Against Narrativity

bruce

(with apologies to Galen Strawson)

 

Bruce on Broadway, born to run and run,

the burr of Everyman whose tales of bars and father

constitute the story of a life well done.

So why does life for me instead feel like a murky mess,

disjointed, pointless, scattered, inconclusive,

never like the lives in songs and films?

For only there is our existence tragic, glorious

or merely meaningful; only there is life a valiant lie

delivered by a righteous standup guy.

Munch’s Girls: Oslo, 2014

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I’ve lapped this circuit once before,

and stopped before the girl in Puberty,

the long wrists crossing her pudenda still.

I’ve turned from wanting to protect her,

scanned The Dance of Life from left to right and birth to death,

tried not to see that leering fiendish face lean in,

and of course have heard the Skrik that sounds around the world.

 

Today the one that caught me and called out from its frame:

the study of the trio on the bridge,

a moment frozen for all time that nonetheless

moves form and matter so all swirls and flows,

vibrates as matter does,

the stilled and staring girls themselves a single shape in aureole,

road rushing down in shooting lines

and all forms molding into one another

as the physics mystics say they do.

 

I stood intoxicated, psychedelicized,

stood swimming in those lines and shapes

and saw again how all great painting takes the apprehended world

and melts it down to show it as a single intermingled thing.

In three dimensions we’re deceived, believe we are

discrete and solid selves,

and so we stop upon the bridge and scream.

 

National Gallery, Oslo, February 2014

Sticky fingers: The RBP podcast

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Featuring exclusive clips of an increasingly intoxicated KEITH RICHARDS during a 2002 interview by Adam Sweeting, the latest Rock’s Backpages podcast could be described as a ROLLING STONES special if there weren’t so many other things being discussed. Lauding Keef, 75, as the band’s heart & soul and asking “how this man has made it to 75”, Mark Pringle (left) and myself then wax lyrical about the brilliant Performance.

Directed by the late Nicolas Roeg and Donald Cammell – with a Jack Nitzsche soundtrack I describe in the podcast as one of the “creepiest, weirdest, but most mesmerising” he’s ever heard – Performance sums up the transition from ’60s flower power to something altogether darker and spookier, with the Stones themselves at “the centre of a vortex of social change”.

Other topics under consideration include Elvis Presley, the Beastie Boys, Paul Weller, Fleetwood Mac, Ice Cube and Gary Barlow’s envy of of Robbie Williams…

Etta James in the Rock’s Backpages podcast

Etta James

They were so much older then, they’re younger than that now: me ‘n’ RBP’s Mark Pringle reel in the years and riff on all that’s new this week in the world’s biggest library of music journalism – definitive interviews with legends of the last 60 years by the pop press’ greatest writers … and much much more.

In this week’s RBP podcast , the great ETTA JAMES considers her life in R&B up to 1978—‘Roll With Me Henry’, Johnny Otis, Chess Records and working with Rick Hall in Muscle Shoals. Your hosts in turn consider her impact on singers from Janis Joplin to Adele and discuss the late Rob Partridge, Royal Trux and pioneeringly “out” glamster Jobriath. Their attentions then turn to Burl Ives, Marc Bolan, Willie Nelson, Portishead and the Fugees.

civil war

FB thread

I try to stay away,

stay off the grid, resist

the impulse to let fly.

No good can come of this:

I cannot change your mind.

 

But sometimes I’m too stoked,

I have to vent or else explode.

And then the invitation’s there: please step this way.

The silo and the echo chamber usher in

the apoplexies of the day.

 

So up it goes, the link, the pic, the facile howl.

I’ve posted what was “on your mind”,

I’ve shared the shit that swills about the brain

and straightway know the soapbox hollowness

of howling out the pain.

 

But still I leave it there and still I check

who Liked, who Commented,

my very own below-the-line:

the kitchen-table trolls and, worst of all,

the Friends who seem entirely blind.

 

I thought I knew them,

thought they had a heart,

but here they are, they’re fuming,

fulminating, spewing out their poison.

Even worse, they’re quoting Jordan Peterson.