A wobbly week of reading, I have been distracted by conversations and work. (this is my regular reading diary by the way, I haven’t slept, so excuse many errors)
Unable to find a copy of Grayson Perry’s Vanity of Small Differences, I resorted to his Playing to the Gallery, an adaptation of his Reith Lectures.
“For even I, an Essex transvestite potter, have been let in by the art-world mafia”.
After my trip to the Oslo art museums, now seemed the time to read ruminations on what art is. Also, with much discussion about whether Exhibit B was a racist work promoted by a bourgeois, white cultural elite, I wanted to read the words of one of its most interesting voices.
(I am uncomfortable with the idea that an artwork should be closed down with some of the leading voices of the protest insisting that they don’t need to see the installation to know that no one should see the installation. And I am confused that it should be deemed racist against the Afro Caribbean community when the few I do know who have seen it come out feeling repelled by the actions of white supremacists, but what do I know, I checked my privilege the other day and apparently I am the offspring of a Mike Leigh improvisation and some thoughts of Wendy Craig).
“Historically the art world has been fairly inward looking because it can operate as a closed circle.”
Grayson Perry’s book wants me to go and stare at more art, or interrogate an object and decide whether it is art. He writes of the confusion of an artist being declared “unashamedly popular”, and the conflict when your kooky taste is embraced by too many. It is a tricky balance between being liked by enough people to survive and continue to create what you want, and being liked by so many that you might fear you have accidentally approached the imminently trite. I like to think that good art, or at least the art I like, becomes addictive and the more you look at it, the more you see. Or should I not be seeing anything eventually, but find myself on some pastel or oil based peyote high?
I want to read more about Alix Levine and David Levine’s research into the language of contemporary art show press releases. According to their work, “international art english rebukes ordinary English for its lack of nouns. Visual becomes Visuality. Global becomes Globality. Potential becomes Potentiality”.
It is the best book I have read by a transvestite potter in some time, or even just a potter, or a transvestite. I think the last transvestite author I read was Ed Wood Jr’s Let Me Die in Drag, things have suddenly come along a bit since then.
A couple of comic strips from Best American Comics of 2008 or 2009 (I can’t remember now) – Antoinette, the tale of a man’s date with a decapitated woman, and Freak, one of those perfect indie comic strips for the average outsider reader about misfits and deformed ears (I liked it, that is one of my favourite sub-genres).
I started John Naughton’s What You Really Need To Know about the Internet – From Gutenberg to Zuckerberg. Hopefully it will stop me from drowning in the all immersive water of the web, or at least understand what I am choking on.
Fascinated that the mass produced printed word changed the sense of when a child was an adult. The Church once declared that Seven years old was the age of reason, but with Gutenberg, the ability to read fluently extended that age of reason to 12 years old.
Only one story into AL Kennedy’s All the Rage collection, I returned to Baby Blue, the story she had read the lighter midsection of at Laugharne. Having been warned that either side were somewhat bleaker than the paragraphs on free standing vaginas and vibrating “made in china” phalluses, I found the story cheerier than I expected. Still not cheery, but cheerier.
Further internet scrutinizing with Evgeny Morozov’s The Net Delusion. Chapter one examines the celebration of Twitter as social media’s revolutionary petrol bombs in Iran, the gap between the media hoopla and the on the ground reality, the negative repercussions, that the facebook freedom for the rebel is also a tool of suppression, monitoring and espionage for the regime and duplicitous corporation.
Gordon Brown is earmarked for exaggerated optimism, when he said, “you cannot have Rwanda again because information would come out far more quickly about what is going on.” Even without the great liberator of social media (I see Jeremy Kyle is trending again this morning), western governments were not blindly innocent of knowing what was going on in Rwanda as the documentary Shake Hands With The Devil demonstrates. Maybe if the UN peace Monitoring force had been tweeting the UN about genocide instead of using a landline it would all have been different.
Other recently started books –
Clampdown: Pop Cultural Wars in Class and Gender by Rhian E Jones.
“the current crop of mainstream British musicians, while not uniformly posh, is certainly privileged, with the increasing homogeneity of its membership entrenching both a lack of wider class representation in the arts and entertainment world”.
Something I have been thinking about for some time in terms of stand up comedy, being quite aware of my comfortable background and looking around and wondering of the middle class have taken over comedy and dominated it with their values, something I have seen the brilliant Gavin Webster talk about strikingly onstage, and Mark Olver talk about passionately offstage. I worry that Rhian is correct in saying we are increasingly informed that to discuss or research modern class issues and differences is deemed to be paranoid.
(see the difference in the image of the working class in Jeremy Kyle and on Grayson Perry’s The Vanity of Small Differences)
I have started This is Not the End of the Book, a conversation between Umberto Eco and Jean-Claude Carriere, I have already found out about Alexander the Great being flummoxed by thinking about the left eye of a crocodile, and Buddha having printing blocks on his feet.
I am reading it on kindle, which may be wrong, but I am still reading it.
Talking to a children’s author at Wigtown, I was sad to hear about the decline of children reading, partly (or greatly) because their parents don’t read books anymore. He suggests that the children ask their parents why they don’t see them reading books and, with luck, that shames at least some into picking up a book again.
On the way to Wigtown, I picked up a copy of Poptastic by Tony Blackburn.
“and for the entire journey, I sat in a First Class compartment dressed head to toe in a Wombles outfit. It felt great! And we had the carriage to ourselves all the way back home”.
The tour goes on – Harrogate, Sutton Coldfield, Bath Spa, Alnwick, Egham, Nottingham, Goole, Bridgwater and on. All dates HERE