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Tuesday, 9 August 2011

Forbidden Planet


Two burnt out cars on Myrtle Street, Liverpool, 9 August 2011, 00:33:00: photo by John Bradley

the asking
of original
is a
and because
are products
time sequences
it follows
that original
are both
and products

Firemen attend to the blaze at House of Reeves furniture shop in Church Street, Croydon, 9 August 2011
: photo by Jonathan Brady/EPA via The Guardian

London riots day 3 : London riots day 3

A shop is engulfed in flames as rioters gather in Croydon, 9 August 2011
: photo by Sang Tan/AP via The Guardian

the great
of the
on Malthus’
there is
to sustain
and me.

A woman jumps from a burning building in Croydon, 9 August 2011
: photo by AWA/ZOB/ZDS/ via The Guardian

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth

her heavy
sag and
she tilted
her head
one side
her skirts
with one

Police in full riot gear run along a street in Peckham, 9 August 2011
: photo by Dylan Martinez/Reuters via The Guardian

of philosophy
are the

of one
or another
of plain
and of
that the
has got
up against
limits of

File:Tottenham riots August 6th.jpg

Riots in Tottenham High Road, London, 6 August 2011, 22:17: photo by Victoria

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth

Only a
months ago
we learned
from a

how to

to problems
of nervous
new type
vacuum tube
for radar
that can
vast quantities
of numerical
and then
give out
stored data
the form
an average
all the

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth

London riots day 3 : London riots day 3

Police officers block off the town centre as rioters gather in Croydon, 9 August 2011
: photo by Sang Tan/AP via The Guardian

The bitter
due to
a lousy
millions more
than does

Mounted police officers chase rioters on the streets in Tottenham 7 August 2011
: photo by Lewis Whyld/PA/AP

is not
that faced
our art
at last
with unimpeded
and unveiled
to a future
may well
be non-existent
a last
of recognition
is the

A masked protester hurls an object toward riot police officers in Tottenham, 7 August 2011: photo by Lewis Whyld/PA/AP

It is
to protest
and in
every way
that the
of repression
in force
is more
and degrading
to mankind
than any
that has

A protester faces off with riot police officers on the streets in Tottenham on Aug. 7, 2011: photo by Lewis Whyld/PA/AP

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth

to the
we find
that this
which is
the size
and shape
of a
beer bottle
the neural
and gossip
so that
we can

the specific
or general
to our
at levels
of signal
we never
of before.

Riot police officers face off with protesters in Tottenham, 7 August 2011: photo by Lewis Whyld/PA/AP

One thing
can do
is get
a slingshot
or a
go out
once a
and break
light bulb
or a
street light.

A rioter throws a burning wooden plank at police in Tottenham, 7 August 2011: photo by Lewis Whyld/PA/AP

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 16: Breakfast with Due Cochon: Tom Raworth

The orders
the machine
are fed
into it
a taping
which is
the actual
in the
of the
are handed
a basis
further regulation
a new
control tape
the machine

File:Tottenham High Road, shops day after.jpg

Shops after the first night of riots, Tottenham High Road, London, 7 August 2011, 5:14: photo by Victoria

Doodle from Breakfast Comix 17: Breakfast with Anne Marie: Tom Raworth

Nation wide, Nation deep: rough sleeper, Tottenham High Road, London: photo by Alan Stanton, 8:56 a.m., 23 October 2008

Ian Hamilton Finlay from Ian Hamilton Finlay Posters, [no title] 1983

Terror Is the Piety of the Revolution
: Ian Hamilton Finlay, 1983 (Tate Gallery)

Text from TC: Smack, 1972


ACravan said...

This is so difficult, so rough. I do think you’ve captured the zeitgeist here in these words and images; I almost wish you hadn’t. I’ll try to turn my attention to some work I need to do today so that I won’t be forced eventually to make excuses for the reasons I haven’t completed it, which are that I’ve been putting it off because I’ve been frozen in place by fear of “current events.” It’s been like The Day The Earth Caught Fire here (though I'm a lifelong Forbidden Planet fan) and I’ve disconnected from tv, radio, news, etc. I take heart in the fact that the animals don’t seem to care, the cicadas keep singing and my daughter will be returning home next week. I’ve been going outside, but the world itself seems isolated and weird. Curtis

ACravan said...

I should add that I wrote a forcefully optimistic letter yesterday, but it was in another person's voice and for their signature. Curtis

Ed Baker said...

the shuttered shops along the Tottenham High Road
in 2011 look VERY similar to the scenes along the
14 th Street corridor here in D.C. in 1968

and the fires all over London well same reaction
in many many cities in U.S.A


the "blow-up" then inhere, same as now there sparked by the
result of a black man being murdered...

just like our spineless (world) leaders will not be able to solve this economic "problem" they will not be able to solve this moral "problem

the two are linked (what's the word? extricably ?

"running up against the limits of language"


a "lousy schtup" .... that would be as giant step up

Tom Raworth wrote the 'down-line' pieces ? 1972 !

nothing much has changed, eh ?

we're still throwing useless words/poems/humor at
the "problems"

maybe we should just throw more money and things at the (Lil Abner) shmoos

TC said...


Our animals don't care either. The complete apathy of animals when it comes to earth-shaking world affairs is always a consolation, a relief and a model.

However, I did see a small pack of amused looters in a London street showing off their booty: a number of cages from a pet shop, containing animals sprung from commercial captivity into the fresh air of a frightening new world.


Those "down-line" passages are from a book called Smack I put out in '72, writ the year before in a time of general social ferment which you will of course recall. (Tom Raworth's doodles date from about ten years ago.) The book reflected its times by "sampling" what I considered texts representative of that historical moment.

The bee-bee gun bit, for example, if I remember correctly, came from Bobby Seale.

Two other bits of it have appeared here earlier.

"If you play..."

"The mammals..."

The similarities between circumstances and situations here and then and there and now are probably far outweighed by the differences, but still -- just saying.

ACravan said...

Looting a pet store. What will they think of next? After posting the previous remarks, I did again encounter the news and found aspects of it reassuring: glints of rationality seemed to be visible on the right and left side of the window. I'm not certain it will amount to much, but I'd like to think so and it calmed me down a little. On a mundane detail level, one thing that bothers me a lot, which I pick up in the pro-Obama press (which has turned very critical lately), is the tendency to infantilize the president and treat him as someone who deserves pity and coddling, rather than as a public servant performing a job who will be held accountable according to certain standards. Obviously, different people will judge things differently. On that score, if I were still working in a commercial business, I would not want him or many of his helpers as part of my organization. Curtis

gamefaced said...

this is my most favorite yet.



Powerful stuff -- text from Smack (you must've been living here then?), photos of Tottenham, Croyden et. al. these last few nights (not unlike riots in Berkeley back then, but ramped way up), Tom Raworth's bits worth the price of admission. . . . Thanks for keeping it real. . . .


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
ridge, green motion of leaves on branch
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

would be the expression for
inertia, second force

relation of four to measure
space, system, number

grey white of fog to the left of point,
cormorant flapping across toward ridge

ACravan said...

Thanks indeed for keeping it real. You too Stephen. Curtis

TC said...

Many thanks, friends. gamefaced, your words mean a lot to me. Steve, Curtis, keeping it real has been the goal all along. If the real pinches, wear it.

Yes, Steve, the text was made at a point and in a place that seemed well away from the systematic suppression of the human and the natural produced by what I suppose can only be called the great American capitalist way of life.

(At the intersection of two dirt roads named Nymph and Cherry, between two large patches of poison oak and opposite a large bramble patch inhabited by a sea of singing frogs. Those were the days.)

From where I am now, and from what I see and hear upon the streets and buses of this dying city in this dying nation, the question that nags is not "Why is this happening in Britain?" but "How long will it be before it happens here?"

As long as the tragically divisive policy of governments protecting the moneyed interests, the banks, the oil companies, the big pharm monopolies, these scenes can be expected to become common and general.

As for Obama, it's unfortunate he has not yet understood just what he and we are up against. Compromise is a pleasant word, but when asked to cut off both your arms, the response of compromising by cutting off only one -- in this case, the poor, the ill, the old, the miserable and unfortunate ones who don't fit into a wretched system -- is to be regretted.

Too bad for Obama he never understood. FDR, who knew how this system worked because he came out of it, and who openly defied it, had the advantage of that understanding. When it was put to him that his attempt to save the country by means of a true "stimulus" -- that is, investing the wealth of nation in programs that would begin with relief and jobs at the bottom end, and require the moneyed interests to comply -- that those moneyed interests would hate him, he replied "Good, I want them to hate me."

The idea that the vast wealth of the small fraction of those at the top should be protected is basically wrong, not only ethically but in terms of the fundamental facts of human nature.

Wealth does not "trickle down". The wealthy don't create jobs, they hoard their wealth. They get richer. Everybody else gets poorer. Poverty is a fact that the wealthy don't want to know about.

TC said...

One commentary on the current riots, from Camila Batmanghelidjh, a Londoner, in The Independent:

"If this is a war, the enemy, on the face of it, are the 'lawless', the defenders are the law-abiding. An absence of morality can easily be found in the rioters and looters. How, we ask, could they attack their own community with such disregard? But the young people would reply "easily", because they feel they don't actually belong to the community. Community, they would say, has nothing to offer them. Instead, for years they have experienced themselves cut adrift from civil society's legitimate structures. Society relies on collaborative behaviour; individuals are held accountable because belonging brings personal benefit. Fear or shame of being alienated keeps most of us pro-social.

"Working at street level in London, over a number of years, many of us have been concerned about large groups of young adults creating their own parallel antisocial communities with different rules. The individual is responsible for their own survival because the established community is perceived to provide nothing. Acquisition of goods through violence is justified in neighbourhoods where the notion of dog eat dog pervades and the top dog survives the best. The drug economy facilitates a parallel subculture with the drug dealer producing more fiscally efficient solutions than the social care agencies who are too under-resourced to compete.

"The insidious flourishing of anti-establishment attitudes is paradoxically helped by the establishment. It grows when a child is dragged by their mother to social services screaming for help and security guards remove both; or in the shiny academies which, quietly, rid themselves of the most disturbed kids. Walk into the mental hospitals and there is nothing for the patients to do except peel the wallpaper. Go to the youth centre and you will find the staff have locked themselves up in the office because disturbed young men are dominating the space with their violent dogs. Walk on the estate stairwells with your baby in a buggy manoeuvring past the condoms, the needles, into the lift where the best outcome is that you will survive the urine stench and the worst is that you will be raped. The border police arrive at the neighbour's door to grab an 'over-stayer' and his kids are screaming. British children with no legal papers have mothers surviving through prostitution and still there's not enough food on the table.

"It's not one occasional attack on dignity, it's a repeated humiliation, being continuously dispossessed in a society rich with possession. Young, intelligent citizens of the ghetto seek an explanation for why they are at the receiving end of bleak Britain, condemned to a darkness where their humanity is not even valued enough to be helped. Savagery is a possibility within us all. Some of us have been lucky enough not to have to call upon it for survival; others, exhausted from failure, can justify resorting to it.

"Our leaders still speak about how protecting the community is vital. The trouble is, the deal has gone sour. The community has selected who is worthy of help and who is not. In this false moral economy where the poor are described as dysfunctional, the community fails. One dimension of this failure is being acted out in the riots; the lawlessness is, suddenly, there for all to see. Less visible is the perverse insidious violence delivered through legitimate societal structures. Check out the price of failing to care."

TC said...

...Talking of keeping it real, and of the structures that make us, on these pages there are some exceptional new poems by our friend gamefaced (Valerie Walter), including:


Zero-sum game is a fable saved for parasites

Ed Baker said...

what followed FDR was Mr. Harry !

a president WITH a spine... is what we need, right now,

another Harry S. Truman a little haberdasher who knew how to fill a $20 suit!

what we got now ? spineless Empty Suits walking around in $2,500 form-fitting suits

whose main job is to keep the masses poor and ignorant so that The Wealthy will continue to have
cheap, obedient labor.

Money/Greed rules & wins ... every time...

just as The Unions !

ACravan said...

Thank you for posting the link to Valerie's work; I enjoyed reading all of her pieces. I don't believe Obama will ever understand the things you say he doesn't understand now. I don't think they're what he's interested in or what motivate him. Last week I read an article published in the Huffington Post, which a friend forwarded to me. The author, a professor of literature at Yale named David Bromwich, basically analyzed the president's actions through the lens of his rhetoric and zeroed in on issues of superficiality, careless thought and speech, indirectness and disconnectedness. I mention this because these are things that had previously occurred to me and because he's always reminded me of my least favorite student-types at college -- people in student government (minor influence on anything; play-money stakes) on their way to real government (lots of influence; real graft opportunities) via superficial law school transit (no real law career; you never really help any individual client out with anything; it's all about you). I was surprised, given Professor Bromwich's daily interactions with students, that it took him this long to come to this conclusion and publish. Reading The Independent, the Guardian, etc., this morning, what strikes me apart from the horror, is the "life goes on" aspect the papers always reflect, e.g., news about the new QPR goalkeeper, Kate Moss, etc. Curtis

Robb said...

Tom, you just blew me away. Amazing.


Ed Baker said...

Watts 1964

Watts 1992

London 2011 ? no comparison .... YET

our leaders just don't get it .... or listen...

TC said...

The nonsense of dismissing these events as a mere isolated instance of youth vandalism has been tiresome to endure. What an agony it is for a civilization to die with its hands over its eyes, lying to itself unto the end.

Apropos which, our friend Ayman Morrar tips us to this BBC interview from the embattled streets of Croydon. The patronising disrespect of the studio interviewer and the outraged dignity of the interviewee speak volumes.

Historical truth, political lie, separate books, mutually contradictory languages.

Darcus Howe: "...and that is the nature of the historical moment"

Barry Taylor said...

Tom -

Thank you - it means more than you might think to meet with this kind of thoughtful and imaginatively engaged response to what's been happening here. I should have known that this is one of the places I'd be able to find it.

I spent last week shuttling daily between Brixton and South Kensington to the Royal Marsden hospital, where my wife was benefiting from extraordinary levels of expertise and care (in both the medical and simply human senses) from a team of taxpayer-funded professionals of whom only the consultant surgeon could have got close to affording a house in the Georgian squares and mews on the hospital’s doorsteps. I would come home to the daily footage of what appeared, after the first old-school Tottenham riot, to be aggravated late-night shopping, modelled more on our annual post-Xmas sales frenzy than the 1980s Brixton riots.

As the week went on, I felt more and more like I was travelling back and forth through the looking-glass: diplomat’s kids on one side touting the same labels and gadgets that the estate boys on the other have to smash-and-grab in lieu of a sustainable identity. Everything suggests that the frontline this time is the kicked-in shop window: on either side of the glass, imploding images, the commodity finally consuming its consumers.

And every night we had to endure the rhetoric of moral outrage dispensed by the same government ministers who are hell-bent on finalising the market’s grip over every last pocket of our social order. ‘Diseased’ consumption is to be cured by inducting the infected into the order of ‘healthy’ consumption. This feels like a final decadence, where the cure is a stricter dose of the pathogen.

I find myself clinging, a bit desperately, to my daily reminder at the Marsden that there are still places where another sense of value survives, and where a person can still be treated beyond the logic of cash and commodity. But only as long, of course, as Cameron and his mates don’t get to fulfil their dream of submitting our Health Service, along with everything else, to the ‘discipline of the market’.

TC said...


This strikes very close to the heart of the matter:

"‘Diseased’ consumption is to be cured by inducting the infected into the order of ‘healthy’ consumption."

In the area of keeping people alive and healthy (rather than killing or simply ignoring them), "the ‘discipline of the market’" already rules the day here. Health care for those less than wealthy is poor at best, inaccessible when you need it most.

We hope your wife feels better soon.

Barry Taylor said...

Thanks, Tom, for your good wishes - it's a long haul, but this step went very well. It pains me a great deal that the other term used over here for the 'discipline of the market' is 'the American way', but count myself fortunate that BTP keeps me plugged in to healthier and more hopeful (if increasingly beleaguered) versions of your homeland.

Anonymous said...

I cannot understand how we keep doing this to ourselves, to our planet, to our precious little lives...