Written

July 23, 2019

We can destroy what we have written, but we cannot unwrite it.

Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange

How I write

August 11, 2018

Footprints through time

Where would Shakespeare have got if he had thought only of a specialized audience? What he did was to attempt to appeal on all levels, with something for the most rarefied intellectuals (who had read Montaigne) and very much more for those who could appreciate only sex and blood. I like to devise a plot that can have a moderately wide appeal. But take Eliot’s The Waste Land, very erudite, which, probably through its more popular elements and its basic rhetorical appeal, appealed to those who did not at first understand it but made themselves understand it. The poem, a terminus of Eliot’s polymathic travels, became a starting point for other people’s erudition. I think every author wants to make his audience. But it’s in his own image, and his primary audience is a mirror.

Anthony Burgess
Interview Paris Review, Spring 1973

more than a chess piece

August 2, 2018

A character, to be acceptable as more than a chess piece, has to be ignorant of the future, unsure about the past, and not at all sure of what he’s supposed to be doing.

Anthony Burgess
Quoted in: Advice to writers by Jon Winokur

the body is quiescent

March 31, 2018

I work in the morning, but I think the afternoon is a good time to work. Most people sleep in the afternoon. I’ve always found it a good time, especially if one doesn’t have much lunch. It’s a quiet time. It’s a time when one’s body is not at its sharpest, not at its most receptive — the body is quiescent, somnolent; but the brain can be quite sharp. I think, also, at the same time that the unconscious mind has a habit of asserting itself in the afternoon. The morning is the conscious time, but the afternoon is a time in which we should deal much more with the hinterland of the consciousness.

Anthony Burgess
Interview with John Cullinan in Paris Review spring 1973

writing

Where would Shakespeare have got if he had thought only of a specialized audience? What he did was to attempt to appeal on all levels, with something for the most rarefied intellectuals (who had read Montaigne) and very much more for those who could appreciate only sex and blood. I like to devise a plot that can have a moderately wide appeal. But take Eliot’s The Waste Land, very erudite, which, probably through its more popular elements and its basic rhetorical appeal, appealed to those who did not at first understand it but made themselves understand it. The poem, a terminus of Eliot’s polymathic travels, became a starting point for other people’s erudition. I think every author wants to make his audience. But it’s in his own image, and his primary audience is a mirror.

Anthony Burgess
Interview with John Cullinan in Paris Review spring 1973

ClockworkOrange

So there we were dratsing away in the dark, the old Luna with men on it just coming up, the stars stabbing away as it might be knives anxious to join in the dratsing. With my britva I managed to slit right down the front of one of Billyboy’s droog’s platties, very very neat and not even touching the plott under the cloth. Then in the dratsing this droog of Billyboy’s suddenly found himself all opened up like a peapod, with his belly bare and his old yarbles showing, and then he got very razdraz, waving and screaming and losing his guard and letting in old Dim with his chain snaking whisssssshhhhhhhhh, so that old Dim chained him right in the glazzies, and this droog of Billyboy’s went tottering off and howling his heart out.

Anthony Burgess
A Clockwork Orange

Unwanted Seed

May 22, 2009

Poverty3

I’m tempted to suggest a solution pinched from Anthony Burgess for the problem of “over population” – I know I’ve mentioned this often enough in the past! But all that crap we’re bombarded with about climate change.

You know the stuff I mean? 

It’s the “Oh, dear, the World’s going down the pan in five years, ten years, fifty years, sometime soon” brigade. “Put you head between your legs, kiss your arse goodbye, all the ice is melting…” 

You’ve heard it haven’t you? 

And then they come up with that killer word: UNLESS! 

We’re all goin’ to die UNLESS!  Unless we (the human race) cut back on carbon emissions. 

Oh, is that all? 

Oh, well, that impacts on more-or-less every-damn-thing you can think of in a modern industrial society, doesn’t it? So that’s going to happen, isn’t it? Like don’t hold your effin’ breath, children.
 
But what’s not being said, is that the real problem is people – the sheer volume of people on this ol’ planet of ours. More and more development of industry – why? Because there are more and more bloody consumers.

“Simples.”

If you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the bloody problem!

We exist on a world with finite resources. People die daily due to lack of drinking water, lack of food, lack of medicine or affordable health care. Those of us living (and consuming) in a fully developed industrial economy do so at the expense of all those whose lot in life is one of depravation and poverty. We’re like those “fat cat” bankers that were in the news recently: we’re burning up whatever resources we can lay our hands on, leaving (ultimately) sweet FA for the “have-nots” or even our own posterity.

In short, we are 21st  Century Vampires, sucking the soul out of Gaia; we’re Ghouls feeding on the rank corpses of our own kind. We ARE the problem.

So, while scientists, those Bishops of the new religion, waffle on about carbon emissions (frankly, even if they were 0% it’s probably too damn late to make a difference), they gloss over, or fail to face the underlying cause of the problem – PEOPLE.

You, me, and Gordon makes three.  WE are the problem, and our unchecked, unregulated, out of control consumerism has taken our race to the very edge of the abyss, where we now teeter, uncomfortably, eyes averted from the bleak depths confronting us!

We are in DENIAL!

So, Anthony Burgess. He wrote the novel “THE WANTING SEED” back when (1962 I think). It was about an England that was desperate to avoid overpopulation. Here we find infanticide, and a society where homosexuals receive various benefits and are praised as role models for society. The population police are everywhere. And as this society falls apart at the centre, we are taken on a rollercoaster ride of lavish orgies and cannibalistic dinners.

And it’s the idea of those cannibalistic meals that I would “pinch” from Burgess and offer up as a (partial) solution to those problems of climate change etc currently besetting us.

Symbolically, Catholics have been eating the body of Christ and drinking his blood for over a thousand years. The industrial West has “fed” lavishly on the body of “the third world”, metaphorically speaking. So why not now transform Symbol and metaphor into hard reality? Why not eat a friend?

Burgess often mention the idea of cans of “mensh” in the supermarket. Meat for all. No need for starvation in a world full of people.

So while vested interest and the business community of Brazil indulge in night games, killing those members of society felt to be extraneous to requirement –

“I call it social cleansing because the people being killed are normally black, they’re poor and they’re from the slums that surround the city. They have become what I call ‘the killables’.”

They are totally missing out on the opportunity to package and market the “meat” of their victims. There’s money in them there corpses!

“One of the street kids, Roberto, 14. “You can also be burned alive here.”

Pre-cooked? Is that another missed opportunity?

It’s estimated there’re eleven million street kids in India. Ten million in Brazil. One and a half million in Egypt. And one and half million in Pakistan. The numbers roll on and on, around the world, millions of fast food meals waiting to happen. All totally surplus to requirements.

You think that sounds terrible?

Sick even?

Well, what I think is terrible, the real crime – the true sickness – is the fact these kids exist at all. While we sit on our fat arses worrying about the state of the economy, each of us with a “carbon footprint” the size of the Sudan, they are silently dying…sometimes not so quietly. While certain members of our Parliament juggle their expenses figures to clean out a moat or purchase a bathplug or Sky TV package, these kids beg on street corners, steal, prostitute themselves…die. Even in modern Russia it’s estimated over a million children live “rough”, underground, in pipe and cable conduits and tunnels during the winter – kids no one wants, so what are they doing there?

We live in a world with too many people. We don’t want to do anything about that. We live in a world where child poverty is endemic. We don’t want to do anything about that. We look away from the abyss. We live in a world where the climate is changing, becoming less hospitable. Guess what? We aren’t going to do much about that, either…pay lip service to it, make “green” noises, recycle a bit of household waste, whack up the odd windmill.

Through all this I have this solitary image in my head: Nero fiddling while Rome burns out of control. Now there was a man who knew a good tune when he heard one!

I appreciate Wells’ Morlocks and Eloi in his “Time Machine” were symbolic of the servants and their employers in an English country house (the Upstairs and Downstairs) of his boyhood. However, he may have been literally more prophetic than anyone ever realised before!

You’ll remember the Morlocks treat the Eloi as cattle. They provide three good, nourishing meals every day. Well, we live in a world of shortages…?

Cannibalism I know has had a bad press, but when needs must (as they say)…and, not to put too fine a point on it, eating animals, pork, beef, and fish is a form of cannibalism anyway! One thinks of Anthony Burgess’ novel “The Wanting Seed”, a vision of an overpopulated future Britain, where the government encourages homosexuality (with the slogan “It’s sapiens to be homo”, and where police officers are recognized by their bright red lipstick). Yes, cannibalism is within our reach now!

It is the solution to a pressing problem! Too many people, not enough to eat. Kill two birds with one stone! Eat a friend…

According to Evolutionary theorist Oliver Curry a genetic upper class and a dim-witted underclass will emerge in the future. I think he may be correct – but I think the time’s arrived…NOW!

See here.

Time, indeed, for publication of the “Good Cannibals Cook Book”. With its follow up of “IOOI sauces for roast and fried third worlders”.