The Sound of Silence

Jacques Attali, in 1977, looked into the future and saw a commuter train in 2017:

‘Today, repetitive distribution plays the same role for noise that the press played for discourse. It has become the means of isolating, of preventing direct, localized, anecdotal, non-repeatable communication, and of organising the monologue of the great organisations. [….] Power, in its invading, deafening presence, can be calm: people no longer talk to one another. They speak neither of themselves or power. They hear the noises of the commodities into which their imaginary is collectively channeled, where their dreams of sociality and need for transcendence dwell’

Attali – Noise, trans. Massumi, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press (1977, 2014) P 122

Running On, Empty.

I saw Kelly Reichardt’s 2014 film, Night Moves the other day, as part of a season of her work being shown at the BFI/ NFT to coincide with her latest movie, Certain Women, which I saw the previous Friday. ‘Slow’ is a word that bedevils the critical reception of her work and in the Q&A after the showing of CW she complained, with justice, that the supposed ‘slow’ shots in her movies were, like, 10 seconds long, and that the fault was with a culture that was unable to look rather than with her style.

Night Moves is unusual for Reichardt in being, sort of, a thriller, and in having a preponderence of male characters. One of those characters is Jesse Eisenberg’s Josh, and, to my eye, also one of the chief problems with the movie – his face is close to immobile throughout, playing ‘angst’ but looking more often like a child with a particularly difficult peice of homework to deal with. Dakota Fanning’s Dena is much better, and characteristically for Reichardt, although she and Jesse appear to know each other more than incidentally with regard to the action central to the plot, that relationship is never quite clarified. Continue reading “Running On, Empty.”

Two Vignettes

At an ‘industry networking event’ out in the wilds of Essex:

Number one: talking to two nice women in community arts from Bradford, and I mentioned, for some reason, a trip to Derry:

‘Ah, Londonderry!’ says one….not, as it would be in Ireland confrontationally, but in a sort of imaginary familiarity – like the way people will go ‘ah, Roma!’ to show they know what you as a native would like the place to be called; as if it were a pet name. They so completely meant no harm, it made the whole worrying about the name thing seem silly for a minute.

Number two: on the bus they’d laid on back to the station, a young woman heard my accent and said, in broad Westmeath: ‘you sound Irish’

I agreed I was and she asked me where I exactly.

When I said Dublin, she looked visibly disappointed – a reaction I’ve had before.

Late one night, in a hotel lobby in Birmingham, two older women from Cork who had been out for the evening began to chat as we waited for the lift. ‘Where are you from?’ came the question


‘Ah, I’m sorry’

Head tilt

The Spell of Labour…..

I joined the Labour Party here in Britain to re-elect Jeremy Corbyn. When I joined it was relatively easy but the right continued to raise ever higher barriers to try and flush out the plague of Trots they imagined were descending on the party in the run up to the re-run.

I’m stubborn though, at least about some things, and I jumped every hurdle that was put in the way of voting. I hadn’t really though through the idea of being the member of a political party again, for the first time since I flounced out of the Irish Labour Party sometime in the late ’80s. The local party here in Wycombe started contacting me, and, since I come from a generation that understands political commitment to be about more than liking things on social media and conceding that I should probably do something to earn my keep, I showed up to a few meetings and promptly ended up being Branch Secretary, by being the only one at that meeting that didn’t have a job to do.

One thing immedately becomes apparent; my sense that being in the party is about more than slacktivism was not shared by the rest of generation Corby. The party now has somewhere in the region of 800 members in the constituency, a 400% increase since 2015, of whom maybe 50 have ever shown up to anything, and most of those are people who’ve been in the party for years. There are a few newbies, and in every sense they are a different breed to the old guard core of the local organisation.

The second thing that is obvious to someone coming from Irish political life is how spoiled we are with an electoral system that, at least in Dublin, allows almost everyone to have a leftish TD of their very own. London apart, there’s barely a handful of Labour MPs in the South East, never mind anyone further left, and there are, literally, millions of left voters in the south unrepresented in parliament. Continue reading “The Spell of Labour…..”