INSTANT-fLEX 718 – Reviewed by John Field

From its title, INSTANT-fLEX 718, Phillipson’s collection is both familiar and strange. Photography is heavily evoked: Polaroid manufacture the archetypal instant and Rolleiflex, by contrast, are synonymous with studios. The collection too achieves casual spontaneity and cerebrality.

phillipson instant-flex

It’s a sequence of hyper-wordly photographs. It’s recognisably our world, viewed through a filter of revelation. Take the plate of mash in ‘Heliocentric Cosmology’: ‘Two miniscule but unequal balls of mashed potato / dropped from his mouth onto the mashed potato. / It was like when Galileo dropped balls of the same material // but different masses from the Leaning Tower of Pisa.’ In our day-to-day lives, the Earth’s still flat. The Sun still rises and sets. We know that this is not the case but it cannot stop us from feeling the lie. Through Phillipson’s lens, we’re made to feel the truth.

In ‘German Phenomenology Makes Me Want to Strip and Run through North London,’ Heidegger is ditched: ‘Page seven – I’ve had enough of Being and Time / and of clothing […] I can’t take any more of Heidegger’s Dasein-diction, / I say as I jettison my slippers.’ There’s a ridiculousness here and we’re reminded of The Pythons’ lumber-jacks and Australian philosophers.

Phillipson signs-off with ‘Goodbye. You can take this as my notice’: ‘For too long, I’ve been passing through one of those periods in / which significance is found only in dullness. I don’t know what I / need. I need to get out of these wet leggings and into a dry Martini.’ Phillipson savours the dullness of our little world and we do too.


John Field regularly reviews poetry collections on his website, Poor Rude Lines, and has been described as “a top literary blogger” by poet and editor, Tom Chivers. Read more of his work at

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