mumpsimus









Stevie Nicks is known for her mystical image, her billowing chiffon skirts, shawls, layers of lace and long blonde hair. 



Margi Kent, a designer from California, has worked with Nicks since the 1970s to perfect her style.

video video



an idea developing like ph0 blood melting through bulkheads til it pierces the outer hull and  all the oxygen vents into space


Over the years, Nicks has developed a style which she calls her "uniform”.



Another trademark of Nicks's is a Dickens-style gentleman's formal top hat, which she began wearing in the late 1970s. 


Dear Ms Nicks,

In craddock bridge, the little Caledonian village where I spent the majority of my childhood, there is an ancient folk tradtition called 'swapping'. This tradition has long fascinated me. 

I want to do a swap with you. You have something I want, and I'm opening this correspondence in order that I might convince you to want something. Not that I have anything you want, but I think I can convince you of wanting something so badly that everything else is nothing next to this thing. 

The real joy of the entire enterprise - at least from my perspective, sat naked and high on spice in my soiled orthopaedic chair - is that you don't even know it exists to want it yet. I'm proposing that I put a new want in you.

I'm going to take you for a meal in the Shard. That's where I'll tell you about the thing I want you to want. My goodness, but have you seen London’s Shard? O Deus meus! Glinting in night's maw. Jagging over that lolled Thames tongue like a mad god's fang.I'm of the opinion that The Shard is a hugely significant building. Culturally.

 In thousands of years’ time, providence permitting, it will be talked about as a symbol of our blighted age. A haunted, ruined thing. Our machinic successors will peer at it from their ornithopter windows and marvel that it was ever built. I think it's beautiful. Beautiful as any rash. Like any lesion announcing a sickness. You can see the damned thing from streets all up and down London. You can see it from the M25. 

When it opened they closed London Bridge. Crowds assembled to watch the laser display. The laser display! The Shard sprayed the skyline with its green lasers. It spattered the dome of Saint Paul's. It spattered the chimneys of Battersea power station. It spattered the shaft of the gherkin and it splattered the belly of the O2 and the stiff, trembling tips of &c., &c. Some of the people gathered on the bridge carried placards that read 'HAIL SAURON’ and ‘HAIL THE DARK LORD.’ I found them very amusing. I watched it spunk its ridiculous green lasers at the HMS Belfast. Warring empires.

My good friend Rainer is Head Chef at Oblix, the multiple award winning restaurant on the 32nd floor. I spoke with him last week and he says he would be delighted to host our meeting. The meeting between you and me. The views over London are commanding. About 40 miles on a clear day. So Rainer says. You'll point it out and I'll tell you - rigid posture, wry smile - what it is you're pointing at. You'll have the Halibut, artichoke & olives in an outrageously potent bouillabaisse sauce, I'll have the duck. We'll finish with sugar-glass spheres of stewed lotus fruit. The yelling of your belly. The clacking of my teeth. 
O pulsauit sonis!

Once, years and years ago - long before any of this - I got so stoned that I could hear my eyeballs rumbling in their sockets as they roamed my bedroom walls. Rumbling like they were huge boulders. They chased me out of my mind like ancient Thuggee traps. I sped - stumbling, sweating and chuntering tangled orisons - through the dusty Indo-Chinese labyrinth of my beautiful mind. My arms frantically windmilled as the tunnel opened onto a jungle canyon's cliff face, terminating in a vertiginous drop. The tunnel opening formed the gaping mouth of a leering horned visage, carved into the middle of the rock wall by milling scores of long dead slaves. Unspeakably huge. The enormous boulders thundered down its throat like petit pois. I scrambled out on to the rough-hewn ledge of the pendulous lower lip, my fingers and toes thrust into minute cracks that laterally split a monstrous incisor. I was splayed flat as a chalk graffito as my eyeballs barrelled past and plummeted to the rapids far below. They smashed there. The giant face grinned like a glutted brat. Laughably tiny. Lost in an expanse of sun-scoured rock.

Now look at me, I'll say. Years later. Smiling as I gently recreate the windmill at the candle-lit table for two. A faintly growling London receding into haze behind me. You'll look at me more closely. I'll be wearing an expensive pair of tortoise shell spectacles. I'll be wearing a $6300 Armani suit. I'll be wearing a Vantablack necktie. You will not be able to deny, not honestly, that I look fine as fuck.I'll talk to you about ways of seeing. I'll talk to you about the service floors. How floors 29, 30, 67 and 68 are service floors. Inaccessible to the public, they crawl with lowly creatures. Semi-bovine creatures clad awkwardly in sour-smelling polyester. Shuffling creatures with bleary eyes half bossed by lives spent staring at humming monitor banks. Brains smashed blank by brutal tracts of nothing much.

You'll have brought a couple of your poems along, knowing that I am interested in reading them. You'll carry them along 'just in case.'
Who is this strangely attractive man, you'll think to yourself, as the conversation flits weightless from subject to subject.  

During the early 1980s she wore Renaissance poets' velvet berets with plume feathers.



Dear

Dear Stevie,

I hope this letter finds you well. My name's Liam. Hope you don't mind me calling you Stevie. I’m a big admirer of your work. I'm writing because I want to talk to you a bit about those Game of Thrones poems you wrote.

Winter's arrived in London. We had a long summer. I've harvested all the To Let signs on my street, so I should have enough firewood to see me through. Over the past few years the To Let harvest has been especially bountiful. In 2012 there were that many I had to leave some to go to seed in the street. I hated doing it.

Anyway, I'm now sat in my room, warming myself by my toxic fire of painted wood, trying to calmly and clearly articulate something that not only frightens and excites me but something I'm not quite sure I'm even capable of grasping. The abominable chemicals in the paint cause the flames to burn with a spooky iridescence. I freed an evil that was locked in that wood. It’s a type of humdrum magic and that’s the type that gets me going. Humdrum magic is really cheap and it gets you high as fuck. Sometimes, when I’m floating above myself, riding those sweet waves, I get a sense of something vital and imminent, lurking at the edges of things and flitting away like an eye floater whenever I try to focus on it. I suppose this is a bit like that. I'm not sure whether I'm sure I know what I'm going on about.

When I first heard about your Game of Thrones poetry I was eating my lunch in the staff canteen at the Victoria and Albert museum, where I earn my rent telling tourists not to touch things. I had to lie down for a moment to collect myself. I wasn’t sure how to react, so I laughed for a short while then finished my macaroni. After some thought it occurred to me that maybe something important had happened, that the advent of those poems marked the crossing of some kind of cultural Rubicon.

I thought that maybe you’re some kind of Socratic ironist (or some vengeful incarnation of Benjamin's artist-raddled angel of history), turning your back to the future and razing our current age with fiery eyes. A sacrifice to the coming age, you invest the advancing nothing with an autophagian sincerity, consumed by your own fervour.

In a brief essay complementing her Canopus in Argos series, Doris Lessing discussed the ‘atmosphere’ of an age, reeling it out through the example of Scott's 1912 Antarctic expedition and the accompanying jingoistic spirit that coloured English culture at that time. She wrote as someone unable to successfully explicate the perspectives of her parents' generation. She argued that the actuality of a time and a place is something that is totally unknowable to anybody who didn’t live in it. The mission itself, the unpreparedness of the participants and their rigid adherence to Georgian social mores (even when losing digits, limbs and lives under the harshest conditions imaginable) were all signs of a sickness that couldn’t then have been recognised as such and couldn’t now be looked upon as anything else.

Imagine! All those brave idiots huddled in an ice cave stinking of seal fat, insisting that seaman X mustn’t use the precious union jack flag to swathe his frost-bitten and gangrenous dick even though it’s the only spare cloth and he’ll lose it otherwise and he doesn’t so he does! Jesus Fucking Christ! To know the world through those eyes!

Gangrene arises when a restricted blood supply results in the death of flesh within a still living organism. Dry gangrene, of particular relevance to this street-quality gangrene metaphor, is a common consequence of severe frost-bite.  English-speaking culture is a massive frost-bitten chin; the irony of the individual is the sincerity of the age, the putrid stink emanating from gangrenous flesh.
The British now's sickness is most grossly evinced in the culture it industriously excretes and avariciously consumes.  It is a culture marked by a constant recourse to vapid ironical humour - all the winking and wit and lurid stage sets belying a dark as hell nihilistic core. Irony, as deployed by the Socrates of Plato and Kierkegaard, or by any beleaguered individual trying to make a point, isn’t inherently nihilistic; it’s a rhetorical device and so a hope of persuasion is implicit. But how is an artist – musician, author, painter, dancer, whatever -  supposed to attack with irony a commercial culture that itself so efficiently and profitably turns an ironic gaze upon itself? You can’t, but what you can do is become embroiled in a hopeless dance of nothingness and shit.


A Dance of Nothingness and Shit

                                                    
           George R.r. martin

                                                       £19.95


David Foster Wallace explicitly addressed this failure of artistic irony in his essay E Unibus Pluram... Actually, he doesn't exactly… He was specifically addressing what he perceived to be a malaise of hip US literature of the 90s, but I’m going to infer all kinds of stuff from his conclusions because you can do that in a love letter.
He basically concluded that ‘the new rebels might be artists willing to risk the yawn, the rolled eyes, the cool smile, the nudged ribs, the parody of gifted ironists, the “oh how banal.” To risk accusations of sentimentality, melodrama. Of overcredulity. Of softness...’ and so on. Sound familiar, Stevie?

Martin’s superlatively detailed fantasy isn’t a piece of quotidian, trashy escapism, it’s phenomenally high-grade, and it’s something I myself turn to when I need time away. I’m particularly fond of the Littlefinger and Varis characters from the series. Littlefinger, partly for hackneyed reasons – born an underdog, rose to power through sheer guile and determination, &c., &c., but mostly for his solipsistic disregard for his world and the fact that he seems to have Quantum Leapt from some early Noughties executive Tai Chi session . He’d unflinchingly smash Westeros to pieces and piss on the pieces then chew the pieces and swallow and digest and shit the pieces then once winter arrives he’d sculpt the newly shat pieces into frozen shit-knives and use them to slit the throats of even the last mewling baby of Fleabottom because beyond his own advancement nothing whatsoever means anything to him and he’s absolutely off his fucking nut on humdrum magic. And his will to power is pretty much abstract in its purity, devoid of any foundational ideal. He’s the only one with any real idea of how to combat the feudal sickness of Martin’s fantasy world, and that’s through enthusiastically contributing to, and accelerating, its mad feudal descent into hell. He'll be king of the rubble. Cock of the dungheap. And he’s got a short back-and-sides haircut and anachronistic facial hair, so it’s fairly obvious he’s from here. And I can tell that you’ve come here from Westeros, Stevie.

I’m sorry if all of my points of reference seem hopelessly disparate, I've felt for a while now that our zeit's geist is tossing dishes and the news that you'd written those poems made me think that we could be emerging from a shitty era. I’m 28 now. I realise that you’re of my parent’s generation, and I realise that I’m lamely conflating US and UK culture, but this is just a love letter and my smitten brain reckons there’s a despairing stasis that spans generations in our Anglophone world.
When I spoke earlier about the ‘advent’ of your poems, I didn’t necessarily mean the advent of their creation, and perhaps the poems don't even need to be read in order to fulfil their talismanic function, but just knowing that they exist - enacting a sinuous triangulation between personal tragedy, public persona and a cultural post-apocalypse - is enough to keep me going. I reckon your poems mark the apotheosis of kitsch, not exclusively but iconically. Through them you’ve marked the way for anybody hoping to overcome the nihilistic irony of our age. You’ve risked disapproval and I think that’s what it takes to make a real rebel.
I‘ve included a poem with this letter. I wrote it last summer and I’m offering it up as a potential swap. I hope you enjoy it. It's called Crick Crack and it’s meant to be about love, sacrifice and John Woo’s Face/Off. I'd love one day to read your Game of Thrones poetry, but hearing of the circumstances that catalysed them, I understand that they must be intensely personal in nature. If I was you I'm not sure I’d let a stranger read them. But you’re you, thank god, and you’re a courageous She-Christ and I'd consider it a huge privilege to read one and have - in hope - included my postal address at the top of this letter.

In the late 1980s and early 1990s, she wore fashionable hats on stage, and she often still wears a black top hat adorned with giant plumes.


One of her trademarks is twirling across the stage with shawls flying during the interlude of her classic songs, notably "Stand Back" and "Gypsy".