Sunday, February 05, 2012

‘Selling all of you to all of you’

It was good to see Dennis Potter on television again this week, in a repeat of a 1987 interview with Alan Yentob (still on iPlayer for the next few days). He said this:
Capitalism now is actually about selling all of you to all of you, but they don’t know what it is they’re selling – the only object is to keep in the game, to keep selling something.
I wondered at first whether the pronouns were wrong – shouldn’t it be ‘us’ and ‘we’ for ‘you’ and ‘they’? But no, there were corporations in 1987, pushing sales through contexts for sales; and there are corporations now, even more literally selling us to ourselves. So maybe ‘us’ would have been better, but it wouldn’t do to forget about ‘they’.

Here is Kirill Medvedev, in the new issue of n+1:
The entire progressive intellectual tradition of the 20th century has tried to oppose large-scale government-engineered projects and geopolitical divisions. And yet today’s intellectual – who values these traditions – will sometimes conveniently forget that, for example, his ability to realise his wonderful particularity, uniqueness, and inimitability (in his creative endeavors and rich and varied personal life) is available to him and other Europeans thanks to the fact that his government buys natural gas at a reduced price from the tyrant of Turkmenistan. […] Should we stop writing poems? Go crazy from guilt? No. No. We just need to transform our picture of the world a little, and we can begin by ceasing to talk nonsense about the clash of civilisations.

Because otherwise you become an appendage of the system that allows you to take up whatever art you want, develop whatever styles, discourses, and poetics you want, on the condition that you do not interfere with politics, with real life.
Lastly, I don’t have the exact quote for this, but one of the TV interviews on the Psychocandy reissue has Jim Reid furiously rebuffing a comparison of the Jesus and Mary Chain to Joy Division, as Bobby makes out exaggeratedly with a girl on the sofa beside him. It’s iconoclastic stuff: ‘I’m not even comfortable with us being mentioned in the same sentence as Joy Division, Joy Division were rubbish. Our rivals are Duran Duran*.’

These things seemed to be related somehow.


* On reflection, I think he might have said Spandau Ballet.


cynthia hood said...

I've just discovered your blog and greatly admire your thoughts and prose.

Chris said...

Thank you, all compliments welcome.

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