Monday, 16 February 2009

28. Kings of England at MAP LIVE, Source Cafe, Carlisle

The following extracts were delivered as a short lecture at the Source Cafe as part of a night organized by the excellent Di Clay from Matrix Art Projects, combining Regional and National work with the ACE-funded LANWest tour. Also on the bill were: Leentje van de Cruys, Andy Wilson, Krissi Musiol, Katy and Peter Merrington, and Chris Fitzsimmons.


Good Evening and welcome to the first of tonight’s lectures, which concerns, for the most part, the passing of time.

We are looking for a way out, an escape, an evasion, it could be a door but more likely a window, mark the exits for your safety {point} and it seems that the event of performance is the place in which we are least likely to find it. We are gathered here on the condition that we will disperse. We will go home, sooner or later, more or less directly, for a night cap or a cup of tea, supper, take the dog for its late-night walk, get some sleep before work. To leave and arrive returned, to put distance between here and there, will somehow relate to us that ‘familiar story, the old, old story of…’ time told by the ticking of seconds, minutes and hours.

Article 1/-

You are sick, the doctors say no fluids, and I tell you that when you get out of there were going to going to get you drunk as a Lord. You like the sound of that and for a last time, you laugh. Three or four days later, you die. A toast, then, to the passing of time, and furthermore, to dead dogs, dead children, dead lovers, dead heroes and how good it is to be alive.

Article 2/-

24th January 1915 - 12th January 2008. Thirty-three thousand, five hundred and sixty-eight (33,568) days have gone by.

Articles 4 and 5/-

{first picture}

He is in the third of his ninety-three years. He is already a quiet boy, belying the modest and humble man he will become. He has a lifetime of hard work ahead of him, several disappointments. But for now there is time, as the shutter clicks and the powder flares and the shadow is cast, to be witnessed blameless and free, as the shadow lengthens on the curtain backdrop.

{last picture}

He is in the last of his ninety-three years. It is the last picture in which you can clearly see his face, or rather, his features, as they had been, consistent, to the form that had shaped them, belonging to his twenties and thirties as much as to his eighties and nineties.

He can’t hold much food down and has been troubled by a urine infection to which he will finally succumb. He is visited regularly by his two daughters, their husbands, but he has not seen his youngest grandson for months, and he has not seen his eldest for years. But he is, at least, outwardly, without complaint, and although his wife has died and his memories are receding, and his lodgings are more than can be afforded, he never breathes a word of these losses, not one. You see there are some men who are born complainers, these men have been bested and find no glory in hardship, and little reward. And there are some men, once capable men, who count themselves fortunate. These men have been bested and take pleasure in giving respect.

Article 6/-

Between the first and the last presented with a kind of incontrovertible evidence, if we accept that the first and the second are indeed two points of a continuum, two images of the same person, old man, little boy.

To think that time can be cut and mended, looped, ribboned, tangled and unpicked, is to beg a kind of freedom from the advancing of hours. But I look at your blood that collects in the bag, dirty black blood, and the greyish whites of your eyes and they tell me: don’t believe it. To love time and aging is to understand and accept consequence. The wish to stop time, or open it forever, reflects a desire for a life without consequences, in which mistakes can be rectified, words unsaid, deeds undone, deaths un-died. But then you turned to me and you asked me “is there another world” and the last thing I tell you is “Yes”.

Article 7/-

There are some things that we don’t talk about, because we no longer believe that we need to. Some things we are square with, or else they cannot be squared. And there are some things that we don’t ask about, but because we are young and have boundless love of questions and have not yet been told not to, we ask:

When I asked him, he looked at me and answered.

I wanted him to point and show me and say: “I killed these men”, but they were buried somewhere, far off, where the rivers and forests and villages had names I couldn’t pronounce.

The simple “Yes” satisfied me, even then, and it satisfies me now. He killed those men, got captured, starved for three years. Amongst hundreds of thin men they called him “the thin man” and because he could fix the trucks, the guards thought he was useful and so he survived it, and having secured for himself a reasonable chance of a future for himself, he returned to his wife, raised two daughters, who each had a son and from then he lived as if it were peacetime, kindly, and very decently. And that’s it, and that’s all.

Except for this:

Article 8/-

{Picture of the cover of A Brief History of Time}

In the end, someone else wrote the book and I like to think that the old man, had he of read it, would have enjoyed the nuances, the subtleties, and found the treatment worthy.

Last week I was in London on a residency and I wanted to put the book into flight, so I made a paper aeroplane out of each page, but when I threw them they flew less impressively, the paper was too heavy, the design was all flawed and they nosedived. So the book could not be read in the way it was intended, a series of short durations; ways of coming to land.

I put the aeroplanes in the shredder, a bed for mice, or a kind of snow. And I would like to invite you to file out of the building and congregate in the street, so I can, finally, throw the book out of the window.

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