DOES ABERDEEN EXIST? AN ESSAY REVIEW OF STEWART HOME'S '69 THINGS TO DO WITH A DEAD PRINCESS' by Kevin O'Neill
Avoiding Karen Eliot, I turn towards Stewart Home. Disliking K. L. Callan, I incline to Stewart Home. Nauseated by Luther Blisset, I detour towards Stewart Home. Feeling Kevin O’Neill is too obvious a point of reference, I opt for Stewart Home.
Stewart Home was born in South London in 1962. When he was 16 he held down a factory job for a few months, an experience that led him to vow he’d never work again. After dabbling in rock journalism and music, the bread-doll fancier switched his attention to the art world in the 1980s and now writes novels as well as cultural commentary. (Home 2003 , blurb; 1997, p.-5; 1999, p.223; 1996 , p.3; 1996, inside back cover; Anon 2002) To write about the postmodern prankster’s 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess using a conventional academic style would be a gross misjudgement. The posturing politicist’s reduction of this form of writing by its juxtaposition with pornography pre-empts any attempt to consider it using a ‘serious’ literary style. Therefore, once this paragraph has ended, I will abandon my current method in favour of one inspired by the avant-gardist phenomenon. The dominant linguistic feature of the majority of his fictional works is the repetition of the clause structure SVX; I will attempt to imitate this to discuss 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. The basic pattern I will follow is pronoun-verb-compliment; if this becomes too difficult to sustain I may shift from pronouns to noun phrases. This approach has been adopted as I believe it will allow me to examine the bread-doll fancier’s writing without compromising my analysis by discussing it with a style that is discredited within the source text. One obvious problem with a ‘literary’ approach to 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess would be in how to write about the cultural critic’s parodies of academia without confusing my own writing with his, or whoever he may have plagiarised from; a typically postmodern problem. Of course, my adoption of his clause style similarly runs the risk of being parodied by my subject material, but the uncomplicated clause structure I have chosen hopefully reduces this possibility. This style also has a remarkable potential for demonstrating my argument with economy, as if it should fail at any point – by becoming tediously repetitive or staid – it will demonstrate the impressive control the Neoist has over his writing that he does not let it become obvious that he is using such a predictable and repetitive structure. I have chosen to make this essay a humble experiment in style as a tribute to the much more sophisticated experimentation that the psychogeographer attempts in 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. The tosser utilises the discourses of academia, pornography, modernism, travelogue, and more, adopting their voices. The pastiche of text types destabilises the narrative voice and creates a unique reading experience. His use of text types is subject to constant intercutting, juxtaposition and internal parody. Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis theory provides a route into this style: schizophrenia as the solution to capitalist logics. The art thug’s adoption of multiple voices will be interpreted as a schizophrenic tendency in the novel, which allows a greater understanding of the purpose of his style. I will illustrate his use of a form of double-coding which sees his style act as an attack on discourses, while simultaneously performing the specific function of each text type, e.g. the academic text type is at once a deconstruction of this discourse and also a scathing critique of Western literature. I will label the former the critical function, and the latter the surface function, to allow me to draw a distinction between the levels of the bread doll fancier’s style. It is ironic that a postmodern writer necessitates such a distinction, which acknowledges varying depths within style, but this is an unavoidable result of attempting to discuss the well-known black avant-bardist piss taker within an academic framework. He attacks the text types of modernism, academia, pornography and travelogue to annihilate certitude, to deconstruct the social codes which comprise our supposed individuality, to destroy our bourgeois subjectivity. I will argue that while his experiment intends to create an unpleasant reading experience, this is undermined when the surface function of the travelogue text type obscures the critical function. Given the crop-headed prose extremist’s postmodern status, any academic study will necessarily fail to elucidate a clear position from which to regard him, other than to state he occupies an unstable postmodern space. Thus, this essay will only accomplish a peripheral account of his positions at best, but will nonetheless cover a lot of ground.
Home vs Quin: prelude
The Quin motif. Home’s dominant stylistic influence is supposedly Ann Quin’s Berg. Jenny Turner addresses this, Cory Weber highlights it, Mary Jacobi devotes half her review to a profile of Quin, the narrator of 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess calls attention to it in a flattering footnote (Turner 2002; internet 5; Jacobi 2003; Home 2003 , p.169n.) Turner cites the latter as a treat for ‘better-read readers’ (Turner 2002). She ignores the implications of being unaware of Berg. Ann Quin is a figure unknown by most contemporary readers. Her works are generally unavailable. Turner does not address the intentional obscurity of the reference. Fails to connect this intertextuality to the rest of 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. Its author juxtaposes text types. The main dialectical between academia and porn. Mixes extreme forms of high and low culture. Postmodern summariser Brian McHale posits that different discourses construct different worlds (McHale 1992, p.152). 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess has the Coleridge epigraph ‘I regard truth as a divine ventriloquist’. A deliberately oblique allusion. The main gist: truth can be found through different voices. Eradicates cultural barriers, hierarchy. Home said in 1994 ‘discursive structures simultaneously enable one to speak and limit what can be said’ (internet 4). A note of caution: he has also said not to believe everything he writes (Home 2001, p.1). McHale as ironic ventriloquist. Home shows similarities with McHale’s status, though he (or whoever speaks in 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess) would be scathing of his academic opportunism. Shows an interest in adopting the ‘voice’ of text types. He says ‘discursive structures’ are limiting. But only if used in context and authentically. Home constructs high and low text types within the novel 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. This is the intertextuality the critics above ignore. The effects of this annihilate certitude. It is difficult to specify Home’s intentions, apart from that he undermines most of what he does. I will prove this through a study of his style. Schizophrenic ventriloquism. He adopts voices to destabilise narrative voice, annihilate certitude, destroy the novel. Proves the fallacy of the Quin motif as uncomplicated influence on his style.
Home vs Quin: an expository detour
As we have leisure enough upon our hands,----if you give me leave, madam, I’ll divert from my stated purpose for a moment to illustrate the merging of discourses. The clash of high and low culture. The unscrambling of social codes. The annihilation of certitude. The novel’s nervous breakdown. This typified by paragraph 27 of chapter one. I have separated it into numbered lines for demonstration of complexity and ease of reference.
We trudged towards Union Street.
Alan was talking about Erich Fromm again.
He’d read through several Fromm books the previous night.
They offended him.
He’d sell them as soon as he could.
Alan ridiculed the treatment of the futurist movement in The Anatomy of Human Destructiveness.
Jibed that Fromm falls behind his own premises.
If one is going to use historical methods, then the influences of Bergson’s vitalism must be traced through Sorel to the futurists.
Even on his own terms Fromm was mistaken to equate futurism with death.
Alan stumbled, resumed his speech, but he’d forgotten about Fromm.
He was angrily dismissing what Louis J. Halle had to say in The Ideological Imagination.
A terrible book.
I couldn’t follow the thread of his argument.
(Home 2003 , p.11).
This mixes academic and modernist text types. A comparative paragraph would be 17 (ibid., p.7). A relatively faithful rendering of academia. More complex: 27 words per sentence. Paragraph 27: 9.5 words per sentence. 17 is not without criticism though. Alan’s opinions are given a ‘written’ tone through the frequent use of premodified noun phrases (‘historical genesis’, ‘right-wing cretin’, ‘famous observation’, etc.). Alan’s position is mocked if the words are his or someone else’s. He is either ridiculously pretentious or pretentious. Alan is also undercut by the use of elegant variation. Reporting clauses are noticeably varied, from ‘criticised’, to ‘stressed’, to ‘muttered’ (ibid., p.7). ‘Said’ is avoided. Home used this technique with more comic effect in Slow Death (e.g. ridiculous reporting clauses such as ‘chirped’, ‘harangued’, ‘sermonised’ (Home 1996, pp.66,158,168)) and Come before Christ and Murder Love (‘snarled’, ‘hissed’, ‘barked’, ‘enquired’ on the same page (Home 1997, p.16)). Home foregrounds the writing process. Prevents reader from engaging with text. An ironic interpretation of his style would use these features as a means to coherence. This is not incompatible with Home’s aims. Wants to promote active reading (internet 4).
Elegant variation used in porn text type: ‘erect tool’, ‘phallus’, ‘beef curtains’, ‘molten genetics’, ‘chief implement for the propagation of our species’ (Home 2003 , pp.9,10,69,117). Similar technique in wholesale repetition. Compare pages 42-3 and 98-9. Phrases repeated, syntax almost identical:
42: S(I’ve) V(never met) X(S(anyone) who V(made love) X(with such scientific deliberation)).
98: S(I) V(never knew) X(S(anyone) V(to fuck X(with such scientific deliberation)).
42: S(Every stroke) V(told) X(to the uttermost).
98: S(He V(made) X(every stroke) V(tell) X(to the uttermost).
43: S(This position) V(elevated) X(my behind) c(and) S(Alan) V(proceeded at once) X(to avail himself of it.)
99: S(This position) V(elevated) X(my anus), c(and) S(Alan) V(proceeded)
(at once to avail himself of it.)
Any admiration of Home’s style is subverted by the obvious repetition. Further examples from Home’s pornographic experiments: ‘genetic codes were being scrambled and unscrambled across the surface of his bulk’ (Home 1994, pp.38,41,95; 1996, pp.20,42,61,125,154), ‘liquid genetics’ (Home 1994, pp.6,20,39,43,46,59,90, 102,107,122,139; 1996, pp.22,43,148), ‘together they had reached that peak from which man and woman can never jointly return’ (Home 1994, pp.16,41,75; 1996, pp.22,62,155). This ridiculous display makes the text type ridiculous.
Home foregrounds the writing process to deconstruct the text types. Internal parody of discourse. Simultaneously a pornographic text. Postmodern double-coding. A text can function as an attack, and what it attacks. Parallel technique of porn and academia is reductive of both – writing as a system, nothing more. Discourses construct worldviews, Home attacks their structures, hierarchy, codes. Critical function. Involved in postmodern double-coding. The surface function sees the text types speak with their typical voice, function according to expectations. Multiple voices = multiple perspectives = multiple worlds. Multiple worlds as a postmodern thematic motif which destabilise the primary world (McHale 1992, pp.125-6). 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess uses multiple worlds thematically and stylistically. Stylistic in text types, already demonstrated. Thematic worldbuilding seen in frequency of visions, dreams. Each chapter is bookended by dreaming and sleeping and waking.
Schizophrenic motif destabilises the narrative. Best and Kellner ventriloquise Deleuze and Guattari (Best and Kellner 1991, pp. 76-110). The latter through the former theorise that capitalism best combated through processes of schizophrenia, destroying old codes, freeing desires beneath socially constructed identity (ibid., pp.91-3). The forces of capitalism and schizophrenia evoked in the blurb of the large format paperback of 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess (internet 7). Home practices schizophrenia within the novel to destabilise narrative, annihilate certitude. Too rapid a deconstruction leads to destruction, suicide (Best and Keller, pp.92-3). The novel’s nervous breakdown. Multiple voices, constant interplay, none allowed to dominate. Coherence lost in schizophrenic bedlam. The form of the novel destroyed. Paralleled by the disappearance of Alan, his suicide within Anna’s consciousness (Home 2003 , p.141).
A return to paragraph 27 from the digression within the digression. Premodification and elegant variation are still evident (‘futurist movement’, ‘own premises’, ‘historical methods’, ‘Bergson’s vitalism’, ‘terrible book’; ‘talking’, ‘ridiculed’, ‘jibed’, ‘dismissing’). The problematic representation of speech is more relevant. The novel is narrated by Anna in the third person. There is no direct speech. This creates problems of attributing speech to characters. Exacerbated in the use of academic text types. Originality and accreditation as key concepts for academia (Fabb 2003, pp.13-16). Home problematises the speech situation to deconstruct hierarchy, annihilate certitude. A simple example, difficult question: does Anna summarise Alan’s opinion in 4, or represent the alternative speech situation “Alan said ‘They offend me’”? The former is more likely, but the latter cannot be ruled out. Anna would only have to shift the first person pronoun to third, backshift the tense of the verb. It is impossible to define what Alan said, if anything. There are more problems when we consider 8/9 and 13. Sentences 8 and 9 have no names/pronouns or reporting clauses to demarcate them as speech. We don’t know if these words belong to Alan, Anna, or an unnamed plagiarised author. The paragraph creates cohesion through the use of ‘Alan’ and second person pronouns in 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 10, 11. This makes it likely that Alan is the speaker in 8 and 9. Home’s reputation complicates this. Known for uncredited lifts from political writing (Turner 2002). Even if Alan is meant to be the speaker, we cannot trust that his words are original. Sentence 13 represents climax of this style. Insertion of ‘I’ into sentence breaks pattern of paragraph. ‘I’ could refer to Alan or Anna; ‘his’ to Alan or Halle. This could be an unsignalled quotation of Alan’s speech. Could be Anna’s comment on Halle. Or Anna’s comment on Alan. The latter two are more likely. More problematic. Home’s interest in creating difficulties for readers, people not understanding his work (Home 1999, pp.5-8; Home 2001, p.1; internet 1). Home destabilises certainty of narrative comprehension. The annihilation of certitude.
Home vs Quin: the fight
And a chapter it shall have!----though I had not intended it to ‘have’ for so long; let us try a summary, to see what we have achieved. Home parodies academia (high) and pornography (low) by a dual tactic of internal parody and juxtaposition with their cultural opposites. The annihilation of certitude. The novel’s schizophrenic breakdown. Outcome: Ann Quin cannot be seen as an unchallenged figure. Home’s style undermines academic discourse. He mocks its internal referentiality. References to literature become tedious, irritating. A Guardian review identifies this, doesn’t think that might be the point (Hickling 2002). Home has stated that an unpleasant reading experience is his objective in writing fiction (internet 9). He has also said not to believe everything he writes (Home 2001, p.1). The novel expresses sympathy with the confused reader. Anna is confused by Alan’s literary discourse at first. She realises ‘there was nothing much to understand’. Alan trips and loses his train of thought, coming across every bit the bumbling professor (Home 2003 , p.6,11). Academia is undercut by misunderstanding and slapstick-esque comedy. J. G. Ballard’s postmodernism has an implied reader who must understand his high and low cultural references. 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess has no equivalent implied reader. The reader does not have to follow the literary discussions. Home invites the reader to not understand. The reader follows Home’s design by not understanding, by having an unpleasant reading experience.
Now I get back to Quin, after a Shandyean detour. This obscure illusion is rendered a parody of academic pretentions. Few will understand it, as the author intended. The critics mentioned above fall into Home’s trap by flaunting their academic knowledge. His footnote parodies their activities in absentia (Home 2003 , p.169n.). I can’t be sure Home intended Quin as an ironic allusion. I can stress that little is certain in 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. Home has said not to believe everything he writes (Home 2001, p.1). Implications: the annihilation of certitude as consistent device in the novel. The destruction of the novel. But: could be seen to provide coherence to an otherwise abstract narrative. Home as desiring unpleasant reading experience (internet 9). But with the objective of creating a new reading process (internet 4). If coherence is achieved through a new reading process, can Home’s style be a success? Yes. But this requires an active reader to be aware of the critical function within Home’s double coding. Problems occur when the surface function is used to make the novel cohere.
Does Aberdeen exist?
I am disappointed that I am only now approaching the title of my essay;--This is in part due to the unfortunate, but indubitably necessary, diversion which investigated Home’s schizophrenic style. My title as symbol of the effect of Home’s style. Certitude annihilated, process unchecked. Cannot identify anything which is definite. I address the novel’s other main discourse: travelogue. A vague term, but encompasses the elements of the novel that are relevant here. Visiting stone circles in Aberdeen. Describing them. Travelling between supermarket restaurants and bistros. This geographic treatment is rarely seen, less prominent in other Home novels. There is tension between the bland documentary of Aberdeen and Home’s postmodern status. A statement on his view of world-building in art:
The psychogeographer (and photography is only of any interest to me in so far as it is a form of psychogeography) knows that the world cannot be recorded, it can only be remade. The pastoralist, on the other hand, wants to believe that everything that is fabricated pre-existed this fabrication, and that it will "endure" "forever" because it is in some way "natural" and "real". (internet 10)
Home positions himself as a psychogeographer. Supported by his founding of the London Psychogeographical Association and epithets of him as such (internet 3; internet 11). A commitment to creative rendering of reality. Questioning reality. Annihilating certitude. An opposition to documentary. 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess praised as authentic record of Aberdeen (Turner 2002; Teeman 2002). Critics ignore the implications of this. The main narrative action consists of Anna’s trips across Aberdeenshire. Home would not exclude this element from his double-coding treatment. I would doubt the authenticity if not for Turner. Annihilation of certitude continued by style of this text type. The novel has tedious sections which describe the landscape and stone circles:
S(Cothiemuir Wood), X(within the grounds of Castle Forbes), V(seems originally to have consisted of) X(eleven upright stones, mostly about seven feet high, forming a circle 25 yards in diameter.)
S(The two flankers) V(were) X(nine and a half feet high, and 15 feet asunder), X(the space between them being occupied by a massive recumbent stone upwards of five feet in diameter and thirteen and a half feet in length, lying on the west side of the circle.)
X(In the middle of the circle) V(was) X(a quantity of loose stones and near the centre, a slab of four or five feet square, covering a small pit open on the south side.)
S(The recumbent with its two flankers plus two uprights) V(was) X(still correctly positioned.)
S(The three other uprights that still stood) V(were) X(no longer vertical) c(and) S(these leaning stanes) V(spoke) X(the ravages of time.)
(X)At Cothiemuir Wood) S(I) V(took) X(my skirt off) c(and) V(pulled) X(my knickers) X(down around my ankles, allowing Alan to take a picture of Dudley entangled in my arms.)
(Home 2003 , p.93).
This is an example of Home’s double-coding. It is an apparently authentic record of Cothiemuir Wood stone circle and a parody of documentary travelogue. Turner claims the details of the stone circles are accurate (Turner 2002). If they are accurate, they could be seen to produce coherence in the narrative. The visits forming a consistent thread through which the reader can navigate the novel. The surface function obscuring the critical. This is incompatible with Home’s desire to create an unpleasant reading experience. His attempt to fail would have failed; a risk involved with double-coding. But the travelogue discourse is undermined by two features: 1) its over-elaborate syntax 2) its psychogeographical juxtaposition with the porn text type.
1) The syntax is more complex than any of the other text types. I offer a breakdown of the sentences:
2: SVXX (or SVX[SVX])
6: XSVcVXX (or XSVXcVX[VX])
A comparative breakdown of paragraph 27 of chapter one, quoted above:
Both are relatively complex. But there are marked differences. Paragraph 27 follows a consistent SVX pattern, uses light subjects, i.e. pronouns. The stone circle section follows SVX to an extent, but with variation. Sentence 1 has a preverbal X element. Sentence 3 has this before an ellipted subject. The main difference is in heavy subjects: ‘The recumbent with its two flankers upright’, ‘The three other uprights that still stood’. These characterise the travelogue text type. Heavy X elements after the verb also. These X elements are deletable, convey unnecessary information. See sentence 2. Home parodies realist fiction, its determined descriptiveness. Style provides extraneous information to build illusion of reality. Home takes this to extreme, giving exact measurements for the stones. These become tedious. ‘Nine and a half feet high’. We might ask how Anna knows these exact measurements. Home even subjects this discourse to elegant variation, shifting between words and numbers to represent the figures, a stylistic faux pas that students are frequently warned against (internet 12; internet 13; internet 14; internet 15; internet 16). The reality illusion is a trait of 19th century fiction, but also of twentieth century ‘literary’ fiction which Home rails against (internet 9). He uses a realist style in combination with a bland subject to deconstruct this discourse. Leech and Short suggest that this style can help provide credibility to otherwise fantastic narratives, such as Gulliver’s Travels (Leech and Short 1981, pp.158-9). Home’s juxtaposition of the blandness of geographical detail with the ‘shocking’ porn text type in sentence 6 could be a manifestation of this technique. Is more likely his unscrambling of the codes of realist literature. The annihilation of certitude.
2) The porn has another possible function. It is frequently integrated into Anna’s trips to stone circles. Two possible effects, within this second feature of the quotation above (Home 2003 , p.93). 1) Unscrambling the codes of realist literature 2) a psychogeographical treatment. I have already covered point 1) in the above paragraph, and elsewhere. Hook the quoted paragraph up to Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis machine. Psychogeography is a difficult concept. Iain Sinclair identifies Home as the figure responsible for this (internet 17). Given Home’s statement above, I take it to be a commitment to creative rendering of reality. An opposition to documentary. Home charges the Aberdeenshire landscape with new meaning. Research suggests that stone circles were connected with death, ritual, sex (Burl 1976, pp.87,168; Pittock 2002, pp.354-5). Very relevant to the themes of 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess, both the real and fictional versions. Connections to pagan, Celtic rituals. But cultural myth is of exaggerated ‘druid’ involvement (Burl 1976, p.7). Anyone who has read 69 Things to do with a Dead Princess will never see stone circles as boring. Their historical stereotype destroyed by Home’s porn. Cothiemuir Wood is remade as a site of avant-garde porn. The Candle Stane as a voyeuristic haven (Home 2003 , p.135). Mither Tap and pseudo-necrophilia (ibid., p.68) Aikey Brae the site of partner-swapping (ibid., pp.121-2). Compare Ian Rankin, who cites places and street names in the absence of actual descriptive work. Capitalises upon their pre-existing cultural significance. Home’s psychogeography as creative process, analogous to novel’s style, forges new meaning from destruction. &c. &c. &c.
69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess as a remarkable novel. There’s a cliché for you. I managed to get through most of the essay, I think, without resorting to such banal stylistic redundancies. I have insisted that Home’s style treats text types with double-coding, pastiche, internal parody and juxtaposition to annihilate certitude for his reader. I sermonised that this can be interpreted with Deleuze and Guattari’s schizoanalysis theory to show that Home performs a postmodern ventriloquist act to simulate a destruction of both a bourgeois subjectivity and the novel form itself. I suggested that the novel’s style is problematic because it requires an active reader to be aware of the critical function within Home’s double coding. I stressed that while his style is in theory a brilliant deconstruction of several discourses, this can be undermined by their surface functions. I postulated that this was exemplified by the travelogue text type, which can be used to make the narrative cohere, albeit in a vague and fragmentary sense. However, the response to this would be that Home does not intend his work to be consumed; he only intends it to be deconstructed, in a manner similar to (but not in such an explicit and obvious a fashion) what this essay has attempted. The object of his style thus becomes a new way of reading, a new way of seeing culture, society. Additionally, if people do not understand his double-coding, do not get his jokes, then he claims to be happy with the effect of his work (internet 1). Inevitably, with a postmodern writer the process of analysing uncertainties becomes impossible to conclude. Hence, the futility of academia is further demonstrated by Home, which this essay may or may not have just proven, as the reader will judge. Does the novel have a point? The biggest wind up: is this essay pointless?
Anon 2002. ‘Shelf Life: Stewart Home’. In Scotland on Sunday, 21/04/02.
Ballard, J G 2001 . The Atrocity Exhibition. London: Flamingo (Flamingo
Baker, S 2000. The Fiction of Postmodernity. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University
Best, S and Kellner, D 1991. Postmodern Theory: Critical Interrogations. London: Macmillan (Communications and Culture).
Burl, A 1976. The Stone Circles of The British Isles. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
Fabb, N 2003. Department of English Studies handbook 2003-2004. Glasgow:
University of Strathclyde.
Hickling, A 2002. ’69 Things to do with a Dead Princess, by Stewart Home
(Canongate, £6.99)’. In The Guardian, 25/01/03.
Home, S 1994. Red London. Edinburgh: AK Press.
Home, S 1996. Slow Death. London and New York: High Risk Books & Serpent’s
Home, S 1996 . Cranked Up Really High: Genre Theory and Punk Rock.
New edition, Hove: Codex Books.
Home, S 1997. Come before Christ and Murder Love. London: Serpent’s Tail.
Home, S 1999. Confusion Incorporated: A Collection of Lies, Hoaxes & Hidden
Truths. Hove: Codex Books.
Home, S 2001. Jean Baudrillard & The Psychogeography of Nudism. London:
Home, S 2003 . 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess. Edinburgh:
Internet 1. ‘Eating Fucking and Occultism’. http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/krim.htm. Consulted 10/01/04.
Internet 2. ‘Against Silence: A Review of Stewart Home’s 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess’.
html. Consulted 10/01/04.
Internet 3. ‘Stewart Home: Anarcho Sadism in the UK’. http://www.classiccafes.co.uk/shome.htm. Consulted 18/12/03.
Internet 4. ‘The art of legitimation: The ongoing transformation of the
avant-garde from countercultural force to dominant institution’.
http://www.stewarthomesociety.org/ford.htm. Consulted 18/12/03.
Internet 5 ‘RCF book reviews’.
Internet 6. ‘Introduction to Fredric Jamieson, Module on Pastiche’.
jamesonpastichemainframe.html. Consulted 20/01/04.
Internet 7. ‘parody’. http://www.english.uga.edu/~amitchel/4830_parody.htm.
Internet 8. ‘Canongate general list – 69 Things to Do with a Dead Princess’.
http://www.canongate.net/list/glp.taf?_p=6535. Consulted 10/01/04.
Internet 9. ‘Whiskey a Whore Galore: 69 Things to Do with Stewart Home –
home.html. Consulted 18/12/03.
Internet 10. ‘How I discovered America’.
http://www.infopool.org.uk/america.htm. Consulted 18/12/03.
Internet 11. ‘Stewart Home – Artist Provocateur’.
http://www.fluxeuropa.com/stewarthome.htm. Consulted 18/12/03.
Internet 12. ‘Writing hints and usage guide’.
http://mason.gmu.edu/~tlidderd/style.html#Numbers2. Consulted 25/01/04.
Internet 13. ‘Grammar: Pronunciation/Writing of large numbers’.
Internet 14. ‘Writing style’.
#1160237. Consulted 25/01/04.
Internet 15. ‘Grammar reference’. http://www.qofp.com/grammar.htm
#Numbers. Consulted 25/01/04.
Internet 16. ‘The 12 Most Common Technical Writing Mistakes and How to
writing.htm. Consulted 25/01/04.
Internet 17. ‘Psychogeography of the café’.
http://freespace.virgin.net/a.maddox/Psy.html. Consulted 18/12/03.
Jacobi, M 2003. ‘Home’s Stead’. In Village Voice, 19-25/02/03.
Kane, P 2002. ‘A fantasy chiselled in granite’. In Sunday Times, 24/02/02.
Leech, G N and Short, M H 1981. Style in Fiction: A Linguistic Introduction
to English Fictional Prose. London & New York: Longman (English Language
McHale, B 1992. Constructing Postmodernism. London & New York:
Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, The 1996. Edited A Partington, revised
fourth edition, Oxford & New York: Oxford University Press.
Pittock, M G H 2002. ‘Contrasting Cultures: Town and Country’. In Dennison,
E P, Ditchburn, D and Lynch, M (eds.) Aberdeen Before 1800: A New History.
East Linton: Tuckwell Press, 347-373.
Rankin, I 1999 . Mortal Causes. Eighth impression, London: Orion.
Rankin, I 1999 . The Hanging Garden. London: Orion.
Rankin, I 2000 . Tooth & Nail. Sixth impression, London: Orion.
Rankin, I 2001 . Bleeding Hearts. London: Orion.
Rankin, I 2001 . Set in Darkness. Third impression, London: Orion.
Rankin, I 2001 . The Falls. Third impression, London: Orion.
Sterne, L 2000 [1759-67]. Tristram Shandy. Edited T Parnell. London and
Vermont: J.M. Dent and Turtle Publishing (The Everyman Library).
Teeman, T 2002. ‘Home’s rule’. In The Times, 23/03/02.
Turner, J 2002. ‘Aberdeen rocks’. In London Review of Books, 09/05/02.
Wright, L and Hope, J 1996. Stylistics: A practical coursebook. London and
New York: Routledge.
Stewart Home on his early fiction
Ed Robinson on Home's earlier fiction
Books & Writing
Mass market paperback.
In Russian, another edition.
Stewart Home 'post-porn-modernist' caught on camera in 'three-in-a-bed sex romp' with two of his Barbie dolls.
Stewart Home 'getting down & dirty...'
Stewart Home with another of his sex dolls.
ABERDEENSHIRE STONE CIRCLES
I've always suspected that taking too many psychedelics on an empty stomach scrambles your brain, and this belief was confirmed when I recently read and road tested Julian Cope's deranged ramblings about Aberdeenshire stone circles in his book The Modern Antiquarian. North-east Scotland has the greatest concentration of stone circles to be found anywhere in the world, and over the years I've visited more than sixty of them. Possibly as a result of my preference for whisky over ecstasy, I found Cope's impressions rather different to my own.
The fey pop singer must have had a few too many blotters before he wrote: "Bang in the middle of the Great Mother's heart - that's how it feels to stand in the sacred Aberdeenshire landscape. And there is a series of sacred hill and earth features around the village of Insch which are such stars that had they not been so obscurely placed, they would have rivalled the Avebury area."
Much as I love Avebury, I tend to avoid the place during the summer because it gets overrun with trippers. While in good weather I've often met other visitors at well signposted Aberdeenshire circles such as Midmar or Loanhead of Daviot, they are rarely crowded. However, if you are the reclusive type there are many unsigned circles, such as Tyrebagger situated close to Aberdeen airport, which are more often than not deserted.
The only time the Aberdeenshire stones get really busy is at the solstice or when some spectacular astronomical event is happening. I was at Easter Aquhorthies during the solar eclipse on 11 August last year. However, rather than acting as a magnet for new age hippies, much of the crowd gathered at the circle was made up of young children accompanied by their parents. A smattering of smartly dressed secretaries bunking off from office jobs in the nearby town of Inverurie were also present. A crustie like Cope would have looked out of place at this gathering.
Most of Aberdeenshire's rings are characterised by a large prostrate block of stone, flanked on either side by upright monoliths, located within the south-south-east to south-west section of the circle's circumference. These monuments - called recumbent stone circles - are unique to the area. It is believed the stones were positioned to function as a frame for the moon as it moved across the sky. While I've never seen any evidence of occult activities during the course of hundreds of visits to these sites, fundamentalists have claimed sacrilegious rites are commonplace.
I found Cope's new age speculations about Aberdeenshire in The Modern Antiquarian to be at odds with both archaeological opinion and plain common sense. His gazetteer was even more annoying, since it singularly failed to give clear instructions for getting to sites. When Cope tells readers they need an Ordinance Survey map to find a particular circle, he might just as well say they're wasting their time pursuing his book. For those new to Aberdeenshire antiquities, I'd recommend giving Cope a wide berth and instead phoning Gordon District Council's Planning Department on 01467 620981, to ask about their excellent Stone Circle Trail.
First published in Jean Baudrillard & The Psychogeography of Nudism by Stewart Home.
Sexy & Seductive Spammer Wants To Meet You...
Spam is unsolicited and largely unwanted bulk email. It used as a direct marketing tool and in attempts to trick its recipients into revealing personal information. Most spam is crudely constructed and works on the assumption that if enough people receive it, then some of them will respond to it. Related to this are chain emails which often contain hoax contents, as well as spam postings on social networking sites such as MySpace (often containing links for pay to view pornography).
In the eighties the word 'spam' was used on bulletin boards and elsewhere as repetitive noise to drive out unwanted visitors. The use of the term 'spam' to describe an unsolicited mail has been traced back at least as far as Joel Furr, who on 31 March 1983 applied the word to a recursive message (caused by a software error) on the news.admin.policy group. It is believed early usages of this type were simultaneously invoking a rather hackneyed 'comedy' sketch from a 1970s British television show called "Monty Python" which mentions the processed meat product 'Spam' ninety-four times.
Pioneering examples of spamming date back at least as far as May 1978, when the computer manufacturer DEC asked their customers to participate in the presentation of the DECSYSTEM-20 in Los Angeles and San Mateo. This unsolicited message was mailed to all Arpanet users on the west coast of North America. This particular bulk mailing aroused consternation, although at least one recipient defended DEC on the grounds of 'freedom of speech'. Another historic marker in recent histories of the spread of 'spam' took place on 5 March 1994, when lawyers Laurence Canter and Martha Siegel used a bulk Usenet posting to advertise their US immigration law services. Following this the Floodgate Bulk Email Loader became the standard software tool for spamming. However, after 1997 Floodgate was superseded by software such as Dark Mailer, which exploits proxies (mail servers that can send emails from strangers, so-called 'open relay servers').
Since people make money from spam, the amount of it sent around the world has grown exponentially over the years. 'Phising' emails are the first strike in an attempt to defraud the recipient, whereas those spammers who simply advertise products receive a small percentage of the income generated every time someone clicks through from their links to a commercial site. Since it is possible to send half a million or more emails an hour, even with an extremely low take-up rate of whatever junk is on offer, spamming can be a very remunerative activity. Because spam is incredibly cheap to send, its recipients are rarely carefully targeted: so women (and even male to female transsexuals) receive ads for penis enlargement pills, while religious fundamentalists are sent links to hardcore pornography. Commercial spammers clog up millions of inboxes in the hope of grabbing a cent or two from a few dozen suckers.
Spam emails often offer luxury goods, such as Rolex watches, at bargain basement prices, but since these are often counterfeit they don't always function as very effective status symbols when they reach the marks they've been touted to. Other popular spam goods include discounted computer software and medicines (many of which when tested prove to be harmful to the user and in some instances could cause death). Spam essentially exists to exploit the weak and gullible, and some commentators have characterised it as being predicated on the 'sale of dreams' rather than the sale of goods. From this it can be seen that spam differs little from the swindles of yesteryear, it simply delivers the conman's patter in bulk direct to millions of computers.
While direct marketing through email involves the sale of 'real' (even if counterfeit) goods and services, 'phising' encompasses attempts at fraudulently obtaining money or sensitive information. 'Phising' spams are constructed to appear as if they originate from 'trusted' institutions, businesses or individuals. They may ask the recipient to verify details for accounts held with banks, online money services such as PayPal or online market places such as Ebay or iOffer. 'Phising' emails often ask the recipient to log in via a link to a fake website because of an alleged security breach, or with the threat that this is necessary to prevent their account being closed.
Other methods of 'phising' include informing the recipient that they have won money in a lottery or are due an inheritance, but that bank and other personal details are required so that payment may proceed. Another trick is to claim that a third party bank account is needed to facilitate the transfer of an enormous amount of money (and that the mark will be given a percentage of this money if they provide their bank details to enable this to take place). This type of con is often called the 'Nigeria Money Transfer Scam' because many of those sending the emails claim to be based Nigeria (although those responsible may well have been New England WASPs).
Another spam scam is the 'Hot Stock'. Emails are pumped out proclaiming there will be a huge increase in the value of specific company shares over the next few days. The scammer has bought shares in the stock they are manipulating prior to sending these emails, knowing they are about to lure others into making the same 'investment'. The scammer sells their shares as soon as the stock accrues a significant increase in value, since the price rise is usually very short lived. Studies indicate that those who buy stocks after receiving these email 'tips' often loose significant amounts of money.
These days most people use spam filters but even the best of these are far from perfect, and spammers are always finding new ways of evading them. For as long as we live in a capitalist society predicated on fear and greed, we will have to put up with spam. Only a revolutionary transformation of society, and not the development of more sophisticated filters, will kill spam.
Stewart Home blog, 6 October 2007.