Monday, 22 August 2011

In Praise of Sinclair

If I typed out every bit of Lights Out For The Territory for which I've folded down a page-corner (yes, spare me your horrified gasps, most of my books are working copies), I'd be here forever and have no space for anything else. If you haven't, read the book now.

But here are some snippets.

On the rise of the finance scum who've ruined us (despite writing in 1995), he quotes Richard Allen:
His suede heads of the early Seventies, boot boys travestied in mohair, progressed to the Stock Exchange. They were the first jackals of the Me Generation: "An anti-social, anti-everything conglomerate affecting status as their protective cover whilst engaging in nefarious pursuits more savage, more brutal than other cultists…"… the Savile Row knuckleheads of the free-market: Lord Joseph's scum progeny
On Jeffrey Archer's novels:
An object, a brick of paper, good to handle, nice to have around. Inoffensive - except to whinging aesthetes… the power of the novels lay in the fact that they didn't have to be read. The much-edited story was so user-friendly it spoke to you. It talked back. The plot was so familiar that simply bending back the covers was enough, the thick black lines of text (virtually braille) did the rest. 
The role of the poet as cartographer:
… the skin of London should be divided up by poets and seers as much as by gangsters. Pets didn't need brothers. Didn't need a conformity of suits and attitudes. Didn't need dogs. They would service the ground they stole from, haunt a particular territory, tune themselves to notice everything, every irregularity in the brickwork, every dip in the temperature… Maps are a futile compromise between information and knowledge. They require a powerful dose of fiction to bring them to life.
Writers, wishing to 'rescue' dead ground, will have to wrest it from the grip of developers, clerks, clerics, eco freaks, and ward bosses. We are all welcome to divide London according to our anthologies: JG Ballard at Shepperton (the reservoirs, airport perimeter roads, empty film studios); Michael Moorcock at Notting Hill (visited by Jack Trevor Story); Angela Carter - south of the river, Battersea to Brixton, where she hands over to the poet Allen Fisher; Eric Mottram at Herne Hill, communing with the ghost of Ruskin; Robin Cook's youthful self in Chelsea… [etc for several more paragraphs].
What he's getting at is that 'official' truths and 'facts' are reductive at best, misleading, deliberately so at worst. That a place is not a collection of things but a history, often hidden, distorted or denied. That the imagination is where a place really comes to exist. See also Alan Moore's From Hell.

No comments: