Note (trying to be) concerning the name of the blog

The new toilet rolls my parents brought round (long story) have a bubble on them saying ‘longer length’. I thought poets didn’t work in marketing?


Anyway, anyway, anyway, I thought I’d have a stab at explaining why I called this blog permanent positions. So I’m listening to Louis Andriessen‘s ‘Hout’ as I write this. The link there is to a piece called ‘Worker’s Union’. And this is all pertinent because? Because for one, I trained as a composer – did a music degree at Cambridge graduating 2001. One of the things I want to do in the blog is understand how my journeys through different art-forms have been probably heading in the same direction (the direction of developing cultural thought?), though at different speeds. I wanted to show the (im)permanency of any (im)positions.

I remember being introduced to Andriessen’s music on a summer school for teenage composers back in, like, ’96, by a composer called Steve Martland. I remember getting a kick out of the driving energy of Andriessen, but not necessarily loving it overall. The politics certainly passed me by. I seem to have spent a lot of time avoiding explicit political expressions.

I read a poem to my collaborator Leiza McLeod yesterday and she said it sounded like the most political thing she’d heard me write. She made the comment in the context that I used to try to prevent the songs our band in Bristol (Cheap Bent Electrode) did from being too political because I wasn’t comfortable with it. She’s right though, what I’ve just written is a bit political – it even had ‘manifesto’ in the title. I think I’m starting to get a sense of my political compass, finally, and funnily enough, I’ve probably found it through poetry, which I might at one point naively have thought was less prone to politics. (Believe me, I don’t think that now – there are so many Marxist poets in my world!)

Of course, I’m now understanding that the politics might have been embedded in the music I was listening to back in 1996. Was I deaf to them? I think I was a bit. I probably thought of the Andriessen piece as a bit like a noisy crowd of football fans passing me in the street (I might be back-projecting). Well, I probably thought of it as ‘other’, just filtering it out. If someone asked me to pick out a piece of music I’d composed at uni, I’d probably say the best things were delicate little trio pieces with the ghost of a folk tradition in them. There are so many ways that I can now relate that to how I might have been understanding my own personal perspective at the time, though I suspect I really didn’t half understand what I was communicating.

Now that I’m perhaps more savvy on political implications of creative output, I’m interested to see how I take that knowledge back into my process/intentions.



The end of The Anthologist did itself proud by the way. The plot gave me what I needed remarkably neatly. I think Joe Dunthorne in his review in Psychologies got Louise Gluck mixed up with Louise Bogan, because Gluck wasn’t in it. There’s a Bogan line quoted in the book which goes:

At midnight tears

Run into your ears.

and that was me, happily, and well past midnight, as I read the last chapters. It’s a great book. And I take back what I said about Stephen Fry a bit, because this book doesn’t necessarily agree with the perspective of its narrator, and you can empathise with the character without needing to agree (which I don’t much) with his theories on poetry.


3 responses to “Note (trying to be) concerning the name of the blog

  1. cb53

    I find I’m quite interested in your train of thought. There is a certain similarity to myself. I will continue to follow your posts and comment. Hopefully your political views will not bug me too much, but, as you said, I avoid straight out political statements with anyone but my closest family and friends. I was particularly interested in, though it has nothing to do with this particular post, your being composer with a music degree. I had considered doing that at one point. Any advice for a would-be composer with no intention of getting a music degree?

  2. Hey cb, thanks very much for your nice comment. The first on my new blog! Glad you’re finding my train of thought interesting – I’m not planning to bang on too much about overt politics anyway, and I appreciate listening to a range of views. It’s helpful to have feedback from all angles.

    Regards composing, not sure how it is in the States, but there are some good organisations in the UK that help give opportunities to try things in contemporary music for people who haven’t come through traditional music degree routes. You could look for something like ‘Contemporary Music Making for All’ near you. They might even know of an American Equivalent. ‘Sound and Music’ also seem like an active force in the UK and I think they’re affiliated into a global network of national music agencies. So I’d maybe start by seeing what kind of opportunities like that there are. Summer music camps are a fun way to try that kind of thing out.

    I like the new theme on your blog!

    • cb53

      Thanks for the link and advice!! I don’t have many people in my sphere who are music affiliated, so it’s nice to get advice in that area. At the moment I’m just using Musescore, and it’s proving that I definitely need more help. Hopefully over the course of the next few years I’ll be able fit in musical oppurtunites.

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