Nature's first green is gold / Her hardest hue to hold / Her early leaf's a flower / But only so an hour / Then leaf subsides to leaf / So Eden sank to grief / So dawn goes down to day / Nothing gold can stay.
Words on cover: Nothing Gold Can Stay by Robert Frost seen in The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton Spanglemaker Magazine is the final project by Julia Forsch Communications Design/Bachelor of Arts University of Applied Sciences Mainz Supervising Tutor/Prof.Charlotte Schroener Semester 08/June 2012 Thanks to: Everyone who helped create or inspire this Magazine, while there is not enough room to mention every stranger, friend, author, musician and artist I owe my gratitude to, the occasion demands that I must thank the two Smiths most dear to me: Robert and Elliott. Thank you.
Reader, ‘The power of the written word really stung me and I was also entirely immersed in popular music. I thought the marriage of both things was the absolute perfect.’ - Steven Patrick Morrissey Welcome to Spanglemaker Magazine. Who would have thought that song lyrics scribbled on a writer’s gravestone with lipstick would cause an obsession and eventually to the creation of this magazine. It shall try to analise classical literature’s influence on music and songwriting, the arts, pop culture and everything inbetween. It will try to answer questions like: ‘What books did my favorite Songwriter read when he was my age?’, ’What kind of music would my favourite authors be listening to if they were born decades or centuries later?’ or ‘What kind of weirdos scribble lyrics on graves?’ The internet offers a much too vast access to all kinds of information on the subject but I felt like an attempt to put all the bits and pieces together should be made. While it tries to shed some light on things, it hopes to arouse curiosity at least as much as to satisfy it. What better way to gain knowledge than through travelling? I know Robert Frost - whose words of wisdom made it on the cover - is all about ‘The Road Not Taken’ but I had to make an exception to roam the roads taken by Oscar Wilde and The Smiths.This issue’s special feature will investigate Wilde’s influence on the band’s songwriting. I pester the band’s fans about their favourite books, go on pilgrimages in London, Oxford and Manchester and initiated a ‘Dorian Gray’- Off. I also failed to find a cure for a Cocteau Twins addiction, found out that Ian Curtis liked Kafka and decided that one will never get too old to have a crush on Molly Ringwald.
Table of Contents 4-9 Morrissey on Oscar Wilde and books interview excerpts from 1984 -1990 University life 16-17 Sixteen Cigars how I spent my birthday going on a guided best scenes 22-23 Paranoid android playlists for books like The Perks Of Being 30-33 Ask me, Ask me, Ask me interviewing Fans - and band members - at the why people all over the world pilgrim to Salford Lads club 44-45 In defense 58-61 Closer to Joy Division visiting Ian Curtisâ€™s grave in Macclesfield and what they are 64-67 In Honour of Morrissey and animals, Wilde and letters Smithsâ€™ Manchester
Dressing up as book covers with Lisette de Hooge on page 46
10-11 Oscar Wilde biography on his double-life and the Aesthetic Movement 12-15 Trip to Oxford exploring Oscar Wilde’s Oscar Wilde tour in London18-19 My life in books with Molly Ringwald 20-21 Best film to book adaptions we talk about the A Wallflower and On The Road 24-29 Trip to Manchester The Smiths exhibition at the Manchester Metropolitan University exhibition 34-37 Now and then interviews with two Smiths fans who where there from the beginning 38-43 The Smiths Archive of the genre Shoegazing 46-57 Fabric made of fiction When the affection for book covers takes over one’s mood and clothes getting to know all about their literary influences 62-63 Songlyrics The issue’s best lyrics, worst lyrics and lyrics that I like without knowing 68-75 Drawing Dorian Seven interpetations 76-83 Something old, something new why I like contrasts 84-85 Map of the
Morrissey on Oscar Wilde and books All you beady-eyed, unite I wonder whom I fell for first - the all-time favourite wit Oscar Wilde or the equally witty and almost as flamboyant Smiths Singer Morrissey. Coincidentally, they must have entered my life at around the same time without me realising they were in any kind related to each other. I soon discovered that there was something more than a connection, it was more like an entire universe unfolding itself. Oscar Wilde is most commonly known for his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, but also his scandalous lifestyle. He led a double life that inevitably brought forth his own ruin (see biography). The more I read about either of these peculiar individuals the more hooked I got. The old soft spot for tragedy had me mourning Wildeâ€™s early death and sympathise with Morrisseyâ€™s wistful narrative. Both break your heart repeatedly only to mend it with subtle comedy gold seconds later. I remember getting my hands on an ancient second edition copy of The Importance Of Being Earnest at the beautiful State Library in Melbourne while travelling in Australia. It was so hilarious that I couldnâ€™t put it down so I ended up reading it in one go late at night trying hard not to smirk at (or smell) the book to avoid looking like a lunatic to fellow students. What strikes you with amazement is that the individuals behind the stories are just as fascinating if not more fascinating at that. Aside all the dandyisms, cellibates and unbuttoned floral shirts they are both great observers of all the little details in life and express their delicate studies in a very candid manner. All this to the point where it feels like someone just expressed your thoughts better than you could do yourself.
Paris pilgrimage In January of 2010, I decided to pay Oscar Wilde a visit. While in Paris, I went to see his grave at Père Lachaise Cemetery and left him some flowers and a kiss like so many before me. Many admirers have travelled here to leave lipstick marks from kisses and messages for years making it all the more suitable for the decadent and aesthete that he was. As my eyes wandered over the scarlet letters they were more and more puzzled by how many visitors had left Smiths-lyrics rather than Oscar Wilde quotes on it. I had read about Wilde’s influence on their songwriting but I definitely hadn’t realised the prevail of that common thread in the Smiths’ and Oscar Wilde’s fanbase. After all, Oscar Wilde’s death had occurred over 100 years ago and The Smiths had infamously broken up at the height of their career in 1987. The following bits and pieces of interviews with Morrissey talking about Oscar Wilde and the importance of books have been compiled in an attempt to summarise the influence of the Irish dramatist on the Mancunian Singer.
Interviews 1984-1990 Rolling Stone, June 7, 1984 Interviewed by James Henke Morrissey is sipping a cup of tea in the living room of his apartment near the posh Kensington High Street in London. The room is full of books, but two subjects - James Dean and Oscar Wilde - predominate. ‘They (Wilde and Dean) were the only two companions I had as a distraught teenager. Every line that Wilde ever wrote affected me so enormously. And James Dean’s lifestyle was always terribly important. It was almost as if I knew these people quite intimately, and they provided quite a refuge from everyday slovenly life.’ As a small child, he says, ‘I was quite deliriously happy. We had no money, but they were naively pleasant times. But as a teenager, I could never stress how depressed I was.’
Though Morrissey is vague about what exactly caused this state, it seems that it was a case of ennui. The usual teenage pastimes - things like sports, or school, or dating - didn’t interest him. Though he hung out on the fringes of the Manchester rock scene, he was essentially a loner. He wouldn’t go to school, wouldn’t get a job. ‘I lived a hopelessly isolated life,’ he remembers. ‘I literally never, ever met people. I wouldn’t set foot outside of the house for three weeks on a run.’ What he would do was read, write and listen to music. ‘The power of the written word really stung me, and I was also entirely immersed in popular music. I thought the marriage of both things was the absolute perfect.’
NME, February 13, 1988 Interviewed by Len Brown Morrissey and I are sitting in Chelsea’s Cadogan Hotel, in the very room where Oscar Wilde was arrested on April 5, 1895. ‘I’m almost quite speechless now,’ declares the greatest living Englishman, ‘it’s a very historic place and obviously it means a great deal to me... to be sitting here staring at Oscar’s television and the very video that Oscar watched The Leather Boys on.’ ‘You see, following that Victorian evening which wrecked Wilde’s life, his plays and poetry were banned, his wife changed his children’s surnames, and the management of the Cadogan Hotel desperately covered up their role in the sordid affair. Today, at a push, they’ll admit it’s Wilde’s room but there are no plaques or portraits and there’s no mention of the arrest.’ Morrissey - thankfully not dressed in Wilde’s cello-coat or carrying lilies, but deeply debonair in matching corduroy jacket and cycle clips - is clearly disappointed. ‘I thought the aura of the room would create some interesting physical vibrations, but they seem to have painted over even the energy. I’d be very surprised if there’s anything left from when He was lounging about.’ Still, this is where Oscar Wilde was nicked? ‘Yes, he was dragged out into the street screaming and kicking...’ Really? I thought it was all very dignified? ‘Yes, it was actually, very dignified. He was writing an opera at the time.’ But why didn’t he leave the country before they arrested him? He knew they’d issued the warrant? ‘I don’t think he really believed at the time that all his friends would turn against him, or that all the people whose lives he had brought to a degree of social prominence would desert him. But they did. He obviously overestimated his friends.’ It’s tea-time in Wilde’s bedroom. I’m on a fruit flan, The Mozz is wrestling with a cheese sarnie - ‘I’d never touch a gerkin.’ - and Oscar is probably turning in his grave. Not only are Hinge And Bracket desecrating The Importance Of Being Earnest in London’s West End, but also - according to Morrissey - ‘In certain libraries they’re trying to ban Oscar Wilde’s books because of the famous slant, as it were.’ The ‘famous slant’ - what Richard Ellman in his recent mega-masterpiece Oscar Wilde referred to as Wilde’s challenge to ‘conventional maleness’ - also graces some of Morrissey’s lyrics, lyrics which ridicule social conventions and upset traditional roles, lyrics riddled with all-embracing sexual ambiguity. ‘Although Wilde mocked in a clever way, he mocked British society and British nobility and that’s why ultimately they were pleased to net him and punish him.
He did it with a great degree of taste and flair but also an astounding degree of sadness.’ Has society changed its attitude towards the unconventional? ‘No, I don’t think it’s changed in any way at all. I think it’s entirely intolerant of individualistic performers. It’s taken backward strides, not just in literature but quite obviously in pop music. I think it’s fine as long as you’re privately in your own home and you’re not gaining any degree of popularity, but once you’re out in the street it naturally becomes dangerous. Like Saint and Greavsie.’ ‘It would seem almost impossible, I think, at the height of his fame that he would end a few years later in such a bitter, ruinous state, such a lonely state, and also have such a hideous death. A remarkably sad end when you consider that this man had changed English literature and English language. Also, regardless of how he wrote and how he lived in the public sense, his private life was just as astounding. And that’s the final judgement of all artists. I don’t think it’s enough to switch on and switch off, to be there in the daytime but to be playing hockey at night. I’ve read practically everything by and about him and I have a vast collection of first editions, one signed by Ellen Terry, an old chick of Oscar’s. Although he was the most intelligent he simplified everything, therefore practically anybody could read Oscar Wilde and understand. He wasn’t complicated yet he still left you lying on the bed panting because it was so real and truthful.’ ‘I look around me and... well, I don’t want to break into a Ralph McTell song, but I do feel the light has gone out and that things just get progressively worse in every way. I can’t think of one thing which improves.’ Does that make you a pessimist or a realist? ‘I think I’m a realist. Which people who don’t like me consider to be pessimism. It isn’t pessimism at all. If I was a pessimist I wouldn’t get up, I wouldn’t shave, I wouldn’t watch Batman at 7:30 a.m. Pessimist just don’t do that sort of thing.’ But you’re a socialist, as Oscar Wilde was a socialist? ‘Yes, but I think a humanist before that. I’ve never had a flat cap and I’ve never smoked Senior Service.’
Smash Hits, June 21,1984 Interviewed by Ian Birch ‘My mother, who’s an assistant librarian, introduced me to his writing when I was 8. She insisted I read him and I immediately became obsessed. Every single line affected me in some way. I liked the simplicity of the way he wrote. There was a piece called The Nightingale And The Rose that appealed to me immensely then. It was about a nightingale who sacrificed herself for these two star-crossed lovers. It ends when the nightingale presses her heart against this rose because in a strange, mystical way it means that if she dies, then the two lovers can be together. This sense of truly high drama zipped through everything he wrote. He had a life that was really tragic and it’s curious that he was so witty. Here we have a creature persistently creased in pain whose life was a total travesty. He married, rashly had two children and almost immediately embarked on a love affair with a man. He was sent to prison for this. It’s a total disadvantage to care about Oscar Wilde, certainly when you come from a working class background.
The Face, March 1990 Interviewed by Nick Kent Don't you ever feel like leaving all your books, records and old films - all your reference points to bygone cultures - and stepping out to embrace something new? ‘No, I've never wanted to do that. Why should I?’ So is the height of happiness, for you, still the idea of watching a good film on afternoon TV? ‘Yes it is, it certainly is.’
It’s total self-destruction almost. My personal saving grace at school was that I was something of a model athlete. I’m sure if I hadn’t been, I’d have been sacrificed in the first year. I got streams and streams of medals for running. As I blundered through my late teens, I was quite isolated and Oscar Wilde meant much more to me. In a way he became a companion. If that sounds pitiful, that was the way it was. I rarely left the house. I had no social life. Then, as I became a Smith, I used flowers because Oscar Wilde always used flowers. He once went to the Colorado salt mines and addressed a mass of miners there. He started the speech with, ‘Let me tell you why we worship the daffodil’. Of course, he was stoned to death. But I really admired his bravery and the idea of being constantly attached to some form of plant. As I get older, the adoration increases. I’m never without him. It’s almost biblical. It’s like carrying your rosary around with you.’
Blitz, April 1988 Interviewed by Paul Morley You were forced to construct your own reality? ‘Yes. This took me a long time. But more importantly, I think that when someone is not at all popular, for whatever reasons, one tends to develop certain forms of survival. A survival which excludes friends, which excludes social activities.
Of course, I was. I despised practically everything about human life, which does limit one’s weekend activities.’
That in a sense is how I organised my life. If you cannot impress people simply by being part of the great fat human race, then you really do have to develop other skills. And if you don’t impress people by the way you look, then you really do have to develop other skills.
Has the memory of those years been destroyed? ‘No, not at all. I remember it all in great detail, I seem to remember it every night and re-experience the embarrassment of it. It was horror. The entire school experience, a secondary modern in Stretford called St Mary’s. The horror of it cannot be over-emphasised.
And if you are now going to ask is everything I did just a way to gain some form of attention, well that’s not entirely true. It is in a small way, but that’s in the very nature of being alive.’ Wanting to be loved? ‘To be seen, above all else. I wanted to be noticed, and the way I lived and do live has a desperate neurosis about it because of that. All humans need a degree of attention. Some people get it at the right time, when they are 13 or 14, people get loved at the right stages. If this doesn’t happen, if the love isn’t there, you can quite easily just fade away. This could have happened to me easily. Several times I was close to... fading away. It doesn’t give me great comfort to talk about it. I do not wish to relive those experiences. But I came close. In a sense I always felt that being troubled as a teenager was par for the course. I wasn’t sure that I was dramatically unique. I knew other people who were at the time desperate and suicidal. They despised life and detested all other living people. In a way that made me feel a little bit secure. Because I thought, well, maybe I’m not so intense after all.
What else was there? ‘Nothing. Books. Television. Records. Overall, it’s a vast wasteland.’
Every single day was a human nightmare. In every single way that you could possibly want to imagine. Worse... the total hatred. The fear and anguish of waking up, of having to get dressed, having to walk down the road, having to walk into assembly, having to do those lessons. I’m sure most people at school are very depressed. I seemed to be more depressed than anyone else. I noticed it more.’ Tell me, have you ever seen a psychiatrist? ‘Ha... not really... I have seen one or two psychiatrists. They just sit and nod and doodle. Perhaps if I was cured, so to speak, I would just walk blindly and amiably into every given situation, and I don’t think that would be me, really. Maybe unhappiness keeps me going forward.’ What annoys you most about yourself? ‘Practically everything. I miss not being able to stand up straight. I tend to slide into rooms and sit on the chair behind the door.’ Is this all just gross self-pity? ‘No, not at all. There is the answer to that one. It isn’t that simple.’
â€˜Man is least himself when he talks in his own person. Give him a mask, and he will tell you the truth.â€™ - Oscar Wilde
Oscar Wilde Victorian wit, novelist, playwright and poet Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wills Wilde was born in Dublin on October 16, 1854. His father was a successful surgeon and his mother a writer and literary hostess. Wilde was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and Magdalen College, Oxford. While at Oxford, Wilde became involved in the Aesthetic Movement. After he graduated, he moved to London to pursue a literary career. His output was diverse. A first volume of his poetry was published in 1881 but as well as composing verse, he contributed to publications such as the Pall Mall Gazette, wrote fairy stories and published a novel The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891). His greatest talent was for writing plays, and he produced a string of extremely popular comedies including Lady Windermere’s Fan (1892), An Ideal Husband (1895) and The Importance of Being Earnest (1895). Salomé was performed in Paris (1896). Drama and tragedy marred Wilde’s private life. He married Constance Lloyd in 1884 and they had two sons, but in 1891 Wilde began an affair with Lord Alfred Douglas, nicknamed ‘Bosie’. In April 1895, Wilde sued Bosie’s father, the Marquis of Queensberry, for libel, after the Marquis had accused him of being homosexual. Wilde lost and, after details of his private life were revealed during the trial, was arrested and tried for gross indecency. He was sentenced to two years of hard labour. While in prison he composed a long letter to Douglas, posthumously published under the title De Profundis. His wife took their children to Switzerland and adopted the name ‘Holland’. Wilde was released with his health irrevocably damaged and his reputation ruined. He spent the rest of his life in Europe, publishing The Ballad of Reading Gaol in 1898. He died in Paris on 30 November 1900.
‘All art is quite useless’ L’art pour l’art, art for art’s sake, was the slogan of the art movement we refer to as Aesthecism. Artists rebelled at the natural quality of Romanticism and more importantly, against the socio-political themes for literature, fine art, music and other arts. The cult of beauty thought that life should copy art, their style was characterised by suggestion rather than statement, great use of symbols, and synaestchetic effects - the correspondence between words, colors and music to express a thought or emotion. Today Wilde is considered the posterboy for said movement. His dandiacal mockery of the standards of his society and his novel The Picture of Dorian Gray aside - he was a true gentleman himself, a title he was very defensive of. His double-life became its very own work of art. The picture of Dorian Gray as well as most of the movement’s philosophies go beyond saying ‘Jekylls of the world, embrace your inner Hyde and join us on the dark side filled with the pleasures of life.’ They are also cautionary tales that illustrate the dangers of the aesthetic philosophy when not practiced with prudence. It must have felt refreshingly honest to be confronted with the witty bluntness of the movement in the times of hypocritical morality of Victorian England.
Oxford ‘The two great turning points in my life were when my father sent me to Oxford, and when society sent me to prison.’ De Profundis - Oscar Wilde Well, I wanted to catch a glimpse of what environments Oscar Wilde had spent the major parts of his life in but choosing between prison and Oxford didn’t leave me racking my brain for too long. Spending his adolescent life here at Magdalen College, Oxford, it is considered to be the place where Wilde ‘created himself’. The ‘Greats program’ he studied did emphasise on history, philosophy and literature of Ancient Greece but Wilde was interested in far more than those subjects and therefore opened himself up to a world of intellectual controversy. He became especially interested in Walter Pater and the Aesthetic Movement that took over his entire lifestyle. He decorated his room with flowers and feathers, wore capes and other dramatic clothes and became known on campus for his remark ‘I am finding it harder and harder to live up to my blue china.’. Despite the occasional trouble that came with neglecting University rules like attending lessons that his travelling kept him from, Oscar Wilde excelled academically and received a double first in Honors, as well as a prize for his poem Ravenna.
Magdalen College, Oxford
Places to see in Oxford and London upper left to bottom right. Oscar Wilde Statue, Charing Cross Station, London. Campus, Magdalen College, Oxford. Rose Lane with view of Magdalen College, Oxford. Oscar Wilde Room, Oxford. Campus, Magdalen College, Oxford. The Day I am strolling through the part of campus that formerly belonged to Oscar Wilde’s faculty couldn’t be more scenic. Its entirely covered in snow, which is one of my favourite things. I can definitely see how Oscar got inspired to write a book of fairy tales here. But - before I burst into songs off The Sound of music - I did do proper research here. At least I thought I would. I am in slight shock when being offered a personal tour to Oscar Wilde’s former student dorm by a Magdalen College staff member. Holding my breath in anticipation as the gentleman turns the key, he declares ‘It is locked.’ I figured that’s what he was there for but as it turns out the room seems to be currently shut down for visitors for a couple of days since it has been booked for a meeting. Apparently this is what it’s used for nowadays. After finding out that the room has been entirely redecorated and is now being used for yoga lessons or business meetings I am willing to get over the anticlimactic event and take a stroll in the snow to look at the more blue-china sides of life.
Sixteen Cigars ‘The old believe everything, the middle-aged suspect everything, and the young know everything.’ - Oscar Wilde The first part of my trip was spent in London, where Oscar Wilde spent the height of his fame as a dramatist, entertaining and bewildering Victorian society in equal measure. Most of the significant events in his life have taken place here. His marriage, the birth of his two children, his homosexual affair that resulted in a scandalous trial and conviction to name a few. It is my birthday. I’m supposed to have already moved on to Oxford by now but I have found the perfect excuse for both extending my stay and ignoring the most dreaded day of the year. The weekly ‘The London of Oscar Wilde’ tour that happens to coincide with it.
Monument for the demolished St. James Theatre, both Lady Wintermere’s Fan and The Importance Of Being Earnest were staged here for the first time
‘It’s like being at the kids’ table at Thanksgiving, you can put your elbows on it, you don’t have to talk politics. No matter how old I get, there’s always a part of me that’s sitting there.’ - John Hughes, director of Sixteen Candles Naturally, I can’t ignore my birthday entirely, so after watching the John Hughes 80s birthday classic Sixteen Candles I feel like I’ve done my duty and make my way to Green Park station. Interested party meets here every saturday at 11 am and is supposed to keep their eyes peeled for anyone who looks like their name could be ‘Alan’. This is basically all the information provided on the internet, but fear not Reader, Alan is easily spotted. Even seekers who might mistake his fancy apparel for excentric London fashion can’t ignore the green carnation brooch Alan sports quite elegantly. Alan takes me and the group straight back into the England of the 19th Century and literally makes you forget the world around you. He shares his vast knowledge on the subject in an astonishingly passionate way, considering that he’s been giving this speech for decades. The fact that he is the chief researcher and archivist of the Oscar Wilde Society shows how sincere his interest in Oscar and the Naughty Nineties are and the massive amount of information never feels tiresome. I’m being shown all kinds of places from triumph to tragedy. Former location of florist in charge, his favorite cafe and cigar shop where he spent ludicrous amounts of money. Trivial locations like former providers for everything essential in life - as in hair tonic and hangover remedies. As well as historically significant venues like hotels, theatres, place of aussault, and many more. Thanks for making my birthday unwontedly exciting this year, Alan. Highly recommended.
My life in books Bookshelves and Record Collections might just be the truest form of autobiography. The opening of a song can instantly clear the haziest of memories, the books we have read are reflections of one’s thought, learning, mood and taste at the time. Molly Ringwald tells us her 10 most formative books’ story and I compiled a list of the 10 most memorable songs that take us back to our favourite scenes in Ringwald classics like Pretty in Pink, Sixteen Candles and the Breakfast Club. Nine Stories By J. D. Salinger ‘It’s nearly impossible to pick which Salinger book meant the most to me. I read The Catcher in the Rye first, when I was fourteen, and then proceeded to re-read it for years. ‘For Esmé – with Love and Squalor’ was my favourite of the Nine Stories. Later, I moved on to Franny and Zooey. For better or worse, I hold J. D. Salinger responsible for shaping my personality since I fell in love with his characters during my formative years.’ Tender is the Night By F. Scott Fitzgerald ‘I started reading F. Scott Fitzgerald during my older teen years and quickly became obsessed with all things ‘twenties.’ Although I read This Side of Paradise first, Tender is the Night remains my favourite of Fitzgerald’s books. I remember relating to the young actress Rosemary when I first read it and then going back years later and identifying with Nicole. One summer, when I was sixteen, I attended a camp in the south of France and wandered around trying to find something lingering there from Fitzgerald. I think, in many ways, Fitzgerald enkindled in me the desire to become an expatriate American living in France - something that I later did.’ War and Peace By Leo Tolstoy ‘I tried War and Peace on the recommendation of my bookish brother. I bought the novel in two parts and took the first volume with me to a film festival that I was attending in the Hamptons. I figured there was no way that I would actually get through the book, so I wouldn’t need to bring both volumes. To my surprise, I fell in love with the story and ended up finishing part one by the time I had arrived. I then proceeded to spend the rest of the weekend hunting through every bookstore in the small town searching for volume two. Apparently Tolstoy is not chosen beach reading of the Hamptons set because it was not to be found anywhere! I had to wait three tortuous days to get back to Pierre and Natasha. War and Peace is the most well written soap opera ever conceived. Once you get past all of the long Russian names and their even longer diminutives, you’ll be hooked!’ The Stone Diaries By Carol Shields ‘Carol Shields is an American who has been adopted by Canada (and actually did win the Pulitzer Prize for this book), I discovered her while traveling overseas and was surprised that I had never read her before. The Stone Diaries is a remarkable book, the fictionalized biography of an ordinary woman from her birth until her death. Shields’s literary flourishes are breathtaking and moving. She also happens to write about nature and gardening in a way that I admire, using the names of the flora - to help the reader visualize the setting of the world she describes - in a seemingly effortless and nuanced way. I consider her to be a very female writer in the best sense.’
King Solomon By Romain Gary/Émile Ajar ‘I discovered Romain Gary after I moved to France in my early twenties. He is relatively unknown in the U.S., but hugely famous in France, having won the Prix Goncourt twice (once under his own name and once under his pseudonym, Émile Ajar.) He was also the husband of the American actress Jean Seberg. While they lived together in the Hollywood Hills, where he was given the title of ‘French Consul,’ he watched her become entrenched in the Black Panther movement. He wrote a book about it, Chien Blanc, for which I have tried (unsuccessfully) to find an English translation for years.’ Me Talk Pretty One Day By David Sedaris ‘I started reading David Sedaris some time in the nineties when I was living in Paris. I love Me Talk Pretty One Day especially because it mirrored my experiences living as an expatriate in France - specifically, learning French at the Alliance Française. Sedaris is the one writer who can actually make me laugh out loud, guaranteed. I find him to be a sort of subversive Mark Twain for our generation.’ Song of Solomon By Toni Morrison ‘I read Toni Morrison after watching her on a talk show discuss how she wrote Beloved. I was mesmerized by her voice and intelligence. Her writing is just unbelievably rich and beautiful. I find myself reading her novels first for the music and the poetry and then going back and re-reading them for meaning. An extraordinary, singular voice.’ A Feather on the Breath of God By Sigrid Nunez ‘Sigrid Nunez is the kind of writer that I aspire to be. Her voice is so clear and measured. I bought her first book, A Feather on the Breath of God, because of its compelling title, and was happy to find that the book is as good as its title. As much as I love this book for introducing me to her, I think her masterpiece is The Last of Her Kind, the story of a friendship between two women who meet in college and how their lives change as one of the women becomes swept away by a radical counter-culture movement. Nunez also wrote an entire book from Virginia Woolf’s monkey’s point of view (Mitz: The Marmoset of Bloomsbury), which is admirable both in ambition and execution.’ I Married a Communist By Philip Roth ‘How can I choose my favorite Phillip Roth book? I started with Goodbye Columbus and have now read almost everything. Fiercely intelligent and sexy. (No small feat!) I can’t understand why Phillip Roth is sometimes branded as a ‘misogynistic writer’. He writes smarter women than almost any writer I can think of. I am constantly amazed at how he constructs an argument for one character, then turns around and presents the counter-argument, rendering it equally valid and compelling. He is a national treasure. Come on, Stockholm - let’s give him the Nobel Prize already!’ The Corrections By Jonathan Franzen ‘The Corrections is a masterful book. Deep, funny and heartbreaking. The scene on the boat with the father absolutely broke my heart; it was so beautifully written. Franzen writes about the American family in such a truthful and relatable way. I will read anything and everything the man writes.’
Best film to book adaptions
One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey/Miloš Forman, words by Lisa Lorenz
I remember One Flew Over the Cockoo´s Nest as one of most bitter novel and movie I´ve ever read and watched. Books rarely make me cry but the sadness and truthfulness of it caught me there, twice - first in the book then in the movie. I picked this scene because for me this is the most intimate moment between the two men. Even though they are just exchanging a stripe of Juicy Fruit and a ‘Thank you’ it is a great gesture. Although the whole movie is rather depressing and sad, this is a very intimate and true moment, where these two individuals become a unit. Even though the book is written in the perspective of the Chief and the movie is more from McMurphy´s point of view they managed to keep the spirit of the book alive. The movie is not less scary or less personal. It was definitely the right decision to tell the story from another perspective. I like to discover even more of a story when the adaption of a book in a movie is like that. That´s why I like the book and the movie equally. They go along hand in hand and do not compete against each other.
The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien/Peter Jackson, words by Natascha Hohmann
I know it’s cliché and well, basically it’s a story about some elfs and bad boys and a white wizard but the friendship and just the way Tolkien wrote and described things, it’s just... If everyone would have some sort life like that.. I think in a way we all kind of do, the story is very truthful and honest despite all the magic. Sometimes I wish i could wear armour myself to protect my friends in real life. It’s that kind of symbolism that makes the entire fantasy aspect of it so gripping and real. The story is so captivating that it makes you feel like you’re actually in it. It makes me feel like a warrior, it evolves from being someone else’s story to being your own. The film itself is realised amazingly well visually, especially Frodo looks very close to how I pictured him. I mean sure, there are many characters that were left out, but the film managed to convey what the book is about. You can’t compare a film to a book when it comes to details and the film totally blew me away. I don’t really see it as part one, two and three but the last part of the story is my favourite so my still shows the strong ties of friendship during the final battle.
Playlist for On The Road by Seamus Cowan
Paranoid android The perks of being neurotic about references in books I read The Perks Of Being A Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky about 8 years ago. There were so many song and book recommendations that I started underlining each of the references at some point and even re-read parts that I forgot to ‘cover’. After finishing the book I made this list that I dug out of the depths of my drawers years later. It made me wonder about how knowledge is served to us on a silver platter nowadays - rather than being something you have to work for. Maybe I just hadn’t mastered the art of googling yet, but either way, access to any kind of information has never been easier. I do regard that as a good thing, but maybe we need reminders like this list to avoid growing weary. Today it would take me less than 10 seconds to get it, but I doubt that I would actually hunt down each track to be honest. I mean I probably would have developed a life-long love for The Smiths and equally strong dislike towards U2 at some point in my life anyhow, but sometimes the way you discover things you like is part of it all.
Efforts like these never felt like actual work and sometimes I get quite nostalgic about losing the sense for my healthy neuroses if there is any such thing. I guess they do have their perks somehow. Discovering things we already know we like is nice too, there’s always comfort in knowing someone whose work means a lot to you has been inspired by something that is close to you, also. Even if books don’t really have many references in them, there is usually a vague idea for a soundtrack floating around in my head somewhere. For all the less High Fidelity-esque books that don’t bombard you with a Top 5 - Playlist on every page, it is a cool opportunity to use your imagination and make your own playlist. This issue features a playlist for reading or reminiscing in On The Road by Jack Kerouac, have a listen or - in case of disapproval feel free to make your own.
Manchester The Gospel according to... ‘The Gospel according to... explores connections between the works of six European artists and highly influential British band The Smiths. The Exhibition is shown on the 30th anniversary of the band’s formation and demonstrates how art and popular music are inextricably linked. Themes such as humour, melancholy, nostalgia and controversy all find their place in the Artist’s reinterpretation of the Smiths’ iconic presence. The exhibition includes a tapdancing performance, a conspiracy theory, a reflection on society and the simple veneration towards an iconic frontman all of which echo the band’s irreverent, playful and ‘heavenly miserable’ response to life.’
The Exhibition is amazing. Most of my own art is inspired by music and literature so it’s very interesting to catch a glimpse of the inspired work by others compiled in one room. The diversity makes it all the more interesting, the iconic photography by Stephen Wright lures you into the room to show you a recent portrait series he did on Smiths fans revisiting Salford Lads Club. There’s also previously unpublished live footage, typography inspired by lyrics and a video installation comparing Finland’s bears to the Smiths single This Charming Man. Diverse indeed.
Smiths fans revisiting Salford Lads Club photography by Stephen Wright
Places to see in Manchester upper left to bottom right. Ferris wheel, Central. Street art, Northern Quarter. Charlotte BrontĂŤ drawing, Salutation Pub, Hulme. Hylas and the Nymphs by John William Waterhouse, Manchester Art Gallery, Central. Joy Divisionâ€™s Epping Walk Bridge at night, Hulme.
Oscar used in an hairstylist advertisement. Only the British.
The Exhibition upper left to bottom right. Jeremy Deller, digital prints on paper, the prints reposition Smiths lyrics as Biblical quotes. Lars Laumann, video-installation - Morrissey foretelling the death of Princess Diana employs The Queen Is Dead lyrics to translate into a conspiracy theory which suggests Morrissey foretold the tragic event in This Charming Man. Lucienne Cole, Dance to music (2005) - video of a girl dancing to Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now. ‘Bootleg Booth’ - early live performances by The Smiths
The pen is mightier than the sword The Exhibition is where I get to stalk some Smiths fans and hope that they are willing to give me some answers to a short list of questions I prepared. I am given much more: kind, like-minded people who take time to ponder over questions I would need days to answer. I’m also generously offered recommendations, invitations, pints, and ...a pen. Said pen was provided in severe case of emergency when I caught a busy Mike Joyce - yes as in Mike Joyce, drummer of the Smiths - at the exhibition and miraculously managed to get an interview. Denying him special treatment, the questions tailored for his own fans were slightly awkward to use for a band member, but I’m glad to report that he can recommend his own band and likes About a boy.
Ask me, Ask me, Ask me. ‘Shyness is nice, and shyness can stop you from doing all the things in life you’d like to’ - Ask by The Smiths O Moz, I hear ya. But not this time. My Manchester mission requires me to track down fellow fans of local band The Smiths to either confirm or contradict a common thread in their fanbase. Especially in terms of books and Oscar Wilde. Today marks the opening night of the exhibition. Two words: Easy prey. Still battling my reluctance, I approach one visitor after another, and boy, entirely oblivious to what I’m getting myself into. I guess the shyness thing is unsurprisingly common with fans of the band, but soon those common interests I had hoped to find turn out to exist and make conversations quite effortless. The similarities are almost suspiciously evident with The Importance Of Being Earnest hands down winning the popularity contest. In fact, talk comes so easy, the interviews have to be taken to the nearest pub after the exhibition has closed its doors. Mutual interest in books and music and a similar sense of humor encourage discussions between me and fans, curators, artists and ..er.. band members. Authors are recommended, bands mocked on, haircuts admired, consipracies debated. My notebook is filled with pages of recommendations and I gratefully note down sightseeing suggestions for Manchester like the pub Charlotte Brontë started writing Jane Eyre in, or the Smiths’ Cemetary Gates.
Do you like The Smiths? Yes.
Do you like the Smiths? Yes.
Do you like books? Yes i like reading
Do you like books? Yes.
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? I have read Lady Windermere’s Fan - very funny. I also like his Fairy Tales like The Happy Prince.
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. His poems.
What’s your favourite Smiths song? Bigmouth Strikes Again off The Queen Is Dead which is my favourite album. My best friend gave it to me when I was 15. Honourable mention is Oscillate Wildly. What’s your favourite book? Murphy by Samuel Beckett, Short Stories by Jorges Luis Borges, Jeanette Winterson
What’s your favourite Smiths song? There Is A Light That Never Goes Out What’s your favourite book? Shogun by James Clavell What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘You can leave your hat on’ Music recommended while reading: Radiohead, Sigur Rós
Music recommended while reading: Michael Nyman, Philip Glass, The Velvet Underground, music without lyrics like film soundtracks, Joni Mitchell
Secret eavesdropping at the exhibition Come on, you’re wigginling like Morrissey - Father to screaming baby
‘(...) when I’m there and there’s thousands of people but it’s just me and him in my head ’, ‘(...) but out of 8000 people he looked into my eyes - and I fell for him.’ - Woman on seeing The Smiths live
Do you like The Smiths? Yes.
Do you like The Smiths? Yes!
Do you like books? Yes.
Do you like books? Yes.
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. The Importance of Being Earnest.
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. The Importance of Being Earnest.
What’s your favourite Smiths song? Half A Person
What’s your favourite Smiths song? Last night I dreamt that somebody loved me by The Smiths is my funeral song.
What’s your favourite book? Mr. Gwyn by Alessandro Baricco What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? Girlfriend In A Coma by The Smiths, You Only Live Once by The Strokes Music recommended while reading: Bombay Bicycle Club while reading The Catcher in the Rye.
What’s your favourite book? The Perfume by Patrick Süsskind What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘The fabric of a tutu any man could get used to’ - Vicar in a Tutu by The Smiths Music recommended while reading: Music and books are two seperate activities.
Memorable comments during interviews ‘We’re gonna re-create all of the Smiths members by using their DNA’ - Gavin on his pen
‘Oh I never regret anything I did that has to do with the Smiths’ - lovelyeek on whether or not she did something embarrassing or regretful for the band in her youth
Do you like The Smiths? No
Do you like The Smiths? Kind of. Yes?
Do you like books? Yes
Do you like books? Yes
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. The Importance of Being Earnest
What’s your ..least.. favourite Smiths song? This Charming Man
What’s your favourite Smiths song? The Boy With The Thorn In His Side What’s your favourite book? The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘If they don’t believe us now will they ever believe us?’ - The Boy With The Thorn In His Side by The Smiths ‘Dyed his hair in the bathroom of a Texaco’ Gun Street Girl by Tom Waits Music recommended while reading: Sigur Rós
What’s your favourite book? The Woman in Black by Susan Hill What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make’ The End by The Beatles Music recommended while reading: Jimi Hendrix for academic studies, keeps me going
Oh Hi, Mike Joyce. Do you like The Smiths? Yes.
Do you like The Smiths? Yes. Do you like books? Yes.
Do you like books? Yes. Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. The Importance Of Being Earnest. What’s your favourite Smiths song? Hand In Glove What’s your favourite book? The Dice Man by George Cockcroft. What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘Last Night I Dreamt That Somebody Loved Me’ by The Smiths
Do you like Oscar Wilde and what is your favourite work of his? Yes. The Importance of Being Earnest. What’s your favourite Smiths song? This Charming Man What’s your favourite Book? On the Road by Jack Kerouac What’s your favourite Lyric, either Smithsrelated or in general? ‘Across the stream in wooden shoes, bells to tell the king the news’ - Mathilda Mother by Pink Floyd Music recommended while reading: The Doors of Perception by Aldous Huxley while listening to Obscurred by Clouds by Pink Floyd, or The Doors by The Doors
Now and then ‘I would listen to the march of the capulets by Prokofiev and people at school would listen to, you know, LL Cool J and stuff’ At the gallery, I am also lucky enough to find two die-hard Smiths fans from back in the day, David and Gavin, who generously wait for me to finish lurking about Mike Joyce for too long. Both of the guys were part of Stephen Wright’s photography project for the exhibition that featured Smiths fans posing in front of Salford Lads Club. In a tragic twist of fate, I was born post-everything that could be considered the pinnacle of music history and one year after the split up of The Smiths. The chance to get some personal firsthand insight is rare for me, but the evening is almost like a time-machine. I asked David and Gavin to answer the usual seven interview questions plus an additional eighth question : 8. ‘What was the most embarrassing thing you did because of the band when you were a teenager?’ It’s hilarious to hear about their stories, especially the pop-culture aspect of the band’s influence. The Smiths were known for the use of very dramatic intro tapes before they would start their shows - like Cilla Black’s Love Of The Loved and later The Montagues and Capulets off Prokofiev’s ballet Romeo and Juliet. One can only imagine what other charming absurdities the band inspired fans to take part in. Read for yourself and have a look at what David and Gavin both looked like in their Smiths prime on the next page.
Glad to see David held onto his Suedehead to this day
Gavin in a â€˜Meat Is Murderâ€™ shirt on a bicycle, imperative choice of vehicle for any sophisticated Smiths fan
The Smiths Archive Heaven knows I’m definitely not miserable now Manchester’s Salford Lads Club is what Abbey Road is to the Beatles. Both sites of pilgrimage have been inspired by an iconic photograph, but what’s so cool about Salford Lads club is that it has been morphed into some kind of out of world shrine. A photograph taken by Stephen Wright (see exhibition on page 24) of the band standing in front of a Recreational Club would still attract fans from throughout the entire world decades later. Its usage in the promotional video for Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before liased band and venue for good and eight years ago the need for an official memorial place was remedied. Since 2004 afficionados may leave a customized post-it note in the room ,also reffered to as ‘The Smiths Archive’, or send a postcard to the club. Besides the obligatory post-it note, it is custom to take a picture in front of the building. Project manager Leslie Holmes did a lovely job at creating this space to share fond memories, shout out greetings and admire Smiths memorabilia.
‘We are all in the gutter , but some of us are looking at the stars’ Reading the notes, I come to realise the vast distances people have travelled to come here how many years some of them have been looking forward to see it. You can tell how much effort and affection has been put into these walls of commemoration. Some of the notes really hit home - begrudgingly so when you find that someone beat you to leaving your favourite lyric. There are all kinds of messages like heartfelt lovenotes , dorky puns, thanksgivings and birthday wishes. Others show you how life-altering music can be, like Melissa’s note saying ‘Eighteen years ago I stopped eating meat just for you’. A mere inch of glass seperates me from the rose-patterned shirt Morrissey wore in the The Boy With A Thorn In His Side video, embedded between framed photographs of weightlifting ex-members of the club. I guess this is where the fainting happens for most visitors. Listening to The Hand That Rocks The Cradle I fail to find the right message or lyric so I decide to leave a little piece of what this magazine is about - another little piece of Oscar Wilde in the Smiths universe.
the post-it booth
I have no idea what a Spanglemaker is - neither does the band really - but The Spangle Maker by Cocteau Twins is this issue’s most recommended track for shoegazing. Beware of Edward Cullen pictures if you intend to research on the subject.
Gaze on Cocteau Twins Cocteau Twins were a Scottish alternative rock band active from 1979 to 1997, known for innovative instrumentation and atmospheric, non-lyrical vocals. Elizabeth Fraser’s celestial vocals in addition to Robin Guthrie’s swirling drone guitar created a new sound that would later inspire the the subgenre dream pop. It’s staggering how Fraser’s so hard-to-interpret lyrics can be so emotionally gripping, it’s like the music speaks to you on some other dimension you only thought possible on recorded material. Then you watch their live performances on youtube and are convinced that Elizabeth Fraser is extra-terrestial.
Recommended Songs: My Bloody Valentine - Only Shallow, Blown A Wish.The Jesus and Mary Chain - Just Like Honey, April Skies. Ride - Dreams Burn Down, Vapour Trail While Reading: Jane Eyre while listening to Cocteau Twins. To set the mood, start out with Victorialand. Handle with care during night sessions, as you might have to battle sudden spells of sleepiness. Heaven or Las Vegas is perfect for the middle part at Thornfield Hall, Head over Heels matches the last third of the book.
In defense of the genre The history of shoegazing Shoegaze emerged in the late 1980s to early 90s United Kingdom as a Subgenre of alternative rock. The British music press like NME or Melody Maker named the style based on the way bands would performe on stage. Floppy-haired musicians would stand very still - by rock standards - while playing live. Performers often maintained the habit of gazing downward, appearing to be in a detached, introspective, non-confrontial state. Their heavy use of effects pedals further contributed to the image of them looking down at their feet during concerts, hence appearing to be ‘gazing at their shoes’. Shoegazing’s pure, loud sound was supposed to be unaffacted by visuals. The strong use of guitar effects emphasise the hazy noise of repetitive riffs or long drones that blend with distorted vocals, but a strong sense of melody generally exists underneath the layers of guitars. Soft-spoken poetic lyrics would become almost indistinguishable. Despite the elaborately wellwritten and heartfelt lyrics, voices were often treated as an additional instrument. The movement became known as ‘The scene that celebrates itself’ by virtue of the conterminous fanbases of the bands and their attendance at each other’s gigs. The performers themselves were a notoriously shy bunch and seldomly gave good interviews. Their lack of dynamic and rock ’n’ roll antics on-stage kept them from breaking through into the crucial US market. Commercial success did, however, exist. The genre somewhat ruled the British music scene during the early 90s before being pushed aside by the American Grunge movement and early Britpop acts. Many bands resisted the, to their eyes derogatory, name tag but today the glimpse of an era enjoys cult status. Although its heyday was arguably 1992, it could point to origins more than a decade before. The influence of bands like Cocteau Twins, The Jesus and Mary Chain, Ride and My Bloody Valentine pervades to this day.
Under the Influence Common threads between the different bands include garage rock, ‘60s psych, and American indie bands like Sonic Youth and Dinosaur Jr.. Other artists that have been identified as influences on Shoegaze include The Velvet Underground, Sonic Youth, The Cure,and The Smiths.
Fabric made of fiction ‘We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.’ - Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Okay so this doesn’t happen often, but I might have accidentally, subconsciously, ever so slightly - adjusted my clothes, make up or accessories to a book I was reading. Either because it would mirror its mood or because the colours would match the cover. I would then realise this later during the day and feel a weird mixture of naive amusement and self-conscious shame. We are always being told not to judge a book by its cover and of course this is true. But maybe it shouldn’t be so true. It is such a strong part of the book, economically and sentimentally. I feel like there’s been a general neglect for book covers for a long time but lately there seems to be a buzz of new-found appreciation. Penguin Books published a series called ‘Clothbound Classics’ whose covers really compliment some carefully chosen classics by the likes of Dickens, Austen, Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde and Lewis Carroll. Lisette de Hooge and I raided our closets and hereby wish to encourage the world to embrace their inner bibliophile.
Aliceâ€™s Adventures In Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
Wuthering Heights by Emily BrontĂŤ
Jane Eyre by Charlotte BrontĂŤ
The Sonnets and A Loverâ€™s Complaint by William Shakespeare
Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Closer to Ian Curtis Trip to Macclesfield And again I must ask myself. Is it weird to visit the grave of someone you don’t even know? It seems like a lot of people find it difficult to understand and explanations are hard to be put into words without sounding sappy. To me, it’s simply an act of paying gratitude or tribute to someone who means something to you. If we honour those who were close to us in person why not those who were with us when no one else, no one real could have been. There are times that require more than someone who listens, gives advice, distracts you or brings you pizza. It takes someone who understands. Not in the compassionate sense of the word but in the very fact that the person has gone through something similar or shares your opinion on something. This doesn’t apply to feelings of sadness only, it can mean all kinds of things. Futile ideas, worlddefining morals, incisive experiences. The times, when literal proof only can make us feel understood, because the words or stories we need can only be found in song lyrics or books. Sometimes we come across them at exactly the right time. At that moment, music or literature changes our lives. As dramatic as it sounds, it couldn’t be more true. It’s one thing to get lost in stories that take you to other countries, centuries and moods. If a book makes you angry we admire the author’s skill. When a person does, we find it upsetting. There’s something exhilirating in getting caught up in words so much that they can have an actual effect on your emotions, it’s comforting and inspiring.
So here I am on a train to Macclesfield - hometown and place of death of Ian Curtis, singer and lyricist of Joy Division. Due to lack of preparation in terms of a map or general clue where I have to go, I seek the closest pub to ask for directions. It is St. Patricks day and as I enter, I am immediately offered help by good-humoured people in funny hats. A little too much help. Instead of explaining where I have to go they insist on my destination - which later turned out to be about a 30 minute walk - to be too vast a distance to be reached by foot. I am practically forced to accept £4 for a cab by one of the customers, the kind of honest offer you can’t decline without it being taken as crude insult. I am then warned that if they catch me aimlessly walking any street of Macclesfield that day - I shall be in severe trouble. Given no choice but to abide by their instructions I arrive at the graveyard one shamefully short cab drive later. Despite all my sketchy planning I find myself walking up to the grave in no time. Just then Love Will Tear Us Apart comes up on my mp3 player. I think the last time my tear ducts were put to the test like this was during The Lion King. Gifts, keepsakes, and letters by others cover the barely big enough tombstone. Looking at them, that odd feeling of companionship kicks back in. That poignant insight into something you already know. That music and everything it involves changes lives and people’s way of thinking, it can change the way we dress, places we go to and who we meet, it inspires our artwork, provokes views and give us something to hold onto when the real things in our lives feel brittle.
Controlled Chaos ‘In the meantime, he was reading Dostroyevsky, Nietzsche, Jean Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse and J.G. Ballard. Photomontages of the Nazi Period was a book of anti-Nazi Posters by John Heartfield, which graphically documented the spread of Hitlers ideals. It struck me that all Ian’s spare time was spent reading and thinking about human sacrifice.’ - Deborah Curtis Jon Savage summed up all you need to know about the literary influences of Ian Curtis and Joy Division in his in-depth essay Controlled Chaos originally published in The Guardian. In March 1980, Joy Division released their third single, featuring the songs Atmosphere and Dead Souls. Published in a limited edition of 1,578 on an independent French label, Sordide Sentimental, this was no ordinary record. Carrying a ‘warning’ of one word - gesamtkunstwerke - it was, indeed, a total artwork comprising graphics, music, photographs and text, a world unto itself. On the cover of the fold-out was a painting by neoclassical artist Jean-François Jamoul, picturing a robed hermit looking out over mountain tops, the valleys obscured by clouds. Inside was a collage of a lone figure descending into the depths of the earth, with Anton Corbijn’s photo of Joy Division under strip lighting in Lancaster Gate station. And then there was the text. In the essay entitled Licht und Blindheit (light and blindness), JeanPierre Turmel positioned himself as far away from rock crit cliché as possible. Citing Pascal, Heinrich von Kleist and Georges Bataille among others, he went in deep in his attempt to explain the effect that Joy Division had on him: ‘At the heart of daily punishment and sufferings, in the very wheels of encroaching mediocrity, are found both the keys and the doors to inner worlds.’ Received with rapture by Joy Division fans - not least because the two songs were among the best the group ever recorded - the Sordide Sentimental single was an early recognition of the fanaticism, if not religiosity, that would surround the group. Ian Curtis loved the package, but then he above all knew how words and books worked as a threshold into other dimensions. In the same way that Jim Morrison referenced Louis-Ferdinand Céline’s Journey to the End of the Night in the Doors’ moody masterpiece, End of the Night, Curtis dropped hints in song titles such as Dead Souls, Colony and Atrocity Exhibition that he had read writers as diverse as Gogol, Kafka and Ballard, while the lyrics reflected, in mood and approach, his interest in romantic and science-fiction literature.
This is not to legitimise Curtis’s lyrics as literature, but to make the point that, in the 60s and 70s, pop culture acted as a clearing house for information that was occult in the widest sense: esoteric, degraded, unpopular, underneath the literary radar. And there was a whole subculture and a market that supported these endeavours to go underground, to step outside. Joy Division continue to inspire new generations of listeners, but they were very much a product of time and place. Ian Curtis was an avid reader who became a driven writer ‘trying to find a clue, trying to find a way to get out’. In the north-west of England in the mid to late 70s, he found the materials that he needed for his escape, only to discover that - as was evident from much of his reading - escape was impossible. Like the Doors and the Fall, Joy Division were named after a book. Their inspiration was not Huxley or Camus, however, but a piece of Holocaust exploitation. The House of Dolls by Ka-Tzetnik (real name Yehiel Feiner) told of the areas in concentration camps in which women were forced into sex slavery: not the Labour Division but the Joy Division. By 1978, when the group adopted their name, the novel/memoir had sold millions of copies in paperback. The early to mid-70s was a golden age of paperback publishing, both high and low. Apart from Penguin, with its vigorous science-fiction line that included authors such as Philip K Dick, Olaf Stapledon and JG Ballard, there were Picador, Pan, Mayflower, Paladin - the last with a wide-ranging list that included Jeff Nuttall and Timothy Leary. Selling for 50p and upwards (when an LP cost £3.25), these books were readily available to young minds. In the Manchester area, there were several outlets for this jumble of esoterica, some left over from the oppositional hippie days. The historian CP Lee remembers shops such as Paper-chase and the leftwing Grassroots, while Paul Morley worked at the Bookshop in Stockport: ‘Tolkien was a huge seller, war books too, lots of experimental science fiction, as well as the Mills & Boon romances and tucked-away soft porn that kept things ticking over.’ Then there were the shops run by David Britton and Mike Butterworth: House on the Borderland, Orbit in Shudehill and Bookchain in Peter Street, just down the road from the site of the Peterloo massacre. As Butterworth recalls, all three ‘were modelled on two London bookshops of the period, Dark They Were and Golden Eyed in Berwick Street, Soho - which sold comics, sci-fi, drug-related stuff, posters, etc - and a chain called Popular Books’. With his friend Steven Morris, Ian Curtis regularly visited House on the Borderland. Butterworth remembers them as ‘disparate, alienated young men attracted to like-minded souls. They wanted something offbeat and off the beaten track, and the shop supplied this. They probably saw it as a beacon in the rather bleak Manchester of the early 70s.’
In the mid-70s, there was a sense - reinforced by the vacant, derelict state of Britain’s inner cities - that the bomb had already dropped. With its casual brutality and black humour, Burroughs’s accelerated prose - what his biographer Ted Morgan called his ‘nuclear style’ - matched this apocalyptic mood. The lack of conventional narrative in his books plunged the reader into a maelstrom of malevolent, unseen forces and ever-present, unidentified dangers. Joy Division rarely did interviews. In January 1980, however, they gave an audience to the young writer and singer Alan Hempsall. This was to be the only time that Curtis talked about his reading, and he mentioned Naked Lunch and The Wild Boys as two of his favourite books.The group had recently encountered Burroughs at their Plan K show in October 1979, though when Curtis approached the author to get a free copy of The Third Mind, he was rebuffed. Curtis began writing in earnest during 1977, when he and his wife Deborah moved into their Barton Street home. In her memoir, Touching from a Distance, Deborah Curtis remembers that ‘most nights Ian would go into the blue room and shut the door behind him to write, interrupted only by cups of coffee handed through the swirls of Marlboro smoke. I didn’t mind the situation: we regarded it as a project, something that had to be done.’ His first attempts showed a writer struggling to establish a style. One of Joy Division’s most effective early recordings, No Love Lost, contains a spoken word section that lifts a complete paragraph from The House of Dolls. Songs such as Novelty, Leaders of Men and Warsaw were barely digested regurgitations of their sources: lumpy screeds of frustration, failure, and anger with militaristic and totalitarian overtones. ‘They came in every couple of weeks, sometimes more often. Ian bought second-hand copies of New Worlds, the great 60s literary magazine edited by Michael Moorcock, which was promoting Burroughs and Ballard. My friendship with Ian started around 1979: we talked Burroughs, Burroughs, Burroughs. At the bookshops he would have been exposed to an extremely wide range of eclectic and weird writers and music.’
Like the group, Curtis worked hard to improve. His keynote early song for Joy Division, Shadowplay, explored for the first time the territory that he would make his own. Like a Burroughs cut-up, the lyrics shifted from a direct address to a description of a situation often horrific or unsettling: ‘the assassins all grouped in four lines’ sealed with a first-person confession of guilt or helplessness: ‘I did everything I wanted to / I let them use you, for their own ends.’
Dropping out of school at 17, Curtis was an autodidact who took his cues from the pop culture of the time. In 1974, David Bowie was interviewed with William Burroughs in Rolling Stone. The actual chat was fairly non-eventful, but it made the link explicit - especially when Bowie was seen fiddling with cut-ups in Alan Yentob’s Cracked Actor documentary - and Burroughs would cast a major shadow over British punk and post-punk.
By then, Curtis was exploring more than pulp horror. Deborah remembers him reading ‘Dostoevsky, Nietzsche, Jean-Paul Sartre, Hermann Hesse and JG Ballard. Photomontages of the Nazi Period was a book of anti-Nazi posters by John Heartfield, which documented graphically the spread of Hitler’s ideals. Crash by JG Ballard combined sex with the suffering of car accident victims.” Another favourite was Ballard’s 1975 High-Rise.
Make sure to check out Kevin Cummins’ exhibition Exemplar: Joy Divison at the Photographic Gallery in Manchester
Deborah recently recalled that Ian never read these books in her presence, which she felt was ‘an indication to me that he considered them part of his work. They were important to him. It wasn’t something he did as relaxation or for pleasure. He was studying/ working. Too important to try and concentrate on with someone else in the room. It wasn’t something he did as relaxation or for pleasure. His books would be on the floor next to his drafts.’ At Joy Division rehearsals, Curtis would act as the director, spotting riffs and working with Bernard Sumner, Peter Hook and Stephen Morris to turn them into songs. Once the music was completed, he would dig into the plastic bag in which he kept his notebooks and begin fitting words to music. As Sumner remembers in the film documentary Joy Division, ‘he would just pull some words out and start singing them, so it was pretty quick’. Between 1978 and 1980, the lyrics poured out of him, enough for three albums and more. Curtis did not seek conventional narratives, but strived instead to create a situation in which the emotion came from the response of the narrator. As the lines shifted from the universal to the personal, the ‘I’ was often trapped, as in a Greek tragedy, by forces outside his control: ‘We’re living by your rules, that’s what we’ve been shown’ (Candidate). Like many young men, Curtis oscillated between feelings of omnipotence and abjection, and his lyrics reflected this. The sense of a hero struggling - perhaps in vain - within a labyrinthine system is a common theme in Kafka, Gogol and Burroughs, among others. It’s not hard to see a thematic line from Kafka’s Control Officials (The Castle) to Burroughs’s theories of Control, or from the fatalism of the 19th-century Russians to postwar science fiction. Ballard’s exquisite techno-barbarism offered a twist. Science fiction offers an alternative present, and Curtis used this language on Joy Division’s first album, Unknown Pleasures. Songs such as Interzone place desperate and forgotten youth, like the Wild Boys, in empty Mancunian landscapes. At the same time, there was a preoccupation with religious imagery and martyrdom, combined with a Nietzschean aloofness. The words were, of course, only part of the package. Joy Division were a total artwork, right down to the record sleeves, the clothes and their posters. Live, they were brutal and impossibly intense: as a front man, Curtis placed himself completely in the moment with a persona that, intentionally or not, approximated the faraway stare of a seer: ‘I’ve travelled far and wide through many different times’ (Wilderness). It’s not hard to see how Curtis would have identified with the civil servant hero of Dostoevsky’s Notes from Underground, with his nihilistic disdain for the human ‘ant hill’: ‘We are born dead’.
The problem of rock music is the idea of authenticity, the requirement that a front man should act out, if not embody, lyrics and mood. As Joy Division took off, he became trapped by his own script: ‘This life isn’t mine’ (Something Must Break). In the pivotal Atrocity Exhibition, Curtis wrote: ‘for entertainment they see his body twist / Behind his eyes he says, ‘I still exist’. Though it refers to Ballard’s novella, the mood of the song is much more like Hermann Hesse’s Steppenwolf. When asked about this by Alan Hempsall in January 1980, Curtis replied that he’d written the song long before he’d read the book: ‘I just saw this title and thought that it fitted with the ideas of the lyrics.’ It seems clear that Curtis used his books as mood generators. At the same time, his wife thought ‘the whole thing was culminating in an unhealthy obsession with mental and physical pain’. As she recently wrote: ‘I think that reading those books must have really nurtured his ‘sad’ side.’ As 1979 turned into 1980, Curtis’s mood grew darker. Dead Souls was a slice of HP Lovecraft horror, old and cold, that made the hairs stand up on your neck. Songs from the Closer period, such as Isolation and Passover - ‘this is the crisis I knew had to come’ showed the lyrical balance tipping into outright, anguished confessional. With its key words ‘will’ and ‘again’, Love Will Tear Us Apart spoke of recurring emotional torment. Nobody picked up the obvious signs. Tony Wilson, who is interviewed in the documentary, claimed he thought they were ‘just art’. Curtis’s final lyric, In a Lonely Place, echoes Jean-Pierre Turmel’s description of Bernini’s Ecstasy of St Teresa: ‘the marble, ghastly pale, set the body in a specific moment, between flesh and crystal, just before the tangible disappears and the soul flies away’. Curtis’s great lyrical achievement was to capture the underlying reality of a society in turmoil, and to make it both universal and personal. Distilled emotion is the essence of pop music and, just as Joy Division are perfectly poised between white light and dark despair, so Curtis’s lyrics oscillate between hopelessness and the possibility, if not need, for human connection. At bottom is the fear of losing the ability to feel. Nearly 30 years after his death, Joy Division have gone mass market: their music crops up in Coronation Street, or as a soundtrack for BBC sports coverage. I’m pleased the songs are receiving their due, but it’s also worth restating that the band, and its lyricist, were products of a particular time in cultural history, when there was an urge to read a certain sort of highbrow literature, and when intelligence was not a dirty word.
The Cure - How Beautiful You Are You want to know why I hate you? Well I’ll try and explain You remember that day in Paris When we wandered through the rain And promised to each other That we’d always think the same And dreamed that dream To be two souls as one And stopped just as the sun set And waited for the night Outside a glittering building Of glittering glass and burning light And in the road before us Stood a weary greyish man Who held a child upon his back A small boy by the hand The three of them were dressed in rags And thinner than air And all six eyes stared fixedly on you The father’s eyes said ‘Beautiful, How beautiful you are’ The boy’s eyes said ‘How beautiful, She shimmers like a star’ The child’s eyes uttered nothing
But a mute and utter joy And filled my heart with shame for us At the way we are I turned to look at you To read my thoughts upon your face And gazed so deep into your eyes So beautiful and strange Until you spoke And showed me Understanding Is a dream ‘I hate these people staring Make them go away from me’ The fathers eyes said ‘Beautiful, How beautiful you are’ The boys eyes said ‘How beautiful, She glitters like a star’ The child’s eyes uttered joy And stilled my heart with sadness For the way we are And this is why I hate you And how I understand That no one ever knows or loves another Or loves another
Songlyrics Some books that inspired great songs How Beautiful You Are by the Cure was inspired by Les Yeux Des Pauvres (the eyes of the poor), a short story by Baudelaire. The Cure songs often come across as ‘simple’ love songs but there’s often a much deeper meaning hidden between the lines. This song and the Baudelaire’s story question the existence of true love and the concept of soulmates and the dualism of ideas and reality in general. Robert Smith’s songwriting was influenced by quite a long list of writers. Albert Camus, Franz Kafka, J.D. Salinger, Truman Capote, Penelope Farmer and Jean Baudelaire are some of them. Recommended songs inspired by books: Ra Ra Riot - Each Year based on To Kill A Mockingbird by Harper Lee David Bowie -1984 based on 1984 by George Orwell Cocteau Twins - Rilkean Heart is based on Elizabeth Fraser’s relationship with Jeff Buckley and his love for Rainer Maria Rilke
Misheard lyrics vs lyrics that are so bad that I wish I had heard them wrong - or had not heard them at all.
Oh the things humankind has mistakenly heard in Cocteau Twins lyrics. I’m sure at one point we all gave up trying to enjoy the absurdity of whatever it is we were hearing. I refuse to look up the correction to this song as ‘Sugar Hiccup on Cheerios’ sounds oddly delicious.
The lyrics to Don’t Trust Me are pretty much cringe-worthy from start to finish, but I hope this particular line is so supernaturally horrible that it might somehow summon Helen Keller back from the dead to challenge them to a dance-off. note: in Germany we have an identification armband for the visually impaired, yellow with three black dots
In honour of Morrissey and animals Morrissey is a committed vegetarian and animal rights activist. In honour of his impact I’d like to share some of the animal kingdom of my journey through London, Oxford and Manchester. The Smiths’ sophomore album Meat is Murder was released in 1985 and and became the band’s sole number one album. Its huge success had a strong influence on the political awareness of their fanbase, the title track itself caused people from all over the world to stop eating meat. In an interview with PETA, Morrissey said: ‘That whole subject is very controversial over there and so ‘Meat Is Murder’ was an extension of it. The big crime of the whole matter was that the title song did not get any air play on the daily radio. The album entered the charts at number one but they never played the title song.’ Almost 20 years later, the album was ranked number 295 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time.
‘If the world were merely seductive, that would be easy. If it were merely challenging, that would be no problem. But I arise in the morning torn between a desire to improve the world and a desire to enjoy the world. This makes it hard to plan the day.’ - E.B. White Dedication. My friend Daniel Dean’s dog ‘Morrissey’.
Sometimes the use of animals in books can be much more ‘human’ and staggering than the use of people. Below are some classics you should have read, whether you’re interested in the fauna of the world or not. Animal Farm by George Orwell Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck Watership Down by Richard Adams This book is technically about vegetarianism, but it is so well-written that I would recommend it to anyone who cares the the food industry in general or simply enjoys a good read: Eating Animals by Jonathan Safran Foer
Someone call Holden. We found them.
Deer in the Campus of Magdalen College, Oxford. University application handed in.
Aimed with some bread, I ventured into the duck ghetto part of Oxford. Itâ€™s all fun and games until the seagulls join the party.
In honour of Oscar Wilde and Letters While Wilde didn’t exactly have many options when it came to long-distance conversations, we’d still like to think his appreciation for the written word would cause him to hold onto the joys of writing letters. As we all keep neclecting this way of communication, we would like to suggest some fun ways to get back on track that might even save you money. ‘The Complete Letters of Oscar Wilde’ contains more than a thousand pages of letters written by Wilde. His grandson, Merlin Holland said that the book serves as ‘the autobiography that he never wrote’ and that it is ‘as close as we shall come to the magic of hearing him in person.’ I would like to agree with this wholeheartedly but I have to be honest - reading Oscar Wilde’s letters, especially the ones to his lover, Lord Alfred Douglas made me feel like peeking into someone else’s diary. I had never read a collection of letters by a famous author and while I found the letters very insightful and at times hilarious, I could not quite manage to get over the attached guilt trip and eventually decided to take a rain check. I doubt that Wilde would hold a grudge against anyone who read them but it made me wonder about personal property. Maybe privacy does have an expiration date and Wilde would want them to be read. As I am not willing to make up my mind on this yet, I would like to present these guilt-free alternatives for anyone interested in the subject of letters. Of course the most obvious, easiest and cheapest way is to just dig your drawers for an old postcard and drop one of your friends or relatives a line. There’s hardly anything better than opening the mailbox to find an unannounced letter. If the message is less amiable then hey, I still suggest delivering the message by mail. Most suitable for evasive people with a penchant for drama.
Read it, Swap it Use mail as a way to exchange books. There are heaps of exchange platfroms on the internet, nationally and worldwide. I gave UK-based ‘Read it, Swap it’ a try and it’s amazingly easy. All you have to do is search for a book or author of your choice and you will get a list of people offering to swap it. You can then have a look at their wishlist and see if you can offer anything to their liking. Alternatively you can create a list of books you own and offer the other person to choose one of them. There are more than 300 000 books available on this website alone, books of all kinds of genres for all kinds of ages. After you and the other Read it, Swap it member have agreed on a book exchange, you get access to their address, all you have to pay is postage. My book exchange worked like a charm. Franny and Zooey by J.D. Salinger has been on my to read list for a while now and I immediately found someone to swap it for For Esme, with Love and Squalor with. Thanks for swapping, stranger. Go to www.readitswapit.co.uk to find out more. In the unlikely case that you are currently in or soon to be travelling Beijing I strongly advise you to go the city’s art district called 798. Succesful, as well as urban Artists sell or exhibit their work in decommissioned military factory buildings there and it’s worth a visit for the atmosphere alone. Four years ago I stumbled into a place called Panda Delivery Express there, which turned out to be a post office. The extraordinary thing about it is that you can choose when you would like them to send your letter. You can send your letter up to 10 whole years from the current date. Maybe I should have gone with something more bold and, well, less boring but at the time I felt like sending a letter to my own address one year from that day that would somehow convey my mood at the time. I went with the lyrics of the song I was listening to - Angel In The Snow by Elliott Smith. After one year I got my letter and the postcard and words reminded me exactly of how snow-like I somehow managed to feel on that hot summer day.
J. W. Poltergeist
Drawing Dorian Every portrait that is painted with feeling is a portrait of the artist, not of the sitter. - O. Wilde I asked friends who had already read The Picture of Dorian Gray to send me a drawing of what they imagine Dorian Gray to look like. There were no rules, drawing skills weren’t required and the amount of time invested optional. A lot of illustrators I know happened to have read it for some reason and while I researched drawings of book characters on the internet, I came across a website called ‘Hey Oscar Wilde! It’s Clobberin’ Time!!!’ (www.heyoscarwilde.com). Of course - at this point - I felt slightly haunted by Oscar and his fanbase, but the artwork there is great. It has a big collection of various artists interpreting their favourite literary figure or author. I like making up characters more than anything, but at the same time I find it incredibly interesting to see someone breathe life into a character that already exists, especially if it looks completely different from the image in my head. I wanted to use a character that was fairly well known, but didn’t have many preconceptions attached to them like Peter Pan would for example. Of course D.G. came with the bonus of fitting the magazine’s theme. Seeing everyone’s take on Dorian was one of the funniest things I worked on for the project. It’s really interesting to compare certain aspects, I enjoy each of them for different reasons. People who rarely draw tend to emphasise his high cheek bones and puckered mouth, almost everyone ignored his curls but did remember the blue eyes. Everyone seems to be having the ‘sexy stare’ thing going on. I’m surprised that no one considered drawing his painting as opposed to the actual person. I would like to say I did but mine really just turned out to look like a Zombie. Thanks again to all the participants!
Something old, something new Given the subject matter behind all the travelling and research it is only natural that I was exposed to a variety of contrasts. Thereâ€™s something about the tension between old and new, classical and contemporary, tradition and innovation. In the United Kingdom, their collision is apparent in almost every corner of a city, even more so when comparing different cities to each other. A student roams the Oxford streets with a top hat and a cane which would be a slightly bizarre scene that would make people stop and stare where I come from. Here in Oxford though, it feels oddly natural. The old is still breezing through the air, in ancient buildings, little stores, landscapes and peopleâ€™s minds. Some impressions gather on the next pages to compare old things I came across during the Oscar Wilde part of the journey in London and Oxford - with some more modern counter examples in the Manchester area.
Fans fighting over Morrisseyâ€™s shirt at a Smiths show
This tour map can be found in the book Morrisseyâ€™s Manchester by Phill Gatenby
Published on Jun 29, 2012
‘The power of the written word really stung me and I was also entirely immersed in popular music. I thought the marriage of both things was...