Wednesday, 23 December 2020

So I Found my Light

A poem for Christmas. You can hear me read an audio version here.

So I found my light on Christmas Eve last year,
After some searching, hidden in the attic,
stored in a dusty cardboard box, sealed away with gaffer tape.
I had to tear through the tape with my front door key,
Felt the dust coating my fingertips as I handled the flaps, the
Scrunched up newspaper in which I had wrapped it.
And I knelt on the MDF boards
And the knees of my jeans turned black
And I held the light in my lap and bathed in the warmth of it
The truth of it, the nearly forgotten youth of it
All hand made and sort of intricate,
With little lumps and dots and little scrawly swirly
things that might be words
On the surface that I never could fathom
All tied together with golden wire and glue you couldn’t see
And wondered why I put it away so long.
The other one had broken. I’d had it for a while, and
It was brighter, lighter in the hand, and if it flickered more
It illuminated in a way that hid the imperfections,
Buzzed a little, just enough to mask the bum notes.
And yeah, the batteries were expensive and
The only words that you could see on the side said
Made in China and don’t blame me, don't judge me, don’t
The old light made it too easy to see the things that were
Wrong with me, and if it made things warm and if it made
Things clear
it was
always
sort of
Awkward, and it showed me things I didn’t want to see
You couldn’t turn it off and sometimes it is easier
To live in a world where you can’t see except with a plastic light
Because human relationships are fragile and it takes courage to have them

If we shared the grief of all the world
it would crush us all to pieces in a second, flat
And sometimes even seeing a little bit is far too much
And so I hid it away in scrunched up pages of the Guardian
In a cardboard box in the attic

And got a new one off the internet and the problem
With the light you get off the internet is that you never
Get a guarantee and it wears out and maybe
I thought, it’s better not to have a light at all,
And hey a lot of people manage if they don’t have a light
And then I went without for a month or two,
And people who saw me, even people who didn’t have a light themselves
Went hey, what happened to your light? And I took to thinking
And up the ladder I went and here it is all shining, shining in my hands
And I will try it out for a while in all its handmade personalised
Awkwardness and beauty and shed my light upon the world.

Monday, 21 December 2020

Cult Cinema #33: Counting to Nun, Part Three

Mother Joan of the Angels (Matka Joanna od Aniołów) (1961)

(Can you actually spoil a historical drama made in 1961? If you can, I do.)

The historical events surrounding the incident of the Loudun Devils have been analysed and fictionalised several times, and while Ken Russell’s version is probably the most notorious for English-speaking film fans, it isn’t all there is. Possibly the most nuanced and interesting version is Polish director Jerzy Kawalerowicz’s classic Mother Joan of the Angels (AKA Matka Joanna od Aniołów, 1961) which might predate The Devils by a good decade but concerns itself with what happens next. Like Russell, Kawalerowicz used a fictionalised account as a portal through which he accessed the story; while Russell worked with Huxley, Kawalerowicz adapted Jaroslaw Iwaszkiewicz’s novel, also titled Matka Joanna od Aniołów, which, like Huxley, used the historical events of seventeenth century Loudun as an allegory for the present.

Wednesday, 16 December 2020

The Question in Bodies #29: Ruby Sparks (2012)


(Spoilers, of course.)

A while back a friend expressed surprise that Ruby Sparks was marketed as a romantic comedy rather than a horror film. It turns out that Ruby Sparks, the story of a writer who finds inspiration when the perfect/imperfect girlfriend he creates not only comes to life but behaves in line with whatever he types on his pretentiously old school typewriter, is neither. Is it that good? It's all right. Is it interesting? Yes. 

Calvin (Paul Dano) was at one time an important voice in young adult fiction, inasmuch as he once wrote a multimillion-selling teen romance novel, which you might as well call, something like, oh I don't know, The Star in Our Faults. He's been coasting on that for a decade, and he lives alone in a nice house and hasn't had much luck in love and every day he fails to write something on that pretentiously old school typewriter. So far, so cringe. 

Sunday, 13 December 2020

Wednesday, 9 December 2020

Cult Cinema #32: Counting to Nun, Part Two

Flavia the Heretic (Flavia, la monaca musulmana)(1974)


I was going to get to a nunsploitation movie. It was inevitable. Spoilers, of course, and a movie that features stuff that may well ruin your day, given the rapey sort of thing we habitually find in movies like this. Proceed with caution. This is, by the way, an extract from my imminent book Cult Cinema. Stay tuned for more information about that very soon.

Thursday, 12 November 2020

Cults, Politics and the 2020 Election

I know I've been quiet lately. It's been a pretty mad few months, and hoepfully normal service, inasmuch as anything you could call normal, should be resuming imminently. 

In the meantime, here's a video. My close pal Avril Korman is the only person I know who has so far correctly called every development of the American election. She's been doing videos about the process on Facebook which have been getting a ton of and the other day was asked about why some of the political groups currently active in the US seem like cults. She tagged me in the ensuing discussion, and we agreed to talk about it on camera.