Friday, 31 December 2010
Poleaxed in the wasteland. That's me dosed with paracetamol, fed up with pretentious Andrew O Hagan novel about a talking dog, in my fluffy bathrobe sipping hot whisky watching Carry On Doctor (a profound piece) yesterday afternoon. The wasteland is of course that time between Christmas and New Year, the time between realizing fully what a awful world we live in and the realization that my better version of it will never happen. It is a wasteland many of us have to endure permanently, which makes this symbolic time period more profound, for it is specially for us. All those New Year resolutions are so profoundly depressing. So you find yourself dipping into the Quality Street tin of pop-culture pleasures served up so conveniently on TV for this discrete period of utter internal misery (on purpose of course) and with luck out pops Tom and Jerry, St Bilko, or Carry On Doctor. I woke up this morning, Lazarus style, to the realization that there was a whole day of Carry-On's scheduled on Gold.
Wednesday, 29 December 2010
I'm back (thank god) from more family in Peterborough. The weird thing about country folk is they appear to believe us city folk don't understand them, so that's why they are happy to vote in the Conservatives over and over again.
This bemuses me, there is still the Lord of the Manor, there are still the serfs who claw a living from the scraps. Meanwhile the countryside appears more industrialized than even Bethnal Green. Talk to a farmer and you soon realize that getting 25p from a £1.35 carton of milk is simply a 'the way things are' and that we waste 30% of produce or more in the service of the consistent looking fruit and vegetables in Tescos, and then nobody says 'this is stupid'. We seem to be breeding stupid. And then, as if this wasn't enough, everybody seeks solace in Primark on Bank Holiday tuesday. I saw them all clogged up on the ring road, I was clogged up in the ring road too, and when I finally arrived at the Great Northern Hotel opposite the station, their computers were down and they couldn't even make a cheese sandwich. Then I felt even worse on the cattle truck back to London.
Given the way things are going, when I was watching Dr Zvivago this afternoon, I was firmly with the revolution.
Wednesday, 22 December 2010
Right, the season of dreadful mornings is upon us. In my case this is only remedied, before doing anything, before venturing on to buy things, to sit quietly in the White Horse like a loony. Of course this has to be done before 1pm, when hoards of jovial groups of men arrive to ruin the peaceful restocking of my constitution. Of course I hate them, but I am indebted to the Lala's and Morgans and Alisha's and Cheequi's of this world for doing it all just for me at opening time.
Once away, buying things brings possible calamity on all levels. For instance, have you ever, as a bloke in baggy jumper and a thick overcoat and a cap and a beard, tried to buy make-up for your loved one in the MAC shop? Firstly you can't positively identify any of the products, and you have to consult one of the amazing female cryogenically frozen at 22yrs of age avatars who staff the place to get anywhere at all, and also you have no idea what you are buying!
After such events there is need for respite. I pop in to a pub, preferably one without celebratory groups of any kind, and I stare with bewilderment at my purchases, and wonder should I tell the barmaid she's got a fabulous arse. This would obviously not be a clever thing to do, but I am simply not clever at Christmas time, after all, cleverness has been banned, Jingle bells rule. The other night we watched A WHOLE EVENING of Christmas cookery programs one after the other. As a result we no longer know how to roast a fucking potato. We were doing perfectly fine roasting potatos ourselves BEFORE. I am now SCARED of the Christmas dinner!!
Good luck everybody.
Saturday, 18 December 2010
I slept a lot and now the snow is falling, there are figures out there, but not many, nobodies going anywhere and it's peace in the afternoon. Julie is, of all things, making a Christmas pudding, and we have Jackson Browne on. And all this happens the day after the end of term, when all the nervous energy of lectures and before lectures and after lectures has gone and you wonder what to fill it with, and dissertations are handed in with apologies of one kind or another, and parties have been had with Lambrusco and crisps. So I just sit rather vacantly, the snow falling inside my head with a glass of sherry, TV with the sound down. It hasn't been a bad term. I did the history of architecture in ten lectures.
Wednesday, 15 December 2010
It's a Rush revolution! I get e-mails from REAL rock musicians (Ok I only know one or two) who say 'I love Rush!' One adds that the lyrics are inspired by Aynn Rand. No worries, I showed the Fountainhead to the students last week as an antidote just in case THEY ALL BECOME RUSH FANS. Me, I'm reckoning to write a fucking dissertation on that song soon and really piss the neighbours off in the process. Now there are not many songs I'm ashamed to like where that could happen. For instance, Dire Straits 'Heavy Fuel' is really horrible but I like a certain moment of it towards the end, and you never know what could grow from it. In 'Spirit of the Radio', amongst many bits, I love the ROAAR ROAR ROAR noises just before the track falls off the cliff into the reggae bit (and exactly how do you make music fall off a cliff like that?) I'm also fascinated by the 'Salesman!' emphasis in the lyrics just after, maybe that's an Aynn Rand reference, she wouldn't like salesmen, but well, Rush certainly made it 'against the world' and so it would fit. I will continue with my research.
I hope all readers have listened to 'Spirit of the Radio' at least once by now, and preferably loud, and alone, in the house.
And if you want to know where I get the inclination to enjoy rock like this, read some Chuck Klosterman. He loves Kiss.
Tuesday, 14 December 2010
I really should research more. Go on You Tube and you find Rush playing with, yes (not Yes) the FOO FIGHTERS in Toronto, their home town ('Keef don't Go'- sorry) only a year or so ago. Of course the footage is from the little video cameras held in the air from an audience going 'berserk', going 'Wow MANNN THIS IS FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!'. They are playing a 'song' called 'YYZ' which is the curious labling you'll find on your baggage tag if you fly to Toronto. I already don't want to go to Toronto. However, the Foo's are cool, and they redeem me by proxy. The 'song' sounds like a Yes track, or maybe King Crimson.
There are some records you really shouldn't like, I would include anything by Chris Rea in this category, but I still SORT OF like Steel River even though it makes me wince. The worst of the records I'm pretty much ashamed to like is Rush's 'Spirit of the Radio'. This particular 'Canadian power trio' comprises three 'consummate' musicians who since 1968 (!) have achieved a distinct lack of critical acclaim but sold godzillions of albums to people I'd be scared of, probably, given my own little scare with the demon (see below) because they'd be offering me a chat with 'Tor and the Snow Dog'. Neil Peart, the consumate drummer( and just listen to him on 'Spirit of the Radio'!!) was voted at least third worst lyricist of all time at least once. However it is the only thumping rock record which suddenly hits some reggae by mistake near the end, and that endears me to it. I think of Venturi's Complexity and Contradiction in Architecture here (1966!). However I'm not very fond of Venturi's book even if I should be (guilt) although it does have some very bad lyrics despite technical virtuosity just like Rush. However these comparisons are unfortunately very limited, even if they are fun, for the truth is, if I were in Vegas right now and Rush's song was playing over the casino floor I'd boogie (sadly) without conscience and say to my companions 'But just listen to that drumming!'
Monday, 13 December 2010
The prospect of a family Christmas party in St Albans, a sort of Abigail's Party with tinsel on your Lamborghini, was not exactly appealing. However I was surprised how far my body would go to resist. I really was prepared to do it, to put the Gringe suit to one side, but this turned out to be a futile and deluded effort.
The phrase 'to the pit of your stomach' has little meaning until you lie there in the early hours suddenly shivering, shaking and boiling at the same time, with all your joints feeling they have locked solid, and (this is it) farting the most abominable acetic putrid smells under the covers every five minutes for uncounted hours. Since the house we were staying in was built over a Roman graveyard, I tried to take hold of myself and account for the situation. I could only assume I'd been possessed by a literal spirit, having the time of their deaths.
Luckily Julie is a heavy sleeper, she was for several hours unaware of this putrid smell and my horrible situation, but when she finally rose to bring me some cure-all Lemsip (for I could hardly move by this time, the demon having taken hold) she arrived back in the room to accuse me of trying to kill her by gas, and stating that I was clearly 'rotting'.
At sunrise of course, the demon had to leave, and I slowly recovered, to remember the event as 'fart night' and fearing other 'fart attacks' to follow. This does not bade well regarding my participation in future Christmas events.
However it does rather strengthen one's belief, not so much in demons, but in the power of the sub-conscious. Mine definitely displays an alarming belligerence.
PS. While Kingsley Amis writes about shitting, and John Fante about bottoms, there is a strange lack of farting literature.
Sunday, 12 December 2010
Please protest the idiocy of Hackney Council, all done in the name of a clean up for the bloody Olympics.
ER..think about it...she's in control of what she does...right?
LAST CHANCE TO MAKE YOUR POINT: TOMORROW
Thursday, 9 December 2010
'It looks like a real mess' said Scott '...the situation is excellent'. Paraphrasing Chairman Mao in the Trench of Despair is somewhat of a staple for us. We were also joined by Patch the cat, who had returned from a week of absence. The situation, thanks to an idiotic government policy, many gallant students, some cyber raiders in Wikileaks, and the move to expose top tax evaders and the general exposure the sickening vested interests on a global scale (Shell in Nigeria) all point to some kind of acceleration in crisis. Patch was uninterested, but it all sure cheered me up.
Tuesday, 7 December 2010
I have a tiny (!!!) suspicion that Mr Assange's detention by the boys in blue is a fit up. What worries me is how many people care. It seems to me that a man dedicated to telling the truth should be rather celebrated, not 'fit up' with sex crimes in Sweden , although if you are going to indulge in sex crimes, Sweden is traditionally the place to get away with it.
In line with such curiosities, I wonder if I might posit that either 'Babestation' or 'Red Light Lounge' are the most honest bits of British broadcasting. The girls sit their wiggling whatever they have to wiggle under whatever regulations appear, rather ridiculously, to be in place. They appear bored and fed up (much like the rest of us) they don't have so many prospects either (being stuck there for hours) so give them a break, and meanwhile there is a certain mesmeric charm to their activities, a certain dedication, well bereft in 99% of mainstream programming.
If only Robbie Savage, who I greatly enjoy on Five Live radio, were suddenly in charge of the whole of the BBC. It would be more honest for sure.
Monday, 6 December 2010
There are some things that make you really want to die. My local Tesco's at this time of year is one of them. I say to the check out girl -'Can you please tell them to turn this crap off' which is of course those seasonal tunes that beg you to 'Feed the World' while you're about to eat it. It makes me really fucking miserable. Other things that make me want to die are 'The Weakest Link' (so I hope I die before I get really old) and all university meetings.
So it's back home to the Foos and make a pie.
Awoke to fog, both internal and external. I like fog, I like the blurring of edges. This particular internal fog results from 'having friends round' yesterday, which is a considerable rarity in these parts, largely because it means lots of clearing up and worrying over stew beforehand, then a far increased frequency of chat during. Not that this is unpleasant, we awake, for instance, to 'tidy flat' as opposed to 'hell hole' which was the ancient incarnation of such events, and we have an increased and reassuring sense of ourselves. Old friends bring of course discussions on things 'you did' but can no longer remember and exacting re-enactments of when to begin air drumming 'Stairway to Heaven' and when things are going really well, introduce a bit of Level 42 ('Leaving Me Now') but only a bit. What is striking is most of it revolves around the past tense. We are now past tense people, even though the day itself might be described as 'wonderful' and all of that. And don't get the idea that just because it's the bloody festive season, this is going to happen a lot. These days when some dear friend announces an invitation to Dulwich, I say forget it. I've got my Gringe suit on.
So it's back to CNN for an update on today, no surprise that the major feature is on what will become the Quatar bubble. Faust eat your heart out. What I want for Christmas is intelligent essays on Faustian development.
Friday, 3 December 2010
One of the best times of my week is Friday morning when I get up at 6am to watch CNN. I'll be lecturing by 9.30. However CNN, whatever it throws out, throws out a certain global horror. At least they will laugh at the UK losing the World Cup bid, at least they will be as equally bemused as me that Quatar wins it for 2022. It is the contemporary global picture and it's not pretty for sure. And also, the sun comes up as I watch, which is lovely.
Wednesday, 1 December 2010
It is bewildering for me that I find myself still 'rocking out' while cooking a vegetable curry. It may be embarrassing to cook to Motorhead, but I still do, and to much else besides. It's even more peculiar that Julie appears to support my enthusiasm, she says 'No don't turn it down' while she's trying to watch the news, while a classic bit of Rush comes on and I can do some air drumming. Will I ever stop? After all I'd had a good day, not much happened, a couple of tutorials which seemed terribly important, and a meeting with History colleague who's ever so good and seems to sit very well within the university system while I sit rather uneasily but still, I hope, true to values of some description which allow me to hang in there. Could these values be rock and roll values? I'm a cowboy, on a crappy laminated lectern I ride?
Tuesday, 30 November 2010
A million seconds lasts a bit less than 12 days, a billion seconds is thirty two years. That could fuck your understanding of the present economic situation for sure. Meanwhile I'm watching 'Beyond Walford' on BBC3 where some crap actress is bloody well running my local pub ( well one of them) in the name of the 'Spectacle', which means they had an idea for making a program about a 'real' east end pub, and some numpty or collection of numpties under twenty five years of age said that wasn't interesting enough, and they needed a 'celebrity' to fuck it up. That (with the voice over) is the definition of the 'Spectacle'. And they say she becomes 'a real East Ender' at the end.
Meanwhile again, We'd like to thank all those who amazingly braved the cold and the strike to join us last night at the White Horse. It was lovely, thank you all xxx
Sunday, 28 November 2010
Saturday, 27 November 2010
To be honest I prefer Julie's birthday to my own. In early August each year I enjoy at least two weeks of it, although 'enjoy' might be a debatable term, for it is undoubtedly an emotional minefield which has to be very carefully negotiated. For my birthday, well I find myself stating it, stating it in lectures, on here, whatever, as merely a sort of staging post. As all that is solid melts in to air one might look back at times more solid than these, but personally I have never enjoyed a better situation than fully bearded and slightly edgy within the university system. I am to some considerable extent, enjoying getting older. Of course, as soon as I write this, notice of redundancy surely follows, so like anybody, I must touch wood.
Benevolo points out in his majestic 'History of Architecture' that Victor Horta was the first architect to be, in his own lifetime, somewhat overtaken by events. The subtlety of this observation somewhat anticipates Andy Warhol's 'Everybody will be Famous for Fifteen Minutes' or even David Greene's 'In America anybody can become a Professor of Architecture for Fifteen Minutes'. In which case, I'm done in one way, but not in another.
Thursday, 25 November 2010
The most 'atrocious tosh' today from the government with regard to the new 'happiness index' Comics must be laughing. What the fuck does David Camoron think he's doing when he wishes to assess our intimate feelings, and how often does he want to do it? For one, if he asks me first thing in the morning how I'm feeling; the answer is a 'resoundingly pissed off'. By six pm, I might feel OK, I will have stabilized, this is something I trust to life; that you feel terrible, and then you might feel better given certain circumstances which may range from a good book to a nice conversation to a strong cocktail. I find it UNBELIEVABLE that such shit as a 'happiness index' has a place in newly astringent 'broke Britain', I wonder if Goebels instigated such a thing in the Third Reich. When I state that the most important individuals of the twentieth century were Lenin, Mao and Goebels...followed by Tom and Jerry...this rubbish just proves me right.
I'll be 'happy' when Camoron has fucked off.
Monday, 22 November 2010
Just been a way for a couple of days and I return to revolution! Excellent. Now I want to declare my solidarity, I'l be there, I'm not kidding. There are a few issues Julie has brought up:
1) You are unable to get up off the floor
2)You need constant supplies of whisky
These may constrain my revolutionary spirit. However, since at least I look like a true revolutionary, I must man the barricades at the slightest beckoning for possible TV interviews, and you know what, I'd rather teach at night and chat away anyway.
So, some students will have to bring me a collapsible bed at least, and I'll just order in a crate of whisky from.....somewhere. I'll also need a sleeping bag.
However I'm not kidding, I'm laughing, but I'm not kidding. many people remember the days of Paris '68 as the finest in their lives.
Sunday, 21 November 2010
So I went toParis, Philipe Starke Paris to be exact, to watch the most charming of cocktail waitreses wearing an off the shoulder boiler suit jiggle those cocktail shakers with considerable appreciation of a huge tip. Mighty fine yes, but extortionate also. And Starke is stark I can tell you. Our room is a bunker of polished concrete with chocolat brown partitioning and a black carpet sqwiggled with helpful phrses such as àll you need is love`. It is so dark that once sunset falls, you wouldn`t be able to read a newspaper, and when night falls you get up for a pee in pitch black. However nobody is wearing their overcoats, excepting those of the fur coat and no knickers pursuasion, it is strictly Starke off the shoulder boilersuits. Style is a curious thing. The customers are equally branded, the middle aged archiects all loki like Jean Nouvel, their wives and mistreses like Susan Sontag, each fenale couple at the bar looked like elegant twins, inspiring thoughts of two for one ofers, and we sat their like Mr and Mrs Stig of the Dump which I was hoping was rather stylish in itself after half a century`s worth of cocktails. The rerson why there qre so many mistakes in this post is because I cqn`t see the keyboard.
Thursday, 18 November 2010
When you walk in to a pub and you find the barmaid wearing her coat you know the worst. I walked in to the Trench of Despair to find exactly that. Now in Paris they wear little waistcoats and in Vegas they wear bustiers and 8 inch skyscraper stilettos, all in the name of some kind of sense of service. Here, she's wearing her bloody coat, complaining of being ill, and the place has a faint tint of sewerage. I despair, I really do. Then she said 'Would you like a roll?' in the most abject way I could imagine, she was as ambivalent as an east end girl can get.
So you sit there nursing , in the dark and the cold, your miserable pint of stella and think, how has it come to this?
Tuesday, 16 November 2010
Monday, 15 November 2010
The news of Sarah Palin's own 'reality' TV show this evening (hunting shooting fishing...fucking?) sent me running to the kitchen to cook toad in the hole. On went Planet Rock. Now it didn't take long for it to work. When Brown Sugar came on I turned it up and just like that scene in Gimme Shelter where Keef bounds in to his hotel room and just slams the demo on a cassette recorder and bends mesmerized as the cords fly out and begins to wiggle his bottom in that particular way, well so did I, but I was just bending over the frying of red onions for the gravy. I soon found myself doing a few Mick Jagger mini struts across the kitchen too, no easy task given it's extremely modest (but efficient) size. A few gestures there, a pout there, I was cooking to the Stones and it felt good. Next up the DJ, who clearly models himself on Clint Eastward in Play Misty for Me (soft tone, assured) reassured me that if I still had that Monday feeling, these next two tracks were for me. I do have that Monday feeling, I have that feeling most of the time. On came that fabulous intro to 'Shine On You Crazy Diamond'. Since it demanded respect, I sat on the stool next to the sink for that one and even added a felt castor under my drink, contemplating whisking the batter, with my past reeling before me, and imagining all those blokes in Ledbury or Leominster all just like me, but ...er....still there..listening avidly to Planet Rock as their major source of entertainment, like it may become mine. But it got even better, 'Nicky' majestically shifted me in to the eighties with a fabulous excursion into a piece of virtuoso Joe Satriani. Oh to live in the past.
(Palin will get $1m per episode)
Saturday, 13 November 2010
Yes our Big Little Reno book parcel arrived this morning (each copy measures 10cm x 15cm with 96 pages of photography and writing, cost £20) and we are delighted. I've numbered all 160 copies this afternoon, we'll be signing each of course.
We are expecting to hold a launch party upstairs at The White Horse on Shoreditch High St on the evening of Monday 29th November, when we will unveil the little thing. Before then, I'm supposed to not flaunt it around. Of course, all of you are welcome to come and join us for a glass of wine to celebrate such an occasion. After all it does seem to take us rather a long time to do things, very much like slow cooking.
The book documents a Christmas spent in Reno in 2004.
Keep checking for confirmation of launch date and time.
Wednesday, 10 November 2010
Tonight's 'Newsnight' was a bit of a feast; The students are revolting, the Navy is incapacitated, Sarkozi is a twat. As ever we must realize that this is all a question of cause and effect, that certain things are inevitably the result of other things, and that maybe one hell of a lot of people have buggered up other peoples lives before they can even get to make them in the first place. This might be equally the case in poorest Africa or in the case of the UK students, where clearly, the situation as presented isn't fair; The people who have spent the billions of money that we now owe are not them.
Higher Education of course should be free and not associated in any way with whatever commercial gains might be connected to it. The provision of Higher Education represents any governments 'faith' in it's populace. Maybe they (youth) will (produce loads of money) maybe not (realize something else has to be done and take to the streets) It's as simple as that, but you should give all the opportunity to engage in the educational process as far as they are able to find out their options.
I support the student actions today. I am also hardly surprised by the violence which is vastly dramatized by the 'media' as 'mock shock!' Any reading of Badiou for instance, would illustrate the ridiculous rejection of historical fact that such whimpering represents. A few broken windows are nothing.
Tuesday, 9 November 2010
I attended one of those 'strategy' meetings yesterday. Everybody has them these days of course, they evoke a certain sense of determination and goal in whatever pursuit you may be involved in . The problem is, at least for me, I haven't got a clue what they are about. Now since I am involved in education, if somebody asked me 'What are you thinking about?' I'd be able to answer it fine; I'd say Friday's 9.30 with the First Years on 'The Industrial Revolution and Faustian Development' it's an engaging topic which requires lots of thought and I therefore lie in bed and wrack my brains, then I get up and wrack my brains, then I sit in the pub and wrack my brains. Some people seem to make this brain wracking procedure 'research' and I suppose to some extent it is, but really the goal is merely entertaining said First Year for an hour and a half and that's about it. Job done.
I also like to sit at this and voice my small opinions in a hopefully entertaining way, and maybe this is research too? However, I'm not sure I would want to call it research, more like 'thinking aloud' (for when you read or write, you understand each word by saying it, just like it's music).
And to me that is just 'living'.
Saturday, 6 November 2010
The Trench of Despair turned into the The Triumph of Euphoria this evening as I found myself mugged by young girls who presumably thought I was somebody else. I walked in and found myself the centre of a commotion, bald blokes gesticulating and pointing and all of that- at me! However I couldn't understand what anybody was actually saying. It was clearly a proper east end pub party. So I took my seat to observe and stroked the cat. But I wasn't going to get away with such quietitude.
The centre of attention and her sister (I presumed) all in leopard skin, wanted photos wearing my hat, my spectacles, everything. I rather thought they were making my evening, for they were good looking young things (if a little excitable). They took so many photos I'll be all over Facebook tomorrow.
I came home to Julie, after picking up the potatoes and wine in Tescos and said: 'This look certainly works'. This seemed to amuse her a great deal.
Friday, 5 November 2010
We come in from an evening out, an anniversary to be precise, and we settle down in front of Gardener's World for a bit of peace and quiet before retiring early through exhaustion and difficulties with the world. Now some berk (perhaps all gardening berks) starts talking about the dead heads of some fucking flower or other as being 'lovely...so architectural'. Sorry what the fuck is architectural in the dead head of a flower? Eh? Can we go back to classical Greece here, or can we once more pronounce, THERE IS NO THEORY TO GARDENING.
Thursday, 4 November 2010
I will admit I have become rather a devotee of Planet Rock. This may be simply that we have acquired the worlds most expensive radio, and that it comes in components, which is most satisfying, but also a certain affinity with the wailing and moaning and latent violence of the 'rock voice' and all that goes with it. I find I can actually listen to Journey records. What's more I find myself, if I listen long enough, discerning the genre in a fresh way, for it is no longer a case of whether I like it or not, that time has long gone, it has become a case of 'isn't it interesting that.. whoever made 'Breaking the Law...Breaking the Law!' is singing exactly the same song as 'The Boys are Back in Town'.
The essence is certainly gothic, there are rambling, lonely, horny, alienated males in groups, even if they are females. And no matter how crap they are, and they are extraordinary loyal to the tribe. Where else would you get Rick Wakeman and Keith Emerson and Jon Lord and every other idiot chewing the cud over the pleasures of never doing 'Smoke on the Water on Ice'.
Meanwhile, I'm reading Keef's biography 'Life' and thrilled that it's a bestseller (illustrating that........you answer that question). It's also amazingly good.
So I rise and I put on my big fluffy bathrobe (possibly the biggest and fluffiest bathrobe that this crazy world might provide, which is why Julie bought it with joy) I draw the blinds against the bright winter sun, fix myself a drink which includes orange juice, and sit in my big old armchair to soak in Dave Hickey's 'Air Guitar' (which I am due to talk about tomorrow). Air Guitar is probably the loveliest piece of 'theory' I have ever come across, precisely because instead of the usual inquisition in to language, that concentration on truth and maths which can get very tiring after a while, no matter how much you no longer fear depression and death in the name of the revolution, Hickey inverts the whole procedure. He makes criticism precisely about language, not what it means, that is taken for granted, but the deft and delightful manipulation of it. He even calls his essays 'stories', which reminds me of my old friend Jon Buck who used to call his architectural drawings 'pictures' in those young days when the truth would more often than in these days inadvertently out. No wonder Hickey talks so much of musicians and opens the volume with a quote from Keith Richards, although he would probably have preferred to open with a riff by Keith Richards, but then again that is the point, he has to write it like that riff, and he does it all the time- he plays 'air guitar' with words.
Wednesday, 3 November 2010
The problem with the Browne report on university funding, which I understand only through the pages of the LRB, is that it conflates the notion of education and business. Education may help you in business, just as reading Machiavelli might help you, but business is not the point of education at all, it can never be about 'jobs' and if it ever becomes so, and it is becoming so, you might argue you have lost the point of education all together. This is simply because jobs come with necessary boundaries, they tend, unless you are very lucky, to demand complicity with whatever system is at work. Education is independent of all that nonsense. Lose that independence, and you're in trouble.
Sunday, 31 October 2010
If I were sitting in the sunshine of a 1944 afternoon, knowing I was going to bomb the shit out of people I didn't even know over Germany that evening, if I were the bomb aimer (USA) or the captain (UK) and knew I had control of this flying hunk of death delivery over the 'target', and if were an intelligent chap who was browsing Nietzsche that afternoon with thoughts on bigger things and the abyss of it all, wouldn't it have been a temptation to drift that baby right over that cathedral and blow that to bits? This is a short story that has to be written.
(Bomb aimers had charge of US planes over the target, this was unthinkable for the British, where the captain was always in charge)
Thursday, 28 October 2010
Feeling quite cheery having completed my Renaissance powerpoint for tomorrow. The problem with powerpoint is it has created 'Powerpoint Man' an arsehole who thinks puting 2+2=4 on a powerpoint presentation makes a radical point. Most of those people are in management. However be assured I'm not doing that.
Trying to do the Renaissance in fifty images was however quite a task, they did more in a couple of hundred years than the Romans would have done in ten thousand, if you are thinking arty farty stuff of course. Soho Gordon said to me yesterday that when he was studying architecture in Glasgow they had five lectures on the Ancient Greeks and one on the Romans. A bit snooty I reckon, the Romans are underrated, but architects like the arty farty stuff. Meanwhile, Tim said to me yesterday that is all about the pronunciation of Renaissance: either RenAAsance or RENNIEsance. Quite smart I thought.
Tuesday, 26 October 2010
Feel fucking ghastly, felt so ghastly yesterday I had to sooth my soul by crawling in to The White Horse BEFORE catching the bus for afternoon tutorials. Those behinds surely raise the spirits. What is this ghastliness, these aches and pains, these creaking joints, where have they come from? I worry this may be 'it' from now on.
Today I woke up early anticipating the ghastliness and lay there with Julie watching the sun come up. Now that was nice. I also thoroughly enjoyed instructing the First Year on Le Corbusier a few hours later, but then, as if via creep, the ghastliness returns. Maybe it is retribution? Maybe it's lack of exercise? No, I'll keep to my dosages and it will bloody well go away. No revolutionary should be afraid of death or depression.
So am I the first to notice a girl wearing her knickers outside, over the top, of her leggings? It was certainly confusing on first sighting but maybe an entirely predictable consequence of the now universal legging/jegging bottom tight phenomenon, where you might as well wear neither for all the decorum these items provide.
And Cheryl fucking Cole, who forgot to put on her skirt for Saturdays XF show, she now stares at me from the billboard at the end of the road with an album called 'messy raindrops' or something. What's that about?
Sunday, 24 October 2010
So I raise myself from my afternoon slumbers. I have afternoon slumbers these days. I'm not sure I like them but they happen anyway.
Something is nagging away at me about last night, because I'm embarrassed I spent the whole evening in front of XFactor and Cheryl Cole. Cheryl Cole in particular bothers me a lot, for I can't work out what she does, other than being a simpering sentimental sobbing celebrity who may represent some new and awful representation of woman kind. This girl is certainly no Joan of Arc. There is also something rather nasty about the 'born to perform' child and sobbing mother routine that accompanies the somewhat unfortunate things that have beset Cheryl recently (and of course is endemic to the formula of X Factor itself) I think it might be characterized as the fear of the real.
I mean, if you marry a footballer in a wedding dress that cost £100.000 you should know what you are in for- you shouldn't come over as duped. If you are truly beset by personal troubles, why agree to be interviewed by that infernal piece of nastiness Piers Morgan? It is possible that Cheryl Cole realizes that her party piece, her living, is breaking down for the media.
I say this as somebody who will cry at almost anything, but I wouldn't want to be doing it for a living.
Thursday, 21 October 2010
It is clear 'Nigella Kitchen' is porn. Nigella Kitchen becomes a thing, not even an apostrophe to help her out of it. He did advertising, she does kitchen porn- perfect- cause and effect, perfect symbiosis for our age. But it's porn none the less. I have no problem with porn, it's just strange that now it's become food.
I tried to watch the news, I really did. However I simply do not understand something basic to the blasted 'spending review'; that is why is it that the poorest get to suffer at all? I just don't get it. Take the money back from those who benefited in the first place, not some poor bastard on incapacity benefit after four heart attacks. It all smacks of the whip, just as it always has in Conservative politics.
So I raised myself from my chair, poured myself a large one, and put on the Foos nice and loud. Good looking ladies can come by all they like and try and convince me that I must vote for their highly suspect character over another highly suspect character in the Hackney mayoral elections that they should have never had in the first place anyway and I imagine them naked. Times like these indeed.
So I guess I'll make some Keith Richards Shepherds Pie.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
I am writing with specific regard to the 'gentlemans venues' (silly name) which have existed for generations. The White Horse in particular is a very well run establishment where I cannot fathom any reason for it's closure. I would like to ask the council exactly WHAT it feels is wrong about the situation of the dancers and the customers in The White Horse? As an academic who has written about these issues over many years and might see beyond petty opinion: if you sell your body to work everyday just like you, what is the difference if somebody sells their body as 'spectacle'? I don't think the council is acting rationally. If you do not act rationally, it is just opinion. The White Horse in particular is not in a residential neighborhood, and in twenty years of enjoying it, writing books which include it, I have never found it anything but an oasis of peace and calm. As Marshall McLuhan said 'They are wearing us'. If anybody is exploited here, it is me, and I have the right to be exploited like all consumers, just like you are. Paul Davies. Senior Lecturer. LSBU
Right now I'm blasting out the Stones film 'Ladies and Gentlemen' from Texas 1972 pretty loud. It's the afternoon, it's Tuesday. I'm drinking whisky. The blinds are down. I compile tomorrows AA lecture. Life does not get much better than this.
No it really is a fucking fantastic film. There are very few moments in life when you know you have the thing, whatever it is, in your hand, and I tell you, the Stones certainly did right then; Mick and Keith exchanging wry grins (Mick Taylor doing all the fiddly bits) and Keef just driving the whole thing like a fucking truck. It's a wonderful thing to behold after all this time, like finding some long lost treasure in the Amazon (sic), which of course it is. Nothing like a little afternoon's time traveling, it beats the bullshit for sure.
Oh and if anybody needs a job out there, and can speak Chinese, and maybe office manage a bit for a small OK firm in South London not a heavy deal etc (PT). Contact me.
Monday, 18 October 2010
Today I experienced just about the best thing that can happen to folks like me. I ran in to my 'line manager' in the lift and she did not say 'I want to have a chat with you about.....' It could have been that she was eating a sandwich at the time. However, the joy that overcame me was considerable; She just said, 'very good thanks' amidst sandwich eating. So.. she doesn't want to 'talk to me about....' I positively leapt out of the university and caught the bus to The White Horse.
Now The White Horse is under threat from the neo nazi nursery school that is Hackney Licensing. Their no doubt worthier than thou focus groups have decided that girls taking their clothes off artfully for money is a very bad thing and will screw up all our morals. I can think of many jobs in the area which might screw up our morals more than taking your clothes off artfully (like banking) but because the council are a bunch of non-thinkers and the council may ride on a high tide of non thinking, it may come to pass in January that Hackney ban such performance in their little precious lovely stupid neighbourhood where apparently no rationality exists. I feel almost sorry for the stupid bastards, because I have thought, lectured and written long and hard about striptease in London and Las Vegas and just about anywhere else, and found this activity GENUINE (good word don't you think!)
So, since all of you are over 18 years of age and in search of adventure, pop on down to the White Horse on Shoreditch High St and see what you think- boy or girl (girls very welcome)
It's bar prices, there is no entry charge, but you must put a pound in the pot for each dance.
This is a cultural issue, suddenly under threat from those who couldn't tell culture from....
You can make your view clear to Hackney Council by going to this link www.hackney.gov.uk/licensing.html
Thursday, 14 October 2010
I feel for the last guy say at the bottom of that Chilean mine. His mind must have been spinning, what with his dependence on block and tackle on the equivalent of a trip to the moon. No wonder they are celebrating. I watched the miners surfacing, and noticed the conspicuous boot of one of the rig men supporting some guiding wheel or another right on the steel edge of the hole rim. Crikey! You wouldn't get me within 20ft of a hole like that for fear of dropping in! As for the half hour ride up, I can hardly think about it. Fear of heights clearly equals fear of depths.
Wednesday, 13 October 2010
This is how to give 'good lecture' my style. You will not believe how complex the procedure is. First, try and get your lecture in to an afternoon slot, second, plan way ahead in your head and just hope information will fall out on demand. To do this successfully, never determine what you are going to say. Instead, get out of bed rather nervously on the day, feel the fear infront of your nascent powerpoint presentation and calm yourself down by doing so (you must confront the beast) and feel confident that the images will lead you through whatever it is you end up talking about.
Next, go to a local pub for reflection and a pint of stella. Do not concern yourself with any other matters other than the lecture at hand, and even then, possibly try and forget about it. A certain calm may prevail. Then, at least hours before the appointed hour, make your way to the venue via reliable transportation. Make sure you have thought ahead about your 'green room' (pub) close to the venue, there you must sit and observe in minute detail the world around you. See it as a window on the world (I particularly favour The Tottenham on Oxford St when I lecture at the AA, it has a genuine front window on our unfortunate world). Now at this point you will be distracted by the T&A (or other preferences) passing you by, but you must let the snow fall in your head with the aid of a few large ones. Soon enough cometh the hour, and always make sure you are ten minutes early to foresee technical difficulties. Always love the technicians and support staff in charge, partly because you do love them anyway because they support you.
See the students troop in, remember you were just like them a long time ago.
Shut the door.
With luck, and the smiling of the gods, then the magic happens.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
That was pathetic. You have to wonder on all the ways England can no longer play football. If we were back in the days of New Labour, I'd have suggested at least 50% of the team should have gone to university, and if the university was any good, and even if it had programs in football, it might have taken the lead weights off their feet, instead of leaving these poor losers to drown in their own self indulgence. Teach them to understand themselves and you might get somewhere.
I'm fed up of watching England play, they are just fucking awful against almost any team, and it represents a kind of atrophy. The search for new ideas, the knowledge of what an idea is (as opposed to an opinion) seems almost lost to this little island. Instead we have corner shop conservatism and a crap football team and Simon fucking Cowell destroying music and it all fits together nicely as rubbish.
We spent a month in Germany this summer, and we only had CNN to watch. Do you realize how many times the UK was mentioned over that period on international media; not once.
How on earth we manage to still have public school boys pontificating in charge is beyond me. YOU ARE IDIOTS!
Monday, 11 October 2010
I'm drowning in historical information, and I realize that I shall have to base the whole of my Friday lecture on the architecture of the Romans on my understanding of Asterix cartoons. This is not too far from the mark as it turns out, for they are most accurate if read and looked at carefully. A bigger worry is I've arranged to have lunch with an old pal on Thursday, possibly disastrous re: Friday.
Meanwhile I've made trouble for myself by ordering some very handy promotional pencils promoting this blog. I just have to make sure they do not fall in to the wrong hands, so it was a bit stupid to order them in the first place. However these cute little stubby pencils will no doubt become collectors items of some sort and repay my investment with many many followers, since I seem to be stuck on a measly 44. Sam of FAT has about a million and is ranked far too high in whatever crappy rankings these people get themselves ranked in to. I want to make it clear I only want quality followers! (Free pencil if you tap me on the shoulder in the Duke of York or send me an SAE).
Thursday, 7 October 2010
I sit in my chair surrounded by books. They multiply with each post, and each demands attention, too much attention (and they are also rather large). So when it comes to compiling lectures, it's sometimes good to get out and get a fresh perspective. Luckily I find the impish Scott on my shoulder in the Misty Mountain:
'The Illiad is basically a snuff movie with a treatise on ethics in the middle' he says.
'They should illustrate CIA torture manuals with Tom and Jerry cartoons' we agree.
'You don't have any decent films on the Ancient Greeks because it's all too bonkers....and it's mostly outdoors and on ships....and often nothing happens for a long time before the carnage begins. It's hard to build a character like Achilles when he spends ninety percent of the story sat on a beach! To make good movies you need interior settings for orgies and whispered plotting, you can't do whispered plotting in the forest or on a beach, interiors encourage such things, so that's why there are lots of Roman films and no Greek ones!'
He's good, he's very good.
Sunday, 3 October 2010
Cheryl Cole takes three neurotics in to the next round of X Factor. That says it it all, she kicks out the good in favour of the needy (for you can control the needy - it might make you feel better in yourself- and of course we shall all be weeping at their endeavours.) Julie takes credit for this observation. Probably the most sickening program never.
Saturday, 2 October 2010
Nothing could remind me more of how much I detest the world of architecture than the Stirling Prize. In our household it is a positively incendiary opportunity to rile against the powers that be. However, the most important amusement should be that TOM DICKHOFF (however the hell you spell his name) should buy a bigger size in clothes. I've never seen a man so obviously squeezed in to shirts and jackets at least one size too small, like a primary school kid in Joe Ninety glasses, whose articulation of ideas manages to be both perfunctory and pretentious at the same time. The second is that ZAHA should understand clothing as something more than a bright yellow oversized bin bag worn for effect. No doubt the many awful attendees at this bash conspicuously congratulated Zaha on her appearance. But if you, how should one say, look at little askance at her ascendance, not unlike a balloon, you'd just go 'That is a horrible outfit, and maybe her buildings are horrible too'.
Friday, 1 October 2010
Irish banks have just wind-falled 39 BILLION Euro/quid. It will be a crisis for generations. Meanwhile, will somebody please tell me where the money comes from? Everybody please read Alain Badiou's 'If this Crisis is the Spectacle: Where is the Real' easily available online, and what's more, for once, easy to read, if you want to get as upset as I am.
Thursday, 30 September 2010
I am constructing a lecture. The first lecture for the First Year 2010. It takes a lot longer than you might think, I hope I don't balls it up. I look forward to whisky, I creek over volumes of excellent historical text which I shall leave out. I make sure the slide order works.
Then in flops through the letter box the LRB (London Review of Books). This is an excellent thing, I immediately pour a drink and sit in my chair and luxuriate in both. The usually horrible Deyan Sudjic writes strangely well on Leon Krier, who is, psychologically, an object of fascination for me. There's a good piece on whether bi-polar is bi-polar or not, and a lovies piece on Montgomery Clift where I would prefer more on the sex and the drinking. And they are all written long which is good, you get into them like a bath.
I've given up the newspapers, the LRB every two weeks is quite enough, along with the documentaries on the TV. This is the perfect afternoon, along with the news that Julie has just wind-falled a few thousand quid.
Monday, 27 September 2010
One of the extreme problems we face today is our inability, perhaps a structural inability (this is even more worrisome) to distinguish between an opinion and an idea.
I have listened to lots of crap over the last few weeks as the term begins, and no doubt I'm going to have to listen to a whole lot more (and what's more maybe this has always been the case) in which case we should worry seriously about the subject itself, and that sends me into a deep funk and.....
Lets just say, an idea can be dangerous. It is the result of a hopefully rational process of thought which may demand consequences not entirely pleasant to either those who think it or those it might be directed at. An idea tends to gravitate towards truth and maths. It does not involve notions such as 'architecture that heals people' except under strictly regulated NHS tests. You might as well demand an architecture which fosters 'lasting relationships'. Such stuff is baloney.
For instance, If I'm asked to think for a moment about a space which 'heals me' my first thought is the bar at the Riviera Las Vegas with the buxom Bulgarian cocktail waitresses who conspicuously moan all the time. This place has given me much pleasure and no pain at all, it is bright and vulgar and fabulous in my opinion, but that is not an idea. Neither is it an idea to posit that a nice old wooden chair set against a distressed distempered wall is 'healing', that is simply 'taste'.
Hold on to your hats.
Saturday, 25 September 2010
There is nothing as dreadful as Formula One. A bunch of rich kids trying be to just a little bit faster than each other and taking it really really seriously. If you want to think about about civilization, think about Formula One; watch and weep.
You might say, well it's the same with football isn't it? But somehow it isn't. There is something very real about Wayne Rooney sobbing on the edge of the bed in his '£300' a night south Manchester hotel after his assignations with local hookers in ill matched underwear. There is something profound in that tabloid line (and I think the tabloids were utterly disgraceful here, but I was pleased to read it) that 'What am I doing?' was the content of his blubbing. But hold on, what exactly do you expect Wayne Rooney to do? Whatever he did, for me, was a very real encounter with the very real.
This, I'm slightly amused by, is not the case in motorsport, and especially Formular 1. They may play with death (otherwise what's the point?) but there seems little evidence of that endeavour in the personalities of those involved. If they were all parading around in Nazi outfits with hookers and 'exposed' in the press, I would genuinely understand, but that is not what we get (we only get that from the 'honesty' of the owners). However, that is what they SHOULD be doing (along with the yachting community) if they have any kind of sanity.
Think of the drivers- Jackie Stewart, Stirling Moss....twats, without a doubt, each time they utter anything you flinch a little. James Hunt comes out OK, since at least he played the playboy not unlike Graham Hill. I'm drawn to the thought that whilst racing driving must be the stupidest sport you might possibly indulge in, and that a quart of bourbon and a few pills might be a PRE-REQUISITE for indulging in it properly, instead we get almost the opposite!
(Maybe I'm unravelling here my liking for the sixties film Grand Prix, a film I have never quite understood my enthusiasm for).
Thursday, 23 September 2010
Blasting out The Cult's 'Sun King' brings back many memories, especially of a naked girl in a leopard skin coat who's polaroid I left on my work desk (drawing board) when I went AWOL for a couple of days pulling wheelies on my GPZ750 (she was on the back!) and living on nothing but bar snacks in red bars (they had to have red decore) in the late eighties. Luckily my employers (Simon Smith and Michael Brooke Architects- look 'em up) were cool enough to deal with such stuff and I revere them forever for doing so. They thought it was funny, I hope.
Even now, the eighties, even in my sodden new tweeds, repeat. I sit and the tunes in 'The Trench' are 'Blue Monday' and 'Sexpress'. I go, SHIT, I was there, that was me, with my stage amp and a futon in the bedroom and pretty much fuck all else, even buying Level 42 records. Time travelling, that's me.
Oh, and I wish to record that watching George Thorogood and the Destroyers live in Las Vegas, not only brought about the close nervous breakdown of my beloved Julie ('I can't remember him playing a guitar!' she said) but also the most acute piece of rock criticism I've ever heard in so few words:
'He's like a cross between Keith Richards and Larry Grayson' said Kit, and forever shall those words be savoured.
Just in case you think everything's alright with the world, a colleague of Julie's phoned up very late last night having been told by the New Gestapo of his university that he should communicate in the correct way, ie; via university patrolled media. What kind of arsholes want to condition the way one communicates with anyone? What kind of mechanism is it in their heads that says you must use this or that? Of course they always dress it up under the wrap of legal paranoia, but I was at an art opening in a FUCKING LAWYERS OFFICE last night and I just wanted to kill the lot of them. I was wearing my 'Destroyers' tee shirt, George Thorogood and the Destroyers as you all know, and some twat had the nerve to say to me 'Oh so what are you destroying then?' I should have said 'You- you feeble minded parasite on the arse' but I was polite, and glugged the wine, wanted to destroy the crap art, and went to the pub for much needed recuperation instead.
Now lawyers are possibly more feeble minded than bankers, because THEY CAN ONLY BE IN IT FOR THE MONEY BUT DON"T HAVE THE GUTS TO ADMIT IT, for they sure don't seem to be much interested in life itself, in it's complexities and difficulties and my anger. They just parade around in shirts and ties with tidy haircuts and nasty little side-on coke habits to keep them sane. I could almost feel fucking sorry for them, if it wasn't that they were so stupid.
In the pub Julie said to me, 'You know you should be yourself more, thats why you hate those things because they make you polite ' and she was right, goddamn polite, fuck polite, fuck the New Gestapo in all it's forms. Hans Fallada's 'Alone in Berlin' is rather good on this.
Wednesday, 22 September 2010
That Keef shepherds pie was the best I've ever tasted - a life saver (obviously). Honestly, fabulous, and so simple to make too....hold on....that's NOT an accident. If ever a cuisine corresponded to the great muse in every way, this was it- there were not many ingredients, the recipe was traditional, there were no unnecessary extras, it demands technique, and timing, and the taste profound. Good honest Keef food.
He apparently can eat it 365 days a year, and pulled a gun on a roadie who took a bite when he should have known better. I'll forward the recipe if you email me.
Tuesday, 21 September 2010
Felt kinda blue, Randy Newman blue, sitting as the only person in the 'Trench' stroking Patch who couldn't care less and wondering what the barmaid might be like in bed blue, since she has many assets blue. Decided to perk myself up with some 'Keef Richards special Shepherds Pie Recipe'. Now that is what comfort food sounds like to me, and Julie's out enjoying herself- and the recipe came from the ridiculous book 'What Would Keith Richards do?' So I got home and chuckled at my ridiculousness, however, others are no doubt tucking in to Katie Price's scrumptious goat cheese and bla as I write this so I think I've made a reasonable choice. Just think Marx had to live of bread and potatoes if he was lucky.
Term approaches like a big girl in a ra-ra skirt with a scouse accent ordering snakebite black.
Sunday, 19 September 2010
CHRIST! I thought as I lay in bed staring at the ceiling this morning trying to slow down time, over half the timeline anno domini to now was ROMANS!!!
Now I associate the Romans with pretty much organization, orgies, arches and plumbing and thats it. Roland Barthes got it gaily back to haircuts and sweat. There was certainly not much progress over one thousand years with say, clothes. A thousand years and your still wandering around in a bedsheet!
Of course, our poxy little period runs far too fast and still doesn't know what the hell it is doing apart from buying faster car to do it in. I figure we will best be remembered for armaments, pornography and drugs, the three cornerstones of our so called 'economy' (if we are remembered at all). Certainly, we enter a new Dark Ages precisely because we are deluded, hypnotized, by feelings rather than thought.
Yesterday I was looking at photographer Joel Sternfelds excellent latest book 'I Dubai' it's just a collection of photographs of 'us' taken on a mobile phone in Dubai, largely in a shopping mall or twenty. We don't come out of it too well.
I was also 'reading' Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. Well lets just say I grazed the introduction, it's so long I wondered 'Just HOW will I read this? There just isn't the time!' Sure, because no doubt I'd soon be distracted by Simon fucking Cowell or some other bit of nonsense. No wonder I lay in bed this morning staring at the ceiling trying to slow down time.
Friday, 17 September 2010
Now the new 'radio' has arrived the walls resound to 'Planet Rock', the best radio station we know. Julie won't even let me turn it off. That's the great girl she is. There's nothing like knocking out some sea trout to Van Halen. So imagine both of us nodding our heads, and as we approach the moment of grand introductions to our courses, will we resist the worst of temptations? Will I surcome to my instinct and introduce 'The Gothic' via 'Mother Russia' from the 'Sisters of Mercy', historically and geographically inaccurate of course, but perfect in every other way? There have been some major mistakes in this idiom, notably Prof Alan Brookes introducing a staircase project via a full length 'Stairway to Heaven'. It's a fine line.
But buy Tivoli people, it's quality.
Thursday, 16 September 2010
Pope on a rope! God is dead! Get with-it everybody! (first time that phrase 'with-it' has been used since the seventies) BUT, given tonight's coverage from Mock the Week to Newsnight we are more thankfully aggressively secular than ever. Take the piss everybody- unless you want a better school place.
Just when I thought we were getting normal (awful) events conspire to trigger delight. Scott and Julie arrive in the Misty Mountain by accident. I thoroughly recommend lunchtime drinking; why drink yourself to death at the end of the day after work when you can avoid work all together and make better use of your time. Julie is in hell because her university want her to run studios of 65 plus with no equipment but a fresh promotional paint finish on the corridors. It was a whole nights' work talking through such lunacies. When I finally resurfaced and had slept off her university, I sit permanently with my fingers crossed in the hope that what is going to happen to me will happen, but it's touch and go(as ever) There is calamity round every corner at this time of year- the Phony War before real hostilities resume. However we reconvene our little revolutionary cell by joyous accident and with great humour, simply because everything outside the pub windows looks seriously deranged. 'Bang me up before you go go' George is hopefully enjoying more drugs and cottaging in jail than he would outside it, there's a Pope in a box being lauded by streams of young girls and boys, and the whole thing looks more and more absurd; this we say, is the end of the Roman Empire all over again (bought Gibbon yesterday). Our conversations revolve around numpties such as the Baader Meinhoff Group and maths. I never thought I would enjoy rationality so much (for we are surely not living in any). Then I go to the cash machine and ask for £30, it feeds me £200. I think it's lobster tonight and please don't shop me.
Monday, 13 September 2010
Just finished proofing the Reno book. Now the Reno book has already been proofed many many times, but there are still mistakes, there are always mistakes. We should put a thing at the front of it 'There are mistakes OK!- Just live with them'. But I'm chuffed, very happy indeed, it's funny and it's five years ago, which allows time to make it funny (In comparison to my novel, which of course I loath because it is a current obligation) it is a perfect little 100 page piece of writing with Julie's excellent pictures and somehow they seem to go together very well indeed.
There will be a first edition of 100, sort of A6 sized, hand made cover etc, £20. A piece of love and bemusement. To order contact me on email@example.com or just come and see me at the university or contact Julie via juliecookphotography.com
Sunday, 12 September 2010
So St Albans again, a land the kids take charge of. The inhabitants of this strange arena do nothing but ferry feckless youth from one enthusiasm to another and worry about them all. It is a land where it is impossible to be an adult, adulthood has been banned in favour of dogs and kittens and swimming galas and dancing classes and teenage yearnings for a week (of squalour) with all the rest of the adolescents of St Albans in Newquay snorting Lucozade pills on the back of half a bottle of vodka. They have taken over and its ghastly, they parade around in their River Island and their Primark and they stare at you in intimidating way when not peering in to their iphones.
But it was good, very good, a good dose of vitriol will help a great deal at the beginning of the academic year. They haven't killed me yet, and I can collapse infront of 'Octopussy' with a large one or two and reflect on past pleasures. Now Octopussy is an excellent film, partly because the women who might take over the world appear to be 'nice' (despite events) and James Bond likes them too. It's not such a bad fantasy.
Wednesday, 8 September 2010
Everything is back to normal, I can sip Stella, buy second hand tweed jackets and replace my £4 reading glasses with £250 reading glasses that look just the same. It is necessary to look ready for action in this world, and I'm doing my best. I'm ready, the academic year is on my doorstep; turn up the Foos and take a deep breath. After audio starvation in Berlin, I can only play one track at a time on my hairy system - all addictions are a question of dosage.
But sometimes academic life is actually a very beautiful thing, for amongst many resubmissions to be read at this time of year, I sat captivated in my lounge chair with a dissertation resubmission so pugnacious, vitriolic and above all accurate and well researched (what's more written like a rocket) that I worried my optician would smell my glugged enthusiasm as I sped through it (after all opticians get very very close!). Basically, this student had the balls to say the Smithsons were cunts (not exactly cunts..) This is a kind of heroism we see very little, I emailed the student immediately, and said; 'treasure this work and read it again when you are forty'. I sprang down the street, got sprung for £250 straight away at the opticians, retreated to 'the Trench', stroked Patch the cat who didn't give a damn, like she ever does. Smiled to myself.
Tuesday, 7 September 2010
Saturday, 4 September 2010
And so it really is back to realities of our lives, and Julie sweeps deep into depression just walking down Bethnal Green road on a saturday. She mutters considerable discontent. In due course, it's back into the Trench of Despair, where the inappropriately named 'Little John' is disparaging the existence of Robin Hood amongst considerable disagreement in a largely empty pub (now offering a 'free roll' of a weekday lunch - no choice of filling- beggars must not be choosers). 'It's all just a fantasy' he says, just before going on to explain that Adolf Hitler was 'quite a good guy' and then much discussion of various Robin Hood derivatives, or even the fact that we were at war with France in 1916 (!) Then of course it's to Tesco's, which Julie refused to enter, and I can understand, the pain inflicted by overhearing any conversation in Tesco's on a saturday is almost impossible to bare, and, for the first time in years and years, I've developed indigestion whenever I sip that miserable Stella Artois, so I too am in physical pain. Meanwhile there are riots over food and water in Mozambique.
Friday, 3 September 2010
So we return to london and it is crappy, super crappy. Of course it is, you could return to paradise after a month away and think it was crappy. But there are too many cars, too many people and too many objects in our suddenly tiny apartment, where there is so little room we keep bumping in to each other. Then again, we could be larger in size. We are also suddenly disabled by housekeeping which appears complex, not unlike organizing yourselves in a boat or a caravan. And then, communication with the rest of the world becomes equally problematic, being used to only the most basic, and I mean, most basic, of communication in Germany left us thoroughly insulated, and now we are not, and Tony Blair stared out of the television at me like a monster uttering his messianic thoughts and I longed for the innocence of watching the German zoo channel with the sound down.
Tuesday, 31 August 2010
This is the last post from Berlin 2010. Of course we were going to do something worthy today and visit some David Chipperfield architecture. It didn't happen, we sat in a local bar or two and took local photographs and stared out of the window like we always do. Don't worry it will come to something someday, just like our new book on Reno which will be available in a week or so in limited edition of 100 for a mere £20 (see either of us for details). It just took us five years to make.
The Old Fella's bar was particularly spectacular today. Spectacularly unspectacular. You sit in the dark with your beer and your korn and watch the world go by in the rare sunshine outside through the doorway. A man walks in and sits at the piano and begins to play extremely gentle music, as if a soundtrack to this lovely afternoon. It is blissful, as if time is standing still. This fucking well does not happen in Bethnal Green.
Monday, 30 August 2010
So I'm sitting in this vast kitchen cooking german fried potatoes- dill, mustard in the fry- damn good -and I'm so pleased I've got the Foo's on. I am clearly addicted to rock as much as anything else, and even this tinny mac makes me feel better, so much better I bought a very expensive Tivoli radio system over the internet to salve the soul when I get home just to listen to the Chelsea games. I guess that's like ordering your crack in advance as you speed back from Saudi Arabia.
What is it about rock? Well even though I'm really ready for tweeds (I'll be fully tweeded for the new academic year (NAY) - Berlin rather good for such stuff, I'd just love to throw all those philosophers I've been trying to understand for a month into the middle of a Foo's concert, get them pissed on big JD's on the rocks, and ROCK! Rock till you die, just like the crappy tee shirts say (look up the first post I ever made on this thing - the ACADACADEMICS! It embarrassing, but it's real. My brother (nearly sixty) is the same.
And there would be no rock n' roll without capitalism- cause and effect- so we should all be careful what we wish for.
luv to ya all.
Sunday, 29 August 2010
Sunday. Morning, nothing happening. Good. Rain. Fished out a copy of Leni Riefenstahl's biography from mein host's shelves. Most interesting. Evening, cleared up, a walk to a very ordinary bar which we both agree is a delight. locals most pleasant, despite nursing fears for Hertha Berlin. Vietnamese take away, not sure what it was. Later, excellent documentary on racing driver Jochem Rindt in German, understood it somehow. They don't make 'em like that anymore.
Saturday, 28 August 2010
So we near the end of our outrageously long holiday. Time to inform you of just what can be done in such a period of time, given peace and quiet and a general disposition towards doing fuck all in a city devoted to calm, engaging in that absenteeism which is so unpopular with the bureaucrats perhaps precisely because it gives you time to think (and thinking unnerves them). So here comes the 'Paul Davies Radical August 2010 Reading List'.
1. Alain Badiou The Century (Tough)
2. Sajov Zizek Living At The End of Times (bits of- then I gave it away)
3. Robert Harris The Ghost (Fabulous- I'm in it)
4. Philip Roth The Human Stain (Fabulous in another way)
5. Richard Hornsey The Spiv and the Architect (Bonkers but still smart)
6. Freud for Beginners (Better read it again)
7. Alain Badiou The Communist Hypothesis (Excellent and readable 'Little Red Book')
8. John Le Carre A Most Wanted Man
9. Hans Fallada The Drinker (Bloody funny without being funny)
10. Harry Crews Body (Neat and tidy tragicomedy)
11. Stefan Aust The Baader Meinhof Complex (Exquisite in it's agony)
There you go. It's been a blast. If you read the sequence, it works, you can walk down the street with your head held high knowing just what a mess we're in without any answers at all- but knowledge is good for it's own sake, even if you fear it will float out of your brain just as fast as you've shoved it in. I will say one thing, the last one (No 11) is absolutely essential, but only as long as you've read the earlier stuff. I promise you will really learn something if you read at least 7 and 11.
Friday, 27 August 2010
There is nothing like a visit to the Zoo, our Berlin artist friends may poo poo the place, but it's the only place I can take Julie and enjoy her little exclamations of joy, like little hic-cups, at the sight of each new, perfectly manicured, species all afternoon (zoo animals have their own tv series here- they are stars- even when they shit). I also like it because in urban terms, it used to be the centre of West Berlin, and what better thing to put at the centre of any human enterprise to demonstrate our civilization or lack of it, but a zoo. Half the time you are looking at the animals, half the time you are looking at us, and we don't come off too well. I also like it if we get to visit the zoo in the rain, as today, so it's quiet and romantic.
I'm not being soppy, however at times like these, when we both have to acknowledge a certain sense of 'This is It' to both our lives, I mean a certain understanding of the distance already run, and the rather different situation ahead, when you get to a certain critical age, a meander round a zoo is very soothing.
And of course, the animals are no more in prison than we are, and we would love to see the Zebras run unbridled across the savannah, just as we would love to see ourselves do the equivalent. And strangely when you are in the zoo, and you see these wonderfully dignified creatures in very restricted circumstances, you can only realize that us humans are different, we have free will, we could organize things a bit better, we should use our brains.
Thursday, 26 August 2010
Just been out and about riding around Berlin in a taxi or two with eyes peeled. Nonplussed, realize all the 'new' architecture is essentially the same. This brings on elements of anguish and comprehension. Fools! Of course it's all the same! Meanwhile when you are in the damn stuff, lets take the Berlinische Art Gallery for instance, within minutes I just want to scream. Don't get me wrong, there are some nice drawings and paintings in there and there are some fucking awful (contemporary) 'art pieces' in there too, crap videos, crap installations etc, but it's not that, it's the sheer oppressiveness of 'nice new modern gallery'. To my credit, a long long time ago, I got a few students drunk and demanded they graffiti the walls of a gallery in Brussels. The next morning I didn't feel the tiniest bit of remorse.
Wednesday, 25 August 2010
Being laid up on holiday is a good thing (by laid up I mean not charging around on some series of of recreational quests) You get to stare at the ceiling and ponder, and watch a lot of silly TV which becomes oddly informative. Yesterday's CNN business show was dominated by the question 'Do you still work when you are on holiday?' The representatives from business on show were almost united that they did, and they were proud of it too. Only one said, 'Well to be honest I hope I hire people of a high enough calibre to do without me for a while'. The others were universally paranoid that they could not leave their work alone for fear their precious companies disintegrate without them.
Why is this happening? Well it is clear that our form of capitalism certainly not only feeds on place but also time. It is also clear that it provides an every bigger array of distractions, some of which may even appear to be work, others entertainment, others just mental impairment. The Machine, physically and metaphorically propagates itself with great speed.
I read this morning that when Gericault painted the revolutionary painting 'The Raft of Medusa'. He cut off his hair and locked himself in his studio for seven months. This seems unlikely, even absurd, today but in 1819, in France, perhaps not.
Perhaps this is a context in which we might be able to understand 'the philosophers of terror' Badiou and Zizek. Situationally we are bemused within some kind of War on Terror, both of them appear to endorse terror historically (but not the same kind), and thirdly they are terrifying because they might be right.
Tuesday, 24 August 2010
So my novel isn't going to win the fucking Nobel prize; I finally acknowledge 'there is a lot of work to do'; I suddenly despise the 'creative process'; I'm fed up with chasing my tail around in circles and I realize I don't know what I'm doing. So what do I? I do what most males (not discounting most females for all I know) do, I go on to the internet to look at some porn.
The German language service providers are very congenial. If I request one site, they pop up a list of others I might also like, in anticipation, and no matter the generally limited palate of the obvious activities, the range of interpretation is, of course, staggering. However, somewhat disturbingly it leads me to encountering five minutes of something called 'Freeze This Is A Big Butt Stick Up'. There is a hostage crisis on the television right now (I'm going to blame it on that) and I'm sure nobody there is thinking about sex in any way at all, but some genius in LA has dreamt this thing up, where the bank robber gets distracted by two shapely female bottoms, whose owners fiddle about with them for him for a bit under kinky duress, then his revolver finds unheard of and deeply disturbing use (I have never heard of anybody shooting themselves or indeed others up the arse but...) then loses concentration for the two bottoms to take their revenge by snatching the gun. I really didn't know what to make of it, except that 'degrading to women' didn't seem to be the half of it until we were delivered the prospect of fierce revenge (timer ran out- but did some research) and the hope that the gun wasn't loaded, or perhaps, if I could call up a precedent, if I could intellectually be able to summon up some critical facility for this extraordinary cultural product, I would say I had just watched five minutes of Benny Hill 'shot' by Pasolini.
Sunday, 22 August 2010
Nothing must happen on a Sunday, so I proceed with my edit. The problem with editors is that they change what you say, that is their purpose, and that's why I got sick of working for architectural magazines. That's why blogging is rather an improvement, you get to say what you want the way you want to say it.
My editor, who I am now editing back, has of course struggled mightily with my protestations in the novel, and it taketh much mirth and a slug of scotch at my side to guide the thing back from where he might be liking to take it. It is an interesting process! I suspect, not unlike architecture. The process either makes you want to give the task to somebody you know can do it better than you (like a good builder) or you get in a hissy fit over a cat flap. Luckily, I like my editor, and I shall plough onward within the vaguaries of the creative process.
Saturday, 21 August 2010
Wondered this morning if I'd end up one of those people who are always 'editing their novel' - a dispiriting thought, however, I don't think that's going to happen and I write this blog to remind me that this is not going to happen. It's just now I have to do some work. Somewhat cheered by the experience of reading the damn thing and me doing some work and Julie posting off our book on 'Reno' we went out to lunch, to Savignyplatz, to Zweiblefishe, and I've got to tell you, that cat is as big as a beaver!
Friday, 20 August 2010
It turns out that Friday is quite a treat in the Old Fella's Bar; the girl serving could have been a Helmut Newton model (or a model for Barbie, or any of such stereotype). She clomps around in her heals around the old fellas swishing her little skirt and her hair and you get to think: this is how all old peoples homes should be, it adds a sense of encouragement! She has the air of somebody who has said, 'well I never did so well at school, but then.....I grew these legs!' Mariachi music plays, the old men whistle along, she bounces about, I reach for my notebook. She probably has a phd.
Our friend Volker turns up, he's the backslapping type and we know nothing about him at all. He says to Julie (about me) 'better a crazy fool than a lumpard!' gesturing angrily to the outside world. 'I can see you like it in here ~I can smell it' he says, then 'everything is music, even squirrels running up the tree!' and spreads his arms wide (minus one finger from a wood chopping incident) in appreciation of an all too feasible beautiful world. Now Volker has lots of views on how to succeed in life, rather at odds with our just sitting in a bar. He demonstrates his new plan to mass market russian transponders that permanently track the whereabouts of your car.
Thursday, 19 August 2010
I met an amazing guy this evening, not quite by appointment, not quite by accident, but almost, as it feels now, by necessity. It's not hard to imagine what a 55yr old man in Berlin might have experienced in his life in this country, and it is very rarely exposed to somebody like me, or us - only in books and in daft melodramatic films (which of course I have enjoyed all my life) and always only in abstract (with distance) and in documentaries of course (distance?) - in documentaries there is still distance. This was rather different- no distance. People cry inside, and you can see them crying. I hope you understand what I mean. I mean, how do we account for what our parents have done when their son tells us so? How do we know anything about what we are capable of........without an idea that takes us beyond the animals?
Having just read a variety of books, some 'trashy', some theoretical, which all say the same thing; that is, in their various ways, they all say we are in the shit, and then turned on the TV to find Prof David Harvey saying also 'we're in the shit' on something called 'Hardtalk'. I can only deduce we are in the shit. The shit we are in revolves much around our passion for so called libertarian capitalism. This basically maintains your right to shop at Primark and get offended at just about anything, and assumes you see the benevolent nature of the 'War on Terror'- or makes sure you do if you don't.
Obviously for a poor sod like me this means I may not get away with a sentence such as:
'Young german women walk by with that stereotypical strut of a horse in dressage. Their ponytails swing, their limbs are taught. But it is also a certain sexual arrogance that promises the equivalent of Michael Ballack on the football pitch, it no doubt prefigures considerable and painful disappointment for all parties when the game is over'.
I'm editing my novel. I have to worry.
Tuesday, 17 August 2010
Thought I'd try Freud this morning, but The Interpretation of Dreams (a hulk of ancient polemic) proved too much. I've got my unconscious sorted with the girl and the kitten. So I wandered down to the old fellas bar on Wilmersdorfer Str, we call it that, it's actually called 'Wilhelm Hoeck Est 1892' where you sit in the dark rustic bar with the other old fellas sillouetted against the doorway in the dark and don't do very much at all, all that glimmers is the yellow of each glass of beer, shimmering in the darkness across the landscape of wooden tables. You sit still, you watch and wonder. Everything is calm and correct. Sitting still in a bar is of course is my ideal way of being. Hours will pass, 50's country and sixties pop will play on the old juke box, you will sometime or other 'well up' to 'Those Were The Days..My Friend' and so on. 'Maybe it was always my ambition to be one of those old fellas in a bar' I think to myself.
'Well you've just become one of those old fellas in a bar!' says Julie when she arrives, by way of congratulation.
There are worse things to be.
Monday, 16 August 2010
The hunt for german girl figurines with cats intensified as we returned to the place where we saw the damn thing in the first place- a year ago. The shopkeeper only speaks German and Russian and I suspect sells very little if you see what I mean. I mean, it seems to be a shop but not a shop, but to a degree way beyond bars with no customers which appear thankfully to thrive over here. So in encounters of this type, drawings of girl and cat were made, and phrase books were consulted, the light of recognition shone, and backroom searches began, and, low and behold, we have this fabulous figure right infront of us NOW on this desk. She's a real 'Ukraine girl gonner knock you out' with a kitten dancing on her pelvis, a very particular bit of her pelvis, and she is as far as I'm concerned unique (no 25). She is the remarkable conjugation of many signifiers of the sixties, and confirms that it was possible to have fun in the USSR.
Sunday, 15 August 2010
So I've sat in all the designer chairs. I've listened to the rain fall. I've read all about Chairman Mao. Maybe I should start writing fucking poetry. Here in Charlottenburg on a Sunday you'd better get used to the desire to chew your own legs off. No, look, it's lovely, we go to the street market and I realize I've developed an unhealthy interest in the qualities of german porcelain which is weird because german porcelain is by enlarge the ugliest, most vulgar stuff you can possibly imagine. However I realize that in order to have 'good taste you have to have bad taste' and so I pursue my dream of finding an adolescent female figurine rolling around playing with a pussy cat. Nothing doing. But that's OK, there's a bar round the corner at Tiergarten which as far as we're concerned, has never had anybody else in it while we've been in it, which is in itself mind bogglingly tremendous, and it's one of my favourites in the world (and where my blog picture was taken- see right). Sullen adolescent female takes our order for beer and korn and I draw diagrams on beermats of Marx's theory of value. Christ I must be good company. Julie talks me through her purchase of an early C20th cigarette tin. Love Is.
Saturday, 14 August 2010
Without music for ten days (excepting noodling techno/Cure stuff in the baby bar back in motherworld) and when our latest hostess explained 'Of course the cd player doesn't work', I take it on the chin, I say, well, they must be crazy but I still like 'em, and there's all these designer chairs to sit in. Our methods of music appraisal are obviously hopelessly outdated, out of touch, like we like 'big high quality speakers with an amp you can discuss over dinner'. Things are so quiet here I'm sure we wouldn't last a week for complaints.
However, comes a time. I was preparing dinner and the bloody football transmission via the internet disappears (however, Chelsea are one up). I think, well, tiny sound is better than nothing, and I slot the Foos into the Macbook. You know you love rock n roll when you are loving the Foos on a thing like this.
Friday, 13 August 2010
So...after ten days in isolation from 'the media' (apart from books) we got to relax in front of CNN in our new rather snazzy quarters in Charlottenburg. Boggle eyed, we reclined in designer chairs, we heard of drastic wheat failure in Russia, floods in Pakistan (no wheat there either) and mud slides in China, Man Utd's latest transfer signing etc etc and well, I have to say the situation wasn't looking good, but at least the chairs were slightly more comfortable than last year even given the designer tag (usually 'totally uncomfortable').
At which point, today I retire for lunch over the Mies dining suite. Now there's a problem here, Mies dining chairs have the propensity to involuntarily throw you right into the plate of food in front of you. They also trip you up when you dare to do anything else other but sit in them cantilevered over your sausage; ie you cannot sit sideways or anything like that. You can hardly admire your neighbour even. As a big fan of Mies, I'm pleased he stuck to buildings you couldn't inhabit at all.
Even more wonderful, I'm not sure these dining chairs are exactly the real deal. They do not look EXACTLY like the picture above. This is either down to Google images or Knoll, or some other fellas (somewhere else) 'knocking them out'.
Thursday, 12 August 2010
Woke up this morning to the sound of gunfire and explosion, to the rumble of machinery, to the screaming of the old and the young, the women and the men, the young and the elderly, to the smell of cordite and smoke and rape and death, to a vision of bodies strung up on lamp-posts for desertion, a land of total ruin, a metaphysical landscape of total inhumanity, and I was lying in one of the rooms where it could all have happened.
It's a surprise I hadn't really registered this thought before, I mean I'm sure this was one of the sectors where the Russians penetrated in the horrific fighting of April 1945. And like many I am fixated by the cataclysm that was WW2. I have a considerable library on the subject, and find myself continually glued to the National Geographic Channel when I can (obviously not here- see below). I had it in the back of my mind.
But Julie discovered a long list of civilian dead for just that month of April 1945 in a local 'park' yesterday (I mean, an empty lot next door with trees in it - not the English understanding of a park at all) which was of course a small cemetery until the previous dead were lifted up once again by allied high explosive, and of course my register shifted. Only a few of the heaviest stones remained of course, that's gravity for you.
So I got up and felt sick and above all old; fat and old. And I got myself a beer from the fridge, and I thought about it.
Later we went out to that memorial, innocuous of course, mooched around, paid near 10Euro for the smallest piece of sushi in the world and two halves of beer, watched once more in wonder the parambulations of the latest inheritors of this landscape, who of course only scream out of innocence rather than utter despair, and looked at it, and went, well, my god, even the winos in the park are playing techno on their laptops!
'Laptops are cheap these days' said Julie
'But they're fucking Macs!' I said
Winos with Macs.
This, friends, is a different landscape, an altogether different landscape from the world I understand back in London. Here even the wino's have Macs. It made me think somewhere along the line, the UK has really fucked up. We have more disparity in England than ever before, and it is a conspiracy that favours of the rich.
Notwithstanding of course the utter subjectivity of these observations (only one wino had a Mac, the others had bongos) there is much to consider.
We are away tonight to the other side of town, slightly less weird and certainly more balanced than this one, but it's been, well, quite a trip.
Wednesday, 11 August 2010
Reading is like digging a hole, and some books get you in deeper than others. The Philip Roth book I've just finished had me up to my neck, up to my fucking neck. The problem with the hole is you have to dig yourself out of it, and when I finished that book today, I just sat in silence for a while nursing a thick drink. Notwithstanding what I've said earlier, for there are many kinds of holes, even tracks, that mark your reading progress through this world, 'The Human Stain' has the sense of epic about it, or perhaps our disquieting lack of epic quality reflected back at us, and it is tremendous. It features a professor of classics caught in the morass of contemporary 'rules' which pretty much might be summed up as 'the classics are too difficult these days'.
It's so good I'm out of the house back in this bar listening to Cure records and watching the unceasing passage of mums, soon to be mums, buggies and babies once again for light relief. Apparently this place, this spot, has the highest percentage birthrate in Germany
Tuesday, 10 August 2010
What is it about architectural bookshops that is so stifling? Is it the lack of air conditioning? The anally retentive staff? Your fellow browsers, (who of course, in the circumstances, you take immediate sexual interest in out of sheer perversity). Is it the silence in which these people so dutifully browse? Is it the fact that all architects look the same? Is it the confrontation the so called great and the good (so often these days quickly manufactured before doing anything at all) The remarkable singularity and dogma of the architectural publishing world itself? Is it because you are so BORED, Is it the all pervading conservatism masked as radical thought? Yes thats it. I always go, I always hate it.
Monday, 9 August 2010
Reading Philip Roth's 'The Human Stain'. It is obviously a very good book; it is positively an avalanche of words conjugated in very fine ways. My problem is I just finished a comparatively shlock thriller which I could hardly put down which was put together all the more simply, and well, I thought it was just better. That book was Robert Harris's The Ghost. In The Ghost, Harris also says just about everything I've picked up in all that heavy theoretical stuff that I've also been trying to read by people like Zizek and Badiou, but he's saying it in a very different way. This enigma is further complicated by the fact that Zizek in particular spends most of his time deconstructing popular narratives such as Kung Fu Panda and Enigma (Harris's first major success) and making statements like 'I feel it imperative to swear in public, but never in private'. In this sense Zizek is as much a media parody as the fictional ex- Prime Minister in the Harris book. I'm not sure Harris would admit to reading Zizek, but what if he did- what kind of circle would that make?
An added intrigue is that Ewan McGreggor plays me in the film version of The Ghost. It's my flat and my whisky glass he sips from, and when I read the book, he even uses the same pen as me.
Another is that sat across from me in this quite trendy bar at five in the afternoon in Berlin (for once there are no mothers with buggies) there are two cunts from Clapman or therabouts talking about wife-swapping in Russia in accents reminiscent of Martin Fucking Amis.
'She was from Moldavia (sic)- she had fucking enormous tits!'
One of them is called Rupert.
They sell crap to Russian supermarkets, they clearly enjoyed public school, they wouldn't even get Harris if they read him because it's not in their personal interests to do so, so it's back to THEIR human stain, and possibly me swearing in public if they fuck me off for much longer.