Wednesday, 18 October 2017

My Sax(ophone) Is On Fire - Fire Songs

So to mark my ambitious project to take on TS Eliot's "The Wasteland" for the 21st century, starting with "The Fire Sermon", here are songs about fire and flames. Enjoy.

1) The Doors - "Light My Fire"
I think this may have been the song that Morrison was singing when he er whipped his 'fire' member out on stage in Florida and got busted for gross indecency. They said Joe Orton's member was in a terrible state when they autopsied him. I suspect the same would have been said of Morrison, if that is indeed him in the grave at Père Lachaise. The Doors are a remarkable entry in my record collection, seeing as they were a) from the 60s, a tedious musical decade and b) had no bass guitar



2) Cop Shoot Cop - "Fire In The Hole"
If like me you're missing the sound of the bass guitar, here's a band who had two of them! There, i feel like musical equilibrium has been re-established.



3) The Prodigy - "Firestarter"
I sort of like The Prodigy, but always feel they cut themselves short in their songs, the volume needs to be turned up to 11 and the song to go on for just a bit longer to really imprint itself into your cranium. But you gentle reader may feel you disagree...



4) The Jam - "Set The House Ablaze"
The Jam were the band I saw most regularly play live (until The Fall came along). This was always a show stopper live, but sounds a bit thin on this recording. You can always check out the studio version.



5) Lee Scratch Perry - "Soul Fire"
Love, love this song. That is all.



6) Gun Club - "Fire Of Love"
Confusingly this track is off their second album "Miami", even though the debut album was called "Fire Of Love". Primordial rock and roll. 1-2 Bash, plunk



7) Jimi Hendrix - "Fire"
And the master of the smoking guitar... I notice there is a Bruno Mars song of the same name, it better not be a cover version...



8) The Bug - "Catch A Fire"
More seductive than Jim Morrison's leather trousers.



9) The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown - "Fire"
This must have freaked folk out in the 1960s. No wonder they say rock and roll is the Devil's music.



10) Section 25 - "Friendly Fires"
Let's calm things down a bit shall we? Actually, this tale of aerial bombardment is really unsettling in atmosphere.



11) Einsturzende Neubauten - "Feurio"
A play on the German word FUEUR meaning fire, but I looked up the lyrics and it counts for the purposes of this chart. Anyway, my chart, my rules. Singer Blixa Bargeld's voice really is a musical instrument in its own right, not a soothing one, but what sounds come out of his larynx...



12) Talking Heads - "Burning Down The House"
The intro is way better than the rest of the song, but what you gonna do?



13) Johnny Cash - "Ring Of Fire"
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Johnny Cash... Hate to think what "Viz" comic would make of the lyrics, the character Johnny Fartpants in particular. From the sublime to the ridiculous, mea culpa but that's how I (rock and) roll.



14) Marc Riley & The Creepers - "Baby's On Fire"
I know Brian Eno did the original, but I prefer this i finger on the piano version that shows it stripped down bare.



15) Public Enemy - "Burn Hollywood Burn"
On the one hand the timing is unfortunate with the recent devastating fires in Napa and surrounding areas, but then with the issue of Harvey Weinstein's white male patriarchal domination of the movie industry, then perhaps the timing is apposite.



16) Meat Puppets - "Lake Of Fire"
Always had a soft spot for Meat Puppets with their blend of punk and country rock.



17) Big Country - "Fields Of Fire"
Or rain in this case by the look of it. No one needs a drumkit that size. This is the Scottish version of The Meat Puppets methinks. Do you spot the essence of The Clash's "Should I Stay Or Should I Go" in the tune?



18) Sylford Walker - "Burn Babylon"
Reggae at its finest.



19) Birthday Party - "Sonnys' Burning"
A song truly from the bowels of Hell. Rowland S Howard's guitar is astounding as it builds up. RIP Rowland and Tracey Pew.



20) The Ruts - "Babylon's Burning"
My karaoke song at a work's Xmas Party (it was a punk karaoke). My voice is quite similar to Malcolm Owen's.



Bonus Track
MC 900Ft Jesus - "The City Sleeps"
Lots of songs here about sexual conflagration and emotional arson, but here's the real thing. The most chilling narrative about an arsonist.







Sunday, 15 October 2017

"Paternoster Row" - a drabble



As our forces advanced to reclaim the city, a dazzling patch of green sat at its heart. Had the suffocating high rises been temporarily eclipsed by the remnants of the smoke? Or perhaps they had been levelled by the aerial bombardment, restoring the city to its Medieval origins. The green park, the former common lands choked off by private capital, now unshackled so it and we, would be free to breathe freely once again. But as we converged on the city centre, we saw that the green was pulsing. A host of iridescent green blowflies colonising the city’s charred corpses.

Sunday, 8 October 2017

The Etiquette Of Party Bags - A guide





        

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From the forthcoming novel

published by Dead Ink Books

out soon 


Saturday, 7 October 2017

Manichean Synchronicity - Flash Fiction



The jeroboam smashed into the hull, signalling the liner’s launch ~ as the pub brawler wielded a jagged broken bottle to slash his foe’s face.

The HiFi was playing Mongolian overtone singing ~ as the lover’s fingers snapped the hyoid bone in her throat.

The sculptor’s chisel released the form that was inside his imagination from the marble ~ as the prisoner plunged a self-fashioned blade into another man’s gut.

The dignitary pulled on the sash to part the drapes so revealing the painting ~ as the burglar tightened the curtain tie around the homeowner’s jugular.

The mayor cut the ribbon to declare the arts centre open ~ as the barren woman drove the scissors into her rival’s pregnant belly.

She laid the final rocks in the Zen garden ~ as the crowd pelted the adulterer with stones in the public square.

The farmer was handed a machete by his field labourers for symbolically reaping the final sugar cane of the crop ~ as the genocidal slaughter was propelled by machete wielding militias.


William Burroughs shot paint tins to Jackson Pollock his canvases, (not his best work) ~ as the gambler shot fifty-eight concert-goers in Sin City

Paingyric - Short Story


Like a suicide bomber, regard this video to be my last will and testament, only unlike him I do not proclaim myself martyr and will not be ushering anyone else into death with me. I have spent a lifetime wreaking both effects on those unfortunates in my orbit in any case. I have taken to the camera lens since I can no longer cradle an actual pen between fingers, contorted by freshly minted muscle memory of clenched teeth and cramped hands. Cruel perhaps that this reflex strikes at such strategic loci for the production of words, when both are the furthest peripheries removed from the actual epicentre of the pathology. My pathology, the rest of my corpus in revolt against me. And perish the thought of my digits ever dancing across a keyboard ever again. But my mouth still functions. Little surprise to those colleagues and peers in the industry that it would be the last constituent of me to seize up and relinquish the fight. Alas however, the pen is not mightier than the sword, judging by the rotisserie blade that has impaled my liver and convolutes it above my internal infernal fires, sending off a shower of metastasised sparks to all other parts of my benighted body. Particularly having a liking for and coming to rest on my brain. Because it’s relatively spongy up there I suppose. Soft landings for terminal take-off. 

Even though my name bears considerable commodity value, there will be no pecuniary charge to access this video, as it shall be made readily available on the free file sharing sites. My offspring have been well provided for already by my career, though it cannot compensate for the other incommodious dearths that came about in its wake. Was one contingent upon the other? I already know their answer, so that my response matters not, for it carries no weight. This may be my testament, but only they can testify to the fallout of its contents. See who turns up to my funeral I imagine. A veritable dead reckoning.

Every so often you’ll have to excuse me as I pull on my metal straw of liquid morphine. Here in my sippy-cup, forged from metal as betokens the status of a seething adult. I have to adjudge the optimal time to imbibe, as close to the Richter Scale peak of crescendoing spasm as to be able to maximally alleviate it, without leaving it too late from evacuation so that the pain quake obliterates all other competing consciousness. In such a way the opiate serves as an inkwell, dipping the pen in to prevent the flow of words becoming sundered and surrendered. A sharpening of the senses emerging only with the assistance of anaesthesia.

So, to the meat of the matter, albeit marinaded in morphine. Reading is a hybrid art form. That I say this might surprise you since the author’s sole tool, his only palette, is that of language, which makes it perhaps the purest of art forms, unmediated by its materiality; no coloured pigment on canvas; no 50-piece orchestra, conductor and opera singers; or no electrified amplifiers for the screech of guitars. No, it’s hybrid because it requires both senses of sight and hearing, without privileging one over the other. We read the words with our eyes, but ‘hear’ them sounded inside our heads and that way we hear the voice of the absent author. Alive or dead. Or somewhere in between, soon to pass from one state to the other. It’s a different mechanism from listening to an interlocutor who is stood there in front of you. So why have I taken to this filmic medium that most definitely privileges the optic sense over the aural? Because in one respect there is very little visual variegation to keep your eye entertained, so you would ordinarily have to focus solely on the words. No mis en scene, no carefully constructed image within the frame. Yet what ocular paucity on offer, is, I rather feel, vital. You see before you a middle-aged man in decline. Though unless you are a part of my serrated inner circle, you would not see me incrementally enough to be able to discern any such decline. I was fortunate enough to be an artist in the pre-social media age. My putative audience had and have no idea what I really look like beyond the fly leaf photo with all its high production values. A fiction for a fiction. So it is not this image of a crumbling man that you should or could fix on. It is this flask. Because the flask is the central image. Even though it has no magical powers. It is no elixir restoring me to life. Nor does it hold back the press of barbarian hordes of tumescent incoherence from the Palatine redoubt of my upper stories. At best it allows me to reach the end of my sentences.

But why it is so important for this image to be front and central, is because it represents something that no amount of skilfully composed words can ever achieve; it stands for death. It represents and embodies pain in a way I could never harness simply through language. Morphine, the tincture of dreams, the realm of Morpheus after whom it is named, when actually it serves as the very antithesis of dreams; death as the eternal dreamless sleep. Palliative care while the pall-bearers are merely suiting up. No matter how intricate and resonant I articulate, death resists my metaphors. Here I am, throwing liquid analgesic down my gullet to try and allow me some fleeting joined-up seconds to contemplate what it is I’m grappling with. Yet it is really too late in the day to really come to grips with the intractable. Interesting word ‘palliative’, it bears a sense of extenuating or mitigating pleas in law, or apologies of which I have none. And yet its Latin root is the word for a large mantle or cloak, that you’re concealing or shrouding something. Which brings us back to the pall cloth over a coffin. As if we could tuck death out of sight. Like an unsightly coffee stain under a doily. Or look here, a morphine smear on the table’s glass top. See, the flask is to be in plain sight at all times during this broadcast. The flask is the motif of this talk; motif of course as in motive… Oh the pain siren is a howling… Motile, as in both one’s fructifying semen and the free movement of metastasising cancer cells, which is most assuredly unfructifying. 

Sometimes I wonder if these twinges are the prod of some sort of internal critic or censor, outraged at myself. Even though I have never once felt any compunction to retract what I have written. I stand by everything I say, or in this present case, sit doubled over in agonised throes… There, that’s better, sucking succour. A blessed modicum of damnable relief. Until even Morpheus’ soothing powers are dulled through what is laughingly called ‘tolerance’. At that point you can only beseech morphine not to relieve you, but to release you. For you will probably self-medicate yourself to death before the cancer culls you. Ironic that the root of the word ‘release’ is to loosen or relax, which is what you count on the drug to do for you in these last knockings, yet the apposite word ‘relief’ has a connotation of getting you back on your feet, of raising you up from being prostrate. Neither are related to the word resurrect which has an etymological root of resurgence. More’s the pity. The surging going on is in one direction only and it’s to my absolute detriment. There, that hits the spot. You know, the most galling thing about this self-medication, is that as an inveterate smoker of cigarettes, which as you can see, I still do because, hell what’s to lose, but the action of lifting the flask to my lips and puffing on the straw, is akin to vaping. I suppose I could have opted for an audio only rogation, but who listens to the wireless these days anyway? The word wireless now standing instead for networks of frenzied, swarming airwaves that have superannuated the original wireless with its singular stentorian voice. But no, I rejected the Godcast, because the flask has to be up front and central. A flask will and testament if you will. And you will, unless the disarticulations of Alzheimer’s gets you first. 

I had always thought I was offering our species profundities in my writing. But this pewter flask tells me I fell oh so far short of that. Not that my work wasn’t more insightful than the drivel the vast amount of other writers produce… Excuse me… That coughing jag would have been produced irrespective of my current blight. The carcinogenic splutterings of most other writers stops up one’s breath, through the audacity of their musings being so feeble. Some of them even choose to pontificate on the contents of this flask, yet couldn't see what was staring them in the face. Reflected in the adulterated silver sheen. Alloyed with lead, the supposed barrier against radiation but proffering a differing poison of its own. Same duplicity as morphine, on both counts… Even abutted hard up against it, yet still these so-called writers (with apologies to the ‘so-called Islamic State’) couldn’t see what was clearly right under their noses. Or in it in the case of some, trying to shortcut the creative process, to get to the lesser seen parts of their selves, when in truth they weren’t worth accessing in the first place and even if they were, just put in the requisite bloody work! You can't mainline genius! Instead they all plumped for the fanciful altered reality vistas offered by Morpheus, rather than the ineffable singularity of death.

But who am I to cavil and carp, when in the greater scheme of things, I now question the merit of my own endeavours and even that of all possible writing? In the manner of the Classical Greek philosophers and the Christian theologians who squatted on their shoulders, I was pursuing the wrong lines of inquiry. It is not a question of what constitutes a ‘good’ life, or an ethical one. It is just the question of life itself we should be interrogating. As framed by our flagrant mortality. I’d employ the word ‘blatant’ rather than the hyperbole 'flagrant', only its root is to prate and babble, when we never speak of death at all, so the word does not befit. Yet ‘flagrant’ isn’t quite right either, with its sense of flaming and fulgurant, iterative of an enlightenment that is anything but. Words fail and break down in quietus’ vestibule. You have no power to lobby once in Death’s lobby. At this late stage I am afeared that writing and language itself just isn’t up to the task. Sculptors of stigmatic saints and martyrs have got to better grips with pain and agony and their corollary of surcease. Whether theist or humanist in their outlook, many rendered the wound of humanity right on the nose. Because it is non-lingual. An expression of pure emotion which always eludes language that has to take the roundabout route of metaphor. Pain etched into skin is far more pertinent than printed words etched into the grain of paper. Let alone on a monitor screen which possesses no grain at all. The pain wreaked across my features says more about life than my entire wrote oeuvre. Wrought for nought… 

How we are obsessed with origins. Ting. With original sin. Ting. With formative Oedipal relations. Ting. With identity and founding myths. Ting. When everything should in fact proceed from eschatology. Ting ting. Flask your father, oh you can’t, he’s dead. While we're about Herr Freud, if we are to invoke his Oedipal theory, why not also his oral, anal and phallo-genital stages as well? We writers should play with ludic language with orality, with anality as well as genital gay abandon. In our linguistic sandbox, we should throw words around like our own shit. James Joyce did, not that I'm comparing myself to the master. We ought to bite and gnaw and lacerate text with our teeth, I mean words emerge from our mouths right? But we don't, we meekly succumb to the superego of grammar for arranging our words into syntactically governed, linear sentences, instead of bloodied smears and seminal gobbets. In doing so we mute language’s energies. But cancer won’t stand for that, for it is a mutiny against any and every muted energy. So I also am not immune from such criticism, as I too yielded before the publishing proprieties suggested by my various careworn editors over the years. Consider the beginnings and ends of novels. Every reader is thrown in the deep end at the opening of a novel. They have to find their way into the world and the language of the book, enter into the voice of their character guide. Consequently authors devote a lot of attention to the beginning, to hook the reader in. But the ending of books? How many endings have ever truly satisfied you the reader? They just seem poor apologies for concluding the book there, like it ran out of steam, or offered a lumpen twist to try and give the novel some last minute perspectival weight. The attention given is the wrong way round. The beginning will always remain inchoate as the reader comes to it blind. But the ending...? The ending must be utterly defined, even if it leads to inchoateness beyond the final full-stop, for after all, death ushers in the inchoate. 

Oh, the flask is empty. Out of juice. Out of words. Out of time. I'll just unclip my throat mic here and set the flask upon the table next to it.




Thursday, 28 September 2017

Always Date A Nail Biter (Never A Bed Wetter) - Flash Fiction


Three and a half minutes to soft boil an egg. Less if you’re at altitude because of the thinner air. Then you have to open it up to get at the nutritious albumen. A spoon or knife to trepan the shell, but then it’s filagree finger work to peel away the brown calcite shards. Tough to do if you’re a nail biter rather than a bed wetter. I reckon he’s both.

A minute and a half to hard boil a man’s brain. Like at altitude, the oxygen gets thinner until he passes out. With your hands around the carotid arteries, the brain in his stupid ovoid shaped head will seethe and boil. He will grab at your hands in a desperate bid to free his airways. But because he’s an onychophagist, he causes you no pain since he has no acuminated keratin to pierce the surface of your skin. Same way he could never peel away a cracked egg shell. Bitten to the quick for a real slow death. Not only is he unlikely to scrape any implicating DNA material from you, even if he did, there’s no finger nails to lodge it under for safe keeping and later forensic reconstruction.


So much easier than drowning the bed wetters in a bath tub.  


Sunday, 17 September 2017

The Future History Of Demythology - Flash Fiction


Avant-garde is time bound. Hidebound. In our age of rapid technological change and shrinking attention spans, the avant-garde are the nostalgics. The left-behind, derrière-garde guardians of the remembered past, (forlornly) demanding concentration and application..

Body Politic was a metaphor that came into use through a fifteenth century understanding of medical anatomy. With the human genome and the structure and function of DNA becoming known, new metaphors present themselves which we currently remain insensible to.

Consciousness will not reveal itself from human genomics (see B). For how can we objectively observe fully in the round something in which we already stand within? Anticipating our consciousness to demurely deconstruct itself for us, as us. Consciousness forever as the dark side of the moon.

Decidedly deciduous deicide, yet dread of death and the dangled deal with a desperately conjectural afterlife, denotes the divine obtains still.

Ethics derived etymologically from a group or cultural disposition or mien and then back engineered to apply as obligations for each individual member of that group or culture. Only in this atomised age, singular group cultural identities evanesce. All morals and moral behaviour are relative. Ethics have become superannuated, duty obsolete and there is nothing binding us together, be it natural or moral law. 

Freedom: if you are reading this of your own free will, then you have a reasonable degree of freedom. If you disagree with even a single proposition here, then you are enslaved by your programming. If you agree with every single tenet here, then you are enslaved until you break free of what they counter. What lies on the other side once you have burst through? Who can say as it is unexplored terrain. Probably a whole new set of super-subtile myths to enslave you afresh. 

Game Theory is applied to many aspects of life, positing that when humans calculate that cooperating with one another, it best redounds to their mutual interest. The deterrent argument follows this flawed logic, since as David Hume explained through his white swans, a single appearance of a black swan on the pond erases the proof of your senses for the entirety preceding that occasion; that is, the nuclear deterrent argument only has to be disproved from holding once and we are all finished for eternity anyway.

History is the Butterfly Theory in effect. Yes it constantly repeats itself (since its actors are all humans given to repetitive behaviours), but the starting conditions are different each time so that the outcome will not be the same as previously. Once upon a time and only once indeed…

I is not in the word ‘team’ (more’s the pity) but it is in ‘time’, which is ironic seeing as after a brief span, the I drops out permanently. I is not only in the word ‘identity’ but actually leads it; but what is the point of spending as lifetime establishing an identity, only to have mortality erase it permanently? I also leads the word ‘intimacy’, yet this proves nothing. 

Je t’aime… Je m’aime (consider that phonetically) more like it. For we are but a clump of sensory information receptors, who have hit upon the evolutionary decision (randomly of course) that they are best served by aggregating and maintaining a unified outlook of the whole. But they are still in control of this consciousness rather than the other way around (see C).

K, Josef was guilty and he knew it, Kafka knew it, Max Brod knew it and now you dear reader know it. 

Language is not fit for purpose. Conceals as much as it communicates. Slippage and seepage. Ellipsis and elision.   

Myth is pernicious since it dresses up ignorance (of cause and effect in the natural world) in supernatural pretence in order to justify the exigencies of the local institutional and power relations among humans. Though science has provided better approximations of cause and effect to strip away the supernatural and replace it with ‘reason’, science itself is a myth-based body of knowledge (see S).  Myth, like ethics (see E), is man-made and therefore self-imposed and should only be demanding of voluntary adherence.

Nouns are Plato’s Ideal Forms in linguistic form. That is, they don’t actually exist either. Objects classified as one noun or other are approximations and simulacra. “Ceci n’est pas une pipe” et al.

Once upon a time (see H).

Pangram of “the quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” only holds for the temporary duration of the ban on fox hunting perhaps, when the fox knows it has legal protections from the dog. An example of the viral algorithm infecting language,with periodicy, permutation and prosaicness.

Quantum Mechanics are scientists hedging their bets. Mathematically proven probability. Probably.  

Reality is a construction of the human mind. The notion of an objective reality is merely a human consensus. The templates of what we take for reality are imprinted in our brains and our senses only scan for deviations referenced against the template in order to prompt our responsive action. Our reality templates are premised on our three-dimensional perceptions, yet scientists posit 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see S).

Science bears more of an elegant, logically consistent canon than religious beliefs, but it is no less a credo. Whatever the equations prove, our limited perceptional apparatus means we can only conceive in three dimensions, four at a stretch, yet current theories are up at around 11 or 12 dimensions of existence (see R). 

Tripartite human brain, reptilian, mammalian and human, does not represent unalloyed progress and upgrade. Greater processing power yes, but we have barely progressed from reptilian filial infanticide, to mammalian killing of a rival’s offspring, to human kind’s targeting of any and every one of its own species (see G).

Uroborus is perhaps of all mythic symbols the one that resonates most. However, take your pick of the myriad of symbolic representations it proffers: Circle of Life; creative renewal; duality, synthesis and integration; immortality; eternal immutability; perfection; kundalini energy; hermetically closed systems; feedback loops; the philosopher’s stone; the singularity from which all existence stems. Go pick the bones out of that little lot. 

Vicious circle applies to not only language (words defined in terms of other words), but to this very exercise itself, (many of these definitions refer the reader on to other definitions listed here). There is no inertial frame for logic, nor language (see C,L). 


W; literally double ‘u’, itself already the elongated sound of twin oo’s. Tautologically redundant as an outcome of an alphabet whose characters and their sound bear no relationship to the meaning of the words they delineate (See L). 

Thursday, 7 September 2017

Honeyed Tongue - Flash Fiction




More jaundiced eyes might charge she pouted every one of her words. But my vision was more forgiving, seeing as I was in thrall to her beauty. So I would submit, the way speech puckered her lips was more akin to a child blowing bubbles. With the same blend of beguilement and tremulousness; breath bated hoping they would sustain and float, rather than evanesce and dissolve. Close my eyes and hearing the timbre, I picture her with the heel of her open hand osculating her chin, so that she could blow the word-kisses from her palm runway, as if helping a ladybird take wing. But when those gossamer words that take so long to sail across to me, finally moor at my ear canal, their brutal lading becomes plain. Iron waspish sting delivered by the tip of a velvet tongue.  

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Three Dreams In The Key Of G



In October my new novel will be published by Dead Ink Books. "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" tackles many large themes, from parenting and child development, through "Nature" versus "Nurture", sectarian politics to what it means to be human. Part parenting guide, part mother's journal of despair, the book is full of bitter humour (some extracts can be found here).

Stylistically the book is quite daring as well, with visuals, two different sized alphabets (our 26 letter and DNA's 4 letter alphabet), as the book drills down beneath the level of word to that of the letters themselves).


Synopsis:
Three very powerful female characters, Mother, Crone and genetic Creatrix. None of them will meekly submit to their besiegers. Their three narrative voices, intercut and interweave with one another. In a sense, all three are palimpsests, constantly writing over, and being written by, one of the other two. Whether they are aware or not, they are being informed by another intimate voice so close at hand, as to be under the skin. 

In post Peace Agreement Northern Ireland, a young mother feels besieged. Both by the demands of motherhood and her militant Loyalist husband, decommissioned with the advent of Peace and thrown back into the world of the domestic hearth; whither the violence of his soul? To stop her mind becoming silted up through inactivity, surrounded by the infantile and the exasperating, she maintains a journal. Through which she pursues questions of nature versus nurture in the development of her children, within a divided society such as Northern Ireland, proffering its rarefied environment of acquired symbol and historical legacy. Only, why is her journal all out of sequence and what meaning can it therefore provide to answer her despairing question, 'why do we even have children?'

In Florida, a British septuagenarian with no papers and no official existence, also finds herself under a state of siege. Her community is currently surrounded by FBI, ATF and DEA armed agents. Yet they are not a sect of any kind, rather a refuge for battered women. And while it is true she does have a scheme for redrawing the map of the world, it could hardly be said to be a doomsday scenario. Except maybe, if you're a male of the species. Her fight is for hearts and minds, which might explain why her principal manifestation appears to be through the internet. Where lurk useful allies for her in the war of information technology.

In commercial laboratories all over the world, the human genome is being decoded and compiled. Or ravished and dissected depending on your point of view. What is that textual voice feedbacking through the monitors? Protesting the assault; challenging the epistemologies of both scientist and theologian; chiding us for our linear notions of relationship, the depleted metaphors with which we construct thought and even our 26 letter alphabet in the face of the genome's intricate weaves formed from combinations of just 4 letters. Goading us that we will never unravel the mystery that lies behind the genetic code, unless we open up our very natures to unlimited potential. 



Here is a small extract from the Northern Irish mother as she realises her daughter has reached an important developmental stage








You can pre-order "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" direct from the publisher here

paperback £10.00
hardback £20.00
PDF for e-readers £7.00

For incentive prizes for purchase, see here; the chance to win all 5 of my flash fiction collections, a unique personalised flash fiction story I will write for you, a limited edition sculpture or my latest beautifully designed (not by me) chapbook with 24 stories. 

Pledges Mean Prizes - Incentives for pre-ordering my new novel

In October, my fifth novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" will be published by Dead Ink Books. You can read full details of the book and view a 3-minute reading by me from the book here.


For the month of August, the publishers Dead Ink Books are crowdfunding for mine along with 4 other new fiction books they are releasing between now and the end of the year. This is the money that will determine the size of the print run for the books, that is how many copies they will be able to get printed up.

A pledge to the crowdfunder at the very minimum serves as a pre-order purchase of the book(s) you pledge to. In addition, I am offering the following prizes as incentives to pledge either to my book alone, or to bundles of all 5 books.

Incentive 1) Five lucky people who pledge £10 to buy a copy of my book during the crowdfunder, will be entered into a draw to win a copy of my chapbook "Viciss-Etudes", hand designed, illustrated and bound by the wonderfully talented Little Appleseed. The chapbook has 24 of my flash fiction tales and offers something very different from your usual chapbook.

Incentive 2) For three lucky pledgers of a bundle of all 5 novels in e-book format, for the princely sum of £25, I will match it with a bundle of mine own - All 5 of my flash fiction collections in Kindle format, so you will need to have a Kindle e-reader to take advantage of this prize. There is no geographical limit to this, unlike the other analogue prizes which are limited to the UK and EU states. 

Incentive 3) For those of you who have watched my video reading from the novel, you might have noticed the sculpted female torso figure in the foreground. This original art work will be awarded to one lucky winner drawn from those who pledge for a signed hardback copy of my novel.

  

Incentive 4) For anyone generous enough to pledge for the hardback and original artwork for the cover, at the princely sum of £80, I will pen them an exclusive flash fiction story - both the handwritten draft version and then the mint typed version, signed and dated by me and framed. If you want, you can give me some elements you want incorporated into the story, such as a character name, or three words I have to use, or anything else that takes your fancy. This will be a limited edition of precisely 1! If there is more than one pledger, then each will get an original story. 

So there you have it. By pledging anything, you get my new novel at the very least. With a bit of luck, you could win one of the prizes I've listed above.

Many thanks and I hope you enjoy everything that's on offer.

Marc 

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Excerpts from "Three Dreams In The Key Of G"

My new novel "Three Dreams In The Key Of G" is available for pre-order throughout August. For prizes and incentives for ordering, see here

The synopsis can be read here. 

Here are some extracts from the novel














Friday, 18 August 2017

What Did The Ancient Greeks Ever Do For Us?




I mean apart from democracy, philosophy, architecture, statuary and theatre, what did the Greeks ever give us? They always come off favourably in comparison with the supposedly more barbarian and plagiarist Romans, but for 'democracy' you also had 'despotism' (read Plato's "The Republic" which shows the way democracy can very easily slide into tyranny through its own lack of true awareness of important values). However it's the philosophy and the theatre which I really want to challenge for the supreme value of their heritage as it has passed down to us. 

I'm not going to say too much about the philosophy, except where it has resonance in art. Plato's phenomenalism is a crucial concept to how we perceive reality, with his famous example of slaves in a cave viewing the shadows thrown on the cave walls by their fire, equating to perceptive reality for these slaves who have never seen the world outside of the cave. He derives this example through his belief that the whole world of appearances which we take for reality, is but a degraded version of true reality and (aesthetic/mathematical) beauty.

For the highest existence of any object is its ideal form and in our world, actual objects never attain such an ideal form. Now this represents an important way of thinking & perceiving even in our modern world. Of course there are no 'ideal' forms of objects, but what there are is linguistic nouns which categorise all sorts of various 'non-ideal' forms of similar things; all breeds of dogs are 'Dogs' is the simplest representation of this. But consider something more debatable - is a flatpack table in Ikea's warehouse still a table before it gets sold and erected? Is a slave or hired prostitute at an orgy, who is ordered to bend over so that food can be served from their naked back, are they a table? Is the ammo box that the soldier utilises while on patrol to quickly scoff down his rations, a table, or is it still only an ammo box containing rocket propelled grenades? 

Phenomenalism and particularly Nominal Phenomenalism, means that the supposed evidence of our senses and particularly the dominant one of sight, actually goes through a pre-filter of language, grouping similar things together as a shorthand that may not in fact do justice to the complexity of 'reality'. And this filter of language is of course the mainstay and dominant tool of us writers. We can use it to not only describe reality, but to challenge its consensus by really examining its linguistic short-cuts. So we could and possibly should be challenging accepted reality and showing how it has been constructed. Those writers and philosophers who study signs and symbols (semiologists) do this on one level, but writers can bring it to the linguistic realm. 

Now let's come to Greek Theatre. It is absolutely entwined with politics in Ancient Greece, that politics being in the main direct participatory democracy (the military oligarchy of Sparta didn't produce much in the way of playwrights). Plays in Athens were performed during religious festivals, the rest of the time the theatres in the small administrative demes were used for political meetings of the whole community entitled to vote. Plays in these festivals were in competition and accordingly were sponsored by patrons, most of whom were professional politicians, else citizens who wanted to wield influence. Many plays debated the issues of recent or contemporary events, while comedies lambasted real prominent citizens to their faces sat there in the audience, to remind them of their place to serve the Polis rather than their own interests. The ancient Greek word for playwright has as its root 'teacher' or trainer, while the word 'Praxis' which Aristotle coined for the dramatic action, also stands for a body of practical political action.  

So Greek plays were not politically neutral and for all their show at having both sides of the debate (much like Plato's dialectic philosophical style), actually there was really only one message either the playwright, or his patron wanted to impart (just like Plato's "Republic", though his other dialectic works were more ambiguous and even handed in their conclusions). Plays were always geared to preaching to their audience and that audience were those with the vote in the democracy (so not women or slaves who were excluded from voting). The plays preached reasoned debate, when in fact they were tilting for a single point of view, with their own constructed democracy as the highest value (not an 'ideal' one in Plato's eyes, far from it as above). Those individualist citizens who weren't team players, or those with a tendency towards demagoguery, were constantly being defeated on stage.

For such men displayed 'hubris', that is the excess of pride in imagining yourself above your station within the society. Any individual citizen who wasn't a team player, was regarded as having hubris and all Tragic dramas in the Greek canon had men brought low by their hubris. Indeed even the word 'hero' which reverberates so powerfully in our own society, initially emerged from Greek theatre, not existing outside of that context beforehand. The dramatic hero is a demiurge, that is a man who sees himself superior to his fellow man, halfway to being a god and of course, such tragic heroes are felled by their hubris. The stage actors had to play both heroes and gods, an act and an appropriation involving of hubris in itself just in case any of them got ideas above their station. Hubris implicitly reinforces a 'know your place' attitude, for to flout it inevitably means personal destruction. 

The clinching point about this propagandist theatre comes from a word the Greek's themselves coined, 'catharsis'. Catharsis means a purging, initially a purification in the religious sense. But when applied to the theatre by Aristotle in "Poetics" it has a more manipulative meaning. Theatre, in line with praxis, is vicarious, the audience experience the play as brought to them by the actors. We don't know whether they were passive in the amphitheatres, or like Shakespeare's 'Pit' rowdy & interactive with the stage. But by the end of a tragedy, having seen Orestes put out his own eyes, or the abasement and cruelty visited upon "The Trojan Women", or the double suicide of the lovers to conclude "Antigone", the audience are purged of their passions through the very extremity of the emotions wrought in them by the action on stage. That is, the playwright has taken them on such a journey, they are useless for anything at the end of the play. Certainly no call to action, only the playwright's sly reinforcement of whatever particular message he was putting across and the audience too played out to resist that message. Wrung out and spent, they go home marvelling at the stagecraft, story and spectacle, confirmed in the moral teaching the playwright conveyed. 

I could go on about how the heritage from the Greeks has further hamstrung us in our modern age. That Greek philosophy's main thrust was seeking to answer the question 'what constitutes a good life?', which for Plato, in the context of a city, was living a 'Just' life. For Aristotle it was living a balanced life, avoiding excess at either end of the spectrum of behaviour. Now this may or may not be a reasonable philosophical question to consider (I would say there are more pressing ones along the line of what is man, why is he here on earth, what is he supposed to achieve in his short life?) But - and you can't necessarily blame the Greeks for this, their inquiry into goodness was hijacked and taken on by the Christian theologian-cum-philosophers, whose answer was of course faith in God and following a set of moral and behavioural commandments. Again, a rigid moral unilateralism that is today in tatters and has led to the evils of slavery, colonialism, subjection of women and our own bodies, which have only furthered the crippling issues we face today. 

So yes, I do declare, what have the Ancient Greeks done for us, except to set up the parameters by which we have navigated to our very troubling modern age?