I finally finished this, after reading it on and off for a couple of years. Reich's writing can be overly academic and dry. The main things I took awaI finally finished this, after reading it on and off for a couple of years. Reich's writing can be overly academic and dry. The main things I took away from "The Function Of The Orgasm" are Reich's concept of 'muscular armor' and the account of his tumultuous professional relationship with Sigmund Freud. He also goes into his discovery of an energy he referred to as the 'orgone', which is similar to earlier concepts like animal magnestism.
There's plenty of information on-line about orgone, if you're interested in exploring Reich's theory. While I don't completely believe in Reich's discovery, it certainly intrigues me.
I downloaded this to read on Scribd, as first-print copies are now going for around 200-300 on eBay and other used book sites. I think there's a cheapI downloaded this to read on Scribd, as first-print copies are now going for around £200-£300 on eBay and other used book sites. I think there's a cheaper re-print due out soon, so I may buy one of those.
"England's Hidden Reverse" concerns the art and music scene built around three (interconnected) groups: Psychic TV/Coil, Nurse With Wound and Current 93. Coil consisted of the late John Balance (formerly Geoff Rushton) and Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson. N.W.W. was pretty much built around Stephen Stapleton, with help from various collaborators. Current 93 was much the same, except with David Tibet at the helm.
All of them started in the late 1970s/early 1980s, following the post-punk flourish in 1977 and 1978. While they themselves had little to do with back-to-basics rock, they found the D.I.Y. spirit liberating. Stapleton himself was a devotee of left-field groups, especially German progressive music. They also shared interest in the occult, particularly the writings of Aleister Crowley, Austin Osman Spare and John Dee and Edward Kelly. Balance and Christopherson were also gay and brought their sexuality into their music as well.
Keenan, a (former?) writer for UK underground/obscure music magazine The Wire, chronicles the development of both the happenings and records of the three groups - starting with their childhoods. Tibet's seems the most exotic, being born in Malaysia to English parents and returning to England at about age 11. He romanticises England as he felt like an outsider for most of his life. Stapleton was an obsessive record collector who journeyed to Germany to meet some of his musical heroes, before finally recruiting a couple of friends to make a noise album. Christopherson was part of the Hipgnosis art collective, but after meeting Cosey Fanni Tutti and Genesis P-Orridge - formed proto-Industrial group Throbbing Gristle. Balance was a fan of T.G. and other noise bands and met up with Sleazy, eventually becoming his partner in music and life.
There's loads of detail and eyewitness accounts given for time in the studio and early live gigs by the main players (supplemented with like-minded cohorts: Drew McDowall, Rose McDowall, Stephen Thrower and Thighpaulsandra, etc.). Stapleton and Coil became mainly studio concerns after a couple of disastrous early shows (though Coil did perform live for a bit shortly before Balance's untimely death). I admit to finding the N.W.W. and Coil accounts more interesting than Current 93. Tibet seems to be too flighty and inclusive - swapping ideologies and tastes quite often. The Current 93 tracks I've listened to have a maudlin charm, but rarely does the actual music have any spark. He also kept some dubious company*, like Tony Wakeford (of neo-folk band Sol Invictus), Douglas Pearce (of Death In June), William Bennett (of 'power-electronic' noise merchants Whitehouse) and Boyd Rice. Keenan does his best to make most Current 93 releases sound like essential listening, but perhaps I'm missing something in the music.
In spite of that and Keenan's implied snobbery (he wrote for "The Wire", after all), it's a good account of an overlooked grouping of non-musicians and visual artists, who created their own niches and are still active now (with the exception of Coil) - the photo section at the end of the book provides a great bonus to the text.
*See the "Who Makes The Nazis?" blog for more information on the fascist leanings of D.I.J., Boyd Rice and Tony Wakeford...more