69. FROM SPEAKERS CORNER TO AL GREEN VIA ABRAHAM LINCOLN

This week YOU  continued and developed your new relationship with poetry, checking back to Seamus Heaney’s ‘The Blackbird of Glanmore‘ and working through a collection of Leopardi, the Romantic Italian poet.

You also saw the shows currently on at Serpentine Galleries (no comment as yet) before walking across sunny Hyde PArk to Speakers Corner. Here you can see a strangely free and unmanaged public activity, in our over managed world. All you need is a mini stepladder, a voice, and maybe a few ideas and you can join in the fun, spouting rhetoric and seeing if you can capture a crowd, maybe even changing the world as a result.

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It sounds a bit like the artworld but Speakers Corner is also like online writing, in that it allows and encourages a carelessly unedited form of expression which goes out to just about any passer-by, ‘browser’ or surfer who might listen in to one speaker or another until they get bored.

Sometimes the debates grow heated and detailed, but most are quite light-hearted, despite the intensifying political climate in which we are living. Like Bloggers and keen facebookers, the speakers ramble and rabbit on, often seeming intent, not so much on convincing us of their ideas as simply proving that they can communicate, keep making some kind of sense without being put off by hecklers or losing their track.

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It brings you back to your ongoing thoughts about writing, publishing, care, editing etc. (see last week’s Post) and of course your ongoing identity crisis. A chasm seems to have opened up where an important part of your career direction should be.

Last year you published more than a dozen catalogue essays and articles but somehow you hit a wall when you ran into the serious question of exactly why you were doing this and where it was leading you (you met several other colleagues experiencing strange blocks and most put it down to the politcal crisis we seem to be entering.)

For some reason your spirit has applied the handbrake to your momentum and is now forcing you to dwell in a mildly purgatorial state until you choose your next direction (or it chooses you.)

You were paid for most of those essays and articles, but not such a great amount that not writing them this year is going to make a great difference to your income, security, prospects etc.

You also seemed to increase and broaden your reputation for a while, but ultimately it all seems temporary and intangible (Shakespeare called reputation a “bubble”) and all too slight considering the amount of care and ideas etc. that went into writing all those pieces and the two decades of pieces that t preceded them.

You also wonder of course what you are doing here with this Blog. Y0u seem to now have  pulled it away from becoming ‘instrumentalised’ as a form of review-writing. You’ve noticed that you have an almost viscerally negative response to people starting to treat you as a hired pen, or who steer you subtly, or not so subtly towards writing about their work, show etc. Of course this can be friendly, harmless and mutually beneficial, but for some – possibly fatal- reason you are repeating your tendency to interrupt any form of progress that might become ‘instrumental’, pragmatic, professional etc. in order to concentrate on the most enduring and mysterious problem and questions of how to attain the highest possible standards in your work, in your writing and thinking and making, at the same time honing the most personal form and identity of your work.

Perhaps that may seem all out of date to other artists, writers and thinkers less invested in those ideas of high standards and of true identity, and perhaps it is better to think, not of aspiration or transcendence but of immanence, of now, this, and of a non-evaluative response to YOU and to YOUR journal (you just changed the subtitle to ‘YOU’S Journal’ – ungrammatical perhaps, but accurate you think.)

The week ended with a free talk at The British Academy by an Oxbridge Sociology professor on social class mobility in Britain. It sounded promising but you found it hard to understand any of the graphs (you may of course have needed to be of a certain social class to make hear or tail of them) and so left no-wiser than you entered.

Then you made your way over to Baker Street where a friend of a friend (yes I know ‘nepotism!) was opening a swish new gallery and bookshop cafe (The Koppel Project). You felt a bit like Woody Allen, kind of an alienated anomaly in a room full of younger, more positive-looking people (you’d missed all the champagne) optimistically celebrating innovation, creativity and enterprise in a world that you are quite convinced is going rapidly ‘to the dogs’ (i.e. politically to the RIGHT.)

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You also saw a couple of movies (‘Lincoln‘ and ‘City of Life & Death‘), both of which depicted gross excesses of war in more or less unsuccessful ways, then soothed your soul by repeatedly revisiting your ‘Al Green – Greatest Hits‘ CD.

But, as you’ve hit the ‘750’ word-count now you think these topics may be things you’d like to come back to and discuss in next week’s Blog post.

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