Thursday, 28 January 2016

John Bodi - Death by a Thousand Sluts 

While I’m talking about books you should read, this is the first book for quite a while that I read in one sitting. Do not read this if you are female - you simply won’t understand it. Do not read it if you have never had a bad week in your life, because you won’t understand it either.

And when you get to the end, you might realise that Bodi’s real achievement is that, throughout the depressions, crises and breakdowns, not once does he turn to the doctor and ask for some anti-depressants. He never doubts that his troubles and inner chaos can be sorted out without drugs and by action. I’ve had some bad moments, but none as bad as some of the ones Bodi describes. And his insights into people and his descriptions of the London Day Game scene are worth every penny.

Just not if you’re a girl of either sex.

Monday, 25 January 2016

The Scarfolk book really is weird, and it’s the illustrations that are most weird.

I am alive really, it’s just that I’m not taking any photographs and the stuff I’m thinking about is stuff I’ve thought about before and I don’t want to go on about the same things in public.

So instead… read this...

I saw it a while ago in Foyles, found it intriguing, bought it and only now have been in the mood to read it.

It took me a long time to realise that you should always buy a book you want to read, even if you can’t read it right away, because it might not be available in six month’s time when you’re in the mood again. This is especially applies to art books that accompany exhibitions, and art books generally. The really good ones don’t get remaindered, though you may be able to get them cheaper on Amazon. Support your local bookstore however (in my case, that’s Foyles).

The Scarfolk book really is weird, and it’s the illustrations that are most weird. Someone went to a ton of trouble to do those and there are lot of them.

Friday, 22 January 2016

Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, his book about his early years in Paris, which seemed to be on every counter and table in Waterstone's Piccadilly branch last week.

We would have to shut the windows in the night against the rain and the cold wind would strip the leaves from the trees in the Place Contrescape. The leaves lay sodden in the rain and the wind drove the rain against the big green autobus at the terminal and the Cafe des Amateurs was crowded and the windows misted over from the heat and the smoke inside.
That is on the opening page of the stories in Hemingway's A Moveable Feast, his book about his early years in Paris, which seemed to be on every counter and table in Waterstone's Piccadilly branch last week.

I discovered Hemingway very late. And when I did I nearly gave up writing anything in English again except for business writing because that has to be bad and clumsy to be effective. I thought, based on rumour and hearsay, that Hemingway was merely a stylist. He isn't: he is simply one of the best experimental writers of English there has ever been. Those two sentences pick out maybe a dozen images from a winter evening and knit them together like one smooth Vincente Minelli crane shot.


Tuesday, 19 January 2016

It’s cold. I’m trying to get over seven hour’s sleep a day

It’s cold. I’m trying to get over seven hour’s sleep a day. I’m wading my way through Nessa Carey’s The Epigenetics Revolution and getting lost in proteins called things like WNKR3 and a description of gene expression modification that sounds like some really kludgey patches to some gigantic corporate Java program.

The Economist had an editorial about Cologne and immigration that was mid-boggling in its sophistry and I don’t even want to get into it. It says:
Thousands more refugees arrive in Greece every week. Those who would shut them out must explain where they should go instead.
Uh. How about they stay where they are and fight for their freedom? Or go to another Muslim country, of which there are plenty much closer than Sweden. Europe is full: go look at the unemployment stats. But here I am getting into it, and I said I wouldn’t.

Rollo is trying to square the circle of the Red Pill for the second time in three weeks.

The circle is that if what he says about women’s hypergamy and sexual strategy is correct, no sane man would ever commit his life, income or assets to a partnership with one, and the only kind of love a sane man could feel is an aesthetic feeling similar to the “love” that one has for sunsets, a favourite comedian or a pretty figure, which is not a love for a person, but for particular features of them. This is the position of PUAs and MGTOWs.

Rollo’s audience are men who want to feel the whole-person kind of love leading to financial commitments that can be cashed in by lawyers. (What makes it worse is that this seems to me to be a laudable ambition, just not one that is going to be happily fulfilled in the current exact conditions of really-existing Capitalism.) He can’t say that he can show how Red Pill aware love for the whole woman is possible, because it isn’t, but if he says words to the effect of “bitches ain’t nothing but sex and entertainment” he risks losing his audience. Roosh lost his moorings a while back with the neo-masculinity thing, Heartiste is shilling for Trump and could be in more white supremacy mode unless he signed off “14/88” (look it up). Rollo is the last of the three R’s standing and it's slightly worrying that he can't deal with this. It's the sort of thing that causes thinkers to implode.

And I'm trying to watch one episode of Nikita S3 an evening, but I missed this evening because I wound up writing this.

Thursday, 14 January 2016

By now it should be obvious that a fair proportion of men and women are not suited to long-term, legal-commitment, domestic relationships

By now it should be obvious that a fair proportion of men and women are not suited to long-term, legal-commitment, domestic relationships with or without children. In the past, it didn’t matter: fathers needed to get some other sucker to pay for the upkeep of their daughters, and that’s why there was pressure on men to get married, and the daughters never got a say. Now that women can earn as much as men, job for job, a father can kick his daughter out of the house, often helping his princess with deposits and furniture, and tell her to get a job. Just like they do with their sons. Nor in the exact conditions of really-existing capitalism at this precise moment in time, does the economy need every woman who can to have children: northern European employers have no problem importing socialised, educated, English-speaking graduates from countries where the parenting is strong and the economy is weak.

So men and women who would really rather not bother with the whole dating-mating-marriage-divorce thing, but simply want to earn a living and go about whatever they think is life, really should not feel guilty about not wanting to find a partner. Let the PUAs spend every spare hour doing day game pick-up, and the Red Pill men be non-stop, unflinchingly Alpha with their wives and children, the rest of us can carry on with our lives in quiet and peace.

The alternative to a sad single life is not happy marriage, just as the alternative to miserable marriage is not happy bachelorhood. For an elite minority, marriage may be wonderful, fulfilling, and socially and financially rewarding, but for the rest of us mere mortals...

…forty per cent of marriages end in divorce after twenty years, thirty per cent in the first ten years. If you think the other sixty per cent are happy, sexy romps, you really can’t see what’s around you. People lie on those surveys about their sex lives. All. The. Time. Not to deceive the survey, but to deceive themselves. The middle-aged guy next to you on the train? Didn’t get laid last night, last week or last month. The early thirty-something blonde junior manager across the open-plan office? Hasn’t seen dick since the last time she got drunk and took some half-way attractive guy home - six months ago. And the early-twenties are all living at home, and you know how that goes. It’s all just an illusion.

Do I want sex? Let’s add some details to the question. Do I want once-a-month sex with a grudging late forties overweight wife? Nah. And neither do you. Do I want hot hotel sex with an early thirties hardbody who shares a sense of humour and is reasonable company at breakfast afterwards? Sure. Do I want sex that is part of an endless negotiation of favours, provisioning, entertaining, image maintenance and personal power ploys - otherwise known as marriage? No, but I understand some men can handle that. How far am I prepared to compromise on the context to get the physical act? Not much, but I understand there are men who can dine off mutton hash and turnip tops and count themselves well-fed.

What about those days when we wake up alone and feel empty, unloved and insignificant? That happened to me, and mostly I had a hangover as well. Sure there were days when I got home and the place felt empty and un-welcoming. I invested some time and effort into learning about decorating, then spent some well-chosen money and my house feels like home - to me. As for those horrible empty mornings? Vanished when I quit drinking and worked the programme.

As for loneliness? Loneliness is a feeling like cold is a feeling: it doesn’t tell you about you, it tells you about where you are in the world: it’s an ontological feeling, not a moral one. Many people think they feel worthless because they are lonely, but actually that’s two independent feelings: the loneliness, and the worthlessness. The worthlessness is a moral feeling. You can’t fix a moral feeling by changing the world you inhabit, you can only fix it by changing yourself. That’s why, if you’re a screw-up, and buy a Rolex, that just makes you a screw-up with a Rolex. If you feel lonely and worthless, then getting a girlfriend cures the loneliness but not the worthlessness. If you feel worthless, fix that first. My path got me into a 12-Step Fellowship. It’s not always as easy as a few chants and assertions.

Anyway, girls are not for curing your inner state. They are for curing your outer state: they are for sex and entertainment, and if you’re that way inclined, for helping to raise your children as well. This isn’t some cynical posture: it’s a recognition that most girls are not therapists or psychiatrists. Anyway, how else do you think women should be treated? (Oh. Right. You should be there to listen to them talking about the abusive boyfriend they can’t leave, and helping them paint their flat, and lending them money, and taking them on holiday in separate rooms… how’s that working out for you? It sucked on the rare occasions I did it.)

Monday, 11 January 2016

Should I know about Chinese Art, or will it go away if I ignore it for long enough?

Should I know about Chinese Art, or will it go away if I ignore it for long enough?

Octopus in Damson on Brewer Street after training and before going to the hygenist.

Yet another new restaurant franchise in Spitalfields Market - something to try in January.

This is going to be a casual, easy rent office space for hipsters with Macs and a glib presentation. Or so the current promotion says.

But I do work with my hands? What the heck else is typing code?

No the waitress isn't telling the clueless Millennials that they can't eat food they bought somewhere else, especially at a faux-Japanese franchise that uses really poor ingredients. I wish she had.

Thursday, 7 January 2016

Gillian Anderson Doesn’t Meet Anybody and Still Gets Her Needs Met

From the recent Guardian interview with Agent Scully
And so to her private life, which is not simple. This is the third time I’ve talked to Anderson. When we met first, she was with Julian Ozanne, the journalist turned bio-fuel entrepreneur. But she seemed distracted and, sure enough, their marriage lasted only 16 months. The second time, she was pregnant with her second child by the businessman Mark Griffiths (she also has a grown-up daughter with her first husband, Clyde Klotz, a production designer on The X-Files), and spent quite a lot of our lunch together urging me to have children, too. Now, though, she is single again – a state to which she might possibly be rather well-suited. She seems so much more content than in the past.

“Well, yes, I am content,” she says. “I don’t feel anything is lacking in my life. I certainly don’t sit on bar stools, pining. But the fact is I just haven’t met anyone [she and Griffiths separated in 2012], and I don’t know where people do meet people.” Oh come on, I say, clicking my fingers. I could find you a boyfriend in an instant. “No, you couldn’t!” she shrieks. “The thing is that there are needs and there are wants. I have a list of needs and I will not compromise about those.” She sighs. “But aside from that… I don’t meet anybody! It’s not like I meet people, and they ask me out, and I say no. It’s not even like I meet people and I don’t give them enough attention. I just don’t meet them at all. I’m either on a plane, or on set, or with my children. There have been people in my life who’ve tried to set me up, and if a friend said: ‘I know someone amazing’, I would show up. But here’s the thing: I’ve got three children. It’s a big ask.”

How long has she been on her own? “That depends. I haven’t been in a relationship for a couple of years. But I’m not anxious about it, nor am I interested in starting to see someone who doesn’t fit. People go: ‘Oh, he’s so cute.’ The trouble is, I’m not interested in looks at all.”

On the page, this could sound sad: the desperate loneliness of the red carpet. But don’t be deceived. Anderson is grinning as she talks, and rolling her eyes, and generally hamming it up. My hunch is that her needs are being met. She needs to work, and when she’s doing that, somehow everything else just falls into place.
“I have a list of needs and I will not compromise about those”. How many items are on that list? Could it be… 463? The 463-bullet-point checklist strikes again. Though to be fair, one of those needs will be accepting the always-working mother-of-three bit, which doesn’t sound like he would be having a relationship with *Gillian Anderson* but basically with a mid-forty-something divorced senior City Woman who happens to look a bit glam but isn’t terribly available. From the stories some of the ex-Executive Assistants where I work, busy senior executive women don’t get to meet people either.

I do wonder if those last two sentences are code for “she fools around on set with one of the production crew”? It’s possible. Away from the three kids, on set, she would be *Gillian Anderson*.

Monday, 4 January 2016

When your builders start to turn up in Rolls-Royces, it’s time to sell yours

A friend told me that her mother’s second husband, who was a property developer, once said “When your builders start to turn up in Rolls-Royces, it’s time to sell yours”. One of the un-itemised skills of the aristocrat and the elite is knowing when something has been adopted by the wrong people and must, however reluctantly, be dropped. If once there were written rules about what to do, now there are unwritten rules about what not to do, and it is the ability to discern what not to do, what must be abandoned to the masses, that makes the in-crowd. (Rolexes, for instance. As GS Elevator says: "Wearing a Rolex is like driving a BMW 3-series. It says you've got some money, but nothing interesting to say.”)

The journalist Katherine Whitehorn, an old-school Second-Wave feminist, once remarked that whenever she saw women getting into positions of power, it turned out that the men had moved the power from those positions. Many women want to play the boys’ games because they hate the way that women play women’s games. So they move in to something - law, or management - and for a while get the benefits they want. But then some tipping point of female participation gets passed, and men no longer go into that area, and those in it move on to the Next Thing, so that the original women are left with the very type of women they were trying to avoid for company, and the feeling that, once again, all that is Masculine has slipped away from them.

It’s this ability, not so much to roll with the tide, but to move on to the next beach, that marks out men. The English do it very well, because being English is not about being any one thing, it’s about being able to absorb new things, and drop old things, and yet somehow be the same. The English language is a hotch-potch of words and ideas from every civilisation that either conquered the Anglo-Saxons, or was later ruled by or in business with them. Which is to say, almost everyone. English “culture” is the same: a hotch-potch of something-from-everywhere, but put together in a way that turns it from context-laden, consequential culture to weightless, just-another-item-on-the-menu style. One trick is not to be serious about anything, but nevertheless to be trustworthy, competent, reliable and creative, and in an understated way - until you present the far from understated invoice. The other trick is to be where the majority is not: not because they are noisy, badly-dressed, drag their screaming children around with them, and eat smelly food (though there is all that, and more) but because if the majority can appreciate it, it isn’t on the edge, it isn’t new and it isn’t challenging. And being involved with the new and challenging is what marks out Us from, well, Them.

So when women start moving in on something, from superhero comics to finance, it’s a sign that those things have matured and become known quantities, and that it’s time to find something else to do. Any form of engineering, computing, mathematics and science will always be too far an island with too steep cliffs for most women to climb. Women have had the same time to hack into programming that they have to hack into marketing, the legal profession and accountancy, and everyone can see the choices they have made. The hard sciences and engineering are exactly about developing new tricks, skills and techniques, are exactly about moving on to the next beach. All the time.

The commitment is never to a content, nor even a form, but always to the principle of change and creation. If you want that in one man’s career, look no further than Miles Davis. He changed or was at the heart of change in music four or five times (be-bop, Cool, modal, time-no-changes, and the whole Filles de Kilimanjaro to Get Up With It period) and yet was always essentially Miles. John Coltrane did something similar over a shorter time-span, and so did Picasso over a longer one. On a smaller scale, so did the novelist Gavin Lyall, husband of Ms Whitehorn and author of one of my favourite thrillers, Midnight Plus One.

(So quit whining about how women are spoiling your Star Wars and Superman series. If the women are there, that’s God’s way of telling you that it’s time to move on.)