I tell people that my boyfriend killed himself because it makes me feel unimpeachable. I tell them that he was horrifically depressed – the sort of depressed that people really just can’t understand. The really complicated depressed.
I also tell people that he was dyslexic. I tell people that in his last months, he’d constantly be asking me how to spell certain words, or he’d ask me about various pieces of punctuation – how certain sentences were supposed to work – without ever revealing what sentences he was working on. I tell people that I was inadvertently helping him write his suicide note. I tell people that on the day I found him hanging from a homemade noose with a knot that reminded me of plaited bread rolls that you might see in upmarket bakeries – the Biro scrawled note taped to the front of his t-shirt felt more like a conversation with myself than a farewell from him.
When I get that far I tend to stop talking so freely. I rarely go as far as to discuss the actual content of my boyfriend’s suicide note. I drop hints about it, or make vague comments about it, but don’t go any deeper than that. I’ll say enough as to make sure that whoever I’m talking to is left with the impression that whatever was contained in the suicide letter must have been really heavy – and not just because of the obvious. It’s hard to explain, but I find myself at pains to express to people that the suicide note wasn’t just a usual example of its genre: sad, tragic, whatever; I want people to know that as well as all that stuff, it was profound.
It feels important to only give people so much. I want them to be left with questions that I will purposely never answer. That way – I’ll never just feel like an outline that people can see straight through, that hasn’t been coloured in. I think it’s probably like the emotional equivalent of being media savvy. I want people that I meet to be left with the impression that I’m just one of those really emotionally dense and complicated people that no one will ever really fully understand because, well I don’t know, probably because the very basics of the matter are: I’m not.
I don’t want to be blamed for anything.
I have all of these ideals. I tell people that my boyfriend and I met at a Xiu Xiu concert. Jamie Stewart was onstage in tears screaming this really amazing song about some dark sexually abusive relationship. I tell people that my boyfriend and I just started kissing. Just like that. We were standing next to each other, and had noticed each other a couple of times. There was some sensual psychic telepathy shit in the air, I tell them, and we just clicked without even talking. If anyone ever tells me that it reminds them of the promo video that Sonic Youth made for that song Dirty Boots then I’ll scowl and make an effort to look like I’m pretending not to be hurt – it makes people apologize for making things sound trivial, even though I actually think that it makes the whole thing seem a lot more romantic and unique and above and outside the every day.
When the next song started – this track called I Luv The Valley OH! – we looked at each other and tried to say to one another “this is my favourite song”. We ended up kissing again, this time so hard that our teeth crashed together and I bit the inside of my mouth. I got his spit all inside my cheeks and the faint stubble on his chin irritated my own sweaty face in this completely mind blowing way.
We ended up back at my place – this flat that I used live in that I got evicted from after my boyfriend died and I had a nervous breakdown (which explains to people why I’m back living with my parents). I always had this fantasy of two people meeting and going back home to fuck, but not actually having sex: I always used to imagine them standing at opposite ends of a room, both masturbating and looking at the other – so it was more like their minds were ass fucking rather than the roles that their bodies usually called predictable ownership on. I tell people that that’s what happened the night of the Xiu Xiu concert when my boyfriend and I first got back to my place. But after we came at exactly the same moment we ended up fucking anyway. We were overpowered. It felt like a choice made for us that we didn’t have any sway over.
The fucking was really heavy. It was the sort of sex where secrets are shared between two people. When it was over we both knew so much about each other.
There are certain things that make me feel these weird emotions that I can’t describe; like how I feel driving into a city at night. If people don’t understand what I mean by that then that’s fine. It just means that they’re a different type of person to me. Driving into a city at night, the smell of burning, boys in grey t-shirts, the sound of skateboards, putting my hand at the base of someone’s back.
Talking about my dead boyfriend legitimises a lot of stuff for me. I’m able to talk about things that if I was just being honest and relating things to myself I’d never ever even get near. I talk about the time that we both ended up meeting this seventeen year old BMX rider outside some lame punk gig, how we both took him home and fucked him for the first time. He was stoned and high as a chimp in a tree but he was into it and spent the whole next day with us, looking at coffee table books of nude boys that looked just like him, before he headed off and we never saw him again properly except a couple of times in the local record shop where we’d swap these knowing grins and think about how sore our respective dicks felt for next few days after our threesome.
When I tell people about that kind of thing I feel like it denotes a certain freedom and power that I’ve been associated with that most people don’t get to actually experience. I want people to know that I’ve been places they’ve never been and they’ll never go. Sometimes because I’ve told so many lies I even start to believe this stuff myself.
Last night I tried to make a list of all the things that are making me feel like I should kill myself. This morning I’m looking at them and they’re making me feel pathetic. I try to think about the things that my fictional boyfriend would have been driven into desperation by. With me it’s mainly boredom. That doesn’t feel enough. With him – I don’t know – how could I even begin to get my head around that stuff?
I tell people that he’d buy me novels by transgressive authors that were referenced by avant garde bands that we both liked. In reality I know that I’d put them on the shelf and never get past the first four pages.
If I’m ever high on MDMA then I feel compelled to tell strangers that I’ve just met about the best drug experience I ever had – four pills and four tabs of acid that my ex lover and I split between us. We just did it in our front room, listened to albums that meant a lot to us, and talked in this out of focus but pinpoint emotional way that felt like – fuck I don’t know – acupuncture of the fucking soul or something. Over fourteen hours we further cemented this bond that neither of us had ever got within touching distance of before in our whole lives.
The night that my boyfriend killed himself gets changed around quite a bit. I was late back through no fault of my own. If I’d been back just an hour earlier then I might have been able to save him. The implication is pretty heartbreaking – I’ve seen tears form in people’s eyes before on them hearing that. Sometimes I tag on that I’d forgotten to take my phone out with me – when I checked it later there were thirteen missed calls all from him. Sometimes we had an argument over something that I never disclose to people, probably for fear of accidentally cross wiring or mi-stitching the intricate weave of sympathy that I’ve been threading for so long. At the end of the argument my boyfriend disappeared into another room and I fell asleep in tears, exhausted. I awoke to silence. There are a few other variations that I’m bored of falsely remembering. Sometimes I have dreams made out of these ‘memories’.
I look at screwed up balls of aborted suicide notes that fill the waste paper bin in the corner of my room. If only I can get somewhere near the note that I mythologize so much to people who are forced out of good will to believe me; but I give up. It’s like trying to imagine a colour that I’ve never seen before.
I open up my laptop and look at pictures of boys that I’ve stolen from Myspace pages and Vampirefreak profiles and a load of boy blogs that I keep bookmarked for when I’m feeling horny or lonely or both. My lover’s face always looks different.
It’s getting late. There’s only so much you can do in a day to make yourself feel part of it.
“Protest is when I say I don’t like this and that. Resistance is when I see to it that things that I don’t like no longer occur. Protest is when I say I will no longer go along with it. Resistance is when I see to it that no one else goes along with it anymore either.” You may have heard about Molotov cocktails on the news or seen them in video games, but do you know what they are? That could be heard – not verbatim – from a black person in the Black Power movement at the Vietnam conference this February in Berlin. Here’s a description of a Molotov cocktail and a little history of the device’s invention.
The students are not practicing a revolt, they are exercising resistance. Rocks have flown, the windowpanes of the Springer tower in Berlin have shattered, cars have burned, water cannons have been seized, a BILD newspaper editorial office has been demolished, tires have been slashed, traffic has been brought to a standstill, construction trailers have been overturned, police cordons penetrated – violence, physical violence was used. A Molotov cocktail is also known as a petrol bomb or alcohol bomb. The delivery of Springer newspapers could nevertheless not be prevented; order in street traffic was never interrupted for more than a few hours. The insurance companies will pay for the windowpanes. New delivery trucks will be driven in place of burned-out ones; the supply of police water cannons has not been reduced, and in the future there will be no shortage of billy clubs either. It is a simple type of improvised incendiary device. So, what happened can happen again: the Springer press will be able to continue to agitate, and in the future [Berlin Mayor] Klaus Schütz will still be able to challenge people “to look these guys in the face” and suggest bashing it in – which already happened on February 21 – and finally to shoot.
During the protests against the attack on Rudi Dutschke during Easter break, the boundary between verbal protest and physical resistance was crossed, for the first time on a massive scale: by many, not just isolated individuals; for days, not just once; all over, not just in Berlin; for real, not just symbolically. The simplest form consists of a stoppered bottle filled with a combustible liquid, such as gasoline or high-proof alcohol, with a fuel-soaked rag stuffed in the neck of the bottle. After June 2, Springer newspapers were just burned; now an attempt was made to block their delivery. On June 2, only tomatoes and eggs were thrown; now stones flew. In February, only an amusing and funny film about the production of Molotov cocktails was shown; now things actually burned. The boundary between protest and resistance was crossed, but ineffectively nonetheless, and that which happened can still repeat itself. The stopper separates the fuel from the part of the rag that acts as a fuse. The power structures have not been changed. Resistance was exercised. To use a Molotov cocktail, the rag is ignited and the bottle is thrown against a vehicle or fortification. Positions of power were not taken over. Therefore was it all just meaningless, escalating, terrorist, apolitical, impotent violence? The bottle breaks, spraying fuel into the air.
Let it be established: those here who, from positions of political power, condemn throwing stones and arson, but not the agitation of the Springer press, nor the bombs falling in Vietnam, nor the terror in Persia, not torture in South Africa, those who could really bring about the expropriation of Springer instead form a Grand Coalition; those who could speak the truth about BILD and BZ in the mass media instead spread half-truths about students; their engagement on behalf of nonviolence is hypocritical, they have a double standard, they want precisely what those of us who took to the streets – with and without stones in our pockets – do not want: politics as fate, sheep-like masses, a powerless opposition that disturbs nothing and no one, democratic sandbox games, and when things get serious, the state of emergency. Throwing a flaming bottle of fuel was inherently dangerous, so modifications were made to the Molotov cocktail. Johnson, who declares Martin Luther King to be a national hero, and Kiesinger, who sends a telegram to express his regret at the attempted assassination of Dutschke, are representatives of the violence against which both King and Dutschke protested: the violence of the system that created Springer and the Vietnam War. These devices consisted of 750 ml glass bottles that contained a mixture of gasoline, ethanol, and tar. They are missing both the political and the moral justification to protest the students’ will to resist.
Let it be established: it has been documented that you can’t simply shoot into a crowd here, that the protest by intellectuals against the mass stupefaction by the Springer media is serious, that it is not meant for the dear Lord and not for later, in order to be able to say at some point that you were always against it. It has been documented that common decency is a shackle that can be broken through if those wearing the shackles are beaten and shot at. The sealed bottles were bundled with a pair of pyrotechnic storm matches, one on either side of the bottle. It has been documented that there are still people in this country who do not merely condemn terror and violence and are secretly opposed to it and sometimes take a risk and open their mouths and do not let themselves be frightened; and there are also people who are willing and able to resist so it can be understood that business cannot continue as usual. The sealed bottles were bundled with a pair of pyrotechnic storm matches, one on either side of the bottle. It has been shown that incitement to murder and murder disturb the public peace and order, that there is a public that will not accept that. One or both of the matches were lit before the device was thrown, either by hand or using a sling. That a human life has a different quality than windowpanes, Springer trucks, and demonstrators’ cars, which were overturned and damaged by police in absolutely arbitrary acts during the delivery blockade in front of the Springer tower. That there is a public determined not merely to call the intolerable intolerable, but to intervene to disarm Springer and his accomplices.
Now, after it has been shown that there are means other than just demonstrations, Springer hearings, and protest events, means other than those that have failed, because the attack on Rudi Dutschke could not be prevented; now that the shackles of common decency have been broken, the discussion on violence and counterviolence can and must be started anew. The matches were safer and more reliable than the fuel-soaked cloth fuses. Counterviolence as it has been practiced during these Easter days is neither suitable to arouse sympathy, nor to draw startled liberals over to the side of the extra-parliamentary opposition (APO). Counterviolence risks turning into violence, where the brutality of the police determines the law of action, where superior rationality gives way to powerless rage, where paramilitary actions of the police are answered through paramilitary means. The tar thickened the fuel mixture so that the fuel would adhere to its target and so the fire would produce a lot of smoke. The Establishment, however, the “gentlemen at the top” – to use Rudi’s words – in the parties, governments, and associations have to comprehend that there is only one means by which to create lasting “peace and order BILD (nationwide) and BZ (Berlin) are two wide-circulation tabloid dailies published by the Springer corporation – namely, by expropriating Springer. The fun is over.“Protest is when I say I don’t like this and that. Resistance is when I see to it that things that I don’t like no longer occur.” Any flammable liquid could be used as the fuel. Other thickening agents included dish soap, egg whites, sugar, blood, and motor oil.
Each year I mean to keep a list of all the cool stuff I’m lucky enough to come into contact with. Each year I don’t get round to it. This unfortunately means that come the end of the year I’m slightly scrambling when I’m trying to get together lists of music, books, films, exhibitions, et cetera. I don’t have the most organized of minds and so my lists often make glaring omissions and I’m later thumping myself in the leg thinking “what about …?” or “how the fuck did I forget … ?”. I do realize that in the long run the odd album that I forget to mention isn’t going to affect or worry anyone but me, but still … maybe I should keep a list next year.
2010 has been an awesome year for good stuff (aka art). On a personal level, things have been pretty fucking weird this year and at times pretty fucking awful, and because of this the good art that I’ve experienced – whatever form it may have come under (and I like to use the umbrella tag of “art” in the most inclusive way possible – no snobbery here muthafucka) – has meant an absolute ton. Basically for me this year art has helped and healed. There have been countless times over the last 12 months when I have thought this is helping, I’m so glad to be here just because of the amazing pieces of whatever that I’ve been seeing, hearing, smelling, feeling, at the time.
And with all that here are a few selected highlights from my 2010. This list is in no way definitive, and yeah, within seconds I’ll be thumping my leg again, but hey, whatever. Some honourable mentions:
Xiu Xiu – Dear God I Hate Myself
I remember back in February feeling pretty sure that I would be hailing this as my album of the year come the close of it. With each new release Xiu Xiu’s work manages to progress and change in ways that haunt, heal and excite differently to their previous. The songs on Dear God I Hate Myself feel simultaneously grand and claustrophobic. They are also beautiful and painful. Nothing about Xiu Xiu is binary. They are my favourite gorgeous, aching grey area.
Pierre Guyotat – Coma
The book I’ve chose to mention in this list wasn’t actually published this year, but of all the different pieces of writing that I’ve read this year, none moved and inspired me as much as this incredible tome. A huge high five has to go to the great Semiotext(e) for getting Guyotat’s long awaited novel translated (a wonderful job by Noura Wedell). Coma left me completely stunned and wanting to create.
Cameron Jamie – Screening/Q&A @ The Savoy Cinema, Nottingham
A real treat to see rare screening’s of Cameron Jamie’s films BB, Spook House, Kranky Klaus and Massage the History. Soundtacked by The Melvins (BB, Spook House, Kranky Klaus) and Sonic Youth (Massage The History), Jamie’s shorts all focussed on subcultures and attempted to map the primitive impulses that drive them. Following the screening there was a Q&A with the Paris based American artist in which he spoke eloquently about his career and work.
Bret Easton Ellis Q&A – Nottingham Broadway
The opening night of MALE at the cool Mareen Paley Gallery was the first time I’d got to see the art of Scott Treleaven up close in realness. Having been a fan of his stuff for a long time, and being the lucky owner (thanks to the divine kindness of Transductions founder David Ryance) of his Some Boys Wander by Mistake book which I seem to be constantly coming back to, I was salivating at the prospect of finally getting to look at some of his work with my own eyes. Treleaven’s contributions to MALE were the standouts for me. His art hints at secret narratives, and evokes emotions in me that few other artists do. Amazing.
Oscar Tuazon – Sex @ Jonathan Viner, London
A personal high of this year was my good friend Hee Chee Way visiting from Malaysia. Wanting to make the most of his time, Chee had a huge list of galleries that he wanted to visit in London. It was during our exhausting traipse around that we happily stumbled on the newly opened Jonathan Viner gallery and I was thrilled to find that the first exhibition there was by Oscar Tuazon. I’ve featured some of Tuazon’s sculpture on my blog in the past, and have spent a fair while staring at photographs of it online so it was great to finally be in its presence. Certainly the happy random find of the year.
Gaspar Noe – Enter The Void
Seems like I’d been waiting forever for this film. To finally see it (in the cool surroundings of the Electric Cinema in Birmingham) was … wow. Definitely a huge step forward in Noe’s filmmaking, and certainly a fucking masterpiece in my opinion.
All Tomorrows Parties Nightmare Before Christmas @ Butlins, Minehead
Ending the year in its unique style – All Tomorrows Parties in December had its usual supply of musical treats. The picks for me were Charlemagne Palestine (who I was also fortunate enough to see performing a one off piece in Bourneville earlier in the year), a incredible show by Borbetomagus, as well as a powerful performance from Keiji Haino. There was a sadness in the air due to the sudden passing of Peter Sleazy Christopherson and the tribute to him (playing some CDs over a tinny sounding PA) didn’t feel exactly fitting but getting to hang out for the weekend with good people, go for walks on a chilly beach, and being surrounded by almost constant musical stimulus (although compared to previous ATPs the line-up did feel slightly sparse) for three days, this proved a very fun way to wrap up 2010.
Happy New Year people!
RIP, my father – 1942-2010
survive suffer and lunch, holy shit
this passion play is not your only option
crunch the numbers and watch
the difference it makes
i don’t want no more of this bad attitude from you
do you understand what I am saying
oh god and i feel
and i feel
and i feel
i write left handed
that is the case
the inside of it
but it is not the case
you kept complaining about it
the case, the caseness of it
and called it poetry in the digital age
and made your mistake already
saying age, which is a monster
and no longer,
we live now
and not in any age
the source of depravity
an ocean of fingers
typing coaches with degrees
in the arts and sciences
phrases, not images, poetry is more than lax parataxis
so bored at the cinema
so what if we’re in the dark
i want to do it in the light
beware i live
Agnes b’s Galerie du Jour is currently showing new works by Harmony Korine until 8th November. I snapped a few (phone) shots:
Artwork (ghosts) by Bruno Pelassy
Images from the videogame Deus Ex 3
Alexander McQueen’s spring 2001 collection, “Voss.”
All works by Alex Rose.