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Bennett stands amongst the few modern irish writers really wortth reading. This is his forth novel and perhaps his best after the Catastrophist. His early work, "Overthrown by Strangers" and "No Second Prison" had a distinctly noir quality but staggered in moments. In th elate 1970s the author was framed for a paramilitary crime he did not commit but nonetheless paid for with several years in jail. Whilst incarcerated he came in contact with he Anarchist Black Cross and upon his release he moved to the UK to live with some of its most active figures, including Stuart Christie as the latter recounts in his recently published "Granny Made me and Anarchist."

These days Bennett writes frequently for the Observer usually on themes related to prison, juvenile detention and suicide. A couple of years ago he was interviewed by Black Flag, the first hint I had of his political persuasion.

"Havoc, In its third year..." unfolds on several levels, narrating the story a concealed catholic and inquisitor, his wife and their struggle to save their recently born son. Simultaneous with this the inquisitor is called to interrogate and gicve evidence against an incendiary irish woman charged with the murder of her child.

The strong twist of noir injected made me tyhink occasionally of Luther Blissett's "Q" one of the few other historical novels from the period to have taken my fancy. Whilst an incensed and ascendant puritan vengeance hastens to hang the irish woman for a crime she did not commit -- and to send good part of the town's poor and dissident population with her -- the protagonist pursues the truth behind the infanticide convinced that it will alllow him to unmask the the hyprocritical and authoritarian clique exercising ever more terrible tyranny on town and country. Ultimately the book's injunction is to eschew the desire to judge and condemn, to substitute vengerance for mercy. Asd I write these lines I'm reminded of Agamben's plea for amnesty, for a refusal to make bad use of memory. Peals of libertarian abolitionism ring through Bennett's text, even as the conflagration tightens apocalyptically around the book's figures and their vindictive moralism sharpens. The snakiness and diabolical malleability of power in the hands of his childhood friend completes the grim landscape of power. At the end between the hell of sectarianism and consumption by the world's self-destructive course, the only path unbarred is that of exodus.

Nuit.Et.Brouillard.(1955) Alain.Resnais

La.Terra.Vista.dalla.Luna - Pasolini

Sonic Outlaws - Craig Baldwin

Guy Debord - In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Just a Kiss - Ken Loach

The exceptional speed of Ireland's transformation in ther last decade renders much of the preceding corpus of writing moot. In 1992 No-one could have predicted that there would be growth figures of 8% through much of the nineties and early 21st century. Thus I'm refreshing myfacts with a bit of furrowing through two recently published works:

The Transformation of Ireland, Diarmaid Ferriter, London, 2004.Preventing the Future, Why was ireland so poor for so long?, Tom Garvin, Dublin 2004.

Hopefully Cork University Press are still producing their epistle series "Undercurrents" which excelled as a sort of "nutshell" snapshot of social policy with a decent criticval cut.

Other suggestions are solicited.....

New Year's eve was an orgy of illicit substances, as is practically traditional within a city now awash with drugs. A night spent gyrating madly to KLF and Sabres of Paradise was punctuated by excursions to the kitchen, which was more social than amphetamine boom-boom. A few familiar faces appeared amongst the crowd, for the most part new acquaintances. One was a musician whose brothers I've been friends with for years. For reasons I can't recall, we began talking about Dublin venues. He explained to me that in recent years it has become impossible for a band to play live without paying the venue. I was flabbergasted. Ten years ago such places did exist but were the exception, today apparently they constitute the rule. In order to play in Whelan's for example, a medium-sized pub-venue they pay 350 euros, for the benefits supposedly attached to association with the Whelan's brand(!!!). The tyranny of the venue managers doesn't finish there: they also retain control over the bill and choose who will do back-up. Bands are expected to make money through the balance taken at the door and selling CDs at the gig. Needless to say no-one receives a cut of the bar.

One of the reasons for Dublin's historically strong music scene was the relatively easy access to venues. My late teens and early twenties were spent in the upstairs venues of places like the White Horse, Barnstormers or the Cobblestones. The first two are now tatie bread under new managemwent, the last is now exclusively a trad venue to my knowledge.

Anyway, it's pretty humiliating that the parasites who have built made their profits on the back of promotional work done for them for free, during years of hosting small gigs, should use that as a pretext to help themselves to another slice of musicians cake. Fopr the performers themselves thwe situation is pretty grim: they are being fleeced by labels as well as venues, their only lucrative form of income derives from CD sales and hired entertainment work. Inevitably as the venues get their nails deeper into the cover charge at the door they will have to pump up the price of the CDs. Concert-goers will feel resentful and the goodwill that fuels purchases at gigs will dwindle as the music is available digitally from a friend anyway.

However the situation is worse still for bands whom are young and skint, unable to guarantee the 350 to the venue. What are they to do? If the discussion about a social center comes to fruition in dublin it should obviously try to address constituencies like this in a fair way. On new year's eve I inquired from my pal as to whether he'd play in an unauthorised venue to rid himself of the venue-manager's plague. His answer was affirmative and I know he's not the only one.

Otherwise they could learn an interesting lesson from the intermittents and get themselves if not a union, at least a coordination and stir the shit.

Hammett Chandler Ross Thomas Walter Mosley Chester Himes James M. Cain

James Cirni The Big Squeeze

The Come On

The Kiss Off

Timothy Watts: Cons The Money Lovers Steal Away (cloth)

Montalban Paco Ignacio Taibo Jan Willem Van de Wetering

Sjowall & Wahloo

Ross MacDonald

Jean-Claude Izou

Leo Malet

There is an interesting article about release group structures in the most recent Wired.

One of those interviewed also works for media corporations, both to altert them about the imminent arrival of their goods online, or to allow them to insinuate their product into the distribution mechanism. This reinforces the point made in Pirate Autonomies that piracy can be veiwed critically, as a form of invisible labour, handmaiden in the broader scheme of promotion through affinity/affective labour.

In fact, Forest believes the scene will eventually go legit, and he's even started a company, called Jun Group, that uses the topsites to promote movies, musicians, and TV shows. "The topsites don't care where their files come from, as long as no one else has them," he says. Last summer Jun Group dropped a collection of live videos and MP3s from Steve Winwood on the topsites. "We got 2.9 million downloads," says Forest, "and album sales took off."

Picked up a couple of interesting items data-wise in recent days. The first is by Debord: "In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni", Simar Films, 1978, B&W 35mm (100'), narrated in french with Italian subtitles. I am unaware as to whether an english language version exists, but Ken Knabb's translation of the soundtrack can be found here. Another Debord work. "On the Passage of a Few Persons Through a Rather Brief Period of Time", Dansk-Fransk Experimentalfilmskompagni, 1959 , B&W 35mm (20') is slowly creeping its way down my edonkey channel - fingers crossed. I already have both "Society of the Spectacle" and "Refutation of all judgements whether for or against, which have been brought to date on the film Society of the Spectacle", Simar Films, 1975, B&W 35mm (25'). I also have a film made by Brigitte Cormand in collaboration with GD, and broadcast posthumously on Canal +, titled "Guy Debord: Son Art, Son Temps". Not Bored insistes that the whole operation was a scam designed to raise reveune for Debord's lover to emancipate her from working after his departure (via suicide). Notwithstanding this coda, I watched the movie and found sections of it pretty interesting. In the eighties he had a series of written collaborations with L'Encyclopedie des Nuisances", whose raison d'etre was to ensure the continued survival of the human species - marked of a critique of capitalism strongly influenced by ecological considerations - the footage of pollution and devestation in the former Soviet Union etc is telling.

Apart from Debord there are also a couple of films by Rene Vienet "Can the Dialectic Break Bricks" and the "Girls of Kanmare"; I've the latter in digital and the former on VHS.

Isidour Isou contributes the last little pearl to this miscellany of experimental film "Venom and Eternity" was made in 1950, at the height of the Lettrist period when he and Debord were still pals.

When I was growing up there were 300 acres of derelict buildings between the two canals which ring the Liffey and define the limits of the city. Ten years of economic growth has performed cosmetic surgery on the place. But I'm not going to follow that thought here, besides, I'll be exploring it in excruciating detail in the following months.

So for now I'll report some pleasant surprises. The first is that rental prices are falling, something which I believed impossiible. After years of construction the city is now awash with apartments and the suburban sprawl goes on forever. This year 50,000 new housing units have been built, equivalent to 25% of the number sin the UK in a country with a fifteenth of the population. The rsult is that supply has now outstripped demand, leaving tenants in the happy position of being able to force landlords to reduce their rents mid-tenancy. Housing is now cheaper here than in Rome and wages and labour mobility are significantly higher. On the other hand the city is now planning on selling off up to a third of its public housing :-(( and is investing fuck all in the construction of new homes, so it's not all roses.

My other happy discovery is that finally there is the emergence of a new critical libertarian culture. This expresses itself not only in the numbers on demonstrations and health of indymedia ireland, but also in the birth of new bookshops and discussion spaces. The city centre now has two offside bibliophile havens. Red Ink shares a small store on the first floor of a building on Fownes St., above the second clothes shop Flip. They have a nice little selection of books and a fantastic array of zines, many of which are almost art objects. The people who work there (volunteers) were extremely friendly and it was really encouraging talking and sharing experinces with them. A related project is that of the Bad Books lending library located on the North Strand, where the have a "Forgotten Zine" library and about 500 volumes.

Nearby Red Ink there is Anthology Books, run by leftie feminists. The space itself is ultra-modern but vey comfortable, with an upstairs level with couches etc. where they also hold readings and discussions. The inventory is pretty strong on critical theory, globalization, gender, sexuality and literature (including sf and noir).

Both of these are commercial premises, but are no less welcome for that. Shortly before Xmas there was a second benefit organised for the drive to set up a Social Centre in Dublin. From what I'm told there is a substantial crowd around this project now and they have soem cash in the bank, so here's hoping...

Now that I've decided to spend more time back in Ireland, I'd hope to be able to give some support to these spaces. Books and resources for the much-mourned (and amply celebrated) Garden of Delight will probably end up in their hands. Otherwise I'm curious just to exchange stories and perspectives with them, understand their subjectivity and encourage generational continuity. During the period of GOD I had the enormous privelige to get to know older people who were part of the radical tradition here as far back as the early sixties. At the same time it's important that younger groups determine their own course, without being bossed or dominated by those hwo've been around the block. As Mike Davis once said to me, "freedom is the right to make your own mistakes."

Then I heard that a group of ex-Stickies (Workers Part members) who are organised mostly in North Dublin have declared themselves libertarian communists, it occurred to me that miracles do happen!

Amen to that.

Several years ago I saw a fascinating film at the Anthology Fim Archives called "Finally Got the News" , an account of the revolutionary syndicalist movement in detroit area. Elsehwere this story was chronicles in "Detroit, I do mind dying". Thuis movie is available through first run films in New York, but at an exhorbitant price clearly designed for institutional use.

Another gem I came across in the same period is "A Luta Continua" by Robert Van Lierop, a former member of SNCC, now a lawyer in NYC who in the eraly seventies made many visits to Mozambique to chronicle the emancipation striggle against the portugese colonialists. The film is extraordinary, not least because not only Van Lierop shot the guerilla in combat, but incredibly was also able to acquire footage shot by the portugese army on the other side of the same shoot-out. Van Lierop's objectives were unabashedly partisan, so apart from crerating these materials to spread consciousness in the United States, he also trained members of Frelimo in the use of his cameras which he left there at the completion of shooting. The director mader anorther movie "O Povo Organizado", which was due to be screened in NYU but a mistake was mad ein the print, so it didn't happen. The following is from the announcement of the screenings:

Van Lierop made the films after becoming involved with the Frelimo, the revolutionary movement fighting to liberate Mozambique from Portuguese colonial rule. The films are regarded as having deeply impacted an era of Black independent cinema characterized by the most progressive ideas of human and personal liberation.

After a nearly two years of downloading via bit torrent, I relaize how spoilt I've become. Amidst the fallout of the MPAA swoop, which closed numerous torrent and edonkey sites, I am one amongst many refugees from communities whose golden age has passed.

In my case, a forum dedicated entirely to independent, arthouse and documentary genrers kept the client occupied virtually 24/7. In fact, it was becomiung distinctly unhealthy; the first task of every day was to check the new arrivals and calibrate a downloading schedule for the day - it was becoming like a job!

Now that it has closed - although we hope that it will reopen as things "quieten down", I have been obliged to take recourse to simply using the edonkey client and its integrated seach function. There are lots of interesting materials, but the predestrian nature of the data transfer is pure torture: usually it takes several days to complete a download.

Even more than the efficiency woes what I miss is the community which allowed me to discover an unbelievable amount of interesting flics, by directors whom I had never heard of. There was a strong collective spirit such that we would seartch out titles and encode films for one another, and in the cas eof the torrent being old, all; that it required was a personal maessage to another user so as to have them make it available again. 90% of the files we shared are of no interest whatsoever to the studio industry, many of them not even being available on VHS or DVD, but amidst the general panic generated by the raids, closures and arrests, we too became a victim. In spote of all this I'm confident that new techniques that are more robust to such legal attacks will emerge, and that all the binjured communities can get themselves back in action....

I don't use Windows, but I have recently heard of a usenet search and transfer client called Grabit which might eb worth checking out if you use that platform. I'd be interested in hearing other user's evaluation of it....



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