Is it sliding away? Is it holding on? We feel the tension of a runaway right angle.
Saturday, 22 August 2015
Jonathan Gibbs. He’s so fast. He never slows down. One thought follows another, and another and another until - swish swish - he’s on the second lap; overtaking the first bunch which he now leaves far behind. We are left breathless and exhilarated.
The flag falls. It is over so quickly! And we are lost to excitement and confusion. The stadium empties; we sit and compose ourselves alone amongst the silent seats; our thoughts slowly settling like the dust on the racetrack. Coolly we relive the race; slow it down, freeze frame it section by section; thinking about each one as we go. Raymond Tallis. Jonathan Gibbs. They are, we come to realise, talking past each other - we recall that rough swerve that dodged an elegant but too stately chariot. Tallis driving after our sense of aesthetic form; Gibbs carried along on hyperactive feelings; no wonder he came first. But as our thoughts return to the starting flag we begin to believe that both have entered the wrong race…both, it seems, have confused the artist with the audience. The guard shouts to us. It is late. It is time to go, mate.
Sunday, 5 July 2015
I pull out Black Unity. Inside there is a photograph of Pharaoh Saunders, majestic with his afro hair and mandarin profile. I look at this photograph and I try to see what Richard Seymour sees.
I’m on the sofa listening to the two basses, hippie percussion, Pharaoh’s saxophone, and that lazy trumpet line; then the two basses again, and a reference to A Love Supreme. I look at the photograph. But nothing comes to me. I try so hard, but I do not see what Richard Seymour sees.
Thursday, 2 July 2015
An artist. She floats on the wreckage of a sunken love affair.
A fragile fairy tale. It collapses; her mind in fragments; her life a tearful cataract.
She is an artist creating beauty out of loss.
An artist. She must destroy her world; only then can she invent a paradise.
Saturday, 20 June 2015
Friday, 10 April 2015
We imagine a door. On that door two names are written: Tarabas by Joseph Roth. The door opens. A man walks out, he looks like a character from Dostoevsky. We hear him speak, and are sure that we have met him before; scurrying through the pages of The Idiot. This man’s mind is populated by pixies and dwarves; it is saturated with mystical signs and personal portents; it believes in fate; convinced that its owner is foredoomed to be both saint and murderer. The book is even set in Russia, at a time the country itself was suffering a mental breakdown.
Yet there is a crucial difference between Roth and his Russian compadre. In Tarabas, as in nearly all of Roth’s books, the hero (or more accurately: anti-hero) is situated within a community; Tarabas forming part of ensemble which, although described lightly, is caught with miraculous fullness. We therefore recognise this hero as a powerful and complete human being; he is not some moral imbecile or a mad tyrant but a mature product of all the influences that surround him. This man is human; albeit he is qualitatively different from any of his colleagues: more extreme, more aloof, more capable of cruelty and self-sacrifice than anyone else. But: Tarabas is no superman. Like all the other characters in this novel he submits to forces more powerful than himself. We watch how the world affects him. We see how peace and the rise of the new nationalisms quickly restrict his freedom; taking away not only his power but the honour and recklessness of his life as a frontline officer. When the war ends he, like all the other soldiers, is forced to bow down to the bureaucrats. The clerks are in charge now.