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Why, when this span of life might be fleeted away
as laurel, a little darker than all
the surrounding green, with tiny waves on the border
of every leaf (like the smile of a wind): - oh, why
have to be human, and, shunning Destiny,
long for Destiny? ...
Not because happiness really
exists, that precipitate profit of imminent loss.
Not out of curiosity, not just to practise the heart,
that could still be there in laurel....
But because being here is much, and because all this
that's here, so fleeting, seems to require us and strangely
concerns us. Us the most fleeting of all. Just once,
everything, only for once. Once and no more. And we, too,
once. And never again. But this
having been once, though only once,
having been once on earth - can it ever be cancelled?

And so we keep pressing on and trying to perform it,
trying to contain it within our simple hands,
in the more and more crowded gaze, in the speechless

Rainer Maria Rilke
The Duino Elegies ·
The Ninth Elegy (1922)

posted by Ian 9/11/2003 11:24:00 AM
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Just as bodies lay themselves open all round to attractive and friendly things and go to meet them, so when they happen on things hateful and hostile they fly from them all round and pull back and withdraw into themselves.

{Francis Bacon
History of Density and Rarity

_ * * * * _

We must ... investigate the individual and particular friendships and quarrels or sympathies and antipathies of bodies with diligence and care, seeing that they bring with them such a number of useful things.

{Francis Bacon
New Abecedarium of Nature

posted by Ian 9/11/2003 11:16:00 AM
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On September 11, in Chicago, a speaker addressing an assembly representing various religious bodies spoke the following words:
'Sectarianism, bigotry and its horrible descendant, fanaticism, have long possessed this beautiful earth. They have filled the earth with violence, drenched it time and again with human blood, destroyed civilisation and sent whole nations to despair.'

These words were spoken on September 11, 1893. The occasion was the Parliament of Religions. The speaker, a man named Vivekananda, a western-educated disciple of the nineteenth-century Hindu mystic, Ramakrishna. A century earlier the French philosopher Voltaire had reached a similar conclusion. Acutely aware of the injustices and cruelty committed in the name of religion, he concluded from his reading of history that 'the differences between religions constituted the single most important cause of strife in the world.'

_ + + + + _

The combination of a literalist approach and selective use of foundational or scriptural texts is not a new phenomenon nor is it confined to those who label themselves fundamentalists. It was not until 1943 that the Catholic Church accepted the principle of biblical criticism and acknowledged that the literal sense of the Scriptures is not always obvious because of the manner in which these books were originally compiled. [...] Until that defining moment the literalist understanding of the Bible was used to condemn those who like Galileo dared to question the creationist account of the universe. It was also used to support the doctrinal claims for unity, catholicity and exclusiveness that required the persecution of heretics and were used to justify the horrors of the Inquisition

[. . .]

A new phenomenon, however, is the tendency particularly among graduates in the hard sciences and information technology to use the Qur'an and other foundational texts as if these were instructional or operating manuals. Unlike their counterparts in law, history or theology who are accustomed to critically evaluating the language of texts, the attitude of some religiously minded technology students appears to leave no room for interpretation. The letter of the text is what matters. It is difficult to assess how widespread this tendency is but it is a disturbing development that is likely to lead to the justification of further violence committed in the name of God.

{both quotes:
Oliver McTernan
Violence in God's Name {Religion in an Age of Conflict}

[Darton, Longman & Todd 2003]
{latter emphases I.P.

posted by Ian 9/11/2003 10:54:00 AM
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- _______________________ +

posted by Ian 9/11/2003 10:47:00 AM

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... AND ON ...

... and isn't the following lyric fragment just about two thirds of Lacan summed up in three or four lines ?

I've been looking for something
I've always wanted but was never mine
But now I've SEEN that something
Just out of reach glowing, very Holy Grail ...

... and on, and on ...
... into the hinterlands of your every future pop disappointment ... and limpid idealisations based on the merest blurriest evidentiary meconnaissance ... ah!, the triumph of spirited self-kiddology over experience as, once more, you set out to chase that spectacular, specular, mechanical bunny round the curve of Desire's never ending bend ... Ding! And they're off! ... Way off ...

With every goddess a let-down
Every idol a bring down
It - gets - you - down.
But your search for perfection
Your own predilection
Goes on ... and on ... and on
... and ON ...

+ of -

posted by Ian 9/08/2003 03:35:00 PM
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And she answered with a tender voice: "Let us be good friends."

--But what have I told you here, dear reader, that is not an event of yesterday or the day before. . . .

For time is infinite, but the things in time, the concrete bodies, are finite. They may indeed disperse into the smallest particles; but these particles, the atoms, have their determinate number, and the number of configurations that, all of themselves, are formed out of them is also determinate.

Now, however long a time may pass, according to the eternal laws governing the combinations of this eternal play of repetition, all configurations that have previously existed on this earth must yet meet, attract, repulse, kiss, and corrupt each other again. . . .

And thus it will happen one day that a man will be born again, just like me, and a woman be born, just like [you] -- only that it is to be hoped that the head of this man may contain a little less foolishness -- and in a better land they will meet and contemplate each other a long time; and finally the woman will give her hand to the man and say with a tender voice: "Let us be good friends."

{Heinrich Heine

_ ---- _

posted by Ian 9/08/2003 03:09:00 PM
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CPL 593 ah

Just a brief passing ghost of a thought, prompted by marK-Punk dating his berth rite ascension* to the epo-nymous first ROXY album. Just to note that one of the spectrally speck-trail things about those first two {at a push, three} ROXY sets, is that they ARE so haunted ... the very opening line, first song, first album: "I tried but I could not find a way / LOOKING BACK all I did was look away ..." Ferry is already beyond, beyond exhaustion, already entangled in return, diminishing returns, a spectre spectating at his own Masque of the Glam Death feast, from the cocktail sounds of that opening on-the-make-for-new-model scene to the ah-sigh posthumous post-party um-ha-nimal self autopsy on Stranded {and what a title that is/was! and how many trails & detours does that immediately prompt!} that is the awesomely haunting schizo hymn "Mother of Pearl" {and explicit reference therein, never forget, to the breakdown father of all Return To Forever thoughts with that glorious glancing blow of a line that is: "Thus, even Zarathustra / Another time loser / Could BELIEVE in YOU." ... oh my yes ... }

... and where are we, now? Who, "we"?
Me, just a few tracks in and I'm already lost in all these lustrous trails of return and breakdown management and gnostalgia and - ...

... as I was saying to a mother of pearl all my phantasmal own only recently - via e-mail but of course, where else but the spectral atopian space of wemail, oui!-mail? - trying to explain to her Other-universe mind how a 1970s British sit-com called The Liber Birds {oops! Crowelyian slip!} ... The Liver Birds rather, lingered on in my own hauntological image resevoir, strictly down to one single sliver of a scene, wherein one of the two, the two birds {and was that an explicit reference to the winged creatures who pecked at what's-his-name's mythical liver?}, in their flat, love lorn, as ever, the eternal return of the same bloomin (un-blooming) fella, destined to break your feathery heart while he fills his bleedin' beak, and here she stood, punk flamingo like, scarecrow as much as "bird", the thin silvery one, common as Lack indeed, standing at the pre-ironic Ironing Board, her tears dissolving into brassy steam, drip drop, tripped hope, tricked love, trap, drop and in the background tho' but, here's the mnemonic solo, the Proustian Penguin jingle, in the background, LOUD, to drown out her sorrowful thoughts, playing like a WAKE, like a Greek chorus of city waits, awesomely melancholy, Ferry, at his most prima, Callas reborn as Budgie, Roxy, yes, the first ablum, mark you, "We've been running round / In our present state / Hoping help will come from above. But even angels there make the same ms.takes . . . in love ... in love ... in love .... in LOOOOOVE." Ferry's voice like a gnostic lovebird gone stir crazy inside a cave of shadowy memories, long blanc nights, caged bird songs, projected slides of lost lovers... Platonic polaroids, semblances, resemblances, representations ... looking back all I did was look- ...

... and that "present state" {which two words alone I could spin into a 30,00 word speculation, a breeze,nae bother} I'm sure crops up soon in another mournful plaint, for our pleasure, with the mournful passagen werk of time I can't be entirely sure now, sure now, whether it was Side Two track two "Chance Meeting" or Side Two track four "Sea Breezes," chance meeting of a bogus (bird) man and an Oblique Peacock strutegy on an ironing board, I think I'm sure it was "Sea Breezes", one of the two, rare birds, in their rare plumage of pink pyjamaramah, I can remember the scene to its echoic letter, static meeting of a sitcom teardrop with a sonic shiver, an Eno-iac timbre, oh, can you imagine the equivalent nowadays?, I mean, you know, epicentral episode of Friends where the scatty one finally has her long overdue BREAKDOWN, with Sylvian's Blemish in the lonely flat background, or one of those smart aleck 20/30 something sub-let pub-Friends BBC2 &/or 3 xerox coms, all shag jokes and come hither titters, the eternally same British sexual situ, no shivers, absolutely no we-ssance or oui-dance or joui-sense, none, all just perplexed male sniffing around flighty post-Heat mini skirt dolly birds, and they all have apparently boundless lease majeste on flats that would cost you £450 per in London, even tho they never do a stroke of anything but their dissimulated disappearing Loaded-world erections and wet patches, snigger snigger, please, not on the virginal white of this spotless nu Ikea suite, sweetypie, but can you imagine?, one of THEM, one of the identikit i-pod Hornbyite lover bird people, with the quick wits ha ha, and pert post-Potter tits, can you imagine one of them, seduced and abandoned, ALONE, SILENT, no punchline, nothing, SOBBING, can't stop breaking down to a soundtrack of, I dunno, say, Cobain's last-gasp "Where Did You Sleep Last Night?" My girl, my girl, don't LIE to me ..., well, I just don't think so somehow, not in a month of ... oh. Oh dear: I've gone a little off the Ferryman track here haven't I? Oh ...

... well, {"-well, I've been up all night / AGAIN !?"} you can do the homework yourself, from "Remake/Remodel" as oh-pen and already SHUT opening statement (!/!}, the whole unholy thing, in brite pink and sigh-fi blues yet, hello/goodbye as an opening putsch, oh wow ... SHOW me! ... glimmer of true glamour here, a successful spell cast across our waiting little minds ... across every haunted hunted haggard track in the strandead on arrival span of these three albums, from the threndody O.D. of "2 HB" {"Words don't express my meaning, notes could not spell out the score / But finding not keeping's the LESSON. Your memory stays, it lingers ever, fade away never..."} thru the wholly stranded lo-land of Roxy Music Side Two, thru the anti-dance step (Blanchot's "pas" - step/not - made eleventh hour disco commandment} of "[UN]Do The Strand!" ... all the party creatures stranding around in their absent ambient state, ragpicking the recent Biba be-bop sha na NAH past, for to frill a ghostly uniformity to gild their coked-up cooped up Kings Rd night ... on the qui vive for a vital last gasp gulp of oxygen, any roxygen ... just to keep the Europarty going a shade longer ... keep awake at all costs ... AGAIN!?
... on, on into the deep deep disturbing BLUE, the properly uncanny last gasp of "Strictly Confidential" (last testament not loveletter: ... with every STEP a change ...) on, on down into the valley of shadows that is - do I even need to go here, class? - the awesomely askew shadows couple of "The Bogus Man" and the strange strange title track (a title track which ENDS this suite, rather than OPENING it, which entitles you to all sorts of queer thoughts about good boys and good byes, right down to its last hauntological seconds, its barely discernible second voice, the Other, en voiced in all her barely there outline, hardly more than a voloptuous syllable in outline ...
... ah, what is it she whispers into your shell like, you silly silly boy? You've been running round after bloody meaning again, haven't you, silly silly boy will you never LEARN? Looking for redemption when all you needed and all I wanted was a half decent fuck, jesus christ and andy warhol, you "intellectual" ferrymen are all alike, your fatal liking for lack lustre moods, always wanting to go somewhere when you could be perfectly happy making someone come, to-fro, to-fro, TA RA, TA RA, TA ...but no ta very much, I know you ambiguous types with blatantly diffident Ai No Corrida invitations and bloody weird Germans yet your idea of background seduction muzak and your theories of crypts and invagi bloody nation and differance yes yes differance with the vital ingredient all important sodding "a" , ah yes, and jouissance, always jouissance like it was some sort of "Bingo!" shout, you'll be wanting me to play dead next like that bloody BUNUEL film, when, when it comes right down to it you're all FORT DA and no AH ... Ta bloody RA ...
... and what is it, what IS it she says, on her regal way out from this terminally desolate rather than merely dissolute wake of a party of your's - may be YOUR idea of Pleasure but it sure isn't ... - this shark blue plexi-dress hymn to ruination...
... -there you go again, she says, by now poised on the threshold, one last glare over her shoulder, I should have known fucking RUINS would come into it somewhere, I wouldn't be surprised you're back on those fucking DRUGS again ... ARE you?
... this glorious haunted RUIN of a song, crumbling shrine, a b side, a negative sigh of an off side stranded between, always between, between this life and the next, a side two, the Other side, a shrinking strip of a Tu Side, an Other side to all the Glam, the grim side, the sinking ship, the tossed aside ... I could talk talk talk myself to death / But I BELIEVE: I would only waste my BREATH ... I would swim all the ocean floor / I would walk a THOUSAND miles, reveal my SECRETS- - Oh christ here we go {and she SIGHS, heavily} - yeah yeah yeah, would would would with you ALWAYS isn't it when all a girl wants is a decent length of WOOD ... tossed over her black as Rilke's panther shoulder, gravel hard and looose, what it IS, she says, amid the strange whoosh and lapidary tumble of the descending music, what it IS about your always already PRE-sent state, your state of already decided destination rather than the TRUE CHANCE of momentarily becoming, what it is, she whispers, her last words heard nowhere but deep inside your own nodding, isolate head ...


... and thus ends one of the strangest spookiest tracks ever laid down by any band in any epoch, epochxymusic?, OH no ... but it WAS on a best selling album yet, but jesus, for our PLEASURE? They were kidding, rite? One of the most recessed, cryptic, encrypted, downbeat, melancholy, hopeless, mournful ... I mean, even the "throwaway" tracks boomerang back to you with these odd little depressions in them, hollows, recesses, pointers {and an electronically treated HARMONICA solo for framing, yet!}: hopeless cases with FAKE alibis ...

... and I'm not sure I should even get started on even the title alone of Stranded or especially on the absolutely without-par "Mother of Pearl" ... which, just coincidentally, is followed by the ebb time glimmer of {a} "SUNSET", limnal, liminal, lapidary, lapping ... one final wave, in, out, history repeats itself, yeah yeah, ta ra little fun boy ... you'll be quoting fucking Heinrich Heine at me next, I know you, don't forget, well, NOT tonight you don't Nietzsche Boy, I'm GONE, OUT of here ... so pick the present ABSENCE out of that ...
... and the waves are the waves in the echo of your own blood, now, all memories, all gone, every one, Ideal love flies away night ..., ta ra indeed ...

Have you a future?
No ... no ... no ... NOOOOOOOO ...


... looking for love in a looking glas world ... - oh god I'm going to have to take this damned record OFF or I'll be here all day and half the night {AGAIN?!} underlining every second word ... is pretty HARD for you ...

+ **** -

*{by the way, what a splendidly & fittingly Derridean name is "Mark"! Mark, trace, inscription, re-presentation, therefore there-not-there ... "boundary land ... a conspicous object serving as a guide for travelers ..." {OH yes! just so!} "... something (as a line, notch ...) designed to record position ... the point under discussion ..." and on ... find the page in Websters for your own delight, & further education, calling all Johnsons, mark these words, page 703 in mine, marked at the top right hand corner with margin · mark and {oh WOW! And here I sense Coincidence Control Center working overtime! Replete with a lovely illustration of a margay: a small American spotted cat! (Felis tigrina) And we won't even start in on happily adjacent words like march or mare's nest, now, though, but, oh ...mark my words ...
... But oh just don't just DON'T even get me started on Ferry's nom, the ferryman, the passeur, oh, oh no ... no ... NO ...

posted by Ian 9/08/2003 01:57:00 PM

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{{ ......... and, of course
I didn't consciously realise as I was doing it at the time, but what my last post amounted to was my addressing the recently deceased about the puncept idea of HAUNTology ... Who knows the ways & whys of the Unconscious, ah?
......... }}

posted by Ian 9/07/2003 08:29:00 PM
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ONTO-. . .

In critical terms, critically, when it comes right down to it, what I find wrong with doomsayers like MacDonald, is their cut and dried epoch making: that was then, this is now, then was good better best, now is ... disorder, thin glam-pop gruel, mere flashy temporality, splintered territory: as though Time could be sliced into ontological cuts tracks or T-bones.

Surely far more fitting & critically profitable {I won't use the word "better"} - especially as we're dealing with the invisible domain of music; the absent presence of recorded sounds - to think in hauntological terms: of ghosts, hauntings, spectres {and spectors}, revenance not relevance ... endless RE-turn.

Much as I admire some of the stuff in The People's Music, I cannot stand the implied moral pay-off line therein: back then music had meaning, endlessly parsable lyrics, veils of real audio resonance; now, post-Death, it ... well, it what?

I just cannot acccept any 'Death of...' arguments.

How listen to something like Gillian Welch's "I Dream A Highway" {14 minutes, gone in a sigh ...} and imagine things, now, are deathly dull, wrung out, second best? Oh, real Country music DIED a long long time ago did it {?} ... only if you behold or hold on to or participate in Life on purely arm's-length between-tongs like terms ... tidily parcelled out epochs of Time ... epochxy residue here and there if you're lucky, the odd "authentic" return to proper form - a Bruce Springsteen fist, a White Stripes wail or holler, a Ladysmith Block Tokenismo fandango ... Later With F W Hegel ... solid, meaningful, full of the right "spirit" of rock n roll or something ... but 'spirit' in these cases always seems to feel something like a Boy Scout proficiency badge, implied goodness, learned craft, eudaemonistic vestiges hanging clammily euphonic in the People's Air after that final, triumphal chord change ... change is good only when it changes things back to How They Used To Be ... {!?}

... rather than Spirit as uncanny, un-negotiable on our old "good OR bad" "meaningful OR trash" "signal OR noise" ontological terms, no, foxier than that, smokier, tricksier, feral, threshold, revenant waves, neither here nor there ... and why shouldn't "spirit" pass into or leak out of a computer set-up, a nu console, a sampling techne? It's just one more tool ... :} the same people, when pressed, never fail to declaim that what makes some unarguable masterwork like Pet Sounds or What's Goin On really click is its ... "spirit".

Analog attracted Los Angeles spooks in a way new technology just doesn't, somehow, some unholy reason ...

... as again, i stand in witness, i stand in flames, astonished, awed, how could anyone listen to David Sylvian's Blemish and say that any interface with computers is a priori going to result in "cold" "inhuman" music? Or that this darkening, airy, intimate, haunted music isn't as deeply richly strange as the best Nick Drake? That it doesn't have that same 'x' factor, the hauntological factor or fibre, precisely, so that even its bleakest seeming seconds feel rounded up, in time, into a far higher larger final affirmative YES to this doubtful world ...? A music which you can almost hear taking {its} place in Time ... ?

How could you possibly even begin to think to say that such a music belongs to some pale imitation Now, is moored [t]here, irretrievably, doomed to be eternally second best - spirtually, lyrically, sonically, socially - in comparison to all that went before ...?

Where has it gone, all that went before?

It circles, in all our haunted air; it isn't locked up in some institutional lockdown, hemmed up inside solid wall cells, let out occasionally to (h)exercise, as a right more than a rite, locked away inside a tarnished charm bracelet, dead feather, moulting lock, consigned to and defined by some grumbly old codger's peeling yellow last word Post-It scrawl: Memories ...

No: music is in the air, in memory, diffuse & porous, it is both archaic mourning and eternally new morning, a perpetual echo at the edge of hearing, cricket whisper background and ritual heartbeat, it is the butterfly inside our skull ...

"The record caught the air of London nineteen sixty-five
The places I go are never there
The places I go are never there
Nostalgia isn't what it used to be
I can only picture the disappearing world when you touch me
When you touch me . . . ."

{Sam Phillips · "Taking Pictures"

posted by Ian 9/07/2003 04:46:00 PM
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Love love love love love.
When did I start using this world like some guppy-eyed gullible old hippy?
I guess it's that there's a love I imagine, which is more like a frayed tightrope, or a guerilla campaign, or a revolution, or a feral adventure, or a smile in the street ... than "love" qua mills & swoon {not that I don't enjoy the odd swoon now and then, as you know, comes down to it ...}

But just thinking about how all these different strands seem to tangle up purposefully at some {imagined?, but hopefully, not vanishing} point....

One of the books I've been reading [Rouse Up O Young Men of The New Age! by Kenzaburo Oe] and one of the records I've been listening to most [the finally-issued-on-CD On The Beach by Neil Young] ... there seems to me this sub-vox note of hope, here and there, I think: of hope and care and reaching out to others and ... and Love.
Love as a tiny speck at first, to be sure, but a love that turns out to be supremely timely, a welcoming fire in the forest, burning away the dead wood of imagined or ingrained solitude, to reveal a welcoming fire for to banish your darkest loneliest nights in loving smoke and spectral ash and glowing brisance.

Marcello has already touched upon this; but ... how odd that these two 'events' should coincide: the final second coming of Young's {and thereby also MacDonald's, as Marcello and I'm sure not Marcello alone sees it} masterpiece, and IMac's decision to, as they say, end it all.

But ... end what? End what "all"? End ... whose all?

* ---- *

I never knew IMac, tho' I knew people who knew him {and I thereby know too much already, to tell the truth}, and we had close brushes near misses as it were at the NME circa early 80s; he hadn't meant anything much to me as a writer in those Golden mid 70s, because rather than the Kent IMac CSM gang, I was more of a Street Life and Let It Rock boy. {Idris Walters was my Hero: my GOD, I can still virtually recite from memory, nearly 30 years on, bits of his pieces on Tim Buckley and Keith Hudson ... } I can remember just a couple of lines from IMac - briliant lines, studded in the memory like silver currency in some cloyingly bland cakemix - one from a singles review of The Wailers [live] 45 "No Woman No Cry" - he described, I think, the moment when the organ comes in as like a Boeing taking off - and a line from, I think, a Henry Cow review, where he described the collective improvisation, the intensity and oddity of it, as being something like a huge flailing naked octopus, stranded on dry land, under glaring megawatt stadium lights. Something like that.

My other memories aren't, in truth, so good.

No one ever told you anything at the NME: they didn't say, oh, by the way, douse any of those young-kid pant-pant preconceptions you may have before they come in today, those superstars of yesteryear, because Pete Erskine is now a puffy down-at-cowboy-heel junkie who downs Carlsberg Special Brews for breakfast*; and IMac is a terminal clinical depressive who now hates the young and their Music and all it stands for with a spiteful solipsistic venom {and, we now find out, had apparently already tried to kill himself twice at this point}.
With the result that:

a) Someone I Know, who DID worship IMac as a teen, went all excited to lunch with IMac and the paper's editor {who must, surely, have been aware of the potential conflagration/sadness up ahead, but was either himself too dopily solipsistic or blithely out to lunch to care either way or actually say beforehand to either of the parties in question ...}. And this IMAc Fan, this friend of mine, who I loved and love still like a brother, with whom I was at that time having the TIME OF MY LIFE, we excited each other to new heights daily, the way that young lovers do, or should do, anyhow, this IMac Fan was forced to cut short his benedictory lunch and came back to the office in tears, after IMac had spitefully, venomously, hatefully, soil-ipsistically, deliberately/offhandedly disproportionately DAMNED everything this person was currently so excited about in our nineTEEN eighty something world.

Which relates also to ...

b) This MASSIVE {threeweeks times FOUR full pages of text: well, you can imagine how some of us felt, who had lately had to battle for every inch for our polymorphic enthusiasms} IMac piece - called, I think, 1984 - and OH, what a DREARY portent that title seemed, and OH how right we were to suspect the most conservative with a small 'c' sort of "political" diatribe, politics as if detached from life, politics as if you were being Lectured To, from a Great Height, Orwellian in the worst way, dry, fact based, flat earth socialism, Orwellian in the keep it simple & uncluttered prose style, sure, that has its benefits too, yes, but not truly Orwellian, in that it was so dryly, pathologically, in-humanly FATALISTIC ....

I still remember one line in it: it still rankles.
I brought this line up at an Editorial Meeting.
I rose to my full puffed up amphetamine'd mini me guerilla height, and QUOTED this line out loud.
The piece as a whole was, you know, doom doom doom, Thatcher, surveillance, we're all fucked, we're all automata, unthinking, unfeeling {it was IMac's LOW review without the diversion of music or an Other mind to do argumentative battle with; it was IMac's ON THE BEACH piece, without the warmth & humanity provided by Young}, and YES, probably impeccably researched and accurate, but, BUT ... I don't remember a word of it, now, any of its postulations or predictions (which is surely a sign of something, anyway, to start with), except this ONE LINE, I do remember this line and how it crystallised something for me, in my young unknowingness (unknowing about IMac's personal situ, his STATE of mind, not what his mind thought about the State or "our" state, but certainly not unknowing about intensity or vision or politics or writing persausively and seductively and subversively, about love, perhaps even at that young age, light years ahead in my knowledge of some of those things), so I said what I was thinking, to wit:

It may be all very well, all this - waves hands airily - late blooming political conscience stuff but listen to this...
Then I read the line which - again, this is only from memory - but this IS how it went:
'We're all doomed, we're all fucked, [because] we sit alone, in dark little rooms, unable to touch or reach out and communicate with each other, lost in miasmas of Me Generation mirror reflection and navel gazing and...'
What the fuck IS this? {I was fiery then, you know: I was!}
This has nothing to do with me or my life! This does not describe the lives of anyone I know! I would hazard that it describes even less the lives of a good majority of our readers, young, older, male, female, gay, straight, intellectual, hedonist, whatever. What the fuck is this guy on about? Except, OBVIOUSLY, himself? His OWN situation? This is SO OBVIOUSLY {and you have to remember, I knew nothing, no one said anything, no one EVER said anything, these cool dope smoking men to a man said nothing} just about this guy and his own fucked-up situation ... sitting in a room unable to ... FUCK off! WE are all out on marches! or at clubs! having the time of our fucking life! Even - or especially - when arguing politics! We're fighting back! We're reading new books! We're discovering NEW perspectives! We're DANCING to a new mutant strain!

{IMac, like Certain Other Members in the older NME remnants bin, had suddenly found a Political Conscience / Consciousness. I remember one, who started to humorlessly, patronisingly RANT at us about it, day in day out, in prolier and PC-ier than thou terms ... when, er, excuse me, but FUCK RIGHT OFF. I've read the entire works of Gramsci and you've just read a few columns by Paul Foot and John Pilger. I tried to interest you in all this "boring political stuff" stuff TWO YEARS AGO and you said, no, you were happy in your "autistic little Ramones universe" and that politics had no business being in "rock and roll": ... OK? Remember? So don't start fucking lecturing ME on how politics works, matey: we've been there, done that, and are onto the next, rather more subversive project. So, back off to your leather jacket corner and ostenatiously displayed CRANKS bag and go bore the passion out of someone who gives a holy rollin' Other-patronisin' shite ...}

- ++++ -

But seriously, I get the {wider} feeling this relates also to the line, repeated in all of the Ian MacDonald obituaries, that he had been deeply depressed for three years now "over the state of the world."
Now, again - not to speak ill of the dead, and dignified silence for a minute, yes, and for all you or I know, this "state of the world" thing was a front, a mask, a blind, and the real reason was FAR more personal, or, if this was actual clinical depression then indexing it to the political state of the world is like blaming your diabetes on Downing Street in-fighting: i.e., there IS no connection. There is certainly no CAUSAL connection; i.e., immersing yourself in the unrelenting horror and lies and stink of World News 24/7 will certainly not help you climb OUT of a depression {and which, that is certainly one of the reasons I find it impossible to maintain this [b]log as a 24/7 World News vigil}, but it didn't "cause" it to begin with.

And to me, that rankles. Once again.
I'm sorry; and please tell me if you think I'm out of line here {and I actually wrote a far more vehement take on all this last night but shelved it, out of some vestigial sense of proper time and place and so forth ... but} BUT it's what I FEEL, in my gut.
That "state of the world" thing is like a final finger wag from IMac at all us poor fools who CAN'T see the world in its true awful colors, we aren't supra sensitive or politcally acute enough or something ...

Perhaps this "explanation" was even left by him in a note, he seems to have planned [t]his last Act meticulously down to the last detail, ticking off each detail, a bit like some of the pieces in The Peoples Music: tick tick tick, yes, but ... where's the spirit, where's the membraneous "I" that links the writer's mind to the warm hummmm and glorious battle of the music to the reader's intimately distant "you"? Where's IAN in all this? Where's his REAL voice? Why didn't or couldn't he reach out and touch? No one, I'm sorry, but NO ONE commits suicide at his age over the state of the world. That's a teenager's sallow, shallow notion; and a cruel one at that. Suicide can be the cruellest act {or acte apparently gratuite} at the "best" of times, for those it leaves behind, on the farther shore of unknowingness, even not so close friends may be torn in two by such quiet exits in the night ... and here was a man who was in pain, and I sympathise and empathise with that pain, such unendurable last-mile pain, I have brushed against it myself, but I keep coming back to that "state of the world" thing and it leaves a sour or unpleasant taste with me.
As, perhaps, for other people, does the "timing" (and as this was a meticulously dispatched act, why not include the timing of it?), i.e., to chime in with the chorus of praise he had just that moment received for The People's Music. Overwhelming praise? For something he knew in his heart wasn't that necessary or that good {compared to ...}? Certainly not INARGUABLY so: there is MUCH to argue with in those pages, certainly when it morphs from being just a compilation of proficient 300-word Uncut reviews into its sub rosa central "thesis", which basically springs from a quite explicitly stated nostalgie de la boue, or, MY boue, that Bowie-knife-edge boho ho ho BOUE life that was mine, and my mates, BACK THEN: bascially: Our Time was the Golden Time, our music was the golden song, everything since has been downfall, especially since COMPUTERS entered the sonic picture ...

Well, golden and great as it surely must have been to be alive in those crazy NME days pre punk, which WEREN'T dead wood years, contra received opinion, FAR from it, with Can followed by Exile on Main Street followed by Blood On The Tracks followed by a new Wyatt album followed by a shedload of new reggae followed by On The Beach e.g.... as Danny Baker once said to me, every generation thinks IT'S NME was the best, and every generation loses its HEART to ITS strange new music. And I really don't think it was beyond the capability of such a ruthlessly intelligent man as IMac to see this: I think he rather flat out REFUSED to see it, admit its truth, a healing truth not a drowning truth, because he didn't want to see it, because it suited his isolate high eyrie position {like some Cambridge don of music crit} not to acknowledge the HEART-felt truth of something like: a stray track on an Underworld lp may touch some young kid today with as much devastating tenderness and strangeness and truth as a Dylan track did for him back in 1966 ...

I nearly did the unthinkable, in fact, I can't remember - I may even have done it - but I got so riled by IMac's [again] OFFHAND old fogeyish - 'PAH! mere computers: why bother listening any further?' - review of an Underworld cd in UNCUT that I ranted down a response onto this I-Mac, and was going to e mail it in to the Letters page. This was pre BLOG {for me), obviously. And also pre- my first writing for then being peremptorily cut out from Uncut.
{In itself a cowardly act, an inhuman dispatch, done without a word, without an explanation, by COWARDS, by MANAGERS who don't even have the grace to admit they have become MANAGERS, well, that's OK, we Johnsons know who our friends are and don't worry we have looooong memories fer this type of backstab thing ...}

But the relative conditions do invite a speculation Marcello has already touched on. Like:
1970s: IMac as part of this funhouse crew {Tylers x2, CSM, Kent, Erskine, Bell et al), who live in each others denim pockets, live and booze and smoke and speed and dope and play INCREDIBLE music and - tho they may not have admitted it in such terms at the time - LOVE each other, or provide an unspoken net of love and care and support {or at least, one would hope that was the case ...}
CUT to
Uncut: IMac, filing from home, out in the sticks, by email then like all of us do, filing his tiny little drops of pro (forma) reviewing, back to the dreaded IPC monolith building, the Castle of old, but where once he wrote two page psychological analyses of On The Beach and Low, now he files 100 word "reviews" of Crusaders and Janis Ian reisuses. The vinyl has gone; the thinking writing fighting for thought space has gone; the buddies have gone; the air is thick with ghosts; the ... ah, but this is where it gets sticky. Becoz to IMac, he made it clear, the MUSIC had gone, too.

And I think everyone here would take issue with that: stake our lives on it.

Which brings me back, again, to that insinuation: if you kept your eyes open to the state of the world you would do this {suicide} too....

And I reject that 1000%, and more and more.
It rankles with me the more I think about it. It really rankles.
But ... I also hear the sound of a lost and lonely man, lonely most of all perhaps, and maybe that was in truth truly what he couldn't take, the state of his own world, the fact that he could react in his head to a 1000 things but knew, in his heart, that the heart knows better, and that somewhere back along the road, years or decades ago, he had cut off a piece of himself from the world, and it had withered and died. You just can't live - ALONE - in your head. You can't cerebrate your world out of existence. You can't think {teenager like} you are the only person feeling these aches, this pain. You can't live without love. You can't put music over here, in a tiny little epoch sized box, and HOARD it in your brittle head like some cyberfied Miss Haversham, behind layers of dust, like your youth's epiphany was the only one the world has ever seen, and let the world go on - a way way over there, out the cobwebbed porthole window, as if IT wasn't you and YOU weren't it. You can't really think that no one else feels the pain, the rotten unrelenting rotteness of the state of the world, that other people too don't wake, shocked, sobbing, crying, lost, in the night, just wanting to be HELD, like big old babies, reeling from something they just read about Rwanda and which returns, returns, like the down stroke of a machete, returns and won't let you REST, rest there in your comfortable estate, your cats uncomprehending eyes, even they know something is up with you {what's that Rilke line? Even the watching beasts know ... ? "And even the noticing beasts are aware / that we don't feel very securely at home / in this interpreted world." Oh god, yes, and... "And so I repress myself, and swallow the call-note / of depth-dark sobbing."**}, or just sobbing, uncontrollably, with no real idea of any "cause", finally, just a scimitar cut of pure LOSS, of such shocking brutal suddenness and bottomless hollow cosmic sadness, and a sadness that is bluer than more mere blues, a dark, dark - ...I'm reminded here, suddenly, of a letter, a letter Tim Buckley wrote to his friend Lee Underwood, one of those letters that come out of the blue, or nearer the black, revealing this other side to a friend, someone - OK, you knew they were maybe going through a bumpy patch, but ... but not this ...:

"You are what you are, you know what you know, and there are no words for loneliness, black, bitter, aching loneliness, that gnaws the roots of silence in the night [. . . .] and our fame is lost, our names forgotten, our powers are wasting from us like mined earth while we lie here at evening and the river flows . . . . and dark time is feeding like a vulture on our entrails, and we know that we are lost, and cannot stir."

* ---- *

But there was a time whe IMac still believed, functioned as a head and a heart, as one, just, but that just is the salve that maybe heals our wounds and may save the last breath of love from extinction, that just isn't "just" as in "just one more so-so record" but something someone said to you JUST in time, and it is also the "just... wait" of eventual justice and just HOW THINGS SHOULD BE, and how you can make them if you hang onto the friends you have, and honour that friendship as maybe the last sacred thing we have left, and honor the things they make you feel, whoever it is makes you feel whatever {whether it's a line in a Lester Bangs review, or some anonymous smile, or an odd quiet song, or an unexpected email}, and that JUST is a 1000 million times more vital and important than who played which fucking tambourine on "All You Need Is Love", and well, maybe finally sadly all he did need was love, like we all do, but just couldn't bring himself to nakedly admit such, and maybe finally all he needed was to switch off his chattering oh-too-cerebral brain, sink down to his knees, tears in his eyes, and SURRENDER, accept the need for love ... and see that not ALL the world is the grey you paint it during the very worst times.

Once when he projected onto things, and painted them in his own sharp hues, it was good. The piece he wrote about On The Beach will stand, because it is that rare thing - an actual RE-view, or rather, to escape the typically specular langauge we have all inherited, a RE-hear. He heard past the cliches and quick draw judgements; heard that - ironically - far from being a depressed or depressing piece of work, this was a glorious howl AGAINST hopelessness. That, almost by definition like any true work of soul or art, its very existence is a protest against vacuity and second best and shirked responsibility and numbed response and callow silence and professional cowardice and slinking away into the protective shallows or shadows ... and which, this is exactly what RE viewing should be {and which very few writers actually manage, and it is of an entirely different tone and resonance from OTT first-call judgements full of hype and clever cleverness and signifying little in the longer term; someone like Marcello has it, indeed seems blessed - or cursed - with a facility for it that seems near supernatural at times in its slow calm patient hearing, even if as writers we know every piece is hard fought and won, every difficult emotion hard owned}, and IMac was still capable of it, the beginning and end pieces of The Peoples Music - not coincidentally? - were longer pieces, one on Dylan {marred only by a bizarre dismissal of Blood On The Tracks which could only have been made by someone who knew very little of affairs of the heart and loins, of someone cut off from men and women and the things - good and bad - they do to one another, so that the resonance of those bloody raw tender Tracks just didn't fall around him natural as a suit made of clouds the way it does 99% of people who hear it} and one on Nick Drake.

The Drake piece (as Marcello has already noted) has something of a vivid Proustian catch in its written {smitten} voice: those golden days, that halcyon time, when guitars were strummed and all the chords were open as our hearts and the chicks wore chick like summery dresses as soft as summer itself and the meadows of hope and calm and friendship stretched out for ever and dope was all you needed, no crack or viruses or cluster bombs back then, no, no damned soul-less computer beeps & beats {altho there again, IMac was one of those ex-60s kidz who damned computer muzik in public but in private held an almost boundless enthusiasm for ... yes, computer use} and the piece as a whole (or glowingly candle lit Alice hole} can be seen as a disguised attempt not merely to assess why Drake's song has this spell that keeps catching new generations - just a voice and a guitar and some strings after all - but far more a vexed attempt to work out WHERE THE SADNESS CAME FROM. It's like someone mourning a lover - but also the times that produced that love. Here was IMac's contemporary, golden boy, Nick Drake, who was young, gifted, abundantly ludicrously gifted, he had women falling around him, he had friends who would have done ANYTHING for him, given any form of help, he had LOVE and family and friends and ... and ... none of it finally helped or mattered.
Black eyed dog knows my name.
Inescapable curse.
Depression: it has no "cause" indexable to any world, dark or light.
It's the dog only you hear slavering in the night.
Its the worm only you can feel feasting on your brain.
Its the weight only you can feel hanging from an eyelash.
It's a Ganges flood of, Christ, risble tears only you can feel about to sting and fall and burst and pool, simply because you just saw a pigeon in the street with one injured wing. {A pigeon! A fucking rat! And you suddenly feel like you're going to cry fit to collapse. like, who was it, Nietzsche, yes, in tears, his final breakdown, his arms around that poor, old, tired, whipped & beaten work horse ...}
Like Nietzsche then; like Nietzsche and Sisyphus and NO.
Like nothing. No other THING. For absence admits the momentary comfort of no simile.
Absence ...
Absence is: what is NOT.
And depression ... depression is the feeling of that NOT, elongated out and etched in to your soul, 24/7.
It's that nakedly simple.
No other "reason" should either be forwarded or accepted.

+ ---- +

I've been listening to ON THE BEACH this last week or so; and just like other works which know-nothing jerks call "depressing " - Young's own Tonights The Night, Cale's Music For A New Society, Wyatt's Rock Bottom, much of Scott Walker, much of David Sylvian, There's A Riot Goin' On, even PIL's Metal Box - it's actually the opposite: its a HOWL - even when whispered - of LIFE: a HOWL of protest against dejection, impotence, giving up the ghost, the game, giving in.

I've got the Revolution Blues ...

Never give up ... the will to love.

Walk on, walk on ...

And our love sometimes has to be as much a howling wolf as it is a cuddled kitten, it has to have sharper teeth for nights like these and the days up ahead. Which is not to say such sharper teeth are not deployed precisely to bite off a larger chunk of sustenance, from the world of love and concern and others, near and far, a sustenance of defiance and self defence and reconciliation and reverberation, of delicate negotiations, of marking dates, of checking in, of reaching out.


+ + + ++ +

{* : fatally, perhaps spookily, I warmed immensely to Erskine, even (or especially) in his obvious decline. He was the one writer from that 70s super team I had often checked out on by-line alone. He came in that day - and days, and days, and weeks subsequently - to write {sigh ...} an Obituary on Lowell George, who had just died. I can't remember if he even ever completed it, but he certainly missed the first week's deadline ... maybe even the second week's, on an obituary, yet. Dead lines, indeed. Erskine himself was dead a few short years later, a casualty of the Kent/Keef lifestyle; and I remember reading about it, a short para in the NME news section, I was distanced myself from the NME by this point, I remember it clearly, I was in a cab, going through Kensington, with some [non-music, non-NME] friends, and I went pale as a ghost, just like they say, speechless, stunned {though hardly by the surprise of it, obviously} and was stunned and hurt and sad - way out of proportion to any relationship I had {or rather, didn't have} with the man in question, who did well to last that long, truth be tolled. Odd how these things affect you ... even odder, spookier, in retrospect perhaps: as if some warning phantom was trailing a spectral finger down my spine ... the Ghost of fixes up ahead, the ghost of Junkyard Futures, as it were. {?}.

"You speech, where speeches
end. You time,
vertically poised on the courses of vanishing hearts."
Rilke: TO MUSIC.

And I could quote so much Rilke here, it has HELD and helped me when I had terrible stricken empty nights, and Emily Dickinson, and others, strange unlikely others, some of whom haven't even been published, some of whom {you know who you are} rest in folders in my e-mail Inbox alone ...

posted by Ian 9/07/2003 02:10:00 PM

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