Iain Cameron's Diary
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2006-01-04 - 6:45 a.m.
I got back to Leantown on Monday evening - the flat is still in one piece. Generally 2006 is not making a brilliant impression so far - obviously early days etc. Excellent programme last night on BBC2 about the political imagery of Live8/London Olympics/bombs/G8 - which has to be the defining week of 2005. In parentheses - big ones - I remember that this was the week that I put the AV of 10 Short Stories together. I need to find a way to place to put this on the net - I suppose it has become an epitaph to a particular way of thinking about projects.
I read something between Christmas and New Year about the link between modernism and violence. The extreme violence of Nazism and Stalinism wasn’t an accidental contamination of the modernist project with more primitive excrescences - it was part of the package and in the same way fundamentalist terrorism is a modern phenomenon - sharing various continuities. We are slipping back into an early-modern phase - the fundamentalists are like the late 19C anarchists - and the main objective on the international stage then as now is securing natural resources. James comes back from Russia this Friday - this term he is studying the role of intelligence services in 20C history. He seems to be quite enjoying the slim volume I got him for Christmas on this subject.
On New Year’s Eve we went round the M25 about 90 degrees in an anti-clockwise direction. The tradition is that you have to bring a game to this party and mine was about couples - Aristotle/Jackie - Dante/Christina - Beatrice/Benedict - Cage/Cunningham. The hostess teamed up with Mrs C and between them they cracked it thereby securing valuable prizes. In Mrs C’s case this was a paperback on Ian McEwan’s Saturday which I picked up on the last day of 2005 in Tesco’s for three ninety nine - the imprint date was 2006. I was rather impressed with getting a prize at a NYE party so sharply on the turn of the year. (At the party I had a short but informative chat with someone who knew the custodian of the guitar relic at the end of the 70s.)
I dipped into Iain Sinclair’s book about the M25, particularly the segment we visited. He is mainly concerned with Churchill at Chartwell and the contrast with Palmer at Shoreham. (Palmer is one of Mrs C’s favorites - Sinclair says that he was a 19C Anglican fundamentalist.) Sinclair cuts off the extreme SW segment preferring to go across Epsom Common rather than (say) to the point where the M25 crosses the River Mole - but he has some interesting things to say about Epsom (where Mrs C spent her childhood) especially the Wells and the Salts. I hadn’t realized that Epsom started the spa craze in the England and that it was going strong in the 17th century. Leamington is the other end of the craze - two hundred years later.
Talking of the 17th century and water in Surrey, Mrs C and I walked from the house to Stoke lock on the River Wey. Stoke lock was opened in 1654 and was the first lock on the Wey Navigation. The navigation path gives a completely different perspective on the landscape of course - its own sense of place.
I have finished Feenberg’s book on Heidi and Marcuse. Roughly the drift is that between the two of them there may be a better way of thinking about technology but F doesn’t quite get there. His book from the mid 90s on Alternative Technologies has arrived and I have started dipping into it. The final chapter is about the Japanese Heidi - a figure who is completely new to me - and who seems to have brought the idea of ‘place’ into a zen-influenced philosophy of being. The link with Sinclair is that ‘place’ isn’t just a geographical idea but it is culturally saturated. I think there is some of this in Tacita Dean’s new book about place as an organizing principle in late 20C art and obviously Sinclair has made a career of this.
Over the holidays I spent a lot of time on the score of Berg Op 1 and I have ordered the parts for Op 5. I have also disinterred the recording of Schoenberg Op 16 for which I also have the score and the Boulez recording of the complete Webern - Webern wrote a lot more aphoristic music than the other two.
I thought for a moment over the hols that Fender had reintroduced the Bullet - one of their most uncommon junior guitars - but I think at the moment this is just a Strat body with a single hum bucker.
Interesting interview with Jackson Browne in The Word - I hadn’t realized that John Landau (Springsteen and MC5 producer) produced The Pretender.