Three posts down the end of the road, and their multipliers.

posts-1

 

“They stand there. And the shadows all point the same way. That’s something I’ve noticed. The shadows all point the same way, and they stand there. That is all. How I ever got mixed up in this darned business is far beyond me; whether it was all the fates all weighing heavily right here, down the end of the road, I don’t rightly know. All I know is that they stand there, and the shadows all point the same way.

I guess you must think I’m  a bit soft in the ‘ead, gettin’ all fixated on these darned concrete posts and everything. I mean, these three posts have got to be the most boring thing in the world, haven’t they? I mean, they’re so boring, they just disappear, don’t they? You kind of just block them out of your mind when you’re going down the shops, don’t you, maybe so you don’t have to see how utterly miserable these things are. You know they’re there, but you can’t see ’em. Funny.

Well, so long as I stand here, I make one of them. My shadow points the same way, doesn’t it? And, you know, your shadow points the same way too…”

Transcript of an interview with the old woman down the end of the street, from which nobody ever comes back.

CADE, 2013

 

The project “…drifting towards (x)” is an EIE – an Evolving Interactive Environment.

To enter into the full environment of these ideas as they grow and adapt, visit us here…

Prometheus, or Concentrated Boredom

I am walking through Mary Datchelor Close; a rather featureless and barren-looking 1970s housing block, in colour, annexed between Church Street and Camberwell Green Youth Court. To what purpose as yet unknown. A hunch, maybe. I am aware that, encapsulated within the almost deathly stillness of this afternoon, there is a feint droning sound seeping out from somewhere within the heart of the estate. It is a nauseating tone; more like some sub-larynxial movement of the estate itself, leaking out from where the buildings join the pavement, almost inaudible. I decide to investigate further, my curiosity having been piqued by the intense monotony of the drone, practically uncertain of whether it originates from inside or outside.

I swiftly go ‘incognito’ by putting on the appearance of someone who is just going up the shops for a pack of fags or doughnuts or something. So as not to draw any hostile attention. I move furtively from wall to wall around the estate, pausing now and then to press my ear to a surface, tracing my way back to the source of this monotony. Sooner or later my ears, hands, feet and other apparatus draw me to an unmarked white Ford Transit van parked up in front of a house. Attached to it is a curious-looking industrial trailer with lots of warning stickers all over it and all these dirty plastic hoses leading from the underside of the trailer unit and in through the kitchen window of the house. Judging by the droning sound, the trailer is either pumping something into the house or sucking something out. It is impossible to tell which.

There is a lot of congestion in each of the fist-thick pipes which probably accounts for the noise itself – the vibrations of an engine working way beyond its capacity, over-strained. As it coughs and splutters under its difficult burden, a viscous tar-like liquid – like some kind of filthy amber – is seeping out from a tear in one of the pipes and is coagulating in a puddle around one of the tires. I watch this process for some time. The dripping motion of the fluid is so inexorably slow, I almost cannot see it , but I keep watching all the same. It’s almost as though there were no movement at all, and I cannot understand how that can be. Perhaps if I slow down to the same speed, synchronize with the drip…? Danger. I could get stuck here forever; it’s happened before. It happens all the time. This fluid could be some sort of highly concentrated boredom, and therefore one ought to proceed with a high degree of caution.

Just as I’m thinking this thought, I suddenly become aware of three pairs of eyes watching me through the dirty lace curtain in the kitchen window of the house.  The front door unlocks and out of it emerges a trio of workmen. The eyes must have been theirs, I conclude. As they walk towards me I notice the protective white plastic garments they are wearing – a bit like how you might imagine a team of engineers to look in one of those sci-fiction movies; engineers who’ve been charged with digging up the remains of some ancient alien object buried deep beneath London streets and sewers, deeper even than the Tube, deeper than the unconscious.

I decide to respond cautiously to this unfolding situation, and to that end I make a gesture towards the puddle accumulating round the trailer tire. My gesture, (perhaps tinged with a shade of divisive malice – a bit of divide-and-rule,) causes two of the engineers to suddenly become animated, and they start bickering to each another in whispers and hushed whelps. The two of them, in their Laurel and Hardy-ish way, try to hide behind the back of the third man who is – I now notice – somewhat taller and more impressive-looking than the others. Having removed their protective masks and outer gear, I find it almost impossible to imagine how I could ever have thought all three men were the same size just a moment ago. The two animated engineers are considerably more scrawny, undernourished and pathetic than the foreman. He just looks straight through me, as though my presence was, to him, little more than a detail in the landscape of his work day.

Without my noticing, one of the two thin men has placed a vase under the drip in an effort to minimize the waste of, (or to prevent contamination by,) this strange fluid. The second thin man just watches the other with a strange intensity, his hand down the front of his trousers, eyes rolling backwards into his skull, vibrating.

I must escape before this situation achieves some kind of zenith that I would rather not be a party to.

Gesturing again to the puddle, (and stamping my foot so as to underline the gesture,) I remind the foreman how instrumental I was in the recovery of this [apparently] precious fluid; had I not been passing, a great deal of it might have been wasted – and he knows it, too. Thinking about it a second time however, I then wonder if he wasn’t just ignoring the gross misconduct of his colleagues in their wastage of the fluid, so as to spare me – an outsider – from the spectacle of their punishment. But, having indicated the leak for a second time, their mistake could no longer be overlooked by the foreman. They alternately throw hostile glances at me for having betrayed their incompetence, clawing at my conscience for a life line, pleading for me to toss even the smallest thread of hope to which they can cling for even the weakest of assurances. But this hardly bothers me much – on the contrary, it brings me pleasure to know that I will be able to escape when their punishment begins.

The foreman picks up the vase in slow-motion and slugs its contents with a single discharge of his gorge. His stern gaze, then dissolving into small rivulets of moisture in the corners of his eyes, echoes the dark patch spreading out around his crotch, a Rorschach image clinging to the inside of his thighs, steaming in the cold air.

As I slip away from the narrative lurking in the housing estate, I see in my minds eye the faces of those thin men which seemed to say – ‘It was the boredom that did it; your boredom! And we will never forgive you.’ Or at least that’s what I try not to tell myself as the droning sound fades into the distance, becoming little more than part of the background of the afternoon, a layer of autumnal parallax. To be sure, a million such monotonies lurk in the plain light of day, each threatening to disturb the apparent order of things. But if it really is my boredom that is responsible, if my boredom carries such charge as to be able to draw latent possibilities out of the monomanias of an afternoon, I am pretty certain that my being there to watch them unfold won’t really change anything.

The whole project to which this text belongs may be seen here: NEO-LONDON

Barry Cade @ The Unstitute

Long Lane: Beyond the Pleasure Principle

Introduction:

Long Lane, Southwark. The people here are in a desperate state, although it’s difficult to tell what exactly they are desperate for. Usually there is some ostensible reason why a young man might cry his heart out in a doorway – or why a woman might lead her partner about on a leash. There are too many whys and wherefores these days which are little more than vague gestures than real questions seeking out an answer. There are too many unsolved mysteries that double, treble, quadruple every day. One doesn’t wonder if people don’t unconsciously desire to be perplexed, acting in the strange ways they do. But there’s literally no good reason for being in Long Lane; this is the place people go to get beyond the pleasure principle. People’s behaviour doesn’t mean anything here. Not even a scream has meaning.
People only ever cry out for something. You cry out for help. You cry out in pain and you cry for joy. You cry in both orgasm and mourning. In Long Lane however, something highly unusual has happened to the normal sequence of the cry inasmuch as here, people cry for nothing. This ‘cry-for-nothing’, harmless as it sounds, signifies nothing. You cannot hope to find out what it means, and if you catch yourself doing it, you’re done for.

 

Cries-for-nothing

1) Man in doorway

This first recording is of the aforementioned young man in the doorway of a closed charity shop on Long Lane. You might think he was drunk or something, the way he lollygags on the pavement staining his trousers in phlegm, but you would be wrong. There is no reason for this behaviour. This man is in an abyss. From a distance, the sounds he makes are indistinguishable from those of a person in deep misery – indeed, all the sounds are correct, but the content is entirely missing. I listen several times to the recording of his ‘voice’ and find the sounds I interpreted initially as abject misery are in fact nothing of the kind – there are no words, ideas, concepts – and therefore no meaning to his cries. It is a cry-for-nothing.

2) Male voice from above

The second recording came out of a first-floor window further down by the junction with Wild’s Rents – a nondescript cobbled street with a gourmet food shop on its corner. This batch of noises are far more terrible than the first but alas, just as meaningless. I try to picture the person up there in that room above the shop, grunting and snorting until he practically vomits. It can only just be described correctly as a human voice.
Looking at the deli-style menu outside the shop, I am puzzled as to the fare on offer here.


I speculate momentarily on the possible connection between the sounds and the menu, but think better of it and move on. In this instance, I am glad for the cry to be meaningless. I rush back to the complex delta-like junction spews its nonsense all over Borough High Street like an ill mouth.

3) Man on leash

This whimpering and grunting animal has been clumsily dressed in a suit by his wife who, in a crude effort to provide him with a familiar identity, has revealed her denial about her husband’s metamorphosis. It may be that this man-thing can only get around anywhere on a leash, perhaps due to laziness, idiocy or lack of motivation, but whatever it is he has become entirely dependent upon his wife for survival. Were she to abandon him he would no doubt turn feral and run wild all over the area, posing a threat to husbands and other dogs in the neighbourhood.

Empties

 

Well…that was the last thing he ever said to me. Packed-up and left the next morning he did, and that was the last I saw of him. Poor old Mr. Johnson. But I suppose you can’t blame him for wanting to leave this place – I mean, it’s going to the dogs, innit? Not that he had a choice, mind. About leaving. Well, there weren’t nothing left for him to do, so naturally he lost his job. Housing Association’s hardly likely to pay for a caretaker to take care of a building that they don’t care about any more, are they? Think about it. Housing Association treats this whole estate like it doesn’t exist. I suppose that’s why everybody’s gone, cause…well…I mean, people don’t want to live somewhere that doesn’t exist, do they? Course not. Except for me of course. I suppose you could say the Housing Association should have done more to keep the building in good repair, you know. They could have painted the walls for a start, or occasionally cut that overgrown lawn out front and changed them old fittings in the lobby that never work but, I dunno – they’ve got their own agenda, haven’t they?

Of course, they don’t want me here. Course not. They say I’m ‘standing in the way of progress’. Yeah. That’s what they said in their letter. Hang on a minute…I got it here somewhere…ok, I got it…here we go:

Dear Mister Whatever-your-name-is,

Our Enforcement Division has recently discovered that you are standing in the way of progress. I should like to take this opportunity to draw your attention to clause number 5,142a in your tenancy agreement that states the following:

‘All persons residing at the property agree not to stand in the way of progress. Any person or persons at the property found to be standing in the way of progress are recommended to think twice about it before they get their mouth filled in with concrete.’

If it is therefore your intention to continue standing in the way of progress, the Housing Association will take no responsibility, financially or otherwise, for the condition of your internal organs after we visit. 

Yours, with heartfelt regards, etc. etc.,

Mister Housing Association

It’s funny, but I don’t feel like leaving. Don’t ask me why. I just, you know, I just feel like somebody should stay, you know what I mean? See, if I leave, this place just won’t exist anymore, so I’ve got to stay. I know I shouldn’t, ‘cause of the risk and everything, what with them ‘patrols’ the Housing Association keeps sending round in the middle of the night, making that dreadful racket with their crowbars as they tear the place apart, night after night, breaking things and with their jack boots. But that’s nothing compared to the dog patrols. You don’t wanna be anywhere near one of them when it comes past. I saw them get a squatter last night. Poor woman. Talk about savage. It’s terrible it is. So you have to sit and cower somewhere almost impossible to get at, hardly daring to breathe…or you keep moving from one flat to another, hiding as best you can, keeping upwind from those dog-things. But, I suppose you gotta hand it to them; at least they’re thorough. The Housing Association, I mean. At least it gives you a bit of confidence in your local authority, you know what I mean? And it’s good to have confidence in the authorities. So, well…I just sit here in the dark most of the time. But I know they’ll find me in the end. They find everyone in the end…

Hesitation

border

The neat angle of the grass as it joins the pavement in this quiet niche of the municipal gardens is certainly no place to hesitate, when to hesitate is to signal the shady characters who always wait with interminable patience over there behind the trees where the shade is thickest. Even if it were not the case that such characters – though they go about their business in the most ordinary of ways and even a sideways glance may be misconstrued – were any more likely to pose a danger than you do yourself, the suggestiveness of this place, the way the pavement folds along the grass so neatly, is all too much to resist and helplessness becomes the only motive. The cautious eyes of children, women alone, flashing across to the shade of the trees and back again invites the inevitable even if you intend no such thing – you stalk out from the thicket and approach if only because she hesitates for a moment –

The Body Politic: The Waste Problem

waste_problem_curators_notes

Explore ‘The Waste Problem’ at The Unstitute

What sort of ‘waste problem’ are we dealing with here? It is true that the health of the whole body politic rests on the sanitary measures taken to deal with its waste, but to reduce this ‘problem’ to a concern for hygiene in the regular sense would be to somewhat miss the object of CADE’s  enquiry. ‘Hygiene’ could conceivably indicate some form of ‘racial hygiene’, (attested by increasingly frequent outbreaks of fascism, like buboes on the skin of society,) a mendacious attitude towards ‘cultural cleanliness’ even, or a division of the clean and unclean; it may refer to a physical blockage in the waste-disposal system of the city, (as in the sewerage pipes we see stuffed with dog carcasses by operatives from Thames Water,) or it may even point towards a mental attitude towards waste which itself is becoming problematic – things formerly considered ‘useful’ are re-categorised unconsciously into the ‘useless’, provoking widespread nausea and apathy towards the value of things. One thing is certain however; CADE takes no moral stance on this rubbishing of everything – indeed, he seems quite at home, nestled amongst the spreading tendrils of entropy all around, a lotus-eater. His writings indicate no critique of post-industrial capitalism and its excesses; no Camorra-style syndicate is holding politicians to ransom with garbage; no general strike amongst sanitation contractors is prostrating the system. There is in fact no good reason why it should be so, but there it is: CADE presents a compromised system in which everything is in a process of ‘being-wasted’ – including its people.

On several occasions CADE himself displays the tendency towards purposeless drifting – swept along, object-like, mysterious to himself – to everything. His records are begrimed with apathy:

 “A machine for the production of rubbish.”

This phrase, written out several times in his journal, must make us reconsider what is meant by rubbish and by what is not meant by rubbish; are things becoming rubbish even before they are used? There is doubtless more, (or perhaps even less,) than meets the eye. After touching this material, watching it, hearing it, reading it, one gets a stale odour on one’s fingers, so to speak – used, spent, empty. This system, as it is perceived, is in the process of losing its useful energy at a highly accelerated pace, decay is encrusting every corner and every object in ambiguity, and the cohesion between the sensible and the impossible is becoming meaningless – is becoming rubbish, in fact. The apparently systematic methods employed by CADE in gathering this material is not one of retrieving something meaningful or useful out of the rubbish-heap; rather, in his method is a peculiar desire to join with this rubbish, to become part of a system which is in the process of becoming useless as we speak. And perhaps CADE’s ‘machine for the production of rubbish’ is some kind of entropic engine, devaluing the usefulness of anything, a Heraclitean cosmic-accelerator in which the cohesion of the meaningful tends ultimately towards dissolution and chaos. Another quote from his journal seems conclusive:

“The universe is a great pile of rubbish, heaped up at random.”

Bettany Unction

Chief Curator

View the entire project here: NEO-LONDON

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Non-conductor

no-nothing

There’s a lot to be said about inertia. I myself have been inert for…seven years now, ever since the old Routemaster buses were taken out of service. Yeah, I was a conductor, see. Oh, It was a merry old life we had back in the old days. Great times, they were…yeah…nah, hold on a minute…that’s a lie. A complete lie. I just told you a complete…listen; I had an awful time back in the old days. Working every day for sod all money, having horrible people shout at you for no reason on that filthy old bus that stank of vomit half the time…thirty-eight years of it. Even then I used to nag about how things were better in the old days! And now here I am, saying that even those old days I used to hate were better than these days are now. How do people go on like that, always complaining about the present, in the present? If anyone sours the taste of the present, it’s me – let’s face facts here! It’s not as though its got something to do with all this progress that’s…what do you call it…decadent, is it? You know, like how even though we’re progressing into ‘a better world’ and all that guff, somehow life was always better in the past. I mean, it must be me who’s wrong…it can’t be ‘our age’ that’s up the spout, can it?

Sorry…rambling away there…completely lost my thread. Don’t get much chance to speak to anyone these days. Where was I? Oh, yeah, I used to work on the Routemaster number 38 bus that ran from Clapton Pond to Victoria Station ‘til it was decommissioned seven years ago. There was a big hoo-ha about cutting down on expenditures, and how my job was seen as expendable, you know, unnecessary…so I got made redundant, didn’t I? Well, it had quite some effect on me, that did. You see, it all happened when I was reading through the redundancy notice the bus company sent me. Hold on a minute…I’ve got it somewhere…here it is. I’ll read it to you, shall I?

Dated April the 9th, 2005

Dear Mr Bus-Conductor Man,
(that’s me, see,)
Dear Mr Bus-Conductor Man,

This bus company don’t need you no more, right, so you better get yourself gone real quick. If you don’t, I’ll eat your children, though you probably don’t have any ‘cause you’re such a massive tosser.’

Yours with deep affection, etc, etc,

Sir Frederic Cunthole, CEO

Well, apart from this personal letter I received, (which I thought was lovely, you know, that ‘personal touch’ helps soften the blow in these instances, dunnit?) I also got an information pack about why they was making blokes redundant, and I was reading about how ‘by cutting down on unnecessary labour the company could save money and deliver a better service, ready to face the challenges of an uncertain economic future’, etc, etc, etc, etc. Well…I was struck – suddenly – by an idea. I mean, what if it was true? Perhaps I ought to treat this redundancy note as a word of warning, you know, sent by providence? Perhaps I should cut down on excess labour – that might help me progress into an uncertain economic future, ready to face the challenges I might find there? I mean, blimey! What’s this future going to look like, eh?…I got…well, I got bleedin’ worried about the future, didn’t I, and I thought…well, I’d better get my arse in gear and start cutting down on unnecessary labour.

Well, I started out small; you know, by sitting at rest and not bumbling about all day. I don’t know if you ever been put out of work, but you tend to bumble about all day, worrying about bumbling about all day. So I just sat in my chair. I thought it’d be best to meet this uncertain future by expressing the minimum amount of effort physically possible. It was weird though, ‘cause I’d been travelling along that same route every day now for the past thirty-eight years, and all of a sudden, I has this sudden great change in velocity thrust upon me, like a lifetime’s movement suddenly stopped, and now there’s, there’s nothing but this…inertia! But I tried to keep calm and carry on, you know, being inert. Well, since then, I haven’t moved from my armchair. No kidding…I’ve resisted every impulse to get up and move about, and taken my redundancy completely literally.

You know, things really spiralled out of control after that, cause, you know, my wife tried everything she could think of to get me out of my inertial state, (which she took to be some kind of melancholy, albeit a lot less psychological, ‘cause, err, ‘cause I got less psychology than the average man, according to my doctor,) and there were doctors and social workers here all the time, prodding me about and asking questions. But I just sat here, and after a bit, they buggered off. Well, after my wife left me, strange thing happened…I had these people round from the TV company, see, and they wanted to do a story on me. I didn’t mind, ‘cause, err, I just sat here. You know, it didn’t affect my inertia one bit, ‘cause, you know, I’d taken remedial measures against the uncertain future, like. But then, right, weird thing is, is after this programme goes out on daytime TV right, all these young people started coming round. Yeah, they would just…sit…you know, all over the place. I could have as many as two hundred people round here at any one time, just sitting about. On the landing, the stairs, the cooker, all over the place. It was like…I started some kind of movement or something…except it weren’t moving nowhere! Or, or, like I’d become the conductor of some kind of force…some kind of resistance or something. It was like being back on the bus again, with these people coming in and sitting about before moving on. Except we didn’t go nowhere.

Well, then they stopped comin’ round all of a sudden, didn’t they. The youths. And then some geezer from the Department of Health comes round, and he prods me about and asks me a load of ‘questions’. I mean, ‘questions’! The bleedin’ cheek of it! And he tells me it’s a ‘Risk Assessment’ or something. I mean, what’s going to happen to me! I took all these measures against the uncertain future, didn’t I, and now me future’s all bleedin’ uncertain again, isn’t it!

Bleedin’ council!

 

View the entire project over at The Unstitute: NEO-LONDON

 

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