Old Stratford-Volk

The Westbridge Hotel on Stratford High Street occupies the central point between two worlds. Turn left, and you come to Nu-Stratford, a world of glass and steel prizing the horizontal over the vertical; turn right and you find yourself in Old Stratford, characterised by the ghosts of industry, dilapidated fun palaces and derelict mid-Victorian grandeur. Nu-Stratford has Westfield and Old Stratford has the Broadway Shopping Centre.

Admittedly, it’s not all glass and steel when you turn left. Albert Bigg Point and Aubrey Moore Point are typical mid-1960s council tower blocks that scowl across the High Street at their supposedly illustrious new neighbours, but the empty spaces nearby and the relentless progress of gentrification suggests an Urban Splash style makeover is on the cards.

I suppose a riot isn’t out of the question, if it gets hot again next summer. The Stratford and New Town ward within Newham Borough Council has far higher rates of violent crime than other wards in the borough and Newham has one of the highest violent crime rates in London. Inequality breeds resentment and even loosely organised resentment can generate riots…

Download: Old Stratford Volk

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Cross of Light Temple, 2003 – 2017

“They do not speak with one voice, nor do they say the same thing about important events, but express contrary opinions. They call identical things by different names and so cause further confusion in the minds of simpletons. But even intelligent people can make little sense of some of their utterances, for they are meaningless and incoherent. On many issues there is great dispute among them, and their teaching is divided accordingly. There is no outrageous interpretation… that has not been made by them. They invent newfangled theories and… transfer scattered words and phrases from their proper place to another context. By their shameless interpolations, amendments and manipulations, they quite pervert the original sense.”

Reflections of a Cross of Light Templar

“I must create my own System or be Enslaved by another Man’s.”

The foundations of Cross of Light Temple reside in experiences from the 1980s and 90s. The first recorded performance of the Cross of Light foundation rite took place on 2 December 2002 but the establishment of the Temple did not take place until 16 January 2003.

Documentary evidence suggests that Cross of Light Temple as originally conceived had come to an end in 2013. One could argue that the work of COLT was completed by the production of the COLT Position Statement, which summarised all COLT endeavour before that point.

At 10.28 am on 24 November 2017, I recorded:

I have passed through Cross of Light Temple. I have incorporated the experience. I have left it behind me.

Cross of Light Temple attempted to impose a system on the compulsive desire to get out the body and out of the mind. It was not art, literary expression, magic or religion and it recognised no particular value in any of these fields of endeavour.

COLT failed to bring about enlightenment, failed as artistic expression and failed to attract interest from other people. But it wasn’t looking for followers; it was looking to put people off. It was a form of madness or escapism, but it was also an ongoing experimental process, with no fixed and final objective. Its primary purpose was not the production of texts, literature or art but the generation of a body of experience. The texts, literature or art works that had value were those that successfully represented or encoded the experience. Successful COLT texts were technical rather than artistic expressions.

Cross of Light Temple represented creative engagement with the immediate experience of now. There was a big difference between what was expressed by Cross of Light Temple and how its practitioners conducted their lives on a daily basis. This could be seen as the Temple’s greatest failing, but how could any system seriously hope to transform mundane experience?

COLT represented a specialised waste of time. It attempted to frame meaning by the performance of ritual in resonant places on notable days. It occupied an interior space without limitation. It created a unity of seer and seen that went beyond the act of seeing, without claiming that it was possible to do anything that possesses enduring significance in a world ruled by the ghostly trace of passing fancy. It made its work available to the world and the world refused it.

Cross of Light Temple led to the errors of illusion, erroneous belief and misguided obsession. It operated in the field of unpopular culture. It was a failure, an ongoing experiment and a success, all at the same time.

Download: Cross of Light Temple 2003-2017

Images from the Cross of Light Temple Archive

On Cross of Light Temple

Creative engagement with the immediate experience of now is superior to religion. Without this realisation, there can be no hope of effectual initiation. The external anointing signifies nothing beyond submission linked to elevation through association. Cross of Light Temple did not prosper as it should or might have done and this is how it should be.

My desire to get out of the world arose as a consequence of recognising its worthlessness and absurdity. Had I been happier, I would have been less interested in the supramundane. The idea of magical freedom was attractive, appealing and important because it enabled me to conceive of my experience as special.

I didn’t know if I wanted to get out of the world, enter another world, transform this world, or apprehend the truth beyond appearances. I didn’t know where the beyond was located and I didn’t know what the gateway led to. I didn’t know if the point where past, present and future met was a time or a place. I didn’t know if Transcendental Subjectivity was a personal conception or an idea that I had taken on from somewhere else. I didn’t know if I abandoned my mystical calling for the sake of my sanity or if I just stopped taking drugs.

It was pride that prompted me to perform the rites of Cross of Light Temple hundreds of times and it was pride at being able to visualise unearthly pictorial detail emerging from the obsessive recording of repetitive descriptive text that enabled me to see the Temple of Light in the Golden Wheat Field.

I don’t know if it was pride or madness that enabled me to stay there.

Download:

COLT Images 1963 – 2016

COLT Images 1982 – 2016

Sheffield

The City is of Night; perchance of Death
But certainly of Night; for never there
Can come the lucid morning’s fragrant breath
After the dewy dawning’s cold grey air…

The City is of Night, but not of Sleep;
There sweet sleep is not for the weary brain;
The pitiless hours like years and ages creep,
A night seems termless hell…

And in the porch a shrouded figure stood,
Who challenged each one pausing ere he passed,
With deep eyes burning through a blank white hood:
Whence come you in the world of life and light
To this our City of Tremendous Night? …

Poor wretch! who once hath paced that dolent city
Shall pace it often, doomed beyond all pity,
With horror ever deepening from the first…

James Thomson, ‘The City of Dreadful Night’

Download: SPG presents SHEFFIELD

Glastonbury

I was dying. My attention wandered. I see now… poorly executed redundant nostalgia – posturing – this is the way you should act, isn’t it? Treat your guitar as if it were a cello? Kick your legs up like a pissed up Russian? Dance red lit – make like a gargoyle – gurn like a dragon – prance about in a T-shirt with your hair blowing like a rock star – how much does it cost to direct the wind? Why not generate your own? Horrible. Imagine the comedown if you had to be there, pretending to have an enjoyable time in that vast stupid field, without the benefit of drugs, knowing that they’re not good for you. Not in the moment of present time that they promise to distort forever – like the bands, they don’t deliver – unlike this, which delivers exactly what it promised – nothing at all. Where’d you get that hair dye? Why bother with tattoos? That’s right – Joni Mitchell with the talent and interest removed – whining twang – get a haircut. Or a combover. Wipe your drum brushes. Throw your bright wig in the cesspit. Tone down your eye shadow. Are you constipated, or in pain? If that arse could be removed from your jump suited body and weighed, I fear it might break the scales. Beard boy. Veined throbber. The cue for idiot prancing. Midriff reflected in the mirror of the bass drum. Throw your hands in the air like a halfwit! Reet kool! Bright lit scaffolding. Belly dancer cum dervish. Lattice work, pink and green. Something like a sick dog groaning. “I could be the one…” – I’ll give it a miss. Apparently, they’re all inserting dangling wires into their flesh these days, but I don’t really know if they serve any purpose. Mormons. Boys. ‘Royal Blood’. “Royal Blood – Let me drum with you…” – that’s an aspirational placard. Mauve wigged, shoulder carried… a black shirt with a silver top part… a fake gold chain… a bank of flashing lights. A mosh pit. What does that rhyme with? Play your bass like a lead… that’ll be farre oot, mon. Flags… tigers. Put the lights out. Hide your belly. Cheer. Get soulful. Wipe the tears away. Clap. Dreadlocks with a parting like Hitler. A Stevie Wonder tribute act? Blue wrist beads. “Nobody loves me like the piano in my mother’s home.” Apparently, there was an angel by her sides at all times. Not just one side, but all of them… They have acquired sincerity through reflecting on their hideous deformity. They’re sincere. They possess the grace of inhabiting the reality of their bodies. Jaunty actors, swinging their hair, looking at each other nicely, not afraid of the truth of intimacy. And then some kunt in a bright suit with what appears to be a tail… believes in fate… waves his arms to make the point. The Incredible Hulk without his make-up. The seal clap. Break for the wild fairground acts – “a scary zone, full of chaos and danger”… acid lounge… surfers… burlesque… abusing the public… a big baby with glassy eyes. A statuesque scowler with the studied intonation of Patti Smith… apparently, she saved the Beat Generation on a bicycle. And that’s just the first half hour… of highlights!

One jumps…  thousands jump… a confederacy of dunces… flowery… trainered… she can’t let go of something… it’s abstract… I couldn’t tell you what she means… it wouldn’t be worth knowing. Other people want what she can’t let go of. But they don’t know what it is either. It’s a wonder they don’t fall over, walking around in circles like that. Gym time. Vocoder. Yellow strip on a face on a T-shirt. A small child’s face. The artiste as youngster… before he became a world conquering rap singer. Pina coladas… don’t know if they drink them or rhyme them. Champagne. You can do anything you want. Go to the club, or on holiday. I think they’re the main options. That’s the solution… go on holiday. To Margate or Bournemouth. We must be coming to the end of the day… bring on the titans. Squinting, top knot… greasy flop… it’s not my fault, they’re the ones who make such a big deal of their haircuts. That’s what it’s about. Getting a haircut and going on holiday. “This is what you get… for a minute there, I lost myself.” I see the flesh fade and a skeleton disport on the piano like a cheap music hall ham. Count the teeth. Measure their brightness. A close cropped neatly trimmed grey beard. Friday’s over.

Saturday’s here… Jose Feliciano presents ‘Up the Junction’. With the added attraction of a kazoo band. A fake kazoo troupe… not like those you used to find heading for the Newcastle carnival in the late 1970s. More Mormons… dashing Amish? Harmonised warbling. Retro rock breakdown. Niche and cult… devoted fans… those three ugly fuckers at the front… Let’s throw three or four things in, all together, any way, with a semblance of predictable sequencing. The Neu-Yodel thing. Icelanders? Denmark? Faroe Isle kool? A form of lovely prancing. With smiles. Jogging. Making like a monkey. A four year old child. Liam believes in Rock’n’Roll. “She’s the ungrateful dead…,” It’s a long way down… it’s all too much. “I don’t give a fuck, alright?” Neither do I, Liam, mate. Apparently, it’s okay, though, because he’s got the Midas touch. It’s only a long way down when you’re the wrong way around. I think a Gary Glitter hit is stuck on the turntable. K.P. Nu-Pearl Queen. I don’t know what you call those things. Point and leave a space for the crowd, to show you love them ‘too’. Where does this ‘too’ come from? Another half hour in purgatory comes to a grinding halt.

Dig the good old throwback Super Funk. I’m sure that’s the riff from ‘Your Favourite Shirt’ by Haircut 100. Who would have thought we’d ever hear that again? Pure liquid molasses, mon. I don’t think they’re suggesting that you should free your mind. I think they’re about confining your ass to a pattern. In the backyard? Yass, that’s right. A funk party in the back yard. The transfer of the mark. The invocation. Hat lads bouncing in tracksuits. The cedars of Lebanon. Prowling. Crack balladeer. No-one’s gonna stop anyone else. Flashing foot print evidence. This lad has several varieties of footwear in which to prance around the hood. Evidence that Grime has its roots in Roots Manuva. Love crossed with The Eagles. Jah Misty or something. Syrupy hatred. High heels, beard, square suit. Real Nu-Rad Irony Chic, mon. Dragon shirt. Lad with the voice of a woman. Mauve light. Turns white, looks like someone clapping. Long form repetition trilled and pointless. It’s fundamentally ‘Run to You’ by Bryan Adams. Daft puppets in the Metal arena. Earache. True metal. The outer edges. Brutal Wormrot all the way from Singapore. Yowlers. Vowel spouters. That comedy act called Foo Fighters. Drowned songs. A kind of over emotive shopping list? Confused about something that’s not worth bothering with? Stopping to start up again… One of those bands who should stop before they’ve started. That would be more efficient. That would make more sense. Strobes and feedback. Fireworks and salutations. Saturday ends.

Narcissist pseudo-folk lass. “Let it always be known that I was who I am.” That actually means nothing. Glastonbury: A Shindig of the Formally Meaningless. A song about chords and musical notes. I’m an A, duck. I’m a B, youth. I’m the glories of an E sharp minor, darling. A fuck with beard and tattoos fancies himself as a rock. Baseball cap, nose ring, camouflage jacket. He’s certainly not fighting against mediocrity… Apparently, different people want different things. Can we be exposed to this profundity without being utterly transformed? Razored up chav pants. Bringing us to the merciful edge of the end.

There was great excitement preceding the appearance of The Killers. I don’t know why. And the crowd loved singing along to their songs, which appear to be about nothing. And the singer gets all passionate and bangs on his heart with his fist… while singing at the same time… Old bass leg’s paying attention. The old guitarist’s got his leg on the footlights at the front of the stage. The good old salutation… the good old witless call and response. Someone with outstretched arm and a flare. I believe the lyric is “I’m a rebel…” – surely mine ears deceive me. But then again, rebellion can be bought for two quid a gesture these days. Barry Gibb in a gold bolero jacket, which he acknowledges is too small. I don’t know who he’s pointing at. I can’t imagine we’ll have vapid cunts reminiscing in 20 years’ time, along the lines of “Barry Stardust pointed out of the telly and I just knew he was pointing at me…” – but you never know… anything’s possible when nothing has meaning. “And old B. Stardust’s gnashers shone like diamonds, and I know that they sparkled for me alone. And he shat himself straining for that high note, and his excrement resembled the odour of sanctity, and I was inspired, and fifteen years later I bottled its essence and sold it as a perfume… BS, from the house of the great smell of Brut… splash it all over…” Flags with no meaning. Poodle nut. Three sisters. They know it’s hard to connect. They fear success. They were concerned with the issue of control. Despite all of this, they wanted him back, for he was a gentle man, apparently. That poodle is wearing glasses. Love comes in quantities that can be weighed and measured, rather than coming in spurts. Mouth opens like an idiot… when he comes back, he’ll get all the love she never gave him. It’s the NuWeR-Family groove courtesy of Chic. “Get up everybody and dance…” – blue skies… floating white cloudses… this is what you call an enjoyable time… a spider scuttles across the carpet, frightened into motion by the slap bass. Say what you like, old Nile’s a master magician… chacka chacka wow wow… over and over again. Hula hoop child… hairy chested common man. The soulful and winsome. “I must be going…” – she doesn’t want to leave him behind, she knows she’ll see him again, she’ll be thinking of him until then, she’ll miss the seasons and the land… it’s not clear where she’s going, or why. Surely it would make more sense to remain? Some incense burning wind chime with rainbow streamers hanging from a tree. I think she’s leaving because she’s made up her mind. A toaded beast with flowers in his hair. All start and stop fury. There are neither exceptions nor rewards. Stencilled kecks… that’s commitment for you. From the wolves of winter, they say. A child with a blue and pink Mohican. I wonder what his mum and dad do for a living? Fluorescent pink sox. Mirror shades from Primark. Sky blue guitars. Dangerous stuff, pal. You are hereby instructed that this is no place for warbled ‘sincerity’. Lies… forgetfulness… the flags are flowing with less energy… why bother to comb your hair when you can plait it to the side? The sky like the sands of the Kalahari. Pop ragga from a geezer who insists he’s on his way up. Throw in a few violins… that’s eclectic… hatred for haters… hatred for real… there’s nothing to object to in that, but the field of what’s open for hatred remains open to question. Life just bounces… parade of brass with tuba… actually, I don’t think there’s anything to object to in this. But something follows… play that mini-guitar like a banjo, E. Sheerhan. His heart was broken when he was six years old. He remembers it clearly. He was up to all sorts, doing feelings on country lanes and that. I believe he felt homesick. Watching the sunset over the castle on the hill and that. I don’t think he’s from round here. In fact, I’m sure of it. E. Sheerhan comes from nowhere at all.

Attercliffe and Darnall

“I first went to Attercliffe to see Spacemen 3 at the Take Two Club on Staniforth Road. It looks to me like no trace of the place remains, although I’m told that the building still exists and is now a Muslim community centre.

I know that I’ll have travelled to the Take Two on the 52 bus from Crookes, but I wouldn’t have remembered the date of the concert, were it not for the meticulously researched Spacemen 3 blog, which reliably informs me that it took place on 24 March 1988.

Apparently, the setlist consisted of three songs – ‘It’s Alright’, ‘Come Down Easy’, and ‘Walkin’ with Jesus’ – and a recording with a running time of 29 minutes 25 seconds is available to download from Dropbox. I might look into that sometime, if nostalgic yearning gets the better of me.

I can’t remember anything specific about the performance, beyond registering that it was good. I thought it resembled ‘An Evening of Contemporary Sitar Music’, which was recorded live at an arts centre in Brentford on 19 August 1988, and the timing suggests that was possible, although two of the songs from the setlist were from ‘The Perfect Prescription’, which was released in September 1987 and has been described as “a vision of a drug trip from inception to blasted conclusion, highs and lows fully intact.”

That was Spacemen 3 for you: taking drugs to make music for public schoolboys and revolutionary estate agents…”

Download: SPG presents Attercliffe and Darnall

Geographies of Violence

Processed with Blackie

“We are seeking original artistic contributions both for the cover and interior of an anthology titled, ‘Madness, Violence and Power: A Radical Anthology’. The book includes 20 chapters that traverse personal narratives of violence; institutional and institutionalized practices of knowledge production about ‘mental health’ and ‘mental illness’ informed by neoliberal capitalist logic; legislated violence done to people through social policy and law; and the places and spaces in which violence happens. The book seeks to challenge conventional understandings of madness and distress and give value to the knowledge and experience of people as mental health service users/survivors. Chapters are organized by four themes: 1) First hand accounts of violence; 2) prevailing problems; 3) law as violence; and 4) geographies of violence.

We are seeking one full colour image to be used as the front cover of the book, and four original black and white images to be used in the interior of the book to introduce each theme.

We would prefer images that speak directly to the subject matter rather than an abstract or pattern kind of design…

The book is co-edited by:

Andrea Daley, School of Social Work, York University, Toronto, Canada

Lucy Costa, Empowerment Council, Toronto, Canada

Peter Beresford, University of Essex, England…”

Download Geographies of Violence