Land art and Icteric:


Plus Wordsworthian environment emotion recollected on tranquilisers (er, tranquiliity)

"And central peace, subsisting at the heart of endless agitation"

In the Icteric years between 1965-67 in Newcastle upon Tyne we had a daft already threadbare notion of 'living sculpture' and all that can be said about it is that it did represent a revolt, albeit a confused one, against gallery art. Cringing though we now do at any mention of our youthful follies, 'living sculpture' was an anticipation of the Land Art movement that was yet to come And when it did it would go big time, earning mega bucks for its practitioners, particularly in America. The scale of some of these land art monuments are such that we are entitled to view them as a form of real estate, little different in their ecological impact to the unchecked expansion of cities like Phoenix in Arizona into threatened desert habitats. This urban sprawl is frequently the object of arson attacks though we know of no instance of land art coming under such sustained assault - more's the pity.

In fact the starting point of this development was an exhibition held in the Dwan Gallery in New York in 1968, that significant year of massive global revolt. Though a recuperative reflection of this genuine revolt from those below without name and celebrity, this exhibition had nothing to do with the ambience of total revolution, which was to be the glorious promise at the centre of that amazing year and a promise still awaiting fulfilment. Called 'Earthworks', the Dwan Gallery show and name came from a novel about ecological catastrophe, and the art works were vaguely eco with mounds of 'pungent' soil, some contaminated, some sweet, rooms filled with earth and photographs of scarred wheat fields. Its aims were then modest, though pointless, providing the eco critiques of Rachel Carson, Murray Bookchin, and Alan Hoffman (of Black Mask/Motherfuckers) etc with an 'artistic' inflection the latter two would, most likely have dismissed contemptuously. However mice, labour and bring forth mountains and many of these Dwan Gallery alumni are now responsible for Land Art constructions on the scale of, and even bigger, than Mayan Pyramids and with egos to match.

One of them is Michael Heizer who has carved a brutal, enormous incision across a valley in Nevada that involved the abstraction of 240,000 tons of blasted rock. Living in a vast Nevada ranch this paranoid Howard Hughes of Land Art is protected by guards and is funded by the Dia Foundation in New York that curates land artists and their projects of Himalayan proportions. Another Dwan Gallery alumnus is Charles Ross and his 'Star Axis' has been partially funded by a post cold war NASA that has had to become PR conscious and media savvy (e.g. stimulating interest in the search for extra terrestrial life) in order to get Congress to stump up more cash. (This also goes hand in hand with the increased privatisation of NASA and its decline in its military prowess, which is probably only temporary). Another is James Turrell who has sculpted an entire mountain in the Painted Desert. Turrell was also commissioned by New Labour to contribute a piece ('Night Rain') to that expensive white elephant and financial disaster, the Millennium Dome in Greenwich .

These mega projects are becoming the subject of criticism by an increasingly rattled American public, fed up with yet another avant-garde Mount Rushmore. However there is no chance such projects will catch on in the UK. Charles Newington's 'White Horse' (2003) cut in to the down above Folkestone is the closest this country has ever come. This ridiculous imitation of such magnificent monuments as the Uffingham Horse on the Wiltshire downs is meant to somehow compensate for the destruction caused by the building of the Channel Tunnel rail link. However it has aroused the fury of environmental campaigners who rightly say it has caused irreparable damage to a rare and very threatened landscape.

For that reason it is unlikely a similar monstrous excrescence will ever be commissioned and the days when over 150 years ago a landowner could carve out a huge white horse on the Hambleton Hills in North Yorks are long gone. So land artists in the UK like Richard Long and Andy Goldsworthy have had to be more discreet and 'humble'. Even so when Long won the Turner Prize and was complimented for his 'contribution to English landscape' he encountered nothing but popular derision. As a building worker friend said: 'A frog makes a contribution to the English landscape. But you don't then bung it 20 grand'. Though in the name of conservation, money ensures all shall be well with eco destruction; these artists now have to tread very carefully. And when they start to think big they are obliged to look for the wide-open spaces abroad. Russia could well be next......

The latest nonsense in the mid-noughties is 'Cape Farewell', an environmental project funded by the Arts Council in the frozen north. Turner Prize stalwarts like Gormley and Whiteread, old masters at the art of deception, have been invited to the Arctic to do their environmental worst, for 'Cape Farewell' is dedicated to raising awareness of climate change. Gormley (him again!) has sculpted a 'Snowman' rather than an 'Angel of the North'. And we are seriously meant to think far more highly of his abominable snowman than anything kids could do. Hallowed by the avant-gardist cult of the personality, or rather celebrity, it is a born again snowman, an angel of a snowman, the quintessence of all snowmen because it is made by Gormley who is famous, rich, talked about, invited here, there and everywhere, sits on the Arts Council, is a director of the Sage Music Centre in Gateshead-on-Tyne, has plenty of media exposure and must therefore be a genius. See!

We can wail along with that old saw, a waste of the tax payers' money, and smile at 'The Times' cartoon which has a modern day Titus Oates leaving to see this polar art exhibition with the words 'I may be gone some time', but it does miss the point. Gormley's 'Snowman' can never capture the thrill of seeing a police van during the miners' strike of 1984-5 charge a snowman made by local kids who had just been taunting and pelting them with snowballs. However malice had its just reward that day, for the snowman had been packed around a concrete post. Now that really does add a zing to life and we can begin to experience snow afresh because of it.

As an indication of how times have changed since the mid 1960s and Icteric, a biologist, Tom Wakeford, from Newcastle University has been employed by the 'Cape Farewell' project to 'advise artists on contemporary thinking about the environment'. This involvement by scientists with art is set to increase and will only thicken the smoke screen of delusion surrounding the contemporary avant-garde. A renewable energy power station in the from of a slug or sea worm has been projected for East Anglia and is the 'brainchild' of environmental scientists from the University of East Anglia. Digital artists and digital techniques have been employed in its design, which simulates organic forms.

Should the slug ever be built it is also intended to act as a regional symbol and brand like 'the Angel of the North' or the 'Eden Project' in Cornwall . But there are others, which have been short-listed by the East of England Development Association like the 'Fields of Vision', a landscape art installation using plant stems that generate sound and 'North Sea Train', a train covered in sand, which will tour Northern Europe via Scandinavia. In 1966 we would have been attracted by the idea but the funding would then never possibly have been made available. During that year we were especially fascinated by trains an amalgamation - if you like - of our railway background which had enmeshed with post Russian revolution agit-prop trains and the rinky-dink engines and coal trucks which plied the pit spoil heaps (see photo). None the less our train, apart from the illustrated model, remained a ghost train something that travelled in the imagination unlike this slick intercity/intercontinental business express with yards of avant-garde sandpaper and hype stuck to its carriages.



Finally, in 2008 we have been presented with the biggest monstrosity of all: the proposed 'Angel of the South' to be constructed on a chalk pit at Ebbsfleet, Kent marking Ashford's international railway station and heralding a major development of homes and commercial space on adjacent land. Throwing his hat in the ring and hoping to win the competition there is Turner prize winner Mark Wallinger, specialising in cloned subversion removing protest from its vital place in the streets in order to make a pretty penny. So what will the creep come up with: An enormous caterpillar?

A related avenue of enquiry suggests itself but which cannot be gone into in any depth here. And that is, how much slack does this sculptural mega engineering take up as regards an underemployed engineering trade, now that traditional engineering has been increasingly transferred to the new workshop of the world, China? Would we not be better off seeing this new art/engineering not in traditional manufacturing terms but as a high value added service industry, an 'ideas' economy trading in style and styling, image, brand and logo that has supplanted traditional manufacturing. And are not the contradictions of the 'invisible economy' most visible here with the construction workers fuming at the inequalities in pay, with the lions share going to the likes of Gormley etc. who merely dream up the shit in the first place, leaving it to others to get their hands dirty, constructing it. Far more skilled at publicity than in the use of materials, they invite comparison with the university trained engineers that arose to dominance in the 20th Century and who likewise rarely set foot in a workshop.



A few insights based on Wordsworth's 1810  Guide to the Lake District

Wordsworth, thankfully unable to escape his childhood and 'his baby dreams' remained stuck like glue in the life of the local people of the Cumbrian fells and being one of the first anti poet poets, revelled in the artless creativity of these people; of the 'silent poet' as he so beautifully put it, set in a landscape still largely cut-off from a burgeoning cash nexus and wage labour and where primitive forms of barter were the main medium of exchange. If Wordsworth saw poverty (he rightly condemned abject want) he tended to see it as the 'happy poverty' of a plain though richly fulfilled way of life. His insights and appreciation are thus enormously prescient, if put in the right light - maybe that 'celestial light' - of a possible world without money reaching for the stars. All that is then needed is for Wordsworth, his mission accomplished, to disappear along with the transcendence of the role of poet.

For Wordsworth the buildings dotted throughout the Lake District were an emanation of the life of the inhabitants where there was no such thing as style and where architectural criticism was a meaningless term as meaningless as literary criticism with both the poet and architect having no place in this society. Wordsworth saw the buildings of the Lake dwellers as an organic part of nature, affected and even augmented by its inhabitants. These lakes and inner valleys were also 'unadorned by any remains of ancient grandeur castles or monastic edifice. And to begin with the cottages' without any intrusion of more assuming buildings' which is then backed-up quoting with approval the Elizabethan poet, Edmund Spencer:

'In whose enclosed shadow there was pight

A fair pavilion, scarcely to be seen'

For in this environment in the late 18th and early 19th century, housing and outhouses 'are in many instances the colour of native rocks' rough cast and whitewash - and - being proprietor at liberty to follow their own fancy, so that these humble dwellings remind the contemplative spectator of a production of Nature and may (using a strong expression) rather be said to have grown than to be have been erected; - to have arisen by an instinct of their own out of the native rock - so little is there in them of formality, such is their wildness and beauty'.

The Chimneys: 'the singular beauty of the chimney' and of a  quadrangular shape rising one or two feet above the roof; which low square is often surmounted by a tall cylinder giving to the cottage chimney the most beautiful shape in which it is ever seen'.

The Buildings: made of rough unhewn slates -'so that both the coverings and sides of the houses have furnished places of rest for the seeds of lichens mosses ferns and flowers. Hence buildings which in their very form call to mind the processes of Nature do thus clothed in part with a vegetable garb appear to be received into the bosom of the living principle of things, as it acts and exists among the woods and fields'.combine these incidents and images together, and you have the representation the representative idea of a mountain cottage in this country so beautifully formed in itself and so richly adorned by the band of Nature.'

The Bridges: 'the great number of bridges' over the brooks and torrents connecting these cottages and 'the daring and graceful neglect of danger and accommodation' the rudeness of the forms of some and their endless variety'I must at the same time add that many of these structures are in themselves models of elegance as if they had been formed upon principles of the most thoughtful architecture' that happy instinct by which consummate beauty was produced are disappearing fast'.

Wordsworth then goes on to unfavourably compare the cottages and bridges with stately homes and the houses of middle rank as he descends from the mountain hillsides into the valleys emphasising the beginnings of horticulture in contrast with the previous descriptions of the cottage garden, especially the topiary 'those elaborate displays of pretty art' which cause one to smile 'while the house does not deign to look upon the natural beauty or the sublimity which its situation almost unavoidably commands'. This is then compared with 'the little garden with its shed for beehives, its small bed of pot-herbs and its borders of flowers for Sunday poesies' etc. At the head of these dales was found 'a perfect republic of shepherds and agriculturalists' - 'this pure commonwealth' which only by sleight and apparent ownership can be connected to the mighty empire beyond'. Having adverted to the feelings that justify the introduction of a few exotic plants, provided they be confined almost to the doors of the house, we may add that a transition should be contrived, without abruptness, from these foreigners to the rest of the shrubs which ought to be of the kinds scattered by nature through the woods - holly broom wild rose, elder, dogberry white and blackthorn etc either these only or such as are carefully selected in consequence of their being united in form and harmonising in colour with them, especially with respect to colour when the tints are most diversified as in autumn and spring.'

The Hatred of the Larch: Because it is 'for those who plant for profit'. Larch and fir plantations have been spread, merely with a view to profit, but in many instances for the sake of ornament' reminding you of the behaviour of the Forestry Commission even twenty years ago. None the less Wordsworth comes out with a beautiful description of  the larch's 'pink tassels in blossom'. 'The process by which she (nature) forms woods and forests is as follows; seeds are scattered indiscriminately by winds, brought by waters and dropped by birds' i.e. shat out. The seedling is sheltered by bramble or other prickly shrubs - a protective device of nature not chance ' nature as art and providential design. 'Let the images of nature be your guide and the whole secret lurks in a few words; thickets or underwoods ' single trees - tree clustered or in groups - groves - unbroken woods, but with varied masses of foliage, glades - invisible or winding boundaries' trees climbing up to the horizon and in some places - the whole body of the tree appearing to stand in the clear sky'.

The Walls and Pathways: Wordsworth was against 'the modern system of gardening which is now, I hope, on the decline' and which was so far from the truth. What comes across too is a dislike of garden walls something which Wordsworth was to abjure and even practise himself with the garden at the back of Dove Cottage in Grasmere disappearing without demarcation into the slope of the mountain'. Natural pathways as conducive to heightened emotion like that of speech (as in the 'Preface to the Lyrical Ballads') 'laying out grounds'.is to assist nature in moving the affections'.  Wordsworth objects to the relaying of pathways into 'manufactured walks' brushed neatly without a blade of grass or weed upon them, or anything that bore traces of a human footstep, more indeed of human hands but wear and tear of foot was none'. He remembers 'the most beautiful specimen of a forest footpath ever seen by human eyes this path winds with ' the subtlety of a spirit, contracting or enlarging itself, visible or invisible as it likes' and the fields are like a 'large piece of lawless patchwork'.

'That peaceful harmony of form and colour, which had been through a long lapse of ages most happily preserved'.. Objects that are divided from each other by strong lines of demarcation'. A new habit of pleasure will be formed arising out of the fine gradations by which in nature one thing passes into another and the boundaries that constitute individuality disappear ' the hill overgrown with self-planted wood.'

The New Settlers: The urbanization of the countryside: 'I mean a warping of the natural mind occasioned by the consciousness that this country being an object of general admiration every new house would be looked upon and commented on either for approbation or censure'. The craving for prospect also which is immoderate in new settlers' with their houses deliberately not organic but 'ornamental to the landscape.'

'The rule is simple; with respect to grounds - work, where you can in the spirit of Nature, with an invisible hand of art' Antiquity who may be styled the co-partner and sister of nature be not denied the respect to which she is entitled' Wordsworth laments: 'If the thirst for prospect were mitigated by those considerations of comfort shelter and convenience which used to be chiefly sought after.'

The Palladianism of mansion and estate which removed the village in the manner of Capability Brown plus an objection to the formal architectural style of the age and although Wordsworth doesn't deploy the then fashionable architectural term, you know what is meant. He even envisages houses the colour of iron ore and coal on the Cumbrian plain in the area where coal and iron ore was plentiful only to reject them' He does approve that 'the glare of whitewash has been subdued by time and enriched by weather-stains'. The builder of taste' (in the Lake District ) respecting the surrounding geological base utilising 'the pure blue gravel from the bed of the river' as a 'masonry rough cast to protect from the weather.' 'On the sides of bleak and desolate moors, we are indeed thankful for the sight of white cottages. I have certainly seen such buildings glittering in sunrise, and in wandering lights, with no common pleasure.'


Ominously Wordsworth ends with recognition of the collapse of domestic industry particularly weaving through manufacture. And also how farms become concentrated into fewer and fewer hands and the cottages knocked down as new mansions are built 'out of the ruins of the ancient cottages; whose little enclosures, with all the wild graces that grew out of them, disappears'.Wordsworth's final sentence looks towards a day when the Lake District will be nationalised and protected by something like a very enlightened National Trust which would eschew the primacy of money and business. Such is the man's naivety about the nation state. In this sense Wordsworth's heir truly was John Ruskin's enlightened despotism under a cabal of statist uber-intellectuals who understood what was best for the people and the general good answerable to nobody but themselves. On the other hand, that 'levelling muse' that was at the heart of Wordsworth's perceptions and counterposed to a Ruskin style elite couldn't see beyond the nation state to anything like a vision of an eco-oriented, wageless and moneyless peoples' collectivity the world over and which we have no choice but to search for now.

Here we have another problem. Most of the egomaniacs that make up the school of present day land artists would adore these sympathies and descriptions penned by Wordsworth so long ago; even perhaps desirous of some kind of re-vamped National Trust this time having real teeth. They could perhaps even add to Wordsworth's thoughts in a not entirely insensitive way which is why the present grotesque phase of capitalism needs the services of land artists so badly. Wordsworth had originally put these observations down responding to the fact that the Lake District was on the cusp of one of the first immanent suburbanite invasion that could destroy its character in a 'rash and ignorant assault' and he hoped the new colonisers would respect the ambience he had skilfully outlined, even perhaps listening to him. It was alas a forlorn hope and you cannot help but be pissed off with the guy's naivety if only because it's given rise ever since to so many well-intentioned individuals completely underestimating how brutal capitalism's expanded reproduction must be. Thus Richard Mabey's beguiling niceties - and so enjoyed by a woolly-minded anarchism when put on bookshelf display at eco-camps - is marked by a very eloquent English style, even somewhat Wordsworthian in tone, which perpetually baulks at hitting the nail on the head; a Mabey who in his youth had some of his articles reprinted in Rebel Worker that combative counterpart to Black Mask in New York in the late 1960s!

In the same manner the land artists admire what's there both in terms of natural features and what may have happened since in, for example, the decaying legacy of industrial features - for industrial sites once they also fall into ruin enter into an organic life of their own also becoming part of nature - but then they go one step further than the unwanted incomers into the Lake District during the Romantic era, tearing up what's there in order to impose their own crock of shit where a morphing different kind of beauty was evolving by itself alone. That's an imposition that Wordsworth would hardly have had the gall to even contemplate though in his poem on Yorkshire's Malham Cove he does suggest the awesome sheer limestone cliffs could be moulded into an amphitheatre and ironically, in this instance, prescient of what the land artists 200 years hence could have the technical means and dosh to outrageously impose. Wordsworth notes in The Guide that before his time, mountains and precipices never received any poetical accolade in the verse of Gray, Goldsmith or even more recently, Robbie Burns who, lamenting the thistle cut down by his plough, never really looked up from his work in the field to marvel at the splendid summit of Scafell just across the Solway Firth. (To this we would add Daniel Defoe who viewed with horror the bare-backed Yorkshire mountains of Ingleborough and Pen-y-ghent together with their inhabitants).

Today few take account of the beauties inherent in industrial dereliction an experience which should be brought into an expanded Kantian reinterpretation regarding the superiority of nature's terrain over that of art; a terrain whereby the evolving character of a formerly commodified object loses its original use value undergoing a natural redefinition preyed on by the natural world which also today picks up on the memory of a Duchampian ready made having lost the stifling mantle of the art gallery object or, indeed, art itself. Regarding industrial dereliction a further quote from Wordsworth is apposite: 'Let Nature be all in all, taking care that everything done by man shall be in the way of being adopted by her'.

For a brief moment, Icteric played with transforming the landscape - especially the landscape of dereliction - as individual artistic intervention only to definitively reject such a cul-de-sac as we encompassed the praxis of total social revolutionary upheaval and the artless 'silent' poetry made by all and not by one and going farther into this process than Wordsworth would ever dared envisage or could have contemplated at the time. Nonetheless we honour him for becoming one of the first to set out - and remain despite his overtures to conformity cultivating the more enlightened aristocracy as formal Poet Laureate in later life - on this 'unhewn' path.

As for unhewn paths, it wasn't just architecture without architects Wordsworth desired but buildings without builders, or rather, builders without style that went hand in glove with the architects' plan like those required by the neo-classical mansions and Georgian crescents of the time. In reality Wordsworth's sympathy was for the builder who wasn't a 'proper' builder as such, though knowing his structural onions and as practised in the Lake District, the peasant builder in tune and harmony with local nature who'd learned ways of doing and making things alongside husbandry of the land, the animals and haymaking. In its broad outlines this can still be a practical vision of the future now that ecological, and economic, collapse is immanent. We have only to think about the 'Hobbit' houses winkling their way into grounds of National Trust land and flouting the dry as dust and brutally stupid edicts of the planners and in many other temporary dwellings like the 'scratch cities' of the displaced inhabitants of floods and havoc which is likely to be the immediate future of our warmer and much wetter islands; of a flooded Robin Hood Inn in the vale of Wentbridge in South Yorkshire in the summer of 2007 giving off a new inflection to the emancipatory myth of the 'merry men' as temporary lakes stretched far away to the horizon surrounding the decaying industrial infrastructure around a once vibrant Doncaster.

Not forgetting the delight of Derek Jarman's dispersed garden around Prospect Cottage on the shingle beach of Dungeness where found objects - seafarers chains and the like - are semi-disguised with a mass of indigenous sea plants and the only work of merit Jarman ever did. Rather better too than Asger Jorn's seemingly natural Jardin D'Albisola cluttered and ruined by the many rubbishy artistic objects of his own making he placed there and the sad but lucrative backdrop to the guy's superb early theorising. Interestingly too in Wordsworth's Guide mention is made of a garden in Lord Lowther's grounds near Penrith whereby the wild garden had been punctuated by a clued-in gardener 'in twining pathways along the banks of the river, making little cells and bowers with inscriptions of his own writings' which, in retrospect you cannot help but compare and see as something of a precursor of the piece of municipal hillside in Scotland Ian Hamilton Findlay was to turn into a concrete poetry affair nearly two centuries later. However, because the latter's effort quickly became an art event and thus intensively capitalised as artistic real estate, it doesn't point the way to the eco-emancipation of those buildings and their surrounds that might be put in place if humanity is to have a future.

Wordsworth's contribution to the original Guide was initially published anonymously harking back a few years to the original anonymity of the Lyrical Ballads, and an anonymity suggestive of the silent, no profile creativity of the people once they are allowed to be so and an act which never needs to be named. And yet A Guide to the Lake District was the first (and best) tourist brochure ever produced written at the moment when the tourist industry wasn't even a ghost on the horizon merely a gleam in the eyes of the rich. Now that the horror story which is contemporary mass, democratised tourism reveals its brutal characteristics culpable of assisting in the final plundering of the planet's sentient life, Wordsworth's perceptions have poignancy together with a deadly sting in the tale. No longer is environmental sensitivity at the heart of the matter even in the promotion of eco-tourism, rather it is the total packaged deal where travel is enervation with Easy Jet catering for the billions of people themselves 'prisoners of a flattened universe'. Better to refuse most travel if at all possible. Better to look under the stones merely a few feet away from you and from there the last hopes of a new world might spring. Even perhaps as Wordsworth put it: 'We have too much hurrying about in these islands, much for idle pleasure and more from our activity in the pursuit of wealth'. Moreover, even in this early moment of environmental devastation in the first decades of the 19th century, there are times when Wordsworth calls for something of an ecological apocalypse or, at least, the revenge of nature against technological cum industrial/urban assault.

'Weighing the mischief with the promised gain

Mountains, and Vales, and Floods, I call on you

To share the passion of just disdain'

Wordsworth emphasised the perceptions inherent in the activity of the walking traveller and in this he was right. We have no choice but to more or less return to this. When Wordsworth revisited the Simplon pass in the Alps in the 1840s after many years absence he fulminates against the new military road (predecessor of the traffic packed super highway in place today) having displaced 'the old muleteer track with its primitive simplicities' which had so inspired him in his youth above which rose steep-sided: 'woods decaying, never to be decayed' and 'the black drizzling crags that spake' knowing they were overwhelming him sensing too they were bringing about the disintegration of all literature as the heightened presence of nature was breaking through all formal artistic representation including that of painting, music and sculpture though without Wordsworth having the concepts in his head to clearly grasp this. Nevertheless, his remarks in Appendix 11: the Kendal and Windermere Railway written in December 1844 for a local newspaper are remarkable when outlining his objections to speed and development containing lines worthy of a more contemporary situationist denunciation in the manner perhaps of the Encyclopaedia des Nuisances intelligent diatribe against the TGV super train or indeed some well chosen words by Rene Riesel.... 'and instead of travellers proceeding with leisure to observe and feel, mere pilgrims of fashion hurried along in their carriages, not a few of them perhaps discussing the merits of 'the last new Novel' or poring over their Guide-books, or fast asleep' a process whereby: 'Art interfered with and takes the lead of Nature' meaning, takes the lead over nature and thus a step backwards.

In BM Blob's 'A Summer with a Thousand Julys' there's a montaged comment on the riot which hit Keswick when 1,000 motorcyclists went on the rampage during the glorious uprisings of 1981. Underneath a photo of a steep rising mountain side, Lewis Carroll's 'Upon the Lonely Moor' - a parody of Wordsworth's romantic nature poems - is quoted:

'His accents mild took up the tale,

He said, 'I go my ways,

And when I find a mountain-rill,

I set it in a blaze'

This was just the kind of contradictory clash and frisson that we had been mulling over quietly, and not so quietly, for many a year. In the days of King Mob in the late 1960s a number of us suggested - as is well known - a blowing up of Wordsworth. Back then we didn't have sufficient all-rounded knowledge to put the case in a clearer manner helping unblock retarded, half-baked notions, freeing Wordsworth from the legions of boring, usually academic Eng Lit types with a set in aspic notion of poetry. Here we attempt to restore such a deficit. How about for starters somebody sawing a leg off that giant table and chair on Hampstead Heath?

Some Thoughts: 2006-8. D and S Wise


For further recent commentary related to the above read the following in the "Wreckage & bric-a-brac" series:

  A Hidden History of King Mob (Posters/Cartoons)

  A Critical Hidden History of King Mob

 On Georges Bataille:

 On Bryan Ferry: "Ferry Across The Tyne"

 On Ralph Rumney: Hidden Connections, Ruminations and Rambling Parentheses

 Alex Trocchi's Hour Upon the Stage

 BM BIS, BM BLOB, Riot and Post-Modernist Recuperation

  Comparisons: From Mass Observation to King Mob

  A Drift on Germaine Greer, Feminism and Modern-Day Shameless Ranterism

 For Vicki: On What Happened at Selfridges in 1968

 Nietzsche, Revolutionary Subversion and the Contemporary Attack on Music

 New Introduction for a Spanish Book on Black Mask & the Motherfuckers

 New Introduction to Spanish King Mob

 Lost Ones Around King Mob

 Land Art, Icteric and William Wordsworth

  King Mob: Icteric & the Newcastle Experience from the early to late 1960s

 New Afterword to The End of Music for La Felguera in Spain

 THE ORIGINAL: The End of Music (1978)