Tuesday, 25 September 2007

nelson mandela dead!

according to george bush. but how did mandela die? illness? old age? well you might think so but you'd be wrong. no, according to bush mandela was killed by saddam hussein, as were all the mandelas. is there no limit to this man's idiocy? what a fecking eejit!

hazlitt and swift

Man is a toad-eating animal. The admiration of power in others is as common to man as the love of it in himself: the one makes him a tyrant, the other a slave.
(Toad eaters and Tyrants)

Now Hakim Bey is okay, interesting, funny but really, just the froth on your coffee. for a proper, make your eyes water then riot in the streets rant, you can't really do better than the great william hazlitt. and you'll quickly realise on even a cursory reading and especially with talk of an election that some things just never change

The Tory is one who is governed by sense and habit alone. He considers not what is possible, but what is real; he gives might the preference over right. He cries long life to the conqueror, and is ever strong upon the stronger side – the side of corruption and prerogative.
(from Introduction to Political Essays, 1817)

But even that pales beside swift's magnificent A Modest Proposal which, nearly three hundred years on has lost none of its satirical force or laugh out loud humour. and then of course there's gulliver's travels.

both are read far too little these days, especially hazlitt, and too many people labour under the notion that gulliver is a kids book. don't shout at the tv - read these guys and discover kindred spirits!

mountain bike speed record

german fellow goes frighteningly fast

(handy if you speak german)

Monday, 24 September 2007

hakim bey

i've been a bit sensitive about the ranting recently. until that is i took a trip down memory lane, back to the clubbing days, for a reread of hakim bey. go on!
this from the information war -

Post-classical science also proposes a set of ideas meant to be applied to the social: Relativity, Quantum "unreality", cybernetics, information theory, etc. With some exceptions, the post-classical tendency is towards ever greater etherealization. Some proponents of Black Hole theory, for example, talk like pure Pauline theologians, while some of the information theorists are beginning to sound like virtual Manichaeans.1 On the level of the social these paradigms give rise to a rhetoric of bodylessness quite worthy of a third century desert monk or a 17th century New England Puritan - but expressed in a language of post-Industrial post-Modern feel-good consumer frenzy. Our every conversation is infected with certain paradigmatic assumptions which are really no more than bald assertions, but which we take for the very fabric or urgrund of Reality itself. For instance, since we now assume that computers represent a real step toward "artificial intelligence", we also assume that buying a computer makes us more intelligent. In my own field I've met dozens of writers who sincerely believe that owning a PC has made them better (not "more efficient", but better) writers. This is amusing - but the same feeling about computers when applied to a trillion dollar military budget, churns out Star Wars, killer robots, etc. (See Manuel de Landa's War in the Age of Intelligent Machines on AI in modern weaponry). An important part of this rhetoric involves the concept of an "information economy". The post-Industrial world is now thought to be giving birth to this new economy. One of the clearest examples of the concept can be found in a recent book by a man who is a Libertarian, the Bishop of a Gnostic Dualist Church in California, and a learned and respected writer for Gnosis magazine:

The industry of the past phase of civilization (sometimes called "low technology") was big industry, and bigness always implies oppressiveness. The new high technology, however, is not big in the same way. While the old technology produced and distributed material resources, the new technology produces and disseminates information. The resources marketed in high technology are less about matter and more about mind. Under the impact of high technology, the world is moving increasingly from a physical economy into what might be called a "metaphysical economy." We are in the process of recognizing that consciousness rather than raw materials or physical resources constitutes wealth.

Modern neo-Gnosticism usually plays down the old Manichaean attack on the body for a gentler greener rhetoric. Bishop Hoeller for instance stresses the importance of ecology and environment (because we don't want to "foul our nest", the Earth) - but in his chapter on Native American spirituality he implies that a cult of the Earth is clearly inferior to the pure Gnostic spirit of bodylessness:

But we must not forget that the nest is not the same as the bird. The exoteric and esoteric traditions declare that earth is not the only home for human beings, that we did not grow like weeds from the soil. While our bodies indeed may have originated on this earth, our inner essence did not. To think otherwise puts us outside of all of the known spiritual traditions and separates us from the wisdom of the seers and sages of every age. Though wise in their own ways, Native Americans have small connection with this rich spiritual heritage.

In such terms, (the body = the "savage"), the Bishop's hatred and disdain for the flesh illuminate every page of his book. In his enthusiasm for a truly religious economy, he forgets that one cannot eat "information". "Real wealth" can never become immaterial until humanity achieves the final etherealization of downloaded consciousness. Information in the form of culture can be called wealth metaphorically because it is useful and desirable - but it can never be wealth in precisely the same basic way that oysters and cream, or wheat and water, are wealth in themselves. Information is always only information about some thing. Like money, information is not the thing itself. Over time we can come to think of money as wealth (as in a delightful Taoist ritual which refers to "Water and Money" as the two most vital principles in the universe), but in truth this is sloppy abstract thinking. It has allowed its focus of attention to wander from the bun to the penny which symbolizes the bun.4 In effect we've had an "information economy" ever since we invented money. But we still haven't learned to digest copper. The Aesopian crudity of these truisms embarrasses me, but I must perforce play the stupid lazy yokel plowing a crooked furrow when all the straight thinkers around me appear to be hallucinating.

Friday, 21 September 2007

Robert Duncan

'Among my friends love is a great sorrow'

Among my friends love is a great sorrow
It has become a daily burden, a feast,
a gluttony for fools, a heart's famine.
We visit one another asking, telling one another.
We do not burn hotly, we question the fire.
we do not fall for ward with our alive
eager faces looking thru the fire.
We stare back into our own faces.
We have become our own realities.
we seek to exhaust our loveliness.

Among my friends love is a painful question.
We seek out among the passing faces
a sphinx-face who will ask its riddle.
Among my friends love is an answer to a question
that has not been askt.
Then ask it.

Among my friends love is a payment.
It is an old debt for a borrowing foolishly spent.

And we go on, borrowing and borrowing
from each other.

among my friends love is a wage
that one might have for an honest living.

Tuesday, 18 September 2007

chocolate as antibiotic

as my lungs stiffen up ready to to remind me that all those years of smoking really do have a consequence i attempt to dodge the inevitable antibiotics and chest infection by trying to eat my weight in the chocolate honeycomb T made last night
i want to be on the bike, i really do, but the temptation to lie on the couch wrapped in a blanket, even though i've just got up, is too much. i am a guilty person

Monday, 17 September 2007

no more belgium?

in the desert that is british journalism the fact that the belgians remain without a government after the last election has passed with less notice than uk troops pulling out of basra. but finally there seems to be some recognition that there exists at least the possibility that flanders might secede
given the country's linguistic and cultural split personality it's perhaps no surprise. will flanders be united with the netherlands. what next for the new wallonia? one might expect that scots might be paying more attention. me, i doubt that more than one in five of us could point to belgium on a map.
never mind i have a story languishing at home which envisions a europe partioned between vlaanderen and greater wallonia. perhaps i should dust it off...

and now GM

and now GM food is back on the agenda.
because it's good for us.
yes, i'll be swallowing that
like a performing seal

Sunday, 16 September 2007

john betjeman

that last post has put me in the mood for this


Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough!
It isn't fit for humans now,
There isn't grass to graze a cow.
Swarm over, Death!

Come, bombs and blow to smithereens
Those air -conditioned, bright canteens,
Tinned fruit, tinned meat, tinned milk, tinned beans,
Tinned minds, tinned breath.

Mess up the mess they call a town-
A house for ninety-seven down
And once a week a half a crown
For twenty years.

And get that man with double chin
Who'll always cheat and always win,
Who washes his repulsive skin
In women's tears:

And smash his desk of polished oak
And smash his hands so used to stroke
And stop his boring dirty joke
And make him yell.

But spare the bald young clerks who add
The profits of the stinking cad;
It's not their fault that they are mad,
They've tasted Hell.

It's not their fault they do not know
The birdsong from the radio,
It's not their fault they often go
To Maidenhead

And talk of sport and makes of cars
In various bogus-Tudor bars
And daren't look up and see the stars
But belch instead.

In labour-saving homes, with care
Their wives frizz out peroxide hair
And dry it in synthetic air
And paint their nails.

Come, friendly bombs and fall on Slough
To get it ready for the plough.
The cabbages are coming now;
The earth exhales.

Set-aside set aside?

in the wake of mumping about the price of pasta no surprise to discover that the EU proposes to do away with its set-aside legislation on the grounds that with the rising price of wheat we need to get more land back into production. all of which is very fine except that the driver for this move is of course the opening up of land to offsert that which is being used for biofuels. aside from any discussion on the efficacy of biofuels it seems strangely ironic that a law which provides for biodiversity and the environment should be revoked in order to promote production of biofuel

as an aside it would be great if in this country (was i affected by swedish public transport? oh yes!) a public transport system that would lessen our requirement on either biofuels or the internal combustion engine. after my recent cycling to the atlantic escapade T expressed a wish to maybe do the route by train and meet me at the other end, until that is, aside from price, we realised that i can cycle the 90 miles almost as quick as it takes the train! and there's only two trains a day! and this is assuming i can even get my bike on the train in the first place! the scottish executive would do well to address such an issue.

philip larkin

and that last post make me think of

At Grass

The eye can hardly pick them out
From the cold shade they shelter in,
Till wind distresses tail and mane;
Then one crops grass, and moves about
- The other seeming to look on -
And stands anonymous again

Yet fifteen years ago, perhaps
Two dozen distances sufficed
To fable them : faint afternoons
Of Cups and Stakes and Handicaps,
Whereby their names were artificed
To inlay faded, classic Junes -

Silks at the start : against the sky
Numbers and parasols : outside,
Squadrons of empty cars, and heat,
And littered grass : then the long cry
Hanging unhushed till it subside
To stop-press columns on the street.

Do memories plague their ears like flies?
They shake their heads. Dusk brims the shadows.
Summer by summer all stole away,
The starting-gates, the crowd and cries -
All but the unmolesting meadows.
Almanacked, their names live; they

Have slipped their names, and stand at ease,
Or gallop for what must be joy,
And not a fieldglass sees them home,
Or curious stop-watch prophesies :
Only the grooms, and the groom's boy,
With bridles in the evening come.

Saturday, 15 September 2007

jules supervielle

Homage to Life

It’s good to have chosen
A living home
And housed time
In a ceaseless heart
And seen my hands
Alight on the world,
As on an apple
In a little garden,
To have loved the earth,
The moon and the sun
Like old friends
Who have no equals,
And to have committed
The world to memory
Like a bright horseman
To his black steed,
To have given a face
To these words — woman, children,
And to have been a shore
For the wandering continents
And to have come upon the soul
With tiny strokes of the oars,
For it is scared away
By a brusque approach.
It is beautiful to have known
The shade under the leaves,
And to have felt age
Creep over the naked body,
And have accompanied pain
Of black blood in our veins,
And gilded its silence
With the star, Patience,
And to have all these words
Moving around in the head,
To choose the least beautiful of them
And let them have a ball,
To have felt life,
Hurried and ill loved,
And locked it up
In this poetry.

trans Kenneth Rexroth

O.V. de L Milosz

excerpt from - l' étrangère

You know nothing of your past. You have dreamed it,
Yes most assuredly dreamed it.
I see your face in the rain's gray brilliance.
November shrouds the landscape and my life.
And your life I know nothing of, nor do I wish to.

Your eyes murmur of remote cities, hazy -
I shall never see them
Or hear their names in your own voice.
November comes over me, and across the plain.
I watch you, unrecognized, drift this side of formerly...

From your eyes I salvage what is real in dreams,
Dreamed, all of them, in the gone time
And visions blossoming in vivid sun.
One might say the eternal comes full circle
In this twilight poisoned with rain.

ian brown

it's a strange thing as you get older you find that certain things make you grumpier (see previous post), you shout more at the TV (it listens, no really it does). all too often though the grumpiness becomes mere bitterness and while i love a good bit of comedy grumpiness bitterness and negativity is something i just can't be doing with. as such i'd assumed myself pretty much in the company of one as an idealistically grumpy curmudgeon. it could be a generational thing but imagine my surprise to find views expressed by original baggy manc ian brown sounding only too like mine. oh dear....

Foreign policy

Lambs On The Pentagon Roof "America won't accept that there is global warming. It's not good enough. We can't all perish because of their blindness. We need to ban all air freighted food. Carrots from Holland. Potatoes from Egypt. It's got to stop. Lamb from NZ. Let's get lambs grazing on the roof of the Pentagon or on the lawn of Buckingham Palace.

Permacultures - where you use the immediate environment to grow food - should be mandatory.

We should be growing carrots up the side of the Empire State Building or Big Ben. Round my house I pull the kids off Xbox and make them dig soil in the garden. We grow parsnips, carrots and potatoes. I like to see 'em grafting. They appreciate the taste."

All Cars To Be Filled With Shit

"It makes me angry that they've been able to build cars fuelled by corn oil or chicken shit for years. But the oil companies won't allow it. Same with tyres and light bulbs: everlasting versions of these were invented years ago. The big corporations bought the inventors off . We're all going to perish because of their greed. The chicken shit-powered car will only do 60mph but so what? Leave your house a bit earlier."

Restraining Orders For Pink Floyd, Bono And Geldof

"I get angry about how African kids have to live. I thought the G8 Summit at Gleneagles in 2005 was a real missed opportunity. I applaud how Brown and Blair tried to put it at the top of the agenda. I didn't like the way Bono and Geldof hijacked the G8 Summit demo with their pop concert. The only result was Pink Floyd sold a few more million albums.
People have to realise you don't help African children singing along to 60-year-old men playing their tunes from 40 years ago. It was like 1750 all over again: we are the great white do-gooders. If there is another G8 meeting then there should be a court order banning Pink Floyd or Geldof or Bono from leaving their houses until it's over."

Send JCBs To The Vatican

"The Nazis looted gold from Spain and Portugal. Then when Mussolini took over Italy he stored all the gold in the Vatican. After the war the Catholics let the Nazis escape to South America dressed as priests on jets. The Nazis were religious nutcases who thought they were mentioned in the Bible as saviours of the world. Hitler converted to Catholicism just before he died.
Let's dig up the Vatican cellar and get the gold and the treasures and use them. They stole them. Let's steal them back."

Melt Down The Space Shuttle To Feed Farmers

"We've got to stop kids thinking of Space exploration and astronauts as a fun and glamorous thing. Nasa is an arm of the US military. The International Space Station is a military undertaking. We need to melt down the rockets. We've got to divert the money to the poor. The rural poor in this country are overlooked. The country mouse - he needs feeding."

Recruit A Panel Of Dolphins For Crisis Planning

"Here we are with the polar ice cap melting due to global warming. Everyone wondering how the humans are going to survive. Well, we could do well to consult the animal world for clues. Dolphins used to walk on the land because they have warm blood. Also, they have the same bone structure in their flippers as humans have in their hands. Something made him go back to the sea - Now what was it? A lack of food or a terrifying predator on the land? If we could get some answers from dolphins then we'd have a fair idea of what to do next ourselves."

Domestic policy

Taliban Patrols Of UK High Streets

"The Taliban are demented right? But they did have TWO good ideas. No booze. No gambling.
I thought the news footage of them running over bottles of whisky and brandy with tanks was brilliant. In our society liquor companies run the world - they ruin lives and make high streets no-go areas on a Saturday night.
Also casinos. I've got a friend who went on the internet gambling and he lost his house. His kids went to bed - and by morning he'd lost the house on online poker. It's evil. They're building a super-casino in Salford which has got enough problems already. Gambling is all based on 666 which is the number of the beast."

Bring Back The Hoodie

"This is what I'm saying on the track Me And You Forever. Teenagers are being demonised for wearing hoodies. I've got a 15-year-old son and he can't walk with his two mates through the Trafford Centre in Manchester. What's that all about? The hoodie happens to be the perfect piece of clothing for up north. It gets flippin' cold in Manchester. My dad wears a hoodie and he's 72! The hoodie is one of the best and most useful items of clothing ever invented and it's attacking northerners, anyone who is genuinely cold, to ban them."

Starter Homes In The Grounds Of Balmoral

"It pisses me off when I see pictures off the Queen or that Duke husband at Balmoral or Sandringham or wherever. I don't look at them, I look at their surroundings. All those little salmon rivers, beautiful creeks and beaches that they've stolen from us a thousand years ago. Let's have them back. Gordon Brown says he wants to build three million new homes then that's where we should build them. How many homes could you build on Balmoral? Loads.

Wembley Arena Designated A Cathedral

"There are some beautiful Bible stories - it's just that in UK schools the teaching bores you stupid. The feeding of the 5000 isn't meant to be taken literally. Jesus spoke to the people and that fed their spirit - that's your two fish. Then he spoke some more - that fed their souls. That was the loaves. Then his posse went among them and the baskets were overflowing - that was the vibe in the air. That was the energy, the feeling. No, I don't have a Messiah complex but I think music is the nearest thing to achieving Christian ends. It unifies people and sustains them. It uplifts them and makes them closer to love. You get a great gig at Wembley or somewhere and that is modern Christianity in action."

Citizenship: Accent Tests For All

"It annoys me that everyone in this country under 18 wants to talk like Ali G. What happened to REAL accents? We need authentic accents from where people are from. You shouldn't be allowed to talk like someone off the TV or off a rap record that you heard. It's fake."

Bring Back Boredom

"My kids laugh at me when I tell them about life when I was 14. They say "Go on dad, tell us again". There was no Walkmans, videos, Nintendo or Xboxes, no internet, no mobiles. No computers. No DVDs. There were only three TV channels. They cry laughing. But it made us hungry and thoughtful. And we had great things like the Sex Pistols.
We're breeding a generation who won't invent anything. They've got everything. They're stimulated all day and they're never bored. I think there should be an hour of total boredom every day for all kids."

from The Guardian

Friday, 14 September 2007

the price of pasta

i find myself getting unaccountably grumpy on account of recent reports re the rising cost of pasta. meat and fish will doubtless be doing the same, esp in light of foot and mouth appearing here again in the case of the former, and because there aren't any left in the caseof the latter. i don't much care in either case as meat eaters should think more and consume less, if any. not that these are the disenchanted words of a vegetarian, tho respect and welfare for animals is high on my agenda, more a railing against gluttony.
but the pasta. it appears that there's insufficient durum wheat on the grounds the ground has been turned over for the production of biofuel. now if those biofuels were there for those plastics etc that we all so really love and need then fair enough but i strongly suspect that they'll be used to power the cars of those rich enough to afford it and act as a sop to their 'environmental' consciences. naturally it'll be those in the lower income range (traditionally - the poor) who will suffer most as a result
it's a long, long time since i cared much about politics but actions like this, which take the food out of the mouths of 'the people' (where ever they are, not just italy) to carry on an unsustainable lifestyle are just plain wrong

Tuesday, 11 September 2007


not long before the swedish excursion T was asking me about the attraction of kite flying. perhaps because for T it's less exciting than felting! true, there is an excitement about getting dragged along on my board and there's always that will i/won't i fear of falling but on this occasion, and i guess partly because i'm supposed to be painting a picture for my sister that deals in some way with air, i spoke about it in terms in having a conversation with the atmosphere, feel the winds, the texture of the air. of course,in recollection, bachelard, as so often these days comes to mind and i realise that in the description i'm immediately in the realm of metaphor and that a kite on a beach in scotland steeps me in coastal poetics (kenneth white'd be proud!), these thin lines connecting me to the experience like language, anchors into that particular moment.

i'm thinking about this on the plane home. out the window we're looking, the sun's going down, the lakes are reflected way below. we see the curvature of the earth. or do we? how do we know it's curved? at an intellectual level at the very least i can 'see'/prove the curvature of the earth but here, thousands of feet up, marked by the linearity of the aircraft's wing this curve is more poetic than mathematic. would, i wonder, a person from the days of flat earth, see the curve if in a similar position, or would it be just the horizon, the end of the world?

which gets me to thinking about the pilots, who must see this sort of thing day in and day out. what do they think these people? do they take time to notice? or, as is probably more likely, are they mired in routine, to timetables, or like the cabin crew obligated only to see to the needs of the passengers crowded into their seats like cattle? from my own limited experience of pilots i fear it's probably so, or even that their language may be so rigid so locked into their behaviour hat they're unable to express what they see outside of their own discourse group. the only fictional account of flying that seemed to avoid this (aside from the odd moment in the seemingly bottomless pit of military books) is daniele del giudice's Take-Off which, while acknowledging the language of the aircraft, at the same time lifts (sic) it into the area of the human

anyway, i still have just over 24 hours before a return to work so i'm off to the beach (and alasdair reid territory) to fly my kite. naturally, given the thrawn nature of the scottish weather and my wind battered cycle of yesterday, it's only to be expected that today there's hardly a breath