Sunday, February 07, 2016


the ideal birthday present for my dad, the boxed set of deadwood, series 1 to 3. open up a can of peaches dad, it's in the mail.

Wednesday, February 03, 2016

the surf brings me back to the moment. 
i'm here now, the perfect place to be. 
i chat with my dad over skype, i miss him heaps, wish i could just be there but i'm here. we talk about a lot of stuff, books, kabbalah, david bowie and it's his birthday! i forgot so have to get something in the post but what? 
i don't know.
better go have a think.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

in the foggy haze of communist smog appeared two stars that slowly revealed themselves to be the eyes of my memory keeper, she was sitting back in her high backed chair with that mona lisa look, part oriental beauty and part unsolved mystery.
we had run out of tea and the music had gone sub sonic, my bones vibrated with some deep throbbing bass line...
...so i returned before i was swallowed up, came back to london with an australian, she had warmth and a kind nature, and i clung to her until she turned cold. the vampyre inside me consumed it all. something like west berlin has a wall around it for a reason i thought, it's not to keep the people out but to keep the darkness in. i'd spent several afternoons and evenings in the east and i had always found it warmer, friendlier and richer despite the obvious lack of freedom people were genuine and unpretentious, down to earth. i never would have wanted to live in the east but it had a lot going for it. 
i guess i liked tension back then, now i despise it. if the wind chances direction it interferes with my serenity. but back then i liked the environment to have a little edge, some conflict and danger was good for my creative juices. cities like london in 1977 to 1979 were fantastic as punk exploded in the skools and suburbia, then new york before they cleaned it up, wow, there was a zoo station, man times square was indescribable and then west berlin, satellite of western civilisation, capitalism and freedom. i'd made temporary homes in the nexus of tension and i was soaking it up, when you are young you can do it but as i recall it youth was wasted on the young, but i always knew i was a writer so i soaked up everything i could through my young mind, what i didn't understand or comprehend i would later digest when i matured. i collected impressions, feelings, sounds and ones, colours, shapes and ideas. those albums the idiot, low, lust for life, heroes they do capture the berlin i lived in, the strange eccentric characters. the art of the place, the hopelessness the depression, the absurdity, the amazing singularity. fun baby baby we like your lips, the history and decadence, it's all in those albums so when people return to capture the berlin energy like u2 tried with 'achung baby' the energy had changed by then, it's safer and less volatile, more consumable, marketable and popular. when low came out no one knew just what it was, those moron journalists singing out now about how much bowie meant to them forget i was there, i read their reviews and low was slammed. the record company didn't want to promote it, it had no advertising potential, no hit single but mr jones pushed because he believed in himself and what he was doing and now those very idiots who slammed it put it on their lists as the most influential album of all time. i don't blame them really, it takes a lot of skill to listen to it. skill and context, side two captured something pop music had never done. it had moved into impressionistic painting, captured a new age of music, heralding many other bands and musicians who were experimental and willing to go just a little bit further than making a buck. lou reed had already done this but he didn't have what david bowie had to loose. 
that city, west berlin was something else. as soon as i stepped on the ground there i felt the energy surge, it was so powerful if you were attuned it could drive you insane, i saw this happen to people or channelled with the discipline few artists have would lead somewhere interesting. 
i'd been somewhere interesting and it had visited itself upon me. i owe that partly to david bowie and my ex wife who paid for my fare, and my friend martin von donaldson who i have lost contact with since he  surprised us all and became a rabbi. it's strange how the past comes back sometimes, i hope he does. we have some unfinished music to make but the chances are looking slim. when bowie died i thought he would contact me but he never did as much as i reached out to him. fortunately i'm in contact with some friends from that time, mr chris kibble whom plays a mean piano, tez the wonder kid on guitar who has been a great friend, teacher and true wise man. jean whom is also a sage and friend. they are my oldest friends and i remember them well but it was martin who brought us all together and we await his return like some leper messiah. ha!    
...the place was empty. 
i was alone. just me and my memories.    

Monday, February 01, 2016

the atmosphere shifted, the strange music slowed right down to a few beats and the faces of people seemed to distort as i focused upon the woman who had given me the tea. she was staring at me intently and her lips were like an exotic fish, pastel coloured half pouting but her eyes shone like jewels as i watched them sparkle and take over the room.
uncertain if i had closed my eyes i was drifting in time, the memories had flowed over me like fresh river water but now they were carrying me downriver into deep time.  
i was so skinny, almost skeletal, my body was all angles and straight lines, sunken cheeks and part of the berlin night between my ears, half human half creature. wrapped in tight leather and a peaked black cap, my boots were older than me, an old nazis i had procured from a vintage shop in nuekolln, they were supremely comfortable and i loved stomping around the snow in them. well you old nazi i'm wearing your boots now i would think, hoping he would be cringing in the spirit realm. i was talking to ghosts in a city spilling over with them, and the strange thing was i was also a ghost but i didn't know it yet. i was loosing myself, falling into the dark zone of europa, a history of tears, bones and ghosts. sometimes i would see shadows where there were none, disembodied things were everywhere if you knew where to look so for most of the time i would be in bars and clubs drinking to stay warm and escape the phantoms, talking to girls or driving around in the back of a beaten up old merc. 
the car belonged to von donaldson's friend peter, a dealer in medical antiques. 
one night we smoked some very strong hash in the back room of his shop and drunk cognac from the previous century, a bunch of decadent expats at the end of the line, the crossroads of all influence, a city of random fate hurling us one by one on our way. a city whose history had burnt and whose future was rising from ashes, whose shadow was cast as long as it was wide. i was out of time, money and luck stumbling around in jackboots, unwashed and somewhat slightly dazed. 
peter was boring me to tears with intricate details of his skiing holiday in austria, martin was sitting on a milk crate discussing pool strategy, the room was filling up with smoke and there was no ventilation, i could feel myself phasing out while peter was talking and talking and i was drinking and smoking until all i heard was a fade in fade out atonal sound, 'wha wha wha wha wha wha' that was pulsing in and out, there was no air in the room any more. i just fell, straight as a ruler and just as rigid. passed right out but old peter just carried on talking even though i was on the floor being helped up by martin and some drummer from a band called the planets. they lifted me right back to where i was standing next to peter whilst with his story not even acknowledging my temporary absence, didn't even miss a beat and i just continued as if nothing had happened.  
we would always end up at der jungle, the one with the fashion police, that balcony overlooking the tiny dance floor, i never noticed that balcony until a few months of clubbing when i looked up to see a whole strata of nightclubbers looking down at us.
my girlfriend was an austrian air hostess called gabrielle. for some reason i was always going out with air hostesses, mostly whom worked for dan airlines, they were gorgeous but way to far gone to ever come back. i was pretty out there myself but i never follow trends, i never follow crowds and i just never really follow so i was outside her scene. 
gabrielle was always dancing, always on something or the other, always luring me into her with her sexy movements and motions. to be honest i didn't need luring i was quite happy to be trapped by her many charms. we didn't seem to talk much, my austrian was zero, my german was abysmal and i don't think she really liked talking in english and so our communication was all non verbal. i didn't care, never been good at small talk anyway. so we had this strange relationship. we would meet on the dance floor, we would embrace and kiss and dance together, she would watch me doing my crazy jungle stomp and i think was impressed with my originality and uninhibited ability to dance to my own beat and then she would lead me home to her apartment somewhere where if we were lucky we would be in bed before sunrise. gabrielle spoke a different language, her's was fluid, body movements and theatrical gestures, like a dolphin playing with a surfer she elegant and supremely decadent. i'd never take her to my apartment although it was big enough, my room was sparse, a mattress and a pile of books, a few candles, there was never any food there and there were always people coming and going. 
i hardly ever saw daytime back then, my existence was totally nocturnal. i liked that club as it played the kind of music i could dance to, tribal, organic and funky. it was a good place to meet people, i never found a similar club like it ever again. one day gabrielle flew away and i never saw her again. i wasn't to fussed, i had no expectations and always knew a relationship with her would be transient and beautiful, strange and surreal. the city got a lot colder after she left.
i was always looking for heat. winter was hard, everyone just got absurdly drunk. the wall was everywhere i went it would just loom out in front of you, it was always present so you could never forget where you were, tanks rolled down the streets, german, american, english and russian, every night there was some kind of riot, cars burning upside down. punks, hippies, zen masters, junkies, draft dodgers, speed freaks, artists, the city was spilling over with them. sex was everywhere, i never saw a city so turned on as west berlin. 
they had clubs where people just fucked on tables while you ate a burger. i was living on whiskey, weed and poppy cake, occasionally on market day i'd wander down to buy some bread and a big block of cheap cheese. 
some afternoon's when the weather was not so severe, it may have been spring i wandered over the bridge and picked up some onion bread and some cheap cheese which i purchased every week, the markets sold all sorts of produce but in those days i was kinda not an eater but i did like my cheese. for some reason it was getting cheaper and cheaper each visit or i was getting more and more for the same price. so in the end i had to ask my cheese dealer why it was so cheap only to be told it was from the part of norway that had been contaminated by radioactivity during the chernobyl disaster a few months ago. there i am eating fucking radioactive fucking cheese. in those days there was no health inspector, people could sell anything, in a few years they would be selling part's of the berlin wall. 
there was a greek guy called steel who played keyboards, he would always walk into a room and spit on the floor and rub his spit into the carpet or wood. he would often come over in the middle of a cold night and we would drink, get stoned and play cricket to warm up. indoor cricket with a real bat and cricket ball, and there was no holding back. our place was big but inevitably windows would get smashed. fuck, then it would get cold. after a few months of this i became adept at fixing broken windows with tape.
some nights i would wake up in the early hours, it would be freezing, my bones would be like ice bones freezing me from the inside out, sometimes i would sit in the kitchen with the oven on and open just to warm myself. outside dogs would be frozen on the street, the bars would be emptying people out and they would stumble along reichenberger strasse. 
next door was a bar frequented by older berliners, often men and middle aged whores all by the end of the night so drunk they couldn't walk, talk or find their way home. so one night i wake up and wrap myself in a big black cape, the classic kind with high collar and red silk lining on the inside. i roll myself a joint, the north london four skin, a spliff and gaze out at the window below. it's about 4am and the bar next door must be closing as a few people stumble out and stagger down the street. they only have to look up slightly to see me. my joint burns down and the awful stink of industry from the east manifested in some dark ambient cloud appears over the horizon. a lone figure ambles out from the bar, he is holding a bottle and taking large swigs from it. each step he takes is random, he's all over the place, two steps forwards one step back, he makes several attempts to bring the bottle to his lips but can't quite manage it and he's confused about which direction he should walk in. i gaze downwards and he suddenly stops walking and looks up.
our eyes make contact, he drops the bottle and i watch it explode into fragments on the pavement, it makes no sound but the man is open mouthed in horror, struck  by the shock of seeing me he runs away into the night.
and then it dawns on me, he's seen a strange naked man smoking a joint wrapped in a cape staring down at him. he's drunk and disorientated  so perception mutates but he would have a good story to tell tomorrow at the bar. i watch him disappear in the distance and then my gaze shifts to the reflection in the glass. i'm not there, just the cape and a burning joint.
outside i looked for the stars to guide me but the smog blocked out the sky, the city was consumed by it and i had been consumed by the city. 
   
      
        

Thursday, January 28, 2016

i was locked out of my head, it was raining, the clouds were low. i was in a cold climate, the birds were being aggressive, flapping wings, making shrieking noises and swooping in far to close for my liking.
a man with a dog came towards me, some small eastern european cars drove passed, the streets were empty otherwise.
the dog stopped and pissed on the side of the street, the man pulled the lead and the dog moved away reluctantly leaving a splash on a wall. 
i let them pass me, blending into the wall as best i could, i don't think the man noticed me but the dog looked at me curiously as he was dragged away.
across the street was a cafe, it was getting dark and i needed to access my memory, get some information why i was here. i bunched the collar of my jacket around me put my head down and walked across the big road. while i walked i searched through my pockets, some coins and notes, i looked to see the currency, it looked like greek writing, vaguely familiar. 
the cafe was tiny and it was packed with people, there was nowhere to stand let alone sit so i just squeezed through the crowd, i seemed to be sucked in and swallowed up, walking deeper into the cafe i realised it was larger than i originally thought, just narrow as i descended deeper inside to it's bowels.
as i walked in the people were all glamorous and beautiful, dressed in elegant clothes and adorned with jewels but the further inside i walked the more the people began to change appearance, their clothes less sophisticated, they wore costumes and some were naked, a dwarf in a ringmasters suit cracked a whip, some girls in heavy make up laughed and blew kisses as i walked by, smoke filled the room making it difficult to see but i figured i would continue down, deeper inside.
i came to a small table, where a lady in a silk gown seemed to be waiting for me, she gestured for me to join her.
someone in a long black suit brought us a tray of drinks, tea.
the tea pot was ornate, perhaps chinese but quite ancient and decorated with jade and emerald. small matching cups were placed in front of us, and two chinese fortune cookies. the lady nodded and then reached outwards to fill my cup. steam rose and carried with a scent of sweet wild spice that relaxed me and made me think of being in a warm bath, in a marble room.
'the tea will replenish your memory' she whispered.
i smiled and sipped it slowly but not before bringing the cup to the tip of my nose and inhaling the fragrance. the smell unlocked my time in the berlin salt bath. west berlin, a long time ago, i was naked and swimming in a big salt water pool with other berliners. i sipped the tea and remembered i lived in kreuzberg on richenberger strasse, in-between the bar and the church. 
i remembered my years there, it flooded back, der jungle night club where i perfected my one and only dance move the jungle stomp. those crazy nights playing indoor cricket drunk of whisky and stoned on hash, the strange bars i used to frequent, remember the one with sand everywhere. oh my how they flooded back, a tap turned on and even trivial things, a shop that sold coat hangers, ka de ve where i bought my organic indian tea, zoo station, nollendorfplatz and the metro. we used to hang with some strange cats back then. i was a vampyre getting up at dusk and heading to bed at dawn, i remember the cold winter and my quest for the heat but now, where are we now?





Monday, January 25, 2016

i skirt the outer limits, the peripheries, the edges, a shadow detective meshed into the occult and dark magicks, not quite there but not quite here. there must be solutions amongst all fringe sciences, philosophy and practices but each one is imperfect, most fakery, some just to dangerous. there is just one that appears born from the vast aeons of pre-creation, it comes to me from the gift of my dreams, the application of an old trick i used once in an incarnation i felt uncomfortable with. it's the reversal of time, to make it flow counter to my own, a uniquely internal alchemical process, a subconscious adjustment. i need certain materials to do this, preparations are required, a ritual to focus and sharpen the concentration. 
i complete my acts in silence, alone, drifting through space, through the unknown, in a void filled with my own self. the deeds are done, all is still.
there's nothing left to do but live, going forwards now. the future travels through us relentlessly, my photosensitive mind captures it all in a single image called now that changes all the time.
i took the train into the superficial city, somewhere in a suburb i gazed out at the streets and saw you, a single poster in the mundane world. it seemed to be misplaced, out of context with everything else. that profile and the stars staring at me as i took that very moment to raise my head from my book and look out the window. my book by the way was berg's 'zohar explained' which seemed slightly significant, but then again...
the city was murky, a mass of people wandering around under grey skies, children dragging parents along everywhere, religious groups out preaching from their book, hellfire and brimstone and cafe's over spilling with elegantly dressed peoples, i myself being discrete and blending in chameleon-like with the greyness, the un noticed. you know they fucked up my hair. no longer long and flowing, now more like some sort of scouring brush you would clean an oven with. i was furious at the stupid teenage hairdresser who pretended to listen to my instructions when i stated their importance. anyway it will grow back and i will manage but for the moment i feel self conscious and vain, there is nothing worse than bad hair.
i picked up a copy of norman mailers book 'moonfire' which i had been wanting to get for a long time. i first saw it about 20 years ago, in large format but today i noticed it reprinted in smaller edition so i picked it up. i'm still reading, 'limit' and halfway through bergs book so i can't start another just yet.
i waled into the chinese area of the city, hive central where my friend and i used to go. it's been spruced up, looks cleaner and there's hub of activities, hordes of people feasting on noodles and lotus cakes. it feels good for a moment to be lost in a crowd. on the train back i must have fallen into a deep sleep, woken as we passed some central coast waterways, i followed the rivers and estuary's, small battered houses, tiny unkept gardens, the occasional boat and then the oyster farms stretching out. the water was still, for a moment the sun came out and it all looked wonderful, like a imminent holiday.
    

Friday, January 22, 2016

rain steals my day, it's a beautiful thief, nourishing the environment and depleting my spirits, i can't surf in the rain. i want to throw a tantrum. i sit in my studio and look at it falling, drops exploding upon the palm fronds in morning light. big dark storm clouds black out, far out, it feels like sunday evening on a friday morning, and i feel like i'm dreaming.
later i pace up and down, in one room out the other, can't read as my thoughts are half formed. the 'limit' narrative gets mashed into my own. i float through space towards the sun adrift, isolated, alone, isolar, i think of... 'subterraneans' that magnificent sound, your vocals come out of the music like a ghost, man that was incredible. i see on bowiebook csm that stupid critic from the old nme who slagged you off saying, 'it's the last nail in his coffin' when he reviewed 'heroes' is now singing your praises. what a prick, i feel like writing to him and pointing out to his zillion followers what a wanker he is but you would probably have forgiven him long ago and found it funny, just like you did martin amis. 
'flash in the pan' ha! not many got the reference in blackstar, especially the video but i did, a very funny moment you always were a step ahead. i recall you saying how much you enjoyed 'money' i did to, i liked most of his books except 'yellow dog' which i should try again but 'zone of interest' is probably his best. 
anyway it's still raining here, and everyone says hi.   

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

i surf the blues away, every morning at the crack of dawn, each wave brings me home, each thought drifts over my head and out into the endless white noise of static. it's a strange feeling all this energy in the air and i fulfil my promise and work it out, work through it, work on it until it just works.
i surf, i think about you, i think about me, i think about death, your's, and mine. that's what it's all about isn't it? 

you went out perfectly man, with grace and style, and dignity and creativity and there's so much love for you, from humanity. 
i have only really played the blackstar cd, not listening to your previous recordings yet as i am still discovering blackstar. i did play 'in the heat of the morning' as i've loved that song for ages, the words particularly and i wanted to hear them again becuase it's a romantic song and i always think of you as a romantic despite some dark social commentary you kept a romantic heart.  
i see you stuck with your buddhism in the end. it's an elegant choice and top of my list although who knows what goes through a mans mind in the circumstances of ones death. actually i do. it's all about letting go, i understand it but nonetheless instinctively we cling to life. because we want to be with our children and family and people we love. because we are scared. just because. i'm so glad you were with your family. 
i played blackstar really loud at sunset, i didn't cry, even at 'dollar days', i like the way you rock out of that one and into 'i can't give everything' the sad songs now sound so strong when i hear them, so full of your strength. 
anyway, i feel this energy around, it may not last but it's there unifying people who celebrate your life. i can't think of many people who have ever done that, facebook is bowie book now and it means something. it means for a moment there is no hate, no division, no bullshit just a genuine feeling of love for you. that's what's happened man, everyone knows you now and everyone loves you.

the surf spits me out and sends me back to mission control where i start to clean up, i have a lot to look forwards to, a lot to do.   

     

Sunday, January 17, 2016


Sigma Librae, Spica, Alpha Virginis, Zeta Centauri, SAA 204 132, and the Beta Sigma Octantis Trianguli Australis all very close to and pointing at Mars. That's a gift from Belgium but I think I speak for all us Earthlings when I say it's from us all. I heard they want to re name Mars itself, but I feel one cant play with mythology like that Mars has it's own place. I think perhaps this new constellation is more appropriate. It's shape is the ZIG ZAG from Aladdin Sane so as I am an avid star gazer I will be able to look up and see your stars man. That makes me happy. 

Saturday, January 16, 2016


it's the sad days for a while here at mission control. i'm mourning you. i can't even eat (which may be a good thing) i need a big bag of weed for this one, while i comprehend this loss and this effect upon my very soul.
i know it will pass in some slow time and i know you would not wish me to stay in one place to long. 
i had a beautiful e mail from my father. it said, 'i know you must be heartbroken, he was your hero. god bless him.'
my old man! that's gotta make you laugh, he was always yelling at me to take that wretched ziggy stardust off the turntable so he could play his trini lopez albums ha, i bet that makes you smile. it was simple and heartfelt i guess but it was my mother that really surprised me a few days later when i finally spoke to her, she said, 'he was so much part of your life we feel like we have lost a son.'
my mum said that!
she reminded me how my room was filled with posters of you. i can't remember that, i know i had one massive 'low' poster but then my memory does have a few leaks.
this is a different kind of loss for me because i don't want to let you go just yet, i wanna keep hold of this moment in time and it's influence but a few days ago i wrote some words about light from the sun, and how it is a few minutes old by the time it hits the earth. it's the light from the past that enables us to perceive and motivate in the present and prepare for a future. so while i try to let you go, i'm going to embrace the light you left me and try to look for a better tomorrow. i know that's what you would want me to do so i'll just take this moment... to say... farewell, my hero. 



Tuesday, January 12, 2016

vale david bowie
strangely i'm about two hundred pages into the huge novel called limit where the main characters are travelling on the maiden voyage of the space elevator and they are about to meet a guest with different coloured eyes who is going to sing for them. the characters name get's mentioned about 10 pages later but by then it's obvious whom frank schatzing is writing about. 
there's a conversation where the inventor of the elevator and bowie are chatting and bowie reveals he's in his 90's only to be told, 'you look remarkably young.'
i read that this morning, and about seven hours later some one text-ed me bowie has died. 
i checked with duncan bowie's feed and it was legit. 

it's impossible for me not to shed tears, i can't even begin to write how much bowie meant to me and about a million other london kids growing up in the 70's. i must have been around 12 when i saw him on TOTP's preforming starman in glitter suit and with a star on his forehead. He leaned into the camera and thus my room, and said, 'i had to phone someone so i picked on you.'
from that moment my life changed.
pin ups, ziggy, aladin sane, i was getting my hands on everything.
i vividly recall getting diamond dogs and playing it in my room over and over until my parents went nuts, the vinyl wore down the needle, i knew the words inside out, candidate, sweet thing, candidate reprise, that whole epic was so amazingly cool, i went out and read 1984 straight away, i read burroughs and it was like education really began for me, my education. not some curriculum the government rams down your neck at the sausage factory, this was me hungry to learn everything i possibly could about this world bowie inhabited. it was my world now. 
bowie wrote our lives, he did. ask any london kid my age. without him in the world it's like our soundtracks just stop. thankfully i have an equal love of kilbey's music so let's hope he keeps knocking out the classics but with bowie i guess he came back, back from the dead. and then he died. it's stumped us all.
he gave us 'the next day' a retrospective mish mash of his past glories completely reborn into brand new songs that sounded fresh and brilliant, only the discerning listener would know what he had done, it was as though he had never gone away. and then blackstar. which now takes on a different light in the knowledge he knew he was going to die whereas we didn't have a clue. the lyrics all begin to take shape, reassembled in light of this dark truth.
i don't know what to say, i love bowie. i dragged my pregnant wife to see him twice over two continents, she wasn't such a fan but i wasn't thinking of her, no child of mine will miss out on the experience of bowie live, the thin layer of skin was exposed to many influences and the developing embryo evolved into a highly intelligent, beautiful member of the human race. 
i saw bowie play many times in many guises, and i saw the final sydney show, right in the front row. amazing. i took jaci my lesbian friend along and we screamed like teenagers and cried when he played fantastic voyage. 
but with his final album i believe he completely redefined himself yet again. not just lyrically and musically but also as a statement on the three most important aspects of humanity. art, life and death. 
i'm really sad, sad for him, his family and my selfish self because i want more yet i'm happy he died at peace and with the people he loved, and i'm happy that he came back one last time and surprised us all. lazarus indeed.
there's never going to be another individual like bowie again.
although i'm deeply emotional about this, i'm also very aware when you die it's not the end, you just transition to a different frequency. so david, i'm tuning in. god bless you.



  


Sunday, January 10, 2016



obviously people will compare the new bowie album with his past body of work, it's important to apply some frame of reference, so i'll start by saying this fit's somewhere in the earthling / outside spheres but let me state, it's just a frame of reference because the blackstar album is unlike any bowies previous works and i think does a great disservice to apply that kind of comparison without acknowledging this is a unique piece of work. 
the other aspect is to make a big deal of the jazz musicians playing rock. yeah i guess all that's important if you need a genre but bowie is way beyond genre. possibly the only pop musician who deserves that status. there's never been any individual who has imprinted upon the lives of so many and spawned so many styles so lets just for this moment give him some credit and look at the music on blackstar for what it is, a new bowie album.
it's magnificent. there's so much going on in the mix even when you think there's nothing happening, there's layers to his sound that just keep revealing themselves. he's in good hands with visconti who had applied his magick here. bowie is not one man, it's a team of people contributing, the musicians here conjure some dark brooding, sonic tones, simple riffs become complex, drum patters shift and change like water, the sax drones and throbs, blurts and squirts, it's pushing forwards all the time over some incredibly organic bass. there's subtle tonality in here and then suddenly it clobbers you like a very hard massage but never assaults or batters, it's extraordinary.
then there's the voice. completely sweeping through everything, picking you up and taking you away, god, that voice is everything, it harmonises with itself, it shifts over itself like some personality disordered doppelganger, the song 'the girl loves me' is made up of two obscure languages, one being nadsat (from a clockwork orange) the other polari an obscure london slang for gays but bowie sings it with the kind of commitment only he delivers, it's a magnificent song which does remind me slightly of the obscure  'untitled no.1' from the soundtrack album 'buddha of suburbia' just fleetingly. 
the title track is saturated in darkness but suddenly halfway through becomes something else, a ray of light, a different song altogether only to return where it started from. there's talk that this song was written about isis, i think it may well have been, but at the end of the day it don't matter what it is about, it's opaque and could be about anything. it's a beautiful opening song, filled with wonder and mystery. there's drum patterns and loops and percussion textures that shift time signatures, there's saxophones going mental, there's bass lines that are unfathomable and even a space drum that actually sounds cool for once. the saxophone blurts and squawks as the whole song shifts into another phase and bowie does his vocal changes that make you wonder where he's taking you. that dark gloomy sound is now suddenly much lighter until he kicks in again with his backing vocals all dread and creepy. there's some great synth playing on here, just tiny runs that layer the whole song adding richness. i feel that what he may be doing is using free jazz styles but between electronic instruments.  
'tis a pity she's a whore' kicks in building to a cacophony of sax, keys and percussion. bowies voice on this as the song ends is great, he's really kicking back and just cooking along, almost enjoying the groove.
lazarus is my fave at the moment, possibly as it's related to the play bowie wrote and therefore connected to the final days of jerome newton, the alien who fell to earth. i adore it, music and lyric.

just like that bluebird. 
okay i can't write anymore about this album anymore, buy it. it's fucking the best few bucks you ever spent and you can listen to it on repeat and it will always be like hearing it for the first time. it's invaluable to anyone who thinks bowie is the bees knees, or those that wish to know why he is an important artist, it's all in here waiting for you. 

   

Saturday, January 09, 2016

big waves, lot's of beaches closed, i sit on south avalon headland looking down at the hardcore surfers ride. they effortlessly slide down the face of giant forces of nature, make it look so easy. i 'm up there watching about twenty surfers wondering if i could body surf those waves but like clint says, man's gotta know his limit.
i see some old faces, chew the fat with some avalon people. it's nice but it also reminds me why i left. to much talking, sitting around drinking coffee although in those days i had friends, now i feel i don't really need any company. what's there to say that hasn't been said.
i think if i find a girl i wanna stick with she and i will just spend most of the time in silence. a silent girl. is there such a thing?
i leave avalon feeling i got out just in time, the place was a village now it's a town, the place was a community now it's a stage. it was magickal, now it's double bay and triple pay. the magick long gone. 

Friday, January 08, 2016

light from the past illuminates the present, the face of this moment is an explosion. all that we know fit's inside our minds, yet more is unknown outside. light is metaphor, it's not what we think, it's tied to a language we can only navigate with wisdom and knowing, a meditative practice perhaps but it's not simple buddhism or some eastern philosophy, it's the essence of a western tradition we like to reject in our fury and mindlessness. 
here i am bathed in old light, in the garden of an eden, in the temple of this present moment, thinking about nothing in particular. the abyssinian banana plants have such big leaves, they cast a nice shadow where i can sit in my cool spot watching the bees buzz and the big leaves dance over my head. the tiger grass gently configures in its corner as it grows protecting me from the intrusion of some yonder construction.
along i drift, sown streets and alleyways, roads and avenues, shopping malls, churches, farms, winery's, spas and wide empty spaces, sub tropical pockets of bushland and there waiting for me, the waves. 

Thursday, January 07, 2016

true detective season 2. mild spoilers ahead but not enough to ruin the show.

despite the negativity surrounding true detective's second season i must confess to really loving it, not just for it's complex story but the characters and the semi mystical sub text, the soundtrack and the cinematography. 
the difficulty is that whereas season 1 was obvious in it's literary references season 2 is somewhat opaque.  
the original western book of the dead was written by a guy called  alfred schmielewski aka yogi narayana whom was also mysteriously murdered under unsolved circumstances.
the book claims that a yogi can leave his / her physical frame when they wish, therefore they have left the body long before it is dead. the body does not die but becomes something else. now things get tricky here as yogi narayana goes on to say, 50% of the population cannot transcend their own selves, they are not capable of understanding consciousness and therefore unable to contribute it. he mentions sufi mystic yazid who also says, ' humanity is asleep, few are awoken.'
at it's heart the characters are 4 completely different personalities one a gangster who are attempting to overcome their own natures and gain insight it what it means to be good while doing things that appear bad against a backdrop of corruption, madness, brutality and what one could be called evil. the world.
in the book of the dead travellers in the afterlife are given spells and enchantments to navigate their way into the afterlife and not the underworld. the underworld being rebirth.
clues are scattered through the narrative but they are not easy to find, it's all there. 
the last episode is particularly powerful, because emotionally we want these characters to make it, we know they deserve it and we know we have been their judges. 
i loved this tv series, such clever writing. so rare for tv.
 


“If then you do not make yourself equal to God, you cannot apprehend God; for like is known by like.
Leap clear of all that is corporeal, and make yourself grown to a like expanse with that greatness which is beyond all measure; rise above all time and become eternal; then you will apprehend God. Think that for you too nothing is impossible; deem that you too are immortal, and that you are able to grasp all things in your thought, to know every craft and science; find your home in the haunts of every living creature; make yourself higher than all heights and lower than all depths; bring together in yourself all opposites of quality, heat and cold, dryness and fluidity; think that you are everywhere at once, on land, at sea, in heaven; think that you are not yet begotten, that you are in the womb, that you are young, that you are old, that you have died, that you are in the world beyond the grave; grasp in your thought all of this at once, all times and places, all substances and qualities and magnitudes together; then you can apprehend God.


But if you shut up your soul in your body, and abase yourself, and say “I know nothing, I can do nothing; I am afraid of earth and sea, I cannot mount to heaven; I know not what I was, nor what I shall be,” then what have you to do with God?”
~ Hermes Trismegistus

Wednesday, January 06, 2016

more rain than a planet could possibly imagine, water world, the endless heavy downpour makes my night driving more adventurous as shriekback and i navigate our way through treacherous roads. it's incredible, like being underwater, even the wipers can't wipe fast enough. when i reach mission control i make a dash for the post box and see there's a parcel waiting for me. great, i can pick it up in the morning,
i hope it's the new bowie cd. i already got the lithographs. it could be anything, items come here all the time, from all around the planet. 
i just finished reading 'after the crash' by michel bussi a bestseller in france and as this now confirms that french culture is officially dead. usually i always find something positive to say about a book, i appreciate it's usually one mans single vision and hard work but this was just nuts. 
anyway i picked up a copy of limit by frank schatzing, it's a massive 1500 page brick of a book but it's already got me hooked. 
i'd read schatzings previous epic novel the swarm and enjoyed that so i can't wait until this kicks off. i'm enjoying all the information he includes, the science in science fiction. i mean who knew konstantin tsiolkovsky thought up the idea of a space elevator! according to wikipedia he seemed strange and bizarre to his fellow townsfolk, already making him very likeable in my book. konstantin is not really in 'limit' but his elevator is.



Tuesday, January 05, 2016

ah the big wet has arrived, treachery on the roads as cars upon the freeway scatter and slide, collide and spiral out. me i'm okay in my all wheel drive pleadeian vessel, the finest cosmic ingredients designed to withstand any planetary atmospheres, i just gaze out at the chaos before me and glide on by. 
insanity on the streets as the crashing force of water sweeps people away, out here in australia we are prone to extreme elemental forces. it's a terrible thing to have control wrenched from your hands by such simple things like fire and water. water here happens fast, floods in an instant, places get cut off, me i have to drive over water wheel deep where overflowing rivers spill out into the suburbs. many cars don't make it. i'm lucky.
the road home is treacherous, partly flooded, it's gone midnight and there are no street lights. the car is in lockdown, it's just me and shreikback. my headlights cast a circle of light into the strange foreboding bushland around me. it's tropical nature at night and in torrential rain not so friendly, the sinister plants  swaying wildly in the wind rejoicing in water, dancing with joy and thirst quenching madness.
the rain here is crazy, it's harsh and falls in a density i have not seen outside monsoon countries, raincoats are no protection and umbrellas are just silly. may as well wave a matchstick at the sky.
my street when i get there is covered in frogs, they hop around in my headlights as though on a stage. it's weird to watch and i slow down so i don't squish any. hundred of them hopping and jumping everywhere. 
eventually i reach the sanctuary of mission control.
i sit in the studio and watch the rain in my garden, the palms and ferns all alive and in undeniable ecstasy. i smoke a joint and watch them grow. 


Saturday, January 02, 2016

dangerous moment, the speaker arrives, his words chosen are carefully... i don't fear the new world. what a mind blowing idea in an age of conformity, he speaks of national security and his aversion to google, he speaks of control and power but not in a deranged fearful way, he's curious like a cat, he knows we cannot go back. society can't hang on to an age that has passed, it's a new era coming and it's the conditions that need questioning. new forms of control can be new forms of freedoms. no nostalgia. he's a glass half full guy whereas i'm the water in that half empty cup has been replaced by poison. however i like his perspective, it makes sense. 
einstein says we can go forwards in time and offers two ways to do so, one in a spaceship leaving the earth and getting close to light speed and returning to earth. the other is a spaceship that hovers close to a black hole and then returns but his mathematics says we cannot travel backwards, those are the laws of this universe.

Friday, January 01, 2016

it's good to see val and olga on new years eve, we walk along terrible beach in the twilight amongst all the people, men in shirts, women in summer dresses, boys on skateboards and girls in skimpy revealing outfits. yeah that's blipped on my radar, the girls, all drunk dressed in hardly anything, the sex urge running hot. notice me, notice me, they are like beautiful coloured birds, dancing and cavorting for attention. it's incredible, i'm somewhat disturbed and aroused at the same time. the ocean looks good from here, fading light, beautiful surf, calling me to it's gentle peace and oblivion. instead we head for a small restaurant, with an unfortunate name. i like it, very simple style but very well done. simple menu, simple drinks, just right. the music is good, dub, groove, soft piano beats, i relax and settle into an easy evening with my friends. later we decide to walk, walk along the headland up to the lookout. the stars shine for us, i can see orion and the belt, follow it along outside of it's cluster by several million light years...to pleiades.
val and olga are telling me tales of strange things they have seen in the skies, we wander back to the town and hunt down butterscotch dessert for val but end up where we started at the little restaurant as new years approaches. 
as i get older i value mornings more, so it's early to bed for me, way before midnight. i fall into a soft sleeping state, where morning comes with it's solar power and kicks down the doors with a surge. i am reminded of the chariot from the tarot.

   

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

awaked by the sun i play in the garden for a while with the hound of love until he disappears. i dig two fucking massive holes and plant two beautiful abyssinian banana trees near my elephant ear plant, these two grow so fast you can see them getting taller each day, pretty soon libertaria will look like a fucking sub tropical eden. the fish are leaping out ready for breakfast and i notice i need to work on their pond again, some water anomaly plagues me. weeds invade and my resistance is being worn away. the water dragon is at my feet in expectation of some nibbles and pan is visiting his friend across the street no doubt to return when hungry. the beasts have me well trained.
a lone kookaburra watches me moving, he sits there on that weird gate, king of the bush surveying all. australian mornings are beautiful, especially at the beach where the crystal water meets the shore. i have to resist the pull this morning as i have to focus upon domestic tasks but how i would love to just go surfing.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

she said her name was deadly nightshade, she offered me a cure. she kissed me on my lips softly and i fell into her allure, of dreams where bliss dances on the end of my fingertips and hunger and thirst are defined in longing for the promise of another... most deadly kiss. 
she revealed her body ravaged and haggard with use and wear and the brutal hands of men, who had taken her divinity and turned it against all sacred things, a commodity in the markets, a stock for trade and sale. flesh and blood and bag of bones, a weeping eye that sees, the elementary particle that secret vessel is revealed.
i clung to her like life itself but finally i came to know, the power was in her heart and the knowledge of letting go. i watched her fade away in time, my memory unclear, but some evenings when i see that moon i speculate she is near. 
her spirit form it is a light, that dazzles the spectator, it manifests incandescent glow and dissipates much later. you cannot resist the magnetic lure as she pulls you in to her, the nebulous truth that she is gone and whom is the true deceiver. 
it falls like flames, it burns asunder, it calls forth the yearning of taboo plunder, and when all is lost all that is found, is that ancient sense of wonder.
  

Thursday, December 24, 2015

the subtle shades of dark falling down tonight, the green fading away, disappearing down the line into night, the fractal patterns of the darkening sky on the other side of the silhouettes of trees, the insect chorus chirping, bleeping away like some sort of divergent technology or secret cosmology.
the evening glides in from behind me, with the beating of wings, the grace of a gazelle and the silent approach of a serpentine albino warlord drawing their sword, drawing down the night, slashing away the tethers of memory and temporal gravity.
soft fading rays, an alien heat looking for pleasure and formless enjoyment. dancing through the trees, stepping over leaves, hopping like a goblin over fairy ring and circle, hiding out in wilderness that creeps and eats the crushed bones that carpet the ground. 
full moon over the ancient earth, civilisations crumbled and long gone, blown away upon the breeze of time, hard matter stone and rock all fall under the spell of chronos and daughter ananke. 
mere mortal i but flesh bone and breath, a weak skeleton that cages a strong beating and true heart lives in the shadow of inevitability and the consorts of fate. i care not for politik of men, i care not for petty arbitration and justice dispensed by man upon his fellow, the psychology of mercy lies within the spirit, only this truly escapes time. 

  

Monday, December 21, 2015

dawn surf patrol, sun rise over oceanic movements, the water is still cold and treacherous but it must be said it's magnetic pull is powerful as i find myself already waist in, one small dive and i'm committed. 
around me it churns like some vast machine, the rip pulls me across as i swim out and get crushed by a few freak waves. the sound surges around me, white and blue flashes of brilliance, the penetration of everything as my transmutative skin adapts and dissolves, i'm everywhere and nowhere.


Sunday, December 20, 2015

return to terrible beach where the waves are larger than ever, i assess the situation with enhanced vision, many cross currents make treacherous conditions for any water based lifeform. i feel something cruising through my spine, some strange fluidity as my limbs acclimatise and thin webbing appears between fingers and toes. i walk down with my pod strapped to my hand, my technology is beautifully aligned to the surf whatever condition. i step into the cold water, regulate my breathing apparatus with some pranayama exercises as my core temperature adapts for the temperature.
it's difficult, there's some major surf to negotiate, it's wild and reckless, showing no mercy. they crash in from everywhere, sand slipping away under the ferocity and power, nothing holds together. i pass through the chaos out where there is some predictability. vision is obscured by my long hair now, i need to bind it behind me in a pony tail but for now one hand sweeps it back over my head. there's no one out here, a few boats surging up and sown in the rough seas out there. 
my reactions have to be fast, there's no time for land based lethargy in water i'm swifter, my feet kick off and all calculations come together as the wave carries me forwards in speeds that shock the watchers on the shore. not only is it fast but i can feel the wave massage my body, turbulence meets shiatsu. my android muscles pummelled by water. 
'what's that daddy?'
'it looks like a man son.'
'he's going fast'
'yeah he's going very fast. look at him ride that wave.'
'are you sure that's a man.'
'it could be a fish.'
'or an android.'
i turn out of the wave before it breaks, the instinctive knowledge comes through years of practice. but the next wave sneaks up and whacks me over as i can't see due to my hair over my face. it sends me tumbling along, down and up, i grab some air when i can and let my body relax, best not to fight the energy of the ocean. when it's over i right myself and stand upright looking out at the massive waves. drenched in sun, the celestial light of dawn. behold the gods.   

Saturday, December 19, 2015

terrible beach in summer filled with tourists, coffee shops over spilling, parking spaces unavailable unless your a revered local like good old captain mission who knows all the secret spots, who knows all the waitresses, who knows all the waves. the water is ice cold, refreshing against the early morning heat. i splash around, i catch two magnificent waves, i fall out of the ocean back to land. spat out in a great arc, somehow landing upon my feet.
my coffee tastes metallic, the paper is filled with nothingness, the airs smells salty makes my joints ache. i ponder if i am not whom i should be. 
somehow i am no longer human.
perhaps i am an android of captain mission. i look at my body. stretching out limbs and moving my eyes around. i can zoom in on things afar, i can focus my hearing to pick up conversations and if i concentrate i can tap into the internet with some sort of wifi inside my head.
i run up the steps of the crown plaza and make my way to the elegant restrooms where i look at the mirror. deep inside i appear human, my face is the same. i run my hands over my skin, and over my face. then in a strange sliding motion i detach my face, it just slides off. a non reflective bank of black and blue lights embedded in some kind of solid state circuitry. 
the realisation is not so much a shock or surprise but a steady acknowledgement. i am here as a replacement, i must p[ass myself off as an authentic human, as captain mission. i must convince the ocean i am he. if i can convince the ocean then i am free to be captain mission.
but why am i here, i ponder the curious nature of my existence. i must have been created by the real captain. i commit to the endeavour of discovery but first the ocean awaits... 

Friday, December 18, 2015

travel through static oceans, captain missions assignment for liberteria, the mission should you choose to neglect it would result in the conquering of a virulent meme. it's existing in a string of communities, small sites of like minded conquerers. they were doing fine until the virus's started being launched onto servers, crashing people who didn't think along their lines.
i'm incognito, an stoned agent in the empire of fear. i use my chameleon skin to blend right in, i use my moon powered zap gun to protect me from psychic attack. i use my wit and ingenuity to pierce deep beyond into the heart of their digital domains. 
now the enemy is intelligent but singleminded, focused upon their feared opponents with psychotic precision. they promise peace while they decapitate, they promise submission while they dominate, they offer victory but play the victim, they have no solution but finality.
inside the veiled ones bow down to their god, they pray and chant, they wail and a demented holy man stands and shouts out to his followers, kill, pigs, curse them, satan, and the followers agree. they sway infected with a new kind of hate, a cleansing one. it washes away all their ills, cleans their souls like a bleach detergent, it sweeps through and kills everything, love, hope, reason, rhyme, peace, understanding, union. it's a fiery thing to behold, flames ignite flames and it sweeps through from server to server.
i do a quick reconnaissance, a card game with the enemy. a game of poker, backgammon, chess, hide and seek, i'll play any game they want, until i have won. 
their leaders are denied me but i make many friends, they embrace me and offer me their kindness, unaware i am their enemy. they tell me stories of their dominion, off how they will kill their enemy and liberate the land from me. they smile and pat my back, they drink strong black coffee and spit into tin cups. they repeat their mantras and kiss. their language is serpentine, aggressive and then soft and gentle, it's twisting around, buzzing like a wasps nest. they part and let me leave, the traveller, a welcome guest in their habitat. 
i'm grateful to leave, i don't like their hate, i don't buy their case. i'm a long way gone, travelling down the wire back to mission control but i left part of me behind, a little code embedded in their mind. it will explode in 7 days, a peace bomb in the form of three little words. love your enemy.
it will detonate softly and change everything.    
i've always found brendon o neil's brand of journalism and commentary a cut above the idiots wheeled out on the abc and the sydney morning herald. he has been a truly sensible voice in an age of stupidity and i stumbled across this piece he wrote for spiked. 

Identity politics and the death of the individual.
by
Brendon O Neil


Nothing speaks more profoundly to the crisis of character than the phrase, ‘I identify as…’. In the past, individuals were. ‘I am a builder.’ ‘I am a mother.’ ‘I am a Jew.’ There was a confidence, a certainty, to their sense of identity, and to their declaration of it. ‘I am.’ Today, individuals identify as something. ‘I identify as working class.’ ‘I identify as non-binary.’ Or, in the notorious case of Rachel Dolezal, the American white woman who effectively blacked-up as she rose up the ranks of the NAACP, ‘I identify as black’. The rise of the i-word in our definition of ourselves, the ascendancy of what is called ‘self-identification’, is one of the most notable developments of the 21st century so far. It speaks to a shift frombeing to passing through; from a clear sense of presence in the world to a feeling of transience; from identities that were rooted to identities that are tentative, insecure, questionable.
Those words ‘I identify as’ – whether they’re being uttered by Caitlyn Jenner as she unveils her newfound womanhood or by an eco-friendly New York Times writer who says ‘I identify as a mammal’ – feel strikingly contingent. They speak to changeability. The undertone is ‘I identify as such-and-such for now’. Indeed, these highly personalised ‘identifications as’ something sometimes come with an acknowledgment that the identification could change in time, and change dramatically. A gender non-binary writer tells us that he/she ‘identifies as both genders’, but then says: ‘I do not know… whom I will identify as in the future.’ The Daily Mail recently reported on the case of a trans activist who identifies as a different thing on a daily basis. One day he/she is Layla, who wears ‘a dress and heels to work’; the next he/she is Layton – ‘a man who dons baggy jeans and workmen boots’. ‘I am’ doesn’t work here, because the very basis of his/her being can change in the space of hours.

What the NYT and many others describe as new era of identity politics is in fact an era in which the historical, traditional underpinnings of identity have been ruptured, or even destroyed, unleashing an often desperate search for new identities, a rush for self-identification, for shallow identity construction. The subjectivity of human identity in the 21st century is striking, and alarming. Today, to feel something is to be something. In many Western nations now, including Britain, a man can become a woman – legally, and on his passport – simply by ‘identifying as’ a woman. People now ‘identify as disabled’, and it often isn’t entirely clear that they are disabled. One academic says that his ‘personal identification as a disabled person fluctuates according to the context’. In short, sometimes he is disabled, sometimes he isn’t. The objective category of disability – as a physical or mental impairment that limits a person’s ability to engage in public life – is done away with, and instead disability becomes something one feels, one ‘identifies with’, in certain situations if not in others.

Ours has been branded an era of identity politics. The New York Times calls 2015 ‘the year we obsessed over identity’. Many have observed, often critically, that Western campuses in particular have become hotbeds of identity politics, or what is sometimes referred to as the ‘identitarian left’, which now defines itself, and engages with others, through the prism of identity rather than on the basis of ideas or shared or conflicting material and political interests. In student life and new-left circles, people are ‘identified as’, or they self-identity as, white, black, men, women, gay, straight, bi, trans, agender, non-binary and so on, and their politics takes place entirely at this level. White privilege is kept in check. Male privilege is policed. Gay culture is chastised for its incursions into black culture. White women are admonished for their attitudes to black women. Politics is no longer the sphere in which interests are expressed and convictions crash, but rather has become an arena for the pitting of personalised identities against one another: a new caste system, in effect. The individual with conviction has given way to the insecure possessor of an identity, whose primary concern is with the protection of his or her identity from ridicule or assault. We enter the public sphere as self-ossified categories rather than as thinking, convinced persons; as ciphers, representing something, rather than characters, containing something.
But the truly notable thing about today is not so much the obsession with identity – it’s the instability of identity. Humans have been hunting for identity for centuries. The instinct to define ourselves, to project ourselves into the world, is strong. And there’s nothing wrong with it. What’s new today is that identity has become an incredibly subjective phenomenon. ‘I identify as…’ Where once an individual’s identity was informed, or shaped, by experience and belief, through an engagement in the public sphere or with a party or association, today identities are self-consciously and often defensively constructed. The NYT, in its description of 2015 as the year of identity, asked: ‘How do you identify? [W]hat trait or aspect of your being is central to your idea of yourself, and your relationship to the world?’ The keyword here is your. The NYT doesn’t ask ‘What are you?’ or ‘Who are you?’, which would speak to a strong sense of being something; it asks what ‘aspect of your being’ is most important to ‘your idea of yourself’. ‘Being’ is treated almost as something external to the individual, a thing to be mined for ‘traits’ we might identify with. Identity is not something we are or we experience; it is a technically cultivated category, built from ‘traits’ and ‘aspects’ to give ‘an idea of yourself’.
The subjectivity of identity construction, the rise of the contingent diktat ‘I identify as’, is throwing public life into disarray. Social norms and institutions we once took for granted are disorganised, sometimes crushed, by the rise of self-declared identities. Even filling in a form has become a minefield. The UK government’s public consultation document on gay marriage didn’t ask those who chose to fill it in if they were men or women; it asked: ‘Is your gender identity the same as the gender you were assigned at birth?’ It was an implicit acknowledgement of the categorical disarray of the 21st century, where it must always be allowed that people might have shunned their objective identities – in this case male or female – for a self-designed one. Facebook now has 71 gender identities to choose from. Forms used to ask us to circle M or F; Facebook offers the option of everything from ‘agender’ to ‘bigender’, ‘neither’ to ‘neutrois’, ‘two spirit’ to, of course, ‘other’, because in a world of narrow self-identification, there must always be space for the other, for the identity that hasn’t invented itself yet. Facebook justifies its many genders as a chance for people ‘to describe themselves as they are now’, again speaking to the changeability, transience, the fundamental flimsiness of modern identity.
Women’s colleges have been propelled into crisis by the cult of self-identification. In an era when a man can become a woman by saying ‘I identity as a woman’, can women’s colleges continue to exist? It seems not. Mount Holyoke College in the US used to describe itself simply as a ‘women-only institution’. Now it grants entry to the following dizzying array of identities: ‘Biologically born female who identifies as a woman; biologically born female who identifies as a man; biologically born female who identifies as other; biologically born female who does not identify as either woman or man; biologically born male who identifies as a woman; biologically born male who identifies as other when the other identity includes woman.’ In short, Mount Holyoke is no longer a women’s college. Men can enter, too, so long as they ‘identify as’ women. Identifying as a woman is now equal to being a woman. Feeling is reality. The entirely subjective sentiment becomes objective, legal fact.





In its recently rewritten mission statement, Smith College, one of America’s best-known women’s universities, says it is ‘absolutely’ still a women’s institution. But it also says that ‘applicants who were assigned male at birth but identify as women are eligible for admission’. How does Smith decide who is a woman? It doesn’t. It says: ‘With regard to admission, Smith relies upon the information provided by each student applicant… Smith’s policy is one of self-identification. To be considered for admission, applicants must select “female” on the Common Application.’ So a man can get into Smith by self-identifying as a woman. Thatmakes him a woman. That Smith can say it is ‘absolutely still a women’s college’ while accepting students with penises shows how utterly subjective even the idea of womanhood has become. Even this identity, infused with biological and social experience, underpinned by historical import, informed by the longstanding cultural identities of sister, daughter, mother, can be adopted by others as if it were an item of clothing, and no doubt discarded just as easily. ‘I don’t know whom I will identify as in the future…’
Language itself, the very tool with which we communicate with one another, is distorted by the rise of narcissistic identity construction. Some individuals now demand that they be referred to neither as ‘he’ nor ‘she’ but as ‘they’. That this warps grammar – requiring such formulations as ‘they are doing well in their exams’ when referring to an individual – is considered unimportant. It is argued by identitarians that the psychic needs of the individual who self-identifies as ‘they’ override the habits of the public or the universalism of spoken discourse. At Scripps College, a women’s university in Southern California, students are now given 10 pronoun options to choose from. They can be he, she, e, per, zi, ze, they, hu, hum or hus. Here we have the construction of an entire new way of speaking, an alien, bizarre, elitist way of speaking, to satisfy the self-identity of small groups. Today, saying ‘I identify as’ doesn’t only mean you can change sex on your passport or masquerade as black when you’re white – it has also led to the reorganisation of university life and the emergence of new words, new grammar. The objective must bow to the subjective. Everything must be bent to the whims of the person who has said: ‘I identify as…’
Even the provision of basic services is disrupted by the spread of self-identity. Abortion providers are under pressure to ditch the word ‘woman’ and to declare that they will also provide abortions to men – that is, people who are actually women, hence they’re pregnant, but who have said ‘I identify as a man’ and thus must be treated as men, are men. The coalition of pro-choice groups currently campaigning for Ireland to ditch the Eighth Amendment of the Constitution, which bans abortion, recently put out a leaflet with this footnote: ‘While we have used the term women here, [we] recognise that not everyone who may need an abortion is a woman. We support access to abortion for everyone whether they be cis, trans or genderfluid.’ Campaigners want midwives to change how they speak. Midwife associations are being pressured to announce that they ‘serve women and people of all genders’. They are being asked to ditch the term ‘expectant mothers’ in favour of ‘pregnant individuals’. In American schools, and increasingly in European ones, too, sports are under threat: boys who identify as girls are demanding to play on girls’ teams. And on it goes.
This public acquiescence to the person who says ‘I identify as’, the rearrangement of university life, political campaigning, passports, health and numerous institutions around those who declare themselves to be something that by any basic, reasoned, humanistic measurement they are not, highlights one of the least appreciated aspects of what the NYT calls the new ‘obsession with identity’ – and that is the profound and historic crisis of public life; of meaning; of the Enlightenment ideals of reason and objective understanding; of the very idea of what it is to be human.
Too many critics of identity politics depict it as the handiwork of a coven of ‘identitarians’, a new left that usurped the old, universalising ideas of class and progress and replaced them with a narrow definition of people according to traits, gender, race, etc. In truth, the rise of self-identity, the replacement of ‘I am’ with ‘I identify as’, speaks to the hollowing out of the sphere and the ideas through which people once developed living, breathing identities, a real sense of themselves that was tangible, deep, convincing. It’s not that identitarians are foisting identity politics on us. It’s that Western societies, which have fallen into serious moral and existential disarray, have become increasingly incapable of providing people with a strong sense of identity, or of maintaining the mechanisms through which people once gained and built identities, and this has nurtured new hunts for meaning, for a sense of self, for some kind of personality at a time when the human personality is weak.
That everyone from the Passport Office to Smith College now nods dutifully along as a man tells them ‘I am a woman’ confirms that the cult of self-identification cannot be put down to crazy individuals claiming to be things they aren’t, or obsessing over the most narrow, least interesting things that they are: black, gay, whatever. Rather, society itself is complicit in this process, and as such it inflames it. Incapable of reconstituting the old validation of people for what they did, or for who they became through achievement, work, discussion, interaction and other social and political accomplishments, society instead gives the green light to the celebration of people for their ‘traits’, or for their narrow cultural or biological identity, or, increasingly, for who they claim to be, with little in the way of objective reasoning.
But it goes deeper than that. Far deeper. The modern West doesn’t only fail to hold back the tide of reason-defying self-identification, whether it’s Smith College immolating itself and its historic mission at the altar of gender self-identification or medical bodies claiming to provide abortions for men when they know very well that they do not because that’s a physical, objective impossibility. More importantly, it was the moral disorganisation of Western society over the past five decades that nurtured today’s identity politics, and created a climate in which identity has no real, felt, objective foundation but instead has become a fleeting, unsatisfying thing unlikely to fill its adherents with anything like a sense of achievement or true human value.
What we are faced with in the 21st century is the very serious situation where all the objective underpinnings of human identity have frayed or died. All those things individuals once defined themselves through – nation, church, work, family – have corroded in recent decades. We live in a post-national era where shamefacedness about our nations’ pasts is preferred over questionable national pride. A phoney cosmopolitanism that explicitly eschews ideas of national identity is now promoted by our elites. Churches in the West are in constant crisis, reeling from one scandal to another, and seemingly lacking the moral resources to withstand the tidal wave of relativism. In an era when few know (or are willing to say) what is right and wrong, churches have lost their purchase, and shedded worshippers.
Work has been thoroughly disorganised, too. Physically, the Western workplace has changed, with traditional male jobs increasingly giving way to a softer, feminised workplace where short-termism and job-sharing are the order of the day; and morally, too, the idea of work has transformed, and now tends to be seen less as a provider of comradeship and identity than merely a means to make ends meet. Trade-union membership is stagnating; industrial action has all but disappeared. Few would now say, ‘I’m a lathe operator at a factory’, as an expression of identity, of self, as they might have done in the past; rather, it would be merely a description of how they make money.
And the family has become hollowed out, too. Yes, we still live in families, and they provide us with great security and meaning, a sphere in which we can be ourselves, develop ourselves, nurture the future. But relentless external intervention into private life has undermined familial sovereignty, and risks reducing parenting from a lived part of our identity, a key part of who we are, to a skill we must get right. The declaration ‘I am a father’ is now more likely to elicit looks of concern, advice from the government, and some supernanny hectoring, rather than admiration for that once serious identity as provider for and socialiser of the next generation. To be a father now is to require guidance, not to be the architect of guidance.
The foundation stones on which identity was built for decades, the national flags, religious faith, workplace meaning or class feeling through which we constructed a sense of ourselves, through which we discovered or defined ourselves, are gone – or are at least shaky, insecure, withering. And in such circumstances, our sense of self can become weak; we cultivate new identities that feel unfounded, unanchored, changeable rather than convincing.
That the hollowing out of the old capitalist order and its institutions nurtures a crisis of identity has been noted by various thinkers of the postwar period. In the 1950s, the American sociologist David Riesman, observing major shifts in the education system and the workplace, noted the emergence of a new generation that seemed to lack, as he put it, ‘presence’. They seem to have, ‘not a polished personality’, but ‘an affable, casual, adaptable one’, he said. They were ‘present-oriented’ too, unlike their parents’ or grandparents’ generations, and those in ‘the earlier stages of industrialisation’, who were more ‘oriented toward the future, toward distant goals’.
These observations were taken further by the American thinker Christopher Lasch in the 1970s, most notably in his book The Culture of Narcissim. As a result of major quakes in the spheres of work, family and society, a new kind of individual was emerging, argued Lasch: one who ‘needed to establish an identity, not to submerge [his] identity in a larger cause’. Lasch’s observation of a new climate of narcissism in place of the old ideal of the strong-willed individual engaged in the world – John Stuart Mill’s individual with ‘strong susceptibilities that make the personal impulses vivid and powerful’ – was based on a recognition that the disarray of institutional life did not free the individual to discover his ‘real self’, as the hippies claimed it would, but rather gave rise to a new generation with a very weakened sense of self.
Lasch was struck by how the unravelling of social orders and norms gave rise to individuals whose sense of self was ‘weak, ungrounded, defensive, insecure’. He referred to the ‘weak self’, the ‘minimal self’. He noted that ‘apparent freedom from family ties and institutional constraints does not free [us] to stand along or to glory in our individuality’. Instead, it ‘contributes to [our] insecurity’. It leads the individual to ‘depend on others to validate his self-esteem’, until he ‘cannot live without an admiring audience’. Where the strong individual of the past realised himself through engagement with the world around him, the new minimal individual merely wants to be consoled by the world, flattered by it. In Lasch’s words, ‘For the narcissist, the world is a mirror, whereas the rugged individual saw it as an empty wilderness to be shaped to his own design’. Julie Walsh, in her 2014 book Narcissism and Its Discontents, describes the Laschian distinction between the post-Enlightenment idea of the individual and the postwar weakened, narcissistic self as a difference in attitudes to, or more fundamentally relationships with, the external world: the former sees the world as ‘a wilderness to be shaped by the subject’s own design’; the latter seeks only ‘self-consolation’ from his surroundings. The former is a subject, using thought and conviction to engage and become; the latter is an object requiring moral massaging from others for his very survival.
This desire to treat the world as a mirror, as a thing that must validate our self-esteem, is far more pronounced today than it was in the 1970s. The cult of self-identification, the insistence that grammar, education and institutions reorganise themselves around what individuals feel themselves to be, takes to the extreme the reduction of public life to the level of mere validator for insecure individuals. Lasch’s work also helps us to see how phoney is the freedom claimed by those who ‘identify as’. They frequently insist that they’re liberating themselves from outdated structures and social expectations. They pose as harbingers of a new and daring way of life, overturning everything about the old order, from gender to language, family life to social attitudes. This is false for two reasons. First, because what they present as their self-willed rebellion against and undermining of the old social, moral and sexual order is in fact a long drawn-out process of capitalist and institutional decay that has called into question almost everything Western societies once took for granted. And it was authored not by them but by various profound historical events and developments. They are really prettifying social and moral crises, standing on the rubble of the West’s decayed sense of itself and declaring: ‘We did this.’ And secondly, the freedom promised by the new narrow self-cultivation of identity is shallow indeed; in fact, it is not freedom at all.

This explains the angst-ridden nature of much self-identification, the feeling of being under siege, of being at risk. Whether it’s trans campaigners trawling for evidence of transphobia and insisting that their very ‘right to exist’ is constantly being called into question, or student-union officials erecting safe spaces in which no Islamophobia, transphobia or any other phobia may be expressed, these supposedly free and easy new identities feel anything but free and easy. They’re tetchy, needy, defensive, ugly even. They need validation, and they seek it everywhere. Gay-identity campaigners hunt down the remaining handful of cakeshops that refuse to bake for gay weddings and insist they make them a cake; trans activists myopically peruse the press for any hint of anti-trans criticism and demand retractions or censorship; campaigners demand that schools, colleges, hospitals, everyone change their language and admission forms and behaviours to account for the feelings of infinitesimally small numbers of ‘two spirit’ people or ‘men’ who want abortions. And it’s never enough: for the fragile identity, validation is a constant necessity. The self-identifiers are liberated from the past, yes, but they’re enslaved by the 21st-century validation machine, their esteem locked in a danse macabre with the self-esteem industry.
The new identitarians, or self-identifiers, might technically be liberated from old social pressures, gender norms and moral expectations – though it’s more accurate to say that those things fell apart rather than the identitarians having broken free of them – but they have become locked into new and even more insidious relationships of dependency. Their need for constant validation, for self-consolation, for an ‘admiring audience’, means that while they may be free of past, burdensome social expectations, they have become psychic slaves. They are dependent upon the recognition of others, especially officialdom. The frenetic subjectivity of their identity creation disguises the extent to which they lack any sense of genuine human subjectivity – as actors in and on and through the world – and instead have become objects of the therapeutic industry, maintained and even directed by the approval of institutions and experts.
Where earlier celebrators of the individual emphasised our capacity for autonomy and for governing our own minds and sense of ourselves, today’s self-identifiers cannot exist without the blessing of new forms of therapeutic authority. Mill’s view of the strong individual was a creature who used ‘observation to see, reasoning and judgement to foresee, activity to gather materials for decision, discrimination to decide, and when he has decided, firmness and self-control to hold to his deliberate decision’. Contrast that with today’s self-indentifiers who claim words wound, that individuals are vulnerable, that, in the words of one, ‘our mental safety is threatened by those who question our right to exist’.
Indeed, one of the most striking and complex things about the new era of identity is the coexistence of a highly subjectivised search for identity with a tendency to ossify identity, to fix it, to make great claims about its basis in biology or science or fact. This is most notable in the contemporary gay movement, which on one hand presents itself as a liberal strike against the social and moral strictures of the past, but on the other is constantly looking for material evidence that homosexuality is a fixed, biological fact. Gay academics hunt for a ‘gay gene’, or for evidence of ‘gay animals’, speaking, in Peter Tatchell’s words, to a ‘terrible lack of self-confidence and a rather sad, desperate need to justify queer desire’. Among trans activists, too, the claim to be consciously and radically upsetting gender norms sits uneasily with the essentialism of corrective surgery to turn men into ‘women’. Trans-sympathising experts have built up a huge base of alleged scientific authority to demonstrate that transgenderism is a real condition.
Meanwhile, many of the new self-identifiers contradictorily claim that they have no choice but to be what they feel themselves to be. Trans teenagers will kill themselves if we do not allow them to become the gender they were really born as, threaten trans activists. The bigender person profiled by the Daily Mail, who self-identifies on different days as Layla, a woman, and Layton, a man, strikingly said that this ‘isn’t a case of me waking up and choosing to dress a certain way. I’ve gotno control over whether I’m going to be Layton or Layla on a certain day.’ (My italics.)
How do we explain this strange coexistence of highly subjective identity cultivation with an instinct to biologism and essentialism? This coexistence of radical, freely chosen identities with the idea that there is also no choice – that trans people feel like women in their very souls, and gay people may even possess a particular gene? This coexistence of the casual ‘I identify as’, and ‘I might identify differently tomorrow’, with the urge to crush any criticism or questioning of that identity? This, too, speaks to the weakness of identity in the 21st century. These are attempts to anchor the new identities, steady them, make them provable, tangible. But there is nothing of substance to anchor them in or to. No social movements, no democratic institutions. And so they become reliant for their existence on the validation of others, and on the craven acquiescence of a society that cannot, or at least will not, uphold any kind of objective measurements or encourage the cultivation of identity on the basis of engagement, belief and achievement.
There’s a further problem, an even more profound one. Today, we’re faced not only with a corrosion of the external world of institutions and movements through which we once gained our identity, but also a weakening of the internal world of the individual, of conscience itself. The sensitivity of the new identities to criticism or slight speaks to the demise of the Enlightenment individual who gains his sense of self not only through objective institutions but also through the development of inner convictions. In the era of conviction, public debate, public criticism, was welcomed; in fact it was encouraged. ‘The energy of the human intellect does from opposition grow’, said Cardinal John Henry Newman. In the era of self-identity, of weak personalities reliant on endless validation and personal identities lacking any meaningful foundation, public discussion is restricted, policed, lest it ‘harm’ or threaten the ‘right to exist’ of the weakly cultivated new individuals. The more they bind up their entire existence in their new, unconvincing personal identity, the more they experience criticism of that identity, not as opinion, but as threat, a mortal, existential threat. Far from liberation, the new generation’s daily experience is existential vulnerability.
What is today referred to as the rise of identity politics is in truth the hollowing out of the institutions, beliefs and freedoms around which life and identity were shaped and cohered for centuries. It is a crisis not merely of politics, or class, or the left; it is a crisis of character, a questioning of what it means to be human, an uncertainty as to how we become fully human. Addressing the emergence of new, weak identities, and the corresponding creation of a therapeutic industry and new forms of moral censure to prop up these identities, will require more than ridiculing the new left or the so-called ‘identitarian movement’. It demands nothing less than the reconstruction of public life, and the rediscovery of our faith in the strong individual who both makes and is made by the world, rather than simply needing to be consoled by it. It requires that we refuse to acquiesce to alienated, subjective identity-making, and instead recreate the conditions in which people can develop their identity through the exercise of moral autonomy, and through creating and engaging in new institutions, new ideas and new societies.
Brendan O’Neill 

what brendon is getting at is our decent into neurosis where what we are feeling is no different from reality. there is no difference, i'd term this the 'new romanticism period' of human culture, feelings are of course chemical responses to environmental triggers and from a subjective point of view real, but then delusions about reality are not. identity is tricky here because there is no such thing, it's a constantly shifting process so i'm sympathetic with the changeability of peoples identity, however there are fundamental impacts upon society that brendon quite rightly points out. and in an age where one shifts identity as quickly as their shirt can people really say anything about it other than identity is not real. 
one moment we are all charlie, the next we are not. one moment we are all 'yes we can,' the next we are 'no we cannot.'
one group will ride with you the other will refuse. one group will get stoned with you another stone you. what i think is happening is we are all finding our tribe. burroughs once wrote before the internet in the future nations will not be defined by physical geography but by ideology, and therefore now we have a transgendered socialist in canada identifying with the lesbian saudi muslim woman. what occurs is indeed a dissolution of geography as we know it and a union of cyber communities. a natural extension of the new romantics would be to link up the same way the europian or pan american countries do, but this time they would be based upon sympathetic ideologies. the marxist movement would link with the socialist communist and although each would retain it's independence it's sympathies would unite it. and thus begins the new romantic geography of the net, it's already there in theory and meme sharing, it just requires an official type of statehood like recognition and one can be typing away in sydney identifying as a psychedelic anarchist, anti science pro gaia eco-friendly sexually ambiguous type whom is part of a community of like minded thinkers. these may differ in some areas but generally they share many attributes apart from inhabiting the same countries. 
issues will split and divide as before, but these can be worked out by discussion and conversation rather than war and conflict. for example if there are two similar divided by one having a pro american stance the difference of ideology is recognised as a personal difference and engaged by discussion and dialogue. however at the moment twitter is filled with abusive boneheads who won't even let anyone post a difference of opinion without crucifying them first. so the internet is still a frontier country where identities war and clash with words until the opinion that is outnumbered is bullied out. 
this says a lot about identity.
is identity so insecure that it has to resort to such tactics. 
is identity tied to being right.
is identity nothing than an ego state.
this is why the identity war is sleight of hand, it's a trick. you cannot be defined externally. only you have the power to define what you are. if you want to be a woman and were born male call yourself female but don't expect anyone else to. 
if you are a socialist who wants free speech banned then ban your own free speech but let others speak as they wish.
if your a libertarian like moi, don't expect anyone else to sanction your freedom.
if your a new romantic and confuse what you feel with what is, i don't care as long as you don't expect me to change my image of self so that you can feel better about yourself.