Monday, March 26, 2007

Obscurantist Raging

A combination of things. I seem to have quite a kaliedoscope of things flashing by me at the moment and I can only see the flash, not make out the shapes or the colours. People and places, first of all. Went to Lancaster, the city, on Saturday; the university was my alma mater; and though I've been back a couple of times in the last 5 years, this was the first time I've really walked around the city for over a decade. Everything was familiar, but nothing was exact. I walked up the Ashton Memorial, a glorious folly, overlooking the city, and was shocked by how few times - a couple? - I'd done that in my 3 years there. Then today, bumped into 2 people I've not seen for a while, in incongruous but utterly predictable places; a meeting, a bus stop. Yet, whereas I approached Lancaster like an old friend I'd not seen for so long, and could take it all in again, I realise how fragmented my friendships are these days; strangers who briefly become less than that, before, perhaps becoming it again. Yet, I sense other things - sometimes a massive empathy with someone I've only really seen in the street. In our fragmentary life, that's what passes for intimacy, I guess. It seems I'm having a heightened sense of emotions about things, people, places at the moment, in a world that is pragmatically opposed to this. It collapses in on itself. I got home tonight after a tiresome set of work-related annoyances, and the friend at the bus stop; a much-needed Cote du Rhone on getting back home; and the recently downloaded awesomely thrilling visceral punk of Nation of Ulysses' "13 point program to destroy America" seem to have done the bit for me. Anger is an energy, as John Lydon once sung. I was thinking about contemporary writing, and it struck me, as it has before, that we shouldn't limit our "writers" to poets, playwrights and novelists. Any review of British letters since 1980 has to include Richey Edwards, Mark E. Smith, Morrissey and Ian Curtis amongst its poets; screenplays for "Trainspotting", "GBH" and "This Life" amongst its drama; and Steven Bell's "If...", Alan Moore's "Watchman" and "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" amongst its fiction; perhaps Fiona Banner, Damian Hirst and Tracey Emin amongst our avant garde writers. Take the literary artefacts of the last 25 years and its richer if you reach wider. A phenomenal task to think through all that (to watch, and hear all that...) but perhaps the only way to wander beyond the sterility found elsewhere. I'm at that point. Staring down the sterility. I once wrote this lyric whose chorus went "I don't want to be missed by inches," and it took me years to realise what I meant was that I didn't want the measure of my life to be so short, so easily measured. What now then? I see a need for a hyper-realism, a less-than-mundane, a dream of the absurd, and a willingness to burn...

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