… an empty tomb.

We’re brought up to believe that the Holocaust was unique, industrialised genocide was invented by the Nazis.

Reading a fascinating, sobering, infuriating, terrifying book by Sven Lindqvist, The Dead Do Not Die, and it’s bleeding into my dreams.

On 2 September 1898, Kitchener’s army of 8000 regulars used Maxim guns, Dum Dum bullets and 12 gunboats to mow down 12000 Mahdist forces in a few hours and secure the Sudan from the French.
The British lost 47 men and the enemy never came closer than 50 meters to their lines. He then ordered the wounded and captives be murdered and around 18000 were duly killed. Even young Winston Churchill blenched at that.

Hitler studied the British and Americans avidly in prison in the 20’s: white supremacy, eugenics and genocide. This is who we are. He was a good student and took our own brutal cultures to new heights.
Perhaps we need something more thorough-going than a commission on statues or whatever. And I’m not sure we really need any more … of anyone.
We need to start to de-colonialise, de-imperialise our culture, our institutions and our society in the same way Germany has striven to inoculate itself from totalitarianism and look its own history in the face.

I’m not sure we need “Black History”, but we do need history. And if it focuses on Britain then it needs to be looking at what we really did.
Our actions, in the past and still today, look monstrously different from the other side in Australia, North America, China, Africa, India, Iraq, the list is almost endless … everywhere we plundered to build our better world.
We need the Truth before there can be any Reconciliation.

Oh and by the way: Happy Golowon! Late night, early rise! Happy Solstice!



Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!

The Gate Keepers

Imperial Gate Keepers
Imperial Gate Keepers

The police here, as much as in the US, strut and strike as a pumped-up, psyched-up occupying force, cuffing and humiliating, electrocuting and bullying and terrorising neighbourhoods where “nice” people don’t live and the “nice” people see them as their personal security service and they do this to enforce the boundaries, the differences, the variable opportunities, the access and freedoms that our system grants to the families of those who are already in charge, or those who service them.

Our democracy, institutions of power and privilege, our systems of access are not policed in the same way, here or in the US. Nice people, nicely spoken, nicely dressed, liberal, highly educated people sit in quiet studies and say 3 powerful words: Black Lives Matter. Well, they did this week.

And they say: It’s just that … I’m sorry but … very high calibre … unfortunately this time … a difficult decision … the right fit … you must understand … 3 powerful words.

They blight lives, exclude and act as gate keepers to defend their own supremacy.

Admissions tutors, arts administrators, hiring committees, social workers, teachers, bankers and civil servants.

To paraphrase Roy Batty: I’ve seen (and heard) things you people wouldn’t believe.

Cool shoes, smart casual, herbal teas … they do the same job. They don’t see themselves that way but they are the thug police.

They are defending Rhodes’ statue at Oriel College in Oxford … It’s been four years but now: Rhodes Must Fall.

And it must be the start of a new conversation and not the end.

The Overseer

the overseer
The Overseer

What do you say?

I’ve deleted so many lines … so many arguments and facts and figures, references to books, articles, people and stories.

We circle back, round and round.

We need to read, listen, talk, argue, build, learn and change, make alliances and friends … and we do. And we circle back, round and around. We say their names and they are taken by the wind.

And we circle back again.

So the answer is not nothing. I’m just going to work. From the inside out. Images are just as fraught as words. But it’s what I do.

George Floyd

George Floyd
George Floyd

Drowning in the delirious beauty of Julius Eastman’s Femenine, I thought that so much has happened since 1974, when the music was written, and so little has changed.

We sanctify posthumously and then get on with our lives and they don’t.

Those handlers could just as easily be taking him down from the wall with all their intensity of care, to make room for the next face, to add him to the stack of portraits facing the wall, on a loop like Eastman’s music.