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Mar. 5th, 2009 | 01:13 pm

So, I kind of hate guerilla art.

Not all of it, mind you. But I see something evangelical in some guerilla art schemes that worries me. My problem is with the notion that a guerilla artist can go out into the world and "make it beautiful" or worse "make people see that the world is beautiful."

This is just another example of people going out into the world to educate and spiritualise the unenlightened. It ignores entirely the possibility that people might already see the world as beautiful. It tries to change the aesthetic of a place without taking into account what is already there.

I remember reading a while ago about people burning down an old signal box that had been made to look like a rural cottage. Technically, in this case both the artists and the arsonists were vandals and criminals. Why should we applaud the former and criticise the latter? After all; the arsonists were just making the signal box in keeping with the local aesthetic. You could even say they heightened the beauty of the cottage art piece by making it transitory.

If there's one thing about "street art" that I approve of its that its what most civic art projects should be: illegal.

There are exceptions to this. The small stuff that can make a place aesthetically challenging. Minor art pieces that are more like gifts than an attempt to alter the landscape. Cultural signifiers and attempts to communicate, even attempts to commicate that say nothing more than "I was here".

Banksy confuses me. His work on the Palestinian wall offended some Palestinians, it was out of keeping with the aesthetic and because he was British rather than Palestinian the wall wasn't his to deface. But his work is aesthetically very pleasing.

What troubles me with Banksy is that he's trying to be authentic by being marginalised and anonymous. And in part because of this autheticity his work has received almost universal applause. He's not sold out, society hasn't altered itself to accept him. What Banksy's work shows to me is that seeking authenticity for your work by marginalising yourself doesn't work in the first place.

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(no subject)

Jun. 29th, 2008 | 12:49 am

I started this journal during the last summer, and I've never updated it much. But the day I made it I sat trying to write my "About Me" bit for an entire day.

Literally.

When I started writing it, it was day outside and I watched to hours go by, the sun go down and the street lights go out. Later in the summer, I would spend every day on my PC looking out of the window. The sun would rise and for a few hours it would blind me, then it would go away and after a while I would go to bed. This went on for three weeks.

Its been a long time since I've just watched a day go by like that. With the benefit of hindsight, I remember that it was beautiful to watch the sun and the lamp posts and the roads. My mind has forgotten the boredom, now I just remember the good bits most of the time.

This wonderful planet.

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(no subject)

Feb. 9th, 2008 | 01:49 am

Another day spent entirely in the company of Georg Lukács. As with all my obsessions, I have ceased to think, save to think about Georg Lukács and the other mammals in my life. I have never read a book of his, but I've read several books about a few of his books. He is my wallpaper image. These are frightening times.

I didn't like him at first, I saw his school of Hegelian Marxism as a slight variation on orthodox Marxism, a loyal opposition but not a distinct philosophy. But now I think he presents a pretty unique view of art. He sees the study of aesthetics as a means of studying the philosophy of history. The art work gives us a view of historical developments in a particular time personified as an individual. In this way art acts as a kind of racial memory and as a way for us to bring our concept of the indiviual and our concept of the human race into a new totality.

I don't agree with it. But I like the fact that at the start of his career he believed in the power of art to show us tragedy. By the end of his career he had reached a new naive optimism. I like the fact that his thinking changed dramatically through his life.

There was this thing in a book I read today about how when we are young we are "still naive", but at a certain stage, after attaining a certain amount of maturity we find we have to return to a workable optimistic model of thinking. At this stage we become "already naive". I like this. The last time I had a proper sdiscussion with my dad he told me I was "too young to be cynical" while he was "too old for cynicism".

I hope one day my thinking reaches that second naivity. It might be nice. I still kind of fear that any retreat from cynicism would be an admission of defeat. There's a long way to go before my mind's general operating principles are based on a rational system. My system of philosophy is sort of chaotic, consisting mostly of hastilly improvised aphorisms I welded on out of necessity to help me sleep at night, or to allow me to hold my own in a drunken discussion.

Its like an old car, patched up so many times none of the existing material is even visible anymore. Any day it doesn't explode or break down is a blessing.

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(no subject)

Feb. 7th, 2008 | 09:17 pm

This morning I was woken up at nine thirty by very insistant door knocking. I did the rational thing and opened my window, yelled "Door!" across the street and fell back to sleep.

In future I shall endeavour to wear more than underwear when I do this.

Today has been interesting. The old chaplain spoke at philosophy colloquium about the Philosophy of Fashion. I have been to collquium twice in my university life. This was the third time. I only fell asleep for a little while, it was mostly very good. I found it funny that a room full of philosophers could see no good at all in fashion, while a former monk was extolling its virtues with obvious pleasure.

I like people who genuinely love what they are telling you about. Its The Most Brilliant Thing.

I'm still reading about Marxist philosophy. I had a dream where the guy I'm studying, Georg Lucáks, was a ghost following me around a church trying to persuade me to kill myself. Then he killed me. He made all the organs in my body explode simultaneously.

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(no subject)

Feb. 4th, 2008 | 10:25 pm

For the Superbowl, the Student's Union Bar was kept open till 3 AM. This is mostly because our president is a big fan this year. The place was crowded, though I imagine part of that may have been the late opening.

Unfortunately, I was working at the volunteer's drop-in centre. So every so often I had to stop watching to sort stuff out. Fortunately, for most of the night I sat and watched, then went down afterwards at twenty-past three to discuss it with drunken friends outside of the bar.

I've caught a bit of the Superbowl for the last four years, but this isonly the second sports game I've ever sat down and watched seriously. The first was a Spurs/Chelsea game that ended one all. I think it was a Carling Cup play off. I've got to say, the Superbowl seemed like much more of an event. The Americans know how to make a sport that my tiny attention span can deal with.

Its a great sport. And it was on terrestrial TV live for the first time in this country this year. Maybe American football is beginning to take off in this country. Which would be pretty awesome. The tenuous fucking connections they tried to draw to England on our broadcast were kind of embarrassing: two players had spent a bit of their early childhood in England, and the New England Patriots had "England" in their name.

It does worry me that I'm starting to see the point of things like sports games. But maybe its part of growing up. Learning to see the fun in things based on developing a better understanding of them has to be a good thing. I'm kind of beginning to think I've been missing out on good but really easy to view TV by not following football.

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(no subject)

Jan. 19th, 2008 | 03:51 am

Tomorrow, my rats will get a new home, insha'Allah.

I have cleaned out the cage, given them some Weetabix and I hope the new owner will be okay with how I've kept them.

The temptation is to eulogise them. But to be honest, they spent most of their lives running around a cage, pissing on my stuff, tearing my clothes to shreds, eating food that I brought for them and existing.

We are similar creatures, my rats and me.

Moving house tomorrow. Work. Essay to write. Scared of the people I'll be living with. There are many reasons for this. Out of money. Doomed.

On the plus side, I spent today reading some very interesting books on Artificial Intelligence and the philosophy of Vladimir Solovyov and I have the film of "A Scanner Darkly" to watch.

I wish I was a complex computer programmed to think about Russian philosophy and be addicted to Substance D. That would be amazing.

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(no subject)

Jan. 15th, 2008 | 07:31 am

Night two without sleep. Difference being, tomorrow I plan on attending my lectures.

I had to stay up late because I lost one of my pets, literally. I looked for it everywhere, turned my room upside down, removed half of my belongings... erm... accidentally destroyed my coffee table. I moved furniture, moved everything on my bed after stripping it of any covers a rat could crawl under, checked the whole house and eventually, about ten minutes ago, at half past seven, I took the other rat out of the room and sat and listened very carefully.

Weirdly, I heard scratching, like it was on wood. After checking all of the furniture and all of the papers and the outside one last time I decided to try my desk drawers.

How the fuck does a rat who is seriously cautious all of the time climb into a chest of drawers?

Argh.

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(no subject)

Jan. 11th, 2008 | 12:23 am

Today as I was walking to my lectures it struck me that at the moment I feel a lot like one of those lions in a circus who get tamed. From what I've heard, the lion tamer brandishes a stool with three legs to confuse them. They can't quite decide what leg to attack first and thus do nothing. I have an essay thats late, I have to move house and the Night Time drop-in centre is taking up time every day. End result is I get nothing done because I can't decide which bit to do first.

Thus far playing one problem off against the others is working out. I got an extension on the essay because of the house move-ey problems, If anything goes wrong in the move the guy that ultimately runs Night Time knows about that kind of business, and I can get a shift off Night Time to work on my essay. I am cunning.

It struck me right away, though, that "I feel like a Lion" is one of these metaphors that only work in my head. Like "borrowing someone else's coat" as a metaphor for spending an evening with a clique that you vaguely know but aren't a part of. Myself and Ali tend to use "merzbow" to mean, well, something akin to the Japanese experimental noise band. It doesn't have to be music. I once baked a Merzbow Cake. We had to throw it in the river in the end.

I wonder if everyone picks up phrases and concepts like that. Other people's mental life is an interesting thing to speculate on because its so completely inscrutable. I only have my brain and no way of knowing if when I die I'll have even been using it like everyone else does. Its not like there's a point of reference.

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(no subject)

Jan. 9th, 2008 | 02:42 am

So my flatmate Sarah went to hospital yesterday. Now she has arthritis. And a lovely new wheelchair. Sarah and her boyfriend Jim will be moving out if they can. They have a place lined up, but to move in they'll need to take Cel with them.

Some numbers on my house. I have four flatmates, Two of which are in the house regularly (Jim and Sarah). The full list is; Jim, Sarah, Cel, Nick and Me. Removing Cel, Jim and Sarah leaves myself and Nick.

We are paying bills on electricity, gas and internet. So I can't afford to live here. Nick and me are planning to move out. We both have places. I will hopefully be able to leave in two weeks. Only catch is I have to get rid of the rats.

Of course, I could lose the internet connection, spend less on electricity and live kind of comfortably alone until more people move in. I'd get the big room. I'd get the whole place to myself. No more queuing for the toilet, no more embarrassment on the possibly two nights a year that I have a date with a girl and want to bring her here, no more conversations or human contact, no more getting to shoot the shit in the kitchen after a night at work. You know how I hate having to talk to people.

On the other hand, I wouldn't get to live alone and solitary forever. Eventually a bunch of strangers would move in and take up the rooms. I wouldn't get a say about who they are. They could be ketamine addicts, or evangelical Christians. Or evangelical Christian ketamine addicts*. Or, worse, they could be tea-total clean freaks. By all the Gods ever dreamed up by mushroom addled cavemen, please don't make me live with sensible people.

Today I found a new house, tomorrow I put the wheels into gear.

*Thinking of, I would love to live in a house of drug addicted Christian Union types.

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(no subject)

Dec. 31st, 2007 | 06:32 pm

This year I have "fallen in love", fallen out of love, acquired two rats, met at least one new person I consider to be a good friend, lived in four different bedrooms (and one living room), took MDMA for the first time, travelled to Pembrokeshire, spent a sufficient amount of time at the seaside, co-directed Doctor Faustus, instigated and attended a Naked Party, helped to hire a stripper for a private function in the Student's Union Bar, read some excellent books, got a new computer, joined the Liberal Democratic Party, taken on various Union positions, possibly got into a car crash (I can't remember if that was 2006 or 2007) that was bad enough to total the car I was in and failed to learn Esperanto.

In 2008 I will probably live in three different places; here and my house for next year, obviously. And I would like to move into Evan's Court again in the summer. Two hundred pounds for three months rent. It means I'd have food money.

I will not have much money. For the rest of this academic year I'll be stretching my budget to pay for summer, in the summer I will be stretching my budget to pay for food and in the next academic year I'll be paying off my debt. By this time next year I will regret my decision to stay in university an extra year, at least sometimes.

It would be sort of nice to "fall in love". I am kind of uninterested in the concept of physical intimacy, but its nice to have someone to cook for and watch DVDs with.

There'll be plays to act in, events to help organise, freshers to torment, elections and Union politics drama. A few times in the next year I will seriously attempt to improve my life, these attempts will always end in failure. There is a high probability that most of these attempts will involve wearing suits. I much prefer my periodic attempts at reinvention when they go hand in hand with unusual fashion statements.

Merry 2008!

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