Wednesday, July 11, 2018

The Inertia Variations

I rarely take advantage of the US$8.99 a month I spend on the MUBI art-film service I subscribe to, but I can honestly say I got my money's worth last night.


This story of The The's Matt Johnson and his 12-15 year song-writing/performing block was fascinating. In this documentary, which covers an extended period of his recent life, he sets up his own radio station (on short-wave, so it requires a massive Eiffel Tower-like antenna on the roof of his flat - he owns the apartment block). He plans to broadcast a midday-to-midnight stint which involves live-music (other musicians performing cover versions of his songs), and interviews with socially conscious (lefties, that means) people from around the world, while doing FB streaming and Twittering during the show. It is a complicated process and his room is crowded with assistants.

In the lead up to the broadcast, we see Johnson lie on his couch a lot, thinking deeply it is made clear, or watch him as he fiddles with a vast array of music technology in his crowded attic. His closet is full of identical bespoke shirts and pants so he doesn't have to decide what to wear each day. He drives his classic Rover in the slow lane. He wanders on desolate beaches and sits in lonely cafes writing. Your classic recluse. Importantly, he also muses on the grieving processes after the deaths of his younger brother, and a few years later, his mum, which seem to have precipitated his crisis. We meet his dad, his elder brother - a wonderful artist, and his son. It is also fascinating that his former partner is the documentary maker!

The voice-over of him reading John Tottenham's titular poem cycle was haunting, and the poems' theme reminded so much of the Pessoa book I have on my bedside table [see previous post].


John Tottenham

There was a time when I thought
I might have done something by now;
But that was long ago, and over the intervening
Decades I have shifted from prodigy to late-bloomer
To non-bloomer; I have passed my peak without having peaked
Or even begun the ascent, and unless there is something inherently
Salutary to the energy I expend in frustrating myself then
My sacrifices have all been in vain.

Fernando Pessoa (as Alvaro De Campos)

I failed in everything.
Since I have no ambition, perhaps I failed in nothing.
I left the education I was given,
Climbing down from the window at the back of the house.
I went to the country with big plans.
But all I found was grass and trees,
And when there were people they were just like the others.
I step back from the window and sit in a chair. What should I think about?


A little bit of suspense is introduced, concerning whether he will finish a song, any song (he has many, many notebooks of partially complete lyrics), and perform it live for his broadcast, which would mean singing in virtual public for the first time in so many years. [I don't want to give away any spoilers, but his voice is still strong.]

And there is so much to relate to for me, in both the film and the poem, seeing as how I haven't had any belief in my own writing since that first heart scare six years ago.

Sad, but eventually inspiring for procrastinators everywhere and for lapsed bloggers such as


Saturday, July 07, 2018

On Forgetting Everything.

Quote of The Day For The Aging (like E@L):

"Everything I've lived through I've forgotten as if it were something I had only vaguely overheard." Fernando Pessoa: The Book Of Disquiet.

For example -

Visiting Friend: That's near where you took me last time I visited.
E@L: You've been to Singapore before?
Visiting Friend (confused): About three months ago. We watched the footy with your mates. I was with my girlfriend. Same as the time before.
E@L (even more confused - no memory of this whatsoever): Oh, that's, um, right.

It's time E@L was put down. Seriously.

He did recall eventually, about 30secs late. How can anyone have conversation with this person?


E@L tries to read a snippet of Pessoa before he goes to sleep. His mordant pessimism makes your shitty day seem like brilliant success and you sleep easy.


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