Thursday, January 27, 2005

things often happen, quite often...

...When it comes down to it, it is an undeniable fact that things, being a grouping of stuff, always happens on a given occasion. And, logically speaking, given occasions always occur at a given moment - which, in turn, also happens pretty regularly, i.e. quite often. So, it can be deduced that happenings occur very often, if not all the time. And things are contained within these happenings. Therefore the conclusion, that things often happen, cannot be avoided. Furthermore, since this aforementioned instance (that things often happen) is a permanent and regular state of the universe in which we live, the aforementioned happens quite often really.

Some have argued that, since this aforementioned state of affairs can be subjected to a sort of plurality of logic to deduce a second, higher stage of things, the conclusion reached above should be pluralised further still to a third stage. Such a controversial view would state that very often things often happen, quite often. Many of those who argue for what is known as the third way used to express a support for an infinite pluralism of things happening. Arguments for this infinite pluralism of things provoked much controversy and intrigue.

The original statement read "it is our opinion that very often, often things often happen, quite often and regularly to the extent of being often regularly." However these infinitists have been criticised for making too light of things - which does not seem to feature in their thinking anywhere near as often as the term often. This is objectionable, it is claimed, because the statement reflects a greater state of time - expressed in the term often - than it does the occurrence of things. Therefore the infinitists statement suggests that things do not happen often enough. Faced with this claim, the infinitists re-stated their philosophy to read "stuff usually happens". This made many people very unhappy and it was suggested that this latest statement mocked things. Thus supporters of the third way grew in number. However it should be noted that this appears to be something of a knee jerk reaction to the infinitists temerity in the face of some serious philosophy. In my opinion, the third way goes both too far and not far enough. Please, please ignore this latest philosophical inclination and choose either the first way - as originally expressed in Greek thought - or try to understand the infinite way. This last way can only be defined to you by yourself. Give it a go, because it can provide a much more complete understanding of things.

Tuesday, January 18, 2005

I have long ago stopped caring about the music charts, although I hasten to add not about music. After all, why should I care what 13-year-old girls are buying in their lunch breaks at ASDA? In fact I am so indifferent towards most of the, ahem, "musicians" in the charts nowadays that I have decided that many of these groups should be re-branded 'children's entertainers'. For that is what they are: their primary talents are usually dancing, pretty faces and nice smiles. Which is fine, but not in the charts. And many in the media still use the charts to gauge what they believe is the current cultural climate. But in reality it is mostly nothing but an over-inflated blow up doll filled with other peoples toss.

Now every time I have a conversation with anyone about music-orientated shallow and commercially created products aimed at kids I always correct them with the insistence that they drop the description 'music', 'song' or even 'chart topper' and replace it with the more descriptive 'children's entertainment'. And I urge you all to do the same.

The worst thing about these bands is that music production technology is so advanced that out of tune singers can be corrected with modern vocoder-type software and boring singing styles covered up with simple effects or, more usually, by using the same old harmony style. However dance moves and sexy legs have to be real talents. Which isn't really the point of a music artist.

Compared to what we are witnessing today, Elvis Presley, whose fame is being cynically exploited by men in suits with elastic wallets, is a musical genius. Although his talents were limited to singing and prancing about. Yes a pretty good voice, very distinctive. But Elvis’ fame comes largely from his legend. After all he was a musical interpreter rather than a creator. Like the children's entertainers of today, he didn’t write his own music, could not play an instrument, his manager made more money than he did, and never really put any of his own personality into the music. Here was a man who was a huge Monty Python fan – but did anything in his career reflect this part of his soul? That a man who could not tap out Green Sleeves on a piano is now widely regarded as a musical legend is a sad indictment of today’s children's entertainers.

Perhaps my despair with the once entitled hit parade has clouded my view to such an extent that I regard any trend reflected in the charts as one I should oppose. But Elvis' current popularity seems more to do with an unusually clever way of selling a box set to die hard fans than any genuine cultural phenomenon. In previous years one really would not know who would top the charts. Occasionally there would be a real surprise. Who would have thought the Sex Pistols could blaze their way to top slot and simultaneously upset so many?

Now, any similar cultural scream for recognition would be and probably already has been muffled by the big supermarket chains that stock what they like. And they only like guaranteed sellers and pre-sales deals with major labels. When I saw in Music Week in the early nineties the announcement that supermarket sales would be counted towards chart position I knew the game was up. And how right I was. Now we have a different number one every week and most marketing people in the industry would be able to tell you who would occupy that slot for the following three weeks just by looking at a few projected advertising and distribution figures.

But I have not relayed the worst of it, oh no. Labels are now increasingly using software that analyses songs, compares various aspects to previous hits, and judges which will be most successful at the checkouts. It’s bad enough that many artists seem to be in a kind of paradoxical competition to sound more like each other; now we have computers instructing them to do it. It's a very sorry state of affairs – I'm convinced we are reaching the lowest of low points.

I had some experience in an A&R department at a record company. That is the department that scouts, signs and develops acts. Since that time people have occasionally asked me how to get a record deal. I'd usually reply in some convoluted way with mention of managers, promotion, getting the band’s name out etc etc. But one A&R chap I recently spoke to put it much more succinctly.

"The entire process a band and its management have to go through to get signed is best described using only one word," he explained to me.


But soon enough the embarrassment that is the singles charts as we know it today will probably end. Many in the industry think that physical singles will no longer exist in a few years – after all why would anyone spend £3 on a CD single when, even if you actually pay, it can be downloaded for 89p? And I'm hoping charts based on these figures will better reflect the nation’s musical predilections. Not that I'm expecting too much. But at least out of touch producers will stop looking at the soulless, vacant, piece of shit singles charts and cease cramming yet more of the same turd down our throats.

Of course it is just when things are at their bleakest when the musical gods produce a mainstream occurrence that rises spectacularly like a phoenix out of the flames. I specify mainstream because I have no problem with the music being created today, just the excrement that gets thrown at us everyday. There are some bloody marvellous offerings to be had if you look for them. But you have to look for them. And the clearly testicular nature of the musical market of today suppresses much potential artistry from ever coming to fruitition.

And thusly Top of the Pops will die a lingering death. Not because it has been badly produced or scheduled at the wrong time but rather because it can only ever be as good as the chart music it is obliged to show.

But if we were to re-brand crap aimed at school kids as 'children’s entertainment' perhaps a new chart would be formed for that shit (which ITV will inevitably air) and the real music could take centre stage again. I could save Top of the Pops! What a great first act that would be for my new employers!

It's not going to happen.

Friday, January 14, 2005

It looks like I'll be working for Auntie Beeb by the end of the week. Which is probably good news but does it mean I must curb my opinions and become a neutral? Hmm, well, perhaps not. (Important: my views are my own and not those of my new employer. Obvious I know, but still..)

And so I will have to face that all-important impression-giving stage that all new recruits must go through. This isn't a suit and tie affair, so choosing clothing is the first issue. Most of my wardrobe consists entirely of jeans and t-shirts. There is a strong possibility that these will be okay in the long term – however we all know I must start out by donning something more smart looking. Or, as the proper English goes, something "smarter". Although not too smart lest I leave new colleagues with impressions of sadness (the small tuft of hair on my upper chin should take care of that - a very useful visual tool).

I must not, under any circumstances, arrive late for my first day. Even if London is showered with car-sized meteors and London Underground decides to pack in the service whilst large-scale electricity cuts are accompanied by arctic temperatures and hurricane winds should I arrive as much as twenty seconds late. People who operate in live broadcasting environments tend to take notice of human concepts such as timekeeping. And thusly so must I.

Which means ensuring my alarm clock is in full working order as the presence of body odour should not be an option and a morning shower shall be had in the proper leisurely manner.

Next I have to make the almighty effort to memorise my new colleagues names. Especially those of my superiors.

Everybody will be my superior. Either in terms of position or basic experience in the department.

I am particularly bad at remembering names. Usually I ask once and take no notice of the reply before I ask to be reminded again several minutes later. Not uttering the words "What was your name again?" more than three times to the same person in the same day will be a necessary motivational rule.

At this point it occurs to me that if I did not feel the need to write a regular weblog entry, I would not even be considering all these potential worries. I tend to bounce through life naturally, instinctively doing pretty much the right thing. Normally I would perform all these actions without a second thought. Now, because of this bloody blog, I’m thinking too much about trivial things like a normal member of the general public. And we know how unbelievably stupid people are. Oops, sorry, that’s not towing the BBC party line at all. Sorry.

I have no opinion one way or the other.

Tell my wife hello.

Sunday, January 09, 2005

Ah the blessed beer jumper. The garment I can wear to every visit to a pub in a given period and have all the pungent smoke and beer smell get attached to that rather than half my wardrobe.

Before, I would come home, smell the disgusting aromas of pub upon my person, and have to chuck my clothes into my gathering of impending laundry. Thusly my choice of clean clothing would be greatly diminished. Now this isn't a problem with t-shirts, of which I own a great many, and which of course also retain that classic BO smell. Trousers strangely lose their smell. But jumpers; jumpers are a mirror for odours past and present. A rhinoceros can walk to a spot and using its nasal senses can build a mental picture of the activity there for up to two weeks previous. So it is with jumpers. I have relatively few and so such a tactic is both practical and inspiringly easy on my usage of washing powder.

Hence this week I will be wearing my dark blue Bench hoody to all my public house activities. Mmm, imagine the memories it will eventually hold.

Of course I will have to carefully explain the phenomenon to all my drinking buddies in advance should I occur any social repulsion - but once I am inside the drinking establishment, all possibilities of revulsion at my smell will evaporate, as I will reekily blend in with all around me.

This week I have already sported said hooded jumper at The Twelve Bells in Finsbury Park, and I shall go in unison with it to the pound-a-pint event that I fervently hope will be taking place on Monday night at Charing Cross Road's traveller spot Walkabout. Great will be the smell there. Half will be the number of temporarily ruined jumpers.

A curse has already been set upon my shiny raincoat that holds and steadily releases the smell of smoke for decades after use.

Thursday, January 06, 2005

Continuing in the series of publishing Word Docs I find on Internet Cafe hard drives:

"Our new project will address issues of gender identity, body representation and mediatized lives through non-narrative physical dramaturgy. The work will be choreographed after the performer’s improvisations, balancing between idiosyncrasy and metaphor.
We look for a performative language that is based on our Corporeal Mime training and, at the same time, undermines its own codes of representation, shifting levels of address and presence.

In this new project, falsa imago aims:

To develop the idea of a mediatized intimate life approached with a tape recorder in “damaged by miracles” with the use of a video camera, filming preset scenes indoors and outdoors as well as directly live on stage and of a television on stage.

To develop the idea of the body as a map approached in “God knows why I keep making a puzzle of myself” (Gallery 291,London Feb 2004), with photographs of body parts either filmed and animated or at human dimensions representing the performer’s identity in search for its definition, image, gender specificity, geographical roots, social consistency.

The body as a territory, to be found, defined, mapped, armed,
represented, fictionalized, invaded, fought for, in war, bordered, destroyed or deconstructed and rebuild, in peace, expanded, erased, visited, colonised, culturalised, predicated, purified, civilised, cultivated, dogmatised, named, identified, traded, protected, cherished.
In terms of relation, intimate, sexual or political, this same geographical body will become the terrain of appropriation of misappropriation, games of physical war.

A puzzle applied to the human body represents our constant dismantlement of oneself and the other’s psychological and physiological entities with the longing for a lost and impossible plenitude (sexually embarrassing children in search for long lost Paradise).

am working on concepts of dismantlement, body without organs, physical deterritorialisation and reterritorialisation, and representation, most of it inspired by "A thousand Plateaus", Gilles Deleuze. I have started to work with a puppet, a red heart-shaped cushion (deterritorialised organ), a television (reterritorialised body), a video camera and a few miniDv tapes...ah and also one of Hoxton Hall's light (with lots of cables of course...)and Hoxton Hall protection gloves.
So, for the picture, I think the puppet, perfect body without organs, the red heart-shaped cushion and the television with or without me would look great really.Or just parts of my body, dismantled (as in the little video we did: "God knows why I keep making a puzzle of myself.."). The body parts will demultiply when I will be able to get a full size mannequin and make a human puzzle out of it.

Fascinating stuff....

Sunday, January 02, 2005

So now, in addition to my email inbox, my mobile's text message inbox has also been receiving spam. And so the little annoyances of Western life continue. Having this year spent much time familiarising myself with the lovely people of South-East Asia however my reaction to a message urging me to naively text a five-digit number with my name and age so I can "get to know" an alleged other person has been much changed. For I am feeling much closer to the suffering of people I can easily identify with and caring less about irrelevances at home.

Like a farming community shapes its life and culture around its industry in Europe so are communities on Thai coasts and beaches shaped around tourism. So I hope the positive public reaction to the disaster extends to enthusiastically choosing the countries affected as places to visit. A dip in visitor numbers would be a further negative effect to these areas.

And perhaps the robust public reaction has something to do with long haul travel destinations having become increasingly popular in recent times. I have dozens of friends who have visited either SE Asia or the Indian Subcontinent and so the more effective and escalating media coverage of our modern times isn't the only globalising effect on our minds. Millions have made personal connections with people in faraway places. In the past, images of suffering have been difficult to appreciate, as the few images we have seen have appeared to illustrate a world vastly different from the one we are used to. Now we see a world many of us have experienced, through hundreds of different camera lenses, repeatedly, and often via encounters made by fellow westerners.

And these are the reasons I think globalisation is not entirely a bad thing. Most anti-globalisation protesters march against the exploitation of poverty-stricken workforces, increasing pollution, and the threat of cultural, economic and political imperialism and on these issues I have huge sympathy. But describing many of their objections as issues of globalisation is misleading. To me globalisation means a world drawing together; communication between people becoming easier; travel to faraway places becoming more practical; goods becoming available worldwide; relief arriving to the distressed more quickly. But more than this globalisation means saying goodbye to insular thinking; the naïve superstitions of isolated communities; the poor and the badly educated becoming weightier political issues as the West gets closer to affected areas.

I suppose the negative attitudes regarding globalisation is because capitalism has been a big and mainly negative driving force; however the biggest pushes towards it have been more positive historical events such as the end of the Second World War, the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and the rise of the internet.

In India the economy which has been a poor one that only benefits the rich has been in a revolution because western companies have striven to take advantage of cheap wages and have relocated much of their operations there. We may baulk at what we perceive as exploitation but in reality this movement has helped India to better provide for its poor. And its poor need all the help they can get. In north-western Vietnam my friends and I got to know some local Black Hmong tribes kids. They lived in mud huts in remote villages. They were internet capable – the Vietnamese Hmong have been subjected to some pretty shocking treatment at times by their government. How easy will it be for such political tactics to be used on an increasingly knowledgeable people?

H'mong tribes kids in Sapa, NW Vietnam...

To me the ultimate and only end game of globalisation - although not one that is deliberately directed there - is a changed public perception of the world in which they live; a round world. In all of human history individual nations and their people have acted in self-interest, understanding and caring only for their own people. Only in the very recent past, in the lifetimes of the last two generations, have international bodies like the UN the EU and the ICRC had any real influence or impact on world affairs. These bodies are in existence because we live in a smaller world. You may not like these bodies much but even the blindest pessimist must admit that before the times of these institutions wars between countries were very regular affairs. Only in the last sixty years have conflicts between the major European countries, stretching back centuries, been consigned to history. Look in your history books and see the relationships between Britain, France, Spain, and Germany have been good ones only in yours and your parents lifetimes.

The inevitable results of globalisation for normal people will be less blind patriotism, less sympathy for profiteering foreign military campaigns, better unbderstanding of other peoples cultures, and other positive effects. In the end, nations and companies will have neither the desire nor the support for the selfish tactics we see today. If we survive that is: looking at the US and the middle east today I think it might take a while for everyone to join in. Bloody Christian/Jewish/Muslim fundamentalists... Fucking idiots. I stick my knob out at them.