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NAPOLEON’S WILD HORSES

25 May

Cole Desolation
“Desolation”
c. 1836

Thomas Cole
1801-1848
America

I’m listening to the sound of the glorious invasion, treading water as history’s calvary overwhelms the collective mind of the human herd. There’s a tangle in my mind today. My spirits are low, my energy gravitating back toward bed but my will bids I won’t go. Wait, I’ve been this way before. I know this texture. These blind fingers know the music I have yet to hear.

There is solace in marble rooms built by a now-dead empire; there is comfort in the antique harmonies of strings and wooden pipes, human breath. I am doing nothing, treading water. I have yet to declare my beautiful whatever. I see the eyes of the people about me looking up in anticipation of… something? Revelation? I engage in the safety of dispersonal conversation. Human contact deprived of its physical discomforts, the infiltration of eros and envy. How peaceful we all are in this noöspherical coccoon. My fellow monkeys puzzle me.

In these chambers crammed with Emerson and Brodsky, Aristotle, Orwell, Wilde, Rossetti, Lorca, Delillo and Blake, there’s a man who sits here every day and plays electronic solitaire. Does he win? Outside, a sixteen year old kid watches bullshit hip hop at public expense and makes very loud trade negotiations on his phone. The 21st century black market barter system: if the girl wants his drugs she shall be prepared to swallow his semen in exchange.

At the back of my mind: a woman. Two perhaps. One spirit lying underneath a myriad of faces and curves? I hunger. Others hunger for me and I will not feed them. I have forgotten the name of a poet and retrieve some help from someone I barely knew once and do so no longer. He didn’t make the grade, still he retrieved the name of another long forgotten woman who’s words meant more to me than the legends her circle of acquaintance gave rise to. Legends with dicks of course. Ladies, it’s not that you’re not any good, it’s that you don’t care about immortality enough. You have no desire to make the world in your image.

I check in with new friends and at the same time learn about the new art forms that come of the ability to blend word and image and music at will, broadcast to the world. Things will change, fast and slow. We’re too short-lived to notice. Too fast-living to pay attention. I visit old friends, an almost daily habit. They’re different to me of course. But we communicate thanks to reason and the internet.

The brass infantry lets off a volley. The lone tenor is a cannon. The schizophrenic strings set to their frenetic, hysterical race toward spiritual orgasm: Freude, schöner Götterfunken, tochter aus Elysium…

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VERITE’

3 Mar

nightsky

Reality, someone writes somewhere, is not made of atoms, it is made of stories. This is a double edged idea.

It can be a very terrible thing, a reality made of human words, where only the Word is real and anything incompatible with it is branded heretical, cause for the death of whomsoever casts doubts. But the doubts must be cast into words and so, for this terrible reality of words to manifest, such words must be restricted to something canonical and narrow. Some prescripted orthodoxy must be enforced by authority: these words here hold the sole key to reality but those words there, adversaries for a counter view, are the enemy of the one true righteous orthodoxy.

An enemy of righteous orthodoxy must use words. And those words can only come by reference to the world of atoms.

On the other hand, a world made of atoms, only atoms, is also a terrible thing. We are all reduced to nakedness. We are deprived of meaning; our thoughts, our actions, our ways of going about things – all will be regarded as the activities of a natural machine programmed to its destiny along certain fixed lines.

A dog, the scientists appraise us, does not feel love. We read love into its behaviour actually surfeit of no more than its instinct to run with the pack. Furthermore our lofty notions of this thing love are likewise pernicious superstition. Not only do we mistake animal behaviour for love because we assume that the dog is like us; we also harbour illusions about our real natures by sugarcoating them with notions like love. We assume we are not like the dog.

But naturally one needs words to cast such a view. We need them to organize the activities that lead to such discoveries of science. We require them when formulating and expressing the resultant ideology. The truth is the world is made both of atoms and words. Matter and spirit. And between them energy.

What has become of the human species two-hundred thousand years along the rope from ape to superman? Here we are at the dawn of a brave new world that is hollow at the centre. We lurk on a dangerous precipice tho’ we argue about what precipice that actually is. For some it’s the impending complete loss of freedom. Amongst those for whom that’s true there an ongoing bar-room brawl as to what freedom is, and what actually guarantees it. Others think the Earth is in danger of dying or killing us. No-one mentions war.

There’s other themes that weave thru this narrative. Cracked families, weird, predatory sex, drunkeness, drugs – the usual apocalypse-friendly material of streetside preachers quoting random scary bits of the Old Testament. At the heart of this is a desperate search for meaning in the endeavor to take part in an imagined struggle between good and evil, however conceived. To be good might compel some to move to the country and form communities autonomous of the modern economy. For others virtue requires a staunch adherence to traditional principles and so socialism, atheism and hedonism are rejected and stern attempts are made to re-assert the values of family, hard work and national pride. Many more, I’d wager, ignore the big questions but struggle for virtue as a family attempting to live in marital harmony as wise parents amidst a swamp of constant and unbelievable distractive temptation.

Some combine all the above and seek to reimpose on the world a culture which adheres strictly to the Word. In aid of this they wage a propaganda war on the theory and fact of evolution. They live in restricted communities and forbid their children Hollywood movies and sexual exploration. They take the Bible literally and violate the Golden Rule unconsciously. They have seen the great abyss implied by modern human knowledge of the cosmos and, in fear, back away instinctively.

Most of us don’t. Many of us reject traditional religion simply because it fails to cushion our souls the way myths have always done. Traditional religious mythology – mythology in the sense of ideas that hold us together, that form a belief system – doesn’t work for modern people. At the dawn of monotheism, I suspect many people saw the old pagan cults and their stories in the same way. They no longer made sense. Discovery in the world of atoms had rendered old stories obsolete.

Our hunter/collector ancestors knew by long empirical observation where certain animals were headed, what plain inedible-looking plants cured illness. Their religion did not give them that information. Instead said information and the consequent results became the foundation of a mythology that cushioned their souls. And underneath all this was the feeling; the instinct for the Infinite universal in the human animal.

Consider, what insights into the spirit world obtained when we first began to use fire regularly? At night under the intense starlight of the pre-urban landscape around a fire. How did it change the view of the Dark which had shrouded everything before? What changes in dreams manifested? A campfire illuminates your surrounds but blots out the night sky as well. Their stories changed. And beliefs. How long did it take?

To cast dreams into words is to make up the stories that make up the world. To create the Myth. To look at the world wide awake, ask questions and submit whatever answers that occur to you subject to the rigours of relentless doubt, that is science. When writing stories you explain the whole. When obtaining reliable knowledge about the way things are, you assume your own ignorance.

In one you must be careful not to let your imagination run wild. In the other you must be careful when running wild with your imagination. Religion does not replace science, it is born of dreams. Science is born in experience of the waking world. But only, here’s the rub, only as experienced after dreams have shown you something that isn’t real. To consider the material causes and effects you must be aware of alternative possibilities. Dreams make this possible.

Science is the light that the campfire casts into the night illuminating a circle. Now our light’s a bit stronger, that’s all. It penetrates a little further up into outer space. And even more of the night sky is invisible to us. We’ve hardly noticed, distracted in our towering electronica. Materially, it’s a brave new world. But spiritually, we are back in the days when fire was new and like then we have no real idea how this will affect our dreams and what stories will come of it.

SOMETHING THAT CAUSES OR ACCELERATES

25 Feb

I picked up a sample of the student press yesterday. Very professional. The sad tendency of students to lay out their papers with serif typefaces for headlines and lots of useless white space isn’t in evidence here (tho’ the textboxes could be a little tighter). Neither’s the obligatory sociology lectures 101 viz the patriarchy, capitalism or some such. Pull quotes. Very professional.

Professional means competent, disciplined, effective; it also means conformist, bland, hollow and slick. Often the student press is dominated by campus pseudo-revolutionaries who have all the wit and humour of a bank loan application but without the socially useful purpose. Sometimes there’s the kind of anarchic humour of high adolescence that’s impossible to do any other time in life. It’s been a while since I’ve seen such and it’s not anywhere in evidence in Catalyst. It’s too professional.

Take “Travel With What You Know”, by-line: Kate O’Connell. This concerns the writer’s summer spent working as a volunteer in the much maligned failing Republic of Haiti. Interesting. I don’t remember any of my peers doing something so noble, read on.

Ten paragraphs, this short piece and what do we learn about Haiti? We learn, first sentence, that Ms O’Connell has stood in Port au Prince looking at the shattered downtown remains. We learn that a year ago they had an earthquake that killed 250 000 people and that a million Haitians are homeless as a result. We learn a cholera epidemic followed. And…

Well, nothing. Ten paragraphs and only one strays from the central theme: she’s a journalism student, she has skills, she travels to build her CV. She plans to get out, get anywhere, get all the way to the New York Times. If she ever actually met a Haitian or ate Haitian food or did anything else involving Haitians. I wouldn’t know. Still very professional. Committed. Traveling all that way to pad your CV with a piece that could’ve been written in South Yarra after five minutes with Google.

Not fair I s’pose to pick on Ms Connell. Actually no, actually horseshite! She’s a grown-up, just, and she’s published a bit of writing. Welcome to the Arena lassie. Writing – before it’s a career, a means to affluence and status, a profession (trade, actually) – is a vocation. There’s a duty attached to it. You are required at the very least to impart information and the most boneheaded pulpy bit of tripe at least requires something other than blatant self-promotion.

Or does it? Does it? What am I saying? Do I know what century I live in? Blatant self-promotion is the only reason to do anything anymore. It’s come to this where the undergrad press that once challenged illiberal laws now makes a backdrop of this:

Haiti

For, explicitly, a career advancement strategem, absolutely sans irony. This ain’t the hippie jive man. Working on your student rag gets you brownie points in the marketplace nothin’ wrong with it. And I remember an editor of my student rag who was explicitly determined to use it as propaganda (her word). Who needs it. But the ethos of victory in the marketplace via promotional savvy and video blitz has become a monster. Surely there’s someone serious out there, or genuinely funny. Hello….

Oh well. To the Fourth Estate send a dozen white lillies.

ENDANGERED SPECIES

7 Dec

Britishreadingroom

I enter this palace for the public and the cool stones greet me; solemn welcome. Outside: human gorillas, their shirts off revealing a legacy of bad tattoo technique and liver damage, stalk about the lawn looking for nice middle-class kids to intimidate into handing over their spare change. Hell! Why not? Why should they be the ones to enjoy the joys of intoxication wearing their clean textiles designed to make ’em look ‘cool’ while busy getting shitfaced? Well they wait ’til post meridian for one. The human gorillas have been here since 7am. They have a cask or two. These days it’s commonplace to bear witness to squalid wasted lives right on the doorstep of this country’s finest library.

Inside and I’m tap-tap-tapping away at keys provided me at public expense. Walk along the rows of computers and you’ll see a lot of FaceBook pages; lots of backpacker accommodation, emails, video clips of car racing, of rap gods, of interfaces with various financial institutions. None of it has anything to do with the life of the mind.

Brisithreadingroomconstruction

Up the stairs, a vertical diagonal that zig-zags its way up three floors of public space. At the top there’s a domed room. Ah! domed rooms… this library is one of those colonial neo-classical jobbies that went up everywhere within European empires of the 19th century. Them’s were the times if you had any money. It’s in its original condition mostly, old desks, green lamps. The walls are surrounded by the meager canon of Australia. Many books about obscure figures, much polemic on minor episodes. We are a young country.

The dome is a high one and walls that lead up to it are verandas for the ‘museum’ part. The main feature: Ned Kelly’s armour. I wonder what Kelly’d think of his armour being used for tourism purposes by the State that killed him?

I hadn’t been up there for years, not interested. But I went up to get a view of the Dome Room and realized I’d forgotten its wonders. There’s a lot more to Australia than bloody Ned Kelly. Some of us have good taste even. There’s a delicious leatherbound 1946 edition of Baudelaire’s Les fleurs du mal with a Kandinsky-esque design by Jean Landau. There’s prints by Hokusai and Watanabe. There’s an enormous volume from the 1820s and 30s – drawings of birds by John James Audubon. Delicious, even if you don’t like the stuff generally and I don’t much. Worth a bit apparently. Won’t say how much, wouldn’t want to tempt anybody. 🙂

On one of the walls an enormous lecture by Gertrude Stein. It’s concrete poetry, not designed to actually be read. Properly anyway. But in the Dome Room a curve band runs about the diameter with various quotes that are, from various writers viz libraries: what they are, what they mean. My favourite is Jorge Luis Borges whose idea of Heaven is a library. Another states:

Libraries are reservoirs of strength, grace and wit, reminders of order, calm and continuity, lakes of mental energy, neither warm nor cold, light nor dark. The pleasure they give is steady, unorgastic, reliable, deep and long-lasting. In any library in the world, I am at home, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.

Is that not beautiful? I won’t say who wrote it. Google it, someone will be surprised.

This place has changed as the curator of a school tour will tell her audience. Once upon a time there was no leeway for anything but the strictest observance of miserable discipline as exported by havens of sadism like Harrow. You couldn’t do anything. Now the pendulum’s swung the other way. It’s not so much that the library has become run-down and mediocre, quite the contrary – the library itself, the librarians – are excellent. This place runs very well and has a lifetime’s study in it. But now what can you not do here. And so it’s a free internet cafe…. etc.

And it’s a place that is host to many students particularly from Asia whose customs do not require, for example, the observance of silence standard in Western libraries. That problem is not addressed by those who notice it for fear of accusations of bigotry. Another reason we are incompetent to assert our customs in out own country: they have eroded. The British bootstrap has given way to our famously casual ways and the former strictness with which children were raised has become taboo in English speaking countries, replaced by something as yet vague. We are forgetting the custom that a library is a certain kind of place much like a church or a museum. How are visitors s’posed to understand our customs when we ourselves are oblivious?

Meantime the Market enters the building. A new line has been drawn and the foyers of the building are now retail zones. One annex, dedicated to electronic media, is regularly used for swank corporate do’s (public and private). Mmm smells good. Nothing wrong with that, per se. However, tho’ the integrity of the library is still maintained, its territory has shrunk. And the people within it display diminishing respect. Sadly, the more people thru the door, the more funding, hence the internet cafe. But if the place is crowded out with backpackers on holiday who smirk when you tell them you’re finding it hard to read because they make too much noise and if that becomes routine, something you just have to put up with…

ArgentineLibrary

Oh I’m having a Grand Whinge today aren’t I? Truly things aren’t so catastrophic as I make out. In general people do know how to act. Still the disrespect I’ve described is in evidence and often.

Behind it I sense the erosion of our traditional sense of these places and what they do and how? They are democratic institutions, anyone may enter. But few do, at least for the purposes of reading, writing; the study of art, the study of music, of genealogy, of technological communications, of Japanese flower arrangement, of the history of the Australian Open. What’s forgotten is that that doesn’t matter. What matters is that, tho’ such spaces for the life of the mind may be something only the few are interested in, there are thus fruits born that benefit everyone. Such spaces needs must be places where one can think, unselfconscious, still and absorbed.

This is such a space, still. But somewhere there’s a puncture from which the peaceful ether that makes it what it is, is leaking.

OPIUM FOR THE MIND

6 Dec

Gin Lane
“Gin Lane”, 1751
William Hogarth (1697-1764)

As I understand it, and I don’t much, the standard effect upon indigenous peoples of economic usurpation by modern states is nihilism and substance addiction. Marx argues that culture is built on economic foundations. And the style of these foundations will determine the culture of the people who work at them. This includes religion which Marx described infamously as opium.

Opium for the mind? Well many adherents to religious faith speak of its comforts. Scanning the rags a while back I remember Kylie Kwong saying that being Buddhist had helped her cope with the death of her father. Faith is a comfort but you cannot get there by knowing that it is a comfort and deciding henceforth that it’s a good idea to believe. You can act as if you believe, you can want to believe. But it will persist as an elusive orgasm. Prayer may help. Meditation may serve also, somewhat differently. But should you seek faith it will very possibly elude you. You must feel it.

The faith of Aboriginal people was wholly integrated into the wild landscape. Until Europeans arrived there was very little cultivated land in Australia. Survival was a harsh business, the place didn’t allow you much breathing space. To understand their faith one must understand the Dreaming. Perhaps best described to denizens of the modern world as the Collective Unconscious. Behind all these words lies the notion that when we sleep, when we dream we are all somehow connected. That to dream is to visit places all creatures who dream visit as well. That everything is connected. How to maintain this simple and beautiful style of faith when the hegemon of the world comes calling with agricultural farming, botanical science, firearms, architecture and iron tools? Imagine please the effect on the psyche of Victorian England if, say, the Klingons came down for a visit and decided to stay?

Faith can be shattered by circumstance. It’s a well worn story, the lifelong pious man who lost faith when his teenage daughter dies in a car crash. This failure of faith can destructive enough on an individual but what if your entire people sustain a mindfuck on a much larger scale? Surely if there is a cancer making you stumble from the path this is it. Or, more accurately, a sandstorm forever burying the path forever?

Many will do the knee jerk ‘like I give a shit thing’ and turn off, but every Saturday night there are people living like there’s no tomorrow. Well-adjusted people (or at least law abiding enough to avoid the penal system) who’re adept at the use of modern cosmetics and have the discipline and brains it takes to earn not much in a service industry or better. People without criminal records, bad credit histories, backgrounds of mental ill-health – normal people. Everywhere people, normal and otherwise, live to get high. Some choose esoteric highs like adrenaline. Some take ‘delight in the carriage gently rolling’ but that’s it. Some take refuge in organized religion and a precious few live quite naturally according to the dictates of generations of tradition. But even here there’s erosion. Nowadays, the Amish send their children out to live among ‘the English’ for a while and they can choose to stay.

But how many among us here would choose the Amish way of life: to live as 17th century Dutch villagers did, free of the interferences of entrenched, hereditary hierarchies but always and forever according to the dictates of old men? We live and work and love among, around the steel and glass towers that’ve surpassed the pyramids with a new democratic magnificence. (How often do we stand still to appreciate the beauty of a skyscraper?) And many of us are only able to push daily thru a cacophony of harsh noise, artificial and otherwise because dreaming of their holidays in a land where humans live as we all did before the rise of the skyscrapers: we crave community and fearing cancer huddle in cities, crowding in on “one another like a flock of sheep that spies a hungry wolf.”

We can’t go back. Modern life has changed our bodies. We just can’t hack the life of a peasant let alone that of a tribal traveller on the Earth. We don’t know the Earth well enough. We have forgotten that Earth and will never remember. This is our Earth now. We are no longer in the condition to face Nature daily stark naked. And we wouldn’t want to. Not really. But we’ve lost something. I think the crack appeared immediately. We began to insist on the primacy of science and the stories and rituals that had helped us cope with a certain way of life became pale shadows, photocopies of photocopies. From the beginning of the modern age artists became almost immediately disobedient and hostile to logic. There were eras – the realism of the 1870s, the Pop Art of the 1960s – when artists loved science certainly but only to misunderstand it, to bury it under layers of pure shit. Artists went whacko c.1800 and’ve remained so ever since. There’s a reason for that.

We have benefited grandly from this adjustment but we have suffered too. And this suffering resembles the misery of the poor little rich boys and girls. Free of the outrageous whims of the economy manifest as scarce jobs or failed crops yet the unhappiness is genuine, compounded and complicated both by society’s dismissal of it and its submergence under all the oblivion money can buy.

Take Christmas: the year’s most significant holiday season. It’s importance is now primarily economic: it drives the retail cycle. After that it’s social. Christmas is the time when most of the family get a few days break from the rat race that plays havoc with schedules. Family? or friends – do they still call it an orphan’s Christmas? But by midday the streets are full of people. Having spent a month scrambling like seagulls all over the malls they’re here a couple hours after the presents under the tree have exploded in a tempest of paper, ribbon and stuff. And they’re shopping!!! Midnight these same streets will be full of drunken people, ba-boom-boom crack, ba boom-boom crack! It’s party time! The honeys and the homies are cruising for action.

That’s the way it is. That’s what we’re doing. Hardly the solemn, sombre contemplation of the birth of He who would die for our sins. What small percentage of households mention Jesus once on Christmas morning? Why should they? If Jesus holds no meaning what virtue is there in pretending that he does? Perhaps we no longer remember Jesus in our hearts because the culture he (arguably) helped kick off has rendered the nightmare of his Passion and all such distant. The crucifixion stands not for our bodily torments anymore, it stands for the brutal and remote past. For how far we’ve come. But having gone forward and higher we’ve tripped too, we’ve stumbled.

The rituals and artefacts of a culture are those things that keep us in check, keep us grounded in a life that means something. They inspire us to the virtues expected by civilization. Christmas used to be a feast. Peasants need a good reason to party because they couldn’t really afford to. That is why, in places where these type cultures are still intact, backpackers are so often surprised by the generosity born from such poverty. They slaughtered a pig for me! Ah but they slaughtered the pig also for themselves, their rare chance to gorge on pork. You merely provide the occasion.

Because of this guests are always served first. It’s a refinement born of repressing that very urge to gorge. A way of keeping your venal gluttony in check and thus converting it to something beautiful. Deep down the whole point is that this is a chance to have fun for those who don’t get much. But to do this without suffering deprivation later it must be strictly occasional. Some sort of reason is required and the reason must have nothing to do with its underlying raw animal motivations. The reason must be something to do with that part of us that is not of the material world. If everyone acknowledges that it’s just a pig-fest why bother with the guest? Why? Because the guest is the Reason and raising children who will put a stranger first without question makes this actually so.

The culture and the economy come together, harmonious. If such harmonious civilizations be happy marriages, ours is two lives spent in different wings of the mansion. The bar and the medicine cabinet well-stocked and always handy.

THE FORMULA

30 Nov

formula

Sometime in the early 80s one of the more obscure American Rock Legends of the 1960s was invited to a radio station in Tuscan, Arizona to guest DJ a spot. This guy was known to be more of influence then a best-seller and c.1983 was not a good time for such as him. So there he is in the studio and he whacks his latest record on. Within minutes the programme director calls the control room ordering the music be cut in favour of the standard list of then ruling dinosaurs: REO Speedwagon, Journey, Foreigner. The guest DJ hears this, stands and walks out. His name was Frank Zappa.

The programme director phoned the order in from somewhere else, New York maybe. LA? Who knows. The radio station had recently been taken over by the Abrams network in that early round of media concentration taking place during the 1980s. Economies of scale inspired the new owners to forgo inefficient local programming in favour of centralized control with standard playlists developed by marketing experts maximizing advertising revenue. This, considering Zappa’s extremely esoteric tastes and famously cantankerous demeanor, made the decision to invite him on air at all an embarrassing waste of time and money. Here was one guy – anyone remotely familiar with him wouldn’t doubt this – who would not play this game. Why bother?

Let’s get inside that Tuscan radio station from the technocrat’s point of view. The resident DJ has to do what the programme directors tells him to. The PD is not even in the city, there is no interpersonal relationship and the ability of that DJ to negotiate anything outside the standard playlist is nil. Do it or find another job, full stop: end transmission. Even if the PD were in the building that leeway would be non-existent. The playlist decree had been compiled by statistical marketing robots somewhere unknown. There’s three tiers of bureaucracy here separated on purpose by an impenetrable wall of authoritarian control systems. The DJ can’t make a decision to do things a little differently, the PD can’t either. Whoever’s directly upstairs might be able to bring the matter up at the next meeting of relevant heads. If they do a decision’s likely to come down sometime the following decade: MEMO re Zappa – No.

A centralized, standardized apparatus requires that directives eminating from those organs of command must be followed. No recourse. There is simply no way the DJ can talk to a person senior in the chain and say “Look, Zappa’s not gonna play our game but it’s worth cutting him 2 hours of slack for the kudos it’ll win this station with that part of the audience who’ve got high standards blah blah blah.” This doesn’t fit with The Formula. It’s a distraction from the Goal and therefore gets dealt with harshly in the ever expanding mega-tomes of protocol that Human Resource department spew out each year. It doesn’t compute that, altho’ 99.5% of the Tuscan audience gives not a rat’s about Zappa there are .5% that do. And they care a lot! And that it’s exactly that .5% that form the most powerful cogs in the wheels of word-of-mouth.

But it doesn’t have to compute. The deep-lovers of rock music have been collated with other minor factors in the marketing mix and it’s been found by the cost/benefit razor gang to be immaterial to the prime goal which is more ads for more money. The formulas that decide the ideal playlist for garnering large shares are friendly with the formulas that determine the entire repetoir of songs that occupy them. There’s about three formulas for writing songs. They only use two of them now. Downsizing.

Elsewhere, during 1980s David Geffen signed Neil Young to his label and had nothing but trouble. Young was a bit of a prize, the avatar of authenticity. In the post-punk era of fallen and jaded idols Young was the one Hippie-era rock god who’d both emerged unscathed by the great rock war of 1977 and managed to sell records as well. Geffen was stoked at first, then disappointed and finally blind furious. The first thing Young did was put out a synthesizer record! Then he went country. He went all over but the one place where Geffen wanted him to go and stay put – Classic Rock. Did it occur to him that ‘classic rock’ was simply a certain time along a process chain and that what’d made Young so authentic in the first place was that he basically did what he felt was right? No. Geffen wanted his authentic rocker writing and recording and playing to brand. He wanted Neil Young to produce standard Neil Young music. What he got instead was Trans.

I must be one of the few people in the universe who like Trans. I have to admit it would be a little perplexing for various marketing nerds and apparatchiks in the editorial offices at RockMag Inc. It’s 1982 and the quintessential folk-dude produces a synth record! What’s he doing? Is he selling out and trying to be hip now? Like that would work. Who’d buy scruffy old Neil Young in concert with Duran Duran and the Human League? Haircut 100 even? Forget it. But he’d never even come close to selling out. He didn’t even know what was going on out there submerged in his northern California ranch. He just got his hands on some new technology and liked the sounds and cut a record from them. Simple, easy to comprehend and yet totally inscrutable to those who’s job it is to apply The Formula.

MAN MADE WEATHER

24 Nov

radiotower
I’m listening to Steven Kotzen- something rationalizing the private sector interest rate hikes a couple weeks back. I’m hearing that New Zealanders come here and end up begging, we fly them home. It’s the cheapest solution.

There’s a protest! Against nuclear waste from France; it’s not safe, it is. Is! Is not! Cried out by people who have no idea. You need to ask a physicist, an engineer and a geologist. They’ll tell it’s complicated; you need to be a physicist, an engineer and a geologist. The ABC News with its reassuring old style theme and clipped plum voices. A tradition gifted by a now dead empire. Impatient me, waiting for music. So I can write.

I’m listening to an announcement of government policy that s’posedly addresses a habit of the indigenous people in remote parts of my country (remote as in ‘a long way from a city’). This habit consists of putting petrol in an empty milk carton, in a plastic bag, a fruit juice bottle. Inhale fumes until thought and feeling disappear.

China and India are emerging world powers, they tell me. Kevin Rudd and Stephen Smith; Hilary Clinton and Robert Gates sat down to discuss the future. How to get India onside. How to head off China. Very important talks. Very important for the ego of Kevin Rudd I’m sure. He belongs to that tradition of Australian politics – the man frustrated by the tinpot country he’s been given. Makes it harder to be globally important, y’see.

I reckon the Americans are telling ’em how if the Oz government doesn’t bite the bullet and get stuck into Afghanistan, Obama’s never going to visit. By the time he does I reckon no-one’ll care anymore.

Obamadope

Ah…the music:

Damn! A coronation anthem up first. Handel. No thanks. I switch to youtube and download some alternative pop music. Pay no mind to the Lady Gaga bollocks. The kids are a’right. Some of ’em. They still retain their souls intact, a little tarnished maybe by the man-made weather. And that ain’t easy.

Raise a glass.