Archive for March, 2012

A letter

Dear Marc, David and Cormac,
In your books you make a connection to one another, directly and indirectly. Firstly, in the Epilogue of ‘non-places, introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity’ by Marc Augé, 1992 there is a reference to the novel ‘Small World’ by David Lodge.
“A few years ago the talented British novelist David Lodge published a modern version of the quest for the Holy Grail, a novel set with effective humour in the cosmopolitan, international and narrow world of academic linguistic and semiological research”.
In ‘Small World’ by David Lodge, 1984, on page 84 of the 2011 Vintage publication, Lodge writes,  “The paper must be finished soon, for Morris Zapp has asked to see a draft before accepting it for the conference, and on acceptance depends the travel grant which will enable Rodney Wainwright to fly to Europe this summer (or rather winter), to refresh his mind at the fountainhead of modern critical thought, making useful and influential contacts, adding to the little pile of scholarly honours, distinctions, achievements, that may eventually earn him a chair at Sydney or Melbourne. He does not want to grow old in Cooktown, Queensland. It is no country for old men”.
Cormack McCarthy wrote ‘No Country For Old Men’ in 2005, making the same quotation as Lodge, from the first line of the first stanza in ‘Sailing to Byzantium’ by W.B. Yeats, 1926.

That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
– Those dying generations – at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

There would be a thousand links made by others from these beginnings but it is these that come to my ear and eye, from far to near. Yeats wrote this when he was sixty’ish, so the entertainment of old age is a process of becoming older, but not old. I could make the golden bird on the golden bough that appears in the fourth stanza, it has a place at this point in time, where I had been wondering how something modelled and cast could co-exist with my recent work on human ecology.


An example of

A series of observations, reminiscence and mystery, putting to bed some things from the past-present.

Who noticed the filmic treatment for the latest advertisement playing at cinemas recently from the US Navy? Facts were delivered in captions, such as the high percentage of the world population living close to the sea. The seductive aerial view of a state of the art aircraft carrier from bow to stern played out with some ambient rumble. At the end the US Navy claims that it is committed to a kind of total protection. Emphatically stylish with no hint of threat or destruction, presented as a global brand. We also learn this week that the US military is the largest employer in the world with ‘3.2’ million ahead of Wallmart, McDonalds and the Chinese PLA. This must be some kind of satisfying safety net , knowing we can all rest safe in our beds. Could we speculate that it’s the worlds working class that is the biggest employer by far, no that doesn’t make sense, but the very idea of employment / unemployment is starting to feel a thing of the past. There must be some new concept around the corner about human existence that we are waiting to recognise, not as a phenomena but a useful reconfiguration of time.

In ‘Ratners Star’ (Don De Lillo) –  Cyril, who is on the committee to define the word ‘science’ says that “If a medicine man chants over your body all night and you wake up cured, that’s science”

Everything is included as science and now all artistic practices have taken the oaths of the methods of the institution.

A man working on a plane I fly on is Asian, he speaks three languages, possibly four, and he is in fact an actor and a poet. The airline company has a growing reputation and respect as an employer. All the women doing the same job come from the country of the airline, as do the pilot and the rest of the crew. He seems an exceptional man and I am aware of how his presence embodies the necessity of dignity. ‘Let us go then, you and I’.

What would you name and how could you describe the strip of built environment that runs from Gatwick into London? It’s a patchwork of villages, estates, dwellings and industries, intersected by other routes and crossings. Snowfall emphasises elevations, contours and boundaries. Infinite divides produces a temporary nausea in my stomach. I don’t know if it is the past or the present that creates this sensation, either the land has been divided into ruins or where I have come from barely requires any such divides. Allotments appear and they are always good for the eye because they represent endeavor and production on a human scale. Bridges, tunnels and cuttings punctuate the line and the suburban shifts rapidly to the urban. London eats it’s green surrounds, it’s leafy glades, it’s moral bounds.

Across town, on a train heading north there are conversations; two people, small groups, on the phone, headsets, strategic business chat. It’s a kind of edu-speak in scenarios, sales and marketing where fluid modernity flexes its inhuman manners. The surrounding cranes and the sites of new-build provide the necessary backdrop to the dumb-downed drama, a construct of business seminar and role play.
The man speaks, the men speak, the woman listens, the women listen, she interjects using her mouth, they interject using mouths to form aah’s, ehms and oh’s. When she speaks he says yea, when they speak he says yesss, quickly interrupting to expand and clarify. Micro middle managers, on the move, creating capital for the others, maybe on bonuses for clinching the deal. Fictions played out as fictions of careers. Work, an increasing accommodation of ambition and purpose.

Some memories are made up of quite easy and obvious things. The missing locations of shops that punctuated a street or square can set me wondering about business systems, the employees, the whole flow of goods and the whereabouts of the customers, and I was one of those consumers even when I assured myself that I wasn’t.
Virgin megastore meant the music business, the entertainment industry, video games. Waterstones meant writers, publishers, the printed word, the page, turning. Habitat meant design, kitchens and bathrooms, curtains and bedding (though bedding actually came from elsewhere), sofas, dining and lighting, the world of interiors.
All gone now, elsewhere, god knows, as company efficiencies stripped out sustainable work and then the identity of employees. Now empty spaces, waiting the next wanderlust, a graveyard to unborn memory.

Across the great divide of negativity, someone’s light becomes another persons shadow, the anxious persona, psychopathic,  looking to short circuit life’s sweet halo. Some view life, it appears, through smoked glass, in mistrust, an outlined ode to love thought of as lust. Out the blue, at the close of day, a monologue might play of blackmailed threats about accumulated debts. When love left town, dancing in the light, it was tapping out a line, burning bright, at closing time.

That’s an example of what happens when you think consequences was a game of the past, when memory triggers a time you can’t catch, when there’s no rhyme or reason that make the pictures match. A colleagues says, you know, I see now that you are interested in the everyday and another says, you know that the poem that starts ‘Let us go then, you and I’ , that’s like an experience I had and am still working with. We agree, as we walk and talk, smoke, eat or drink, that everyone learns about what we know and then understands what we need to know.

object_project, for Alain Ayers is now here