the cure – the forest [live on french tv, 1979]

a man of riverbanks

I am a man of riverbanks—excavation and inflammation—since it isn’t always possible to be a man of torrents.

René Char, Leaves of Hypnos

failed search party

There is nothing out there. They checked and they found nothing. That is why they are now huddled here in this concrete chapel, lighting matches and burning their fingers on candle stubs too short to hold fire. And so in the dark they sit meditating on what has transpired between then and now—the before and after. The search was long and arduous because as everyone knows nothing worth anything can be found without a long and arduous journey. But sometimes what is found turns out to be nothing, as in this case. Well, that’s not entirely true. A few things were indeed found. Things tangential to what was being sought (which itself remains elusive—all that is known is that it was not found). These few relatively inconsequential things found along the way were pocketed in such a distant mindless way as to almost suggest they were acts of the unconscious mind. Upon reaching the chapel the pockets of their loose-fitting black garments were turned inside out and the contents subsequently arranged on the altar, now, here, among the nettles and vines. As they stare hard at the altar, covered as it now is by their random and unimpressive offerings, somewhere in the distance comes the sound of drumming—although it’s possible they imagine it. Hallucinations are, after all, not uncommon following these types of expeditions. A return to so-called normality is never certain, and in fact often impossible. Hence now the chapel and later the inevitable retreat to the grottoes and much later still the descent to the catacombs, where a final resting place of sorts awaits deposit of their faded hollow bones.

always red and black

i returned
to the rocks
where i picked
one up to find
a snake coiled
in red and black

(sleeping it was
as i am now)

up above i flew
circled around
where from the air
i saw the snake
wake and slither off

the next night
i found tiny snakes
wrapped around my wrist
and as i pulled them off
they inserted fangs
beneath the skin

the pain was great
but i kept at it
as did they
until i’m not sure
if i blacked out

two feminist punk/post-punk classics, and some thoughts on youtube

I spend a lot of time trolling YouTube for obscure punk, post-punk, darkwave, and associated fringe music. It’s a compulsion, although I remain conflicted over listening to this music without paying for it. If YouTube was like an all-you-can-eat buffet where you paid one price and could gorge on as much music as you wanted, I would gladly pay that fixed price (provided it went directly to the musicians). And frankly, I’m surprised YouTube has not yet gone the subscription route, though I suspect such a fate is not far off. The fact is that I cannot afford to individually support every musician I listen to on YouTube by buying their music, if it’s even still available for purchase, which it very often is not since most of these bands are inactive and/or have no web presence. And I should clarify that I do still pay for music. If there is a band that I really enjoy and find myself repeatedly wanting to listen to their music, I will seek them out and if their music is available to purchase somewhere I will buy it. But with many of the bands I find, I’m just sampling them and moving on. Only a select few do I find myself returning to listen again. In this respect YouTube is a good place to do music research, and so perhaps it’s not such a bad thing if it leads to people buying music they otherwise would not have known about. With that in mind here are a couple of my recent finds below. And I should add, as many music-uploading YouTube users often do: if you like these bands, please support them by buying their albums! The Au Pairs albums can be hard to find but they are still out there in various formats. And the Poison Girls website offers most of their releases as downloads, with a PayPal ‘honesty box’ for payments.

Au Pairs – Fronted by lesbian-feminist Lesley Woods, whose lyrics both skewered sexual and social politics and celebrated sexuality from a woman’s perspective, the Au Pairs played post-punk occasionally reminiscent of Gang of Four, with its prominent funk-inspired bass and trebly guitar. Their second LP ‘Sense and Sensuality’ found them straying even more into jazz and funk territory. Here’s a fantastic live track from that album. Also check out this episode of Post Punk Britain from earlier this year featuring an interview with Woods, a playlist chosen by her (including several Au Pairs songs), and a new song she recorded for the show.

Poison Girls – An anarcho-punk band led by Vi Subversa, a middle-aged mother of two, Poison Girls were early contemporaries of Crass and recorded their first single on Crass Records. But they weren’t a typical anarcho-punk band (if there is such a thing), and later went their own musical way. From what I’ve read of their story, it’s more interesting than that of Crass and the rest of that milieu, but I’m always more captivated by the outsiders, even in a scene already far outside the mainstream. Vi’s lyrics, capturing the perspective of a smart woman growing older as she continues to rail against the patriarchy, communicated an experience not commonly heard at the time in punk music. And the music was certainly not run-of-the-mill, either.

the wing of sleep by roger gilbert-lecomte*

The Wing of Sleep

He waded all the way back up life’s stream
And came out the other side
Lost where others wander not yet born

He dreamt he was dreaming
Changing planets
Sleeping only to awake over and over
To the block of blood ticking in his head

Plunging in an ever deeper sleep

Awaking in depths of light unmeasured
Yet closer to that blaze
Plunged in the mortal deep of shadow

His bed a sumptuous cradle whose plumed head
Rocked him
Then froze into the lintel
Of a tomb

His dead eyes the wing of the enchanter sleep
Brushed to glittering life
Then rubbed out

Into so total a revulsion
Their lids
Squinched up like spleen-envenomed lips

He felt himself expand becoming the sky
Making fair weather and foul while dispensing rainbows

As the mills of space crushed
And flattened him like a shadow…

(to be continued)

*tr. David Rattray

More information on RG-L

‘he walked arm in arm with his shadow’ (éric chevillard)

[note: cursory statistical analysis reveals this blog would receive heightened traffic if it contained more practical advice on ‘all weather bike commuting,’ but instead it chiefly contains impractical, infrequent, and largely unread text such as the following…]

aural darkness in june. a way to refuse the heat. alice. another merciful release. a spiral of silence. another five minutes in this chair. jabès with his name in his pain but his pain with no name. writing about the book and its hold over us. the power of the word. meanwhile duras is looking at the time. ‘it was ten o’clock. in the evening. it was summer.’ and what could maria call the time opening ahead of her…’this incandescence, this bursting of a love at last without object.’

been here too long. here early / leave late / write in boxes / move on wheels back uphill. two legs, four legs, crossing thresholds over and over. sidewalks of daily desolation. tedium in quin’s ‘city where every street declares its defeat.’ consider bernhard and his ‘born barricade fanatics’the shared ‘desire to barricade ourselves from the world.’

but then there is jabès in unwilling exile from his beloved desert. everyone in some form of exilemental, physical, spiritual—feeling incapable of return. like robin about whom the baron thinks ‘there was in her every movement a slight drag, as if the past were a web about her, as there is a web of time about a very old building.’ and yet nora saying ‘robin can go anywhere, do anything, because she forgets, and i nowhere because i remember.’ because what bliss it would be to forget, right, to not always be dragging that chain of keyless padlocks behind. two (mis?)interpretations of another’s experience. dangers of outside looking in. but what of robin. what of robin. on the floor barking like a dog. a shattered mirror. surrendered to expectations. a final transition to conditioned response. or the ultimate shedding of humanity’s heavy carapace.

from Aurélia by Gérard de Nerval

I resolved to fix all of my dreams in my memory and to know their secret. “Why,” I said, “should I not break through these mystical doors, armed with all of my will, and dominate my senses rather than submitting to them?” Is it not possible to tame this fearsome, compelling chimera; to exert control over these night spirits which toy with our reason? One third of our life is spent in sleep. It is consolation for the sorrows of our day or atonement for their pleasures; but I have never experienced sleep as mere rest. After a few minutes’ torpor, a new life begins, untrammeled by the limitations of time and space, and without doubt, similar to the one which awaits us after death. Who is to say whether or not there exists a link between these two existences and whether it is not possible for the soul to establish that connection?

Gérard de Nerval, Aurélia

Justice for Freddie

a haiku for spring

Buzzing tree of bees
carries sound of other world—
somewhere else to go.

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