Monday, January 09, 2006


Dennis Cooper asked on his blog what his blogs readers' artistic New Year's resolutions were: So I thought about this for a while and decided to write some down myself. This is going to be a bit longer, as I want to really write down everything that is important to me, and also spend some time about the backstory, and it will roughly be in three parts. It would be easy to say I'd be happy to just have another year like the last one, cause in some ways it wasn't such a bad year. But I've come to the conclusion that I might want to build on some stuff that has happened and brought me where I am right now and become more focussed, and writing this down might help me to be to be a bit clearer about what i would like to achieve, and be realistic about it too. In some ways I feel it's somewhat successful to hold down a job and pursue artistic or other interests in your spare time, therefore acquiring the luxury of not having to worry too much about marketing your art and effectively selling it to make a living. However, working and living in London devours such a large chunk of time and energy I'm not always in the right mindset to really be where I want to be. I've also retreated more and more into a more passive mindset that likes to consume, listen, read, and maybe reshuffle, and rearrange, but not necessarily put out anything. There's nothing wrong with it, of course, but I think maybe it's time to make a more concerted effort to build on what's already there. It's all possible.

Firstly, my band Plus has had a good year in some ways, nothing major happened, we didn't even do that much but we played a few good shows that I was happy about, especially the last one definitely had something, got under people's skins (fortunately it was filmed as well), and we recorded some new material, which is pretty strong, and to me marks an improvement to the previous record. Our first album, 'In the Safety Community', recorded in early 2003, has its full-on, weird moments, and collects a lot of our older material, but somewhat lacks focus, especially in some of the singing (which is entirely my fault!). I feel this new one, 'Hairy', benefitted from the past experiences. I made myself write lyrics for every single song, and, in one case, used some Pynchon lyrics from 'Gravity's Rainbow' (!), blended with my own. As a result, it hangs together better, and we are taking a step forward and moving on. It's still not perfect, and still sounds like a demo, but there are a few tracks on there, especially 'Teenager', 'Tired Eyes', 'Ephedrine Daddy' and 'Seeing Time' that I wouldn't have a huge problem sharing, even with complete strangers, in fact the whole thing is more how I want this to sound like. We still haven't worked out what exactly we're going to do with it, but the CDR I've started circulating has had some good response, which confirms how I feel.

We are terminally slow, it takes us weeks and months even to arrange a rehearsal, but I always felt that this was one of the key reasons why we're still doing it, at our own speed, in our own chemistry, and it's a fun ride when we do it. However it would maybe be an idea to stay focussed and try not to lose the momentum, which has happened before, firstly by writing more material and possibly recording it (Chris records a lot at home these days anyway, and it actually sounds really good), playing a few more shows, and promoting the material we've got, not in aggressive/naive kind of way, but having the confidence to put the word out. Something, something small might happen. We are really good when it comes to it, it's just not so easy to present ourselves as we really are, which is something that usually comes out after a couple of hours of rehearsing on our own, when things really kick in. However we're really letting rip on stage these days, it's taken a while, but we are getting better at playing live.

Secondly: my writing. I recently thought that it has gone stagnant to the point of no return. It's partly that I don't want to sit in front of a computer outside of work, and there's too many distractions to really focus on it, so there's too many long breaks. Plus it still seems to go nowhere. Over the last I don't know how many years, I've written three long pieces, 'novels', whatever you want to call them. They are kind of similar in tone, long stream-of-consciousness pieces, that have a vague, vaguely trippy theme, and then go on a long ride with it. Though the passages hang together, there's a lot that is, frankly, incoherent and virtually unreadable, and basically succumbs eventually to some sort of weird mindspin drifting further down into some abyss, mental meltdown. Sometimes I read a few passages later and it blows me away, and even while I write them I get lost in them. It's written as if under self hypnosis, sentences follow each other, and I often don't know where it's really going. It often involves several subjects interacting in some neverending conversation. All of them are unreal in some ways, vampires or ghostly presences. It certainly could do with *some* editing, though I've often found out by looking at them that the sentences are just right the way I first wrote them, even if they sound weird at first, there's a certain gravity there I don't want to disturb afterwards. Needless to say, they are not be published in any way, I certainly don't intend to even give them to anyone, well, okay, a couple of people saw bits and pieces. But there isn't much point, they are weird exercises, and though some of this material blows my mind when I read it, it's

Okay, the first one is called 'The Colour Ward' and probably plays inside some sort of mental institution, where colours take the place of drugs and become psychoactive substances. There's nurses, doctors, corridors, closed rooms etc. 'Do you want to buy some colour' 'you want to get more colour into your life'. God, I need to read it again to remember what's going on in there. It took ages to write but isn't even that long...

The second one is called 'Yes Wave' and probably deals with me moving into London, the big city and all the additional pressures. It's kind of an exploration into the sinister aspects of positivity, the relentless upbeat tone, the more commercial environment, the saturation of messages, the tube, the property market, the different, relentless pace etc. I guess 'Yes Wave' shares with my band Plus the idea of transforming positivity into something that is really dark, negative, or at least unknown. Saying yes will get you in touch with what you negate.

The last one is called 'The whip' and I guess deals with sadomasochism, among other things. It's got some really vivid imagery, like blurry polaroids of war zones, corridors again, secret rooms, masters and slaves, and a lot more sex basically. I made myself arrange it in 5 equally long chapters. So it's been finished not too long ago, well, as good as finished anyway as it's going to get, having the exact length prescribed in advance. I feel empty now. This whole idea of writing longer pieces has been to try to see whether i can actually do this, i used to write only shorter pieces. But I'm not sure how successful it's been.

For future reference, all these are safely stored on our laptop, and on various labelled diskettes lying around, one in a bag of old paintings at my parents house. The Whip is called hotdog.doc for some reason...Before those I wrote several shorter pieces, starting with a cycle of shorter and very short pieces called 'Vampire Stories' (and before that I wrote in German). One of those, the one I thought was really good at the time, is here: . It's not really that representative of how I write today (it's more than ten years old) but maybe illustrates the strengths and weaknesses to some extent.

Okay, to move on, I'd like to find a way of writing that puts me more in control of where it's going, is maybe a little less instinct and more direction. Something that I feel comfortable sharing with others. Something that is more memorable, even to me. But also something that retains the good qualities I see in the writing, using the experiences I've accumulated on these weird writing experiments I've occasionally engaged in for years. I think it's possible, but it would require some discipline. But I'd be happy if I had one, two, three pieces I'd be really happy about at the end of the year. I think it's possible, but I've got to make it possible. I think it needs to happen. We'll see...

Finally, blogging has been fun and weirdly liberating. I see this blog essentially as my online scrapbook, it's an online space for me to do whatever I want to do with it, post photos, writing exercises, music reviews, anything that happens. I feel the message boards I tend to spend time on don't always give me the breathing space to express stuff I just want to put out, there's always someone who disagrees, or talks too loud, or in a tone I can't connect with. So I'm quite into blogging and I want to continue doing so, keep this growing. It's a good writing exercise, at least. And it's a way of putting things out there that is easy and low-key but can still potentially reach people.

Happy new year! I'm glad I got all this off my chest.

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