Mourid Barghouti (مريد البرغوثي) died in Amman on Sunday 14th February, and is survived by his and Radwa Ashour’s son Tamim, to whom I offer my love and heartfelt condolences.
Mourid made this series of humble recordings between June and September 2020, reading a range of his poems in their own language. I was struck by each of them as they appeared, appreciating them for what they are, recognising many but more than that recognising the remarkable man, poet and memoirist in the voice and many gestures that were so very Mourid.
Late summer 2019 -a plague and a bit ago- I conducted a written exchange with McKenzie Wark around Capital is Dead which was published in TANK magazine’s Autumn Issue. It was a privilege to do and peculiarly intimate as well as inherently exploratory if not aleatory. Wark’s work has a promiscuousness which I wanted to engage across its liberating range, and more clearly establish what that is. I had not been the interviewer rather than interviewee for a decade and it happened to take place during Wark’s transitioning; she later remarked upon the strangeness and no doubt unwelcome intrusiveness of this first interview…
TANK is a wonder for having the capacity for a piece like this and the process produced some interesting digressions, which distracted from the main conversatonal thrusts and so we nipped them out. I was seeking dissolution -if not end- points of certain intellectual trails (some of which Wark set out on in her General Intellects series, which emerged from her teaching practice), towards the muddying world of rivers and related planetary concerns and work of my own through this period. I’m always interested in where lines of thought and allegiance spill over or expire…
No Lease on Life/ Lynne Tillman/ Guy Mannes-Abbott The Independent 30 April 1998
While my fellow fruitiers were scattered between Ecuador and Sweden, I was able to visit archival regions unexplored for years. Principally I was in pursuit of a clean manuscript from a similar period as this which I want to restore to its original 78 subtle, molecular, daring fragments and, well, see. It got overrun by the immediate receptivity and success of my e.things to be straightforward about it, and though those grew out of much earlier actual experiments with all short forms, nevertheless I now see they were also directly enabled by the work on this novel manuscript for its tautness and the danger, to misquote a later e.thing, that it lived…
“Tillman is a writer of rare intelligence who knows that in writing a story, “the form of its telling will be part of its meaning”. She wants to challenge complacency, to “unconventionalise”, in the ultimate hope that we can “think beyond our limits”.
Trying to locate the original manuscript of my novel of 78 fragments, I came across a lot of things. One of them was this; a nicely calibrated collaboration with my dear friend Simon English for Grant Watson’s Victoria which must have been hand-produced in 1998? Unbound, A3, in editions of 200 it seems, a warm and civil experience all around, and in happy company.
D is Guy Mannes-Abbott, Double and Twist is Simon English (Ph GMA)
“KW: Will you start by giving me your impression of Wilson?
AC: He’s got these curious hooded eyes, he never looks at you straight. And this wonderful sing-song voice, this vatic, musical accent. He’s very impressive. But I don’t want to give you the wrong impression because he’s not like John Berger: it’s obvious that he never set out to be impressive. I can only say about his presence that when he said to me about my son, “You have a wonderful little boy”, I felt it was some kind of blessing.
KW: Why do you think he’s such an important writer?
AC: Until very recently there was nobody writing anything remotely like him in Britain, nobody writing fiction with that particular kind of poetic intensity …
I stumbled upon two folders that I have not seen/touched for maybe 15 years and found a lot of nice things; postings from Sebastian Horsley, exhibition cards/list from Birch & Conran, the Basquiat publications from Serpentine Gallery 1996, a letter of departure from Grant Watson, a copy of UNDERCUT the London Filmmakers’ Coop magazine, number 17 with transcriptions of the entire Cultural Identities 4-day screenings/discussion from 1986 (w Jean Rouch, Black Audio, Sankofa, Rose, Spivak, Mercer, Gidal…), other catalogues of The Music of Cornelius Cardew at SBC (Fri. 13 Dec 1991), from Nicola Durvasula and Liza May Post…
While adding to Chapters_Essaysand Culture_Crit, I’ve been discovering how much material there is -its drives and formations- and came across a very short double review from the New Statesman, September 1990. You can scroll a long way down theCulture-Crit page for those very early pieces. Please! This one (or these short paragraphs), on The Four Banks of the River of Space (the last part of Harris’ Carnival Trilogy published by Faber, like all his books), is not exactly a major critical work but does, in its concentrated little way, resonate with me.The G.’s obituary for Wilson Harris does too.
In starting to update Art_Work, I came across these little images -poor, poor, poor- but also quite a good impression of that actual exhibition. A little memorial to that way of printing film, too! For more detail and documentation -Gallery Work-List, CDROM cover etc.- click on Art_Work above (more to come). Thanks to the artists, gallerists, collaborators and helpers involved in that show… The odd light in the images was a feature of that wonderful gallery space, as some may recall.
Every now and then I wonder about George Steiner. Mostly it’s positive wondering but something bugs me about him and it’s not what seems to bug most people I know or read that have met him or committed their view of him to print. Much of the latter is merely a distaste for overt intellect, especially a passionate ‘continental’ mind as well as distrust of the whole dynamic of translation, literally and metaphorically.
There are pedagogic and vulgar ego issues when it comes to Steiner but let me say in brief that I dissociate myself from the cynical Brit approach to him. What continues to bug me is essentially what bugged me when I committed myself to print 15 years ago [in the New Statesman, see below]; I hate it that he won’t credit Kafka, Mozart, even little me with the capacity -effort, hours/years of silent striving and error, the beauty of the attempt- to invent.
Instead, it wasn’t Kafka or Mozart it was “god”. Who? you might say. Religious faith is one thing [later, in Errata, he described himself as a “messianic agnostic”, which is anticipated in what I wrote below], but to misrecognise the grand smallness of human effort, endeavour and appetite is wrong as well as pitiful.