January 31, 2008

My life has meaning again

Gladiators is to make a TV return. As if there weren't already enough TV to suck my life away.

I am genuinely excited, especially about the new line up. Will be interesting to see what gets reprised and what gets axed... 


January 27, 2008

People are such idiots

How can any self-respecting intellectual accuse this man of racism? Islam is not a race, it is a belief (and a troubled one, at that). Even if there is a correlation between a particular race (Arabs) and Islam, calling for retaliation against Muslims can never be a racist act, because it is not on the basis of their race that he is calling for retaliation - since there are non-Arab Muslims and non-Muslim Arabs, the two cannot be logically co-dependent. Therefore any charge of racism is fucking idiotic.

Now to accuse him of incitement to religious hatred, that makes sense...


January 25, 2008

Why I'm sick of the mud–slinging

Fuck Hillary. Seriously, fuck her right in the ear. She is a snake of a woman, a two-faced bitch with conflicting, incoherent policies and far too much baggage to inherit the title of first woman president. Do Americans seriously want their first woman president (potentially, at least) to be this susceptible to the oh so easy but oh so justified 'riding on the coat-tails' argument? Can anyone with half a brain honestly say they'd have given a shit about her or Cherie Blair, for that matter, if their husbands hadn't made them such public figures by association? I might despise the likes of Harriet Harman and Jacqui Smith, but at least they got there on their own steam. I'm not saying that Hillary and Cherie don't do things themselves, but how much of their platform for achievement is a consequence of their spouses? We'll never know if they'd have managed the same alone, or at least without the male precedent.

Barack doesn't have that - if he's elected, America will be able to hold its head high (not that it will necessarily want to) and say "we elected the first black president (even if it wasn't a majority), and he paved his own way", though of course, such a claim is relative - Barack would be nowhere without the Martin Luther Kings and Rosa Parks of this world. But as relates to him personally, he's had no advantages, no special friends in the way that Hillary has. I'd like the first woman president to have none of that obvious and weighty baggage, if at all possible. I'd like her to be able to stand up and say she made it on her own steam. Because then it will mean more (as far as any of these milestones mean anything).

Quite apart from his great skills as an orator (he reminds me a lot of the Rock, in his style and delivery), I support Barack because he's singing the song of change, of new politics. All Hillary knows is the old route, which is why she's sniping from the hills with misquotations and barely-concealed smear campaigns, and the unending, oleaginous, clinical bullshit that makes me want to punch her repeatedly in the face. So she teared up and showed a little vulnerability a few weeks ago? Is it such a fucking wonder? Even if they weren't crocodile tears, which I suspect they were, all it shows is that she's humanity. But if you don't have a fucking dim enough view of humanity and what people are capable of by now, maybe you never will. That she's human doesn't improve her. It just makes it a little easier for us to understand why she's such a bitch! I haven't been following the Republican race very closely at all, but I'm pretty sure there are a few of them I'd rather have in power than the mud-slinging, two-faced bitch who clearly thinks that the ends of the campagin justify the means...

I'm just glad that Barack got a chance, on the debate above, to set things straight. I love how restrained he was, biting his tongue until his chance to reply. She showed no courtesy or appreciation for the rules (how unexpected from a Clinton) in her interruptions, or her Jerry Springer style attitude. That is not a person I want in charge of one of the most powerful nations of the world. And anyone that does is, frankly, on crack - Edwards is a clearly preferable second choice. We should not be voting for Clinton because she's a woman, just as we should not be voting for Barack because he's black - we should be voting for them on the strength of their character and their policies. The only importance in either milestone that each of them represents is in possibly showing America's progress towards the day when we don't notice (beyond the obvious and necessary) and don't make judgements based on someone's race or gender (though I'm not sure that's an entirely and unmitigatedly optimal endpoint), or rather that some people are willing to prioritise other issues such as policy over racism.

But we should not be seeking these milestones for their own sakes, because what else then are we doing but belittling such achievements and the conflicts required to reach them, and patronising those who have struggled to shed themselves of labels. It would be the same thinly-veiled bullshit  as Affirmative Action - the idea that, despite bountiful evidence to the contrary, certain historically disadvantaged groups and peoples are incapable of succeeding without the benificent hand of the apparent advantaged group (who are also, not entirely coincidentally, the oppressors who caused the disadvantage in the first place), be it men, or whites, or the rich, or the upper classes or whatever. It is patronisation, pure and simple - on which point, I wholeheartedly refute the maxim of Eleanor Roosevelt, who said "No one can make you feel inferior without your permission", which is often applied as a counter to claims of patronisation: it is one thing to have confidence in one's ability, or status or whatever; it is another to recognise an attempt, conscious or subconscious, to undermine that confidence, whether that attempt is successful or not. I am not saying that just because someone feels they are being patronised, they are - people are frequently wrong and will misjudge the intention of the apparent patronising offender - but equally, people often patronise without being aware of it.

Anyway, in summary, fuck Hillary Clinton. The sooner she fucks off and lets people across the world unite under the banner of Obama (a man can dream), the sooner America can wipe its debts, social, moral and financial, to the rest of the world, and regain the respect and sense of responsibility that ought to come with the power of a nation of that magnitude.

And I don't even live there! 


January 24, 2008

The voice of the mountains (or Why I listen to too much Pocahontas)

So, in last week's class, we had to write a killer first line, which was then handed to the next person over, who completed the paragraph, before handing it back to the original writer. We then had to analyse the paragraph from a political perspective, and write a paragraph of our own, analysing the political statements made or implied within the writing. Here's how that went:

Silence squirmed under the heel of Cairn’s Boot, a haphazard town that had scratched its way into the side of the long-dormant volcano, which had spewed the island into existence. It was as if the whole town was holding its breath – not just its people, but the dogs, the wind and the prefabricated houses – and doing what it’d always done – huddle in the crelbow of the mountain of which it was an outgrowth. It didn’t know the threat it felt boiled within/

I believe that the writer of this story is expressing some desire to break free of the manufactured determinism of our world. The use of the phrase ‘prefabricated houses’ denotes no small amount of cynicism, and provokes an image of disdain for the placement of such obviously manufactured buildings in such an unfit setting. 

This weeks assignment was then to take the two paragraphs, and rewrite the story from the first person perspective of a dog, a cat, a stuffed parrot etc, or an inanimate object of our choosing. The idea of the assignment was to get under the skin of a non-human narrator, the difference in their politics, language, understanding of abstracts etc. Being the ambitious human that I am, I decided it would be a fitting challenge to write from the perspective of the mountain... Yeah, I know, eyes bigger than my belly and all that. Anyway, needless to say I struggled. The enormity of the narrator, the difficuly in relating their perceptions, and how they come to perceive anything, the understanding of the passage of time and difference and identity, the task of finding vocabuary and asbtract understanding which would not only be possible for a mountain, but function as a bridge between us and it - these were the problems. I knew that if I managed to get these elements right, the other elements, like the character of the mountain, would slip into place, or at least begin to reveal themselves to me.

Hence, I knew I did not want to use I, or me, and couldn't use he, or him we were instructed to write in the first person). Having played a lot of Mass Effect recently, there is a race called the Hanar who refer to themselves as 'one', 'this one', 'that one' etc. While they are an intensely annoying race, the speech stuck with me, as representative of not just a different world view, but also of a hive mind mentality - just enough self-awareness to have referential concepts, but racially connected. The idea that every mountain has a degree of self-awareness, stemming from its peak, but is part of a larger whole, a kind of hive mind rooted through the core of the Earth connecting all mountains everywhere, well, I thought that idea was worth following up.

The draft wandered a lot from the original two paragraphs, though I feel perhaps the political sentiment has been maintained as best it could. The original was, of course, written in a third person perspective, meaning that I was forced to give up the gloriously Douglas Adams style first line, which was in part homage to my favourite opening line of a novel ever - "High on a rocky promontory sat an Electric Monk on a bored horse" (and I checked, George, and it is the opening line :P). I shall, perhaps, hang on to that first line, and maybe drag it out at some point in the future.  Anyway, here is "The Itch".

There

was the

itch. In one’s crevice.

The crevice was old, from the time

of one’s becoming, when it had boiled

and raged under the cold, dark other which now

ran in little paths down one’s topsoil – quickly at first,

or so it seemed to one, but slowing as it reached where one curved,

flattened out until one’s soil turned to silicon, and sunk down under the other, where the little

paths reunited the lost other with the greater other, which showed no constancy, but was forever moving.

The itch moved. But one did not move. From time to time, one crumbled a little, but this was the way of things. One was still young, and though the becoming was over, one’s rock could still change, though not as much as one’s soil. One knew this to be true because one had once been a greater one, and still was a part of it, thought distant – under the lapping other, one’s self stretched away and joined other selves. But the more the farness from one’s peak, the more one hurt to feel. So one felt only as far as the other began. But one could feel other selves nearby, other peaks. One had no way of thinking with them, across the farness filled by the hateful, changing other, but their presence served to make one sure that one was one, but one of many, and not all. One also knew this because of the itch.

The itch was enduring. There had been other itches before, on the flat, but much briefer – they had not survived the becoming, or the changes of one’s rock. But this itch remained. And remained in one’s crevice, not one’s highest crevice, nor one’s lowest crevice, but a crevice high enough and close enough to one’s peak that one was the most irritated one had been since the becoming. One wished for a change of one’s rock again to wipe the itch from one’s crevice, though one had no control over this – one had no control over much anymore. In the becoming, one had been able to move things, been able to do, but now, one was only able to feel. And one felt the itch. And the itch brought pain. And one felt pain, felt the pain of one’s rock being changed unnaturally and knowing one could do nothing about it but hope for an end to the itch.

The itch was change. For all of one’s being, since the becoming, the one had been mostly the same, and so one feared change. One was often afraid. The outer was always changing – one felt it crack one’s exposed rock, felt it make one’s soil rock-like, felt it cover one’s peak with some stationary form of the hateful other which soon changed into its usual form, and ran down the paths that one talked of earlier. When this changed occurred, one felt one’s soil give birth to thousands of the tiny, different peaks, which burrowed into his soil. Some ended quickly, but some survived their becoming, as one had done, and spread their selves into his rock. This, one didn’t mind so much. A deep part of one, perhaps the part that spread and linked one to the others and to the core, from which all life sprung, told one that this was natural, and the way of things. One liked the way of things, it gave one a certainty. Certainly, the burrowing did not itch, because while it was fast, it was not too fast. The itch was too fast.

The itch was strange. One did not understand the itch. And one fears what is not known as much as change, because what is not known could be anything, and do anything. What is not known could have the power to unmake – the same expanse of self which linked one with the others and the core, that same deep part of one told one that selves had been undone in the past. Not quickly, and not often, but sometimes. And so one feared. Because the itch might be the start of one’s unbecoming. The itch was much faster than most of what one encountered – only the hasty backing and forthing of the other was as strange. But, like most changes in the outer, the lapping was constant and regular. Though it was fast, it was always the same fast, as were the roads of other, and the burrowing. Such changes were predictable and regular. But the itch was different.

The itch was like the other. Burrowing that one felt was not natural gave rise to strange selves in one’s crevice, selves one recognised as good, dependable rock like oneself but which would not talk to one. It was as if these selves had been hewn from a larger self, and were now so far from their peak that they had no thoughts, or their thoughts were too quiet for one to hear. One thought they heard one’s thoughts, though, so while one could not think with them, one thought at them. One thought that these selves should explain their presence here in one’s crevice, so near to one’s peak. One thought that they should explain the irregularity and the changes around and within their selves – within was a difficult concept for one, as one’s only experience of within had been in the becoming, and there was little that had been clear from such changing times. Change was harder to understand than non-change. And one liked to understand. One did not like the itch!

The itch persisted.


January 19, 2008

Article 301

Follow-up to Freedom of Speech from Jimmy K's Eclectica

It's been a year and fuck all has changed. The stupid thing is Article 301 is actually self-fulfilling: to restrict free speech in such an unnecessary and unabashedly totalitarian manner is itself a crime against Turkishness. The sooner it's repealed, the sooner Turkey can come to terms with its past, artistically, journalistically and perhaps even historically. I'm not necessarily opposed to nationalism, but it has to be kept in context, kept in check. The irony is the murderer of Hrant Dink, a self-proclaimed nationalist, has damaged the reputation of Turkey in the same way Article 301 does every time the tired law is trotted out for another ridiculous trial against someone with the courage to criticise or deal with a contentious topic. The Turkish public might stay sedated forever in their bubble of ludicrous belief, where there's no violence in Islam, where Attaturk couldn't even be considered to be gay, where there could be no genocide against Armenians - without artists, journalists, historians, people able to push the envelope and ask the questions that are currently off-limits, there seems little hope of popping the bubble. It's not particular to Turks - all publics are. "A person is smart. People are dumb, panicky, dangerous animals". I keep this little nugget of wisdom from Agent K (MIB) to remind myself why people vote for George Bush, or listen to Busted, or watch Big Brother etc. But occasionally, someone with the courage to ask the right questions will get the public to examine itself. It can happen other ways; I wonder if Jade Goody's ignorant (but not actually racist) remarks and the subsequent reaction caused a lot of the viewers to look at themselves and reassess their actions. I'd like to think so...

But maybe I'm just being naive.


January 17, 2008

Apparently, I'm a woman

For your general perusal:

The Gender Genie

According to this device, I'm a woman. The assignment below, re: the secret, assigned me a male score 1795, and a female score of 2600. Mostly because I use the word 'not' a lot, which is, apparently, a feminine word.


January 14, 2008

How to almost shoot yourself in the foot

Right, so now we're in term 2, which means poetry is dead, vive le prose. Or something. And I've been shitting myself, quite frankly (proverbially, of course). Judging from past attempts, and just my general creative nature, it's my opinion that my prose is verbose, dull, technically incoherent, and just not realistic. Poetry is much more my thing because it's easier to be concise and meaningful, it's like writing songs. There is, of course, concise poetic prose, like Alessandro Baricco's Seta (or Silk, in English - there's a film adaptation with Keira Knightley and Alfred Molina out soon), but I really don't think I'm capable of such an amalgam. So this term is definitely going to be interesting.

Anyway, our assignment this week comes from a session last week where we had to write down a secret, then a description of someone else in the class, then a dialogue between ourselves and the person we described, where this dialogue is the first conversation we've had since learning that they know our secret. I've decided to put all my creative work in the quotation blocks from now on, to separate it from my other blog stuff, like the rants and the explanatory passages like this one. But I can't work out how to get the ending quotation marks - I've tried highlighting the whole passage and then clicking the button, but it only seems to format it and give the starting marks. Anyway, we were supposed to write 1-2 sides of A4. I got carried away, and so this is three, but George said we ought to resolve it, if we can, and I felt this scene certainly needed resolving - I say scene, because it definitely feels like part of a larger whole, rather than a short story. Anyway:

Nathan sat in the café, hypothesising. He kept trying to plan for all eventualities, but was too nervous to stop his train of thought continually derailing. His mind was like a fly, indecisively flitting between the crumbs of conversation scattered around the café, conversations which rolled across the tabletops like thunder over distant hills. On another day, he might have sat back, with a hot chocolate to combat the January winds, and drowned himself in that thunder. But today, he had to think. Damage limitation, that was the aim. Only he’d been sitting here for half an hour and hadn’t even planned his first sentence. Fear of exposure, of being dragged out into the light like so much dirty laundry to be poked and prodded and derided, and ultimately dismissed as a freak – this fear clawed at him, tearing at his resolve and distracting him from planning just how to deal with this mess.

It wasn’t so much that he was ashamed of it. If he were, he wouldn’t have done it for so long, wouldn’t still be doing it. And it wasn’t that he was ashamed of how he started doing it – that was another chapter of his life, experimentation long ago filed under the ‘error’ section of trial and error. It was his mistake, too, one he owned, one which belonged to him, one which had made him who he was today. His erstwhile lack of caution had gotten him ostracised from pre-adolescent society for the best part of two years, though perhaps ‘best’ part is stretching the term. But being an outsider had turned a brittle, over-sensitive 11 year old into a teenager unafraid to do and say whatever he felt like, unconcerned with seeking the approval of the mob. He didn’t care less, he’d just condensed the circle of opinions he cared about – only the thoughts of his few friends and family mattered, and so they mattered that much more. And he liked to think that the same was true today, even if the edge had been taken off that independence. But the truth was that he had to care. As an adult, he didn’t have the liberty to screw up in the same way a teenager does. And while it wasn’t an issue of his own shame, he knew all too well how most people would react to it. People he had no choice but to care about, whose opinions, whether he liked it or not, held water in shaping his future. Marty was one of those people.

“Hey, err, mind if I sit?”

Nathan was jolted out of his apocalyptic reverie – his head snapped up, eyes alighting on the source of the enquiry.

“Only you did invite me here,” Marty continued. “I understand if you’d rather talk somewhere more private, but-”

“No, here’s fine. Thanks for coming.”

Marty was a stout fellow, and had a little difficulty manoeuvring himself through the tight gaps between the chairs and tables to the empty seat across from Nathan. Slightly unruly, jet-black hair framed an inquisitive face with the same ease that glasses encircled sincere eyes the colour of mud. From their time together, Nathan knew him as a paragon of ambivalence: shy to the point of self-deprecation – “Oh, I’ve wasted my life” was a familiar cry, usually following some comedic or pop culture recitation – yet bold beyond embarrassment. Put him on the stage, and a Puck-like mischief overwhelmed that ocular sincerity, matched by a swagger that ought not to have worked so well, a slight upwards tilt of the jaw, an almost imperceptible slouch now perceptibly gone.

Nathan always got the impression that Marty had been left alone with books a lot as a child – it seemed the best explanation for his wild untamed imagination and taste for the fantastical. It was almost as if he’d grown up in a library, feeding on Manga, sleeping on a pile of Pratchett, Coleridge, Shakespeare and Adams, with a nice thick Stephen King as a pillow. And maybe wiping his arse with a Rowling or McNabb. And somehow the combined capacity for creation from all those authors had bled into him, a literary osmosis. This creative urge was a shared bond between them, and had always greased the cogs of their social encounters. Nathan hoped that today, that grease would be enough.

“Look, I just wanted to say that… well…” Nathan faltered, and wished like hell he’d kept his concentration enough to have come up with something to say. Marty fidgeted, his sincere eyes boring through his glasses for a moment, before flicking away. Marty was, in fact, pointedly not looking at him, in that idiosyncratic way Marty had which made you realise he would be looking at you if he didn’t have such a problem sustaining eye contact.

“Look, don’t worry about it.”

           There was a pause. Nathan quickly wiped the surprised frown off his face, and fought to get his bearings. Already he could feel the conversation slipping away from him, like a child trying to catch sunlight in his hands.

“Seriously? Only it tends to make people see me differently.”

“Hey, what you get up to in the privacy of your room is your business.”

           “Well, it’s hardly private now though.” Marty shrugged, and Nathan remembered to keep his voice down. “I mean, I’d told a few people, like Leo, and Sam, but I imagine everyone will know soon enough.”

“Well I won’t be telling them.”

Nathan paused again, taken aback by the candid, matter of fact nature of the claim. It’s not that he’d expected Marty to go telling everyone, or even threaten to – he realised he hadn’t known exactly what to expect. For all their time together, it dawned on him that he didn’t really know Marty that well at all. He got the distinct impression that he’d been shadow boxing his own fears. Maybe this conversation would turn out fine after all, entirely unlike the nightmare scenarios of blackmail and social assassination he’d envisaged. He realised he hadn’t spoken in a good while, and that Marty was again pointedly not staring.

“Thanks. But, errrm, how did you find out?” Marty winced, and drew a sharp intake of breath. The question was clearly one he’d been dreading, and suddenly Nathan knew that all chance of this meeting going as smoothly as it looked it might have five seconds ago just evaporated.

“Well, I really can’t tell you that-”

“Oh come off it, mate, you-”

“I can’t. It was told to me in confidence.”

“Well I only told it in confidence too. So someone must have broken my confidence to secure your confidence… Which means that confidence, your confidence, is null and void.”

Marty fixed him with a knowing look, mud-coloured eyes betraying a lethal intelligence Nathan knew he ought not to cross, even if Marty seemed too good natured to put it to good use. But today was not a day for ought – anger and fear were clouding Nathan’s judgement, and his mouth was two steps ahead of the brain whose job it was to filter out instinctive responses.

“It doesn’t work like that,” Marty countered, poking holes in Nathan’s logic. “Just because one of your friends was indiscrete doesn’t mean I-”

“INDISCRETE?” Nathan’s voice bounced off the plastered yellow walls of the café, was absorbed into the outer layer of a hundred different fabrics and resonated in the ears and minds of the neighbouring customers. He lowered his voice again, but the look in Marty’s eyes told him it was too late. Nevertheless, he continued in a half-whisper. “Fuck indiscrete, Marty, it’s downright treacherous… Look, I appreciate you won’t be spreading it, but unless I know who is, that’s not a lot of fucking help now, is it?”

“I’m sorry, Nathan.” Nathan believed him, which made it all the harder. “I can’t… I didn’t ask to be put in this position… If it’s any consolation, you’ll probably find out soon enough-”

“And of course it won’t be too fucking late by then. Oh no, I’ll be able to nip it in the bud right in fucking time. Fuck that, Marty, it’s ridiculous…” Again, the filter was two steps behind, though this time, it had at least managed to control the volume of the outburst, if not the content. Nathan could still feel several nearby pairs of eyes on him though, and knew he’d let slip one too many obscenities, even for the relatively subdued volume at which he was now speaking. Even if he hadn’t been drawing unnecessary attention to their conversation, he didn’t want to risk pushing Marty over the edge – the look on his face was an unnerving mixture of silent indignation and embarrassment. Nathan wondered if it matched the strength of frustration he himself was feeling. He took a deep breath, waited until the local interest in them had died down, and continued apologetically but assuredly. “It’s just that I want to reveal it to people on my own terms, as and when I trust them.”

“Not to be rude, Nathan, but clearly your judgement of trustworthiness is a bit lacking.” Nathan bit back a response. He felt like he’d been stung – not so much by the truth of the statement, but by the fact that he had pushed mild-mannered Marty to the point of such unabashed bluntness.

“If I really can’t persuade you to tell me, can you at least give them a message?”

Marty fidgeted, and glanced at his watch. Nathan wondered whether it was genuine, or whether he was just preparing himself an excuse to leave, plotting an escape route should things go sour.

“I’m not sure that’s such a good idea – there may have been mitigating circumstances, alcohol and the like…”

Marty fidgeted in his chair again, and a flash of insight snuck up on Nathan like a butterfly landing gently on his shoulder.

“Someone did tell you, didn’t they, Marty?”

“Look, Nath, I really have to go, I’ve-”

“You didn’t… see it?”

Marty was now pointedly not staring, but Nathan caught a flash of panic in his eyes, and a pink hue was stealing over his ample cheeks like a fresh bruise.

“You saw it, didn’t you? Through the window! Were you watching me? Spying on me?”

“I’m late for something,” Marty mumbled. He knocked over the chair in his hurry to stand up, and once again, Nathan was aware of eyes all over the room being drawn to their table, but this time he didn’t care. He sat, pondering, as Marty fumbled his way through the maze of the café and out the door, flicking a last look back over his shoulder that Nathan read as ‘I won’t tell’. As the other denizens of the café turned back to their own conversations, Nathan stretched his legs out underneath the table, a grin slowly crawling across his face as he pondered whether to get a hot chocolate, and wondered just how close he’d come to ruin.


December 14, 2007

My electica

Here are some random tidbits I often throw out during conversation, useful things to know...

Drug rankings

Solar farms

Vertical farms

I also heartily recommend Penn and Teller: Bullshit, especially the episodes on recycling, saints/famous people, and drugs. It's a good way of informing yourself on an issue, especially if you want to arm yourself in a debate with a few well placed facts and figures... 


December 06, 2007

The end of the beginning

We met in combat one English Summer –

A forest of befuzzled arms

Waiting for the joke.

The night? The night took his ear.

It came out from the music.

Dominated,

He unburdened himself.

“Your stamen and pistol are out on display!

You would mount the altar of the crime scene?”

You would measure virtue with a ruler!”

“I am forced to squint

And plant a compass in your heart.”

I lost beyond the iron-hard coastal shelf…

And they parted ways.

He went away with a tear in his eye.

It need not be said,

Carved in cold marble,

That you left because she left the left side of your bed:

You were destiny under sheets and waves.

Yet…

I think you know more than you say.

The grey here is typical,

Encompasses the mountains

Outside any place we could walk.

Flowers on the grave ,

Endless,

Which, like sorrow, leaves you spent.

Was death to you pre-reckoned?

The horrible end

Wrapped in regal webbing?

I am ashamed, but not because of my worldly possessions –

Our pleasures have been deep or expensive,

But we are released; the cloak of veins cannot catch us.

Looking upwards,

We’ll take what good air there is,

And make one last spatter of diamonds.



There's my cento for the last week's assignment. A cento is the art of plagiarism, taking only lines from other works (poetry, prose, any literature including magazines, songs, encyclopaediae etc.) and reordering them to make a new poem. In homage to my compatriots, I decided to create mine out of all the work our class has done this term. Hence all the lines here belong to Timothy Franklin, Jonny Rowland, Kristen Lipari, Jimena Lazarte, and Emily Bahara.

We also had to write a ghost poem - it's similar to a common songwriting technique, where one takes the structure of a favourite song and writes around it, either rewriting the words to the same tune and then making a new tune for your new words, or vice versa. For the ghost poem, we took an existing poem and wrote around it, about it, in reponse to it, or however we wished to relate to it. My structural poem was Anne Waldman's "Sexy Things", in the Angel Hair anthology. It's a little obtuse:

Thighs?

Not if you’re a straight man

And why be so picky? Beauty comes in all guises

They’ve caused me no end of grief

Overrated, but with flashes of majesty

In moderation – they are only a part of the whole.

More than a handful’s a waist, so they say.

As in “Let’s call a”?

Any relation to scarlet?

That was a crap film.

Only if you’re with someone.

If they’re on display, then agreed.

It’s no crime not to wear them.

The story of my ‘oh’ has been dormant for years.

Sand is a myth. And the Capri-sun is not attractive.

The flesh and the…

Oh, robin, you do make me laugh.

Not without tar.

Or should that read Burn a Debt?

Twisted – I fail to see the sex appeal there

Not slit, but nibbled. Or no slit not nibbled, perhaps.

Where have they gone?

Only the lead doll can sing, though they are mostly hot.

He is such an unsexy man that, having seen him,

I couldn’t be aroused by anything he created, I think.

Art and sex are oft unsatisfactory bedfellows,

Unless porn is counted in their number.

Ah, I miss you so, land of my indiscrepancies.


And here's my draft, after criticism that it was incoherent, and distant.


Thighs?

Not if you’re a straight man

And why be so picky?

“He who seeks only the hare may miss the grouse.”

 

They’ve caused me no end of grief

Overrated, but with flashes of majesty,

In moderation – they are only a part of the whole.

More than a handful’s a waist, so they say.

 

As in “Let’s call a thigh thy thigh”?

Any relation to scarlet?

That was a crap film, but

Only if you’re with someone.

 

If they’re on display, then agreed.

It’s no crime not to wear them.

The story of my ‘oh’ has been dormant for years.

Sand is a myth. And the Capri-sun is not attractive.

 

The flesh and the…

Oh, Celine, you do make me laugh.

Not without touching me like this...

Or should that read Burn a Debt?

 

Twisted – I fail to see the sex appeal there

Not slit, but nibbled. Or no slit not nibbled, perhaps.

Only the lead doll can sing, though they mostly are hot.

Where have they gone?

 

He is such an unsexy man, having seen him,

That I don’t think I could be aroused by anything he created

Art and sex are oft unsatisfactory bedfellows,

Unless porn is counted in their number.

 

Ah, I miss you so, land of my indiscrepancies.

 

Hmmm, I think it's slightly more edible now. Anyway, that's the end of the poetry assignments. Prose next term... I'm a little worried by the prospect, as I don't think it's my strong point... I'll try to keep up with the poetry a ittle, but I imagine most of it will end up as music - please check out my soundclick, it's my strength in a way that poetry certainly isn't it. 


December 04, 2007

Various bits and bobs

So I'm thinking about compiling a list of the coolest people with each name. For example, the Rock has to be the coolest Dwayne on the planrt (Dwayne Johnson is his real name). Harrison Ford also springs to mind. Of course, the difficulty arises with common names, so it might be easier to get the weird names out of the way first. I'm open to suggestions.

I got in trouble for swearing on Kerrang radio this evening. Basically, I was on the way back from a Crowded House gig with my mum, and I thought I'd call them and let them know it was good. Conversation drifted to the royal family - he was arguing they're a complete waste of space, I said they're good for tourism and news revenue. He said we just replace them with celebrities like Amy Winehouse, I went on a rant about what a waste of space she is, he said he thought she was hot... and I said I wouldn't fuck her with a koala's dick. Which I wouldn't (it's a Robin Williams reference, if you're wondering), unprofessional, skanky, crack-ridden hack that she is. But apparently, you're not allowed to swear on national radio even at 11:30 at night... Seems a bit weird to me. And Kerrang's supposed to be rock and roll, they should understand better than most...

Third thing is my list of things that are currently overrated.

Singledom

Amy Winehouse

Kate Nash

New Take That

Bloc Party (1 good song does not a band make)

There's more, but apparently people close to me think I sabotage my career every time I make one of these entries...  


November 28, 2007

What the fuck is wrong with people?

This story is fucking ridiculous. It reminds me of the Gere-Shetty kiss that was also blown massively out of proportion.

When will these fucking idiots get a sense of perspective? I know it's hypocritical to be intolerant of intolerance, but we make certain allowances for people who come to this country without full knowledge of custom and etiquette etc. But the fucking paranoia displayed by these so called 'top clerics' in labelling this incident part of a Western plot against Islam beggars belief. If someone named a teddy bear Jesus, we wouldn't flip out, and fucking threaten to string them up. It's idiocy on a grand scale, and some people will lap it up. This is why I can't stand organised religion...


November 26, 2007

Hilarious

"We need to be discussing how we can put this new network into place, because delay could be a barrier to the future success of our economy," said Stephen Timms, minister for competitiveness

There's a minister for competitiveness? That's amazing. Do you think it's his job to go around the party conferences boasting and one-upping everyone's anecdotes? "Our country's better than yours" sort of thing. Reminds me of the Mitchell and Webb Minister for Metaphors vs Shadow Secretary for Similes sketch...


November 25, 2007

Freedom of Speech

Now, this article pissed me off. Everyone with even a sliver of brains knows that Griffin and Irving are complete arseholes. But they have the right to debate their views as long as they do not break the law, by, say, inciting racial or religious hatred. I know it's a tired quotation trotted out every time this debate is had, but I'll repeat Voltaire in saying "I disagree with what you say, but I'll defend to the death your right to say it". Not that I'm actually sure I'd die for Nick Griffin or David Irving particularly, but, depending on circumstances, freedom of speech probably is worth dying for. I don't believe in absolute freedom of speech -  laws that protect against incitement to racial or religious hatred, for example, are a necessity (though not where these apply to comedy, that's just idiotic). But it can be argued that these are not really laws against what you say, but laws against how you say it, marking the difference between self-expression and opinon proselytisation.

There are some laws which I find simply ridiculous. For example, in Turkey, there is a law about comitting crimes against Turkishness (Article 301), which has lead to the villification of great national writers like Orhan Pamuk. One must allow for criticism of a government, as long as it does not spill over into incitement to treason, which, sensibly, ought to be covered in any treason-based laws. 

Equally ridiculous, though for different reasons, are laws against the denial of the Holocaust. These laws are, to my mind, patently absurd: if people want to be idiotic and ignore (what most of us consider to be) factual evidence to the contrary, then let them. We don't punish people for saying they were visited by aliens, because we can't prove that they weren't, and that aliens don't exist. Similarly, we can't prove with exact certainty that the Holocaust is not, in fact, an extremely elaborate hoax, however unlikely that seems (and it does), nor can we prove that it is not being misused by certain peoples as a source of gain. We don't apply this law to the first World War, or the Boer wars, or the 100 years war, to 9/11 or Rwanda, or any other conlict or tragedy in recent memory, so why is the Holocaust so different? Even if we did apply them to such events, the law would remain as Draconian, idiotic and unnecessary as it is now.

As relates specifically to the article, this MP throwing hs toys out of the pram is ridiculous. I in no way support the views of either of these cretins, but I wouldn't mind seeing them destroyed on a debating floor. The MP writes: 

"Nothing which happens in Monday's debate can possibly offset the boost you are giving to a couple of scoundrels who can put up with anything except being ignored," he said.

"It is sheer vanity on your part to imagine that any argument you deploy, or any vote you carry will succeed in causing them damage.


"They have been exposed and discredited time and again by people vastly more qualified than you in arenas hugely more suited to the task than an undergraduate talking-shop, however venerable."

How fucking patronising and self-important can you be? It's almost like he has never heard of a process of attrition - it is entirely possible that under sustained pressure, one or both of these idiots may one day crack and give up their moronic views. But to assume that there is no point to such a debate before it has even occurred is ridiculous. It might well steer some people who were uncertain away from such lunacy when they see the arguments presented clearly, or, as is more likely, the demagoguery on display. Granted, it might push some people to support them, but if anyone has it in them to be a BNP sympathiser or Holocaust denier, better we know about it anyway than not. Otherwise we might mistakenly think we were engaging with rational and intelligent individuals. If they're that easily swayed, it's probably only a matter of time before they subscribe to some idiocy or other.

The position reminds me a lot of idiots like Jack Thompson (prominent anti-videogames campaigner), who is right near the top of my Most Hated list (and subsequently one of the principal reasons why I could never support Hilary Clinton, she being one of his biggest supporters). Jack takes a Tabula Rasa approach - he believes that there is no violence inherent within man, and that instead people are filled with the idea to go out and rape, steal, kill, or whatever, by games like Grand Theft Auto. I say bullshit. GTA is a cathartic process, a healthy channeling of aggression which is inherent within everyone, which would otherwise manifest itself in more damaging and disturbing ways. Even if there are people so impressionable as to take to the streets after playing GTA and go on a real life rampage, you have the same problem with the freedom of speech laws. These people were likely to get this informative input from somewhere eventually, be it film, television, music, art, even, dare I say it, literature. And until all those are banned, or about to be, any approach against video games specifically (probably because they are a famously interactive medium, in relative infancy compared to the other genres I've mentioned) is inconsistent and incoherent.

Ditto with drugs - alcohol and tobacco are two of the more damaging drugs, according to an actual updated, non Neolithic rankings system like the A B C Class system, (the new system can be viewed here), yet they remain legal while less damaging drugs are deemed high priority. Consistency is important for any argument, and if you're saying one can't allow the impressionable to come into contact with 'bad ideas', then you are left with no choice but to outlaw all ways in which they could come into contact with those ideas. Which, as far as I can tell, would be cutting off your nose to spite your face. Fuck the impressionable - this would be a classic case of levelling down, as you are significantly reducing the quality of life of the majority to cater to a few gullible, easily-led idiots. Violent games do not necessarily promote violence, drugs don't necessarily kill you, and racist wankers aren't necessarily invulnerable to criticism.

/rant 


November 22, 2007

Uxbridge English Dictionary

Right, so anyone who's spoken to me for more than 5 minutes probably knows I am a big fan of the Radio 4 show 'I'm Sorry, I Haven't A Clue'. One of my favourite games on there is the Uxbridge English Dictionary, where old words are given new meaning - for example, miniscule would be a creche in Liverpool (mini-school). It's basically a huge exercise in my favourite type of comedy, punnage. So here, for your bafflement and to inspire the hatred you'll no doubt award me, are some I've been creating myself. The randoms come first, and the series come last. Feel free to add your own...

Lederhosen – spraying the postman 

Philosophy – when you’ve had enough of Sophie

Solicitor – a sad Chinese man sitting down

Cooperation – a speech from the head of a supermarket

Samurai – the choice between me and Sam

Hirsute – what she wears to work

Filibuster – a lover of steak

Temporal – short-lived foreplay

Internet – something consumed by an apprentice

Phantasmagorical – one who predicts the addition of drugs to Fanta

Calamitous – devices for measuring colour

Gastronomy – to be bombarded with gas

Superintendent – trying to cover her with soup

Dostoyevsky – old English for “Do I have to ski?”

Garibaldi – Gary’s gone bald

Pusillanimous – dismay at the stench of a seal’s soul

Gelatine – to get the product and the packaging the wrong way round in hair care

Ballistic – a damnable lump of wood

Indubitably – to competently undo something

Valedictorum – when things are torn by a twat from Wales

Banister – to outlaw ogling

Prima Donna – before Madonna

Tonality – the property of being like a toenail

Ornament – a Brummie phrase meaning intended for the governor of California

Berlusconi – something heavy set that goes well with jam and clotted cream

Dandelion – a gay feline

Salamander – to flog Amanda

Teacake – wood pain

Scabbard – to recover toughly from a wound

Defer – to strip something of its hair

European – to call someone common

Detrimental – that tree is insane

Pornographic – being too broke to afford pictures

Evangelical – so desperate as to talk to Jelly

Condemn – how you get people to give you their money

Orgasm – the alternative of gassing people

Celeritous – to toss celery

Monarchic – to lament the weakness in one’s legs

Dumbfounded – discovered by a flying elephant

Existential – smelling of eggs

Clandestine – the Stein family

Military – a chocolate orange cookie

Disturbing – to remove one’s turban

Pandering – to paint something black and white

Mosquito – a little place of worship

Demented – to spit out your toothpaste

Morbid – what continues an auction

Psychosomatic – a flea that goes crazy in the heat

Disinterest – insulting Turrets and dyslexia sufferers at the same time

Posturing – after an Italian city

Menstruate – the thing men dislike the most

Macaroon – what one must do after eating too much

Deliberate – to lock someone up

Unfasten – to slow someone down

Improvise – to alter an imp

Bonanza – a Russian monarch in the act of lovemaking

Germinate – to maintain a grudge

Substantiate – to be not as good a Muslim as Stan

Mushroom – where huskies are kept

Belligerent – mocking fat people

Anonymous – a Scottish mouse

Senile – thinking you’re in Egypt

Buffet – to sexily say hello in the style of the Fonz

Eunuchs – it’s your turn now

Lasso – to be sick of Girls Aloud

Extreme – something you thought you wanted, but didn’t actually

Vindicate – a girl who eats mostly curry

Jezebel – a posh doorbell

Inflammatory – to set light to David Cameron

Hobgoblin – to eat a kitchen appliance

Eye doctor – online medical advice

Sandalwood – what shoes wish they could do

Hurly burly – when Liz puts on weight

Matriculate – to move away from Imperial measurements

Urban – to cover in garlic

Llandudno – to mistakenly think your place has set down

Subcutaneous – people to small to wait in line

Hospitable – capable of equine salivation

Entire – a pissed off tree

Longitude – his protracted mastication

Ramification – to turn something into a sheep

Upholstery – telling your mates how you got laid last night

Rational – a place with no vodka

Chlamydia – a damp stag

Gusset – to swear at something

Ajudicate - having felated a Hebrew 


Anticipation – when a doctor treats an ant

Anterior – a scarier ant than the one before

Ignorant – to disregard ants

Rudiment – to intend offence

Intrude – to deny that something is offensive

Television – a town in Israel

Telemetry – another town in Israel

Tantalise – a tent full of untruths

Scandalise – to look over untruths

Herbivore – the film after Herbie Three

Carnivore – the fourth carnie along

Fructivore – an insult to the channel T4

Piscivore – Dick Cheney, Condoleeza Rice, John Aschroft, and George Bush

Tendency – the third tendon along

Acne – a Scotsman banging their leg

Acumen – a Scotswoman cursing her husband

Marquis – what you say when you’ve lost your keys

Machiavelli – what an Italian says when they lose their keys

Congenital – with your penis

Congenial – with a magic spirit

Political – to molest a parrot

Polyamorous – to love several parrots at once

Oscillate – a tardy Australian

Undulate – something which is inexplicably delayed

Anti-Semitic – to be against things that are only half right

Anti-aircraft – to be against boats made of eggshells

Procrastinate – to be in favour of eating poorly constructed containers

Proselytise – to be in favour of Tie Rack

Purloin – something worn in the underwear department

Pernickety – for those interested in brewing underwear

Parabolic – a supernatural testicle

Diabolic – a poor excuse for a testicle

Metabolic – a superior testicle


November 20, 2007

Discount your curses

Right, so this is last week's assignment, where we had to write a curse, to create the dragon of fire within ourselves. I wanted to focus more on concepts and evoking emotion and sensation than  on language, because of recent criticisms about being too wrapped up in language, despite the beauty of angry words, like vitriol, vituperative, venomous etc. What I ended up, though, with was probably too conceptual, and a bit tired. Apparently, the rhythm was more of a detractor than an amplifier, which surprised me - I thought the meter, combined with the repetition, would help with the feel of an incantation, but aparently not. The rhyme certainly did force me to stretch more than a few times, but it's just my preference, my predilection for rhyme in poetry as well as song. The only bit which people really liked was "I hope you're too sickly to take your own life".

The story is based around an actual event: recently, coming off a motorway onto a roundabout to get into Leam, a guy came through on the right hand lane to cut me off turning left, which is dangerous, illegal, and just plain rude. So I followed him all the way to his house, got out and had a go at him. He pretty much ignored me, just walked into his house. It was a fucking businessman, too - I was expecting a student, but some mid-30s office worker really ought to know better. Anyway, the curse is a curse on bad drivers.

We then had to translate it using the antonymic method (take each word, phrase or sentence and replace it with its opposite), and then polish it into something more comprehensible. Because of the highly conceptual nature of the original curse, the blessing became high philosophy, impenetrable, proposing austerity in life, a kind of Mother Teresa-like "salvation through suffering". 'I hate you' becomes 'you love me', and while there are a few flashes of brilliance (slurp from the womb, moral gym, celibate genius passenger), it's mostly quite obtuse. The final line, though, makes me think of the Dark Tower series, especially the first book, the Gunslinger - along with the line "Caught them looking towards me without that careful silence", it just recalls those landscapes and that sense of the Western...

I Hope – A Malediction

I don’t wish you death, because death is too easy

No, I wish you life, oh so tragic and long

For suffering’s greater when varied, extended

So I hope you suffer for years to come

 

I hope you get everything you ever wanted

Only to have it ripped from your hands

For loss is the deepest of all of life’s sorrows

I hope it infects every one of your plans


I hope you gain fame and in one single instant

Throw it away with some careless remark

So nowhere is safe from a menacing public

Who mock you all day and attack after dark

 

I hope you get rich and then lose all your assets

With only the memory to keep you warm

Go sleep on the streets with no house to go home to

Pneumonia have at you, with vigour and scorn


But not just pneumonia, all ailments and illness

I hope you’re too sickly to take your own life

I hope that existence is pain ever-lasting

You’ll only know torment and suffering and strife


I hope your own children will grow up to hate you

I hope your own family will spit on your grave

I hope you die knowing the world will be happier

That it was your doing, the bed that you made


I hope that you never know faith or self-confidence

Every thought should be wracked with self-doubt

I hope that your ego will splinter and crack

From the weight of self-loathing that’s trying to get out

 

I hope that God hates you, I hope that life shuns you

And all that you touch turns to ash and expires

Maybe then you’ll think twice before cutting me up

On the roundabout, fucking idiot driver


You Despair – A Work in Progress

You do begrudge me life, for life isn’t little hard

Yes, you begrudge me death, ah, hardly comic or brief

Because prosperity’s not lesser when not constant, shortened

Inappropriately you despair I prosper for days from go

 

You despair I lose nothing I never disliked

Possibly from lack them to my feet

Because gain isn’t a shallowest not relating to none not relating to death’s joys

You despair they purify no many not relating to my chaos

 

You despair I lose anonymity or out many multiple eternity

Catch them towards without that careful silence

To avoid that everywhere isn’t dangerous to the comforting individual

Which encourage me no night or defend before light

 

You despair I lose poor or now gain none my liabilities

Without possibly a precognition from lose me cold

Come wake off a cell without every office from come workplace from

Heat stroke lack away from me, without apathy or praise

 

Also only heat stroke, no clean bill of health

You despair I’m not little healthy from give my communal death

You despair this extinction isn’t pleasure never fleeting

I didn’t possibly ignore peace and prosperity and ease

 

You despair my communal parents did not shrink down from love me

You despair my communal friends did not slurp off my womb

You despair I live ignoring a void wasn’t sadder

This they won’t be my inaction, a gym this I destroyed

 

You despair this I always ignore knowledge and doubt of others

No emotion shouldn’t be brushed without trust in society

You despair this my hive mind didn’t defragment and reintegrate

To a lightness not relating to love of the world this isn’t can’t be arsed from lose in

 

You despair this Satan loves me, you despair this death welcomes me

Or none this I avoid remains from ice or is born

Certainly now I didn’t feel once after fusing you down

Off a crossroads, celibate genius passenger

You Despair – A Valediction

You don’t begrudge me life, though life isn’t a little hard,

Yes, you begrudge me death, ah, hardly comic or brief,

For prosperity’s lesser when inconstant, shortened:

You despair if I prosper only for days from the word go.

 

You’d despair if I lost something I never disliked,

Possibly from lacking it to boot,

Because gain is a shallow thing relating to none, relating to death’s joys:

You’d despair if it purified things relating to my chaos.

 

You’d despair if I lost anonymity, or, in multiple eternities,

Caught them looking towards me without that careful silence,

To avoid that everywhere isn’t dangerous to the comforting individual,

Which encourages me night and day to defend the light.

 

You’d despair if I lost poverty, or now gained none of my foibles,

Without which I could not foresee my loss of cold-heartedness.

Come wake in a cell without every office or workplace function!

Heat stroke keep away from me, without apathy or praise!

 

But only heat stroke, no clean bill of health please!

You’d despair if I were healthy, give me communal death!

You’d despair that without extinction, not pleasure, ever looming

I might ignore peace and prosperity and ease.

 

You despair that my communal parents did not shrink away from loving me

You despair that my communal friends did not slurp from my womb

You’d despair if I lived ignoring a void not sadder

Than this would be, my inaction, a moral gym I’d destroy

 

You’d despair if I always ignored knowledge and the doubts of others

No emotion should be brushed aside without trust in society

You’d despair if my hive mind didn’t defragment and reintegrate

To a lightness not relating to a love of the world, that can’t be arsed with losing

 

You’d despair if Satan loved me, you’d despair if death welcomed me

Or if none of this I avoid remained in ice or was born

Certainly now I didn’t feel at all after setting you down

Off those crossroads, celibate genius passenger


Another rant

Alcohol is a fucking sickness. It’s a disease. It’s not that I don’t drink, or occasionally get drunk. But this whole fascination with going out and getting plastered is obscene. I was led on to this path of thought by Locke referring to diminished responsibility, not punishing the sober man for the drunk man’s actions (though in his defence, he later retracts this). But to not punish them? Why the fuck not? After all, the sober man got drunk in the first place, and is therefore responsible for all the drunk man does. Being drunk is not an excuse for cheating on someone, for example, though it may be an explanation. I know what I can get like when I’m drunk, some of the things I do. Solution? I don’t get drunk. Some gambles are not worth taking. So why excuse some fucker for killing his wife because he was drunk? By Locke’s extension, he was the same person, with the same consciousness – he remembers doing it. Even if he doesn’t, it doesn’t change the fact that he chose to get drunk in the first place, and therefore is responsible for his own actions.

I’m not being puritanical here, I’m being logical. If you know you will do, or might do, bad things when you’re drunk (which you wouldn’t do when sober), then don’t get drunk. If you do get drunk, in the knowledge that you might do said things, then you’re entirely at fault, and should be tried as if you were never drunk in the first place, and held fully responsible. It is patently ridiculous to say that we should not blame the sober man for the drunk mans actions.

Madness I’m less sure about – for it is probably beyond one’s control. But temporary insanity is just bollocks. Someone who’s genuinely mad should stay locked up – temporary insanity is just another way of saying I couldn’t help myself, which is a fucking nonsense statement. The whole idea of will-power is bogus – people do what they want to do. They make value judgements, weigh up the pros and cons, and come to a decision, which they invariably follow. I know it sounds quite Platonian, but people don’t do things they know aren’t best: they’ll think but not really believe that the best course of action is actually the best, and hence will do the one they actually think is best, regardless of whether it is or not, or whether society dictates that it’s the best (or at least, regardless excepting the need to conform to society’s expectations in the original value assessment).

I gave up smoking with a click of my fingers – went from at least 5 cigarettes a day to 4 cigars a year. Why? Because I knew, and properly believed, that it was the right thing to do. When people do the wrong thing (we’re all guilty of it, no one is perfect), it’s because, at some level, deep or shallow, they are deluding themselves into genuine belief that it’s actually the right thing, or at least the best thing for them. If you have an essay deadline and don’t do the essay because you’d rather do something else, it’s because you think that that’s the best course of action for you, for whatever reason, be it that you’ll get an extension, or say you were ill, or rush it off the morning before, or even just get away with not doing it.

So when people talk about willpower, or lacking it, or say “I couldn’t bring myself to do such and such”, what they’re actually saying is “I took what I considered the best course of action for me, but I’m too chickenshit to admit it, for whatever reason, because society, or some relevant subsection of it, condemns that course of action”. When something is in your power to do, within your control, and you want to do it, then you fucking well do it. I should qualify here that I’m using a sort of cumulative or summative definition of want– in the case of two or more conflicting desires, while you might theoretically desire each of them, the thing or action you desire the most is the one you really want, in the end. In mathematical terms, you have a centre point, a zero, and either side you have desires that equate to positive (wanting to do x) or negative (not wanting to do x), and whether you want to do something or not depends on whether the final sum of those desires is positive or negative. So if you say, “I want to quit smoking”, what you really mean is “I want to quit smoking more than I want to keep smoking”. If you don’t mean that, then you ought to say “A part of me wants to quit smoking”, because that implies that the whole of you does not, and that the part of you has been overwhelmed by the whole of your consciousness. So we should say ‘I want’ only when that is the overriding truth – don’t even get me started on people defining language! So, people that want to quit and don’t are either lazy or deluded: lazy in not being arsed to fight their bodies (which is a legitimate difficulty in coming off nicotine), or deluded in thinking that, actually, they’re somehow immune, that smoking isn’t going to damage them, that it’s still the best course of action for them to take, which it arguably is – better to live well and die young than live poorly and die old.

So if you want to quit, you quit. And if you want to murder, you murder. But take it on the chin, like a fucking man. Don’t hide behind temporary insanity, or alcohol, or whatever other diminished responsibility bullshit they come up with. If you got caught, you fucking well deserve everything that’s coming to you (which is not to say that those clever or lucky enough to get away with it don’t, necessarily, but rather that they have successfully played a system that requires suspicion or proof ‘beyond reasonable doubt’.) People are far too quick to pass the buck sometimes, because they forget that explanations are not excuses. ‘I was drunk’ might answer the question why, but it doesn’t absolve you of the consequences.

One of the worst things is that people get drunk precisely to give themselves an excuse to get with so and so, or to tell you something, or because they want to forget about their lives. Forget about their lives? Why not spend the time and energy (and money) wasted on alcohol on actually changing your life to be something you can enjoy without a 10 unit minimum? Is it so fucking hard to be honest with yourself? I already admitted there are a few things I’d do drunk but not sober, but they are few and far between. By and large I don’t change much when I get drunk, but that’s because I don’t see the point in repressing most of the things people do normally, but don’t when pissed. So I’m the King of the Overshare, so what? If you don’t care about me, why are you talking to me? Fuck off and talk to someone else! If society says it’s not acceptable or normal for me to sing in public, or to admit to my 3 years of forced celibacy, or to write songs for people, then society can go fuck itself.

And that includes not getting wankered. Does it make people uncomfortable that there are people who are at ease enough with themselves to be truthful and uninhibited (seeing as ‘losing inhibitions’ is the phrase so often associated with alcohol) without the aid of social lubricant? Because it seems to me there is a certain sort of stigma against people that don’t drink, or that don’t get drunk. If I get drunk, it tends to be accidental, by which I mean I don’t go out with the intention of getting drunk, and haven’t since I was about 15, but rather I get drunk as a by-product of actually enjoying the alcohol I’m drinking, hence my preference for booze that actually tastes good rather than the cheapest or strongest swill available. But if I do get drunk, and I do something idiotic, I’m not going to blame my stupidity on the alcohol, though it might explain my actions to some degree. But that action was always within me, some dark animus that we smother for the good, be that collective or individual good.

And sure, the problem here is the line. The arbitrary line (as most lines are, it seems). How much of ourselves can we be truthful about, or ought we to reveal? Even accepting that some of the inhibitions many people generally live under and escape through alcohol might be permissible, which ones? Obviously I’m not advocating total honesty, free from tact: there’s honest, and there’s just plain rude. Nor am I advising an absolute instinctive hedonism, total surrender to all our urges. Clearly there is such a thing as too far – murder, rape, etc. – just as there are things which, where alcohol is concerned, are generally permissible, if a little odd – singing in public, hugging a lot, shacking up with someone and the like. But the middle ground, ranging from adultery to cartwheeling naked across your lawn, is treacherous waters. If there’s something it’s actually acceptable to do when drunk, but not when sober, why is that the case? Ought there to be anything which falls under that category, or are we simply again permitting for certain acts performed under diminished responsibility?

Let’s take an example we’ve probably all come across: if we say that it’s ok to tell your same-sex best friend you love them (in a non-romantic way) when you’re drunk, but not when sober, is there a reason for that difference? Is it a British thing, a repression of the emotions we work so diligently to disguise, to maintain that reservedness that characterised an empire? I doubt it somehow – it seems, from experience, more universal than that. Is it, to return to the subject of the fear of difference, merely a reaction to that degree of honesty with oneself and the world, a frankness which makes people uncomfortable? Perhaps, but then is it really that such an action is acceptable when drunk, or is it merely more acceptable (and, perhaps, contingent on the drunkenness of the receiver of said compliment)? If it is a fear of honesty, surely we are just relegating such an outburst yet again to the realm of the excusable, rather than the acceptable. Is it possible, then, that my original explanation was correct, that such actions are actually, in some form or other, no more right (or less wrong) when sober than when drunk, but it is just that alcohol is required for some (or even most) people to open themselves up to a certain level of uninhibitedness, hence the phrase Dutch courage?

I don’t really have any definite answers, just a desire to ask the right questions. I do know, however, that until someone gives me a better explanation, I shall have to continue to look on deliberate drunkenness as a form of cowardice, a recourse to alcohol to provide both the opportunity and the excuse for actions considered otherwise too risky. To anyone reliant on the crutch of alcohol, I have only these words: carpe diem, and strap on a pair.


November 14, 2007

Giving Up

I think might give up poetry, because I've just discovered the best fucking poem ever, and no-one will ever beat it:

Best Poem Ever


November 12, 2007

Intermittent winter ramblings

I fucking hate the cold.


I really resent having to wrap up. I know it's just the cycle of the world, and nature needs its downtime, and all that crap, but seriously, I want to move someplace where the lowest the temperature ever goes is mid teens. It's so fucking unnerving. The cold is like a clingy ex-girlfriend - no matter how you try to shake it off, it always gets under your clothes, touching you in unwanted places, upsetting the balance you've created for yourself. The cold is an enemy, a necessary evil, but necessary for whom? If the cold is so necessary, how come the rainforests thrive (or would without human intervention)? Presumably they have cycles too, seasons with life and death for plants and animals, but they don't get cold. I shouldn't have to wear more than 2 fucking layers, November or no. It's so much more satisfying ( to walk in from the heat ouside to an air-conditioned building/room than it is to come in from the cold to a heated room, not least because it's so much more immediate. You're not even promised that, anyway - so many buildings aren't properly heated, I sat in the Union this afternoon, and in the Arts Centre yesterday, and fucking froze. You can still drink hot drinks (tea, coffee, hot chocolate etc.) in hot climates, as evidenced by where chai comes from. Granted that being warm in bed when it's cold(ish) outside, but it's an acceptable casualty. Sweat>numbness, heat stroke>frostbite, heat>cold.

I also fucking hate snow. I've explained this many times in person, but I'll lay it out here, to stand eternal (probably Ozymandias-like) in data's annals. Snow is shit:

  • It's cold, which I've already stated my reasons against.
  • It's wet, in the wrong sort of context - wet is fine when you're going swimming, and dressed for the occasion, but wet when you're fully clothed AND cold, so that you're not going to dry any time soon, is bollocks, because it lingers and the cold gets under your skin.
  • It makes everything look the same - "oooh look, isn't it all pretty and white?" No, it fucking well isn't. All the vibrancy of colour gets sapped out of the world, and you're left with this glossed over bullshit, like a pale (pun intended) attempt to make us examine the form of everything and the soul of nothing.
  • It leaves sludge - when the snow is gone, what do you get? Browny black shit everywhere, sludging and slurping everywhere like snowmen with explosive diarrhoea fell from the sky and splattered all over the show, making it fucking impossible to drive, soaking your shoes and totally ruining what should have been the relief of getting all the colour back in the world.
  • It produces snowballs - great, an excuse for all the wankers of the world to hit people in the face with compacted water, probably with a stone or two in there for good measure. Last year, I was walking from the Union back to halls when some cunts, who were driving around campus, lobbed a big snowball out their car window which hit me smack in the face. You can say I take myself too seriously (I don't think there is such thing anyway) but I fail to see how that's in the Christmas spirit, or in any spirit other than the one of fucking up other people's days. 



I'd like to make clear at this point that I am NOT a Scrooge. I love Christmas, for many reasons, both right and wrong. It's just the fucking weather I can't stand. Christmas on a beach somewhere in the southern hemisphere (so it owuld be the height of summer), with sand instead of snow, now that would be perfect. You can celebrate Jesus' birth without putting yourself through the same fucking conditions that he had to endure. After all, we don't go crucifying ourselves for Easter. It's just the mass delusion that snow is this awesome thing that makes Christmas perfect - if you like snow so much, go to the fucking alps. I say bring on global warming (there's at least one theory that says, despite losing the warm currents we have, Britain comes out of it a hell of a lot warmer than it went in). And yes, I know me telling other people to move when I could do the same holds a certain petulance, but I do intend to move, although sadly San Francisco isn't a whole lot warmer. And even when I'm rich and famous, I'll still have to spend Christmas with family (which is what it's really about), but that's only a week or so of the winter months. Otherwise, I'll spend the time somewhere blistering, like the desert...

In conclusion, fuck the cold, fuck snow and fuck you

(Disclaimer: last statement was added only for the sake of the tricolon, and applies only to Creationists, terrorists, Mother Teresa, George Bush, Man Utd and Liverpool fans, and those cunts who hit me with the snowball last year.) 


November 01, 2007

Three Years in the Desert

Right, so that slam poem I did on Tuesday I recorded. It's now up on soundclick - http://www.soundclick.com/jimmykent - a site I urge you to check out, please. It's where I put up all my songs, which will probably give you an insight into why I write the way I write (if you're interested, that is). Plus, I think they're quite good, or I wouldn't be banking my future on them.

Anyway, here are the words:

 

Three Years in the Desert

Three years in the desert

I’ve spent three years in the desert

Constantly trying desperately to make sense of it

Are you testing me? Developmentally arresting me?

What can the reason be, tell me, for these long three years?

Am I supposed to look out at all of my peers

And not mind? I do mind, I’ve been left behind

I’m a sexual repressive, a relic, some kind of

Untouchable, deemed unlovable, branded

Unfuckable, by God only knows whose utterables

Am I making any sense? It’s gutterable,

Garbage, set off by alarms, it’s hard, it’s

Me, and my hand with nowhere to go

Getting tired of this 5 finger show, and what I

Really wanna know is is it a problem with me?

Is it just my mum and dad think I’m good enough to breed?

Cos I bleed, I got needs to feed, please believe

That I’ve tried the other side, and it’s not for me

I know there’s people think I’m gay, and there’s people think I’m straight

And it’s Neolithic labels like that that really grate

But if there is a guy that could make me wipe the slate

I haven’t met him, I’m still too attracted to girls

Since I started getting urges, they’ve been my whole world

Bout the age of 11, I began to unfurl, but let’s

Take a little second, slow down, before I hurl

And breathe

In, out, in, out

Ladies and gentlemen, this rant is brought to you by three years of forced celibacy

Is it really such a long shot?

Is it really such a long shot that in

A world so full of people needing sex

That the best a man can get is vexed

I’m a nervous wreck, always wondering whose next

What the plan of attack should be, complex

Or simple, do I let em know that I like them straight?

Or should I take the time to inebriate,

Implicate that I maybe wrote a little song

If I give you the words, would you like to sing along?

So I come on a little strong.

I thought girls liked my songs, and I thought

That the cool approach just felt wrong,

If you like someone, then why stand off?

And I thought that the drought couldn’t last that long

But I was wrong, so here I am, living proof

That sometimes you’re better off being aloof

I scare girls off, I’m too “intense”

That motherfucking word again and again

And again and again till it loses all sense

Till the walls of my mind start to bend,

Till I’d fuck my guy friends, and sure, there’s an easy way out

Go to a club, grit my teeth, hang about

Till the drunk girls show at the end of the night

Like picking on the weak in the herd, and alright

I could do it, I know that I could, but I won’t

Cos I’m not that guy, and that’s not my zone

I’ve always thought of sex as communion

Confusing, sure, but organised confusion

Communicating souls, and because we’re only human

The more we fuck, well the less it means

Cos the more of yourself you’re giving out for free

And there’s only so much to go around, you see

To know and be known, entire, complete

That’s the grail, that’s my life-long dream

So I’m asking again, is there a reason for this?

Cos I sometimes feel life’s taking the piss

When jerks and ugly guys get laid every day

And I can’t even get a girl to look my way

Look my way, PLEASE, and help me out of the desert

 

Yeah, I know the irony is that it's a little intense (but is that ironic if I'm aware of it?), but it's genuine.  I didn't think that it was very funny, but people were laughing a lot (I won't say it didn't hurt a little to have my misfortune laughed at, but hey, schadenfreude is a part of human nature), and in unexpected places. Yeah, so, this is probably why I'm the king of the overshare, but who gives. I also wrote this little ditty last night:

 

When he’d fixed all the clocks

And darned the odd socks

And tidied his room up again

And eaten his tea

And watched BBC

And spent a few hours in the gym

And played some guitar

And napped for an hour

And Facebooked, and forumed, and blogged

And spoke to his rents

And flatmates, and friends

And prepared himself for the slog

By buying caffeine

And chocolate unseen

In such volume outside the store

Our poor student found

His time had run out

Quoth the student “Nevermore!

Nevermore will I wait

Dumbly procrastinate

When there is an essay to write

For I’ve pissed time away

Now confronted by day

When I should have worked through the night”

With vigour renewed

And gusto imbued

The essay was done in a flash

Which maybe explains

The terrible grade

… At least I’m not that rash

 

Certainly not based on real-life experience (this lie is for the benefit of any parents or lecturers reading this blog, please do not use it if you don't need it)...  


October 31, 2007

Giants, Dwarves and Haiku

So, it's been a week since my last entry. Fucking hate not having internet at home, it's such a nuisance. Anyway, this week we had to write A poem about something enormous, another about something tiny or very close up, and then a few haiku, as well as bringing in some metaphors. I've always preferred similes myself, but what the hey. So:

How the gargantuan came to be known, a Just So story

What would you call me?

I am the next step on from infinity

To whom your universe is but the tiniest quasar

In the wax that I flick from my ear

To whom time is but a distant rumble of thunder

Caused by insecurity in one’s place in the chain

I am the chain, or at least, proportionally

I am again the size of all else that is in the chain

Such that mathematically space and all that is in it is negligible

Whether it wishes to be negated or not

I am the gap between here and there,

Between is and ought, between life and death

And all that’s in-between

From the a child’s first word to the heartbeat of a sun

I do not translate into human tongue

So you would call me… God

  

How Low Can You Go?

Miniscule, I twist

Master of no fate

Destined to stay spinning here

Until such time as I adhere

To principles that make the world go round

Or so I hear, and so they say

 

Zipping here and there

Too small to be free

A billiard ball with no control

Bounced along from hole to hole

Or, as the case may be, from orbit to orbit

Altering, the sole purpose of me

 

Electron, I’m called

Weighing almost nowt

But every difference there can be

Is by and large a cause of me

Being catapulted out of one space to another

Any change you see means that I’m about

 

Haiku


Why does my sword hang

Near, on the door? So I can

Resist temptation

 

Air conditioning,

You are but sanitised wind

Called by a button.

 

Where once duly dwelt 

We, waxing dark poetics,

Dwindles data’s dust

 

To smell and be warm,

Or leave the window open?

That is the question

 

One of the haiku (the data one) is old work, but other than that, I think they're alright. As for the metaphors, I challenged myself when i got home to throw myself into them, so I wrote a song full of them. Here is the relevant part (it's the sort of outro/chorus section)

 

Metaphors

You’re the first step across the threshold

You’re the scent of a lover’s arms

You’re the final exam before the summer began

And you’re the glimpse of a shooting star

You’re the sound of the rain on the pavement

You’re the joy of a baby’s first word

You’re an ice cold drink when the party’s in full swing

And you’re the freedom to fly like a bird

You’re a long flat highway to speed on

You’re an oh so fulfilling refrain

You’re an extra time goal in the cup final

And you’re a sip of vintage champagne

You’re the bacon when you’re hung over

You’re the 20 found in an old pair of jeans

I could never describe the feelings you stir inside

But it's the first note a songwriter sings

 

So yeah, that's that bit. Couple of other metaphors:

Jack Dee – Our water is so hard, it comes out of the tap wearing a tracksuit

Somehow (another song of mine) – When you first hung your tough guy mask up on the wall, I saw the levees break

Yeah, an interesting week, assignment-wise. Last night, the poetry slam, was very bittersweet. I got really low scores for my first two poems which, while they weren't amazing, I didn't think were 23/22 scores, though I did forget the words. But they weren't as personal to me as Three Years in the Desert, and I think that came across, because I knew it well, and I performed it well. people laughed at odd lines and hissed at the "Weak in the herd" line, which I didn't expect, and I ploughed on through when I maybe should have given them a little time to breathe. But 4 10s and a 9 was the highest score given (it was also given to Peter, the legend, who is my poetry tutor for ICW, for those of you who don't know, the random freaks out there reading this blog, yeah you!) Though his poem was about 4 and a bit minutes, but it was crazy, so imaginative. Anyhow, yeah, hopefully will have internet soon, and be able to spout bullshit on here a lot more often. 


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