draft endorse for forthcoming book by Don Miller “Will to Win”

Will to Win
Don Miller used to set his students a ‘think piece’ instead of an essay question. His commitment to provocations has never waned, and this book on sport is of course about much more than sport – or ‘Sport’, capitalised. From the corruptions of commercial sponsorship, to the druggy self-deceptions of Lance Armstrong or the gladiatorial parallels of big business Olympian chauvinism: Sport as gambling, made for TV (the camera always knows where the action will be), amateur, spectacular, Wagnerian self-parody. The book canvasses topics as varied as the Vatican beautifying Italian victims of Ottoman raiders as intervention in anti-Islamic politics today, to the body-sculpting substance abuse of school kids that put cyclists on steroids to shame – each compared and contrasted to the Australian obsession with winners and losers in swimming, while quoting bush-ranger folk heroes (no need to acknowledge, ‘such is life’) and Georges Perec.
I remember when I was 11 years old and playing for The Rosellas under 12 football team in the Eastern Districts Footy League. It was three-quarter time in the preliminary final and we were one-point ahead. Our coach Mr Scanlon gathered us kids together in a huddle as we sucked at our sliced oranges and he told us: ‘boys, it’s not how you play that counts, it’s going out there to win’. I was shifted from ruck-rover to the back-line, took a lucky mark or two, no-one scored, and the final siren brought pandemonium and glory. We went on the next week to lose the grand final to our sworn enemies Knox Eagles, but even today I meet up with teammates who have lived fulfilling lives and we remember that moment. Sport is formative.
If I were critical, I would say Miller runs over some of the same ground more than once, developing his points, lapping himself perhaps, inspired by the logic of his opening parable about the alternative playbook of the ‘fuzzy wuzzy angels’, so famous from the Kokoda trail (not track?). The problematic redeployment of the ANZAC myth and its ‘one day of the year’ jingoism is skewered here too, alongside duly ironic recognition of the  subcontinental origins of cricket and a judicious lambast of Bradman’s displaced militarism. These really are things to think with, and weighty matters are made light yet serous. Like Sport. Here are films, Proust, speed, repetition, Bentham and excess – the range renders Sport as complex as life. Sport as a labour of life, a play, to win or to lose, as serious as heck. A morality, a life lesson, a local-global parable for all times.



Order http://hybridpublishers.com.au/index.php/will-to-win-the-west-at-play.html


Moment of Zenffftttttpppppggggggaaaa!

Screen shot 2013-09-13 at 12.19.16

click the picture if you are crazy enough to want to read more, which includes a comparative squib on Peter Mandelson. Priceless. I wish I had thought this gag up – the link to the sister, who is a fine supervisor of PhDs and did one for CCS, is genius. What a waste having it as journalism, this could be university publicity department gold.

state execution by neglect?

This from Tom Henri. It looks to me to be an attempted State premeditated murder, aka Capital Punishment, for a minor offense. There is also an open letter to the Ministry of Justice, signed by various luminaries.

Scrubbed to death

Daniel Roque Hall suffers from Friedreich’s ataxia, this debilitating and fatal illness means he requires around the clock care.  In 2011 Daniel pleaded guilty to smuggling cocaine into the UK.  The judge sentenced Daniel to three years in prison, on the proviso that a prison place could be found which would meet his health care needs.  The Governor of Wormwood Scrubs (widely regarded as the London prison with the worst health facilities) stated that his prison could meet Daniel’s needs.  After three weeks of neglectful treatment in the Scrubs, Daniel was rushed to hospital and placed on a life support machine.  Without exaggeration, the care (or lack of) that Daniel received in prison nearly killed him.  His man has a fatal degenerate disease, he requires full-time care, he is no harm to anyone else and he need to be with his family – NOT in Wormwood Scrubs.  Earlier this week, Daniel and his family won a seven day reprieve on Daniel’s return to jail.

You can read more about Daniel’s story at http://www.guardian.co.uk/society/2013/jan/02/disabled-daniel-roque-hall-injunction-return-prison

Uncle Bill’s yage expedition

After my Marx lecture on tuesday evening I was talking to some intrepid fellow travellers about William Burroughs anthropological expedition to sample Yage in South America and I mentioned his letters (as well as doing some pretty bad imitations of uncle bill’s Benway routines). Even though the second volume of letters is about to be published, the first volume may be hard to get so I have copied the relevant letters.
see here: Burroughsletters45-59 for the three or four most relevant excerpts from the letters. (ref: William S Burroughs Letters 1945-1959 Penguin 1993)
There is an entire book on this stuff.

Recycled: notes for Satanic Majesties Request paper

Recycled post: notes for Satanic Majesties Request paperSatMaj3D
October 23, 2006

‘wa-what can a white boy do, but to sing for a rock and roll band?’

S. S. Sisodia, in Salman Rushdie’s politically incorrect Satanic Verses, stammers: “The trouble with the Engenglish is that their hiss hiss history happened overseas, so they don’t know what it means”. True enough, but this should in no way be mockery of stammerers, and I am discomforted by Rushdie now more than ever. Yet the point he makes about history is also relevant more now than ever. Sure the historical fault lies with education personnel and an administrators who have kept quiet about their Empire, or recruited pundits to excuse it (Simon bloody Schama, even now in audio book format), which – curriculum management enhanced strategy – buries any possibility of teaching that history critically with popularist flag-waving, dull media entertainments (variety quiz shows, Schama looking earnestly into the camera) and ball games (Empire games, Commonwealth Games – its hardly sporting old chap). Whatever Michael Palin might offer us on his travel tours, international working class solidarity is a more important a project, and an educational project that supports it, is crucial nowadays as ever before. The cotton mills of Manchester were closely linked to Calcutta, just as today’s MTV beams out to both cities regardless. We should watch these shows closely.

Maybe all we can achieve with (our) writing is to provide people with questions and ideas that allow them (us) to think through politics more clearly, more creatively, more. There can be no revolution without rev-revolutionary theory. There can be no rethinking without new new thoughts.

‘ttttalking bout my generation’

Anglo interest in non-European music has a long pedigree, which it is no longer my job to trace, though I once thought it was. Suffice to say that my interest began as a very mainstream version-The Rolling Stones, (especially Brian Jones derived from the urban white-boy blues of explorations of Joujouka drumming in Morocco and an image of Keef Richards smoking kif in Tangiers); a passing acquaintance with experimental Indo-psychedelic music epitomised by such commercialisations as The Beatles Sgt Peppers’ and The White Album, and an early and never shaken interest in the writings of William Burroughs and Alan Ginsberg. This developed into an interest in why we are interested in Asia – and a book on budget traveller experience in Calcutta. Along the way an edited volume on the controversy surrounding Salman Rushdie’s celebrated work, and activist-led peripheral involvement in the music and rave scene in Australia, led me to various attempts to make sense of the ways English bands have included South Asia in their head space but not really got along with the politics, so, these notes for a paper on how white rock stumbled to the east.

“From Satanic Majesties to Satanic Verses: India in England yet again”.

The Rolling Stones, following The Beatles Sgt Peppers’ and the opening up of the India travel caravan (banana pancake trail with magic mushrooms), produced what some pundits label their least successful album in 1967: Their Satanic Majesties. It is a long way from the superficial Eastern flavour of that album too the burning of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses in Bradford streets a quarter of a century later, but despite the trite comparison of Jagger and Rushdie as public personifications of the devil (for different audiences to be sure), there are still interesting changes to be charted in the intervening years. Any attempt to comment on the relations between anglo interests and things Asian need to begin with an understanding of significant movements across the globe. Travel to India for the children of the English bourgeoisie has fluctuated from fashionable drug-scenery to adventure tour and on to military tours (Afghanistan has even generals sounding mutinous now), and important dynamics within the Sth Asian diasporic presence in Britain need to be lyricized. The success of Indian trinketry in the souvenir shops and fashion houses of the UK youth market might be contrasted to the flow of British based recordings into India – the mid-1990s success of Apache Indian and Bally Sagoo for example.

What might still be interesting would be to explore these cultural forms – from the Stones to Zadie Smith serialized on C4 – for evidence that could provide an understanding of the contemporary dynamics of neo-imperialism and global order as it changes and as its screened for us in Bliar’s Britain. Such a project might update and contemporise Said’s historical and nineteenth century interest in the traces of Empire in Dickens and his ilk.

There is much written on the phenomenon called Global Music. Of course there are ways in which this can be categorised as a commodification process intricately linked to the global spread of capitalist marketeering of all cultural forms. But within this there are demarcations to be made, and the relative silence still accorded the influence of politically charged South Asian creativities in the Global Music discourse might be indicative of more important politically potent occlusions. Where Blues and Reggae are well established as antecedents of popular ‘Western’ music, the influence of the East always seems to be presented as a peripheral, curious, or at best experimental aside, if accorded any centrality at all. Why? Since in terms of Empire India was so central, Calcutta was the second most important city in the world, so muck-much of European culture can be traced to Asia (from pajamas to umbrellas, goodness gracious me – see Hobson-Jobson). I keep on saying, what would it be to write the history of Empire from a perspective outside of Euro-America? Say from Calcutta, or departing from the disaffected experimental out-of-his-mindset of a stoned Stone or a migrant-resident Indglish Sisodia-stuttering Intefada cursed crossover (both after all go for market share, belong to a well-to-do class fraction, profess a certain degree of – Ltd – left politics, and have been labelled devilish)?….

**** Update Note August 2009 – of course Ted already started out on this too: here.

Posted in drugs, music | Tagged drugs |

1.  We love you!
by Pirate Paul October 23, 2006 at 11:40 pm

2. sorry, but despite what Sir John sang, love is not all we need…. we need sympathy for the devil too… and some street fighting men and women, just to be sure
by victor October 25, 2006 at 9:47 am e

3. and some street fighting men and women, just to be sure

Victor– presumably you’ll be one of em
by Dixit October 25, 2006 at 1:30 pm

4. only if you’ll be the working class hero
by victor November 1, 2006 at 6:12 pm

Russell Brand’s Elegantly Addled Drug Career Takes Flight in New Cross

In his now bestseller celebrity self-justification fun version of the footballer/popstar’s premature autobiography, former drug-fiend and co-winner of the year before last’s Big Fat Quiz, Russell Brand has done good (even though he came last in the quiz this NYE). “My Booky Wook” is erudite in a way that may surprise some, but since it is probably also predictable that he steps out with his glam warts and all – herpes? – persona patented on the model of a low-rent Johhny Depp crossed with Truman Capote and Julian Clary, I think no-one should be all that surprised at this effort to titillate and sallaciate with his tales. No doubt some literary-academic-intellectual types – I fear the implied readers of this forum – would neither read Brand nor expect a review of such a text here, and so will pass by with a big mother superior boring yawn but although Brand manages the celebrity-auto-bio format without the soccer or songs, it is clearly better written than most (see the Beckham family albums for the worst of each type). Having read Brand, albeit in between too much seasonal sneezing and spluttering, I think it is worthy of mature consideration even when it gives us heroic tales of not very much really – some school courses he did not complete, some projects that remain lost in obscure corners (his best the anti-Young-BNP piece that is on Youtube here: Naziboy), and some recovery-projects that seem unlikely to be permanent.

But revaluation of revaluations, my favourite bit was where he confesses that his drug problems are born in (educational) New Cross. Sort of. I quote:

“Dean had acquired some acid, sheets of it; I’d heard tell of its qualities, of how it made you hallucinate and readdress your life and I thought, ‘My God! This sounds extraordinary’. We went over to the YMCA after school, took some, and went back to his house in New Cross on the Tube.
With or without acid, New Cross can be mind-bending, so it’s the ideal venue to have something so fundamental as your perception of reality altered, because it just exposes everything – the world as you see it, even your own psyche – as a construction.
All the things you believe to be true are thrown into doubt. And what’s so ridiculous is the way that you take this extra-ordinarily powerful, potent drug: not in a hospital with someone making you sit down and have a glass of water, but on the way home from school with your daft mate, walking through New Cross all fragile and delicate”

There then follows an allusion to Huxley, but although Russell knows its a cliche to talk about how your hands can be fascinating while tripping, his commentary soon devolves into a meditation on body spray that has a Go Ask Alice quality about it anyway.

Which is what is both appealling and annoying about our the lovable scamp that our Russell is – yes, a Big Brother Big Mouth with Dadaist touches, snippets of Nietzsche and knowing references to alternative culture is so much better than the dumb drivel usually offered up for our entertainment, but at the very same time a knowing reference left obscure or never developed is just another holier than though gambit (like this sentence, and like that Ricky Gervais trash of BB in Extras).

So in the end I am mildly disappointed because exactly this sort of double take not quite unconvincing victimoglorification is oftentimes the trouble with drug-fiend memoirs. Nothing much new there, nothing much more than a morality tale about getting caught up in drugs, then struggling to get off them, and final triumph. The Brand book has a good deal of this format, but at least there is some sense that the drugs were fun at some point. Too often these sort of cod-confessionals erase the very reasons the poor sods took recreational drugs in the first place – recreation. A case in point would be Motley Crue guitarist Nikki Sixx’s book “Heroin Diaries” – a sad, paranoid and woefully written tedium that reminded me of a badly rendered version of that annoying movie “A Scanner Darkly”, which also left out the fun bits. These kind of books do not do the job properly, and so do us all a disservice. Brand, in comparison, gets closer,

Next in a series – SLASH (from Guns n Roses). I also got his book for Christmas. And plan to read it alongside Andrew Loog Oldham’s story of getting the Rolling Stones famous for being naughty boys and wasting himself on 1970s coke. Should be a welcome return to fun.