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rejectamentalist manifesto



Tue, 06 Mar 2018 21:49:00 +0000


Forgetting by Commemoration, or, the Disrespect of Respect

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 15:50:32 +0000

The Countess Granville, in a letter of 1827, is effusive about a greyhound named Flora of which she is ‘excessively fond’. She has for the dog a ‘peculiar weakness’, for ‘all her ways, the sleepy affected grande dame manner’.

Grande Dame-nation, as the Countess knew, is hardly value-neutral. The term simpers and winks. It adverts to haughtiness. ‘[I]mposing’, the OED offers hesitantly, addenda to the sense of rank, prestige and venerability; ‘dignified; condescending’. In so implying condescension, the label condescends – an elegant, disavowable sneer. In a grande dame’s dignity, protested of too much, is something undignified. There is elegance there, yes, but is it not a little stiff? Even strained? The wry knowingness that deploys the term domesticates and undermines as it purports to admiration. ‘Grande dame’, the OED assures, comes with an ‘accompanying sense of respect and affection’ – but the latter carefully undercuts the former.

A grande dame is above all a woman. And old. And thus domesticated. She is even, the term assures sotto voce, however stern she might seem, rather a dear old thing, really.


The most obvious act of disciplining in this obituary headline is in words 8 and 9, ‘science’ and ‘fiction’. Le Guin herself, to be sure, never apologised for that field, and nor should anyone celebrating her. But given the respect she doggedly and belatedly accrued beyond it in literature tout court – a National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters in 2014, burgeoning and deserved rumbles around the Nobel – one might think it a bit much to put her posthumously back in the box. 

Far worse, however, are words five and six.

In her acceptance speech at the National Book Awards, Le Guin trenchantly attacked capitalism itself – just as she had many times before. ‘I don’t think anyone expected an 85-year-old lady … to get up there and say those things,’ she later said. And now such words must come as a surprise again. Because it is not only an old lady but a grand [sic] dame who has died. All stiff brocade and starch and sweeping skirts. A dear old thing. 


Shall we try that commemoration again?

An unflinching radical has died. A literary colossus has died. A comrade, a giant of modern letters has died. 

Waking to a Diminished World

Wed, 24 Jan 2018 08:18:21 +0000


‘But only to us is it given to know that we must die. And that is a great gift: the gift of selfhood. For we have only what we know we must lose, what we are willing to lose…’

‘We live in capitalism. Its power seems inescapable. So did the divine right of kings.’

‘The children of the revolution are always ungrateful, and the revolution must be grateful that it is so.’


‘In-between books one has these uncomfortable thoughts like, “Why do all the women writers get forgotten extremely quickly? Who’s going to keep me alive?” Nasty thoughts like that.’

If we were to fail you so, we would never have deserved you. We will not fail.

Go well.

Ursula Kroeber Le Guin

21 October 1929 – 22 January 2018

‘I’ll enter your body as a fly & see your body from the inside.’New Kingdom curse

Tue, 02 Jan 2018 16:40:12 +0000


‘I’ll enter your body as a fly & see your body from the inside.’

  • New Kingdom curse

’[T]here isn’t a single traveller by sea who hasn’t come upon derelict thoughts...

Fri, 27 Oct 2017 18:02:02 +0100

’[T]here isn’t a single traveller by sea who hasn’t come upon derelict thoughts drifting on the waves like seaweed, and there isn’t a traveller by road who hasn’t come upon wind-piled ridges of desert-sand where thoughts are buried thick as the shards of beetles in the cracks of forgotten sepulchres’.

  • John Cowper Powys – The Inmates

The Night Rays

Tue, 24 Oct 2017 22:19:37 +0100


Gentrification kills

Wed, 14 Jun 2017 08:35:45 +0100

The ‘curating’ of areas for the socially desired means the de-development of what remains for those whom the curators despise. That gentrification will kill is not only predictable, but urgently, repeatedly, desperately predicted

Grief is political. 

EDIT: The countdown now begins for two things.* 

1) Angry denunciations of those ‘politicising’ this Unforeseeable Tragedy™. 

2) Kensington, after a tasteful pause, redeveloping atop these new ruins in an Exciting New Direction™ (with, no doubt, a sombre plaque somewhere in memory of those who died in the fire of 2017).

* EDIT 2: 

Unless, as seems increasingly likely, the political crisis provoked is too vast to be evaded. The leader of the council is currently being heckled on live TV – ‘Do you have blood on your hands?’ 


The overseer had the right to kill

Mon, 05 Jun 2017 00:32:36 +0100

Laura Kuenssberg for the BBC, reporting on his speech after the London Bridge attacks, tells us that Jeremy Corbyn has ‘tried to counter perceptions that he is soft on security, including his earlier stance on shoot to kill, which he questioned days after the Paris attack at the Bataclan’. We’re familiar with the claim by now, that the loony lefty hippy was flatly opposed to any lethal force by police under any circumstances, including during such ongoing terrorist atrocities. But at last, Kuenssberg would now have us believe, he’s turned his back on such lunacy.

Corbyn, of course, never took any such position from which to turn, U or any other letter. We know that this was not what Corbyn said because the BBC Trust itself – not Momentum, not Angry Twitter – ruled, less than five months ago, that the BBC report implying this was inaccurate, and ‘misrepresented the Labour leader’s position on the use of lethal force in the event of such an attack in the UK’. It achieved this by mendacious editing, stitching questions and answers together into some misshapen thing. In the BBC Trust’s words, the BBC ‘was wrong in this case to present an answer Mr Corbyn had given to a question about “shoot to kill” as though it were his answer to a question he had not in fact been asked’.

For the BBC now, nearly half a year later, just before an election of staggering importance, to continue disseminating the same unreconstructed insinuation about some pre-existing Corbynite allergy to police protecting civilians is deplorable. 

To do so to construct ex nihilo a supposed Labour U-Turn – a sign of weakness – is tawdry.

For the person constructing this schmaltzy narrative of Corbyn’s painful growth, to be the same Laura Kuenssberg who purveyed the original smear? For her to herald Corbyn’s consistent position as, now, a ‘change of mind’ on the grounds that it is different from the position her own superiors denounced her for inventing in her own head for him? That is neck of the finest and heaviest brass. 

‘Reproductions Distort’: A Note on the Culture Industry

Tue, 03 Jan 2017 16:25:08 +0000

John Berger has died. The world is smaller.

The machine strains to domesticate dissent, to national-treasurise a rebel.

It would be too overt, too unsubtle, to censor the fact of his radical politics. The theoretical disembowelling must be subtler. Thus, 30 seconds into its short video obituary (second video), the BBC shows a clip from 1972′s Ways of Seeing.

‘Reproductions distort’, Berger says. The camera pulls him into view before a da Vinci. ‘Only a few facsimiles don’t. Take this original painting in the National Gallery. Only, what you are seeing is still not the original.’ He speaks more quietly. He turns from us to gaze at the painting. He sounds now as if he is at worship. ‘I’m in front of it. I can see it.’

That clip ends. ‘The programme’, Will Gompertz interrupts, ‘was to become iconic and highly influential.’ True enough. But it is surely not irrelevant that what we were allowed to see in that truncated clip was not the awed reverie at the power of art that it was made to appear: it was the set-up for its radical puncturing.

‘This painting by Leonardo is unlike any other in the world’, Berger continues in the original programme, as the camera lingers on the brush-strokes. His voice is hushed. ‘It isn’t a fake. It’s authentic. If I go to the National Gallery and look at this painting, somehow I should be able to feel this authenticity. The Virgin of the Rocks by Leonardo da Vinci. It is beautiful for that alone.’

And then, after a pause, the camera lurches to a close-up of Berger turning back to stare into it, his face now almost angry. He speaks assertively, making a mockery of his previous churchy tones, in a brilliant switch, one of the greatest ever moments of television. He speaks now with quizzical disdain. ‘Nearly everything that we learn or read about art encourages an attitude and expectation rather like that.


This attitude of sentimentalism he immediately deguts as a mediated excrescence of capitalism. A work becomes ‘mysterious again’, might acquire ‘a kind of new impressiveness, but not because of what it shows, not because of the meaning of its image’, but ‘because of its market value’.

It’s been pointed out by many, including Berger himself, that it is impossible to imagine the BBC making Ways of Seeing now. That’s bad enough: it seems a particularly purulent symptom that in the BBC’s own obituary for the person responsible for one of the greatest works it ever broadcast, it in passing inverts the spirit and meaning of that work. Deploys it to reinforce the very attitude Berger was working so urgently to break.

‘Tis the Season

Sat, 24 Dec 2016 20:25:07 +0000

Call me childish, but I love all the nonsense - the snow, the trees, the tinsel, the turkey. I love presents. I love carols and cheesy songs. I just love Christmas™.That’s why I was so excited. And not just for me, but for Annie. Aylsa, her mum, said she didn’t see the big deal and why was I a sentimentalist, but I knew Annie couldn’t wait. She might have been 14, but when it came to this I was sure she was still a little girl, dreaming of stockings by the chimney. Whenever it’s my turn to take Annie - me and Aylsa have alternated since the divorce - I do my best on the 25th.I admit Aylsa made me feel bad. I was dreading Annie’s disappointment. So I can hardly tell you how delighted I was when I found out that for the first time ever I was going to be able to make a proper celebration of it.Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t got shares in YuleCo, and I can’t afford a one-day end-user licence, so I couldn’t have a legal party. I’d briefly considered buying from one of the budget competitors like XmasTym, or a spinoff from a non-specialist like Coca-Crissmas, but the idea of doing it on the cheap was just depressing. I wouldn’t have been able to use much of the traditional stuff, and if you can’t have all of it, why have any? (XmasTym had the rights to Egg Nog. But Egg Nog’s disgusting.) Those other firms keep trying to create their own alternatives to proprietary classics like reindeer and snowmen, but they never take off. I’ll never forget Annie’s underwhelmed response to the JingleMas Holiday Gecko.No, like most people, I was going to have a little MidWinter Event, just Annie and me. So long as I was careful to steer clear of licenced products we’d be fine.Ivy decorations you can still get away with; holly’s a no-no but I’d hoarded a load of cherry tomatoes, which I was planning to perch on cactuses. I wouldn’t risk tinsel but had a couple of brightly-coloured belts I was going to drape over my aspidistra. You know the sort of thing. The inspectors aren’t too bad: they’ll sometimes turn a blind eye to a bauble or two (which is just as well, because the fines for unlicensed Christmas™ celebrations are astronomical).So I’d been getting all that ready, but then the most extraordinary thing happened. I won the lottery!I mean, I didn’t win the lottery. But I was one of a bunch of runners-up, and it was a peach of a prize. An invitation to a special, licensed Christmas™ party in the centre of London, run by YuleCo itself.When I read the letter I was shaking. This was YuleCo, so it would be the real deal. There’d be Santa™, and Rudolph™, and Mistletoe™, and Mince Pies™, and a Christmas Tree™ with presents underneath it.That last was what I couldn’t get over. It felt so forlorn, putting my newspaper-wrapped presents next to the aspidistra, but ever since YuleCo bought the rights to coloured paper and under-tree storage, the inspectors had clamped down on Aggravated Subarborial Giftery. I kept thinking about Annie being able to reach down and fish out her present from under needle-dropping branches.Maybe I shouldn’t have told Annie, just surprised her on the day itself, but I was too excited. And if I’m honest, partly I told her because I wanted to make Aylsa jealous. She’d always made such an issue of how she didn’t miss Christmas™.‘Just think,’ I said, 'we’ll be able to sing carols legally - oh, sorry, you hate carols, don’t you…’ I was awful.Annie was almost sick with excitement. She changed her online nick to tistheseason, and as far as I could work out she spent all her time boasting to her poor jealous friends. I’d peek at the screen when I brought her tea[...]

From Choice to Polarity

Fri, 05 Aug 2016 09:54:52 +0100

From Choice to Polarity

On Social Sadism.

Mon, 01 Feb 2016 19:12:39 +0000

On Social Sadism.

Trailer - 'The Crawl'

Wed, 02 Jul 2014 12:17:00 +0100

0:00 - 0:04 Blackness. Slow, laboured breathing extends into a death rattle. V/O, female: ‘We lost the world.’  - 0:05 - 0:09 Series of fixed-camera shots of cities destroyed and deserted. The images intersperse with close-ups of wounds and dead flesh. V/O: 'To the dead.’ - 0:10 - 0:13 An overgrown yard crowded with shambling, rotting corpses. At the farthest corner of the lot, something hidden in the undergrowth snatches a zombie out of sight. - 0:14 - 0:16 Young man (Y) runs through the charred remains of an art gallery. A mob of bloody dead run after him. - 0:17 Blackness. Sound of wet explosion. -   0:18 Y has turned, is staring at a swamp of decaying blood, all that is left of his pursuers. V/O: 'We’re all prey to something.’ -  0:19 - 0:21 Interior, a broken-down shack. Unkempt men and women surround Y. He says, 'They were taken!’  A young woman says, 'By what?'  -  0:23 - 0:28 Montage of zombies. Some shuffle, some run. They are all taken, yanked into shadows by something unseen.  V/O: 'First they walked. Then they ran. Now it’s a new phase.’ -  0:29 - 0:33 Close-up, a dead man’s face. Camera pulls back. He is one of many zombies in a city square. They crawl towards the camera. They do not crawl on their knees but on their toes, with their backs tilted, knuckles or fingertips or the palms of their hands on the ground. They move at odds with their own bodies, like humans raised by spiders. -  0:34 - 0:35 Director card. -  0:36 A dead hand slowly lowers a gavel. -  0:37 - 0:39 A schoolroom. An elderly woman speaks to survivors. Hers is the voice of the V/O. She says, 'Life adapts.’ - 0:40 - 0:44 V/O: 'So does death.’  Zombie alone on the flat roof of a tower. Looks down at humans on the street. Grabs its own solar plexus with both hands and tenses.  Cut to humans below. Drop of blood hits one man’s shoulder. He looks up.  The zombie flies overhead, descending, dripping, its arms outstretched. It is tugging its own ribcage and skin apart, taut, making them wings. -  0:45 A bat crawls across cement, wrongly quadruped on the points of its folded wings and its stubby feet.  V/O: 'There are new ways to be.’ -  0:46 - 0:49 A man staggers in a book-lined library. A zombie clings to him with all its limbs, biting his chest. It stares at him. It is sutured to him, through both their flesh and clothes. - 0:50 - 0:52 A cellar packed with fresh corpses is knee-deep in dark oil. A fat nozzle descends the stairs and gushes it, slowly filling the room and covering the motionless dead. - 0:53 - 0:54 The hand continues to lower the hammer. V/O: 'A different collective.’ - 0:55 - 1:00 A montage of crawling zombies. Some chase human survivors, some standing zombies. The crawlers tear their quarries apart.  V/O: 'The walking dead and the walking living, we’re both problems.’ -  1:01 - 1:04 A zombie crawls vertically up the wall of an elevator-shaft. Human survivors stand, oblivious, by the open door a floor above.  V/O: ‘Problems to be taken care of.’ -  1:05 - 1:08 The dead hand touches the hammer to the wood at last. It makes a tiny click. -  1:09 - 1:14 Human survivors in an aircraft hangar, by a broken drone. There is growling. Dark smoke pours from the drone’s engine.  Cut to a control room. A dead drone pilot watches on monitors, blasts the jet’s engines with one hand. Pull back: he has been stitched spreadeagled throughout the room, a flesh web. -  1:15 - 1:18 Y hefts heavy hydraulic spreaders. There are fragments of the dead around him. He whispers, ’They didn’t come back…’ -  1:19 - 1:23 Night. A factory. Its windows are lit from within.  V/O, [...]

Jane Gaskell, Some Summer Lands.  Mind you’ve brought...

Fri, 25 Jan 2013 18:34:00 +0000


  • Jane Gaskell, Some Summer Lands

Mind you’ve brought along enough hatred today. 

A brief history of the recent filmic ideology of the necessity of walls against zombie hordes

Fri, 09 Nov 2012 04:31:27 +0000

  • 2002 - Palestine.

Construction of ‘separation fence’ aka 'West Bank Barrier’ aka Apartheid Wall begins. 



Wall provides blessed safety for refugees from snarling mayhem.



  • Today - Palestine

Running at the wall.



Running at the wall.


3 moments of an explosion

Tue, 11 Sep 2012 23:45:00 +0100

  1. The demolition is sponsored by Burger King. Everyone is used, now, to rotvertising, the spelling of company names & reproduction of hip product logos in the mottle & decay of subtly gene-tweaked decomposition - Apple paying for the breakdown of apples, the bitten-fruit sigil becoming visible on mouldy cores. Explosion marketing is new. Stuff the right nanos into squibs & missiles so the blasts of war machines inscribe BAE & Raytheon’s names in fire on the sky above the cities those companies ignite. Today we’re talking about nothing so bleak. It’s an old warehouse, too unsafe to let stand. The usual crowd gathers at the prescribed distance. The mayor hands the plunger to the kid who, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, will at least get to do this. She beams at the cameras & presses, & up goes the bang, & down slides the old ruin to the crowd’s cheer, & above them all the dust clouds billow out Have It Your Way in soft scudding font. 
  2. It’s a fuck of a fine art, getting that pill into you so the ridiculous tachyon-buggered MDMA kicks at just the right instant & takes you out of time. This is extreme squatting. The boisterous, love-filled crew jog through their overlapping stillness together & bundle towards the building. Three make it inside before they slip back into chronology. Theirs are big doses & they have hours - subjectively - to explore the innards of the edifice as it hangs, slumping, its floors now pitched & interrupted mid-eradication, its corridors clogged with the dust of the hesitating explosion. The three explorers have bought climbing gear, & they haul themselves up the new random slopes inside the soon-to-be-rubble, racing to outrace their own metabolisms, to reach the top floor of the shrugging building before they come down & back into time. They make it. Two of them even make it down again & out again. They console themselves over the loss of their companion by insisting to each other that it was deliberate, her last stumble, that she had been slowing on purpose, so the ecstasy would come out through her pores allowing the explosion to rise up like applause & swallow her. It would hardly be an unprecedented choice for urban melancholics such as these.
  3. You can’t say, you can’t tell yourself that it’s the intruder’s spirit doing any of this, that there’s a lesson here. It’s not her nor any of the other people who’ve died in its rooms, in any of the 126 years of the big hall’s existence. It’s not even the memories, wistful or otherwise, of the building. The city’s pretty used to those by now. The gusts, the thick choking wafts that fill the streets of the estate that’s built in the space the warehouse once occupied, are the ghost of the explosion itself. It is clearly wanting something. It’s clearly sad - you can tell in its angles & the slow coiling & unfolding of its self, that manifests & evanesces faster even than its material predecessor smoke did. A vicar is called: book, candle, bell. The explosion, at last, lies down. As if, though, the two drug enthusiasts who got in & out of its last moment insist, out of pity, rather than because it must. 

Give spiders pens & patience, they’ll give you a...

Sat, 18 Aug 2012 12:13:14 +0100


Give spiders pens & patience, they’ll give you a theology.

There’s a thing about perspective, she says. He thinks he...

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 12:26:10 +0100


There’s a thing about perspective, she says. He thinks he knows what she’s going to say. She surprises him though. Perspective & lists, she says. Sequences of nouns & parallel lines meeting because of nothing but increasing distance. You could almost resent it, she says, how that shit gets you. She strikes her own breastbone & shakes her head.

When it comes it comes like a b——–t heart...

Fri, 17 Aug 2012 00:12:21 +0100


When it comes
it comes like a b——–t heart attack

‘I quit because I was good, and when you’re good and a girl at something, you should be...

Tue, 24 Jul 2012 14:48:11 +0100

‘I quit because I was good, and when you’re good and a girl at something, you should be suspicious.’

'Of what?’

'Of what part of yourself you didn’t know you were selling.’