July 22, 2009

Speech Debelle - Mercury Business

Yesterday was a good day. Speech Debelle got her album nominated for the Mercury Music prize (or, as we are meant to put it, was made a Barclaycard Mercury Album of The Year). Spent the afternoon in the pub. Am feeling fragile today. Hence nothing to say for myself. Hold tight for fascinating updates soon.

July 20, 2009

Infinity and beyond!

I've been immortalised in art. Okay, not me, personally, but my name. Crazy-man about town Infinite Livez currently has an exhibition, "Salvador Dali Was Half-Bengali," at the Pebbledash Gallery in Stoke Newington and he has named one of his new pieces Will Ashon Style And Pattern. The exhibition is on until the 31st so you can go and see it, if you want, or buy the art online, via my name link above. You know it makes sense...

Pebbledash Gallery, 2 Leswin Place, Stoke Newington, London N16 7NJ

July 10, 2009

Jon Baskin on David Foster Wallace

Excellent essay about David Foster Wallace's work and legacy here. Jon Baskin claims in "Death Is Not The End" that "with the benefit of time, it will be recognized that Wallace had less in common with Eggers and Franzen than he did with Dostoevsky and Joyce." Baskin argues that we should read Wallace's work as a series of Wittgensteinian therapies designed specifically to cure us of our addiction, the most fundamental of all our addictions, "to a highly reflexive and indulgent way of thinking." In particular, he seems to suggest, Wallace uses the machinery of post-modern writing and thought as the only way in which to connect with readers weened on this type of literature. "Many people in America already knew that AA worked; Wallace, however, was the first to propose it as a solution to the problem of postmodern thinking. This problem had the structure of addiction, he suggested. That was why it took a sophisticated, difficult novel like Infinite Jest to make the people who tend to read sophisticated, difficult novels think hard about things that were meaningful and true."

July 08, 2009

Test Match Cricket & The End of Work

So, the Ashes has begun. I'm listening on my computer. Already my mind is becoming mulch. Really, I may as well write the whole summer off now. Any writer worth his or her salt spends around 90% of their working day looking for an excuse not to write anything and what could be better than the gentle application of psychological pressure which is Test Match cricket? I am not going to write my masterpiece with this going on. Someone appears to be playing "Radio GaGa" on a melodica in the back of the commentary box. Two Aussies are chatting about the pitch. Nothing much is happening and that's just what I'm after. Shit. Cook's out, just as I was relaxing into a soporific stupor. Do these bastards never rest?

July 06, 2009

Recessions Sessions - Part 2

I got asked back to do the next "litgig" organised by Beat The Dust and all those good folk. If you can't be bothered to watch the rather smart "video flyer" above then I'll tell you that it's at the Betsey Trotwood again on July 31st from 7.30ish, I'll wager. Better hurry up and write something...

July 03, 2009

Portrait Of The Novelist As A Dead Butterfly

I've been thinking of novel writing as a kind of minor utopianism. While I'm working on a book, the one in my head is always perfect, a masterpiece, a kind of personal Heaven on Earth. Then I get to the end of my draft and read through the one I've actually created and it's a repressive regime. Flawed, dusty and restricted, with dog shit all over the pavements. And I polish and change and clean it and move it a little nearer to the ideal which motivated me, but it remains a disappointment. So I start again on a new novel and immediately convince myself that this time I will achieve something impossible, almost through belief alone.

Now, my question is this. Is this a necessary condition of writing novels (for me, anyway)? Or is it just immature delusion? i.e. will I only actually be able to write a truly great book (play along with me here) when I stop thinking in these terms? Part of the reason I ask is because I recently started writing something and I don't have that usual feeling at all. So I'm wondering whether this is a Bad Sign, an indicator that I'm not truly excited enough by what I'm trying to do to pull if off in any satisfactory way. Whether what I produce will be, in fact, dowdy, worthy and safe, lacking in spark. Or whether, on the other hand, due to multiple disappointments, I'm finally able to write without becoming blinded by my own excitement and so will manage to keep control of the material instead of setting off on the kind of maniacal flights of fancy which seem to come to me when I feel the burn of "the star on the forehead" (to quote poor ol' Raymond Roussel).

Of course the truth is that probably whichever way I write I'll never come close to producing what I would hope to produce. In which case why do I keep on going? There are two possible answers, I guess. One is that it's the struggle to create that ideal which is important, that it's better to spend your life chasing after a beautiful impossibility than grinding through a grim reality. That, in fact, chasing a beautiful impossibility is maybe what a good life is about. The other is less cheering. A friend told me about research which shows that cult members become more committed to a cult after the events the cult leaders have predicted fail to come to pass. I'm either a beautiful butterfly or a one man cult. My one man jury is out. He's staring through the window at an empty playing field when he should be trying to reach a decision. It's cold and wet and not even butterfly season. It hasn't, now he thinks about it, been butterfly season for years.

July 02, 2009

Mike Nelson - "A Psychic Vacuum"

Back in 2007, Mike Nelson built a huge installation in the derelict Essex Street Market in Lower East Side New York. Now Creative Time, who made the thing happen, are publishing a book of the installation. You can read an interview about it here. Nelson says that his next project will be, "hopefully some major demolition of a small part of London — but we have to find somewhere first." Boom!