Archive for June, 2009
Oh my actual days, we’re technologically integrated. We’ve managed to set up our website so that when we make a new post, it creates a blog post on our Myspace, and makes a tweet on Twitter. Furthermore, I’ve managed to set up Facebook so that it watches our Twitter, and then updates our Facebook status with the Twitter post.
Like some enormous house of electronic cards, just waiting to collapse. Hurrah.
In recent Youtube videos Cornwell and I have discussed various topics relating to religion. Today, we were talking on the telephone about the many parallels between Christian church services and club nights.
It strikes me that the similarities are compelling. They don’t make sense from a religious viewpoint, of course – the idea that clubs, in which people meet, dance, shout, take mind-altering substances and cop off with each other are similar to churches would be offensive to many believers.
But believers are wrong, and the parallels between church and nightclub definitely make sense from a humanist, anthropological or otherwise scientific persepective:
- Individuals assemble weekly in a group with a shared subculture
- They execute movements and listen to sounds which they have trained themselves to know and love, which change the way they feel about the world, and which mark them out as a discrete social group
- Clubbers like to do each other in the toilets, while the Catholic church has struggled deflect or talk down dozens of allegations of sexual abuse by its clergy of members of the congregation.
Viewed from this comparative viewpoint, it’s not qualitatively what happens that separates churches from nightclubs – it’s more a question of how much these things happen, the order in which they take place and where in the layouts of the venues (pews = dancefloor, pulpit = DJ booth, organ = sound system, vestry = toilet cubicle).
It crossed our minds that Christian raves and Christian dance music must either already exist, or be about to happen, so we did a cursory Google search and lo, it came to pass:
And here is a “trance remix” of a song published by Hillsong, the australian pentecostal megachurch:
Several thoughts cross my mind in relation to these videos.
First among them, of course, is the observation: “Oh, for fuck’s sake.”
But putting that to one side, do you notice how the Christian rave is at first glance similar to a secular rave, but, looking more closely, is subtlely yet obviously inferior in all regards? This is another reason for christians to be hesitant to accept fully rave culture into their religious practices – raves provide a possible portal through which churches might lose members, since they are like church services, but louder, longer, brighter, more honest, and with better sacrament.
Imagine turning up at a church, where believers are repeatedly told that flaccid, psychoactively inert flour wafers and weak, vinegar-like communion wine will cause them to become one with their God, and handing out a load of magic mushrooms. “Fuck, there’s no distinction between self and the world outside my body, and my mind is an expression of the natural workings of the whole universe. There is no life, no death, either everything-including-me or nothing is god, and both amount to the same thing!” That would challenge the world-view of at least a few parishioners, I imagine.
Update 12 July 2009
There can be only one reason I didn’t include the following video in this post, the reason being that it makes all my points perfectly in 3 minutes, thus removing the point of me having made my post in the first place.
Je rends visite a Cafe St Germain en Crystal Palace. Je prends un cafe et un croissant au beurre et confiture arome framboise.
I couldn’t sleep last night, threw in the towel of attempted unconsciousness at 5:30AM, and decided to go for an early walk from Croydon to Forest Hill. I got to Crystal Palace, about two-thirds of the way there, just as cafes were starting to open, and it seemed a good point for a coffee break, just across the road from the park. So I’m sitting at a table outside in the morning sun, a grey haze of yesterday’s ozone and fox piss starting to lift from the streets.
The couple at the far table have a copy of The Sun, whose front page lists the drugs that Michael Jackson may or may not have been using in the months prior to his recent death. The headline reads:
Xanax, Prilosec, Vicodin, Paxil, Demerol, Soma, Dilaudid, Zoloft.
At the bottom of the page we’re promised “Jacko coverage: pages 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 19, 11, 12, 13, 14 & 15.”
It’s not as catchy a headline as “Wacko Jacko.” I doubt people will adopt it as an everyday phrase, verbatim, in the same way: it’s more difficult to memorise; I had to sneak a cameraphone photo in a newsagents’ to make sure I got it right. But I thought it was interesting, as it sounded a similar list, or at least a similarly long list, to that of the drugs my granny Cosgrove was taking from her mid-80s until she died in her early 90s. She was a habitual singer herself, actually – and no slouch on the dancefloors of 1930s Manchester and the Isle of Man. Although she didn’t make the mistake of committing to 50 gigs at the O2 arena when she was fifty years old.
She used to moan about how pop records just fade out at the end – something which I think influenced me to get into techno, whose tracks typically finish with some definite crash or device of percussive punctuation. She also used to moan about how late 20th century electronic music was “all bass,” a development which I never succeeded in convincing her was a marker of genuine musical progress. My mum now has, and still plays, her old upright piano. Her work colleagues used to sit her on top of filing cabinets and get her to sing whatever songs were popular at the time. She knew hundreds, she was the original human juke box, she was a 512MB MP3 player in biological form.
Put another nickel in,
in the Nickelodeon,
all I want is loving you
and music, music, music.
A Moston twang and nasality in the vowels. Light, delicate consonants. Old school Moston, when people still relied on friends and neighbours to make music. I tried to get her into Ableton Live to lighten long days in her nursing home, perhaps the occasional knees-up round the old MacBook Pro, but she’d have none of it.
The couple with the paper are talking to the woman at the next table; she’s obviously a friend. She leans across and says, “They say it was the pain relief he was taking.”
And I’m struck by how multiply redundant that observation is. What reason could she possibly have for thinking, for it even to flicker-flash across the hindmost corner of her mind, that her friends could possibly not already know what “they” think killed Michael Jackson? We’ve seen and heard precious little else, on 13 24-hour news channels, for the past 36 hours. I’ve heard that 46-character message about six hundred times now, in this newspaper on my table, on ITV, on BBC1, BBC2, BBC News 24, on Sky, on BBC Radios 1, 2, 4, 5 and 6, on VH1, on Capital Radio, on Heart FM, on CNN, on NBC, by email, by tweet, on multiple discussion fora, on Google News, on Google Video, by phone, over the fences on either side of my front and back gardens, and mysteriously, in the pattern of raisins in a fruit scone two days before he died. It’s like culture is having an epileptic fit, short-circuited, the same half-dozen words burnt stroboscopically into the occipital lobes of every language-speaking brain on the planet. We know this rumour and the rhythms of the manifold media by which it has been delivered so well that we’d be more or less able to write the next week’s editorial content of the top-selling half-dozen broadsheets and tabloids ourselves, now, on this napkin using chocolat from this pain au chocolat if we weren’t catatonic with prurient tragedy repetition overload.
It’s about as constructive a contribution to contemporary world discourse as saying, “my thin lips are moving up and down, and a reedy sound is being emitted from my windbox as I blow air through it with my lungs.” The culturally-transmitted aspects of our human consciousness are at the point of collapse from a lack of narrative biodivesity. Human society could go down unless we start talking about a sufficient number of other things to sustain the linguistic transactions on which it depends. We don’t need to hear this message again, from her, while we’re trying to caffeine-punch through a fug of insomnia, or relax out from under a hangover with our wife at eight o’clock on a Saturday morning in Crystal fucking Palace.
Anyway, to cut a long story short, it turns out that she was talking about her uncle Keith rather than Michael Jackson, so I am forced into an apology, and offer to buy her a new pair of spectacles, before hastening on my way towards Forest Hill.
Two years ago, there was an attempted burglary at my house in South London. I don’t own a television or any related paraphernalia, and I’d cunningly left a bunch of useless, old keys obviously visible in the back room – almost like a decoy – so the thieves didn’t manage to steal anything. In fact I gained from the crime, to the tune of one bright orange human turd, left for me on the garden path outside the kitchen.
The police explained that thieves are often very excited immediately prior to breaking into a property, and that this excitement can cause them to need to void bowel at very short notice. So, if you live in an area with a heightened risk of crime against property, it might well be worth your while investing in a child’s potty and a roll of toilet paper for your back garden. And, if you really want to reduce your risk of being severely inconvenieced by burglary, I would further suggest having no cash and owning only a small amount of unattractive possessions.
The police finger-printed the house, but apparently you can’t dust a turd, nor do they contain any of their producer’s DNA. I suggested that the colour of the item bespoke an unusual if not unique approach to food, a bowel significantly out of balance, and that they might be able to narrow the field of suspicion by looking at supermarket till receipts in the area and picking up anyone who obviously survives on a diet of tomato soup and Wotsits. They left me to clean up with a plastic bag.
Happily, the break-in happened in winter, and the faeces froze solid in the cold of the night. I imagine that the biochemistry was not unlike that of Bird’s Ice Magic ice cream topping.
I’ve often wondered why human beings are so obsessed with hygeine, and why we replace our own, unique scent with the generic, categorised smells of aftershave, cologne, perfume, body spray, anti-perspirant. Meanwhile, most mammals live in a fug of their own excretion-funk, marking territory with their bodily waste. But for a smell to claim a territory, we need to link the odour to its owner. So I’ve come to the conclusion that in ancient times people recognised, and reacted strongly to each other by smell as well as by sight. Knowing whose manor you were on was very important, and – especially in the days when everyone lived on a diet of diseased mammoth and raw fish – you’d very likely smell the locals before you saw them.
People find the smell of stale urine on public transport strongly offensive – I’ve seen the looks on their faces, week in week out, for years. Is that because, subconsciously, they interpret the stench as a territorial claim? As though they’re in an area very much owned by a very specific person, someone they don’t know? Perhaps if we cover up and flush away all our natural odours, that makes it easier for us to move around crowded public places without clashing over the territory. Perhaps we feel less threatened when the people we have to brush past in corridors smell vaguely of sugary flowers, rather than of themselves.
I spoke to my local Crime Prevention Officer, but he hinted that the Police might not enjoy collecting samples of faecal solids from kids they stop in the street as much as they enjoy collecting swabs of saliva, which is a shame, as their current policy of stop and search on the grounds that they’re investigating terrorism is so obviously taking the fucking piss.
Just up on Youtube now: our new video, Theology and Man Scratchings: Mr Braidy continues our exploration of theology, and Mr Cornwell recounts a disturbing culinary incident at the Blue Whale public house, Woolwich, South London.
Do you have any appalling early attempts at making electronic music? Can we broadcast them?
Send your rubbish tunes