The Warp

The Warp at the Regent Cinema Edinburgh 1979

Dancing in Balham





C) “Sebastian Being Beaten to Death By Diocletian’s Thugs In A Filthy, Stinking Sewer” is the painting’s title?

B) Working title.

C) Temporary?

B) Are we really ready for this?

C) What? An exploration into the bully’s mind?

B) A discussion on the appropriateness of titles.

C) Well…until you mentioned the true account of Sebastian’s demise…quite frankly…

B) You wouldn’t have guessed the painting’s about me getting back at that ugly bastard Diocletian.

C) Exactly! So… your latest wild painting comes from you feeling a very strong tie with Saint Sebastian?

B) Fuck off with that Roman Catholic ‘saint shit!’ The Vatican is the finishing school for one ‘Diocletian’ after another. How the Great Whore enjoys drooling over those well feathered, brittle arrows. Poisoned… or not… all those keen-eyed African archers… failed to snuff out our outrageous rebel!

C) O.K. So the working title is “(Plain) Sebastian Being Clubbed to Death by Diocletian’s Thugs in a Filthy, Stinking Sewer.”?

B) Yes…the working title.

C) Is the painting finished?

B) Can’t you hear the painting groaning?

C) Not above the bubbling of your bitterness.

B) You’re an undermining sod like A used to be.

C) before he deigned to dance with you?

B) It got us into a different form of sorrow.

C) O come on Seb! Give me a chance. Let me pull you out of this self-defeating sewer!

B) What! Am I a self-suffocating junkie-- hooked on the ubiquitous noxious vapours wafting from the swill?

C) Seems so! Come on! You’ve got to shake out of it. Karma crap or not! Put on Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’.

B) You put it on! ( C finds the disc and puts it on. They close their eyes and listen)

Suffering seems endless.

C) Endless…Senseless…Mindless…

B) Coltrane’s gone!

C) All the greats are gone!

B) Leaving nothing but an endless plain of shuffling slogan bearers.

C) Slogan……bearers???

B) Look! Use your imagination. Look! A vast flat scuffled -sand desert. Too wide to see the edges. Too long to see the ends. VAST! Vast and totally crowded. Totally crowded with the whole whirld’s population of humans. People! People! CROWDED People! All shuffling about. All manner of condition. All manner of shapes and sizes. All races. All ages. Healthy and dying. And each one is struggling to keep holding up their PLACARD. Yes every one has a placard, and there is a storm of a thunderous noise, as each one is shouting out the implications of what is written on their placard. It is the deafening ROAR of the Great Pandemonium.

C) Got You! Everyone is a slave.

B) Yes! Everyone is holding on to an idea.

C) As if their IDEA is a balloon holding them up!

B) ABOVE everyone else!

C) So…even if their placard is blanc---no words…or even a symbol on it…

B) The human is still holding…still holding on. Holding on to something. Some idea…or even an anti-idea…

C) Ah ah…because the root idea …behind all the ideas …behind all the placards…is to be human…

B) and not a monkey…

C) You have to have an idea.

B) No! NO! NO! Not merely have an idea. That’s no way near enough! You have to believe in the idea…and again that’s not nearly enough! No, you have to do a lot more than merely believe. You have to become a very active agent for the idea…and PROMOTE IT!!! Full steam ahead!

C) And if you don’t possess an idea that you believe in…

B) You’ll feel as stupid and baleful as a…

C) Baboon!

B) Exactly.

C) So “We are baboons” is the root idea?

B) Not exactly. “We don’t like being baboons” is more like it.

C) So being baboons is the first idea we bought into…and believed…so we immediately felt like stupid monkeys who…

B) need guidance. Yes GUIDANCE. GUIDANCE!

C) And then down from above …came not MANNA…but ideas

B) To cover our nakedness…

C) So we can pretend to be intelligent…and hold up…not our heads…but our placards.

B) Yes… hold up our IDEAS…

C) To which we are enslaved.

B) As long as I’m holding a belief in an idea I’m not free to sense.

C) Not free to Not free to touch.

B) Of course! We’ve been trained from the womb-- to grip with our imagined NEED for a convincing idea…and be its gardener and champion and slave!

C) So the brain-washed baboons…have become wearisome, noisy robots.

B) There is a placard for everything that is possible to be said or symbol-eyesd.

C) Statements or questions…all the placards are born from the imagined need for guidance. (Guy dance?)

B) Some placards say ‘The Earth is doomed!’

C) Some say—‘My lover abandoned me’

B) Some say—‘All existence is illusion’.

C) Some say—‘All men are two-faced bastards’.

B) Some say—'Only God gives truthful guidance’

C) Some say—‘Poetry is a lie which speaks the truth.’

B) Some say—‘WE are all here because of SEX.’

C) Some say—'Only God is real’.

B) Some say ‘We are all self-deceivers’.

C) Some say ‘Love is dead. Sadism is alive’.

B) Some say ‘ I want my mummy’.

C) Some say ‘ Trust leads to tribulation’.

B) Some say ‘Know thy self’.

C) What’s on your placard?

B) Look! ( Points to the very large, very heavily textured, abstract-expressionist painting on canvas.)

C) Ah ah! The Vesuvius of revenge!

B) Against my own monkey-mind for demanding reliable guidance!

C) Yes! Yes! Submitting to a particular con-text…is submitting to a form of guidance. This deeply textured painting of yours is in the context of post second world war abstract painting. Viewers will be guided by the parameters of that context.

B) I didn’t say I wasn’t imprisoned by the monkey mind.

C) O.K. the feel of the painting is appropriate to what you think about Seb’s undoing by the Empire’s behaviour.

B) Yeah!

C) Yeah…but…

B) But?

C) There’s a limitation. Does what you feel have to be appropriate to what you think?

B) Like?

C) Your wife leaves you. All your friends tell you you should feel relieved. That she was bad for you. That she was a cold-hearted, selfish, cruel bitch! They imagine that you are relieved to hear their views. Their negative assessments. But what you actually feel is a re-assuring warmth towards her.

B) That’s right. What I feel doesn’t have to correspond with any idea, any ideal, any evaluation, any memory. Doesn’t have to correspond with any…

C) Placard.

B) Yes, exactly.

C) Holding up a placard is an avoidance of aesthetic feeling.

B) Avoidance of authentic Being.

C) A told me recently that you liked dancing to black music.

B) Huh Huh.

C) But you didn’t dance to the ‘Blue Train’.

B) Nor did you.

C) True! I suppose…

B) You were waiting for me…

C) To start the party

B) Same trap! Wanting a sign. A symbol. Someone to look to. Some form of guidance.

C) My God! What are we? Robots?

B) Pretty close! Pretty close! Programmed programmers.

C) Everyone is programmed to hold an idea like a placard…which they imagine is incontrovertible..

B) So everyone has been programmed to HOLD. That’s the golden insight. And because one is HOLDING—no matter what idea…because one is holding---no matter what…because one is holding… one’s ability to be aware is severely limited. It’s the hidden root of the dumbing-down process.

C) We’re all programmed to not expect anyone to give us their total emotional-mental attention. In early childhood one learns to not expect to be given full attention. The child has to dumb-down its demands and expectations.

B) Partial attention is endemic to modern urban T.V./Internet/Smart Phone mental-emotional behavioiur.

C) Like it’s cool to only give brief, partial attention to anyone…or any thing.

B) Well, well. A told me you’re really catching up.

C) So, it’s really un-cool to demand total, full emotional-mental attention from anyone. Even from

B) A negative form of compassion…perhaps…sometimes…perhaps…

C) What playing the dumbed-down, cool, partial attention game is compassionate? Come on!

B) O.K. Now it’s time for you to realize that today it’s an accepted part of the game, to NOT reflect to the other-- how fragmented and fucked up they are.

C) Huh Huh. So everyone’s consciousness is a churning, frothy mess of flotsam and jetsam…but-- it’s totally un-cool to honestly reveal to one another, this degrading emotional-mental Condition?

B) Yeah, probably today, every one has been dealt into the dumbing-down game, and is holding up their cool placard to prove they’re active.

C) Like muffins on duty! God this is DIRE! You mean if I demand your total attention I’m making an un-cool move?

B) Of course!

C) And therefore I’m letting everyone see that I’m out of touch with today’s human condition?

B) Yeah, you gotta get with it man! You’re an old fashioned hanger-on.

C) Like I’ve got to stop demanding the impossible?

B) Yes my dear! You’re coming on as if it’s feasible…and even possible for a modern-day person to feel whole, un-divided and not pushed and pulled about through out their existence.

C) I see! So…so…it’s like me demanding another’s sustained full attention, is tantamount to being unaware that I’m bouncing around in my own deluded and deluding Arcadian fantasy. Bouncing around in a self-isolating bubble.

B) That’s about the sad, size of it my friend. Get this clear!!! No one’s got the TIME! No one’s got the TIME to give their full attention to anything…let alone to a demanding, living human being…whether it be a new born baby, or any other form of existence, all along the line…right up to all the weeping, withering, near dead, grand-mothers.

C) So humans are becoming empty bags of sophisticated, intricate, time-starved shadows!?

B) Yes…but what is worse, is that humans are transmitting the metallic opinion-- that it’s cool to be sophisticated, intricate shadows.

C) O my God! I’ve caught up! The whirld of humans is a pig-pen where they’re all wallowing in their self-demeaning, dumbed-down cool numbness.

B) Now that you are getting closer…can you see that all these robot-eyesd piggies, have been programmed to mentally agree with our assessment of their condition… and--- as if it’s no problem--they’ll give us a psychic nod…and carry on wallowing in the intelligence-destroying death-swill.

C) Snap! Like the game. Of that name. That is, what I point out corresponds with an assessment-picture… already un-knowingly held, within their swill.

B) Very accurate. Now for the sub-text. In order to be cool, you have to develop your latent ability at pretending! You have to be extremely good at pretending. Extremely good at pretending you are satisfied with being given only partial attention. Your pretending skills have to be so good that it seems you don’t notice that you are only getting partial attention.

C) And presumably one has to be good at pretending that one is giving one’s full emotional-mental attention to someone?

B) Obvious. You have to be a master at pretending that one’s own chaotic, fragmented consciousness is not an important issue.

C) The only thing I can do is dis-connect my snout from the pig-pen!

B) Indeed! But the only real move which matters-- is getting OUT! Out and so far away that you are way beyond the poisonous stink of the pen.




© neil oram 2017