Getting a hold

Posted: 21st January 2016 by Christian in Blog

Because everything stopped working here, I’m on facebook as me, and twitter, as mrchristianread

Might be easier to talk to me that way.

In a vain attempt

Posted: 8th January 2016 by Christian in Blog

To be a modern, cool writer, I’m blogging over at goodreads.

A bit.

First up, a book I’m very much enjoying.

World Fantasy

Posted: 12th November 2015 by Christian in Blog

Hugo Gernsback argued that “chemi-geneticists” could allow black parents to have white children. The Hugo Awards are named after him.
Bram Stoker was an anti-Semite, Dracula is unarguably a ‘racist’ novel, and in some readings is an analogy for Disraeli, England’s Jewish Prime Minister. The Bram Stoker awards are named after him.

John W. Campbell argued for slavery. In the 60s. He thought the Watts Riots happened because some people were naturally slaves and were simply expressing unhappiness at not having masters.

King Kong is unarguably a racist and sexist -movie-. There’s a King Kong Award.

Taking Lovecraft, the most important fantastist of the 20th century off some awards because he’s a ‘vicious racist – is nothing. It means nothing. It is, at best, a politically empty gesture. At worst, it is an Orwellian rewriting of the past and grotesque hypocrisy.

Like a marine!

Posted: 21st October 2015 by Christian in Blog

“Art is neither a system for transmitting information nor a mode of self-expression. It does these things no better than any number of activities. Art is the seizure of a vision that exceeds language. It captures a slice of the Real and preserves it in an artifact. The work of art is fractal and open—an inexhaustible well of meaning and image overflowing the limits of the communicable. It is a way to the wilderness of the unconscious, the land of spirits and the dead. If great works of art are prophetic, it is because they disclose the forces that seethe behind the easy façade of ordinary time. I am not just thinking of the plays of Shakespeare and Sophocles here, but also of the poems of Emily Dickinson, the songs of Bob Dylan, the choreographies of Pina Bausch, the films of David Lynch. All of them are oracles.

The shaman enters the priestly society of the ancient world and is called a prophet. She enters modern industrial society and is called an artist. From the shape-shifting sorcerer painted on the cavern wall to Mr. Tambourine Man jangling in the junk-sick morning, a single tradition flows—backwards, like an undertow beneath the tidal thrust of history.

This tradition tears us out of the system of codified language and returns us to the dreaming depths where language first rose as the idiot stammerings of poetry. The shaman, the prophet, the artist: each knows the way lies not in the dry processes of logic but in the snaking courses of the heart. If art makes use of ideas, concepts, and opinions, it is only to subsume them in the realm of the senses, to push them to the knife-edge of lunacy where the primal chaos shows through the skin of objects, where all judgments are silenced and beauty, naked and terrible, is revealed.

Art doesn’t begin when you realize that you have something to say. It begins at the hour when there is nothing left to say, when everything has been said, when what must be said is unspeakable.”

-J.F. Martel, “Beauty Will Save the World”


Posted: 29th September 2015 by Christian in Blog

The first experience I had of rotting bodies had been at Serre, where, as a battalion, we dealt with the best part of a thousand dead who came to pieces in our hands. As you lifted a body by its arms and legs they detached themselves from the torso, and this was not the worst thing. Each body was covered inches deep with a black fur of flies which flew up into your face, into your mouth, eyes and nostrils, as you approached. The bodies crawled with maggots. … We stopped every now and then to vomit. … The bodies had the consistency of Camembert cheese. I once fell and put my hand through the belly of a man. It was days before I got the smell out of my hands.

— British lieutenant Stuart Cloete on a burial party after the Somme, from his autobiography A Victorian Son

Posted: 28th September 2015 by Christian in Blog

“I give and bequeath the annual sum of ten pounds, to be paid in perpetuity out of my estate, to the following purpose. It is my will and pleasure that this sum shall be spent in the purchase of a certain quantity of the liquor vulgarly called whisky, and it shall be publicly given out that a certain number of persons, Irish only, not to exceed twenty, who may choose to assemble in the cemetery in which I shall be interred, on the anniversary of my death, shall have the same distributed to them. Further, it is my desire that each shall receive it by half-a-pint at a time till the whole is consumed, each being likewise provided with a stout oaken stick and a knife, and that they shall drink it all on the spot. Knowing what I know of the Irish character, my conviction is, that with these materials given, they will not fail to destroy each other, and when in the course of time the race comes to be exterminated, this neighbourhood at least may, perhaps, be colonized by civilized and respectable Englishmen.”

From Virgil McClure Harris, Ancient, Curious and Famous Wills, 1911.

Black Mirror

Posted: 10th September 2015 by Christian in Blog

Tried getting in to Black Mirror but… I dunno. These near future sf morality plays… seem easy.
“Woman locates God’s Vine page. Vomits.”

“The man who put his penis in google.”

“When a chap’s google class splinters into his brain, he can’t stop watching racist child vloggers.”

“Friendster rises from the grave. Bites the new iphone.”

“Woman attempt to kill self. Bleeds her own Safe Search porn history on High Street.”

“Bing gets AIDS.”

“Yahoo Answers becomes baby-sitter.”

“The man who’s balls were Wi-Fi.”

“Man’s future self tweets him dick pics, a dire warning.”

“Chill and Netflix secret code for ‘Kill me, I’m pointless.’.”

“Man mixes tasty beats on free mixing software. Hears own self screaming in hell as in-app purchase. Buys.”

“Harry Potter fansite takes virginity of LOLcat.”

“Man illegally downloads immigrants.”

“A meme killed my wife.”

“Tinder account becomes sentient. Right-swipes world leaders from world. Convinced to left-swipe self in wank/suicide pact.”

Hannibal 3

Posted: 30th August 2015 by Christian in Blog

Do Hannibal and Will love each other?

“We have both been his bride”, after all.

No, of course not. Will’s empathy is so highly tuned he’s probably in love with ten people at once. Hannibal is a malignant narcissist. The show likes to pretend he’s some sort of super human but, as we’ve discussed, Hannibal isn’t really human.

He’s the demon lover.

“O what a black, dark hill is yon,
“That looks so dark to me?”
“O it is the hill of hell,” he said,
“Where you and I shall be.”

That’s from a poem called The Daemon Lover. It’s an old Ballad. A saturnine man comes, seduces a fair maiden. Because she’s so sinned, she gets dragged off to hell. Before that, all cultures have sexy fox ghosts or incubi who’ll come and seduce you into death or damnation. The same with Hannibal, but, because at the end of the day, this is American telly, it’s murder not sex these high-cheekboned bastards comes offering.

So I’m not sure you can call Hannibal a love story. But then again, I’m not sure you can’t. At the end, Hannibal admits ‘my compassion for you is inconvenient, Will.’ (Not that it stopped him taking an angle grinder to Will’s skull.)

A tamed Satan. Perhaps. A chaste devil lover.

As for Francis Dollarhyde… I don’t think that worked very well. Season 3 Hannibal backed away from it’s virtuoso black surrealism. While it never quite went back to ‘realism’, removing Will as a strict point of view character meant his luscious hallucinations were far less in evidence.

And because of it, and because no other character shares his visions, we miss out on what could have been something magnificent. Hallucinating William Blake.

Blake lived fairly in a Gothic era, where capitalism was beginning it’s conquest of the world, war was mechanised into brutality, religion was, for the first time ever, really, facing real challenges against it’s magesteria. And all across Europe, social unrest. Revolution was in the air. In Blake’s London too. From these conditions, the Gothic, a genre we must locate Hannibal in.

Where others made their fears known in genres of creaking stairs, mad monks, evil twins… Blake saw visions.

James Barry, a contemporary of Blake’s, who also worked with mythological themes wrote “reasonable men look for nothing further than mere information in the writings of artists.”

Blake couldn’t have disagreed more.

Fiercely religious but with his own elaborate mythologies, Blake saw visions. His beloved brother, dead in youth, was a constant companion to Blake. He saw angels on the High Street. Literally saw them. And so, his work is marked by both familiar religious images, such as Dante’s Inferno and, of course, the Great Red Dragon from Revelations.

We could talk about Blake all day. Suffice to say, he was not only one of the most startlingly original artists of his or any other day, but was also one obsessed with the spiritual world. A working class Cockney visionary.

In his life, he had one review. He was called “An unfortunate lunatic.”


But Dollarhyde is a man almost without imagination. He perceives the Great Red Dragon not as an engine of annihilation and eschaton, but as a bestial killer. The Dragon is just a savage secondary personality.

While, yes, we see the odd image of the Dragon as Satanic Majesty through Will’s eyes, it seems a wasted opportunity to weld a murder’s bleak visions to Blake’s apposite energetic, sacred work.

A shame.

Indeed, Dollahyde seems almost an imposition. He flirts with Hannibal but it’s only a dalliance for the cannibal. Someone he uses to make Will jealous. His crimes are uninspired and uninspiring.

In the books, in the Manhunter movie, Hannibal is more suited to make use of dull instruments. He’s crueler. Even in the Silence film, urbanity barely covers a seething, hateful core. Dollarhyde suits that Hannibal.

But we’ve seen none of that in the television show.

I still liked Hannibal but I felt some of that sacred energy drained of it.

I appreciated the murky, half-world of half-light in the first part. Watching people literally taken apart, putting themselves together.
The unraveling of Bedelia, a woman with a spectre’s self-discipline, slowly realising that here’s a man who can touch her, physically and emotionally.

And that she’s been his for a long, long while. Her new-found arrogance is holding back a host of complex terrors.
Remarkable work from Anderson.

Here be spoilers.

But it did become somewhat… moral. In a narrative where morality was a dim secondary concern to pathology and control. Yes, it’s fun that Francis, become a Batman villain, cops it up the jacksie and then dies a weirdly phallic death. It’s nice the pretty gay women got all that cash and a baby. A perfect sitcom ending.

Yes, it’s cool that, just like in the wrestling, Will and Hannibal teamed up against the really worst baddie. Then, Sherlock and Moriarty and the Falls.

And Hannibal’s whispered ‘that’s all I ever wanted for you, Will’ suggests that he’s ultimately won. But Will’s fought off an attacker. It’s hardly a pre-meditated act of murder. Bedelia saw a chance to make someone die for her pleasure but Will was fighting off a giant nutbag with knives who’d threatened to eat his spine.

It’s no victory for Hannibal.

But neither is self-extinction a victory for Will. Because he’ll never know if giving in is what he wants to do. Or if he’s just seduced by Hannibal.

Will never resists or surrenders to Hannibal. Hannibal never seduces Will. I would have been curious to see a clingy, heart-broken Hannibal, myself. Or a spurned lover. It did not feel like Will’s design.

But in some ways, Hannibal was never about dramatic finales or resolutions. It was about radical aesthetics. It was about one of the strangest love stories ever to be on television.

And like Blake’s work, about the power of the imagination in all it’s draconic terror and majesty.

I think it will be some time before we see it’s like again. A whole new way to see supernatural fiction. And if I’m dissatisfied with the last ten minutes, no matter.

And a new Siouxie song ain’t nothing to disdain.


Tell me
what makes your
blood boil
and what makes
your skin soft.

I want to
know how your
soul tastes
before you take
your clothes off.

Soul Deep by Ming D. Lau

Possibly my favourite Jack Kirby interview

Posted: 30th August 2015 by Christian in Blog

“Oh, you mean what drove me as a person; two things, my childhood in the Lower East Side, and the war.”

He grabbed a book, opened it up and showed me a picture I recognized as the planet Apokolips, from the New Gods series. “That’s where I grew up. No one lives in that horror and doesn’t get changed by it. That’s why so many entertainers came out of my neighborhood, because the only way to get out was by making others notice you and making them laugh, see? And the war, I wasn’t there long, but it didn’t take long to realize what we can do to each other. It never leaves you.

You know what, make that three things, the other is meeting Roz, she is what got me out of the ghetto, and kept me alive in Europe.”

Cargo Cult

Posted: 25th August 2015 by Christian in Blog

I watched a television show this evening. I like to work with the television on. It just works better for me than music some times. Just a show with people talking is good.

This show was called Mr. Robot. Unwisely recommended to me because ‘it’s political’. About an anarchist hacker who destroys the lives of the wicked, up against ‘the world’s biggest conglomerate’, nicknamed Evilcorp.

It was laughable. A liberal idea of what good, fringe politics looks like. Some lip service to corporations being ‘evil’. ‘Fuck society!’ thinks our angry cybergod hacktivist, above it all, never apparently realising where the internet came from. He scorns money, despite living in a Manhattan apartment which seems big enough for a family of three. Oh, it screamed discontent with the world and reveled in the power that one Nietzschean youngster could have! That’s how revolutions work, after all. Right?

It was hilariously naive.

By you or the bad secret capitalists? I don't get this. Stop staring at me. No, seriously, fuck off.

We’ll leave aside it’s deep misunderstanding of autistic disorders. Anonymous social movements. Computers. How humans talk. Let’s just focus on the politics.

It spoke of a sinister cabal of business types who ran the world to a shadowy agenda. Evil puppetmasters who lurk in the shadows. Someone mentioned to me that a show I’ve never seen, The Blacklist, has a shocking finale that reveals that business and the military are in bed together doing dodgy deals all across the world, in defiance even of the law. Or, salute now, the President.

This is Cargo Cult leftism. You’ve seen it performed. You know it’s there working for someone but you never really want to understand it or perform it. You never want to say things like ‘yeah, we should outlaw profit,’ or ‘yeah, no private property,’ though. That’s all just a bit too much come on now.  You just make it all about taking out The Corporations, who are less socio-political entities in your fiction than they are Gnostic Archons. Just shadowy, massive evil entities who cannot be understood on our plane of existence. And you make the masters of these corporations as tangible as any demon from the Bible.

The thing is, this is an absurd notion – the idea of a secret cabal of capitalists and military people who scorn Government oversight and play with the lives of millions as if they were toys.

In real life, they don’t bother to hide.

I’m not a Bond fan but I watched Quantum of Solace. The last video shop in the world used to rent five for a tenner and I’ll give most things a go. It’s got the usual Bond nonsense and isn’t worth discussing. It’s Bond. Kill foreigners, shag their women, repeat. But this was interesting because it’s about an evil businessman who plans to seize control of Bolivia’s water. Not exactly a moon-laser but the new Bond films wanted to be down to earth. Which is fine, although putting a violent British intelligent agent on a rampage across Europe is best handled in a more… fantastic way, removing any connection with, say, British Intelligence’s real history.

Bond has his usual adventures and the bad guys end up dead and no one ever thinks of the dastardly plot again. Hooray.

But here’s the thing. This malevolent Bond villain plan actually happened.

Cochabamba, Bolivia, 2000 and the World Bank had offered a loan to Bolivia if they privatised, well, pretty much everything. That’s how the World Bank rolls, after all. The people owning their own assets is no good anywhere. But in Bolivia, this specifically included the water company. Water prices started going up and the World Bank refused to subsidies the rising prices of water. Water company is eventually bought by Aguas del Tunari, a subsidiary of Bechtel. The sole bidder by the way.

Aguas del Tunari now controls all water. Sanitation, drinking water, irrigation. Oh and electricity too. They’ve got it for 4o years. Oh, and it’s all going to go up by 93% in cost of 5 years.

Now, you might be thinking ‘hang on, isn’t drinking water, well, sort of a human right?’

But, pinko, you’d be wrong! It’s just another asset that you can attach capital too, you peacenik hippy! You want the most basic ingredient of life on this planet, you gots ta pay!


Huge riots break out in the region, spread across the country. 96% of people vote ‘no’ against it in opinion polls. State gets up to the usual shenanigans against protesters.  Citizens killed but, as always happens when the people unite, the corporation was forced out. Then, a few years later, it’s all happening again but with national gas.

(It’s obviously a lot more complicated than this, so please go read more about it.)

These days the World Wildlife Fund have teamed up with Coca-Cola to make Coke the most efficient user of water in the world! Coca-Cola leaves villages with drinking water all around the world. Shell hires mercenaries to kill people who don’t want oil companies to come in, take their only resources, and fuck off out of the country, not even paying minimum wage. Goldman Sachs was selling billions of dollars worth of mortgages, bundled up into bonds that were meant to fail. Selling those on to masses of their own clients.  Then made insane money betting against the very bonds they had created.

And they don’t go to jail. No one goes to jail for these things. They all drink at the same clubs and their kids go to the same schools and if you sentence one of them, well, that’ll just maybe disrupt the whole fucking rotten core, wouldn’t it? And you can have a politician who says he’ll end it all but you just send in a lobbyist. And that lobbyist drops two grand on dinners twice a week and hey, have you got tickets to the game? You’re going on holiday? Look, the corporate jet is free that week and why not stay at a little place we own down by the beach! 

So now let’s talk about those new banking laws. Don’t they seem a little harsh?

Britain and the USA talk about how terrible ISIS are (don’t look at our death penalty, no sir) and buy cheap oil from their front companies. Russia and the States sell guns to a torture-state like Syria and then pretend to act shocked when they’re used. Christ, pick your own favourite and write it down in the comments! For more incredibly demoralising facts, google up ‘The White Book of Capitalism’. Good start.


Like a wise man said ‘it’s all in the game.’

So the next time some fiction reveals a terrible conspiracy, understand that this fiction is the enemy.  They are making the worst thing the people of earth have to deal with, Looters and Gangsters and Banksters and Collaborating Government Cowards and turning them into boogiemen. They turn hegemonic structures into magic baddies and make real activism into something that sounds like fighting werewolves. They are worthless cultural products.

There’s a terrible sinister conspiracy in the world today no doubt.
It’s called Just Business.

 No Bono. That is not how history works. You are thinking of cameras. Also you are a tax-cheat spanner.