art & photography

Local Literary Scene

The local literary scene has been destroyed. I walked to a site which the supermarket Tesco is about to redevelop. They’re going to landscape and rebuild, and generally make one of the poorest parts of the city look artificially handsome. However, some of the best graffiti in the city could be found plastering those old buildings – a good three years of assiduous application of spray cans. I wandered over there to take some photos, my vague attempt at some kind of preservation of the graffiti, but to my surprise I was faced with a very freshly painted black wall, which extended all around the site. They’d covered over everything, even small tags on pillars.

I mooched around, just to get a picture something nearby, and all I could find was this.

Which admittedly isn’t the same as what was there previously, but it’s all that’s left of the local literary scene.

We tend to want to preserve only certain things in this country, an aesthetic that pleases a certain section of society, and we must rid ourselves of the rest.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

7 replies on “Local Literary Scene”

It’s ironic how that same section of society always seems to end up regretting its actions too – look at all the older buildings that were knocked down in the sixties, and now are preserved. I can imagine how in twenty years these landscapes will be considered beautiful or artistic again, but only after they’re nearly all gone. Guess it comes down to rarity.

It’ll certainly be intriguing to see what is desirable property in around 30-40 years.

It brings to mind also when some council (I think in Bristol) painted over some graffiti by Banksy. Obviously if your graffiti appeals to the middle classes then people want to preserve it…

The problem lies in the fact that 80% of graf is tagging with a marker pen, or black spray can. It’s the equivalent of a dog marking it’s territory. When someone actually invests themselves in a proper piece of graf it’s great… but most people can’t tell the difference. The taggers spoil it for the real artists.

A prime example of how monopolistic capitalism can erode localism and mutualism. I favor a cooperative model, something like a neo-guild system, where civic associations can better enshrine community character. It wouldn’t work in America, unfortunately, because of my country’s strong libertarian identity, which fundamentally informs American society even though most of my fellow citizens do not identify as libertarian. Interestingly, the sort of organic civic communitarianism that could stop Tesco takeovers seems all the rage in the U.K. right now, on both ends of the political spectrum. Prominent thinkers with both Labor and the Tories are inveighing against the plutocratic economies of scale that, while convenient for many, have nevertheless ravaged England’s working class culture, obviating concrete assets that would allow people to participate in the economy in a meaningful way – or preserve the identity of their art-enhanced land.

Graffiti here in Scotland rarely has anything redemptive about it, I’m afraid, so when Tesco or Asda or some other conglomerate rolls over various considered statements about either my mother or one football team or another, I can’t say I mind terribly.

That said, my single most memorable takeaway from a trip to Copenhagen years back was the incredible graffiti in the Christiania district. I’d be heartbroken to see that painted over. Really something to see – if any of it’s still there, that is.

Drew – it would depend upon the civic associations, I suspect, who was behind them and how much power they had. We have local councils, who have some control over what goes on, but they’re particularly screwed since they lost most of their money in the Icelandic banks debacle, and tend to wander wherever a corporation will bail them out.

Actually, I’m fonder of what Mr Alexander describes – with regards to Christiania, although I’m sceptical whether or not that would ever work in the UK. (That’s libertarian – but on the far-left).

Anyway, to cut a long story short, you can blame Margaret Thatcher (or Reagan, blame him too).

I did some quick research on Christiania. Fascinating place. It does appear to embrace a localized mutualism, with individuals owning the means of their own production, in rejection of what Chesterton and Belloc termed the Servile State, which is a sort of corporatist plutocratic nightmare that thrives on usury and shatters community solidarity. Yes, to an extent I do blame Thatcherism and Reaganomics – although I am generally suspicious of centralized, impersonal power wherever it aggregates, whether in the Market or in the State. Collusion between the two often yields disastrous results.

But I do have some questions, mostly about the process by which Christianites establish and regulate their legal system. Why did the community decide to forbid weapons and hard drugs? Do Christianite conclusions about such restrictions derive from a systematic philosophical framework, for example from a form of natural law? Are decisions regarding community laws established democratically, and how are they enforced? Who punishes criminals, as such? Basically, what prevents the place from collapsing into total atomized relativism: something of a vacuum in which the rougher side of human nature, that of Darwinian will to power, might assert itself to hemorrhage what appears to be Christiania’s harmonic associative spirit.

I would be interested to hear how you think Christiania, as a viable and virtuous societal apparatus, compares to the model found here:

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