Memory Waves

I was in Newcastle for a few days, working on an ARKA group project and surfing the alternate waves of fear and nostalgia that always threaten to drown me whenever I visit the city. Every time I go there it seems smaller. Clumps of memory held together by threads of physical movement.

I am getting ready to do some work in Liverpool with Colin Dilnot, a historian and psycho-geographer who I'll be meeting later this month. We'll be knocking around some ideas for Dialogues, The Royal Standard's education/free school program. Everything is in its embryonic stage at this point, but we'll be thinking about the Situationists and the notion of the Dérive.

I suppose my first connection with psycho-geography (apologies for those who don't like the term, but it is a useful description) was through the works of W. G. Sebald. The Rings of Saturn is my favourite book because it was the first Sebald I read, but also because it dragged me through an East Anglian landscape that I knew from my childhood. This is the natural territory for Sebald's strain of memory travels. Movement is the physical connection of ideas, and walking through your own history (or, having Sebald walk through it for you) is the most obvious way of demonstrating that mode of connection.

So what about Liverpool then? Colin is from Liverpol, and so is David Jacques (an artist from Liverpool who spends a lot of his time surfing the city's great waves of history). Even Daniel Simpkins and Penny Whitehead (who I collaborated with as part of my Royal Standard residency) have lived there for long enough to weave themselves into the fabric of their adopted home. I spent three weeks there in 2010.

How do I access that privileged realm of history when I have so few of my own memories of the city?

After taking part in three residencies (Birmingham, Liverpool, Gdańsk) in the past few years, I've had to think about that question a lot. Why should an outsider get a voice, and what can it say? What is the conversation, and who sets the parameters of the discussion?

I've dealt with it in a number of different ways, but the successes always involved collaboration with the people who know more than me, and are happy to share. I like to piggy back on other people's histories, then mesh them with my own. Maybe that's why I like the techniques of psycho-geography: walking, talking, remembering. Just as you lock in step with the people you walk with, you might lock in step with how they think and start making sense of your journey.

More Drawings

Power Cup, pen and pencil on paper, 2011

Chilli Pepper 3D Logo, pen and pencil on paper, 2011

Neon Cross, pen on paper, 2011

Rhomboid 2, pencil on paper, 2011



Recent Drawings

 Black and Yellow Circle, pen on paper, 2011

 Black Cylinder with Yellow, pen on paper, 2011

 Black Glove with Yellow, pen on paper, 2011

 Hindu Peace Sign with Shading (Swastika), pen on paper, 2011
 Just a Little Hindu Peace Sign (Swastika), pen on paper, 2011
 Mobile Phone, pen on paper, 2011
The Number Five, pen on paper, 2011

Recent Drawings

 British Medical Association, pen on paper, 2011

 Feather Ball Flesh Tunnel, pen on paper, 2011

 Rhomboid, pen on paper, 2011

 Cube with Blue, pen on paper, 2011

Feather Ball 2, pen on paper, 2011

DEEP MEMES


I've been thinking about the utopian elements of technology. Open access to information. Total choice. The ability for individuals to produce content that can theoretically be as easy to find as content produced by large companies. Connected, distributed communities. Non-hierarchical forms of communication.

And I've been talking to people about left politics, and how increasingly, the word most associated with political action is resistance rather than progress. Resistance is reactive, and conservative (in a pure sense of the word).

And I've been thinking about language and it's limits, and about the power of writing to create worlds that are beyond those limits. Using words to describe the indescribable.

And I've been laughing (along with a lot of people) at Blue Labour, Labour's short lived attempt to woo floating voters with a regressive stance on crime and immigration.

And I've been thinking about some previous artworks and describing them as being about the links between political ideology and shame.

And I've been thinking about 'Market Realism' and it's dominance in political discussion. The assertion that market led societies are a reality that can't be challenged along with a simultaneous embrace of thinking that gives more power to the market within society.

And I've been researching into photophobia in plants and in humans.

And I've been searching for pictures of David Cameron next to Thomas the Tank Engine and the bloke from Keane. But all I found was this.


Sorry I haven't Posted in a While

This is both an honest recognition that I haven't written or posted much for a while, but I've been busy in the real world so I think that's ok.

Anyway, this is also a chance to post a link to Cory Arcangel's project called,

Sorry I haven't Posted, "Inspiring Apologies from Today's World Wide Web"

Which is a blog that re-blogs other people's blog posts that have'Sorry I haven't posted...' somewhere in the text.

Ironically, the the Sorry... blog hasn't been updated since November 2010. I think it's time Cory wrote an apology.

Jennifer Aniston

A while back I wrote a story called Friends. The TV Show and it got posted up on the Foolscap Journal.

The story is about a re-make of Friends starring a mixture of real cast members and look-a-likes.

Someone got in touch via the comments at the bottom of the blog post.

> Author : Jennifer Sullivan
> E-mail : jenniferanistondouble@yahoo.com
> URL : http://www.facebook.com/JenniferAnistonDouble
> Whois : http://whois.arin.net/rest/ip/99.41.93.113
> Comment:
> I am a Jennifer Aniston double/look alike. I will play Rachel Green. Cast me.

Check the Facebook page. She is an amazing double. Now I just need look-a-likes for the rest of the cast, a studio and about £100,000 and I can make the artwork described in the story.

The Pale King and the Importance of Paying Attention: PT 2

I possibly had a thought which might link the ideas of paying attention and duty, for which if that makes no sense then read yesterday's post.

So, an e.g.

In The Pale King there is a long section where an IRS employee describes in detail his growing up and being a classically disaffected college student who takes drugs and embraces a sort of affected nihilism that probably is recognisable to all people who have ever been young. The relevant part of this story is that he constantly disappoints his father and also doesn't respect his father's way of life - which is to say conservative and structured and regular and dutiful.

A particular part of the story takes place while the character is staying at his father's house, in between college courses (which he variously fails, or drops out of, or is asked to leave) and his father goes away on a business trip and the character and his friends smoke a lot of weed and watch television and eat junk food and disrespect various wishes of his father re: treatment of furniture + use of kitchen + general cleanliness and the father comes home early and walks through the door and looks around and is obviously disappointed but doesn't say a word and only later on in the character's life does he decode the meaning of his father's face as he (the father) walks in the door and takes in the fact that his son has disrespected all of his wishes.

There are various elements in the 'journey' of the character in this section of the book, but essentially the story is that of the character working out that his father's way of life is not illogical and repressed and ridiculous to the extent that the character thinks it is. This realisation comes about through the character (with the help of recreational amphetamine use) concentrating, thinking directly about, and paying attention to things in the world, out there, beyond his own self, and then using these observations to try and think objectively about the set of assumptions and prejudices that he has mistaken for his own beliefs for such a long time.

And in this section of the book the explicit subject is not only the act of paying attention, but being aware of your own attention, and choosing what to direct it towards. And this perhaps is the thrust of my argument. Wallace, here and elsewhere, is using a post-modern sense of self (a sense of being a fixed consciousness with no direct access to an objective world, along with an acute awareness of how you are seen by other people, whose inner states you cannot confirm the existence of or ever understand, and then the paradoxical sense that you yourself are a construct of your environment - which is the very world you can't really access) to re-appraise the idea of a good, functional society that has supposedly been destroyed by post-modern conceptions of self-hood and individualism.

Wallace seems to be getting at the idea that all this crippling self-awareness that we are lumbered with, which makes us all so cynical about the possibility of, say, altruism, or honesty or even the idea of society itself, is the very thing that keeps the possibility of these things alive. By being truly self-aware and really trying to understand the way things are in the world (not just the limited self-awareness of cynicism and aimless, endless irony), you can reach through and beyond your subjectivity and to the idea of other people's inner states and needs and wants, and the idea of having obligations to those other people, i.e. duty.

For a long time I thought of post-modernism as anti-modernism. A set of ideas that were purely critical and not constructive. More recently I've been trying to understand what a constructive post-modernism might be. Maybe if Wallace had lived longer than he did, we might have seen him map out another way of escaping the impotent cynicism of post-modernism; a constructive use of a deconstructive mode of thought.

The Pale King and the Importance of Paying Attention: PT 1

There are, obviously, many sad things to be said about David Foster Wallace's unfinished novel, published from manuscripts and notes collected and edited after his death - mostly things that are obvious re: unfinished novels in general; suicide and long term depression; genius and/or excellence and expectation.



But there is a smaller, less obvious thing - or perhaps, and at least for me, it is less obvious in that I have just thought of it (whilst reading Oblivion, a collection of short stories from 2004, which is extremely good [so good that in a weird moment of self-reflexive panic at the idea that I was some kind of DFW obsessive {which, I am aware, that by using the acronym DFW I am, obviously, a DFW obsessive to some degree, but then I haven't had a literary crush for some time so I feel like that is ok, ok?} I sort of forcibly criticised the idea of his genius by thinking 'Yeah, not every thing he has ever written is genius, some of it is only excellent'].).

And that thing is that I think I have just clocked what Wallace is describing, or getting at in almost every piece of fiction and non-fiction that he wrote. And also that isn't the thing, really. Really the thing is that The Pale King feels like the novel that could have addressed this thing (that he was getting at) directly, head on, with Wallace realising that he was addressing the thing, and really doing it in a purposeful way, and that the direct addressing of the thing would have been so wonderful to read (in its completed form - which is certainly not what The Pale King is.) and also would have made the next period of Wallace's writing so exciting to read.

And the thing that The Pale King addresses directly, and all his other writing addresses in some way or another is this: the importance of paying attention.

What's funny (for me, not for you, and even for me only funny in a sort of 'revelation of ignorance' way rather than 'enlightening and humorous' way) is that it was only half-way through a story in Oblivion called, Good Old Neon, that I realised the thing about The Pale King and paying attention, which means that I probably wasn't paying very much attention when I was reading The Pale King.

So in Oblivion there is a passage about a man who is going to kill himself and he keeps having these profound/banal thoughts about how this is the last time he will ever look at such and such a thing before he dies, and how this is the last time he will do such and such a thing before he dies etc. etc. And this passage, obviously, is about paying attention to things, but is also handled by Wallace in a way that belies the amount of attention paid by Wallace in the writing of the passage. And this confluence of subject matter and style made me think about The Pale King again and about how some of the more... dense sections of the book are about people whose job it is to concentrate on things for long periods of time and how this ability to concentrate on things is the product of/creates the conditions for, psychological states which are possibly the nearest thing to transcendence or a full expression of human consciousness or something equally spiritual sounding that probably no-one wants to talk about directly because of possible cringe worthy implications of talking about things like spirituality and transcendence and full expression of human consciousness.

There is a morally conservative nature to a lot of Wallace's writing, which before now I think I forgave him for because I enjoyed reading him so much, but, actually maybe it is this morally conservatism that is central to his writing, and maybe I only noticed it when I disagreed with it's conclusions, or perhaps when I thought he'd pitched it a little bit too sentimentally for my tastes or whatever.

And this attention he pays to paying attention is, I think, the core of that moral conservatism (we don't have to call it that, if you don't want to - discomfort with the idea of conservatism [rather than the detail of proposals that are properly defined as conservative] is understandable. I'm sticking with the phrase moral conservatism, but if you like you could call it a 'respect for traditional values', or a 'defence of political and societal proposals stemming from enlightenment thought'), because Wallace seemed to be writing towards a 1:1 authentic depiction of society, which is to say, an honest appraisal of what societies (such as America. I hope it goes without saying that Wallace would [hopefully] have never dreamt of believing he could write for that which he does not know) need in order to function, and need to be honest about needing, in order to progress (with all the caveats about the ideas of 'function' and 'progress' that obviously come along with these words).

As in, in The Pale King, he is trying to describe and depict the total denial of individualism that bureaucracies like the IRS have to impose on their workforce in order for their workforce to do the work the bureaucracy needs them (the workforce) to do. And how for some people this sort of work is a calling of some kind, as in, they feel themselves drawn to work which is totally necessary and incredibly boring. And but for some/most people it is not a calling, but it is still totally necessary (the job's existence is) and incredibly boring. But either way the work needs to be done for society to function and if we want to be 'good citizens' who can constructively criticise the society we live within, then we need to recognise that certain things that are necessary to society will always be anathema to Modern and Post-Modern ideas of the centrality of the individual. This is the idea of duty. Something that needs to be done, not for personal gratification or self actualisation, but for other reasons. Reasons you possibly don't understand, and are possibly questionable (and part of duty is to question the reasoning of the reasons the dutiful act needs to be enacted).

Now I'm finding it hard to reconcile these two ideas of duty and paying attention, which seem to be the core things I'm writing about. And maybe this is because this is what Wallace was struggling with in The Pale King or maybe I just haven't got the intellectual machinery to work it through.

And actually, I think I'm going to leave it there

a) because I want to think more about these two ideas of duty and paying attention before I write any more.

b) because part of thinking about these ideas is the recognition that perhaps they don't coincide with any sort of concluding, revelatory force and that drawing a conclusion right now, simply because this is the sort of time where I would normally draw a conclusion would be a classic case of not paying enough attention.

Read Part 2 of this post here.

Borges - lectures and film


UbuWeb have put up a series of lectures given by Jorge Luis Borges in 1967.

By then he was almost totally blind, so he gave the lectures without notes. He holds the audience rapt, making jokes and constantly referring to his limited knowledge (which makes him sound graceful, if a little disingenuous).

There is also a documentary film about Borges, made in celebration of his centenary. It looks awful.

The player will show in this paragraph


More Recent Drawings

 Design for Pissing Machine, Red and Blue, pen on paper, 2011

EXCLAIM, Totem, pen and correcting fluid on paper, 2011

Feather Ball, pen on paper, 2011

Old Man with Flowers, pen on paper, 2011

Pyramid, pen on paper, 2011

Recent Drawings

Yesterday I found a pile of drawings that I'd made before I left for Poland. I scanned them in, cleaned them up and uploaded a few. Some might eventually appear on dekersaint.co.uk.


Cylinder Slice, biro on paper, 2011


Delicate Trumpet Amoeba, pen on paper, 2011


Facial Cylinder, biro on paper, 2011


Hammer, Nail, Wood and Void, biro and paint on paper, 2011


Hypothetical Monument with Debris, pen on paper, 2011.jpg


Head Wound, pen on paper, 2011


Let's go to the Club, biro on paper, 2011


PMAM, pen on paper, 2011.jpg


Practical Flow Diagram #1, pen on paper, 2011


Practical Flow Diagram #2, pen on paper, 2011


Trench, pen on paper, 2011


Running Hat and Arrows, pen and pencil on paper, 2011

Post-Industrial Revolution: Thanks

I am home now.

It is raining.

I have spent today scanning old drawings and trying to get something out of my teeth.

When I have images I will put documentation of the work up at dekersaint.co.uk

Thanks to Roma, Kate, louie+jesse, Aliceson, Marta, Weronika and everyone at IS Wyspa for their help with the project and the exhibition.

Post-Industrial Revolution: Info-Dump

I've made a new video for the Post-Industrial Revolution show. It will be called The Politico Sexual History of Patrick Anthony Harrington.

It is a new work, but in a style I have used before.

Here is a previous example of this style of work, it's called Oh Sah Mah (2009).



I think of these works as Info-Dumps. They are made entirely of found material. In Oh Sah Mah, the videos are from Youtube, the text is from a book by John Gray, and the voice is an online text-to-speech reader.

Although I've re-edited these components and put them together as a (vaguely) coherent piece of video work that I see as art. I feel like I'm doing similar work to countless, unnamed (well, I don't remember their names...) Youtubers who have been re-mixing found material for years.

Here is a 10 minute(the maximum length allowed on a regular Youtube video) loop from an episode of The Simpsons, uploaded by ashwilliams123 in 2009.



The arbitrary nature of Youtube videos reminds me of private jokes - shared memories of things that were once funny. That's why I started making the Specific Cultural Reference series of videos. Like this one.



This is like a private joke that no one ever made. I just thought it was weird how Frankie Dettori used to have a branded line of tinned goods - tomatoes and chickpeas. You don't see them in the shops anymore, and you can't find any reference to them online. So I made this video as a sort of monument to what seemed like a weird moment in the history of a public figure. (See more of the videos here, if you google hard enough you might be able to work out the references).

Again, the idea is to act as an observer and editor, selecting references and source material according to a set of obvious search terms and a knowledge of my subject.

The obviousness of the material, colliding with the obscurity of a lot of the narratives is important. Here is a video I made last year with Penny Whitehead and Daniel Simpkins called Disruptive Histories: Tatlin Tower



This is less of an Info-Dump - i.e. the story being told was based on real events, told by Penny and Dan and edited by myself. But the video is interesting.

When I show this video, people often ask if I made the inflatable Tatlin Tower. To me it is pretty obviously a video from Youtube. If you search 'Tatlin Tower' on Youtube, it comes up on the first page of results - but people don't necessarily know that.

The internet makes information completely available for those willing to seek it out. Otherwise, information just sits there, like dirt or rocks. Information is an object, it has depth and weight and just like an object it exists without us needing to observe it.

Sometimes I feel like the guy out of Nausea, but instead of being made to feel sick by the sheer physical presence of objects, it's all the information I could be accessing that makes me feel sick.

When I start a project I like to research, but research is endless - the internet makes it theoretically easy to access information, but sifting through that information and putting it together as a coherent history is incredibly difficult.

So that's where an Info-Dump comes in handy, just select the weirdest shit you can find, and mash it all together.

And if all else fails, just watch all the remixes of 'Keyboard Cat' (after watching the original of course).




Post-Industrial Revolution: Notes

I've been making notes on my phone while I've been in Poland. I thought I'd outline their context, and then just present them without any edits.

Here are a few points to consider while reading the notes:
  1. I've been on a bus for at least two hours everyday.
  2. I've been reading a lot: Metamorphosis by Kafka; The Master and Margarita by Bulgakov; Norwegian Wood by Haruki Murakami; and currently, The Crossing by Cormac McCarthy.
  3. Poland is very flat and that makes me think about dying a lot. I don't know why.

A story is a promise that this is how it was.

The Pope's big hat.

He is still a hero.

A well as deep as the earth.

Jean-Michel Jarre's relationship with Gdańsk (played 25yr anniversary of strikes, 'Very warm feelings for Gdańsk).

The horses are still there, chewing bark right off the tree.

What do they want from us? The mosquitoes. What can they be doing out there?

Other people's stories are other people's stories.

Non-descript 'American style' pop on the radio. I swear the guy just sang 'dream of vaginas'. I could be wrong.

The dry limitless expanse of capital

A long part of our bus journey is filled with the stink of human waste.

Zdzislaw Marchilewicz swore on the cross.

Videostudio Gdańsk.

Memory not history.

Zbigniew Stefanski - singer/violent extremist

It's so big that everything on it looks abandoned.

An amber chapel stolen by the Nazis.

Bar owner crying on the street after Jan Pawel II died.

God was asleep or dead for the Holocaust

p272. first and only time I remember seeing the word 'good', or any positive description in Kafka's writing.

Apocalyptic though? The head as metaphor for Rome.

Bus to airport: 210

Minimal techno edits of protests.

Comedy: The idea of picking something out and calling it absurd, in a world that is totally absurd is total hubris, and therefore the joke is always about the pointlessness of human endeavour, particularly the endeavour of the comedian. This is a way of turning towards nihilism and welcoming its logical consequences with arms open, flailing.

Film steam coming out of the ground.

Backlit nostalgia.

Two things about my trip back to the U.K
1. My room was totally infested by moths. Unwelcome invaders, eating my clothes.
2. A Polish shop had opened near my house - selling Polish beer, pickled vegetables and sausages. All the other shops in the area are run by people from India and Bangladesh. There was a sort of opening party at the shop, and we went in to have a look.

An overturned lorry in a field by the side of the road. Smashed window. With what we can only presume is the driver standing behind the truck; hands in pockets, looking sheepish. Advert for Oreo cookies on the side of the lorry.

Hotel Gryf: Totally Lynchian. Red carpets. Wide dark corridors.

Hand ball is like a pretend sport, but all the players are pretending to play it as if it is a real sport. Like they've been threatened that someone is closely studying the footage and if they are not playing it with enough conviction then someone will kill their family. but instead of this inspiring total commitment, they all just look scare like they know in their hearts it will never be enough.

There are men who are more like dogs than men.

The slow process of selling cosmetics to men.

Possibly we are the only animal that needs to believe it comprehends the world in order to act within it.

Dogs barking in rhythmic phase, like indicators blinking in a traffic jam.


It would be wonderful to have death carry away all your actions and possessions, useless and flapping in the wind.

Post-Industrial Revolution: Supersam (short story)

I just went down to the Supersam to buy some butter and water and oats and beer and this thing happened so while I wait for the beer to cool down I'll write this. Incidentally my vision feels strange like the world is a screen and green lines appear without my agreement to their appearance.

So on the bus I sat down behind a man with wounds all over his head. Some fresh, some scabbed, some old and scarred and gnarled, some scarred but smooth as though from wounds made before he grew skin.

I stood waiting for the doors to open and let me out to go to the Supersam and as they opened with all the grace of a broken plate I allowed for some old women to demount before myself. They were not old, close up. They were not young but they were not old. One of the women had her face split in two by a deep scar that looked like a chink of time had fallen from her flesh. Like a perfect razor had told her that she no longer owned this particular part of her body that had before seemed so integral.

I stared at her and then looked away, conscious that she was conscious of my staring. Why this bothered my I don't now. But there it is, I stopped looking and then I got off the bus.

I did my shopping at the Supersam, slowly and steadily, but always with one eye on the time because the bus finishes its journey a few stops from the Supersam and loops back around like a cow and drives back the other way so that if one is careful, as I was, with the time, one can gather one's shopping and say thank you in a broken language that no one really understands, and certainly no one likes to hear, and arrive at the bus stop in time to get back on the bus the other way.

And on that return bus the woman with the scar was, but I don't know how, for she had gotten down before me, after which I had gotten down, at the Supersam. Me, to do my shopping, and her to go to where I did not know and did not presume to guess at, being a stranger in this place.

And when I sat down, facing her across the bus, she looked at me with eyes that said 'do not look away now'. Eyes that urged me to examine her more closely and I did, because to not do so would be rude, and in this place rudeness is a serious thing. So I followed the clean line of the scar up to her hairline and saw that it carried on over and across her head and as she saw me following the scar up on her head, she tilted her head down so I could follow the scar that cut through her hair, parting it at an unfamiliar angle and then she started to spin around so I could follow it down the back of her head and neck and she lowered her pastel and dirt coloured coat down her back so I could follow the perfect scar to where it ended just next to the edge of her shoulder blade.

She pulled her coat back up around her shoulders and turned around so she faced forward in her seat once again and nodded at me and looked out of the window. I looked around the bus and the other people who had seen what had happened were pretending to look out of the window and I could not say now if they were really pretending or were just looking out of the window.

It is known that I am foreign to this place, and so perhaps I thought, as I got down from the bus and arranged my shopping in my hands, it is that everyone stares at her the first time around and she has developed a way of helping those who stare and in a way it is quite beautiful but in another way it makes me hate this place all the more.

Post-Industrial Revolution: The History Process

I've been thinking for a long time about how an event becomes part of history. I think it was probably inspired by a blog called 'The Awkward Interval' by Momus on his Click Opera blog a few years ago.

In that blog Momus talks about how in fashion/style/music/art, we mine the past, looking for objects and ideas to re-invigorate in the present. The recent past becomes an 'anxious interval', a place that has lost its novelty value but is not yet old enough to be retro. Here is the excellent diagram Momus created to illustrate his idea.

Ironically it was made in 2009, so the references are a bit out of date, i.e. the 80s (illustrated by Buggles in 'the goldmine' era) aren't the height of retro fashion anymore.


I'd like to push this idea a bit further, in order to think of this time line as a process of effecting paradigm shifts, as well as controlling trends.

Let's use the sections of Momus' diagram to track the history process of the 1980 Solidarność strike

The Present


When the strike was happening, it was important as an event with an undecided outcome. No one could know whether they would be successful, and no one knew what their possible success might eventually lead to. Apart from the Communist government (and perhaps a few strike leaders jostling for future positions of power), no one was thinking about the way the strike would be perceived as a historical event.

The Anxious Interval


After the fall of Communism, Solidarność doesn't just disappear, many of its big players make the move into politics. The most famous of these is Lech Wałęsa, President of Poland from 1990-1995. The scramble to turn Poland into a market economy involves privatising, and then shutting down the very shipyards from which Wałęsa came. A lot of people feel betrayed by the outcome of the events, and the success of the strike suddenly means something very different.

The Battleground

After Wałęsa goes, there comes the time when people are jostling over who owns the history of the strikes. Most people involved in politics at this time were somehow involved with Solidarność and the meaning of the strikes becomes a battleground - used to justify different ideas by different people.

The Goldmine


The beginning of the goldmine is probably Poland's full membership of the EU in 2004. It is a sort of vindication for all the pain of the switch over to a market economy. A European centre for Solidarity is established (currently building a huge new headquarters next door to the shipyard). 2005 is the date of a paper I have read about the 'Young City'. The Young city is the name of the proposed cultural regeneration of the shipyards. In the paper, the hypothetical future of the area is laid out - full of bustling consumer zones, cultural quarters and pedestrianized boulevards. It has, at the time of the paper's writing and (I think) the time of this blog's writing, no confirmed investors.

The Anxious Echo


I'd say that Poland may well be coming towards the end of the goldmine era. Having spent only three weeks here, I already feel totally overwhelmed by the volume of strike history. And not only by official history and plans for the city that reference the strike's history, but also by critical engagement with the strikes. I mean this in no bad way (as I'm involved in exactly the process I'm describing...) but Wyspa has exhibited a lot of work about the shipyards and the history of the strikes. It feels critiqued out. The more I talk to people about it, the more I realise that the history is saturated, it can't be used to support any more plans - political, economic or artistic.

The Historical Past


This hasn't happened to the strikes yet (if that makes sense...). It's a quieter place, and I'm not sure when the strikes will become part of it. Unlike the other eras, slipping into the historical past might be a slower process, and different people might find that it happens at different times for them. Talking about the strikes will become less contentious, and less relevant - because to talk about the strikes will not be a way of talking about the present.

Post-Industrial Revolution: Gay Skinheads

Last night I was thinking about the links between nationalism and homophobia.

It seems to me that national identity is hard to define. The matter of who gets to (wants to?) call themselves English is debatable. Is race relevant? What about heritage? Or self-perception versus the perception of others? National identity is a relative state. It is hard to demonstrate your Englishness without simplifying it.

Sexuality too is hard to demonstrate. Outside of actively demonstrating sexual preference, there isn't really much to differentiate, say, a gay man from a straight man. The only way to display straightness is through anti-queerness (queer here as understood in terms of the re-appropriated term for non-hetrosexual), which is nothing to do with sexual preference really, it's more like an aggressive social conservatism.

Maybe people who are desperate to demonstrate their national identity through race, are also desperate to demonstrate their straightness through acting as non-queer. A fear of being understood as different spirals out into prejudice and anger at those who display difference.

A lot of the far right comment boards are full of accusations of other people being gay. I found a brilliantly vitriolic story about Martin Webster performing oral sex on Patrick Harrington (of the Solidarity trade union) in the 1980s.

Here is Martin Webster (joint head of the NF in the 80s) talking about his 'bit on the side' relationship with Nick Griffin. This almost turns my theory on its head, almost.




And here is Nicky Crane (security guard for the band Skrewdriver) talking about gay skinhead sexuality. He came out in 1992, after 20 years as a violent neo-nazi, before dying from an AIDS-related illness in 1993.



And here is Sacha Baron Cohen's character - the Austrian television presenter and homosexual caricature Brüno - visiting 'Evil Fest' and chatting to some skinheads.



Apart from the guy Sieg Heiling after he has observed that Brüno has a 'bender's moustache', I end up feeling sorry for the skinheads, made to look foolish because they have no room to manoeuvre within their idea of correct sexuality.

And here is a sad, strange video called 'JOIN THE GAY BNP'



Below it on the youtube page was a comment from 'Merseynational'.


Which is interesting because in one way it endorses a liberal, Third Way style of 'lifestyle choice' politics, where nationalism and homosexuality are just personal choices, and simultaneously jumps right into the paranoid fantasy that every anti-fascist statement is somehow linked to the UAF which the BNP consistently claims to be funded by MI5.