What could it mean? I can think of at least two ways one can be enchanted. One is like being hypnotized. This is not so innocent, and curiously it is this kind of enchantment that we think of when we think of love, of romantic love. And as we know, there is a danger here, hence the lack of innocence. But this is what people tend to want to speak about when they speak about enchantment, the enchantment of romance, of being hypnotized. In this sense being enchanted can be a horror. But there is another way. Another way of being enchanted is to be imbued with magical energy. Is this what inspiration is? I do not know, but I think the way we associate the danger of hypnosis with the sublimity of inspiration is a precipice that we need to know the contours of. Like with so many things, it is up to us to figure out if we are being inspired or being obsessed. This is the kind of thing we must learn. Affection is something that must find its way up out of its seedbed like a confession, otherwise it might just be a blind need that we render as something apart from ourselves, like a fantasy. I don’t trust fantasies. I don’t trust the flesh, either, but we play with the cards we are dealt. Instinct is not a hypnosis of the flesh, because in the end you notice you can reach in there and grab it, weave it out. That’s why they call it a canvas, the weaving. Everything has fibers in it.
“Arguments from one’s own privileged experience are bad and reactionary arguments.”  …”The task of a philosopher is to highlight the hard fact that the concept is that over which no single human has a final grip.”  … “Progress means: humanity emerges from its spellbound state no longer under the spell of progress as well, itself nature, by becoming aware of its own indigenousness to nature and by halting the mastery over nature through which nature continues its mastery.”  … “Let us not flatter ourselves on account of human victories over nature. For each such victory takes its revenge on us. Each victory firstly brings about the results expected, but secondly and thirdly has quite different, unforeseen effects which often cancel the first.”  … “What, then, is the modesty needed? It is ‘pessimism of the intelligence and optimism of the will.’ It is the ferocious struggle to keep a clear mind in the face of terrible news.”  … “The political demand to be in control of one’s own life and environment, participating in the world with a frank immediacy free of all separation, hierarchy, and bureaucracy, is also the poetic and sensual desire to be really in the world, feeling its most intimate reality, which has been raised in long traditions of religious, artistic, and political expression.” 
 Gilles Deleuze (1990) Negotiations, 1972-1990
 Reza Negarestani (2018) Returning to the Age of Blogging (Toy Philosophy)
 Theodor Adorno (1983) Progress, published in The Philosophical Forum
 Freidrich Engels (1895) The Part played by Labour in the Transition from Ape to Man (Marxists.org)
 Alvin Gouldner (1974) The Dark Side of the Dialectic: Toward a New Objectivity (PDF)
 Sadie Plant (1992) The Most Radical Gesture: The Situationist International in a Postmodern Age (PDF)
There’s a joy in things that I usually forget.
Lilt of the music, song, the vainglorious worlds of pixel.
these recursions spiraling out into a scape of unlimited throbbing dreams dripping scraping tick, tick, tick, tick, hah.
Sit, stand, drift, sway, belonging to it moved, wracked wreaking thousand thirst thrashing, heavy lids, droop zipping smiling, piano stab swift shattering in the tide of free-quency, savage, smiling, gut laugh cobweb eyes grin gratuitous, hah!
Sleepy networks, nodes, nodules, happenings, collective cloister-days and we could see into each other’s palatial inhering odyssey, adrift, swaying, bowsprit curving brave into the bazaar of the shadowed sprawl, garbed, drooping canvas covering and their shadows soft geometry blistered on the pavement shipwrecked why-do-you-call-for-me from this lighthouse gabled shafts blazing scouring going graceful into the night because I want to save them all, every one and I sit here with my drink and my scourge grinning letting the light dim on the wasted horizon shimmering please–please–I want someone to come in from that oceanic wilderness, gentle courage blazing on the shore of this endless disaster, let’s make it rampant with glee and soft sweet life work, passion, this is what will be glorious in the void musing–ambition subscending itself, giving it up, and growing in the corner of the cornea a life slashing into eternity, grit and strange, simmering, stubborn.
Solipsist this came to you forgetting that my brother gave it to me the wallpaper of my world that I ever seek full of the unstoppable treasure of affirmation, that comes at you, a proof, like Chloe said to me and she filled me with such delight I smiled wide, cried, kept it a snapshot in the litany of my being.
Love watching you.
To be watched, to be witnessed, edified, that is, of course, the real objet petit ah!
She holds out her hand
She falls into step
She found power in ecstacy
She used to play dice with the other girls at lunchtime
She would spend the rest of her life unravelling
She barely remembered what it was like
She did not let him in for a long time
She was just a skin now, a signifier among signifiers
She felt delicate
She always had her wits about her
She caught it
She slid her knife from its hidden sheathe
She stared into grey-on-paler-grey eyes
She scowled at them
She wondered how they knew
She wanted to bring this conversation to its prompt conclusion
She set off in another direction, ready to find at least a little enjoyment
And she found serenity in her body.
The reconstitution of the dream will come around again as the machinery of alienation gives way to the old confrontation with the world itself steeped in the humanity of the collective the herd the commune the riot and the song of liberation will find a home in billions of throats and the clattering tumult of the drums the same drums to which we once danced around the bonfires when magic still lived here in the twilight of our history and now these speaker stacks shuddering with the stentorian noise of the future wrecking it as it wrecks us scything down through time towards the necks of all these beautiful people who just wanted to be left to love in peace and all I can think about is Magnard’s burning corpse as I curl up in the dream kingdom empire built for me once a nursery now an asylum where the walls are padded and the staff too polite.
“Sometimes you listen to things and you think ‘I’ve only really had one idea in my life, and I’ve just been doing it in a hundred different ways ever since…’ that’s a sort of slightly depressing thought, but then you can remind yourself that that was also true of Samuel Beckett, and Miles Davis, and a ‘few’ other people.”
– Brian Eno
Hollis’ work has been a fairly constant feature of my creative life. The Colour Of Spring contributed hugely to ending my misguided moratorium on pop music (and the glossy aesthetic legacy of the 80s), and the subsequent records would become central to my perspective on the trajectory of rock and guitar music in the 21st century. While minimalism was already well integrated into my constitutive lines of flight via such obvious figures as Reich, Glass, Sakamoto, and others, it was Hollis that really made me understand how important the judicious application of silence is to the entire foundation of musicality, whatever the context. The delicate, restrained beauty of so many of Talk Talk’s more defining moments (the beginning of Spirit springs immediately to mind) were revelatory.
He has been dead for weeks now and I still can’t listen to his music without coming undone. Hopefully that will give way to a more sublime and constructive kind of sadness soon, but I can at least write about that music, offer a brief elegy.
Hollis was a master of arrangement, but he was a creature ahead of his time in that he recognized that to take music further we would have to become more granular with our creativity, shift our focus from the compositional context to the primarily timbral. It wasn’t about arranging songs, verses, choruses any longer, we had done that to death. What Hollis did was he arranged texture, he arranged sound, delicate, alien, underscored by the weight of silence.
Of course on top of this emphasis on texture and sound-for-itself (which premeditated the course that electronic music would take over the following decades) he was a poet, a singular vocalist, and a dynamic composer. The axiomatic aspects of his aesthetic project are present throughout each of these features of his work – by the time Spirit had come around, for example, the textual content of his songs had been pruned and compounded into sparse, translucent lyricism.
“Oh yeah, the world’s turned upside down…”
While Spirit and Laughing Stock are often championed as harbingers of what would unfold within the underground rock world over the subsequent decades (which they very much are) it’s The Colour of Spring that really speaks to what Hollis was able to do, a bridge between the straightforward synth pop of It’s My Life and the leftfield art rock that would follow. The intimate nature of the production is on full display from the get-go, with the stripped down drums drawing attention to the syncopated ornamentation throughout Happiness Is Easy. The snare is still engaged on the snare drum here (by Spirit it will be almost entirely absent) but it’s already dry as a bone relative to the enormous gated reverbs that characterize 80s production orthodoxy. The stilted fills and choked cymbals set the stage for the sparse, clear acoustic guitar and double-bass flourishes. This track also features the first of the many decidedly unusual solos that are such defining features of the record, manifest here as an off-kilter synth, an alien horn from an uncanny valley.
These leftfield solos are central to what made this record so appealing to me back when I was a creatively ambitious guitarist confronting the artistic bankruptcy of contemporary rock music, they display an incredibly original approach to sound design that is present across the album, coexisting with the pop music structures and stylings of each song. It’s there at the very outset of I Don’t Believe In You, one of the tracks that pulled me in early on with its dramatic intro, a single discordant synth stab that sounds like an ethereal car peeling out juxtaposed over delicate nylon guitar. The second and perhaps best of the solos makes its appearance here too – where Happiness included a synth masquerading as a trumpet, here we have a guitar sounding decidedly like a synth. The early strains of Hollis’ full-throated desire to reconstruct the dogma of rock n’ roll as futurist sound art are on full display. This carries on in Life’s What You Make It, with its soaring guitar leads. Give It Up features another blistering guitar solo, one that sounds even more like an excerpt from a noise album. These solos are categorically unlike those you find on a Led Zeppelin or Pink Floyd album, derived not from ego but from Otherness. Give It Up is probably the track that most catalyzed my entire love affair with this band, a relatively straightforward, brilliantly catchy affair that benefits so much from the space that Hollis’ had begun to apply to such great effect in his compositions, each chorus collapsing into gentle, detailed ambience floating over punchy drums. A sublime emptiness seething behind the hooks and bombast.
All of this foreshadowed what Spirit would accomplish. It opens with the familiar gentle strings, a muted trumpet, incidental music for a film that dissolves into environmental field recordings and meandering melodies that deteriorate further into unsettling, droning destitution and then – a guitar. This is it, no moment, in my mind, speaks more to the heart of what it was Hollis was doing than that first guitar chord, framed against nothing, loaded with more sonic power than Tchaikovsky could ever have managed with all the artillery in the world. This moment gives way to an utterly gut-wrenching harp solo, a climactic point of Hollis’ experiments using instruments as proxies for other instruments, in this case a harmonica aping a synth, convincingly. The beginning of this record is legendary and rightly so, one of those wonderful instances of an artist truly managing to communicate the heart–or should I say, Spirit–of what they are trying to do.
I could ramble ad nauseam on this topic, but really I should let Spirit of Eden and Laughing Stock speak for themselves. Their magnificent secrets should be able to better make the point I’ve been trying to make here. If it’s not obvious at first, keep listening. If we are to continue to express ourselves meaningfully we must learn how to use old words in new ways, learn how to frame them such that their decrepit character is rendered anew. As Brian Eno pointed out, many of history’s greatest artists were obsessed with a specific idea, were channeling an abstraction of a single aspect, a discrete facet of the goddess that is creation. Those ideas, impossible to articulate with the languages of the embodied, are embedded in their artifacts and accomplishments. Go listen.
“Rage on omnipotent”
she saw (reds and yellows)
She took (one last deep pull)
And she so wanted
She set the things down
She let out a small sigh
She closed her eyes (for a quick moment)
|+| – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
And she turns away
She is unencumbered as
she reaches (for her absent bag)
She heads (into the ethereal jungle)
She can make (out the red filaments)
She feels warmth (in her fingertips, in her teeth and nails, reds and yellows)
she hadn’t fully realized
She smiles and winks
She gets the impression, briefly, of wings
It starts with money, of course. A little trading, my grain for your sheep, start a ledger, use that forebrain. Language, mathematics, code. Codify, formalize, annotate, organize. This happened early, it’s our nature, what makes us unique, perhaps the only thing. Numbers, inventories, resources, assets. Conquer, kill, subjugate, steal.
We didn’t do it to survive. Our forebears survived just fine–survived too well, if the mass extinctions are anything to go by–and it’s looking an awful lot like their run will be far, far longer than ours. Tens of millennia of homo erectus and then we have to go and invent banks.
Indexes, funds, a mutated leviathan of bureaucracy, categorizing, archiving, storing, logging, psychosis, denial, the curdling primordium of the monkey-computers, flesh, blood, numbers, mathematics.
Why would the creativity survive, what would be the point, we didn’t do it for Darwin, we did it because it’s what we are.
Compile, upload, register. Serial codification, do you really think you need a name?
Is it the Outside coming in or the Inside coming out?
Chrome, black fuel, machine ichor pumping, orgasm, organism, organs. How many processors can you fit inside that thing? Open up the ribcage, make a little room, bones snap when you tug on them.
Cranium sparks, spines slithering out of spent casings.
Scream anathema all you want, it’s the 21st century, you’re not even talking to the void anymore, you’re talking to yourself, Iblis grins with your cheekbones, your teeth. If you wanted to chase Rimbaud’s genie you would have to follow him into a foreign past.
The apes from the future are almost finished with their grand design. You can feel the digestive fluids even now, eroding the psyche, seeping from your screen, a project started over twelve thousand years ago. Did we mean it? Do we still want it? (Does it matter?) All we have is grim laughter and subdued hysteria.
Record, consolidate, aggregate, dissect, dissect, dissect, dissect, dissect.
Drowning in the red lake of the operating theater.
her wilted spine
her palm resting on his cheek
her teeth and nails
pierce her with light
her latest attempt
her malign mood
her frequent strolls to the sea
her blunt, repetitive questions
her glittering emerald eyes
her own bad memory
her sweet herbsmoke
her impending tragedy