Tornadoes: XG on Come Internet With Me

Over the weekend, I followed @thejaymo down a clickhole for his incredibly wholesome web show, Come Internet With Me. We spent an hour talking about what I’d probably be writing about if I wasn’t doing all this other nonsense — tornadoes — as well as Microsoft Excel…?

Towards the end of our hour-long chat, we ended up reading about tornadoes in London — one that occurred in 1091, apparently destroying London Bridge and another that happened in 1954. For some reason, there’s only footage of the aftermath of the second one but its a terrifying sight. It is reminiscent of the London Blitz in a way must have been pretty traumatic for people.

I promised Jay I would continue this click hole to see where else it led me.

I ended up looking up two further storms to strike Britain in the twentieth century — not just singular tornadoes but “outbreaks”. One was in 1913, which led to two tornadoes in England and three in South Wales — this website provides a pretty thorough timeline of the destruction — and the other was in 1981, the largest tornado outbreak in European history. This resulted in tornadoes touching down in Liverpool, Birmingham, Hull, Manchester, the Welsh town of Holyhead and the Warwickshire village of Stoneleigh. Over a five-hour period on the 23rd April that year, there were 104 confirmed tornadoes. I found this very dense 2016 academic paper with diagrams galore re-examining the conditions that led to the outbreak.

I think part of my interest in tornadoes comes from the few I used to hear about happening over Hull. I remember one year there were reports of one that felled a tree and flipped a few cars. I tried to find a few reports about this but couldn’t find one I recognised. There were, however, various reports of other tornadoes forming (if not quite touching down) over Hull with a surprising frequency. The most recent was in 2019 (with video here), another in 2014 which caused considerable damage (with another report here). The one I heard about must have been in the mid-2000s.

I wonder if East Yorkshire experiences these things more frequently than I first thought? It would explain the strange synchronicities I’ve found in relationships with people over the years. I will never forget the first time I ever met my birth mother, we somehow ended up on this topic and I told her that it was a secret dream of mine to live in a van for a year and just chase storms full-time. She literally replied, “oh my god me too!” And that was weird…

Anyway, tornadoes are crazy and fascinating and wild.

Go check out the rest of Jay’s stuff on his website. He publishes a wonderfully diverse range of content and is legitimately one of the most interesting people I know.

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The 5000 Follower ‘Egress’ Preview Stream

I hit 5000 Twitter followers on Monday and, as is tradition when passing some sort of Twitter milestone, I did a live stream, hanging out and chatting about some stuff.

Previously I’ve gotten drunk and tried to play music whilst dodging YouTube’s in-built Shazam cop or given tours of my Minecraft world, but with Egress coming out in exactly one week, it felt like a nice opportunity to chat about it a bit and do a reading from it.

I didn’t really plan ahead so I winged it somewhat and also had to put up with a really stupid delay because YouTube has outsourced its streaming software for reasons abjectly unknown, so chat was nice but stunted and after a while I just read the book’s intro out loud (and became newly aware of how long it is…).

Thank you to everyone who swung by to chat and hang out and listen, and if you’re watching for the first time here right now and want to skip ahead, I introduce the book and start reading at around the 40:30 mark. Happy listening!

An Introduction to ‘Insufficient Armour’

This is a short, shitty video made on location in Derbyshire with bad equipment and a horrifically old version of iMovie over Christmas 2019, for an event that took place in Milan in January 2020, showcasing a book I was asked to contribute an essay to.

The cultured coven at NERO Editions have recently produced Insufficient Armour, a collaboration with Giorgio Di Salvo from United Standard, exploring prostheses and the augmented body.

I took the opportunity to write something explicit about the xenogothic. (A first, believe it or not.)

I’ll share more info about the final publication once it’s ready and available.

Transcript of the video after the jump…

Continue reading “An Introduction to ‘Insufficient Armour’”

Video: Art Under the Influence

Thanks to everyone who came down to Anise Workshop last week to hear a panel discussion on art in the climate crisis. It was great to meet a few blog readers there as well.

The panel was chaired by Kate Pincott and included (from left to right) Thomas Moynihan, Matteo Zamagni, Hayden Martin and Dane Sutherland.

I’ll have a few more things to say about my work at Anise at a later date but until then, check out their website and listen back to the discussion below:

Across Wales in a Straight Line

Still thinking about Jeremy Deller’s new documentary, “Everybody in the Place”, which I wrote about yesterday.

I keep coming back to a moment when Deller mentions the paranoia associated with the countryside today. He connects the impositions brought against rave culture to the Inclosure Acts of the 19th century and the feeling which remains today that you can’t walk about in nature without feeling like you’re doing something wrong.

This reminded me of a YouTube series I’ve been watching unfold over the last couple weeks in which a man attempts to walk across Wales in a perfectly straight line.

It’s funny and ridiculous in equal measure but I’m constantly struck by his perpetual terror and paranoia. It is constant — so much so that the endurance factor of his adventure becomes secondary to the stress of him feeling like he’s doing something he shouldn’t. Interestingly, the camouflage offered by his standard-issue British Army gear is as practical as it is authoritative. If you’re afraid of breaking the law, make like you’re above it.

If you want an idea of how even the UK’s wide-open areas are enclosed within the mind, look no further than this.

The New West of Westworld: Audio Versions

Shout out to the YouTube channel Dank Audio Stash that has decided to turn all of my blog posts on Westworld into text-to-speech audio-essay things. I know a lot of people like this stuff and I’m all for people doing things like this if it makes working through blog series more fun and accessible.

It’s a really nice thing to see and does warm my heart a bit. It feels a little bit like being translated or something and I appreciate the time taken by DAS to make and upload these. (Evidently a sensitive fellow if I’m being humbled by text-to-speech.)

Below you’ll find Mark’s essay on Westworld — also text-to-speeched — and then my four-parter from last year that jumped off from Mark’s essay and my love for the season so far. I also still like this series a lot and I recently did a major rework of a large chunk of the series, transforming it into a chapter for my forthcoming Egress book. (More on that soon.)

If you’d like to hear more essays in this format, Justin Murphy gifted me something similar at the start of this year: a Xenogothic “audio reader” of sorts. You can check that out here.

Zero Books and Acid Communism

I was informed this morning by a lovely Facebook follower that my essay on Acid Communism, written for Krisis Journal last year, gets a shout-out in the latest Zero Books video: “Acid Communism, Philip K Dick, and the New Culture.”

This was a surprise, not least because my conversation with this person had been about how little I personally got out of the previous Zero video on Acid Communism. It seems the disinterest is somewhat reciprocated though. Mr. Douglas Lain does not seem to agree with my conclusions.

To quote Lain’s citation in full:

In an article for the journal Krisis, a writer named Matt Colquhoun wrote that Acid Communism is a project for seeking the outside of sociopolitical hegemony, and that such a questing after an exit from this society is likely to disrupt normal life in ways that Fisher thought would be “inherently disturbing“, but Fisher also argued that such “terrors are not all there is to the outside”. I would argue that there is no outside to this current global society. That is, even if we take heroic doses of psychedelics, we’ll still trip and hallucinate within the logic of the present.

I’ve said this before but I think this applies very well to this notion of Acid Communism. Our goal should not be to wake up from the nightmare we’re in but to dream differently.

I’ve written so much about Acid Communism here that I’m reluctant to repeat myself but I think this question of there being no outside is a common misunderstanding of what is at stake in Mark’s late thought. After all, Fisher himself said that “the inside is a folding of the outside” and it’s the sort of understanding that goes back to the German Idealists, rendered anew in the pulp world of weird fiction.

The absence of this from Lain’s understanding feels like the result of his particular obsession with Hegel. A dash of Schelling, a bit more Marx and a dollop of Spinoza and Lain might find that the objections he’s making are already preempted in Fisher’s own writings — and long before the Acid Communism project even properly started to take shape.

On this issue of the outside, I’d point to this old post of mine: “Notes on the Communist Horizon as an Immanent Outside.”

Regarding Fisher’s own writings, I’d point towards two key proto-Acid Communist posts that appeared on the k-punk blog back in 2004: “Psychedelic Reason” and “Psychedelic Fascism“. Taken together they completely undermine Lain’s fixation on psychedelics — another Jeremy Gilbert hangover that wasn’t Mark’s bag.

The trap that Lain has fallen into — and run away with for two long YouTube videos (eek!) — echoes Gilbert’s own microfascist reduction of the Acid Communism agenda in not knowing where Gilbert ends and Mark begins (which Gilbert doesn’t seem to know either).

The point about microfascism is an important one. It’s something which feels pretty common at the moment too in our various circles. Gilbert and Zero Books are only perpetuating the kind of thought I think Mark was trying to resist.

For example, in his video Lain tells a rambling stoner story about being “high as a kite” in a friend’s car and explaining that politics should be about giving people the power to rearrange their realities. Sounds like Fisher’s overarching political project, huh? Whilst Lain acknowledges this, it is apparently the sort of idea that people are only capable of believing in if they’re “sufficiently stoned”.

It’s a twisted argument which ends up unwittingly using Fisher to poke holes in himself, conflating his arguments around the constitution of psychedelic reason and psychedelic fascism into a flat blob, and this is based on little more than Lain’s own anecdote of having a Fisherian thought whilst stoned. It ends up echoing the sort of critique of experimental music being music for and/or made by people on drugs, delegitimising the creativity and aesthetic explorations of another based on nothing more than your own woefully cloistered imagination.

Further to this, Lain’s reading of PKD is very bizarre and also tellingly selective. I’d point again to another k-punk post: “Ubik as petit objet a“, which offers a reading of Dick’s work in relation to fictioning as consciousness raising which seems wholly contrary to Lain’s own.

As readers of this blog may already be aware, it’s my opinion that The Weird and the Eerie is integral to any understanding of Mark’s Acid Communism project. I’ve written on this in an exploratory way here and here.

We can also look to the lectures he gave before his death (and the lectures anticipated going forwards) to get a sense of what Acid Communism (The Book) was going to contain. (Whilst I’ve heard of various plans for different chapters that aren’t represented here, it does seem to be very close to the general trajectory that the book itself would take.)

All this stuff is readily accessible and available online. It’s the sort of thing we can start exploring easily with nothing more than a Google search. It’s that fact that makes Gilbert’s readings of Acid Communism so frustrating to me. They are so easily refutable but no one seems bothered about seeing what Mark himself had to say. We deserve — and Mark deserves — far better engagement than that offered by Jeremy Gilbert’s ego. And Zero Books, in extending that line, really isn’t helping.


Last week, I promised that when I hit 3000 Twitter followers I would show you all my Minecraft world to celebrate.

I thought that would take a few weeks but the recent viral tweet led to an extra 100+ followers overnight so here we are. Kicking off at 1600.

What If David Lynch Presented the Needle Drop…

A further discovery by the sickbed algorithm today has been Samuel Andreyev’s YouTube channel.

Andreyev has some brilliant videos and interviews with members of Captain Beefheart’s Magic Band as well as some proper in-depth and almost painfully nerdy analyses of experimental music.

I’m usually not a fan of this kind of musical analysis. It’s interesting, to say the least, but there comes a point where even the most precise scalpel can end up butchering what it’s taken to.

This video below, however, is something else entirely… The haircut, the suit, the choice of subject matter, the intensity of the analysis…

I’m left daydreaming and wondering: What if David Lynch presented the Needle Drop…?