X is for Xmas : Mariah Carey

In 1973, I played the angel Gabriel in my school nativity play.  In 1994, Mariah Carey released “All I Want For Xmas Is You“.  If, due to some kind of time-glitch, we could have met as these moments crossed, we would have had a lot to talk about.  Underneath the veneer of festive cheer there lay a deep seated ambivalence to Christmas in both of us.  I was five, she was twenty five.  Like Shostakovitch secretly sneaking in some musical modernism under the noses of the Stalinist regime, Mariah and I would secretly be sticking a finger to Xmas, me sporting my cardboard wings, her jumping around in the snow.  I, for one, am not fooled by that Santa outfit in her video….more of that later.

 

 

Every December, this song is everywhere again.  Like other Xmas songs, it is mainly used to block out the fear of silence that these obligatory festivities seem to invoke.  Does anyone ever listen to Xmas music?  It’s just on.  All the time.  It’s like tinsel; you put it up, therefore people are in the mood, they are “festive”.  It makes the room shiny and the mind follows suit accordingly.  But “All I Want For Xmas Is You” has a sinister side.  That santa shuffle drumbeat powers a dark heart, the heart of a woman for whom receiving presents has become a dull routine….

“I don’t want a lot for Christmas/There is just one thing I need/

I don’t care about the presents/Underneath the Christmas tree”

It’s hard to avoid the irony of hearing these words from behind the lopsided gait of an Asda trolley full of tat.  And yet, there’s more to come.  She hints that Santa’s duties perhaps extended to more than just deliveries in the Carey household…

“Santa Claus won’t make me happy/With a toy on Christmas Day”

Well, Santa is an easy target.  But really its the music that fascinates me.  It’s easy to see Mariah Carey as the typical plastic balloon animal served up as entertainment but, in addition to her singing abilities, she can write.  This music slips expertly in and out of stability like a drunken reveller avoiding vomit puddles in a suburban street.

It’s important to stress that she was not the first to see the bittersweet contrasts in Xmas.  “The Coventry Carol” is a sixteenth century composition and it veers from major to minor at an alarming rate.  Often music of this period ends on a major chord out of convention (a kind of musical intolerance for unhappy endings) but here even the fourth note slips into a major key before moving straight back to the minor, like a cheap line of coke that wears off too fast.  In short, no one really knew even then whether they were supposed to be enjoying Xmas or not.

So back to Mariah and her disturbing vision.  It all starts pretty conventionally; bells, chords, warbly R n B vocals.  But listen to that line at 0:25…”I just want for my own/More than you could ever know”; on the words “own” and “know”, that note, an Eb, it’s very unstable in G major.  And each time, the melody just jumps back on to the tonic note, a highly illegal move in melody writing.  In board game terms, it’s like going up the snakes and down the ladders.  Over and over through this song, the melody lingers around this same note like scratching a flea bite that only gets worse with the itching.  At 2:39, in the bridge, she lingers on that Eb in the bass on the words “and everyone is singing”, the beat surging optimistically on, the chords reflecting a deep disquiet.  I hear you Mariah, I thought the same in 1973 with my cardboard wings, soon-to-be-lost blonde hair and claustrophobic fear of choirs.  Whilst its easy to respond to this music in the usual way, drinking sherry or grinning at each other, there is a whole other level of emotional richness here.

And what about the video?  Viewed today in all its shaky, grainy nineties-ness, it looks like a cross between flashback footage of a murder victim from a Scandinavian thriller and something the victim of a stalking campaign might find in their inbox.  I made a list of some of the images;

  1. Spinning santa heads
  2. The woods, deserted
  3. Standing alone in the woods, deserted, as the sun rises
  4. Disembodied hand and forearm reaches for something
  5. Holding an incongruous rabbit aloft
  6. Unexplained digging in the snow (where is the rabbit?)

I could go on.  It’s all pretty weird, straddling a line between true love and bizarre fixation.  All I Want For Xmas Is You.  In a box.  It’s a brilliantly double edged sword, a Trojan horse of disturbed emotions smuggled in under the guise of a simple “Christmas Song ” and, coincidentally, one which went on to be the best selling holiday ringtone of all time.

And as I re-read what I have written, I feel a bit guilty.    Because actually I have to confess to liking this song.  I wish I could listen to it more often, but it’s not built for that.  Considered as a piece of music separate from it’s function, it loses its power.  Unlike a dog, a Xmas song is just for Xmas.  This one makes my Xmas a bit more interesting.

 

 

 

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G is for Glass

What do Philip Glass, Michael Brecker and Charlie Parker have in common?  They all became “influential”; their music was therefore admired, dissected for easily digestible nuggets of information, and promptly looted.  Music conceived in a long flowing gesture of inspiration can be chopped up like a jigsaw puzzle, the pieces left in a pile to be put back together as people see fit.

Brecker and Parker have, from time to time, become synonymous with a kind of jazz “authenticity”, a level of technical expertise, a badge earned.  It is proof of ability, and often impresses, like vaulting over the highest wall at the back of the school playground.  But the way these players put ideas together, the storytelling, the artistry, is often all but ignored in favour of attention to the short term logic of  flashiness, with a sound like wasps in a jam jar, as saxophonist Stan Sulzmann, master aphorist, once said. 

 Imagine, as a point of reference, an edit of “The French Connection” featuring only the car chases.

Glass wrote recently about ownership of music in the Internet age.  If anyone has fiercely protected their intellectual property whilst allowing his “brand” a free rein it is Philip Glass. His gently undulating chords have acquired a kind of omnipotence, on tv they roll out like wallpaper over any quantity of cinematic dialogue, sweeping landscapes or, well, almost anything.  They are everywhere, almost so easy to write that they write themselves.  My god , those arpeggios.  Save me from those arpeggios.  Like Michael Nyman, he looked back to the baroque for inspiration, taking the music’s chordal accompaniments (arpeggios, broken chords, whatever) and promoting them to a lead role by removing, to put it rather crudely, the “tune”.  They are, in many ways, nothing more or less than a box of paints looking for an outline. 

And yet in his early work, Glass focused almost entirely on the rate of change of these chords, or eventual adding of a single note to a repeating pattern, like a Persian rug design that grows an inch if you look at it hard enough.  These alterations were exquisitely paced, dropped like rocks in a sand garden, few and far between for maximum impact. And, for me, it works, a process that is in itself a beautiful thing.  Before he eventually followed his own followers into a bland orchestral mush of symphonic turd polishing, largely of his own making, Glass had something.  He had something so huge it had to be monetised.

Structure is a long term phenomenon, it happens over time.  An effective structure urges you to anticipate and reflect simultaneously, to experience what is to come with the weight of past moments in mind.  It’s like a massage, it gets better if you stay with it, and like a massage, this is not always true if it is clumsily handled.  As time passes, the skill required in maintaining an atmosphere, telling a story, increases.  And whether pre concieved or improvised on the spot, you either stay for the whole thing or you miss its essence.

And yet, in the midst of this strange decline in attentiveness, we have the Box Set.  Netflix, Amazon Prime and others enable us to digest long term structures, and some, like “Mad Men” and “Breaking Bad” are extraordinary.  We can digest them in a single sitting.  Or not.

And that’s the key.  We choose the pace of our cultural consumption.  I watched an episode of the “The Good Wife” in my pants a few mornings ago.  If I wanted to I could pause it in my underwear and watch the conclusion in a dinner jacket.  You can’t do that with an opera.  There is a kind of entitlement to our own leisure time tabling, to have absolute choice over which thing on a phone we look at and when and for how long.  Some people in the arts are very creative in addressing this need, feeding it whilst maintaining some kind of artistic integrity.  I am envious of them, and would like some pointers, to be honest.  

In a recent double bill of Stravinsky’s “Oedipus Rex” and “Symphony Of Psalms”, the director Peter Sellars had Oedipus, blinded and broken, walk across the stage in the middle of the second piece, a double fugue interrupted by a clumsy piece of theatre where Sellars attempted to link the impersonal detachment of Greek mythology with the penance of Christian psalms.  And on he came at the end with his stupid trousers,  and silly hair to take a bow, Stravinsky spun in his grave.  But what are we to do?  Keep trotting out the same stuff?  We have to keep busy, reinterpret, find new meanings and connections in a world where time and space no longer separate the events of innumerable lives throughout history.  It’s my personal sacred space that Peter Sellars invaded, but for others he may have brought that music to life.  I can go back to the composer’s recording for my kicks.

Don’t get me wrong, it could be that this is all fascinating, an opportunity for new forms of art.  I know I am old, and it is my inevitable fate to look on, befuddled and bemused, as those youngsters devoted to a new utopia, having grown up with the cloud, fashion it’s silver lining.

And as I sink into season 5 of “The Good Wife”, a twisting, turning, long-game playing legal saga, I hear again those fucking arpeggios again, bittersweet, major to minor, signifying nothing.  Another missed royalty for Philip Glass, taken by some other composer who hired that music rather than owned it.

“Q” is for…

“Q Samba” : Arto Lindsay, from “Mundo Civilizado”

https://youtu.be/JkEMwcm4vbM

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Arto Lindsay.  The geeky, skinny kid at school, scribbling in his notebook when he thinks no one’s looking, or when he thinks that people think he thinks no one’s looking.  Probably just schoolboy crush scribbles, arrows through hearts, epigrams.  Eyes almost upstaged by his owl-like lenses, which are looking straight at you, and it’s a hard stare to look back at.  People don’t.  Prom Queens, though, might take him home in one of those High School movies, people would learn to look beyond appearances, towards new experiences, everyone would learn things and nothing would change.  Music, credits, thank yous, etcetera.

But he’s an eccentric.  A real one, not a muscle boy they put in glasses to indicate intelligence, reticence and hostility to games lessons.  He is thin, thin like he lives on some unknown energy, some ambiguous pulse.  He plays guitar, but no real notes, just a noise, and only when it’s called for. Mostly it just hangs around his neck, as it does on this song.  The weight of it might kill him.

Through the gate, now the path winds to the door, you pass sculptures, perpendicular pagan gods staring down suburban sidewalks, old amplifiers, guitar strings wound around slow growing creepers. Carnival melting into darkness and out again.   It’s taking forever to get to the door.

Shall we listen to some music?  He reaches for a cd, the cover a photo of a woman’s face, or maybe a girl’s, her expression masked by the blood red smear of a rose.  Smiling eyes though; maybe.  A strange, disjointed guitar, Brazilian, lurches into a kind of beat that doesn’t belong where it is, as a voice, half-spoken, half sung, asks:

How do you do that?  

Did you just make it up?  

Is there a special need for that?

Now don’t just make it up”

Not exactly poetry, this is like a kid asking questions at school.  But he grows up fast;

“How do you shake just that and not shake all the rest

Breaking all those beats apart you careless hypnotist”

A careless hypnotist, still thinking about what that implies.  The lyrics feel like they are meaning something, but they sometimes fold in on themselves, like…

You dance like you’re not alone

You dance like I’m not here

Often they seem like a study in a single sound…

Your supple cheekiness

Supreme funkiness

Your sure footedness

And you pelvic finesse.”

But that last line,”pelvic finesse”, what the hell is that?  Animal sexuality crossed with featherlight delicacy?  The music echoes the words, mismatched but familiar sounds, somehow stitched together, a brash and buzzy keyboard flooding the light and sunny samba like chilli sauce in Angel Delight, its line left jagged and raw like the edges of an awkward conversation.  Samba school drums sucked into a lop-sided sample, another piece in the jigsaw of disorder, of musical and verbal memories, those memories that for each person are their own.

Except for the Prom Queen. Tradition dictates that her head must be empty, as she trots home to recount, perhaps reluctantly, some other version of these few short minutes.

 

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Resits. “A.”

Resits are just that, sitting down not for the first time, but again.  Music is so often only listened to once, so I am going to listen again to some records I have lived with.  I needed some kind of structure so I chose the alphabet.  Let’s see if the letters come out in order.  So, as Julie Andrews might say, let’s start at the very beginning.

“A”…is for Cannonball Adderley Quintet’s “Sack O’ Woe” from “Live At The Lighthouse.”

220px-the_cannonball_adderley_quintet_at_the_lighthouse

“…I believe you could call this one funky” announces Cannonball Adderley, a man who on the sleeve of this record is photographed wearing a suit under a parasol on Hermosa Beach.  Never mind the weather, it’s important to look smart.  I used to listen to this on my parents’ Pye Achiphon stereo record player.  It had speakers in the side, four knobs in the middle, and it sounded like these people were in there playing, that if you followed the needle back far enough down the wires you would find them.

Yes, you could definitely call it funky.  His implication though is that you call it whatever you want.  The band can’t wait to get shot of this bottom heavy beat, great though it is, and they really let loose once they do.  It’s as if they are saying, yes this dance beat is fun to play, it’s fun, but fun is not enough.  Over and over, they start with that reassuring chug, but soon they drop it and the whole thing opens up.  I didn’t get it for a while, it sounded like chaos to me.  After all, I was still on Fats Waller (still am).  That was an important experience, to know that people don’t get it.  They have to decide they want to, and they need to be patient.

Cannonball’s opening few notes of his solo are something you could try your whole life to get near.  He is on top of everything.  He can somehow make you excited about knowing he will never go wrong.  It’s easy for him but he doesn’t want you to know it was ever hard.  He slashes his way through these chords like a samurai in an origami workshop.

Nat, his brother, is different, seemingly blowing the cornet as if trying to pop it like a crisp bag.  His melodies are all tangent, visiting the less bluesy backwaters that Cannonball leaves uncharted.  It’s unstable, distorted, courageous.

And then the piano solo.  Victor Feldman is English, and he swings like crazy.  English.  This alone was inspiring to me at the time, squeezing my spots in a Bromley bathroom, but he also brings out something else in the band, a kind of simmering energy where the piano breathes and finds its own space.  Tunes everywhere.

Sam Jones’ bass solo makes you forget he’s all the way down there, it’s just pure melody and more groove, and then the piano just creeps in, just adds something like a pinch of salt in a soup that brings it out without swamping it.  Louis Hayes pushes relentlessly, at every volume and at every level, a kind of artisan drum machine whose repetition conceals waves of variation and the push and pull of arms and legs.  Every phrase, every beat, every line made in the moment, a lifetime’s work.  As the band fades out below the level of the audience, it’s been over 30 years since I first felt what I am feeling now, what was that and how can I do it?

I doubt the cover photo would pass an artwork designer’s discerning eye today.  It’s a shame, because it tells you everything you need to know.  That this band look smart even on a beach.  Regular guys.  They walk onstage, they play, they walk off.  The needle is burning.

 

 

 

 

 

I had a dream this afternoon whilst in the process of trying to write a blog.  I deleted the blog, having bored myself to sleep trying to get it to make any sense, and wrote down the dream.

There are two characters, one of whom is me.  I feel as if I am underwater, and it is not clear if I am visible to the second character, who appears to be a cat made entirely from yoghurt.  I think it is Greek yoghurt, the type of yoghurt that wobbles on the spoon, the type which holds its shape, the shape, on this occasion, of a cat.

It becomes clear that I am going to be interviewed.  I start to feel I can’t make any sound, and start settling in wearily for another one of those dreams.  But as the cat speaks, someone else starts to answer from inside me.  It’s not that kind of heart wrenching, something inside me type of “inside me”, more like a separate entity actually inside me and talking.  In my voice.  The cat, on the other hand, speaks in waves that are somehow felt, not heard…..
Q:    Music..it’s not life or death.  Is it?

A:    Yes, it is life or death,  not mine or yours, but the life of the tune, the line.  Improvising means trusting that less thinking about the line will let it live longer, the way a surgeon shouldn’t think too much about the cut.  Let the knife do its work.

Q:    Who cares about music?

A:    Other music.  Music is like a community of tunes, pieces, sketches, symphonies, trashy pop songs.  They hang out together.  They don’t like being called “trashy”.  They are friends, despite their differences.  They care about each other.

Q:    Why do you spend ages on tiny details?  It’s only a tune.

A:    The smaller a tune is, the larger any mistake looks.  A small tune with a chord in the wrong place,  it looks back at you when you sleep at night.  It tuts.  You fucked it up, it’s not finished you lazy piece of shit, it says.  That’s how you know it’s not right yet.  It limps and staggers like a drunken teenager, pukes on its shoes.

No one likes to leave things like that, I add, somewhat perfunctorily.

Q:    Why don’t you get a real job?

(This cat is smiling, but it’s a smile sensed rather than seen, I hear it in the sneer of his words.  Also, the yoghurt obscures the finer details of his expression.)

A:    I have one.  I am part of a musical team dedicated to restructuring all the sounds in the world. It will take a very long time.  There is no deadline.

Q:    How will it look when it’s finished?

A:    Exactly the same as it does now.

Q:    What is the music about?  What does it mean?

A:    It’s about nothing and it means nothing.  Nothing.  Is it still something if it means, or is about, nothing?

The cat doesn’t like it when I ask the questions….

I wake up saying something which already seems long forgotten, far away, out of sight.

Everything looks the same.

 

The Way We Were

It seems to me what we don’t need now is people that come out waving their hands and claiming they know the Right Way.”

Brian Eno

 

Writing is hard.  Somehow what I want to say in this opening sentence, and it’s now my second sentence, escapes me.  I had an idea, but it just won’t sit.

Recently I re-watched “Fame”, Alan Parker’s film about a performing arts school in New York.   It’s a brightly coloured, pacy affair with a lot of muscle and good looks liberally splashed around the edgy New York streets.  There’s a character called Doris who does an audition.  You can tell from the inexplicable change in lighting that it won’t be going well.  She has in tow a very pushy mum and, in case that doesn’t illustrate her subservient squareness enough, she has a blouse done up past her nose almost.  She sings “The Way We Were”, a famous song from a famous film of the same name, she sings it very badly, accompanied by a very bad piano accompaniment recorded on to a cassette by her equally clueless brother.  It is supposed to illustrate bad musicianship, and it is pretty terrible.  She can’t sing, the brother can’t play, it’s all out of tune and out of sync.  It is a disaster.  But I keep thinking about it.  I want to play it.

My idea was that this scene, on a knife edge between comedy and pathos, unknowingly opens up the song in a way that Barbara Streisand, with all her belting bravura, couldn’t.  Where Streisand moves effortlessly through the tune like a hot knife through pink candy floss, Dora’s rendition reminds me of a nature documentary I saw once where a dung beetle keeps trying to push a pile of shit three times its own size, which it has fashioned into a perfect sphere, up a hill, only to watch as it rolls down to the bottom again.  Now that’s a song.

It reminds me of Nancarrow.  “The Way We Were” came out in 1973.  Conlon Nancarrow had, by then, been quietly working on his player piano studies in Mexico for years, beavering away at music that could not be played by humans.  The player piano removes the need for a performer, it is a machine; human beings were not up to playing his music.  His studies are supposed to, in other words, go beyond what a performer could do.  And yet, the effect of them is somehow to sound like three kids playing at once, randomly doodling catchy melodies without a care in the world and without any consideration of what the other is doing.  A nice illusion.

So I go back to it, back to Dora’s audition, I find it on YouTube here .  And it doesn’t really sound like any of these things.  I remembered it like that, not because it has those qualities, but because I do.   In reality, the girl can’t sing, and to find her direction in life she must first (spoiler alert) escape her domineering mother and start taking her clothes off in a nightclub, thus releasing her sexuality and her real calling, which turns out to be acting.

Films, music, art, politics.   They transmit messages, and depending on what we are set to receive, we hear what we want to hear, regardless of what might be called “facts”.  William Carlos Williams once described the idea of a poem as a “machine made of words”; substitute images, sounds, shapes, movement for words, and I think it’s a good description of any other art form.  Politics might even be called a “machine made of statements”.  Statements are often summaries of devilishly complex situations, so it’s good to go back and check the facts before letting your imagination running away with them.  With machines, perhaps watching the whirring of the wheels for the fun of it is the best use of them.

I have been thinking about a new version of “Fame”, set not in a performing arts school but in a chess club.  A somewhat more introverted setting which could preserve the elements of social realism, racism, illiteracy and poverty, sex, neurosis, class and coloured gym wear.  Sexual tensions would simmer in the background, there would be arcs, characters would learn things, hopes and dreams would be dashed and fulfilled in equal measure.  Ups and downs would be described in unflinching detail.  Basically, it would be like the original but with less noise, some peace and quiet.  We all need that.

But even that is not true, not for everyone.  Some people just work and work and get better and better, faster and faster, the noise of progress in their ears.  So around we go again.  With every sentence, an anti-sentence.  Rather than come to a conclusion, I have just had to leave it all lying here in pieces, which Doris I’m sure would understand .  Writing is hard.

Fame.

I’m going to live forever.

I’m going to learn how to fly.

I feel it coming together.

Checkmate.

I Like To Stay Well Informed

 

It starts with good intentions.  Not mine, especially, but those of a guy raising money to clean up the oceans, to clear the gyres of tons of plastic waste that our Evil Capitalist society has generated.  Every pointless piece of Amazon parcel packaging adds another weight tied to the foot of our planet, and it’s ending up somewhere in an ocean that once seemed too big and shapeless to know the end of but now seems to be facing its demise.  And here is this dream guy entrepreneur to steer us away from it.

What a great story.  God I am so fed up of the apocalyptic tales, the Evil Capitalist System is failing us, smash it up.  How great, then, that from the go-getting spirit that so often twists itself into greed comes a plan to undo the mess that greed itself has made.  A great story.  I am feeling so good about myself right now.  There is a video.  The music is tooth grindingly awful, and contrary to his intentions makes me mistrust him completely, but the euphoria is working.  So, post number one, shared with a click.  It’s then that the problems start.

Enter post number two, another article.  It turns out, this guy hasn’t thought some of the obstacles that might frustrate his efforts.  These include the sea, the animals in the sea, the fact that not all plastic floats on the sea, the fact that the sea is deep, sometimes really really deep and you can’t moor things to the sea bed when you’re in a really deep bit.  I start to smell some sour grapes, he thinks this guy wants media attention as much as anything else(I think back to the music, and silently vouch for that opinion) but it seems very well researched.  Contrary to popular belief, by which perhaps we mean hope, it seems this thing won’t work.  And that was posted, one click, as an answer to my original shared post, by one of my friends.

But then I think about the second guy.  Maybe he used to work with the first guy and they fell out.  Maybe they argued on Twitter.  Maybe the first is an Evil Capitalist who wants to make it look like that same Evil Capitalism can become Benevolent, can provide all the tidy up solutions as well as all the money.  It’s self regulating you know.  We can create tidying up jobs as well as messing up jobs, like the maids and the landed gentry.  It’s a Capitalist dream.  So I don’t know whether to believe him either.  You see, in the old days, one had to kind of get in a boat to see what the sea was like.  Better still, get out of the boat and get in the sea.  And someone who has done this, and who comes in after a hard day at the office with barnacles in their hair, I will read their thoughts on this subject, but how do you distinguish that from the writing of someone who has a well meaning interest in ecological issues as it reflects their belief in a fair society?

Then I looked closer.  At the dates.  The first actually predates the second, and addresses most of its concerns in a massive (ok well I think that is big) 523 page feasibility study.  I went too fast.  I was looking for something positive, then found it, then lost it again, etc etc.  I have bruises on my knees from their under-the-table jerkiness.

We move too fast.  You cannot learn to swim by moving arms and legs balanced on a chair.  You cannot learn to play music in a practice room, you cannot change business practices without having been a businessman, and you cannot talk about what poor people need without having experienced poverty (or at least talking at great length with people who have).  These are preperations for learning, the real work comes later.  As a musician, I learnt phrases, memorised solos of the great and the good, I prepared as best I could.  But when I got on stage and no one listened, or I felt the energy sag under the weight of my correctly learned arpeggios, it was then that I started to learn what I needed to do to play music the way I wanted it to sound.  And it’s never too early to put yourself in that position, in my opinion.  I wanted applause.  It was a good lesson.

I write because I enjoy it, I enjoy choosing words, not because I want to change the world.  If the world is going to change, I want to hand that onerous task over to people who know something about it.  I want them to plan it out carefully, sensibly and with an even temper.  I want them to be able to listen to people, both good and evil, and come to some arrangement.  Let’s find the experts.  I wouldn’t hand over the orchestration of one of my tunes to a anyone other than an orchestrator.  The world will not be changed by some hypocrite like me who has a tax free ISA account but objects to Cameron’s tax avoidance and who doesn’t look at the date on articles.  I am, however, an expert on why I think some music is crap and some is great (please note this is not the same as defining said music as one or the other).  Do ask, but sit down first.

The internet is like a massive branch of B and Q with no staff, it has everything but….where?  And how do we know what works?  Facts are unchecked, views unsubstantiated, sentences are unpunctuated.  It is an anxiety dream made real, or virtual at least.  We are constantly being told to get angry (social protest), outgoing and confident (school), ambitious (work).  These are all, as far as I’m concerned, hysterical, short term reactions to a world full of complex problems.  If you love something (music, changing the world, banking), start early and go slow, investigate, have breaks, read a book.  I know, I sound old.  I am old.  If we all took things more slowly, with more patience, with less focussing on an outcome we already want instead of where the facts are leading us; well, that sounds like the death of the internet in its present form, that form being the under-recruited shop type model outlined above.  Oh well never mind.  What we need are experienced shop assistants who….I am going to abandon this metaphor here as my funding fell through at the last minute.

And if you are writing about something, you’d better have the dust of it under your fingernails, it had better be the blood that flows through your veins.  I want to see the plankton, with a microscope obviously, on your flippers.  And I am appealing for your honesty, because we all need to know that in this shiny new world, bullshit and research, it all looks the same.

 

 

Some Acknowledgments : Boyan Slat, , Victor Guitierrez and Matt Nixon, whose book “Pariahs : Hubris, Reputation and Organisational Crises” got me thinking about some things I previously knew nothing about and now know a little.