Saturday, June 28, 2008

The Other Stuff Unheard - II issue

...reporting the news as they very nearly were! (manifesto)

50 Cent pens a children’s book

Who is the literary genius then? The new wave of celebrity writers has now become quite an institution, with hard-on, full-on and not- yet -universally-recognised buffoon rapper 50 Cent publishing his first ever children’s title – The Diary of a Penitent Pussy.

The book has been widely lauded as the cutting-edge of literariness and his mastery of prose has been littered with frantic applause. The faithful citizens of Queens Borough, New York City, have all praised the book as ‘a subtle tour de force, depicting with egregious sophistication and a touch of sickeningly well wrought sensuality, the real life of a pussy whose love conquests rival even that of Felix that Cat or Tom from Tom & Jerry’. Queens Borough, New York City, is in fact that birthplace of the rapper-turned-writer.

‘I think it’s about the relationship between animals and stuff’, 50 Cent was available to comment. And indeed, it is hardly surprising that given his stylish videos and the plaudits they have received in recent years, the rapper (real name Curtis Jackson) should settle down and write about the life of animals – a natural progression from the subjects portrayed and themes explored in his music videos.

The New York Times has likewise rated the book among its top-ten reads of the summer, calling it ‘the most profound piece of lyrical writing since UB40’s great hit – Rat in Me Kitchen’.

Celebrities-turned-writers have certainly done well out of their literary endeavours, with the most recent example being ex-Spice Girls diva Geri Halliwell whose series of children’s novels, Ugenia Lavender, have all but outsold giants in children’s fiction such as Roald Dahl and Beatrix Potter. The same phenomenal success is likewise expected from 50’s evidently painstaking efforts to promote his new book, for in the UK, the sanguinary debacle between the two rivalling publishers, Penguin Books and Oxford World’s Classics, as to which one of those would have the privilege of owning the rights of 50 Cent’s work, is a hotly-debated topic the progress of which The Economist has since been closely following.

In response to the question as to what inspired him to write a children’s novel, the rapper faithfully adhered to his trademark humility and had only this to say:
‘It was an urge, you know, quite unexpected. It seemed the natural thing to do, in the end. But I ain’t answering those sort of questions anyway. I’m just in it for the benefit of the doubt. You know I thought, well if a cat has nine lives as they say, and I got shot nine times, then something there matches up, and that’s how I came up with the title.’

Talks are already underway of 50’s next album, which is rumoured to be titled - Get Rich or Die Broke in Your Publisher’s Car. We understand that it will be a concept album, describing the events surrounding the rapper’s rise and fall in the literary business.

The Diary of a Penitent Pussy has also been nominated for the Public Toilet Literature Prize 2008, and is now available in bookshops throughout the world... and beyond.

Friday, June 27, 2008

The Leftovers of a Private Renaissance

School trips: signing up for one is like signing up a declaration of independence – one’s cares and responsibilities are momentarily swept away by the opportunity for exploration beyond the tedious realms of everyday life. School trips represent some kind of an outlet, a vent for one’s long-repressed desires which have consciously and unconsciously accumulated throughout the seemingly perpetual, dreary days of normal school existence. From this point of view, the trip that I experienced recently can safely be considered a true paradiso….
The last word there might have given it away, but about four months ago I found myself in Florence. Indeed, the ‘cradle’ of the Italian Renaissance offered me an escapade, a form of catharsis which somewhat enlightened me, purified me, purged (for at least a fleeting moment) some of my deep, internal inklings which had previously ailed me. Was it the painting, the sculpture, the architecture? One would be inclined to believe so but the answer lies elsewhere.
Since I am not writing the script for a soap opera, I’ll swiftly delve into the actual substance of what this trip represents, what it signifies and what conclusions I have drawn from it.
First of all, a key realisation that initialized this 4-day odyssey came early on, as I was half-sleeping on the coach that took us from Pisa to our desired destination - Florence. As I glanced at the nearing lights signalling our arrival at this labyrinthine city, I contemplated the twilight sky and the vista offered by the cupola of Florence’s central cathedral: the brilliantly-defined contours of the Duomo lined up against the cloudless bluishness of the dusky sky gave me a thrill, a sensation which amounted to hypnosis. This was not due to the excessive beauty of the scenery or the fresh Tuscan air, but quite the opposite in fact – it was the cosiness, the unpretentious simplicity of the mostly yellow and ochre painted houses that surrounded us.
It was late afternoon so the incipient darkness gave way for the watery crescent of the Moon and as such, the architecture itself was not as clearly visible so I was more or less forced to keep imagining the grandiose edifices that awaited us. It was at this point however that I grasped something…
People have the rather discouraging tendency to seek a meaning to life in life itself as a uniform continuum of time without clear frames of reference. In other words, as I set my eyes on the above-described view that the twilight sky and the Duomo offered I became conscious of the fact that one ought not view life in this manner because time itself is beyond us and as such, we should not ask the question ‘what is the meaning of life?’ but rather, ‘what is the meaning of this night?’. What we do tonight or tomorrow, well that’s something we have control over because the next night or day represents a tractable period of time over which we have at least some perceived choice as to what we make of it. Only a couple of hours before I was in rainy, ‘chavy’ London and now I was strolling around the streets of the quintessential Renaissance city. This stark, chiaroscuro-like contrast between ‘light and shade’ (helped of course by the swiftness of air-travel) was what prompted me to arrive to this seemingly simple conclusion because I genuinely became aware of my free will, and the fact that it is limited more by time than by space…
Such abstract thoughts were duelling within my mind and just like so many countless times before, the heart had already won this duel of sensations before the mind even got a chance to exclaim ‘en garde!’.
But such abstract, unfittingly innocent Wordsworthian thoughts had no place here on this trip I was quick to recognise. The cardboard cutaways that were the people I was required to march along with were hardly appreciative of the beauty or history of the city. Indeed, they were not totally oblivious to it as I presupposed at first, but for instance, the exquisite statues that adorned the colonnade of the Uffizi gallery were virtually non-existent for them even though they represented the absolute genius of the city: sculptural portraits of Leonardo, Michelangelo, Raphael, Galileo, Dante, Machiavelli were merely the ticks within the itinerary drawn before-hand and no-one even ventured to take photographs with them - they simply passed them by without a gist of recognition, or even the merest, most casual glance.
More to the point however, this actually led me onto the idea of what distinguishes the more mature, more mellifluously fine-tuned mind from the rather unripe, stubborn, as-green-as-chlorophyll consciousness of the average teenager: it is the ability to appreciate the symbolism behind physical beauty, preferring the substance found within rather than the elegant façade as was the case with those prepossessing statues outside the Uffizi. Sure, their charm is of course contained in their exquisite finish, but more importantly, they serve to depict certain figures of the past of immense historical value. Was I the only one who could appreciate that? Indeed, it was in my view an apt demonstration of where the two ends of the verdant and the ripe type of mind meet, for recognising the innerness, the ethereal symbolism of that which may initially lure you with its fine exterior, is no doubt, the art of appreciating art (even of you are blind-folded, or just blind). Upon seeing Michelangelo’s David in the Galleria Academia, one girl from our merry collegiate was evidently unimpressed, and denounced it as ‘just another sculpture’. Of course, it’s made from marble like most of the other sculptures, but then she failed to grasp the fact that its placement in the very heart of the gallery, is not at all coincidental, and what it represents, indeed, what it stands for, is of incommensurable significance because it is a true landmark of the world, and there’s no higher pedestal for it but that. Explaining all this to her would have been of no avail.
Feel free of course, to accuse me of excessive self-acclaim with this observation, but just as I have the right to breathe, I have the right to insight! In that case, let the assertiveness of my ego be my oxygen!
Moving on, the mostly Apollonian days of my trip were shamefully besmirched by the prevalently hot Dionysian nights. No, there weren’t any actual brawls (hence that ‘shamefully’ remark earlier) save for that of occasional quarrelling, but that was all merely the handy work of rose wine and my willingness to experiment. Either way, I decided to play the role of the jester - that agent provocateur disguised as Bacchus!
I ended up deliberately exaggerating my alcoholic inebriety and all of a sudden, in that tiny hotel room where there were 20 of us little lambs packed and stricken by the gin and tonic plague, I brazenly shouted them all down, and came up with a challenge: we were to have a little reciting contest! With an air of belligerent defiance, complimented well by my unique Falstaff impression, I indecently assaulted them with the slurs of Macbeth’s final soliloquy (you know the ‘sound and fury’ one) which to my great misfortune I knew by heart. They all ended up applauding in the end, but in those laudations could be discerned of course not the sonorous waves of admiration, but the violent dissonance of justified mockery, which note by note was petulantly dribbling upon my face like a broken roof leak
My half-drunkenness however was still urging me on with forceful vehemence, and my seemingly entertained audience likewise undertook the suspicious effort of cheering me on, evidently stirring up more trouble for my already crippled pride. I kept my head high, chin domineeringly up, and eyes bulging and glittering like crystal balls, affronting the very basic principles of decorum and Florentine humanistic dignity. Along came my next pitiable performance as I recited Hamlet’s ‘to be or not to be speech’ in its entirety, hiccupping for obvious symbolical reasons and with ill-fated promptness at ‘proud man’s contumely’.
Still, the aftershocks I was to experience later.
Disregarding the charade I had caused, I stormed out of the room, and out onto the deserted, narrow road where our hotel was stationed. The bulk of my physical weight I felt in my head, as I began lingering around the area, where nightlife thankfully lacked the vibrancy of early 20th century Monmartre, thus serving to sober me up quite refreshingly. I eventually took sanctuary in a small restaurant, where I sat down by myself, with a level of confidence which only a person who has just experienced a sudden bout of shamelessness is capable of. The quietness and laid-back atmosphere of the place was appealing to me.
I closed my eyes for a moment and reflected on the night’s happenings. Of course it would have all been forgotten by the morning, for the drinks would have taken care of this. Still, was it all necessary? Was the provocation I had witlessly masterminded really worth the indignity, and all for the sake of taking my chances only to see what would happen? One needs such experiences if only to atone later through the refined touch of imminent regret, which would later serve to exasperate the cerebral realm of our being.
Better be alone in one piece than be desired in several, I thought as I sat in that charming little restaurant all by myself. I took preference to a glass of white wine this time, desperately hoping that its superior bitterness of taste would resuscitate my fading will to behold my own reflection on the restaurant’s large window.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Just to Explain

Ben has telepathically somewhat anticipated my next post. Indeed, though we have both concurred as to the superiority of the term 'blok' to 'blog' in terms of designating our 'frustration outlets', as he likes to call them, I still feel its message has not been clearly stated.
Bearing this in mind, I posted something a few days earlier, which I feel was largely neglected, perhaps because I simply did not bother to explain the idea behind it. I have decided to start posting, from time to time, an 'irregular periodical' which I have christened 'The Other Things Unheard': I feel the name itself reflects the absurdist character which its contents will embrace, and it is also name that is plain and easy to remember. On top of that, it is also a vague pun on 'The Theatre of the Absurd' - all sufficiently self-explanatoty.
Now, what 'The Other Things Unheard' will involve, is the occasional post involving the odd mock-newspaper article with the frequent contributions of The Editor, who would competently opine on the given article. Think of this mock-newspaper belonging to what I would describe as an edenic society, where the hitherto ideal living standard of the people within it, is gradually waning due to the negative influence of certain institutions and philosophies which would only serve to corrupt it. Therefore consider my mock-articles and their contents as objects belonging to Pandora's Box, as they will be describing the evils which we know from our world, slowly creeping into this fictional Atlantis, which 'The Other Things Unheard' will give a voice to.
The articles will of course involve figures from our own world: celebrities, memebrs of the royalty, famous people still with us today, and likewise people for whom it would be physically impossible to join us for a cup of coffee these days...
I feel that such 'rubrics', even if they are not regular, will introduce some kind of coherence to 'bloks' and this will at least make them that bit more presentable, and more interesting overall.
So, the first issue 'The Other Things Unheard' is already out, and I'll warm it up in the microwave by referencing it again: it is experimental as you shall note, but its chosen theme should hardly surprise anyone here, and remember, it is meant to be satirical, though like all satire, it still bears certain tragicomedic touches here and there.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Of Small Steps and Giant Leaps

If you thought Wimbledon was smashing, think again...

"Most physicists believe the risk of a cataclysm lies in the realms of science fiction. But there have been fears about the possibility of a mini-black hole - produced in the collider - swelling so that it gobbles up the Earth. "

"Critics have previously raised concerns that the production of weird hypothetical particles called strangelets in the LHC could trigger the mass conversion of nuclei in ordinary atoms into more strange matter - transforming the Earth into a hot, dead lump. "

This is perhaps the only sort of experiment where the idea of Health & Safety seems to defy the point, but at least one thing is certain: we have long since moved on from Tesla's promethean experiments in his laboratory where the Earth was likewise under such threat had it been a perfect conductor...
Therefore, if we are to go down in a sudden apocalypse now, at least we'll be doing it in style, creating a black hole and thus taking part in the cosmic advancement of the Universe, rather than the egotistic nuclear war which would have only served to advance human interest...
Anyway, these people are actually worried about the Earth being swallowed up by an artificially created black-hole - sometimes I find it hard to understand them...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

"The Other Stuff Unheard" - an irregular periodical

Main article in the latest issue of ‘The Other Stuff Unheard’ today:

Last night, at approximately 5.55 pm, a man reportedly dressed in nothing but a plain white toga, has broken into a beauty salon, violently thrashing absolutely everything in sight. All windows were completely shattered, as the subject in question apparently used a brick to initially force his entry into the salon, which at the time was just about to close. All beauticians inside were shocked to suddenly discover this man bringing utter carnage to all of their equipment, behaving, according to eyewitness reports, as though ‘he was possessed by some evil spirit’, exhibiting obvious symptoms of paranoia. The motivations behind this man’s despicable act are yet unclear, though from all the eyewitness evidence now gathered, it seems that he was in his late 60s, perhaps early 70s, around 5’10’, with an extensive, bushy beard and a likewise thick, unkempt hair.
Apparently, his face was pale, though bearing a strange grin which incessantly adorned his face, terrifying all that were unfortunate enough to be inside the salon at the time. He was merely clad in a white toga, with nothing underneath, which the beauticians inside were curious to observe, and who were eventually able to provided the Police, with highly professional, detailed descriptions, noting the subject’s odd choice of dress, which they claimed was ‘rather old-fashioned’.
Moreover, some of the victims, despite some initial reluctance to talk, eventually reported that the man also on a few occasions yelled out, what the police now believe is his first name – ‘Democritus’.
A woman who witnessed the bizarre happenings in the beauty salon at the time, and whom we have kept anonymous for legal reasons, had this to say:

“It was only a second or so, when I turned my head to see this man who was holding a large, red brick in his hand, obviously intending to break the windows. I panicked and dropped my lipstick, but was helpless to do anything, as the man made his way inside, breaking everything he set his eyes upon, behaving like a wild animal. It was only when he looked me straight in the eyes, I immediately recognised him. It was Democritus, and I knew it.”

The man however, is still at large, and is believed to be very dangerous.
Here is a artist's interpretation of his face, composed of eyewitness accounts:

The Police are still appealing for more witnesses to come forward, as investigation gets underway.

Editor’s comments:

This case, though still very much fresh in our minds, has somewhat perturbed the government, as Parliament has now voted in favour of a new bill, which I believe is a direct consequence of this particular incident. The bill itself involves the creation of a new institution, which has its own ideological interests, giving us ample opportunities for discussion, not least because of the steadfastness of the Parliament in voting it through. In brief, it was the government’s official reports which I have carefully examined. What they aim to get across to the wider public is that the man in question was reportedly ‘resurrected’ – a new term coined by this new institution calling itself the Church, which essentially means ‘ to raise from the dead’. What this worryingly suggests, is that the culprit was actually the real ‘Democritus’ – an ancient Greek philosopher, who lived between c.460 BC and c.370 BC. He was one of the first thinkers to come up with the theory of matter being composed of minute, indivisible ‘atoms’. Certainly, the appearance of the man bodes well with his alleged identity, and the Police as well as the Government, are insistent that it was in fact Democritus risen from the dead, though they are somewhat suspiciously reluctant to comment on the yet unexplained nature of his motives and anti-social behaviour.

Nevertheless, what strikes me as odd, is this precise insistence on the government’s part to propagate the view that he was in fact, ‘resurrected’, and certainly the number of times that this neologism has been used in the official report of this particular case, is staggering, amounting to some 2, 000 occasions where the term appears within the report. I cannot help but be disturbed by this number, as the actual nature of the investigation into the incident seems more shrouded in mystery, and more complicated than the incident itself. Never on one occasion did anyone note a more likely explanation, that the man in question could be a simple poser, who for all we know, could have escaped from a nearby mental hospital, managed to somehow acquire this type of clothing and set upon himself the task of anarchy – the corollary being this precise incident. Certainly a more logical explanation closer to the truth, and in spite of all this, no official has probed into its likelihood as of yet, and it does not look as though someone with any sort of influence ever will. The government remains adamant as to the truthfulness of the outcome of the official investigation into the case, and what is even more worrying, and I daresay frightening, is that the Parliament with its new bill, has gone to great lengths to assert this view as an unquestionable truism; and all this in spite of a far more obvious theoretical resolution to the case.

The government has likewise invented a new term to denote the ideological foundations of the ‘church’ – ‘religion’. This ‘religion’ is apparently linguistically extracted from the unlikely coupling of ‘relic’ and ‘Aegean’, with the latter being a reference to the civilization of ancient Greece and its constituent states, all situated on the Aegean sea (and in fact, rather revealing of the fact that I my opinion all that this ‘religion’ includes is rewritten narratives of old legends and myths originating precisely from this region).

While this blend of the Antique with the modern is admittedly, artfully done, I cannot eschew the facts, and this new institution does not require close scrutiny in order to observe its overall bizarreness. Even recently, it has released a book which it calls ‘The Bible’, and which is now available in unlimited quantities in all bookshops. If you thought that was worrying, you ought to note that only yesterday a book shop manager was apprehended in custody for allowing one of the copies of this book being displayed in the ‘Fiction’ section of the shop...
I would end on an objective note: the case continues.