Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Our Death 11 / The Ignoble Fate of Rock n Roll

I live on the top floor of one of those strange post-war tower blocks you see near the centre of Kreuzberg. Lately I’ve been starting to think that the whole place might be abandoned. I never hear a sound from the other apartments and I never see anyone in the stairwell. The elevator is always empty, the identical green doors on each landing always seem to be closed. Don’t get me wrong, it doesn’t bother me. I get home each night between roughly one and two, sit down on the floor and arrange the various unpleasant tasks I have had to do throughout the day in an only partially figurative diagram in front of me. A small blood-stain here. A slice of wage-labour there. A flash of paranoia. A wistful incidence of mistaken identity. All of them, I arrange them on the floor, and then by an improvised technique of compression, overdrive and sheer noise I try to neutralise them. Impossible task, obviously. The noise in the stairwell must be unbearable. Sometimes it goes horribly wrong. The wage-labour and the paranoia blend into one, as do the blood-stain and the mistaken identity, and they stand at opposite ends of the room howling at each other with the archaic sound of heavily amplified guitar strings, or rather the sound those strings used to make before, I dunno, 1985 or something. And within the sound of those strings I can make out certain shapes, certain used garrottes, certain unfinished rhythmic ditties. The Plague Doors Waltz. The Orgreave Boogie. The Poll Tax Strut. Etc. Maybe I wish this happened more often. Maybe I can remember being a kid. 16 years old, first time I listened to “I Heard Her Call My Name”. First track side two, “White Light / White Heat”. About two minutes in. Slight pause, weird silence. And then some kind of guitar-shriek, like the entire sky had compressed itself to an almost microscopic dot and had then reinvented itself as a huge library of, what - lightning, sunglasses, everything. I spent my late adolescence living in that silence like it was some kind of utopia, a vacuum, anti-sexual, epileptic and serious, absolutely nothing to do with rock n roll. Whatever that is. Anyway. The Downing Street Foxtrot. The Watt Tyler Cakewalk. The Roy Walsh Shuffle. All of these shapes signal through the silence of my apartment like some kind of counter-calendar until the sun comes up like a blast of entirely normative guitar noise and. Blah blah blah. I guess you know what that means. Your fetishised punk rock youth reduced to a small blood stain. Amplified electricity as the story of the wage relation. Utopian raving as a brief flash of paranoia, your own memories as a wistful incidence of mistaken identity, all of it rolling together in some kind of pornographic implosion on my apartment floor. And there I am, unable to do anything but rummage through my record collection, gaze with unease at the dawn sky, and listen obsessively for the sound of footsteps in the hall outside my door.

1 comment:

Tom Raworth said...

Sean: your "Letters in Turmoil" are among the very few things I can currently read without regret that I am literate. Thanks. Tom