After Bataille

Illustration for Madame Edwarda by Georges Bataille-Kuniyoshi Kaneko-1976
Illustration for Madame Edwarda by Georges Bataille-Kuniyoshi Kaneko-1976

As the tiger is to space,
So sex is to time,
Apparition of savage grace,
The prelude to crime,
A loss of all face,
A rending tear in the fabric
Stitched together by some joking maverick

Demented demiurge blind
And paralytic:
The only thing on your ravaged mind
Syphilitic,
Is where to find
The pot to piss and shit in
Which is, all things considered, rather fitting.

We’re near the limits of the I,
But I is another,
A discontinuity of cries,
All passion is other,
Into the emptiness we sigh,
Signs descend into parody,
Eggs eyes and testicles a chain of analogy.

I meet God, a lazy whore
Lolling on a bed,
Don’t you want some more?
As she opened her legs she said:
I needed her tender and raw
So I could penetrate the mystery,
Plumb the void of the coruscating divinity.

Let’s Get Brutal

Neil Montier-The Belt

The architectural Brutalist style enjoyed a brief heyday from the mid 1950’s to the late 1970’s across the globe, but particularly in the UK and the Soviet aligned countries of Eastern Europe. Frequently employed in state sponsored buildings: social housing, libraries, universities, and hospitals, Brutalist architecture become immensely  unfashionable from the 1980’s onward, the subject of widespread scorn and derision due to its associations with totalitarianism (both Fascist and Communist), urban decay and perceived ugliness, which led to many notable examples of the style falling prey to the wrecking ball and demolition.

Brutalism derives its name from Béton brut (raw concrete), the material most frequently used in construction, however it cannot be denied that it was also brutal in the purest sense: hard, raw, severe, and monumental. Brutalist architecture is always serious, austere and intellectually rigorous, it is never twee, whimsical or ironic.  Brutalism aims for the sublime, not the merely beautiful. Unrelentingly experimental and modernist Brutalism makes no concessions to good taste or common sense or timid sensibilities. Brutalism is a defiant middle finger raised against God, Nature and the small-minded.

As happens with most styles when they are on the verge of completely disappearing from the landscape, Brutalism has undergone somewhat of a resurgence in the last decade, with writers, photographers, artists and architects intent on rehabilitating its reputation. Below I have selected examples of Brutalist architecture, starting with the Atlantic Wall bunkers built by the Nazi’s during WWII, Le Corbusier’s Unité d’habitation in Marseille, London social housing projects, war memorials and buildings in the former Yugoslavia, up to the present day collages of Neil Montier and Nicholas Moulin. Hopefully they capture one essence of Brutalism, as noted by the critic Jonathan Mendes, a sheer joylessness that thrills.

Atlantic Wall Bunker
Atlantic Wall Bunker
Atlantic Wall Bunker
Atlantic Wall Bunker-Denmark
Unité d'habitation
Unité d’habitation-Marseille
Balfron Tower London
Balfron Tower London
Wyndham and Comber Estates London
Wyndham and Comber Estates London

 

War Memorial-Former Yugoslavia
War Memorial-Former Yugoslavia
Belgrade
Belgrade
the_belt_#3-copy.png
Neil Montier
the_belt_#1-copy.png
Neil Montier
Nicolas Moulin
Nicolas Moulin

 

Image result for monochrome
Nicolas Moulin

 

 

 

Another Country

Someone Else’s House-George Shaw 2018

Somebody should have told you
That there was never any future
In lying supine,
Idly dreaming
Of your lost glory days
The vanished grandeur of your imperial passage
When you subdued the very waves
And subjugated the nations of the world
With boots pressing downturned faces
Further into the mud until they choked,
Striking accords and treaties
Then perfidiously reneging
Carrying cargo requiring whips and chains
A-looting and a-raping
Destroying and acquiring
Wholesale pillaging
But you know, all for their own good
A civilizing mission of course
Truth be told it was all a bit of a burden
But somebody had to do it and who better than us?
Quite quite but can you see the future
In dreaming of a past that was actually a nightmare
And how it poisons your present
Making your current decline
Take on the bouquet of a corpse
Your empire resulted in beaucoup bad karma
And a backlash that reverberates and echoes
Not only did you oppress and degrade the colonized
But we dehumanized ourselves in the process
Turns out that your manifest destiny
Was to be exceptional only in dissembled aggression
Yet you still wrap yourself in the flag
Butchers apron, a filthy bloody rag
While cultivating a loathsome air
Of detached superior nonchalance,
Fundamentally supercilious
Undermining any attempts at seriousness
With a deadly withering irony
A scornful reproach of all decency
Yet we are still surprised
When we encounter all the hate
Displayed by neighbours and others
Further a-field, all over in fact
Can’t they see what we did for them
All those ungrateful so and so’s
Can you believe that they think of us as some
Stricken beast too stupid to know that its dead?
Well we will show them one day
If only the enemy of the people
Those traitors and bleeding hearts
Would stop talking us down
If only we could rouse and wake up
Then we might dream
Of starting over again, though this time
We would make sure that the sun
Never ever never sets

Alienists

Blue Birds in the Tree-Scottie Wilson ca 1960

Sometimes I am overcome with the suspicion
That I am a stranger on this earth
Descended from a peripheral order of beings
An alien on this planet come from a distant star,
Faraway galaxy, parallax dimension
Some shape of a castaway, convict or changeling
Perhaps just a forgetful idler who slept passed their stop
And shuffled off at the end of the line

But the trick is to be at ease

Of course I have on occasion demanded to see the manager
But that was met with shrugs and sighs conveying
Studied confusion, blank indifference or downright hostility
Nobody seemed to know anything and cared even less
Initially I thought well what is the point of them?
But maybe they were feigning ignorance
Covering their tracks, keeping secrets, hiding truths
About myself however banal they turned out to be

Surely you realise that this is not the way to go about things
I think we may have a situation
You are clearly not at ease with yourself and your surroundings

Surrounded by screens bombarded by images and text
Deluged with data indices statistics and factoids
Which I passively absorbed hoping to later sift and sort
Through the theories ideologies conspiracies and revelations
Perhaps somewhere in this sewer of misinformation
I can decipher a message from a distant dimension
A faraway star, a parallex galaxy my lost
Home that I fell from those forgotten aeons ago

You know we have ways of making you feel at ease
And you have, despite our repeated warnings
Persisted in persisting
You leave us no choice so…
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself
You are at ease in your surroundings
You are at ease
You are at ease in yourself and your surroundings
You are at ease in yourself
You will be what we want you to be
Feel what we want you to feel
Say what we want you to say
Think what we want you to think
Be what we want you to be

You are now at ease in yourself and your surroundings


As long as I do not remember certain moments
Incidences or sensations that elicit strong reactions
Then I will be alright, I will be at ease with myself
I doubt it ever happened that I shot my cuffs,
Lifted my finger signaling for you to come over,
Bend over my knee and lift up your skirt
That only happened in my non-existent home
Vanished star, imploded galaxy, voided dimension

They have promised me that when I feel completely
At ease in myself and my surroundings
That I will be granted a vision of the birds of paradise
Descending down from the vast unreachable heavens
Onto these somnolent suburban streets and gardens
Setting hearts and minds ablaze with motion and colour
To carry us away toward a richer more vibrant realm
A distant galaxy, faraway dimension, parallax star.

Palpating for Absolution

Kay Sage-Le Passage-1956

I touch your skin with a hope of palpating your heart
To cause an excitation within your mind that travels
Down and around towards the tenderest target zones
Leading to an exultation that abolishes all barriers
Just for a moment a confusion reigns as to where I stop
And when do you start to begin once more again

Ever constricting circles nearing the vanishing still point
The ever eluding aim the shimmering illusionary goal
Of my hesitant groping then more assured stroking
As you strain to reach those regions unknown to me
Still I long for and hasten your complete surrender
Emptied and spent experience blank devasted serenity

I touch your skin unsure whether this repetition is a curse
Or some form of blessing preceding a final absolution