Scary monsters and super freaks spy post-Brexit Britain

When Brexit broke the noise-as-news creators went into, 24-7 rolling, overdrive. Breathless talking heads discussed the caustic contents of Pandora’s box, now writ large – while none of them acknowledged the old elephants still in the room. The idiots had officially taken over the asylum, scary monsters and super freaks were limbering up, and the medicine show swindlers were spewing hokum centre stage. Of course this, and much more to come, was inevitable. After all, it was Year of the Monkey…

We often reach for words to make sense of confusing circumstances, especially when the context has been created and/or covered up by maddening media ‘coverage’. It’s all too easy to slip down a rabbit hole, churn mixed metaphors, and end up with nonsense. Besides, I have never been one to just add to the noise.

So here’s a signpost to a well trodden path – one that lets you follow in the footsteps of those who have gone before and left a trail of ideas, visions, words

PJ Harvey reads Milton in AmsterdamArtists (especially rock and pop stars) reading poetry on stage is the kind of contrivance I usually despise. All too easily it slips into a risible massaging of a performer’s swollen ego. Yet the timing and tone of PJ Harvey, pausing a gig in Amsterdam, to publicly voice a few lines by John Donne felt right. She was reacting to Brexit but, of course, words have their own wonderful power to drift off in people’s minds…

Harvey’s choice of reading had other resonance for me, swirling my mind back through countless hideous images of migrants and/or asylum seekers seafaring, swimming, struggling, surviving, dying, to reach the islands of Europe, including the UK.

Brian Eno Reads The Scream for Make Apartheid HistoryThis called to mind Brian Eno’s reading, linked right, that he gave a decade before now on behalf of Make Apartheid History. Eno’s chosen poem is by Mahmoud Darwish and, for me, it is not perhaps that distant from Donne – despite the centuries or differing religious reigns or cultural context.

Eno’s reading conjured up a final memory, of Mick Jagger grieving the unexpected death of Stones’ guitarist Brian Jones. In the clip linked below, Jagger settles the crowd for about a minute before reciting some lines from the poem Adonais by the masterful, and often misunderstood, poet Shelley.

Mick Jagger reading Adonais by Shelley for Brian JonesAdonais is a lengthy read as a poem – maybe more so today given the endless carousel of screen swipes and soundbites and spurious stories. But while scary monsters and super freaks see who can shout the loudest in post-Brexit Britain, I find solace in reading Shelley and happily borrow his closing couplet:

The soul of Adonais, like a star,
Beacons from the abode where the Eternal are.

 


 

 

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