Saturday, 28 May 2011

Let's Pretend

Let's pretend that this situation is no fixed point at all, that we can dissolve the determinate with wild thought.

The spirits shut in stone and birdflesh and red dying leaves and the tenderness of worms are bound by our all too regular imaginations. Let's pretend we can let them loose, attending to them by name, loving each thing in its communicable, inexhaustible, useless beauty.

The Flame shows on the praying tongue; the Magic is in our getting lost and singing still.

The City bright with gold leaf and bejewelled with ecstatic beetles crawling for God.

The New Thing: a scorn for category and death.

[A memory: the fag between stained fingers a sword; dark coffee writes out the will on thick white carpet.

Truth is Mayhem here and here it is: the stain on pristine expectations ad majorem dei gloriam.]

Sonnet 001

All the pictures of the World have shown
Our falling not from Heaven but from Here
Down toward the white bone dust of Fact.
Our ghosts flung to the slow dark with their pain,
Their painted pasts, risked loves, their quiddity,
Will haunt the City where we learnt to walk
With measured steps and reasonable smiles.

One day, they will infuse the dust again
And make it flesh and give this to the dance
And you and I will swing each other round
All wild and holding on with laughter’s weight
We’ll come to know our hearts as endless flame.
Meeting with each other here in Truth
The hidden names we’ll voice in ecstasy.

Thursday, 26 May 2011

Where The Wild Things Are

I've been interested for quite some time in the Primitivist movement. The idea that there is some residuum of authentic being waiting to be recovered is compelling, if misguided; that whole "Into The Wild" schtick played out by badly dressed, earnest young men. While we should see the saintliness in all this, we should also take note of the evasion that sets such lives apart and the ugly hunger for purity that more dangerous minds have made use of. We live among the ruins and the ruins are where we make love, talk, hurt each other, imagine, labour unthinkingly, sing songs, type out our messages and dream. There's plenty of people in the marketplace trading in authenticity and little room for any more. Let's learn their spiel so we can properly unnerve them. Let's also acknowledge that truth shows up clearest in struggle.

And yet many of us ache for that simplicity; cut from the thrall of our created wants we can get up to all kinds of jiggeryfuckery, be big children and chatter in ecstasy, keeping the auditors from the door.

One of the more eloquent figures in the movement is John Zerzan. He considers even mathematics a mutilation of our humanity. For a time, he had a correspondence going with the Unabomber: a proper loon, then. I wish for more of his like. The reasonable voices leave me cold.

Keeping house is for small souls.

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Making things

I've been doing alot of drawing with pen and wash, lots of odd, scratchy pictures that come from God knows where. I studied painting at school but left it behind to do proper things. I had forgotten the joy in the mess of making, laying claim to some disinterred intention in the accidental.

I always wanted to have a go with this media. I think it's to do with a book I had as a child, illustrated by Edward Ardizzione (look him up if you've never come across him). I don't know why it took me so long to use it. I love the way the wash bleeds and the pressure of the hand is faintly discernible in the steadiest of lines. This is the body fucking with white space.

This is all part of a great recovery; the past I shut away. I want to do things without purpose now that are frail, absurd and full of joy. Spending your life in thrall to some notion of the purity of social function is boring.

Monday, 9 May 2011

The Long Day Closes by Terence Davies

British film in the public imagination usually means one of two things: that shark's grin on a stick, Keira Knightley, trolling about in period costume or "real lives" framed and given over to the pity and condescension of a paying audience.

Then there's Terence Davies.

Davies makes everything beautiful and alive. The early sight of a dark, unpeopled street with rain and music falling  was a remarkable way in. "She moved through the fair" sung softly as the boy sits in silence on his mother's lap; the light passing across a faded carpet that looks like a sea of grass; smoke rising from cigarettes in the cinema seamlessly shifting to the congregants at mass:  all these scenes, quietly and plainly shown, become vehicles for the viscera of love, the wanting of beauty and the ache for memory. He has the quietness of childhood framed here: still moments in which the meaning hidden in surfaces and light and ordinary conversation bears on us. The boy in tears in the coal cellar toward the end of the film stays with me as a shewing of a loneliness that can only just be born.

Davies' allegiance is to the truth rather than any notion of reality. He's in the world but not of it. While there is much to admire and align with in the political will of directors like Ken Loach, there's little beauty and nothing of the fabular magic that you find in The Long Day Closes. Davies knows that we have to tell each other stories, sing to each other, lose ourselves in other people's dreams and make them our own. Socialism without a place for these things is dead.

Loach and his like lift the cover on a great forgetting and this matters. But it's other things that keep returning to me - primal scenes rising slowly to the surface. I can never rid myself of the image first seen at the age of eight of Kathleen Byron corroding Deborah Kerr's ego with her eyes in Black Narcissus. Or Kenneth More's face worn with guilt as he listens to the desperate cries of his crew in The Cruel Sea.

The best films haunt us for a long time.

Thursday, 5 May 2011

The League of Automatic Music Composers 1978- 1983, New World Records, 2007

I came across the CD at Birmingham Central Library knowing little about this collective. This is a record of a sustained collaboration between a number of programmers and a set of primitive PCs. While there is live intervention from John Bischoff, Jim Horton, David Berman et al, what matters is the interplay; the responses and realignments playing out between human and automatic subjects. Early audio and processing tech is stripped down and fucked about with. Three creatures, blithe enemies of fashion, sit around a table, pressing a key here, shifting wiring there, letting the network do its stuff. They are lithe and lovely beasts all put together wrong.

There is pattern; they seem to lean into it and then shrink back in revulsion. But something in the circuitry (that of the boys and the machinery) yearns to retread steps. there's repetition, but no playback. If you're after such things, you can find the comforts of the accidental; an unshaped future to play in and set against the promises yet to be broken or broken again.

This is a work of play: they're kicking the human subject off the throne - not for the sake of liberty but of laughter. Tonalities are plain and just and bright as the nursery walls. A childish delight often shows through. When you come to a track titled "Martian Folk Music", inbred aliens crawl into your skull and pluck at the synapses.

The music gave me a great deal of joy. And it is music; we should name it as such, with recognisable tonalities and something like rhythmn here and there. Calling this noise is to leave from the scene with cheap excuses.

This is music in so far as it's at odds with waged time, in its ludic insistence and unnecessary magic.The computers are singing and the League sings with them.