Monday, February 28, 2005
Saturday, February 26, 2005
"I have previously stated (can't be bothered looking for the links) my opinion that far from regarding blogging as a new frontier of journalism, for the majority of bloggers, resident in one or other of the bourgeois democracies, blogging amounts to nothing more than vanity publishing. Not that that is necessarily a bad thing - small volume publishing in the form of specialist magazines, fanzines, electronic bulletin boards and so on, has been with us since the requisite technologies have been available - but there is tendency for bloggers to overstate their own influence."
"I've always had this epithet "art is the opposite of death", and I still think about that whenever I feel really black about anything. I get in front of my typewriter. The function of writing is the opposite of being dead. You're living. This is the thing that always motivates me, because I hate the process of writing. I find it hard and hateful to do. But at the end of the day, if I write a couple of good lines, or I write a page that I think is good work, I feel justified in being alive. I feel I've got the right to be, in a shoddy way, pleased – I don't want to say, happy. "Bruce Robinson interview in The Idler magazine, 12th November 1995.
"I wonder how Mark Fischer's writing under the name 'Ian Mahoney' assists the CPGB in promoting its agenda. Or Peter Manson writing under names like 'Alan Fox', 'Simon Harvey' and 'Jim Blackstock'? Or John Bridge also writing under names like 'Jack Conrad' and 'James Marshall'.Or how about 'S.L Kenning' and 'S.W. Kenning', who respectively claimed to know much about the SLP and the SWP respectively.In the case of 'S.W. Kenning' they probably could have got done under the trade descriptions act, since when Peter Manson was writing under the former, pre-Simon Harvey name, he at least had some real knowledge of what he was writing about from the inside. 'S.W.Kenning' 'kenned' fuck all about the SWP.I could go on.... But then the CPGB are the most amazing bunch of hypocrites."
"I'm gonna share with you a vision that I had, cause I love you. And you feel it. You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense each year, trillions of dollars, correct? Instead -- just play with this -- if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world -- and it would pay for it many times over, not one human being excluded -- we can explore space together, both inner and outer, forever in peace. Thank you very much. You've been great, I hope you enjoyed it."
- The story of the mankiest pub in Sunderland.
- The most expensive fish supper in history.
- General Election hustings and the pros and cons of cannabis.
That will be enough to be going on with.
Friday, February 25, 2005
Questions From a Worker Who Reads Who built Thebes of the seven gates?In the books you will find the names of kings.Did the kings haul up the lumps of rock?And Babylon, many times demolishedWho raised it up so many times? In what housesof gold-glittering Lima did the builders live?Where, the evening that the Wall of China was finishedDid the masons go? Great RomeIs full of triumphal arches. Who erected them? Over whomDid the Caesars triumph? Had Byzantium, much praised in songOnly palaces for its inhabitants? Even in fabled AtlantisThe night the ocean engulfed itThe drowning still bawled for their slaves.The young Alexander conquered India.Was he alone?Caesar beat the Gauls.Did he not have even a cook with him?Philip of Spain wept when his armadaWent down. Was he the only one to weep?Frederick the Second won the Seven Year's War. WhoElse won it?Every page a victory.Who cooked the feast for the victors?Every ten years a great man?Who paid the bill?So many reports.So many questions.Bertolt Brecht
Thursday, February 17, 2005
Tuesday, February 15, 2005
Monday, February 07, 2005
When Paul Abbott was at his mother's wake, two of his brothers had a fight at the buffet. "Tables and chairs are flying, the beige buffet is flying," he recalls. Love that writerly touch, that beige of pies, cake and crisps. "They kicked the shit out of each other. It was magnificent. It was so funny."
"A week or so later, on the way back from the dentist's, I sat in a cafe and wrote two letters. In one I resigned from the IS*** before they got round to expelling me. In the other I announced I was leaving Black Dwarf, suggesting they [fellow members of the Editorial Board] sit round imagining they had cunts for two minutes in silence so they could understand why it was hard for me to discuss what I had written on women."
Saturday, February 05, 2005
Friday, February 04, 2005
As Normski himself notes his greatest songs of rock n' roll poll has met with the highest turn out of all his music and film polls so far. Over 230 people voted (97 of us are bloggers, apparently) and looking at the list, I can't help but draw the conclusion that it looks like someone has scanned in the latest top 100 songs survey from either Mojo or Q magazine. I mean. Layla at number nine? The only thing that stops me from hating that song with an absolute passion is the knowledge that I need to reserve some bile for my loathing for Clapton singing Wonderful Tonight.
The top fifty is the usual suspects, though I'm surprised the Stones polled so highly and that Imagine polled so far down the list. Maybe the latter's poor showing reflects the changing politics of Norm's readership. I wonder if it would have polled so low ten years ago with the same pollsters?
I remember the late great John Peel saying one year when unveiling his Festive Fifty that he wished sometimes that he would play 51-100 rather than the top fifty, 'cos he already knew what songs would be listed in the top fifty before he even called the poll. Without labouring the point too much - of course there are bona fide classics in Normski's top fifty - but I can see the same point with regards to this poll.
Joy Division, Jeff Buckley, The Ramones and Television are a few of the more eclectic artists that feature in the 50-100 section and given the choice if I was doing a mixtape I would take more songs from that section as opposed to the top fifty. Of course I just may be being all bitter and twisted 'cos out of my top ten songs the highest placed only came in at 62, with three others only placed at numbers =71; =71; and 98.
And me whose usually so gracious in defeat.
- Who the hell was Karl Marx?
- Was Marx ever a Leninist? (Did Lenin really distort Marx?)
- Is The Socialist Party Marxist?
There are other lectures included in the pamphlet but the ones mentioned above are the best of the bunch in my humble opinion. Available from all good stockists** for the bargain price of £2, including postage and packaging. If you are too tight to stump up for a pamphlet that costs less than a pint of Murphys in Central London, then be patient and it will probably be included at some point in the download section of the Socialist Party Website.
*Aye, for a period I was a member of the AWL back in the mid-nineties. I guess I fell into the category of 'candidate member' for the duration of my membership. No, I didn't suddenly transform into a vanguardist overnight, just wrestled a bit with the whole reform/revolution bit, on wondering how to get from here to there. I thought in the circumstances that it was better to do something in the here and now. The motto of reformists down the ages. (On balance, I've always been more impressed by the minimum/maximum programme over the transitional programme, but that is another story.)
No cautionary tales from my time in the AWL. Of course, it's overly obsessed by what the SWP is doing at any given point, and by the machinations of student politics, but they all seemed to decent enough people. Even the ones I disagreed with.
I sort of realised that my politics hadn't really changed that fundamentally and I still considered myself an SPGBer ideologically when canvassing for an AWL member who had been selected as the Labour Party PPC in a parliamentary seat that even in the electoral meltdown of 1997 the Tories still retained. I found myself falling back on my old socialist positions when arguing on the doorstep with the local electorate. Strange but true, and Tony Blair has never spoken to me since as a consequence.
** "All good stockists" consists of: The Socialist Party, 52 Clapham High Street, London SW4 7UN. Cheques made payable to the 'Socialist Party of Great Britain'.
Wednesday, February 02, 2005
"Well, I came to my keyboard and came to my computer a few times up til now to write something about it, but I just couldn't. Not cos it was so totally mindblowing or that I went into some sort of weird psychotic episode about this being the "gig of my life" or anything like that. But, rather, I just didn't know what to write."
Trevor Chaplin (The crumpled everyman: Half corduroy, half old Playfair Football Annuals) - 'Listen?'Jill Swinburne (You've got a blacklist, I want to be on it.) - 'It's only Muzak. They probably pipe it in from a computer in Hemel Hempstead.'