Thursday, 28 January 2010

TS Eliot gets involved

      S she laughed I was aware of becoming involved
      in her laughter and being part of it, until her
      teeth were only accidental stars with a talent
      for squad-drill. I was drawn in by short gasps,
      inhaled at each momentary recovery, lost finally
      in the dark caverns of her throat, bruised by
      the ripple of unseen muscles. An elderly waiter
      with trembling hands was hurriedly spreading
      a pink and white checked cloth over the rusty
      green iron table, saying: "If the lady and
      gentleman wish to take their tea in the garden,
      if the lady and gentleman wish to take their
      tea in the garden ..." I decided that if the
      shaking of her breasts could be stopped, some of
      the fragments of the afternoon might be collected,
      and I concentrated my attention with careful
      subtlety to this end.

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

I may have just had the best debate of my life.

It was amazing. We were discussing Thomas Hobbes, who is usually considered the intellectual father of the state. His idea was that fear was the deepest and most powerful emotion humans have, and it was also it's most creative and positive, since fear forces people to act in a reasonable way to escape that fear. So, first point, the theory of the modern state is that fear is the guiding principle on which all human interaction is supposed to rest. Second, the state is a 'social contract'. Essentially, scared people sacrifice some of their liberty in order to be governed, and thereby kept safe from whatever unknown dangers might be out there. A necessary evil he called it. He went further, though, and said that in times where no genuine external threat is present, fear must be artificially created - the state must terrorise it's own people - to justify the continued existence of government and avoid a return to a state of 'natural savagery' where people were irrational. We also looked at Augustine, who said that the world should be actively maintained as a terrifying place in order to encourage people to look to heaven for escape.

The debate started with several people claiming that despite this being a bleak philosophy, it was basically spot on. If people weren't scared of external threats or the state, there would be no need to behave in a civilised way, and we would fragment. Fear was presented as unifying force which we could all rally around. I actually almost felt too beleaguered to bother arguing against this awful shit at first. I was tired, no one seemed to want to look beyond a generic and all pervasive cynicism that we were naturally evil bastards and needed a tyrant to terrorise us into submission so that we would be safe from ourselves.

However. I thought I'd at least try to demonstrate why fear was not desirable in itself. I asked everyone to remember a time when they felt scared, and to comment on whether they acted and thought reasonably as a consequence or unreasonably. Personally, I am never so unreasonable as when I'm scared, I think. There was instant and widespread agreement about the irrationality that fear encourages. Thank god I thought. Some hope. Then another guy who often speaks and who I disagree with as much as agree with chimed in and said that fear did not produce unity, it fragmented people. Spot on. If you're scared of Johnny Foreigner, you will unite with non-foreigners but only by at the same time fragmenting yourself into a tiny little group against the world. If you're scared of terrorism, everyone with a backpack on public transport is a threat. No unity there. It is fear that breeds the irrational savagery that Hobbes thinks he's fighting against, not some natural evil in us.

Anyway the long story short is that Hobbes and Augustine were utterly, utterly destroyed in the debate. And I ended up with basically an audience - everyone was listening attentively - and was asked what my solution was. I said I wasn't a genius of social engineering, which got a laugh, but that clearly fear was the problem, not the solution, so we had to start addressing it as a problem. We had to start addressing people's desperation for resources which causes crimes and atomisation, and so on. Widespread agreement.

As utterly egocentric as this blog has been... no, I'm not even going to be apologetic about it. I convinced a room of people that humans weren't evil and that we don't need tyrants or masters to keep us safe. I feel happy about that. :) Stage 3 ftw.


Friday, 22 January 2010

Everything Everything are an odd band.

Blitz, you test me, no more
I'm calm, now absent, I'm date-rape yellow, black to the liver come on

Take my lung, take my loose tongue, take my sum, take my memory
Of nothing at all, nothing at all is what you remind me
No thread, no lips, no postscripts, no eclipse of my liberty
Oh pedigree chum, pedigree chum I'm never your father

Cause you're gonna sit on your fence when I'm gone
Cause you're gonna sit on your fence when I'm not there

More, my arc light, my knees
When she casts off her clothes I don't know what is reality

My death throes, this indefinite pose, her flesh codes (inconceivable)
Oh suffragette, suffragette I wanna be outlawed and AWOL
No alphabet can be used yet no cassette is available
Oh I dunno how, I dunno how I'm gonna reset my whole radar

(Forget) Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm gone
(Forget) Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm not there

Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm gone
Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm not there

(To the back, to the back row)
Of nothing at all, nothing at all is what you remind me
Oh suffragette, suffragette I wanna be outlawed and AWOL but

Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm gone
Cause you're gonna sit on the fence when I'm not there

My blog needs cheering up

I just woke up from an AWESOME dream where me and jess ran away from policemen who were chasing us. We had baseball bats which were for some reason dangerous beyond their being a baseball bat. We escaped by running into the london underground and different trains to anywhere, chucked the bats and changed our appearance, off at next stop, new train home. It was amazing. And then we called eachother up.

A prelude to re-entering the world

Have some bleak, stupid, crap writing.

Lights up. We see Jack, about 23 years old, dishevelled hair and generally blotchy, sitting on the floor hiding his face from t he audience with his hands. He has various dried blood stains on his clothes, hands and arms. A wise voice rings out; like god but with less bass rumble. The voice should be reassured, like Michael Caine or Morgan Freeman, and in slight comic contrast to Jack's frantic pace. Jack first addresses the audience only, and gradually more the voice.

-Jack. Jack, are you listening?

-How do I get out, that's my first question. How do I get out of here. Just give me my escape I don't want anything else. Oh resolution you say. I don't want your resolution. I don't want any fucking compromise with evil. You get me out. When was the last time anything got fucking resolved anyway, in your life, really? Come on now. Nothing is ever resolved. We just stop talking about it you know. We're all gonna die. There's our problem, where's our resolution? There's no resolution, none, we just don't really talk about it seriously because it's this great ugly mountain of a fact, and a mountain doesn't change with perspective, it's just a mountain.

-Jack, you're talking shit again. Now are you ready?

-Oh son, I was born unready.

-That's fine Jack, because your personal frailties don't excuse you from your duty.

-My duty to what exactly, what duty is there? I can't FACE this, what are you joking? Joking with me? I am Satan, death, a thousand plagues, and you're about to re-inflict me on the world you stupid, stupid old man.

-Jack, you're over-dramatizing how destructive you are as a defence mechanism again.

-Will you just stop that, okay? I'm not interested in your pot-shot psychology. The objective record is there, I am bad news and if I am not bad news it is due to having a muted effect on the world more than any deep inclination to the good that you keep saying you see in me. How many times do I have to fuck things up for you to see that, man.

-How many more times will I have to throw you back in, Jack, before you realise that escape is in the world and not outside of it? Or that you have responsibilities? Or that the universe does not sink or swim according to your failures and successes? If narcissism has got you this far... well it's time to look for alternatives, old friend.

-You're talking shit again.

-See you soon Jack.

What the fuck is wrong with me.

Wednesday, 20 January 2010

What a hero.

I am opposing a social order in which it is possible for one man who does absolutely nothing that is useful to amass a fortune of hundreds of millions of dollars, while millions of men and women who work all the days of their lives secure barely enough for a wretched existence. - Eugene Debs

War is a spectator sport

One day we were arguing about the war
In the pub

With massive gravitas, Ma said
Our Jonathon's gone away to fight
He's fighting for democracy and our right to be free
He's keeping us safe while we sleep at night
We're all to be proud of him, proud as can be

With what I hoped was equally massive gravitas I said
Our Jonathon's gone to die as a puppet and slave
And get innocent blood on his hands
He'll think it's civilization he's going to save
Not just dropping bombs on strange lands

Then I saw an old man, with medals, in the corner
And I thought
And I thought

That war is a spectator sport
From the sidelines come our claps and jeers
And our touching eulogies for those who've fought
Then we shake our heads.
And drink our beers.


“’Peace upon earth!' was said.
We sing it,
And pay a million priests to bring it.
After two thousand years of mass
We've got as far as poison-gas.”

Sunday, 17 January 2010


Poetry went well tonight, got warmly received and personally invited to a slam by the guy who ran it. That was cool.

Saturday, 16 January 2010

New Poem - No Offence To Robert Burns, But

My love for you is nothing like a red red rose
You aren't really like a summer's day
I couldn't spend a lifetime with the scent of your clothes
And I wouldn't fall apart if you felt you couldn't stay

I don't think you're an angel, or anything transcendent
You're not necessarily the first thing I think of when I wake
I don't need you, you aren't my saviour, I'm not dependent
And I won't mischaracterise us for poetry's sake because

My love for you is honest, honest and real
Grounded in our conversations and every kiss we steal
Humming loud out of our cuddles
That's how I feel, anyway

There's no need to write a sonnet or put on some big display
My love for you is simple. And that's okay.

Monday, 11 January 2010

Sunday, 10 January 2010

Sleep Walking

Dear older self, as I write this I’m already trying to work out how to impress you. Or at least, you know, avoid embarrassment. Straight away I want to try to apologise for myself, hide embarrassing stains underneath the rug like a paranoid mother before a visit from Gran. But then, I suppose it’s impossible to legislate for the future, and I suppose I should stop worrying or I’ll never get anything done. So I’ll just say hello. And, obviously, I hope you’re okay.

Dear older self, I think I think too much and I realise that that’s ironic. It reminds me of what that girl said to me at the party. She came over to me smiling and held my temples like she was going to read my mind. She said, “Honey… don’t think too much” and smiled wider but with pity in her eyes. Then she danced away into another room. It was as if she didn’t have to work at being comfortable with herself like the rest of us do. As if self-assurance just uncoiled from somewhere in her tummy and warmed her head quiet. Actually, a lot of people seem like that. Anyway another thing that bothers me is you can’t stop thinking too much. Never just like that, anyway, and surely not in the same way that you can stop eating too many iced buns. Minds don’t go blank… Do they? Perhaps one day they’ll invent some kind of neurological slim-fast to help you deal with all the unnecessary mind-fat. That would be nice. I don’t think I’d eat it, though. I want an iced bun.

Dear older self, I realise that it’s a faux pas to talk directly about ideas in writing. You’re supposed to show them. You have to hint and imply them by describing events that happen in reality. If I said to you that I feel sad, that’s insufficient. I’ve got to talk what happened that made me sad, how the sadness is expressed. I’m supposed to couch it in metaphor and tell you all about my deep oceans of alienation and all the rest of it. But I think that metaphor can cloud the world as much as illuminate it. And, you know, I really want to talk directly about ideas. I want to talk about immortality and euthanasia. I want to talk about our tendency to be too anthropomorphic and at the same time subscribe to an entrenched misanthropy, and how it’s silly to hate humans in the abstract because we had no hand in our own creation and we only do what comes naturally to us. I want to talk about how god doesn’t exist. I want to talk about how we all used to be babies and how we have to squeeze each drop of our maturity from experiences, and how these experiences are usually things going wrong. But the trouble with talking directly about your ideas is, people don’t really care very much about each other’s ideas. Most of the time that is. My mum says I have to experience life before my ideas can have validity. My stepdad says if I don’t get my head out of the clouds he’ll drag it out for me. I think he says that because he has had a tough life, and because he is drunk quite often. He’s always asking me when I’ll move out, and why don’t I give him and my mum some fucking space and if I think my thoughts will pay the bills. But this is a letter to myself, and I don’t feel too bad about breaking the rules. By the way, I hope you are still breaking the rules.

Dear older self, Becca sat next to me in maths today. I did the work; of course, I always do the work, but about 98% of my mind was locked tight on the feeling of the smooth, cool skin of her arm brushing against mine. It made me feel a bit light-headed and I don’t quite know why because I’d never thought of her like that, in fact I’d never really thought about her at all before today, but I liked the feeling I must admit. So anyway I went looking for her at lunch and tried to say hi, but she just looked away, as if she was really embarrassed.

Dear older self, maybe we’re all just trying to escape, and leap up out of this grey-faced, messy, baffling planet to some place where strife is foreign, like a chocolate factory.

Dear older self, I sleep walk most nights. I wonder if you still do when you read this. Perhaps you’ll have outgrown it. Probably you will.

Dear older self, my stepfather hit me today. Wake the fuck up, you fucking self–absorbed little CUNT, he said. Wake up, wake up. It was dark outside, and I was about to start writing another letter to you and I heard him pace into the room breathing like a rhinoceros in labour or something, and I thought that was pretty funny so I started laughing. I hear the footsteps stop but the breathing carries on, right, and I just keep laughing, I’m pretty much cracking up, and I hear the breathing stop but I’m still tickled pink by my rhino image and there’s tears rolling down my face where I’m laughing so much, and then he hits me really hard on the side of my head and lifts me off the chair onto the floor, and I sort of still want to laugh, but I feel a bit sick, and so I get up and hobble towards the kitchen to get some water and Becca is in my mind for some reason, wake up Daniel, wake up, wake the fuck up you self absorbed little CUNT, and I just keep walking and then I’m back on the floor and I can’t really move much and there’s blood all over my pyjamas and I think I can hear my mum crying.

Dear older self, I actually don’t much mind hospitals. They’re nice there, and you can just let your mind float out into space a bit.

Dear older self, even though my mum and the doctors say I shouldn’t feel responsible, I think he was sort of right about waking up, and so I’m going to stop writing letters to a hypothetical me that doesn’t even exist yet. (No offence) Living in the clouds is only fun if the ground you stand on is steady. My aunt Julie read that last sentence half an hour ago, and she says I should try writing poems, but I think that she missed the point a bit. I’ve stopped sleep-walking, but my chocolate factory dreams swim through my head at night, more vividly than ever. I haven’t told anyone.