THE SOUNDTRACK- ENABLERS: NO, NOT GENTLY
I intend for this to be shorter than usual, if only because my time is precious and I don't have much of it (well, I didn't when I started writing this - things can change a lot in a few days) . Needless to say, the current climate is one which cannot succour a music venue for very long. However, I hope I've expressed adequately in previous posts, that the building is quite unimportant, that the temple to song is contained within each of us and must be re-consecrated when required. So far so good.
When I say 'within', I don't mean in some ephemeral sense, but in the blood, bone and connective tissue that form our bodies. We are, in a very real way, the dance and the dancer. When we are denied the right to movement, then we find our souls diminishing alongside our bodies. The natural state of things is to be in constant motion - this can also manifest in sound emanating from the viscera that constitutes the body. The drunken jig, the raucous song spilling over the tap room.
This slowing and silencing, is the worst aspect of our current crisis and requires addressing - it is no less important than any other aspect of our health, serving to form the topography of our vitality. It's about aligning ourselves properly in time, with a line of being that results in happy consequence,
I write because to write is a form of movement - and it requires real effort on my part. Certainly far more effort than the stories I would write as a child. The ideas seemed to flow freely then - I pictured epics with ease and although they rarely went beyond four pages of A4, there was great joy to be had in their creation. In writing, I see the Grail of childhood whimsy - it's about recreating that state, that place where all things were possible and no idea was considered weak. Indeed, the idea itself was never very important, very much less so than the fuel in the engine of it's motion, or perhaps than the invigorated container that enlivened anything that it held.
Yes, writing is about movement: both spatial motion (as my fingers trace patterns across the keys) and perhaps more importantly, temporal motion. The machinery of typing is as a time machine that has me gliding swiftly across epochs. Physical motion is also connected intimately with time. Time sung passes quickly, time danced is passed in the blink of an eye. This unlived time, is anything but - though we often ask ourselves 'where has the time gone' - what is encountered, is in fact the union with all time, the natural state of experience - all moments united and simultaneous. Funnily enough, this rapid movement, which is experienced as 'no movement' is intimately associated with the ecstatic state.This is no accident.
A collision of moments leading towards singularity - if you're given towards the creative act, then this will seem a familiar concept - is the best way I can think of expressing what I'm reaching for. I believe that this engagement with true time and motion, which is life, is the reason why we need to participate, rather than spectate. Or, as Killing Joke's Jaz Coleman put it: "dodge the bullets or carry the gun, the choice is yours".
There is no requirement, in particular, for quality. True enough, if the interior world of the artist is weird enough, or unique enough, then it will attract attention - to the degree permitted by the culture within which it manifests itself. But art made on it's own terms, as movement interfacing with the 'timeless event', is the solution to one particular puzzle of being - what is time well spent? By this logic, it might seem that I would be as well served typing 'all work and no play, makes Jack a dull boy' over and over - and in a sense, this might lead to the ecstatic experience. But we only know art, if it seems like art to us. And it need ONLY be art to us, and seem like it fits the bill, in order to tap into that novel and unified dimension.
I can think of a variety of ways that this might play out in a performance venue that must close at 10 pm, that is not permitted to hold the musical revels by which it claims meaning and relevance. Bar games of ever increasing complexity. Chinese whispers, notes spread via table service. Parcels of information given with drinks which might contain hidden challenges or even violations of the law or appeals to the forbidden carnal. I speak theoretically of course - much of the appeal lies within the forbidden potentiality of play, if not it's fullest rendering (which might spell disaster for all involved).
A couple of days ago, my partner and I, made our way up to Thirteen Stones Hill in Lancashire. Following a somewhat time strapped ascent, we were confronted by a plateau of unremitting bleakness and not a single stone standing to be found. This was of some concern, since, according to the Modern Antiquarian, there was in all supposition, a single erect stone remaining (though it's suspected that it might have been re-established in a recent, guilty century). There was no such stone to be found - though we did note a somewhat perturbing scar in the hillside, revealing suspiciously fresh looking black earth beneath. I double checked my OS co-ordinates and was was forced to accept (with no small amount of dismay), that the stone was gone or hidden. Furthermore, the sun was swift slipping behind the hillside and if we did not leave with urgency, there was a disconcertingly legitimate chance of being caught in the high dark.
We made it back safely enough, but the glory of the Thirteen Stones can now only stand in the autonomous, art zone I am driven enough to establish for it. This blog is perhaps, not the place for that - I hope to bring that particular tree to fruition elsewhere. But I do think there is something to be learned from the experience - something very real, though it might be perceived only as a rainbow (though no less real for that). Manchester is a desecrated sacred site. To be sure, the process of profaning this special town, had begun many years ago. I don't need to make an arduous list of 'what we have lost' and 'what we have replaced'... Hacienda club for Hacienda apartments for example...or even more egregiously offensive substitutions such as Jilly's Rockworld for TESCO... the evidence is felt as an open wound in the psyche of any that have grown to adulthood in the city in the past 30 years. On the nose, so to speak.
But I can speak to the process of healing - nothing less than the piloting of time machines to treasured pasts and hitherto unthought of Utopian futures, with the simple mission command of 'Bring Back The Mother Lode'. Through our art, each and everyone of us, can participate in the creation of an illuminated and indestructible Manchester. One red brick at a time, if necessary. Not only is this possible, but it is our heavy obligation. Legions of the dead await resurrection via our arts. And not faceless ranks of spectres, but our ancestors, the very reason we stand here. Before them, temples must be raised, bridges built to span rivers we imagined uncrossable, labyrinths carved out of the collective bedrock, the cities fitfully dreaming unconscious.
This hearkens back to earlier posts I made regarding the telling of our stories and the rediscovery of our myths. It's the same continuum of thinking and it must not be silenced by the perceived necessities of our current age. Rethink and retrain? For sure. But not in the sterile cyber fantasies of the Ministry Of Information. Instead, artists of all disciplines and those that have formerly considered themselves but spectators, fans or appreciators - must learn how to be conscious with their work. To deliver upon the delicious promise of a new reality which, only at this terrible moment - finally permits itself to be glimpsed, heard or touched.
At any rate, we're closed again, so this is the ideal opportunity to test your time machine and visit The Peer Hat in all it's astral glory. I daresay, that you'll be quite surprised by who and what you meet. Of course, there's no reason to limit yourself to all too recent golden daze. The bio-political war being fought at this very moment, is begging for you to detach from blind obedience and inhabit it's fault lines as fully as you are able. Flex your imagination - if this thing is legit, then it can take the strain. Our stories, by utter necessity, must belong to us. We will never write them from the comfort of dread or from the fragile security that comes with compliance.
I hope to write here again soon, we have a strong plan for a performance season, so watch this space (custom built and cyber punk). Also we'll finally stick out that second album (we promise). The time is there to do all these things...and with that time, the repetition of the basic lesson - to breathe. The difference now, is that we must breathe into our actions. Though the first lock down and the constant existential threat directed at the things we love, served to rob many, myself included, of artistic inspiration, the luxury of stillness is no longer ours. Take a long look at the way things are. You know what you have to do.
What's Going On?
It's been a while since anybody has sent me anything. That's not to say that things haven't been taking place, because they have. Only, people's actions have become more personal, more private. I think I mentioned last time how the Lock-Down Album quickly became a somewhat derided form - and one that crucially, feeds upon it's own tail. Whilst being no time for escapism, the sense of reproducing one's own misery and isolation for the entertainment of others, has perhaps been stretched to it's logical limit. The dissociation of the ZOOM performance also leaps to mind -a sense of what we have lost and a sense that we might be giving fuel to the notion that this kind of digital simulacra, is any kind of substitute for what we are currently without - namely, the viscera of the live show.
Of course, this represents a very narrow analysis, there are ways of surfing this crisis. This is a time for film and radio - for the pirate broadcast and the video nasty...for the furtive narrative played out in chat room links to mysterious and revolutionary art. It cannot be any other way - for art to do anything less than devour this moment, is for art to become irrelevant. The shapes it must take, are the dragons which swallow suns, the beasts that come in roaring from the desert, the unthinkable abominations that rise dreadful from the watery aeons.
What a triumph this podcast series has been, an audio autobiography that manages to capture the dizzy motion of one man's journey through the rites of life - whilst also serving to elucidate the sorrow of change and the human will to persevere, to see something worthwhile emerge from the ashes. If you haven't checked out Ian Moss' story yet, please waste no further time and plunge right in. The latest episode can be found below:
It's going to be an indeterminate amount of time, before we are allowed to see each other again. How we deal with this, each of us, is a challenge that may seem immeasurable or trivial, depending upon a great many factors. For now, do understand, that if any of you need to talk, conspire or be talked to, we at The Peer Hat will be on the other end of an email. If there's anything at all you need to tell us, don't hesitate. We have a long and difficult Winter ahead - months after this era defining occurrence first began, we remain caught in the slip stream of it's passage. But our commitment to the survival of our community remains, unbowed and relentless.
One day soon, much sooner than the jailers imagine - the stars will be right.
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