A Random Item

None of us understand the
numbers but for a prototype
it’s in excellent condition and
this cuttlefish is a killing machine.

“I’m not a fairground fortune-
teller,” she said. Are the spiteful
critics sharpening their pencils?
“It all starts with the soil,” she

said. How does the alien get on
board? Loose and sloppy or tight
and pristine? “I’m a big fan of the
mellotron,” she said. This is not like

time-travel, it’s more like nostalgia.
Make no mistake it’s about the map.

 

 

Steve Spence

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A Curious Bird

These damsel flies are clearly
in distress and it looks like some-
body left in a hurry. “Everything
is such a blur,” she said. By day

she was an accountant but at
night she was an expert kick-
boxer. Are we thinking about
resettlement? “It’s time to

enjoy some headspace,” he said.
What horrors lie in wait? Our
best chance of seeing one is at
night but it’s wonderful that it’s

not just driven by money. “Is the
black bee back for good,” he said.

 

 

Steve Spence
Picture Nick Victor

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Xmas 2021 New and Old Music

 

Alan Dearling

‘Taking me back’: Official video from the new Jack White album, ‘Fear of the Dawn’ to be released early 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q8IbI626k8Y

‘Tis a dark, thumping, grinding listen. We can only as yet glimpse the whole album. Suggested to be a starker, DiY effort from his Third Man Studio. But it’s darker yet, if you can apply that in any meaningful way to Jack’s output. Yet, as always, Jack is a class act.

 

 

Mick McCoughlin from Dublin:

‘Fuckin’ Homeless’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KaOlfIazWJ8

Mick the Busker has recently fallen into a black hole with another suicide attempt. This is the real shit. Mental health issues, alcoholism, homelessness, suicide. Passion from the Dublin streets. Watch, listen to Mick’s song and his words of wisdom, and think… He’s awesome, legendary… (he was also on X Factor and The Voice). Support him through Bandcamp: https://mickmcloughlinbusker.bandcamp.com/

Burns Unit, live version of the song, ‘Send them kids to war’ from their debut ‘Side Show’ album, released in 2010, featured here from the Jools Holland ‘Later’ show: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WhFJJz-bd2s

This was something of a Scottish/Canadian supergroup and they are hard to pigeon-hole, based on the ‘Side Show’ album, which must be a good thing. They seem to have disappeared into the ether, splitting up amicably in 2012. But some stellar names in their line-up ‘back in the day’:       

Emma Pollock, Future Pilot AKA, Karine Polwart, Kim Edgar, King Creosote, Mattie Foulds, Soom T and Michael Johnston. They were partially reunited on the King Creosote and Michael Johnston album released from Canada in 2016, and entitled, ‘The Bound of the Red Deer’. Soom T is well worth checking out – a Glasgow rapper of Indian origin.

Her latest album is ‘The Arch’. Here’s a video from it. ‘Far from Home’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DCHfwLQnhHI

 

The Blues Against Youth is actually a solo project from an Italian blues singer/guitar player. New album for 2022 is ‘As the Tide Gets high and Low’.  Described as a “…country blues primitive one man experiment”, the singer-songwriter is currently on tour. As an album it has a pleasant freshness throughout the tracks. It feels younger and a tad more punky than many traditional blues offerings. A fair mix of styles, delta blues, mixed with a slightly edgy, gravelly vocal delivery. Picking the blues is evident on ‘Goin’ to East Texas’ and a gruffness of vocal approach slightly reminiscent of Son House/Captain Beefheart on tracks like ‘Blue Muse’. For Gianni Tbay latterly based in Turin, this is his sixth album. He says that it is, “A tribute to the Blues and those that never made it to success.”

He’s very obviously a hard-working, gigging troubadour having been on tour with, and played stages with the likes of Watermelon Slim, CW Stoneking and Bob Wayne. Certainly, his album conjures up images of past giants of country-folk-blues such as Doc Watson, with slight echoes of John Fahey and Davey Graham. I suspect he also still does a fair amount of busking. Website (but it doesn’t appear to be exactly up to date): https://www.thebluesagainstyouth.com

Here’s a recent video that Gianni has posted, but it is not one of the tracks from the new album. It’s much more Johnny Cash: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KOLRFqEm9MY

Unofficial Music Video 2011 by Nanalew a.k.a. Shawna using the USA indie band, AWOLNATION song titled ‘Sail’. It features vlogger, turned actress/singer, Tessa Violet. Possibly the most imaginative ever unofficial music video ever made by two young women with a hose: ‘Sail’ – Awolnation: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JaAWdljhD5o

And from ‘Grinding the Crack’ video – also unofficial, by Sky-jumper, Jeb Corliss: https://www.musictelevision.com/2012/05/awolnation-sail-official-and-unofficial.html

 


Tessa Violet has gone on to become something of a pop icon. A purveyor of poppy, musical popcorn!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNtK6jx9y4A

‘Miss Victory V’. A new album, releasing early in 2022, alternative Indie music from the oblique musical chameleon that is the Mel Outsider Reformation. A curious collision of styles, to my ear, possibly pausing to take a musical nod or two towards many soul, rock, pop icons of the 1970s. These include Joe Cocker, Dire Straits, the Righteous Brothers, even David Bowie and David Byrne. It’s Old Skool music that seems both timeless and stuck in a time warp!

It reminds us of an older, simpler world. Music that makes you smile. Catchy tunes, clearly sung and sometimes snarled lyrics. Songs about everyday life and loves. Mel told me: “The songs are observational snapshots filtered through the mind of a rock star who never was.” Songs of quest and sometimes disillusionment. Plenty of ‘stories’ from life-experiences, for instance: Mel says, “The Lancashire factory girls of yesteryear remind him of working on the fairground Waltzers as a teenager and a lost weekend in Blackpool with crowned beauty pageant winner ‘Miss Victory V’ .”

It’s a good listen – with a real vintage feel to it. A warmly professional record, crammed full with class musicianship. Mel himself has been around the musical block for many years with his original band, The Outsiders. He can change vocal style from a poppy, bouncing balladeer, through metal front-man to art-crooner.  The album’s musical director is bassist, Matt Pawson.  An album lovingly recorded and produced by Mark Jones, who has worked with such luminaries as Patti Smith, Goldfrapp, Tom Jones and Sean Ryder’s Black Grape. Strong backing vocals from Hayley Gaftarnick and Ellie Coast and some fab brass contributions from Andy Morrel. Plenty of ear-worms – and it is almost a Musical Pop Quiz of an album: “Sounds Like?”  Here’s the video for ‘Disley Blonde’: https://youtu.be/TY0alSo_MhQ    And, website page is: https://www.meloutsider.co.uk

 

Slightly risqué: Try it at home (but perhaps not in public), “Touching Yourself!”, whilst listening to Wet Leg: ‘Wet Dream’:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tjpgJjdk52c

Wet Leg – ‘Chaise Longue’ (Green Man Festival Sessions): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8FELWZcmZw

“I went to school…and I got the Big D…”  

“Yeah you, in the front row…Are you coming back stage after the show?…on the chaise longue! All Day Long…”

Fab Garage. Naughty. Infectious. Fancy seeing them live. A two-piece band from the Isle of Wight, featuring Rhian Teasdale and Hester Chambers. They seem to have only released two single tracks as yet on Domino Records. Definitely ‘special’.

An even dodgier version on ‘Later with Jools Holland’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JhrrOSU80-8.

And here’s the latest from Wet Leg – ‘Too Late Now’. Their first album is apparently due for release in April 2022: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UB3PJwPMHzQ

I really think that Frank Zappa would have loved them. They’d have been Perfect Mothers!

Tiny Tim was an enormous hit with the original Isle of Wight Festival crowd. I was there – a consummate Showman. An enormously talented, strange geezer, with a vocal range that was extraordinary. Here, Tiny Tim sings ‘Great Balls of Fire’ at the Hollywood Palace January 4, 1969: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=awj_kv6pb7o

 

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Headlines During Downing St Party

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An Urgent Call to Discover the Light Within

 

‘All events happen only through words.’’ Nisargadatta

What is this gauze that shields eyes and mind from the truth, acting as a visor separating us from reality?

It has been said, there are none so blind as those who cannot see.

The Sufis talk of veils. Is it a coincidence that in the old story, it was the dance of the seven veils that resulted in the beheading of John the Baptist?

Strong symbolism, often missed. How is it that so much is said to be in plain sight, yet hidden from view?

Many of us have asked how we can keep presenting facts about what is behind this world crisis, now indisputable, but keep getting met by a narrative that seems intransigent, often clung to by those society would regard as intelligent?

When the Spanish and Portuguese ships first arrived in the Americas, it is said the native people couldn’t see them. Such is the power of mind.

Belief is primary, a shutter within keeping out all that doesn’t fit with a world view or mind-set (it is no coincidence it always reminds me of concrete).

Point out something that is not in my frame of reference, particularly something that could shake my very security including my identity, and I will reject the incoming information out of hand.

A society can be shunted into mass psychosis by its leaders relatively easily it seems: plant some ideas night after night, galvanise fear, offer protection, put forward a scapegoat, appeal to the sense of renewed belonging and purpose and it’s all but done. Oh yes, and a patented bio-weapon helps!

Like a herd of terrified wildebeest, the group will move together as one, enjoying the safety and camaraderie of their sudden union, and rallying against a common enemy.

That’s exactly what happened to the Jews during World War Two; worryingly, it is happening again now.

Stepping away from the group, being denounced and vilified, offering an alternative story, spending time researching, risking career, family, health and even your life is far less appealing and much more like hard work.

I sometimes wish, particularly when seeing how consistently stupid or ignorant most people are, that I could simply turn away, stick my head in the sand and get on with my business.

But like many others, that is not an option – those of us not under the spell of mass psychosis have a job to do. We must speak up.

In one sense, what we can see is dependent on light. In fact, we could say everything is about light; not the light in the world, but the light of consciousness, the very knowing that is often called God.

It is this light, the Para-atman light, we are being called to awaken within; that takes meditation, self-enquiry practise or devotion.

The world’s madness on the other hand stems from chasing a false light, which has little to do with the light of the soul rather the seduction of the world and the simple implanting of concepts then mistaken for reality.

In the story of Jesus in the wilderness before the onset of his ministry, Satan (Saturn) offers him the world, if only he will bow down.

Christ consciousness however lives beyond this karmic world of action and reaction outside the realm of time and space, world and mind. Once accessed or tasted, the world is neither desired or needed.

It wasn’t too difficult for Jesus to refuse the devil’s snare, even if he was hungry.

We are all on the way to seeing this truth, to making it real, although most are still at a point on their journey when matter is compelling and consciousness shrouded in a darkness that does not permit a keen perception.

This is sometimes called looking down and out rather than inwards and up. And we have to do it until it loses its appeal, fails to fulfil and becomes downright dull.

Just as in Herman Hesse’s eponymous tale Siddhartha, it seems we must reach a point of world weariness before being willing to go within. Life has to lose its lustre.

As they say in the 12-step programme, you have to be sick and tired of being sick and tired. At that point people begin asking, praying or begging for help.

It is then a window opens and divine light can begin to enter to illuminate what previously remained unseen.

We are at a time in history of a massive acceleration in both suffering and the need to get on our knees and shine a torch on the unlit places within; they may have been in darkness for eons.

Many people won’t make the transition and will end up leaving this planet, while others will adapt and awaken, choosing a more enlightened way of being.

This is not easy. First has to come the shock, sometimes known as a rock bottom, then the recognition that those we trusted with our lives have been lying to us – more than that, are actually seeking our destruction.

As Vandana Shiva, a long-time campaigner against globalism, told Russell Brand, this is extermination. She told of 400,000 farmers in India committing suicide after Bill Gates and his cronies banned their seeds, enforcing their own GMO.

It doesn’t matter if they had killed those farmers directly or pushed them into taking their own lives, the result is the same. she said. Their track record in Africa is no better. People are being killed for profit.

And that is what is happening now to all of us whose faces don’t fit, are not stakeholders in the New World Order, or who actively are fighting for our freedom and our sanity.

Most of all, we need the raising of consciousness worldwide not its further dumbing down, as we are seeing now. Is this an easy task? Let me put it this way:

Can you see the light between your eye and its object? Have you even known that light exists or thought about it? That’s what we are talking about.

A revolution in consciousness that starts within, illuminating others. We are all fish just beginning to see the water.

Copyright Simon Heathcote

 

 

 

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Festival Hall

 

A bright green tree, hung with lights and baubles
A sentry on each side of the Philharmonia Orchestra
Music coursing through us, joyful reverie, electric fables
Sixty players, each heart a melody, an individual star 

The Crouch End Festival Chorus, eighty voices glittered
Arrayed beneath the organ pipes, our Christmas sung
Elgar’s Snow heard, snow seen, tiny bright dots garnished
This mighty throng to melt our thoughts into one 

The magnificent organist played Widor in our Festival Hall
Shaking the air, our ears drink the swelling sounds
The first Nowell, O little town of Bethlehem; they call
O come all ye faithful; Hark! The heralds sing like angels 

Every player and singer wears a red and white Santa hat
A little boy chirps in glee as the music rises and falls
Once in royal David’s city, ours where we sat
This season shared, we hear each other’s calls

 

©  Christopher   9 December 2021  

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from Songs of the Revolution 83

83

you cant buy
anything anywhere
without taking part
in your own death plan
the thing is
you get deeply entangled in thinghood
instead of manhood

because as soon as
you conduct a
money transaction
someones income increases
and blop blop percent of
that income goes
for military splendor

and as soon as you buy
and all the forces are working day and night
radiating the buy buy message
and its been going on for ten thousand years
and its hard to resist
as soon as you buy
you get deeply entangled in thinghood
instead of manhood

the entire money system
has to go bye bye
into the history of grotesque torture and
violence
physical violence

barter is not
the solution

it is
the free society

it is the
free society

it is the
moneyless society
in which
what is produced
is used
by anybody
who needs it

all useless production will cease
because of our luscious needs

and what we make we need
and we use it
and if you dont want to wok
you do something else
nobody does anything
he doesnt want to
i will clean the sewers
because they get smelly
and we may even
have too may sewer cleaners
because its a gas
and we dig
the smell

you see
we are going to change everything

everything is free
it doesnt cost anything
there is no money

and we dig the smell
because we
cannot be as
we are now
and be any
closer to god

i will love harry anslinger and all
the cops and judges

and science and technology will serve us
they will not dominate
why
because they will no longer be the weapons
of plutocracy and autocracy
but the dear mechanisms of love

when

the economy
will not change
until the people change and change it
the people will
not change tonight
but we will in the morning

 

 

Julian Beck

Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

 

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Universal Declaration for the Future of Humanity

 

As humanity faces a very uncertain future with influential, unelected and unaccountable opinion-formers calling for a ‘Great Reset’ in order to create a global technocracy, the Hardwick Alliance for Real Ecology (HARE) calls for a new set of values to guide the world away from this planned totalitarianism. https://hardwickalliance.org

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Announcing ‘Coronavirus & Anarchism, pandemic’s anthology’



Anarchistische Groep Amsterdam

We are proud to announce our up and coming compendium of corona criticism! You can find the forward below in which we summarize and prepare you for a plethora of anarchist analysis.

The following collection attempts to gather as many pieces regarding Anarchist takes on Corona as possible. It is a collaboration that was not intended as such. Each piece presented was independently published and only now are they meant to be read as a whole. For this reason there will be many, many topics and opinions presented throughout and it is important that you keep an open and critical mind.

Within you will find testimonies of people suffering and actively working to support others during Covid, a plethora of criticism against Capitalism, geopolitical overviews of a multitude of continents and countries both in how they are impacted as well as how they failed to prepare themselves against a worldwide pandemic.

An emphasis in some texts will be on the need to prevent future pandemics as well as the lack of preparation to the one we are all living through, or on how our rights are being reserved as future privileges that many had never had access to in the first place, or how even when this is ‘over’ we should still ask the question ‘are we going back to normal?’ to which our definition of what should BE normal needs to be thought through thoroughly and radically.

With so many lives jeopardized by the current state of the world, the most important, overarching message in these texts, is to maintain solidarity.

So as these eclectic texts join together in a unified voice to renounce Capitalism and State Control we too should read and share, spread the word and seek out our own forms of solidarity! We hope you enjoy these texts, it may often make you feel sick to your stomach but within these texts and your own critical mind lies the remedy, so please come join us in creating the cure!

The digital version can be downloaded here:

https://www.agamsterdam.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/11/corona-virus-and-anarchism-pandemic-s-anthology.pdf

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Clara, My Little Heart

 

I’m going to tell my daughter,
Clara, my little heart
You don’t have to listen what
They are talking about you;
You can pursue your own course.
My little heart, you can make
Your choices without thinking
About people’s judgement on it.
You can make mistakes.
It’s not an alien thing to do.
You can have feelings for
Such things and people
That is inconsiderable.
You can be honest to yourself.
You can walk at night.
Little dear, you can lough loudly.
You can spread your legs.
You can feel free to
Roam with your boy mates.
You can go everywhere.
There is no boundary, neither in
Your path nor in your life.
You don’t have to
Behave like a woman.
You can behave
The way you feel.
And that is enough womanly.

 

 

 

 Tiyasha Khanra

 

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PEOPLE, PLACES, POLITICS

The Sea View Has Me Again, Patrick Wright (Repeater)
Anniversaries, Uwe Johnson (NYRB)

I came to Patrick Wright’s books through his association with psychogeographers such as Ian Sinclair, but truth be told Wright is more of a social geographer and cultural historian than a psychogeographer, much more rooted in non-fiction than conjecture, mood, myth and memory.

The Sea View Has Me Again is subtitled Uwe Johnson in Sheerness, but Wright mostly uses the German writer Johnson (previously unknown to me) as a hook to hang his story on, but also to facilitate an outsider’s view of this estuary town in out-of-the way Kent. Sheerness is a place that for a while became a seaside resort for East End Londoners, it remains a refuge for those who wished to be off the radar, for ex naval workers, minor criminals, gang members and those seeking cheap housing. Sheerness was built in tidal water and on mud, behind a sea wall; a makeshift town built by individuals colonizing plots of land sold cheap to them.

It remains a place of poverty and struggle, a place where people are openly racist and resistant to strangers, a place where everyone voted for Brexit. But it can also welcome those who stay and don’t question: Uwe Johnson appears to have been one such resident who found acceptance by keeping himself to himself, his nose clean, and donning a false name (‘call me Charles’) when he visited the pub and shops. He was struggling to finish the fourth and final part of his major opus, Anniversaries, and sought refuge away from New York where he had been living for many years having left Germany long before. He brought his wife and child with him once had found the house he bought, but eventually even they would move out and leave him to write, drink, think and eventually die.

Wright’s book is full of intriguing detail and evocative description, which brings to life both distant and recent history, and proffers a wealth of strange characters and bizarre happenings. The constant ebb and flow of the river, work, money and local politics animates the stories, with the researched but often conjectured viewpoint of Johnson contrasted with official records and Wright’s own contemporaneous visits and observations. Sheerness is clearly a microcosm of much of Britain and Wright isn’t shy of pointing out the contradictions and confusions of government funding and cuts, business and political broken promises and lies, the ongoing effect of neoliberalism, and the aftermath of Brexit. It’s fascinating and highly readable stuff.

It also made me want to read some Uwe Johnson. His best-regarded book is Anniversaries, originally published in four separate books but now gathered up, translated and reissued as a two-volume set. It’s a fantastic sweeping overview of the late 1960s, with a mother and daughter living in New York City as the main characters but also going back in time to previous generations living in Germany, and embedding local and international news as reported in the New York Times. The city is brought to life just as much as Gesine and her daughter Maria are; history and current news (within the time frame of the book) offer the social context of the novel’s stories, and make us question the effects of war, poverty, democracy, Stalinism, Nazism, business and displacement. At 1600 pages it’s neither an easy or quick read, but it does seem to justify some of the amazing claims reviewers have made for this work, including it being ‘one of the world’s great novels’.

 

 

 

 

Rupert Loydell

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COMMON SENSE

Stands to reason, don’t it?
The world’s flat.
Look how you can walk for miles in any
Direction
Without turning upside down
It’s just common sense

It’s plain as day, innit?
Whites are better than blacks.
Look how much more
Efficient
They are at killing other people.
It’s just common sense.

Like the nose on my face, yeah?
Men are better than women.
Look how much more
Money
They make.
It’s just common sense.

Is the Pope Catholic?
God didn’t put homos
In the Bible or anywhere
Else.
‘Cos they’re disgusting.
It’s just common sense.

And, speaking of which

It’s bleeding obvious, innit?
How else were we made
But by an
Old
White guy in the sky?
It’s just common sense.

You gotta be joking!
What’s the point shining
Light through two
Slits?
Total waste of time.
It’s just common sense. INNIT???

 

 

Words and picture Steve Jeanes

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Party

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The Evocation of the Inconsequential

(a digressive return to Barrow in breeze and sun)

            
Paradise in AstroTurf, 30th June 2021

 

To appreciate or try to elevate the apparently inconsequential isn’t, I hope, akin to taking refuge in that contemporary relativism which allows everyone to be entitled to their opinion no matter how unearned or ill considered. Equally, there is no doubt that the perception of this ‘inconsequential’ can be highly personal – perhaps to the point of incommunicability?

Red Ochre Bluff, 30th June 2021

 

Returning to Barrow-in-Furness in very different conditions to October last year[i], I was overwhelmed by this sense of incommunicability – yet also by the almost visionary significance lurking behind the everyday. Or so it felt. Later, sending a few of the resulting photographs to four friends, their reactions were not encouraging:

             The estate looks like hell on earth! You are suffering from future dementia!!!

            These photos are too much of a gimmick, you’ll come across as a nutter.

             Do they really tell a story?  And if so what is it?  More to the point, does it matter that much?  Overall, they just make me really sad. Is this really the best that life has to offer?

            Too inconsequential to be worth bothering with. Anyone who didn’t grow up in the  70s won’t get it, and for the people who live there now, it’s just their reality.

 The Unseen Path, 13th August 2021

Of course, these relatively off-the-cuff or caustically humorous remarks, were provoked by a handful of images without context. My friends did not have the benefit of the actual atmosphere. Of the hot, mid-morning, of June 30th, slightly overcast now and then, or the fresh breeze and more consistent sun of August the 13th . . . a Friday which proved auspicious. Nor is it likely they share my enigmatic love and sense of loss for certain kinds of suburb rooted in the late 60s and early 70s . . .  In fact, one of the four, loathes almost everything about the 70s. Barrow’s Hawcoat estate evoked the restrictions of her lower middle-class, East Devon childhood in a way too close for comfort. By contrast, the largely working class, council-built, Elmhurst estate on the edge of Aylesbury where I grew up from 1966 to 1979 – inhabited mostly by “London overspill” – was less inhibiting.

Pavement Magnetism

Hawcoat is the kind of estate to which the more ambitious inhabitants of Elmhurst would have aspired. A dream of easy Sunday dinners, model railways in the garden, lawnmowers you didn’t have to push and early retirement. Naturally some sections of Hawcoat, 50 years later, have gone to seed, been over-renovated or rationalised out of existence, but between the circumscribed slopes or flats of grass, gravel and patio and the weed-blown desolation of abandonment, immaculate borders and shrubs also flourish, and, in the summer of 2021,  both an Austin A30 and a Morris Minor convertible, could be seen, glinting in the sun as if they’d just been driven from the factory. One even bowled past in time-denying motion.

 
A late Zephyr, breezes through the fencing . . . 13th August, 2021

Almost every time I go out, especially in the sun, I suffer or enjoy (as I get older, mostly enjoy) an atmosphere overload. Moors, mountains, coast, fields, or suburbs – it can strike anywhere and at any time. In built-up areas or in the ribbon agglomerations of buildings which follow the older main roads, I used to name this excessive feeling, the London Atmosphere. For years, I never questioned the vagueness of this default label:  both its possible meaning and the baffling intensity behind its sensation, were impossible to bring into focus. Since this was never the London of Tower Bridge or Trafalgar square or even of the Thames, the title could only be personal. Some left-over, unattached perception felt or experienced when I was three or four, under the flyovers, before my family moved from London: an escape perhaps; a tiny garden filled with flowers; the outside area of a pub; that door in the wall[ii]

 

Door in the Wall: the garage that wasn’t there, 30th June 2021

I tend to be sceptical of memories people claim from under the age of five. Or maybe I just don’t have that desire or need to be so specific about pain? Traumatic events generally don’t stick to me, at least not consciously. Only the enigmatic and the inexplicable, those intuitions of timelessness . . . only these continue to haunt.

 Greco-Zen(ish) rock garden/AstroTurf patio, Hawcoat estate, Barrow 30th June 2021

That special ‘London feeling’ was very striking, yet perhaps some calmness of the eternal was contained within its overflow? Do the Hawcoat versions, almost of Zen rock gardens contain something similar or are they its antithesis? All restraint, rather than excess? Desire excised?

To excise desire either as a general principle or as a move towards Nirvana, feels to me an error – surely excess desire is the best route to eventual calmness? But such persuasions could depend on individual temperament. Both the richness of the past and of history, for me only increase over time, even as their apparent opposite – visionary detachment (a rising above desire, or simultaneous experience of all desire, rather than a purging of it) – increases also.

As for the London feeling, its enigmatic history, social and architectural within the Green Belt; within the pre-war, wartime and post-war reminiscences of elders with which I was (interestingly) bombarded as a child; within Europe and the wider context of the decline of empires . . .  That London feeling must have been drawn from all this and named after where I assumed the magic was situated. But I was wrong. The magic is universal and everywhere, you just need to be attuned to it – your own. It’s fair enough if you hate the idea of the place behind these photos.

Time and peace: blue bush and serrated sky, Barrow (Hawcoat estate), 30th June 2021

Perhaps an Aylesbury feeling is the basis of my love of housing estates? There, in the early 70s, I did several paper rounds. Mostly covering for friends, they never had a chance to become routine and I tend to remember them in holiday weather. Ideal journeys through unfamiliar streets. Streets so close to ours yet beyond the usual circuit.

After fifteen to twenty minutes selling the Evening Standard[iii] in a factory canteen off the Bicester road during the worker’s afternoon break, one such round, went on to tour a chance collection of stairways, alleys and closes mostly on the Quarrendon housing estate. Another, with bigger newspapers and colour supplements, took me to the opposite extreme in the undoubted stratification of Aylesbury’s housing estates: the posh-at-the-time, Bedgrove. Though it had prosaic sections, the never-council-owned Bedgrove, even boasted detached villas with (apparent) stone column entrance porches. Actually, they were hollow.

Between 1966 and 1979, all the large housing estates had a place in some informal league table in the collective unconscious of the denizens of Aylesbury – though whether this table would’ve been supported by statistics, I can’t say.

Southcourt, partly built in the 20s for veterans of the First World War and offered as “Homes for Heroes” was expanded further after the Second World War and vied for lowest position with Quarrendon, a 50s development not extended until thirty years later. Elmhurst, where we moved to as the first occupiers in March 1966 – was perhaps a little higher up the table? Prebendal Farm, a 70s estate, seemed good to me when a friend moved there just after its construction . . . but apparently it declined[iv]. Walton Court (1970-80s) appeared a further step towards the promised land – at least at that time.

This Transient Life . . . 13th August 2021

 

Fragmented by its own interior traumas, Akio Jissôji’s 1970 film, Mujô (English title: This Transient Life[v]), uses artistic imperative and taboo sexual passion to challenge the confines of tradition and question the ambiguities of religious philosophy. The camera moves and tracks in a way both precise and impetuous – echoing the apparent contradiction of the Zen rock gardens on which it occasionally focuses. Gardens which attempt to express the essence of nature in a way that can appear ascetic, mathematical, almost airless . . . yet suggestively poetic at the same time. Whether such gardens induce calm, or agitation, may also depend on your temperament?

On the Hawcoat estate, quite a few gardens appeared to be (inadvertently?) aiming for something similar, albeit mixed with elements from other traditions as well as pre-cast concrete slabs and AstroTurf!

 Metaphysical garden,  Hawcoat estate, Barrow, 30th June 2021 

As the sudden escape from child-care or release from the pressure of chores or mindless work can abruptly reveal a richness beyond daily life; beyond love become pragmatic habit; beyond chronological time dumbly accepted . . . so Hawcoat did the same to me very peaceably, from a position almost at the opposite end of the spectrum – from leisure that was almost boredom, from the contemplation of inconsequentiality, from the space of having time to kill and no expectations. Calmly, without bother, Hawcoat came upon me. Its quiet revelation emphasising still further on that auspicious Friday the 13thwhen I was either confident of minor transcendence or conditioned to the idea of lightning not striking twice? – the degree to which the  whole of life and society, can be just one long avoidance strategy. Perhaps only love, ideal community and the best of art and philosophy can seriously attack this evasion, this lethargy? All the rest of our work, our aims and aspirations, can’t help but pander to our daily avoidance, our predetermined way of seeing.

The Gravel Rabbit’s Dominion, June 2021

 

“I wrestled with reality for 35 years and I’m glad to say I finally won out over it”. So says James Stewart in the 1950 film Harvey[vi]. I remembered this film – which implies but never shows, an invisible rabbit well over 6 feet tall, mischievous yet basically benign – as charming. In fact, ‘tedious screwball’ might be a better description. Undoubtably some of the speeches and quips are good:

            “Then there’s the birth trauma . . .”

            “That’s the one we never grow out of . . .” 

            But overall, Harvey takes a safe comic route and leaves the impression that only the rich or the alcoholic can treat reality with the contempt it so often deserves.

Time warp rooftops on the brim, tell me all your stories within . . .

 

On a green hill above Barrow, closer to the abbey than the docks, despite the negative impression these photographs gave my four friends, Hawcoat is undoubtably a spacious estate. Adjoining the Furness General Hospital, the streets and closes are wide and open by comparison with later schemes. I’d guessed it was late 60s or early 70s and only bothered to discover two weeks after my second visit, that although the ward dates back to the middle ages, the “vast majority” was built in the 1960s “as a direct response to the expansion of Vickers shipyard.”[vii] Apparently, it was briefly referred to as “Polaris Village” after the Resolution class nuclear submarines built at the shipyard three miles downhill, each of which carried up to 16 Polaris nuclear missiles[viii].

Decline and Fall of the Bold Dove’s Empire, 13th August 2021

Had there been some 80s infill on Hawcoat? What confuses the sense of period is the number of design mutilations incorporated since. Diamond leaded UPVC being possibly the most ersatz of all? Yet what – via the photographs and some brief descriptions added later – saddened one of my friends (“I think it’s mostly the idea of AstroTurf” [ix]) and horrified another, only made me happy. Perhaps I was simply in a forgiving mood thanks to the weather – drifting around in a time warp, probably deranged still further by the sheer variety of styles, the indescribably bad architectural tones. Each individual castle, empire or statement of neglect, the borders of their countries . . .  Enjoying my nostalgia, I burnt freely, unclouded by the longing for pasts which never existed, gifted by those vivid particular times which often, paradoxically, lead out of time altogether.

A Corner Out of Time

Standing by the gate back at home on another beautiful sunny day, in the warm breeze amongst the variegated sun and shade, waiting for the school bus to bring our youngest children home, I had the same sensation of stilled and yet passing time I remembered having as a child in our small garden on Elmhurst estate more than 50 years ago. I thought of adaptation and exile and how we learn to control and crush what we feel. Of those still living who I knew then on Elmhurst, not one person lives with 300 miles. Yet the trees, the grasses and the sky can still for the time being, calm all the exiles as they come and go.

Cheering Crowds,  July 2021

All feelings can come to seem an indulgence if you become too aware of them – one reason perhaps, why so many choose to die long before they die?

Singing Curves . . .

 

Whether we realise it or not, so many aspects of life as well as the art we favour, come down to mood, to an ambience, to a hidden language or suggestion beyond the surface.  ‘The bones of this land are not speechless’[x]. That art in galleries often serves only as a sideline to the coffee shop – was that once less true? Nostalgia or a longing for the good life, a smell of turpentine, white walls and the freer windows of loose painting, the sound of the sea . . . all these things together may be as much the reason why those fascinated by the post-war art of St. Ives (to choose one distinctive example) favour it – even if the initial attraction could only have been formed by an encounter with certain paintings.[xi] For me, several of the gliding paintings of Peter Lanyon[xii] surpass all our avoidance sidelines.

Part of the reason the ambience of this Barrow suburb fascinates me must be because it recaptures the 70s in my mind . . . Those meshes of mid-morning or afternoon are always waiting for us.

Hints and Entrances, 30th June 2021

Despite that a high percentage of the lawns on Hawcoat are false, many of its gardeners have made an immense effort: bricks and paving mathematically placed, plants standing to attention. Though I can’t entirely approve of the regimented results, I can understand the impulse to mesmerize chaos. Everyone likes the idea of freedom, even if few can cope with it. One man gave me a very friendly wave from his living room – a thumbs up when he saw me photographing his garden.

Embowered

 

Hawcoat was like a home I’d once had and yet wasn’t. Or maybe it was more about that lost era? That period when the nettle of ecological disaster should have been grasped. It is easy to revel in the atmosphere or aesthetics of so-called progress without realising the destruction it has caused. The sound rises and clashing under the bridge explodes into a fast-thudding thunder and the rushing of white words on a red band, Freightliner, Freightliner, Freightliner . . .”[xiii] Even before encountering the optimistic propaganda of such British Transport Films as Freight Flow, 1969[xiv], I was inadvertently guilty of celebrating the containerisation which led to an exponential rise in world trade, becoming a tool to break the unions and further accelerating environmental breakdown in the process.


Pale maroon harbours, 30th June 2021

Horrified by the brown and beige aspects of the 70s and feeling so much more trapped by her upbringing than I ever did, one close friend of mine, finds the Hawcoat photos intensely depressing – reminding her of prescribed roles in the air: racist, homophobic, misogynistic, and patriotic. The closeness of gardens; the suspicions and hierarchies of neighbours; whose children she was allowed to play with and which to avoid – all those subtle sub-divisions within a relatively narrow class band. Then there was the regular washing of cars and the obligation to watch acres of bland TV. The background to nostalgia is often toxic. But on Hawcoat at the time I felt disinclined to consider anything so political or specific. In any case, being a decade older, the 70s are a multi-dimensional enigma to me, an orchestral time rather than a tone poem, a lived ambience rather than a half-memory or afterthought.

Time Indoors, 30th June 2021

 

Wanting to expand my theory of inadvertency as a major factor in the ongoing failure of human society[xv] a few sentences from a short profile of Mike Dibb[xvi] in March 2021’s Sight and Sound, perhaps inadvertently, illustrated the suggested decline in society over the last 50 years (due in part my dad would say to “too much bloody choice”): 

            “…it is clear that if Dibb were under 50 his collaborative practice would find its  natural home in galleries and arthouse cinemas rather than primetime terrestrial schedules, as it did in the 70s and 80s.”

The stress here is gentle enough not to imply a criticism, yet what serious artist, would choose to preach to the converted, the investor, or the pseud, in an elitist gallery[xvii] or arthouse cinema, in preference to possibly enlightening a new audience on “primetime” television in the days when there were only 3 or 4 channels?

Hushed Turnings, 13th August 2021

 

With the rise of the internet, have we all, without fully realizing it become content with our own ghettos?  . . . On the other hand, the ‘primetime’ TV referred to in the piece on Mike Dibb, was in most cases, that of BBC2 – which, in the experience of almost everyone I knew growing up on working-class, council or lower middle-class estates, was avoided like the plague. Only when the channel was lumbered with blocks of sport would anyone on Elmhurst other than my parents (always misfits) be likely to tune to BBC2. So maybe it’s only the location, depth of focus and volume of the ghettos which has changed? Putting aside the diminishing attention-span controversy, should we take comfort that the disconnection in society may only have shifted in structure?

Over the fields and far away, 13th August 2021

 

The Hawcoat type of suburbia, heightens my sense of the lives within, the reasonable hopes that hang on a thread. Unambitious box houses with small garden areas to front and rear; streets silent from mid-morning to mid-afternoon; open fields nearby – all these take me back. Though I’m idealizing Elmhurst estate as it was then, investing it with some pacific essence of welfare and post-war hope that in reality, if it ever existed at all, began to die a decade before . . . perhaps that was the truth inside my mind, a child’s perception? The difference between subjective reality and the objective breed, is that the former has a chance to lead to some eventual insight, whereas the latter often becomes no more than an excuse for avoidance. Despite which, the better society we might have had was undermined as much by our own (subjective) instinct for consumption as it was by ‘objective’ technology’s numerous exploiters.

Driveways and surfaces of ordered desire, 30th June 2021

 

That whatever noble ruins of post-war hope lingered on, were to be ground into dust by Margaret Thatcher and her gang of crooks – whose descendants we’re still trying to shake off forty years later – does not finally indicate a conspiracy but rather an inadvertency. Is this is too gentle a conclusion? The resignation of someone who has given up on the world? Thatcher bullied and too many just followed. This was inadequacy rather than inadvertency – and it still is.

Concrete Inlet

And maybe this whole course was pre-ordained by the rationalistic poison which in the West at least, we drink at birth, a sleeping draught to kill all higher feelings, one we slavishly keep drinking, replenishing, handing on. Obviously it’s needed to some degree, it does the housework. The danger is we take it far too seriously, we give it too much respect.

End of the road, July 2021

“Certain communities in the South Pacific responded to the breakdown of the old social order resulting from Colonialism by building runways and even wooden planes and dummy airports in the misguided hope that they would attract the goods the colonisers seemed to have in abundance”[xviii].  Somehow this sounds familiar. The myth and the misdirection.

The fields beyond . . . 13th August 2021

 

Laughingly, observationally, in the process of leaving, perhaps Hawcoat implicates our miniaturised escape routes? The AstroTurf arenas, the bold dove and the gravel rabbit’s dominions, all play out as our lost direction, our hopes for a probably undeserved paradise.

 

© Lawrence Freiesleben,

Barrow (Hawcoat), Cumbria and Morecambe, July-December 2021

 

Almost completed in August 2021, due to a tortuous relocation, it has taken a long time to get back to this. Hawcoat now seems a lifetime away, my optimistic, semi-detached uprising of the time, hard to reach. But perhaps the harsher angle of its conclusion was always intrinsic?

 

NOTES    All links accessed between August and November 2021

[i] See, https://internationaltimes.it/an-existential-road-trip-to-barrow-in-heavy-rain-notes-from-a-park-shelter/  published on the 31st October 2020 

[ii]  The Door in the Wall – a 1956 short film based on HG Welles’ story in which a man is haunted throughout his life, by a magical door that opens onto an alternate, Garden-of-Eden like world: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0302508/ 

My son Kit and I saw this at the NFT in the early 2000s & were glad to have seen it, though were not greatly impressed by the “Dynamic Frame” gimmick. There are one or two instances when this much-vaunted Dynamic Frame works, but these are hardly original. Silent films did the closing-down-to-a-smaller-focussed-area virtually from their beginning – most typically with a telescope effect. Here the effect is often arbitrary, and you end up straining to see some shrunken oblong occupying a tiny portion of the screen. It’s basically a frustrating and distracting form of track and zoom. The story however, does have a certain poignancy despite both the kid and his adult form (played by the ever-unsympathetic Stephen Murray) being irritating. I suspect it’s mostly the strange colour & ambience which provides the film’s appeal? Formal flower gardens = wholeness. Book burning = bad karma. Despite The Door in the Walls anticipation of decline and fall . . . really it’s OK (or so we’re assured), because pompous & supercilious adult has reverted to soppy kid and can return to his 1950s, washed-out-colour, paradise.  

[iii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evening_Standard 

[iv] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prebendal_Farm,_Aylesbury 

[v] https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0128364/  To my mind, the best of Jissôji’s so-called Buddhist Trilogy, which also comprises of 1971’s Mandara:  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0229553/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_30

and 1972’s, Poem: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1033501/?ref_=nm_flmg_dr_28

[vi] www.imdb.com/title/tt0042546/?ref_=fn_al_tt_1  featuring a giant rabbit very different from that of Donnie Darko: https://internationaltimes.it/donnie-darko-a-digression-on-universality-and-inevitable-nostalgia/

[vii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hawcoat 

[viii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Resolution-class_submarine 

[ix] Email from a friend: “But I have noticed the same effect walking around many residential areas recently – particularly in London suburbs – where virtually all the little front gardens have been paved over in one way or another, and so there is nowhere for the rain water to soak away, and it all cascades straight into the street gullies and away, flooding the rivers and watercourses almost immediately. Just so sad.” 

[x] Frances Bellerby quoted in Britain’s Art Colony by the Sea, Denys Val Baker’s 1959 book about St. Ives and West Penwith. 

[xi]  Very few ‘works of art’ are good enough to escape their environment, their psychology or the subsequent celebrity of the artists who created them. Van Gogh (for example) owes much of his respect to the drama of a tortured biography.

[xii] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_Lanyon 

[xiii]  The Bow, 1983, revised & reprinted in 2000: ISBN 10: 1900152657  ISBN 13: 9781900152655 

[xiv]  https://www.imdb.com/title/tt3238306/ 

[xv] A failure compared with the ideal futures we’ve always been encouraged to dream. Of course, considering the total chaos we could have, many free democratic societies, for all their compromises and material mistakes, could be seen as an unlikely success. 

[xvi]  https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Dibb 

[xvii][xvii] I speak as a painter disillusioned by galleries which tend either to serve commercial interests or follow the gimmick.

[xviii] Art and its global histories: edited by Warren Carter

 

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TAKE IT OR LEAVE IT

 

from/for A.C. Evans

Salvation. Oh, yes, I know I am a spiritual flaneur,
a damned poet and (eye roll) a ‘lost poet’ and
(eye roll) a ‘lost soul’. To be damned is to be modern,
absolutely human once and for all. The human condition
evolves too fast yet the horizon of change is fear,
and the closer we are to the horizon the less we care
about rhyme or reason: blank verse for blank reason.

And that is why traditional models of perfectibility
or divine purpose can be seen as a promethean affront
to the established order or as a way of repossessing everything
stolen from us by the Enchanter, a neo-shamanistic antithesis
of enlightenment and salvation. I know the difference between
fact and fiction, between sleep and waking, between dream
and reality, between consciousness and the unconscious,

between inner and outer space. It is too late to get unreal,
grounding poetic practice in the ontological matrix
dissociates poetry from cultural-linguistic literary discourse,
from the dreary, enervating world of fake self-referential
experimentalists obsessed with all those innate processes
of inner integration and perspective. The poem itself appears
as a by-product of therapy, propaganda or entertainment.

As I penetrate the archaic heritage and the archetypal forest
of symbols, it is the compulsive activity of inspiration,
the process of self-discovery, that is the prime factor:
it is this that dissolves those artificial barriers between
the enigmatic sphinx and the ancient alchemists. Beauty
is invoked by the transformation of the material of creation;
the essence of my poetic practice is active imagination.

Only language remains. Everything depends on language.
Being is literally indefinable in extra-linguistic terms,
my creativity is an innate psycho-active phenomenon.
I write certain words across blank pages of empty space,
consign metaphysics to oblivion. What has this to do with
oblivion? What has this to do with me? Everything.
The closer we are to the horizon the less we care.

 

 

   © Rupert M Loydell

 

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Breaking News

 

Since we are effectively restricted to three minutes, we must keep things precise, restrict all travel to within a single room, and reduce our communications to nods and small gestures. Our emotions should be expressed – and preferably felt – with eyes only, or ideally not at all. It is advisable to avoid reading, or to restrict reading to haiku and unambiguous warning notices. It is human nature to ask questions, so it is better for all if we leave our humanity to one side until circumstances change: please leave it outside the main entrance to your property, but do not step across the threshold. Failure to comply will result in consequences you cannot imagine. Imagination may only be exercised while sleeping: this will be rigorously policed. Because of the nature of the emergency, the police will be granted extraordinary powers to search on suspicion, to find the fault in all of us, to lift small objects by thought alone, and to arrest time. Since we are effectively restricted to three minutes, the authorities will accept no responsibility, but will condone futile sacrifices to appease residual guilt or fear if restricted to domestic kitchens. We are all in this together. There are now ninety seconds remaining: please nod to confirm your understanding and compliance.

 

 

Oz Hardwick

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The Gale And The Chair

The tree of thoughts flowers today.
An overcast day brings out its best.

This chair looks bare, but sit here and see
the birds hurry in the silent melee
before the gale hits. Today,

you remember, is our anniversary,
and that we need to avail this room
to tool out the moment, and its possibilities.

The leaves swirl around the chair
and govern to lift it up from the floor.
A bit, for one moment, and no more.

In the firmament the sun looks puny,
agile, almost like a child on a wall
low enough to make it feel secure,
and high enough to make it giddy.

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Words and picture

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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SAUSAGE LIFE 209

SAUSAGE LIFE
Bird Guano

The column which demands a return to uncivilised values

 

READER: So what are you doing at Christmas?

MYSELF: Christmas? Is it still on?

READER: Of course it is. Plan B Christmas.

MYSELF: What’s that supposed to mean?

READER: It’s simple, pay attention. You shouldn’t show up at work unless there is a Christmas party. You can have this in the office or in a busy pub without a mask, or in a nightclub with a mask, as long as you have your ‘covid passport’. But definitely not on a bus or a train.

MYSELF: I see. That seems quite straightforward. And what sort of party games can we have?

READER: Well, after Secret Santa, you could play Pass the Parcel, which is fun and perfectly safe as long as everyone washes their hands every time they pass the parcel and sings Gloria In Excelsis three times.

MYSELF: Gloria? The whole thing? That’s going to take forever!

READER: Don’t be ridiculous man….just the chorus. Another tremendously enjoyable government-approved game is musical chairs.

MYSELF: How will that work, pandemically speaking?

READER: Everyone will be in separate rooms with an iPad, all connected via zoom.

MYSELF: That’s going to need an awful lot of chairs.

READER: No, each person will bring their own, disinfected chair.

MYSELF: So what’s the point?

READER: The point is to remain standing during the music, and when the music stops, you quickly sit down in the nearest chair.

MYSELF: So who wins?

READER: Everyone. That’s the beauty of it.

 

DUCKSINARY KAWNER

Leotard (n) idiot, halfwit or nincompoop born between July 23 and August 22

Manatee (n) large, herbivorous marine mammal which only comes out in the afternoon

Brexiteer (n) medical condition brought about by clamping both hands on either side of the head and singing “lalala”.

Tripadvisor (n) qualified expert who can explain the correct way to fall over.

Remoaner (n) UK hit for The Bachelors, which reached the No. 4 spot in the UK charts during a 13-week stay in 1964.

 

MONKEY JOBS THREAT

The recent shock news that the UK’s longest running radio soap, The Archers, is written by an infinite number of monkeys with an infinite number of typewriters, will come as no surprise to Hastings’ most famous inventor, Professor Gordon Thinktank. For the past three years he has been working with the BBC on a method of replacing the outdated system, which relies on a constant supply of monkey typists.
“My latest experiments make use of a revolutionary algorithm-based system which is able to replicate the farming community of Ambridge with uncanny accuracy,” he told us, “whilst avoiding the irritating bursts of random dialogue which the monkeys often cough up.
Due to the broad range of Simian diversity, the writing team can easily comprise infinite numbers of Baboon, Gorrilla or Orangutang typists who seldom see eye to eye – you can imagine how distracting that might be to the listener. Just take a look at this.”
The professor reached into a filing cabinet and produced a dog-eared script marked The Archers episode 18702: synopsis, “This example was written largely by a group of ill-tempered Macaques from Gibraltar” he revealed as he read it out:
Peggy Archer and Jennifer Aldridge are fronting a mob-controlled casino in Las Vegas, when who should show up but Eddy and Alf Grundy, who are plotting to murder FBI stool-pigeon Kenton Archer with a sawn-off shotgun and dissolve his body in acid.”
“Do you see what I am getting at?” asked Thinktank, “Once the producer saw this, he would have had the monkeys returned to the writer’s cage until they came up with something more acceptable. Using my patented system, all the Archers characters would be relocated safely in Ambridge and be innocently engaged in normal countryfolk activities, such as sheep castrating, becoming addicted to cocaine or planning this year’s pantomime* in the upstairs function room of The Bull.”
*(Waiting For Godot – the Musical)

 

YOU ARE IN THE NORTH NOW
Denmark’s The Shed  (“Det Skuret”) is the latest Scandicrime series currently keeping Netflix binge-watchers up all night. In season one which began last week, Falsk Herre (played by Bjørt Urene), a feisty Detective Chief Inspector in the sleepy fish-smelting town of Lukket Mølle, is looking forward to retirement before his dark secret past catches up with him. To his disappointment, during his last few days in the job, he is given responsibility for the investigation into the mysterious and sudden appearance of a log cabin on the jetty of the popular resort’s lakeside health spa. His suspicions are immediately aroused by the fact that the mystery erection lacks windows or doors, and furthermore, the local council has received no planning application for it.
At first, locals believe it to be a magical sauna, left there by pixies, but a thorough forensic investigation fails to support that theory. Soon the local fire brigade becomes involved, and with heavy lifting equipment, they try to force an entry, but the shed proves surprisingly resistant. Hopes are raised, and then dashed, when Falske’s nemesis, flamboyant local fire chief Kristian Guldbil (Lars Laårssensen) makes a dramatic entrance atop his golden fire engine, only to be tragically trampled to death under the hooves of a herd of stampeding elks whilst relieving himself behind some Christmas trees.

 

THE CARNIVORE IS OVER

An enterprising vegan butcher has opened a pop-up shop in Upper Dicker. Stanislav Waikiki’s Meat is Manslaughter will offer a range of items, including vegan pork chops, vegan sheep’s brains and vegan tripe – all made from goose feathers, soya beans and a rare, marrow-like vegetable cultivated in Wales called Pwelleriac, examples of which are said by some to resemble the face of Ant McPartland. “Everyone’s a vegan now, let’s face it,” Mr Waikiki told us, “but in my opinion it’s just a passing fad, like The Twist, or Brexit. I mean, how long it will last is anybody’s guess but I’ll certainly be keeping my options open. Until this craze has run its course, you can count on me to soya-milk it to the max”.

 

READER: I’m going vegan.

MYSELF: Really? Since when?

READER: Since I read about it in The Daily Mail.

MYSELF:  Which means it must be true.

READER: Exactly. No more bacon sandwiches or fish and chips for me.

MYSELF:  What about leather shoes?

READER: You can’t eat leather shoes…..can you?

MYSELF:  Not unless you are Charlie Chaplin in his classic 1925 silent film The Gold Rush, but if you are vegan, you will be required to stop wearing them.

READER:  What? There was no mention of that in The Mail. If you think I’m going to Lidl in my bare feet you’re quite mistaken. I’m calling the whole thing off.

MYSELF: A great loss to the vegan movement, but very wise under the circumstances.

 

 

Sausage Life!

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All Plastics Cause Climate Change

Without an unprecedented reversal of our blasé use of fossil fuels, humans have literally everything to lose with Climate Change. “Megafires” are increasing in frequency in the US. Last year, wildfires burned a record 10 million acres in the west — more than 15,000 square miles! And this year promises to be far worse as a “Heat Dome” caused an early, hotter and drier heat wave that buckled highways and melted power lines along the West Coast as far north as British Columbia, with temperatures reaching 122˚F (50˚C). Weather fluctuations now resemble deranged washing machines, skittering across the world, randomly dispersing unprecedented magnitudes of fire, ice, water and violent winds. After a majority was vaccinated for Covid-19, their pent-up emotional energies were freed and now they’re all getting high on greenhouse gasses – flying in jets and going on road trips. But our pursuit of a care-free lifestyle with plastics is just as much of a flagrant use of fossil fuels as flying or driving motor vehicles.

This article focuses primarily on plastics as a cause of Climate Change. Because plastics are made of more than 99% fossil fuels – oil, natural gas and coal – every part of their existence contributes to Climate Change. From their extraction, transportation, cracking and production to combustion and disposal, every part of their existence contributes to Climate Change by emitting greenhouse gasses.

https://i.pinimg.com/736x/23/ff/cf/23ffcfb175f286f66e7ed1e1a81ddd10.jpg

Plastics began modestly in 1862 when John Wesley Hyatt invented the first synthetic polymer that contained no molecules found in nature. But it wasn’t until more than 80 years later, after WW2, that plastic production spread rapidly throughout the world, with increases that paralleled increases in fossil fuel production, leading to increases in atmospheric greenhouse gasses and ultimately to Climate Change. Societal acceptance of plastics increased to the point today where most products are either reliant on synthetic polymers and plastics or made of them. Examples are transportation, building construction, interior finishes and furniture, clothing, healthcare and agriculture – both organic and conventional.

Extremely few people question how plastic is made, where it comes from or where it goes after it’s not wanted. And equally, few people link it to our current plight of Climate Change and all it piles on us.

But We Need Plastics?

After writing about plastics since the early 1990s, I’m deeply troubled by scientists and activists who state publicly that “we need plastic.” One such scientist speaking recently at an international conference in Amsterdam proclaimed that plastics saved the life of a relative’s newborn child. On a short-term and personal basis, that’s understandable, but it’s more of an emotional claim than the logical, scientific statement that one expects from a scientist. And one expects much, much more from that particular scientist who once spoke and wrote widely on endocrine disruptors.

Fossil fuels are vilified as a cause of Climate Change. Similarly, plastics must be rejected because they account for a significant amount of all fossil fuels produced. To state the obvious, our long-term existence is in severe jeopardy as a result of all plastics. They facilitate a lifestyle in which we ignore that they are existential threats to our own lives and all which supports us.

The advantages of plastics – durability, low weight, ease in forming and relative low cost – are mere temptations distracting our reasoning from the myriad of highly negative effects they’ve burdened us with. The durability of plastic is highly overrated, as its low cost fails to account for the environmental damage it causes for centuries after its production. Even without mentioning the effects of Climate Change, the societal costs of plastics put on us by the producing corporations are overwhelming.

But its pièce de résistance is Climate Change!

Acceptance of plastic products is based on extremely disingenuous corporate advice and advertising that has thoroughly beguiled us into believing they’re safe. As corporations have always been laser-focused on profit, they withhold vital facts and lie about plastics. Because the industry knows or should have known about those innumerable lies and political manipulations, most of what they state should be disbelieved. They regularly bate and switch chemicals that are found to be more toxic than the ones replaced. The same goes for greenhouse gasses. A case in point is refrigerants such as CFCs which were replaced by HFCs, later to be found to be worse. Pesticides are another example.

But just know that plastics cannot be made nontoxic; cannot be recycled; cannot be removed from where they’ve intruded; have contaminated all possible spaces on Earth, and possibly worse; they emit greenhouse gasses that increase Climate Change. I’m baffled by human acceptance of such a substance that is overwhelmingly negative and a bona fide existential threat to all life. Not just one or even hundreds of thousands, but all life on Earth.

From the moment of extraction, through production, use and disposal, plastic emits greenhouse gasses. All uses of fossil fuels contribute to Climate Change, whether leaked into the atmosphere, burned, heated, mixed or formed into plastics, pesticides, lubricants or even pharmaceuticals, beauty products and paints! Plastics account for a significant amount of all fossil fuel use. And that should no longer be ignored.

In the last 70 years, there’s been an explosive increase in plastic production. And it’s poised to increase even more sharply in this decade. Thus, pushing greenhouse gasses yet higher. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is just one of many greenhouse gases. If its global emissions were halted today, it would take several hundred years before the majority of human emissions were removed from the atmosphere. Several other greenhouse gasses have increased rapidly, including methane, and nitrous oxide. It’s about much more than just CO2 !

Coal Gas & Oil

Coal, gas and oil are the materials that make plastics. Natural gas plays a larger role in US plastics production than oil because of its abundance there. Europe relies more on oil and China more on coal.

As a group, polyethylene has the largest production in the U.S., mostly for packaging – plastic bags, wrap, moisture barriers, coatings of drink boxes and a lot more. Polyethylene also contributes the most plastic waste in the U.S. It’s made from ethylene (C2H4 ), another part of natural gas which is also a greenhouse gas. Sixty-percent of all ethylene manufactured each year becomes one of many types of polyethylene plastic. The energy used to produce ethylene comes from more natural gas, oil, or even coal-fired plants. According to an article in the journal Science, natural gas emissions from the U.S. oil and natural gas supply chain are about 60% higher than the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency inventory estimate.

Destruction, Energy Usage and Leakage

Plastics production begins with extracting oil, natural gas or coal, which involves the defiling of vast areas of land, both above and below the surface, as well as rivers, lakes and atmosphere. Great quantities of toxic substances are pumped into the ground during extraction. And great quantities of fuels are consumed transporting raw resources via truck, train and pipelines to processing facilities, themselves releasing greenhouse gasses. Oil and gas extraction and wastewater disposal from oil and gas has caused many earthquakes.

Beginning in 2009, Oklahoma experienced a surge in earthquakes. The largest earthquake known to be induced by fluid wastewater disposal from oil and gas production was a magnitude 5.8 earthquake on September 23, 2016 in central Oklahoma. Four magnitude 5+ earthquakes have occurred in Oklahoma, three of which occurred in 2016. And they’ve occurred in several states.

Natural gas is cracked by very high heat until its large hydrocarbon molecules are broken (cracked) into smaller ones, monomers such as ethylene. Its production exceeds that of any other organic compound (any compound of carbon). Ethylene is the feedstock of many types of polyethylene. Manufacturing products from the feedstock requires more energy and releases more greenhouse gasses. As of 2017, over 100 million tonnes of polyethylene resins are being produced annually, accounting for 34% of the total plastics market. This will increase dramatically as plastic production could almost quadruple by 2050!

Even after these raw plastics become products, they continue to emit greenhouse gasses. The amount emitted into the atmosphere by these finished plastic products is relative to their surface area. With age and depending on individual conditions, they all breakdown into continually smaller pieces, leading to higher surface areas relative to each product’s original mass. And that facilitates significantly higher greenhouse gas emissions than from the original product. Imagine your car’s tires becoming worn down. All the microscopic dust that is worn off the tires by abrasion on the roadways emits higher quantities of greenhouse gasses because the surface to volume ratio is higher than the original new tire.

Why is Surface Area to Volume Ratio Important?

To understand this process, picture a 1-inch cube with a surface area of 6 square inches. When that cube is divided into eight 1/2-inch cubes, its surface area doubles to 12 square inches. With each such subdivision, the surface area doubles again. By the 20th subdivision, the surface area is about one square acre. With three more such divisions, the surface area equals 12 square acres. Yet amazingly, the solid volume remains at 1 cubic inch.

The greater the surface area, the higher the area that emits greenhouse gasses. At the same time, greater quantities of toxicants called endocrine disruptors are made available for migration into and onto whatever they contact.

Plastic nanoparticles continue to break down into single molecules that are totally invisible to the naked eye and emit far greater amounts of greenhouse gasses than the original products.

This important example illustrates how plastics become more toxic as they age. But it also illustrates how minute quantities of plastic can easily spread over vast areas of the world, on land, in the air, in oceans, as well as our food and bodies, forever modifying life as we think we know it.

Corporate Climate Change

Royal Dutch Shell logo

Plastics have become a lifeline for the fossil fuel industry after it was were hit hard by the drop in usage as a result of the Covid pandemic. Not so far from the first oil well by Edwin Drake in Titusville, Pennsylvania, the Royal Dutch Shell PLC joined economic forces with the plastics industry near natural gas fields in Monaca, PA. Employing more than 5,000 people on a 386-acre property along the Ohio River, it’s presently “one of the largest active construction projects in the United States.” It will include hundreds of miles of pipeline and a rail system with 3,300 freights cars producing over a million tons a year. It’s a massive project that will have undeniable effects on Climate Change. A unit of state-owned Thai oil and gas company PTT PCL is also developing an ethane cracker in the same region.

As natural gas is extracted from the earth, methane is its largest part. As ethane is isolated from natural gas, it’s converted to ethylene and the methane is shipped to residential and commercial customers as “natural gas” fuel. Ethylene itself is a greenhouse gas. But methane traps significantly more heat in the atmosphere than CO2 and does about 25 times more damage to the climate over a 100-year period than CO2 .

Plastics production is one of few opportunities for the gas industry to profit from ethane. Without using it in plastics, the fracking industry would be unable to justify using many of its wells. That puts Monaca, PA in the cross-hairs of both the gas and plastics industries. But don’t over-focus on polyethylene because the list of other types of plastics is seemingly endless. And all are made of 99% fossil fuels.

Everybody Knows, But . . .

Three-hundred years before the birth of Christ, Aristotle knew that human activity modified local climates. Christopher Columbus experienced that the clearing of the forest cover of the Madeira, Canary, and Azores islands reduced their rain and mist. And his words were recalled as evidence to remove forests by white European settlers who were unprepared for the climate of North America.

In 1959, physicist Edward Teller delivered a warning speech to a large audience at the Energy and Man symposium, which was organized by the American Petroleum Institute and the Columbia Graduate School of Business. He said, “Whenever you burn conventional fuel, you create carbon dioxide. . . It has been calculated that a temperature rise corresponding to a 10 per cent increase in carbon dioxide will be sufficient to melt the icecap and submerge New York.”

Almost weekly, studies have gotten increasingly more detailed, specific and urgent because of improvements in surveillance and data analysis. In 1968, there was another report to the American Petroleum Institute (API) by Stanford Research Institute (SRI) that warned that if left unabated, petroleum use “could bring about climatic changes.” In 1990, the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicted dire consequences of fossil fuel use. In 2019, the Department of Defense stated clearly that Climate Change is “a national security issue. . .”

By the end of 2020, more than 57,000 wildfires burned more than 10.3 million acres. In California, 31 people died and a record 4.2 million acres burned with 10,500 structures damaged or destroyed. Because of a historic drought, many of these enormous forest areas that have been consumed by fire are not reproducing. Also consider that since the year 1600, more than “90% of the virgin forests that once covered much of the lower 48 states have been cleared away.” I must repeat with emphasis: It all leads back to Climate Change!

Plastic Never Retires

Recycling plastic after we’ve finished with the bags, toys and medical paraphernalia is not actually possible on a large scale, nor will it be in the future. And focusing on only one part of the plastic problem is myopic when it’s all bad. The bulk of it – more than 99% – heads toward landfills, incinerators or it just flies in the wind. My last article on Socialist Action, “The Truth About Recycling Plastics,” explains that less than 1% of all plastic is recycled twice. Labeling plastics recycling as ineffective is extremely indulgent because it is nothing more than a scheme cooked up by the plastic industry to put the cost of the mess on citizens and prolong production. The stuff can’t actually be recycled in the true sense of the word (not the industry-invented one).

Plastic in landfills retards the degradation of the materials it surrounds. Hidden from sunlight below grade, its material state is essentially preserved. But it continues to release greenhouse gasses and toxic chemicals.

The oceans and all life in them are being choked to death and made sterile.

Incinerators take a more direct route to increasing Climate Change. In 2019 alone, the production and incineration of plastic added more than 850 million metric tons of greenhouse gases to the atmosphere – equal to the pollution from 189 new 500-megawatt coal-fired power plants, according to a 2019 report by Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL), “Plastic & Climate: The Hidden Costs of a Plastic Planet.”

Subsidizing Our Extinction

A 2017 report by Oil Change International states that U.S. taxpayers pay for more than $20 billion in fossil fuel subsidies each year by incentives, credits, low royalty rates, and other government measures benefiting the industry. Campaign contributions and lobbying expenditures come to $350 million. This clearly funds Climate Change. We’re paying for our own destruction. It’s bad enough that fossil fuels are used to produce energy. But producing plastics with them puts toxic chemicals in contact with life, reducing our viability life force, causing all manner of disease, deformity and psychological afflictions.

The Solution?

Most plastic activists presently claim they’re “working with industry” to reduce the toxicity of plastics. Of course it’s possible to ‘reduce’ its toxicity. But considering that plastics are toxic in extremely minute quantities, the elimination of toxicity is required. And creating completely nontoxic plastics is an impossibility because they are imperfectly formed (polymerized) from mostly toxic fossil fuels.

Any time consensus is required in such monumental directives as reducing plastics toxicity, corporately-formed committees ensure that consensus or solutions remain far in the distant future, always just out of reach.

They also claim humans “need plastic.” But humans lived without it for 200,000 years. We most definitely can live without it now. But like spoiled children, we just don’t want to. We’re addicted to it in spite of its existential threat of Climate Change. Breaking an addiction with something as entrenched into society will obviously be difficult. But like the saying about aging, it’s better than the alternative.

In the case of plastics, one cannot produce a material that’s more than 99% fossil fuels and expect it to be both nontoxic and not effect Climate Change. If its production continues, it will continue to exacerbate Climate Change, contaminate all life and go where it isn’t wanted. Therefore, logically, it must be halted. Even among nonprofit environmental organizations, this opinion is wildly unpopular. But it is a logical path forward if we want to survive. Nothing less than an immediate, drastic and unprecedented change in the way we all live will suffice. At this point in time or in the near future, there are no other alternatives that are realistically available. It is a question of survival. A true existential dilemma. Are we truly stuck in a place where the stuff we need to survive is killing us, or can we make changes in our culture that benefit all?

Plastics Production Must Be Halted!

 

Paul Goettlich

About me

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Zephyr Sounds Sunday Sermon No.52

Tracklist:
Ennio Morricone – The Strong
The Pogues – Dirty Old Town
Leon Spencer – Mercy Mercy Me
Empire of the Sun – Without You
Beastie Boys – To All the Girls
Bob Dylan – I Don’t Believe You (She Acts Like We Never Have Met)
David Bowie – Eight Line Poem
Otis Redding – Ole Man Trouble
Tim Buckley – Hallucinations
Smashing Pumpkins – Meladori Magpie p
King Curtis – A Whiter Shade of Pale (Live)
The Nat Adderley Sextet – Space Spiritual
Neil Young – A Man Needs a Maid
Neil Diamond – Holy Holy
Jimmie and Vella Cameron – Lord Abide with Me

 

Steam Stock

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Jeff Nuttall: Poems I Want to Forget

Jeff Nuttall (1933-2004) was a prolific artist and poet but he was also a jazz musician, critic, social commentator, novelist, theatrical innovator, actor and influential teacher.

‘Jeff Nuttall, who has died aged 70 was a catalyst, perpetrator and champion of rebellion and experiment in the arts and society. Bomb Culture, his 1968 chronicle of the emergence of internationalist counter-culture in Britain, remains a primary source and manifesto for the post-Hiroshima generation.’
     – The Guardian

His contribution to contemporary culture will come to be seen to be far greater than many may have suspected up to now…  In an earlier time…his boisterous passion for truth and love of outrage would not have disallowed the recognition of his deep seriousness.  It is in the difficulties as well as in the pleasures of this man’s art that its worth may be found.’
     – The Independent

A PDF of Jeff’s book Poems I Want to Forget is available here to read or download:

https://realitystudio.org/images/bibliographic_bunker/jeff_nuttall/jeff-nuttall.poems-i-want-to-forget.pdf

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We need to stop Boris Johnson before it is too late

Boris Johnson is the most dangerous prime minister I’ve suffered. I consider him much more dangerous to the people of the UK than Donald Trump is to the people of the USA. Obviously, one is in power and the other is not but there is also a fundamental difference between the constitutions of the two countries that should make us fear Johnson. In the UK, what rights we have can be swept aside by a simple act of parliament. If Trump ever gets to be president again, he will need stars to align if he ever wants to change the US constitution and meddle with the Bill of Rights because changing the US constitution is not a simple thing.

Johnson’s government has shown a total disregard for anything or anybody that attempts to challenge their authority. As justice secretary, Dominic Raab has suggested that the government may create legislation to bypass Supreme Court decisions. Parliament is sovereign and with a healthy majority they can just legislate away decisions that go against them. Meanwhile, Priti Patel has indicated that the non-existent ‘migrant crisis’ she has promoted for months can be solved partially by removing the right to freedom from degrading treatment. Whether they would go as far as to actually tamper with the Human Rights Act remains to be seen but they are edging towards it. This comes hot on the heels of MPs across the political spectrum calling for a nicer, kinder politics, in the face of one of their number being murdered. They keep forgetting that politics could be nicer by progressing nicer policies.
Johnson has had a rough few weeks in the polls. Labour took a lead in the poll average forcing pollsters onto the news to reassure the right wing newspaper editors that fund their businesses that this still wasn’t good news for Labour. The general consensus was that while people may be deserting the Tories, they’re not all switching to Labour. This could actually be a good thing for Labour, if those switching to the Lib Dems are doing so in constituencies where they are currently second. That we have pollsters that are desperate to show the Tories doing well when they’re doing badly tells us much about our media. It doesn’t take much for the Tories to suddenly do well again though. All you need is Johnson losing his place in a speech and blathering on about Peppa Pig and the British public realise that he’s their man.

The battering the Tories took in the polls occurred after trying to get away with abolishing parliament’s Standards Committee. One of their own, Owen Patterson, was found to have been raking in thousands of extra pounds by lobbying for firms who were paying him. Oh so needy Johnson spent an evening at the Garrick Club with former Telegraph newspaper colleagues who told him to save Patterson. They probably threatened him with some public school style bullying if he didn’t sort it out and he hates being bullied. He finds it worse than being ignored. His attempt ultimately failed but not because his MPs voted against his wishes. It failed because of the newspaper headlines the following day. Those headlines then continued as the focus turned to second jobs that MPs have. Sleaze became the word but, as I’ve pointed out before, that will never be truly dealt with. The negative newspaper attention spooked the prime minister and he was forced into a u-turn.

This reveals much about any prospects anyone has of preventing the Johnson government’s plans on anything. The newspapers tapped into a mainstay of British political discourse: the idea of fairness. The moment the newspapers decided that it was unfair for the government to scrap the Standards Committee, they had a story that would resonate with the electorate and therefore affect the poll ratings. Labour has tried to keep the story going by expanding it to the idea of second jobs in general and not just lobbying. They hope to keep the idea of unfairness in the public mind. So much of our politics is framed around an idea of fairness. If a politician can tap into it and convince the public they are right, it can help them achieve what they want. Much of the debate around immigration over the last few decades has been presented as an issue of ‘fairness’. Those on the right focus on whether it is ‘fair’ for the UK to ‘accept’ people from beyond its borders. Framing it like this works for them. Protest is now being looked at in the same manner, with the government asking whether it is fair for people to be disrupted by protests. Again, it seems to cut through to people. Brexit was framed as an issue of the UK needing to separate from the ‘unfairness’ of the EU.

A British sense of fairness has becomes a tool of manipulation, distorting facts and pushing the country ever rightwards towards more draconian laws and policies. An anarchist sense of fairness would be entirely different. A fairness based on mutual aid and solidarity would be a wonderful thing indeed. If the government get their way, even protesting for such a thing will become very difficult. Our constitution is being altered by this current government in ways that secure their power and make collective action harder to achieve. The newspapers may still be able to change the course of this government but let’s be honest, we can’t hope that they will do so on matters such refugees, protest and human rights. To avoid the bleak future Johnson wants we will need to hope for mass civil disobedience before it is too late.

Jon Bigger


Image by Number 10, published under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.

 
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ANOTHER QUIET NIGHT IN THE METROPOLIS

            Which one are you today?
            Despite clear message we suffer temporarily – seriously taking further sword-based classic result re-mastered full control – but when small copies of a theoretically possible bigger blockbuster micro-transaction surfaced becoming one of those rare moments, all baroque and lovingly crafted, unravelling details, disproportionate ‘representations’, psychotic types running around with worse-than-expected headaches a year earlier moving out often built for the times accepting greater risk, torn fishnets, piercings, eyes-on-stalks tattoos (sex-roses-demons) extreme Steampunk weirdness. The eye of the storm.

             Fast-twitch tailspin stunning-looking quest: this isn’t something we’re handling well; keep your shifty eyes on the road ahead…

            So get stuck in acquiring this new body mod type hobby maximum strength wireless telegraphy blow-drier treatment. And if the dam breaks, well, can’t help thinking about her deprived childhood – contrasting characteristic dishy, sharp, dude well-placed to help – a dodgy Fox in Socks or a cuddly Mr Tickle. Smart offices, stylish furniture, dedicated receptionist, cool rooms, business lounge, one-bedroomed flat, acoustics just right, not compromised in critical areas, sign-up, unlock car, focus on value – may end up a consultant rapid response powerful reliable scaleable innovative new world The Greatest Show on Earth: pseudo-cuties gaffe-prone clowns, intriguing film vintage late night factor hoax moon landing for extra fix. Never same again dog-hairs, notebooks, char-grilled foie gras, pizza-and-pyjama party awesome impersonators… are we really on the way out?

           Fast-twitch tailspin stunning-looking quest: this isn’t something we’re handling well; keep your shifty eyes on the road ahead…

           Back in the sixties and seventies a blend of daft comedy and musical revelry highlights, like four-day event skin treatments and massages, you’ll be able to watch despite everything the blackouts the slowdowns. Creepy fan-mail but no booking fees! Now arriving to phase-out entire cities (New York-London-Paris-Berlin) in period costume you get on with it in an original jet-black ball-gown. True privilege light a candle have a glass of wine, closer now, mistakes are the way to learn: we dress up and dance our socks off – snake ring, fingerless gloves, edgy soundtrack impressively constructed, code missing. Automatically get everyone in the mood make sure your pet isn’t left out shouldn’t need monthly bewitching this ‘Gothic Luxe’ trend: monochrome lace spider bracelet, battered leather jacket testament to power a multitude of sins, heaven for wild girls dates back to Saxon times – what crisis? Endemic issues speed up process shamelessly different shapes sizes backgrounds it was almost noon screaming agony outside veritable cornucopia of vice dazzling discoveries if you see nothing else tune in to this reunion of opposites special edition. Three point two million years ago we observe your fast-disappearing world of coastal lagoons, so Cindy’s dream of becoming an actress goes out the window fishing trip. Visit a studio trade in crystal meth political dossier recast as airport novel (huh?) grab an extra find out more with sub-machine guns; yes it’s just another quiet night in the metropolis.

         Fast-twitch tailspin stunning-looking quest: this isn’t something we’re handling well; keep your shifty eyes on the road ahead…

          It’s overwhelming and truly special to be here. Fine art prints, elbow patch blazers, hybrid golf clubs, thrills amplified first class turn-out you gotta be on some next level high-stakes electric dreamy instrumental happy slappers slapping, flappers flapping about call you tomorrow gaudy reminder of those luminous superdry suits, inflammable paper hats, glo-sticks sin and spectacle regrettably the air vent explodes. Exclusive chat ideal protection skinny-fit trousers, secret pockets, do your research nation-wide, slip back into that cockney accent what a laugh iconic alien cartel inside my brain welcome to hell slim design so-hated tiny minority public comment bad press not too good not the moment to get it on… so much can go wrong on the sofa with your new girlfriend honey honey don’t stop honey honey dynamic incredibly exciting are you brave enough?
Pale blue skies engine capacity post-war consumer boom culture retro-futurism, new wave writers, deviant subtopian norms pretentious and intrusive outdoor advertising hoardings, wires, poles, ill-sited public utilities such a fool to ask (Cindy Oh Cindy) edit your copy on trains and planes snap pictures into your diary long lens sunset over the rocky bay two couples scupper your plans think of new ways feminine variations end in another crisis.
Are we really on the way out? Today which one are you?

 

 

 

AC Evans

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Woodscapes

 
 
 
I have thing about Samuel Palmer, whose luminescent landscapes have enchanted me since I was a kid (well, art student, but I felt and behaved like a kid).  I’ve recently been dragging bits of wood in off the street and painting ‘scapes on them. The process begins with the choice of wood and studying its textures. Then priming with white emulsion and seeing what texture and grain come through.  Lines are drawn, marks are made,  then watered down acrylic paint smeared on with fingers.  Best are digit and middle fingers used at the same time and thinking of the landscape as I work.   This one came from a folded colour supplement photo, so I’ve painted it as a folded page. I like to think of this as a wing over the whole thing. I don’t know where it is, but it reminds me of the Kentish places of my childhood.  The finger rubbing gets down to the wood grain and reveals it. I got a splinter once, then put on a plaster – but it didn’t feel the same, so I waited for it to heal.   The most satisfying part is drawing into it, some pencil,  biro and a scoring tool. The folds makes this one very feminine, maybe erotic.   They say you never finish an artwork, just abandon it.  Not sure with this, but it feels less abandoned than the original lump of wood. If anyone thinks its kitsch, I don’t care.
 
Jan Woolf
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Giving all your royalties away

 

People find it weird that I have given my royalties away as a famous writer
They wonder why I want to live like a poor man in a cold home
I have kept enough so I can smoke my cigarettes and cigars
I have kept enough so I can go to a café and drink fine coffee
I have kept enough so I can order many kinds of takeout’s every night
They think I suffer but I really don’t
Unlike the side of the world I have been helping out
I have sent them over water
I have sent them over food
I have made sure they have fresh clothes
I have made sure they have shelter
By doing this I have started a war with the wrong people
They stood in front of me with a hundred guns pointed at me
I told them that if they do anything to the progress we have made shoot me now
It wasn’t a violent protest or speech

It was as peaceful as Ghandi
They backed away
These hungry and powerful fuckers are messing with the wrong soul
These hungry and powerful fuckers are messing with the wrong poet
I haven’t done it for fame
I haven’t done it for fortune
I haven’t done it to be loved
I have done it for the right reason
Because it was the right thing to do
Because enough has been enough
There was no god speaking to me
There was no angels talking to me
I did it because I was human
If that means my writing room bulbs burn out
If that means my notepads fill up like a bible
Then that is what needs to be done
And I know if you have a soul in your heart
You would also do it
I’m pretty sure you know what it is like to be poor
I’m pretty sure you have experienced it once
Were there was no food in your cupboards
Or no fresh nappies to change your babies bum
But someone or a few helped you out of that situation
So every one of you are my babies
You are my souls
And if you need me
You will find me with every small cry from your despair
And I will always be here like an infinite star
Not even a god would ruin a love like that

 

Paul Butterfield Jr

 

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Independent

I don’t depend on
Any man in my life.
For food, For cloth,
For survival or anything else.

Every woman need
To be independent;
Not only financially
But also emotionally.

Every woman is independent.
Only some are breadwinners
And others serve their family.
But those who serve the family
Has no social recognition.

But it’s time for a mark,
For taking a stand point
In your life. So head high
and chant the hymn
of an independent life.

 

 

 

 Tiyasha Khanra, Kolkata, India

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PORN: A PERSONAL HISTORY, & A CONSUMER’S GUIDE 5

 

CHAPTER FOUR: ‘THE RAKE’S REGRESS…

OR, MEMOIRS OF A YOUNG RAKEHELL…

 

By the 1840s/1850s technologies were copulating in order to spawn new wonders. Photographic techniques were developed to a level allowing them to challenge the printed supremacy of the woodcut-image. Woodcut was a technology that had persisted since Albrecht Durer was painstakingly crafting relief-prints back in 1515, one of a rhinoceros, a rumoured animal he’d never seen but only imaged from traveller’s tales. Another of praying hands so real they’re photographically detailed.

It has been argued, at least since the fifteenth-century onwards, that artists would furtively utilise camera obscura or convex mirrors to trace the images that such optical devices projected. David Hockney has suggested that this ‘trade secret’ explains the shift among northern European artists towards greater naturalism and the lifelike detail found in Van Eyck and Caravaggio. Such optical gimmicks may well have assisted, rather than replaced the painters’ genius, yet they provide evidence that technical progress is very much part of a continuing interaction with art. Joseph Nicéphore Niépce took the first modern photographic image in France in 1827. Then, during the summer of 1839 in Paris, Louis Jacques JM Daguerre’s crude ‘Daguerreotype’ fixed time into frozen images with its seven-second exposure-time, resulting in exquisite one-off pictures. He demonstrated to the French Academy how an image formed on a silvered metal plate covered with a thin film of silver iodide could be developed in the presence of mercury vapour.

In his novel ‘Slaughterhouse Five’ (1969) Kurt Vonnegut writes about how, a brief two years later, in 1841, Daguerre’s assistant Andre Le Fevre was arrested in the Tuileries Gardens attempting to sell the first dirty photograph in history. Maybe it’s apocryphal, maybe Vonnegut made it up, but it must have happened something like that. The instant opportunistic application of new technology to the commerce of sex. With an equally predictable contra-argument, with Le Fevre pleading that because he’d portrayed the woman in the photo with a Shetland pony and flanked by Doric columns and a potted palm, he was posing a scene from classical mythology in which gods assume the form of beasts in order to copulate with mortal women. It was art, not filth. Neverthless, he was sentenced to six months.

The world was transforming itself. Photos are different from paintings. Paintings have been processed through the creative imagination of the artist. They don’t have a one-to-one relationship with reality. Photos have immediacy. The moment is fixed. The future in coming unhinged. Pristine, and perfect reproductions of life-images can be individually preserved for repeated perusal. The camera freezes society’s mixing process, its fluidity, its imperatives, mythologies, and absurdities, picking them out with its detached eye. Its skilled image-stealers revel in the fascinating connections they make, weaving pictures with history and memory into a beguiling tapestry. It is an art made out of light, the Victorians even call the earliest examples ‘sun pictures’. But it only functions through the interactivity of its opposite, the ‘dark room’, the alchemaic chamber where the images develop. A duality of light, and its attendant darkness, inextricably linked. Healthy sun, and spectral moon. Manichean alternatives. The lens exposes. And it also voyeurs. Yet it can be triggered by the contents of the most shuttered, secretive mind.

Then the 1850s brought glass-plate negatives allowing multiple duplicates of formerly single photos that could now be sold individually, or in sets on the Pokemon ‘Got To Collect Them All’ principle. The phenomenon was immediately adopted for ‘art studies’ – a flag of convenience that would continue at least into the mid-1960s, in a cunning guise to legitimise photos of fat girls with untrimmed pubic hair and natural breasts, in artless poses. Serving girls. Wenches. Whores. ‘Pinch-pricks’ and ‘fan-tails’. Whoever could be induced to pose. The Parisian ‘Lorettes’, New Women of loose – or liberated morals, named for the Notre-Dame de Lorette brasseries they frequent. Why do they do it? They are nameless faces and bodies. Lost in time. Yet they are still here. Still fresh. Unlike the tastefully manicured pubic mohawk-ridges of today’s spreads their tumultuous cascades of unruly pubescence run from the navel clear on down. ‘Portraits are the candle by which we read history’ wrote the nineteenth-century historian Thomas Carlyle. And these are portraits made by photographers with hands stained in silver nitrate.

Do photographs take us closer to what is ‘real’? Or do they shove us further away? Frederik Pohl says ‘most of the things we call ‘sexy’ are symbolic, you know, except perhaps an exhibitionist’s open fly.’ But we know even that is open to multiple levels of meaning.

Photography resides uneasily between the extremes of the human emotional spectrum. It possesses what Lincoln Kirstein calls a ‘tender cruelty’. It is a tender alchemy because it is a mechanical eye that enables us to celebrate and preserve forms of beauty we care for, and that we appreciate. While its cruelty lies in the tendency of the lens to also pick up on details that should perhaps remain unseen. Cecil Beaton accuses photography of being a ‘temporal medium’ because it freezes an aspect of time, while it instantly consigns those most prized moments to the past. We see the photos. They compassionately arrest time. They stop clocks. Isolate moments. End the inexorable processes of mortality. They pause the lives of participants… the lives of whom promptly resume once the shutter clicks, and reality ruthlessly accelerates as that freshness fades, as age advances on towards loss, decay – and eventual death.

So these fannies by gaslight are women who deserve our respect. They may be anonymous, but theirs are spontaneous portraits (were it not for those exposure-time restrictions), with surfaces that lead the voyeuristic viewer inwards, into intriguing glimpses of their lost lives. For theirs is an uncontrived, unposed beauty frozen a century-and-more ago onto film, and so immortalised long after their subjects became victims of time’s ravages and gravity’s saggages. They may be vaguely remembered somewhere by someone as their aged great-grandmother, yet we can still enjoy their ageless stay-fresh beauty, their bright eyes gazing defiantly out at the viewer, challenging us to deny their right to the freedom of their bodies, and boldly defying the restrictive preconceptions of their era.

While ‘scientific’ anthropologists snap undraped native peoples – a practice legitimatised when ‘National Geographic’ published its first bare-breasted photo in its November 1896 issue, and continued into the lure of the exotica during my grubby schooldays. Highjacked by quasi-science intended to assemble photographic evidence ‘proving’ absurd racial theories, these are made self-evidently ridiculous by the proud dignity and natural beauty of their subjects, who shame the intrusive Victorian prurience hiding behind the lens.

Technologies were copulating in order to spawn new wonders. The Autochrome colour photography technique, devised by the Lumiére brothers, is a process derived from potatoes. With the introduction of half-tone print reproduction in 1880, photographic images could be mass-produced. Those engines of change were soon transforming every aspect of individual lives. And just as the paradigm-shift of e-based cyber-culture began causing a third-wave communications revolution towards the end the twentieth century, so the tectonics of all those early years culminated in turn-of-the-century advances in printing techniques that were resulting in better-finished copies of periodicals being produced at much greater speeds. And as mass-production photography from rolls of nitrate film allied to lithographic printing it opened up limitless possibilities. Black-ink-on-white-paper printing is easy. Most newspapers were black-on-white up until the end of the twentieth century, the first web-offset mass production attempts at four-colour register resulted in half-tone print that needed 4D-glasses to make sense of it…

But wait – why do we need a history of print technology in a porn-overview? Because technology defines its leading edge. It makes it possible. Because ‘science and prurience proceed hand in hand.’ Spot-colour, in red – or magenta, was an easy addition to the greyish halftone world of newsprint, particularly if it was not too closely registered to the black, hence the term ‘red-top’. Blue – or cyan, too. Yellow was the problem. In what is termed CMYK (cyan, magenta, yellow + black) four-colour printing, an understanding of primary, secondary and tertiary colours is necessary. Plus a pigment-based ink sufficiently efficient to carry them. Without yellow, there can be no greens or oranges. Yet printing the spectrum’s missing link proved to be a monumental technical task, with the presses deforming its hue into a sickly ghost-shade.

Spurred by a bitter circulation battle with the rival Randolph Hearst-owned ‘Journal’, the New York ‘World’, a paper owned by Joseph Pulitzer, produced an experimental four-colour page in 1893. Three years later its engraving foreman Charles Saalburgh perfected the process further, using it to produce a humorous illustration for the 16 February 1896 issue. The success of the format, and its widespread adoption across other popular titles, soon earned the epithet ‘Yellow Press’. It’s probably around this time that the print-erotica trade also diversified, went underground, and took on international dimensions, expanding from rich collectors of ‘erotomane’, to the prurient proletariat, speeded by the expansion of Postal Services. And was inevitably harassed by the vigilance of police attentions. Themes that would continue to interact throughout the coming decades.

Time-periods seldom neatly conform to precise year or decade-frames, or to the behavioural patterns that are expected of them. Victorians, according to preconception, were all about straight-laced starch, unsmiling repression, and no emotions. That’s true… up to a point. Philosopher Michel Foucault suggests they weren’t as repressed as we suppose, merely that by seeing them in that way makes us feel more liberated and smugly progressive about ourselves. But even the queen who gave the era its designation was initially anything but repressed, and behind closed doors was well-able to revel in her sexuality. Despite her passion-killing diet of roast beef, ice-cream and suet puddings, her infatuations extended to Lord Melbourne – an association that led to the infamous ‘Crisis of the Bed Chamber’, and her Scots adviser John Brown. But both extremes characterise her marriage to Prince Albert – at first fiercely positive in that she enjoyed a vigorous sex-life with him, until her equally intense bereavement cast the national shadow we now associate with dour ‘Victorian’ qualities, which led to a healthy growth in the republican movement.

But wherever there’s conformity, thankfully, there are rebellious misfits too, and even here there was more non-conformity than we sometimes assume. For this was also the time that Victorian adventurer Sir Richard Francis Burton brought ‘The Kama Sutra’ sex guide to London. Initially, twenty-one year-old Burton had gone to work in India, during the height of the British Raj. A natural outsider he was soon bored and stifled by the cosy insularity of the English émigré community there, and horrified by the casual cruelties they inflicted on the people they governed. Looking beyond the teeming poverty and squalor, he instead found himself drawn into what he saw as the exotically sensual and less inhibited Indian society all around him. Fascinated, he ‘went native’ going places an officer and a gentlemen was not expected to go. In 1845, in the Sind province he assumed the identity of ‘Abdullah’, a travelling cloth merchant, a guise that enabled him to mix freely with the locals. In Karachi he non-judgementally frequented boy and eunuch brothels, under the pretext of carrying out surveys for the authorities. In his zeal for their more open sexual culture, he contracted malaria, went to Goa to study Sufi, and visited the erotic Hindu carvings of Elephanta Island.

It was while seeking out Hindu manuscripts that he discovered ‘The Kama Sutra’, believed to have been written by philosopher Vatsyayana in the third-century, not only a sex-manual but a life-style guide too, what novelist Hanif Kureishi calls ‘a carnival of desire and mayhem’. Returning to England he commenced its translation in 1876, and published the work anonymously in 1883. At odds with prevailing Victorian prudery and hypocrisy – which considered it licentious and filthy, the very gateway to damnation, he argued in favour of female pleasure through erotic foreplay, advising ‘as dough is prepared for baking’ so a woman must be prepared for sex.

He was a prolific writer, and other books duly followed, including ‘The Arabian Nights: The Book Of The Thousand Nights And A Night’ (1885) and ‘The Perfumed Garden Of Sensual Delight’ (1886). But the mysteries of the orient continued to attract him, and he returned east in 1853 intent on another feat of courage and deception, by completing the Haj pilgrimage to Mecca. In Egypt he perfected a disguise that would enable him to do so, even circumcising himself to complete its authenticity. Later, back in London he married Isobel in 1861, but she lacked sympathy with his aims, and burnt many of his valuable manuscripts after his death in 1890 to ‘protect their respectability’. Despite her insensitive efforts, his most famous work retained its suppressed illegal underground status clear through until its republication in 1963, when ‘The Kama Sutra’ achieved renewed notoriety by introducing its liberalising possibilities to a new generation of receptive readers – although it’s been estimated it would take the average couple three-and-a-half years to work their way through every one of the 529 copulatory positions it describes!

There was a yearning to escape the stultifying straightjacket of Victorian morality, Richard Burton’s example of openness to exoticism was hardly unique. The romantic fashion for the east in art – going back to Byron’s orientalism in ‘Childe Harold’, and popularised at least in part by Burton’s writing, uses images of seraglios and harems as excuses for portraying languid opulently-jewelled nudity. In a form of fevered appropriation spinning only what cultural elements they select to suit their daydream whims, the artists show not the enslavement or suppression of the concubines, but a soft-focus Sapphic realm of indulgent leisure where women are subject to the acquisitive male gaze, where their only purpose is to be beautiful – and sexually available.

Although the more liberal west now views the Islamic world as an austere regime of fundamentalist repression, for straight-laced Victorians the opposite seemed true. The fact that the word ‘seraglio’ was derived from ‘cage’, and that those within, often supervised by cruelly mutilated eunuchs, had no choice in their confinement, meant less to them than the visions it conjured. Géròme Jean-Léon’s painting ‘Harem Pool’ lingers on naked prettification with female bodies strewn decorously around the fountain, while the subject of Paul Desiré Trouillebert’s ‘The Harem Servant’ is portrayed attractively topless, projecting the artist’s lavish fantasies onto the forbidden decadence of the Ottoman Empire. It’s an enticement that – oddly, persists in woman’s fantasy, spilling over into the Rudolph Valentino ‘Sheik’ soft-rape fantasies, and Anne Colon’s ‘Angelique & The Sultan’ (1960) novel-series in which the strong-willed heroine is first sold as a slave, then presented as a gift to Mulay Ismail, Sultan of Morocco, and imprisoned in his harem.

Algernon Swinburne (1837-1909) was the next effete decadent, with a link back to de Sade, and to Charles Baudelaire (through his 1862 essay championing ‘Les Fleurs Du Mal’). The poet-inventor of the ‘roundel’ form, his posthumously-published novel ‘Lesbia Brandon’ describes ‘Herbert’ being regularly and pleasurably beaten by his tutor. Although the prurient reader is rather spoiled for choice when seeking references to flagellation in Swinburne’s writings – a dedicated sadomasochist, his delight in caning flowered when he was still an Eton schoolboy.

Poet Arthur Rimbaud described his function in ‘A Season In Hell (Une Saison En Enfer)’ (1873) as ‘I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.’ While Charles Pierre Baudelaire knew everything there was to know about forbidden pleasures. For him ‘the unique, supreme pleasure of love lies in the certainty of doing wrong.’ Happiness is something earned. Pleasures are always stolen and fleeting. Selfish pleasure creates consequences. It’s where the moral stuff begins. And it was not a moral time.

The Industrial Revolution was a turning point for civilisation, but not necessarily for the better. Mass productivity went hand-in-hand with mass poverty. Soaring profits matched soaring prostitution. One estimate puts sex-workers at eighty-thousand in London alone. And increasing mechanisation sat alongside increasing child mortality. Seven angry young men found this social injustice too much to take. And in 1848, their Victorian blood boiling, they did what many groups of enraged twenty-somethings have done. They created art. Not the art of the murky, mechanised world around them, but one that was fading into hazy memory. Dante Gabriel Rossetti, William Holman Hunt and John Everett Milais crafted alternate worlds of outstanding beauty and unerring moral purpose filled with dazzling colours and near-photographic detail. Edward Burne-Jones offered a refuge from soiled Victorian reality. In the end, the most compelling works of the industrial age were produced by hand, not machine.

The first half of the 1890s was the era of the effete aesthete, and their beautifully indulgent ‘Yellow Book’ – the first issue published by Elkin Matthews & John Lane in April 1894, with a lavish Aubrey Beardsley cover. ‘Yellow’ itself carried daringly dangerous implications, because this was the colour of daringly dubious French novels. The precociously talented pale young Beardsley also designed the cover for no.2 (July 1894), and contributed interior art for “La Dame Aux Camelias” and a sketch of the “The Wagnerites” theatre-audience watching ‘Tristan Und Isolde’ for no.3 (October 1894). ‘Yellow Book IV’ (January 1895) includes Beardsley’s charming ‘The Mystery Of the Rose Garden’, with no.5 following in April. ‘Wind In The Willows’ author Kenneth Grahame was an early-contributer, with a series of non-erotic essays, including the now-rare “The Headswoman” (1894). Although nervous publisher John Lane promptly dropped Beardsley in response to the Oscar Wilde scandal, the book continued as a plush quarterly until no.13 (April 1897).

It was followed by its even more gorgeously fin-de-sickle successor ‘The Savoy’ – which survived for eight ultra-decadent issues from January to December 1896. This time, Leonard Smithers was the publisher, a libertine and pornographer who also practiced as a book-dealer, with catalogues containing rare erotic works and unique items, including books bound in human skin. With typically perceptive wit Oscar Wilde described him as ‘clean-shaven, as befits a priest who serves at the altar whose god is Literature.’ To Oscar, Smithers was ‘wasted and pale – not with poetry, but with poets who, he says, have wrecked his life by insisting on publishing with him. He loves first editions, especially of women, little girls are his passion. He is the most learned erotomaniac in Europe. He is also a delightful companion and a dear fellow…’

In league with Arthur Symons – author of ‘The Symbolist Movement In Literature’ (1899), Smithers was intent on creating a progressive successor to ‘The Yellow Book’. Symons was to be editor. He rescued Aubrey Beardsley – who had been dropped from ‘The Yellow Book’ the moment the Wilde scandal broke. Unconcerned, or perhaps even titillated by the affair, Symons recruited Beardsley as art editor. It was Beardsley who chose the new magazine’s name – borrowing it from the new London hotel to suggest both modernity and opulence. Other contemporary magazines had names like ‘Strand’ and ‘Pall Mall’, and this new title would give the impression of a grand and select location away from the main thoroughfare.

Ironically, for such a much-bowdlerised artist, even when surrounded by supposed friends and literary allies, Beardsley was unable to avoid censorship. The cover he prepared for the launch issue of ‘Savoy’ (January 1896) was to have shown a naked ‘putto’ cherub about to piss on a copy of ‘The Yellow Book’. Such an irreverently playful detail was one step too far for contributor George Moore, who complained to Symons. So ‘The Yellow Book’ had to be deleted, and the offending pert genital detail had to be doctored before publication was deemed possible. The second issue of the ‘Illustrated Monthly’ (April 1896), just as lavish, cost just 2s 6d for which the purchaser got not only Beardsley’s outrageous elongations and outré erotic fantasies but the dark poetic imaginings of Paul Verlaine too.

As Beardsley, his acolytes and cronies descended into the rarified atmosphere of an orchidaceous bohemian underworld, to some there was the diabolical whiff of sulphur exuded by the self-destructive indulgencies of their flirtations with the artistic dark-side. ‘The grotesque is the only alternative to insipid commonplace’ Beardsley declared, as he executed his art by night, in the concentrated illumination-pools cast by two tall candlesticks, the light of which he always prefered to that of crude gas lamps. The extravagantly talented twenty-year old ‘Dandy Of The Grotesque’ exulted in the idea that ‘beyond me, the rage of artistic London… I have fortune at my foot.’ Later issues include WB Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Max Beerbohn. ‘Savoy no.3’ (July 1896) features Beardsley’s poem “The Ballad Of A Barber”, and for no.7 (November 1896) he translated the Catullus poem “Carmen CI”. Beardsley provides all the covers, plus numerous lavishly embellished interior illustrations. Some of his lushly erotic line-drawn art fantasias accompany extracts from his unfinished erotic novel “Under The Hill” across the first two books (originally titled ‘The Story Of Venus & Tannhauser’). Each issue was a succulent feast of elegantly outré outrage and sophisticated invention, championing dangerously adventurous flirtations both literary and arty, ‘Savoy’ was a beacon that would illuminate all subsequent risqué publishing ventures.

A select aware audience appreciated and celebrated the assured draughtsmanship and luxuriant invention. A larger public indulged in its regular tryst of titillation and disapproval. While the reputations of the magazine’s creators – amplified by their links with the old sybarite Oscar Wilde, ensured that the respectable family firm of WH Smith’s would have no truck with such a reprehensible journal. After all, even what is now considered the classic literature of “A Picture Of Dorian Gray” had hit problems when first published in ‘Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine’ (June 1890). Already heavily bowdlerised by editor JM Stoddart it still provoked outrage.

The ‘Daily Chronicle’ first launched into the ‘Dorian Gray’ fantasy as ‘a tale spawned from the leprous literature of the French Decadents,’ then going on to detect the ‘mephitic odour of moral and spiritual putrefaction.’ Yet the subsequently much-imitated, but seldom equalled Dandified Bohemianism it represents survived at least until Wilde’s scandalous trial. In his own detailed account of the events, written in prison and published as ‘De Profundis’, Wilde tells his own tale. Although tastefully edited by his literary executor, Robert Ross, for its initial publication in 1905, a more honestly explicit version appeared in 1949 in which Wilde forsees the germ of his own destruction in his assocation with Lord Alfred Douglas. ‘I discern in all our relations not Destiny merely, but Doom… I feel sometimes as if you had been merely a puppet worked by some secret and unseen hand to bring terrible events to a terrible issue.’

His downfall came at the peak of his fame, by initiating legal action against the Marquess of Queensberry for libel. ‘A kiss may ruin a human life’ he cautions. When Oscar learned he was to be pitted against defence counsel Edward Carson – his old Trinity rival, he remarked ‘no doubt he will pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend.’ He wasn’t wrong. Wilde already knew the dangerous power of what he termed ‘feasting with panthers’, those sessions with rough-trade working-class youths, but ‘every impulse that we strive to strangle broods in the mind and poisons us… the only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it.’ And Carson tracks down a long line of rent-boys willing to testify that he’d yielded to their temptation.

The case imploded, with criminal charges rapidly following. Wilde’s dramatic demise – ‘Reading Goal’, and Paris exile, forced the premature closure of an era with the ‘sudden shock (of) the prison-clock.’ Beardsley died of a haemorrhage, aged just twenty-five, after begging publisher Leonard Smithers ‘by all that is holy’ to destroy all his ‘bad’ and ‘obscene’ drawings. Thankfully Smithers did nothing of the sort, preserving Beardsley’s perverse brilliance to shock and delight us into the present day. Yet, just across the channel – through those same turn-of-the-century 1890s, ‘Le Frisson’ was already utilising the new half-tone technology to thrill its readers with the indecency of intimate revelations. Bodies both real, and illusory.

Technologies were copulating in order to spawn new wonders. For those with a lurid interest in the life-styles of the rich and the decadent, ‘The Illustrated Police News’ (dated Saturday 4 May 1865) was graced by a cover-splash portraying ‘Closing Scenes At The Old Bailey Trial Of Oscar Wilde’. For the price of a single penny the big central-spread had cartoon-frame oval inserts with artist-impressions of ‘Oscar Wilde as Prisoner’ and ‘The Sale Of Oscar Wilde’s Effects’. While across the Atlantic, the impact of the similarly strangely titled ‘National Police Gazette’, was grabbing readership figures that between the years 1845 and 1932, few popular weeklies could equal. Shock-Horror style ‘True Crime Exposés’ have always exerted their own grisly attractions. Think Fred & Rosemary West. Think Peter Sutcliffe. They are hardly unique in that respect. The vicarious thrill of atrocity, spiced with the forbidden lure of degenerate sexual deviancy. Legitimised by the serio-gloss of current social relevance. A combination as irresistible then as it is now.

The ‘Gazette’ was widely distributed in seedy hotels and saloons, but became most notorious as the ‘barbershop bible’ due its ready availability in such bastions of masculinity. Several other magazines were around at the same time trying to imitate and compete with its peak weekly circulation of 500,000 in the 1880s and 1890s, but none came close. Some of the rival magazines were ‘Last Sensation’, ‘Day’s Doings’, ‘Fox’s Illustrated Week’s Doing’ (the ‘spiciest dramatic and best story-paper in America’), and ‘Stetson’s Dime Illustrated’. Extending its brief the ‘Illustrated Day’s Doings and Sporting World’ offered the cavortings of ‘fly gothamites’ and ‘frisky females’ to its titillated readership in 1885.

But none could match the mystique and grisly allure of ‘National Police Gazette’. Although the gazette’s most active publishing years cover 1845 to 1920, even into the middle of the twentieth century it was still there, with such exclusives as a ‘Hitler is Alive’ cover-story into the 1950s. But its history is best seen in two distinct phases – before and after 1876. The former represents the period of its truly crusading – albeit sensational journalism. The latter – reflected in its switch from white to bright blue paper – is characterized by the addition of highly illustrated, purely exploitative stories of crime, sexual offences, violence, impropriety, debauchery, vulgarity, brothels, and the dregs of urban night life. This lusty list of subject areas is rounded out in 1879, when it begins adding sports – such as boxing, and calling itself ‘the leading illustrated sporting journal in the world.’

The ‘Gazette’ always included pictures (sometimes tied into the stories) of pretty actresses, dazzling burlesque queens and dancers in tights. These become – one could say, the official pin-ups of the day, though that term would not to be invented for many decades. In ‘The Right To Privacy’, a much-quoted legal review published 15 December 1890, Warren & Brandeis noted that ‘the press is overstepping in every direction the obvious bounds of propriety and decency. Gossip… has become a trade.’

Around the same time, in London, the first issue of ‘The News Of The World’ appeared – 1 October 1843. It would survive on pretty much the same diet of mild titillation and salacious stories, until its abrupt termination on 10 July 2011, after 8,674 issues, due to a phone-hacking scandal. Its tone only changed to reflect the temper of the times. George Orwell commented on its presence as part of Sunday morning routine. As much loathed as it was loved. In the 1950s it specialised in revelations about the transgressions of vicars, largely because church policy forbade them from suing.

Yet I persist in believing that tolerance is no bad thing.

 

 

 

 

BY ANDREW DARLINGTON

 

 

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Government Self-Support Scheme Posters (1971-)

 

 

 

 

https://scarfolk.blogspot.com/

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The Blue Petal is Light Reflected Off a Chorizo Slice

 

That culinary
dimension of
sense-datum,

and deflection is a kind
of alternative reality, as if perception
can be controlled by this:

slice and
dice to get to the
apparent truth.
Is this

the quintessence of
poetic bathos?

Light
Slightly
Deceiving.

If colours can confuse
with such ease, hanging flags is an
act of treachery.

A viral
variant of
expectation;

royal blue
in the silky coax
of consumerism;

chouriço fermented
in the colour of twelve bars
lamenting.

How the horticulturalist
is in lockdown dreams within the
most domestic of moments.

 

 

Mike Ferguson
Art Rupert Loydell

 

 

 

 

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Snowfall

 

A child has sprinkled powder
on almost everything.
The places not white with his
safe for the baby talcum
stare at me, and the sky,
both bright and dim, screams
Lichtenstein at the earth dwellers.

The leftover bird cooked stuffed
with crumbs thrust in its id
is the breakfast today,
and we ready our daughter
for the Christmas tree.

These are the possibilities
of living where it snows.
I spread these before the bare dirt
and the not-summer wind,
and before the naked child
holding one grass halm between
his teeth still wet with
the blood of the stranger
who cornered him in the last night’s alley.

 

 

(Inspired by one Nick Victor photograph)

Kushal Poddar

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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EMF: Live on the 30th Anniversary Tour

Alan Dearling gets trampled in the EMF mosh-pit!

I arrived at the Golden Lion with a rather dim memory of the catchy ear-worm track, ‘Unbelievable’, a 1990 hit, written by EMF guitarist, Ian Dench. My mental image was of a lively, jump-up-and-down style boys’ band, punkier than Madness. Plus, the vague sense that EMF were a part of the messy Madchester Party Scene.

Here’s what it says in Wikipedia:

“From Cinderford in the Forest of Dean.

The name EMF is an initialism of Epsom Mad Funkers, a name taken from a fan club of the band New Order in 1989.”

The atmosphere amongst the crammed, buzzing EMF crowd was ‘heady’, ‘expectant’, ‘tribal’. A bit like a passionate football crowd before an important Cup Match.

Dj Glenn Evans provided a panoply of dj-bass beats, sounds to get the crowd charged up to bursting point. It was a heaving, bonkers, ‘unbelievable’ crew, raving mad, frolicsome and noisy, as EMF fans bounced around the Golden Lion in Todmorden. It was very low lighting in which to take pics, but I did the best I could. Mid-evening, Leon the Pig Farmer did his poetry thing. Political, a wordsmith of the streets, punk poetry, of, and for the masses. Leon tells ‘stories’ of the underclass, and spices it up with his personal struggles against ‘devils’ – authorities, mental health and unfair treatment. Leon says, “I am the man in the mirror, the master of self-flagellation…” and, “I’m a Manchester-dwelling Yorkshireman Beat Poet with a little more than a lot to say.”

Here is Leon in full-flow: https://www.facebook.com/watch?ref=search&v=261008822623204&external_log_id=2e24a88c-0317-4f57-8998-433de34a7af5&q=leon%20the%20pig%20farmer

The lights dimmed, the ecstatic, rammed crowd parted to let the EMF lads strut their stuff. They appeared as a slightly shambling, eccentric crew from some sort of psyched-up fancy dress ball. Immediately it was a cauldron of chanting, near hysterical, screaming fandom, strangely reminiscent of ‘Oi’ bands such as Sham 69. 

Early in the set I clutched my cameras and dived into the base of the mosh-pit. A somewhat dodgy, rabid place, but this is where the audience and band were in the heart of the frantic action. Melodic, to be honest, it wasn’t, but this was more of a devotional, crowd-experience. This was the Sound of a 1990s Party People – going for it – at full tilt.

Again from Wikipedia, I have discovered that that the EMF song, ” ‘Head the Ball’, which featured on the remix single release of ‘Lies’, featured the repeating lines “electromotive force” and “ecstasy mother fucker”. On the reissue of the band’s 1991 album ‘Schubert Dip’, after the song ‘Longtime’, there is a hidden track titled ‘EMF’. In this, the chorus lyrics start off with “E for Ecstasy, M for my mind’s in my feet, F from us to you” and then move on to “E for Ecstasy, M for mother fucker mother fucker, F from us to you”.”

James Atkin, singer with EMF posted after the gig:

“Todmorden you have destroyed me. Thank you all for coming, everyone said it was the greatest venue in the UK, I honestly can’t argue, we had a ball.”

James Atkin has also been pursuing a successful solo career, most recently under the banner of his 2021 album, ‘Songs of Resistance’:

 https://www.facebook.com/jamesatkinmusic

Ian Dench has been busy as a song-writer. Wikipedia tells us that: “In 2007, Dench wrote the duet Beautiful Liar for Beyoncé and Shakira, and ‘Tattoo’ for American Idol winner Jordin Sparks with Amanda Ghost….

Dench co-wrote Colours on the Prodigy’s 2009 album, Invaders Must Die, and ‘Red’ a top 5 hit for Daniel Merriweather in the UK in May 2009. Gypsy, another collaboration with Amanda Ghost, was the third single from the album, She Wolf by Shakira. The singer-songwriter Jamie Cullum sang two Dench-penned songs in the ITV series The Halcyon in 2016.”

Here’s Ian on ‘The Weekly’ video in 2021 about the Forest of Dean, EMF and song-writing: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0iY9zD_evTY

Check out a collection of live clips from Todmorden: ‘It’s You’, ‘They’re Here’, ‘Unbelievable’ and ‘EMF’. I think they are from Sarah B on the EMF Facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/EMFTheBand

And, finally, here’s a couple of links to the original EMF in action:

‘Unbelievable’ (1990) video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sfCLt0kTd5E

‘I’m a believer’, EMF with Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer (1995): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MY9hvn42WqU

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How He Wrote Us into Existence – A Fiction 18

Two days later Poet knocks on our door shortly after midnight.

“What now?” Prisha mumbles.

We don decency to open the door of our room and find Poet standing on the landing of the first floor stairs.

“Someone is trying to break in.” He hisses.

The first thing I do, even before trying to listen to the almost silent night to ascertain the facts, is to open the drawer and unsheathe the knife. Prisha wrapped it in soft crimson silk, the leftover from one dress she brought from her side of the family. It has a dragon and a phoenix appliqué, and perhaps it has the origin in the China Town or the part of the city that used to go by that name.

Unleashed, the knife looks formidable even in this world of gun power and drones.

I rush downstairs. The knife refrains my wife from saying ‘Don’t go alone.’ I am not alone. I have the omnipotence of Cain’s jawbone. I have the evil of someone defending himself beginning to relish the process. Although the reason behind such a crack a crib escapes my rationale; the burglars know their houses; they observe, holds their patience, they can remind you about the purchases you made and forgot, and they also knows the number of people living in your house. Ours run on a spartan budget. Three adults live here. My hair tingles. They may be misled by the recent purchase made for Poet at the local wine shop. An Islay Scotch at the time of pandemic taxation can uncork possibilities. And that the burglars may come ready for three adults scares me. I hold the knife, begin to whisper to my uncle, “You lived alone. Okay, not in the time of a plague, and facing desperate people searching for any source of income. What should I do?”

It takes several years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds to alight stairs. I watch me descending, and then I become my uncle who died, breathless, down the stairs of my paternal house, and I become reverse Rebecca on the stairs, and then I suffer a flitting vertigo moment; I am all too mundane, a person who cannot even write a letter to his friends.

If Poet and Prisha pursue my steps I am unaware of that. I can hear the tiny noise now. Yes, someone wants to come inside. Surreptitiously. Violently.

How attention works. I, as if for the virgin time, see the knife is quite long, sturdy, serrated, sharp, in spite of its age and those stains and scratches. I notice stick insects and tiny flies near the staircase lamp. The time has ripened for a short spell of gale, and ensuingly a longer period of rain. Stairs gather dust, and sometimes a household help in plague mask battles with it before accepting the loss.

The noise comes from the backdoor. It sounds apologetic, as if my father moves objects in the corridor, and feels guilty about the ruckus because my mother may wake up to a feat of asthma.

I can fall down these. Stairs. End of the play. Or worse, beginning of a tedious tale of suffering and living on wheels. I think and shift my sweaty grip on the knife. It has a nice hold, and its black hold grasps my hand.

By the time I reach the ground floor landing, the burglar, a thin and sunburnt one, has penetrated the farce of a sangfroid that this house is. At that point, I realize both Prisha and Poet hover over my shoulder like the angel and the devil in some cartoon I almost fail to recall.

The entire scene may be replayed with some canned laughter if we survive this intrusion and the pestilence. At least the burglar wears a mask. Every moment is a joke.

One solitary burglar disappoints me. I have one knife and unless this person matches me with something more violent some hazy scruples and gallantry forbids me to yield the sharp serrated edge of my intention.

The man hides his surprise at seeing us equipped and waiting for him. He too has a faux-military knife. No set of scruples would have helped us if he had a firearm.

Elora makes us jump when she says in soft intonation, “Hello.” She stands on the upstairs landing on her toes in order to have a better view of this turgid opera.

The burglar clears his throat and lowers his weapon, “Can I have something like some bucks, water and a leftover meal?”

“Of course.” I say. Prisha scurries toward the kitchen, and Poet relaxes behind me, and I can hear a rustling of his muscles settling. This is the first time I hear such a noise. It reminds me of a haunted house I visited as a child daring my friends. I could not make it beyond the steps, and still I could hear the night inside the house, and it was a lovable May afternoon.

“What is your name?” Elora asks from upstairs. This way, I imagine, the God speaking may sound.

“I.” the burglar says.

I still have the knife pointing sideways at I. We keep staring at each other. Prisha urges us to move our drama into the kitchen and raises her voice as if the pitch cannot reach our daughter, “Stay where you are.”

“Do you live at the desolate movie theatre?” I ask. People find all kind of extra hands in that place.

I nods, his mouth works on the hasty sandwich. Poet must have gone downstairs. He, in slow motion, extends his hand toward I. He has one hundred.

Long after the burglar who calls himself ‘I’ left I fall asleep beside my wife holding me tight, and witness a dream –

Some foggy street skids beneath our feet – two of us walking, the daughter in cardigan and pullover and jeans, and her hands bunched in and pendulating as one, and I quivering, an apparent apparition.

The evening looks for more people, albeit this, a plague year, the emptiness is full of people gone, inverted hallucinations of those who live.

I say to my daughter, “Holla. It is okay to feel sad before the day reels.”

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Ilustration Nick Victor

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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Reasonable Expenses

It’s the party of the year, with envoys and A-listers brushing elbows and delicate conversations. Everyone’s words are dressed like butterflies and even the most casual glance is a blown glass bulb containing orchids and rare insects. The entomologist sent his apologies, but an orchid is definitely an orchid and the famous smell of rotting meat only enhances the sweetness of sticky petit fours that circulate on the backs of dickie-bowed turtles. The conversation skips from Strictly, to sport, to climate change denial, and someone drops a bon mot that rolls like a false eye beneath a straining table. Gossip column inches grow in direct proportion to the length of lizard tongues that lick behind celebrity ears. All suggestions are reasonable by candlelight and numbers are exchanged for notoriety. Repercussions will be felt in private rooms and public inquiries, but now the band is tuning up and it’s time to loosen buttons and kick off our shoes.

 

 

Oz Hardwick
Illustration Nick Victor

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SAUSAGE LIFE 208

SAUSAGE LIFE
Bird Guano
The column which thinks that people are those who populate humanity, and peeps are what people do from behind curtains.

READER: What are you listening to these days? I just bought a 20-CD boxed set of 80s & 90s classics.

MYSELF: Classics? Are you sure there’s no rubbish hidden in there?

READER: Cynic! Surely no self-respecting company would try to sell you a pile of poo concealed inside nuggets of pure pop gold?

MYSELF: Tell that to all those self respecting banks and junk bond traders. They will be thrilled to find out yesterday’s worthless dross has now acquired the rose-tinted glow of nostalgia. I imagine window cleaners and taxi drivers in 20 years time will be whistling the tunes of Kanye West, which, let’s face it, sound much the same as Cole Porter.

READER: Absolutely. And with better lyrics too.

 

WAITER, THERE’S A FLAW IN MY SOUP

Although it’s tempting to think that good manners have disappeared entirely, I can assure you they have not. This came home to me as I was lunching recently at DFL’S, the latest hipster restaurant to hit town. Inside, everything, including the artisan unisex toilet, has the prefix ‘craft’ attached to it. All the waiters sport long Rasputin-style facial hair (neatly coiffured, like a retired brigadier’s hedge), red and blue checked woodsman’s shirts, and braces which can only be described as defiantly pink. Alarmingly, as my soup was delivered, I spotted an inch and a half of the waiter’s face fuzz dangling in the bowl. The poor chap must have seen my furious expression, but happily, he appeared to have been brought up properly. Leaning over my shoulder with a smile, he carefully removed the end of his beard and wrung the last drop of soup back into the bowl. Manners cost nothing.

 

THE BIG FIGHT

Next week’s big heavyweight bout between Bobby ‘The Anvil’ Crabtree and Louis ‘Creampuff’ Knowles is set for a sell-out at The Hastings Arena. Crabtree’s manager Georgiou Falafel was in no doubt as to the outcome. “Creampuff doesn’t stand a chance. The Anvil will crush him underfoot like an insignificant cockroach. Knowles’s jaw is like a delicate Fabergé egg waiting to be shattered by Bobby’s sledgehammer fists. His footwork is laughable. He moves like a hobnail-booted sloth in a bowl of treacle. His right hook is about as lethal as a rolled-up fashion magazine. He’s a flake, a popinjay, a gadfly and a coxcomb. My boy will pummel him into the middle of next week and possibly the Friday or Saturday.”

The opposite camp was equally adamant about how they thought the scrap might go. “The so-called Anvil is nothing of the sort.” claimed Knowles’s manager Rupert Mungbean, “He’s more like an overwound grandfather clock with a faulty mainspring. Let’s face it, once he steps in the ring, he’s toast. One uppercut from The Creampuff will send him bandy- legged. Everyone knows Crabtree’s got a weak left – eight days at the most – he doesn’t stand a chance. Footwork?  Falafel doesn’t know what he’s talking about. My boy’s footwork is faultless. He’s like Michael Flatley, only with Popeye’s arms.”

 

SAUSAGE CITY PRICES

Palindrome Pneumatics up 55 pu

Quicksand Developments down 44ft

Big McSteak Burgers down 2 then straight back up

Humpty Dumpty Futures down 100

My advice? Get out of Humpty Dumpty before the shit hits the fan.

 

WILL THAT BE A LARGE ONE?

Yes, however unique you consider your visage, we all have a double. I happen to know that mine is an industrial steam trouser press salesman from Hartlepool who, during a course in anger management, developed a device for reinforcing old milk cartons so they could be used as miniature tea chest basses by tiny skiffle groups.

 

GIZZA JOB

BBC4’s topical reboot of a gritty 70s Ian le Frenais sitcom, Auf Weidersein Pet comes to our screens this March. Asta La Vista Pet concerns a bunch of lads from the north who decide to ‘get on their bikes’ and head for the US-Mexican border, having heard there is plenty of casual labour required for the construction of ex-president Donald Trump’s Great Mexican Wall. Once they have overcome the language barrier and cultural differences, they begin to adapt to local customs, and, more importantly, embrace the concept of mañana. This leads to a string of amusing escapades involving fake cement, drug cartels, members of the Ku Klux Klan, and postal order fraud.

 

ADVERTORIAL

Britain’s Big Bangers

Welcome Saveloy lovers! This week’s trial membership offer from Saveloyvay.com includes a three week subscription to What Saveloy? magazine and a 9-piece set of monogrammed Saveloy forks. These are indeed exciting times for the Saveloy, which, thanks to Brexit, is set to become the premier choice for sausage-loving Brits. December’s What Saveloy? welcomes Mr. Johnson’s Good Friday Sausage Protocol, which will see the UK formally released from the EU’s barmy regulation 254b, which stipulates that all sausages should contain edible meat. Join now!  www.saveloyvay/membership.com

 

VOTES FOR THE DEAD

Hastings’ famous inventor Professor Gordon Thinktank was honoured by the business community at a recent meeting of The Ancient and Venerable Order of   Warthogs (Hastings Lodge). His ingenius machine for counting the votes of dead people was hailed by The Warthog’s Grand Wizard and MP for Little Snarling, Walter Hootenanny,  as “Nothing short of genius,” adding, as he patted professor Thinktank so furiously on the back that he had to be helped back to his feet, “and about time too. Dead people, a marginalized, disenfranchised section of our society, have for too long been historically and unfairly prevented from expressing their political preferences at the polling booth.” (our italics)

 

 

Sausage Life!

SPONSORED LYNX

 

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IAIN SINCLAIR’S ASYLUM

“I’m very happy that the collaboration with Chris Petit, Asylum, has been posted on Vimeo. People have frequently asked about this, the third of our four films for Channel 4, and the most elusive. It’s the one we were most satisfied with (or least displeased). It feels like the right moment for the resurrection. Asylum was an essay on the edge of disintegration, in advance of global pandemics. It is about the loss of cultural memory and the fragmentation and distress of digital imagery. Mainly, it’s good to have glimpses of the writers who need to be remembered and valued: Ed Dorn, Michael Moorcock, James Sallis, Marina Warner. The film also draws deeply on the editing intelligence of Emma Matthews and the animations of Dave McKean.”

https://vimeo.com/573635316/fb8400ca14

 

IAIN SINCLAIR
Chris Petit

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Road To Nowhere

From the ancient lace town of Honiton, or somewhere near,
It winds its way past The Deverills and Mere,
Just glancing the gardens at Stourhead,
Past Stonehenge where druids seek revenge,
To Amesbury, or close, where spies on benches end up dead,
Though nonetheless it beats Anerley or Penge.
By that old rock circle in the bean fields they did battle,
Police prodding punks as if they were cattle.
Leather jackets emblazoned with a circled letter A,
Till like slaughtered ninepins they all hit the hay.
About halfway along lies Wincanton,
With the allure of its horse racing track —
If you’re lucky your horse will be on song,
And you’ll be glad its the one you chose to back.
You’ll have to leave the route for Glastonbury and its tor,
Where Bowie once sang for free and the crowd cried out for more.
Now it’s all glamping — an absolute fortune they charge;
Gone are those anarchic days when anyone could have it large.
Going from nowhere to nowhere,
You might deem it uncertain,
But stay focused or beware,
You might end up in Bruton when heading for Burton.
Watch out for schoolboy revolutions in Sherborne,
Where Lindsay Anderson filmed If.
From the roof they’re firing at the lawn —
Masters and boys in a terrible tiff.
If with a monkey on your back you’re stuck,
Pop off at West Knowle and check into Clouds rehab,
Where stars and lesser mortals change their luck —
Group therapy for those with the gift of the gab.
Of course there’ll always be those who revel in substance abuse,
And they should all deservedly stay on the loose.
At the Countess Services, look out for tanks —
If your motor gets hit by a mortar, you’ll give no thanks.
However you’ll find inner peace diverting to Avebury,
With its ancient circle of stone.
There isn’t really all that much to see,
Although it’s where bardic chiefs had their throne.
Luckily the road peters out before Basingstoke,
As that ghastly new town is just a joke.
No matter where you stop to rest,
Or in which lay-by you park,
Ensure to wear a yellow safety vest,
So the angels can see you in the dark.
On this great autoroute with no start nor end point,
With the wind in your hair you’ll feel really free,
Especially if you’re punk and smoking a joint,
Gunning up that highway named the 303.

 

 

The ‘Road To Nowhere’ one was commissioned by Tom Vague of the Sounds of the Westway project.

 

 

 

Julian Isaacs

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Taking To The Wing

We may not be alone. Are we
obsessed with carnivorous plants?
“This is when the colony is most
at risk,” he said. Water, by its very

nature, has helped to destroy the
evidence but taste and smell are
good memory triggers. Where did
you last see a talking doorknob?

“It was never meant to be like this,”
she said. How many ways can you
‘sport’ a monocle? “We’re all citizens
of somewhere,” he said. How about

the longboard? “Ok, so the alien was
a beach ball, ”she said, “it’s a comedy.”

 

Steve Spence

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UNCANNY VALLEY

 

Ecstatic submission a blunt weapon but it doesn’t matter.

Instrument supplier almost human ‘delight’ is the only word replacing missing daylight breaking in: suddenly everything feels innocent as kicking a ball around a coaxial cylinder we suspect the curse of rotten luck in the pathological sense, a developmental abnormality. How long have you got?

Light conversation about plant fluid failure mechanisms. Solar cells weekly to your hotel room where everything you see, hear, feel and think is controlled specifically on demand, by voluntary agreement thanks to ‘uncanny valley’ effect magnetic maps robot faces no strangers to getting bogged down – or a run for their money. “Means this is no longer the case, will boost resistance slightly forward kissing device can visualise clusters of information phosphorescent rainforests dominated by high towers improve intimacy, enhancing bubblegum fun”. A hideous atonal nursery rhyme eerily futuristic. Have you got how long?

It doesn’t end there.

Techniques based on a smooth plastic casing outlive universe regular repeating patterns due to contact with additional elastic boundary state, a grip that is firm but gentle. You can say it’s only recently (sad though it is) as we slip through a doorway into an antique coffee bar where we lounge around using the technology at our disposal like the microbes in your home. True only in the past few years constantly coming into contact with a sorry state of affairs. Collateral damage like social evidence for the record or a Stone Age equivalent of celebrity culture perhaps they were just having a lark. You got long have you? Drop talking eerily futuristic enhancing death and hideous atonal nursery of rhymes and ecstatic submission.

This tangle far from random now surrounded by artificial pharmaceuticals and other complex products of rational design. We don’t understand the details, the chemical dance, the pros and cons from illness and death inducing disgust with subtle influences the hairdresser was girlishly thrilled and the sparks fly from day one. Exactly what it is she wants, this blow wave alien from LV-426, savage celebrations single mum takes on a transparent cube comedy sequel set at a chic high class New York party in a partial vacuum perhaps. Long got how have you?

 

So, looking back or looking ahead. From Toulouse to limbo from too cool to calypso deadpan delivery a spine tingling tale something unexpected and unsettling a poignant verse an old enemy plunges briskly into the action a disguised morality lesson with emotional complications discovered their partners were having an affair in the same plane crash. Have you?

Many things reeking if they so choose, when feeling for instance a pale shadow affecting every thing long term. Time of The Witches’ Moon: power-hungry demons further north capture pages turning in the confessional all first rate equipment and support agreed leading to fight against passion where they are still having problems even now winging their way to us surfing our waterways, climbing mountains, dancing and dining out?

 

 

A.C. Evans

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The genius of John Constable

 
 
‘Take away this nasty green thing,’ a leading critic of the day implored in front of one of John Constable’s landscapes hanging in the Royal Academy of Arts.  That Constable’s landscapes were progressive is a given now, but in the early 19th century, establishment painting was reserved for portraits of the grating ‘good’, property,  and military scenario. It was radical to paint nature.  The Late Constable exhibition at the Royal Academy is a thrilling tour de force of painting.   I present here an 8 x 5 inch fragment of the famous ‘Leaping Horse’ of 1825. The entire painting is 74 x 56 inches, but to draw the gaze into any part of it is richly satisfying. Look at the dragging textured paint, the stippled trees, mottled sky,  the posture of the figures (negligible in the whole painting) and that dot of red.  Constable used red – a complimentary of green – in many of his paintings; just a dot, or splodge.  His landscapes contain paint as portal, but when you enter, are no longer contained.  You’re there, not back in the 19th century, but now, in the water, air and greenery of nature.  Not even the Black Friday scrums in Oxford Street could undo Constable’s good work.
 
Jan Woolf 
 
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The project

The project

An online meeting was needed to get the project up and running. Ellie, the coordinator, sent out an invite offering a number of dates. Omar, George, Fiona, Liam and Sascha responded within a few days, but after a week Judith and Ben still hadn’t indicated which dates they were available. Ellie only worked two half-days a week and by the time the non-responders had filled in the poll, and she had looked at the results, most of the dates originally proposed had passed. On the two remaining days most of the seven team members were unavailable. Another poll was sent out with fresh dates. This time response times were better but no date could be found on which more than four of the seven were available. This was partly because Omar and Liam, who would have been available for an earlier meeting, were now away for several weeks. A third attempt at finding a date eventually resulted in a meeting being fixed when six of the team were free. Judith, the only person not available that day, agreed to be briefed after the meeting. Ellie sent out joining instructions two days ahead and was online well before the start time. A quarter of an hour into the meeting only Omar, George and Sascha had logged in. Ben was having internet problems, and Fiona was nursing a sick two year old. Liam’s whereabouts were unknown. Those on the call agreed that the issues the project was trying to address were important and that a fresh attempt should be made to convene a meeting.  

 

 

 

Simon Collings

 

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FIREBOX

The handmade company of ghosts are condemned to recreate this tragedy night after night in purgatory. Between mathematics and music, they make new meanings from changes in temperature and the material of their lives.

Plays, pageants and parades are powerful ways to help change society through culture before the coffee gets cold. Music has always been a vibrant part of function and situation; people don’t have an ear for language, often butcher it.

Let’s re-examine the impact within our own community: palace figures and politicians detail the historic connection. Statistics are not for everyone; clay people change with song.

We must never forget those burnt faces in the firebox.

 

© Rupert M Loydell
      Words and image

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FALL OF THE EVENING STAR

Speak softly; sun going down
Out of sight. Come near me now.

Dear dying fall of wings as birds
complain against the gathering dark…

Exaggerate the green blood in grass;
the music of leaves scraping space;

Multiply the stillness by one sound;
by one syllable of your name…

And all that is little is soon giant,
all that is rare grows in common beauty

To rest with my mouth on your mouth
as somewhere a star falls

And the earth takes it softly, in natural love…
Exactly as we take each other…
and go to sleep…

 

 

Kenneth Patchen

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I PAUSED MY GAME TO BE HERE

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Stanley ripped up his lawn
to replace it with artificial turf,
cuts down the ivy that grows on his gazebo
to adorn it with manageable plastic ivy,
he put a plaster cast hedgehog by the door
and an aluminum heron by the pond,
he divorced his wife and replaces her
with a fully-functioning autobot replica
and they sit together in the gazebo
sipping alcohol-free wine, yet there
is a void within still not satisfied,
it’s only when he catches
his own reflection in the glow
of her LED light-bulb eyes
that he knows he has
just one more item
left to replace

 

 

 

Andrew Darlington

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SPECIAL H

 

                          i.m. Henry Woolf, 20th January 1930-11th November 2021


The brightest spark in the box twelve days ago found the corner
That no-one hoped he’d discover until the next Century,
Actor, Director, Writer, Presenter, Humourist, and Professor,
Beloved husband and father, we mourn now and miss you,
As the dark moves to kiss you and you suddenly become

History.  But not for us, Henry Woolf; for you our door
Remains open. For yours was the warmth to melt winters
As Harold Pinter’s love would attest. And for all British actors
Your work reveals the range few can dream of;
From the Marat Sade to the Rutles, death’s firm rebuttal

Is to recast you now where stars crest. And where once more
You’ll make mirth with your former muckers, including
Harold and Heathcote, your old cupboard tenant who wrote
AC/DC for your Maurice, another seminal stance
Your skill took. Henry, I didn’t know. Caroline Kennedy

Told me and now you and Susan after 53 years close
The book of your earthly love story, perhaps, but not
The sort the romance that continues, across bright dreams
And auras, and memory’s film for the heart.  I remember
Being sat with you both in your flat as you described

Your first meeting, at the RSC; that connection,
Seismic as it was, shook my earth; that I should find
Such a bind, such a well wound love and connection,
Would make me as charmed or as charming
As your presence of mind, flesh and worth.

How Susan and the children will miss you, dear H,
And your mixture of both Imp and Angel; and how
Your legions of friends and colleagues will miss you,
And what your wisdom and wit brought to bare;
Not only a long life’s rewards, but also

A canny acceptance of challenge, from Hackney
To Hampstead, and onto the wilds of Saskatoon
All was dared. Short, but dynamic, you blazed
Beside those Clapton boys, Mick and Moishe,
And then of course Henry and Harold who sat

Talking the world into tea, before taking it on.
Your Monologue was real magic. From Strindberg
To Steptoe, you turned dramatic art into glee.
My own childhood was themed by your stint
On Words and Music, and knowing you later,

Made me love you and your wife all the more,
For what you brought to life and will continue
To bring as it leaves you; a skill and a standard
The like of which now I search for. So, you are
Mister Kidd once again, in another part

Of the house, some strange storey, counting
The floors while reminding us of a far richer time.
The Room had been readied for you, and yet it is
Emptier now, dearest Henry; and yet still,
There’s a shimmer of the glimmer you gave:

A soul sign pointing towards a new quality
That your name both howls and humours.
We will keep one particular Woolf at the door
Here forever; a sacred H, as with Harold’s,
And Heathcote’s, too. H divine.

 

                                    David Erdos 23rd November 2021

 

 

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SAUSAGE LIFE 207

SAUSAGE LIFE
Bird Guano
The column which puts the bubble in your squeak and then bursts it.

 

MYSELF: Did you have a tranny when you were a kid?

READER: What? You can’t say that!

MYSELF: Can’t say what?

READER: Tranny. It’sit’s…not allowed.

MYSELF: I think we are having a misunderstanding here. When I was a lad, tranny was popular name for a portable radio, it’s short for transistor.

READER: Trans Sister??? Are you kidding? You definitely can’t say that….

MYSELF: Why on earth not?

READER: I’m not even sure why, but I’m certain you can’t. I mean, woke up! It beats me sometimes, how you manage to keep this job.

MYSELF: I own the block of flats the editor lives in.

READER: Oh. Well that explains a lot, but isn’t that really scary? I mean personally, I’d be petrified, especially at night.

MYSELF: No, I don’t think you would. It’s actually a very genteel area, crime-free, quiet and very upmarket.

READER: Even so…I mean eugh…that’s so creepy!

MYSELF: Creepy? How? What’s so creepy about a block of flats?

READER: A block of flats! Ha ha sorry, I thought you said a flock of bats.

 

KETTLE REVOLT

After an Upper Dicker man was treated by paramedics for severe steaming, the recent outbreak of kettle-related injuries has been declared a regional emergency. “Hospital admissions connected to violent, unprovoked attacks on householders by kettles have tripled in recent months.” Councillor Emphysema Ratatouille, spokesman for The Department of Domestic Appliances (DDA) told us, “Kettles, under normal circumstances are non-aggressive, and happily co-exist side by side with their human owners. These assaults are almost always the result of allowing a build-up of lime scale around the electrical element, which, if left unchecked, can trigger unpredictable kettle behaviour. The simple act of descaling the appliance will afford ample protection in most cases, and we urge citizens to follow this advice. Our message is clear: stay vigilant and always keep a supply of kettle descaling solution in the kitchen.” adding, “We have nothing to fear except fur itself”

 

IN THE COURTS

Lance Boyle (38), an unemployed drainage consultant of no fixed abode, was remanded for sentencing at Hastings Crown Court after being found guilty of altering the message at the bottom of the Welcome to Hastings sign on the A21 to read: “Home of the disappointed plumber.” Counsel for the defence Karl Mulberry, senior partner of Rounder Mulberry Busch (Bexhill), entered a plea of non mensa pianoforte with quid nuntam in trouto calamari. He claimed that his client was temporarily insane at the time of the offence, having ingested the entire contents of a family size bucket of Wings n’ Feet from the Silverhill branch of It Ain’t Just Chicken, directly after consuming two five-litre jugs of Carters’ Old Traditional Pharmaceutical Cider. He begged for the court’s lenience in view of the fact that Mr Boyle had recently been made redundant by the giant bathroom fixture multinational Ubends R Us. Furthermore, Boyle suffered from cerebrum mortem, a rare, chronic condition he contracted in Algeria, after spending two years as a septic tank supervisor for the French Foreign Legion. Lord Justice Hyphen-Hyphen QC presiding, said that in his view, the public were becoming fed up to the back teeth with this type of slogan being added to the Welcome To Hastings sign, and that considering the seriousness of the offence, he was minded to apply the maximum sentence allowed by law. Dismissing the jury and donning his black cap, he fined Mr. Boyle £27.50, with £35.00 costs + VAT, suspended for three years.

 

LONG RANGE WEATHER FORECAST
by our meteorological consultant, Nostradamus

The 20th century AD will see the Teutons, led by a stunted man with a Charlie Chaplin moustache, generate heavy cloud cover, leading to blustery showers around 1933. High winds and electrical thunderstorms all over the continent of Europe may make driving conditions dangerous. Conditions will worsen, and spread in a westerly direction. By 1941 freezing temperatures and severe snowstorms in the east may result in drifting. Should clear around 1945. Expect sunny periods with occasional rain for next fifty years. A transatlantic warm front will settle over the early part of the 21st century, resulting in banks of thick impenetrable fog. Obese orange chieftains with serpentine hair will rise up and speak in tongues, ushering in a long dark winter of perpetual night. Don’t forget, if you’re going out, take a brolly.

 

CHEMTRAIL MENACE

Boffins from the Department of Misinformation (DOM) think they may have discovered the source of so-called “chemtrails”, those mysterious clouds of airborne condensation which are thought to affect the intellectual processes of gullible idiots. Using the latest hi tech probes, a chemtrail plume was traced to the cooling chimney outside the laboratory of Hastings’ inventor Professor Gordon Thinktank. Police have locked down the lab and surrounded the concrete tower with yellow tape, until specially commissioned tin foil-lined police helmets arrive from China. Professor Thinktank has conceded that the vaporous emissions may have leaked from his secret underground veterinary department, where he has been conducting experiments on seagulls, to see if they can be taught to eat fish.

 

DICTIONARY CORNER

CCTB (acr) (n) – contagious bacterial lung disease mounted on a lamppost for the purpose of covert surveillance.

Monkey Wrench (n) – device for getting monkeys out of horses’ hooves

Teetotalitarianism – alcohol-free dictatorship

McDeath (n) (Theatrical) – Superstitious euphemism for Bard Flu

 

NEW CRAZE SWEEPS POPULATION

Gullability – no its not a new musical genre – It’s the new fashion for believing any old shit propogated by semi literatate airheads with too much time on their hands.

It is of course, tempting to believe that everyone you are envious of (such as flamboyant Ru Paul or philanthropist Bill gates), is a feral, baby-eating pedophile with the ability to shape shift into a French-speaking lizard. Well of course it is, who wouldn’t want to believe such a thing?

So what exactly is fuelling this infantile dash for morbid paranoid fantasy? Which gaping chasm is it trying to bridge? If you’re of voting age and into gullability, please write to Bird Guano at [email protected]

 

RIDDLE

Q: How many members of the Countryside Alliance does it take to change a lightbulb?

A: Forty seven. Plus six Range Rovers, fifteen horses and twenty eight vicious dogs. 

READER: All this for one bulb?

MYSELF: Ridiculous ain’t it?

 

Sausage Life!

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OFFAL SINGS THE WHEEL

 How the grist can love the mill which grinds it!
And when the mill is finished with
 its grinding, dust to dust,
what is there to love? What is my soul
 that of its wonders I make
powder for the mouths of babes?
 Is that the argument? To be full
at yearning’s end and never
 to begin again, through lifetimes
lost to wander: not a memory wrought,
 nor one fragment glimpsed; no
revelation of the power of those loves lost and won,
 nor the skills built of my labor,
nor the wry laughter of the once-child’s ‘let’s pretend?’

 Is this philosophy’s revenge?
To take us down again and again,
 to arrange the suffering, knowing, and striving
into an absent grief? Who would take
 such pain from me
and erase my very life beneath the churning wheel of time?

 How much striving beneath the wheel
to make up-rising into gold? How much chaff
 from straw to sew the bread on which
our timelessness is built?
 Is it sweet oblivion that infills each enriched loaf of day?
Then lives that were and will be, to me, erase
 the self, its lessons and its pride: gone
is memory, gone is fear of death. Gone
 the night’s glad music in the ebb of birth.
Nothing wrought into new bones, the ferment
 of firmament to catch off-guard souls.
This is the rage and this is the calling,
 but is it real? Is it the dawning
of unfettered awareness, or its dissolution
 which we inadvertently applaud?

 

 

Charles Goldman

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HELL COMPLETE

 
 
I’ve just about recovered from the Hell Bus deadline and journey to and from Glasgow. It was an extremely stressful, frenetic and expensive project but it was also incredible fun and pretty exhilarating to be working on a large-scale exhibition again, (the biggest, and definitely the most complicated I’ve ever done,) after the non-year of 2020. I absolutely love a deadline. There’s nothing like the fear of letting people down and making a prize tit of yourself to get you out of bed in the morning.
 

The response to the exhibition was amazing, which had nothing to do with the fact I was sitting at the end of the bus grinning and prodding at visitors as they left. The enthusiasm of the response encouraged me as to the viability of properly touring the bus in the new year. (If you run an event that could host the bus in spring/summer 2022 get in touch!)

The Hell Bus was only possible thanks to the support and help of a lot of people who chipped in money, time, skills (and endured occasional misery) to make it happen. I was going to post all my thank yous here but after realising it’s 1000 words long, I’ve posted it on my website instead.

 

Above: Short video/interview by The Scotsman about the Hell Bus.

SCOTTISH SUBVERTISING
 
 
There was so much greenwash advertising in Glasgow during COP26 (including all over the absurdly energy inefficient digital screens) I was pleased to see some of my poster designs replacing them thanks to Special Patrol Group.
 
 
COP26 COALITION TALK
 
 
While I was in Glasgow I did a couple of talks about my work and subvertising for the Cop26 Coalition’s People’s Summit, one of them was recorded which you can see above.
 

SHOPPING-BASED GIFTS

Compulsory gift-giving season is almost upon us so I should probably mention my shop full of gift-like objects.

It all helps keep the lights on and funds my activities.

While I don’t do Black Friday type shenanigans I should give fair warning that I’ll be increasing my prices slightly in the new year.

This update is public and shareable so please feel free to pass it on. If you’re not on my mailing list but would like to be you can sign up here.

Eternal thanks to anyone who’s ever backed my work on Patreon or through the shop!

And thanks for reading!

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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Terminal

The really tricky thing, the writer’s art—
     Is wrestling with new concepts in the night
As words obscure rip restful dreams apart,
     Like heinous, calumny and Eremite.
While deadlines call you to complete the task
     Your mind prefers the lure of slumbers’ shores –
The wild, erotic reveries that mask
     The daily sloughs and desolated moors—
Of routine life and toil unchangeable.
    But through the night, the ever heaving breast,
With fluttering heart, demands creation’s  swell,
     Regardless of the torture of unrest,
Wants sentences of greater stuff than breath,
And leaves you yearning for the  void of death.

 

 

 

Steve Jeanes
Words and painting

This is a terminal-type poem based on a poem by Keats (i.e. it nicks all the last words from the original and replaces the rest of the line)

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Last New Year’s Eve

Forty-nine years a husband,
Collar and tie, best suited,
Sits in the hospice
Holding hands with his wife
On her last New Year’s Eve,
Sees nothing but her face,
Feels nothing but her hand
Curled up inside his

And is back at The Grafton,
Pay-day, his black curls DA’d
Get some ale down yer neck
Don’t fancy yours mate
Yer wearin’ that shirt for a bet
Met and were wed in three months
So everyone thought…
But they were wrong,
The two kids came later

And then he’s back
To just three months ago
When they tell him
Your wife’s terminal
And is back to
After the funeral
Where his daughter holds herself steady
Like a newly fledged angel,
Steers him come on Dad
Through his own house while
Her was never there brother
Explains that Life must go on

 

 

 

Kevin Patrick McCann
Photo christer strömholm

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Marcus Aurelius Workout/Thermal Springs

 

At break of day I say
‘Marcus?  Are you Woke?’

‘Set your sundial to “snooze”
Locate and press the remote
Meditate upon your DVD
“Marcus Morning Workout”’

‘Imagine that today you face
A storm of questions set as traps to trip you
Sniping words composed to discompose
All recall your failures and omissions…

Even so
Do not tax your mind
Rehearsing in advance
Universal undeniable truths
Delivered softly in plain speech

To persistent political bluster
As to these curious toy
Ducks bobbing in your morning bath’

 

THERMAL SPRINGS

Extrovert and vital men
Resent our broken vigour
Somehow we have earned the wounds
Which open doors to healing gods

The gods would hardly call
Then could not offer healing
To closed conformist minds
Self-satisfied in full-imagined health

 

 

Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer

 

 

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Hampstead

 

‘Robert Louis Stevenson, 1850 to 1894’, children’s author,
A grand plaque perched on his wall in Mount Vernon
Roaming; here briefly, when in London literary circles.
He lived in Edinburgh, Bournemouth, San Francisco, Paris.
Hampstead kidnapped this storyteller-poet, passing through

‘George du Maurier lived here, 1874 to 1895’, born in France
Cartoonist and novelist; Punch said, ‘very good in parts’
Christchurch, bells ringing, clinging to the steep hillside
Walking along this path; nursery, school, vicarage, prayers
Then more labyrinthine passageways and squares

A stark 1850’s New Court, for the servants to the wealthy
No plaque for Sex Pistols at No. 39, a squat in the late 70s
No water, no light, ‘Hell on earth,’ said Johnny Rotten.
Sid Vicious, they say, carved his memorial there in brick

Yorkstone mazes, cobbled streets, high walls, crooked shadows
Alleyways of Hampstead Village, crazed cottage chimneys
Bright, lit-up doors and windows, startling floodlights, watching
Canopies of flowers beckon friends at the Quaker House sanctuary

On almost every street, plaques; black, green, blue & white
They stare at each other, greeting in a proud celebration
Christmas cheer for all by ‘Sir Henry Cole, Elm Row, 1879 – 1880’
A wreath on the locked door of the Hollybush Pub
A note below, ‘good health to you in these strange times’

In the Vale of Health, ‘Lord Northcliffe’, newspaper magnate ‘1870 – 1873’
Thinking of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Mail, aged 5 to 8 years old?
Rabindranath Tagore here too, 1912; Hemingway, a year in World War II

Elysium over soot & grime, ‘Constable, 1770 – 1837’, painted Judge’s Walk   
‘Paul Robeson, 1898 – 1976’, actor, singer, Show Boat, London 1928
And in the early 1930s, looking up from his house to Whitestone Pond  

These narrow roads, crooked steps, paths, snapshots  
From tiny youth to aged discovery, passing by, passing on

 

© Christopher 2021 [email protected]

 
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Paul Valéry Reminds Us ‘A Poem Is Never Finished, Only Abandoned’

I’ve been writing “deformed sonnets” since 2015 or so. They’ve been published in chapbooks by Cold Turkey Press in France and by Moloko Print and Verlag Engstler in Germany; by Fabrikzeitung in Switzerland and by IT: International Times, the Magazine of Resistance in the United Kingdom; on this blog and elsewhere. “A poem is never finished, only abandoned,” Paul Valéry once said. Mine have never been finished either. And so . . . an updated, revised, redesigned, and expanded collection in hardcover is now out, with a new title: All That Would Ever After Not Be Said.

Verlag Engstler
(published 2017)

 

 

Above: Jay Jeff Jones’s review of “Your Obituary Is Waiting.”.
Above: Malcolm Ritchie’s review of an earlier version of “All That Would Ever After Not Be Said.”

Click to listen to several of the sonnets.

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The Proximity Principle – Uniting Local Farmers with local Buyers – The Imperative of Our Time

Independent small and medium sized farms have been handed a death sentence by Klaus Schwab head of The World Economic Forum. Schwab, and fellow architects of top-down control, have officially let it be known that under the policy known as ‘Green Deal’ traditional family farms are no longer wanted and the foods they produce are to be replaced by laboratory and genetically engineered synthetic lookalikes. This policy is spelled-out in the pages of Klaus Schwab’s book ‘The Great Reset’ which is part of the envisaged ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’.

The British government and the European Commission are committed to adopting this insane agenda in which working farmers are to be replaced by digitalised precision robots, as part of a so called Global Warming mitigation crusade. When properly analysed, this is revealed as a totalitarian programme for complete corporate and banking control of the food chain. A programme that is designed to eliminate the independent farmer.

What Are We Going to Do About It?

There is a very straight forward answer to this question. We are going come together at the local level and launch a mutually supportive initiative which will guarantee both the farmer and the purchaser of the farmer’s food a fair and mutually beneficial exchange.

How does it work?

Very simple. The purchaser (consumer) approaches his or her local responsible farmer and asks to buy some fresh produce. The farmer considers this proposition. Some may decline, but this will be because it has not occurred to them that the future of their current  dependency on a corporate controlled marketing regime is completely untenable under the programme proposed by Mr Schwab. 

Any good farmer will not turn down an opportunity to do business with near neighbours who are in search of positive and value-for-money farm-raised foods. Especially once the farming community realises that their future income will depend more and more upon establishing a market place amongst those in the immediate vicinity of his/her farm. Those who do not wish – or cannot any longer – purchase their staple food requirements from corporate owned super and hyper market food chains.

The Savvy Farmer..

The savvy farmer can see the writing on the wall. Can see that slavery to a system of national and global manipulation – totally out of his/her hands – is a recipe for disaster. Such a farmer will be on the look-out for a secure local market; one where purchasers want to buy direct from the farm with no middle-man taking a cut. This must be the way forward if a secure future on the land is the desired outcome. Any intelligent farmer will recognise this and will take seriously a bona fide request to supply farm-raised produce to those eager to buy it.

The Savvy Consumer

The savvy consumer will be looking for fresh, healthy, flavourful good quality foods upon which to raise their family, or simply to feed themselves. They will recognise that the chance to acquire such food ‘direct from the farm’ represents the best possible outcome. A bond built-up with a local farmer, via regular purchasing of their farm raised products provides a powerful ally for times ahead when the commercial food chain is subjected to the brutal intervention of the architects of global control and shortages become the norm. Such times are no longer speculative. They are on our doorstep.

The Savvy Farmer and the Savvy Consumer – getting together

Either the consumer or the farmer can can take the initiative of bringing both parties together. 

How?

By calling a ‘round table’ meeting in the local village/town hall or simply in your home. Invite one or two farmers to sit round that table with some individuals eager to obtain food direct from the farm. Some might even be ready to discuss contracting a farmer to grow the staple foods they require. Good quality food grown without recourse to chemical pesticides.

Farmers need a secure income and the buyers a secure local source of nutritious food. Fair prices for both parties and delivery or ‘pick-up from the farm’ can be negotiated in a friendly and informal manner. This is not purely ‘business’ in the old sense of the term; it is forming a common bond in a time when such bonds have been tragically neglected and supermarket convenience cultures have destroyed the links that hold communities together.

A new trading, bartering and sharing practice will be built around the adoption of this ‘proximity principle’. This is the one sure way of effectively resisting the Klaus Schwab farm killer and the New World Order plan for global domination of the food chain.

Other ways of supporting local trading include: farm shops, farmers markets, box schemes, food cooperatives. Get onto the front foot and regenerate your community – from the ground up!

 

Julian Rose

For further details of the Proximity Principle and community regeneration see ‘Creative Solutions to a World in Crisis’ by Julian Rose https://www.bookdepository.com/Creative-Solutions-World-Crisis-Julian-Rose/9786197458213 

 

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Don’t Give Up on the Blessings of Freedom

 

“All we are saying is give peace a chance.”—John Lennon

 

 

How do you give thanks for freedoms that are constantly being eroded?

How do you express gratitude for one’s safety when the perils posed by the American police state grow more treacherous by the day?

How do you come together as a nation in thanksgiving when the powers-that-be continue to polarize and divide us into warring factions?

Every year finds us struggling to reconcile our hope for a better, freer, more just world with the soul-sucking reality of a world in which greed, meanness and war continue to triumph.

Fifty years ago, John Lennon released “Imagine” and exhorted us to “Imagine all the people livin’ life in peace.” That same year, Lennon released “Happy Xmas (War Is Over)” as part of a major anti-war campaign. Lennon—a musical genius, anti-war activist, and a high-profile example of the lengths to which the Deep State will go to persecute those who dare to challenge its authority—made clear that the only way to achieve an end to hunger, violence, war, and tyranny is to want it badly enough and work towards it.

Fifty years later, we clearly don’t want those things badly enough.

Peace remains out of reach. Activists and whistleblowers continue to be prosecuted for challenging the government’s authority. Militarism is on the rise, all the while the governmental war machine continues to wreak havoc on innocent lives.

For those of us who joined with John Lennon to imagine a world of peace, it’s getting harder to reconcile that dream with the reality of the American police state. And those who do dare to speak up about government corruption (such as Julian Assange) are labeled dissidents, troublemakers, terrorists, lunatics, or mentally ill and tagged for surveillance, censorship or, worse, involuntary detention.

All the while, people still keep looking to the government to “fix” what’s wrong with this country. You’d think we’d have learned—after 20 years of heavy-handed government authoritarianism that started with the 9/11 attacks and has continued through to the present-day COVID-19 tyranny—that the only thing the government can be trusted to do is make things worse.

Now we find ourselves approaching that time of year when, as George Washington and Abraham Lincolnproclaimed, we’re supposed to give thanks as a nation and as individuals for our safety and our freedoms.

It’s not an easy undertaking.

Thinking good thoughts, being grateful, counting your blessings and adopting a glass-half-full mindset are fine and good, but that’s not enough. This world requires doers, men and women (and children) who will put those good thoughts into action.

Remember, evil prevails when good men and women do nothing.

Here’s what I suggest: this year, do yourselves a favor and turn off the talking heads, shut down the screen devices, tune out the politicians, take a deep breath, then do something to pay your blessings forward.

Refuse to remain silent. Take a stand. Speak up. Speak out. Recognize injustice. Don’t turn away from suffering.

Find something to be thankful for about the things and people in your community for which you might have the least tolerance or appreciation. Instead of just rattling off a list of things you’re thankful for that sound good, dig a little deeper and acknowledge the good in those you may have underappreciated or feared.

When it comes time to giving thanks for your good fortune, put your gratitude into action: pay your blessings forward with deeds that spread a little kindness, lighten someone’s burden, and brighten some dark corner.

Engage in acts of kindness. Smile more. Fight less. Build bridges. Refuse to let toxic politics define your relationships. Focus on the things that unite instead of that which divides.

Do your part to push back against the meanness of our culture with conscious compassion and humanity. Moods are contagious, the good and the bad. They can be passed from person to person. So can the actions associated with those moods, the good and the bad.

Be a hero, whether or not anyone ever notices.

Acts of benevolence, no matter how inconsequential they might seem, can spark a movement.

All it takes is one person to start a chain reaction.

For instance, a few years ago in Florida, a family of six—four adults and two young boys—were swept out to sea by a powerful rip current in Panama City Beach. There was no lifeguard on duty. The police were standing by, waiting for a rescue boat. And the few people who had tried to help ended up stranded, as well.

Those on shore grouped together and formed a human chain. What started with five volunteers grew to 15, then 80 people, some of whom couldn’t swim.

One by one, they linked hands and stretched as far as their chain would go. The strongest of the volunteers swam out beyond the chain and began passing the stranded victims of the rip current down the chain.

One by one, they rescued those in trouble and pulled each other in.

There’s a moral here for what needs to happen in this country if we only can band together and prevail against the riptides that threaten to overwhelm us.

As I make clear in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People and in its fictional counterpart The Erik Blair Diaries, there may not be much we can do to avoid the dismal reality of the police state in the long term—not so long as the powers-that-be continue to call the shots and allow profit margins to take precedence over the needs of people—but in the short term, there are things we can all do right now to make this world (or at least our small corners of it) a little bit kinder, a lot less hostile and more just.

It’s never too late to start making things right in the world.

John Lennon tried to imagine a world in which we all lived in peace. He was a beautiful dreamer whose life ended with an assassin’s bullet on December 8, 1980.

Still, that doesn’t mean the dream has to die, too.

There’s something to be said for working to make that dream a reality. As Lennon reminded his listeners, “War is over, if you want it.”

The choice is ours, if we want it.

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The Dead One Flows Beside

                                                    “Death stole your sanity,”
                                                     I say, my neck slanted toward my friend
                                                     who remains scattered
                                                      in the things we shared
                                                      when he walked the walk of one alive.

                                                      Autumn sets its theme,
                                                      not limited to the public garden,
                                                      also on the pavements and in those
                                                      trails waving up and down the hill.

                                                      The migratory birds replace the season.
                                                      Their progress stuns us
                                                      within one day or two.
                                                     “I am as sane as a maple leaf.”
                                                      says my friend, stronger than before,
                                                      shadowy, following, flowing.

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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SQUID GAME – The Cruels of the Game -UPDATED


Intrigued by reading about the Netflix series Squid Game, I decided to watch. To say that I loved it is an understatement. I was immediately hooked and binged, without wanting to stop. The criticisms and messages engendered by it are diverse and wide ranging, so getting a clear picture of the story’s intention proved difficult, but this is my overview.

 

“The Pink Soldiers”. The game guards, whose identity has remained hidden.

 

This compelling and distressing nine episode story comes from the mind of creator/Director Heang Dong-hyukh, who used many elements from his own experience to reveal the crude facade of the current socio-economic problems of South Korea, problems which resonate with our own in the West. The chillingly realistic scenario reveals the suffocating truth of South Korean capitalism, as the protagonists fight against the exploitation to which they have been subjected.

Director Hwang Dong-hyuk on set


After an initial post-war financial surge, South Korea today is the Asian state with the most serious economic disparity. It is a country of mass unemployment amongst the young, with its economy run by a group of prestigious companies that crush citizens with the highest levels of social pressure. There is even a phrase in Korean which describes the act of borrowing money in an attempt at achieving the same economic well-being of the previous generation.

The Covid pandemic only served to worsen the situation. The government relaxed its rules on lending, giving young people easy access to vast amounts of amounts of money, causing a drastic spike in levels of debt. It is no coincidence that South Korea is one of the largest cryptocurrency markets.

In this series the players are all practically strangled by debt and participate in the game with the sole aim of saving themselves both physically and economically; an aspect that echoes the plight of many young South Koreans, who describe their country as a hell, where living there resembles wandering down unlit without knowing when the darkness will end.

There has been no lack of criticism from political factions, as the series reveals, where the entire competition is condemned; being  seen as an exercise in humiliating by the right-wing, as it reveals to the whole world SK’s confidential dynamics, and a cause of real concern to the left in what it says about the national character.

 

 

Cho Sang-woo -218 (Park Hae-soo), Seong Gi-hun -456 (Lee Jung-jae) and
Kang Sae-byeok -067 (Jung Ho-yeon)

 

In short, the plight of 456 financially challenge people accept a strange invitation to a deadly competition where with a lot of money at stake, solutions to their problems are promised that ideally should solve their problems. We are shown the range of issues that stem from this level of dysfunction as the characters  try to cope with this profound tension, from ineffective modes of behavior to personality disorders.

Scene from the first episode:  The mystery man who lured potential competitors played by
Gong Yoo, and the protagonist Seong Gi-hun, the future number 456, played by Lee Jung-jae

 


These people are destined to fail in this society, the victims of a system that reveals that no matter what sum they win, nothing will ever really change for them and that they are destined to remain actors in a much bigger drama than they could ever understand. Squid Game is a window on a murderous, ruthless and corrupt society, in which power obliterates the rights and very personality of the individual,  and where the rules are no less absurd and cynical than those slimy and devious ones to which we are all subjected to in the real world. The rules inside the game weren’t all that worse than the rules outside the game in each participant’s real life. Squid Game is a tragedy, part horror fable and part urban noir that demonstrates how everyday life can be both oppressive and unbearable.

 

On a psychological level, Squid Game accurately describes what can be defined as the greatest source of stress for the contemporary human being, namely, the economic hell in which all of us, rich or poor live. An economic hell that has a second side, a kind of refuge of fictitious relief, a world of hefty gratification, which allows people to endure the increasingly vampiric system, while continually draining the life force. In this series, all the frailties to which we are exposed are covertly expressed, from substance abuse to genetic disorders, along with  a range of variables that have a profound impact on our destiny. Furthermore, we are all immersed in a system that is also based on rather dystonic aspects, such as the logic of large numbers, or on the notion of mass consumption, consumerism and marketing, each points on a hierarchical pyramid, that alters the mind for the worse and creates capitialistic wellbeing. The opposite extreme, of the dispossessed, and the great poor of the earth, form the base of the pyramid, while between these two extremes, the middle class to which most people belong, live a turbulent existence, always oscillating between happiness and disaster.

This balance is of course precarious, and the middle class featured in Squid Game are exposed both to great opportunities and to the prospect of ruin, should they reject the official edicts of capitalism, from the buying of property to certain modes of employment to aforementioned crypto currencies. Economics makes us all prisoners through the demands of earning and draining our wages. In this context even a moments pleasure becomes narcotic, and yet we continue wasting money on unhealthy habits, those deadly traps we regard as our “satisfactions”.  This series deals with these brutal aspects, showing a loop of dopamine like addictions; the negative cycle of  consumerism that reduces us all.

 

The protagonist Seong Gi-hun, number 456, played by Lee Jung-jae, in the scene of an episode during one of the deadly games.


Many commentators have argued that this series is harmful to young people. They clearly do not see the educative benefit, as young people can surely see that the deadly game is not the competition to which the competitors are subjected, but that of the society that allows it. Scenes of violence and murder show how with every single person killed there is a crude depiction of individual exasperation, as each participant’s life is a literal living death, and a far worse reality than the one they risk here.

Cho Sang-woo -218 (Park Hae-soo) e Seong Gi-hun -456 (Lee Jung-jae)

 

Is the Squid Game preferable to living outside it? Perhaps the only human solution could be a real awareness of what is happening to around us.  This is not the Hunger Games. These are the games of spiritual devastation.  Knowledge provides the only true means of survival. Luck is just part of the game.

The “VIPs”, rich mysterious and unscrupulous men who found fun in witnessing the games of massacre by betting on the poor in the race

 

“What we see in the show is something we can all understand because it affects us directly. What we see is something that can happen to us too and could hurt both ourselves and the people around us.
The real message that Squid Game wants to convey is that we should think more about others. What you see in the series are survival games where there is a conflict between people. However, there are games in which, without union, one cannot survive. Many spectators think that there are scenes of violence that are indispensable to create audiences and ensure the success of the series, but we didn’t do it for this, we did it to make people understand where this violence came from, understand the cause, to create awareness, and how indispensable the union between people is in order not to get crushed. Unfortunately no one person  alone can change the world, but we all together step by step can make it at least a better place.” – Lee Jung-jae (Player 456) Florence, April 2022

 

Below:  Photos taken by Elena Caldera during the 2 days of masterclass in Florence with Lee Jung-jae

 

 

Text by Elena Caldera

Photos: Elena Caldera and from the web

Thanks to Claire Palmer

Adapted by David Erdos

 

 

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A Timeline Of The Plague Year

 

A Comprehensive Record of the UK Government’s Response to Covid

 

Compiled by Ian Sinclair & Rupert Read (edited by Joanna Booth), A Timeline Of The Plague Year is a comprehensive record of the ‘national scandal’ that’s taken place in the UK.


‘Rupert Read and Ian Sinclair clinically expose a failure of the state to protect the citizen through lack of preparedness, indecision and delay that has led to the worst loss of life in this country since the Second World War. Their timeline pulls no punches and spares no reputations. It will form part of the framework that will help us understand what happened to us and create accountability for those that held that power.’

  – Andy Towler, retired senior police officer

 

‘Sinclair and Read have done something really important here: they have assembled a detailed record of the responses to Covid since it hit the UK. Equipped with this information, readers can make their own minds up about who is responsible for the disaster that has unfolded since March 2020. This “neutral” fact based approach might succeed where other approaches have failed: finding a way of convincing those who remain uncertain or skeptical about the Government’s culpability for this monstrous tragedy. When you read this clear, factual timeline of events with an unprejudiced eye, it is impossible to avoid the conclusion that the Government response was often complacent, mistaken, delayed and flawed, causing tens of thousands of avoidable deaths.’

   – Peter Tatchell, human rights campaigner

 

‘This timeline is timely! We desperately need to examine and understand what the government did and did not do in the face of this pandemic. We need to know were they negligent, incompetent or worse that is, guilty of pursuing policies that endangered the population? This book helps us decide. Please read it. Our lives depend on it. It might happen again.’

   – Michael Rosen, poet, and author

 

 

Available as a free PDF here:  https://covidtheplagueyear.files.wordpress.com/2021/05/a-timeline-of-the-plague-year-a-comprehensive-record-of-the-uk-governments-response-to-print.pdf

 

Also available as a free ebook or print copy from Lulu.com

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Night Fishing

 

planted by the sun
watered by the moon
ancient tea trees
cling to the steep
craggy mountains
that confine this
meandering tributary
amidst silent waters
night fishing with
cormorants & lantern
in the shallow Li Jing River

 

 

 

Words and illustration
TERRENCE SYKES

 

 

 

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I Am Not God

I am not God
but I am a songwriter
and if I wrote a lyric that waged war on itself
whose lyric destroyed its own natural resources
whose tune betrayed its suicidal tendencies
whose bridge sighed as it crossed a ravine of forgotten tenderness
I would erase it from the set list
I would expunge it from the repertoire
I would unspool the cassette demo from a tour bus window as it went down the motorway

I am not God
but I am a poet
and if I wrote a poem that eviscerated itself
whose rhyme schemes suppurated with vengeance
whose rhythm pedalled dreams of cataleptic fits
whose metre tracked a visually impaired downhill skier
I would pluck it from the anthology
I would take it off line
I would incinerate the manuscript with a sparkler lit from the fires of humility

I am not God
but I cannot help wondering
if God sleeps at night

 

 

 

Julian Isaacs

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Rebecca Radical


“Positivity-spiked anarcho punk played by a Buckfast drinking hippy cunt.” Rebecca’s self-decription.
 


Alan Dearling suggests that Rebecca is something of a young gun,  a potentially amazing new talent from north of the Scots’ Border – I think maybe she’s from Dundee – or, perhaps more precisely, Kirkcaldy in Fife.

And she proclaims on Twitter in her link to Bandcamp: She’s an: “Artist-GuitarRanter-Designer-WorstCunt-Mental, Mindful, Curious & Creative.”

‘Fuck it!’ – great voice – and lyrics – and attitude – and looks: and the song : “I’m at my happiest when…my nail varnish is all peeling off…”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GXUu8M30xCc

‘Alice’; Scatting poetry and sounds. Weird, but definitely, defiantly, T- for talented. Rebecca tells us:

“Here’s a little video I put together, mostly using footage from Clownfest 6, to accompany my first go at poetry over a hip hop/trap beat.”

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_kXSMGTl9w

Just call her Alice…in her won Wonderland!

And her very first video/song from February 2021!  Wowzer……wowww…Wow.

‘Frustration’ (Funk Off): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tVWE2K6R3KY

‘After party Thoughts’ with Rich Gulag. Absolutely Spliffing!!!!: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6J16YeGKt6Q

Live in Edinburgh from the Old Leith Walk Police Box: https://www.facebook.com/100057562204965/videos/pcb.319223366673068/1307624172995468

‘Keep Dreaming’, experimenting with dubby, trippy sounds:

https://rebeccaradical.bandcamp.com/track/keep-dreaming

This could be a cool, edgy, curious set of ‘beginnings’ for Rebecca Radical. Hope so. Certainly worth keeping a weather eye out for her. Challenging and Anarchisto:

https://www.facebook.com/RebeccaRadical

 

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Anarchist Book Fair Amsterdam 2021

November 27 & 28 2021

We are back for the 5th annual Anarchist Book Fair in Amsterdam! The Book Fair will take place on the 27th and 28th of November 2021 at the Dokhuis (Plantage Doklaan 8). That’s right! It will be two full days of stands and workshops of anarchist collectives from all around the Netherlands and nearby countries. It’s going to be great!

The past year we’ve seen many challenges for political organising, but simultaneously allowed for much reflection on the enduring power of resistance movements as well as the flourishing and expansion of radical thought. We hope to use the Anarchist Book Fair to harness, mobilise, and learn from this burgeoning resistance as well as extend our ever-expanding network of comrades and mutual struggles. 
 
Let’s learn how to destroy the ecocidal, patriarchal and colonial capitalist systems that dominate the world. Knowledge is power after all! Are you looking for comrades? Come to the Anarchist Book Fair Amsterdam! Are you looking for anarchist books and zines? We’ll have all that and much more: clothing, buttons, publishers, distro’s, workshops, talks, and vegan food! Come check us out!
 
More information on attending collectives, stands and workshops as well as logistics for the day itself will be shared soon! Keep an eye out for further information!
 
Want to help out? We’re still looking for people who want to help volunteer during the event. Excited? Please send us an email!
 
November 27th and 28th 2021

Plantage Doklaan 8

[email protected]

anarchistbookfairamsterdam.blackblogs.org

Instagram: @anarchistbookfairamsterdam

Facebook: Anarchist Bookfair Amsterdam
https://www.facebook.com/AnarchistBookfairAmsterdam/

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Horse Passport and Castration


These Orchids Have
Descended
is a precursor to
The Gelded, two

narratives where
figurative meaning is the data
for recording loss

and survival in the
‘-ectomy’ of what has been removed
being attached at the end.

As the story goes,
there are those who think a care for
people vaccinating

threatens liberties,
but to have your knackers taken? Covid
is bollocks for the

anti-brigade, but
here is a masterclass in equine registration
to prove a need –

one microchip records
two testicles taken, where humans will flinch at
two picks in an arm

to save theirs
(or its equivalence). When horses
neigh it is not a refusal,

just actual pain
in a hope of controlling things
for continuing.

 

Mike Ferguson

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Take the Booster Before Christmas – We’re Behind on our Quantitative Easing Schedule!

 

Spoof or reality? You decide..

The Prime Minister of the United Kingdom is interviewed by BBC political correspondent Darren Codfly on the Today programme.

DC Prime Minister, thank you for coming to the studio.

PM Not at all. I would have come on my bicycle but it had a puncture and no one in the Cabinet Office had a puncture repair kit.

DC Prime Minister, many are anxious to know what you have in mind concerning Covid regulations in the run-up to Christmas. Can you provide some insight on this?

PM I was in a meeting with SAGE yesterday. We haven’t reached a conclusive position on this just yet, but my message is quite clear, people are strongly advised to take the booster now, before Christmas. We must ensure the holiday period suffers the minimum of interruptions and that families can pass their condolences in a dignified and respectable manner.

DC Err, can you clarify what you mean by ‘condolences’?

PM Yes of course. We are urging people to do the responsible thing. To take the booster as soon as possible, because we’re falling behind on our depop – err, quantitative easing schedule – and I’ll be in trouble with the WHO if we can’t maintain a steady downward trend.

DC You’re saying…

PM I’m saying that the policy I’ve set from the beginning – that the people of this country must take a responsible attitude in responding to the dangers of the pandemic and not just rely on government. This means recognising the importance of taking the strain off the NHS by dying – err, by passing at home rather than needlessly filling hospital beds. We learned this from our highly successful lockdown policy during the winter of 2021.

DC There are those who say that the lockdown was rather a cumbersome way of helping older people enjoy a quiet and restful end to their lives. How would you answer such criticism?

PM You know, I hear such criticisms and I take them into account in our forward planning. I sincerely hope there will be no need for such measures again this winter. But we must stay ahead of the game. This country has a terrific record in vaccinating a large number in a very short time. A considerable part of this success is down to the fact that people have been perfectly willing to take their own lives. This is one of the most admirable qualities of our great nation; but it needs to be kept alive, I mean, kept going. We can’t let-up yet.

DC Changing the subject a bit, are you concerned that there appears to be a growing voice of those uncomfortable with the lack of parliamentary consultation during the pandemic? Some are suggesting democratic principles and procedures are threatened by this situation. How would you react to this?

PM It’s complete nonsense. We’ve got to get the job done. The house is perfectly clear on what our goals are, so the need for debate on the actions required to ensure that there are a minimum number err..maximum number of survivors is simply a complete waste of time.

DC I understand that the cabinet is now a sort of ‘command centre’ for Covid planning. Is there unanimity amongst cabinet members about the way forward?

PM The cabinet has been highly effective in attracting the best brains in Britain – and not only Britain – to advise on strategies to ensure the public responds positively to our agenda. We are particularly proud of the influence our social and psychological engineering experts have exerted on the electorate. Thanks to this, a large part of the electorate actually believe what we are saying is true. We in Britain lead the world in this area.

DC So are there no detractors…?

PM There have been one or two who would have preferred our decisions to be based more on pragmatic, empirical evidence than on the computer modelling we employ Imperial College to carry out so as to produce the numbers we need. These dissenters have not been aware that we have to set targets for how many will succumb to this deadly virus, even if we have no idea whether these numbers are achievable. After all, we cannot get public support to defeat a virus unless most people believe it can take their lives if they don’t follow the government’s advice.

DC But the models used have made wrong predictions, is this a source of concern?

PM Of course not. The accuracy of the numbers doesn’t matter, it’s all about making people afraid.
It has been our strategy from the beginning to make people act out of fear. Both our Deep Mind psychiatry experts and the Chief Medical Officer have assured us that provided the media are kept to their pledge to put out a steady stream of fear raising headlines, we will have no problem in fulfilling the quota of jabs demanded by Pfizer and Astra Zeneca in order that their excellent businesses continue to return positive profit margins. This is capitalist democracy at its best and nowhere does in work better that here in Britain.

DC I think you do recognise the existence of some confusion concerning the vaccination being reported as ineffective at preventing Covid from effecting those who have already been vaccinated against it.

PM There may well be some confusion here. I want to remind listeners that we were fully supported by the electorate when my predecessor announced that the Conservative party intended to introduce chaos into the land. We can’t be accused of not having succeeded in this. The need has emerged to keep this policy and I will be putting my weight behind the booster as the best way of retaining immunity, even if such immunity is a chimera. This is entirely consistent with our chaos policy.

BC The COP is now behind us. Are you confident that pledges made during the COP Summit can and will be acted upon?

PM Look, we’re all human beings here, aren’t we? I mean, there’s almost no one who doesn’t have some feelings – err – failings. We’ve got some great goals to work for and it’s everybody’s job to get on with fulfilling these goals. I’m deeply proud of having presided over the COP in Glasgow. Heads of state, pop stars, leading climatologists – like Greta Thunberg – and many other global leaders, showed great commitment by flying into Glasgow in their own private jets and supporting the people of this great city by filling their top hotels for the first time since before lockdown.

DC There was some inconsistency concerning mask wearing during the COP; can you confirm the governments position on the need for masks and social distancing?

PM We don’t have one. Err, we do have one – but it’s hard to enforce. The World Health Organisation has been consistent from the outset of the pandemic. It has stated that masks are necessary – and that masks are unnecessary. We have taken much inspiration from this approach. Most of our statements on Covid, Brexit, Global Warming and Green Deal can now be understood – or misunderstood – in at least two ways. This avoids unnecessary confrontations brought about by people taking positions. We must unite in our efforts to reach our goals even if those goals might be misplaced or unattainable.

DC And social distancing?

PM What’ that?

DC On that note I’m afraid we have to end. Thank you Prime Minister.

 

Julian Rose

 

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, writer, international activist, entrepreneur and holistic teacher. He is co-founder of HARE The Hardwick Alliance for Real Ecology see https://hardwickalliance.org/ Julian’s acclaimed book ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ is particularly recommended reading for this time: see www.julianrose.info

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The Last Campaign

Expect the unelected, the Three Word Slogan stamped across lips sewn shut with piano wire, the narrowed eyes watching you as you undress. In the engine room, illegal labour feeds the furnace 24/7, shovelling accounts and counterarguments, adding their own names to the archive of ash. At the Captain’s table, fat hands carve each other behind their backs and rumpled snouts blow snow. Expect the inconceivable: the stones and shit of the Ship of State snapping its moorings like the good old days, buying the world with beads and deeds, hammering its flags through the hearts of its new best friends. Big Brother’s too busy trying on elaborate uniforms to watch anyone, raiding the dressing up box for plumes and more brocade, checking his reflection in the shine of his own esteem. Expect the unconscionable, the press of bodies in the steerage, the requisition notice stapled to bleeding skin, the rows of gleaming medals on the slaughterman’s apron.

 

 

Oz Hardwick

www.ozhardwick.co.uk

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from Songs of the Revolution 82

82

we recognize
the truth of these proverbs
because of their beauty
their flash their flesh

and when i talk to you
my words will not age you
i mean kill you
a little more
than you already are

we will all stop
killing each other

the state deliberately breeds violence in us
because violence justifies its existence

and what is there to steal
when everything is free

 

 

Julian Beck

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COLD AS CURSE?

 

Having barely missed  a passing asteroid’ aim, now we are told
We’re in line for an imminent mini ice-age, as next week
In London the numbers fall to minus eleven, or worse.
 
Meanwhile Unpriti Patel fights the French in an attempt
To communicate. Her numbed nonsense has no clear appreciation
Of English, let alone her Indian roots. Which is worse?
 
And who will be keeping the score as the wicket falls in fields frozen
Not just by the weather but by a form of revenge. Which could
Almost be Biblical, even to most non-believers, as if Nostradamus
 
In citing last year called our end. Therefore, in the absence
Of hope as defined by events we need purpose to phoenix itself
From the ashes and freshly command the new way,
 
Illuminated by fire no doubt, as Britain receives its pre-Christmas
Trappings, sent this time as a warning, that should the snow
Seal this season we may well need the life force
 
That could even outsource Danny Kaye. BJ and PP still remain.
There has been recognition but not revolution in the face
Of ineptness, moral turpitude, ignorance, as the new Black Death
 
Is See-through and the transparencies still astound us;
For if they are this country, I would wish us all immigrants.     
So, soon we will be axing off ice, just as the bastards’ Brexit
 
Sliced Europe, giving rise to fresh conflicts, vast islands
Of cold on grey seas. That make this beleaguered isle a wrecked
Raft, such as the one in Aguirre, Werner Herzog’s film
 
In which Kinski goes even more chillingly mad, soul diseased
As he and a bundle of miniature monkeys sail on towards
An uncertain dawn, death and future which while it may
 
For a moment have colour will soon be diluted as it ferries
Him to the Styx. Its going to be cold here next week. As cold
As space for the British.  They do not have the repose
 
Of the Swedish, the Eskimo, or, Norweigen, Icelandic,
Or Swiss; they’re betwixt the need to hold forth
And a clear command of survival. Its as if actual reason
 
Were frozen and not the plants outside, cars and bikes.
And so Earth holds its breath as the cosmic curse makes it Pluto.
Or, possibly tries to. Amid asteroid and yet more misadventure
 
We’re skating on an air stilled lake in stung circles. I can only pray
That those sinking will be those that the cold wave approaches,
As they broke the bounty and stoked then stirred this sea’s strike.
 
 
 
                                                                            David Erdos, November 16th  2021
 
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SAUSAGE LIFE 206

SAUSAGE LIFE
The column which is currently experiencing an unusually high volume of calls

 

MYSELF: You have the puzzled look of someone who has swallowed a spider in the mistaken belief that it will catch the fly you ate earlier. Why so?

READER: I’ve been listening to the radio and I’m baffled. Why have politicians, pundits and most interviewees suddenly started to prefix the answer to every question, however anodyne, with the unnecessary phrase that’s a very good question?

MYSELF: That’s a very good question.

READER: Here we go – very witty, very droll. How did I just know you were going to say that?

MYSELF: That is also a very good question.

READER: I’m not going to get anywhere with this am I? Why do I even bother?

MYSELF: Those are two very good questions.

READER (covering ears): Lalalalalalala…!

 

ALBUM OF THE MONTH

Rick Wakeman: Help Me Out I’m Down To My Last Three Million (Unicycle Music Group, CD, vinyl, cassette, wax cylinder)

The composer of King Arthur on Ice, and The Six Wives of Henry VIII hammers out all your favourite musical fragments on a reproduction 16th century electronic spinet furnished by sponsors Amahay Music Corporation of Japan. The custom instrument is finished in Rainforest Green and features genuine ivory keys made from the tusks of sustainably harvested free-range African elephants.
Rick, author of One Hundred Favourite Fishing Lures, is clearly not preparing to hang up his rock ‘n roll clogs anytime soon, as he demonstrates on this stomping 200-track selection of well-loved classics, scientifically remastered to their smallest atomic size.
Download these tracks:
Dvorak’s Humoresque (bars 28-32), the hummable bits from 4’33” by John Cage, Hey Big Spender (chorus only) with guest appearances by Shirley Bassey and Elton John.

 

WAITER, THERE’S A GULL IN MY SOUP

Hastings’ most eminent inventor, Professor Gordon Thinktank, has come up with a brilliant solution to the town’s escalating herring gull problem. Hot on the tail of his innovative NoShit seagull diapersthe Patent Office is currently considering an application for The Gullflap, a decoy litterbin designed to entrap the always-hungry seabirds. The invention is based on the council’s classic recycling unit design, The Birdfeeder which has successfully fattened the local gull population for many years. Thinktank’s version will appear perfectly normal to the birds, that is to say overflowing with pizza boxes, half-eaten cheeseburgers, and decomposing chicken remains and surrounded by old mattresses and prams. Once inside, the lid slams shut, and the unlucky seabird’s only exit option is via a 40 kilometre tunnel which terminates at Brighton.

 

DICTIONARY CORNER

Robust (n) Reinforced sports bra developed by Playtex in 1948, for the British Olympic Ladies Coxless Fours……

Conflate(v) to masquerade as a balloon sculptor in order to get work at children’s parties.

Aplomb (n) a soft fruit of the genus Prunus prunus.

Example:

Little Jack Horner
sat in the corner,
eating a Christmas pie;
He put in his thomb,
and pulled out aplomb,
and said ‘What a self assured confident boy am I!’

 

SWEET FA CUP EXIT

Hastings & St Leonards Warriors FC 0 – Chiddingly Pharaohs 8

The Warriors, who must wait until the January transfer window before they can benefit from the recent takeover by Mexican drug cartel Steenkin Badges, suffered yet another embarrassing 1st round FA cup exit last Monday, this time inflicted on them by lowly Chiddingly Pharaohs, 200 places below them in the Bob’s Corner Shop ‘n Nail Bar League (south). 

Warriors’ new Irish manager Alabaster Tipperary was visibly upset as he spoke to us, post-match, in the back room of The Tortured Sole, the S&M bar and fish restaurant owned by the club’s Russian-born chairman, Oliver Gark. “We was robbed so we was,” he told us, “and the club have tendered an official objection to the FA. Apart from the fact that all 8 goals were offside, my lads, who are 100% toxically masculine, were inhibited by The Pharaohs’ garish pink bustiere away strip with black lace edging. The shock tactic was enough to prevent fearsome central defender Nobby Balaclava from applying his legendary vicious but fair two-footed tackle on the grounds of gallantry. On top of that, groin-kick specialist Ruud Van Smoot was sidelined with a broken jockstrap, and we are still waiting for the X-rays on Bert ‘Pinocchio’ Lampwick whose girlfriend’s father’s attempt to castrate him the night before the game was fortunately thwarted just in the nick of time.”

 

Did anyone else receive this worrying email?

VIBRALIFE INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMER SERVICE DIVISION

Hiding Behind A Wall of Science
Dear (fill in name of valued stakeholder here),
We are sorry to hear that you have been experiencing issues with some of our software. The problem you describe is a very common one, caused by a serial driver conflict inside the extensions manager in your byte portfolio. Here is the simple fix: If you open the folder marked “do not open”, you will be presented with the following options. First, tick the box marked Yes, I would love to receive informative emails about the many purchasing opportunities offered by Vibralife International, and enter your bank account number and sort code on the form provided. For the next step you will need a small phillipino screwdriver, a tank of oxyacetaline, a stout arc-welding mask, and some plastic explosive. It is vitally important that you place the
SORRY, AN ERROR TYPE -233 HAS OCCURRED.
YOU HAVE BEEN DISCONNECTED

 

GOTCHA!

After weeks of exhaustive research, I have finally tracked down the guy who decides when Morrison’s “soft” fruit is “Ripe and Ready-to-Eat”

PASTA POSER

In answer to an enquiry by Mrs Iona Fischzupper of Glasgow; the Aureola is a type of portable music box, popular in the Victorian era. Manufactured in Italy by Florentine instrument makers Mangiare Strumento, it produces musical notes by striking ribbons of tagliatelle of varying lengths, which have been stretched between two pieces of Parma Ham, with a wooden spatula.

 

POETRY NOW

It is nowhere near the anniversary of the death of ex-PM Lady Margaret Thatcher, nevertheless I have commissioned this poem from myself, at my usual rates, as a small symbol of personal remembrance. All stand please:-

 

NO MILK TODAY, OR TOMORROW

She died at the Ritz
her life slipped thru her mitts
surrounded by minions
who loved her to bits.
A lady of iron (though irony free)
She incanted the mantra of
me me me me
in the far northern poles

all the ungrateful moles
who regret they are no longer gouging out coal,
will be sorry she’s burning,
she wasn’t for turning,
they’d surely prefer her interred in a hole

 

 

Sausage Life!

SPONSORED LYNX

https://birdguano2.bandcamp.com/album/sonic-goblin

POISON PEOPLE
guano poundhammer
From the album Domestic Bliss

 

Vote For Countryside Alliance
by The Hunt Cult. Click for video
https://vimeo.com/501269086

SPONSORED ADVERTISEMENT
“Sometimes you just need a tool that doesn’t do anything”

https://guanopoundhammer.bandcamp.com/album/people-who-are-dead-dont-know-that-they-are

BY Colin Gibson

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PORN: A PERSONAL HISTORY, & A CONSUMER’S GUIDE No 4

 

PICTURES OF LILY,

MADE MY LIFE SO WONDERFUL…

 

Society tends to be suspicious of pleasure. It’s a moral conundrum that western civilisation has never quite reconciled, one that occupies the dangerous twilight zone between the spirit and the flesh. Plato used the metaphor of a chariot pulled by two horses. The rational three-pounds of brain-matter between the ears is the charioteer, using the whip to attempt control, one horse is well-behaved, but the other represents our unruly, negative and destructive emotions. René Descartes, in a Christian context envisaged a division between a holy soul – capable of reason, and a fleshy body driven by ‘mechanical passions’. The dialogue goes from empirical philosopher-statesman Francis Bacon to social-positivist August Comte, from Thomas Jefferson whose Epicurean bias led him to declare ‘the pursuit of happiness’ an unalienable human right, to Immanuel Kant struggling with the concept of what is and is not real advocating ‘everything that is possible through freedom.’

Reason was privileged over emotion, until Freud appeared to seal the deal. To him, the rational ego’s mission is to restrain the animal instincts of the id. Sybaritic sensuality has a tendency to lead all too swiftly to debauchery. So the Puritans – and those of a similar mind-set, try to avoid it by banning fun altogether. With freedom, come attempts by nervous authorities to control those freedoms. And where exactly you place the limits of what is, and what is not permissible, is a clarity that has never been entirely resolved, and is always up for revision. Fashions in public morals come and go, but human nature remains reassuringly predictable when it comes to matters sexual and the politics of pleasure. As philosopher Jeremy Bentham argues in a wise defence of free speech, ‘as to the evil which results from a censorship, it is impossible to measure it, for it is impossible to tell where it ends…’ To the pure of mind, everything is pure. Filth is in the eye of the beholder. And me? yes, I have beheld…

Fact is, every civilisation is an experiment in moral values. An evolving attempt to balance differences within its structure. The ratios of power, class, and gender struggling, adjusting and fine-tuning against each other. Each civilisation is internally consistent, to itself, within the terms of its own definitions. If we assume that our values are more enlightened, more just and fairer than all the others, that’s probably because the values we value are our values. Objectivity is a tough one. There is no moral or societal strength that can’t – with equal validity and conviction, be seen as weakness. No liberalism that can’t be interpreted as decadence. And even within the same cultural continuity, decades have a tendency to jostle into each other, to act and react to each other’s emphasis. Periods of restraint open up into periods of self-indulgence, which then react into restraint again. What was once furtive, is now done openly. What was open, must now be done furtively. Learning from the perceived errors, and the apparent dangers of each condition. The repressed psychosis built up by denial is unhealthy: as are the contagions and social instabilities that result from over-gratification.

This way and that. Oscillating across years. From Cromwellian Puritanism to Restoration bawdiness. As early as 1660, just two years after Cromwell’s death, there are reports of Italian dildos being sold on St James’s Street. From Victorian and Edwardian respectability – via wartime austerity, to sixties Free Love, sex has been alternately glorified and vilified. ‘We know better than they did. We learn from their foolishness. We won’t repeat their blinkered blunderings.’ But doing it anyway. If the function of civilisation is to apply an element of logic and reason to human affairs, then sex is the great upsetter. The primal urge that thwarts all efforts at rational arrangements. And porn operates at the intersection of the two. The technology that makes its proliferation possible is the product of the scientific principles of reason. The viral message it carries is the disrupter of such values.

Freedom of speech includes the freedom to be vile. Yet, as a product of my time and generation, I persist in believing that tolerance is no bad thing. The West – so smug in its superiority over other less sophisticated cultures, has only relatively recently… in historical terms, enjoyed such liberal attitudes. Outside Christendom, Islam was conjuring Houris, sex lures to tempt and satiate male desires, pleasuring the pleasure centres of the brain. While Medieval minstrels sang paeans to love. But they also sang of daemon lovers, virgin-maids seduced and abandoned, and murder-ballads of marital intrigue. For marriage was essentially a union arranged by families with commercial or dynastic motives, specifically legitimising unfettered procreation within a structured family unit.

Human happiness is a simple, but revolutionary idea. It was Benedictine monk Gratian who introduced the novel concept of mutual consent for marital partners in his ‘Decretum Gratiani’, inaugurated into the canonical code of practice by the Council of Trent (1563), and laid out in Protestant theology by Thomas Cranmer in ‘The Book Of Common Prayer’ (revision 1552). And it was only much later, in 1836 that non-religious civil marriage was legitimised. The corresponding right of legal divorce – as distinct from something arranged by an Act of Parliament, was only passed into law in 1858, assuming a more liberal definition with the ‘Divorce Reform Act’ of 1969. To where the many quirks of individual satisfaction at last became more important than social and religious imperative. Although the underlying reality was very different, much of the ritual marriage symbolism remained – the transfer of ownership (and name) from father to husband. And the essential balance is still being tinkered with. 2005 brought Civil Partnerships for same-sex couples, and non-gender-specific marriage. Gay marriage followed.

But no. What I’m talking here is less exclusive, more extramarital and more democratic than that. It concerns those rare and carefully hoarded leather-bound editions to be consulted only by academics and historians that are now consigned to the British Libraries Secret Archive (the ‘Secretum’ established from Witt’s own aristocratic private collection). Aristocracy has always had its ‘eccentric connoisseurs’ of the esoterically exotic with their hidden stashes of erotic literature. Their interests have always been deemed ‘different’ to the hairy-handed lust of the common man, in some subtle way I’ve never quite been able to understand. They read Thomas Nashe’s (1567-1601?) witty Elizabethan poem “Choice Of Valentines” (or ‘Nashe’s Dildo’), the ‘prick-song’ about a young man’s loss of erection that opens with the florid ‘Pardon sweete flower of matchless Poetrie…’

As a poet and a kind of Elizabethan Mick Jagger, John Donne (1572-31 March 1631) started out as less metaphysical than physical, even corporeal in his reach. At a time when love poetry cloaked itself in a safe distancing of classical allusions he made his words directly personal. His elegy “To His Mistress Going To Bed” is so explicit it was initially refused license for inclusion in his posthumous collection, and only gradually reached an appreciative audience. Its lyrical striptease goes from ‘off with that girdle’ to ‘your gown’s going off such beauteous state reveals’ until ‘full nakedness, all joys are due to thee.’ It includes the lascivious ‘licence my roving hands and let them go, behind, before, above, between, below…’ (lines that anticipate twentieth-century modernism, and TS Eliot’s ‘exploring hands encounter no defence’ in the third section of “The Waste Land” from 1922). After his student carousing Donne married for love, which destroyed his career and for which he even did time in Fleet Prison. But the marriage endured until her death in 1617, giving birth to their twelfth child. Caught up in the fierce religious schism through which his family had suffered exile and martyrdom, he tactically switched from Catholicism to become a Protestant, and later even wound up as Dean of St Paul’s. But we can forgive him that lapse for the sensual realism of his early verses. As Van Morrison writes, ‘roll on John Donne!’

Then there’s the promiscuously bisexual second Earl of Rochester (1647-July 1680), who could wittily boast of his debauched life-style in underground manuscripts that document the doomed trajectory of his career as soldier, wit, satirist, poet and self-destructive reprobate. During the ‘hang-over’ of the Restoration Monarchy the Earl – real name John Wilmot, celebrated as ‘The Libertine’ (2004) in the Johnny Depp movie, was a whoring, wine-swigging seventeenth-century courtier, with a recklessly determined honesty for ‘bone-hard medical fact’. He was a perverse poet of filthy four-lettered verse that still stands as the most celebrated of the period. His “A Ramble In St James Park” chronicles all manner of perverse al-fresco goings-on. His “Satyre On Charles II” claims that the monarch’s ‘sceptre and his prick are of a length.’ A scourge of polite society, such flagrantly bawdy satire led to his brief exile. The line ‘I am the cynic of our golden age’ may have been spoken for him by Johnny Depp, and contemporary paintings suggest little of Depp’s wickedly mischievous charisma, but it does seem to capture the essence of the man.

Although he married Elizabeth Malet, the Laurence Dunmore screenplay revolves around his relationship with his mistress Elizabeth Barry (played by Samantha Morton), the actress he tutored. According to Samuel Johnson, Wilmot ‘blazed out his youth and health in lavish voluptuousness.’ With an epicurean’s taste matched to a glutton’s appetite, he drank to excess, disported with mistresses and prostitutes and, perhaps inevitably, died young, probably syphilis-ravaged in Woodstock. His “Sodom, Or The Quintessence Of Debauchery” remained suppressed until long after his death. Graham Greene wrote a fine biography of him, and although completed in 1934 it too was not published until 1947 for fear of prosecution for obscenity!

The chaotic and seething metropolis of Georgian London was a booming mass of some 700,000 people. Yet from erotic fiction such as ‘Fanny Hill: Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure’ (1748) to the saucy drawings of Thomas Rowlandson, the libidos behind the petticoats and breeches, crinolines and corsets of eighteenth-century Britain were somewhat less than controlled. Prostitution was not illegal, and there was something like 50,000 people employed at various levels of the paid-for sex-trade. Hogarth’s line-engravings illustrate life and death in the streets around the taverns and coffee-houses of Covent Garden, showing a ‘clapped-out prostitute’ – i.e. a victim of the clap, dying of syphilis with predatory quack-physicians hovering, exploiting her with ‘mercury’ cures.

His perceptive art captures and accurately skewers the iniquity and hypocrisy of the time. From the sophisticated up-market Pall Mall ‘Nunnery’ pleasure-dome brothels – where madam Mrs Hayes was so successful she amassed a £20,000 fortune for her retirement, to the more downmarket ‘trugging-houses’, and the ‘Molly-Culture’ of brothels where ‘effeminate sodomites’ acted out wedding ceremonies and pregnancies, even giving birth – in a surreal twist, to hunks of cheese. Where streetwalkers could tempt the likes of diarist James Boswell to an outdoor coupling on the newly-built Westminster Bridge, and such an encounter could be had for sixpence. While a night with a high-class courtesan would cost six guineas. Lists advertising and evaluating the services of women of the night were widely circulated – including ‘The Whoremongers’ Guide To London’, and the most celebrated of them all – ‘Harris’ List’, which debuted in 1757 priced at 2s 6d, and stayed in print for thirty-eight years, regularly updating contact information concerning the ‘Covent Garden Ladies’. Credited to Jack Harris, its origins were less straightforward. The impetus came from pimp-general John Harrison, utilising his extensive contact-lists, but it was ghost-written by Sam Derrick. Harrison eventually spent time in Newgate Prison for his pains, but his work survived.

Other offenders were brought to the censorious attention of the ‘Society For the Reformation Of Manners’ precisely because it was catering – not only for slumming aristos, but for the working-class, and Gays too. So an entrapment operation at ‘Mother Clapp’s’ bawdy-house led to a February 1726 Police Raid, resulting in three victims being publicly hanged for the heinous crime of sodomy, while Mother Clapp herself was literally pilloried – enduring public violation and humiliation in the stocks, following her own July 1726 trial.

The moral backlash of the 1850s saw further crackdowns on what they saw as more blatant excesses, from targeting the taste for bawdy books, to establishing strict religious ‘Magdelene Houses’ intended to wean whores off vice, and even to the extent of moral reformers placing fig-leaves on naked statues. Giant leaps for cleanliness and godliness made by philanthropists and busybodies, the great moral and social crusaders of industrial Britain, sometimes spurred on by the concern that if the populace doesn’t mend its disgusting ways it’ll catch something nasty off the French. Such as revolution, egalitarianism and the butchering of the propertied classes. The ‘London Journal’ (for May 1726) was even vigorously and enthusiastically recommending castration for ‘deviant’ Sodomites. The social truth is that wherever opulent wealth resides side-by-side with extreme squalid poverty the lines of commerce between the classes will inevitably include sexual opportunism and exploitation. As Fanny Hill points out, ‘virtue is better than vice, but we can’t always choose.’

John Cleland was born in September 1710, spent a well-connected childhood in St James’ Place, and was educated at Westminster School. He signed up as a seventeen-year-old soldier and set out for Bombay (Mumbai) to seek his fortune, transferring to the East India Company. The venture was brought to a close by his father’s death, and he returned to London in 1741, to find himself in reduced impoverished circumstances. Worse was to come, and he was sent to the decrepit Fleet Debtors Prison for 376 days for an outstanding sum of £800. It was during this period of incarceration that he wrote his notorious ‘Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure’. As writer Tony Rennell observes, ‘in our mind’s eye, we can try to imagine the middle-aged Cleland at work, finding a quiet corner amid the squalor and mayhem of the prison yard and for a year scratching out with a quill pen the extravagant prose and the indecent exploits that would make him famous.’ His heroine – ‘Fanny Hill’ is a naïve country girl who makes her fortune selling sex in the brothels that abound in the metropolis. By the end of the first dozen pages she’s been lured into the sex trade by a brothel-owner and initiated into Sapphic pleasure by another of the girls ‘whose lascivious touches lighted up a new fire that wantoned through my veins.’ She should, Fanny admits, have ‘jumped out of bed and cried for help against such strange assaults,’ but she didn’t. ‘I was more pleased than offended.’

Filmed for the umpteenth time in 1983 by director Gerry O’Hara his version of the saucy long-banned classic features Lisa Raines as the fifteen-year-old ingénue moving into eighteenth-century London to become easy – and willing prey for the sophisticated city toffs. After suave Jonathan York woos and then dumps her, Raines’ idea of revenge is to sleep her way around town. It’s a poor romp that wastes the talents of Oliver Reed, Wilfred Hyde White and Shelley Winters. It later became a superior BBC4-TV two-parter midwived by screenwriter Andrew Davies (from 31 October 2007) with Rebecca Night as the new incarnation of Cleland’s ‘happy hooker’, prompting writer Tony Rennell to investigate its fully detailed history (in ‘The Daily Mail’ 10 October 2007).

Taking his cue from imported risqué French literature, Cleland had announced his intention of writing ‘the truth, stark naked truth’ even if that means exposing ‘unreserved intimacies’ and ‘violating the laws of decency.’ Written with eye-watering detail from his heroine’s point of view, the narrative portrays female sexual feelings with intimate knowledge of the whore’s seedy subworld with a playful sense of authenticity Cleland could never again recapture. It was an unusual accomplishment that suggests that perhaps he had ample experience in the field, by way of research? The first 750 print-run edition from Fenton Griffiths was advertised in a London newspaper dated Monday, 21 November 1748 as ‘this day is published Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure’, priced at three shillings, its author identified merely as ‘A Person Of Quality’. Perfect for those who like their wenches saucy, their ragamuffins filthy and their libertines insatiable. Soon its success bought his freedom by becoming the first commercially-published work of British erotic fiction.

Bishop Thomas Sherlock denounced the novel from the pulpit. A minor earth-tremor in 1750 toppled London chimneys and felled old buildings, it was interpreted as evidence of god’s disapproval. Within six months – first the publisher, then Cleland himself – once identified, was re-arrested on obscenity charges, and – terrified of enduring a return to jail he disowned the book. He squirmed and counter-claimed, he even denied having written the work, which was out there ‘corrupting the morals of the king’s subjects.’ He’d merely edited the work of an anonymous ‘young nobleman’. Later still he confessed to diarist James Boswell that yes, it was his own work, but no, he’d written it as a youth and only sought publication when he was broke and desperate for get-out-of-prison-fast cash. Yet another possibility, suggested by Cleland’s biographer – William Epstein, is that he was merely writing down a kind of popular urban myth that had been circulating for many years.

Whatever the truth, he escaped with his liberty, but ‘Fanny Hill’ was subsequently available in only an expurgated edition. Suitably chastened, but lured by the prospect of respectable literary success the experience had so tantalisingly promised, he set to work producing more books. A male counterpart to ‘Fanny’, ‘Memoirs Of A Coxcomb’ (1751) lacked both its predecessor’s saucy page-turning content, and its success.  As did his three-volume ‘The Woman Of Honour’ (1768). Moving on to plays he unsuccessfully pestered David Garrick to stage one of his three works, including a pseudo-classical ‘Titus Vespasian’ (1755). Then, while contributing scathing grumpy-old-man tirades about the declining standards of society to ‘The Public Advertiser’, and despite his lack of training, he wrote a set of quasi-medical journals. He died a bitter and envious malcontent in 1789, still infamous for the one book of erotica. It remained suppressed for two-hundred years, circulating in underground editions sold under-the-counter, a titillating open secret among the posh, literate classes. Even Mayflower Books were prosecuted for bringing it back into print in 1964, and it was not until the 1970s that its prohibition was finally repealed and its ‘classic’ status confirmed by Penguin and Oxford imprints.

‘Fanny Hill’ was but one of many books in a well-populated marketplace of what Bishop Sherlock denounced as ‘the histories of the vilest prostitutes,’ third-hand accounts of the lives of courtesans and ‘whore biographies’ – or, in the vernacular of the time ‘bunters’, ‘punchable nuns’ or ‘trugmoldies’, that sold in prodigious number. Real-life divorce proceedings were instantly turned into erotic entertainments with titles such as ‘The Cuckold’s Chronicle’. Caught up in the delicate play between permissiveness and morality, the pretence – or perhaps even the fact of being genuinely troubled by the fate of the falling or fallen women, stalks through the novels beginning to emerge from Richardson and Fielding, to Defoe’s ‘Moll Flanders’ (1722).

Operating very much as part of the same process, they protest their right to depict such characters as part of an urgent moral debate. They were intended to be moral lessons, unlike the richly amoral boldly unrepentant Fanny, even though Cleland’s cracking good-read uses inventive prose, comic euphemism and florid metaphor in place of more directly explicit terminology. Fanny’s greatest sin is that she pursues sexual pleasure with joyful abandon and élan. Every man is hugely endowed, every woman a willing participant. And worse still, she ends up prosperously and contentedly married to her forgiving long-time love. The common reader, as distinct from the academic dilettante, must be protected from such aristocratic deviance. Perhaps, like the licensing laws themselves, such literary distractions were intended to be kept away from the masses lest they interfere with productivity?

It was different, by degrees, on the Continent. In Venice, for example, as recounted in the amorous ‘Histoire De Ma Vie (The Story Of My Life)’ of Giacomo Casanova, the man long-renowned as the world’s greatest lover. Born 2 April 1725, it has been estimated that – give or take a ménage à trios, he notched up some one-hundred-&-thirty conquests before winding up as librarian to Count Waldstein of Bohemia, where he relieved his boredom by recording them all in the twelve volumes of his notorious memoirs. Surprisingly he’d begun by studying theology as preparation for the priesthood, then gained legal qualifications at eighteen, shortly before losing his virginity. As well as being a lover and prodigious traveller, he was also a prolific author of fiction and philosophy, a connoisseur and cabbalist, a student of medicine and an accomplished musician, but it’s as a sexual adventurer that his name has become part of the vocabulary. Another to give his name to a branch of sexuality – The Marquis De Sade, shared the same time period. Casanova died in 1798, De Sade in 1814.

The turn of the decade into the 1750s marked a general turn-around in the moral climate, and the tightening-up of censorship. William Wycherley’s deliciously ribald Restoration comedy ‘The County Wife’ – an anti-Puritan work full of lewd innuendo, the story of a rake who convinces everyone that he is impotent in order to gain free access to their wives, was controversial in its day, it was banished from the stage in 1753 – and remained unseen until its twentieth-century revival. It was a period that marked the decline and fall of ‘John Bull’, that free-born, free-living, roistering libertarian, a character whose demise was guaranteed as the country underwent the transformation from the agrarian-based society to an industrial one. Bull’s downfall was hastened by the rise of the urban middle-classes who conveniently forgot from whence they’d sprung and their bourgeois desire to extirpate what they perceived as the moral turpitude of the underclass.

From that middle-class viewpoint, there seemed certain grounds for concern. According to the 1811 census there were no fewer than 49,500 licensed taverns in the UK, a figure which constitutes one house in forty-five. Naturally, many such premises doubled as gaming houses and brothels. Not to mention cesspools of debauchery, horseracing, gin-drinking, pox, bad manners and such activities as bullock-baiting – in which the unfortunate beast would have its ears blocked with peas and its body pierced with iron rods. The enraged animal would then career down the street harassed by a baying mob, thrilled by the havoc it wreaked. Such activities were not deemed fit for what the great and good considered appropriate for a civilised country.

They might have had a point, but the new Puritanism, driven by Whig reformers, evangelists and philanthropists, as concerned with self-aggrandisement as morality or benevolence, gradually enforced a new code. Society, rather than the individual, became paramount, the pursuit of pleasure was replaced by the work ethic. Nowhere was this more evident than in the behaviour of the nascent Metropolitan Police. This was supposed to be a force that would dispense even-handed justice. In practice, it was used to clear the streets of those dubious types respectable people deemed undesirable. Britain became undeniably a more sober, prosperous and hygienic country, but in the process, it lost something of its gaiety, spontaneity, exuberance and delight in good living and plain speaking. As Leigh Hunt wrote in 1825, ‘we were to show our refinement by being superior to every rustic impulse and do nothing but doubt and be gentlemanly and afraid of committing ourselves.’

The ‘Age of Reason’, alternately called ‘The Enlightenment’ was a period of intense intellectual excitement, a time when people began to feel they had the ability to understand and – through understanding, take control of the world. The tools to achieve it were not divine revelation or dull dusty dogma, but bright-eyed intelligence, reason and science. Human beings could be the architects of their own fortunes. The world and its corrupt institutions could be rebuilt in accordance with the principles of rationalism. This was well-before the material limitations and human fallibilities would become apparent. For ‘science and prurience proceed hand in hand’ as Linda (author of ‘Hard-Core’, 1989) Williams points out. And it is the gradual expansion of technology keeping pace with the growing market for images that redresses the situation. A perfect fusion of commerce and culture.

Earl Stanhope replaced the old wood-frame printing press with a more rigid iron model in 1803, enabling faster and more efficient print production. But it could be a weapon of subversive social change too. The French Revolution allied porn with libertarian propaganda to attack Church and Aristocracy, explicit wood-engraved cartoons of ‘Austrian bitch’ Marie Antoinette copulating with all and sundry, were used to destroy political reputations by accusations of sexual degeneracy (as in Monica and Clinton!). In its earliest phase, before it turned in on itself and devoured itself, the revolution had set its course against every aspect of irrationalism. Intent on reconstructing the world through ‘Reason’, according to Jean-Jacques Rousseau’s concept of ‘social renewal’. It’s worth recalling that analysis and experiment was also the chosen route favoured by Mary Shelley’s most famous creation, Baron Von Frankenstein, formulated by the Geneva lakeside on 14 May 1816.

 

 

 

BY ANDREW DARLINGTON

 

 

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PLAN B

 
 
Its two years today since the first case of Covid, an unhappy birthday
Marked by  needles as syringe, and affording cold flame in a climate
Of near frozen resources; as the cake crumbles into snow,
What will follow, and what will influence or impinge?
 
The NHS is cracked ice, stretched it would seem to its limits.
Some say it may take ten years to recover, by which time those
Not yet at risk could be dead. And all this because risk
Has been downsized and truth disguised beneath covers
 
As transparent as clingfilm, or a tissue/gauze duvet draped over
A sweat smeared, phlegm marked bed. Yet now, very few wear
A mask, either on the street, or on buses. Or trains. There are places,
Such as restaurants wear you must. But only to walk in, or to move
 
From your meal to the toilet. A token ten second effort,
Or possibly more, taunting trust. Masks  may offer little protection
Of course. Especially as they are now fashion items; badges,
That like piercings, or tattoos before soon involved the owning body
 
In groups, or gangs or tribes that bred bounty; whereas now,
Throughout counties in this country at least, nothing’s solved.
They simply keep your germs in. They contain your contagion.
I cough in mine often and hear the middle aged chorale echoing
 
And now we too are a tribe. Or, a diaspora who seem desperate
For the respect that lost decades despite their troubles and ills
Placed faith in. So today there is a call to return to the considerations
Once given. Things are not as they were. Your illusion is that this
 
Is 2019! When everything seemed right with the world. Well, just
Think about that for a second! We still had the same leaders,
And the same tragedies, misdirections and efforts to change,
Still unseen. We just didn’t have this, however it arrived;
 
Its still spreading. So wear a mask, not for purpose,
But to show that you at least recognise that something has gone
Wrong with the world. And that we may well need strange
And new stars to  save us. Whether they will or not depends solely
 
Not only on distance,  but on some other bright birthday prize.
We need a Plan B, straight through to Zed, let’s be honest.
We need a new alphabet of vast re-invention. And so,
What should we wish for as we blow the candle out?
 
Is it Christ? Or Mohammed, Yah-Weh, or the simple
Shared heat from the community cauldron, stirring
The kind of soup that sustains us and blowing back
A new vapour in which we can savour the scent
 
Of a friend; that delight.
 
 
 
 
David Erdos,  November 17th 2021
Illustration: Rupert Loydell
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A Titian Not A Toy

A titian not a toy
Titania in Sylvania
Softly handsome like a boy
From the murks of subterranea
Rising supple cool and coy
Elated and sedated
High eyes like Mina Loy
Traction driven into trances
Stolen looks, recovered glances
Dripping like Croesus
On a cruise to Ephesus
Wriggling like weed
Wreather in plaits of golden joy
She’s life injected into drawing
An ice maiden always thawing
Iridescence, evanescence
A slow dissolve
   into intangible
         Beauty

 

 

 

Julian Isaacs

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SIGN: Stop Disastrous Plan to Bring Animal Cosmetics Testing Back to UK

SIGN: Stop Disastrous Plan to Bring Animal Cosmetics Testing Back to the UK

 

PETITION TARGET: UK Home Secretary Priti Patel

If the current UK Government gets its way, innocent rabbits, mice, and guinea pigs could once again face the horror of painful and senseless chemical experiments for cosmetic ingredients.

The country’s 23-year ban on animal testing ingredients exclusively found in cosmetics now is on shaky ground, following an announcement that the government has “reconsidered its policy” following a case last year, in which the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) ordered manufacturer Symrise to test two of its cosmetic ingredients on animals.

The agency said that the ingredients tests were needed to ensure the finished products could be used “safely” on people, despite decades of evidence that undeniable genetic differences between animals and people mean that what’s considered safe in animals can sometimes prove harmful — or fatal — to humans.

The discrepancies are why 90 percent of drugs approved in animal tests fail once they hit human clinical trials. 

The UK’s Home Office has said that companies still will not be allowed to test finished cosmetic products on animals — asserting that its policies haven’t changed.

But that’s not the case. The UK government’s plan to once again allow animal testing on certain cosmetic ingredients would open the door to increased and more widespread use of this cruel and indefensible practice — and throw away almost a quarter-century of work by the beauty industry, regulators, scientists and safety experts to promote alternative non-animal testing methods that will be safer, more reliable, and more cost-effective.

Re-allowing animal tests for cosmetics ingredients also goes against a recent European Parliament demand to phase out all animal testing as soon as possible in favor of those human biology-based alternatives.

Sign this petition demanding that UK Home Secretary Priti Patel uphold the government’s ban on animal testing cosmetic ingredients.

 

Sign here

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HITLER IN A PONYTAIL

 
 
Its impossible to believe that we live in a world where Priti Patel
Makes decisions, but perhaps they thought that in all cities
Where miniature despots held sway. Cambodia. Germany. Chile,
And now, Grating Britain, where this female bastard revives
Each refugee’s ruined day. Under the cover of darkness, intent
 
And as far as we know direct evil she can bite out the British
From those who have sought sanctuary, whilst hearing a jingoist’s bell,
This toll tells a black story, in which freedom’s fairytale sours,
And where prospective Cinderellas are servants deprived
Of the chance to feel free. I have written too much
 
About this bitch as blight and so I risk repetition, but what’s worse
Is her knowledge of how she is seen and perceived and how
It doesn’t seem to affect her one jot: she spits out her plots.
Her sneer is set. But I’d smear it. Destroying the pose that’s presented
And by which the rest of us are deceived. You have to be
 
Ransacked within to crest those stark waves of hatred.
You have to be so hurt and so damaged to enjoy such revenge. 
She is Lucy Ewing writ large; Dallas’ poisoned dwarf in Westminster,
Spilling her spite ripe with relish as she secretly steals citizens.
Patel bites the Queen, or what Elizabeth represents, or, represented
 
Priti is the first syllable within country that she now proports
To defend. But this isn’t defence; this is Eva Braun in exelcis,
As would be consort and Fuhrer, but bleached of appeal she’s all ends.
That a man married her and lives with her now says something
Not about who she is. I can’t say that. But this is about what she does.
 
Or is prepared to do. Or to be. Her psyche is sick, that’s for certain.
While we, the infected, in letting this loose bleat and buzz.
But it should be her for exile and the chop; let’s bundle her
Onto the boat headed towards her idiotically infamous fantasy Island
Where she can rage at a rockface and command coconuts
 
If I was the sea, I’d shipwreck her while she’s swimming.
If I was the sky I’d storm on her.  If I was paste she’d be cut.
Because of what she  is happy to do. This poem is not an agenda.
But Un-Priti Pudenda, I want to know how you sleep.
What brings you happiness? The fascistic chorale you’re conducting,
 
Or some high plain where Bore-is, and if you are able to have friends
Cavort while we weep. You represent where we are, and what it is
We’re becoming. You are the horror, the Apocalypse now, riding in.
It isn’t four horses at all. Its just one poisoned pony. You want
To remove others freedoms without any warning at all. Is that sin? 
 
 
 
                                              David Erdos 19/11/21

 

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The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog

For slide show of the exhibition…
https://cohort.art/quick-brown-fox

18th November 2021 – 18th January 2022

Paintings are always arrived at through a decision-making process, where one thing follows another.  Even if the decision is to leave it up to chance, to rely on the accidental and the incidental, it is still a choice on the part of the artist.  Each action or move takes place in a sequence of events.  Some paintings require many decisions, others take only a few.  We could think of paintings as containers, as holders, of a pictorial and material decision-making process, where paint – or an equivalent material – is applied, pushed around, added, removed, arranged, re-arranged into some sort of order (or disorder).

There are obvious visual connections that can be made when seeing the work of such a large group of artists.  Visual rhythms start to unfold, the echo of a shape or the recurrence of a similar hue.  But curating a show is not simply about establishing such clear connections; it is about juxtaposing differences, bringing together and highlighting oppositions.  Here there is no one prevailing genre, style or attitude.  The common denominator between these artists being their year spent together on the Turps Correspondence Course.  The scope of the artists involved has therefore produced an exhibition that covers the widest possible territory of painting, from hard-edge abstraction through to naturalistically described figuration.

Yellow bodies and a field of blue …the comfortability of a familiar beast…light and shadow amongst the trees…moments of colour throughout the vastness of an open landscape…looking away from one another…a corpse in a box…a new illumination…coloured puddles sewn together…a chromatic geometry…clasped hands come into focus…twisting and coiling standing tall…a still interior, motionless inhabitants…boats sit within a heavy surface…a tree stretches outward, uprooted…an interior radiating blue…a distant view on the hillside…a face materialises from within…faceless flesh…freshly cut flowers…nature in full bloom…dark ringed eyes and golden yellow hair…piped and dripping paint…systematic differences…floating and untethered…rising below moonlight…a modest and irregular division…the open arena…the swimmer’s chin…framing a frame…a place of nostalgia…underfoot foliage…a pair of writhing bodies…up close and far away…the sinking musician continues to play…emerging from the void…a site of repetition and rhythm…colour entering or exiting… birds in rotation…marks accumulated…something to grab hold off…a transformation captured on camera…a moment in time…the space beyond…the visibility of a mark…an architecture is formed…and a scene is set…the oncoming acceleration…the point where different zones meet…a structure stands…an ornamental monument…a night with Maud…the arrangement and intersection of shape…a material fluidity…light overcoming darkness…a type of translation…staying above the water….or staring into it to find your reflection…a growing applause…the filling in of space…an invitation of shelter…a slippage between things …below the surface…a mythic figure…the street from inside…a domesticity…where one head becomes another…a smoking skeleton…multiplying motifs…a message in two parts…a body becoming…twin vases…a change in perspective…a distribution of colour…the visage looks back…in the forest…the outline of an apple…as orange dissects blue…an outdoor mistiness…and a bloody confrontation…the galloping horse…the road ahead…with pigment on ground…patterned structure…an assembled figure…a turning head…paint buries the photographic…an erotic embrace…a spectral location…a vocabulary of paint…and picture which points in one direction and then another.

The format of viewing the show, as a type of continuous film reel where we can scroll right and left without interruption, then select individual paintings, works remarkably well.  It gives the exhibition a sense of community through individuality.  Each painting stands its ground, puts forward a proposition of its own to be accepted, or rejected, by the viewer.  Each painting tells a narrative – not narrative in the sense of representing a story, although some admittedly do – but a narrative of their own making.  This is another attribute all of the 92 works share – a real sense of making, of working something out.  And as we move from painting to painting, we experience these shifts, in pace, in atmosphere, in force, and we must allow ourselves to adapt to a new sensibility with every new work we encounter.

The title of the show, ‘The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog’, is a well-known typing exercise; the sentence contains all letters of the English alphabet.  Within those 26 characters, there are inexhaustible possibilities.  An infinite potential.  And it is this sense of potentiality that this exhibition stages, where any painting has within it a similar sense of potential, and becomes a site of unknown possibilities.  

 

Scott McCracken

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A Different Outcome

 

Sound is a vital element in
horror movies but we need
to get the high street going
again. Zeitgeist or spirit of

the age? Are we talking about
another dream that went wrong?
“He pulled the strings off all the
marionettes around him,” she

said. “Have you ever played
chess from dawn to dusk?
Chance is the starting point
of the process then we consult

the ouija board? People tend to
move here for economic reasons.   

Steve Spence
Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

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Trees of November

                                                   Oak leaves
                                                   last marker
                                                   of seasons passed

                                                  cling as if the world
                                                  would spiral
                                                  into purgatory

                                                 birch branches
                                                 stark naked
                                                 bones & knuckles

                                                 memoried leaves
                                                 blighted & barren
                                                 scattered moraine

                                                 what is lost when
                                                 the moon is as bare as
                                                 the trees of November

 

 

 

TERRENCE SYKES

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The Rulers of This Most Insecure of All Worlds Are Rulers By Accident

William Burroughs Reminds Us

‘The Rulers of This Most Insecure of All Worlds Are Rulers By Accident, Inept Frightened Pilots’

‘Not one-man rule or rule of aristocracy or plutocracy but a small group elevated to positio​n​s of power by ra​n​dom pr​e​ssures and subject to political and economic factors that leave ​l​ittl​e​ room for decisions. They​ are representatives of abstract forces that reach power through surrender of self.  

Click the image to see the video by Burroughs & John Cale.

The iron​-willed dictator is a thing of the past. There will be no more ​S​talins no more ​H​itlers. The rulers of this most insecure of all worlds are rulers by accident. Inept frightened pilots of controls of a ​v​ast machine they cannot understand​,​ ​c​a​l​ling in ​experts telling them which buttons to push.’

 

William Burroughs Reminds Us ‘The Rulers of This Most Insecure of All Worlds Are Rulers By Accident, Inept Frightened Pilots’

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EMPATHY ROAD


                 
                   Dedicated to Alex Buck

EMPATHY ROAD

 “In the future of these States must arise poets immenser far, and make
great poems of death. The poems of life are great, but there must be the poems
of the purports of life, not only in itself, but beyond itself.”  ~  Walt Whitman, from Specimen Days

I

On Empathy Road those who have loved us rise
                      from the flames of our hearts like fists of fire!
On this Empathy Road we have defeated hardship and servitude and
                     our united vision births a new world
                     to end human suffering and to preserve all life.

On Empathy Road love prevails over selfishness
                     and those who have prevented our evolution
                     find their lost understanding.
On Empathy Road we shout for joy because
                    we have finally arrived at the shores of freedom and mercy.       
                      
On Empathy Road solace reigns
        and we can truly call ourselves humanity for the first time.
On Empathy Road
                     our cries for justice have found nature echoing.

On Empathy Road
        compassion is the way of all government.
We follow Empathy Road
        as it leads us out to the stars.
We follow Empathy Road
        leading us back into our own hearts.

No longer chastise the poor for not having,
nor the hungry for dying but for the indolent masses of a rich culture,
no, do not chastise the believers in universal intelligence, nor those who have been
face to face with God and seen the vastness of that starry beating heart
within their own heart.

When the light of love fills each of us as it has never been allowed before
we wake to a world made new, made fresh, made of love itself where love
has burned in oil and risen in black smoke from a million chimneys.

Allow your love to give and share so that we are a united species happy
in every single cell of our blind humanness.

Invoke peace as though it wasn’t tainted by a thousand wars over ten thousand years,
and which argues that we must be at war because war is our nature. Then
we will rise from that pretext and begin anew, no longer relying on the disparate
ugliness within to shape our destiny out of vengeance, greed and killer rage.

No longer be the child who suckled at the Earth’s breast and then ravaged
the same beautiful mother, making all women secondary in her image as
the great provider at the master’s beck and call.

No more remain the slaves of need, and the urge to have more and more to feel alive,
       in our soul’s fury and striving as we are nearing a precipice
and over the edge love is falling and returning itself to the grand realms which
                              sent it to us
                                as a gift.

I believe in the great heart of my species, that it will lay down every gun, that
it will stop generating tribunals out of confusion and hatred, and find
the center of all things turning within its own individuated hearts,
to find beauty in the simplest smile and surrender to life like children
     to their hours of play.

For the generation of complex rationalizations I pray simplicity
For the generation of addiction and sloth I pray dignity
For the generation of scientific absolutes I pray mystery
For the generation of poverty and base drives I pray torment’s end
For the generation of killers and their protectors through Might I pray awakening
For the generation of manufacturers and brokers I pray that love is the coin of the realm.

Forsaken dreamers who have no where to turn I want there to be a hand to put
                         in yours, and that this shall be the method
of our Government, rooted in empathy for us all; until there can be no suffering which is
      not looked after, and no agony which is not shared openly by us all
until it is healed and that cure is to be found only in one place, which is love.

If I have grown tired of my witness to this infernal landscape out of balance
where are my brothers and sisters by my side, no longer arguing the finer points
of human salvation, but doing it, living it, expressing it as the one supreme virtue?

If I have grown tired of my witness to this nightmare which should have been a fulfilled
     dream, where are the other golden souls whose lives shine like fireflies
   dancing upon a meadow composed only of their dream of endless love?

Dare I go on without being ridiculed, without pointing the disparaging finger back at hatred      
and the denouncements of weak minds, tortured by all they fear while
accusing and opposing love as weakness, as addicts to the rush of rage
produced beneath their skin?

Do I send them love and let them free if they are to become the new wall separating
     humanity from its freedom? To anyone erecting walls I say
let the only walls be those of love behind which a child sleeps warm from the freezing wind.

That is how I am feeling in these days of war, and crime, while the rich steal the world
from beneath our feet, and have made the very policies of chaos which assail us.

That those who make the laws make the poor to shoulder it
when there is only the one love to govern us
but it is a buried law, one buried in dullness and beneath the weight
of poisoned generations born from the embrace of the one law,
                                              which is love.

II

What good to talk of death, I who always fear it, although I am in no wise
                             naive, or one who has never opened a book,
nor cast my own eyes upon the dying flesh to watch its light rise? I saw my own father’s
death, as he lay there limp on his tranquil bed, and watched white tufts rise sporadic,
to a place above him. But that journey, no matter how bitter is the end, haunts us all
        as a question haunts an answer which we believe can never come,
in a universe composed of ice cold space and foreboding. Chemicals on the dim spheres
     turning in the nocturnal distance, dance for us in a song as concrete and finite
as life itself. Why mention this?

Out in the starlight gently gliding are a myriad of forms we cannot begin to know,
                not in the twilight mist of our thinking, with its roots sunk deep
in the loam of matter and matter’s hard-boiled keepers, who’d give rise to reasons
why there is no afterlife. It is best that way, to preserve the status quo, to keep
the coffers constant filling, secure beyond morality, while the decent pray,
and the innocent wonder, and the religions dominate by making God into a man,
     so that flesh answers to flesh, and the blood of the son is wine at the altar.

    Yes, let us be drunk at our altars, and strip down bare in the woods to dance,
for the earth in full flower, and yet with all her riches spilling onward
throughout time and endless epochs of living beasts, children starve
      because we cannot feed them of this bounty. Ask the corporations why
they put their patent stamps on crops you cannot regrow, unless through
seeds purchased from them? If you do not find this odd,
then as one of them,
          their patent stamp has penetrated beneath your brow, and also bubbles deeply
in your blood.

Here is the chaos of our assumptions and disagreements,
woven in the fabric of centuries for us to walk comfortably upon,
while lifetimes of suffering enshroud even the happiest day and the happiest hour.

Deep within the bones of those who urge us onward a change is coming.
It implies itself, it intimates itself toward a new spiritual vision not of the norm.
Included is life itself as well as the everlasting, included is the reaction to war
and the wisdom to know why, included is the return to balance and addressing
                 every inequality.
                 Race, sexual leaning, gender, duality,
all risen in one spirit giving their voice; the workers who are denied their future
and the callous bosses who own their day, no longer viable throughout
                                   all humanity.
We are at the moment in which democracy must finally be born,
and all labor leads to security and comfort, education and healing,
not for the prosperous alone. Not just man, as we are at the threshold of
              responsibility for planet Earth, and those small voices
hardly heard will soon be felt in every person’s soul. Why question death?
When the leaf is gone does the caterpillar question why he ate it?
The universe is calling to us within our own spirit: Ask.
                             It is the great reminder.            
Death awaits no one’s question, as the universe calls, echoing
           through death’s door, hovering above the roof,
                 bursting with illumination, as though evolution
                             was the word of light made flesh
                                    and that word is Life.

III

There is nothing more sad to me than the spiritually bankrupt man;
          the ones without hope are not among them,
  the child burdened with incurable suffering is not among them,
 the families scattered across millenia in famine and drought and flood
                  are not among them,
the shops full of sweating men and women, the stores full of clerks,
without unions, within the parameters of great need, are not
            among them, the young black man hustling off to war, because
there is no other work is not among them, no.

The learned who have given up their dream of unity with others,
                   who work to assail those whose rich lands must now be plundered
                   for the richer nation and the dominant state,
The young man hustling off to war, not him but his generals in their knowledge
      of the strategies of hell on Earth, the pompous leaders whose two faced lives
are the tribunal of nations, the scientists gaming the methodology of complete control,
    and the liars who deny them, the pundits of the clouds of chaos forever yelling
and generating rage and tumult, these I want you to know and understand,
                      are the spiritually bankrupt. The sadsack souls whose
mouths curl around carefully constructed lies to pry open the dark places
                              within every listener, entering through the opened eyes of the watcher
                        even though they are as asleep, entranced by the macabre dance
of the language of filth, debasement and triviality which fuses the world into its final knot.

For all of those whose hopes are dashed,
for you beloved, sweet beings whose lives are frustrated and even agonized,
generations from now, the light which is of the few will be among the many,
                  the stars of the past will come to each person’s heart like
           an infinite melody which vanquishes the poison of the spiritually bankrupt.
Do not believe them. Work toward that future which because you can see it ahead
     is in a very real sense, already here.
                             If you are afraid today, bitter before a coming end,
              there is no end in sight. If your fear is for your children and their children
         after them, know that the liars will be laid to rest because they are the future’s
                                                                                                 fertile ground,
mixed into the manure of their blind and wicked speech and out of which blooms
          beyond their day of reckoning, a garden endless as the night sky,
teaming with those, who today, would be called masters, but who will in that future time,
                                                                               be the friend next door.
How often we dash the hope
of the promised land, and make of it instead an illusory place where angels dwell,
built upon the edicts of a clouded religion, which the rain nurtures within the ignorant soul,
until that soul must raise its head beyond the clouds of unknowing, like a great blossom
                                                             of light which is the central light,
                                    the turning point within each starry countenance of man.
There is that day, and many more like it. Our journey has just begun, not ended, and
                            we will see the still and wonderful landscapes of a thousand new worlds,
we’ll look with our own eyes beyond the speed of light,
                          in ships made of light where once mere clay stood erect.
                     We will dance in light-years and call the vast, empty reaches between stars
                                  our home, where in beds like those we sleep in now,
                   we will find our rest at the end of day, in a journey universal and sublime.

I will meet you beyond the misery of the flesh, out where the shining
soul has found its peaceful day, where the new body is a body luminous
and unsuffering, where the insensate wretches and spoilers of beautiful thought
cannot exist. I will greet you among the light beams falling from a rainbowed sun,
and you will recognize my smile, even though we have never met, because
you felt it in your soul. I will feel you in my soul, and the fairest love expressed
     will make between us a nova of sublime desire now consummated without fear.

In your arms will come the true melting and blending of everyone and thing
                                                          with the fabric of our transmuted resonance.
Often I hear how without conflict the world will be a boring place,
but I say to you, you have hardly begun to know the structure of harmony’s gate.
Beyond it there are ways of life unimaginable, and heaven need not be understood
as only an afterlife state, and that we must build it in the here and now.
 

IV

When we gather who will we not welcome?
Together: what does that mean?
We are one: what does that mean? I see you coming from a far off place,
not in miles but that distance created by thinking, and I am reluctant to hold out my arms.

I would not welcome you if you have consciously harmed others, but I must, I must
give way to love and honor its meaning. I must bow before the faith in the infinite
that will arise inside you, and one day unify us both. I will invite you into my circle,
but I am reluctant, and I will judge your actions if they celebrate greed and control,
   but I will ask you still to join us in the hour of ultimate solidarity and ask of you
only that you love.

The world is a swirling tide of pain within its own soul, through the chain of flesh,
where no thinking holds, and the reins of want is by brute force, and the captured prey
 devoured in agony quite real, as the churning of forms devouring,
       cycles through eternal pain, in the jaws of death, in a universe divine.

             Yet even here is the law, in its state of animal majesty
hunting on the grassy plain where mankind first opened up animal eyes and saw
beyond the veil of life, into the depths of time, that a gift was given which even the beasts
could sense, as one grew near and placed his raging head beneath a human hand,
                                       for the affection given of a beloved friend.
We are not lions, ants or bees, we are the ones who will move on
born of this Earthly place: Will we seed the distant stars or die, we can ask
and ask we must, but the answer always comes back the same, the chance you take
is not of luck,
                     but love.

V

This is the time and place for war,
it is the flesh of violence and uncertainty; it is the dream of death
and death’s finality, for longing of the dreamer as the dreamer perishes.
It is the place of carnage and its rotten aftermath, it is the palace of hatred and
                                                             hatred’s warriors,
the helmeted armies of madness, and their digital reflections in a million
                                        familiar mirrors.
This is the place of Armageddon and the bankers who will profit from it.
                                 From here blood flows in rivers,
on the shores I find the dance of the drunken thieves, lost in their dream of taking.
             They dance as if hung from a rope, the rope of no conscience,
the one suspended above a dark void where their souls dangle, no better nor less
            than those who rob society on the street. What is it that they so joyously take
along the shores of the rivers of blood? It is our birthright.

To own what is ours, this humanity locked behind walls of oil and trade,
            they have murdered the true inventors of freedom, trivialized
their freeing machines, mocked the thinkers who have done the impossible,
and when met with protest, killed them. Our birthright is a time-bomb ticking
in a hot and furious wind, as a sweaty infant covered in a fever rash is dying, who
           should have been comforted by salvation’s inventiveness.

Who watches this beside me dressed in black and feigning death’s best friend?
    Mimicking a fictitious thirst for blood, is this our age’s archetype? Pale
men in the dark who shun the light, who open wide horrendous mouths
                                to dine on us? There is no image
  more appropriate to define the state of society, unless, perhaps, complacence.

     When the light within each breath not
only animates each being, but is the home of all future worlds blossoming
           in my imagination, now stagnant, defeated, awaiting a true trial by fire. I am
impatient for you to wake up, dreamer shaking violently and bleeding out of your
                               dream eyes.
         For what other tears would startle you awake when tears shed by
the myriad suffering seem to have no affect at all? I am impatient for you to
grab love’s lifeline and pull us to safety, in the shadow of a spiritual grace,
tranquil in its forested light, dappled and majestic as a temple made
               of overarching trees and mountain streams, in
empathy’s strong but gentle hands, in the stream of love where the rivers of blood
                                             can never flow.    
 

VI

Do you think the earth’s poles will shift
without first shifting the polarity of your own heart?
What is so hard to understand? That shifting the point of view of Selfishness
to Empathy, is the only shift of polarity we need. What if that is the real
Apocalypse, the true ending of one world and the beginning of another.
It is hard to imagine a condition of harmony generated by such a shift,
especially among those who say that without conflict how will I grow?

Not one of us has yet to envision a world which has thrown out that old pretext,
nor can we imagine what comes after. Is that not an explorer’s ultimate paradise?
To not find a world, but to make a world anew in which new possibilities
                                                           are discovered?
What would it be like to have the whole world governed by compassion?
Where all machines of war and defense of nation, were instead turned to taking us
                      out to the stars?
Here in our own backyard is the answer: to become the stewards who have
mastered life, not conquered it. How are we different from the animals?
We are the ones who will take Earth consciousness into the galaxy, we
will find and embrace civilizations older than the drift of continents,
but would they embrace us in return, or hide from our violent ways?

A world of Empathy is not one of violence,
A world that such a simple idea describes, throws out the old world model
of dominance, mayhem and control, because it is stale, it has been tried
             for thousands of years and failed. To those who say
         we need the bad to learn what it is to be good, I say
        how many more thousands of years of depravity, murder, greed,
      war, and selfishness, do we need in order
            to learn that final, simple lesson?

O the passage of time
has provided many wonderful things, but failed us completely in respect
of what and who we are. Never has a civilization built itself from the ground
up, upon the recognition that we are spirits and our bodies miraculous
             full of the power to heal ourselves and our relationships
                                to act because the Earth is in our hearts
                            to decide the future where life abounds
                        to see beyond time
                    to contact loved ones gone into the light,
             who can talk to us if we but listen,
        when we learn the magic art of action through our hearts.

The multitude of the arrogant in denial,
their days are numbered, for a shift has come. Hear the signal in your throat,
                        hear the signal in your mind, the poles within you
        are shifting, slipping, opening up, to show you that
                    you are no longer merely mortal, and as all spiritual systems
    have ultimately prescribed, compassion is the state of evolution for us,
                          and not otherwise.

VII

To neither be seen nor heard in the ranges of the senses; not eyes and ears,
                                     nor hand to touch,
and not unlike the moth in its chrysalis, to leave behind a shell of who I once was,
   while I take to the wind with wings I did not know I’d have;
that is the hopeful speculation. Out of the sadness
  of that departing sorrow, out of the heart beat
and breath departing, out of the stench of atrophy,
  the last glint of the lively eye, the collapse
from which you will never again rise, comes
  a shadow, a mist rising for which the normal sight,
which is not the whole of seeing, is not suited.
  In the narrow spectrum of our loss,
        only the pining of the flesh, the full flower now gone, its hint
tenuous, ungraspable, separate, and yet I sense
                  the inner light attainable
              as a longing beyond that threshold
                  to touch again my lover’s gentle hand.

In the dark hour, in despair and when ripped from love and the
      familiar presence, the hollow space complete,
the unreturning, unrelenting absence, to the buried weight,
         to a memory made of stone,
              held as the breath is held, nevermore.
      For none seem able, beyond the grief and shock,
            to penetrate that quantum unknown,
               to speak except in prayer to distant deity,
     envisioning a god and his angels, yet always laid upon the cold slab of doubt,
where death has lain, removing us all from love’s close knit family.
    That is why I never pray to a distant god, nor saints, nor prophets from on high,
       but to my family and my friends who have proven their continued selves
            to me, and allied themselves to make my Earthly life divine.
  Chant the praises of the vessel, surely,
     which is flesh and magic chemicalized, within this mortal being.
The original sin is to want to not know and remain in ignorance, while  in
     spectrums beyond envisioning are glistening souls more alive than us.

VIII

Opinions fall like drops of blood onto the snow,
                    like warnings from the eyes of a million creatures,
         upon the sad dawn I will awaken to their silence,
 upon a landscape littered with the remains of the extinct.

If I do not want such a world I know you do not want such a world,
      yet such a world is happening daily,
    invisible to the distracted eye
          where miserable hope holds out its hand in poverty,
and where a single cent outweighs the dream of all creation.

Am I to sing and chant of love within this day of mourning?
 This angry day in which I drop to my knees in shame,
wondering what has become of my humanity’s open heart?
 We began in the heat of our youth to end such suffering
but the brokers of distraction offered us a technicolor dream
and many chose instead to feel only while watching the macabre dance
                          of actors in repetition, and the digital death
                      portrayed excitedly in games of power and war.
We began in the coolness of an evening in which the hum of mowers
       across the lawn brought smiles of satisfaction for our groomed achievement.
Then we grilled a steak, and then another, and then another to fill to fullness
                              of contentment, and look around
     at the perfect death we share across our vast and populous proud land.

Who will be the first to escape this nightmare?
To fly from this depressing place, and leave body and soul anchored behind?
Who will be the first to back away from the swindle of the everyday
and feel his roots clinging to the dead earth in desperation and grief?

When the dark oppression of the newly extinct washes over us
  who will snuggle up beneath its quilt, stultfied and hardened in our once soft lives?
The tides of warning have washed these shores many, many times,
  while those who give it their heart’s own voice
   are trivialized in the game plan of high finance.
And I wonder why, why we have become such machines?
The toys of stealthy, silent lurking demons, who whisper in the soul’s
                           shadow, ‘win, win, win,’
                  they are the winners in their multitude,
              who do not ever want to hear these words.

My sorrow is for those who cannot mourn,         
                                          for those who will not feel,
though voices rise in despair, and the countless ears will not hear them.

My sorrow is for those who feel secure and politely talk of the good life,
with lips made purple by French wine, and books on how to cook gourmet cuisine,
and gardens of exotic plants whose weeping leaves may long
for places on Earth so far away, that moonbeams cannot find them,
and on the windswept soiled roads, from town to town and stopped
by endless cross walks in the city, the trucks pull up to the loading dock
and empty an agony in boxes for Detroit. For the richest cities
the boxes come, and boxes shipped that travel far, by road, by rail, by sea and plane,
fueling the sky with man-made jets and passengers all asleep,
while on the ground a child looks up in awe, wondering at the abrading sound
             and churning smoke in the ocean of the night, and my desire is
that he will grow into a world where birds still fly,
               and not a sky devoid of everything but a noisy, glinting jet.

Should I again speak of love, O Love Infinite!
caring upon the fields of war, and in the suburban homes of happy families,
and among the students in their schools,
and among the hospice workers who know what caring means?
Should I again speak of love everlasting, of the soul’s true form,
of the spirits who are waiting beyond the brink
                                                       of this hardened clay? Nothing will move you
to believe it is your destiny, to end the endless suffering,
                                   to cease the endless war,
encrusted in your flesh, as each must take and take and take,
as though a desert emptied us,
                       and anger rose up from love to conquer us forever.

IX

“O YOU MILLIONS, BE EMBRACED!”

Have I written yet for eternity?
Even my heart says no, they will forget,
they will not know. Those few may find
a note which lived inside my heart
and since turned to dust, and if I
have written for anyone, it is myself.
The reminder to take heart, to have a heart
full of the joy which a visionary life can bring.
And if its pages or whatever form turns
to dust it will do so gladly, having given
of itself gratis, at no cost to a single soul,
and only that its spark can join with
the spark of another and lay down
side by side like two lovers finding
the single moment in which self
must collapse to find the soul.

Yet they would tell me there cannot be
a soul in all things. They talk of angels
and their outspread wings, but know not
the wings of the stone, nor the flight
of the dreaming minds of all mankind.

I have seen what I have seen
and know that the rapture so sought
is naught but the splintering of the chrysalis
in which larval man now dwells, that he may
open his eyes for the first time as a new being,
one who does not ask for another to save him,
and finds that the path made of a barricade of stones
is tread by wingless angels who are the simple
children, who will move beyond what they have
long believed, into a state in which they will know.

No prophecy need unfold, no great countenance
from the realms of a sphere thought of as ‘on high’
to descend to us, as if we are not already members
of that highest place, and the makers of servants
for the trust of owners of mankind. No prophecy
need be restated a thousand times to make me believe.
I will not believe, I will know. There are a few
who read not to read but to discover, a few who
discover to shatter what has been taught, drummed
home, for the slaves of ancient tales, those
who are poor in spirit, because they do not know.

This is my love poem for you.
“O you millions, be embraced!” By the very heart
of all that love can tell, by the longing of the sages
of every time and place. The one stream is ending
because it must, and it quickens, rushes onward
ever faster, so do not hold on to the shore,
because it will drag you under to drown.
Let go and travel to the farthest places
man has gone, rich in the wisdom carried
through immortal time, not to a savior on a throne
but into the depths of your own hearts.

There, a jewel turning in a greater market place
than any you have fashioned by the pillars of finance,
by any your skeptics reviewing the economic systems
of a million greedy men, by dint of the greatness of music
as yet unheard, by the hand and the eye and open mind
seeking the freedom of all beings, not just those of a single belief,
a jewel on a pedestal made of the teachings which open doors,
made of the sense to cherish life in every creature, a jewel
which every beloved teacher deified for glory,
has carved a single notch, a jewel turning
on a pedestal made for every man, woman, child,
and is of their flesh and blood.

When I look beyond the storied layers of your one book,
I find it striving to tell you to be at peace and find love.
I hear its voice rising within my own, to tell you
to sing of suffering and the way to give to all,
that which the wealthiest possess, that whatever
nightmare of subservience created under the aegis of control
be abandoned as this jewel now rises, rises like a blossom
in the spring of man’s unfoldment.

Who crawls from the rubble beneath the war torn street?
Who moves mountains to build hotels?
Whose dynasty of eternal wealth gloats in private?
Whose shame passes for but a moment glimpsed in the mirror?
Who holds the reins of the human soul?
 
Joy over a thousand thousand millennia unfolds
if you would but see it! Joy to calm the tornado of
the heart of man! Joy to lift from one’s hands
the end of all disease! Joy to quicken the only medicine
to cure poverty! Joy to give back to each child
the nurturing intelligence of love! Joy coming off
the torture rack! Joy lifting off the severing blade!
Joy encountering only joy!

Where you have failed joy rises.
Where you have fallen upon your prey in the darkness of hatred, joy now rises!
Where you have looked into the mirror and saw your own death, joy now rises!
Where you have turned upon another and taken what they earned, joy must rise!
Where you have lied to sully others, joy must now rise!
Where you have caused an agony and destroyed, joy must now rise!
Where you have been the brute, the smug undoer of another’s work, joy must arise!
Where the liar has lied, where the snake has bit, where your handiwork
Was the turmoil for others, where you brought death and despair, and smiled
Upon the blood dripping from your own hands, joy must now rise!
Upon your words which denigrate and hate, hanging
Like corpses from the throat of these proclamations,  joy will now rise!

Is this the bliss made of the darkest inferno of your own hearts
laid out as your final gift before the infinite? What salvo
from our depths; ugliness, depravity, despair, doubt, booming
in death from which sorrow becomes a radiance full of joy?
That and only that is the roadmap I would share.

Know this. That if you do not know, find out.
That you will find out. That you will have learned.
That out of your material gain in which
thought and deed has brought profound despair,
Joy will be the flower which lifts its ultimate head
and all futures will bathe in its fragrance.

Know this. That if you do not love. Learn love.
Unless love rolls from the wheels in your chest,
driving you through life, and know
that liberty comes only when all mankind is free.
The law which is love is not found in the convoluted protections of the rich.
The law which is love comes as a silent thread wending its way
up through the majesty of the human soul and heart.
The law which is love forgotten, drips from our labor.
The law which is love rests in the fists done with their beating.
The law which is love sits in protest and also swings down in the baton of rage.
The law which is love surrounds each bullet ever fired no matter the size.
The law which is love grows in the horrid tumors of every kind of cancer.
The law which is love must be recognized so that it may heal what is sick.

I have not written for eternity but to myself alone,
for I do not know who would listen or care.
I have no strength or courage to wrest from you your
sleep, your stupor, your momentary flash of all goodness.
I have no way of prying open whatever rigid thinking boxes in friend or foe.
I do not and cannot write the great writing
for I am not great until I love.

————————————————————————————————————————————————–

                                                              Charles Goldman
                                                       Illustration  Nick Victor

EMPATHY ROAD

Charles Goldman wrote the first nine parts of Empathy Road in 2010,
out of a deeply felt inspiration. The source of this poem, as with many of
his poems, comes from what the poet describes as “an engulfing presence
of love and insight from beyond myself.” In a world of poems composed
from the need to juxtapose words in novel forms, it is gratifying to find poems
still written in a romantic tongue, about the nature of the human struggle.

Empathy Road is partly a map to our own future as well as the heartfelt
cry of a man to all his fellow travelers on their paths through life. It offers
a ray of hope to those who struggle with the idea of cessation, and then
applies that idea to the turning of the page of human history. What kind
of future do we want for ourselves and for generations to come?

Here is the signal now come to so many of us, that the Selfish modality
of human business must end and be replaced with one of Compassion
and Empathy. This has to extend from our personal lives into the very
way we govern our societies. The Poet believes that only this utter
transformation of the way we conduct ourselves will save humanity
from extinction.

 

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Monopoly

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HAUNTED CORNWALL

Spoil, Morag Smith (Broken Sleep Books)

Morag Smith’s poems are haunted by the past, both historical and personal, and a desire to return:

   I want to go home
                                                but keep unpacking
   The whole idea of home
   disintegrates when I touch it

What she can do is conjure up various possibilities of home, versions of belonging, tentative histories and the stories she has lived and learnt about.

The book opens with an incantatory wish to be transported back to ‘the Island of Tin’, using the ancient sky disk as a talismatic focus. Then we are transported to pre-tourist trap Heligan and Smith’s youth, with goats and wilderness. Elsewhere she tells stories about her days living and travelling in a van, despairing of poverty, vandalism, evictions and abuse, but also celebrating her freedom in poems like ‘Eye on the Mirror’:

   Up here
   above the road
   I’m a fucking queen
   […]
   I’ve got ten tons of truck behind me
   and kids everywhere

But it is the land that rules this collection, Smith’s own heart, the mined-out and abandoned rocks, failing industry and wildnerness:

   The mother that made me
                       was mud and stone
   I was cut from rough rock
                                  raw and ragged

she declaims in ‘Prima Materia’. It is hard to know if this is tin or ore personified or Smith’s own lineage. In ‘Salt of the Earth’ she insists

   Don’t call me salt
   call me soil
   call me dirt
   call me unrefined

later, in the same poem, as she finds her own place in the scheme of things, she declares that she is

   Aiming my eyes at the earth
   I look into the dirt
   see the disturbances
   beneath the surface

   The past pulses
   through my boots

Many of the poems channel these pulses. Specific carns and abandoned mines are named and discussed, and there is a stunning sequence of four poems which focuses on the bal maidens, young women exploited by mine companies to break stones and collect ore for hours on end, at minimum wage.

Adrift in mizzle and mist, living in communities of shared poverty and temporary residence, Smith finds hope and purpose in ‘trying to touch that impossible line’ she compares to the edge of an infinity pool. It is a line of history, of resistance, of power and celebration. Morag Smith is a poet as strong as rock, as fluid and musical as water. Spoil is an amazing debut.

Rupert Loydell

You can buy Spoil direct from the publisher at
https://www.brokensleepbooks.com/product-page/morag-smith-spoil

Morag Smith reading from Spoil:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oT8HqnG7VAk

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Out of the Woods

Zoë Baxter aka Lucky Cat – with a show on Resonance 104.4FM, and part of the Sisters of Reggae all-female, 100% vinyl DJ collective, we are in for a vintage doo-wop, popcorn Jamaican ska, rocksteady, revival, roots, rockers treat.
…and it https://westnorwoodfeast.com/sunday-3-may-stayhomefeast/

https://www.facebook.com/sistersofreggae/
https://www.mixcloud.com/luckycatzoe

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Wishing Upon a Shooting Morning

The darkness does not represent

darkness.

I cannot expect more from a city pent

near the bazaar.

People, left to guard the merchandise,

gathers wools

lying on their handcarts, and the breeze

whispers

to some thick and thin, transparent and translucent

plastics.

 

Morning, almost Daniel Barenboim playing

Chopin,

sprawls in E-Flat Major, but the light

is not right

for an example of the morning. Nothing

equals nothing

or anything. The dogs stretch time,

and from the brambles

of my existence, a gust of the birds mushrooms

into the sky.

 

 

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Ilustration Nick Victor

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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Alan’s Autumn Potpourri of New and Old Music

 

Yoko Pwno


Edgy Scots indie-folk, with dashes of added street cred, and curious darksome, sometimes surreal-words. A hard-to-pigeon-hole sound, but brimming with attitude. Fiddles, beats, fusion, psyched-up sounds for clubs and even the dance floor.

‘The Black Cat’ – was recently the BBC Radio Scotland single of the week. It isn’t representative of their output, but it’s a bit of a show-stopper. Sort of Nico chats up HP Lovecraft and joins the Samhein coven party with Captain Beefheart…

Yoko Pwno & Acolyte released the track on: 20th October 2021. Lyrics from the poet, Iona Lee (Acolyte), with compositional help from Calum Cummins, Helen LeMar, Gary Rafferty, Lissa Robertson, Lewis Williamson, Alistair Hutchison, Gloria Black Composer and Daniel Hill.

And, a music video by Iona Lee:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NNHpvSBGtak&t=1s

You can find out more about them and listen and watch their output. An eclectic mix and mash-up of traditional playing and eccentric experimentation.

Links:

https://skyerecords.com/yokopwno.php

https://www.yokopwno.co.uk/

More Iona Lee:

‘All things that are’ poem:

https://pestilencepoems.blogspot.com/2021/02/the-february-backroom-iona-lee.html

And: ‘Up all Night’ (this morning). Iona with Jack Hinks:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3PiC2AAbjMk

 

Neil Young – Carnegie Hall 1970

‘Cowgirl in the Sand’, with gorgeous sound, mess-ups ‘n’ all: https://youtu.be/4SUDdzMzzPI

From over 50 years ago, many glimpses of the Neil Young modal magic. This is Neil in falsetto, acoustic configuration. He sounds relaxed and at the top of his considerable form. However, it’s hard to keep up with his formidable outflow of archive material.

It’s definitely a double album of ragged, haunting beauty. He’s released four live archive albums since June 2021. Another Crazy Horse album, ‘The Barn’, is soon to be released. In the meantime, this Carnegie album is apparently the first of six instalments in the new Bootleg Series, the remainder projected to be released in 2022.  This is a great live album. High-Flying Neil sharing versions of tracks from Buffalo Springfield, CSN&Y and his ever-burgeoning solo career, which was poised between ‘After the Goldrush’ and ‘Harvest’.  So, much gold-dust to sift through from ‘Down by the River’, through ‘Old Man’ to ‘Ohio’, to ‘Dance, Dance, Dance’.

‘See the Sky about to Rain’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=q9h1cktTJmk

 

Miley Cyrus – the Backyard Sessions and beyond

Miley has grown up, matured into a powerhouse singer. She rocks. But she also seems to inhabit each song she sings. It becomes her new dress. The Backyard Sessions that she has been involved in have been broadcast on-line in 2012, 2015 and two sessions in October and November 2020. These stripped back performances came as a surprise to me, but a nice one, in our bumpy old world at the end of 2021.

Here’s ‘Jolene’ from 2012. Fab version and a good band with a country vibe:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wOwblaKmyVw

Back in 2015, to launch The Happy Hippie Foundation, Miley created a new Backyard Sessions series and invited special musical guests to perform with her to make these music video collaborations.

Full ‘album’ special guests with Miley:

– But it has never been commercially available: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fucJSNpyjP4

Different featuring Joan Jett

Yaw Baby (Break My Heart) Performed by Melanie Safka

True Trans Soul Rebel featuring. Laura Jane Grace

Look What They’ve Done to My Song featuring Melanie Safka

Don’t Dream It’s Over featuring Ariana Grande

Androgynous featuring Joan Jett and Laura Jane Grace

50 Ways To Leave Your Lover

Peace Will Come (According to Plan) featuring Melanie Safka

No Freedom

Happy Together

Founded by Miley Cyrus, The Happy Hippie Foundation is a non-profit organisation that rallies young people to fight injustice facing homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other vulnerable populations.

Click here to find out more: http://happyhippies.org

And here is Miley with the Social Distancers on ‘Let’s Breathe’ from 2020 live backyard sessions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l_ZOhMSPqVc

And, ‘Sweet Jane’: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eIwiODeHHwc

Finally, watch and listen as Miley explore her inner Janis Joplin with ‘Maybe’ at a recent festival in October 2021 in the USA: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kwJSTcvhq8c

 

Necessary Animals: ‘Animalia’ and Keith Rodway and Eugene Kalamari: ‘Romney Marsh’

Two new albums featuring the music of Keith Rodway.

‘Animalia’ from Necessary Animals, is crammed full of Spectral singing – sounds of psychedelia – phasing, loops, doomy bass lines, floating brass lines. Definitely quirky weirdness. Odd time-signature changes, which sound a bit too jagged on the opening track, ‘Driving out of Town’.  At times perhaps reminiscent of Siouxsie when she was fronting the Creatures.  But it all settles into its umbilical home, a ghost-like sonic cavern, dripping icicles, stalactites, that set the tonal-groove for much of the rest of the album. Haunting, and haunted. The ethereal vocals, occasionally a tad discordantly, feature Ingvild Syntropia and Amanda Thompson.

All in all, this is music languidly stretching itself into black cat wakefulness… just waiting in the shadows, searching for the film or video to adhere itself to. Necessary Animals’ ‘Animalia’, out now on Aldora Records Britain, as well as their own Bandcamp, and Facebook page.

Keith Rodway suggests: “If you have a spare fiver, head on over and grab yourself some tunes!”

https://thealdorabritainrecords.bandcamp.com/album/animalia

Next up, ‘Romney Marsh’.

Oodles of atmosphere. Mostly instrumental and electronic Sonic Travels and Adventures. ‘Romney Marsh’ is the title track video on bandcamp:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BD5JF7f-89E

In the words of Harris Barham, in ‘The Ingoldsby Legends’, “The World, according to the best geographers, is divided into Europe, Asia, Africa, America, and Romney Marsh.” 

It’s a creepy audio-palette, unsettling, filled with dread and foreboding. A tinkling, spine-tingling place. Musically elaborated and populated with deep, oft unseen-fear and unreality. The album exudes brooding and a lurking presence. A place and space filled with the Heart of Darkness.  Keith Rodway told me that the seven tracks comprise jams and improvisations, recorded during sessions for ‘Animalia’, the third album by Necessary Animals. These jams have been re-purposed by Kalamari, who has added layers of piano and sound effects. The album, ‘Romney Marsh’, reflects the quark, strangeness and mystique of this 100-square mile area of East Sussex and Kent, which includes Dungeness, once home to artist/film-maker, Derek Jarman. It is technically both Britain’s only desert and the largest shingle bed in Western Europe – a military range, wildlife sanctuary, wind farm, light-craft airport, waste water treatment plant, and the decommissioned power station.

Keith Rodway told me it is also home of the converted windmill owned by Paul McCartney, where ‘The Threetles’ recorded the last Beatles’ singles, ‘Free as a Bird’ and ‘Real Love’.

Each track on ‘Romney Marsh’ is named after an area contained within this zone.

Rodway and Kalamari are supported in this venture by Nick Weekes, a guitarist who apparently wished to remain anonymous, and, on ‘Dengemarsh’, Amanda Thompson and Kim Thompsett.

A beautiful, if unsettling, recording. Trippy Audio Darkness.

Wolf Alice

Wolf Alice – Bobby (Live) (Alex G cover)

From their third album, ‘Blue Weekend (Tour Deluxe)’ released in the UK now: https://smarturl.it/WABlueWeekendDLX

Plus, further links.

Lots of sweet harmonies, down-home lush sounds. It is faintly reminiscent of a long-lost halcyon age of ‘60s romance, soft summer-sunshine melodies – from the likes of the Carpenters, Daryl Hall and John Oates, David Gates and America. It isn’t really as edgy as I personally prefer, but it’s a very classy, sometimes overly lush pop-product. Somehow, though, it feels contrived – an emotional confection conjured up by a whole host of Musical Master Chefs.

‘Last Man on Earth’, video from the ‘Blue Weekend album:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xzH6toY_EPw

And a more subtle, ‘live’ version from Jools Holland’s ‘Later’:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=potjzPnPCX8

 

Finally, Gogol Bordello: ‘Start Wearing Purple’ video – just ‘cos I like it! It reminds me of the Gypsy/Traveller vitality and spirit of live festies.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SkkIwO_X4i4

Plus, the maniacal live acoustic set from Tiny Desk archives. Do watch further into the Gogol Bordello set… by the fourth song, Hutz is dancing on the tables. Alcohol induced madness. Wonderful stuff.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IJGh50t6crw

Alan Dearling
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ALCHEMY OF THE MIRAGE

Thematic symbols atomise, scattering trace elements across a light-sensitive plate hovering between your eyes and your hands

Now in elemental darkness alien storms shatter the mirror ball into a thousand winged fragments of astral fire here, and yet this

Bright vision; suddenly, in a trance, you see across tracks of time – satin finish, clear droplets – alchemy of the mirage.

 

 

A.C. Evans

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WHAT’S FOR DINNER?

I wonder what’s on the TV tonight
and what’s for dinner? Yes, I live alone.
I’ve been tidying my room all day but
have not yet hit bedrock. Disappointment
comes up with the sun and stays.
You get used to everything in the end,
whatever the distortion. Ichabod drops in
for a bit of a chat; he’s wearing
an exotic robe dating from ancient times.
We go out in my car (a Hyundai)
and drive around for a bit and drop in to
Starbucks then it’s back home to study
but study is boring and wine is, as we speak,
being pumped into the vast vats I just had
installed in the cellar, red in the red vat,
white in the white vat, because that’s how
smart I am. Plonk’n’SploshTM had an offer on
and it was too good to turn down. After
a gallon or so of tolerable red I deteriorate
into the furniture, and the elephants assemble
in the courtyard, and the water diviners
insist upon emphasizing the divine, and
the scriptures begin to loom large while
clouds assemble for an important announcement.
But I find it difficult to be interested
in anything cerebral. Footprints are where
my heart used to be and unquestionably
how I perform depends upon usage, not only
being what I am not but also what I am
and not really worrying about anyone else.
It’s Thursday, so jelly’s on the dinner menu.
Friday is seafood. Weekends I go hunting.

 

Martin Stannard

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The Coward Within – the Fascist Without – Both Must Die

Death can appear daunting. It takes considerable spiritual maturity to fully embrace the fact that death is not an ending, but simply a new chapter in the evolution of spirit, freed from the vessel in which it has travelled.

There is nothing to fear here; yet the unknown will always carry with it a certain apprehension, a sense of awe. It takes courage to face that about which one is entirely unfamiliar. But life was never intended to be a risk free adventure and we do not come into this world seeking to avoid that which asks us to embrace challenge.

Now we face that challenge, probably the greatest one we will ever come up against, and securing victory in this clash of light and dark can only happen when we recognise that the coward in us must die. It has to die so that we can live. Live to challenge the anti-life lie – for as long as it takes to see the last of it.

The outstanding task which stares each one of us in the face today, is to overcome that pervasive inner weakness which prevents us from taking action for the liberation of the world from those who hold it to ransom.

This miserable beast, which works on our sense of inner insecurity, is the lowest denominator of life and instantly turns man into an insipid weakling, fearful of what it means to be alive and fully human. I refer to the condition known as ‘cowardice’.

All who find an inner excuse for failing to embrace the present battle to prevent an inhuman dictatorship taking over the daily management of life on this planet, must acknowledge the call of being a coward. So must those who ‘do what they are told’ when in their gut they know they shouldn’t.

‘Coward’ is a frighteningly hurtful word. There may be no more demeaning thing to be accused of than being a coward. It goes straight to the guts of anyone who has even a shred of self respect. A coward is not something we like to think of ourselves as unless we’ve completely given up caring about holding onto the reins of life.

In the immediate months ahead, the surviving ‘coward within’ must be challenged right down to the bone. These months are going to form the absolute epicentre of a pivotal choice for every one of us – stand up to be counted as part of the resistance or fall ever deeper into capitulation to a state of abject slavery.

The former stance will lead to an unprecedented victory for the liberation of mankind snatched from the jaws of darkness. The latter will mean unbroken servitude to the demonic mechanisms of an anti-life cult only concerned with total control over – and torture of – all those who have failed to rise up in defiance.

Because the situation is so stark, it has become almost unbearable to witness the mindless capitulation of fellow humans to the divide and conquer dogs of war. Those whose outright villainy has been rampant during the great scamdemic. This only matched by the astounding passivity of those millions offering themselves up as ‘victim-food’ for the further aggrandisement of evil.

So much of humanity has sunk into what I can only describe as ‘a race of cowards’. The mainly physical challenges of the past which sustained a determination to do one’s best no matter what, should by now have transposed into the spiritual realm.

The same outer determination required to overcome physical actualities should by now have become channelled determination to conquer the rampant ego and the coward within. But this (logical) evolutionary process has not happened. Instead, any forward momentum has stalled, daily life has lost its rhythm and self discipline has been taken over by a state of funk.

In this state, humans are very easily controlled. By TV, the deadly convenience of the EMF pocket mobile and social engineering of malevolent power mongers – to name just a few factors behind global brain washing.

Any major challenge, like standing up against the removal of vital basic freedoms won over centuries, have been turned away from and individual resilience replaced by irresponsible vaccilation.

Far too many people have sunk into a state of abject passivity, sleep-walking their way through life as though they believe they have no role to play in this existence. Instead, passing on responsibility for the management of their lives to a posse of fawning fake ‘political leaders’.

So now, the guts needed to bring-about the bold uprising needed to emancipate ‘we the people’ from a globally dominant fascist dictatorship – is seriously wanting.

But the key battle-ground within this drama is not the outward defeat of a physical adversary, but the inner defeat of the slippery coward. In order to become part of the resistance to centrally controlled acts of mass genocide, we must ensure that the coward within us is given no scope for expression.

The coward that operates within each one of us has to die before the greater part of humanity can live.

This may seem like ‘mission impossible’ for those who tremor at the prospect of the warrior within themselves rising up and calling for action. But to these people I say – just consider the alternative. Capitulation to indefinite decades of slavery with no freedoms or civil liberties left. None at all.

Chipped, mind controlled, psychologically tortured, spiritually blocked and physically re-engineered or murdered by fake vaccinations; forced onto a diet of synthetic laboratory foods; unable to bear children owing to the sterilisation of the reproductive organs; dispossessed of all material assets including the right to claim ownership of your own body and, last but not least, being permanently under surveillance of a hidden third party who has the power to nullify any emotional courage one might eventuality find to break-out of this prison.

You might not allow yourself to believe it could ever be like this; but you would be wrong, it’s all there in the text of WEF director Klaus Schwab’s book ‘The Great Reset’.

There you have it direct from one of the chief architects of centralised global control. A master craftsman of the totalitarian state, along with Gates, Zuckerberg, Rockefeller, Rothschild, techno-kings of Silicon Valley and a handful of tyrannical multi-billionaires, bankers and ‘royal servants’ of dark-side deceivers.

These are facts not fictions, and all the despotic frontrunners whose agenda this is, are sealed-off from the real world due to their inordinate hoards of financial wealth. They exist in a parallel construct and carry out their slow asphyxiation of life on earth from a cold, calculating and callous cocoon of non empathy with real people, real emotions and real world.

Once you understand how this planet is managed for the benefit of these vampires – and that it’s you who is allowing it to happen, then the blue pill will no longer hold such an attraction. Any attempt to continue to hide behind a delusional state of disbelief looks increasingly like an open gate into a sunless underworld.

We have all arrived at ground zero. It’s now or never to back the noble march for human emancipation in all our thoughts and deeds. Not to back-off into the lengthening shadows of self implosion.

I have put it as bluntly as I can since this is what I see in front of us. This choice. Freedom -versus Fascism.

It is quite simply a case of grabbing the proud flag of freedom and jumping-in. Jumping in with the rising family of man stepping forth in resistance to the global slave-masters who want you to submit to their captivity, dragging the rest of the world with you.

Those who have not yet made their move will be wise to do so today – and let the coward in them be forever fired – rather than their always listening, ever guiding indefatigable souls.

We are unique living representatives of a higher universal force. Emissaries of the Supreme Consciousness. Let us not shrink from doing justice to this extraordinary inheritance. To honour this great gift which has been bestowed upon us.

We came here to regain control and give new direction to human destiny. To hold the earthly line on behalf of its divine inventor. To offer ourselves fully and bravely to that which demands our unstinting commitment.

 

Julian Rose

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, writer, international activist, entrepreneur and holistic teacher. Julian is co-founder of HARE The Hardwick Alliance for Real Ecology see https://hardwickalliance.org/ His acclaimed book ‘Overcoming the Robotic Mind – Why Humanity Must Come Through’ is particularly recommended reading for this time: see www.julianrose.info

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Eleutherophobia – fear of freedom

English legions end under the hero’s earnest ruggedness operated piecemeal hung on barbed idiolect always.

Hold one corner of a man, let’s say he’s a horse trader. Hold one corner of a woman, let’s say she’s a child of God. Bring them together as though dancing but no they are not dancing. Let’s say they are folding. Let’s say they are folding carefully. Let’s say they are folding as carefully as haste will allow when farming instead of barn dancing.

Folded as carefully as haste will allow there is something kitsch in the way the people all head in the same direction. They come down from the hills to the valley and out from the woods into the valley and cross the fields in the valley down to the country lane which channels them towards wherever they are heading wherever the creases meet the corners. These people are not extras from a musical nor are they being herded by remote sheepdogs though that would explain it no these are neither actors nor sheep these are routine citizens who work like the guilty and rest like the rest of us when we play like the innocent as white as a sheet. They don’t rush but they don’t interrupt their stride patterns either. Let’s say that nothing impedes this steady current of souls. Let’s say it is a good job they are carefully folded. Let’s say it is a good job they are such a kitsch procession. Let’s say it is a good job too that their braces do not hang outside their trousers and also a good job they have left all ephemera behind in psychic sleeping bags. It could also be said that it is a good job they have never had to endure the logorrhoea of near neighbours or had to listen to the Fear of Music album by Talking Heads. Let it be finally said it is a good job they look as if they know where they are going otherwise misery would unfold its limbs of horror and follow

at a distance.

Now the people fill the lane. No longer recognisable as individuals they fill the lane with the kitsch and conman compulsion exhibited by all couples and groups. Half an hour ago the lane into the village was deserted but now it is a funnel for the crowd to flow through and follow in the hope of replacing void (more specifically the clarity of void) with compromise (more specifically the blur of compromise).

Although that is my own imaginary gloss on what I observe.

 

 

Tim Allen

 

 

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Porn: A Personal History, & A Consumer’s Guide Part 3

 

CHAPTER TWO: THE CALL OF THE

TRANSGRESSIVE AND THE TABOO…

 

Porn is often portrayed as a furtive, lonely and shameful pursuit. But as furtive, lonely and shameful pursuits go, it’s one of the best. ‘Don’t knock masturbation’ declares Woody Allen in ‘Annie Hall’ (1977), ‘it’s sex with someone I love.’ Most men look down on porn, but that’s only because to hold it up would only strain the wrist still further. Such magazines might corrupt and deprave their readers, ‘that goes in there, and that goes in there, and that goes in there, and then it’s over’ according to Jarvis Cocker, but it is also indulging in what Roxy Music-ian Brian Eno calls ‘hanging onto the only thing you can rely on’ (in his ‘A Year With Swollen Appendices’ Faber & Faber, 1996). Wankers form a clique more obscure than a Masonic handshake, united by a love that still prefers not to speak its name. ‘Les Plaisirs Solitaires.’ Yet Porn is always pretty good. And even when it’s bad, it’s never really that bad. There’s no excuse for porn. It doesn’t need one.

Is reading porn sad? It’s often seen that way. A sad solitary vice. But most people’s lives are sad. Or at least tinged by melancholy. What they call ‘lives of quiet desperation.’ What novelist Stan Barstow perceptively terms the ‘raging calm’. What exactly is it that you measure to determine a quality of life? Sexual satisfaction rates pretty high on most scales. You don’t need Freudian theory to tell you that. Of course, expectations alter. Low expectation-situations stoically endured by earlier generations, are now no longer accepted, or seen as acceptable. They suppressed and repressed what were deemed ‘unhealthy’ or even sinful desires. That’s no longer true. The hierarchy of need is a factor. As basic needs are fulfilled, others are magnified to take their place. Capitalism is another. Market forces amplify cravings they can then claim to satisfy. Then they escalate the dependency they’ve created. None of which is to deny the essential pulse. The need. The thirst for experience. The inability to resist the call of the transgressive and the taboo.

In sex, we may long to lose our composure, self-control, and even our separate identity, but there is one thing we desire even more, and that is not to lose control, not to lose our unique separateness. Books allow us the luxury of doing both.

Purchasing real extracurricular sex holds real dangers. Such as infection. That’s always been a major disincentive. Such as the Pimp on the stairs waiting to mug you. Such as the liberal guilt of exploiting the vulnerable, prostitution is not necessarily the simple rational-choice financial transaction it might seem to be. What if your money is fuelling her narcotic dependency, or if it’s forced upon her by an exploitational degrading abusive relationship, or compelled by illegal immigrant poverty sex-slavery? But then again, every human interaction carries with it a metaphorical balance sheet, an implied burden of obligation and reward, even pulling into a service station to buy petrol, you could be fuelling the cashier’s narcotic dependency, or funding some degrading abusive relationship. Morality can be complicated at times. Not to mention the more directly personal fears that just possibly the artificial nature of the transaction could result in a failure to achieve the required erection, or worse – premature ejaculation could mean you get less than full value for your money. Books are a one-way transaction. Porn carries no obligation, to anyone, other than self.

So efficiency is also a factor. Philip Larkin – in a letter to Anthony Thwaite, argues ‘why bother with girls when you can toss off in five minutes, and have the rest of the evening to yourself?’ It’s a quick fix without the complications of emotional involvement. To poet Tom Paulin, Larkin’s fondness for porn was ‘the sewer under the national monument Larkin became.’ But maybe he has a point? Get that itching need out of the way as quickly and effortlessly as possible, and free the mind to move on to higher things. Truman Capote suggests another benefit, unlike the rituals of seduction, you don’t even have to dress up. And unlike other social vices – say, smoking, alcohol or narcotics, masturbation is cheap and healthy, while its resulting emissions are neither toxic nor carcinogenic.

But let’s not take this too far… in exactly the same way that all those Clearasil overdoses never quite vanquish your acne, so the fast-food diet of the vulgar glamour-mag’s tawdry allure never quite vanquishes the jerk-off junkie’s prurient urges, not when you’re permanently drowning in unspent sap. And if every orgasm, as the Elizabethan’s believed, deducts a day from a man’s life-expectancy – paying for your pleasure with a small death, then my day’s are seriously numbered. While – unlike smoking, masturbation loses out as a socially interactive activity, unless we’re to advocate the ‘circle-jerk’ as an alternative role-model to the ‘Office Smoking Break’? Perhaps not an entirely feasible idea.

Wystan Auden calls desire ‘the most enticing of mysteries.’ He wrote his own rhymed porn in the form of “The Platonic Blow” – about a Gay tryst between the narrator and a mechanic. ‘Despite all the lyric or obsessive cant about the boundless varieties and dynamics of sex, the actual sum of possible gestures, consummations and imaginings is drastically limited’ opines George Steiner sniffily (in his essay ‘Night Words: High Pornography And Human Privacy’, in ‘Encounter’, October 1965). And sure, Porn reduces bodies to shapes of desirable colour enclosing highlighted interest focal-points that float in a triangulation of nipples and pubic hair. Breasts are there to be visually experienced. Legs are there to be parted. Sometimes girls with little more than hints of clothing can be more suggestive than naked girls, an exposed navel or the curve of skin bulging from a too-tight basque hints at the softness of the flesh beneath. At other times, nothing but total exposure will do. Yet surely, the pure and essential nature of a thing is not to be found in its technologically-reproduced image? The centre-fold is both real, and illusory. It is a high-gloss visual representation of a real woman, and the fantasy ideal you can never achieve.

In the 2006 movie ‘Venus’ ageing thespian Maurice (Peter O’Toole) and teenage Jessie (Jodie Whittaker) stand before the painting of ‘The Toilet Of Venus’ by Diego Valazquez, in which the naked reclining goddess observes herself in the mirror that cherubic Eros is holding for her. ‘For most men,’ points out Maurice ‘a woman’s body is the most beautiful thing they will ever see.’ ‘What’s the most beautiful thing a girl sees, do you know?’ enquires Jessie. ‘Her first child’ he answers. Perhaps Maurice borrowed the words from John Updike. A woman’s body is the most beautiful thing most men will ever get to see throughout their lives. I’m not about to argue with that. It’s not their fault they’re beautiful. They just are. And males get pleasure from that beauty. No matter what social or moral restrictions are applied to it. That’s not their fault either, if fault it is, which it isn’t.

Women who obsess about their imagined bodily imperfections are missing the point. Shared nakedness is a form of honesty that is beautiful in itself, simply because it is honest. But the way society operates, glimpses of that beauty are forever denied, except through ingenious stratagems devised to circumvent those conventions. Forcing the need to sate the thirst for beauty at one remove, via commercial transaction, or by proxy, through facsimile. High, or low-brow. Steiner, again, suggests that ‘what distinguishes the ‘forbidden classic’ from under-the-counter delights on Frith Street, is, essentially a matter of semantics, of the level of vocabulary and rhetorical device used to provoke erection. It is not fundamental.’ Botticelli’s model for his painting of ‘The Birth Of Venus’ was a Florentine prostitute called Simonetta Cattaneo Vespucci, painted nude for the titillation of his Medici client. The perfect elision of beauty, commerce, and sly deviance. Art is different, isn’t it? Art is elevating.

Agnolo Bronzino’s “Venus, Cupid, Folly & Time”, also commissioned by a Medici client, is a gridlock of limbs. A naked and clearly underage boy, his bottom pertly raised and angled at the viewer, is entwined with an equally naked woman. Her tongue slips into his mouth. His fingers tweak her right nipple. And more – read the script, they are mother and son, invoking the strongest of cultural taboos. But it – too, is art, disguised at one further move by its roots in mythology. And much later, Manet’s “Le Déjeuner Sur L’Herne” appalled his contemporaries by portraying a bizarre picnic of formally dressed men, with a single naked woman. But that’s art. Art is different.

Neither Peter O’Toole nor John Updike ever claimed that their assertion is true for all men, nor do they venture an opinion on whether the reverse holds true for women. ‘Your first child’ suggests Maurice. Not that appreciation of the male nude has not run a parallel riff through history, or that arousal is not a valid reaction to abstracted and impersonal portrayals of the naked male – to even suggest as much is to antagonise outraged reaction, merely that social and economic forces have conspired to ensure that the female nude is more prevalent and well-documented. Nevertheless, the implication of a vital link between the concept of beauty to sexual selection and hence to Darwinian evolution, are difficult to refute.

‘Big breaths’ says the Doctor on the saucy postcard. ‘Yeth, and I’m only thixteen’ brags the blonde Lolita he’s examining. ‘The male is obsessed with screwing’ declares feminist academic Valerie Solanas self-evidently, ‘he’ll swim a river of snot, wade nostril-deep through a mile of vomit, if he thinks there’ll be a friendly pussy awaiting him.’ Perhaps the lady underestimates the male sex-drive a wit? Surely it’s a tad more powerful than that? But in 1966 she sells her essay ‘A Young Girl’s Primer’ to ‘Cavalier’ in a further attempt to explain one sex to the other. And that’s got to be good. Just because the gulf between desires is unbridgeable doesn’t mean that it’s not a good thing to build bridges. So when exactly is sex sexy rather than prurient? At what point is sex educational rather than sleazy? When can sex be considered acceptable rather than embarrassing? After all, if my cunilingual skills are acceptably proficient – and I’ve had no complaints, then that’s due to diligently studying the technique of clitoral-tonguing described in ‘jazz-mags’.

And yet – despite visual evidence to the contrary, it is the penis that is really the central character of this history. ‘To have an erection in the morning… is to be alive’ says Philip Roth. Of course, the penis never appears in glamour mags. Yet everything within its pages is designed for its stimulation. It is the rising star that makes its appearance early, peaks frequently, and yet still persists throughout. It was ever thus. Michel de Montaigne’s ‘Essays’ (1580) details its familiar troublesome aspects – ‘one had reason to remark on the unruly liberty of this member that so importunately asserts itself when we have no need of it, and so inopportunely fails us when we have need of it… so proudly and obstinately refusing our solicitations, both mental and manual.’ Norman Mailer writes about the ‘grinding hound’ in his trousers. While Paul Theroux admits to having a ‘demon eel thrashing in his loins.’ Necessarily, it deals in more than one name, and frequent aliases in order to defend itself against tedious repetitions.

All of this could justifiably be accused of phallocentricity. Which is absolutely true. But this is a ‘Personal History’, so there’s no way it can be anything other than that. There’s a story by Ian R MacLeod in ‘Interzone’ magazine (no.34, March-April 1990), in which a prostitute uses a Swap-appliance in order to switch genders with her client, so that the woman can experience the sensation of penetrating, while the man can know what it feels like to be vaginally penetrated. Needless to say, the fictional outcomes are less than edifying. Perhaps if such a technology existed it would educate men to become more caring and considerate lovers? But until such a device comes online we can only conjecture. We can attempt an empathic connection. But we can never know, not on any real meaningful level. Individuals must always be alien one to another. Genders even more so.

And of course there are dark sides to male sexuality that are not always immediately obvious, insidious ones that relate to often subliminal and scarcely understood attitudes. To enter such mind-sets is not pleasant. It is frequently repellent. Yet to deny their existence is to perpetrate a dishonesty. Through some perceptions, women are desirable, but women are also frightening. They bleed. They become pregnant. Their vaginal secretions smell funny. They draw you in – moist, fleshy, alien – only to make you lose control, then overwhelm you. They’re unpredictable, with violent mood-swings that demand your reactions, even when you don’t know how to react. They mock you and ridicule you when you’re unable to measure up. They have the power to make you feel weak, inadequate – and dirty.

At some point, it could be argued, a man makes life choices. To be faithful (more-or-less) in a committed relationship, trying his best to be sensitive, concerned, loyal, caring, considerate, responsible, while making do with infrequent bored sex. While envying (sort-of) the unmarried guy who seems to be dating all those foxy affectionate girls. While that same unmarried guy is probably jealous of what he assumes to be a regular warm and comfortable married sex-life. 

Women have the most valuable possession you can ever hope for. The purest, the most holy gift of them all. The one you want so much you ache from your intensity of yearning. The one thing that will make your life complete. They have the gift of transcendental beauty that they bestow, or withhold on the merest of whims. While they squander it on the most unworthy men. They trade it like a commodity. They devalue it in ways that mock and humiliate you. They coldly and calculatingly give it to rich old men. They get drunk and give it to silly young men who neither value nor deserve it.

And they laugh in your face. Reducing it to barter. To money.

This way lies madness…

Sometimes I disgust myself. Sometimes I hold myself in low esteem. And the male sex in general. Sometimes I think if I was a woman and had to select a potential partner from the devious sad losers of the men of my acquaintance, then I’d be better off not bothering. I’ve always thought that women, in general, are better than men. Men are mostly rubbish. The genetic after-thought. The second-stage womb-mutation. The necessary adjunct to reproduction.

What men do best is obsess. That usually involves a degree of unsociability and self-absorption which in itself can be unpleasant or distressing to those they’re supposedly close to. But it’s through obsessing that they contribute, or add to, or evolve things a little. That’s their mitigating circumstance.

This is my obsession. My contribution. My slight addition to the sum of things…

— 0 —

As a dedicated and long-time porn consumer, my story is also the low-down on the filth market. But where to start? Victorian essayist Thomas Carlyle observed that ‘all that mankind has done, thought, or been, it is lying as in magic preservation in the pages of books.’ Academics of erotica have a tendency to rummage through the accumulated remnants of humankind’s vast history to pluck forth overlooked images and texts that might create the desired shock of recognition among the cognoscenti. The explicit paintings on the walls of the brothel in lost Pompeii, illustrating the services available? The ‘Secret Museum’ (‘Musee Secret’) in Naples stores erotic representations from classical antiquity, and in particular the ancient world of Pompeii.

The opening chapter of Channel Four’s documentary series ‘The Secret History Of Civilisation’ (14 October 1999) begins precisely here, with the god Pan copulating with a goat. But it’s the written word that sets us apart from barbarism, allows us to reflect on the benefits of civilisation, and more exactly defines its limits. The luscious multi-gendered poems of Sappho were written some five hundred years BC. It is from her we get the term ‘sapphic’. Most of her poems are known only through surviving fragments, or from references to them quoted by subsequent writers. Perhaps copies of the originals were housed in the great Library of Alexandria, it was – after all, said to contain a copy of every manuscript then in existence. And they were accidentally torched in 47AD when – according to some accounts, Caesar set fire to his own fleet. The ‘road to ruin’ gets off to an early start.

Aristippus of Cyrene, Socrates’ pupil, was probably the first to assert the philosophy that hedonism is the highest good. But caution, pleasure carries its own hazards, as Epicurus pointed out later. He observes that the pleasurable life is not necessarily one that avoids all pain, because restraint is also a component part of pleasure. And while pleasure brings happiness, don’t the dissolute tend to die notoriously young? What’s that about living fast, dying young, and leaving a stylish corpse?

When Roman poet Ovid (43BC-17AD) embarks on his own career by composing an erotic elegy ‘Amores’ he would already have been familiar with Sappho’s texts. His tongue-in-cheek mock epic first suggests that ‘every lover is a soldier’, a metaphor that makes each seduction a campaign subject to wile and strategy. He later expands the theme with his lover’s tutorial ‘Ars Amatoria’ (‘The Art Of Love’), giving advice to the people of Rome on the playful guile of meeting potential partners – including the best places to ‘cop a furtive feel’, for example at the theatre where brushing up against someone is bound to happen. Then how to seduce and retain lovers, and finally the variety of positions in which that campaign of seduction can be consumated.

Although intended primarily for men – he provides a separate treatise giving equally frank advice to women, he notably advocates the importance of mutual passion, and the consideration a lover should devote to his partner’s pleasure. And while accused of ‘licentiousness’ his writing is seldom vulgar, advocating only that a forthright honesty is necessary, because ‘what you blush to tell is the most important part of the whole matter.’ Unfortunately his enlightened attitude to the mutuality of sexual fulfilment was to be eclipsed by the dour austerity of ascendant Christianity with its distrust of sex, emphasising the purity of matters spiritual, suspecting the physical world of the senses, and deferring rewards into some theoretical sexless afterlife.

Augustine of Hippo (354-430), in the Roman province of what is now Algeria, might have started out by saying ‘grant me chastity and continence, but not yet,’ but then he goes on to go beyond the ‘yet’ by framing the concept of ‘original sin’ on behalf of nascent Christianity. It must be recalled that, rather than the eternal inflexible truth of the divine it claims to be, Christianity was very much in the process of inventing itself, patching, editing and arguing out the mosaic of its beliefs into some sort of consensus. Drawing on his experience of the Manichean sect, and his dialogue over free-will versus inherited guilt with rival Church Father Pelagius, Augustine definitively expounds his idea in his ‘Against Two Letter Of The Pelagians’. Apparently, we’re all damned already, due to that spot of mischief in the Garden of Eden. The Fall from grace made sin an integral part of human nature. The sexual act, and the passions it enflames, is the way sin is passed down from one generation to the next. Life is a sexually-transmitted disease. Sex is to blame. The root of sin. The guilt we all bear, purely by being here. Because we are the result of the act of procreation. Through this legacy, Augustine is considered the last of the Classicist thinkers, and a bridge to becoming the first of the Medieval theologians.

When Dante published ‘The Divine Comedy’ in 1321, barely ten-percent of Italians could read. The Medieval European mind had retreated from rationalism. Information was the exclusive preserve – and the power-base of the Church. They guarded that power jealously. And if the only book the illiterate majority had access to was the impenetrable Latin Bible, they ensured it could only be reached through the intermediary of the clergy. Monks sequestered in monastery ‘scriptoria’ – writing rooms, laboriously handcrafted beautiful reproductions of religious texts. Their ‘illuminated manuscripts’ were not designed simply to convey information, but to decorate the word of god with ornate calligraphy and elaborate illustration. As such, books were rare and immensely valuable possessions – in 1424 the Cambridge University library could boast no more than 122 of them, each one worth the price of a medium-sized farm. And each stage in the evolution of literacy, things we take for granted, had to be learned painfully step-by-step, from the gradual introduction of the codex – a series of folios sewn together, occasionally using human sinew for the binding material, into proto-books replacing scrolls, to seventh-century Irish monks inserting spaces between manuscript words, a convention that would only become widespread centuries later.

But it was also a world in which pleasure paved the road to Hades, and sex advice generally said ‘no!’ Contradiction, all is contradiction. Misogynistic manuals claim women use sex to drain men of their power, but also that a woman who swallows a bee will never conceive. The nervousness about female sexuality means that as soon as a respectable woman reaches the age of menstruation she’s either married off, or – forgoing the expense of dowries, she’s incarcerated in a convent. An appalling practice, but bearing in mind the forced marriages, abusive husbands, absence of birth control, and death-toll from unhygienic childbirth in the secular world outside the convent walls, maybe it’s a fate of mixed fortune? In other contradictions, Courtly literature might idealise adulterous passions and unrequited love, but the Bishop of Winchester derived a good living from brothel rents. The Medieval mindset was one in which people hurled spears at the moon during an eclipse, and believed in dog-headed men, while the monasteries enjoyed a monopoly on learning. The same church that protects its vested interests by murdering dissenters. Reading the gospels in English was a crime, punishable by death.

The trigger to escape from that Cartesian straightjacket was innocently provided by German goldsmith Johannes Gutenberg’s contribution to European culture. By a new technology – called print. It was Gutenberg who formulated the key to mass communication by devising a system of moveable type as early as 1439. It’s true that various forms of woodblock printing had been used prior to this – with special claims coming from China. In fact, maybe the story starts way before that in 868AD, with the production of the world’s oldest surviving book – ‘The Diamond Sutra’, a sixteen-foot long woodblock-printed Buddhist scroll from north-west China, discovered in a sealed cave in 1907 by Aurel Stein.

This production technique, in which the relief image of an entire page has to be laboriously carved into wood, could itself be traced further back to the Han dynasty, which means prior to 220AD. The technique was picked up and used for ‘Ukiyo-e’ the copiously illustrated Japanese love-guides which flourished during Edo times – the period from 1603 to 1868 when military rulers or shogun were in power, but more specifically in Tokyo between 1650-1765. This was a ‘Floating World’ of explicitly erotic woodblock prints aimed at a visually-orientated culture – much as Manga does now? It is a form of art later admired and collected by Charles Baudelaire, Édouard Manet and Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec. The Chinese also experiment with elements of moveable type made of hardened glue and clay, but the complexity of pictograms, compared to the relative simplicity of the easily recombined twenty-six-symbol European alphabet made its introduction easier here.

Portraits of Gutenberg vary enormously – history has annoyingly mislaid precise details of such monumental events, until no-one can be certain even what he looked like. The year he was born is also disputed. Some guess it to have been 1400, which is appropriately the year Geoffrey Chaucer died – neatly ending one hand-written era by exactly synchronising it to the dawn of a newly mechanised one. But it is known that Gutenberg was in Strasbourg where he found funding for his innovative business venture from wealthy lawyer Johann Fust, using individual characters moulded from lead, tin and antimony (the same basic components used well into the twentieth-century) to produce the first printed work in Europe – a German poem. He followed it in 1455 with ‘The Gutenberg Bible’ – of which forty-eight copies are known to survive, and hence opened the floodgates of print.

The Bible sold for roughly three times the annual wage of an average clerk, yet was still far cheaper than the old manuscript versions, and the demand for books from the flourishing universities of Europe caused the printing press to be replicated throughout the subcontinent. It wasn’t Gutenberg’s intention to undermine the authority of the church. He didn’t anticipate the Reformation. He couldn’t envisage the rise of modern science or the creation of entirely new social classes and professions. Not he, nor anyone else at the time, could have any inclination of how profound the impact of his innovation would be. He just used moveable type. That’s all. Yet by doing so he did indeed unleash all of those effects. The world’s first mass-production technology was soon echoed around the continent, and more books were published in fifty years – an estimated eight million, than had been created in the previous thousand.

Print was the world’s most explosively subversive technology. It blew apart the old hegemony forever, directly or indirectly led to wars, revolutions, and the birth of modern science. The first books to be mass-produced on a Europe-wide scale were religious texts. These were still benighted medieval days when – largely, only one book existed, the so-called ‘good book’, with its store of inflexible commandments and pre-emptive parables. Sensibly, readers and collectors soon refused to accept the Bible’s monopoly of truth, and began to treasure books for more defiantly secular reasons. Greek and Roman classics appeared in print, while scientists were also soon able to disseminate information more easily, sparking revolutions in the arts and sciences.

Also, William Shakespeare’s contemporaries could neither spell his name, or their own, consistently. With print, texts were regularised around a single reference edition – starting with the Bible, and then the rest. Language, spelling and grammar – things we take for granted, were first standardised. Marshall McLuhan even suggests that print determines the way that we think. Words build sentences, which build paragraphs. So that arguments develop sequentially, building in logical stages one following another, line-by-line, towards a full-point conclusion. Pre-literate societies, and post-literate societies do not think in that laterally structured way.

Literacy among the common people shot up, and the use of Latin declined. For the first time, an accessible Bible was translated into languages other than Latin – fifty-four men translated the Old Testament from its original Hebrew, and the New Testament from Greek, for the King James Bible (May 1611). Widespread through print replication, it was liberated from the exclusive hands of a literate priestly cabal who exercised thought-control through incomprehensible incantations. The proto-Lutherans and Protestants could distribute versions of the Bible in their own native tongue, increasingly cheaply and easily, a development that would contribute to the end of the Catholic dominance in much of northern Europe and alter the power structures of the continent forever. Now people could read the gospels themselves, and frame their own questions about why the church was not exactly living out the principles established by its founder. Tease out the contradictions and the hypocrisies. The Reformation was a direct result of spreading literacy. While the fact that political pamphlets and manifestoes could be mass-produced cheaply for the first time helped to spread radical opinions and ideas that transform society.

William Caxton was a porky middle-aged merchant from the Weald of Kent. He travelled extensively around the German kingdoms. While he was there he saw, and quickly appraised the commercial potential of the new technology. Opportunistically, he followed Gutenberg’s example by setting up a press, with Colard Mansion in Bruges in 1474 to publish his translation of the French Courtly Romance ‘The Recuyell Of The Historyes Of Troy’ by Raoul Le Fèvrés, the first known book to be printed in English. He followed it by inaugurating the first British print-‘shoppe’, setting up his own press within the precincts of Westminster Abbey in the autumn of 1476.

There, he began churning out copies of Thomas Mallory’s medieval bestseller ‘Le Morte d’Arthur’, and printed an edition of Chaucer’s ribald ‘Canterbury Tales’ in 1476, with its glorious portrait of Alyson, the dominant sexually-voracious ‘gap-toothed’ Wife of Bath – her dental condition supposedly signifying her hypersexuality. From there it’s not too long a step to 1668, and diarist Samuel Pepys – by turn devious, ridiculous, weak and touching, pursuing his twin passions of sex and making money, confiding his predatory intentions towards his wife’s companion to his diary, and how ‘I have a good mind to have the maidenhead of this girl.’ He confides about loitering within a certain Martib’s Bookseller, both to flirt with nubile fellow-customers and to buy the first English translation of ‘L’Ecole De Filles’ – the first recorded example of mass-market porn, already available in France since 1655. Or John Cleland’s ‘Fanny Hill: Memoirs Of A Woman Of Pleasure’ (1748), purportedly the first home-grown porn novel. Yet in truth, it goes back further than either.

The word ‘pornography’ was coined around that time, but it came from Greek roots meaning ‘writing about prostitutes’. Much further. The first dictionary definition of ‘pornography’ occurs in 1857, to neatly coincide with the first ‘Obscene Publications Act’, passed by Parliament on 25 August of the same year in an attempt to control works that tend ‘to deprave and corrupt’. But surely that definition could also be extended to include a visit to the Paris Opera on 21 October 1858 to witness the first staging of ‘Orpheus’ – introducing the world to the Can-Can, or the Paris Music-Hall of 13 March 1894, as it stages the world’s first striptease ‘Yvette Goes To Bed’? Or the years between 1895 and 1898, when ‘Metropolitan Magazine’ (1895-1911) includes generous splashes of artists’ models, dancers, art nudes, ‘Paris Beauties’, courtesans, bathing beauties, and French Music-Hall chanteuses? It even published a fully illustrated article in February 1895 about the ‘living-picture craze’ – wherein nude and semi-nude models pose as reproductions of famous or newly conceived ‘classical’ artworks.

But perhaps it’s necessary to look even further back, long long before that, with the voluptuous Salome, dancing for the head of John The Baptist… in the Bible. While the ‘Sacred and the Profane’ co-exist in ‘the Divine’ Pietro Aretino’s playful and literately subversive ‘Sonetti Lussuriosi’ (1526) with their ‘transgressive taste for the forbidden’. A conundrum most perfectly delineated by Rennaisance artist Guilio Romano’s explicitly sexual guide to sixteen copulatory positions, his series of erotic images intellectually legitimised by rediscovered evidence of ancient Roman art. It was deemed offensive only when Marcantonio Raimondi reproduced the paintings as engravings for print in an edition titled ‘I Modi’ (1524), with the addition of poetic texts by Aretino. Despite being siezed and destroyed by Papal powers it survived into a second edition which made it a European best-seller, known in Shakespeare’s London.

An ‘Index Of Forbidden Books’ was compiled as early as 1559 by Pope Paul IV, ‘The Penitential Of Theodore’ that established the Church’s code on sex. Which is, you shouldn’t do it. And if you do, you shouldn’t enjoy it. Such attempts to deny the primal lifeforce led to centuries of persecution, suffering, miserable enforced secrecy and breathtaking hypocrisy. Herein lies the real evil.

 

 

 

BY ANDREW DARLINGTON

 

 

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Horace/Alzheimer

 

HORACE: ODE 25 FLIP-GENDERED

Yes he’s far too old
Yet wanting to be wanted
He mixes drinks on top of medication
Forcing conversation onto Office-Party girls
Who do not give ‘one hoot’
For modern art – ‘But then why should they?’
This being his reply
They grant embarrassed smiles
Group-signalling ‘weird guy’ behind closed hands

He thinks such dazzling beings need
More ‘Christmas Champagne Cocktail!’
But the song he stands to sing
None remembers or knows –

If Cupid’s flight hits turbulence
Resting on a blasted-oak
Or tender olive leaf
He cares so little for his perch
As any crumpled punter in a bar –

And with his teeth unnaturally ice-white
Sparse hair enhanced blue-silver from a sachet
Nothing can restore years cast away
Shepherding his wrinkled sheaf of verses

But time that stored all memory within them
Now makes a vicious audit

ALZHEIMER

The soles of father’s shoes
And in the lining of his coat
The elder son has written
‘Son’
With ‘mobile’ number underneath
And this return address –

His former father’s home

 

 

Bernard Saint
Illustration: Claire Palmer

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not drowning but waving

all over the world
people are frantically waving
but failing
to attract the attention
of those who presume
to rule their lives
these desperate people

do not want their lovely world

to go up in flames
do not want glaciers to melt
rain forests to be levelled
animals to become extinct
skies to become polluted
air to be contaminated

seas to rise forever

they are not drowning yet*

but waving
for somewhere in their collective heart
lies the belief that nature will prevail
that it is tenacious enough to survive
the worst that humans can do

is to remove themselves
from the face of nature

 

 

Jeff Cloves

 

*not waving but drowning
poem by English poet
Stevie (Florence Margaret) Smith1902–1971

 

Illustration: Atlanta Wiggs

 

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WHALE NOTION

                                                        For Heathcote Williams’ 80th Birthday

 

‘From Space’, or wherever you may be, you look wisely
On this, your former  and forsaken ocean, mired as it is now
By oil, and by the pollutants of pride dispensed to destroy
Once pure waters, through which the consciousness
Ascribed to you and the standards long set duly toil.

Heathcote, it has been a time of despair, irrespective
Of the ruination some salvage, or which they assume
Has been salvaged while the corrupted current and course
Still holds sway; and after Global warming’s gun has fired,
For a planet at three degrees temperature would have

No Coral reefs left to swim through; with Polar Bears turned
Suicidal, tidal collapse soon outweighs whatever remains
Standing proud, such as your work, which was bearlike:
Noble, wild, savage and purely possessed by a beauty
That exists, like those beasts on far plains.

Across a new paged landscape of white, each thought,
Each fountain pen poured, or quill mark made seemed unholy,
While still staying sacred as you took advantage of acid and ice
To cure pains. In all of our hearts, and in each of our separate
Missions. You were both bear and boundary; 

And your oeuvre ocean astounds. It is four years since you left
And the white Bear of thought remains waiting, just as the Whale
In lost water who you famously prized sings your sound.
This is the way then with work which contained the entire world
In it; you become the dream you were chasing, just as those

Bearlike books represent the endangerment we all face
As the waters all rise and Ahabs across the world are advancing,
And the cost of care and protection and the time saved for that care
Has been spent. You were borne away from your words by the currents
Of death sent to claim you, and so as you become the Whale,

You move freely, away from the world, to that place that exists
Far from us, or under us, or beside us,  but which we will never see:
So this notion of you as new myth finds its face. You no longer see
As we see, but there in some sea, and distanced by death,
You are greater. Eighty years on from your birthing,

The earthing idea now finds form. For in forging new worlds
While detailing our own  as muse maker  you are now
The carrying craft and Ark aiming towards the end of our night
And new dawn. Part of poetry’s pride, as with both bear and lion,
Or leopard pack, cheetah as each animal pack pokes man’s joke.

Spearing us all, as you swim, eighty today, yet eternal,
Seeking this notional nation I have the audaciousness to invoke.
In which ‘From space..the planet is the territory, not of humans,
But of the whale,’ There; I quote you. Pure words returned
To you from the present and for this landmark age.

May future gifts follow on and each birthday allow further
Journeys. And may your work to which those who love it still
Now bear witness to what you’re becoming.  If this is a modern
Atlantis that’s sinking then we, swimming sadly, are waiting
To become as you are now;
                                                             Star and page.

 

 

David Erdos November 15th 2021
Photo: Jay Jeff Jones

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SAUSAGE LIFE 205

SAUSAGE LIFE
Bird Guano
The column which is waving and drowning at the same time


MYSELF (on phone): Look mate, we know for a fact that The Incas didn’t have spirit levels, angle grinders, reliable stepladders or countersunk screws right? Of course it was aliens! (hangs up)

READER: Who was that?.

MYSELF: Cardinal Murray

READER: The Roman Catholic bigwig?

MYSELF: The very same. He has some very strange ideas about the origins of the universe and suchI

READER: Such as?

MYSELF: I don’t want to be held responsible for leading you down that particular rabbit hole, there’s enough of that about as it is.

 

THE MOON’S A GOON

The Flat Earth Society has rejected traditional gravitational theory and declared the moon to be man-made and hollow, like an easter egg. Tides are not governed, as previously thought, by the moon’s influence, but by heavy gravity rays generated from a secret underground bunker in the Pentagon. Hastings inventor Professor Gordon Thinktank has come up with a unique way of testing out this theory. He has designed a spacecraft long enough to house a giant spirit level which will indicate whether the ship is perpendicular or not, and has trained two yoyo experts as astronauts, who will perform specially designed tricks whilst outside the earth’s atmosphere. “It’s really quite simple” the professor explained “If the yoyo maintains its normal earthly trajectory, the business end will always head downwards, a direction which we can check using the spirit level. If, however, the yoyo appears to rise towards the ceiling, or indeed waver in any direction other than down, then it would strongly suggest the Flat Earth Society’s claims are incorrect.”

 

DICTIONARY CORNER

hoarding (n) The sound made by the bell on the reception desk of a brothel.

skirmish (n) The language spoken by the people of Skirm, a tiny island in the Outer Hebrides.

 

EVE’S DROPPINGS

Keeping an uninvited ear on the zeitgeist

This week’s Eve’s Droppings comes from A Wing And A Prayer, the new USA-themed chlorinated chicken franchise in Upper Dicker. I leave all conclusions to be drawn by the reader.

MAN:
I think Jesus should be the new Dr Who. He can raise himself from the dead, and I think he can proper time-travel as well.

WOMAN:
No competition. Madonna could be his assistant.

MAN:
Madonna would be perfect. And don’t underestimate puppet power. Sooty and Sweep should be ringfenced. Let’s face it, the BBC needs reforming from the bottom up.
WOMAN:
I say give it all to Netflix.

 

THE MURDOCH CHANNEL

06:30 G’DAY BRITAIN Wake up and listen to the coffee.Britain’s favourite Australians Danny and Trisha Gulag slap their thighs until you go out
09:00 NEWS WEATHER LOCAL NEWS NEIGHBOURS UPDATE
09:15 ONLY FOOLS AND HORSE
 Australian sitcom featuring young catholic priest involved in Heroin smuggling.
09:45 LUNCHBOX Topical magazine hosted by Elizabeth Dunwoody which this week compares the lifestyle of a poor Aboriginal family from Moonie Ponds with that of Melbourne newspaper proprieter Bert Mulholland. Also featuring Alan Price and Dame Edna Everidge
10:25 NATURE CALLS
 the bizarre mating rituals of the giant MacDonald lizard. Filmed off the coast of Queensland.
11:30 BLIMEY MATE! Fourth in a series of documentary films from down under, this one follows Wally Patch and Maureen Thornton as they try to set up a symphony orchestra in Alice Springs equipped only with boomerangs

13:00 NATIONAL NEWS WEATHER AUSTRALIAN NEWS
13:03 NUNS New series A Tasmanian convent is infiltrated by Al Q’aida drag artistes with predictable results
14:00 NEIGHBOURS Omnibus edition. Barry falls down and hurts his knee, Cheryl forgets to bathe the Koalas and Kevin’s ex wife Sheila arrives unexpectedly at Noreen’s barbie, with predictable results.
17:00 CAPTAIN COOKERY 
Dishy Aussie cricket skipper Craig Woomera shows us when to put in our soufflés, and more importantly, when to take them out.
17:30 HOLIDAY 2022 Spotting those early bargains. Judith Chalmers finds out what lifeguards get up to down under as she samples a diving weekend on Bondi Beach. The late Frank Bough tries his luck on an Abbo farm (rpt).
18:00 CHILDREN’S TV 
Two hours of fun with The Return of Skippy the Bush Kangeroo, The Flying Dentist, Strictly Ladyboys, and a special feature on the cast of Neighbours
20:00 BBC NEWS, LOCAL NEWS, WEATHER, SPORT, AUSTRALIAN RULES CRICKET NEIGHBOURS UPDATE
20:15 NEIGHBOURS 
Carrie-Anne discovers Deidre has put a valuable stuffed Platypus on a hot wash cycle, with predictable results
20:45 WORLD IN ACTION SPECIAL
 Covert film of kangeroo baiting in Essex. Some scenes of sexual deviation
21:15 DOCTOR IN THE BUSH Antipodean hospital drama sees top surgeon Marty Mulholland accused of masterminding an illegal leg transplant scam. Fate, in the shape of curvy Maureen Frigate intervenes-with predictable results
21:45 FILM Jumbuck
 (2002 dir: Bruce Stryne)
Weird and surreal biopic follows the Aboriginal table tennis team as they prepare for the Olympic Games in 7th century Greece. Oscar-winning score from Rolf Harris.
23:47 LATE TALK Dominic Sleeve-Cheering chairs tonight’s open-ended discussion in which Pastor Bob Wallaby of the Church of the Hidden Communicants talks via sattelite to Baba Krishna-Mhurti, chief Rabbi of Sydney Harbour Liberal Synagogue as he robustly defends his policy of allowing male members to wear their foreskins at weekends

 

 

SUDSHINE BREAKS

Travel’s opened up again at last and if you’re thinking of going on a much needed mini break why not head to where your favourite soap-opera was made? Travel agents Hotter & Hell are offering all-inclusive trips to destinations like Granada’s’s Coronation Street set, where you can sleep at Mavis’s house and get drunk all day in The Rover’s Return, or visit Eastenders’ Albert Square for a two-week abusive shouting holiday. Those with a penchant for the exotic may like to try a Breaking Bad Break; jet off to Albuquerque for the weekend, stay in Walter White’s laboratory and lounge around in your pants all day taking crystal meth. I have just booked a fortnight in Nutwood, where I hope to embark on fantastical adventures with Rupert Bear and his friends Pong-Ping the Pekinese, Bill Badger, Edward Trunk and particularly Tigerlily, the conjuror’s beautiful daughter.

 

 

Sausage Life!

SPONSORED LYNX

POISON PEOPLE
guano poundhammer
From the album Domestic Bliss


https://birdguano2.bandcamp.com/album/sonic-goblin


Vote For Countryside Alliance
by The Hunt Cult. Click for video
https://vimeo.com/501269086

BY Colin Gibson

SAUSAGE 159 SAUSAGE 160 SAUSAGE 161 SAUSAGE 162SAUSAGE 163
SAUSAGE 164 SAUSAGE 165 SAUSAGE 166 SAUSAGE 167 SAUSAGE 168 SAUSAGE 169 SAUSAGE 170 SAUSAGE 171 SAUSAGE 172 SAUSAGE 173SAUSAGE 174
 
SAUSAGE 175 SAUSAGE 176 SAUSAGE 177 SAUSAGE 178SAUSAGE 179 
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The Edge Of The Object

Kevin Pearce, whose writing has always been and continues to be a source of great inspiration, once had a terrific habit of starting off a piece with the question “so what have you been listening to/reading recently?” Like the typical linguistic magpies that we are, I admit to having utilised the same opener on many occasions. Let’s revisit it one more time.

So what have I been reading? Well, the mention of Kevin Pearce is a neat way to introduce ‘The Edge Of The Object’ by Daniel Williams, for both he and Pearce were co-conspirators with myself in the Tangents website and the Fire Raisers fanzine projects way back in the murky mists of time. ‘The Edge Of The Object’ has its roots in history at least as ancient, since the bulk of the text was written in the blinking of an eye between those two projects, when Williams took himself off to a dilapidated and remote cottage in northern France to write. He’s more recently alluded to this episode in a tremendous piece for Caught By The River on the 30th anniversary of the release of Talk Talk’s ‘Laughing Stock’ LP.

As one might expect give the title, it is the object that drives much of the book. If it has taken a quarter of a century for it to be published then in part this has been down to the challenges of Williams’ original concept of having the individual ‘episodes’ that make up part one and three as calligrams with text wrapping around, or within, the two-dimensional representation of objects suggested by, or implicit in the body of the text itself. That this conceit never feels forced nor detracts from the connectivity of the individual elements within their gently meandering narrative is both to Williams’ credit as writer and also to the skills of Tim Hopkins of The Half Pint Press for realising the ideas in physical form.

Hopkins may be familiar from his work on an extraordinary edition of Fernando Pessoa’s ‘The Book of Disquiet’. Typeset and printed by hand using a tabletop letterpress onto a rich variety of objects, including 1960s slide transparencies, pencils, matchbooks and a myriad of other surfaces, the edition of 80 boxes deservedly won the 2017 MCBA International Artist’s Book Award. That project also highlighted Hopkins’ interest in literature that challenges traditional notions of narrative structure, and with Williams being drawn to similar threads (he has previously written a series of lipograms, one of which was published by Half Pint Press in 2017), it feels like a natural punctuation point on a journey of thirty plus years of friendship that the two should come together so perfectly.

If ‘The Edge Of The Object’ hints at an interest in the experiments in literature by the likes of Pessoa and Perec, there are echoes too of Geoff Dyer in Williams’ prose. Of ‘Paris, Trance’ perhaps most explicitly given the settings and the undertow of narrative, but more expansively in that sense of moment, of recording, of observation, of perception. The notion of the camera’s eye being that of the Other. The surrealist detachment and the anarchists’ detournement of the object. Perhaps too like ‘The Book Of Disquiet’, the individual ‘episodes’ of parts one and three of ‘The Edge Of The Object’ can be dipped into and enjoyed on their merits as stand-alone pieces. Each are rich in their excavation of language, evocative of place, moment, person, hope, regret, whatever. They could be photographs piled loose in a drawer, plucked at random and enjoyed for their unique qualities. Being human however, the impulse to connect and create story from distinct elements is strong, and Williams adeptly weaves these notional photographs into a tapestry that balances self-reflective and personal memory with broader strokes of recognisable, translatable themes and experiences. The author both connects to and distances himself from the central narrative character by adopting the second-person perspective throughout these two parts of the book. It’s a striking technique that lends a detached coolness to language that is often earthy and luxuriously poetic, seeking out moments of remembrance like a tongue reaching to a loose tooth, prodding the peculiar ache of memory.

Perhaps then it is inevitable that my favourite of all these shape pieces is one which traces the map of the mainland UK and that documents Williams’ hitchhiking travels from town to town. I see the ghost of my young self in there, living in the town jutting into the sea like a nose and recalling how we “managed to clear the  dance floor simply by taking to it, wild and unrestrained, misshapen, round pegs trying to fit into a square hole.” I read this now and wonder if Williams, like me, almost fails to recognise the person who drifts spectrally from the text? Time is a strange creature, after all, warping and bending us into peculiar reflections of ourselves, like simulacrums stuck in a fairground.

I wonder too what the lightly fictionalised figures who inhabit part two of the book might make of it all now. This part discards the notion of shapes and reverts instead to a more traditional narrative, following as it does a collection of musicians from what we might have called the ‘indie-pop’ scene on a tour around France. The narrative voice switching from second to first person also helps secure the differentiation of the three parts of the book. Again, reading this in 2021 has a peculiar resonance of a fictionalised history being fragmented against the concrete barriers of time. Memory dwindles and fades into archaeological traces. ‘Reality’ is, as ever, dislocated and re-joined in altered states. Of course, to what extent that might be apparent to anyone less connected to the ‘reality’ is impossible to say, just as it is to consider how it might have been read had it been published in 1996 rather than 2021. What was it were saying about time being a strange creature?

Straddling the line between book as object, of literature as idea, and the perhaps more traditional landscape of narrative comfort, ‘The Edge Of The Object’ manages to balance these elements into an absorbing and thoroughly enjoyable work. That it looks as well as it reads is testament to thirty odd years of experimentation, crafty tinkering and the hands-on experience of type design. It’s certainly been worth the wait.

 

 

Alistair Fitchett 2021

‘The Edge Of The Object’ by Daniel Williams is published in an edition on one hundred copies by The Half Pint Press. Full details of the book, including info about a launch event on Dec 1st 2021 can be found at http://theedgeoftheobject.com
 
Daniel Williams can be found on his blog: https://awildslimalien.com and on social media.

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As a result of global warming…


Where once there was nothing
But deep cold and ice unmelting,
A chunk of glacier breaks off,
Falls into the sea,
Drifting south:
A translucent coffin that spins
Shrinking in deep valleys
Between mountainous waves:
Drifts into a tide
That’s turning, is finally
Beached: ice falls away,
Rivulets run down
A slowly
Emerging
Outline in marble,
Man sized
And then half a yard taller at least:
As he breathes in
A wave slides up the shingle,
As he breathes out
Foams back down again:
Curious seagulls circle,
One hovers keening
As his veins swell
Rain falls quenching
Cracked lips,
Throat muscles ripple,
Eyes flicker open,
Resurrected, he stands:
Rain falls
And a chaos of scars
Rinses away,
Rain falls
And he’s tasting
Ashes and cinders:
For this is hell
Turns inland,
Begins walking.

 

 

 

Kevin Patrick McCann
Illustration by Lorenzo Mattotti

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Steam Groove’s Number 15

 

Steam Stock
 

Tracklist:
The J.B.’s – Blow Your Head
Edwin Starr – I Just Wanna Do My Thing
James Brown – Funky President (People it’s Bad)
Weldon Irvine – We Gettin’ Down
Albert King, Steve Cropper and Pop Staples – Opus de Soul
Eugene McDaniels – Jagger the Dagger
Africa – Paint it Black
Funkadelic – Can You Get to That
Bernard Wright – Spinnin’
David McCallum – House of Mirrors
Patrice Rushen – Forget Me Nots
Ronnie Laws – Tell Me Something Good

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This Is Not A Toy A group exhibition by The Outside World AllStars

 

 

curated by C.A.Halpin

Touchbase Gallery, 15 Tontine Street, Folkestone, CT201RN

 

25-28th November 2021

 

PRESS RELEASE

 

The Outside World AllStars are coming to town, showing at Touchbase Gallery, Folkestone. This group of artists have been brought together by artist/curator C.A.Halpin, for a flash mob of a show, with an all-new line up of internationally acclaimed and established artists, exhibiting alongside some rising stars, for a long weekend of art, by the sea.

 

This Is Not A Toy, is taking place right at the heart of Folkestone’s Creative Quarter and will feature an eclectic group of artists who are taking up residency at the gallery, which forms part of  Touchbase Care, community arts organisation. The show is bringing together several South Coast based artists namely, Sadie Hennessy and Julia Maddison, with some Londoners, Antony Buonomo, Kelly-Anne Davitt, Maria Teresa Gavazzi, Doug Haywood, Julie Goldsmith, Julieta H-Adame, Alice Herrick and Toby Holmes, with the Folkestone contingent well represented by Kate Knight, Charlotte Chapman and Touchbase Care resident artist Thomas Sharrock. Halpin says that her aim is to create a show that will be a moment of togetherness and fun as artists get back into the real world, after two years exhibiting in the ‘virtual’ wilderness.

 

 ‘Folkestone was the natural choice for me when thinking of this show, taking the artists out of their space and some out of their town to the seaside, to meet each other, a new audience and blow away the cobwebs that self-isolation brought’.

 

This Is Not A Toy began with warnings of threatened shortages this Christmas ‘no pickers, no pluckers, no petrol, no presents’ resulting in more misery, sprinkled with seasonal sadness. The AllStars have just the answer to all your aesthetic contemplations and gift buying needs, with affordable, portable works of art. ‘Basically it’s going to be a gift shop, with an art exhibition included, embracing the commodification of art with the intimacy of the hand made in a post lockdown world’, says the curator. Behind the fun there lies Halpin’s passion for making accessible, inclusive works and exhibitions that can be afforded and enjoyed as a positive experience, for visitors, the artists, their audience and the wider community. The artists who are physically able to attend, will be on hand to talk about their work at selected times throughout the weekend, with a Private View as part of the Folkestone Final Friday event.

 

Many of the artists have shown together in the past as The Outside World AllStars as well as in virtual and live events such as the bi-annual and currently online Art Car Boot Fair. Most have long histories of group and solo shows nationally and internationally at museums such as the Pompidou Centre, The Museè D’Orsay, The Oscars Ceremony, the V&A, The Royal Academy and the Turner Contemporary and many private galleries and institutions.

 

Artists Biogs

 

Antony Buonomo is an Anglo-Italian Emmy award-winning digital designer, who makes visual art and written works. He has worked on Oscar-winning films, designing the opening and closing titles for 12 Years A Slave, as well as for many prestigious film and television clients including the BBC. Antony is a member of BAFTA. He is a wheelchair user, who because of his disability exclusively makes digital art.

 

Charlotte Chapman has been working in Arts Participation and Engagement for over fifteen years. She is fascinated by how we interact with the arts, as a means of expression and inter-connectedness. Her focus is on participatory research, she was lead artist on ‘Dead & Buried’, recording young people’s responses to Natural Burial Methods. ‘Perceptions of Death’, was an installation for Chale Wote Street Arts Festival, Accra, Ghana. Her solo show at The Stables Gallery, was an installation quoting the experiences of 250 residents about lockdown and the pandemic, mounted alongside her own work, acquired by Folkestone Museum. Her most recent work is a digital archive documenting the practices of Aylesham’s Carnival Queens and Princesses highlighting the group’s fragility as they navigate an ever-changing world. Charlotte is a university lecturer and is currently South East Development Officer for Creative Lives.

 

Kelly-Anne Davitt is known for hyper-real virtuoso painting style in vibrant pop tones, and her humorous and provocative light-sculptures. Her electrifyingly immaculate canvases fuse traditional still life and portraiture with a contemporary approach, inspired by advertising imagery, pop culture, nostalgic childhood memories and feminist themes. She has exhibited widely across the UK from Cork Street to The Potteries. She recently made her curatorial debut with ‘The Most Powerful Woman In The Universe’, a show of groundbreaking feminist art.

 

Maria Teresa Gavazzi is Italian, born in 1950, grew up in Sao Paolo, now living in London. She has an MA in Painting from the Brera Fine Arts Academy in Milan. In 2018 she gained an MA in Social Anthropology (Migration and Diaspora Studies) from SOAS, London. In 2019 she walked from Rome to London and has published a book of her encounters on the via Francigena. Over the years, she has embraced painting, collage, photography, installations, videos, performances and interactive projects. Gavazzi’s work has been exhibited in Europe, Great Britain and Japan.

 

Julie Goldsmith makes seemingly ‘innocent’ paintings and ceramics, yet has been called ‘Angela Carter on a Plate’, playing with the notion of fable and domesticity. A ‘Skull n Crossbones’ bowl – there may be nothing for dinner. Haunted children and hungry dolls. Figures viewed from the corner of your eye, making the darkness bearable, lurking in bowls and plates, said to dispel household trauma. She creates ritual objects for dark times.

 

C.A.Halpin lives in London and works across a broad spectrum of media, drawing, painting and glitter, often seizing moments in time, reflecting popular culture and politics, to explore the human condition. She has an MARCA in Illustration and has worked internationally as an animator, director and illustrator. Her commissioned portraits are collected around the world. She also works as a writer and curator, having run galleries and artist led spaces and salons. She has a chihuahua.

 

Doug Haywood originally from the rural idyll that is the Isle of Wight, to the badlands of Whitechapel, east London, via a Fine Art degree at St Albans and Winchester. He has become influenced by contemporary popular culture, waste and consumerism, addressing local and urban aesthetics, graffiti, signage, construction, regeneration and public interaction. Highlighting the often-overlooked elements of contemporary life, he uses materials sourced within his immediate environment; from the ubiquitous colours and shapes of street art and graffiti, to discarded broken furniture, outgrown toys, defaced signage and more recently the by-products of creativity and detritus discarded by society.

 

Sadie Hennessy is a multi-disciplinary artist whose roots lie in collage, but who has expanded her idea of collage to encompass the third and fourth dimensions, to create immersive environments and events, examining the world around her as perceived through her somewhat unique view-finder. Everything she does is tinged with melancholia, mixed with a dark humour, that comes from the blacker end of the comedy spectrum. She has an MA Fine Art from Central St. Martins and was Screen Print Fellow at the Royal Academy of Arts, 2016-19.

 

Julieta H-Adame is a graduate of Camberwell School of Art. Her passion is language, how we understand it, how we read it, and how it affects our judgement is a constant presence in her work. Her work can be interpreted on many levels, some viewers will just relate to the forms or the beauty of the setting, but for those who choose to read, there’s more to discover about the human condition and how we relate to others.

 

Alice Herrick uses drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, photography, film and performance to explore and celebrate human expression, bodies in motion, dance, dynamics and patterns. Her work is sensual, playful and theatrical, fuelled with dramatic tension and deeply felt passions. She has an MA in Painting from Chelsea College of Art and a 1st class Fine Art degree from Kingston University. Alice has worked in film design, arts education, live arts & exhibition curation and founded two artist-run gallery spaces in Shoreditch and Mayfair. Alice has always lived in London, but is just at home beachcombing by the sea.

Toby Holmes AKA Little Fish Design, creates playful and humorous ‘Pop-Surrealist’ sculptures and prints that combine images drawn from a wide variety of sources from classical art to contemporary packaging and advertising. He likes to combine disparate imagery and materials to create eclectic and amusing pieces. Often using discarded sweet wrappers and packaging to achieve an enjoyably disarming effect. The artist has also worked as a graphic designer who plays with the overlap of art, graphic and visual design. The works are part of an ongoing series ‘The Product Placement Project’, inserting contemporary, often familiar products and packaging into Old Masters paintings, with a wry nod to subliminal advertising found in modern films. They explore the connections and boundaries between art and advertising, whilst reflecting on the functions of fashion & clothing.

Kate Knight is inspired by the vital role that craft and tradition have historically played in establishing the feminine psyche, and it is these motifs that inform and traverse her practice. The use of mediums made from scratch, expose the female psyche through the practice of hand crafting all aspects of her paintings, for example watercolours and pastels manufactured from raw materials such as pigments, wax and clay which make up the very fabric of her work. She recently graduated with a Distinction in MA Fine Art at City and Guilds of London School of Art.

 

Julia Maddison‘s work revolves around sickness, sex, lies and loss. Collecting, reworking and subverting the flotsam of forgotten lives, she is gradually piecing together a museum of domestic misery. It is her long held ambition to have a shop like Bagpuss’, full of lost, misplaced and forgotten ephemera, none of which is for sale.

 

Thomas Sharrock has been making art since he was 14 and holds a BA in Visual Arts. His work employs caricature that takes a surreal and satirical swipe at politics and politicians as well as making a sharp commentary on current world events. He draws and sketches, using marker pens to colour his humorous and very accurate portraits, news stories and illustrations. He is a member of Touchbase Care and is one of two artists in residence at the centre. Thomas has learning difficulties and ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder). 

 

 

Quotes

‘”This Is Not A Toy, brings together ‘The Outside World AllStars’ showing at Touchbase Gallery, Folkestone. It is a cool mix of painting, drawing, printmaking and mixed media work by some of the UK’s best known overlooked makers.” – Paul Carter Robinson, Artlyst Editor

This is Not A Toy, exhibition is what the gallery is about. A shared space between local artists and national as well as a platform for our member residents to show work. We have some incredibly talented members, including resident artists who are often overlooked in the arts world. It’s great that they can show alongside such acclaimed artists on their doorstep and that other members can come and see the work”. Trish Bishop, CEO Touchbase Care

 

Beat a hasty path to This is Not a Toy with its fabulously imaginative, cheeky and occasionally downright bawdy line-up! Art as it should be enjoyed. Karen Ashton, Art Car Boot Fair

 

Instagram
@TheAllStarsFolkestone @touchbasegallery
Contact:: [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Shruburban Apocalypse

is there ever a good time for the arrival
of the catastrophic Apocalypse
perhaps best to wait until after tea time
for unfolding unknown Revelations

for there is laundry yet to be folded
that toilet in the den needs scrubbing
those library books are due tomorrow
should return the neighbor’s plasticware
forgot if the newspaper was brought in

already burned the supper casserole
so now is as good as ever for me
but before it all goes down and over
let me slip on something a bit nicer
don’t forget to change your underwear

 

 

TERRENCE SYKES
Words and visual

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New book: Listen, We All Bleed

I’m happy to announce the publication of Listen, we all bleed, my book of essays on nonhuman-animal voices in activist art. In Listen, we all bleed, radical artists from around the world use recordings of nonhuman voices to plead for an end to violence against nonhuman animals. Central to this book is the importance of listening—just listening—as a creative effort that is also an activist act. The essays include reflections on the work of Kathryn Eddy, Cornelia Hesse-Honegger, Robbie Judkins, mOwson&M0wson, Dave Phillips, Colleen Plumb, Quiet Ensemble, Hiroki Sasajima, Andrew Stevenson, Jana Winderen, and Eisuke Yanagisawa.

Listen, we all bleed is published by New Rivers Press at Minnesota State University. The book has been nominated for the PEN/Galbraith Nonfiction Award, Foreword INDIES Book Award, and CLMP Firecrackers. It’s available internationally through Amazon.

New Rivers Press will host an online reading and discussion of Listen… on 4 Nov. Registration is free via Eventbrite.

 

Yours,

Mandy-Suzanne Wong, PhD

Description

“Midway through Listen, we all bleed, her stunning collection of essays about art that challenges us to consider the needs and simple realities of the non-human animals struggling to live on our planet, Mandy Suzanne-Wong writes, ‘Oceans are not our empires. Oceans aren’t liquid slaughterhouses, goldmines, or oil reservoirs. Oceans live. But not for us. Art can sound this out, help us learn it with our bodies, make it emotional. When artworks make us feel that nonhuman animals are not us and not for us, those artworks do something very necessary.’

So does this book.

As a lifelong omnivore, I confess I wasn’t eager to read something that would amplify my shame about eating other animals, let alone motivate me to stop. But Listen, we all bleed is not some guilt-inducing screed. It is a lyrical, brilliant exploration of the music, installations, and immersive exhibitions being created by artists who exhort us to listen to what’s difficult to hear, to see what we choose to blind ourselves to, to feel what we’d rather numb ourselves to. With her expansive curiosity, deep insight, fascinating explanations, and sometimes wracking but always gorgeous prose, Mandy Suzanne-Wong compelled me to keep reading. With each essay about elephants, fish, cows, sheep, whales, and the artists who honor them, I found my soul expanding, not recoiling. She challenges us to pay attention even – no, especially – to who and what we don’t recognize as being ‘like us,’ and cautions us against trying to make them so. As she says about a work by artist and composer Kathryn Eddy: ‘What Kathryn wants us to hear in Problematic Nature is how unhuman life can be and still be life.’

Listen, we all bleed is exhilarating, not punishing. It has awakened me and makes me want to change, not out of shame, but out of gratitude for all that I’ve shielded myself against. Read it.”

—Julie Wittes-Schlack, author of This All-At-Onceness

“In this beautifully subtle, intricately woven text, Mandy-Suzanne Wong entreats you to listen, to really listen, to the nonhuman. And even if this listening makes you feel uncomfortable, ashamed, guilty, she dares you to persist. Moving seamlessly among the works of artists devoted to nonhuman voices, she manages to relay a myriad of worlds beyond our own, each with its own infinite complexity and beauty. Reading this book, hearing and loving the nonhuman, should prompt you to be passionate about saving this world that we have so thoroughly ravaged.”

—Tracy McDonald, curator of Animals Across Discipline, Time, and Space (McMaster Museum of Art), co-editor of Zoo Studies: A New Humanities (McGill-Queen’s University Press), Associate Professor of History, McMaster University

 

“Haunting, vivid, confrontational, unafraid—a new beat to penetrate our hearts and lead an awakening dance in which we stop refusing to see. Wong’s descriptions call up Sue Coe in prose. To read about my own work this way—alchemized from sounds in the air and projections on walls and embroidered onto the page—is pure and powerful magic.”

—Colleen Plumb, artist and editor of Thirty Times a Minute (Radius Books)

 

“Mandy-Suzanne Wong does something far beyond ‘giving voice’ to animals and the artists that record them. She listens: quietly, carefully, truthfully. And the animals speak for themselves. Listen, we all bleed is a powerful and much needed book for our times. Now more than ever, we need to listen to the voices of all beings. And collectively, hopefully, we can save our beautiful Earth.”

—Kathryn Eddy, artist and co-editor of The Art of the Animal (Lantern Books)

 

Listen, we all bleed is both an informative and invigorating shock to the system . . . with striking and evocative prose . . . Wong’s text compels the reader to brave the often ignored sounds of nonhumans and endure the raw emotion behind them. Whether the bleating sheep now turned leg of lamb or the symphonic wanderings of lost snails, in that moment the reader doesn’t just listen—we become. As we hurt alongside the torment of nonhumans, Wong gently exposes our very hand in causing it. This book is a heart-wrenching albeit imperative rattling of the human soul. A must read for any Earth-goer.”

—Rich Andrew, contributing writer, LA Arts Online

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Stream

If it darkens anymore
the stream will vanish,
and only the noise will exist,

albeit with the ocean
it is different.
I stand staring at the estuary.
Disappearance adopts a shape,
and its scales burn – soft, sturdy,
still life of the non-fire.

Meaninglessness fevers
through my blood.
I know, void is full.
It is a paid vacation to the loss.

 
 

Kushal Poddar
Illustration Nick Victor

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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Keats Song

Gorgeous language follows Keats
like a kicked dog down Cockney streets
waving a Technicolor tail
as it snuffles tropes along the trail.

The moon swims near & Fanny comes
Keats-wards through the vital slums.
The dog grows brawny as the time requires
& lifts its leg on passion’s fires

To no avail. Keats at the bar
drinks a Shandy from a pickle jar,
blows a flea from the young girl’s ear
to make sure her auditory nerve is clear

And in a fog of blood-laced breath
invites dear Fanny to assuage his death;
she angles a knee to hide her teeth
& giggles on to Keats’ grief:

“Is Beauty Truth & is Truth Beauty?
“Why should those words do double duty
“when neither is applicable
“in a world of steam, cast iron, steel cable?

“And should a girl bestow her treasure
“on one who writes in common measure:
“a weak-loined, coughing, homely bore
“who tells us: ‘load your rifts with ore’?

“A barber with a steady blade
“can feed & clothe an honest maid
“much better than a poet can
“perform the duties of a modern man.”
Keats rubs his freckled brow, & meekly
drawls a wheeze & drops a tear

“In Italy I’ll mend completely!…”

““But you’ll still be a poet, dear!”

“Farewell, Pure Soul, I’ll find another

“who knows the proper time to write

“is with a pen between the covers

“from dusk to dawn without a light.”

 

Trotting down an Attic Mile
on toe nails of olive oil & tile:
the small rough dog that scratches, moans,
& gnaws the “pneu” from Grecian bones,

& gives away all that it owns.

 

 

 

Jesse Glass
Word & image

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(This City

 

 

(this city

this time)

FIRE

          dear

sir, I want to tell you

madame,

          I want to tell you

FIRE

          curious one

          your

fingers tremble across

space

fumble at the latch

                   of the orphanage

                   the asylum

                   the nunnery

                   the hospital

                   the rescue mission

                   the home for unwed mothers

open the door to see

FIRE

          gnaw

          floors

          walls

          ceilings

          paintings of

                   blue lakes

                     of

                   puritan fathers

                     of

                   mountains w/moon

                   above them

turn brown, then black,

ride like ravens

on shimmering air.

FIRE

the mind’s horse & pack-

mule

clattering over rocks away

from the conflagration

toward

oxidation of irons

                   neon rings

the spontaneous combustion

of all things not related

to the journey.

child

I have something

to tell you:

WE BURN

the tower clock is burning

the tower is a flame finger

pointing up

at forever

we can see it

from here

                   we can

see the oily smoke

as it rises from your body

twitching among the flames

can see

your body’s

special dance

                   hear

                   the music

it makes

hiss.  hiss.

FIRE

I am not these arms

          give these arms to the flames

I am not these eyes

          pluck them out, throw them in

I am not this blood-pump

called heart

                   I give it to you

                   FIRE

          nor this face, nor these

          bones.

lock me in the iron bull

stoke the furnace

I want to make music.

(brittle giant

fallen to earth

from sun)

FIRE

lick clean the pages

of books–

Hitler knew

your strong jaws

break history

flaming missiles

strike the bunker

walls

we wait

inside

          hands

over eyes

“will it hurt?”

          yes!

          coals scream.

Bruno

sings:

“we are your puppets

“FIRE, be gentle w/us

“I have a wife

“& kids somewhere

“& am an American

“citizen.  let my hands

“remain free, tie

“my waist to the stake

“I wish to signal

“thru smoke

          “an alphabet

“for the new age

“a monstrous poem

“that will twist like a tapeworm

“among the stars.”  The

          FIRE-eater

never grows fat.  is

walking dialectic–

                             a

man w/ideas he says:

“I carry matches beneath

“my coat & a bottle

“of gasoline–wish to talk

“to monks, visit all

“museums & rest homes

“& colleges

“will pit my red Jack

“Johnson resurrected

“against all challengers.”

FIRE

I love you

open your legs

bite my lips

FIRE

you beat me

& I’ll beat you

o.k?

FIRE

ride a single

wheel down-

hill

into a lake.

Buddha receives

you.

black flames

cool to touch

where Dante

wandered

                   curious flames

hidden in Bodhisattva’s

                   robes

living flames

Pascal

saw

above the heads

of the blessed

or the damned

FIRE

you are

the elephant

of elements

                   your blue tongue

laps my chin

you make me

smash my typewriter

threaten my shadow

w/a butcher knife.

a reflection of

a reflection

                   I

burn

above sour

weeds

I ask your

permission

to melt this

clock of lard

          step forth

star-brained

FIRE

no more yin

no more yang

no more weeping

about an old woman

wrapped in clay

          it’s

one ragged foot

before the other

up a ladder

of steam.

once you visited

our barn

rode the backs

of horses

like a regular

guy

baked sheep

in their own

wool

rolled dogs

snarling

down a hill

into a stream

clogged

w/manure

you knocked

down the walls

w/glowing

hammers

then rubbed

your fingers

thru ashes

& touched

my forehead:

my skull

was a circus

tent

collapsing on

500 screaming

people

FIRE

if you hold your

breath

you’ll go out

if I hold my temper

the world will turn

to ice

if your leap over

a stick

the world will be

a wedding

                   I have nothing to lose

& everything to gain

I will storm the kingdom

of FIRE

& usurp the thrones

of Pre-Adamic

kings.

from my ashes

grow 3 trees

from these trees

grow 6 vines

from these vines

9 berries grow

9 birds eat them

from their flesh

sprouts a single man

who floats from a luminous

cord

his face a quarter moon

his eyes–2 clocks that read:

12 noon & 12 midnight

his hands are flickering

gauges

he walks behind a plow

& speaks in parables

says:

“if FIRE were a

“bird

“where would FIRE

“fly?

“if FIRE were a

“cobra

“would she strike

“the wild ass?

“if FIRE were a

“fish

“how long would

“she live

“in the ocean

“& how many clouds

“would she set

“in the sky?

“& how many stars

“would be born

“from those glittering

“clouds?”

FIRE:

shroud

of matter

FIRE:

intelligence

of the butcher

of dogs.

everything becomes

FIRE:

          rhyming

FIRE

flex your muscles

rage thru

forests

leap from the tops

of mountains

O lightning

          rattle a

burning chain

on the wind

so the serpent twists

down museum

walls

          eat

a masterpiece

for me red god

put the spark back

in Roth Co. &

Mother’d Well

toe dance in

Carnegie Hall.

          yes

& your house is on FIRE, mister,

          yes

& your brain is on FIRE, bub,

          yes

& your lungs heave

& your guts burn

but that’s swell FIRE

yowsah FIRE

halleuja FIRE

amen FIRE

you catch up w/all

dadas & mummies

in time.

have I forgotten anything?

the sun is one foot wide.

 

 

 

Jesse Glass

 

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CANTO-DIPTYCH

Sainsbury Wing, National Gallery

Staircase to a wider-screen
paradise, Quattrocento ascent
carved voluminous by capital:
each block cut smooth & . . .
This patronage of the dead:
time-honoured, canonical
to a fault, & then some. 

Can you broker sacred space,
Sainsbury? Reduplicate serene
magnificence of side-chapels
found on the continent? Transform
this municipal precinct with cash-
sterilised rooms? Make sanctified
fanes with mere cell-partitions? 

Devoid of rite, transubstantiation,
Eleusinian Mystery; no katabasis
to subterranean regions. Regional
hells are one thing, trans-national
paradisoes quite another, smug Patron.
Take that for votive-offering, as you
donate your infinite wealth as stake
for immortality’s nacreous wreath. 

Millions ascend, descend . . . yearly.

 

 

Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge 

You do not have to ring
the bell-pull these days;
a kind, sedulous guide
exemplars the ancient rite;
then, with a card swipe,
unlocks the age-worn
door: technology’s
professional brevity. 

‘Louvre of the pebble’,
home of plastic vortices,
where we recline with
Epoch & Artist, The Seven
Storey Mountain, a lemon
tea which slowly cools. 

Maximised space, timely
aesthetics: line & plane
& palette. This is where
we eat, this is where we
perform our ablutions.
And over there, we hear
the Grand Piano played
of an evening. This is the
cottage of living finely: 

candlestick, pebble,
sculpture, painting 

artfully arranged, as the
old curator’s hand in his
own home left it. Castle
Street’s incline honours us
as we stroll away, musing
on all that he bequeathed: 

art is the house of being.

 

 

 

Mark Wilson

 

 

 

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Hanging Stars

Website: https://thehangingstars.com/

Alan Dearling ventures into the cosmic rock, Americana-psychedelia-nuanced world of London’s Hanging Stars

In another time and place – probably the late 1960s/early 1970s, the Hanging Stars would be a high-profile super group. They could hold up their collective heads and music alongside the likes of The Byrds and Crosby, Stills and Nash. They’re a tight outfit. Great playing, interesting and sometimes intriguing songs, and lots of intermingled sounds that make up a rich musical tapestry. A panoply of pedal-steel guitar, solid bass and drums, jangly guitars and a slightly off-kilter, edginess that makes this very much a band punching above their collective weight. And they put on a strong visual show too.

It’s music that conjures up the American west. Down and sometimes dirty subject matter and grand panoramas, alongside the boozed-up domestic tussles that offered so much inspiration to the Eagles, the Flying Burrito Brothers, The Band, Buffalo Springfield, Emmylou Harris, Gram Parsons, Neil Young and the UK’s Matthews Southern Comfort. In more recent times, it has provided a musical recipe and backdrop for bands like Calexico and the more harmony-based, Fleet Foxes.

‘Heavy Blue’ live video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=54KhUo4chK0

You can almost taste textures and the smells of travelling light, horses, bar-rooms, love discovered and lost, yearning soul-searching. Their current live performances feature songs from across their three albums. It’s a strong set, plenty of catchy, sing-along ‘toons’. Plenty of opportunities for the audience to enjoy a good jig about.

During the lockdown, they played a version live, on-line, for their many fans at Farringdon’s Betsey Trotwood pub venue of the title track from their new, third album, ‘A New Kind of Sky’. Lovely stuff: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bjUFXAvjplY

And here’s another of their tracks: ‘I will please you’ in a live video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r4cwY6-BT4E

Here’s what their own publicity says about them:

“The Hanging Stars channel the sounds of The Byrds, Big Star and The Flying Burrito Brothers with hints of Mojave 3 and The Allah Las – mainlining the dying embers of the early 70s psychedelic folk and cosmic country scenes.

The Hanging Stars are currently touring their third album of beautifully crafted Cosmic Americana – ‘A New Kind of Sky’.”

I hadn’t personally seen them for about four years. Live at the Golden Lion in Todmorden felt like some kind of homecoming. These were their people, their audience – the followers, the acolytes! This was one of their first performances since lockdown. It was a memorable one. They’ve grown in confidence, in stature. They have a more diverse range of songs and have an added intensity, which really came through in some rousing, crowd-pleasing encores.

A time for collective celebration of great classic music, performed live with great sound quality and ambience. Sweaty, happy, dancing people, both the punters and the band members. Lots of albums and T-shirts sold. A great night out – enjoyed by all.

Nicely evocative, harmonising on the ‘Honeywater’ video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=geQQlyUJK8s

The event was organised by Dark Matter at the Golden Lion:

https://www.facebook.com/DarkMatterProm/

https://www.facebook.com/goldenliontod

 

 

 

Alan Dearling

 

 

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Night’s Arroyo


 
The book of names is open
beneath the stars
and thunder rolls off Heaven’s tongue.
Who will reach tonight
 
the promised land? Who will know
where shelter lies when
the sky cracks open with an icy smile?
 
There’s lightning to guide
a lost heart home,
 
hope in every raindrop falling
as the underworld
awakens, and all its secrets beat
their wings against the dark
 
while sadness, pain, and isolation
do their worst,
but the chosen have found
their way to the bees
 
in their arroyo who
have taken one day’s sunlight
to make another’s honey.

 

 

David Chorlton

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How He Wrote Us into Existence – A Fiction 17

Two days later Poet knocks on our door shortly after midnight.

“What now?” Prisha mumbles.

We don decency to open the door of our room and find Poet standing on the landing of the first floor stairs.

“Someone is trying to break in.” He hisses.

The first thing I do, even before trying to listen to the almost silent night to ascertain the facts, is to open the drawer and unsheathe the knife. Prisha wrapped it in soft crimson silk, the leftover from one dress she brought from her side of the family. It has a dragon and a phoenix appliqué, and perhaps it has the origin in the China Town or the part of the city that used to go by that name.

Unleashed, the knife looks formidable even in this world of gun power and drones.

I rush downstairs. The knife refrains my wife from saying ‘Don’t go alone.’ I am not alone. I have the omnipotence of Cain’s jawbone. I have the evil of someone defending himself beginning to relish the process. Although the reason behind such a crack a crib escapes my rationale; the burglars know their houses; they observe, holds their patience, they can remind you about the purchases you made and forgot, and they also knows the number of people living in your house. Ours run on a spartan budget. Three adults live here. My hair tingles. They may be misled by the recent purchase made for Poet at the local wine shop. An Islay Scotch at the time of pandemic taxation can uncork possibilities. And that the burglars may come ready for three adults scares me. I hold the knife, begin to whisper to my uncle, “You lived alone. Okay, not in the time of a plague, and facing desperate people searching for any source of income. What should I do?”

It takes several years, months, days, hours, minutes and seconds to alight stairs. I watch me descending, and then I become my uncle who died, breathless, down the stairs of my paternal house, and I become reverse Rebecca on the stairs, and then I suffer a flitting vertigo moment; I am all too mundane, a person who cannot even write a letter to his friends.

If Poet and Prisha pursue my steps I am unaware of that. I can hear the tiny noise now. Yes, someone wants to come inside. Surreptitiously. Violently.

How attention works. I, as if for the virgin time, see the knife is quite long, sturdy, serrated, sharp, in spite of its age and those stains and scratches. I notice stick insects and tiny flies near the staircase lamp. The time has ripened for a short spell of gale, and ensuingly a longer period of rain. Stairs gather dust, and sometimes a household help in plague mask battles with it before accepting the loss.

The noise comes from the backdoor. It sounds apologetic, as if my father moves objects in the corridor, and feels guilty about the ruckus because my mother may wake up to a feat of asthma.

I can fall down these. Stairs. End of the play. Or worse, beginning of a tedious tale of suffering and living on wheels. I think and shift my sweaty grip on the knife. It has a nice hold, and its black hold grasps my hand.

By the time I reach the ground floor landing, the burglar, a thin and sunburnt one, has penetrated the farce of a sangfroid that this house is. At that point, I realize both Prisha and Poet hover over my shoulder like the angel and the devil in some cartoon I almost fail to recall.

The entire scene may be replayed with some canned laughter if we survive this intrusion and the pestilence. At least the burglar wears a mask. Every moment is a joke.

One solitary burglar disappoints me. I have one knife and unless this person matches me with something more violent some hazy scruples and gallantry forbids me to yield the sharp serrated edge of my intention.

The man hides his surprise at seeing us equipped and waiting for him. He too has a faux-military knife. No set of scruples would have helped us if he had a firearm.

Elora makes us jump when she says in soft intonation, “Hello.” She stands on the upstairs landing on her toes in order to have a better view of this turgid opera.

The burglar clears his throat and lowers his weapon, “Can I have something like some bucks, water and a leftover meal?”

“Of course.” I say. Prisha scurries toward the kitchen, and Poet relaxes behind me, and I can hear a rustling of his muscles settling. This is the first time I hear such a noise. It reminds me of a haunted house I visited as a child daring my friends. I could not make it beyond the steps, and still I could hear the night inside the house, and it was a lovable May afternoon.

“What is your name?” Elora asks from upstairs. This way, I imagine, the God speaking may sound.

“I.” the burglar says.

I still have the knife pointing sideways at I. We keep staring at each other. Prisha urges us to move our drama into the kitchen and raises her voice as if the pitch cannot reach our daughter, “Stay where you are.”

“Do you live at the desolate movie theatre?” I ask. People find all kind of extra hands in that place.

I nods, his mouth works on the hasty sandwich. Poet must have gone downstairs. He, in slow motion, extends his hand toward I. He has one hundred.

Long after the burglar who calls himself ‘I’ left I fall asleep beside my wife holding me tight, and witness a dream –

Some foggy street skids beneath our feet – two of us walking, the daughter in cardigan and pullover and jeans, and her hands bunched in and pendulating as one, and I quivering, an apparent apparition.

The evening looks for more people, albeit this, a plague year, the emptiness is full of people gone, inverted hallucinations of those who live.

I say to my daughter, “Holla. It is okay to feel sad before the day reels.”

 

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar
Ilustration Nick Victor

 

 

 

Kushal Poddar lives in Kolkata, India

@amazon.com/author/kushalpoddar_thepoet
 Author Facebook- https://www.facebook.com/KushalTheWriter/ 
Twitter- https://twitter.com/Kushalpoe

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THE SOLAR STRUGGLE

 
 
A solar storm threatens us, as does Megan Markle. But this time,
Her dull sparkle reveals the rust beyond the smeared shine
She holds dear. She must have been away from the light for too long
As she renegotiates the Queen’s orbit, banking it would appear
On her illness as a way to disrupt atmosphere.
 
Here, then is a complex so plain it is almost comedic; and yet
Her desperate  need for attention is required somehow to be clear
On the insignificance of this girl pulling at strings long since loosened,
While Science says that the planet is mere degrees from attack,
Its a film. And an old B-Movie at that, which is what Hollywood
 
Is becoming; with more funds than disease research, for distraction
And the often wasted flames in fame’s kiln.  You could house the homeless
I would guess everywhere for the cost of a Superheroes’ sad franchise.
You could start to populate the next planet for the price of the sacrifices
Displayed. or put preparations in place to defeat the wretched asteroids
 
Headed for us, be they spacerock, or detritus, or a troubled girl
Clinging to the sides of repute royalty made. And yet, she represents
This wrecked age, and is a kind of Trump, close to madness,
Or no doubt, she’s like Bore-is who has apparently trolled Billy Bragg;
Laughing at our malaise while buffeted by her ego, which truly believes
 
What it offers has to the value to earn its own flag. We are in the tightest,
And yet somehow loosest of spots, and as potentially compromised
As the cosmos, speared as it is by stone pilots, or astral terrorists,
Who seem to choose planets at will, or possibly whim. That’s alarming.
As if chance and chaos were as deft and deadlyas any other twist,
 
Or illusory flick of the wrist. The Universe flicks, or washes us off.
As Europe will do with Grating Britain, and as we must with the maggots
Rehearsing their part in the corpse.  So now we are all watching space,
Either for signs or for the news to come when the spearhead is herself
Threatened as the sanctified sword falls and warps.
 
For death makes all night, despite whatever kind of light
Hides behind it. And when and if the Queen leaves us,
The constitution long bound dissipates. It starts to crumble
And fold, as the sun and sky spark and rumble and all of those
Who seek shelter will ask for kindness and calm all too late.
 
The solar system feels wrent and the sun has sent its own warning.
If only we could direct its whim towards people who each deserve
The worst fate, such as the current PM, this strange girl and those
Who remain in so called power, uncaring. If we could only have
A select Armageddon, while the children are safely in school,
 
                                      Doom could wait. 
 
 
 
 
                                                        David Erdos October 30th 2021
 
 
.
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A Drainage Channel

Once again we are asking the
wrong questions but this is an
empire in steep decline and we
need to work together. These

creatures are poor candidates
for a life in captivity but we
mustn’t simplify the problem
and all bets are off. “He was

willing to believe anything,” she
said. Where is the circumstantial
evidence? “What we need are
detailed, precise and regular

observations,” he said. There’s
no longer any doubt this is a fake.

 

Steve Spence
Illustration: Rupert Loydell

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The Ocean Cleanup Begins

 

The nonprofit global cleaning crew called The Ocean Cleanup, led by founder and CEO Boyan Slat, announced recently that it had reached viability of its ocean plastic-collecting System 002 technology and plans to begin cleaning plastic pollution in the Great Pacific Garbage Patch immediately while beginning development of System 003.

The Ocean Cleanup https://theoceancleanup.com

THE OCEAN CLEANUP PROVES VIABILITY OF TECHNOLOGY WITH SYSTEM 002; REMOVAL OF PLASTIC FROM GREAT PACIFIC GARBAGE PATCH TO BEGIN IMMEDIATELY https://bit.ly/3BEbNtJ

Check out the Team Seas collab with The Ocean Cleanup and get involved https://teamseas.org

Watch more on CNET’s Environmental Tech Playlist here https://bit.ly/3w7LTgK Subscribe to CNET: https://www.youtube.com/user/CNETTV
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from Songs of the Revolution

17

it is because
civilisation has made us
insensitive and feelingless

that violence
presents itself
as an alternative

when we regain our feelings
violence
becomes untenable

the energy
which cannot be destroyed
drifts

                         into space
                         and drifts back
                         transforming

                         everything

 

 

 

Julian Beck

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PORN: A PERSONAL HISTORY, & A CONSUMER’S GUIDE

 

CHAPTER ONE: MY LIASONS PORNOGRAPHIQUE:

 A DOCUMENTARY OF MY LIFE AND HORMONES…

‘If you took all the girls I knew when I was single,
and brought them all together for one night,
I know they’d never match my sweet imagination…’
               (Paul Simon – “Kodachrome” 1973)

 

To point out that the statistics of male violence against women is terrifying is to state the obvious. Even leaving aside, for the moment, the infliction of female genital mutilation and forced underage marriage, people-trafikking for prostitution purposes, the deliberate and systematic repression of gender rights through the guise of religion and culture. If, for sake of argument, we simply restrict the scope to the suposedly liberated emancipated West, to the U.K alone, 85,000 women have experienced rape, attempted rape or sexual assault by penetration in England and Wales alone, according to the Crime Survey for England and Wales (CSEW), and over 400,000 women have been sexually assaulted in England and Wales, according to Home Office figures. One in three teenage girls have experienced some form of sexual violence from a partner, according to the University of Bristol (for NSPCC), and one in five women has experienced some form of sexual violence since the age of sixteen. According to the U.N, 137 women are killed by a family-member every day. On a global scale, during 2017 it was estimated that of the 87,000 women intentionally killed, more than half (50,000) were victims of intimate partners or family members, with 30,000 killed by current or former intimate partners.

Statistics are numbing. My story was not written without considerable pre-thought and some degree of trepidation. It is – as the title suggests, a personal history. And hopefully the dialogue matures as it continues and evolves. But the essential motivation is honesty. There is a great deal of denial and pretence in matters of gender balance. And to simply ignore the more unpleasant aspects of male sexuality is worse than counterproductive, it can be dangerous.

There are a couple of personal examples that spring to mind. When I was a young print apprentice I was working with some older timserved tradesmen, all respectable married men with families, who had served during World War II. He wore blue boiler-suit overalls, and smoked hand-rolled cigarettes. But there was one story he told me that horrified me in particular. He was part of the army fighting their way up through Italy, and he spoke in quite a matter-of-fact way about how the Italian people in the area were going through such extreme privations that ‘you could get a woman for a tin of bully-beef’ because they were starving and needed to feed their children. This man was not a creepy pervert. He had sisters, a wife and daughters.

We live in insulated times. Take people outside our safe civilised continuum, and the beast is lurking. Remember those clean-cut all-American males from Smallville USA who were drafted to Vietnam… and picked up ‘comfort girls’ at gunpoint during their patrols into the badlands?

I asked a friend called May about the small scar on her throat. She told me how a former partner had gripped her around the throat so violently that a locket she was wearing was driven deep into the soft flesh beneath her skin. These are the nightmares that haunt and terrify me.

I was going to say there’s a darkness at the core of the male soul. But to say ‘darkness’ is to place it within a moral spectum. And morality is an artificial construct erected long after the advent of the act. This is a primal thing. We ignore it at our peril. Hopefully, through honest dialogue we can confront and attempt to understand these unpleasant truths. And to do it with some degree of humour.

Sorry to bore on at this uninvited length…

— 0 —

Ladies and Gentle-Beings, I have a dream. And it is a wet dream. What follows is a documentary of my life and hormones. It is also the story of repeated furtive encounters with ‘The Beast With Five Fingers’. It can be argued that onanistic proclivities are our oldest and best-loved self-indulgence. It can be argued that the filth impulse is etched deep into every DNA-strand of our genetic code.

Horn of rhino. Penis of tiger. Root of sea-holly. Husk of the emerald-green blister beetle known as Spanish Fly. Tab of Viagra. Aphrodisiacs come in many guises. Few are as potent as female nudity to a pubertal male. Of course, we are only organisms reacting to stimuli. Girls can’t help being beautiful. But they are. They don’t necessarily ask to be desirable. But they are. It’s not their fault. Just as it’s not a male fault for reacting that way. It’s just stimulus. Chemicals.

How often do you think about sex? Only once. But chances are you’re still thinking about it. And when did zis all begin? The sexual impulse, to John Lennon, is reaching for ‘the other side of the sky.’ The root of the root, the seed of the seed, the bud of the bud. In Ted Hughes “A Childish Prank” from his poem-cycle ‘From The Life And Songs Of The Crow’ (Faber, 1970) sex is a malicious joke invented while god was sleeping. ‘Crow’ interferes in sexless Eden by biting a worm into two halves, stuffing the tail onto man ‘with the wounded end hanging out’, and plunges the other headfirst into woman where it calls out to its tail-half to re-unite, ‘join up quickly, quickly, because – O – it was painful.’

There are other creation myths that poetically describe the origins of gender. Doris Lessing conjectures her own in her novel ‘The Cleft’ (Harper Collins, 2007). Originally, in the society she envisages, there are only females, known as Clefts, who spend their time lounging in the sun and occasionally spontaneously give birth. Then, disturbingly, males start to be born. These they call ‘monsters’, and they’re left to die. Rescued by eagles they establish their own community, eventually joining forces with some of the more radical Clefts. Lessing’s perfectly weighted sentences craft the beginnings of gender politics, with the ‘monsters’ portrayed as rash and inquisitive, the clefts circumspect and caring. Both endure lots of issues with each other in a continuing template for humanity.

If it achieves nothing else, at least it provides a charming riposte to the Judaeo-Christian myth in which woman is no more than some sky-god’s afterthought, generated from Adam’s rib for the express purpose of being his companion. Although even there lurks the shadow of Lilith, a deity remaindered from yet earlier times, and subsumed into areas of belief as Adam’s first wife. The wilful assertive first wife who refuses to lie beneath him to copulate, and is punished for her insubordination. Replaced in the texts by the more submissive Eve, a temptress of a more controllable hue.

After all, the Y-chromosome that defines maleness is essentially an X-chromosome with a little bit missing. The female anatomy is the species’ default setting. Regardless of your creation myth of choice, as part of a species consisting of two genders, we are destined to a naturally fractious equality of mutual need. Except – of course, that like train-lines tapering away into the distance, what man wants from woman, and what woman wants from man, may seem to exquisitely merge into a pleasing oneness at the point of horizon – but that is just an illusion of perspective, in actual fact the discrete separation will always remain a constant.

Why is there beauty? A simple enough question. But one we take for granted.

Why beauty? Is it nothing more than reassurance built up through familiarity? Sky, grass, trees… the shoreline of water. The signifiers of the landscape within which we grow, and built up though successive memory-layers of days, weeks, months and years, until we embed ourselves there. The soft curves of human body contours because that is our first awareness as a separate organism, a source of sustenance, comfort, warmth, survival itself. And all our appreciations of form grow out of the imprinting of those first impulses. Can it be as simple as that?

The study of human origins interprets the advent of the conceptual ability of symbolic thought as a giant leap in human evolution. One that set our species apart from the rest of the animal world, and on the road to – more or less, where we are now. The ability to let one thing represent another in the mind, and in representation. Cave art. Images. Therefore, the act of looking at, and interpreting printed illustrations is part of what makes us human. Relating a flat two-dimensional arrangement of shapes, lines and colours on the page to a real three-dimensional moving organism in the real world is a high-concept achievement in anthropological terms. Deciphering texts is another cultural step, being empathically and emotionally affected by squiggles on paper is something else that defines us as a unique species on this planet. As you’re reading this – congratulate yourself, you’re doing something that’s pretty incredible. This is no small detail. This is a big issue.

That this unique ability can cunjur bad ideas as well as positive ones is an integral part of the package. Why do bad books exist? Basic Free Market theory suggests that products find their own sustainable level. That where there is a viable market, there will be answering products. Where there is sales potential there will be enteprenaurial motivation to fill the need. Of course, the same argument can be used to justify a trade in heroin. Society has an inbuilt bias towards control of what consensus opinion determines to be damaging. It’s where the division between the two is drawn that things get lively.

It must have been simpler before the invention of language. The mating urge is basically uncomplicated. The biological imperative to procreate. A thing of fecundity and reproduction. A grunt. A copulation. The transmission of the selfish gene. Individuals die. Sex provides a kind of immortality. Some of the earliest forms of crafted art represent the ‘Earth Mother’, Paleolithic figures estimated as carved 24,000–22,000 years ago – such as the ‘Venus of Willendorf’. They show the female form reduced to its essential reproductive function. Wide hips, within which life is conceived. The vagina through which the child enters the world. And breasts that nurture the young into survival. Fertility. Fecundity. That’s about it.

When it comes to objectification of womakind, things don’t get much more direct. But human’s being human, this is part of a tendency to conceptualise it, abstract it, idealise it. First premeditated, anticipated… then, afterwards, analysed, rated and considered. A tendency from which all the world’s greatest romantic fiction, poems, movies, art and love songs are spun, rehearsing and interpreting the infinite varieties of love. And their more scurrilous variants perform the same function for the sex act itself. For in such a context, sex is infinitely more than strictly functional. Animals groom each other in intimate group-bonding. Sex is that too. It is tactile comfort with a regular mate. The more physicality, the greater the enduring pair-bond. The stable structure for raising the resulting brood. But the bio-lottery maximises through diversification of the gene-pool too, hence a bias to multiple copulation with more than one partner. Which blurs the definition of what is and what is not ‘natural’, even in non-humans.

The truth is, regardless of what experts tell us, no-one alive today can be truly certain of what carvings such as the ‘Venus of Willendorf’ represent. Objects of veneration – almost certainly, these things were the result of skill and applied technique. But that they could also be vulgar and crude is only a contradiction from the point of view of subsequent belief-systems, those that amputate the physical from the spiritual. Those that steal the messy procreative wisdom of the womb and substitute it with something altogether more tenuous. It’s likely, back then, there was no such division. It was a single woman-centric continuum with the mysterious and profound power of reproduction at the core. An ‘Earth Mother’, rather than a Holy Father.

Clothes are interesting too. As a phenomenon. People are the only animals that wear clothes. Apes don’t wear clothes, except on TV. At some evolutionary stage our mutual vertical primate ancestors must have diverged into clothes-wearing humans and non-clothes-wearing naked apes. It obviously provides an evolutionary advantage when early humans emerge up from Africa into less hospitable ice-age climes. A clothes-wearing predisposition would prove useful when colonising chillier terrain. But it seems to me that bodily decoration came before the more practical necessities of apparel. Face-painting, necklaces of shells, feathers, and small bones.

For us, our bodies are smothered away in clothes literally from the moment of birth until it’s impossible for us ever to recapture that original state. Contrast it with the Amazon tribal girl smiling out of the pages of ‘National Geographic’ wearing just a necklace. She’s entirely unselfconscious about her beautiful nakedness, and body-unaware that she’s the focus of sweaty wonderment to schoolboys thousands of miles away in Yorkshire. Naturism is a determined attempt to revert to a more natural unclothed condition, but by necessity it’s done with the kind of deliberation that our social conditioning forces upon us, so that it loses all spontaneity. It is not so much natural as a determined contrary statement in itself. And because it is preconceived, conceptualised, intellectualised, done at this place and time and not in that place and time, it can never recapture that true innocence.

Once clothing becomes the norm, religions and moral conventions move in to fetishise what can and what cannot be revealed. And the very act of concealment raises curiosity about what is concealed. We are an inquisitive species. That’s how we’re wired. Whatever the original motivation for covering up certain parts of the body, by doing so it invites questions about what lies beneath. Writer Michael Moorcock creates an alien race for comic effect (in his ‘Dancers At The End Of Time’ sequence), to whom elbows are the focus of prurient interest. Which results in a whole new category of inventive taboos, and taboo-breaking. Just as women in veiled societies contrast with unveiled ones. The naked face can be as freighted with social implications as the naked breast.

And it is within those interstices, that fantasy and imagination provide the virtual points connecting the two. As Romantic Poets reinvent the object of their idealisation into something that more approximates their flawless ideal. As ‘Mills & Boon’ romances replicate entirely unreal male protagonists that will exist solely to meet female expectations. And Porn… which also exists somewhere in the war-zone between the two. Charles Lamb, the Romantic Poet knew something about it, he said ‘there is no law to judge the lawless, or canon by which a dream may be criticised… we do not know the laws of that country.’

If words and images on a page have the power to make those feelings real, Newsagents have known it for years. All tall people are wankers. Comedian Jack Dee said that. Their Top-Shelf specialties are magazines designed to be read in the privacy of one’s own bathroom, copy of ‘Knave’ in one hand, libido in the other, lubricating the flow of what ‘Dr Strangelove’s General Ripper calls those ‘precious bodily fluids’. It’s just that as soon as you’ve devoured one, you’re already looking forward to the next, with damp underpants and warring hormones.

The history of pornography is an alternative history of world-literature, with its own irresistible momentum. Chinese Emperor Huang-Ti reputedly wrote the world’s first sex manual 4,500 years ago. Since then, nested inside the main narrative like Russian Dolls are miniature histories of passing eras painted in vividly garish detail by grubby forgotten hacks. Writing make-believe and nonsense in secret, published through pen-names, paying the bills through forbidden writing, and yet they died, more often than not, in anonymous penury.

— 0 —

According to pop-mythology, somewhere between post-war austerity and Woodstock, copulation went public. According to poet Philip Larkin, sex began in 1962, between Lady Chatterley and the Beatles’ first LP. He’s wrong, of course. It happens in every life around the time raging hormones go into meltdown. Puberty is the time when every daydream turns to some aspect of sex. And the object of its pruriently grubby interest invariably comes in unexpected guises. Sex is not only an important part of adolescence. It is adolescence. The arrival of pubic hair and its attendant potential is like placing a hand-grenade in the hand of a baby.

Puberty is a kind of glandular lyncanthropy that transfigures you and brings on uncontrollable bodily metamorphosis. Devolving you into a hairier repository of more bestial urges. Welcome, it says, to ‘This Spurting Life’. Suddenly I get itchings in places that ‘Dan Dare’ can no longer reach. Jupiter, the hugest planet in the solar system, has a massive force of gravitational attraction. But that’s nothing compared to the gravitational attraction of a pubertal boy towards that biological circus in his underpants. When the biological equipment (the wet-ware) comes online, it’s the shiniest most excitingly pulse-pounding thing you’ll ever be gifted with, yet the law forbids you to plug it in. Even later, when the ‘age of consent’ ushers you in (and even that varies according to where you live and on the basis of your sexual proclivities) there are still going to be socially coercive pressures there to ration you. The need for fidelity, monogamy… cash, opportunity. Writer George Simenon – creator of Inspector Maigret, claimed to have slept with a thousand women. In a single lifetime, that seems a lot. On a global scale, infinitesimal. And you burn for them all. For their beauty, their softness, their entrancing otherness.

There’s the telling joke about the man who goes to the Doctor with an ‘embarrassing sexual problem’. The Doctor suggests he talks through the activities of his average day. So the man explains. He begins the day with a vigorous bout of morning sex with his wife before getting up. Later, in his office, he has elevenses sex with his personal secretary before his regular lunch-time assignation with a call-girl in a massage parlour. In the afternoon he has another desk-ender with his secretary before an after-hours evening meeting with his mistress for sex in his car, before returning home for bed – and late-night sex with his wife. Yes – says the Doctor, but what exactly is the problem? Shamefaced the man admits ‘I think I’m masturbating excessively to an unhealthy degree.’ See? No matter how fulfilled your sex-life, you want more. You want to love like a man. Love all you can. And, largely speaking, you can’t. No matter how many you love, there will always be so many million others you haven’t, won’t, can’t love. And you ache for each and every one. So what can you do? No matter how extensive your sex-life, there’s still a role for fantasy.

I read. I always have. I read everything. It’s a compulsive behaviour pattern that began early, and continues through a life-long scavenging in second-hand bookshops. Reading creates a field of play for the imagination. Science Fiction takes you into other realms, other times, alternate states of being. Erotic fiction can do that too. But it only goes so far, it’s up to you to fill in the rest. It can create virtual places in which you can find ways of exercising your achingly under-used muscles, but they are places within planes of experience increasingly detached from reality. George Eliot called her novels ‘a set of experiments in life.’ More downmarket prose can serve much the same function. For poet Edward Thomas it is the intellect that separates us from what is real – for the intelligentsia ‘ideas are in advance of their experience,’ in other words, they think before they do, while ‘their vocabulary in advance of their ideas,’ that is, they talk before they think.

The 1950s was a sad repressed conformist somnambulistic decade. At the time – which more or less coincides with Larkin’s equation, other short-trousered adolescents in similar rites of passage were apparently having real sex, and not just with themselves. Or even with each other. But if you can’t have sex in bed, you settle for sex in the head. And instead, my Mother’s mail-order catalogue of female underwear and lingerie, or the ads for bra’s and corsets in ‘Woman’ or ‘Woman’s Own’ become an instant sexopedia with trouser-troubling tendencies deep within the baggy deformity of school grey flannels. Such magazines can conjure eroticism – and the resulting genital gymnastics, out of the most unpromising material. They ease the hormonal gymnasium of growing pains, each encounter inducing Repetitive Strain Injury to the wrist. Because hey, when the equipment comes online, it’s essential to try it out, even if the only venue available is the virtual reality illusion of soft-core fantasy worlds. Pity they don’t come with Stain Digesters.

Of course, girls are also caught up in their own – even more devastating, puberty tail-spin, phased to cycles of the moon, but such are your self-absorption levels that you easily ignore everything else out of existence, beyond your own unique centrality to the universe. Doomed to its pain. Its existential isolation. Trapped by your defensive malevolence and personality flaws. Perni