Dinner-On-Wye

I was sat beside Robert
Roland. He was stripping away
The layers of convention and
Getting to the heart of
His belief in the soul.

He drank champagne
And spoke like it too.

I tripped over the
Extended leg of Lev
He made a joke about
Particles and interference
I made an uncharacteristically
Witty and urbane
Response. He rewarded
Me with conversations
About worlds.

I talked poetry, language
And Africa with Janne,
And God with Peter Atkins

Mary Midgley was there too
And I had to keep them
Apart. She winked at me and
Bared her right bicep.

“I’ve a wicked left hook”
She twinkled mischeviously.

Then Steve burst into the room
Verbally jousting with Tankus
And the Henge. The Correspondents
Appeared and Justin rose from
His dining position and
Manned the decks.

Bruce leapt onto
The table and kicked
The crockery on the floor.

A plate struck Hilary on
The temple and I
Thought he was going to cry,
But with a surprisingly
Deft manoeuvre he jumped
Onto the table top and showed
Mr Bruce how to soca-rumba.

By now Roland was flirting with
Janne and Paul was showing
His muscles to Susan.

David Nutt was rolling spliffs for
Everyone in the kitchen
While Steve Fuller attempted to
Deconstruct the goings on.

The psychologists danced with
Each other and tuneless
Physicists sang.

I ordered another bottle of Perrier
Jouet and took one of David’s joints.

It was going to be a wonderful night.

The End Of The Groove

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In The Groove. Photo by A. Nowell

James Brown famously recorded a track entitled Doing It To Death. I discovered this tune as a young man in my twenties (via my younger brother who was a huge JB fan). I loved the attitude that this record suggested, and I felt that it reflected my then hedonistic sentiments entirely. In the midst of sweaty, 1980s dancefloors – and while surrounded by my peers who were also creating intricate physical interpretations of a 4/4 rhythm – I vowed that, like Mr Brown, I too would being doing it until death. The it which I was pledging to do was to dance, to dig music, to be funky. How, I thought then, could life be worth living without the appreciation of funky and soulful music. I reasoned that even if septuagenarian dancing became painful and difficult, I was still going to attempt it – just to show the world that I was still alive.

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The Irresistible Lure of the Linear

Straight Line Cityscape

Straight Line Cityscape – Photo by Montag

Straight lines.

Great aren’t they?

With straight lines we build barns, houses, bridges and roads.

With ruler – or straight edge – in hand, our engineers design piston rods, pipelines, train tracks. Even artists use them to help create the illusion of perspective.

The humble straight line has been responsible for countless advances in the modern world.

Take the wheel, that shining exemplar of the non-linear. Wheels often only make motion possible through the use of spokes or axles. That is, straight lines.

No wonder then that we’re obsessed with the linear. But it’s not all good.

A word of caution, if I may.

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Freedom Lost

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Wood For Trees – Photo by Montag.

I was lucky.

I was born in the nineteen-sixties.

I grew from babe to child in the second half of that decade, and matured into a teenager during the colourful and spectacular nineteen-seventies. I consider this timing to be fortunate because it seemed to me then – and still does – to be a time in which the populace were not afraid to experiment. My impression is that the middle years of the twentieth century were alive with new ideas as well as the motivation to live them. Most importantly (and especially so from the perspective of today), denizens of that time seemed prepared, if the ideas they wished to live required it, to go against the accepted grain.

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Jazz. Rooms.

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Original Jazz Rooms poster from 1995

It is nineteen ninety-three perhaps, or maybe ninety four.

Whatever the year, it is certainly late. It is nearly one o’clock in the morning.

We are in a dark roughhouse basement room. The walls are carelessly painted in a matt black emulsion as are the wooden benches that occupy various spaces around the perimeter. However, it is far too dark to make out any of these features clearly. There is also the odd cluster of more comfortable seating – little wooden stools with upholstered seats, and maybe a low table amongst them. That is as good as it gets here.

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The Shelter

Here, have some free entertainmentshelter01

If you’ve 30 minutes or so to spare, you could do much worse than watch this classic episode of The Twilight Zone (link below). For unfamiliar readers Twilight Zone was a sci-fi (well, sort of) series that was originally aired between 1959 and 1964 in the United States. Since then it has been both revived and re-run across the globe (see wiki) and has become something of a classic.

I promise you that if you watch this episode you’ll be entertained, despite the fact much of the language and ideas may seem a little dated to contemporary viewers. For me that’s part of the charm. Watching episodes of this programme is a little like perusing historical documents which detail the social constructions of the middle of the last century.

Anyway, when you’re done watching, you might like to return to the text below, because I believe that the scriptwriter (none other than Rod Serling himself) makes a point that far exceeds his intended context and reaches out to an unexpected aspect of our lives today.

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Existentialism in the Age of #SocialMedia

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Existentialism as street art – Graphic by Montag

It was the summer of 2014. The online community was in the middle of the twitterstorm that had been raging since the Ferguson riots. I was enjoying beautiful vacation time in the south of France — waking late, drinking far too much of the produits du terroir, and generally having lovely times in the warm Languedocien sunshine.

Despite the noise and fury that had previously emanated from my @iammontag Twitter account about the amount of time that people spend online (and my short-lived #offline campaign), one of the first items on my vacation to-pack list is always my laptop. So when Ferguson kicked off I was able to keep up with the developments on the internet.

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