Monday, December 31, 2018

About Bandersnatch

I have just watched Bandersnatch, the interactive offering from the behemoth that is Black Mirror. At least I think I have.

If you didn’t know, Bandersnatch aims to subvert the vanilla TV-watching experience with the illusion/delusion of choice that runs through video games, and before that, those adventure books that allowed readers to turn to different pages according to what twist they wanted the narrative to follow next. So I made a character kill or not kill, jump or not jump, pour tea on a computer or not, choose the Thompson Twins or Frosties or anti-depressants.

My question is, how many times do I have to watch Bandersnatch, and in how many different permutations of breakfast cereal, before I’m allowed to say that I’ve *seen* it, in the way I’ve (or not seen), say, the latest Star Wars movie?

Frumious, huh?

Friday, December 28, 2018

About comments

I was wondering whether to write about the Anni Albers show at Tate Modern but, as is so often the case, it’s more fun to write about what other people have written. For example this, left on the comments board (in the gift shop, naturally).


Some thoughts:

1. What exactly is the objection to taking photographs in an exhibition? I can see there may be copyright issues, and it might have an impact on, say, postcard sales, but surely that’s a problem for the gallery, not a visitor. It’s not as if people are lugging around tripods and flash guns; someone taking a photo of a picture with a phone is no more intrusive than someone simply looking. It is pretty much impossible these days to market any kind of arts event without using social media (there was a notice up asking us to use the hashtag #AnniAlbers) so exhibitors should be seeking to embrace the form; last year’s Selfie to Self-Expression show at the Saatchi being a case in point.

2. If, for some reason, you object to being in proximity to people taking photos, I can’t imagine that counting them does much to soothe your troubled soul. It’s almost as if you want to be offended, and somehow need to quantify your degree of offence.

3. Oh dear. Those exclamation marks. Really.

PS: Vaguely related: A cheerful update to the Monkey Christ fiasco.

Monday, December 24, 2018

About drones

There I was, wondering whether to write something about the Gatwick drone, but it looks as if I don’t need to.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

About intellectuals

New definition of an intellectual: one who devotes much time and energy to an online argument over whether Eyes Wide Shut is a Christmas movie.

Monday, December 17, 2018

About The Damned

I wrote several months ago about the fuzzy line between art and graffiti, and which of them carries within it more value and/or credibility. I suggested that the gradual eradication of an image of Croydon punk pioneers The Damned is strangely appropriate to the movement’s aesthetic. Now I’ve found a tweet by the original artist who seems to view the process with a sort of shrugging fatalism, but crucially he regards his own work not as “graffiti” but as a “cartoon”, which – I infer – is considered to be somehow better.


March this year:


A few days ago:


Thursday, December 13, 2018

About Foucault

Found, on the cover of a Foucault collection in the Birkbeck library, the Steven Campbell painting A Life in Letters: Idealized Portrait of the Wig’d Foucault. So idealized, in fact, (not to mention wig’d) that it looks totally unlike the polo-necked author of Discipline and Punish; if anything, more like the Daddy of Deconstruction Jacques Derrida.

What can it all mean? 

[Strokes chin.]


Wednesday, December 12, 2018

About funny

A comedian intending to perform at a benefit gig at SOAS has been asked to sign a behavioural agreement form that commits him to abjuring “racism, sexism, classism, ageism, ableism, homophobia, biphobia, transphobia, xenophobia, Islamophobia or anti-religion or anti-atheism”. This is [adopts Fotherington-Tomas voice] “to ensure an environment where joy, love and acceptance are reciprocated by all.”

Wouldn’t the only permissible funny thing left be to go on stage and read out that form? 


PS: It sounds as if that’s what he did...



Monday, December 10, 2018

About Shakespeare

The new Kenneth Branagh movie All is True is described in its IMDB entry as “A look at the final days in the life of renowned playwright William Shakespeare.” Now, leaving aside for a second my own longstanding-to-the-point-of-tiresomeness advice to writers to steer clear of words such as “renowned” or “famous” (because if they’re true they’re not necessary and if they’re necessary they’re not true), I have to ask why anyone who didn’t know who William Shakespeare was or what he did for a living would want to go and see a film about William Shakespeare.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

About old-school blogging

This will only mean something to those few of you who used to hang around here in the glory days of blogging when it was a thing but the blessed Patroclus is BACK!!!

(Unfortunately, it’s about bloody Brexit, but hey, whatever.)

About Sissy Spacek

An excellent overview by Ryan Gilbey of Sissy Spacek’s career, including the delicious description of her stance as she wields her telekinetic powers, “like a mix of kabuki and voguing”. I reckon he’s had that in his back pocket for years, waiting for just the right moment.

Thursday, December 06, 2018

About EXP Edition

I’ll shortly need to commit to a subject for my MA dissertation, but I may as well give up now because the best one’s already been taken – the student at Columbia whose master’s dissertation was the creation of a K-Pop band.

Tuesday, December 04, 2018

About Tumblr

I was alerted by my venerable friend Barnaby Edwards to the fact that the image-sharing site Tumblr is attempting rid itself of “adult content”. And, unsurprisingly, nobody seems to know what that means. Tumblr reassures us that “artistic, educational, newsworthy, or political content featuring nudity are fine” but the results don’t seem to bear that out.

So, I tested it out, with a pop-up Tumblr of my own. And apparently these images are “adult”:




Whereas these are... well, whatever the opposite of adult may be. Childish? In any case, Tumblr appears to see no ill in them, not even the one of a severed head. Which is surely worse than bosoms and willies, isn’t it?




PS: There were rumours that a lot of the censorship betrayed an element of anti-gay bias, so I posted this as well, but nobody complained, so that’s OK then.


PPS: But then they blocked this:


PPPS: And because you’re all desperate to know, they’ve passed everything except the Courbet and the Michelangelo.