Ode to Kiki Dee

Amazing face, so starry-eyed. Surprise!

Staring out into the seventies,
Were you ever there?

You look like you are,
Enjoying the colours,

And then you’re not.
And then you’re gone.

No more besides,
That Elton John.

The count

He sits alone in his spaceship, counting the hours. The minutes, the days and the seconds too, but mainly the hours. They are his focus.

The more hours he counts, the fewer there are to go. The sooner this mission will be over.

He is hanging in space, counting. All of space around him, under him, over him, behind him, in front of him. Time is a line, space is where the line sits.

His ship moves along its own line of time, a curve, a wave, millions of miles long, with known endpoints. The estimated mission time minus the elapsed time equals the time left to go, the time to count.

The ship’s line is known, programmed, predicted. It could potentially change, but conditions are allowed for, recalculations will take place, the line will adjust and reshape accordingly. This is all done for him, it shows on  a display in every area of the ship. He doesn’t need to count. But he does.

He trusts the computers, the ship. It isn’t a lack of faith that causes him to count, hope to be more trustworthy than them, catch them out miscounting, prove himself to be more in control of time. They’re far more accurate and effective than him at counting. But he does.

He just wants to know his own place in time for himself. He checks with the displays to help calibrate himself from time to time. After so long now, his time is getting pretty close to real time, to the ship’s line. This is his time though, his line. In his head, just from feeling time for himself, knowing each hour, marking it. Nodding, adding it to the total, then carrying on.

His ship floats onwards.

Update to my Kurt Vonnegut page

Today I’ve updated my Kurt Vonnegut page, which now has on one page my whole dissertation on him from 1994. I’ve also added downloads of the essay in PDF and ePub format, which meant I could download it to my new iPad. Something very satisfying about being able to read my own work on there. I’m hoping in future to re-edit and add more to it.

Isolating and treating the Slacker gene

Here at Flotsky Inc we take great pride in our research into many areas, not least in the world of genetics. After many years of research we feel ready to announce our discovery of the Slacker gene. There are a few characteristics in the human gene code that seem to stem from it, and understanding of those elements do seem to help with the treatment of it. Please be aware, many of those in possession of said gene will not have got this far into the paragraph, so please feel free to explain these treatments to those you suspect need help.

Intelligence and Ego

Undoubtably, there is a link between these two elements for those that are imbued with the Slacker gene. Even if they seem lacking in ego, in their minds they ultimately know they are right about most things. The process works thus:

I am told I should do this
However, even though this seems on the surface sensible, I know it isn’t worth doing
Therefore I won’t do it

This takes a highly developed subconscious belief in the quality of one’s intelligence, even if they themselves don’t believe they are. Luckily the treatment for this is simple, and involves knowing this process. One simply injects another stage of logic:

I am told I should do this
However, even though this seems on the surface sensible, I know it isn’t worth doing
However, I know that this is my ego talking, and I’m actually more intelligent than that, than even my ego believes
Therefore I will prove this extra level of intelligence and do it

Simple application of this new level, with vigour where appropriate, can help counteract the highly developed intelligence and ego partnership.

Magpie Syndrome

This is a side-effect of the slacker gene, and is one of its most debilitating problems. Like the magpie, one is always distracted by the shiny things. Whether it is a television programme, following Twitter, checking ones email repeatedly, or many other things, one reasons that the shiny thing nearby is more important than the task in hand. The trick here is, almost literally, blinkers. Shut off all distractions. Move away from them if need be. Make one’s focus the task itself, and fight to keep on task. This can be a battle of wills, trickery and treatery can help too, aiming for a time, a word count, often with the possibility of a small reward, a cup of tea, a brief break. The skill is to make the reward small and under-distracting.

Anxiety

Anxiousness may not seem the most obvious part of what makes a slacker, but it is undoubtedly there under the surface bubbling away. What may seem like laziness and stasis, may actually be the fault of anxiety and self-doubt over making an action. Sufferers find a multitude of reasons to not do something, to avoid, in order that they may feel safe in the cocoon they have created to shield them.

To overcome this, the best course of action is to recognise the intelligence previously mentioned, use that aligned with the ego to disprove all the fears that are used as excuse. Remember that quality of thought as proof to counteract them, remove them one by one until stasis can be beaten.

These simple methods can prove useful in fighting the effects of the Slacker gene, should you feel you may too be a sufferer like me, try them!

You know it is time to stop writing when…

You write something like the following:

Horne and Corden are travelling through time, stealing ideas for sitcoms.
Doctor Who is chasing them, trying to stop them destroying the history of comedy.
He stops them by writing an entire series of Terry and June in 1978 which uses all the main elements of Gavin and Stacey, thus foiling their rise to fame in the first place.

I think it’s probably time for bed.

Kurt Vonnegut reads Breakfast of Champions

92Y Podcast: Kurt Vonnegut Reads Breakfast of Champions – 92Y Blog – 92nd Street Y – New York, NY

I’ve been going through some old links I’ve been meaning to read, and found this. It’s an MP3 of Kurt Vonnegut’s first public reading of Breakfast of Champions. This was my favourite Vonnegut novel for some time, until Bluebeard just pipped it in my own affections, when I read it on honeymoon in Paris, visiting galleries and seeing the works of some of the artists mentioned in the book. So Bluebeard kind of had an unfair advantage there.

Copywrite

“these strange college students with their funny jargon and nerdy ways did more to start the computer revolution than any silicon engineering team. naturally curious, these mit students had devoted their lives to intellectual tinkering. they believed in a co-operative society and imagined themselves living in a utopian world in which people shared information – sometimes without regard to property rights.”

Stephen l Kent – the first quarter (talking about the creators of the first video game, spacewar).

what Stephen Kent talks about here is the start of not only the arcade game revolution, but also the attitude which was later to form the basis of the morals of the internet. A world where the right to speak, the right to own is paramount, over any international boundaries, over and above any laws. If it could be obtained through the internet, whether sound, image or text, it has been exchanged. As such, this had led to use by groups finding themselves outside of the law, in the case of pornography and music, or outside of law and morality, such as paedophiles and terrorists.

in recent years, groups who feel that they have rights over information have started to lay their claims more strongly. The music companies have taken Napster to court, and at this moment in time look close to preventing exchange through that means. However it is very likely that by cutting the head off “the monster”, this will only serve to cause many more heads to grow back in its place. This again seems to be part of the nature of the internet.

the latest step forward in these technologies is file sharing between fabbers. fabbers are industrial devices for creating objects from material, normally plastics. They follow a set of instructions to carve or mould (amongst other techniques) a wide variety of things. Now one of the companies involved in this process are proposing sharing these sets of instructions online. There could come a time where fabbers are compact and available in the home. If you want to buy sometime, you could download the file for it and create it at home. Or potentially, pirate the instructions and create it at cost solely of the materials, just the same as burning a CD from MP3s you’ve downloaded.

since the internet has “arrived”, it has brought a slackening of the corporate control over property rights, which could potentially lead to a change reversing the industrial revolution, with many consumer products actually created in the home.

Bill Drummonds Dead. Bill Drummonds Dead

So I just caught the train. Which train, I’m not entirely sure. But it seems like the right one. Everyone else seems to think so too, but we won’t know for sure until it leaves, and they tell us where it is going.

Bill Drummond was in “Big in Japan”, a late 70’s pop group. They had a hit record which I think was called “Big in Japan”. Japan was exotic but mysterious in the 70’s, a bit like Sweden was the sexiest place in the world at that time.

He then became manager of two Liverpudlian groups, Echo and the Bunnyman, and The Teardrop Explodes. His ego clashed with that of Julian Cope, lead singer with the latter. Cope hates Drummond, Drummond seems more benevolent, without actually respecting Cope.

Later he got back into making music himself, being part of The J.A.M.M.S. and The KLF. The KLF were an Art Terrorist Music Collaboration. Everything reeked of theft and cheapness, but with a great font and the best beats money could buy.

Bill Drummond is, to me, the Jushin “Thunder” Liger of music. They both “Con through beauty”.

The train is going where I hoped, incidentally.

Wrestling is all about fakery. Fakery has been a proud tradition in wrestling for well over a hundred years. All but the true fan invokes voluntary suspension of disbelief to achieve their enjoyment.

I love Wrestling, but know that very few matches will be great matches. In truth, most fans of anything know this. No one goes to a football game to see a nil-nil draw, no one goes to a baseball game to see it won one to nothing in the bottom of the third, no one goes to a Rothko exhibition to see a load of paintings that look the same. You go to see a 5-4 victory, a 10-9 won in the bottom of the ninth, an installation which is so vast and brooding you can barely move, but it is still easier to be convinced.

Wrestlers, good ones, act their hearts out. They so want for you to believe its real. There tends to be two different ways they achieve this. One is the intensity match, where two great wrestlers pit their wits, matching every hold, achieving dominance, losing it, regaining it, until all the knowledge the audience has of who should win is lost, and they are lost in waiting for the final move which might clinch it.

The other method is to stun the crowd through an act of insane bravery and stupity. Allowing yourself to be thrown off a twenty-five foot cage to break through a desk certainly fits this category. I’ve seen this done by Mick Foley. A good wrestling fan will have a “Foley is God” sign in their collection, such is the notoriety and fame he achieved through this single act.

Jushin Liger is a different matter. He dresses as a character from a japanese comic book, a mask with three horns. He is tiny but athletic, gracious and spectacular. For years I only read about his exploits. Then one day I bought a tape from a trader, the underground network of wrestling fans. Dodgy copies of copies of matches from all over the world, Japan, Mexico, America

He was everything I expected and more. He could tell a story with the way he wrestled, never the same match. Moves that won the week before would be blocked, so he would use a new offense each time. But the final match on the tape had the most spectacular of them all, the Shooting Star Press.

He threw his opponent out of the the ring. As they staggered near the ropes, he ran towards them at speed and hit a slide under the ropes. This knocked his opponent over the ringside barrier, sprawled across the crowd. Jushin stood on the edge of the ring, holding the top rope. He looked quickly behind him, and then jumped up on the top rope. And then flew.

Backwards, he flipped through the air, arching upwards, then falling, over the barrier, and onto his opponent. It looked further and higher than Bob Beamon jumped in Mexico. Simply stunning, but it wasn’t the end of the match. It should have been. It should have been the end of his career. It didn’t in reality hurt him that much. B ut in my world he would have been carried away on a stretcher, waving to the crowd like Evel Knievel, and never wrestled again. It would have made that moment all the more magnificent.

But a few minutes later both he and his opponent were back in the ring. I can’t quite even remember if he won the match or not. At a moment like that, despite the fakery, you forget that and simply lose yourself in the beauty of the moment.

The KLF told you their music was stolen (KLF stands for Kopyright Liberation Front), almost to the extent that they want you to hate them for it. But they made something beautiful from the pieces. Their appearences on Top of the Pops were chaotic, surreal and comic. Adverts in national newspapers alerted you to their actions, normally a record release or media stunt; enigmatic statements (unless you recognised the font). A lways promising the event that would end or change the world, never quite right, never quite achieving what they or you had hoped for, but even in failure they achieved their own form of beauty.

Julian Cope once penned a sweet little pop song called “Bill Drummonds Dead”. I’ve met Julian Cope, stood outside Brixton Fridge after a gig. When he turned up, I was writing in my diary. I got him to sign beneath the last word I’d written. I took it back and carried on writing. He was very friendly, and chatted to the assembled few whilst his heavily-pregnant wife waited in their 2CV.

Bill Drummond wrote in his book “45” that he wanted to write the story of how The Teardrop Explodes should have been. They would have ended up in South America, unknown there, playing small bars, but writing brilliant music. They would mail tapes back to Bill Drummond to release to the Western world. After a few years, he would seal their greatness by flying out to meet them, going off alone with Cope, and shooting him in the head. Tragedy would add the final ingredient, and make them one of the greatest bands of all time.

I’ve just read “45”. It is a great book. Within its pages Drummond hints quite heavily at his daily routine. He doesn’t live far away from me. I think I may be able to track him down.

I pondered what I might do if I met him. It occured to me that I could seal his greatness. I could meet him, mine him for ideas, and then shoot him in the head. I could then go and meet Julian Cope (I have a pretty good idea where he lives too). We could record a tribute single. Ideally it would get to No.2, behind a remixed version of “What Time is Love”. Drummond 1 Cope 2. I think he would like that.

But I won’t. If I do meet him, I’d rather thrust a chaotically-typed version of the past few pages into his hand, and walk away. I might spraypaint something onto a nearby wall to commemorate the occasion. Perhaps:

“What the fuck just happened? 2002”

or

“Flotsky wants his moment of beauty”

or

“Art for the individual. Make it. Look at it. Destroy it. Start over”

But it will probably be:

“Bill Drummond met Flotsky Bruce near here (insert date). Drummond read (not dead), Bruce walked away”

The Dark Side of the Moon

The dark cove rose far above them, so tall it almost blocked the sky from view. There was no sand, just earth brown rock, gnarled and rippled like a bark from a tree.

David lost his footing, slipping on the sodden rock. He plunged into the icy water, which firmly pulled him away. A hopeless battle ensued, limbs desperately grasping for a hold which would never be found.

His brother was watching the vast swarms of seagulls circling the rock stack. The constant screams of the birds almost silenced the sea as they washed to and fro.

Sarah screamed, and her brother raced down the rocks. By the time he was at the water’s edge, David was far off in the distance. She shouted down to him not to go in, the waves were so fierce. She ran off to get help. David’s brother saw that she was right, there was no way of getting to him. He slowly lowered himself to the rock and waited.

He could see David bob further and further away, arms waving, appearing to shout. The sea swallowed his noise. Piece by piece he was disappearing from view. First the chest, then the head and finally the limp arms were devoured by the hungry ocean.

He focused hard on the spot where David had sunk, willing him to reappear. But nothing came, bar the low thud of an approaching helicopter. For hours it circled, trying to find the glimpse his brother was willing. Eventually, with a shrug, the speed of the blades picked up, and the helicopter was gone.

Still he sat, waiting. Night fell but not his gaze, fixed firmly on that precise location. None of the coast guards or policemen could break it. Finally the warm arms of Sarah willed him away, and limply they left the rocks.

The noise of the family’s grief was so loud it took a day or so to hear the silence. David’s brother hadn’t uttered a word since the drowning. He had just stared straight ahead continuing his vigil. His parents were racked with guilt when they noticed. It wasn’t their fault. Grief is selfish, so all-consuming.

“You tell us when you want to talk, we’re here for you”. They respected his silence, gave him his space. But they just seemed like giant listening machines, primed for any utterance. At first he hadn’t noticed, but as his parents became more and more understanding, all he could see was how large the ears in his family were.

The realisation slowly came that David wasn’t going to emerge from the waves. The pain was huge, the tears were wrenched through every pore. Visions swirled into view. Some were just replays of what had happened. In a strange way they were easier to come with, as they were the reality. But sometimes vast vacuums and turbines sucked and chopped David’s body, turnin the ocean a vivid crimson. Or that he was a giant, striding through the waves, only to find that even his huge fingers couldn’t grip the tiny fish-like David.

It was too much. He ran down to the living room, flung open the door and with all the power in his body rasped “Murrr…”. No words came, just air. Sound refused to emerge from his throat. He fell to the floor agonised at this latest discovery. It seemed as if, as well as David, the sea now had his words.

His mother held him tight until the tears began to subside. She rolled with every flinch and spasm, desperately searching herself for the right words. Nothing could comfort him yet, she needed to wait for just the right moment.

A few days later she came into his room with an exercise book and pen. “If you can’t say what you want to, maybe you could try to write it.” He nodded gently and moved slowly to his desk.

All the words had built up in his mind as if trapped, and he couldn’t get them down on paper fast enough. There was so much to say. How he missed David, how he blamed himself for not being able to rescue him, how the torture of seeing his brother die had only begun with his death. He refused to stop until he had had his say. The first book was handed back to his mother with a request for another one. No sleep was possible. He wrote night and day for forty-eight hours until he slumped across the desk, pen in hand, masking the last page of his fourth book.

His mother cried as she turned each page, not just fro the grief at the loss of her son, but also with the joy of the birth of another. Before she had only heard the inquisitive voice of a young boy, but now on paper that voice seemed to break and take on a deeper tone. She felt the rare sense of privilege for a parent of insight into their child’s perception of the world.

The vivid light spilling into the bedroom confused him, the clock said eleven pm, but his room was lit with golden rays. As he sat up he was greeted by the sight of the fullest moon he had ever seen, he could make out every rise and crater on its surface. It was as if his room was in orbit around it, he felt so close.

The horror dawned along with his familiarity. This was the moon that had risen when David was finally taken, the moon which controlled the tide that had swallowed him up.

A scream formed but never came. Nothing in the room could hide the glare. He froze upright in bed, held tight by its pull, and hauntedly observed its passage across the night sky.

His mother soon had blackout curtains fitted to encourage him to sleep. But it was always there, and at some point in the night he would find himself drawn to the window to make sure.

Dark crescents soon formed under his eyes. The attempts to get him back to school failed, as he would find himself sleeping through each lesson, drained by his nocturnal vigil. Confined to his bed, he would watch the sun as well, waiting for the return of its evil partner.

Desperation overtook him one evening. He wrenched his body away from the bed, flung open the curtains and whispered ” Go away, leave me alone”. And as he did, it slipped away.

The eclipse started surprisingly quickly, a huge bite of moon revealing the death that was to come. Simon stared open-mouthed. He knew he could speak now, but there were no words to say. The darkness washed smoothly over it, gradually devouring it all. A ring, a last glimpse, and then it was swallowed whole.

It didn’t matter that it would return, Simon had now the satisfaction of viewing its slow demise, and that seemed revenge enough.

Simon talked about it occasionally in the months and years that followed, but he wrote a lot more. That voice was stronger than ever.

Copywrite

These strange college students with their funny jargon and nerdy ways did more to start the computer revolution than any silicon engineering team. naturally curious, these MIT students had devoted their lives to intellectual tinkering. they believed in a co-operative society and imagined themselves living in a utopian world in which people shared information – sometimes without regard to property rights.

Stephen L. Kent – the first quarter (talking about the creators of the first video game, Spacewar).

what Stephen Kent talks about here is the start of not only the arcade game revolution, but also the attitude which was later to form the basis of the morals of the internet. a world where the right to speak, the right to own is paramount, over any international boundaries, over and above any laws. if it could be obtained through the internet, whether sound, image or text, it has been exchanged. as such, this had led to use by groups finding themselves outside of the law, in the case of pornography and music, or outside of law and morality, such as pedophiles and terrorists.

in recent years, groups who feel that they have rights over information have started to lay their claims more strongly. the music companies have taken Napster to court, and at this moment in time look close to preventing exchange through that means. however it is very likely that by cutting the head off “the monster”, this will only serve to cause many more heads to grow back in its place. this again seems to be part of the nature of the internet.

the latest step forward in these technologies is file sharing between fabbers. fabbers are industrial devices for creating objects from material, normally plastics. they follow a set of instructions to carve or mould (amongst other techniques) a wide variety of things. now one of the companies involved in this process are proposing sharing these sets of instructions online. there could come a time where fabbers are compact and available in the home. if you want to buy sometime, you could download the file for it and create it at home. or potentially, pirate the instructions and create it at cost solely of the materials, just the same as burning a cd from mp3’s you’ve downloaded.

since the internet has “arrived”, it has brought a slackening of the corporate control over property rights, which could potentially lead to a change reversing the industrial revolution, with many consumer products actually created in the home.