Actually I’ve got another gig in 2 day’s time which will precede this one so that’s a good warm up. On Tuesday it’s just me accompanied by Nacho on cojón, but the gig on the teenth will be with Everton Hartley on bass guitar and there will be at least one guest performer hopefully 2 or 3.
The desaturated background to the flier is a drawing I found somewhere on the web of King Canute sat on his throne surrounded by his elite bodyguard at the edge of the sea. Here’s the words to my song Die Andere Seite just for fun.
mirky brown tide
and on the other side
path’s cute as canute
but there’s no sound of a flute
where did the great god die?
or was he just lord fly?
mirky brown tide
mirky brown tide
like a veil or a shroud
makes you inside darken
you can see when they cut you open
and it’s also very loud
without a word of a lie
you’ve got to time it right
to avoid any fright
two snakes twisting by
some time ago i did a post with the books that i’d read in a certain year and this is a continuation of that. but this time it’s the books i read this year which currently is 2015 and here they all are
Ancient North America
Brian M Fagan
Memoirs Vol 1
William T Sherman
Memoirs Vol 2
William T Sherman
Selected One Act Plays
George Bernard Shaw
The March Of Portola
Zoeth S. Eldredge
Trips To Mars
Narrative of New Netherland
The Faber Book of America
ed. by Christopher Ricks & William Vance
The Red Badge of Courage
A History of Europe
JM Roberts (II)
The History of Louisiana
Le Page Du Pratz
Philip K Dick
By Night In Chile
The Divine Comedy 1 Hell
Lucy M Rossetti
A Life of Philip K Dick
Paul Tingen (II)
Jonathan A C Brown
Voyage around the World
The Enchanted Wanderer
White Rooms & Imaginary Westerns
Philip K Dick
Across The Plains
Robert Louis Stevenson
Briefing For A Descent Into Hell
Doris Lessing (II)
Philip K Dick
Honoré de Balzac
Hung Lou Meng
The Last Crusade
What’s Welsh For Zen
John Cale & Victor Bockris (II)
Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett (II)
Alfred Jarry A Pataphysical Life
The Jugurthine War
The Letters of
Lady Mary Wortley Montague
The Woman of Andros
Thornton Wilder (IV)
Andy Warhol & Pat Hackett
Madame de Sévigné
When We Dead Awaken
Visions and Revisions
John Cowper Powys
i’ll write a bit about some of them not all because that would be too much.
the first one i mentioned in my last post so enough about that.
general sherman is one of those great characters they named a tank after him. anyone who gets a tank named after them must be ok?
the march of portola tells the fascinating tale of the european discovery of california. what a hostile environment that was back then.
i returned to the american civil war with stephen crane’s book which arguably helped to define war correspondence and cast a new light on the overall theme of war.
john roberts’ a history of europe can be seen as a companion piece to his triumph of the west series which i have posted the 1st episode and promise to deliver more in time. the tension between christian and muslim society grows ever more emphatic.
philip k dick’s galactic pot-healer is a very weird trip and i think it would make a fantastic film but you would have to have a lot of cgi for the underwater sequences. maybe not – a few plastic models floating in a tank might do the trick. later i read the biography very much around the time of reading barry miles’ book about bukowski. 2 californian lives.
whereas gershwin was east coast.
going back to the history of europe/christian/muslim equation jonathon brown’s book tries to shed some light on some of the important issues which seem to be becoming more and more vital day to day.
the new translation (2 years old by now) of the enchanted wanderer and other stories was something i had my eye on for a while. sometimes it pays to hold off immediate desires and play a long, laborious game of catch. the eponymous tale is a masterpiece and it’s all good.
i’d read all of bruce chatwin’s books (maybe not some obscure ones if there are any) except for utz so was glad to find this in a 2nd hand bookshop – oxfam at the top of park street in bristol i think but possibly elsewhere. whereas the leskov interacts with walter benjamin’s the storyteller essay then utz interacts with the unpacking my library essay.
and then straight into doris lessing’s briefing for a descent into hell. dantaesque?
eventually as the year staggered to completion i plunged into the world of jarry and warhol – an unnatural combination, one devolving into a world of poverty and the other becoming increasingly wealthy especially with death. both benefited from death one dying in his mere thirties the other lasting into his fifties. both difficult to measure exactly how influential. whatever i’ll stick with them.
I am halfway or more through my new album which I won’t name yet, but I thought I’d do a quick creature head count.
a flesh hound (whatever that is)
another hound (seems to be a bit of a theme – not intended)
Eventually I’ll do a whole thesaurus of the animals, birds, fish etc. that populate the world of my song lyrics, not to mention the trees, flowers and assorted inanimate objects. When I am ill and lie abed with 2 fat wishes I’ll be fed and let the leaden moments pass each choosing singly their own path.
Instead of a basic guitar/bass/drums core the new songs are underpinned simply by 2 acoustic guitars. There is a 10th song which won’t be on the album but is a new version of an old song and this moves matters in a further fish like direction. Everton Hartley as always is the 2nd guitarist. We also recorded a dozen or so minutes of the instrumental music that we play together under the name Ashinosya. Here’s an excerpt from that to give you a flavour of the 2 guitars by themselves.
To leap from Alfred Jarry straight through to NF Simpson in the late 50s is to leave a lot out in terms of nonsense theatre otherwise known as the theatre of the absurd and possibly other sub-categories. But when you’re writing you can jump around in time and so I do. Because in the late 60s Simpson was my introduction to that sort of thing. My brother was keen on drama and he had some of his plays which I read. Part of the powerful pull they had on me then is obviously to do with the fact that these plays had been a very strong influence on a lot of the popular innovative comedy of the mid to late 60s, in particular the work of Peter Cook and then later Monty Python.
Simpson claimed that he didn’t know much about the work of earlier dramatists such as Ionesco and I can believe him. He mentioned Lewis Carroll as more of an influence. The plays haven’t aged too well in that the humour now seems dated. They created an effect which was of the moment and somehow was an opening which allowed something new to emerge.
The usual premise of a Simpson play is to use a banal everyday setting, a suburban middle-class home or an office, and people these with unexceptional individuals whose dialogue is at times a series of inane non-sequiturs. In The Hole a man-hole on the edge of a street or pavement is used as a central point which draws a small crowd of onlookers. There is a solitary messianic character, The Visionary; 3 men whose dialogue is somewhat more rational and 2 housewives (Mrs Meso & Mrs Ecto) who are a bit of a Greek chorus though most of their exchanges are off the point, endlessly discussing their husbands’ whims. Eventually a workman emerges from the hole. He immediately disappears, his only words being,
Cables! Junction box! Electricity! You never had any of this ruddy caper back in the Ice Age
The fantastic imaginative arabesques of the 3 men are dashed against reality.
SOMA: And this word “junction box”. Does it mean anything? Or is it just a new name for something we’ve been looking at all along?
CERBERO: It does have a meaning – a very definite meaning. Though it doesn’t make a great deal of difference to what’s down there, whether you call it by that name or another one. We call it a junction box because that happens to be a useful and convenient term for it – but any other name would do almost equally well. We know quite a lot about it, too. We know what its function is and we know what would be the immediate and the long-term effects of removing it. We could fairly easily – if you particularly asked us to do so – find out who put the junction box here and when. We can tell at roughly what date the modifications incorporated in this type were adopted as standard, and we can tell you to what extent they represent an improvement on the old type.
At the centre of the play a creed is recited by the 3 men in unison. I think it fits well with some of the Nonsense excerpts I have included in earlier posts. See the links at the end for the details of these.
I believe in one aquarium which was and is and shall be; in which shall be comprehended the sprat and the Black Widow; in it the sole and the carp shall swim together, the swordtail and water-flea; with the gudgeon shall float the mackerel, with the roach the guppy; duckweed shall be there, and foaming moss; neither shall the water at seventy-five degrees Fahrenheit be at variance with the water at forty degrees Fahrenheit, or eschew it. And the freshwater shall be salt and the saltwater fresh, and no distinction shall be made between them, for all are of one aquarium and there is no other aquarium, but this.
Once upon a time if I wrote a new song I would fairly quickly record a demo of it, but for the last year or so I haven’t been bothered. I’m not sure why that is, probably to a certain degree some sort of boredom with the recording process. I think the only new song I’ve recorded is one I recorded live (vocals overdubbed), little crusader
What spurred me to actually record one of them was the idea of giving Tom (Ranby) some mp3s of new songs because when we played together I wanted to add some of the new songs to the repertoire rather than just play the stuff we already know. Well the first recording’s done now and it wasn’t that bad. It was mostly done a couple of weeks ago but I finished it off yesterday by recording the cameo flute part. I didn’t practise playing flute much over the 2 weeks, there was probably 10 minutes of playing in total, in short 30-60 second bursts – in fact I could have worked at it a bit harder and done it all on the same day. Thanks to my sister, Helen, for giving me the flute some many years ago.
The song I chose to record was written about a year ago and it’s called die andere seite. I think that’s the 2nd song I’ve got with a German title. The 1st one was called sonntag but all I have for that is the words, maybe the slight remnant of a tune in my head. Die Andere Seite is the title of a book by the man better known as an artist than writer, Alfred Kubin. Obviously I’ve provided a link but to put it simply for those of you who can’t be bothered to spend a few minutes perusing the biography works influence bibliography external links of an interesting 20th century character, he was an artist, a member of the Blaue Reiter group who became principally known for his work as an illustrator. Apparently at some point he found it impossible to do any drawing and so, over a 12 week period, he wrote his novel. It sorted of demanded to be written in effect. It was published in 1905.
It could be said to predate Kafka, but pretty much they were both writing at the same time, it’s just that a lot of Kafka’s stuff wasn’t published until after his death. Kafka and Kubin knew each other and in a diary entry of 1911 Kafka describes him
Kubin himself: very strong, but somewhat monotonous facial expression, he describes the most varied things with the same movement of muscles. Looks different in age, size, and strength according to whether he is sitting, standing,wearing just a suit, or an overcoat.
and in the same entry for September 26th Kafka relates
He met Hamsun at Langen. He (Hamsun) grins mockingly for no reason. During the conversation, without interrupting it, he put one foot on his neck, took a large pair of paper-shears from the table, and trimmed the frayed edges of his trousers. Shabbily dressed, with one, or so rather expensive details, his tie, for example.
I was unaware of this until I started researching to write this, but funnily enough Knut Hamsun is also referenced in this song. Do I want to throw any more revolutionary (I don’t mean in a political way) writers of the late 19th early 20th century into the mix? Actually yes, though this is one that I didn’t realise as I wrote the song. Can that be possible? Well I must think so or I wouldn’t be writing about it. In an earlier post I touched on the significance of the French writer, Alfred Jarry and the research I did towards writing that persuaded me to buy a copy of Exploits & Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician, which I had never read.
It is in this work that the concept of ‘Pataphysics is introduced. In Roger Shattuck‘s excellent introduction to the Exact Change edition of the work he tries to encapsulate the concept thus
Beneath the double talk and ellipsis, its formal definition seems to mean that the virtual or imaginary nature of things as glimpsed by the heightened vision of poetry or science or love can be seized and lived as real. This is the ultimate form of “authentic enactment”.
I will try to write further on this later. It needs more distillation right now.
Well that’s the words sorted out, as for the music, it’s got a bit of bluesy, swampy feel but as usual I’ve used (or possibly misused) reggae drum loops which disguise that to a certain extent. It’s a very simple ABABABABAB format where the 4th AB is instrumental and the 5th is a repeat of the 1st (lyrically that is). I could have stuck a C on the end for the coda but that is too short to warrant it. The Bs are in effect choruses but they have no vocals. They’re just trademark flattened interval chords thrown in to show who I am.
So far my forays into the world of nonsense have dealt with works directed at an audience of children. I selected Edward Lear‘s Book of Nonsense as a starting point although I think I tried to make clear that there were antecedents. Now I should like to glance at a different approach to Nonsense Literature – where the premise begins with a childish slant but which is led to dark, adult and inherently profound themes. Again it’s impossible to draw a line and say that one thing is the absolute starting point, but there is one event that seems to stand out.
In 1895 at the Théâtre de l’Oeuvre Alfred Jarry‘s play Ubu le Roi was presented to an audience. In terms of theatrical success it was a disaster, but its influence was enormous.
The play grew from the imaginations of a bunch of schoolboys in Rennes who sought amusement at the expense of a vulnerably inept schoolmaster by rendering him as a grotesque caricature with no redeeming characteristics. But there is more to Jarry than adolescent scatological anarchy and he was to construct a science of Nonsense, ‘Pataphysics, which ineffably defines itself on the plane where the rational and the irrational meet. It is principally a construct of language and anticipates many of the concerns of the 20th century such as psychology and semantics.
Perhaps more than anyone before (or even since) his life became an artwork. In fact it is not difficult to trace just about anything in art and culture since Jarry back to him.