Category Archives: Culture

The International Adam Curtis Society – Inaugural Post #AdamCurtis

As self-appointed President of The International Adam Curtis Society, I reach out in a gesture of goodwill to worldwide admirers of Adam Curtis’s works. Join the society, and help, as a collective, to push the next phase of human evolution by engaging with Adam Curtis’s works via the written word. Specifically, the task of all society members is to break free from the constraints of ‘hauntology’ and ‘individualisation’ – both terms that Adam Curtis uses to describe the stuck state all of Western society finds itself in.

As President I will direct the society’s agenda on a monthly basis, seeking engagement from members in the form of guest blog posts, tweets, etc., that will appear, initially, as part of the textual silence project until a dedicated website can be set up. Such writings will discuss aspects of Adam Curtis’s works, with the aim of shattering the widespread public apathy that currently exists, and which leads, inevitably, to a kind of atrophy induced by a rapacious capitalist system that seeks to nullify all existential threats to its existence.

The work you are tasked with as a member of The International Adam Curtis Society is serious and you are unlikely to reap any reward from it in your lifetime. However, remember Adam Curtis’s comments on The Civil Rights Movement of 1960s’ America, where he remarks that people the world does not know the names of are the people who did the real work of the movement. Such work is arduous. But it is important. Follow in their footsteps. Be glorious in word and deed. Seek nothing in return, other than a better world for all human and non-human animals.

In the spirit of past movements a Manifesto will be drawn up, but this will take time. Meanwhile, take the following memory of mine as the foundation from which all action shall spring:

Growing up as a child in 1970s Britain, born into a working class community, and regularly exposed to the glitz and glamour of American TV programmes, a devastating blow was dealt to me as a five or six year old. It was the realisation that I would never grow up to meet my childhood hero: Captain Buck Rogers of the 25thCentury. This may sound laughable, but the dawning comprehension that I would need to live for over 500 years (an impossible task) shattered my childhood, thrusting me into a period of seriousness that exists to this very day (and yes, I soon realised that he was a fictional character, but nevertheless, it’s the spirit of the memory that I want you to retain). And so the spirit is this – it is that we can live free from imposed boundaries, we can reach for new worlds, we can concentrate human intellect on a far larger goal than profits and trinkets, and that we can utilise the age of technological advancement to resign late stage capitalism to a footnote of human evolution. Fear and hate and discrimination and violence and profiteering have no place in this quest. Love and empathy and understanding and peacefulness and commonality, for both human and non-human animals, must be our guiding light, here.

If you wish to join The International Adam Curtis Society, comment on this post in the first instance, leaving an email by which you can be contacted by myself and by other members. And remember… we are about to create something new in the world, where power struggles, the language of war and hierarchies, the practices of profiteering have no place.

We are The International Adam Curtis Society.

We know no boundaries.

With love,

President Matthew Alexander…

(The International Adam Curtis Society series of blog posts will not use imagery, web links, or anything other than the written word to convey its message. Distraction and entertainment is not our goal.)

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Spare a Thought #LivLitFest 2019

Is there a room where the famous writers can retire following the public event? I hope so. They’re all in attendance, supporting each other—it’s a veritable feast of literary dining for the paying public—but most wear a wearied look, forced to perform. You have to look closely to see it. They’re smiling, sure, but a commercial mask, a veneer separating them from the gathered crowd—the quiet, reserved members of the public, and the annoying, needy ones alike. A relatively new form of low for the literary geniuses must be the ‘posing for a selfie’ craze. There’s the mandatory line for book signings. Fair enough, you expect that. But now it’s not just a signature and polite chat with each person in the queue. Now, they come round to your side of the table. Most without even asking. They just assume it’s fine. They don’t see it as an invasion of your personal space, where you get to smell them, whether you want to or not, as phone swipes into camera mode. Wine on breath. Lipstick on lips. Perfume squirted goodness knows where. Lingering odour of tea (dinner). Faint waft of gum disease. They want to put their arms around you. You have to smile, look pleased to be a part of this. It seems to take an eternity. It’s rather unpleasant. I’m next in line. I can see the author’s utter distaste for this, but they’ve bought a book, so what are you gonna do? I offer to take the picture, so it’s not really a selfie. This, for two reasons. One: it makes a nicer picture for the couple in front of me. They both get to be in the frame with their literary idol. Two: it speeds the process, saving the literary genius from sitting through more of this torture. You see it in the eyes of the literary genius. Like a cow, drained of milk. Teets sore, struggling to lactate. That’s what the smile looks like. It’s a smile, but not a smiling smile. Aiming to please, you can see that, but the reality of the situation seeps through. You have to ask yourself… Is any amount of money worth this? My name, yes, it’s…


Definitely a Survivor, Not a Victim #MeToo #RapeCulture

In the coming weeks, having recently revealed her identity for the first time, Chanel Miller, the survivor of an horrific sexual assault, of which she has no actual memory because she was unconscious at the time, will speak publicly about life following Brock Turner’s decision to sexually assault her instead of helping her (which you’d imagine would be an automatic response at seeing a person unconscious on the ground, but as we know, Brock Turner’s first thoughts were not that he should help but that he should try to remove her clothes and rape her – only stopped by two passers-by who were actually willing to help Chanel Miller in her unconscious state (personally, I don’t think that I’m overdoing it stressing that point)).

There are a number of issues to be raised here, but first and foremost our thoughts must turn to the fact that Chanel Miller had no choice in what happened that night, and that she has had to live with the consequences of Brock Turner’s decision to sexually assault her, and she has lived that form of private hell ever since, and now she is about to relive it all in public, with everyone who wishes to know about such things having access to the most personal details of her life, which will be incredibly stressful at the very least.

And this is where #MeToo (and its earlier incarnation) and awareness of #RapeCulture are key to educating current and future generations in order that people stop doing such terrible things to other people. The ramifications of such acts are long lasting, and forcing ourselves, and others, to think about how a person can dehumanise another person in order to satisfy whatever urge they feel at that moment in time is a step towards ending inhumane behaviour. Chanel Miller should have been helped, not sexually assaulted, and it is to her credit that she is willing to speak up to help others.

As this is the time of year where youngsters start college/university life, many living away from home for the first time, it is important to spread the message that no matter how intoxicated a person may be, and no matter the clothes they wear, and no matter the areas through which they walk, whether alone or accompanied, no one has the right to sexually assault or rape another person. That seems like an obvious statement, and many readers will agree without even flinching, but there are those like the Brock Turner of 2015 (who failed to show remorse for his crime) who will continue to do so unless such behaviour is called out and challenged – shout as loud as possible until it becomes second nature for a person to help rather than harm. Chantel Miller’s voice will be heard, and it will make a difference.

And I haven’t even had time to mention the judge, Aaron Persky (who was eventually recalled).


Definitely not Normal: More Reflections Following Reflections on The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal) and then The Road back from Normal (following on from The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal))

Just to offer some perspective on the shift I have experienced in getting on and off planes, and the bit in between (@ #DFW19), here’s the Uptown Circle area of Normal, Illinois:

And here’s the High Street of the town I live in:

Perhaps best to hold on to the following sentiment, though I’m not sure what good that’ll do me:

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And just think, the whole thing started with this post: The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal

There’s no place like home, eh?


Reflections on The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal) and then The Road back from Normal (following on from The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal))

A by-product of being able to attend the #DFW19 (David Foster Wallace) Conference at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois, was the chance for me to visit the site of The Warehouse, 206 S. Jefferson Street, Chicago, considered by many to be the birthplace of House music, or at least the place where House music began commanding audiences, as opposed to just being shared around privately. Anyone with an interest in finding out more can just follow this link.

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The experience of visiting a building that means a great deal to me (because without a place like The Warehouse my teenage years would not have been so much fun – and I would not have begun to understand the bigotry I had grown up with as a child (nothing wildly overt, but the usual racist, sexist, homophobic stuff prevalent in the UK media, which then filters down via one’s parents)) was, as indicated in previous posts, akin to that of a pilgrimage. I only hope that the message of love and shared connections, so often promoted in the lyrics of House music songs will continue to thrive – and on that point, happenstance that Chicago Pride weekend is the time I get to visit.

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Fortunately for me a group of young teenagers (mostly dressed in rainbow colours and seemingly having much fun with one another) happily and politely answer the questions I have about how far it would take me to walk here and there, and generally advise me not to walk in the direction of the inner city ‘hoods (their term, not mine). The atmosphere in the city was amazing, and 50 years on from Stonewall (though there’s still much work to be done to foster understanding and shared connections (both within and outside of the LGTBQ+ community)) it seems like we can begin to imagine a Promised Land: “Brothers, Sisters, one day we will be free, from fighting, violence, people crying in the streets…” (Joe Smooth). At least that’s the optimistic view I’m taking given the young people I have encountered both at #DFW19 and on the streets of Chicago.

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The Road to Normal (in particular the road back from Normal)

206 S. Jefferson Street, Chicago. The Warehouse. Pilgrimage (is that the right word?).

As someone who never really liked The Hacienda, Manchester, because it always seemed too aggressive (and probably too male???), but who can walk past the old site any time I please, I am beside myself with excitement at the prospect of being able to visit the site of The Warehouse in Chicago on Sunday 30thJune 2019 (driving back to ORD from Normal, with a few hours to spare (post DFW19)). I have already emailed the legal firm that resides at the premises to see if I can get any information about the state of the building, and whether there is actually anything to see when I get there – a commemorative plaque, or something similar?

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For me, it will be akin to the sporadic visits I pay to Sylvia Plath’s grave in Heptonstall – a form of worship, and just something I’m compelled to do without quite knowing why (or even knowing what to do when I get there). In my head, the visit to the site of The Warehouse will involve being able to park directly outside, selecting an appropriate song from my playlist (at this point in time that song will be Joe Smooth’s ‘Promised Land’ (but then again I’ll probably also have to play Frankie Knuckles’ ‘Move Your Body,’ as it would be rude not to (and probably also Jaime Principle’s ‘Your Love’))), and leaning against the car with headphones on for however long it takes for the song(s) to play, then I’ll maybe try to find a place for coffee, so I can sit and reflect on what this club meant to my life growing up as a teenager in a relatively down-trodden (certainly at the time) Northern ex-mining town. Notably, it will be the way that, unknown to me at the time, ‘black and Latino LGTBQ+ communities’ affected my white, working-class existence in ways that are truly immeasurable. Long shot this, because this is not the most widely read blog, but I’d be super keen to meet anyone who actually set foot inside The Warehouse – I’d buy you a coffee and probably a cake, so…

As a side note, it’s funny that some of the most profound feelings can be found in the most innocuous looking places.

 


Pondering [the food at] the #immersivestorytelling Symposium @ljmu – a fill-in-the-blanks festive entry (fun for all the family)

The golden rule of attending any event as a ________ is to go prepared. Either eat before you go, take a packed lunch, be prepared to have to search around for food, or go hungry for the duration (admittedly, things are getting easier for ________ as the turn to a ________ diet attracts mainstream attention). Gather my amazement upon return from procuring a cup of coffee to find that the food had been laid out with thought and care – long table of animalised protein* items, then a table with feminised proteins,* and finally, a sufficient distance from the animalised proteins so that the overpowering smell of decomposing flesh was not an issue for my nasal receptors, a table of ________ food, each tray with its own handwritten tag spelling out what each item was, and for whom it was suitable – examples from this final table included pea-mint hummus wraps, aubergine and roast veg on ciabatta slices, and my personal favourite, a nutty/mushroom filling in pastry.

It’s a coincidence that the symposium was timed between two major celebrations, Thanksgiving and Christmas, respectively, where the consumption of animal corpses (predominantly turkey) passes in most households without a thought for the processes involved in the industrialised “factory farming” of animals. So, after sampling some wonderfully tasty ________ items at the symposium buffet, it seems apt, as a ________ to post the following comment from Carol J. Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat: A Feminist-Vegetarian Critical Theory:

“[W]e refer to meat eating rather than to corpse eating [as] a central example of how our language transmits the dominant culture’s approval of this activity” (48)

The question I’d pose, here, is: Just how tasty is the corpse in your mouth as you sit round the table with loved ones?

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* Phrases taken from Adams’ book.


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