Bleak Paragraphs in the Aldershot Dressing Room – Reading Diary part 2

This is a follow on to Thursday’s “What I read on Trains…”

19th September

(A flashback to the West End Centre, Aldershot on Wednesday evening)
Grace Petrie left her copy of Push (better known now as Precious) in the dressing room. She had warned me it was bleak, so while she sang of The Spanish Civil War and Sapphic flood creating powers, I read the misery. After the first twelve pages of incest, rape, abuse and maths class, I decided it wasn’t probably the best warm up for the post interval gig about the majesty of the human mind and the intrigue of neurons.

(now, back on the train from Leicester)
This week is philosophy week, with some physics too. I think I may need more than a week on it all. I wonder if I should read just one book a year, but read it to the point of comprehension. Quercus publish a series of books under the title The Big Questions. It is not a spin off of the Nicky Campbell show, if it was, I presume a few pages into an interesting chapter, a pop up of Stephen Green would suddenly lurch upwards like a sickening Punch and start confetti vomiting.

I am five chapters into Simon Blackburn’s What Do We Really Know? The Big Questions of Philosophy. I am now a little further into dealing with whether there is a ghost in my machine (currently exorcised), how much of my will is free (just enough that I better take the blame), and what is human nature. I also have to look up the word “supervene”.
Blackburn writes in a concise and illuminating fashion, my copy is already covered in pencilled comments and questions. I may not break the spines of my books, but I do annotate excessively.
When he writes, “a mistaken view of human nature may be the beginning of a downward spiral”, all those contrarian columnists and daytime TV controversy stirrers loomed into my mind. “I am only saying what everyone else is thinking”, they boast as they pocket their fee, not realising that others may have less spiteful and venal minds.

Michael Brooks’ The Big Questions: Physics is similarly enlightening, even if at time it enlightens the reader to the fact we are still in the dark. It is useful to know that we are “fluctuations in the energy of empty space”, at least for the time being.

After changing trains at Sheffield, I start playing book tag. As I walk so many streets on so many towns while touring, I reckon I should arm myself with the tools of the psychogeographer.
When I was in Cambridge back in the spring, I had a “vision”. It was really one of the moments where your imagination becomes so vivid, that you seem to see it with your eyes. A sunday night, the streets were silent and empty, and as i walked by the colleges, I thought of how many ideas, theories and fallacies had been conjured up from the minds of dons and students as they had cycled or ambled along these streets. Briefly, I saw a multitude of generations on bicycles, with transparent phantom qualities, repeatedly overlayed on the road I saw. The image has stuck with me. (the physicists ghosts looked a little angry as they knew they were breaking the laws of thermodynamics…apparently).

I have started at the beginning with Merlin Coverley’s Psychogeography (Pocket Essential series). Unfortunately, he mentions so many intriguing works, from Daniel Defoe to Iain Sinclair, that before the introduction is over, I have moved over to Edgar Allan Poe’s The Man of the the Crowd.

“Men die nightly in their beds, wringing the hands of ghostly confessors, and looking at them piteously in the eyes – die with despair of heart and convulsion of throat, on account of the hideousness of mysteries which will not suffer themselves to be revealed”.

And for the end of the journey, there was the latest Fortean Times. I knew nothing of Glasgow’s Sighthill Stone Circle or the naturalistic nightmare photographs of Arthur Tress until now.

(I also popped into the Manchester Art Gallery, William Etty’s The Sirens and Ulysses and Valette’s Under Windsor Bridge on the Irwell were today’s favourites. The soundtrack of the day was Kitchen Sink Soundtracks)

I am back in Manchester soon, the tour also takes me to Sheffield, Nottingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Dublin and probably a town near you (should be in USA and Australia next year) UK Dates HERE

These things lead to three hour DVDs, like this one HERE

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