Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Not In My Name - Excerpt

I was struck today by the debate raging over Facebook's decision to reserve the right of its users to post beheading videos depending on their context. I wrote about this in my novel "Not In My Name" which is all about the new politics shifting to the online world and which is far more vicious than any other public political discourse.

Below are two excerpts from the novel around the subject:

How can you criticise beheading videos on the internet, when during the invasion of Iraq, the US military would release footage of its surgical air strikes on mainstream TV news programmes? Both show ferocious acts of killing and the last moments of supposedly sacred life, just one appears in close up. Do you not realise that both seek the same outcome, that of enlisting support to their cause? We’ve moved on from baroquely moustachioed Lord Kitchener 'Your country needs you' recruitment posters. Telescopic military videos are designed to becalm its target audience with the detached, scientific nature of precision warfare, whereas the beheading videos are meant to stir the passions of its gallery. We cavil because it seems so barbaric, but they equally regard our methods as both cowardly and uncivilised with its ravaging of civilians. If we persist in such hypocritical myopia, how will we ever evidence the judgement necessary to resolve this clash of civilisations beneficially to both houses? 

Capitation (poem by Aki) 

Eyes cast down, neck braced by the woodImpressed grain logs the ineffable ruling.Court artist sand, worm’s upraised viewingDeath mask imprinted with my blood. I blanch while the ascending ground darkensTrading places, I divine sacrifice not martyr.

In the arena, a recount of the charges My basket case nerves nod mute accord. There is no bucket beneath to slam dunk Neither Jacobin traitor, nor political agitator My poll will not be mounted upon any pole. All glassy eyed it will be held up highRevolved around, to be cheered all four sides.
My lolling tongue and foaming maw Are requested to shape the words of Shahada.Lip service paid now, whence in default beforeChurlish to supplicate for a miracle. I hear the soft sandalled tread An executioner’s shadow enshrouding As the sword’s molecules dash on deck Each anticipates bloody anointing.

I shut my eyes, no desire to see The separation of my apostate head, From my mutinous body. Instead, An involuntary prayer, to whom I am unsure.I hearken the shimmering swish of a scimitarPerceive behind a field of dancing light.Beauteous spectral wake as blade parts the air.Not taut like steel, but floppy greenLong-stemmed bloom presented afore me
A declaration of love, gift of life Revivifying my enervated senses. I unfasten my lids, unshutter my gaze Winch my head up from the stump And view only the one, you my love As you drop your veil, to reveal A different red hue sun glinting. You shake away the baying dogs With a sweep of your head Your welcoming arms grant private audience

I stand and stride, a little shakily No mirage you, unflinching in bearing A cradle of acceptance Perfectly tailored for my body Hands safeguarding my bare crown. On approach they spangle and changeNow palm fronds provide our joint canopyMy bride elixir births me anew Returns me to my root safely.Intact, yet only half a man stillUnblockishly lower my gaze and modesty

On today's issue my personal thoughts are as follows. Beheading videos are created only for propaganda purposes. Facebook will not permit them being posted for the purpose of advancing a cause or trying to incite commitment and recruitment. I don't really see how representing these videos in a critical fashion can be beneficial to any public debate on the subject of terrorism or violence. Beheading is a bad thing, go figure... Also the act itself is a crime, a beheading video is a record of a crime while it is being committed and that must have legal implications I would have thought. I know happyslapping and joyriding videos abound online, but this is a far more extreme crime. It is the equivalent of snuff porn and that wouldn't be allowed online. Is the only difference that in a beheading video the victim has their clothes on, unlike a snuff movie? I say this not with flippancy, but as has been pointed out today, Facebook comes down heavily on breastfeeding images because of the nudity.

Sorry, I just don't see any circumstance where showing a beheading video promotes any understanding of the issues

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Video Killed The Radio Star?

Not on your nelly! Ten top tunes dedicated to the medium of the radio. Enjoy

1) Wall of Voodoo - "Mexican Radio"
Stan Ridgeway's voice is so knowing, classic pop that merrily subverts that itself.

2) World Domination Enterprises - "Can't Live Without My Radio"
West Londoners cover LL Cool J's massive hit, swapping 'my name is Cool-K' for Cool James' own name check. Apart from the lowest of low bass registers that was the signature of the band, I love the choppy guitar noodles on this version.

Trivia - on the back of an early collection of The Fall (The Step Forward label collection I think), the back cover artwork has a handwritten note that says "I love this band in a way I can't describe" or words to that affect. It's signed 'Steve J' - who just happened to be the bass player of World Domination Enterprises.

3) Public Image Limited - "Radio 4"
The ambient closing track of the furious record "Metalbox" and perhaps the antidote to the earlier track "Poptones". It showed how radical the band were in their early incarnation by finishing an album in a totally different and unexpected way to what had gone before.

4) Joy Division - "Transmission"
As good as this paean to the radio is, I never quite understood why live it always seemed to bring out the most febrile of Ian Curtis' performances compared to the searing emotionality of his other songs. maybe that was it, maybe it was a release and a dance of well joy for him, although you wouldn't gather that from his demeanour in his moves (about 2 minutes 20 secs in).

5) The Ramones - "Do You Remember Rock And Roll Radio"
R-r-rock and roll high school slowed down a tad and the word 'radio' replaces 'High school'. Sorted

6) The Clash - "Capital Radio One"
"You can't say cr*p (the word) on the radio" all seems very tame nowdays, but that's how punk got its kick start remember when the Sex Pistols swore on live tv. And The Clash were right, London's local music radio station Capital Radio was dire and slow to catch up to punk rock.

7) Eazy-E - "Radio"
Old skool hip hop. Nuff respec'

8) Elvis Costello - "Radio Radio"
You'll notice that a lot of these songs extolling the virtues of radio were by punk bands. When their early records were being championed by a few progressive radio DJs, fighting against the soporific mainstream of the Chart hits that were soon to be rudely invaded by punk bands like Costello, The Stranglers and Sex Pistols. Radio helped spread the gospel for punk when often its records were hard to get hold of due to poor distribution, hearing the songs on radio was a vital way for fans to get to hear them.

9) Ultramagnetic MCs - "Funk Radio"
And in the same way that punk had struggled for a foothold in radio airplay with its provocative lyrics, so too hip hop and rap  in the US, until MTV really got established for TV audiences.

10) Rush - Spirit of The Radio"
Ah dear old Rush. How many identity changes did they go through, from cosmologically obssesed heavy rockers, through the Ayn Rand flirtation and accusations of fascistic sympathies, through to their tilt at mainstream stadium rock and radio friendly airplay. This comes from that last incarnation, when the best thing about the album the song was taken from was a visual pun on the album's title "Moving Pictures".