Saturday, 30 April 2011

Hospital Reading

So, I spent five days in Singleton Hospital in Swansea and was finally diagnosed with acute viral sarcoidosis (inflammation of the lymph glands around the lungs) which lead to severe reactive arthritis in all my joints meaning I was unable to walk or stand and was in serious pain. On the mend now though and my enforced rest gave me a final chance to do some more research reading (and learn how to (badly) edit video).
I read the posthumous autobiography of the American counter-cultural stand-up legend George Carlin, Last Words. He was a contemporary of Lenny Bruce and Richard Pryor and had his own battles with drugs throughout his life. But his authentic voice and ability to speak to people in a way they’d never heard before (or since) made him a legend. Below are a few thoughts and quotes garnered from his book:
Doing my job – using my mind to produce the external evidence of my inner state.
Insist on being yourself, talk about the changes in you, stop working from the surface of the brain and get into the middle of your gut; talk about who you are and how you feel.
Authenticate self by hearing what you think you said out loud.
Social critic/philosopher/evangelist
Be the person on the outside that you’ve been on the inside your whole life.
Authenticate what you think and feel by talking directly to the audience.
You can’t run out of ideas so long as you keep getting new information and processing it.
Taking my life and putting it out to the world.
Lily Tomlin – “I worry about being a success in a mediocre world.”
Taking a new leap into the dark.
Abraham Maslow – “The fully realised person transcends his local group and identifies with the species.”
Creative process = tension between the internal me and the external political environment.
A liberal orthodoxy is as repugnant as a conservative orthodoxy.
Speak to audience one on one; confide in them the internal me; share insights; be their friend; take them step by step by the hand and lead them to the place I want them to be; lead them logically to conclude that my version is correct.
The noisier the culture becomes, the stronger your voice has to be to be heard over the din. (My note – Stronger NOT louder.
Engage the audiences mind.
Laughter is not the only proof of success.
Audience shapes the material: I write, they edit.
A genuine momentary communion: they wouldn’t have experienced it without me and I wouldn’t have experienced it without them.
Few things dramatise the face-off between loner and group more starkly than artist before an audience and, the irony is, if the loner/artist can’t get an audience to act like a group, he’s fucked.
The whole thing is probably about connecting in order to make kinships.
I no longer indentify with my species; I don’t feel comfortable or safe on this planet.
If I identify with individuals, I feel pain. If I indentify with groups, I see people who repel me.
Mantra: Be. Do. Get.
It was a fantastic book and he was a terrific comic – brief snippet of his final HBO special below.

I also read another autobiography by controversial artist/musician Bill Drummond late of the KLF and K Foundation who notoriously burnt a million quid. Fantastic book, amazing man – and he endears himself to me more and more by his innate ability to piss people off. Anyone who can irritate that many people by making art of any stripe gets my vote by default. Couple of quotes from him below –
“The drive to make sense of the chaos that’s in our head and fills our universe. The drive to hold it down so we can proclaim: “Look, this is it, this is what I see, I hear, I feel. Don’t you feel it too?”
“We are born with an instinct to take sides.”
“We are all seduced by power, each and every one of us. Don’t let anyone ever tell you that they are going to corrupt/change/destroy the system. They will be the ones who will be corrupted, changed, destroyed long before the system knows they are even inside it.”
“The contemporary arts should never have anything to do with the establishment. If they fulfil any positive function it is to provide an indefinable cultural opposition; to keep alive the dreams, research and development of utopia.”

Fantastic, inspirational stuff. Gareth has also been reading Drummond’s most recent book, 17, about his latest musical project. I’ll get him to blog on it next week.
I’m sure that’s more than enough to keep you occupied and away from the telly tomorrow while two grossly over-privileged individuals get married for the entertainment of the masses.
I won’t be watching. I’ll be slowly beating my head against a brick wall for the duration of the ceremony and celebrations until my face is a bruised and bloody pulp ...
I love a royal wedding, me.
Cheers all.
PS - If you haven't seen my first min-doc on the process of making the One Eyed Man, please check it out below. There's more where this came from ...

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