Tag Archives: Ramble

This is Cardboard – Plastic Pieces and Cardboard Worlds

Cardboard Worlds

A few nights ago, a friend almost had a panic attack because she couldn’t work out if she could trust her husband.

A few years ago, I played a game about undercover robots with a group of people who had recently discovered an old friend had been an undercover cop.

A few decades ago, I spent all my spare moments reading through the rules of a game I could never play. I wanted to know what every dice roll could lead to. I didn’t have the dice, I didn’t have the pieces, I didn’t even have the right rule book, but I read that book from cover to cover.

I’ve been obsessed with boardgames for as long as I can remember, but it feels like it has only recently become a hobby that I actually have.

I want to try and get across some of that passion, because as happy as I am to have a broad group of lovely people to play games with, I feel like I want more. It’s not even just that I want to play more boardgames, it’s that I want more boardgames to be played. I think people are missing out on something genuinely special by not playing boardgames together.

It’s a hard sell, I know. ‘Boardgames’ mean Monopoly to most people. I hate Monopoly. I want some way to scour it from the collective consciousness, so that people stop associating the word boardgame with endless spirals of estate agency capitalism. As I understand it, the game started out as a parody of capitalism. That boredom? That futility? That’s the point. It actually does it’s job fairly well, so I shouldn’t criticise. It is the perfect simulator of economic alienation. But the problem with capitalism is that it’s only fun for one person, and then only if they’re a sociopath.

Cluedo isn’t much better, just a banal logic game with randomised dice friction. I’ve spent days with Risk, but I recognise it’s problems.

I don’t want to talk about these games any more. I want you to stop thinking about them. I want you to think about what games could be. What games actually are.

There’s a lot of them out there. You can do everything from wage interstellar war to building countryside in medieval France. You can be a gladiator or a treasure hunter. You can get eaten by sharks or murdered by Lannisters.

But that’s not the magic bit. The magic bit is that you are doing this with your friends. Sometimes your best friends.

I read a game theory book once, and it talked about the idea of the magic circle. When you start playing a game, you get together with a group of people, and agree to ignore common sense. If golf was really about putting a ball in that hole over there, you’d pick it up and walk over there. But it isn’t, it’s about putting a ball in that hole over there with a grand scheme of arbitrary limitations to make it interesting.

When you play a boardgame, you put aside reality, and you build your own new one for a while. You learn some rules, you work out what you’re trying to do, and then you make it real. You put down pieces of card, and you pick up pieces of plastic, and you turn them into a universe.

Even the most competitive games (and there’s plenty that aren’t competitive) are an act of collaboration. You all agree to not be a dick, whilst agreeing its okay to be a dick. You encourage each other to try and best each other, to try and bear grudges, to lie and betray. All those things you can’t normally do without being horrible? You’re supposed to, and you aren’t even really doing it. You’re doing it with pieces of card and plastic that don’t mean anything apart from all that emotion you’ve invested in them.

The game means nothing. It’s just words and cardboard, bits and pieces. Except it means everything. It’s a world. A world you made, out of someone else’s ideas and rules and art and hard work.

You buy a box, and you can dive into it as often as you can get a group of people together, and the right box, the right game, will have you aching to play again.

I’ve played some gruelling games of Game of Thrones (of thrones), a boardgame that can easily eat a whole day. At the end of each one there’s been a bit of my brain saying ‘I need to do that again, right now’. It’s intense. Superficially, it’s like Risk, a map, some cards and some little plastic pieces representing armies. It isn’t Risk, it’s an engine for betrayal. When you plan your move, you feel like you could know what the best move is, because all the information is right there. The rules and the pieces and the cards. They’re all there in front of you. You could almost forget about the people, trying to make the same calculations as you, second and triple guessing every action. You secretly put down tokens to say what you’re going to do in the turn, and then you all reveal together.

It takes a while to sink in, nothing has happened like you expected, and you might still not notice the knife in your back.

Because you know the game, but you don’t know the people. Even the people you know best.

This weekend we played a game of ‘Avalon’ a follow up/expanded version of a popular game about lying called ‘The Resistance’. Basically, you are going on missions together, choosing who you trust to go, if you pick the wrong people you fail the mission, fail too many missions, and you lose the game. I worried for the health of my friend, as she tried to work out if her husband was being calm in order to reassure her or in order to manipulate her. The game consists largely of talking, there’s a logic puzzle going on, but it’s almost always over-ridden by the more social and more fallible ‘do you trust me’ game. Lies and trust. Look me in the eyes and tell me you’re a good guy. If you’re lying to me, I may never be able to trust you again.

But what happens in boardgame-world stays in boardgame-world. It’s like Vegas, only you’ve got a chance of winning. And you don’t need poppers to have fun.

I love it. I love it so much. I love getting together with real life people, and making something impossible happen, just by following some rules, and bothering to care.

I can spend hours poring over rulebooks, reading reviews and finding out how games work, and I love that too. I love reading about a mechanic and thinking ‘that’s incredible’.

But without people, a clever mechanic is just an unwound clock. Beautiful, intricate, and largely useless.

If I’ve piqued your interest, and you live anywhere near Brighton, give me a shout on twitter. I’ll happily show you into one of the cardboard worlds on the shelf in my living room.

Because as stupid as it may sound, I actually think boardgames are important. I think learning how to play with people could change the world (ever so slowly, ever so slightly). I think it’s a better way of getting to know people than going to the pub and drunkenly shouting. I think it’s infinitely more sociable than going to the cinema.

I think it would make you happier.

Come and play. Or go and play.

Something magic might happen.

—-

Illustration by Emma

I can’t recommend enough watching/reading Shut Up and Sit Down if you want to find out more about games. I have a crush on all of them, and want to be their friends. You can watch them playing Avalon (with the extra bits) or read them talking about Game of Thrones, for example. between them and Rab Florence (now pretending to be a sentient table) at Rock Paper Shotgun, I have been lured whole heartedly into this hobby. Their enthusiasm is infectious, and they’ve taught me a lot about the way games are structured, as well as how emotionally engaging they are. Thanks, them!

The irony of this ramble, is that I came here to write about mechanics, and I talked about people instead. This is okay. I hear there’s time in the future.

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Writing Praxis – From Passion to Practice

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It’s my birthday, so I’ve given myself permission to write something self obsessed to try and dig myself out of a frustrating hole.

I think of myself as a writer. I spent two years tricking myself into actually being one through the creative practice/experiment/collaboration of awesome that was Unstruck. By working with other people and setting myself arbitrary deadlines, targets, and systems of expectation, I wrote over 250,000 words about everything under the sun.

It was quite fun.

For that period, I felt creatively engaged, challenged and entertained. The way that I was working with different people meant that even if I didn’t feel happy with my own work, I could see other people being interested, and look at these stunning illustrations that had indirectly had my input. It was quite incredible. Last September(ish) I decided that as it approached 500 posts (of 500 words a piece) I should stop, have a break, and do something new.

Guess what happened.

I’m still broken, it seems. In the intervening period I’ve probably written about four pieces. I did about 10,000 words of a novel for nanowrimo, but realised that I was killing a good idea for a story, and so stopped before it sucked all the joy out of it (that story is still pootling around the back of my head, so I think this may have been the right thing). I’ve written a few politically inspired pieces on here that I’m faintly happy with, and one gig review that was probably a bit too self indulgent.

I do think Unstruck is ‘finished’ and so I want to do something new, but I appear to have forgotten how. Let me explain a few of the ideas I’ve had to get me back on track, and see what you think. Please tell me if you’d like to see these actually happen, as that might help.

  • Unconsequence – A sequel to Unstruck, getting rid of the questions, but chaining all the pieces together. An illustration is written about, and then the writing is illustrated, and then that illustration is written about (hopefully differently), and then that writing is illustrated and so on for eternity (or until there’s a natural end). I think this could me much harder work for me and the illustrators, and has more potential than Unstruck to go horribly, horribly wrong, but…well, it’s appealing, as I know this sort of system could motivate me, and it could lead to more ‘fiction-like’ pieces than Unstruck allowed. I would need more illustrators to get on board though, and I think it would need more commitment than Unstruck.
  • Sharing Needles – I hate writing about music, but perhaps if I explored individual records in a deeply personal way (without being allowed to use the adjective ‘visceral’ unless talking about actual viscera, for example), I could challenge this. This all leapt out of realising that the moment I put the needle on certain disco records, I feel like I’ve made a decision to self medicate my bouts of depressiveness. And it works. Records as medication, hence the needles, writing about it, hence the sharing. One of the things I like here is that Emma could do illustrations, based on distortions and manipulations of the album covers I was discussing. She seemed ‘up for this’.
  • Thingsnowball – Another blog, this time based on ‘things’ and the cascades of thought that can build up around them. Basically, an excuse to write what I wanted, with the caveat that it had to be based on a particular thing encased at the top of the article, be it a quote, a picture, a sculpture, a piece of music, a sculpture or whatever. I would encourge people to send me things to write about, as the audience participation element of Unstruck really kept me on my toes.
  • The Land of Cows and Bees (working title) – Stepping away from blogs (unless I decide to write it as a fake blog), this is my failed nanowrimo, reimagined some. Basically, a not hugely successful journalist, writing about fortean hoaxes in a cynical way, gets invited to the heart of a secretive cult (on a Scientology scale) to interview the nameless and massively private leader. The leader proceeds to be a complete money grubbing dick, but also performs genuine, impossible miracles. Journo has to work out what this means for the universe. I’ve got a good climactic scene in my head for this, but I’ve still not nailed how to write proper fiction without strangling myself in overindulgence. I like this idea enough that I don’t want to do it too soon.
  • ‘The Vampire Jesus project’ (a nonfunctional placeholder)- This resurfaced today, after reading about Pope Innocent VIII drinking the blood of three young boys, to try and save himself from dying. His anti-science stance had led him to ban the translation of a document about blood circulation into latin, so he wasn’t aware this wasn’t how you did blood transfusions. He died, so did the boys. I’ve been intrigued for years about the vampiric symbolism of the catholic mass, and would quite like to write something about the intensely blasphemous notion that Jesus was the Ur-Vampire, and that the ‘true’ christianity is only practiced by vampires. The council of Nicea tried to eradicate this and turn catholicism into something a bit more humanic. Vampires are massively overdone, so I’m not sure about this one, but it does intrigue me just because I think it would make a good comic. Would need a pretty dedicated collaborator to make this work in the long run though. I’d also be shocked if nobody has already thought of this idea and ran with it.

You get the idea. Possibly. I do still have ideas, but I’m not executing them. Fear and paranoia and not wanting to leave a further string of failed projects littering the internet hold me back. The heartfelt conviction that I am a writer, can’t bear writing too much more dreadful prose. Unstruck practiced a certain type of writing, and I think made me a thousand times better, so part of me knows that all I need is to get writing, and keep writing until terrible becomes good.

But ideas. Ideas. They are slippery.

Sometimes I realise that I am just not creative. I don’t have a million ideas, and I’m terrified of running out. Unstruck didn’t exercise that muscle, because the people asking the questions had to do all the heavy lifting. Those two story ideas upstairs? One is the only really workable one I’ve had in the last year. The other is about five years old. I’m not churning these out daily.

So I have a few options. I can jump into another blog project (I am addicted to starting new blogs, but never writing them), with a big system and a programme of thought and all those things that help me focus. I can start writing ‘novels’ and try and get some of the big stories out. Or I can spend time properly formulating. Planning, Trying to force myself into being more creative by pushing my brain into new places. I’ve been reading semi-random sections from Scarlet Thomas’ creative writing book recently, and it’s really firing me up to spend some time actually exploring ‘devices’ for goading me into creativity. Judging from how much inspiration I’ve had from just thinking about it, this seems worthwhile.

But it’s all so easy to put aside.

I get excited by things (if you’ve met me or read me for a while, you probably know this). I’m a jack-of-all-interests, master of nothing. I find myself constantly diving from one interest to another. I want to make a boardgame, at the moment. And don’t know if I should let myself be distracted from writing by this. My bones don’t tell me who I am, they just tell me that I have this passion. These passions.

But how to I put passion into practice, when I’m such a flittering, ranting, rambling, moody, lost and vortexed mess.

The truth is, I just need to do it.

I know this, and I’ve spent a good chunk of the last year throwing my life into turmoil so that I have the mental-space and time-space in which to do it. Now I have to do it.

Perhaps it’ll be hubristic, but I’m thinking of this piece not as a blog, but a line in the sand. Not a barrier, but a line stretching out in front of me, clearly delineating that something must be done.

If I don’t start doing it now, and have come a long way when I look at this again in a years orbit. I will be filled with shame and self loathing. My brain is fragile enough that I can’t afford to do this.

So it’s write or die. Apparently.

Wish me luck. Feed me encouragement. Goad me, challenge me and shake me until I’m writing. If you like, tell me what to write. I promise that if anyone asks me to write something, I will write it. I won’t necessarily let you publish it on your money making website, but I will write it.

And I’m going to work, and it’s going to work.

I hope.

—-

Illustration by Emma, not specifically for this piece, but for a birthday card, which freaked me the hell out.

Mounting Darkness and Creative Destruction on the Dark Mountain – Uncivilisation 2012

Uncertain Ground

To civilise is to build.

To uncivilise is to destroy?

I may just be tired, but I actually feel very lost. Last year’s Dark Mountain Uncivilisation Festival made me grounded and full hearted, my mind swirling with ideas. This year, the thoughts are still torrential, but my physical form feels adrift.

It’s a scary place to be. But I think that might be part of the point.

There are some things we need to look in the eye, and they are going to be terrifying. The future is real, and it’s not far away.

Someone this weekend bought together a number of statements under the heading ‘why am I here?’ I was reminded of my fear and dread of why questions, and the leaps they ask you to make. It remains my conviction that no ‘why’ question has an answer that isn’t guesswork or an act of faith. Reasons aren’t available, no matter how hard we reason. A why asks a fundamentally different kind of question. We don’t tell people why the sky is blue, we tell people how air bends light. Or we just lie and make up an answer.

Dark Mountain is looking for new whys. Rightly so. Our civilisation is based on a series of misleading myths that are causing us to eat ourselves. The world is falling part, and we are just digging deeper into it. This weekend’s recurring motif was mythology. Stories that can accompany the logos of understanding. Stories that can tell us ‘why’.

Myth is everything that we think we know, anyway. Our memories of our lives are as distorted as our understandings of history. A well told story is what builds our past. That’s how we remember things.

I am intensely conscious that as I write about this weekend, I am going to create my vision of it. Make it again, after the fact. Ignoring the grumpiness and tiredness. Probably unable to go into why I repeatedly lost my voice and felt afraid to speak. I am here to build my own Dark Mountain myth.

But I am tired, and I am worried it will be the wrong one.

It’s the problem with trying to build our own whys. A new myth is untested in the waters of people, open to interpretation and destruction, a story has as many sides as it has listeners. There is no way to know the impact of a new myth. The inventors of the myths of capitalism probably never saw its natural result as the greed of today. Adam Smith’s invisible hand was supposed to stop this kind of thing, not claw into the world, desperately tearing its livelihood to destruction.

We either need to get this right, or we need to work out a new way of myth making, something that allows us to adapt, something that returns us to the now, allows us to be more present in the moment, more aware of the now.

Steve Wheeler, dazzled me a little, drawing links between the slow disease of ‘progress’, the notion of apocalypse, and utopian, teleological world-views. It’s seems so simple to remember that some of our oldest revelations are not simply about the world ending, but about something new and perfect beginning. The book of John of Patmos does not mourn the destruction of the world, but beckons in the kingdom of god. Even Ragnarok ends with two survivors building a new world. Marx pushes towards another utopia, the apparently inevitable conclusion of wave after wave of revolution.

Our apocalypses are our idealisms.

Steve tried to draw us into the now. To stop wanting stuff for the future. To live in a now that would not rely on desires and fears, that could be content with what is.

It’s that thought from last year. To be happy in the future, we’re going to want to be happy with less. There’s a lot of internal work you can do for that.

Tom Hirons pulled me into the woods, and tried to offer a brief taste of extreme wilderness. The taste and feel of the earth on your face, screaming into the ground, whilst hearing a chorus of others doing the same. It is something I will never forget, perhaps the wildest moment of the weekend (apart form my wriggling terror as I forced myself into the dark night’s woods, jumping at every noise). I admire Tom even more after his talk, in which he talked of trying to create  a rite of passage without appropriating the culture of other peoples. He is one of many people there this weekend, who I am simply incredibly glad exist, and feel blessed to have even passing contact with.

Speaking of passing contacts, I only spoke to Vinay for about two minutes, and still got an intense snippet of knowhow that I think I need to build on.

Stories are better with a little added noise. That was taught by Tom and Rima on the first night, and Martin Shaw the next day.

And an intense debate about I vs We, sent me into tumults of worry about the nature of consensus, and the ability of people to assume its presence. No community is uniform. Be wary of your words when you speak for others. I am not enough, but I cannot know enough of others to speak for them. That is dangerous personal mythmaking.

But then, there is this desire for community, and I suspect that’s what draws the Dark Mountaineers together. The people that really want to leave civilisation can do it. There is still wildness, and it can be escaped to.

There’s more than that, somewhere. There’s a desire to make change. I hope that’s what it is, anyway. Because this isn’t just about personal reinvention, this is about finding a way to make our society stop killing people, and stop killing the planet. I really hope so. Because beyond that goal, I don’t really see what’s worth it.

I feel like we’re sometimes too far up the pyramid of needs of the world. We haven’t found a way to feed everyone, we haven’t found a way to stop burning and poisoning the actual ground and water and air that gives us everything we have, have ever had, and will ever have. We’re obsessing about self actualisation when there are people dying.

But then, as individuals, we need to focus on our own changes and our own world in order to exemplify, promote and build a new way of thinking. Without doing that thinking (and the acres of self destruction and re-creation that accompany it) we can’t make new things, escape old traps or be new people.

So we must be in the now, whilst remembering the past, and building a future that might be able to work for everyone.

The weekend sometimes feels like time travel, or perhaps, stepping out of time long enough to get the overview, seeing how things once were, are still, and always will be. Changed, different, but built from the same stuff.

That earth, that water, that sky.

When I was there, I thought I saw a common theme. I thought the answer was in building mythologies. Finding old stories that can show us new ways. Finding new stories that can reconnect our future to our past. Building worlds within worlds to teach our world new dances.

Now I return, and old fears come back with me. How do we build a right future, built on uncertain ground. How can we decide to teach myths as truths, when we know their truths, and ours, are so malleable, so frangible.

Frangible

I touched the earth, the ground, and told it I was grateful. I acknowledged that it had built me, fed me, made everything I have ever known. I screamed, giving it my voice. I didn’t feel like I was pouring out. Maybe I was feeding, as it always fed me. It was a connection, nonetheless.

So I did connect. And despite my voicelessness, I found connection to people as well. I am not as good at this as I imagine, or perhaps I have just forgotten some of my people skills, or perhaps I’d thought I was going for my self, and not to connect with people. This is probably the wrong way to go into most things.

Or not.

I honestly don’t know. I feel more questioned and challenged than solidified.

But this is good.

Controversial example.

After the festival ended, many people stayed behind to finish off the beer and have one last fire and gathering. A great atmosphere was suddenly interrupted by a story. Someone had ventured into town and stumbled upon a symbol of civilisation, he suggested we burned it. Another chimed in saying we should tear it apart and burn it piece by piece. Properly excoriate.

Before it got far, some raised a complaint. The ritual interrupted, atmosphere shifting as people try to search for something.

The symbol, you see, was a book. The burning of books is a deep symbol, easily misread and misinterpreted. A reminder of savagery, organised violence. Impromptu rituals, a joke to celebrate the destruction of civilisation, worry of what that destruction is, or means.

The story needs to be told in bits and pieces, with weird disjunctures, because it was a hundred stories.

I for one, felt my mind tumble through them.

The book burned, but not by consensus; the owner took charge. A line was drawn between burning ‘civilisation’ and burning ‘Civilisation, by Kenneth Clarke’. The knowledge inside it was given respect by some, the author disdain by others. The iconography was terrifying. Reminders of oppression. Oppression is still everywhere. This is not safely ironically distant territory.

As I watched the book slowly explode and burst outwards, I wondered. Were we ready to destroy civilisation?

The noise of thought processes around that fire. The arguments and emotions. The fear and the anger and the humour. A real, deep sacred happening. Sacred and scared.

If we are truly to become uncivilised, this is not the only taboo that will need to be put to the flames.

But do we want to build our world on destruction? Is there even a choice?

How to we destroy destruction? How do we consume consumption?

Dangerous symbols make for dangerous ceremonies. It was the first time the festival had felt dangerous. And something was created from that destruction. Every mind focussed and intensified. Not necessarily for the best, but it’s good to shake things up.

A simple act. A simple fire.

It was a terrible and beautiful moment.

I felt like it shouldn’t have happened, but I felt it was needed.

Written down, it probably doesn’t have the power. But in the moment, my gut was wrenched.

What would it really mean to undermine and challenge the very fundaments of our civilisation. To not just nibble at the edges, but cut to the centre.

To burn something up.

Last year, I was reminded of what it was I wanted to protect and connect too. This year, Uncivilisation felt like it was more about facing up to how challenging it will be to change the world, and the self. The things we need to destroy are dear and dangerous. The arguments we need to have are heartfelt and hurtful. There will be pain, if we are to wrench our world into something new. There will be a risk, that we will turn into things we despise even more than our current state.

Dark Mountain remains a very civilised festival, full of very civilised people. It’s hard not to see it as having a taste of that kind of middle class avoidance of privilege that is so common. This was expressed eloquently and emotionally by someone who noted that they wanted to scream, from knowing that in their day to day life, they did not always live what they believe. Trying to connect, from behind a wall of socialisation and comfort, to something more primal, honest and pure than the myths of progress and futurity is painful and difficult. I am aware of how lightly and slowly I am treading that world, kept wrapped and safe in my comfort and my privilege.

Eventually, there are parts of our selves we will have to burn up and cast aside. We need to do it inwards, and then outwards. Our black iron prison will need to be burnt. Watching that happen may feel a lot like tearing hearts out. It is not safe, it will be misunderstood, it could lead us closer to destruction.

We have to be wary of the myths we create. They can make us destroy, they can convince others to destroy. I don’t know how to do this right. I feel paralysed, knowing that the destruction I am living in now is killing, but that any step forward could do the same.

I want to run away and cry tears into the ground. Let it know that I don’t know what to do and how to live any more.

I am cut adrift, my anchors burned off.

Actually, somehow, I feel like something in me has been uncivilised. More than before, I am adrift from my assumptions. I do not feel like I went to the same Dark Mountain as most. Even though I had plenty of (wonderful) company, and was shown some beautiful things, I feel like a scaled a height, was torn apart, and will now fight to put myself together.

This is probably only a first step, still. I think I need to work on this more. Work out where it should take me. Work out where I should take it.

My heart is opened up.

I come back down the mountain, and the world swirls around me as it always has. Will this be enough to make a difference. Will I be able to leave my heart open in this other world, that will not care for me as the community of the fire would? I am worried I will become overexposed again.

It’s scary, but I think that’s the point.

The work to be done, on self, on the world, is scary.

I feel I have walked into a fire. Sunk into the earth. Drowned under the water. Dissolved into the air.

And yet I am still here. In the now.

I do not have a replacement for self, for civilisation.

I do not know what to do next.

Illustration by the incredible Helen. Apologies this is being posted so late. I had a crisis of faith in it.

The Unbearable Darkness of Mountains – Uncivilisation 2011

Last night, as the sun set, I wandered into the woods. Dosed up with Valerian and on barely any sleep (third hangover of the year, too soon after the second) I was already hazy, and I became totally and utterly conscious of how terrible my eyes were.

In the dark of the evening, as everything turns into greys and blues, everything seems to dance. When I stopped walking to take stock, the sound wrapped around me. Tiny titters of birds, bleating lambs far away, owls some closer. But closer, there were the snaps of twigs, the rustle of leaves, the shifting undergrowth and mulch. Footsteps not mine. Movement all around.

And me in the middle, vaguely terrified, and unable to tell what movement was my eyes playing tricks, and what was the forest itself.

It was incredible. Not least when I understood, as my sense reached their limits, that this was all playing around me, but I was nowhere near the centre. All around me was life that cared not for me. I was barely a part of it, even as I felt connected to it. This swirl of noise, the clatter of life, slowly going it’s own way.

I was not in the middle. The world was. I was just a tiny thought, drifting across the surface.

This was the evening after Uncivilisation 2011, the second ‘festival’ of the Dark Mountain Project. It was the first time it started to feel really uncivilised, and was an incredibly intense experience. Not quite has scary as returning to the city, and feeling some of those sensations again, only related to the thing I’m supposed to be used to. The swirl of noise and the clatter of life, amplified and drowned out all at once, but I’ll get to that. Maybe.

Basically, it was a weekend for creative types interested in the manifesto of the Dark Mountain, to get together and talk. There was a lot of great talk. There was a lot of fascinating stories and people. There was so much going on in a very small space, often seemingly rushing towards you like the ground as you fall.

My brain is genuinely aching. Though my heart is swollen.

I didn’t really expect it to be like this. I was expecting to hear politics and get fired up. I was hoping to learn and grow and solidify.

Instead, I just feel like I have been put in contact with a part of me that has been missing.

This is also good.

I’m not going to talk too much about the speakers and the talks, or even the bands. I’m sure other people will post much more eloquent responses and critiques of what was said. I don’t remember many huge bombshells in the actual programme. Nobody has many answers about what to do next apart from look after yourself, pay attention, listen to stories, tell your stories, and learn how to live with less.

Possibly the simplest and most obviously true statement of the weekend was something along the lines of  ‘get better at enjoying non-material things, because if you want to be happy, those are going to be the only things you can rely on’.

In shorter, if everything runs out, make sure you’ve got something that can’t run out to make your heart sing.

That wasn’t actually shorter, was it.

I’m not good at brevity right now, maybe. I’ve got a lot of listening to try and take in and and process. At some point I think a lot of things in my brain are going to pop, in various different ways.

The weekend clicked for me about five times, after initially seeming like something utterly contradictory and so somewhat failed. When people who are talking about the end of the world get angry and self righteous about a cafe only having jacket potatoes left, it makes you wonder. Dougald, one of the organisers, noted that someone on twitter had described the festival as ‘luddites with iPhones’, he was aware of the irony. Smari pointed out earlier (quite probably joking, but still quite probably right), the people who were prepared were probably somewhere else, being prepared. This was not a place to learn how to prepare for the apocalypse. This was a place to talk.

Which seemed kind of pointless.

Until. Well. Until it started to feel right. Until I realised that this wasn’t necessarily about building bunkers, it was about building soul, heart, spirit or something like it. There are many sorts of preparedness.

The ‘What next’ talk helped, particularly when Paul Kingsnorth (the other founder) noted that the festival had kind of started out as a place to get writers together.

Once you start thinking of it as a writer’s workshop at the end of the universe, it kind of made sense.

But before that, it really clicked, as I got in touch with exactly the sort of hippy I am.

People call me a hippy all the time, and sometimes I get annoyed, but mostly because I don’t know what it means. I acknowledge that I don’t help myself by wearing skirts and long hair and liking flowers, but, well, it still seems like a derogatory term. Something ineffectual. I guess this could be historiographical. During one conversation, Vinay noted that the cultural revolution died because all the clever people died in the first years of battle, leaving nobody to lead that side in the war.

So; failed and idealistic revolutionary? Possibly not that far off. But there are other trappings.

This weekend, for me, was actually a deeply spiritual experience. Despite me not having any clear definition of what that is. The biggest learnings were not about people (though the campfire was one of the most supportive singsongs I’ve ever taken part in. I’ve never sung solo acappella in front of strangers before, and I felt happy to do it and to fail. Thanks to that fire. If you’re reading this, you know who you are.)

Really, the awesome ritualistic theatre of Liminal, was what bought my heart into action. A small prologue, a procession through a series of unneverving dreamlike vignettes, and a  final ritual, of noise and movement in the depths of a candlelit forest. Through that, I felt centred and connected to all of life, all of the world. Like had taken part in some kind of bonding ceremony. My centre suddenly felt further away from me than usual, but in the right way.

I celebrated by getting drunk, which was almost as stupid as some of the decisions on my cycle out from Petersfield to the campsite, which took five hours instead of one, and almost as fun. (Though it was the cycle that nearly killed me, if it hadn’t been for a spanner and a nice old lady called Anne, I’d probably be dead. Or at least very, very ill.)

The next day I was less engaged, but still picking up fragments, and maybe the odd braingrenade from Vinay. My mind was struggling to keep up with some of the learnings of the night before. Not least a weighty discussion in the almost sacredly intimate space of the hexayurt (which I stumbled drunkenly into at four in the morning).

I think spaces need to be small for real weight to be talked about. A conference or lecture is not a supportive or communal environment, it is a space for hierarchy and showing off. There were problems with some of the spaces, that bought out some odd things in people, and made me shut up and feel alienated. But when things worked, they worked.

And actually, shutting up and listening was what I needed. It wasn’t until everyone one faded back to their real lives and I was left in a quite countryside that I really appreciated that. And that I finally got to listen to what I really needed.

I made a new friend, who fed and nourished me in a number of ways, not least with actual physical real food. I need to get the micro infrastructure for cookery into my camping bike loadout pretty sharpish.

After absorbing some silence sunshine and beauty, we talked about sheep, unicorns and ancestors. Myths and futures and spirits.

The thing is, when you have the space to look at the noisiness of the quieter, less verbal world, you realise that these spirits, while metaphors, are utterly, utterly real.

Our myths and stories are wrapped up together, and they can still be shared around a campfire, and nothing will make you new friends like laughing and sharing them.

We are going to be ancestors. Even if we don’t have children, those around us will. We will tell them stories, and they will tell stories about us. Eventually, that is all we will be. Stories.

After my final commune with nature, the final fire of the weekend was shared with total but beautiful strangers. The chance to bounce around some chatter, to hear our thoughts and stories of the weekend shared and stretched and played with. Repeated and explained from different angles.

With the owls for company.

We were not the centre, we were just part of a stream through eternity. We looked backwards, and we looked forwards, and we saw everything stretching out beyond us.

I think we are tiny. I think we make tiny marks. As a civilisation, we have wreaked huge damage, but still, where it is, life persists. We will, eventually, wash away (barring the definitely real possibility of biotech, nanotech or nuclear catastrophe), and leave a world that will move on without us.

But civilisation is not actually us. Not the deep us, at our core.

Politically, we must make sure we demand the world the world deserves. We must learn how to change our civilisation so it does not destroy everything. This will probably not happen until it’s all gone horribly wrong. This is a tragedy for us.

The world will pick itself up and carry on without us.

We need to do something about this. This weekend was not about finding out what. It was about finding out why.

It was about seeing alternatives and feeling them.

It was restorative to something in my heart. Like a tree was growing there that hasn’t been watered in forever. Finally it is growing again, maybe even bearing fruit.

I still don’t know what to do about civilisation. But I do know I need to distance myself from it. My path seems clearer. Move, slowly and safely away from the horror of it all. Find somewhere I can live a simpler life.

The route will not be simple. I don’t have the wisdom and skills and power of my ancestors. I don’t know how to live off land, and I don’t have land to live off.

But. Well. I need to be out there.

Where the real world is. Living and bustling in it’s own way. I must visit it more regularly and learn how to work with it.

These are musts now, not just idle dreams.

I’m not going to stop talking about the problems. I’m going to continue to try and make the world change. But I am also going to make a tent on a darker mountain.

My spirit belongs with the others. In the darkness.

It’s not easy to see in the dark. This weekend, I practiced opening my eyes wider.

With time. I will work on my eyes.

And my heart.

And my soul.

So I can see deeper into the darkness, and maybe even live there.

This is a first response. It is tired and slightly crazy, for that is where I’m at right this moment.I’m going to use Unstruck this week to explore a few questions that came up over the weekend. This is technically breaking the rules, but that’s what they’re for, right?

Freizeit- The Kindness of Strangers

It’s a little weird.

Hard to get used to how far you can get on the kindness of strangers, with only the tiniest bit of language ability. It’s also terrifying.

I have been weirdly isolated at times, but it’s pretty much all in my mind.

Currently the biggest problem is that this keyboard has a ä in the ‘ place. That kind of brain programming isn’t easy.

Also the z and y is all muddled.

But zou probablz didnät come here to hear me talk about german kezboards.

That was on purpose by the way.

So where to begin.

Now.

I’m in the beautiful Stadtbucherei (town library?) of Münster. This is a beautiful town, full of cyclists and students and oldness and newness. It’s strange and laid back, but in what I assume is a very German way.

I spend my entire time saying please and thank you, and occasionally the more unwieldy sorry (bitte, danke und es tut mir leid, for the curious). I still feel I’m being really rude, except the locals seem even ruder and it just seems to work out fine for them.

Oddly my brain is switching to German in loads of tiny ways.

Like I keep on being about to type zu, instead of to.

The weirdest thing about it is that I’m not speaking much German. There’s a weird crisis of confidence. I keep on thinking about the grammar too much so that I can’t formulate the phrases before the conversation has moved on or become awkward.

But I’m putting off getting to the good stuff.

Basically, hitching across Europe is crazy. Boring. Exhilarating. Amazing. Unreal. Terrifying and satisfying.

All in random orders.

The main emotion that stays with me though is that feeling of progress whenever there is even a tiny bit of moment.

And amazement.

I’ve not done the maths in miles, but we’ve crossed countries in days. We set off at 6ish on Wednesday morning and were in France by lunchtime, and in Belgium by the evening.

For free. Nothing but asking strangers for a little kindness.

There’s lots of rejection to.

After getting two thirds fo the way across Belgium, we found ourselves stuck in a small service station near Liege (60 miles from the Belgium German border). We camped for a night, and then got up early the next day. And we put our thumbs out.

And we put our thumbs out.

And we wrote signs. With destinations creeping slowly closer and more general.

And we put our thumbs out.

And we danced. With our thumbs out.

And we talked to a million people. (well, mostly Josh and Skozl).

They found out a hundred ways of being told no, sorry.

But that afternoon, about three or so, after what felt like a lifetime of baking, baking sun and smelly toilets and the sound of the motorway. Someone picked us up.

We went forwards. The guy was buying a car nearby.

For a while we went backwards. And ended up on a slightly nicer service station just outside liege.

But this was a better one.

And before too long, the loveliest lady in Belgium (a certified Iron Woman Triathlete) took us up to the German border.

That feeling of satisfaction. That feeling that people will help you. Is amazing. Laurie was on her own, there were three of us. pretty much her first words were ‘I hope I’m not being stupid, and that you won’t aggress, violence or murder me.’

You understand why people don’t pick you up, even as it frustrates when an empty SUV drives by.

But it just makes it better when you get somewhere new.

Bivouaccing in Germany. Meeting geologists, Navy officers and ex army doctors. Awkward joking between kind people with no language shared with us.

Fear on our part. A lack of control.

But then you’re closer. Someone offers another hand and you’re in heaven again. Floating on air as you realise how amazing life can be. How far you can get with nothing.

With the help of friends and strangers.

It’s been a week of miracles, to my mind, but just the simple miracle of community and trust.

Josh used hospitality club to find us someone to stay with in Munster, and Chris has been the kindest most generous host you could imagine. Just for the opportunity to meet with new people, she has put us up and given us a bed and delightful food.

It makes you want to be more generous with everything.

It proves the notion of karma.

If you do kind things, then miracles like this can happen.

The more kind things people do. The more everyone can feel happier and trust to chance and the wind to carry us forward.

It’s hard not to get carried away. I feel the negativity in my spine and my eyes. Even at Chris’ lovely house, I’ve found it hard to sleep (too hot? too quiet? too comfy? too amazing?).

But when I think for even a moment about what I’ve already achieved. About what I’ve seen and learnt. And what I can now imagine in the future. It’s amazing. The support of Josh and Jo and the strangers that have got us here is the best birthday present I could ever have. (And thanks to Mum for helping pay for the passport and the preparation).

And I think I want to learn German and maybe one day move to Münster for a while. It feels like Brighton without the sea (but with a beautiful canal, not like an English Canal). The cycling is incredible. Literally seas of bicycles in every direction. And if Chris and Hermanne are anything to go by das Münsterisch are the loveliest people in the world. It’s another half tourist half student town. And there’s lots going on here, judging from the things this weekend. From exploding scaffolding ships, fireworks, harbour festivals, markets and just the most beautiful countryside.

And a cycle network that actually works.

It’s , miraculous.

I’m running out of time, so there’ll be more detail to come. And photos when I get home. Perhaps that’s an entirely different story in itself.

Final thoughts?

Thank you. Thank you to everyone who has helped me get here, where I am today. And that’s not just in Münster, but in my life. Thank  you to my mother for giving birth to me exactly 26 years ago, and everyone who has made me who I am, to get here today.

I think there’s an argument that you’re always hitch hiking. Relying on the support of the people around you. The kindness and patience of your family and the strangers you meet who may become your friends, but really, whoever they are, you may never see them again.

But they all moved you somewhere, and in some way.

So thanks to the strangers.

Thanks to the kind.

And I hope I never forget that I am constantly, permanently in debt to the strangers and friends and loved ones around me. And I hope I never stop paying them back with kindnesses like these.

Tschuß,

Vielen Dank,

Alabaster Auf Allemands.

(Some assonant creole there? Optimistically.

It’s all in the Execution – Art with Heart

Manet Vs Lichtenstein

Corner of my bedroom, complete with Manet’s Execution of Emporer Maximillian and a Lichtenstien with a title I can’t find.

First up, apologies for the puns in the title, sometimes (most times) I just can’t help myself.

Right.

Art.

Hmm.

To me, the most powerful and beautiful art unfolds.

I mean. The pieces that I love. Or rather, one category of pictures (or whatever) that I love, have a factor in common. Multiplicity of meaning.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the potent, filthy erotic monstrousness of Francis Bacon. But I don’t come away thinking, I come away feeling. I love that feeling, and that is the other category of art i love, the stuff that makes me feel baptised in…something. Whatever it is.

But these two paintings, there’s something more ethereal in them that I love. It’s all about meaning and interpretation. It means that they excite me now, in a way that I don’t think many people understand.

I’m going to try and make you understand now. I will probably fail, but let me know what you think.

Let’s get back to unfolding. It’s a recurring feeling. It’s not like turning an origami swan, it’s more like turning an origami swan into a smaller origami swan, like a fractal.

Down the rabbit hole.

I’m going to anchor this with something more solid, like a picture of the piece we’re looking at first.Lichtenstein's Pianist

‘Although he holds his brush and palette in his hands. I know his heart is always with me!’

I discovered this piece upon moving into a house. The poster was on the wall, and it gazed over our kitchen table for the whole year. Everybody wanted to take it down, because it looks (apparently) uncannily like a friend of some of the people that lived there, and it freaked them out (aforementioned someone passed away in tragic circumstances sometime before). I insisted it stayed up, because I thought it was magical. When we moved, I took it with me, and it’s always been on one of my walls.

What is it that strikes me about it?

Well, I’ll tell you what it isn’t.

It’s not the image.

It’s not the whole ‘Pop art’ thing either. No praise of kitsch or low culture. No blowing tiny items up to a level where they become art. No celebration of the infantile or banal. No. It is none of these things.

Not for me anyway. And that’s what everybody says when they talk about Lichtenstein.

I think they miss the depth, or at least, the critics I’ve read miss it. They miss a lot.

For me, it’s the wordplay. The thought bubble, and the way that interacts with the artist, the girl trapped in the image, the viewer and society at large.

Like I say, once I start looking at it and engage my brain, it starts unfolding, until it has engulfed everything.

I still don’t have it all in my head. I still find it challenging to think how the very thing that fascinates me represents a critique or reinforcement of the male gaze. I rarely even try and explore that avenue.

Let’s look at what I’m trying to talk about here. That might help.

She (the flat static image) is pondering her relationship with the Artist, Roy Lichtenstein. She sees him, from the canvas, painting her. He is entirely focussed on his art, the creation of a beautiful meaningul object. But in true pulp style, she is in love. She senses, beneath his art, his love for her. She is in his heart, and he is pouring that heart onto the canvas, which is her.

And then my heart skips a beat, as I wonder if she’s right?

What was Lichtenstein thinking? Who is this woman (eerily like someone I’ve never met, but who has had an impact on my life)? Did he sneak a lover into one of his pictures? Or is she just an object? Is he aware of his objectification? Is she? Why does she decieve herself? Is Lichtenstein an aware tool of the patriarchy? Why does he create this woman for us, society, or me?

What is she playing on the piano?

Is the whole, together, a statement about art? Is it a parody of assumed relationships between artist and model? Is it simply a sad, mournful statement, that some people fall in love with people who could never love them back?

I always settle on melancholy, but maybe that’s just me. THe fact is that I feel like I can always break it down another layer, in ways that I can’t describe.

I do this for hours. And with each new level of discovery, I am more in love with the interplay between everything. It is the meaning that gets me, not in anyway the aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetically, I find it bland and static. Well. It’s striking, in a way, but it doesn’t excite me.

But behind the image, is something far greater.

Next.

Manet's Execution

Manet’s Execution of Maximilian – Fragmented , and with earlier (complete) versions.

Édouard Manet’s painting, perhaps requires a brief history lesson. I’d recommend a read of the article I just linked to, it’s fascinating, though I’m making a point of not re-reading it now, as that’s not really what I want to talk about. This one is perhaps more ethereal than the last, but I’ll try my best.

Basically, it’s the fragments.

The history lesson will tell you more about why it is like this. But I don’t really see the magic in the image until it’s broken up like this. Not even because of the politics behind that.

Once again, I think the critics are missing the point, at least the ones I’ve read.

I love the way the different elements are frozen in blankness. Isolated from each other. The focus (perhaps) of the piece, is entirely missing. The Emperor is nowhere to be seen, though someone who holds him is still there. The puff of smoke is all the evidence of the action. We don’t know who or what is being held, but it’s absence is telling. Like the red hatted sergeant, it is distanced, and cut off from everything. Not just his attention, fixing the barrel of his gun, not paying attention to the destruction he is supposed to be leading. He washes his hands. And he is cut off. A fine line breaks him apart from his unit.

And so we see the world, as a series of fragments. Like the old cliched story of the blind men and the elephant. The whole picture is absent, we only see tiny elements. We can’t have everything, and (if you want to take it that way) the victim is removed entirely.

Which makes it briefly about news media.

Or is it just about alienation. The way we stand aside and watch things happen. Or the way we may never see our firing squad.

I love it. I can’t explain it. But somehow it’s fragmentary nature speaks more to me than a whole painting like this could. It engages my mind and makes me challenge the very image I am gazing at. Questioning it and everyone in it. They become more relatable, because they are only one piece of the puzzle, like all of us.

I find it incredible.

One last picture, which we’ve already seen, but bears repeating.

Manet Vs Lichtenstein

My corner again.

So the reason I decided I wanted to go in depth into this post, and these pictures, is because of this picture. Whilst scouting around my room for my last post, I was just snapping everything I cared about, and I took this picture of my two pictures.

I saw something I had never seen before.

The way I had arranged them, meant that Manet’s Firing squad was shooting Lichtenstein’s Pianist in the heart.

Another layer started unfolding, entirely unique and other. Entirely accidental.

No authorial involvement whatsoever, and suddenly I had a new meaning created. We have the forces of oppression, fragmentary (not knowing themselves?) and male, shooting an image of femininity, totally unaware of her imminent doom. Somebody please tell her it’s not a palette and brush (false consciousness?), it’s a gun.

The oppression of the patriarchy, and the way people stand by and watch, ignoring it, whilst the oppressed are left unaware and fooled?

It’s a horribly depressing image, and incredibly infantilising to women (many of whom are aware of the bullshit that slowly tries to destroy them) and it lets the men get away with it (what’s this ignorance business all about…they are murderers, surely…all completely guilty and involved).

The stories multiply. The meaning increases, and the whole thing unfolds.

And tomorrow it will tell me a different story entirely.

Which is one thing I love about art.

***

All images low res photos of reproductions. Copyright definitely not mine, but I feel it’s fair use. If representatives of the copyright holders ask me to remove them, I will, but it will make me sad.

Themes and Variations – My Mind, My Image and My Space

Stareatceiling2

The view from my head in my bed where I think

Today’s post is gonna be weird. I couldn’t decide what I was going to write. Then I decided to continue a thought process that’s been being explored in an e-mail conversation with the Sea Witch. That conversation was all about (partly) how much I over-analyse things, and the paranoia and mindfuddlement that stems from that.

I’ve decided recently (as you may have noticed) that I wanted to improve the visual nature of my blog. This entailed a promise to myself to make sure there was an image/video at the head of each post, at the very least. Something to break up the huge swathes of writing I’m normally built on. This has made me happier with my blog, even though my posting is still so intermittent.

Anyway, I a;sp recently acquired (ahem) a rather poor quality digital camera. So i can now take pictures albeit slightly low res washed out ones (though the wash is partly the beautiful sunny day’s fault).

As we can see above, I decided to illustrate my mindstate, the befuddlement and overanalysis that plagues myself (but also is it’s very foundation, surely?) by showing the view from my pillow (somewhat).

But then I ended up pootling around my room for fifteen minutes taking pictures of various nooks and crannies that I feel represent bits of me. Or at least might interest those of my long term followers who’ve been curious.

So here’s some bits and pieces of my personal space, with some thoughts and analysis attached.

First up, my ceiling, or rather it’s hanging. Which as you can see is a beautiful mess. Suspended in the air, I have created a cave of fabrics and icons. Above you can see the sunshine corner. Complete with a wooden sun, the Brian Wilson Smile Sun, some sunny fabric and (though you can’t really make it out, the head of a dalek. It’s a pretty mess. Which I like, as you can imagine. Unsurprisingly, these hangings make me feel at home. I hated this room when it was all white walls, and now it is busy and exciting and random and strange, I am happy in it.

Like my life. Though this need for chaos may be part of the problem.

But let us move on.

Bradley's nest

Bradley’s Nest, with fairy, web and tie.

The opposite corner to the sun corner is a darker, more erratic affair, but it contains a link to the past. Bradley has been a close friend since I was a in my teens. Which is a bit of an odd time. If I remember right, my mum bought him for me as a good luck charm for my GCSE exams. I didn’t bring him along to any of them, but by Sixth form he ended up in the common room at school. Eventually, when I got named prefect but decided I actually wanted to spend my lunchtimes getting stoned, I gave him my ‘badge of office’ and told the head of sixth form to speak to him if he had any problems with my performance. Bradley was a terrible prefect, but he got me out of trouble, somehow. I think certain authority figures have no idea how to deal with me when I’m in irreverent insane rebellious mania mode.

The Fairy has ties to Brighton. It’s a shirt I saw when i first visited the town, but felt uncomfortable buying as it was clearly lady clothes (this was long before my gender identity started liquifying, or at least before the dam had been opened). I loved it though, so when I heard Fat Mark (not her real name) was visiting Brighton, I demanded she buy it for me. She did, despite thinking it was horrible. I’ve only worn it once as it is a million sizes too small for me, but I try to have it on display in every room I live in.

You can lip us

Looking down from my window, those are my wind chimes

Except they aren’t my wind chimes, as I don’t have wind chimes. I want some wind chimes, but I’m really picky about the tones I like in them.

This is my tree which I love. I picked my bedroom, which is the smallest in the house, because of this tree. Looking out my window makes me happy. Thank you tree.

Eucalyptus trees will grow and grow until they fall over. This may be analogous to some of my personal weaknesses and problems.

Reoccuring

This is what I see when I see about you (kinda)

My workspace, without the surrounding mess. There’s nothing psychologically interesting here, apart from the horrific Bacon in the background. I have lots of Bacon on my walls (Francis, obv) because he disturbs, fascinates and excites me in equal measures. That’s a tricky achievement, I think.

pict0007

Strange images. Pieces of my mind, on my wall.

This is the wall I stare at most often, so this is the one with the most pictures and things on. There’s not really a quality control on it, some choices are fairly random (lopsided picture of gorilla eating banana for example). There’s a leaf heart in the middle that I forget who gave to me, and that makes me so sad. For someone to pick out a leaf that looked like a heart, to single out me to recieve that heart, and for me to then forget who it is, shows that I am a self centred, arrogant and inconsiderate horror of a person.

Three more bacons, two of which appear to be staring each other down. Which I love.

To the left we see three pictures of me and my passed on friend Will. We had both taken lots of handpicked mushrooms, and were twisted, but what is shown here is a little three stage tale of unspoken, simple love. I light his cigarette, and we enjoy in each other a sweet moment. I love Will and miss him forever, and those pictures with me shorn of most of my hair, never fail to make me delight in memories of him.

We have two genderqueer images, left and right. A portrait of a dragged up James Bidgood from the Matmos Homo-portrait album (their words, not mine) ‘The Rose has teeth in the Mouth of a Beast’, and a painting of desire of the endless, a horrible character with no gender, here being a very beautiful kind of ungendered sexy.

Two pictures by Rebecca Clements, one mashing up Bacon and Marnie Stern, one that is just the most beautiful thing on my walls, a tree bird flowering onto a gorgeous purple background. There’s a better image of the Treenix here. I adore it and cherish it for it is beautiful.

The two large images at the top strike me with utter beauty and are special, but I can’t remember who either of them are by. They are both cut from newspapers. The one on the right in particular often leaves me gobsmacked, despite having seen it everyday since forever.

At the top, invisible, is a list of positions in the new Tai Chi form I am learning. I am rubbish at it, but I recently crossed a threshold that means I have hopes for the future. I made the realisation that the new form is different from the old form, and that made things click somewhat. This is not as stupid as it sounds. Honest.

The busy corner

I have more stuff than I could ever need. I try to use it often.

Just in case anyone thought my room was tidy and in harmony, I must point out that relatively speaking, it is at the moment. But it still has a corner of it that is this crowded with stuff and nonsense. Books, CDs, records, DVDs, letter, notepads, my I Ching oracle, an accordian, Go peices, a beer (vintage), some comics, a glove and a painting fill huge amounts of space. This is all important and must be to hand at any time (yet rarely get’s touched. Oh, and that’s my record deck, or one of them at least.

More clutter

More (unusual) clutter

There is an old abandoned fireplace in one side of my room. It is one of my bedside tables (in effect). Amongst other things, hear we have, my melodica (new and shiny) my hair collection (several different people’s hair) and my ‘trophies’. The stone spring affair is my favourite. It was a present from a much loved friend from my first year at Uni, the beautiful Bliu one (who I must try and get in touch with again), she gave me this small weird and ramshackle sculpture because she knew how much I liked the tree spirits in Princess Mononoke. This was her attempt to make one for me. It is beautiful, despite it’s not coming out anywhere near how she planned.

HairyDanceMonster

Me bursting out of my decks. Pic courtesy of Isadora of the Half Sisters

At this point we approach narcissism, as I reveal the outside of my bedroom door. In order to make it clear that this room is mine, it has lots of pictures of me on it. Most drawn by people other than me. This first one is the most recent one to go up. I love it already. It was a hastily scrawled image of me dancing behind my decks at the gig I did last Sunday. This was the best DJ set I’ve done in a while, despite technical difficulties. This image captures something of the way I project myself outwards from my musical tastes. And also demonstrates that my head is massive. And that I love to perform. And that I am quite monstrous really.

So it’s a good picture, even just in terms of transmission of ideas.

Like I say, I love it.

Ickle me

Apparently, even at a very young age, I looked a bit like a serial killer.

Due to a hatred of form filling out, this is still the photo in my most up to date passport. I need to get that sorted, as currently I can’t leave the country. Which is dreadful. Isn’t this cute. This was taken at age eleven. It was in preparation for my first and only trip to America. It was raining, so I had a hood up on the way to the booth, but I didn’t notice the ludicrous hood hair. It has since caused much embarrasment, though now I wear it as a badge of identity. Laugh at my weird young ways. I say. Apparently.

Tipplex

Ink and Tipp ex Me by Significex

Tranisition into digital form hasn’t done much for this picture, but in real life it looks incredibly like me, and is beautiful. I have many reasons to thank Significex. This picture is one of them, as it is wonderful. Again, it captures my ‘ebullient’ (in quotes because it’s a polite way of saying obnoxious, at least in this case) nature brilliantly.

Flattering

Another spot on representation of the author.

At work I interact with a lot of children and young people. The way I generally get them on side is by deprecating myself and letting them take the piss out of me. This almost always seems to work, and allows me to talk with them as equals. It’s a quick way of getting trust, but it means I lose my authority quickly. This is good, as I’m not a fan of authority. This was drawn by a nine year old who was taking the piss out of me the whole time. I told her I loved it. I did love it, and I still do.

Detail of Chaos

Art, Untitled, by Me

I have little to no artistic ability, but I enjoy doing what I can do, which is doodling and colouring and creating textures. I guess I could claim an experimental mind set, but really I just don’t know what the rules are so I just enjoy myself. When I do make something, I often love it, despite it’s difficulties. I love this, for example, hence it being a badge of my identity, along with the superior images of me presented above. I love this weird collage of textures and collage. Ink and water colour and crayon mashed together, the cut and ripped and taped together. It gives me satisfaction whenever I see it, though i doubt anyone else sees what I says. Which is true of everything and everyone, of course.

That’s enough for me.

Manet Vs Lichtenstein

Teaser

One last shot. I want to go into depth about this, but what I have to say here might actually be interesting so I’m going to save it for a seperate post all it’s own. On the left we have a Lichtenstein painting, with the Pianist thinking ‘Although he holds his brush and palette in his hands, I know his heart is always with me!’. On the right we have the extant pieces of a Manet painting showing an execution. For multiple reasons, these paintings fascinate and bewilder me.

I’ll leave you to guess my reasonings, and will hopefully remember to fill you in on them soon. (Feel free to poke me if I don’t).

***

So that’s a whistlestop tour of my bedroom and it’s coverings. I missed out some photos I decided were even more boring than those above. I hope this has enlightened or entertained you at least mildly. Anyone want to make some assessments of my personality and brain on the basis of what I’ve shown you? Or just point out that I started out with a plan to write an interesting post, and somewhere along the way it became intensely boring?

Answers on a postcard, or in that little white box down below.