The best think that ever happened to me was being top boy in the class in the final term of my year 6 (junior school) in 1961. Two girls beat me; Ann Whittaker and Susan I can’t recall her name but her dad was a headmaster… Mr Brown I tink. There were 45 in our class, a big class in about the biggest primary school in the town. So, when it came to moving ‘up’ to the all boys gwamma school you’d think I’d be placed amongst the top pupils? But No. I wer placed in the bottom intake class, 1C, with that dunce Bilkinton, who was always bottom boy, usually above the bottom two girls. The rebel was created. I knew summat wer rong and it wernt ma spellin! I never found the reason or cause for my being mis-placed. It may just have been something to do with my handling of the infamous assessment by IQ system invented by psychologist Cyril Burt’s of whom the Galton Institute begrudgingly ( they are advocates of selective education and the euphemism known as public schools which are not open to the public only to them what can afford the fees and remain a signpost of the British Class System still so prevalent in politics and many other walks of life) says, ‘The only proper conclusion is that the charges that Burt deliberately falsified his data cannot now be sustained, true though it is that much of what he published in old age was badly presented and perhaps even culpably careless.’. My parents didn’t lodge any complaint, naively believing that the gwamma skewel knew what it wer doing. It did, ruining my formal education at the outset. Don’t give me crap that the exams at the end of year 7 could get me re-placed in the top (alpha) stream. NO! the bomb had exploded. I was on the outside.
A nomad, a renegade running with the Injuns, seeing thru the *cowboys’ disingenuous ruling veil for the first time, although, feeling bewildered cos I didn’t have the words or concepts to help me understand what had happened. I had found out the hard way that the cowboys’ didn’t know everything like they tried to make it appear they did. The more I found out the more I saw their views & opinions were based on shaky grounds. Prejudice is almost always part of human decision making. As you become wiser you see that there is always more to learn and that we (humans) will never learn it all. The Universe is an Open Book.
As a castaway I started to see that the red injuns too had had a bad deal, that they too had had what was rightfully theirs taken away. (*the status quo, the leaders, the ones who set the curriculum, those who called the cards)
I could have maybe dug in and become more determined to show them bastads the error of their ways by being the best, the most brilliant pupil, but I didn’t have that kind of support, my parents lor’ luvvem, thought the skewel knew best so there was never any debate. Of course they prompted me to do my best, always, but you know and I know how conditioning works, the top class got the cream of the teachers, the ones best equipped to guide them forward towards what was considered (erroneously as it happens) by the cowboys to be the top, the ivory tower, Oxbridge. If you weren’t an Oxbridge candidate you were already on a sliding scale, potential uni-entrants came next and at the very base was 1C, the dross, the bane of the school which the skewel had failed so badly with in a previous year group they’d created and even deeper pit, 3D with Knighty and his outrageous clan, whose disdain for authority was the thing to aim for, maybe with a tad less criminality. I was nearly always a good honest lad but like most umans gullible to being misled.
I reacted to the poorest teachers the skewel could find by playing the fool. I mixed with the real dross and learned their tricks. The die was cast. I now kicked against the grain putting my two Kes like fingers up at hierarchies and by corollary putting their backs up against me. My book Apul-One was an instinctive rebellion against the school system and a pre-emptive strike on the literary status quo.
Now, in late 2013, reading David Robey’s intro to Anna Cancogni’s translation & re-arrangement of Umberto Eco’s Open Work I am given the wherewithal to explain to myself and your self what I did and continue to do. Apparently according to Eco, who is giving me a language to be able to explain watti dun to you (& 2 me), says on poetics (poetica) is ‘the work’s artistic purpose’ and that poetics are central to the discussion of all modern works of art. The fact that we all (seem to) suck in what is in and around us at the time is borne out by my own practice. Robey says (p14) [The modern scientific universe] refuses to be hemmed inby any ideal normative conception of the world. It shares in a general urge toward discovery and constantly renewed contact with reality.’ And (p13) Robey says , ‘ certain intellectual currents circulate imperceptibly until they are adopted and justified as cultural data which have been organically integrated into the panorama of the whole period.’ So, like when I sped up my writing by quikspelling in the early 1970’s I first guessed something thousands of folk would choose to do when they unshackled themselves from ‘correct’ spellin. Text-Talk. They didn’t do it to follow my example but they did do it to deliberately circumnavigate the what Barthes^ calls the fascism of language.
And of course its teachers and those with vested interests to prevent a massive upsurge in the use of words in ‘print’ which may threaten the status quo. The ‘poetica’ of this artisriter* was to create a work of art which would be free from editorial & other censorship and control, Apul-One is an Open work, in other werds, you and I both will make what you will of it.
(^In fact Clerc says Barthes was an ‘artist-professor’ at the end of his preface in The Neutral. I would say no, not an artis-prof, no, more like Jerry Lewis in The Nutty Professor, Barthes like a lot of his French clan, was a goof ball, mad as a hatter, that’s why I feel an affinity to him, I like hats. My own philosophy tutor at St Lukes was a bit crazy, Bill Josebury, bless his soul. I think the tutor that Michael Caine played in Ejucating Rita must have been based on Bill, always drunk, totally wired to the moon but possibly the most intelligent human i met so far.)
(*the artisriter who ‘knew’ he’d be rejected by all that is the Establishment in 1975 and beyond, altho naively believing he could overturn that prejudice. Now 38 years on and still not accepted nor ever will be I rejoice and ‘Stay Calm And Carry On’ thank you Colin Lloyd Tucker.)
Okay Dokay. So. It appears we do reap what we sow, sew, so. This blog and blartin stuff seems to me to be the most effective way I’ve found to get my art out to a ‘public’, it’s the best way this poor boy has achieved thus far. I say poor boy but Am not as poor as I was when I couldn’t afford a penny gobstopper. After 30 years in teaching I got 30 grand a year. Louis Saurez gets 100K for having a bit of bite in his step soon going up to 200K they say, that’s a week! Any rate I started off poor and like sea sick Stevie says I still got most of it left. But you know that I am driven; to write, to learn, to read, to seek- new or reinforcement of existing knowledge. And then(less) driven to communicate what I have found, or just have. So I write, I draw, I (sometimes increasingly less often however) paint, print, talk, listen (surprised?). that’s why I like to blart. I s’pose it’s a bit like rambling on in the pub (I no longer imbibe) or talking over the fence/doorstep. It’s human communication. It’s gone on since Socrates & Plato did it with their mates. Gurdjeff did it. (Sadly) Hitler did it. (Did Stalin? Maybe less I tink he probably spent too much time NOT doing it, chatting away, cos someone would have said, ‘Hey Stalin yer a twit,’ or something like that. Some probli did but cos he wer such a twot he topped ‘em, thus he never learned from the exchange. A bit like Gollum in that scene, talking to his self again, but Stalin didn’t have the self-guilt-side of himself, just two megalomaniacs, it’s a wonder he didn’t top himself in anger!) and maybe Mark Twain, Jon Swift, Chas Dickens, Kurt Vonnegut, Richard Brautigan…maybe they all wer driven. I’m just about to get my noddy car out and drive up Wood Lane and down Sheet Way. G’nite.