Tuesday, 24 June 2014

They can't find a good word for you, but I can…TWAT

John Cooper Clarke is an absolute legend.

Already knowing who he was but little about the poet, I watched a great BBC Four (obvs) documentary which laid bare his influence and position in performance, poetry and Punk.

At the moment i'm reading his collection of poems entitled "Ten Years in an Open Necked Shirt" and have fallen in love with this love poem:

I Wanna Be Yours 
John Cooper Clarke 

let me be your vacuum cleaner 
breathing in your dust 
let me be your ford cortina 
i will never rust 
if you like your coffee hot 
let me be your coffee pot 
you call the shots 
i wanna be yours 

let me be your raincoat 
for those frequent rainy days 
let me be your dreamboat 
when you wanna sail away 
let me be your teddy bear 
take me with you anywhere 
i don’t care 
i wanna be yours 

let me be your electric meter 
i will not run out 
let me be the electric heater 
you get cold without 
let me be your setting lotion 
hold your hair with deep devotion 
deep as the deep atlantic ocean 
that’s how deep is my emotion 
deep deep deep deep de deep deep 
i don’t wanna be hers 
i wanna be yours

Desperately Romantic, I can hear Cooper Clarke saying the words as I read them. However, not all his poetry is within this theme. And for days where I hate everything and feel angry (which is becoming increasingly often thanks to my job in retail) this poem is seemingly relevant and satisfyingly horrible. Enjoy.

Saturday, 21 June 2014

It's Foucault Again

At university I had a tutor who was pretty much obsessed with Foucault, always referencing his works, rarely criticising his stance and just generally going on about Foucault all the time. He insisted on pronouncing his name with the correct French pronunciation which, regrettably, unavoidably always sounds pretentious. It left my friends and I expressing the pun, fuck you Fucou (that's sort of how Foucault is pronounced). Having Foucault rammed down your throat by a person who you sort of don't like is rather annoying. My tutor was openly very right-wing in his politics, very much a capitalist and had no shame in expressing his wish for others to agree with him and liked to wind people up. This really pissed me off, so Foucault began to piss me off.

However, despite this Foucault wrote some bloody good things especially on the subject of criticality, and here is another:

“A critique is not a matter of saying that things are not right as they are. It is a matter of pointing out on what kinds of assumptions, what kinds of familiar, unchallenged, unconsidered modes of thought the practices that we accept rest.”

 -Michel Foucault

I'm a big believer in the importance of critical thinking. I find it hard to digest when I hear others say "All critics should die" or "criticism is cancer" (see earlier blog post). Because I feel that criticality, awareness and introspection are fundamental is allowing development and growth within oneself and the subjects surrounding. Criticality moves things forward and helps develop progressive thoughts and behaviour. The quote above seems particularly relevant to political thought and practice...

So Foucault, you rule.

Sunday, 1 June 2014



So this year saw the release of Lars Von Triers films ‘Nymphomaniac Volumes 1 & 2’. I first saw the trailer for the film around November 2013 thinking the film was going to come a month later only to find out it wasn’t going to be in cinema’s until MARCH! I hadn’t yet seen a Triers film but knew about him as a director, I kept researching bits of the film desperate to see the whole thing and bit by bit clips from chapters would be uploaded onto the official website wetting my appetite…

A long with Triers deciding not to do any media coverage for the film the whole build up was like one big conceptual stunt and I was basically really excited to see it. I love how both volumes were aired for one night only with a live Q&A is selected cinema’s like some kind of art piece.

Finally, I watched the whole thing last week (I’ve needed a week to ponder it) and I was so disappointed. So I’ve weighed up the pros and cons and here is my slightly incomprehensible review of Nymphomaniac Volumes I & II:

Triers is known for making films either about sex or with lots of sex, S&M and raw nudity. Nymphomania (sex addiction) is a psychological disorder that  can control people’s lives so whether you like it or not- there are social and political connotations. Triers seems to ignore these aside from the very basic prejudice against sex addicts (“Oh she’s such a slut…”) His intentions feel very self indulgent, a sexual person making a film about sex that perhaps fulfils some of his own desires. For a creative piece of work I don’t dislike self-indulgence but it can feel gluttonous and alienating to an audience. I feel that Nymphomaniac lacks a depth that I was expecting considering the sophistication of the build up to the film so by the end of the film I was left thinking “alright, so what…”

Following this one of my main criticism is the casting/chemistry of the protagonist and the character she tells her story to. Jo is found by Seligman in an ally after being beaten up, he takes her to his home, nurses her and she unravels the story of the nymphomaniac.
Volume I is the first half of the story played by Stacey Martin (who’s amazing) and Volume II is the latter half of the nymphomaniac’s life played by Charlotte Gainsburgh (who features in a number of Triers’ films.)

Seligman and Jo at his home

After trying to see the connection between Jo and Seligman and coming to the conclusion that he is an effective listener to allow for the story to come a live. I was disappointed, confused and let down when at the end he basically rapes Jo in her sleep and she then shoots him. So…why? Well no one really knows because then it ends and the loud, shouty music starts playing again. It felt like a cop out of Trier’s behalf. An easy ending with attempted impact to end a tragic story.
I wanted more from Nymphomaniac than what was offered. I wanted more anger, more compassion and more politics and less pretentiousness…

In the same way that pretentious art feels empty and lacking depth, Nymphomaniac is a piece of pretentious artwork. On the surface it is a good film, cleverly produced and moments of beautiful cinematography. Conceptually strong due to the breakdown and themes of the chapters however, it leaves no lasting effect- I saw it once and that’s enough.

Good to look at but quickly forgotten.

(I think this poster is trying too hard…)