TWENTY FIFTEEN: IN REVIEW

I
Thirty Three

…and so the future arrived, but before it could take a hold, we slipped backwards to Kent: raising a glass to welcome the newest niece, Erin Margot Miller, to Planet World on 29th December 2014.

Rachel Barker & I wrote and recorded The What I Wanted To Do’s album #56: BRAINSPADE that would, later in the year, spawn something more substantial, but for now we just rapp’d.

I aged a whole year to little fanfare and then there was a Manhattan Love Suicides show in Nottingham for Ian from Horowitz‘ Birthday Extravaganza.

Reading

Boyle, T.C.  The Inner Circle
DeLillo, Don.  Point Omega
Eco, Umberto.  The Prague Cemetery
Lennon, Nigey.  Alfred Jarry: The Man with the Axe
Murakami, Haruki.  Colorless Tsukuru Tazaki and His Years of Pilgrimage

Listening

OB is a fanatic. He’s also an x. Better to keep away from him. I don’t want to destroy the x. I might even say the x are my best allies. I’m interested in the morale of the . . . people. It is my wish (and the wish of those I hope to please) that these people do not direct their discontent against the T. We therefore need an enemy. There’s no point looking for an enemy among, I don’t know, the y or the z, as despots have done in the past. For the enemy to be recognized and feared, he has to be in your home or on your doorstep. Hence the x. Divine providence has given them to us, and so, by God, let us use them, and pray there’s always some x to fear and to hate. We need an enemy to give people hope. Someone said that patriotism is the last refuge of cowards; those without moral principles usually wrap a flag around themselves, and the bastards always talk about the purity of the race. National identity is the last bastion of the dispossessed. But the meaning of identity is now based on hatred, on hatred for those who are not the same. Hatred has to be cultivated as a civic passion. The enemy is the friend of the people. You always want someone to hate in order to feel justified in your own misery. Hatred is the true primordial passion. It is love that’s abnormal. That is why Christ was killed: he spoke against nature. You don’t love someone for your whole life — that impossible hope is the source of adultery, matricide, betrayal of friends . . . But you can hate someone for your whole life, provided he’s always there to keep your hatred alive. Hatred warms the heart.  Umberto Eco, The Prague Cemetery

II
More Heat!  More Panic!

10981358_10152652220306975_3926618601834493807_nAnd then time slipped again and it was 2009 although it wasn’t really it was just a trick of the light as a brand new Manhattan Love Suicides album tumbled into existence.  We went to Barcelona to celebrate the release of More Heat! More Panic! and I left my suitcase on the train from the airport FTW.  Things I am unlikely to ever see again: 1. The Rat pedal I had since I was 18 aka Signature Sound, 2. Viet Cong (band) T-Shirt, 3. Squirrel Records T-Shirt, 4. Dignity & Co.  But, anyway, the Casa Batlló was stunning and we made an appropriate racket at 1am and drank copious whiskey with new best mates Close Lobsters.

Also: T.O.Y.S got to support heroes Viet Cong at The Brudenell Social Club, Amanda took me to see FKA Twigs, and, although I wasn’t present for the whole album: I phoned in (It’s global!) a song to The What I Wanted To Do’s traditional anti-Valentines day recording: #57 Notable Alumni Vol. 3.

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Reading

DeLillo, Don.  White Noise
Bioy Casares, Adolfo.  The Invention of Morel
Gide, André.  The Counterfeiters
Diogenes.  Diogenes the Cynic: Sayings and Anecdotes

Listening

I am beginning to catch sight of what I might call the “deep-lying subject” of my book.  It is – it will be – no doubt, the rivalry between the real world and the representation of it which we make to ourselves.  The manner in which the world of appearances imposes itself upon us, and the manner in which we try to impose on the outside world our own interpretation – this is the drama of our lives.  The resistance of facts invites us to transport our ideal construction into the realm of dreams, of hope, of belief in a future life, which is fed by all the disappointments and disillusions of our present one.  Realists start from facts – fit their ideas to suit the facts.  André Gide, The Counterfeiters.

III
Going to Marrakesh

…and so just four days after flying back to the UK from Barcelona we were airborne again as we took The Manhattan Love Suicides touring machine to Madrid Popfest.  We have never been as well looked after as we were in Madrid and our eternal gratitude goes out to all involved.  We closed the festival at 1am on the Sunday after 12 hours of solid drinking and somehow managed to pull off perhaps our most ditinguished performance to date.

Having not lost anything this time, we returned triumphant to the UK and then five days later I was in the air again with Viv on route to Morocco.   We stayed in a Riad through AirBnB amidst the throng but never felt claustrophobic… Dined exquis at Le Jardin… Bartered badly (me)… Basked on the roof terrace… and spent an incredible day in the Atlas Mountains… And then a few days after returning home, March closed with a T.O.Y.S show at Leicester Popfest.

 

Bohm, David.  Wholeness and the Implicate Order
Garcí­a Márquez, Gabriel.  Love in the Time of Cholera
Garcí­a Márquez, Gabriel.  One Hundred Years of Solitude
Pynchon, Thomas.  The Crying of Lot 49

Listening

Aside from what I feel to be the intrinsic interest of questions that are so fundamental and deep, I would, in this connection, call attention to the general problem of fragmentation of human consciousness. The widespread and pervasive distinctions between people (race, nation, family, profession, etc., etc.), which are now preventing mankind from working together for the common good, and indeed, even for survival, have one of the key factors of their origin in a kind of thought that treats things as inherently divided, disconnected, and ‘broken up’ into yet smaller constituent parts. Each part is considered to be essentially independent and self-existent.  When man thinks of himself in this way, he will inevitably tend to defend the needs of his own ‘Ego’ against those of the others; or, if he identifies with a group of people of the same kind, he will defend this group in a similar way… If he thinks of the totality as constituted of independent fragments, then that is how his mind will tend to operate, but if he can include everything coherently and harmoniously in an overall whole that is undivided, unbroken, and without a border (for every border is a division or break) then his mind will tend to move in a similar way, and from this will flow an orderly action within the whole.  David Bohm, Wholeness and the Implicate Order.

IV
Sweep, Sweep

April saw a new Wednesday Club release to celebrate our Decade of Indifference.  Now marauding as an existential sex rock power trio (aka getting by just the three of us) we decided to throw out a Greatest Hits of sorts and so spent a day re-recording some of said hits live as a three-piece and chucking in three brand new exclusive tracks for good measure.  The artwork was done by our esteemed colleague Jon Hinds.

Reading

Camus, Albert.  The Fall
Cauty, Jimmy & Drummond, Bill.  The Manual: How to Have a Number One the Easy Way
Dick, Philip K.  VALIS
Higgs, John.  The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds
Wallace, David Foster.  The Broom of the System

Listening

Something’s meaning is nothing more or less than its function. Has she done the thing with the broom with you? No? What does she use now? No. What she did with me–I must have been eight, or twelve, who remembers–was to sit me down in the kitchen and take a straw broom and start furiously sweeping the floor, and she asked me which part of the broom was more elemental, more fundamental, in my opinion, the bristles or the handle. The bristles or the handle. And I hemmed and hawed, and she swept more and more violently, and I got nervous, and finally when I said I supposed the bristles, because you could after a fashion sweep without the handle, by just holding on to the bristles, but couldn’t sweep with just the handle, she tackled me, and knocked me out of my chair, and yelled into my ear something like, Aha, that’s because you want to sweep with the broom, isn’t it? It’s because of what you want the broom for, isn’t it?’ Et cetera. And that if what we wanted a broom for was to break windows, then the handle was clearly the fundamental essence of the broom, and she illustrated with the kitchen window, and a crowd of the domestics gathered; but that if we wanted the broom to sweep with, see for example the broken glass, sweep sweep, the bristles were the thing’s essence. No? What now, then? With pencils? No matter. Meaning as fundamentalness. Fundamentalness as use. Meaning as use. Meaning as fundamentalness.  David Foster Wallace, The Broom of the System.

V
Champagne

May bank holiday weekend is now synonymous with the Oddbox Weekender and I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to grace the stage with both The Wednesday Club and The Manhattan Love Suicides.

We mourned the general election result in Kent before drowning worries with The What I Wanted To Do’s album #58: A Hen Is Only An Egg’s Way Of Making Another Egg.  The Manhattan Love Suicides managed to piss of The Primitives at Birmingham Pop Fest and then there were T.O.Y.S gigs for Trev Oddbox and a headline show at Paper Dress Vintage.

Reading

Durrell, Lawrence.  Nunquam
Jeter, K.W.  Dr. Adder
Krakauer, Jon.  Into the Wild
Murakami, Haruki.  What I Talk About When I Talk About Running
RZA.  The Tao of Wu

Listening

“Freud says that all happiness is the deferred fulfilment of a prehistoric wish, and then he adds: ‘That is why wealth brings so little happiness; money is not an infantile wish.’  I have been studying the demonic of our capitalistic system through the eyes of Luther – a chastening experience in some ways. He saw the final coming to power in this world of Satan as a capitalistic emblem. For him the entire structure of the Kingdom of Satan is essentially capitalistic – we are the devil’s own real property, he says: and his deepest condemnation of our system is in his phrase ‘Money is the word of the Devil, through which he creates all things in exactly the way God once created the True Word.’ In his devastating theology capitalism manifests itself as the ape of God, the simia dei. It is hard to look objectively at oneself in the shaving-mirror once one has adventured with this maniac through the ‘Madensack’ of the real shared world – this extended worm-bag of a place out of which squirm all our cultural and gnomic patterns, the stinking end-gut of a world whose convulsions are simply due to the putrefying explosions of faecal gas in the intestines of time.” He paused, musing and shaking his head. “And then gold itself, as Spengler points out, is not really a colour, for colours are natural things. No, that metallic greenish gleam is of a satanic unearthliness; yet it has an explicit mystical value in the iconography of our Churches.” He relit his cigar with a silver lighter.  Lawrence Durrell, Nunquam.

VI
Alas, Montañas!

Continuing our project to cover our friends songs, John Perry and I rendered a version of The New Nathan Detroits classic Prime Numbers.

We turned the roof terrace at Queenstown Heights into a veritable garden and then Viv, Mark & I left civilisation behind to spend a week on an organic farm in the high hills of Andalucia in Southern Spain.  We spent a night in Ronda on route and it was aesthetically stunning but slightly overrun with tourists.  Nico’s farm, however, was situated in some of the most breathtaking and untouched scenery I have ever seen.  Viv & Mark had stayed there in twentyfourteen but this was my first time and it reinforced the desire to live that way sometime in the not too distant future.

 

   

Reading

Lowry, Malcolm.  Under the Volcano
Self, Will.  The Quantity Theory Of Insanity
Wallace, David Foster.  Girl with Curious Hair

Listening

Meantime do you see me as still working on the book, still trying to answer such questions as: Is there any ultimate reality, external, conscious and ever-present etc. etc. that can be realised by any such means that may be acceptable to all creeds and religions and suitable to all climes and countries? Or do you find me between Mercy and Understanding, between Chesed and Binah (but still at Chesed)—my equilibrium, and equilibrium is all, precarious—balancing, teetering over the awful unbridgeable void, the all-but unretraceable path of God’s lightning back to God?…Though it is perhaps a good idea under the circumstances to pretend at least to be proceeding with one’s great work on “Secret Knowledge,” then one can always say when it never comes out that the title explains this deficiency.  Malcolm Lowry, Under The Volcano.
 

VII
One Year Wiser

Viv & I celebrated our first anniversary on 5th July.  The past twelve months had been really rather remarkable, the full gamut, but we have survived to tell the tale.  We spent the day re-tracing our fatefull steps about The Capital, taking in the psychedelic labyrinth at The Serpentine.  The following week we watched the sunrise over the South Downs for Viv’s birthday and then trekk’d North for Fell Foot Sound 2015 where The Wednesday Club made their festival debut.

 

At the end of July I returned North to spend the week at Ghost Town in Leeds, laying down the tracks that will make up the first proper T.O.Y.S full length, which, all being well will be with you v.early twenty sixteen on pristeen vinyl courtesy of the ever faithful Oddbox Records.  We recorded twelve brand new tracks, the best eight of which will comprise the album, tentatively titled SICKS.

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12009574_1065949176756171_5542407461032929459_n

Reading

King, Martin Luther.  Strength to Love
Kundera, Milan.  The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Listening

A French philosopher said, “No man is strong unless he bears within his character antitheses strongly marked.”  The strong man holds in a living blend strongly marked opposites.   Not ordinarily do men achieve this balance of opposites.  The idealists are not usually realistic, and the realists are not usually idealistic.  The militant are not generally known to be passive, nor the passive to be militant.  Seldom are the humble self-assertive, or the self-assertive humble.  But life at its best is a creative synthesis of opposites in fruitful harmony.  The philosopher Hegel said that truth is found neither in the thesis nor the antithesis, but in an emergent synthesis that reconciles the two.  Martin Luther King, Jr., A Tough Mind And A Tender Heart.

VIII
Hermits on Holiday

 

The roof terrace garden continued to take form and feed us beans, strawberries, chard, lettuce, corn, squash, carrotts & Co.  Rachel took time off from recording her debut album British Knee Spears to put together a video for Copydex Complex: a song we wrote together earlier in the year as a What I Wanted To Do’s song but had recently rewritten and improved upon.

Reading

Atwood, Margaret.  The Penelopiad
Camus, Albert.  A Happy Death
D’Aguiar, Fred.  The Longest Memory
Dick, Philip K..  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Durrell, Lawrence.  The Black Book
Murakami, Haruki.  After Dark
Ronson, Jon.  The Men Who Stare at Goats
Self, Will.  My Idea Of Fun

Listening

“The only suffering Mr. Jarry underwent was having to go an entire day without a shot of whisky.”
“Al Jarry,” Buster Friendly said, his face returning to the screen. “Well, well. An old man who even in his prime never amounted to anything which either he or ourselves could respect. Al Jarry made a repetitious and dull film, a series of them in fact, for whom he knew not – and does not to this day.  Philip K. Dick.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

IX
All Change at Queenstown Heights

…and so: all change.  Rachel Barker left to seek her fortune as the unequivocal VwarphF… I started my new job as the Subject Librarian for Maths & Physical Sciences at UCL on 1st September and that same evening, Janice and Pamplemousse moved in to Queenstown Heights to make a (flat) house a home (again).  Viv & I also ventured south to Kent a couple times for Birthday’s & Co.

 

 

Reading

Higgs, John.  Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century
Hodgkin, Joanna.  Amateurs in Eden: The Story of a Bohemian Marriage: Nancy and Lawrence Durrell
Scullion, Sean.  Liber Malorum: Children Of The Apple

Listening

Faith in absolute certainty is not based on any evidence for the existence of certainty.  It can sometimes appear to stem from a psychological need for certainty which afflicts many people… Cultural debate in the early twenty-first century has, as a result, descended into a War of the Certain.  Different factions, all of whom agree about the existence of absolute truth, are shouting down anyone who has a different definition of that absolute truth.  Fortunately, true absolutism is rare.  Most people, scientists and non-scientists alike, unconsciously adopt a position of multiple-model agnosticism.  This recognises that we make sense of the world by using a number of different and sometimes contradictory models.  A Multiple-model agnostic would not say that all models are of equal value, because some models are more useful than others, and the usefulness of a model varies according to context.  They would not concern themselves with infinite numbers of interpretations as that would be impractical, but they understand that there is never only one interpretation.  Nor would they agree that something is not ‘real’ because our understanding of it is a cultural or linguistic construct.  Things can still be real, even when our understanding of them is flawed.  Multiple-model agnostics are, ultimately, pretty loose.  They rarely take impractical, extreme positions, which may be why they do not do well on the editorial boards of academic postmodern journals.  Multiple-model agnosticism is an approach familiar to any scientist.  Scientists do not possess a grand theory of everything, but they do have a number of competing and contradictory models, which are valid at certain scales and in certain circumstances… Scientists generally don’t lose too much sleep over this.  A model is, by definition, a simplified incomplete version of what it describes.  John Higgs, Stranger Than We Can Imagine: Making Sense of the Twentieth Century.

X
Surf’s Up

I succumbed to The Fever in October and was knocked out for a few weeks… spending most of the time in quarantine listening to nothing but The Beach Boys on repeat and then, upon venturing back out into Planet World again, developing an unhealthy obsession with the perspective of stairs being modern representations of prehistoric cave art.

 

Reading

Hall, Sarah.  The Electric Michelangelo
Lewis, Aran.  The Blood of the Aubergine
Wilson, Brian.  Wouldn’t it Be Nice: My Own Story

Listening

Eliot Riley was a drinker, Cy’s mother had been right. And he was a poor drinker. One that let the demons of the bottle into his head when he tipped it back, demons that went about unloosing all the trouble they could find stashed in the catacombs of his mind. Every tragic thing that had ever happened, every self-doubt, every delusion, freed itself from bondage and revisited him when he drank.  Sarah Hall, The Electric Michelangelo.

XI
Shangrila

The last gig of the year saw T.O.Y.S supporting Chorusgirl on the Leeds date of their promotional tour but before that, Viv & I saw Ibeyi and then The Mountain Goats and also John Higgs, who give a talk about his strange-person theory of history.  We also had a Grand Day Out with Ava, Erin & Co. at the Science Museum.

Reading

Durrell, Lawrence.  The Dark Labyrinth
Levi, Primo.  If This Is a Man / The Truce
Reich, Wilhelm.  Listen, Little Man!

Listening

You ask when your life will be good and secure, Little Man? The answer is alien to your way of being: Your life will be good and secure when aliveness will mean more to you than security and money; your freedom more than party line or public opinion; when the mood of Beethoven or Bach will be the mood of your total existence (you have it in you, Little Man, buried deeply in a corner of your existence); when your thinking will be in harmony, and no longer at variance, with your feelings; when you will be able to comprehend your gifts in time and to recognize your ageing in time; when you will live the thoughts of great men instead of the misdeeds of great warriors; when the teachers of your children will be better paid than the politicians; when you will have more respect for the love between man and woman than for a marriage license; when you will recognize errors in thinking in time, and not too late, as today; when you will feel elevation in hearing truths, and feel horror of formalities; when you will have intercourse with your work comrades directly, and not through diplomats; when your adolescent daughter’s happiness in love will delight instead of enraging you; when you will only shake your head at the times when one punished little children for touching their love organs; when human faces on the street will express freedom, animation and joy and no longer sadness and misery; when people no longer will walk on this earth with retracted and rigid pelvises and deadened sexual organs. You want guidance and advice, Little Man. You have had guidance and advice, good and bad, through thousands of years. It is not because of poor advice that you are still in your misery, but because of your pettiness. I could give you good advice, but, as you think and are, you would not be capable of putting it into action in the interest of all.  Wilhelm Reich, Listen, Little Man!

XII
Never Sorry

…and then it was December and we went to see Neko Case play an amazing set at the beautiful Union Chapel and also Ai Weiwei‘s truely inspiring career-spanning retrospective at The Royal Academy of Art.  Having been invited (but unable) to play at the Big Pink Cake Christmas Extravaganza it was nice to go as a customer and catch up with some lovely indiepop people.  And then the year ground down to a halt: Once again, the past twelve months have certainly been eventful but we look to the future full of hope & love and anticipation.

Reading

Chuang Tzu.  The Tao of Nature
Hoban, Russell.  Kleinzeit
Sharaf, Myron R.  Fury On Earth: A Biography Of Wilhelm Reich

Listening

So the sages contemplate Heaven but do not assist it.
They are concerned to perfect their Virtue but do not allow it to encumber them.
They set forth according to the Tao but do make plans.
They work with benevolence but put no reliance upon it.
They draw extensively upon righteousness but do not try to build it up.
They observe the rituals but do not set great store by them.
They do what they have to and never shirk their responsibilities.
They try to make their laws applicable but do not believe them effective.
They value the people and do not take them for granted.
They make use of things and do not dismiss them lightly.
True, things are worthless but they must be used.
Those who do not see Heaven clearly will not be pure in Virtue.
Those who fail to follow the Tao cannot follow any path.
What a disaster for those who cannot follow the Tao!

The Book of Chuang Tzu.

*

Ma gavte la nata.

 

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