Wednesday, 9 April 2014

New Definitions (part one)

Treading water for now, but kicking nonetheless:

New Definitions (part one)

Politician: Mercenary available for hire to the highest bidder.


1) A small minority of mindless extremists ruining things for everyone else.
2) An economic system which allows for paedophiles to run primary schools and other groups with dubious motives to be involved in areas for which they are least suited (see also: rail firms, oil companies, the arms industry and banking).
3) The process of funnelling capital and resources away from the poorest towards the richest.

Patriotism: Pride felt at being randomly born inside one amorphous tax zone rather than another.


1) A profound lack of imagination.
2) A state of stagnation arising from a lack of new ideas.

U2: Any musical or artistic composition which produces a neutral effect upon its audience.


1) Anyone who is all talk and no action.
2) Anyone easy impressed by wealth and influence.

Awards Ceremony: The massaging of damaged egos.

Evil: The condition of being on the opposite site to established order. Any atrocity can be forgiven if you offer the spoils to the right people (see also: terrorist/freedom fighter).

Novel: A book that has nothing novel about it.

Astrology: The arrogant belief that 100 billion stars in 100 billion galaxies exist merely to tell you whether it’s a good time or not to take up a new career opportunity.

Religion: Wishful thinking.

Get it done.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014


Final instalment of my travelling trilogy


Ah, Venice. What a strange few days of my life. Already been to Dublin and London on this trip and by the time I land in Venice, I am virtually skint. Thankful to find a decent supermarket with cheap meat and cheap wine.

My first time in Italy. It’s thunderstorm season and the plane circles the airport for half an hour waiting for conditions to improve, which the pilot explains on landing are the worst he’s experienced in twenty years of flying.

It’s already ten o’clock in the evening and I’m panicking that I won’t be able to get into my hostel at night. Over the years it becomes a recurrent theme of getting into any Italian city late and not being able to find where I’m going. I blindly get onto a waterbus, which takes an age to get to San Marco Square, detouring and dropping off via the other Venetian islands. The crew play Iron Maiden’s Somewhere in Time through a portable CD player. I haven’t heard the album in years, but I’m on the water so long I get to listen to everything from Caught From Somewhere in Time, up to and through the eight and half minutes of Alexander the Great.

Humming Stranger in a Strange Land to myself, I disembark. When lost late at night in a country where you don’t speak the language, it’s always best to adopt a persona of friendly but pathetic. I diagonally cross San Marco with some vague homing instinct for where I’m heading, the rising waters of the lagoon seeping up through grates in the stonework. Once into the narrow streets though, I’m lost and stop strangers every few meters and point at the address on the printed reservation sheet I carry. Most shrug their shoulders, but I guess my features are Italian looking enough that most who don’t know the street find someone who does.

By some kind of tag team or tourist relay with me as the baton, late night walkers and late night drinkers get me to the right street in the middle of the city. The entrance to the hostel though is a nondescript and I manage to walk past it three times, my pacing only arrested by the water’s edge, until I chance upon the right door and ring.

It’s gone midnight, but there’s someone on duty and I’m shown to my room, everyone else already asleep on what are little more than camp beds. The adrenalin is pumping from having got here after the many delays since flying out of Gatwick, but there nothing more to be done but get undressed, find some comedy to listen to on my Walkman (MP3 players being in their infancy) and go to sleep.

More thunder in the night. Out here there’s nowhere else for the lightning to go and it explodes above our heads, jolting everyone awake. A first introduction to my fellow hostellers is half asleep, worried faces illuminated by brief bursts of white hot light in the night. No one sleeps particularly well, even after the storm has moved on. Still, it gives everyone something to talk about over breakfast.

I spend the best part of a week in Venice, but with little money to spare and still being the height of the tourist season in August, three or four hours of queuing has to be endured to get into anywhere worth visiting anyway. Under the circumstances, I walk from one end of the city to the other and back again, lost in my thoughts, reading from Dostoyevsky’s Notes From the Underground in out-of-the-way piazzas, people watching at the train station, playing solitaire in the hostel at night and talking to the staff. Marco, who was on duty the night I arrived, is a frequent source of entertainment. The hostel is a family run business, he’s the youngest, tall and handsome, a cliché of an Italian man, well dressed and distracted by every pretty face that crosses his path. He’s good company though, curious and good taste in music. He brings in a guitar for us to take turns playing.

There’s a lot of Americans staying in the hostel, a middle aged couple from the Netherlands and a noisy, self important woman from Canada. In my experience when people talk about that brash American that was in the bar when they were in holiday, bumming everyone out, more often than not that person will turn out to be a Canadian. I’ve known many Canadians and while some of them have been dicks and some excellent company, they’re all mad. This Canadian definitely falls into the dickish end of the spectrum.

There’s also a couple of British people. I don’t remember either of their names, but there a girl who’s picked up or been picked up by Marco’s elder cousin while she’s been staying at the hostel. He’s taking her to Rome. The rest of the family, balding, fat middle aged men, are jealous that she’s not with them. The envy of others is always hilarious when you have no personal stake in the sideshow. Marco’s uncle introduces me to the phrase, ‘flying bitches’, which has no English equivalent I think. It’s like gold digger or something like that. Ain’t misogyny just tragic?

The other Brit here is a guy who works for one of the London radio stations. LBC if I remember rightly. The only bit of paid for culture I get to see when in Venice is spending a morning together at the Guggenheim Museum. Exactly what you expect from a Guggenheim Museum, lots of Cubism, Futurism and Pointillism. Then, after catching the matinee performance of Flying Bitches back at the hostel, I end up falling asleep on my bed listening to a BBC radio adaptation of The Big Sleep (in Dublin and London I’d read Chandler’s Little Sister and The High Window). I wake up in the early evening.

Venice is a strange place, a place I need to return sometime and see a bit of the history, the Doge’s Palace and the Basilica and the like. I’d bet I could also spend a number of days just tracking down traces of Galileo’s life here. I’ve walked over the Rialto Bridge a couple of dozen times on my frequent perambulations. If you go out in the morning, the whole city smells of dog piss, because there is no vegetation and everyone lets their dogs piss in the streets, which evaporates in the rising heat and gives everything a pissy stink.

Venice of course has the advantage of no motor traffic and so it’s a good place to walk around, through streets sometime so narrow that you feel they will narrow down to infinity, or emerge into an entirely different city (or maybe I’ve just read too many Clive Barker novels). Virtually the entire island is stone, although there is a small park well to the east of Saint Marco that I would wander down to a sit on a park bench and watch the overlarge ferries motor by. I wonder how the ships get in when the advantage of Venice, the reason people fled to these islands, was that they were in waters too shallow for warships to invade. That’s a question to which I still don’t know the answer.

As it turns out, instead of catching a waterbus, I could have just got a bus from the airport as far as Venice train station and I would still have had only to walk as far as I did from San Marco. But what would have been the fun in that? The coming of smart phones and Google Maps may take a lot of the frustration out of foreign travel, but it also takes away just as much of the adventure. Part of the romance and the personal of travelling is allowing yourself to be lost and find something unique for you. Serendipity is magical. Knowing where you’re going, well that’s simply overrated.

Get it done.


Monday, 7 April 2014

Review: The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell

One more review.

Review: The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell

Bertrand Russell, who by any standard is one of the leading intellectual figures of the twentieth century. He was one of the very few leading intellectuals who opposed World War I. He was vilified, and in fact ended up in jail, like his counterparts in Germany. From the 1950s, particularly in the United States, he was bitterly denounced and attacked as a crazy old man who was anti-American. Why? Because he was standing up for the principles that other intellectuals also accepted, but he was doing something about it.
                                                                             Noam Chomsky 

There can be few books that have been titled with such wilful understatement as The Basic Writings of Bertrand Russell. Any book which includes sections on philosophy, logic, mathematics, linguistics, relativity, education, ethics, psychology, history, politics, religion, metaphysics, epistemology, east/west relations and the future of the human race can hardly be described as basic.

Then again, by the standards of Bertrand Russell, perhaps this is basic. He was a prodigious writer on all of the above subjects and a great deal more and for years I have liberated copies of his many books with titles like Political Ideas, Sceptical Essays, In Praise of Idleness and The ABC of Relativity from second hand book shops.

I like Russell because he thought the things that may people think, but actually did something about them. He was born in 1874 to Lord and Lady Amberley, both of whom died when he was young, and he was raised by his grandmother, Lady Russell, in virtual isolation. It was expected by his elders that Russell would take up a career in politics, but his passion was for mathematics and philosophy. As a member of the ruling classes he could have taken the easy way out, acted as minister in a Liberal government, taken up his seat in the House of Lords, not been a bother to anyone. Instead, he went in the opposite direction, serving time in prison for his opposition to the First World War, being sacked from his professorship at City College in New York for his views on sexual liberation, vociferously supporting the campaign for nuclear disarmament. In 1957, Russell wrote an open letter to both Eisenhower and Khrushchev, calling for an end to the Cold War. Similarly, at the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis, he sent telegrams to both Khrushchev and John F Kennedy. Khrushchev assured him that Russia would not be reckless, whereas Kennedy returned his telegram unopened.

Most people would, I think, be glad to have lived half the life that Bertrand Russell lived, displayed half the bravery and understated intelligence that Russell displayed. What comes across from reading this collection of articles isn’t just the sheer depth and breadth of subjects of which Russell was informed enough to talk about, but also serves as reminder that simple ideas and statements sometime need to be reiterated. In my own writing, I often reject trains of thought as they seem so obvious that it would be patronising even to mention them.

Yet simple ideas aren’t always obvious to everyone and even when they are, they bare restatement as a kind of reset button when the world seems to have lost its mind. Russell’s thoughts on religion, politics and education are often simple but never simplistic. It’s worth being reminded that the purpose of education isn’t to teach but to indoctrinate, to question why agnosticism towards God or heaven is any less sensible that agnosticism toward Zeus or Thor, to remind politicians that global conflict is in no one’s best interest except the manufactures of the weapons. Russell never tired of stating and restating his thoughts on these subjects.

Russell’s principal academic pursuits though were in the regions of philosophy and mathematics and there is much in this volume regarding both subjects. Philosophy is often used as a dirty word in the scientific disciplines, yet I think many physicists would benefit from a working knowledge of philosophy, as would philosophers benefit from a little knowledge of basic physical principles. Sadly it is often a case of never, or rarely, the twain shall meet and before Russell, the last significant mathematician-philosopher was probably Rene Descartes in the 17th century. Russell wrote two major works on the history of philosophy, A History of Western Philosophy and Wisdom of the West, sections from both of which are included here. A History of Western Philosophy in particular has been used as a standard textbook in British institutions for many years and I can highly recommend it for anyone who wants a good overview of the subject, as well as a critical overview of some of the major triumphs and failures in thought of the philosophers in question,  through from Socrates to John Dewey.

For a general overview of the work and thoughts of Bertrand Russell himself however, you could do worse than start with The Basic Writings of… At 736 pages, you certainly get a lot for your money and while you will almost certainly find some of it going over your head (it has taken me three abortive attempts to get past the sections relating to Russell’s Magnus Opus, Principia Mathmatica), time spent with Bertrand Russell is never time wasted. He was a rare breed, of which maybe only the likes of Noam Chomsky or Tony Benn bear comparison. He was politically active right until the end of his life, spending seven days in prison in 1961 for his involvement in anti-nuclear demonstrations at the ripe old age of 89.

Russell died aged 97 on the 2 February 1970, exactly three years to the day before I was born. I would like to have known him, but he left such a plethora of publications that settling for the next best thing isn’t a million miles away from this desire. Our great and prolific writers get read less and less these days. It is our duty to reintroduce them to new generations. There is much that they can teach us.

Get it done.

Review: Abarat – Clive Barker

Not much getting it done in the last week so my task this week is to get back on track. Here's the first of two articles for today with more doubling and tripling up to come in the next few days.

Review: Abarat – Clive Barker

I have been a massive fan of Clive Barker for over twenty years. Weaveworld and Imajica alone I have read at least half a dozen times each and read both of them again in the last two years. Indeed, it seems incredible to me that in this time of Game of Thrones and tediously overlong Hobbit adaptations that neither of these epic fantasy horror novels has been turned into a mini-series. It would be easy to do them wrong, but just as easy to get them dead right.

I’ve gotten a little behind with my Clive Barker reading in recent years and so have just finished reading 2004’s Abarat, the first novel in a planned quintet (three of the four have been so far published). In many ways, Abarat is exactly what one would expect from the man who gave the world Pinhead and Hellraiser. As with all Barker novels, Abarat is about a world which lies beyond our world. In the middle of nowhere, outside a nondescript Minnesota town, is a lighthouse thousands of miles from open water, the last relic of an ancient jetty. Yet this lighthouse houses a mechanism which, when triggered, brings the sea, the Sea of Izabella, to the Mid-West.

In the waters of the Sea Izabella lies the twenty five island chains of Abarat, each island permanently stuck in a different hour of the day or night, with the twenty fifth, Odom’s Spire, a mystery to many. Many ambitious men wish to rule Abarat entire, including the psychotic Christopher Carrion, ruler of the island of Midnight.

Carried on the waves of the Sea of Izabella, schoolgirl Candy Quackenbush is swept into Abarat from Chickentown, Minnesota. For Candy, read Alice or Dorothy, for Abarat is essentially a fable for children and adults alike, as with the 1992 novel, The Thief of Always. This is Clive Barker though and all the usual fantastical and grotesque characters are to found in abundance, like John Mischief, a practiced thief with horns on which grow the seven additional heads of his brothers.

Abarat owes much to the genre in which it takes its place, not just Alice in Wonderland and L. Frank Baum’s Oz books, but also The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, Hans Christian Anderson and the Brothers Grimm. I definitely prefer Barker’s adult novels and short stories, as he’s at his best when his imagination is allowed to be unfettered and uncensored (the comic book adaptation of Rawhead Rex, for instance, would give any child nightmares for weeks with its graphic depiction of a child’s entrails being devoured by the eponymous hell beast). Yet it’s a decent enough tale and I’m looking forward to reading the sequel, Days of Night, Nights of War, the edition illustrated by Barker of which I picked up from a second hand bookshop for £2.99. Bargain.

Get it done.

Thursday, 3 April 2014


As often happens, when I think about writing something about the state of the modern world I find that I already wrote it a decade ago.


To take a step forward, I must first retreat. Retreat into the shadows, oblivious to all except my own thoughts, my own mind. To confront this pressure cooker frustration full in the face, see it for what it is, examine and understand and from there to toleration and acceptance.

This has been allowed to fester far too long. Who the hell have I become? This stalking consciousness. This foster child of hope. An apologist for disappointment. Secure with every inch of my fibre of who I am and what I was meant to be and yet impotent in the light of possibility. So I lock away knowledge inside myself. Engorged upon future I am too lazy to bring to inception. And the tension grows.

Yet who knows? Who sees? If you find me crying, that doesn’t mean I’m unhappy, nor does laughter denote joy. The turmoil deep inside is a constant ache. Uninterrupted nights are rare. The thought process, once a point of pride, has long ceased to hold pleasure. It becomes more and more a torture day by day. Yes, I appreciate your help and concern, but only one person can confront this hell, ‘fore only one us is living through it. Be grateful for that. Where it comes from, I fail to understand, yet it has been in here as long as I can remember. Maybe I was born this way or I was dropped on my head or perhaps I just had humanity sussed from a very early age.

Yes, you see you are all part of the problem too. Your cruelties, your petty hatreds of those you don’t understand or worse still, have never met. What’s wrong with you all? Chill the fuck out. Yes, in this oh so conscious stream, I see you for what you are. Afraid. Afraid of death, afraid to die forgotten. And in your impotence, you accept mediocrity and fall further into the dustbin of history than if you’d just let it all go and say in a proud, clear voice, ‘I’m terrified of my own mortality.’ Stop aligning yourselves to people of the same race or nationality or sex and sexuality and the other assorted accidents of birth. There is nothing to be proud of here. Be you own person, be with people who understand you, accept you and not simply tolerate you because you look like them. And examine yourselves. Look in the mirror and ask, ‘Who am I,’ and maybe, just maybe you might begin to approximate the person you where meant to be and not the monster social engineering has forced upon you. Again, mutilation is nothing to be proud of. Neither is clinging to flags and anthems and primary colours, as if you’re hanging off the edge of cliff, grabbing at handfuls of turf, trying to save yourself from the void. Let it go. Let it all go.

But don’t worry. I’m not angry with you. You’re unlucky enough to have been born in the flatulent west. Hypocrites and murders in residence. I mean the Bushes and Blairs of the world. The ones who promote democracy and freedom with empty statements and curtail and destroy them with the next. Words and actions. Emotive, motivational speeches. Abstract nouns. Abyssal chasms of morality. You see, they are really no different to Hussains and Bin Ladens of the world. The ideology may be different, yet the methodology is identical. If there really is a war on terrorism, why isn’t NATO bombing Washington? How many times will the good ole’ U S of A see their trained nutters come back to haunt them before they realise that those abstract nouns could be so much better if they had some basis in reality? Why did either of my grandfathers bother fighting in the second world war, when the fascists have obviously won through in the end. While our faces were turned towards the Channel, the real coup was taking place behind our backs.

So you see my problem here! I have so much to give you all. Passion, joy, knowledge, hope and understanding. Yet you fit into your tight little ethnic groups and start kicking out at each other. And THEM, the rulers, the dictators of this solar, island plantation, that’s exactly what they want. They want you impotent and afraid. They want you to look out of your rose tinted, double glazed windows and focus all your hatred upon the first face that doesn’t resemble your own. Yet as long as you remain fragmented and isolated, this little blue, green planet will sink further into the mire. You will work for their companies and spend their wages on their products. Meanwhile, your taxes will be spent on subsidising them, while they contribute nothing to your well being. Yet they will still control what you see, read and watch. Paranoid? People, it has already gone on for decades.

In 1984, Orwell invented a language called Newspeak. The purpose of this new language was to slowly reduce the vocabulary of the public, until there were so few words left, the human race could no longer communicate emotion successfully. Humanity would be reduced to the level of savages. Orwell was too limited in his appraisal and probably too decent a person to fully appreciate the full malevolence of the world. Political correctness, which to begin with was a perfectly valid idea, has now reached the point where we can no longer have an intelligent debate on social ills and inequality, without being accused of ‘political incorrectness’, further exacerbating racial tension among communities. Hey! Racism is not something that simply disappears because you don’t discuss it. See Burnley and weep. If you ignore cancer, it doesn’t go into remission. It festers and eventually it claims you as its own.

Further, popular culture seems to have no other mandate than to lower people’s expectations, until anything of a vaguely higher standard is hailed as artist genius. Pop music has now become so anodyne and homogenised that often even the teenagers, who almost exclusively listen to this trash, can not differentiate been one boy band or another. TV is slowly rotting into the same swamp as across the pond. On the small screen we are sold fantasy in the guise of reality. Meanwhile Hollywood sells us historical rape as incontrovertible fact. Popular culture hasn’t lost the plot, it just feeds us the same one over and over again.

So, how long ‘fore you’ve had enough? When the population of Africa no longer exists and the continent has become one enormous free trade zone, where the poor of the world have been shipped to, to serve double breasted slave masters? This, in my most cynical moments, is the future I envisage. ‘Slavery’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming home, it’s coming.’ Europe, the ultimate theme park (already happened ). The irony of all this of course, is that humanity spread like a virus out of Africa and now we sit back and do nothing as it slowly implodes. If an entire continent is on the endangered species list and we choose not to act, is that not genocide?

All of which bring us, by a commodius vicus of recirculation (to quote Joyce), to me and my unfulfilled life. I need to look at this in more depth. Why am I unhappy? Lack of confidence? Definitely. Laziness? Guilty as charged. Environment, unemployment, disappointment, insufficient outlets of emotional and intellectual feelings. All true. What the hell am I waiting for? Why so many questions (humour, good)? No one else is going to do this but me. I have all the potential in the world. I could achieve relative immortality (an oxymoron, but never mind). I have intelligence and passion and ability and strength and originality (a rare commodity in these dark times). I also have a moral and ethical code which I have been guilty of disrespecting too often recently. I have been petty and I need too focus all that anger (an indispensable form of passion) into more productive areas. My evolutionary path these last five years has been so steep, that I have become so swamped in information, it has clouded my judgement. Weighted me down, basically because I have had no outlet to channel it all through (hence this digresstionary tale). I am out of practice and out of touch with my form, my art.

So maybe this is what I should be doing! Sitting down, day after day at this machine and writing ANYTHING and EVERYTHING, until I reach such a point as the fog has lifted and I can communicate properly with the world once more. An artist cannot survive in a totalitarian state ( to paraphrase Orwell) and I cannot survive in any state recognisable to myself, so long as I continue to live hostage to my own confused mind, heart and soul. This has gone too far. Enough is enough. When the tangents subside and sustained, literary creation begin to flow, then I’ll be myself once more. No, I have never truly exhibited my true form, my true persona, not even to myself. This will be its embryonic awakening. And once it arrives, it will be here to stay.

So, let’s get the fuck on with it, eh! This shall be my daily testament to my inception into a creature of light, of radiance, of apple-white purity. Whether you cheer or groan when you lay eyes upon me is not my concern. As long as you see me, that is all I ask. I will hide in the shadows no longer. Nor will I let any of you off the hook as easily as I have done. Already I feel freer, less tense. This is my medium and I reclaim it as my own. Through words I exist. Through words I share my insanity, my wisdom, my passion, and all anger, hatred and prejudice dissolves on contact with this keyboard. You can not infect me. I will achieve peace and not allow the time between now and my demise to become a void, nor filled with resentment and bitterness. Your world is full of shadowy figures and duplicity. Mine is filled with glorious creatures and truth. The only truly impervious beings are the honest. So that is who I shall be. Cool! So, come and have a go if you think you’re smart enough. The Truth! You can’t handle the truth. And things generally of that ilk.

Why not just do your best. ‘Cause the way things stand, it all pointless anyway. We all die, we all rot away. I am as convinced as I can be that there is no God. I’ve yet to hear an argument in His favour that wasn’t clever wordplay or mere intellectualising, leading to profound confusion. Descartes believed that since he was imperfect, he must have been created by a perfect being. Or alternatively, Rene, perhaps you were created by a process less imperfect than yourself. Christians argue that evolution could not have created something as perfect as the eye. What they fail to either mention or comprehend is that the human eye is far from perfect. It is riddled with flaws. If God did such a good job, why did humans need to invent glasses? Which throws up another question. Why would a perfect being, create an imperfect one? What’s up with that?

Neither do I by into this argument that procreation is a form of immortality. Most of us have little knowledge of own lineage beyond four or five generations previous (not an especially successful attempt). However, a larger percentage of the population know that Oscar Wilde wrote, ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’. Hmm, can’t name our own great-great-grandfather, yet we remember the name of a gay Irishman. I’m not gay, but I think I prefer Oscar’s method. Maybe I’ll never get anywhere or my portfolio be lost to civilisation, but since I’ll be forgotten within eighty years after my death anyway, I may as well have a shot at it. Beats watching Big Brother (being flayed alive and anally fucked by an elephant beats watching Big Brother however).

Get it done.


 What does you conscience say? You shall become the person you are.


This is still my catharsis. The routine I need to stick to day in day out, to gain a sense of perspective and practice the basics of my art so that I may excel in it. During the last
peak, when I was addicted to sitting here, I churned out some not bad stuff. Here can I write what I want, when I want, so that I may go on and write what I need to write. Without this I soon sink into lethargy and lack of confidence. It does matter what I write here, whether it is inane and shit. This is the foundation from which I can build a career. Nothing is disallowed (double negative, I hate it when that happens).

Was talking to a friend about positive role models, and the lack of, last night. I told her that I wanted to be my own role model. This is true. Whereas I find many writers and musicians appealing, none of them attract me wholeheartedly. Back to the Eponymist ideal again. The idea of individuality (Christ being the only Christian). I can take pointers from people, but ultimately I stand alone. I don’t believe in nationality or religion or race. At best, any social group is a loose conglomeration. At best, unified through one or two ideals. Which is fine. Society could not operate without community spirit. However, one of the reasons for the breakdown of society in the west is a realisation that these ideals have become transparent. Immigration and the global ideal are partly to blame. The world has moved forward so fast that our narrow perceptions have not been able to shift with it. Acclimatise to it. Our perceptions need to be refocused. Religion and the family unit used to provide the bedrock, but they have slowly been eroded. The downfall of at least one these is due to it being based on erroneous assumptions, dressed up as truth. Can you guess which one?

We have to become fluid. To be able to shift our allegiances according to the situation. There are times when I am affected by national boundaries. Football, I mean. In fact, sport is almost the only time when most of us feel a strong pull from nationality (or it should be). I envisage a future where there are no longer any nations. A persons country will be made up only of the places that they have been to. Not an phoney affinity with people they have never met or place they have never seen. My nation is Liverpool and Cardiff. Madrid and Paris. Amsterdam and Bruges. I want to live in a world where in one regard a person maybe my opponent, yet in another they will be my contemporary. As a writer, I consider Hemmingway fascinating, but as a man I doubt we would have much in common. He writes with a passion for his subject, but I have little desire to experience bull fighting or fishing. This is what we should all be moving towards.

I believe that the purpose of the universe is to achieve infinity. The best way for it to do that is by generating as many possibilities as possible, thereby increasing the chances of it happening. Infinity is the point at which all possibilities have been played out. Now, if this is true, then life on this planet should be diversifying in as many ways as it can. Originality is the key. Certain well meaning types will tell you that there is nothing original. That may be true. But there is always a new spin to an old idea. A unique rendering of prevalent influences. This is the code to which I hope to stay true. A fresh form injected writing machine. All artistic disciplines should be in a continued state of growth. That is why I hate popular culture so much. The continued re-rendering and re-hashing of the same ideas over and over again. The law of diminishing returns. These are possibilities being played out it is true, but when so much time seems to be spent on producing works of dubious artistic value, it is hard to see where our next evolutionary step is to come from. Stagnation abounds and I think this is its one objective. I am a big admirer of the Bard, but the comedy in his plays is simply not very funny. Comedy has moved on in leaps and bounds in the last four hundred years (Python, Bill Hicks, Spaced), just as it should.

Anarchy. The more and more I think about anarchy, the more I read, the more I come to the conclusion that we are all of us, for the most part, anarchists. The basic tenet of anarchism is this: Do whatever you want to do, so long as it does not interfere with anyone else. This is one of the principles I try to abide by: Do what you want but do no harm. Something I’ve not always followed as closely as I should. Now, is this not what we do every day of our lives. We may go to work, but no one forces is us. We do it through our own volition. Okay, so we do it to get paid, but it may be said that there is a contract between employee and employer. A symbiotic relationship. One cannot survive without the other. We get married, have children, but then there is merely a refocusing of our anarchic principles. Our family becomes us and the family may do what it wants, as long as it does no harm (including to itself).

The problem with a large part of the anarchist movement, as I see it, is that they only hear the first part. “What, do what I want? Cool! See ya.” “Hang on, there’s more…Oh fuck it.” But isn’t that always the way with ideologies? They get distorted and perverted for personal gain, until they bear little relation to the original idea (cf. the major religions of the world)! The problem with the anarchist movement is that it seeks to politicise what is in essence a personal philosophy. Anarchism is a lifestyle choice. As soon as you try to mould it into a movement it ceases to be anarchy. Buddhism is very close to anarchism. It is essentially about meditation. When you pervert it into religion it ceases to be Buddhism. There’s a great line in the film ‘Dogma’. All about how humans have missed the essential point of religion. It isn’t about religion, its about ideas. “Ideas can be changed. Religion is what gets people killed.”

I do not seek to enforce any idea upon my fellow man, except one. Be yourself. Be the person that you are. What does you conscience say? asks Nietzsche. You shall become the person you are. Be your own religion. Your own ideal. Your own political party; your own role model. Be your own trail blazing its way toward the horizon. And if any other line happens to intersect yours, well then that’s just a happy coincidence. A bonus. I think Henry Miller put it best:

…you won’t be dead, you won’t be indifferent, you won’t be insensitive, you won’t be alarmed and panicky, you won’t be jittery, you won’t throw rotten eggs because you don’t understand. You will want to understand everything, even the disagreeable things. You will want to accept more and more – even what seems hostile, evil, threatening. Yes, you will become more and more like God. You won’t have to answer and advertisement in the newspaper in order to find out how to talk with God, God will be with you all the time. And if I know what I’m talking about, you will listen more and talk less.

Okay, that’s enough cultural referencing for the moment. I am your sheep herder, kneel before me. Quiet!

Get it done.