On returning from Bristol

Just back from a nice sojourn in Bristol. After three and a half years of not seeing the Thalia crew—Kirsty, Cat, Jolane & young Keiran—it was great to catch up on films, art, neuroscience, magick, anti-religious venom, art, therapy, films, gossip and other good things. Lovely food, too—feta-stuffed chillies, mmmmm! Also managed to share inspiration, despair and belly-laughs with the strange and wonderful Debbie (Foehn, to fans of passionately crafted, mesmerising musical experiments). A few things to get blogged here…

Kirsty’s giving life as a self-employed artist a damned good go, and, as I’m currently quite puzzled about the direction of my own creative impulses, it was interesting to hear about the books that have helped her reconcile the wayward, lateral forces that fuel her art with that infuriatingly mundane world out there. One book, a quite extensive collections of techniques, ideas and processes for keeping creative juices flowing for fun and profit, had a certain discipline at it’s heart. The idea is to spend, say, 15 minutes every day playing around with some form of creativity that isn’t part of your standard array of practices. The author used to spend that time mucking about with a guitar. Gradually, she wanted to learn more, and took lessons… But then, of course, the prime purpose of this discipline was lost. The pure sense of play becomes tainted by ideas about playing music "well" or "properly". She was forced to find another form for her 15 minutes of daily serious dalliance.

Of late, I’ve been doing just this with an old bass guitar that a friend passed on to Jim. No amp, no books, no lessons, just noodling around, getting lost in droney loops, funky rhythms, noise… I’ve always felt I’ve a dearth of musical expressiveness, something both challenged and exaggerated by nearly always having had close friends immersed in sonic creativity. It’s been a true joy to just forget about ability, thoughts of performance, "originality", and the tastes of others, and just play. Maybe it’ll go in some direction, but for now, it’s heartening to have this daily island of directionless exploration validated by some expert after the fact. I recommend the discipline to any creative types out there.

Since reading Wilhelm Reich, and pondering William S. Burroughs’ recollection of Alfred Korzybski telling his lecture audiences, "You think as much with your big toe as with your brain, and probably more effectively"—and, of course, dropping acid—I’ve always seen that consciousness is by no means limited to the space between our ears.

Well, Jolane’s a neuroscientist, and it was amazing to hear the news (to me!) that yes, receptors for neurotransmitters are found in cells throughout the body. I was positively flabbergasted to hear the case of the boy with no brain. More precisely, someone with an IQ of 126, a first class honors degree in mathematics, a pretty normal life, but with an extreme instance of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") that left him with just a millimetre-thick lining of neurons in his skull and… the rest was just cerebrospinal fluid. Less boggling, but more relevant to acidic perceptions and tantra, is the location of a "second brain", the biggest bunch of nerve cells south of the neck, located in the digestive tract. My gradual, seismic work on unravelling bundles of knotted energy in my belly over the past few years takes on a whole new potential significance.

One synchronicity among the storm that have accompanied this post-Bristol surfing session: there was a recent Guardian article on this precise subject by none other than my mate Mark "Pilko ‘Pilko’ Pilko" Pilkington. Very short, well worth reading.

Finally, browsing Cat’s recent blog posts, I came across one of those net things I usually avoid, but this seemed more interesting than most. The idea is to set all your MP3s on random shuffle, and list the first thirty that are played. I cheated (a little), in that I omitted tracks from the same album. I just don’t trust the "randomness" of media players, they tend to bunch nearby tracks together. Anyways, it’s pretty representative, with the possible exception of David Byrne. I totally love the guy, but I’ve a disproportionate amount of his stuff on my machine due to having access to my Byrne-obsessive flatmate’s CD collection. So, on with the trainspotting…

  • ‘The Civil Wars’ by David Byrne (from Feelings)
  • ‘Monster’ by Khan (featuring John Spencer, from No Comprendo)
  • ‘Don’t Forget Me’ by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (from By The Way)
  • ‘Waiting Room’ by Fugazi (from 13 Songs)
  • ‘Kettle Whistle’ by Jane’s Addiction (from Kettle Whistle)
  • ‘Ain’t No Picnic’ by Minutemen (from Double Nickels On The Dime)
  • ‘Hang On To Your Ego’ by The Beach Boys (from Pet Sounds)
  • ‘Fast Song’ by Butthole Surfers (from Double Live)
  • ‘Don’t Worry About The Government’ by Talking Heads (from Sand In The Vaseline)
  • ‘The Trees’ by Tarwater (from Animals, Suns & Atoms)
  • ‘Jet Fighter’ by Butthole Surfers (from Weird Revolution)
  • ‘Gasoline Man’ (Diesel Mix) by The Young Gods (from the 12-inch, original on TV Sky)
  • ‘Sugar Ray’ by The Jesus & Mary Chain (from Honey’s Dead)
  • ‘All Wrong’ by Morphine (from Cure For Pain)
  • ‘Just Because’ by Jane’s Addiction (from Strays)
  • ‘Asuka’ by David Byrne (from The Forest)
  • ‘P.R.E.S.S.’ by Atari Teenage Riot (from The Future Of War)
  • ‘The Anchor Song’ by Björk (from Debut)
  • ‘Two Roads’ by George Nooks (from Shake The Foundations Vol. 2)
  • ‘John Finn’s Wife’ by Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds (from Henry’s Dream)
  • ‘Female Mechanic Now On Duty’ by Sonic Youth (from A Thousand Leaves)
  • ‘Philmore’ by Funkadelic (from America Eats Its Young)
  • ‘Pop Life’ by Prince (from Around The World In A Day)
  • ‘Over Fire Island’ by Brian Eno (from Another Green World)
  • ‘The Incredible He Woman’ by Stereolab (from Aluminum Tunes)
  • ‘Uzi (Pinky Ring)’ by Wu-Tang Clan (from Iron Flag)
  • ‘Time To Get Alone’ by The Beach Boys (from Friends / 20-20)
  • ‘Bury The Evidence’ by Tricky (from Blowback)
  • ‘Good Morning Beautiful’ by The The (from Mind Bomb)
  • ‘Aeroplane’ by The Red Hot Chili Peppers (from One Hot Minute)