We're not messing about now, people.
Those 'lull' posts of a while back were profoundly misleading. The network isn't dying, far from it. Look around you, it's obvious now that 'cyberculture' doesn't just have to mean Wired-reading corporate silverbacks or dysfunctional geeks. Only rearview mirrorism prevents us from seeing that blogs are part of a new cultural configuration that is unique as it is unprecedented. If blogs were initially parasitic on other forms and other media (isn't anything when it first emerges?), they've now established a space of their own. For, ultimately, blogs are nothing but space. Space is plentiful out here: you get the opportunity to stretch your legs, develop a style, a conceptual repertoire, luxuries that are increasingly rare in the overcrowded print world.
These reflections have been prompted by the return of the maitre, but if he's the clearest case of a cultural production that has no equal outside k-space, he's by no means the only example of the phenomenon.
But I defy you to find any contemporary writing as accomplished as this anywhere. Perhaps it was the enforced period of deprivation sharpening my palate, but it seems to me that Luke has returned more powerful than ever, his proetry sharper, more honed, with even less redundancy. Nothing wasted.
The verdant plenitude of NZ is easy meat for an imagination as developed as Luka's. Not that I'm in any way decrying a post that bristles with resonant imagery and a sage's insight. He's our Marker, the discoverer of an omnipresent sf immanent to our irretrievably artificialized nature . 'Unnatural nature. Against a New Zealand background, familiar birds, like sparrows or blackbirds can appear ever so slightly out of sync with their surroundings, as if superimposed onto them, like a movie star playing his part in front of a blue screen. Something hasnít gelled. The land and the creature donít belong to one another. The mind wonít accept them as part of the same picture.'
But for all the magisterial qualities of Luke's post on his mother's homeland, his greatest strength lies in surveying the scurf zones of the city in which, like all its best poets, he is both completely at home and half-an-outsider, his beloved London. So here is, walking, always walking, disconnected from the media matrix, that smothering extra nervous system that does all your seeing and feeling for you, hunting for haecceities, alchemically transfiguring the city's trash into shimmering epiphany. 'all the litter is ten years old. the remains of burnt newspapers. fragments of old stories. old sporting failures and coups in hot countries. cans of McEwcans lager, R.Whites lemonade and Golden Wonder crisp packets emblazoned with superceded designs and discarded logos. The colours are fading. fading engrams. as the colours seep away so do their place in the memory. here you can see the last remnants of the recent past decay.' Luke's London is becoming as immediately identifiable, as vividly realised as Blake's, Sinclair's or Moorcock's: a London of abandoned towpaths, overgrown relics of the near-past, teeming dereliction.
Join Luke on one of his riverside walks from Stratford and you're often reminded of Tarkovsky's Stalker: nature reserves towered over by electricity pylons, semi-mythical turtles swimming under fetid water clogged with crisp packets. Like Tarkovsky, Luke disdains the easy option of rhapsodising 'pure' nature, preferring to explore an industrial sublime in which human dereliction commingles with a tenacious, indestructible flora and fauna. If they could see past the end of their gangster-loving noses, the inbred custodians of the justly ailing Britfilm industry would recognize that there's a ready-made movie set all around them. But you'd need Luke's eye to detect (or project) all those micronarratives, the steampunk traps, the still-warm memory trails, the half-concealed possibilities.
Luke makes you see the world anew, again. What more can you ask of writing than that?
Posted by mark at July 7, 2004 01:48 AM