Thursday, 4 November 2010

Dave Hickey

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.

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