Building up to my next book NewSI.
This book is about those heady days when the creator of Big ‘Ead (at junior school age 10)
and dreamed up Apple-Head-Man (in Bournemouth aged 20)
and whose Celtic name meant Ugly Head went to college from his 18th to his 22nd year in the very early 1970’s. He began in the 3rd class carriage and by his graduation had scurried into the 2nd class seats. As he watched his fellow travellers he realised that despite his best efforts he was still a complete idiot, so that’s what we’ll call this first part of The New Shrewd Idiot which is going to be released in a series of short sections.
(*I may even call it An Altered Shrewd Idiot ?)
I saw a film the other day o boy, the film being A Pigeon Sat on a Branch Reflecting on Existence which is about two men who spent their lives going round selling crap artefacts like rubber masks of a one-toothed man. I see this as a parallel to my going around trying to foist the world with an Apple-Headed mask to the sound of the Doors song,
Life is strange when you’re alone
When you’re strange
Faces come out in the rain
When you’re strange
No one remembers your name
People are strange when you’re a stranger
Faces look ugly when you’re alone
When you’re alone
Women seem wicked
When you go walking
Streets are alive when you’re alone.
It was interesting talking with Saradha Soobrayen in the Poetry Library at South Bank this weekend and she has this idea about ‘The Long Poem’ which is not a long poem like say Hiawatha but more a lifetime’s effort on the part of the poet, to find the voice and realise the potential. My NewSI ‘book’ is such an effort. It began at the beginning of my self-writing and continued throughout the next forty odd years as I wrote and learned about writers & writing. The resulting work, which is still in process, will be the long poem in the way Saradha is thinking, I think. I am excited by the possibilities. I just need to discipline myself and put them together for real rather than just in my mind’s eye.
And the long poem also includes the artworks and the ‘performances’. They add to the words with a moving feast, oh yes and the dance, which adds the moving feet. I dance because I still can. I LOVE those old films of those ancient blues dancers doing the soft shoe shuffle which prove to me we should shuffle as long as we can. Life is a dance which the words, images and ideas just feed. Two perfect examples of this ‘long-poem’ are the life works of Patti Smith and Leonard Cohen.
And I saw the big show of Joseph Cornell’s work. Cornell influenced a lot of ‘artist’s book’ makers in recent years was himself influenced, like me, by key dada artists like Max Ernst who I believe to have been a greater creative thinker and practitioner than the much vaunted Marcel Duchamp. Another big influential European who taught in the States Moholy-Nagy did his early creative experiments in poetry rather than the visual arts which flags up the cross fertilisation between the arts, so much so that I now see that my own writing, painting, drawing and printing along with performance events are interlocked for the past 40 odd years. Like Moholy-Nagy I was effected by ‘Dada’s irreverence which aimed to offend middle-class notions of good taste which taught Moholy-Nagy [and moi] to refuse to accept the limitations of the traditional definitions of art’.
And my ‘art’ encompasses many media, many ways of saying the thing.
I know we live lives capable of
Let us find The Lion Inside– (hear Sir Van Morrison on utube).
Inside This Clay Jug– (listen to Jackie Leven Inside This Clay Jug).
Our True Selves- Hindu
Matter, Energy, Meaning-Bohm*
Let us avoid Infinite Confusion (My Quagfog^) and live in Peace-Full Earth Together Endlessly.
*See Sogyal Rinpoche on David Bohm pp356-9 in The Tibetan Book of Living & Dying where he’s writing about ’An Unfolding Vision Of Wholeness.’
^ I coined the word Quagfog in my writings t’ward The Shrewd Idiot in the mid1970’s. It means that dark space we inhabit when we are down, lost and unsure where to head. Our feet seem to be bogged down in a quagmire and our heads are seemingly in a fog.