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Monthly Archives: April 2020

hobby

I have a thing for untying knots.

Give me a knot to untie and I’m happy. The more tightly, chaotically and unreasonably tied the knot, the better. Give me a knot of chain links, curly cable, string, wire, laces, anything. Perfect.

The Gordian knot, I wouldn’t need a sword, just an afternoon.

Next, I’m going to start unpicking locks.

it’s the same with art

If a piece of art needs an accompanying explanation, if I need to know about the artist’s struggle in an unforgiving world in order to appreciate what they’ve produced, or if an artist is exhibited for what they are and not for what they have produced, then it’s not art.

But two pieces of contemporary art that I think are extremely powerful are:

House by Rachel Whiteread – I particularly like the idea it was demolished some weeks later.

Marcus Harvey’s image of a child murderer, who I won’t name, created out of a mosaic of tiny children’s hands. It’s extremely unsettling.

I live close to the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art and I’ve seen some dire shit in there – every exhibit accompanied by a meaningful explanation of the enlightenment that this particular piece of dire shit brings to the world. But easily 99% of the stuff they exhibit is junk, created by charlatans. I think of the place as a sort of care home for the otherwise unemployable children of affluence.

The best bit of the entire place is the building itself, a converted flour mill built in the 1930s by ordinary working men.

 

 

by the book

I accidentally read an article about this year’s Booker prize for literature, or fiction or whatever. Apparently they’re boasting that of the six shortlisters, four are women, one is, possibly, trans, and one is a refugee.

I don’t care.

My only criteria for a ‘good’ book is, did I enjoy reading it? I’m not interested in what the author looks like. I don’t want to be lectured.

Did it tell a good story? Did I like the characters? Did I enjoy reading it?

Everything else is an excuse.

 

 

the shakers – free download

Revised and updated – the shakers is a collection of short stories, fragments and narratives.

Free download from 29 April – 3rd May.

Click title or image for link:

to be good

John Coltrane said that there’s a point where, to improve as an artist, you have to improve as a person. There are too many exceptions to that rule for it to be true, lots of writers, musicians and painters were and are awful people, but there’s an essential truth in there too, that I’m still trying to understand.

Here’s Coltrane explaining it better than I ever could:

 

subbed

I’m in need of sub-plots for three stories that I have on the desk. Two of the stories are fairly short, the third is a full-sized novel.

I often use the model of two intertwining stories instead of a direct subplot but I haven’t got the option in any of these, so I’ll need to dig deep into the characters’ lives to see what I can find.

cats

My youtube account means that algorithms give me more of what I already watch, which is mainly jazz music, WW2 tanks and Russian bareknuckle boxing, so that I occasionally have to type in something random such as ‘Tibetan nose flute’ or ‘President Macron’ just to  refresh my otherwise stagnant algorithmic gene pool.

My phone, however, is not signed in, and I use it when I’m working out, so that means you can find me lifting weights to a YT lecture on the mathematical probability of the multiverse or changing a bike tyre while listening to the history and development of cats-eyes on motorways.

timeless

Every now and again I have an insight.

Tonight as I listened to a podcast about how time breaks down under certain circumstances (nope, me neither, but I enjoy listening, it’s a sort of meditation) I suddenly realised that writing is a labour of love. Everything I write is part of an extended, ongoing love letter.

Just not sure who to.

scaled

I’m writing a serious of short stories about a free-climber who likes to scale tall buildings, and I’ve been researching some of the world’s highest buildings.

Thing is, I have a real issue with heights.

I can’t think of something extremely high without feeling I’m there, and then feeling like I want to fall. Writing while in a state of fear is an interesting experience.

radical ideas

I read somewhere that the right hemisphere of your brain is dumb, blind and mute, but it does feelings and imagination really well. It’s where your brain goes to process the information that enters through the left side during the course of the day, and a lot of this processing is done while sleeping. The right side of your brain is a dark, windowless room and what it does is organise and reorganise, sort and resort; it hypothesises, models and re-models the world in order that the left side of the brain can function successfully.

The right side of your brain houses your imagination, your fears and your most basic emotions. It’s the speculative side of the brain.

Left-handers tend to be more governed by the right hemisphere and they’re more imaginative, more emotional, more likely to come up with radical ideas and, sometimes those radical ideas work. It’s not an advantage, having a powerful right hemisphere. It’s just the way it is. Being imaginative is not more important than being able to count. You want an architect with imagination, but he needs to be able to calculate equally as well, or the building falls down and, on balance, staying up is more important to a building than being pleasing to the eye.

We can’t survive if the farmer doesn’t get up before dawn every morning and tend his crops and his flocks. We can’t live unless an engineer designs trucks and fridges and a pricing system to ensure we get, and pay for, our food. But we can live without stories and music and art, at a pinch.

The point of this is, don’t let the word ‘creative’ awe you. It’s just the product of hard-wiring. I suspect it helps us in the long-term. I suspect that someone, somewhere, a long long time ago, watched a log roll down a hill and the right-side of their brain thought, hmmm. 

And now, ten or fifty or two hundred thousand years later, here we are.