Category: AJM Words

TWENTY SEVENTEEN: IN REVIEW


Preface.  Various factors this year have necessitated a leaner Annual Review.  There follows excerpts from books I have read this year that have influenced my philosophical enquiry, a digest of my favourite songs that have come out in twenty seventeen, and the sections in italics are musings cribbed directly from my notebook for the year, here and there slightly edited, elsewhere slightly embellished.  Caveat:  Do not be drawn in by the dozen sections.  I employed neither linear chronology nor hierarchy in the construction of this review.  Rather, I attempted a spontaneous and holistic approach to writing and compiling.

Adam John Miller, 20th December 2017.


 

Like all genuine questions, the question about identity will never die. Such questions do not have answers, in the sense of a single definitive statement that eliminates the need to ask the question again. Yet that does not mean that talking about such questions is an endless and meaningless game, merely going back and forth over the same positions, more cleverly expressed. Instead, at crucial moments in this long conversation, something emerges that reveals a new truth, perhaps implicit in what has gone before but only now expressed. Because of that insight, everything appears in a new light. Such questions and conversations are living things; they are fascinating because, at any moment, something so compelling may emerge that nothing will be the same again.

Peter Pesic, Seeing Double: Shared Identities in Physics, Philosophy, and Literature

 

Vagabon, The Embers

 


I saw it happen as it was happening to me.  Non-participation an idle fantasy, ultimately impossible.  The bottomless depths and unfathomable heights are signposts, as natural as night and day.  Content provision.  Flicking through the dream diary I catch myself and wince at the opulent naivety: Please wake up now, it says, stopping short.  Perplexed, unsubstantiated.  An elaboration of protocol and rule.  Olive branches, javelins.  The metaphors of mind are the world it perceives.  Downsize your expectations.  An open invitation to the vinegar tasting goes unanswered.  This nearly didn’t happen at all, but the field is more inviting than the stands whilst we wait for the whistle.  Keep it succinct.


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TWENTY SIXTEEN: IN REVIEW

TEETH, FEET & FINGERS

Author’s Note: The provenance of the phrase history is written by the victorious is disputed.  But what can attribution achieve in this instance?  The sentence (or sentiment) must surely have been uttered or thought by many prior to the origin we seek, and also ex post facto by many unaware of their plagiarism.  The point remains that the marginalised have, historically, been denied a voice.  When you are dead or imprisoned, uneducated or denied access, putting forward your version of events becomes problematic.  Once something has been destroyed, only those left standing can rebuild, and do so with the only tools available to them: theirvision.

It could be said that, to some extent, in the real-time networked world we have awoken in this side of the millennium, more people than ever have the ability to make themselves heard.  But what do we find now that the curtain has…

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TWENTY SIXTEEN: IN REVIEW

Author’s Note: The provenance of the phrase history is written by the victorious is disputed.  But what can attribution achieve in this instance?  The sentence (or sentiment) must surely have been uttered or thought by many prior to the origin we seek, and also ex post facto by many unaware of their plagiarism.  The point remains that the marginalised have, historically, been denied a voice.  When you are dead or imprisoned, uneducated or denied access, putting forward your version of events becomes problematic.  Once something has been destroyed, only those left standing can rebuild, and do so with the only tools available to them: their vision.

It could be said that, to some extent, in the real-time networked world we have awoken in this side of the millennium, more people than ever have the ability to make themselves heard.  But what do we find now that the curtain has not just been pulled back, but entirely torn from the frame?  A cacophony of bewilderment and confusion.  Given the ability to connect, we find the opposite: rival factions forming even within so-called liberal and humanitarian endeavours.  True, beneath the media hype circus and informing every echo-chamber is a series of seemingly incomprehensible yet profound events.  To make sense of these events we cling to the narrative structures that reinforce our own belief systems (even those who claim to be free of them entirely).  But what we see is that these narratives, constructed in a context of individualism, serve to divide us further.

As well as the political and global turmoil, twenty-sixteen has, for various reasons, been a trying year for me personally and those around me with whom I am lucky enough to share a more intimate relationship.  It is not my intention to emphasise either a positive or negative interpretation of trying.  About midway through the year I discovered the writings of Charles Eisenstein whose philosophy has subsequently resonated with me profoundly: pulling together various paths of thought that I had been unable to do so alone.  All ideology is narrative.  Humanity has been driven by a story of separation, the self as a discrete entity.  Science, politics, art, education, religion, economics &c. are all ideologies constructed to make sense of the world.  All of these ideologies have failed because they are predicated on a falsehood (the story of separation).

What follows is my review of the past twelve months.  It is necessarily my own perspective.  A chronologically driven (linear and cyclical) second-person narrative, this story is one-part diary (personal and political), one-part consumption (books and music) and one-part philosophical exegesis (bildungsroman).  Depending on your proximity: in jokes, pop-philosophy, bad puns, scholarly intent, juvenilia, paradox, pretension and/or pith.  Anything underlined is hyperlinked to the source of the reference (music, words, obituaries &c.).  Direct quotes are underlined and the reference is hyperlinked from the (Author, Date) notation to where the quote exists in its full context elsewhere on my blog.  Before writing I set myself the following rules: Each entry must a) refer to the events of that month, both internal and external b) include a quote from every book I read that month that can be as seamlessly as possible woven into the overarching narrative c) contain a reference to some music I had on repeat that month, and d) reflect the nature and personal development of my philosophical enquiry.  There follows a full bibliography and an appendix.  Ma gavte la nata.

Adam John Miller
20th December, 2016

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MORE SCORCHED TILES

1
More scorched tiles –
Citrus, rock salt, arbirary clocks.
The homeless sleep all night in the rose garden,
in the shadow of decrepid, phallic worship –
awakened by sprinkler systems and the call to prayer.

Feral cats gorge on chicken feet and entrails and everywhere
the loud Americans exclaim:  “You’re so lucky!”

We sweat it out amongst oil paints,
obtuse literature and broken Arabic.  Abdoul and Sabbah fast
whilst the white wine warms before our thirst is quenched
and the lotion blinds us.
Everyone is a tourist: fumbling throngs
in bum bags and flip flops and holiday haircuts.
We say, “we’re going home…” but we don’t want to return.

2
Waiting for the roof-man,
asleep on the kitchen floor:
The Universal Mother.

3
I wonder how many more times I can say, “I quit smoking…”
before it quits me.

4
Oh! Marrkech, is it too much to say, “I love you!”?
You are yet to let us down despite
the absence of alcohol and the band not showing up.
We prowl your private courtyards in our pants and
make love in your moonlight.  We paint on your sun-bleached terraces
and compose our fragile verse.

The maybe-sparrows chirp and the Palace storks clack
like clenched teeth (at least in our feeble impressions)

Oh! Marrkech, press yourself upon us some more.
We have set our stalls amongst you and dreamt –
often lost for words but blossoming.
Your lips are sweet and soft,
we are complete.

5
Oh! Marrkech, please accept our flaws and poor attempts at representation
that only further muddied water.  We cloud your pools with our potions
and pallid flesh as you cleanse yourself in prayer
we pause –

– and do our best to fit in.
We drop our brushes and clumsy syllabels –
we flop in your heat, seeking refuge and yet you welcome us with an open heart.
Oh! Marrkech, how can we repay you?

6
“All blacks are not the same…”

7
So the roof-man arrives (in the silence) and we
exhale –

“Do what you came to -“
We’ll soon be showered and off to the garden to
pick the candid lemon peel from our teeth
and spit more platitudes at the birds in cages.
Lily’s shadow looms large across the lounge, inhale –
and – “no more pool parties, I guess?”

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

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TWENTY FOURTEEN

January

…and so we haltingly, tentatively slid into a new year:  Ex-Mass in a snow-free Sweden had been pleasant enough and The Epiphany appropriately subdued, clutching awkward pints on the fringes of the Indie Pop Glitterati at a crowded Canterbury Arms damp with condensation.  We left after The Countdown.

I saw in 32 with a tumultuous What I Wanted To Do’s album, #51.  Ominous clouds / Precedent set / It would be some time before the dust settled, if ever.  In between I put out the solo album Rapallo’d… A somewhat stuffy and overblown exegesis, rather sample heavy, I was nonetheless proud of the result and for the first time felt that my creative output properly reflected my Reality Tunnel (at that time).

…and to celebrate  finishing the (reunited) Manhattan Love Suicides album, we recorded a cover of Roky Erickson’s Nothing In Return.


Books:

Carter, John.  Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons
Pilkington, Mark.  Mirage Men: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs
Raspe, Rudolf Erich.  The Travels and Surprising Adventures of Baron Munchausen
Wilson, Colin.  G.I.Gurdjieff: The War Against Sleep
Wilson, Colin.  The Strange Life of P.D.Ouspensky
Wilson, Robert Anton.  Coincidance: A Head Test

Playlist:

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AJM’s 2013 IN REVIEW

lisaJanuary… 2013 was ushered in with the utmost civility and Lisa and her friends and family in Karlsham, Sweden.  A first for several years, for me, and although briefly slightly strange to be waking up refreshed on the first day of the year and not still drinking wine in a Harold in Leeds, a damn good way to start (the year).  In Sweden I started reading  Miguel Syjuco’s Ilustrado and found it difficult to put down.  I immediately I.D’d (to some extent): “I used to believe authenticity could be achieved solely by describing, in our own words, one’s own fragment of experience.  This was of course predicated on the complete intellectual and aesthetic independence of the “I.”  One eventually realizes such intellectual isolationism promotes style, ego, awards.  But not change.  You see, I toiled, but saw so little improving around me…

ajmI was determined to read as much as possible this year, having spent much of the previous devoted to the MA.  I finally got round to reading Grace Maxwell’s inspirational and honest-heart-string-tuggin’ restoration of Edywn Collins (but for some reason I still can’t get into Orange Juice) and also started on RAW’s Cosmic Trigger series.  Uncle Bob never fails to turn all my assumptions upside down, often those that he has been responsible for forming in the first place.  He is v.fond of quoting Count Korzybski, “there are two ways to slide easily through life: to believe everything or to doubt everything; both ways save us from thinking…”  Too right?

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