When A Postgrad Sits Down To Think


She wanted to be interviewed about her writing. She wanted the interviewer to ask about her intentions, what was the purpose of her work? She wanted to reply that her work was an exercise in narcissism. She wanted to be told that her writing was the love child of Lena Dunham and Kurt Vonnegut. She would be secretly happy but would respond saying she didn’t appreciate being reduced by a clique literary device. She wanted to be called an anarchist. She would refute it. She wanted to be mistakenly called a vegan. She wouldn’t correct them. She wanted to say aloofly with a blank expression that she didn’t need time magazine. She would then say Bob Dylan was overrated.

She would often think about interviews and how she would respond to certain questions. She had many answers pre prepared in her head. She was sure that one-day people would want to ask her these questions so she needed to be prepared. She thought about being asked why she turned toward writing and away from painting. She planned to say that she loved making art in the visual sense, be it drawing, painting, whatever but that the art world repulsed her and thus she began to gravitate towards writing. She liked the word thus; however though it might come across as wanky so questioned whether to use it.

She dreamt about whiling away her days drinking wine and writing important work. She bought into romantic notions of what a writer does, however often wondered if she was to well adjusted to be one. She loved her parents, was happy most of the time and didn’t appear to suffer from any sort of chemical imbalance. To comfort herself she planned to write an essay on the topic. It would be direct and strong. She would state that she liked Bukowski as much as the next person but that the notion of an artist needing to be troubled was romantic bullshit. She intended to use exclamation marks. She planned on pretending that she didn’t enjoy Nan Goldin photographs because she found no beauty in poverty. She would pretend that reading I Dreamed I Was A Very Clean Tramp didn’t fill her with envy. These were all lies but she needed to prove that a middle class suburban kid could still be an artist.

She intended to romanticize her unwillingness to pay for train tickets in a short story. She would state that she had an unrelenting desire for rebellion but as a middle class suburban kid who loved her parents didn’t have much to rebel against. She would state that as a result she found rebellion in the only place she could, the public transport system. Her act of civil disobedience was not paying for the train. She intended to write of her strategy. She always sat in the front carriage facing backwards so she could see if any ticket inspectors were walking up the train. She also sat by the window so she could see if any ticket inspectors were about to board. She would talk about nervously awaiting her desired station. If the trains were someday to become free she would be sad. She would have nothing to rebel against. She was like the professional protester secretly hoping the war wouldn’t end. She hoped people would find this act noble however assumed that they wouldn’t.

She thought about how books needed to be short because people have no patience. No one has the time for Gravity’s Rainbow anymore. It’s all about the instantaneous. She was beginning to think that she should stop trying to write a book and instead write a script for a short film. Even then it would have to be a really short film if she had any hope of getting people to actually sit down and watch it. They would probably be checking their instagrams at the 3-minute mark. She worried about this. She thought, ‘I can’t write a book: no one will read it. I cant direct a short film; no one will watch it. Maybe I need to tie them all to chairs and just lecture them for a few hours’. She had written part of the lecture by this stage and it goes as follows:

“I went to the Bauhaus archives the other day. Modernist notions of a Utopia are beyond exciting even when you know they have failed. Postmodernism used to be something I believed in but I am starting to think it has done nothing but create a generation of apathetic narcissists. Maybe nothing is original, maybe everything is mediated. Maybe there is no such thing as truth, however once we accept that there is no such thing as truth we are in fact accepting that as a truth. We are accepting that we can achieve and do nothing of importance. If we accept postmodernism we accept mediocrity. We accept futility. We accept boredom. Maybe we should go back to naïve ideas about changing the world. Art can’t change the world? Of course it cant. The world is disjointed. One world is bullshit. Cosmopolitanism is just for bleeding hearts that are out of touch, possibly even elitist. Maybe I believe all that but I’m beginning to think I don’t want to. I want to write a manifesto. I want to proclaim that my art will fix the world. I want to go back to modernist notions of the utopia. Postmodernism is nothing more than nihilism. Lets start a new Bauhaus. Lets change the fucking world!”

What she wouldn’t include in her lecture was that she wasn’t sure she could be bothered trying to change the world. She talked the talk but follow though wasn’t overly important to her.

She wished that lip-syncing were seen as a legitimate artistic discipline. She felt that the way she delivered The Magnetic Fields Strange Powers was something quite unique. Something she could do on stage in front of people but she didn’t think anyone would come. No one wants to watch a girl lip-syncing Steven Merritt songs of a dark stage. She had accepted that fact.

She thought about creating a blog. She had the first blog post nailed already. It goes as follows:

“We have become so cripplingly self aware that any form of expression is halted out of a fear of being labeled one way or the other. Our desire for pluralism and post this post that has resulted in us not saying anything, ever. We instead try desperately to act as thought we don’t care. The pursuit of shallow hedonism is more appealing I suppose. I want to write but about what? I am not a feminist, not a libertarian, not a fiction writer. I will instead trawl though my newsfeed. Writing is to modernist anyway.”

She thought about it some more and decided blogs were lame. So she didn’t do it.

She did however follow through with her desire to write a manifesto. She wasn’t sure how good it was but she felt it would suffice for now. It goes as follows:

“A real artist lacks the pretention often associated with that field. Patti Smith is a real artist. Seeing her makes her both more human and more god like. How am I to live a normal life now, I’ve seen jesus.

I have become disillusioned with politics. Politics isn’t about political theory; it isn’t about utopian concepts of right and wrong. It is about power and winning. One might suggest this is obvious but I was naïve. I thought one could still affect the world in a meaningful manner though the cannon of conventional politics. I am now not so naïve. Instead I look to Patti. Listening to Patti, reading Patti, thinking about Patti fills me with more hope and inspiration than anything else. Artists can affect more meaningful change than politicians. They affect the individual and the individual affects the collective.

Keysjankovsky is the name of my collective. We talk of revolution. We talk of creating the utopia but we cant. We are to disillusioned. Information falls and hits us constantly but nothing comes of it. More comes when I listen to Pissing in a River. The world is shown to me through Patti and not through the newspaper.  Artists are the true creators of change. Art affects, politics doesn’t. So this is my manifesto. I reject the parliament, I reject the newspaper, and I reject the political journals. I reject the Labor Party and I reject the Greens. I reject them all because they are boring. Pissing in a River is not boring. Patti said they own everything don’t let them own your fucking voice. They did own my voice, owned it through my apathy, through my feeling small. Patti makes me feel large. So I write for Patti and not for them.

I write for Sandra Routh my high school art teacher who inspired me more. I write for Lena Dunham whose television show creates more meaningful debate than the presidential election. I write for Kurt Vonnegut and Tracey Emin. I want to write for Woody Allen but am conflicted. I write for Christopher Hitchens, I don’t write for Richard Dawkins. I write for Joni Mitchel and I write for Basquiat. I write for Thomas Lanigan Schmit and I write for Joy Hester. I write for Billie Holiday. I write for them and not those that run the world. Those who run the world alienate and make me not want to write, make me not care, and make me want the mundane and the square. So I reject them and instead join the church of Patti Smith”.

Her manifesto was complete but she didn’t want anyone to see it. She worried that it was drivel and uninspired. She worried that people might see through the smoke and mirrors of her pseudo intellectual self. At the same time she was sure that she would be famous one day, famous for her words. Maybe it was this ridiculous sense of self-assurance that inspired her lack up gusto. She was ambitious but lazy.

She knew that her conclusions had been made before but still felt a sense of radicalness. This obvious paradox made her wonder if she had been brainwashed by her liberal education. When in Berlin she noticed things like the word oriental and the existence of ‘afro shops’. She felt offended by this but the patrons of the shops didn’t appear to feel the same. A man with a long beard and a Jamaican hat sat out the front of one of these stores and the clique made her uncomfortable. She wondered what this meant about her way of thinking. She was yet to overcome this confusion. She also wondered if she actually learnt anything at university or whether her classes simply helped her to intellectualize what she instinctively already believed. Again she was unsure.

This was common of her thinking, whilst outwardly she seemed sure almost to a point of fault, she wasn’t. I don’t know was the answer to almost every question she could be asked. The only question she could answer with total assurance was who is the most beautiful man to ever live? To that she would say Paul Newman. Assurance on this particular issue however wasn’t of much practical use.