Rouze up, O Young Men of the New Age! set your foreheads against the ignorant Hirelings! For we have Hirelings in the Camp, the Court & the University, who would, if they could, for ever depress Mental & prolong Corporeal War.
William Blake, Preface to Milton
I have had some insight into a revision I need to make to my novel Hire Idiots. I’ve neglected to make clear the important role played by quislings.
Quislings are the reason the neoliberal effort succeeds. The hard-line zealots would get nowhere without them. They help normalise, apologise and internalise the reframing of education as assessment. Their efforts to ‘not make waves’ allow the system to drown in mediocrity. It’s always easier to ‘go with the flow’ in the short term, but the long term effects are deadly.
I’ve had more insight in recent years about my inability to conform to neurotypical conventions. Despite accusations, it’s not a pugnacious desire to ‘think outside the box’; it’s a kind of blindness. I can’t see the box.
William Blake: Apollyon Attacks Christian, Pilgrim’s Progress
My first night in London after the conference I went to a much anticipated show where I finally got to meet Richard Sanderson of Linear Obsessional Recordings and hear him play. It was great! We had fun chatting before and after the performance (Mr B’s ears must have been
ringing burning 😉 heh). The performance was utterly absorbing and the space, Iklectik, was really terrific and completely unexpected–goats in central London! Also, there were unexpected Blake mosaics. I was chatting with a friend of Richard’s after and it struck me why I find this kind of music so appealing at present: it requires all your attention without words. Anything that quiets my overbusy brain is good. More pix on FB of course.
Huis Clos: an evening exploring the subtleties of larger group improvisation (first as a whole, then as two ensembles)
Ed Lucas: trombone
Antonio Acunzo: piano
Joe Wright: saxophone
Jordan Muscatello: double bass
Richard Sanderson: Melodeon
Dan Powell: electronics
James O’Sullivan: electric guitar
Chris Prosser: violin
‘I have Conquer’d, and shall still Go on Conquering. Nothing can withstand the fury of my Course among the Stars of God & in the Abysses of the Accuser. My Enthusiasm is still what it was, only Enlarged and conform’d.’
Which is to say I think I’ve finished the first draft of the comic academic roman à clef. Another pass tomorrow to make sure most glaring idiocies are gone before I pass it along to my beta readers. I’m not usually one who prevails upon beta readers, but being so close to actual events I need to ascertain that I have sufficiently skirted specificity to be safe in my spoofing.
And how better to celebrate than with Blake’s Melancholy — well, endings are beginnings, beginnings endings. One thing crossed off my to-do list, a moment to celebrate and then onward. Much to create: busy, busy busy.
Begin how you mean to go on,
Take up your weapon of choice,
Fill you heart with joy,
Summon all your powers,
And show the world what you’ve got.
Out now from the biggest little label of love, Linear Obsessional Recordings, it’s Utterances, a whopping 112 tracks & 53 page booklet downloadable now for free!
If you look down to #21 it’s me reading an amended version of Blake’s Auguries accompanied by the John Cage prepared piano app. The mood of the moment, you might say. Here’s hoping for sweet delight and not endless night — at least for the holidays.
That’s my listening for the day sorted! Check out LO’s other recordings and find out why The Quietus calls them ‘a whole world of strange sounds and interesting ideas’ (totally agree!)
…can be yours for just $19.99 down and $19.99 a month until you finish buying all my books which should take less than a year, I expect (someone do the calculations: I can’t be bothered). Everything I’ve published over decades could be read in a year. Humbling, eh?
Is that a sufficiently clickbaity title? Apparently that’s all that matters anymore. Nothing has legs, nothing lasts past the news cycle. Let us all hope that tomorrow brings an end to some of the madness. As I said to a friend on the Facebook, I hope after tomorrow I can stop worrying about the destruction of the planet quite so anxiously and get back to worrying anxiously about the destruction of higher education.
But the secret to life: it was there in my review on Friday, right at the top. It is there in my humorous volume How to Be Dull, too — though a bit hidden behind the amusing digressions. It’s even in the pages of my ongoing #NaNoWriMo novel between the murder mystery and social commentary (and you can give a $1 to help kids find the joy of writing).
WWWBD? I have that on the corkboard in my office. What does William Blake say?
- Think in the morning. Act in the noon. Eat in the evening. Sleep in the night.
- If the fool would persist in his folly he would become wise.
- The busy bee has no time for sorrow.
- No bird soars too high if he soars with his own wings.
Or in other words, take care of your self with kindness, pursue the things you love, when troubled create something you enjoy, take pride in your work. Blake died penniless and forgotten, but he was a genius. There are no guarantees in life. If he had been famous, I suspect he would never have trusted it. All he trusted was his inspiration. Be inspired.
I may be less visible this month as I dive into NaNoWriMo again. I always joke that every month is novel writing month for me, but I like the extra push to get a project done and it’s nice to not be alone in trying to write furiously. I’m doing what I have sworn never to do (as seems inevitable) by writing a roman à clef. We shall see how it goes. Additional inspiration comes from teaching Lucky Jim this semester which called to mind Decline and Fall and which eventually led me to a new volume, Porterhouse Blue (next up, looking for the television series based on it).
The provisional title Hire Idiots comes from Blake, which will surprise no one who knows me:
Degrade first the arts if you’d mankind degrade,
Hire idiots to paint with cold light and hot shade.
I’m also raising funds for NaNoWriMo. Even a dollar can help with their efforts to promote the joy of writing to kids in schools and people struggling with literacy. Click here to give: writing matters!