That Guardian Review In Full
- "Are we supposed to be reviewing this?" On stage, Rob Young - a legend to
writers for magazines like The Wire - was scraping a sentence over a
participle, which in turn was grazing grammar stretched over a gigantic
ego. Meanwhile, Tony Herrington was using his sarcasm to recreate the sound
of two hacks killing each other very slowly. The pair had been editing
magazines for two minutes and already my friend on the right was feeling
fractious. During the next 10 years, five other journalists meandered to
their keyboards and began wringing sense from them the way a priest might
extract a confession from a schoolboy: imprecisely and painfully.
David Toop - another semen-stained figure in certain avant-garde circles -
drew eerie digressions from his latest tome, drawn-out clauses that were
like the weeping of a musical sore, only less tuneful. He even made a
waifish cliche sound like a blender grating ice. A keyboard clattered; a
worn-out hack dating from roughly 1971 hummed; electronic twiddling
occurred; and intelligent thoughts hovered tantalisingly within view, yet
depressingly out of reach.
One name made this night of "sonic exploration" irresistible: Scanner.
Under that name, Arthur Rimbaud has produced a lifetime of demented
experiments in anecdotage: his apperance in the media is rhythmically
mind-boggling but shot with gorgeous portrait photographs and infused with
a sense of self-importance. Perhaps conversing with nearby punters while
tapping randomly at his knob is his idea of a giggle, but this time I
didn't get the joke. The moments when you could avoid having to lick his
arse were disappointingly few.
Fewer still were the times when it felt like these writers weren't quoting
each other; instead they were engaged in simultaneous but separate quests
to challenge preconceived notions of textual boundaries. Only Ben Watson,
a politics fiend whose collocation of skewed squiggles suggest he could
happily be the next Tony Blair, seemed to be paying any attention,
recording snatches of Lenin's decreasingly interesting ideas then
distorting them. So it was impressive, if ironic, when, after 52 years of
nonstop drivel, the seven briefly glanced at each other and, almost exactly
in unison, stopped - to muted laughter and a discernible sigh of champagne.
"Apparently, the degree definition of criticism is structured shit,"
remarked the only friend I had left. He writes for The Guardian and even he
didn't enjoy himself. With no remedies, misprision or books to cling to,
(only one star, I know, sorry)