Nodalities: Gaika, ‘Basic Volume’

Gaika’s first LP proper Basic Volume (Warp Records) enters the continuum of the ghostly matter that we call musical (sub)culture at the cusp between aesthetics and politics. There’s a feeling of Gaika as a nodal point triangulating a problem of the contemporary. This LP is part of that emerging aesthetic project the groundwork of which has been in motion for some time now.

 

This idea of time is central, with futurist dystopia inscribed into London territory as if the antagonism of urban life produces this out-of-jointness in temporality itself. A gothic time. Gaika’s resonance, and ability to tune into and amplify this warped sensibility is exemplified in his cross-referential musicality, playing through British-Caribbean soundsystem culture and industrial electronics. There’s a crispness in production, with the likes of SOPHIE and Jam City contributing, which is part of a configuration of contemporaneity that is embedded across the tracklist bringing a particular intensity and density. This intensity, in typical gothic fashion, forms an affective atmosphere of impending violence. A colonial trauma bringing forward the proximity of a third world landscape, reinscribing a race-class analysis that connects the global south with antagonisms in Britain. This seems to be working against current ideas of race and identity which are increasingly defined by ones proximity to Britishness and normative conceptions of identity.

 

The aesthetic work put-in runs along the icy lines of embodiment and disembodiment. A bounded embodiment is shown throughout his live performance, visual focus on the body/face and interest in fashion, something he’s followed through with his fashion label Armour in Heaven. This textilic and tactile materiality is set against a disembodiment engendered through the overproduction of voice in his music. This voice triggers a sense of history, historicity even, like channeling a ghostly transmission of The Spaceape’s poetics of force. There is religiosity at play. The dedication to the memory of Gaika’s father furthers this idea of history and dis/embodiment. His announcement note reading: ‘We live in turbulent times. I hope this work inspires those in search of a better world. This is dedicated to my Father. Dad, I put the reggae song on’.

 

 

 

The force of history Gaika is channeling a reinscription produced through the aesthetic labour that undergirds and maps the Gaika project. The question in contention would remain in how this aesthetic critique can reproduce and manifest a socio-political prospering within – or after – the degeneration of an urban masculinity endemic in ‘immigrant sons’. Or put another way is there a critical transformation of social form at play here amidst the aesthetics of desolation. 

 

 

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Notes on Lotic, ‘Power’

For my first blog post proper I’m posting a few quick notes on Lotic’s new album Power. This may be the start of a series of shorter reviews/sketches/notes. Let’s see. 

Following Lotic’s work you’re struck by the movement of desire, and the uncoercive rearrangement thereof (Spivak, 2012); in a permeable drive entangled with identity, though not reducible to it. Angular, disjointed, their latest offering Power certainly continues in their strain of electronic music, though there is a softer vulnerability elicited in the opener ‘Love and Light’.

Lotic’s entry of their voice lends itself to a greater intensity of violence and vulnerability, something which Arca has also been developing in parallel. ‘Hunted’ in its whispering undertone, ‘Heart’ wispy and bare, ‘Nerve’ willful. The voice adds to this stillness and knowingness played through in the instrumental title track ‘Power’, a kind of out-of-placeness pre-loaded breaking-down in ‘The Warp and the Weft’. An instrumentalisation of the reanimated ‘phantom limb’, as writer Wilson Harris has formulated.

And yet Power enters an architectural metaphorical spacing that inhabits Lotic’s interplay between audio mix, club performance and track-driven timing. This contributes to an aesthetic environment overlaid between the cinematic and visceral. The overlaying I understand as a kind of response and refraction of the overdetermination of space and time of the contemporary. While this is clearly in conflict with racialisation and gendering, the affective drive found, for instance, in the crackled horns ‘Resilience’ generates this aesthetic mapping of desire for something like freedom, or just the inhabitation of space itself.

This resonates with the haunted motion of closer ‘Solace’, the closing of work-done. Its signifying-power epitomised in the double-image of the cover portrait. The double-play of visage/image eliciting a synaesthetic ‘phonic materiality’ (Fred Moten, 2003), a stylisation of form overlaying the movement of desire.

Image result for lotic powerImage result for lotic power

References:

Moten, Fred, ‘Resistance of the Object: Aunt Hester’s Scream’, In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press, 2003)

Spivak, Gayatri Chakravorty, ‘Introduction’, An Aesthetic Education in the Age of Education (Harvard UP, 2012)

 

scattered reports on black art and iconographs

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (15/1/2018)

 

A disjunctive genealogy, some conjectures into the state of things. Reinscribed remembrances, no flag-waving exercises though.

I retro sweeps

A couple of retro sweeps swaying in the winds. Soul of A Nation a big-hitter. Abstraction, multimedia, sculpture, traced out through geographical scenes. Tate’s white walls. Industrial history.

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Romare Bearden Pittsburgh Memory 1964

Basquiat capturing all. Textures doubling, social immanence, colours the street onto canvas, the musicality seeping out reifying scenes of NY institutionality. The prehistory of/in the canvas. Never trust the sovereign [curator].

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Basquiat, Untitled 1982

II Established abstraction to film to planetary / multimedia narration

Established abstraction played out with black Atlantan Frank Bowling, from Soul to a solo London Fishes, Wishes in Summer Blue (companion-NY-exhibition-took-place-simultaneous [Metropolitanblooms]). landscaped visions against shoreditch facades. And in that visionary planetarity a prefiguring already in that prehistoric predicament – the colour before / facing /

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Frank Bowling

Akomfrah purple vigenettes shades of

                                      Jarman blue screen multi-channeled

                                                             Industrialised reproduction / dystopic worldings

 

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Akomfrah, Purple

 

Keith Piper’s encoded research

Video variants on cultural critique                                        — xx

 

 

                                               Arthur Jafa snippets archived network                                                                                                                                                                   (‘Love is the message and the message is death’)                                                                                Digital interfaces textilic arrangement                                                                                    

                                                Embodiment cut and undercut notorious and harlem                                      Sages gurus sants auric tremblings avatar-ic historicity

                                              Cut along the strand, desertions beached                                                                                                                                                

                                                                                                           (‘Everything at once’ was said)

 

III Future [transmedia]

Hannah Black’s ‘situation’

                                    //Shredded sociality [‘Some Context’]

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Kudzanai- Violet Hwami – fine art played through the digital
Processed — reprocessed  
                   montage layed over
                                          emphasised embodiment                       social image ~~~ reinscribed           

                                   figuration on the white wall / baker street shopping bustle coffee cups

 

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Kudzanai-Violet Hwami 2017

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IV Iconographs

Elysia Crampton
Aymara desedimentations
Lectured rhythms cut-and-paste

Specified matrilineal flowed out
transmedia
Iconographic pre-histories

 

Dadi – repository
Icons and images strewn and collected
A deep-set aleatory archetype
                             //animating animinsm
crumbling visages deft tales in hanuman’s grasp

                                   //A [pre]-historical glimpse colouring the dormant
                                   scattering scalability
                                   transference inferred ~~

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Photos by Anuka Ramischwili-Schafer and myself

Making History/histories-being-made: Mourinho – Ronaldo – Príncipe Discos

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (12/9/2016)

[Note: Three pieces accumulated with an imperial thread: Jose Mourinho’s dramatics, Cristiano Ronaldo’s glory, Lisbon record label Príncipe Discos’ differed modulations]

I

The contingent played out, playing on. Jose Mourinho an icon at the end of history – the ‘special one’ and his latent (post)modernist ideas of the Chelsea family – corporatism borne from the impasses of a Portuguese modernist modulation. Mourinho descended from the social base of a fascism nonetheless. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves

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Where does a story begin? Was it when Roman was flying on helicopter enamoured with Stamford Bridge, White Hart Lane forgone? Was it Monaco and Hugo Ibarra’s fucking hand

Ranieri Zola Hasselbaink Desailly out / Drogba Robben Carvalho Mourinho in?

Was it 1992 and the establishment of the Premiership?
Finance rolling in, New Labour fulfilling the Thatcherite dream. Maybe it was Ken Bates and his electric fence – headhunters spectralised.

And its these hauntings, the speckled of the violence at the beginning, the irretrievable violence of the forming of our financialised, hyper-circulated sociality. The violence of inauguration and through those silent species: Chelsea ‘has no history’. West Ham the flip-side; honest working club. Honest local boy Frankie Lampard Jr. corrupted by Tory blue finance-rich Chelsea, right? (We’ll see what Stratford’s gotta say about that, haunted by Anish Kapoor’s towering inadequity).


But that’s Roman’s Empire. Success without history, without narration. Within Post-Soviet space ‘cosmopolitan’ capital deterritorialising (Usmanov, Ivanishvili, Venky’s, Singha etc.)– we’ve got the best league in the world for a reason – commodification of diversity. But commodities can speak, labour speaks, plays. Week-in-week-out.
And our passions toll to the rhythm, transgressing the simplicities of ‘pure ideology’. Within, against, and out. Escape.

Desire, instinct, skill, power, communication, tactics, strategy, style, passion

Critical theory never knew a better partner

Its acceleration, intensity, sublime temporalised into 90 minutes along green territorialising topographies. The club as kin(g) rings true. Unsovereign, subcultural, subaltern, fascist. Mass a difficult bunch, dirty, infectious, splitting ends.
And it all ends in Munich, with Di Mateo’s beaming face and Drogba’s verbose performance, speaking in, through, and out. Riefenstahl move aside. History being made. Through the codification of a trophy won, social life as irreducibility bubbles below. Cos its all about Chelsea being racist actually. Tired attempts to narrativise phenomena beyond the grasp of ‘think-pieces’ and sardonic cultural criticism, circulation and recirculation making – breaking – as raw desire is translated to public interest. But commodities can play.

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Subterranean myths bearing out through chants, sedimented in re-presentations. Far beyond chronologies and public uses of finger-pointing ‘racist’ ‘sexist’. Reasoned arrogance, step aside bitte. History made and made again, produced and reproduced and failed subjects, failing at coherence, failing at politics, failing at becoming failing at codifying experience ‘speak for a moment’, circulating irreducible social forms beneath the market. Re-circulation as revolution. (Hobbes) Retrograde Copernicanism, Cruyffian totalities.
Total football, total late capital, total topographies disseminating the spirit
Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled. Football as total contingency, determined continually to lose, post-war English through and through. And its Mourinho and Franco’s Furio, Van Gaal usurped, Guardiola in the wings, Wengerian banality

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II
Myths of Zidane, the Kabyle,  Sufi away from (ab)original, badawi
Mourinho, the Fascist and the Late Capitalist

We all start somewhere: Sat immersed in settee, spit flying HD. Zinedine’s sinews stretched, A 21st Century Portrait, its glossy animation of limbs articulated, wings jerking against Kantian clippings, imagining bodies beyond rusting imperial metropoles and their hematological-surplus, indebted the bare play, lifeblood and labour selling but not with full intent, inscriptions on the walls, piss dribbling, quotidian droll, and its footie! But the bits aint for show. Immediates ungraspable.

 

III


The myths run on.
The Portuguese did it.
The Africans it were,
diasporic warriors of a yester-
year you might say.
The French did it before of course,
Arabs and Africans,
this time round not quite.

And it was Cristiano Ronaldo’s show,
his eventual absence
spiriting the scuffling climax.
Traces of Cape Verde through
Madeira culturally trading-up with the black-
hybrids, postcolonials of another vanished era
Angola Mozambique Guinea-Buissau Sao Tome
and Principe peppered along
Ronaldo’s rippling body
stretching into moulding sovereignties,
Renato Sanches William Carvalho
Nani Ricardo Quaresma Pepe
Eliseu Joao Mario Danilo Eder, The Empire Strikes Back…

gilroy

 

What does this kind of juxtaposition in motion really inscribe,
where do we locate the bodily indulgence,
the passion of decomposition,
the beautiful game turned into the dirty great game
Ronaldo as world-historical icon
We were black radicals once, original hybrids
Originary facticity, literary utopia an image escaping away
IV

jose_mourinho2_1626709cCFT164 00797 001_59726457_por_salazar_reviews_troops_jose5leniriefenstahltriumphofthewill
So what does it mean when Jose Mourinho once grandly declared: ‘We are the Portuguese community’, the dark heart of the Thames spilling sweat. Louis XIV, of course, said about the same. Corporatist to the bone, his wife a Portuguese settler in Angola fled to acceleratingly-capitalist West London. Love/Hate don’t seem to do it justice. Neither does political denouncements. The invisibility of market rationale, or should we say Abramovich, Buck, Arsenon, Zahavi’s web of intransigence marking a juncture of sorts. Social life irreducible, right? What does that mean for Post-Communist stalwart Roman and Post-Fascist tactician Mourinho.

“Post-colonial Ronaldo”? Perhaps
V

stamps_of_germany_ddr_1978_minr_2293


And somewhere below the sovereign, a dancefloor.

“As to strategy, we learned in the struggle; some people think that we adopted a foreign method, or something like this. Our principle is that each people have to create its own struggle. Naturally, we have something to learn from the experience that can be adapted to the real situation of the country. But we bettered our struggle in the culture of our people, in the realities of our country, historical, economical, cultural, etc, and we developed the struggle, supported by our people which is the first and main condition: the support of the people.”

Amílcar Cabral
Principe Discos, a label, a movement slowly emerging out of Lisbon’s African estates, fast heady fizzing meditative abstracting black atlantic sound – Zouk Kizomba Kuduro RnB house all mediated against the background of culturalising global capital, a little enclave an overview could never do justice – in some of their own words:
“PRÍNCIPE is a record label based in Lisbon, Portugal.
It is fully dedicated to releasing 100% real contemporary dance music coming out of this city, its suburbs, projects & slums. New sounds, forms and structures with their own set of poetics and cultural identity.”

 

VI
So into the industrial beast we go, up into personified grief, Mancunian malcontents marauding – Pep and Jose. Managers and philosophers. Commodities and culture. The cotton millers residually dominant, virtually total. Cutting both ways, and cutting something out. The myths of victory archaic and the future critically written out the mouths of serious veritable football journos. Europe splintering, capital gesturing the siege. The siege of Lisbon as the siege in viewership, pubs all round, the siege slipping out, possible passions and critical intent.

Gods walk this earth, and they lose.

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220px-kali_by_raja_ravi_varma

 

VII [adze]
there is the fullness of ronaldo’s body and your disparate, ‘peppering’ words… maybe i am looking for more body? but maybe wanting to look for that body — a gathering up of ronaldo’s HD bodybuilding montage adverts — maybe that wanting is the space emanating from your writing (on page 2)

like, i almost want it to start with page 5 (/but commodities can play/, Recurrence as spectres return, spirit reassembled (beautiful!!)) and reorder the text… but surely i am wrong

general vibe:

a peppering of families, splintered into muscular separate bodies, shot down by bullets of dollar bills, strewn across a burning football pitch that is europe: resembling plastic bags billowing across the astroturf— is it a ball or is it rubbish, it is maurinho’s head, can you feel the beating of Roman’s helicopter, the beating around and out that is principe?

❤ ❤ beautiful.

 

VIII [disorient]

its always difficult to comment critically – maybe for the end you need to go to Lisbon in more depth – your journey, experience of the music, the dancefloor/club, –the empire striking back on Mourino’s homeland etc… Mourino going north of england — to the heart of the industrial empire — not sure — Portugal the in/out/ of europe, the place where is it all really comes home, on the edge, multiculture— no future of capital etc…capital to a different history, an outside inside europe…. just thinking aloud…. i think only needs a couple of more paras…

Hate T20

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (12/4/2016)

Gotta admit it, I dislike T20. In fact I kinda hate it.
Hate’s a strong word. But it holds a certain ambivalence,
it acknowledges the infectious,
it forms the conditions for particular articulation of the present-indefinite
– through negation
what-have-you.

Of course some gripes with T20 and its globalising corporate agenda has been attended to on this zine before, quote:

“But since the decline of West Indies cricket, we have also witnessed fundamental changes in the ethos of cricket – from a game of artistry and skill to one where the imperatives of commercial entertainment have become paramount. This has undoubtedly reached it nadir in the Indian Premier League (IPL). The pantomime that is the IPL represents what is totally wrong with the game now. But like in James’ time cricket tells us a lot about our contemporary postcolonial predicament.”
-Ash Sharma, “Beyond A Boundary”, https://southerndiscomfortzine.wordpress.com/2013/08/08/beyond-a-boundary/

Corporate
corporeal
embodiment
toxicity

And so there I was,
hanging heavy,
head heavy with ache,
ached out of utterance,
splitting.
And man did the split come.

It was the final,
England seem like they’w’re gonna sneak it,
Windies blown it, old man chuntering,
‘shit shit, england are shit, if they win they’re never gonna stop and its gonna make this shit country think its good’, to paraphrase.

Chris Jordan penultimate over,
tight, collected at
the death.
Commentator notes he played for Barbados once,
confused half-utterances ensues,
confused commonwealth creolite to the death –
residencies/genealogies –
cricketing jurisdictions supple/vital.
Routes/roots, standing scrutiny.

Final over,
it aint gonna be Root that’s for sure.
Up steps Stokes.
19 needed, 3 sixes plus a run would do it.
Impossible – maybe, improbable – certainly.
Shit.
You hate you give a fuck about this circus but, hey, that’s hate.
You’re certainly not merely interested at least.

Stokes running in,
bowls down leg,
boom Brathwaite slinks it for 6.
The dream’s alive.

Stokes in again,
down the middle,
Brathwaite’s bat seamlessly swung like a golf club,
its a huge one down the ground.
Your headache’s blissfully being usurped in illogical awe.
We were told he was a hitter but, man, this is something special.

Third ball in, Stokes looking a little forlorn.
More on the offside –
boom, its an uncanny slice,
carried over the boundary,
another six, ridiculous scenes.
Stokes about to cry,
pumped Windies team ready to burst up on the field in victory.
Just need a run now.

But well this circus wouldn’t complete without another six,
yes this one huge again,
with ball left hanging over the stands,
camera cuts to Windies team storming in glory,
some kind of Light Brigade, though not nearly as sycophantic.

Breathe,

shirts are off muscles rippling,
towering obstinancy,
adrenaline testosterone kicking off,
the spectres of the ‘70s –
too black too strong –
images flashing in the circus.
Fragments of something better.
Cos we know its shit but its always good to see Windies doing well,
against odds.
There’s something about the Windies and their obstinance that always stinks of tragedy,
the wafts of failure in mongrelity.

And it was a tale of two:
Stokes on the kneeling on the floor distraught,
Marlon Samuels with his knock of 79 ‘doggedly’ defiant.

And all the myths came atumble.
Nasser at the usually staid ‘post-match presentation’,
corporate logos staged on height-of-design multi-coloured artifice,
suited brown-faced mimic-men to boot.
Medals run through,
handshakes galore,
a cheap nod to glocal boy Kohli.
Same old same old right? –
but the intoxicating adrenaline aint quite left yet.

Man of the Match interview, up step Samuels.
Its hard-hitting stuff, no punches pulled,
and that snipe at Shane Warne,
the ever-present Aussie and his lurid voice,
whack
and the mythic violence way-back-when thumped into
present-euphoria. Marlon knows how to play this game
while we scroll through the sports gossip. Nasser blurring, ecstatic
laughter simmering, between reason and madness,
Windies at the T20.

Up steps Darren Sammy,
OK here’s the highwayman,
good-boy-does-as-he’s-told,
mediator, formalist, talented for keeping a level-head.
But everything’s relative init.
Its a little bit more subtle now, the excoriating put-downs to cricketing boards/structures, and apocalyptic cries of
‘we don’t know if we’re ever gonna play together again’
‘we may never get a kit again’
‘CARICOM are fully supporting us, not sure about anybody else…’
references to the Almighty, presumably Grenada PM Mitchell himself!

Absurd, ridiculous, but he dared to utter in the chaos of it all,
Indian capital and Windian ‘mismanagement’,
globalised vernaculars as nineteenth century accents clash in all their glorious play.
Chris Gayle laughing away.
Nasser taken on some colour.

And it wouldn’t be over without ‘DJ’ Bravo’s ridiculous dance off his record ‘Champion’,
arms thrust forward somewhere between car-handling and flight-control,
the Windian woman’s team joining in the frivolity.
Something about the grotesque amidst the spectacularly staid affair that is the T20 carnival,
blurry and basic and
Darren Sammy standing firm,
doing what needed to be done,
at the [diasporic] cut,
against expectations against the game.

And the inquisition ensued,
‘they had a point to prove’ the acceptable narrative,
and they used that passion.
But passion’s a tricky customer and I wouldn’t bet on it
and I certainly wouldn’t try to spend it.
Stored and spent – seminal actions.
Struggling scores ex-propiated


 

Berlin/Birdmen: Authentic Aestheticians

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (5/5/2015)

 

DSCN9236IMG_1350

IMG_1337It all starts with nervous jaunty awakenings to a morning overcast with expectations and possibilities and probabilities. out the door double key-turn descending four flights out large wooden door into hof and the first taste of the day like a kinda wave, a slow introduction and double wooden doors again, maybe the polite friendly ‘hallo’ ‘danke’ ‘bitte’ to a neighbour and finally the day embraces like the perforation of a boundary striking through neurotic inertias.

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DSCN9267

DSCN9462And so descend further into the brightly lit passages of the underground past the russian accordionist racking off a classic waltz and the sullen crusties right onto the platform dodging the pillars and motley crew of waifs dossing around, squinting to work-out how many frustrating minutes you gotta wait for the next u-bahn and then ur in and ur looking for the perfect seat hopefully not next to anyone strange and facing forwards ofcourse with a space for ur companion nearby wondering about people’s days at this strange hour….

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DSCN9530A break at alex; brezeltime pure Bayern and off to kotti’s krass khaos for brunch mmm breads and spreads and cheese and eggs and pepper pukka with the strange but oh so necessary unsocial eating of the alienated cold/buildings spiring above for massification but well the wall fell so let the ahistorical grovelling identities fester

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Spinning red and blue and purple refracted onto our proxies mirrored avatars Princes and Queens and Madonnas pure 80s glitz-er. Undulating socialities. /Ufer/ And ur off down the canalbank, bustling fleamarket a distant memory of a sunnier shining less humble time of glorious furnishings and tat upcycled for fantastical metropolitan visions. Thank god for the cold eh

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And in this setting you head centrally finding the East festooned with regalia of the latest Event – this one’s the Berlinale film festival – and enter the whirring coils of glitzy soviet bonanzas unsettling your stomache in grandiose strokes they call the film hall ready to watch one of Oscar nominees which caught your cos of its ‘foreign’ director – Birdman, that is.

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And woosh the swooning begins and images glide across our screen – crisp hi def pure – and its funny, hell its funny. You laugh, a lot. Its theatre actually; performing its clichés to perfect entertainment from metropolitan glamour to risqué innuendos, tragic heroes and broken cultures, postdigital fashions to simulated postmodernism. Its postcrash bliss, hitchcockian to the core, super realist off beat modernist angularity, moody Barthes meets tweeting teens – it’s the twentieth century laid bare, its film at its most complete – it smells like golden-era Hollywood oh before the crass banality… and you attempt to dissect but run out of symbols to impart; lay down your thoughts billowing…

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Berlin:  a cold city, wanders the spirits of Hobsbawm and Isherwood amidst the Berlin Forst; twentieth century lives haunting the ruins ready for a recomposed deployment, a re-embodiment of a time forgot a time deeply filled with stories of a future of frictionous  fictions cycling through hitches of the Pyrenees where Benjamin meets his mirror; Goytisolo clashing imperial languages, Hobsbawm’s stuck in Weimar 31-33 (aren’t we all really) and Auden fucked off corporeally with Christopher and Brecht and more off to the New World; Goodbye to Berlin; the old country withers under the invocations of St. George and dragons galore. Fassbinder as Franz Bieberkopf and behold Berlin Alexanderplatz 13 hours of glorious crumbling ‘80s theatre performing refractions those streaming Weimar ‘20s; decadent densities. Cos it all ends with a European trauma and a mint tea on futurist Moorish rooftops –Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Angst Essen Seele Auf / Ali: Fear Eats the Soul­­  (1974) – Juan Goytisolo, Count Julian (1970):

‘Penetrating deeper and deeper: wandering farther and farther into the quiet, cottony atmosphere, by way of the twisting turning paths of the urban labyrinth: as in the hall of trick mirrors at a fairground, unable to find the exit, laughing their heads off every time you take the wrong turn: paying to become an object of universal derision: finally managing to make your way out, amid scornful taunts and jeering laughter, with a rather sheepish, embarrassed look on your face: you spy Tariq walking just ahead of you and quicken your pace in order to catch up with him: dressed in his tiger-striped djellaba, his cat’s eye gleaming: the ends of his handlebar mustache curling up to a fine point: the streets are deserted now, the light from the street lamps make both of you cast giant shadows, thereby suddenly causing your own reality to appear precarious and threatened: isn’t the echo of your footfalls perhaps too loud?: dwellings are piled one atop the other like architectural scale models made of pasteboard, and the night sky dotted with clouds like a theatrical fly painted by an amateur: fake, fake: characters in a novel not yet written, both of you are mere fictions: doubt is your only certainty, yet you follow him, and will continue to follow him without a word of protest’[1]

Bodies coloured with rusting

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DSCN9245DSCN9214And the masculine performativities break crunch amidst the terrors of futures, Soviet Asiatic despotism crushing Mitteleuropa and the agony and ecstasy of the ruins – Walter Benjamin’s Westend schloss Charlottenburg monuments of a ruinous cold past, somehow ephemeral:

‘Vestibule

A trip to Goethe’s house. I cannot recall seeing rooms in dream. There was a line of whitewashed corridors, like in a school. Two elderly English lady visitors and a curator are the dream extras. The curator asks us to register in a visitors’ book that lay open on a window ledge at the far end of the passage. Stepping up to it and leafing through the pages, I find my name already entered in a large, ungainly childish hand.

Dining Room

In a dream I saw myself in Goethe’s study. It bore no resemblance to the one in Weimar. Above all it was tiny and had only one window. Opposite the window stood the desk, narrow end to the wall. Seated at the desk, pen in hand, was the writer, well on in years. I was standing to one side when he stopped writing and presented me with a small vessel, an antique vase. I turned it over in my hands. It was dreadfully hot in the room. Goethe stood up and together we went next door, where a long table had been laid for my kin. I sat down beside Goethe at the right-hand end. When the meal was over he rose to his feet laboriously and with a gesture I begged leave to assist him. As I touched his elbow I was moved to tears.’[2]

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Footworks comparable to Mailer’s handiwork on famed 1975 Rumble in the Jungle, the spectacle’s our future, the despots our reality, Mobutu/Ali/Hitler authentic aestheticians and the angularity of Berlin’s Judisches Museum stands empty– emptied margins ruinous buildings that swallow figures – figures as fixtures quietly living the new days in the café away from rupturous events. Mailer expounds:

‘Now the separate conversations had come together into one and he talked with the same muscular love of rhetoric that a politician has when he is giving his campaign speech and knows it is a good one. So Ali was at last in full oration. “If I win,” said Ali, “I’m going to be the Black Kissinger. It’s full glory, but its tiresome. Every time I visit a place, I got to go by the school, the old folks’ home. I’m not just a fighter, I’m a world figure to these people” – it was as if he had to keep saying it the way Foreman had to hit a heavy bag, as if the sinews of his will would steel by the force of this oral conditioning. The question was forever growing. Was he still a kid from Louisville talking, talking through the afternoon, and for all anyone knew through the night, talking through the ungovernable anxiety of a youth seized by history to enter the dynamos of history? Or was he in full process of becoming that most unique phenomenon, a twentieth century prophet, and so the anger and the fear of his voice was that he could not teach, could not convince, could not convince? Had any of the reporters made a face when he spoke of himself as the Black Kissinger? Now, as if to forestall derision, he clowned. “When you visit all these folks in these strange lands, you got to eat. That’s not so easy. In American they offer you a drink. A fighter can turn down a drink. Here, you got to eat. They’re hurt if you don’t eat. It’s an honour to be loved by so many people, but it’s hell, man.”’[3]

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Ruptures are the past.

And the ruptures need to be told and told again.

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Histories lineages genealogies need to be written, with honesty, through the textualities of our present – biding time as reinventions occur underfoot amidst secular crises and postcolonial fundamentalisms. Unhinged masculinities as the lathi strikes saffron vermillion structurally unsound ahistorical torpor and difference is neologised and identified and categorised into compendiums of paper-thin ‘theory’ entangled in the invocations of community.

We never were critical. We never were modern. And yet here we are waiting for boxing’s last hurrah with the eternally famed Pacquiao-Mayweather showdown.

Maybe we’ll find the beginnings of some answers writhing in our fantasies; whilst we keep up with the Kardashians; whiling away the hours.

 

[1] Juan Goytisolo, Count Julian (Serpent’s Tail, 1974) trans. Helen Lane, p. 73

[2] Walter Benjamin, “One-way Street” (1928), One-way Street and other Writings (Penguin, 2009) trans. J. A. Underwood, p. 48-49

[3] Norman Mailer, The Fight (Penguin, 1991) p. 78-79

[Images produced by Kashif and Anuka]

Sublime Fragments of Gothic Futures III: Writing Other[ed] Futurisms

Originally published on Southern Discomfort Zine (6/1/2015)

 

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So the question of the day is temporality and its politics. Early twentieth century futurist modernism with its grand visions of embracing/deepening/cutting-through modernity gave way to fascist corporeality, communist statism, socialist tower-blocks, third world slums and, worst of all, the institutionalism of ‘modern art’. Then ‘no future’ with the Sex Pistols, autonomia 77 and Ayatollah Khomeini converging in militant dysphoria; truly post-modernist. And out of such wreckage the post-Fordist financialised ‘global’ economy looms, circulating the virtual representation //of commodities/of collateralised debt/ of production/ of containerised ideology// Subjectivities of time are pushed to extremes and representation becomes the key-word. Well how do we actually create space – where does our cultural production come into its own? What becomes of words // lives // memories // the all-important small things? Can we excavate ourselves out without containerising or homogenising and break out from the yoke of institutional legitimation// with fulfilment perhaps? Or are we stuck in the oppression of Now / of Identity / of the increasingly fatuous and vacuous gentrified present of revanchist fundamentalisms while rehearsing our self-indulgent monologues and arrogant entitlements? Are there futures worth constructing?

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So let’s talk about time. Temporalities coinciding with our shared spaces intersecting with the banal day-to-day brought together encapsulated within the cultural object and its perennial memories glimpsed through the dirty window the distorted mirror; think the tight  corridor streets and cracking facades of proper professionalism with its musk of displaced loneliness in Wong Kar Wai’s In the Mood For Love. But the redemption is found in the quiet pride, the elegant dress, the depth of self-reflection in the shadow of the haunting lilts of the waltz; they looked better back then, to quote a Southern Discomfort regular. And then trying to break out of the neuroses overhanging in the darker crevices is the depth of struggle trying to search for a future while excavating the scraps of the past. Again think Wong Kar Wai’s 2046 with the melancholic flows of trains transporting frail visions of histories in the struggle to write/to carve/ out of the maelstroms fleeting ephemerality of the cold starkness of glistening skyscrapers and highrises accelerating time’s impasse. The writer’s search for a room, a simple space/raum, a constant lurch for a dream/traum as a struggle of language of articulation of experienced realities defined through a corpus with its oblique multiplicities. And yes its always political and yes its always presupposed by notions of belonging/entitlement/location through bodies and organs and races and genitaltraffik and (infra)structures of knowledge and yes its always conjectural conjunctural questions of the relations of power but its also so much more than that; it’s the (hi)stories of our lives.

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Or think Jarmusch’s latest Only Lovers Left Alive with the moody dysphoria of ruinous Detroit and the darkened alleys of Tangiers seeping the slow memories of Tilda Swinton’s aged disposition searching for a space / the right feeling / the right thing away from the cluttersome neurotic cold light of day. Their ethereality transposed through the luxury-stricken plate-glass temples of Boris’s London whilst narrating the abstract present’s relation to avante-gardian Derek Jarman in Isaac Julien’s documentary montage on his archetypal life, Derek. Jarman one of those (post)colonial grand folk forced back to our rainy fascism island and the rubble of London and the bleak of Dungeness, Kent, searching for the fragments that make it all bearable, truly tolerant, carving out other(ed) realities.

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Languages and temporalities.

 

 

Maybe a nod to another Southern Discomfort favourite C.L.R. James and his Beyond a Boundary is in order with its beautiful articulation of cricket, colonialism and class through the prism of lives and losses; English literature at its most sublime. Cricket as an arena of mourning / of melancholic rumination / of the gothic. Boundaries and languages.

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The breaks.

 

 

 

In some sense we’re all trying to be Sammy Delaney’s Kid in Dhalgren traversing the Afrofuturist//Afropessimist psycho-geographies of Bellona-Detroit; cyclical and vital. Becoming one of Marechera’s lost acquaintances in strained networks and infrastructures that populate urban modernity; many looking for legitimacy; the losers finding themselves //no gods no masters no glory and certainly no romance #poorbutsexy

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As @zentaurum, one of the fallen illegitimates, writes:

i don’t know, i feel like i’m struggling to maintain the struggle, like i feel i only really exist if i don’t resign myself to some definition, because this definition doesn’t really exist… but it’s too hard for those around me seeing me to let me float. like i hate it when people say i’m in between man and woman — no, i don’t like the space between the mattresses, i don’t need to be put there, i don’t need to be solid enough to be pointed at.

it’s really weird admitting that everything’s not super easy and that whilst this who that i am is kind of like a ‘solution’, it’s damn fucking difficult, and it’s not just the ultimate stop, the search-spotlight won’t find me, i’m displacing forever. and i don’t say so, that it’s so hard…

@zentaurum, Yesterday’s Names http://pinktightsandsidepartings.tumblr.com/post/95732272416/yesterdays-names

 

Anna Ramischwili-Schaefer, 'Refraction' (2014)
Anna Ramischwili-Schaefer, ‘Refraction’ (2014)

 

 

Maybe we’ll find our end past the credits after the fall but well maybe we’ll have to face that the implacable displaced othered-being always exists in the breaks and well maybe that’s the only closure there is. We are all the tragic fallen figure of Tony Soprano ending ambiguously, subject to rumour and scorn, grasping for timeless pasts // perennially writing other[ed] futurisms.


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