Thursday, June 05, 2014

A long time between thinks

Think (2014) Kodakotype by Pants


So, last week,  I says to TQW,

'Can I really go another month without writing a blog post?'

'You can if you've nothing to say,' TQW replies helpfully.

This would be the moment to invoke John Cage, but having nothing to say and finding a way to say it in a blog post is easier said than done. Silence has a legitimacy in music that doesn't easily translate to the written-word form. A 'tacit' in a piece of music invites the listener to imagine what might have been there - hence the huge and continuing success of Cage's 4' 33". It's the ultimate conceptual musical statement. Musicians follow instructions. What notes to play, whether to play loudly or softly or joyously or poignantly. Why not a whole piece of tacit? Why hadn't someone thought of that before?

A few years ago I saw Tacita Dean's video piece Stillness, the very moving dance performed by Cage's life partner, choreographer Merce Cunningham.

'Tacita - a name that actually means silence?' enquires TQW en route to the Esky. 'What kind of parents would give a baby a name like that?'

'The kind that would call their son Ptolemy,' I reply.

'So, they wanted a mute daughter and a screeching warrior of a son?'

'I guess they didn't count on the Cleopatra factor. Give a woman a challenge like that and then stand back.'

Tacita does indeed mean 'silence' so, clearly, she was born to interpret 4'33", as was the former dancer and, by then widowed, Merce Cunningham. It's so poetic I could cry or die or both. And now, you can even get an iPhone App for 4'33". Beyond brilliant. There is something about this that pleasures me in ways that are probably not even legal.

'Barney, crack the Chardonnay.'

The old self is peeping through the keyhole and wondering what the fuck is wrong with this picture. All the pieces are there somewhere but the letters and numbers are floating around in space like a Halloween episode of Countdown. I mean the British game show and not the Australian Top of the Pops with the mad guy in the cowboy hat.

I already have eight posts in the draft box in various states of incompletion so having nothing to say is not exactly the problem. Either that or it's an octopus of a problem with eight independent legs. More likely, it's a case of not being able to get all the ingredients to bind so that something nourishing and original results. Is it a passing phase or an early sign of death? It would be just my luck to have organ failure start with the brain.

For weeks I've been struggling to blurt out the most bleeding of obviousnesses. Is it just me or is everything really so overwhelmingly shit? Apart from John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Tacita Dean ... and Yoko Ono!

'Barney, still waiting here.' [Memo - Pants, write something long and rambling about Yoko.]

I loved that thing she did where she had vintage landline phones installed in art galleries and occasionally rang one and talked to the person who answered. You would think that there is no gesture more breath-takingly witty than that but then someone else cranked it by surreptitiously using the phone to dial their mobile, capturing the number and installing an imposter Yoko. Once a serious brain sparks it sets off a chain reaction. See, it's not that difficult to cheer me if you know the right buttons to push.

Alice Walker was asked in a radio interview how she remained so insatiably cheery and she said something like,

'It's such a joy to realise how disillusioned you are.'

That's a new way of looking at it and one which I had better quickly adopt in the current global political climate. It's not that I'm incapable of feeling joy in disillusionment but it requires rather a lot of Chardonnay these days,

'Barney. Refill!'

I would prefer not to have to resort to such self-preserving tactics as pretending I live on one of those Star Trek planets that looks like Hellenic Greece with iPods but needs must. The inevitability of disillusionment is especially galling in a country where the only thing standing between the populace and responsible, fairly distributed prosperity is a tiny but powerful class of Cohiba-chomping morons. Australia - Downton Abbey minus the lush pastures, potted meats and pretty dresses. Oh, and I think they even pay their servants at Downton.

In the interview Alice Walker also revealed her approach to composing an essay and it goes something like,

'You start writing and by the time you get to about page two or three, you've figured out what you're going to say.'


That method has worked for me too - until the last eight times, I mean nine, that I've tried it. Trusting the process is tough when it fails repeatedly. Right now, I'm more like the lyric to an unfinished Hollies' song. Road = long. Winding turns = many. Leads to = who knows? When = ditto.

'Barney! Get your ornofeline arse down here and pour me another Chardonnay.'

'What's that you say? You can't. You've got to pack. You've been asked to star in a new TV reality show called I Wanna Mary Hairy? Okay, that sounds interesting. So you're an ordinary, neutered owly-cat billionaire posing as a poor orang-utan and a bevy of Wall Street flash boys is competing for the chance to roger you as the star turn at their bucks party? And you will pillow-talk your way into the darkest secrets of this new breed of Übertossers. And the denouement is that you're going to expose all their highly illegal financial practices and thoroughly unpleasant social attitudes. And you expect this to adversely impact on their careers how exactly? Oh, you're going to hire the winner yourself. Goodo. And, you've already posed for the Vanity Fair cover? This explains why I've had to fold my own canapés two nights in a row. How is anyone supposed to work under these conditions? I'll be here to pick up the pieces when you crash'n'burn babe. Remember our pact. Try again. Fail again. Fail Better. Remember to credit Beckett. The cellar's fully stocked, right?'