RICHARD CABUT interview

 Richard Cabut is not just a living legend of a whole era, he is par excellence the embodiment of the radical spirit that lives deep in our cities, in our modern and postmodern life and demands from us to stay alive,creative and dangerously romantic against a system , against a spectacle of biopolitics, against a life predetermined to stay forever the same.

It does not need to say how much happy i am to host his interview here and share his words and experiences with you. Read his books , think his thoughts..enjoy Richard Cabut!

@richard.cabut

 

 

 

 

AM: Your new books is called Looking for a Kiss, what is it about?

 Looking for a Kiss is about… Speed. Madness. Flying Saucers (Warhol/Edie reference) … Acid. Pop Art Sex. Future Dreams. Ciao! Camden Town

It’s the story of breakdown, breakup and breakout, set in 80s’ post-punk London, taking in sex, creativity, drugs, failure,

the future, and being able to see and understand it.

The International Times writer David Erdos says:  ‘Looking for a Kiss is a call to all who wish to explore their excesses,

and carefully fold the soul’s shadow into a Jarmanesque journey in Vivienne Westwood heels, to love’s shrine.’

AM:There is a melancholic journey to 80s as a farewell to the extreme appearance, the revolt of 70s. Through "Looking for a kiss" are you trying to present a biography of the cultural heroes of this revolt?

The book is set in the early/mid 80s, a time when punk had finished. The main characters, Robert and Marlene,

having invested all their emotion and energy into punk – as a means of both escape and escapism –

now find themselves very much trapped and fearful of the future; of the very idea of No Future.

Boredom, alcoholism, drug addiction, depression and poverty beckon. They have become bitter and, yes twisted.

They are a pair of dreamers who have lived life like a kid’s wind-up toy, whirring around, until not only has the spring wound down, but a clumsy, or malicious adult – reality – has trodden on it.

Robert and Marlene’s youth has slipped away without them ever growing up or, more exactly, without ever moving along their respective character arcs.

So, in a way, Looking for a Kiss is an anti-coming of age story. Although it’s definitely a rites-of-passage tale – it is human and sympathetic;

anyone who is or ever was young, feckless and full of fancy might empathise to various degrees with the book. Perhaps it is a lament for lost and wasted youth.

AM:I want to share with me more things about London’s importance for this story , for the whole mood of those years, the psychogeography of the city generally .

Both characters have left their unhappy and restrictive suburban roots to find freedom in the big city.

But they have realised that the city, especially their patch of it – Camden Town – is a big sack of crap full of anxiety, sadness and repulsion – with a small amount of joy and possibility to sweeten the deal.

The book, in the way it is written, and in its subject matter, is about the notion of self. The search for it.

This invariably entails a consideration of the idea of time, tapping into a stream that doesn’t always move silently and quickly forward, but which instead drifts this way and that – back and forth – sometimes collecting in pools and occasionally stagnating a little. And we can’t contemplate the self, and time,

without considering both memory and place – Virginia Woolf kindly points out  the link between the two –

‘Behind the present a profound tunnelling is going on, an underlying excavation of the self.

But numerous chambers of experience come to occupy, bewilderingly, the same space.’ The book works on a temporal and spatial level – the stretch backwards and forwards through Camden Town, especially by the canal where the two take their acid trip, and in the flat,

the claustrophobia of which is contrasted with the space afforded by Camberwell, in south London, and onto New York, where Robert later spends time.

AM:I really love to know few things about the vibe of the Punk era . How was the whole atmosphere through your music experience as an insider of the movement?

I’ve written quite a lot about punk, in music papers such as the NME (in the 80s – my pen name was Richard North), my fanzine, Kick (1979-82) and in various books,

including my own, Punk is Dead: Modernity Killed Every Night (Zer0 Books, 2017). And I realise, a la Nabokov, that ‘recalling the past is always a matter of recapitulating a reality already remembered elsewhere, at other times.’ But I also know that memory rearranges itself and becomes the imagination.

So, these are the things I imagine about punk today:-

As Joan Didion mentions, ‘We tell ourselves stories in order to endure,’ and eventually these stories, and the way they are told, become a way of mythmaking. Punk is one big myth. A beguiling and truthful lie.

Punks had a view of who they were, not just of the music. This is what was most interesting.

It inhabited a wasteland where laissez passer met the empty imagination.

Punk was solipsistic. You had to commit.

It was a display of artful artlessness in a blazing and fragmented world.

Punk gigs were: connections forming and falling apart all at the same time.

Punk, despite the coloured hair, was in black and white – all the best films are.

At first, punk wasn’t of great utilitarian design.

Was it just a dream? Like in Dallas. A collective illusion – for those watching as well as for those participating. I think so.

The best punk lyrics were by the Buzzcocks. Punk conjured a future where you could feel the possibilities. But not touch.

Why can’t I touch it? And we were all waiting – a-ring-a-ring-a-ring-a-fucking ding – because waiting is the state of transition that we call existence – Howard Devoto probably said that.

Punk underlined the fact that personal identity is a fiction

When we talk about punk these days we must recognise that ‘the crisis was not in the past – it is clinging on to the past.’

People bury (the idea of) punk – freezing it in the unconscious, shielding it from ordinary experience.

Punk could provide you with a painkiller, or a mirror in which you could look at yourself falling over.

Punk was idealistic. ‘Idealism without consequences is the dream of every spoiled brat.’

The philosophy was one of fraught/arrogant desperation.

There was a punk elite. The cultural habits of the punk poor made this punk royalty vomit. That was the real reason for all the punk puking.

It was the experimental film I had been waiting (to act in) for years.

So many people just get stuck in their (punk) childhood – it defines them. It’s a little sad. Worse, it’s a comfy hobby, like stamp collecting.

The punk drug was cumulative chaos – not to be sniffed at – it was a way of calibrating the passage of time.

Sprezzatura, the beatnik idea of cool, adopted by the best punks was enough. Judy Nylon knew/knows this.

Punks must kill their fathers. Punks are born orphans.

Rock ‘n’ roll was dead but you could still get lucky, right?

Old punks are either professional wound pushers or word pushers.

Punk was do with finding yourself in the next uncertain place – the toilet at the Roxy was a metaphor.

Punk was a way of stewing in your own juices – like a little secret under the zip of your bondage trousers.

Punk was made of various levels and layers of ego, pressure and calamity.

Punk was characterised by the feeling of always becoming (something/nothing).

It was as much of a mood board as anything else – a compilation of disjointed encounters of various sorts.

They say that the reason that certain operas exist is that certain singers existed who could sing them – you could say the same about the best punk rock.

AM:Your fiction debut "Dark entries" is a tribute on the urban pornopathy of everyday life,exposed the boundaries of a new definition of dark art through the personal extremes. Do you think to continue this nihilistic journey in modern life with new books/projects ?

I don’t think Dark Entries is nihilistic as such itself, but it does point at nihilism. As aforementioned, I’ve written a lot about punk rock.

And one of the most glorious aspects of punk was its power to bring together those people who didn’t fit in.

The 70s was a period characterised by conformity. Individuality didn’t exist. If you didn’t conform to the expectations and parameters set by your peers, or wider society,

you were subjected to varying forms of violence – verbal, physical, mental.

Punk, almost overnight, by connecting disparate and wonderful concepts like rebellion, fashion, sex, tower blocks, etc mapped out routes to a different possible future.

Mavericks and misfits were empowered and a community established – a community of outsiders.

Dark Entries is ostensibly far removed from punk rock. In fact, it’s not. Dark Entries is a pitiless and uncompromising dissection of the contemporary psyche.

A savage and brutally honest peek at a modern lifestyle characterised by aimlessness, and self-abuse via reliance on extreme pornography and alcohol.

Containing an atmosphere laden with sexual anxiety and frustration, the novel is both a psycho pulp and an urban blues.

A cultural critique as well as fiction, Dark Entries reveals deeper patterns – male entitlement, relationship breakdown, pent-up misogynistic rage,

self-loathing – all incisively traced… even though I say so myself!

In its confessional bite – even though it is not actually based on myself – the book illuminates issues that lie largely outside of societal norms. Its sense of verité is all important.

The book looks for a sense of ‘true’ art in which the affirmation of individuality conveys universals to unite and make connections.

Creating a greater sense of empathy and, yes, community. Maybe the same sort of community of so-called outsiders forged by the advent of punk,

arising from the artistic/personal break with adherence to tradition and social norms in exaltation of unfettered personal expression.

AM:I am really curious to ask about your literature influences or generally your Art inspiration sources. Have you got some writers that you wanna be in constant dialogue with their work?

I talk to authors all the time. The interesting ones talk back.

Sometimes I apologise to those authors in my to-read pile about not getting around to their books yet.

Actually, it’s less of a pile and more of a full bookshelf of works I’ve yet to read – maybe 200 or more.

Most authors don’t mind – they know the score, they’ve been there – sometimes one or two get angry.

Susan Sontag says she’s going to give me pain for leaving her Regarding the Pain of Others on the shelf for ten years. And Jean Baudrillard is worried that I’m never going to get around to Consumer Society – he’s probably right.

Anyway, next on my to-read list are: Mindshaft by Steve Finbow, The Early Novels by Jean Rhys, The Warriors by Sol Yurick, The Vision of Jean Genet by Richard Coe, and Austin Osman Spare by Phil Baker. Maybe some Kenneth Grant and some cool crime.

Anyway, I feel the shelves are a substantial and visible expression of the way I’ve classified thought, inspiration and recollection.

The appendix of my new novel Looking for a Kiss includes a list of books essential to me during the period the book covers, 1984-89.

The selection is confined to those books which I still own – i.e. those which I had access to while writing (books are for touching/feeling – not just for talking to!).

I’ve listed them in the same order as they are arranged on my shelves. This might be important, or of some interest.

The novelist/thinker George Perec says, ‘Every library answers a twofold need, which is also a twofold obsession:

that of conserving certain objects (books) and that of organising them in certain ways.’

My organisational methods are based on disorder – I don’t know exactly where every book I want is, sometimes the search for a particular book is long and frustrating – which maybe mirrors the feeling in the original search to buy that book.

AM:Art, Sex, Culture. Which is according to your approach their interconnection today? Do you believe that are still separate entities or became elements of mixed way of an aimless life ?

Sex, art and culture – well in Dark Entries, the main character, Ray, is based on someone close to me. He ended up in a sex addiction clinic. And then in hospital,  being treated for a mental condition

One of the main points the book makes is that sexual hunger is not borne of desire. It’s a compulsion wherein sex is used to allay angst, depression, perceived shortcomings.

Like all forms of addiction, it’s a way of using outside means to try to alleviate inner agony.

As David Erdos said in his review in International Times (http://internationaltimes.it/sex-as-art/) : ‘It makes punk’s primal pose holdable.

Suddenly all the rage and all of that prepossession, is delivered again to the devil, which is, as part of us all, malleable.

We shape what we need from what we fear and desire as a way to contain our depression As well as our awe at the dark.

As does this bitter book, that bites the hand moving for it. Trace its mark. ‘Happiness isn’t a state.. It's an activity.’

Cabut tells us. And so it proves: Sex as art.’

And porn? Image has not only replaced reality, as the situationists have it, it has replaced fantasy, too – it no longer from the inside – but from porn.

Desire, imagination etc is no longer active, but passive, always in search of consuming images – again, as the situationists have it,

the reasoning of the marketplace and porn combine to underline the fact that there is nowhere left to go but to the laptop to amass dead empty orgasms.

In Looking for a Kiss, which is a more complex book, perhaps, Robert uses sex as part of his search for redemption – and as a way of trying to find himself, and others.

Marlene uses it as part of her act – as a way of hiding her true feelings from herself and others.

AM: Thanks so much Richard, i enjoyed one hundrend lectures in few answers..