Wednesday, February 13, 2013

A Ramble around KLF: Chaos Magic Music Money by JMR Higgs

A book with this title was always going to grab my attention and excite me. And it rather brilliantly didn't disappoint. I've done a rave review of it here on amazon. (Don't forget to 'like' my review if you feel like giving my ego a little tickle).

So, yeah. Read it.

But this is a ramble. Not a review. So let's start where we know we're going to end up with anything that mentions the M word (Money rather than Magic or Music). Money and currency. The literal truth is always a handy tool when thinking about Money. What actually happened on the Isle of Jura on the 23rd August 1994 was that the KLF burnt £1m of currency. Appreciating this, obviously opens up a question about the relationship between and meanings of Money and currency (something which regular readers to my blog know I go on about a lot).

Of course, the debt issued by the Bank of England and represented on those burnt notes still exists on their books. The KLF has destroyed its claim (or custodianship) on Money that the currency represented, but John's (JMR Higgs) conclusion (if that's not too strong a word) about the KLF destroying money is incorrect.

That's not to say of course that the burning did not have huge significance. In this post I describe it as the greatest artistic statement of the C20th. I've sometimes shied away from this statement. I've felt a little embarrassed that I made it. After all, there was a lot art created in the C20th. But John's book has renewed my confidence in what I've said. After doing my own money burning and thinking about Money I've come to believe that what the KLF did was - and Money burning in general is - an act of 'pure forgiveness'. (This is literally true in a strictly economic sense)

I've discussed this idea before on here, of course, most recently in relation to Derrida's statements about forgiveness; the idea that pure forgiveness is impossible.

John recognises this aspect of the Money burning. He talks about Drummond and Cauty wanting to get their souls back from the devil - burning the profits gained from the Music Industry being the price to be paid. And also in the recurrent theme of doing the impossible. To Derrida's post modern view pure forgiveness was an impossibility - this had particular significance because it was an idea he applied to the post-apartheid reconciliation in South Africa. Forgiveness becomes almost a type of exchange.

(One could argue that getting your soul back from the devil is an exchange, thus making the idea of pure forgiveness invalid).

I suppose at a push, if my life depended on it, my claim would be that the KLF in burning a million quid performed the largest single act closest to the idea of pure forgiveness in the C20th. This is significant. You know, forgiveness has history. Jesus dying and all that. It resonates.

Anyway, that's about as much a ramble as I wanted to take. There's a lot more to see. Jung, Discordianism, synchronicity  23, magical thinking, mind and matter, Robert Plant as a Golden God (who undoubtedly cums gold). But it'd be real easy to get lost amongst that lot.

I'll just tell you my own little story.

My own tangential link to a small part of this story came in 2006. I knew I was going bust after the sex site failed. To earn enough money to feed the kids I'd been doing odd driving/tour managing jobs. But this was not going to save me. I needed a deal and a lot of luck if we weren't going to lose the house.

One of the jobs I had the previous summer (2005) was with Alex Paterson (from The Orb, which Paterson formed with Cauty in 1988). He was working on a project called The Transit Kings with which Cauty was also involved. I was lucky enough to take him and a bunch of folks, although not including Cauty down to the Big Chill Festival where they were performing this brilliant track The Last Lighthouse Keeper. I think it might have been the only ever live performance of it, I'm not sure. Of course, knowing of his relationship with Cauty I took the opportunity to talk about the burning with Alex.

Anyway, as 2006 got underway I was looking for a deal. I was looking for someway to make some money. What I came up with was an idea to make an album for the World Cup in 2006. I set the wheels in motion with an old contact who owned a record company (I use the term loosely - shclock merchant would be more accurate) who now supplied supermarkets with CDs and DVDs. He was keen. A good start. This was a public limited company with plenty of dough. Next stop, I got on the phone to Alex. Would he be interested in creating a kind of Orb-esque soundscape of football songs and chants?

Alex is a big football fan. He was keen. So far so good.

Then came the stumbling block. The album would have to have 3 Lions. The supermarket schlock merchant was never going to play without it. I approached Sony. No deal. I didn't give up. I approached John Thoday, the boss of Avalon, and Skinner & Baddiel's agent. He seemed interested. Whoaw!

But time marched on. And on. For whatever reason the deal never happened. Getting 3 Lions proved too tricky. By the time we hit the end of April 2006, I called a halt to it. By August 2006 we'd lost the house.

The main football song that year came in the form of the FA endorsed World at Your Feet by Embrace and produced, funnily enough, by Alex's former school friend, sometime Orb member, and actor in the KLF story Martin Glover (aka Youth). I seem to remember that Alex did a remix of it or something, but can't find any record.

Anyway, the funny thing is, I later found out...... well, I let wiki tell you....

"In 1998, the Scottish Football Association invited Drummond to write and record a theme song for the Scotland national football team's 1998 FIFA World Cup campaign.[59] Drummond decided against doing it (Del Amitri got the job) but he wondered if he had twisted fate by declining, because the other major football songs of that year were made by associates of his: Keith Allen ("Vindaloo") and Ian Broudie ("Three Lions"), two men he had met on the same day when working on Illuminatus! in 1976, and former protege Ian McCulloch."

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