A Fortnightly Review
These Wonderful Spring Days
by Jeremy David Stock
By MICHAEL HAMPTON.
The branches of knowledge are not branches at all, they are vortices, eddies, whorls, the conceptual descriptors of turbulence – of the careful and considered dissipation of energies- of the disturbance of a too rapid flow- of deceleration, detour, delay.”
I place a square of cardboard against the broken window pane, tear some masking tape from a roll and stick it in place. I drop a cloth onto the floor and push it along with my foot soaking up the stream of water and the pool at its end. I sit back down in the chair.”
From then on, the suites follow in chronological order. Stock now lives in Melbourne and is a successful graphic designer, but in the late 1970s (during the worst years of Peter Sutcliffe’s evil campaign of murder) he was a student at Leeds Polytechnic, taught by the counter-cultural painter/poet and People Show founder Jeff Nuttall. In “The Solid State Universe” he describes a room where a chest of drawers has been moved, leaving a slot “where the wallpaper is darker, its colours more intense” and a few scraps of paper are revealed “folded and squashed against the skirting board”. This demonstrates how Stock’s writing can also function as a mysterious script, schematic for a Mike Nelson-like installation, or celestial film score in some instances, perhaps the ghosts of unrealised art projects finally being exorcised? Ultimately though TWSD is a book that delves into outer rather than inner space, oneiric rather than factual, but always driven by a desire to be free of personal hang ups and intractable problems, free to travel telekinetically, and in Brett Easton Ellis’s unforgettable phrase “disappear here”.
The cure is painfully slow. Each day that passes seems to prolong its course rather than bring its end any closer. The announcement that was promised, informing us of its progress, is itself postponed and is apparently more distant every day and this too is part and parcel of the cure.”
Work should always be piecemeal, fragmented, partial, precisely unfocused, vacillating, equivocal, hesitant, humble, always aware of itself being not a great work.”
Here he adopts the role of neo-virtuoso, dabbler, hobbyist, minor poet pursuing a relentless Parmenidean investigation without any obvious telos apart from the softback covers binding his complex suites of writing. His voice scours life, navigating a theoretical field in case there might be a reward at the end of the night, or rather a gift overlooked in dreams, a surprise payoff in the form of an afterlife or cosmic time travel. The book’s full-bleed cover photograph of a NASA Hubble space telescope view into a stellar breeding ground in 30 Doradus in the Tarantula Nebula signposts the interdisciplinary, categorically nebulous identity of TWSD. Published by Re-press.org, predominantly an academic philosophy imprint, its credentials as both a piece of distilled art writing with sublime timbres, and an adaptation to deal with information overload and political turbulence place it among a growing corpus of important posthuman literature, such as Margaret Atwood’s The Year of the Flood (2009), and Daisy Hildyard’s The Second Body (2017); a distant cousin to his old tutor Jeff Nuttall’s iconic account of the 1960s: Bomb Culture (1968).
Michael Hampton is a writer and critical theorist based in London with a special interest in artists’ publishing. He has contributed to many magazines and journals including The Blue Notebook, Frieze, Geschichte, The Penguin Collector’s Journal, Rapport, Schizm, /Seconds and The White Review. He writes regularly for Art Monthly and in 2015 his revisionist history Unshelfmarked: Reconceiving the Artists’ Book was published by Uniformbooks. Sharon Kivland recently published his speculative essay “Beyond Walter Benjamin’s Paris & Kenneth Goldsmith’s New York” as a limited edition in her series The Good Reader: Beyond Walter Benjamin’s Paris & Kenneth Goldsmith’s New York (Anagram Books). He is currently working on a collection of psychogeographical writings about London.