The English never get beyond their teenage glee at being able to drink. They go out in order to “get pissed”, and they “get pissed” in order to release pockets of emotion which, made ugly or maudlin by suppression, stink of mothballs or sour milk, and evaporate with first light. The English hate anything which doesn’t return them to the prosaic and the everyday. Grand passions and intellectuals are automatically suspect. They live under the sign of Necessity: "What can you do?" they burble, "It's a funny old world". They permit themselves the sole freedom of mockery. To a script written and edited by others, they make ironic additions in the margins. By deprecating their own existence and “not taking themselves too seriously,” they silently abstain from living. They relinquish control of their fate, placing it in the hands of a They about which they can cynically complain – "They are now saying butter is good for you, They’re saying it’s going to be the hottest summer for 400 years, They're introducing a new tax".. and so on. The English vote without thinking it will make a difference, for only They are voting. Each English person thinks of their own vote as superfluous. Politically, the English are among the most passive in Europe if not the world; or, if they are roused to passion, it's to rail against foreign bodies that threaten the stolid familiarity of what exists. The English, with few exceptions, are a nation of sleepwalkers. The English may have a “good sense of humour” and a historic litany of many comedians, satirists, ironists of the best mettle. Fine. But the forfeit they pay is intellectual castration. The critical impulse, the philosophical force of the Negative, which might once have fomented revolution or toppled the King, is instead turned on themselves, shrivelled to mere carping and grumbling. The regime’s faults are inevitable; such is the way of the world. Whereas the Gallic shrug says "who can tell?", the English shrug says "What can you do?" The former shrugs off the world to win a yard of freedom, the latter is an act of surrender. The laughter of the English is their measly consolation for a world beyond change. It is not the laughter of Joy, of surplus vitality, like a baby's laughter when it discovers a new trick, but the laughter of deficit, life’s perpetual deficit and defeat, life’s perpetual falling short.
When can started I was finished with free jazz. I was not satisfied, they were not satisfied with me. In free jazz, there was no future, everything was destroyed. Repetition was not allowed, but for me, repetition was one of the basic elements in music. I prefer music where you think rhythmically in cycles … with a cyclical rhythm you cannot change it, you have to obey the rhythmical movement. You can change some things but you must keep the basic shape of that rhythm.
Jaki Liebezit of Can (RIP)
… the joy of Can: their openness, their attentiveness to one another, to conflict as well as communion, a channel for the very electric energy of life itself, in all its variegation, its unpredictability, but also, when ears were open and egos suppressed, its potential for a harmony of which life itself has fallen short. Can were not just a group but a way of being, a way indeed of living forever, an infinite organic continuum. Said Michael Karoli, three years before he died: The soul of the entire thing was not composed of our four or five souls but was a creature named Can. That is very important. And this creature, can made the music., When my hour comes, I’ll know that, apart from my children, I’ve helped create another living being.
... much of Mark’s work amounted to the expression of a single message: there is no private cure for your problems. That unease you feel, whether it’s just a lingering anxiety or a deep full-blown depression, is not something that can be cured by way of individualised therapies or just pursuing a successful career. It can only be addressed by knowing it for what it is and by building relationships around it and despite it which are more potent than the forces which produce it. It can only be treated in struggle. I suppose I would say this - the critique of individualism has always been my overriding philosophical obsession - but it was an absolutely central feature of Mark’s thinking. You are not an individual (and this is the putative title of yet another book that I promised Mark I would one day write). You are never alone. Even when you think you are, you aren’t - and social relations will define your ‘interior’ life just as much as any aspect of your being. Connect, engage, relate, create, not because these are nice things that humans and other nice creatures do, but because they are what life is, what becoming is, and they are what Capital does not want you to do.
People like Lou and I are probably predicting the end of an era … I mean that catastrophically. Any society that allows people like Lou and me to become rampant is pretty well lost. We’re both pretty mixed-up, paranoid people, absolute walking messes. If we’re the spearhead of anything, we’re not necessarily the spearhead of anything good.
The End of History, which is the Corporate global slogan, is not a prophecy, but an order to wipe out the past and what it has bequeathed everywhere. The market requires every consumer and employee to be massively alone in the present.
Who cares if you've read all of Hegel? 'Humanities' started sounding like a disease. 'All you people are capable of is carrying around a volume of Mandelstam'. Many unfamiliar horizons unfurled before us. The intelligentsia grew calamitously poor.
Out of habit, I would go into the used bookstore where the full two-hundred-volume sets of the World Classics Library and Library of Adventures now stood calmly, not flying off the shelves. Those orange bindings, the books that had once driven me mad. I'd stare at the spines and linger, inhaling their smell. Mountains of books! The intelligentsia were selling off their libraries. People had grown poor, of course, but it wasn't just for spare cash - ultimately books had disappointed them. People were disillusioned. It became rude to ask, 'What are you reading?' Too much about our lives had changed, and these weren't things you could read about in books. Russian novelists don't teach you how to become successful. How to get rich ... Oblomov lies on his couch, Chekhov's protagonists drink tea and complain about their lives ...
In the camp, my father met a lot of educated people. He never met people that interesting anywhere else. Some of them wrote poems; the ones who did were more likely to survive. Like the priests who would pray.
... I was already sick of all those conversations from constantly hearing them at home: communism, the meaning of life, the happiness of others ... Solzhenitsyn and Sakharov ... They weren't my idols - they were my mother's. The people who read books and dreamed of flying, like Chekhov's seagull, were replaced by those who didn't read but knew how to fly.
from Svetlana Alexievich, Secondhand Time (my book of the year, for what it's worth)
Behold the world, that it is a thing wholly without substance, in which thou must place no trust.
All works pass away, take their end and are as if they never had been.
Arise, arise, put off thy stinking body, thy garment of clay, the fetter, the bond.
Woe, woe unto the shaper of my body, unto those who fettered my soul, and unto the rebels that enslaved me.
Have no regret, for this place in which thou dwellest, or this place is desolate … the works shall be wholly abandoned and shall not come together again.
I no longer have trust in anything in the world.
Thou hast taken the treasures of life and cast it onto the worthless earth.
As it entered the turbid water, the living water lamented and wept.
Who took the song of praise, broke it asunder and cast it thither and thither?
I have come to know myself and have gathered myself from everywhere.
The tribe of souls was transported here from the house of life.
Who has carried me into captivity away from my place and my abode, from the household of my parents who brought me up? Who brought me to the guilty ones, the songs of the vain dwelling? Who brought me to the rebels who make war day after day?
Who has thrown me into the suffering of the worlds, who has transported me into the evil darkness? So long I endured and dwelt in the world, so long I dwelt among the works of my hands.
You see, o child, through how many bodies [elements], how many ranks of demos, how many concatenations and revolutions of stars, we have to work our way in order to hastened to the one and only God.
What liberates is the knowledge of who we were, what we became; where we were, whereinto we have been thrown; whereto we speed, wherefrom we are redeemed; what birth is, and what rebirth.
Adam, behold the world, that is a thing wholly without substance in which though must place no trust. All works pass away, take their end and are as if they had never been.
Arise, arise Adam, put off thy stinking body, thy garment of day, the fetter, the bond … for thy time is come, thy measure is full, to depart from this world …
I sent a call out into the world: Let every man be watchful of himself. Whosoever is watchful of himself shall be saved from the devouring fire.
Have no regret, Adam, for this place in which thou dwellest, for this place is desolate … The works shall be wholly abandoned and shall not come together again.