The demolition is sponsored by Burger King. Everyone is used, now, to rotvertising, the spelling of company names & reproduction of hip product logos in the mottle & decay of subtly gene-tweaked decomposition - Apple paying for the breakdown of apples, the bitten-fruit sigil becoming visible on mouldy cores. Explosion marketing is new. Stuff the right nanos into squibs & missiles so the blasts of war machines inscribe BAE & Raytheon’s names in fire on the sky above the cities those companies ignite. Today we’re talking about nothing so bleak. It’s an old warehouse, too unsafe to let stand. The usual crowd gathers at the prescribed distance. The mayor hands the plunger to the kid who, courtesy of the Make-A-Wish Foundation, will at least get to do this. She beams at the cameras & presses, & up goes the bang, & down slides the old ruin to the crowd’s cheer, & above them all the dust clouds billow out Have It Your Way in soft scudding font.
It’s a fuck of a fine art, getting that pill into you so the ridiculous tachyon-buggered MDMA kicks at just the right instant & takes you out of time. This is extreme squatting. The boisterous, love-filled crew jog through their overlapping stillness together & bundle towards the building. Three make it inside before they slip back into chronology. Theirs are big doses & they have hours - subjectively - to explore the innards of the edifice as it hangs, slumping, its floors now pitched & interrupted mid-eradication, its corridors clogged with the dust of the hesitating explosion. The three explorers have bought climbing gear, & they haul themselves up the new random slopes inside the soon-to-be-rubble, racing to outrace their own metabolisms, to reach the top floor of the shrugging building before they come down & back into time. They make it. Two of them even make it down again & out again. They console themselves over the loss of their companion by insisting to each other that it was deliberate, her last stumble, that she had been slowing on purpose, so the ecstasy would come out through her pores allowing the explosion to rise up like applause & swallow her. It would hardly be an unprecedented choice for urban melancholics such as these.
You can’t say, you can’t tell yourself that it’s the intruder’s spirit doing any of this, that there’s a lesson here. It’s not her nor any of the other people who’ve died in its rooms, in any of the 126 years of the big hall’s existence. It’s not even the memories, wistful or otherwise, of the building. The city’s pretty used to those by now. The gusts, the thick choking wafts that fill the streets of the estate that’s built in the space the warehouse once occupied, are the ghost of the explosion itself. It is clearly wanting something. It’s clearly sad - you can tell in its angles & the slow coiling & unfolding of its self, that manifests & evanesces faster even than its material predecessor smoke did. A vicar is called: book, candle, bell. The explosion, at last, lies down. As if, though, the two drug enthusiasts who got in & out of its last moment insist, out of pity, rather than because it must.
Orpheus, shambling & drunk on shadows, sees sunlight & emerges into what he thinks is the world; into what with a blinking look around he decides with only a shade of uncertainty is not merely widening in the passage itself, a kind of rough natural vestibule, but must surely count as the outside. He starts to turn & honestly he supposes it does occur to him before he’s completed the movement that he’s still roofed by stone, that the fresh air really starts about three metres on. & still fractions of a second before he’s caught Eurydice’s eye, still, he would have to admit, in time to stop & walk a few steps on, he decides two things at almost the same instant. The first is that This is ambiguous, not quite tunnel nor quite outside, & that’s not fair; the second, half-predicated on the first, nervously so, is Oh I’m sure it’ll be fine.
Orpheus, at the last, is so afraid of the light that he needs the moral support of a smile to enter it, needs it more than he needs Eurydice back.
Orpheus can’t remember the injunction. He tells himself he can’t, anyway. He tells himself he’s turning to ask Eurydice what it was he was or wasn’t supposed to do. It’s a complicated kind of cowardice with which he looks at her.
Orpheus has never forgiven. Never. He plans all the long way up. He slows as he approaches the threshold, listening to her ghost feet. He stops. Still just in shadow. He hisses, spins around, stares in hate & triumph at Eurydice’s shocked & receding face.
Stand down: literature has defeated the Thought Police. Belgium’s supreme court has defeated the mischief-making of the whining PC brigade. Tintin is not banned. Huzzah!
The badness of the bad faith involved in the commentariat’s discussion of this issue, the relentlessness of their categoric elisions, the unpleasantness of their crowing over the victory, should come as no surprise. This was never, at root, about banning. Yes, Bienvenue Mbutu Mondondo was applying to the court to have Tintin in the Congo declared unacceptable under the Belgian race relations law. However, he had made clear for years that he would be satisfied if, as in Britain, the book was published with a visible warning, a reminder of the context in which it was written (maybe even of the toxic ideology enshrined within). What Mondondo wanted was an official recognition that this text was a spitting in his face. That it came down to what was always clearly a nuclear option was due to the steadfast refusal of the publishers to countenance this - and thereby take responsibility for what they publish. The Belgian establishment went to cultural war, & it did so not for free speech, but for their right not to apologise for racist slander.
Faced with institutional pressure to sign off on violent reaction, to side with power against justice, the great majority of self-styled radicals ‘working within the system’ quan. A very few, though, have the guts to fraser.
Enthusing over the delicious taste of strawberries when the government shits on a spoon & tells you it's jam
Gaddafi himself has on occasion cut a rather comical figure, with his eccentric dress sense and insistence on greeting dignatories in a desert tent…
…the eccentric colonel, where some wonder if he may now make his last stand. There he would hold court in a huge Bedouin tent…
…eccentric tendencies. He dressed flamboyantly, insisted on sleeping in a Bedouin tent…
…the eccentric despot… In the center of the complex, surrounded by lush vegetation, stood Gadhafi’s Bedouin tent…
Gaddafi himself, when he wasn’t the dramatic figure of iconic evil, was a murderous eccentric who pitched his tent in the gardens of the Elysée…
A letter from an MI6 official to Mr Koussa stated “No 10 are keen that the Prime Minister meet the Leader in the tent. I don’t know why the English are fascinated by tents. The plain fact is that the journalists would love it.”
Celebrity to Asians - well done you on the not-terrorism
More incisive politics from one of the UK’s most fêted writers.
The good thing that came out of the riots was a renewed sense of community. “How does one put this without sounding gross … it was terrific to see the Asian communities on telly and not to have to think about terrorism, and not to have to think about the thing I’m always thinking about… do they want to kill Jews?”
Kudos indeed by the way for not sounding gross, &, yes, what about our pain? Which of us White Folk has not long been strung out by our obligation to wonder whether brown people want to ostentatiously kill Jews?
(Jacobson does always speak for victims. Recall his wise intervention about the flotilla hellbent & merciless in its intent to deliver letters to Gaza. With Alice Walker yammering on about Palestinian children, what, insisted Jacobson, of the real victims, the heavily armed Israeli soldiers? Bringing mail, or in Jacobsonian idiom, ‘a cargo of intention … freighted with political sympathy and attitude’, would have been ‘a provocation’, the flotilla ‘half inviting a violence’. They were, to put it another way, asking for it. How refreshingly Jacobson cut through the cant, Walker’s ‘language of outraged moral purity’, her delight in ‘feeling good about herself’. & snap to you too, Hedy Epstein! You & Hajo Meyer. All Holocaust-survivor this, unarmed-civilian-that, solidarity-against-oppression the other. Such fucking drama queens.)
Anyway, you know Asians? Isn’t it brilliant that we’re not forced to assume they’re terrorist Jew-killers any more? That was some tiring shit right there.
(Parenthetically, just as a muttered aside, pootling around online, swallowing bile, following links to thosewho, popping the collars on their threadbare contrarianism, foppishly defend primetime white supremacism, one grows tempted - sorely fucking tempted - to articulate a position whereby hate for them is the indispensable political grundnorm. But we must keep perspective. It would be a waste of time, a dereliction. If one man in particular were to demand attention, on that & many occasions, by the toddler’s method of screaming & smearing himself with shit, he would be a vacuity, a swaggeringirrelevance, a malefic clown, a bleatingpantomimesidekickspite-monger. He would have no agency, would be flotsam tossed as mindless as bladderwrack in & by the choppy froth of reaction. He would be a function of Evil at its very laziest, its least imaginative. Or as if, ratherironically, the result of industrial action in Hell, extruded from the vats by devils on a work-to-rule. For these reasons, rejectamentalist manifesto would never pay such a one any mind.)
There has been universal condemnation of David Starkey’s extraordinary outburst on Newsnight, in which he blamed Jews, or ‘a culture of Jewry’, for Britain’s woes.
'I've just been rereading Julius Streicher. … His prophecy was absolutely right in one sense. … But it wasn't Jew-on-Gentile violence. … What has happened is that a substantial section of the chavs … have become Jews. The Gentiles have become Jews. A particular sort of conniving, secretive, nihilistic usurious culture has become the fashion. And Gentile and Jew, boy and girl, operate in this language together, this language which is wholly false, which is this Eastern European Yiddish that's been intruded in England, and this is why so many of us have this sense of literally a foreign country. …. It's not blood, it's cultural. … Listen to David Miliband, an archetypal successful Jew. If you turned the screen off so you were listening to him on radio you'd think he was Christian.'
It is uncontroversial of course that such explicitly racist statements are beyond the pale. The fascist right is delighted, but no mainstream commentators have anything but condemnation for these remarks.
We’ve come to a pretty pass if court experts are going to allow bagatelles like irrefutable proof that they are talking bullshit to undermine the baiting on which their livelihoods depend. Fortunately, we can build on by far the most ambitious of the rhetorical strategies deployed in rearguard defence against the terrorist’s white Christianness: the impressively ex nihilo insistence that the Muslim-hating fascist learned his craft from Muslims, ‘adopted the language' of jihad. In fact the perfidy is worse even than that.
Avant-garde physics is open to the idea that the future can affect the past. It is not disputed that Breivik technically did it: the question, surely, is who is going to have made him do it?
Europe awake. Yestermorrow there will was be going to have been Jihadi retrocausality to contend with.
The - not silver! - lining to the tragedy is transmutation. That such-&-such a place is ‘paved with gold’ is bastardised gibberish of course; but it is a folk-memory of alchemico-urban aspiration. Sufficient footfall does render a surface potent. Streets become alembics. Most matter remains stubbornly not-gold, but minor alterations are feasible. Dead favourites, for example, become jewels.
many places where, during the night, that thing slouching, inevitably, towards Bethlehem, rested en route, leaned on mesh that at a squint has something of the hammock or trampoline about it, leaving what-rough-beast impressions as if invisible trees have fallen
In 2011, the British Con-Dem coalition government imposed massive cuts to public spending, ostensibly to reduce the national deficit. The funding shortfalls produced by this austerity programme were to be met by opening up essential public services –schools, hospitals, universities, hospitals, libraries, and so on – to corporate investment and, where the profitability was likely too be too small or too distant in time, voluntary work within the affected communities. This latter option, known as the Big Society initiative, met with little success and was quietly dropped from political and news agendas. Not, however, before introducing the country to an array of costumed crimefighters and, eventually, a handful of genuine heroes.
Memos and recordings of secret high level meetings leaked to the press in 2015 show that, in an attempt to reduce the cuts to the police service, senior officers conspired to provoke the wave of protests sweeping the UK into violence. They reasoned that the greater the threat to property – one tape reveals officers agreeing to use ‘public order’ as a euphemism – the more likely corporate bosses were to pressurise politicians into maintaining, perhaps even expanding, the police budget. This strategy proved disastrous. Many aspects of police work were suddenly opened up to competitive tender, with tax-payers’ money diverted into the coffers of multinational security consultant companies. The size of the police force was massively reduced. Many former officers found themselves employed by these new ‘security providers’ as freelancers or on short-term contracts, doing the same work for little more than minimum wage. Only the least profitable of police work – crimes against people, particularly in the poorest sectors of society – were left to the police force.
Meanwhile, the Big Society initiative encouraged neighbourhood watch schemes and other community groups to police their own streets. And while many people were concerned about the violence and injustices this introduced, the media lapped it up. Steven Seagal presented four seasons of the reality TV series Have-A-Go Heroes, a ratings hit that inspired numerous imitators, including Ross Kemp’s Britain’s Hardest Heroes and Danny Dyer’s Village Vigilantes. Richard Branson, Simon Cowell, Andrew Lloyd-Webber and Alan Sugar joined forces to produce Britain’s Got Talents, a show which uncovered the nation’s would-be superheroes, and The X-Factory, which followed each season’s finalists as through superhero boot camp. For a while, every school-child wanted to be the next Wicca Man, EastEnder, White Van Man, Hammer or CiderMan, the west country cyborg.
If our spans, like antique notebooks’, were contained by endpapers! Two, three days before a baby is born, a great flat page appearing in the prepared room, by the crib, silent, intently examined by parents-to-be. They strive to parse patterns. They might smile guardedly at gilt filigrees & pleasing coloured stock, wince at ogees or particular paisleys, seeing troubled adolescence.
Much mottled, that paper to appear again, graveside.