It’s easy to feel helpless in the face of vast public events, especially if we didn’t support them, as the majority of the UK population (‘remain’ voters + abstainers) did not. My question is one that I’ve been asked several times since Friday: what can writing do in the face of this situation?
Part of the danger of Brexit is its rhetoric. Defining the UK as a country that wants to ‘control’ immigration, can legitimise the sentiments of National Front banners seen in Newcastle yesterday; of the hateful postcards put through the doors of the Polish community in Huntingdon. Yesterday Daniel Trilling, editor of The New Humanist, tweeted that ”fascists try to speak on behalf of wider groups of people so it’s important a) not to let them and b) to challenge the claims they repeat.”
For the last few days I have been talking with people a lot–via writing: emails, dms, I even got a letter, typed, on old-skool paper. I haven’t been working: there is no writing I have wanted to do other than writing that communicates directly with other people, people I’m close to. I have been sending out feelers of language, wanting them to meet something in someone else. I have never felt this so urgently. It is almost physical. If this situation prompts one thing in me, it seems to be communication. But private communication (and even fleeting tweets) only go so far.
I have invited publishers, writers, translators–people fighting, in their work, to keep our cultural borders open–to contribute a single sentence in reaction to what’s happening right now. Anger, despair, protest, sorrow love: I’m still collecting more. If you’d like to contribute, please get in touch: you know where to find me on Twitter.
Joanna Walsh, Fiction Editor, 3:AM Magazine
I want my continent back. Sam Jordison, journalist, author, publisher at Galley Beggar Press
I haven’t laughed so much since the 1974 UK political crisis instigated by striking miners; a choice between fortress Europe and fortress England is no choice at all – ABOLISH ALL BORDERS NOW! Stewart Home, author of 69 Things To Do With A Dead Princess
Brexit is the result of a pincer movement of the disingenuous cruelties of austerity politics and decades of opportunistic misinformation on the EU – we should be fucking rioting. Katherine Angel, author of Unmastered: A Book on Desire, Most Difficult to Tell
Join a union – join a campaign group – fight against what’s coming next. Thom Cuell, editor at Dodo Ink
I was in the US when the referendum results came in, and over and over again have found myself greeted by shocked American strangers who have said: “I’m just so sorry, so sorry – you must all be so sad”, as if we’d suffered a terrible and sudden bereavement – which we have. Sarah Perry, author of The Essex Serpent
Smaller, meaner, frailer, poorer, but strutting about our own bunker. George Szirtes, poet, Author Reel, The Burning of the Books and Bad Machine, winner of T S Eliot Prize 2004
For 12 years I lived in constant fear of losing my visa and being forced to leave my home; in one day, 16 million Britons have been made to feel they’ve been deported without so much as changing their address. Lauren Elkin, author of Flâneuse: Women Walk the City
This result is a clear message of revolt: there’s a huge number of people who maybe can’t properly articulate what they want, except to say ‘not this’ – and this feeling is just as potent in the US. Sarah Davis-Goff, Co-publisher at Tramp Press
I wonder what this will mean for the thousands of Irish women forced to use the UK healthcare system every year (because of Ireland’s antiquated abortion laws). Lisa Cohen, Co-publisher at Tramp Press
To think and decide justly requires truthful materials and trustworthy information, so it seems as if no just and democratic decision can be reached outside Utopia—not so long as politicians and newspapers continue to fudge, bribe, lie and cajole for their own short-term gain, and turn their backs on human community. Ian Patterson, author of Guernica and Total War, Time Dust, translator of Proust, etc.
With heartsickness & uncertainity it’s now farewell, with love, Scotland. Helen McClory, author of On the Edges of Vision, winner of the Saltire First Book of the Year Award 2015
I would say come to Ireland, except we violate women’s human rights. Susan Tomaselli, Publisher, gorse journal
Bloke on BBC London says Brexit is the ‘best thing ever’. But he’s never been off his tits at the rave when Hype drops Valley of the Shadows. Kit Caless, publisher at Influx Press
Oh fuck everything. Roman Muradov, award-winning illustrator and cartoonist,author of Jacob Bladders and the State of the Art
We’ve been drifting towards Fascism in Britain (and especially England) for the last fifteen years, and with this vote to leave the European Union, I fear we’ve started our final descent. Juliet Jacques, author of Trans: A Memoir.
I keep thinking about that first time on the ferry, salt water whipping through my hair, Channel bumping while I travel between here and there, back in the part of the world that my parents had to flee; I keep thinking about how it all breaks. Linda Mannheim, author of Above Sugar Hill
We won’t ever be able to know precisely how much talent and creative joy we’ve effectively just told to fuck off, but I know that the essential richness of being forced to translate ourselves, and receive others’ translations in turn, is being lost from our future. Stephanie Boland, The New Statesman
Enslav’d the daughters of Albion weep. William Blake, via Denise Riley, author of Am I That Name?
If it wasn’t such a national and international political disaster, with the potential to set back an already faltering economy ten years, and create and spread division, hatred and even bloodshed as yet unimagined, the UK’s decision to vote itself out of the EU would almost be funny, if it wasn’t such a national and international political disaster, with the potential to set back an already faltering economy ten years, and create and spread division, hatred and even bloodshed as yet unimagined. Jonathan Gibbs, author of Randall
To use the language of the Leave campaign, I want the country I thought I lived in back: a country that is part of Europe, that looked outward, that was part of a bigger project. Sian Norris, @read_women
My mother said, “be safe, there are people out there who don’t like us.” Chimene Suleyman, journalist, and author of Outside Looking On.
What a dick. UK outside EU would be the wrong side of the capo, its fingers voicing chords no-one hears. James Attlee, author of Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey, and Nocturne.
The result feels so utterly regressive, as if many based their vote on an antiquated idea of Empire and the 19th century policy of “Splendid Isolation”: cruelly, this will change everything for the younger generation who voted to remain. Sinéad Gleeson, editor of The Long Gaze Back, and The Glass Shore
The referendum has made clear what Peirene and I have always suspected: this country needs to learn to listen to other people’s stories, only then it will change for the better. Meike Ziervogel, publisher at Peirene Press
What do we want? The past! When do we want it? Tomorrow! Matthew De Abaitua, author of IF THEN, and The Destructives
At approximately 5am on the 24th of June reality broke, the nation collapsed and I lost all faith in my country. We are falling and when we finally hit the ground the pain will be felt for generations… James Miller, author of Lost Boys, Sunshine State, and UnAmerican Activities
Delors make me pure but not yet! Andrew Stevens, Editor 3:AM Magazine
One great tragedy of this result – and there may be many – is the narrative that the English and Welsh working class have left only political options of disaffection, which can only be rewritten by a reformed grassroots politics and media that exist to truly serve, not commodify them, as well as practical activism in the form of protecting human and workers rights and the resistance of privatisation, with love, from Scotland. Laura Waddell, writer, publicist at Freight Books/freelance
I have visions of an EU anxiety mountain; a stockpile of emotion that must now be put to the best possible use. Dickon Edwards, London diarist
I’m no Rosa on economics but isn’t it smarter to leave someone when you OWE them money? EG Massive bailout, Slán abhaile. Anakana Schofield, author of Martin John, and Malarky
The last time I felt this so completely in my head & my heart, I was living in a country with civil war. Lara Pawson, author of In the Name of the People: Angola’s Forgotten Massacre, Orwell Prize Longlist 2015/Bread & Roses Shortlist 2015
Deeply ashamed and unsettled that the fear of immigrants (ie of so many friends and half of my family!) has won out. More determined than ever to work for love, friendship and real communication across mental and physical borders. Stefan Tobler, publisher at And Other Stories and translator
There should be a word for the psychological injury caused by finding your country is no longer a fit for your beliefs and values – for me, a mixture of bleak, horrified, ashamed and unhoused… still, airport rules on booze ’til someone’s back in charge. Melissa Harrison, author of At Hawthorn Time and Rain.
Fascism begins not with militias and deportations, but with the false prospectus of restored pride. Will Eaves, author of The Absent Therapist, Sound Houses and The Inevitable Gift Shop
In the early hours of the results evening, when we knew it was bad news, I tweeted something about our social media echo chambers, and how the Leave campaign was run by demons, to which someone replied, threatening to set my greasy ass on fire, which I thought was an apt description of what was happening: we were burning everything to the ground. Nikesh Shukla, editor of The Good Immigrant, author of Meatspace
By John Rogers.
London Overground retraces Iain Sinclair’s journey with film-maker Andrew Kötting around the Overground railway for the book of the same name. The film covers the ground over the course of a year rather than the day’s walk of the book. Iain is once again joined by Kötting in parts, along with Chris Petit and Bill Parry-Davies on the 35-mile circular yomp.
What emerges from the film is a snapshot of the city in transition and also a unique insight into the most important chronicler of contemporary London. ‘The city’ Sinclair says at one point, ‘is a series of psychic mappings that reinforce our own identity’.
The screening will take place at the Rio Cinema, Dalston in the East End Film Festival, Saturday 2nd July 3.45pm followed by a Q&A with Iain and I.
Tickets are available from the Rio Cinema website.
Specimen, a multilingual and typographical webzine, will be launched at Babel Festival in London on June 18th. The debut issue includes work by Derek Walcott, Peter Doig, Enrique Vila-Matas, Aleksandr Hemon and Xiaolu Guo. Keep up with them at @babelspecimen
A Typographic Glossary – From A to T
by Vanni Banconi
Specimen is a highly typographical and entirely multilingual web-magazine, which through translation gives voice to the multifaceted world.
Specimen‘s contents are in every language and alphabet, potentially translated into and from any other language, from the original or from an existing translation. With a special inclination for second languages and hybrid forms.
Specimen engages a wide network of writers, artists and thinkers, and foregrounds relation as the core of its approach.
“Linguistic hospitality, then, where the pleasure of dwelling in the other’s language is balanced by the pleasure of receiving the foreign word at home, in one’s own welcoming house … It is this which serves as a model for other forms of hospitality that I think resemble it” – Paul Ricoeur
Specimen stems from Babel, the festival of literature and translation, which over the last 10 years has welcomed writers from the most diverse cultures, detected a worldwide network of affinities, and seen to the publication of columns, magazines and entire book series. Now, Specimen aims at overcoming the boundaries of Babel and at reaching out to the world, through the web, lightly.
Specimen asks the web: what is it that you don’t have, and that printed books do? And so, thanks to a long experience in publishing that goes all the way back to movable type printing, Specimen brings to the web the typographical and editorial touch of the finest publications on paper. And a slow pace too.
The scope of languages, alphabets and styles published by Specimen: totally wide open. Specimen will feature every written genre, as well as their mixes and combinations. Specimen is oh-so-open, yet in a way concealed in the partially enclosed, somewhat rounded negative space in some characters.
The linguistic arrow rather than the narrative arc. Specimen looks for types that keep moving, writers who are driven by language: the word, the verse, the sentence, the paragraph – measures more apt to tune to the uncertain, the breath and the imperceptible, rather than plots, characters, messages and other dimensions that can so easily fall into ready-made clichés.
The imaginary line upon which the letters in a font appear to rest.
“A solitude ten thousand fathoms deep
Sustains the bed on which we lie, my dear:
Although I love you, you will have to leap;
Our dream of safety has to disappear”
– W.H. Auden
“Because civilizations are finite, in the life of each of them there comes a moment when the center ceases to hold. What keeps them at such times from disintegration is not legions but language. Such was the case of Rome, and before that, of Hellenic Greece. The job of holding the center at such times is often done by the men from the provinces, from the outskirts. Contrary to popular belief, the outskirts are not where the world ends – they are precisely where it begins to unfurl. That affects language no less than the eye” – Joseph Brodsky
Specimen chases second languages in all their forms because translations, multilingualism, echolalias and linguistic hospitalities multiply the layers of language and pronounce diversities. They force us to have second thoughts. They give us a second chance.
Specimen stems from Babel, which was born in the middle of the Swiss Alps. Switzerland, Babel and Specimen have the same mother tongue, translation. To start with, much of Specimen’s content will be in languages related to the region: Italian, French, German, English. Then, with the expansion of Specimen’s network, the addition of more and more languages will map this growth.
The distinguishing nature of something. Any letter, numeral, punctuation mark, and other sign included in a font. The quality of being an individual in an interesting way. Also, in unusual ways.
“To be radicant means setting one’s roots in motion, staging them in heterogeneous contexts and formats, denying them the power to completely define one’s identity, translating ideas, transcoding images, transplanting behaviours, exchanging rather than imposing” – Nicholas Bourriaud
Specimen wishes to oppose globalisation in its own territory by embracing the entire world in its diversity and, through translation and correlation, engaging all of world’s tongues in dialogue.
“Even as a child, I belonged to my words and my words only. I don’t belong to a Country, I don’t belong to a specific culture. If I didn’t write, if I didn’t work on my words, I would have no way of feeling my presence on earth. What is a word? And a life? I think that, in the end, they are the same thing. As a word can have several dimensions, several nuances, such complexity, so does a person, and a life. The language is the mirror, the main metaphor. Because, after all, the meaning of a word, just like the meaning of a person, is something boundless, ineffable” – Jhumpa Lahiri
Family, Super Family
Super families are collections of coordinated type families that cross type classifications, and are designed to work together in perfect harmony. Specimen‘s contents are commissioned and selected by an editorial board that will grow with each and every language.
“What I call creolization is a phenomenon of cultural mixing at a given time and place without the elements brought into contact being dissolved in the mixture: creolization is not dilution” –
Specimen asks the web: what is it that printed books don’t have, and you could have? Specimen is interactive and customizable: you can change texture and background colour thanks to special slider features, choose the font size and the article layout, create relations among articles, receive notifications for your favourite topics and create your own magazine.
“The unity is submarine,” wrote Barbadian poet Edward Kamau Brathwaite. Submarine convergence, submarine roots floating free: “not fixed in one position in some primordial spot, but extending in all directions in our world through its network of branches,” added Édouard Glissant.
Specimen likes the web, but it likes being a book as well, so it will occasionally take the form of fine prints or digital publications on-demand. And as it likes voices, flesh and blood too, it will speak and read at events and festivals.
Specimen is open to all alphabets, its contents will be in all languages, in original or translation. Most texts will be translated into at least one other language, in non-systematic ways. The different versions will share the same page and will influence each other, in non-hierarchical ways, as if there weren’t such things as an original and a translation.
“‘In a word,’ commented Tristram at one point, ‘my work is digressive, and it is progressive too, – and at the same time.’ As Nietzsche noted, Sterne’s style is an ‘endless melody. – His digressions are at the same time continuations and further developments of the story; his aphorisms are at the same time an expression of an attitude of irony towards all sententiousness, his antipathy to seriousness is united with a tendency to be unable to regard anything merely superficially.’ Tristram’s chat was careful, it was thematically precise” – Adam Thirlwell
The most recent font format emerged at the beginning of the new millennium. Is it an essay, a memoir, fiction, poetry, reportage? Whatever we write, we are in it, and we better deal with that.
Specimen’s editorial board will pay a lot of attention to all that’s written, translated and editable. As far as it can understand the language. As soon as the life of the project crosses over the known languages, a spellbound editorial board will trust those who bring them the unreadable and the unknown.
“Here is a thought experiment: what if you could translate everything you’d ever want from one language from another, if everything in any language would match everything in other languages. If that were possible, we would all be speaking one language. That, to me, is not an attractive proposition. There are many things I cannot translate exactly from one language to another, but that means that meanings and words are transformed – not lost – in that process. Translation creates new layers of language” – Aleksandar Hemon
A typographic specimen presents the same string of words repeated a number of times in different alphabets, fonts, styles: each one of these paragraphs is unique yet related to every other, is individual yet representative of a wider family, each is significant both for its difference and its similarities with every other. Did we tell you we like metaphors?
A terminal that resolves into teardrop shape. But there is nothing wrong with happy endings, really.
Readings by Mike DeCapite, Vincent Katz, and Luc Sante. Short films by Ted Barron. It’s at 4pm on June 12th — and it’s free! Details here.
6 EAST 1ST STREET
[Photo: Ted Barron, J Train Rails, 2008.]
Maybe Muhammad Ali came not to destroy boxing but to fulfil it. But he destroyed it nevertheless. Before Ali, boxing was an existentialist art form in the same way as jazz and the blues were existentialist art forms. By existentialist I mean places where people were busy drowning and it was an impertinence to try and save them. A sense of ruin and defeat inevitably haunts every moment in these arenas, prowling around as a principle, where as Dylan knows, there’s no success like failure and failure’s no success at all. From the thirties to the fifties this was boxing’s domain: Ali brought in the sixties and its revolutions and like everywhere else, nothing would ever be the same again. .
The familiar note of monochrome requiem is the sombre music of the fight game pre-Ali, a fag and whisky dive mix of Miles Davies sax cool and Charles Hoff noire snap. What came after Ali’s victory over Sonny Liston was a different kind of meaning, one which took almost all of its power from Ali himself. And with his passing there’s not a lot left. Boxing’s a marginal player for an increasingly dwindling audience on satellite tv, no longer able to carry messages about ourselves that go deeper than, for example, the average game show greed or WWF circus camp routine or ‘Fight Club’ Extreme-Fighting chic. .
Before Ali boxing carried a different kind of truth.
Ali from the 3:AM archive
3 Rivington Street
London EC2A 3DT
A photography exhibition documenting the five years Chris Low spent immersed in Tokyo’s underground punk scene: its faces and places, bands and fans.
Having played for a number of punk bands popular in Japan Chris was welcomed into the thriving Tokyo punk community and was accorded access to a scene he found to be the most exciting and vibrant of any punk movement he’s ever encountered. It’s a culture that exists and flourishes in the face of traditionally conservative Japanese society. Most impressive of all, perhaps, is that to facilitate this dynamic movement a whole infrastructure of gigs, parties, shops and bars have emerged in accordance with punk’s original DIY ethic: Run by Punks, For Punks
The reference points of Japanese punk are similar to those reflected in Western punk styles – the UK82 mohicans and studded jackets; the biker-traveller hybrid of the crust tribe or the utilitarian black of the anarcho-punks. However, like much in Japanese culture both the look and the music are pushed to extremes.
Today’s Japanese punks wear their influences proudly painted on their studded leather sleeves. In Japan entire subgenres of punk have emerged and mutated like D-Beat forged from Discharge’s “Noise Not Music” ethos or the recent wave of “Young, Loud, Pissed & Proud” Pogo Punk bands.
It’s a scene that despite Japanese punk’s reverence within the punk community worldwide and the legendary status of such acts as The Stalin, GISM, Gauze, Confuse, Kuro, LSD, Crow or Disclose remains largely undocumented.
These photos tell the stories and evolution of their subjects caught in the camera lens. The spiked hair grows higher whilst the favourite bands du jour replace others in the fight for space with increasingly studded jackets. Bands initially only attracting a handful of friends to their shows later pack out clubs. A fresh-faced punk girl in the front row of one of her first gigs is five years on the singer in one of the most popular acts. A baby is held in the crowd by it’s mother, unflinching amongst the pogoing throng. A singer crowd-surfs and is carried aloft by the crowd, following his guitarist who has just been deposited at the back of the hall to continue playing.
By Nick Ashton.
Whilst most of Andy Blade’s peers have disappeared up their own backsides by now, he continues to defy expectation, releasing music that is far more edgy and vital than anything Morrissey/Lydon/Weller/Jones/Strummer et al, have ever produced. Blade’s command over an audience — large or small (as is the case tonight) — comes with a consummate professional ease, a craft honed over many years of live performance, often sharing the stage with those we now refer to as rock legends, yet somehow Blade has fallen through the cracks. His in-between-song raps, which are now just as much part of his set as the songs, command full attention. A very sharp, very dry wit indeed: even the likes of Oscar Wilde would have struggled to keep up with Mr Blade. Catch him on tour this year, I guarantee you shall be entertained.
27 May 2016
6:00 pm | Studio | ICA
Pierre Guyotat has been a unique figure in art and writing over the past 50 years, inspiring innumerable artists, film-makers, writers and choreographers. Foucault, Pasolini, Genet, Barthes, Derrida and many others lauded his work in the 1960s and 70s, and protested against its governmental censorship in France. Foucault wrote of Guyotat’s book Eden, Eden, Eden that he had created “a language of startling innovation. I have never read anything like it in any stream of literature. No-one has ever spoken as he speaks here.” Guyotat’s recent and contemporary work, such as Coma, remains as seminal as ever.
In this launch event for Stephen Barber’s book on Guyotat’s work, Revolutions and Aberrations — based on dialogues with Guyotat over a period of twenty years, and the first book in English on his work — he and Paul Buck discuss Guyotat’s work in its depth of experimentation and its capacity to provoke extreme outrage. The event includes screenings of film documents such as that of Guyotat’s appearance at the ICA in 1995, along with readings of translations from his work.
Stephen Barber is a professor at Kingston University’s Faculty of Art, Design and Architecture; his recent books include England’s Darkness (2014) and Performance Projections (2015).
Paul Buck—poet, novelist and performance artis — is the co-editor of Cabinet Gallery’s Vauxhall & Company publications.
The movie, which tracks two agents as they try to undermine and escape the ideological confines of total media, was produced by the book publisher Two Dollar Radio. It’s part of their new venture to create films with bold visions independently and outside the traditional channels of finance, capital, and marketing.
Read Andrew Gallix’s in-depth interview with Nicholas Rombes here.