Were you happy last week?
Are you happy today?
What changed to make you unhappy today, when last week you were ecstatic?
Did you hear my question?
Are you living with anyone?
When did they leave?
Why don't you get a lodger?
How do you get through the day?
How often do you take it?
Why do you feel the need to take it?
Did you take it before they left, or only after?
When they left, did they say why?
Did they take anything with them?
Have you heard from them since?
Have you got anywhere to stay?
Why can't you look me in the eyes?
Can't you answer that question?
Would you like me to find some for you?
How long can you go without it?
Will anybody miss you?
Do you have any idea who I am?
Or where you are?
Did you come here alone?
Can you reach the drawer from there?
Shall I switch the tape off now?
Inspired by this random Flickr photo.
Thoughts as insubstantial as the shadow
Cast on the wall by filigree leading
Weaker than the light issuing from the
Shocking glossy red of the seat
Two quid's worth of junk
Is what I've descended to
The seats are like too many bottle tops
I would sit with my back to the wall
Trapped in between it and the thick blank-edged table
The dull unreflective edge of the table
A yellow triangle of air bracketing my thoughts
Black shadows merging into fog-thick legs
Pale claws supine on the grey plain
For today's exercise, I started from the text on the side of a bottle of toilet cleaner ("angled neck and viscous liquid"). I wrote this into my PDA using the handwriting recognition tool. Then I looked at what the recognition tool thought I'd wrote, and wrote that. Then once I got into it I started doing automatic writing and following my stream of consciousness. Then I edited, tidied, and brought more narrative into it. This is what I got.
allied neck and
dangled neck and viscosity teases
allied to my dangled neck a swan
a lead mast amid a moby deck
a German farm case in point
gunman mongrelised manager
chooses the bind
expressive husband tomorrow
tomorrow we sieve
we skew the sky for him
more viscous liquid
neck at an awkward angle
the age of pity gone
wasting family for hours
pills like clockwork led back to him
the farm his bastion of ruin
I believe he means
nothing but sick
mad mad seconds
I hate social networking sites.
Here's a photo of me with my iPod
Here's another picture
Of the inside of my handbag
Here's a portrait of me looking moody
With my scowling downcast face
Fluorescent lips twisted seriously
Failing to light the depths
Of my kohled face sockets
Here's another picture of me with my iPod
Here I am again with my annoying boyfriend
We barely speak
We drift around together
In and out of photo booths
He could be anybody
Anybody with a goatee and heavy-framed glasses
Here is the inside of another handbag
And a listing of the cool things inside it
Look: another picture of my iPod with a different cover
Look: a furry case for my iPod
Look: a furry case for my boyfriend
Look: here I am
There's an example of coincidence at work: I looked at my random FlickrLilli search today, and the top picture has the title "I'm the king: open the gate". Which ties very nicely into what I wrote yesterday.
Making soap and candles
They were oblivious to the king
"I'm the king. Please open the gate."
The concubines sat among discarded vials
One held the key
The others pursued a range of hobbies
"I'm the king. Open the gate."
They were positioning
A rusty tin bucket full of wax
(The strong metal bail allowed for easy handling
Even with the bucket filled to capacity)
Pouring his rage into the valley
The king stamped his tiny perfumed feet
"I'm the king! Open the gate!"
Pouring their rage out of a bucket
Firstly, I got a letter from the House of Commons today, from my M.P., Richard Burden. I wrote to him recently encouraging to sign this Early Day Motion. The Motion was that the House should congratulate the Open University and other educational institutions which make use of open source; and that archaic purchasing frameworks put forward by BECTA and their ilk are preventing the use of open source and hindering small firms in competing for contracts with schools. My M.P. signed the Motion (I quote from his letter: "I agree with the sentiments of this motion"). Hopefully, my initial email helped bring it to his attention. I thank Mr. Burden for taking a stand on this important issue.
Secondly, a response to a petition I signed was posted today. The petition was asking for a change to copyright law to enable "fair use" style copying of music. Apparently, a review of UK copyright law has been running since last December (the Gowers Review); part of the report recommends "introducing a strictly limited 'private copying' exception to enable consumers to format-shift content they purchase for personal use. For example to legally transfer music from CD to their MP3 player". Let's hope this recommendation gets taken up.
While this is good news, there are a couple of worrying points in the press release, accompanying the publication of the review, e.g.:
It will be interesting to see how it pans out.
I feel a particular affinity with Marcel Duchamp: I lived in Herne Bay while at University, and while there read a biography of Duchamp (probably the one by Calvin Tomkins). From it I learned that Duchamp had spent some time in Herne Bay in August 1913 (see this article in Tate Etc.). Particularly exciting for me, because while there he worked on his most famous piece, The Large Glass (aka The Bride Stripped Bare By Her Bachelors, Even, which has to be one of the best titles for a piece of art ever). One of the notes associated with The Large Glass (according to the article in Tate Etc.) even seems to directly relate to Herne Bay's Grand Pier Pavilion, which I frequently walked by. I was doing all sorts of pieces of art and writing at the time, as well as being massively depressed and nocturnal (but that's another story): Duchamp was a massive influence on this work.
Duchamp is credited as being the inventor of found art: taking everyday objects and turning them into art, simply by the acts of selecting and contextualising them. The arts honoured this way are also known as readymades. The most famous of Duchamp's readymades is probably Fountain, a urinal which he signed R. Mutt and displayed in 1917 at an exhibition of the Society of Independent Artists.
This is all a long preamble to today's creative excursion. One thing arising from making myself write everyday (forcing, some would say) is that it has made me think about what writing/art is for. Why do people do it? I think about this a lot, and my Ph.D. was around this issue. I also wrote a dissertation at uni. on the same kind of subject (reading is an act of control - I've still got it if anyone really wants to put themselves through reading it).
So I thought what makes some random piece of writing into art? Selection is still important. Not just anything can be art: there has to be something about it that makes it worth selecting, surely? You can't just take anyone's work and claim it: so copyright is involved. Can the selection be random? How can you find random text anyway? With all of this going around in my head, I put together this piece of "found" poetry (assembled from anagrams of "I found this poem by accident" passed through the Anagram Server plus packaging labels instructions, which I was talking to Nicola about this morning, and meandering Google searches).
With fingers light as moths
Neon fell from the depot
Onto the king's cubic medicine crates
Clear labelling is crucial
For the safe use of all medicines
The glamour of being a concubine belies
The amount of time one will spend
Typing "By appointment to the queen" on labels
It's not as glamorous as you think
The king smiles:
"To have a concubine is contrary to the good of the offspring,
But it certainly boosts the work force."
Hmmm, not very good. Not very inspired today. It needs another verse at the end, but I can't get it right at the moment. Plus I was trying to make a contrast between jerky, angular in the first verse, and smooth, whole in the second. I might come back to it.
A piston purrs.
Creaking joints play
Angles around it.
Your blood: oil
In some machine.
In the core, a point.
When your eyes close.
What can I say to defend myself? I was running out of inspiration.
Two Disney characters talking about computers:
"Have you got a Mac, Minnie?"
"No, but I've got a light brown overcoat, Mickey."
(With apologies to the Bonzo Dog Band, and to the person who took this photograph, which triggered this very weak pun. By the way, for those of you visiting from the US who may not be aware of it, "mac" is a British colloquialism for "macintosh", a type of coat.)
"Why don't we record an LP? I could write some songs. I've got an idea for one called 'Norwegian Wood'."
"Sounds good, John. But think about it: how many marketing opportunities does it afford us? You mention Norway: maybe Ikea would be interested?"
"You could sing it, Paul."
"Maybe, but if we made any royalties, I wouldn't see much of them. I'd probably end up giving them to my ex-wife. Perhaps someone else should sing it. By the way, John: could you lounge in a more knowing, ironic manner on that inflatable? That way it will make the video even more poignant, and hence valuable, when we're trying to sell it 40 years from now."
"On the other hand: I've been wondering whether it's worth writing any more songs. Even if we record them, someone else will probably render them unrecognisable in a few years time by re-recording them, or releasing the versions we don't like at the moment. It hardly seems worth the effort."
"The irony is, the more effort we put in now, the more valuable the videos of us arsing around, the tapes we don't like, the songs we never recorded, the letters we sent to lovers and family, etc. will be when we reach retirement age. By producing a body of brilliant music now, we can look forward to seeing it drowned in a sea of pointless ephemera in the future. I'm hoping that one day, some envelope I scribbled on will be worth thousands of pounds to somebody I met for 30 seconds. Now, that would be a legacy to be proud of. I could die happy."