The 7th State
We did indeed go to see Nirvana Live At Reading in 1992 and we somehow found ourselves at The Institute of Light on London Fields which, because East London, may or may not be situated inside a collection of shipping containers. The show itself was…bittersweet. It was great because Nirvana were great, the Reading set is renowned for being a seminal performance but it was more of a sitting down affair than I personally had hoped for.
Perhaps there is an experience in which you are able to thrash repeatedly in your your skin, pushed up against a railing while emptying out your lungs to ‘Territorial Pissings’. This was not that but it was great. The screen was large, really large and very fucking close indeed, the audio they captured is incredible and we had the warmest, most deliberately mysterious beer, served with sass in plastic cups. I may even have gone as far at one point to beg the Lady Ess for her backpack while we were queuing, just so I could properly simulate the Reading experience. It was, by all accounts a semi 4D experience. Ultimately though, we wished we could have been there, with them, live at Reading in 1992. Should the current standard model of physics be believed, then that’s not gonna happen any time soon and this could be as close as we’ll ever get. Like I said, it was bittersweet and I would go again. Great bar too with suitably un-festival like cocktails and they have vinyl there so, you know, the going again is a fairly certain thing.
‘Seventh Heaven’ is a tiny little book of poems by HRH Patti Smith, put out by Telegraph Books in 1972. It strikes me as an ineffably intimate little thing and even the boring page has Patti’s tone all over it, acknowledging that ‘some of this stuff has been printed in creem, rolling stone, craw daddy, metropolitan review, dog news and crime digest.’ I feel like she started making them up at some point. The Robert Maplethorpe mention is touching to the extreme, as is the note that fifty copies were signed and numbered by Smith herself. This is not one of those but it is a first edition and I am very much enamoured. ‘Dog Dream’ is my new favourite thing about Dylan and it’s not even about Dylan. It’s about his dog. Apparently, these used to go for a dollar or ten shillings in the UK. It’s…more than that now but I honestly have no idea where it came from and you can’t prove otherwise.
‘Black Mirror’, The Fifth of It’s Name only has three episodes (for now) but I think it might be my favourite season yet. I don’t feel like it goes batshit cray cray, as we have experienced at prior banquets but it does boast incredible character development in a respectably condensed format and that is to be lauded. The truly chilling aspect must be that much of the tech that Charlie Brooker is playing with exists now? Virtual reality, social media, rudimentary AI, interpretive brain scans…yep, that’s all pretty much here, in this world, in some form or another. I’ve always said that science fiction is special because it isn’t really about the space ships or transporters or your alien friend called Marklth; it’s about humanity. It is the relief into which we might throw, write and study our own natures that, quite often to our detriment - although there are certainly diamonds in the rough - remain largely unchanged over time. We can be greedy, vicious, odd little creatures at times, yes but we also have the capacity for compassion, empathy and above all else, love. This season of Black Mirror is exactly that. In it, we see ourselves reflected and it does not always make for a comfortable experience. This discomfort could stem from the fact that the science on show here is only barely fiction and we are this close to our ugliest selves.
I spoke with The Russian about this very aspect and she decried my premise all together. “This isn’t science fiction though, is it?” I was somewhat at a loss. Her argument, ultimately, is that she does not dig “that science fiction shit” and so ‘Black Mirror’ cannot, must not be science fiction because she likes it. I argued, evangelically that the show absolutely falls into that deep, dark pool of stars and also that self descovery is a wonderful thing, yet I found myself wondering at what point she would be right and I would be wrong and if I wasn’t already.
Historically, that has been the case.
JD - TACOCAT
[Props to The Institute Of Light for their photos & noise - we’ll be back for sure.]