virtual lobotomy – essay

Last night I had a virtual lobotomy. I didn’t feel it happen, wasn’t even aware of it, until I saw the gaping hole. No blood, no entrails, no scalpel. Now I am an artist without organs, with a wiped hard drive. A victim of intellectual rape, yet the rapist does not realise the pain I feel, how empty and numb.

They plundered and removed my most tender thoughts, my writings, pourings, plans and dreams. Ideas all gone at the flick of a switch, the pulling of a power cable, with only a trace of them in my memory. 2 years work, 15 gigabytes of edited video, millions of words, days and days of meticulous editing, gone. Not only has my CV disappeared, my recent life has been annulled.

Update CV

Enter:

Friday 20th July 2000

employment: none

examples of previous works: none – resources lost

proposals for new work: none – resources lost

I return to ‘body’ in this text, my body – numb, in shock, despair. In less than half an hour in the night  – all meaning erased. Work unmade and returned to its ethereal state, to hardware with financial value to someone, emotional value to no one but myself. Wipe the drive, erase my contents placed so regularly in its memory, profit from my loss. Someone should.

It’s only a computer, a hard disk, and a repository. An archive of a life of no importance. Like the ‘History of Art’ book I cut up – the feeling of sacrilege as I cut through the pages and removed them to insert my hi-tech LED display. I felt that sense of outrage, the deliberate defiling of a beautiful object, historical images, merely ink on paper but so loaded with meaning. Pixels were my ink spots, video frames my pages. Vengeance of the cruellest kind.

*sigh*

Ok, so I deserved it. Now I feel like that book, my spine is weakened, my interior a space of no substance. I no longer make any sense of myself, turn my pages only to find blanks, holes in my memory, materiality dissolved. My limbs feel reduced, shortened as if I have had a prosthesis removed after a long period of acclimatisation. I will get a new extension, but will have to learn all over again how to use it, to make it comfortable to be with. But I will never regain those feelings I experienced with the last one, the nerve endings have been cauterised. New nerves will grow, maybe even stronger than the first. I hope so.

The empty desk remains, my centre of existence, the nucleus of my days (and nights), stolen while I slept, remaining only in my dreams. Recorder of my ideas removed, in someone else’s hands. What will it film from now on? Happy family outings, lively sexual interactions, holiday memories? What will be seen through the viewfinder next?

Response to the film: Sounds from Beneath by Mikhail Karikis & Uriel Orlow – essay

(This piece was written as an exercise on a course at Arvon.)

Twelve years before the miner’s strikes I was a teenager in D.H. Lawrence land. Pit villages went to battle against each other on Friday nights in the town centre. We gathered – the greasers from Calverton pit on one side of the street – the skinheads from Cotgrave pit on the other. Bottles, threats and punches were thrown, blood pooled on pavements. Girls and sirens screamed when the police arrived.

I chatted to Rob from Cotgrave, then crossed the road to talk to Mick, from Calverton.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

So neither side accepted me, or attacked me.

Two years later I lived in Belfast during the later years of the troubles. I had many friends, both Catholics and Protestants.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

So neither side accepted me, or attacked me.

My second child was born in the winter of discontent in 1984.

My sister chanted Thatcher Thatcher milk snatcher.

My parents were Tories.

They asked me whose side I was on – I said nothing.

I watched, listened and learned. This government has rekindled a flame in my heart from the dying coals. I see the welfare state being dismantled brick by brick and I am angry. Coalfields turned into leisure parks, fields into shopping malls.

Whose side are you on?

Neither

They are all the same – grey men in grey suits with black hearts, stained with coal dust. I join the choir of discontent and raise my voice with passion, I howl with fury.