding us in a medieval siege. There is more to throw in its defence: an appreciation of the game can, in most cultures at least, earn a pass that entitles you to reduced bullying in a high school environment. And more: it can foster a curiosity in some that reaches out to the exotic other and asks “what is Tbilisi like?” or “what’s Beitar Jerusalem’s problem, anyway?” — filling in the gaps that mainstream education doesn’t touch, with an evening class you don’t know you’re taking.



The ultimate, actually-existing secretive global network gets merely a percent of a percent of the press the made-up ones get. It’s evasive, sure, less fitting to binary arguments. The moment you think this is a conspiracy you might understand is the moment you are wrong, and we do not like to be either wrong or perceived as so. A bunch of off-white filamentous — stuff — branching and branching beneath our feet, in and around everything that decays seems like it could be something more tangible than cloud servers and identity thieves lurking in 0s and 1s, but the modes of the communication employed by the latter are at least known, should you understand the jargon and subtext. The cabal of fungus is not giving away its code without immense energy investments. Gaze at the mushrooms, the occasionally-issued diplomatic envoys of fungi to the world above. Eat them if safe, but don’t expect them to give you a lecture on fungi more generally. Spores will drop and disperse before you’ve learned a thing. What beautiful afterthoughts, these throw-away haikus as a means to get laid.




Gary Hartley

Writer of different things. Come for the insects, stay for the odd literary works, or vice versa. @garyfromleeds