Wednesday, May 03, 2006

'The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace in a continual state of alarm (and hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing them with an endless series of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.'

Henry Louis Mencken
'History would be so much simpler if you could just write it.
Without ever having to let it happen.'

Kenneth Rexroth from 'Another Early Morning Exercise' (1934/36)

You open your
Dress on the dusty
Bed where no one
Has slept for years
An owl moans on the roof
You say
My dear my
In the smoky light of the old
Oil lamp your shoulders
Belly breasts buttocks
Are all like peach blossoms
Huge stars far away far apart
Outside the cracked window pane
Immense immortal animals
Each one only an eye
You open your body
No end to the night
No end to the forest
House abandoned for a lifetime
In the forest in the night
No one will ever come
To the house
In the black world
In the country of eyes

Kenneth Rexroth
The Wind Howled Against the Window (Micropsia)

The wind howled against the window and the building swayed. The pubs came out and people shouted and laughed for a while then just wind and bits of rain.
Smell of old pillow and musty sheets. Warm and safe and wide awake. Creaking’s and groaning’s and distant clicking’s. Arguing voices and always wind and spitting rain and the world recedes. I’m looking down a tunnel at my room. Being sucked away by a dream, except this isn’t a dream. This is real.
But this has happened before and I’m not scared of it anymore. I can make the room get bigger and smaller. And there is a light, a golden hazy light like summer sun through curtains. I go down the tunnel with my eyes, but maybe I’m dreaming now. Everything goes gigantic.
Last night I walked in my sleep, screaming something about a sixpence. I fainted on the stairs. But I think I put it on a little, like falling downstairs in slow motion to get off school or holding your breath till you die.
Under the covers. Click. Whirr. My brother turns in his sleep. Or does he pretend to?
I sneak downstairs and listen at the door, I know which stairs make noise. I know how to move in the dark in the house. Without touching the floor. I’m under their beds and they are holding their breath.
Fucking Little Dots
Fucking little dots everywhere, I don’t know why
There was this field right, it was fuckin’ endless, freshly ploughed and really difficult to get across, sometimes it hurt so much, lying out in back of the farm shitting kidney stones, my sister right, she used to come on to me all the time, the combine harvester, it really fucked me up what happened up in the back hill, the horses, I’m so sorry, he sees you, does he stop, does he fuck, sometimes the wet clay, it’s like it hates you, there’s no fucking story anymore, not here, in the far stable there’s this knackered old mare, she shits blood, my dad, he says she doesn’t mind, in the country there’s always lots to be getting on with, yesterday I helped dad do the chickens, one of the bastards nearly had my eye out, in school they tell me to wipe the shit off my trousers, maybe I should do it soon, the thing

Transform Yourselves
Living Philosophical Stones!

“These people [artists] have the appearance of being idealists, and show themselves capable of self-sacrifice. But on closer scrutiny they will be found to consider enhancement of their sensuous feeling of pleasure of prime importance. Many artistic natures, and those who devote themselves to scientific activity because it pleases them, belong here. What chains them to the physical world is the belief that art and knowledge exist for the sake of such pleasure.”
Tom Weir ‘The Joy’s and Enigma’s of a Strange Hour’

“Now here’s another angle for you young art hustlers: There is an explosive known as ammonium iodide made by pouring ammonia over iodide crystals or mixing it with tincture for brush work. This compound when it dries is so sensitive that a fly will explode it. I remember how I used to while away the long 1930’s afternoons with sugar sprinkled around little heaps of ammonium iodide waiting for the flies to explode in little puffs of purple vapour…”
Tom Weir ‘At the Centre of the Earth’

“Jesus once saw a dead dog lying in the road. He stopped and looked at the animal. But his disciples turned away in disgust at the sight, and went on. Then Jesus said: What beautiful teeth the animal has!”
Tom Weir ‘The Joy’s and Enigma’s of a Strange Hour’

“All that is Transitory is but a Simile” Weir



Look at these shit-stained little galleries hawking their sorry, platitudinous wares, the posher ones helmed by an interchangeable svelte and icy blonde (dominatrix manqué). Elsewhere sleek-suited art drones patrol the isles failing to find victims, Scotland’s famous parochialism putting paid to their efforts. Professional characters engage each other in conversation in a desperate attempt to stave off the awful reality of the situation. The ‘EXTENSION’ section is full of the terminally ghettoised, gimlet-eyed for the main chance while still attempting to somehow stand aloof from mere commerce.

Once we had sucked the life from the scene in Glasgow we moved south to Newcastle-upon-Tyne which was ripe for it. We left nothing but a dry husk, buzzing emptily with all our talk about ‘relational’ art and a few local art managers imagining that something had actually happened there.

Tiny art girls fluttered around me, trying to catch my attention, but I was too busy checking the Dow Jones on my wristphone while simultaneously flirting with an up and coming young curator, who was in turn chatting to an acolyte whilst trying desperately to listen to a conversation taking place between a well-known American collector and a local arts mandarin. Meanwhile (…) was being complemented by all and sundry on his radical new direction vis-à-vis the life-sized mock-up of Camp Delta situated at Morcambe Bay in Lancashire with inmates recruited through the good offices of Working Links – Liverpool.

NOTES TOWARDS A CAREER IN ART -– be unusual. sneer at stuff. sleep around. pour scorn. believe in yourself. become conversant with theory. join in. keep abreast of fashion. be slim. appear knowledgeable. fear proles. swallow your pride. be minimal. do the unexpected. never deviate. be outrageous but never impolite. be middle-class. swear. appear out of nowhere. take drugs. reveal yourself. be cool. use people. never underestimate the opposition. go wild. have sex. have children. choose your friends carefully. take notes. be enigmatic. write reviews. talk the talk. walk the walk. never say die. fuck your friends over. get a dog. choose alienation. avoid fuck-ups. be rude. cross over. plagiarise. really try. suffer. be boring. look to the past. ignore your conscience. cultivate your psychoses. ignore personal hygiene. do the do. have a problem. appear classless. make them listen. find your niche. browbeat the weak. watch your back. get religion. dabble in the occult. don’t sweat the small stuff. eat your greens. transform yourselves into living philosophical stones. be aristocratic. be autocratic. dress for success. become androgynous. hunt in pairs. lose weight. gain weight. be working-class. form a band. appear on television. be cruel to be kind. never take no for an answer. never smile. smell nice.

There is the faint (but growing) possibility that some of us alive today will be able to extend our life spans exponentially. If the promise of nanotechnology is fulfilled we may all get to live forever, endlessly retuned by swarms of microscopic engines. What would this do to the creative impulse? Would it wither or blossom? I like to imagine that the wilder forms of utopian project would then be realised in full and that everybody’s secret dream of a leisurely yet stimulating hedonism will finally be achieved. Maybe Charles Fourier’s bizarre but beguiling phalansteries, sailing forever on their seas of lemonade, will have their place, or Hakim Bey’s carnivalesque temporary autonomous zones will become static and widespread? Or those perma-tanned vanguardist’s the SSP might finally realise their dream of a Scottish Socialist Republic (although I have the sneaking suspicion that they will still expect us all to toil our lives away, the promised land being always just beyond the next five year plan)? Perhaps a Groucho-Marxist Revolution will sweep the Earth, consigning reality (and seriousness) to the dustbin of history forever? Art life could be similarly overhauled – creative play becoming integral to the way we live our lives and therefore negating the need for the whole paraphernalia of ‘careers’, ‘success’ and (god fucking help us) ‘professionalism’? Art life becoming real life and vice versa. Would anyone lament the former state of affairs?
Will Scotland (never mind Scottish art) even exist in 200 years time? In all likelihood, as sea levels rise, it will have been abandoned and left to the gulls like St Kilda (but with less kudos). Perhaps a few stubborn souls will cling on, riding out the wild weather in The Caledonian Archipelago (as it will come to be known). But they will not be Scottish. At least not in the way we understand that benighted state. Perhaps some weird, baroque forms of nationalism will still exist, but most likely we will either be indentured worker bees in some clapped-out dystopian state (ho ho), or inhabit discrete, ideologically pure/warped enclaves – strange hybrids of past utopian dreaming. According to futurologists there may be many little Cuba’s, many Micro-Babylons, each and every half-deranged bunch of ideological fruitcakes grabbing their chance at glory, the more obscure and impossible to realise their programme is the better. Anyway, everything will change forever come ‘Timewave Zero’ (or ‘The Singularity’, ‘The Dataclysm’ etc) at 11.11am on December 21st 2012, as the noonday Sun exactly conjuncts the crossing point of the Sun's ecliptic with the galactic plane, while also closely conjuncting the exact centre of the galaxy and time stops as humanity accelerates (at warp speed) into some notional utopian elsewhere.
"I was utterly alone with the sun and the earth. Lying down in the grass. I spoke in my soul to the earth, the sun , the air, and the distant sea far beyond sight. I went there every morning, I could not exactly define why... Later on I began to have daily pilgrimages to think these things. There was a feeling that I must go somewhere, and be alone... After the sensuous enjoyment always came the thought, the desire: that I might be like this; that I might have the inner meaning of the sun, the light, the earth, the tree's and the grass, translated into some growth of excellence in myself, both of body and of mind and soul: that I might be higher in myself."

from 'The Story of my Heart' Richard Jeffries.

Makes my want to go camping!

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