Friday, August 25, 2006

Mahavish"NO MORE!!!!"chestra!

How many insanely scratched M.O/John McLaughlin CDs can one slightly worse for wear Blogger pick up for a quid a pop of a sultry Friday evening wending (read: wincing and staggering) his way home from work? Yep, that’s right, SIX!. Jesus Christ. And what about a couple of rather florid Herbie Hancock CDs? CHECK! Or a “Return to forever, featuring Chick Corea,” CD (first tack title “ Vulcan worlds”!). CHECK! Yep it’s Spacejazzprog weekend round at Impostume Heights, with liberal smatterings of ermm… Primus ( Oh, I’m SOOO sorry, yes, that’s right, "Primus". I haven’t got a leg to stand on really, have I? However, I stoically refuse to accept the concept of “ guilty pleasures.”) Incubus ( bloody awful actually, I’m listening to it at the mo… give me Tool or the Deftones/Team Sleep any day, Linkin Park (gluagh!) with a few bits of obtrusive scratching and "ambient" synth-drone plastered around the edges to make it seem “smarter”, basically) CSS (errr.. not a patch on Out-Hud vibe-wise or even Brassy sass-wise (whatever happened to Brassy, they were friggin’ great!)) Janet Jackson and something called “Mutations: Sonic City” which features a track by Merzbow among a lot of rather theoretical types, including some Goldsmith's MA students (say whut?) and a track entitled “An abstract model for something that, In Intervals, Occurs all the time.” (Feel free to insert suitably derisory comment of own (ie.. errr.. flatulence…??? Rectal spasms? etc) between these brackets). I listened to the Merzbow track and my immediate feeling was one of Utter Fatigue, he might have hit an unsurpassable boundry (and painted himself into a corner) sonic extremism-wise but let’s face it, here’s a man whose output makes The Ramones look diverse. Alright, we’ve got the point, now do something else, already !!!

There was a really brilliant release, entitled “ Extreme Music from Africa” out on Susan Lawley a couple of years ago that basically pissed all over Merzbow ( I suspect he’d love that!) and his ilk as it brought in drums/rhythms to the mix (and not some cheesy, Digital Hardcore splatter-core stuff) but a series of revolving, interlocking/interacting rhythm patterns spinning at different speeds, like a couple of huge, multicoloured cogs. “Extremism” generally seems to equate to piercing/fast but that release ( while it had its share of that stuff too) in a couple of instances seemed to point to a different set of ideas and practices, a new set of possibilities…. so the question is .. why haven’t I got a copy?

Ok. The seven hour Mahavishnu-thon has just begun, with “Love, Devotion, Surrender,” by Carlos Santana and John McLaughlin ( Jan Hammer on keyboards!) I’m sitting here in full Druidic pomp wearing a flowing white robe, my hair luxuriating floorward in sylvan folds (I wish!) and my eyes apprehending that which lies beyond, giving of myself not only to that which is both one and is also not one, to that which is also both child and not child, to that which is not only the Yin but also the Yang, not only the sacred Cheech but also the ineffable Chong, etc…

An exhortation to ruinous giving!

Currently reading “The Sea,” by John Banville ( Haven’t finished “Yellow Dog” yet, I confess). What can I say, a humbling experience as per bloody usual (“just give up, you’ll never be able to do THIS, will you,?” he seems to be whispering in my ear as I read). Read a couple of interviews about his Booker win last year and was amazed to discover that his novels, in general, sell around about 5, 000 copies. I can’t believe it’s so few. So, he must make virtually nothing from his work. Same thing applies to say, Andrew Crumey (not quite of Banville’s stature I hasten to add, but who, in fact moved out of a house in Leeds just as I moved in many moons ago and who seems to be a thoroughly lovely chap) who was long listed for the Booker, nominated one of Granta’s best young novelists etc and couldn’t give up his day job either, until he won a substantial writing prize. So what is the point, I ask myself again, in aiming at orthodox publication when, (although, I have many other reservations too) if you’re writing fairly non-mainstream stuff you’ll actually probably make a few grand at most from it? I’d rather just give it away again (the next one, “Jason Phereus”, on which I’m about to resume work, after a work and blog-heavy hiatus).

A certain point was brought home to me quite clearly a few years ago at a tedious dinner party with a group of other, self-appointed “creative” people. People who like to introduce themselves as "film-makers", "musicians" etc even though they all make a living doing other things. I like to introduce myself as an English teacher. I really hate this idea that if you're not "creative" somehow you should be ashamed. It's the Donald Barthelme thing, what's wrong with being a waiter/teacher/accountant, especially when we're glutted with mediocre kulcha/self expression/theorizing/criticism. Being a self-styled "writer" these days carries (or should carry) the same cache as being a Bricky did thirty years ago.

I explained that I was writing a book about a man whose family is killed (or who kills them) and who then spends all his time wanking over home-made videos of young girls etc, that I wrote a book that went backwards halfway through, blah, blah, that my first one was about a man who brought his dead girlfriend back to life and had a child with her via a bit of pre-resurrection necrophilia. Not a trace of shock or concern on the assembled faces re: my daringly near the (five) knuckle (shuffle) content. When I suggested that I wasn’t going to be looking for an agent for my latest and that I was already selling the other one non-profit on the Internet there was, however, general horror and consternation, even outrage. It reinforced to me that the most shocking thing you could do as an “artist” was undercut the profit-motive, content won’t shock anymore, you’re not going to cause any scandals and bring the bourgeoisie to apoplexy with your art that way, (“raped babies, you say? Could go down well with the Thailand package-tour contingent, something for the beach, maybe?”) but what really disturbs, what really can’t be assimilated is not your content, but the use you make of your own product, the principle of the gift, the act of giving, the social, generous use of your work. Not that, “oh well, you can’t sell it so you might as well give it away” thing, but that you might write it with the intention of giving it away. That you might want to write in order to have something to give.


Prague’s Most Poisonous Ex-Pat sends me the following, uncharacteristically moderate message:

I've just ordered a load of bollocks off these fascist bastards, hopefully it'll cost them loads of money. Terrorise neocon scum!”

and the following link…

Pass it on!

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