Posts

Showing posts from 2019

LOVE AND JUSTICE

I get that the world is angry, and I get that people want to rip the facades, lies and subterfuge away, across the world, to expose truth, no matter the pain it may cause - in search of a better world, one that is more just, more safe, more fair, and more ecologically sane. This can be called the Justice pole - one side of a living moral planet - and it is a pole I have often sought to visit - when I worked to express abuses of many kinds, in my editing, and writing, and publishing.

There is the twin, alternate pole, though, also - that of Love. Setting aside any snickering when you read about the Love pole, the metaphor spins bigger than the awkward appellation. On this planet, Justice calls for punishment after exposure, but Love calls for understanding, sympathy, concern, and, ultimately, forgiveness.

I'd argue you can't really have one without the other, or the global vision implodes on itself.

Too much love, and no sense of justice, and you get lost in a sort of nihilism, wh…

CHRISTMAS WISHES AND A SWIFT REPORT

Image
In the past, but increasingly less extensively, I would sum up each year that had been, since this blog began.

This year, I paused, to reflect on what has meant the most to me. I set aside all anger, hate, hostility, cruelty, war and division in our world - there is too much of it, as we mostly all recognise; like many of us, I was saddened at particular deaths, lapses, losses - sometimes this year felt almost too much to bear. Escape - into an unreality, beckons more to us all, as the disposable, instant worlds of the digital realities, infused with fiction, play, lies and propaganda - is one way to cope.

There is another, the more needle-sharp poignancy of trying to face, directly, the best in us, and sharpen our own lives, to their better edges. A struggle, to be sure. Like all humans, I strive to not succumb to my dark side, to my despair. The light is a two-edged weapon. Duality demands we decide, finally, what side we will come down on, who, and how, we will love.

So I won't wa…

TOP 12 SONGS OF 2019

Image
As with every caveat, disregard the dilemma and stay for the nub of the post: these twelve tracks, all available on Spotify, are surely worth listening to.


The caveat: no list is complete without Springsteen, Madonna, Beck, Arcade Fire, Coldplay, Deerhunter, Burial, Joe Jackson, Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, George Michael, Stormzy, Vampire Weekend, Pixies, Perry Farrell, Michael Stipe, The National, Lana Del Rey, Karen O, The Killers, Will Young, Richard Dawson, Weyes Blood, Ariana Grande, Wire, Stereophonics, slowthai, Tame Impala, Sharon Van Etten, - to absurdly mention just 30 of the acts and artists who released notable new tracks this year, sometimes posthumously - yet the list below leaves all these talents out, and hundreds more you might arguably add.

So, what makes an 'Eyewear song of the year'? A variety of factors, recklessly applied in no order, but basically: catchiness, replayability, cultural impact, genre-mastery, and wit. If you ranked every song you heard from 1-2…

Landslide

Image
I would like to congratulate my Tory colleagues and friends on their landslide victory in this most divisive, and distressing election. Boris at his best is brilliant, compelling, and compassionate, so let us hope for the best, if bracing for the worst; his acceptance speech was rousing, and promising, and if he works for his newest ridings in the once-red wall, he may be a truly great one nation figure; or, he may slip into scandal and incompetence - though that seems less likely at the moment - powerful politicians sometimes slip into magnanimity.

For those who like their certainty certain, Brexit will get done in January, and we may well have a no-deal trade arrangement in a year. Certainty - friend to those businesses not made from chaos -may momentarily raise the pound, but we need a relationship with the EU based on mutual respect and mutual self-interest.

As for Jeremy Corbyn, the Labour leader, well, despite his gauche idealism, he lacked the nous to lead; and his ambiguity on B…

Sean Bonney has Died

It is always sad news when a fiercely experimental, committed, and talented poet dies, and so it is that I was sad to learn that Sean Bonney has died, aged 50, in Berlin. Bonney and I often crossed pens online, in the past, and he was no friend to my ideas on poetics. But, he was a poet with conviction and brilliance, and every death is the death of a world. I wish sincere condolences to all who knew him, and loved him, and hope that his poems live on, in memory and print, discussion and study, for years ahead.

SANTA WEARS EYEWEAR...

Image

AL ALVAREZ HAS DIED IN LONDON AGED 90

Image
The highly-influential and important poetry critic, editor, anthologist, scholar, writer and poet, Alfred Alvarez (Al to friends), has just died. He was very welcoming to me when I moved to London, and we met often for a time in Hampstead and elsewhere. I arranged for him to do readings and talks for the Oxfam series, and at Kingston university.

Al was a funny, gracious, helpful guy, and a great talker - a real mensch, and a one-off character with a touch of genius and more than enough brilliance and bravery. He mentored my collection - the most personal and distressing of my life - about my breakdown and despair on receiving the news I was infertile - his advice was strict and invaluable.

I already miss him. Here was a guy who had been friends with Sylvia Plath, Zero Mostel, and John LeCarre, who still had time for the lesser-known, the smaller fry. That was because he was a maverick, outsider, and shit-disturber - he was frank and daring, and had great taste, but also heart.

He was nev…

9/11 - 18 YEARS LATER

Image
18 YEARS AGO, like most everyone else, I watched the planes hit the twin towers on this day, on television, and was stunned. I felt instantly this was a different level of historic event I was witnessing - the world had changed. That gets said a lot, but 9/11 was a major shift - the start of the 21st century that has led, one way or another, to where we are today.
IRONICALLY, the rise of the digital social media world, and the collapse of the banking system a decade ago, could not be foreseen then, nor Trump, Brexit, or the resurgence of Russia and China, and the relative decline of America, in the world. Nor that a Black President would be twice elected in a once slavery-owning nation.
IN SOME WAYS, 9/11 feels like a much-more-distant event, now - like Pearl Harbour, or the Charge of the Light Brigade - because the 2003 illegal war in Iraq, and then the tragic destruction in Syria, as well as the enduring Palestinian-Israeli conflict, not to mention the rise of ever-more extreme radi…

JE ME SOUVIENS

Image
Anyone looking for an astringent corrective to the postmodern hypertrophies of the Tarantino style will find it in the beautiful and profoundly intelligent new film from Joanna Hogg, The Souvenir, executive produced by, among others, Martin Scorsese, and starring Tilda Swinton and her daughter, Honor Swinton Byrne, as a fictional mother and daughter in 80s London.

Like Once Upon A Time In Hollywood... The Souvenir is especially interested in framing a narrative around film, and directing film - in this instance, the hero is a young woman, from the English upper class, who has become a film student, and is seeking to make a film about working class life in a part of the country she barely knows. Hogg allows us to see how a film student (her in actuality looking back in memory) might film and tell the story of her own aesthetic awakening, through the medium she loves - through the story of her sentimental education, as it were, as a na├»ve lover, swept up by a Heathcliffian slightly older…

Hollywood Mon Amour

Image
It is perhaps no surprise that most (not all, thankfully) film critics have praised Tarantino's latest (9th) film Once Upon A Time In Hollywood... as a masterwork - I have seen it even called Shakespearean - a term that comes from a scene in the movie; but he is more a Jacobean Middleton. Tarantino's late career has been focused on revenge - one of the primary staples of drama and melodrama in all English literature; it is also, of course, the staple of Nicholas Cage's late career, so it is not an inherently perfect one. Violence is to Saint Quentin what bars are to San Quentin - the raison d'etre.

I cannot think of another director - not even Peckinpah or de Palma, Hitchcock or Scorsese - so cocked and aimed in one direction - that of setting up and paying off scenes and situations so that 'all hell breaks loose' and terrible violence ensues.

Tarantino has argued - often publicly and coarsely - for an art for art's sake separation between reel violence and r…