Saturday, 26 November 2016

Travelling Images:These must be my grandmother's grandparents on her father's side, prob Damascus 1860s? Below the first Dictionary bought by my grandmother on arriving in England from Alexandria in 1923, without a word of English. Then a source of consuming interest for me at 13 years.




Two Vivienne Koorland and one detail from Edinburgh Fruitmarket - Immense and wonderful

Four decades ago toujours la même histoire, again....., my brown ink of the period, oh Maoist me.

You know the thing, unpacking my library etc, so having moved to London N4 (we quit E1 because of how hip grew into hipster, we were always the first, never the second, one syllable too many with no poetic value at all) I found these documents that are self explanatory and very interesting for long term studies of art education. Below is a list of attendees, Andrew Brighton's statement and mine, I will put the others up to.  I put his and mine up as we always enjoyed, in the rather Lacanian sense, disagreement, before J Rancière made it respectable, dunque, three pages as good jpegs:

BTW Hoggart really came out as an elitist and authoritarian know all facing the younger audience, a kind of Mr Bounderby of theoretical knowledge. Had a nice fight with him, but I recall that before that Stuart Hall dismantled him on a radio programme - inspiration, in disagreement!

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

EU EU EU EU and the Land of the Pharaohs, let's be the crocodiles?????????????

Do you recall that marvellous shot at the end of Land of the Pharaohs ( when the villain looks down from the wall from which he is to plunge into the crocodile pit and sees them there with open, welcoming jaws - and then, as he plunges, we see him fall from the viewpoint of the crocodiles themselves - but never the impact?

Is that not the position in which we now find ourselves vis à vis the EU?

What would Jack Hawkins do and whatever was it that Joan Collins did? Will there ever be another episode? At the moment of writing the whole thing is turning into a crossover between a screw-ball comedy with Cameron as a goofy and unintentionally clumsy Jerry Lewis, and a rather coarse and vulgar tragedy of the kind that only Goves, Johnsons and Farages could produce. The number of vile politicians on both sides is utterly astonishing, with the hideous CD right of Schauble or Merkel looking like the moderates that they are not - as we know over the decades, but saw nakedly in their handling of Greece; the grimly neoliberal Juncker with his mafioso style denials of his running his country as a tax haven having anything to do with heading up the EU, actually demanding that the UK exit today and so act in conflict with the Lisbon treaty and UK Parliamentary procedure; and the skunk-like putridity of Le Pen and Farage coming head on with the pro-EU but hardly less fascist Eastern European leaders. Is there anyone to admire? Schulz, who tried to block the EU from one of its honourable moves in labelling West Bank products and who apologised to Netanyahu for even suggesting that israel might deprive the Palestinians of water? Pity the poor crocodiles, if this lot were to fall from the wall even their cast-iron digestive tracts would be sorely challenged.

The weird outcome of the stupidly anti-democratic and manipulative UK referendum is that disagreement, or mésentente, now rules; the staging of the sensible is reworked in an uncannily new décor and we have a chance to look long and hard at our own delusions and illusions. The racist or xenophobic insult to our new populations stands out clearly as a symptom to be accounted for - while on the one hand understanding that the much vaunted freedom of movement is not much more than Norman Tebbit's one time 'get on your bike' for the poor and, on the other hand, a privilege of the Eurogranted academics and art world tourists of whom I am still a hanger-on. We need to see this, and to look at the delusions as at the wounds, without shame and without lamentation as a state of things in which we might or might not find some kind of effective thinking ... I read three things today that beautifully support this reading, Chantal Mouffe, Etienne Balibar and Stathis Koevelakis

Never written... The Catamites of Cork Street

when I first lived in London the bottom of Regent Street and Piccadilly Circus still looked more or less like this. Ah the good old days, real department stores, Swann and Edgar, seen here, Debenham and Freebody on Wigmore Street, with it spectacular marble staircase, the labyrinthine men's department at Liberty, cruising ground annex to the Marshall Street Baths (or vice versa), or Whiteleys on Queensway with its glorious cast iron galleries and strange bed department with a sinister, low ceiling.
All of this was still in black and white and reality had yet to be coloured by digital numbers, like a cheap oil painting .. Oddly many of these stores were not far from municipal, private or public Turkish baths, The Savoy in Jermyn Street or Porchester hall up Queensway, or strangely near to famous cottages (Piccadilly Circus station). So there was a gayish novel to be written, even before Hollinghurst had published his glorious Swimming Pool Library (yes, yes, the cheap smell of rented speedos!).

My novel, as a Proust reader and a gallery rat was to be entitled:

Du côté de chez Swann and Edgar, 
and the first chapter was to have been 
'The Catamites of Cork Street'.

here is a picture I drew a couple of years ago, on my tablet, for a conference where we were asked to bring a bit of porn, I think. It is a memory of a graffito seen on the wall of the Gents at the corner of Carnaby Street, just behind Liberty. It made me laugh so hard I peed on my jeans. Heigh ho, 1968 was such fun!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!.

Just behind Carnaby Street in Ganton Street was the hatter Malyard from whom I bought a lavender/grey-pink floppy number to be worn with a copy of AD magazine, maybe folded round NME. It appears that J Lennon (a person I ever disliked) had one in a rather brash purple and it is for this reason that I can still retrieve an image of this lost object, maybe 1970 this time? To quote Hollis Frampton, 'do you see what I see?'

Thursday, 26 May 2016

theory and theorists - one learns these matters from images or artists in the first place...

recently i stopped someone kindly introducing me as 'a theorist' and asked the person not to use the word of me. Here is why and what I believe, oh yes I do, I do believe it, deeply, wildly, madly....

A theorist is
to theory
a beautician
the aesthetic

Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Sad News via Anthony Reynolds

Every moment teaching with Jon was memorable, nothing was dull, nor wasted, nothing was other than care-lessly complex, fear-lessly adventurous, wonderfully open and sometimes wildly funny.

Thursday, 18 February 2016

In Memoriam Muriel Dimen: 14 February 2016

 Ma belle amie est morte :
        Je pleurerai toujours ;

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Re: Paris, who are the fascists now?

In the end, I want to say that the trouble is neither Islam nor Christianity nor Judaism nor laicism nor atheism, but that all of those groups who in one way or another identify themselves as such or as a belonging to a faith, have their own share of fascists. These will stop at nothing, either in imposing themselves on one another, or on the enemy that is people who wish to have nothing to do with them, but who, on the contrary, wish only to be free of them; nor will they hesitate to collaborate with one another in this objective - to conquer the rest of us.

I recall as short a time ago as 25 years old friends of my parents who were holocaust survivors and exiles from Germany or Eastern Europe from those pre-war years, and also left-leaning Zionists ( I disagreed that this was actually possible, but we could then disagree), and who were also observant Jews, used to say that Begin was a fascist terrorist and Netanyahu even worse; since then, of course things have got properly worse, as we know, with the once calmly religious town of S'fad becoming a world centre of racialised theology.

Heaven knows, fom my own work, I know the history of the Bataclan pretty well, and the last four decades of Jewish ownership interest me little as such; after all I have been in a hotel owned by Qatari capital and eaten in places owned by all kinds of people without suffering too much guilt. If, then, the ex owners - they have actually sold it on in the last few weeks, held Zionist fund raisers there, it is not a reason to kill its audience. The ex owner agreed this:

In 2006-2009 at least, Le Bataclan hosted the annual fundraising gala of the French Jewish Migdal nonprofit group for the Israeli Border Police. Last month, it hosted a gathering of some 500 Zionist Christians who came there in support of the Jewish state.

So what was going on? The 'Border Police' actually police an illegal occupation that is officially recognised as such by the UN and the EU, yet disavowed; so what is the charity in this, and for whom must it count as charity? Who are the Christian supporters of Israel if not the VERY far right fundamentalists of the various Christian sects and churches?

AND what does it mean that, in the last few weeks, the French Appeal Court, the Cour de Cassation, has rendered the advocacy of BDS, disinvestment and boycott in illegally established (in EU law, that is) West Bank businesses itself illegal? And that it has done this so as to in effect recognise Israel as a Jewish state, which it is not under its UN charter, on the grounds that to advocate BDS is to  incite racial hatred and discrimination? I advocate BDS, as it happens, and I don't stop saying this when I go to France.

In effect the court, in implicitly recognising the the "Jewish State' as an 'ethnie' has more or less completed the relation of the Vichy state to the Jews in collaboration with its Nazi allies, but at this time in the interests of a political class in control of Israel, who also want to change the constitutional nature of that state to one of being Jewish.

So who are the fascists now? Well, the killers of the crowds in Paris for certain, though their degree of self hatred is pretty much unexampled for fascists; for though they are fully signed up for 'strength through joy' and train with the same hyper eroticism of becoming-killer as any colonial army (The French in Algeria, the Americans in Iraq), they prefer to die achieving their  objectives than to live to enjoy their conquest. But I would rather say they are fascists than Jihadis because that keeps open our political options and allows us to ask who were their victims?

Well not the myth of plural and multicultural Paris. The lives and torment and memories of these victims are being exploited for a racist and political myth, in which the sclerotic and profoundly Zionist laicity of the French state (and some of the international press) and the clerical fascism of Jihad fight it out between themselves. A certain set of 35 - 45 relatively successful urbanites, neither rich nor poor, highly professional in the main, enjoying a life that, politically, is both well meaning and in denial of those who are absent from their happiness, the suburbs, the poor; these wretched individuals are literally shot through in a terrible game in which they had not imagined themselves to be participants.

That is a wake-up call is it not? How do we face those who are the fascists without perpetuating this wretched myth of happiness?

It's truly terrible. 

I've been reading les Inrockuptibles since in started out over thirty years ago and I'm 70, and their journalist who died in Bataclan, whose work I have read,  was 43, so that gives you a little idea of a time-scale. 

None of us are that YOUNG.

Here is a coda, carefully anonymised. 

I have a friend who is a close friend of a person who lost someone close in the Charlie Hebdo attack. We had lunch together. This person was in deep grief and mourning, but also supremely angry. Suddenly, after years of silence, distance and neglect, a relative had emerged in another country who announced to the awaiting press that this was bound to happen to the Jews of Paris, it was because of being a Jew. This was hardly the important truth of that person's life and death, but it went down better than the private grief of the nearest loved one. This person was outraged and enraged; the rage had the dignity of a certain truth that is also, right now, dying in the imperialist aftermath of the Parisian horror and its appropriation of the massacre for its own finalities.
When it all unfolded we were at dinner with some friends in the Rue J-P Timbaud, and sirens and the lines of ambulances under the window alerted us to a disaster that could, until that moment, have been on another planet, rather than just around the corner. Three hours before we had walked down the Rue de la Fontaine au Roi; so it goes and so we did not go. I still cannot quite imagine what has happened.
But it's hard to walk on without asking who are the fascists now?
what would now be a united front?

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

A Rapid Response to a Guardian article after this weekend spent in Paris.

Jeffries writes in his article:

The polyglot chic, the swagger and the noise – the Paris I love will come back

'incidentally, it is worth pointing out that the 11th arrondissement is increasingly known as “bobo-land” (for bourgeois-bohème), where the young and fortunate live in shabby-chic smugness'
Much as I respect his writing, this is hardly incidental. Au contraire. If it is not the heart of the matter either, it is the flaw in the heart of a myth about Paris that is specific to Paris, even if gentrification is not, and that myth implies an exclusion, a system of exclusions that, in their own weird and horrible way Daesh recognise in their statement characterising their attack as one on a centre of 'debauchery'. Daesh and Jeffries are equally deluded by the myth, the 'swagger', the cigarette 'on the lower lip'. This is why the suburbs and their brutal treatment by the state remains at the heart of the matter, and it seems that neither Jeffiries nor Daesh want to make an issue of this, in effect.
If the Bataclan is a 'popular' culture, then the life of the suburbs can never become that, if films like Amélie and all the recent trash on Piaf continue to be churned out, then the fundamental African-ness of contemporary cultural energies as the substance of what 'French' means will continue to be repressed. La Haine will turn out to have been a better film than ever we imagined, and Kechiche the prophet of a bobo imaginaire of playful shepherds and shepherdesses of multi-cultural bliss (l'Esquive).
I spent up to a half of each year in the onzième between 1983 and 2006, and at no point did I notice a growing inclusiveness, either of outsiders(the poor, the 'racaille' of the suburbs, as Sarkozy called them) or even of the older people who lived there, rather the replacement of one myth of the popular by another in radical distinction from the development of forms of life and living.
Anyway on the train returning from Paris this weekend I read a book by the French leftist fiction writer Didier Daeninckx 'Corvée de bois' (2002) which is the first person narrative of a Sorbonne student who ends up in the army fighting the war in Algeria. DD brilliantly reconstructs the mind and physical energies of a mass killer of the Algerian villagers and torturer of the NLF, who becomes an apparatchik of the repression of dissent in France, and let me tell you, nice readers of this page, that if Daesh have a role model in this horrible massacre, you need look no further than the French colonial army, the swagger of it, the cigarette on the lower lip -- only now one arrests women wearing the hijab, even 'nice people' call the 'letterboxes', or one mows down those who don't. 

Alas the episode is not yet finished.

look at these please,