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Preview — KLF by J.M.R. Higgs
During the flight to the Hebridean island the thought of killing Drummond and Cauty in order to steal the suitcase had entered his head. He didn't do that, of course. He just thought about it. Well you would, wouldn't you?
Those fifty pound bundles were power and potential in its purest form. It was countless acts of compassion and charity, or a lifetime without work. The amount was highly symbolic.
Cauty opened the first bundle and took out two fifty pound notes. He handed one to Drummond and set fire to both with his lighter. Despite the cold and damp, the flame readily ate through the paper. More notes were placed in the fireplace and, over the course of the next two hours, the fuckers burned the lot.
The heart of the problem was that they did not know why they had done it.
The Cabaret only lasted for six months, and no recordings were made of what happened there, yet those present spent the rest of their lives trying to come to terms with what they had done. They never really did.
Perhaps if they showed the film and asked for help, someone might be able to explain to them what they had done? This was, needless to say, a terrible idea. They were hardly in their right minds at the time, however,
This wasn't money being wasted; it was money being negated.
Was it a crime? Was it a burnt offering? Was it madness? Was it an investment? Was it Rock n' Roll? Was it an obscenity? Was it art? Was it a political statement? Was it bollocks?
For the sake of our souls we the trustees of the K Foundation agree unconditionally, totally, and without hesitation to a binding contract with the rest of the world,
It is agreed that in signing this contract, the postponing of the K Foundation for the said period of 23 years, provides opportunity of sufficient length for an accurate and appropriately executed response to their burning of a million quid.
the fact of their bewilderment is evidence that they were swept along by something larger, and something not of their design.
The fact that their actions are so incomprehensible suggests that we must be missing something. Somehow our view of our world or our culture is incomplete.
The idea that there was the hidden secret at the heart of the band contradicted everything else I knew about them. It implied that they had a purpose, and that they knew what they were doing. This, to my way of thinking, seemed deeply out of character.
So I asked Wilson what his thoughts about the KLF were. "I've never heard of them," he told me.
We are all forming our own narratives and we can't be expected to keep track of everybody else’s narratives, no matter how much they would like us to.
I started to wonder if there was such a thing as a story that no-one knows they are in - least of all the main characters. Could a complete narrative develop by itself with no-one guiding it or steering it?
For this we must thank Drummond and Cauty's championing of Situationist ideas, particularly with regard to their views on copyright.
Thanks to these copyright-ignoring KLF fans, it is possible to download the entire story of The KLF, as it played out in the media, in an afternoon.
What we have is not what happened, but it is all we can know about what happened. As the Situationists saw it, it is all that you can ever have to go on.
As I progressed with this research, however, I noticed a surprising pattern in the data. Time and again, older books, letters and interviews proved to be far more illuminating than first hand interviews. It soon came apparent that accounts of events changed over time, and that the 'truth' of what happened depended very much on the date of your source.
These differing sources revealed a drift away from the raw chaos of what actually happened into a neater, simpler narrative which didn't always match with the original sources. Even though later sources could offer greater perspective and illuminate things that were not apparent at the time, I adopted a rule of favouring the older sources whenever possible. They captured the flavour of the times, somehow, in a way that the more considered later versions didn't.
This drift has been found to be so precise and predictable that it can be plotted on a graph, known as the Ebbinghaus curve of forgetting. What happens is that witnesses slowly absorb events into their own narrative, losing the loose ends and unexplained incidents and making sense of what they can with respect to their own lives and prejudices. We all do this.
The role of the ego, it appears, is less like a President or a Prime Minister deciding on a course of action, and more like their spin doctor, explaining the action afterwards in the best possible light. We rationalise the actions of our unconscious minds and present them as an entirely correct, politically consistent course of action regardless of what it was or how uninvolved we are in the decision.
What is the alternative? We are left with the spectacle,
We are attempting to find the spirit of those events, and we can only do that by invoking them ourselves.
It was 1976, and Drummond was 24. In the eyes of teenage punks like Cope, he was already old. Drummond may have been old, but he had plans.
He still loved music but, being 24, he was clearly too old to make music himself.
Singles possessed a magic that indulgent, career-minded albums sorely lacked. They were immediate, cheap and democratic. They could be terrible, of course, but the best ones had power over their owners which no other art form could compete with. There's nothing vague about the love you feel for a perfect pop song. It does not need explanation or context.
one eye on personal honesty and the other on the far horizon.
return of all the feelings and emotions that hippy culture had tried to repress, a reawakening of all the disrespect and raw frustration that the peace and love generation believed they were above.
The punks may have kept the hippies' DIY attitude and their contempt for the older generation, but they were quick to rip down their indulgent fantasies with an ugly blast of blunt realism and angry mockery. They had no intention of putting up with the bullshit any longer. They wanted to do stuff.
away from the Kings Road and outside of London the punk ethic found many different ways to display its contempt for conformist society.
the Troubles were at their peak in the late Seventies and early Eighties and slight nuances in speech or dress were enough to indicate sectarian allegiance and, potentially, bring violence or even death.
The big question was not what the future held, but who would be the first to claim it.
Most bands that Drummond's friends talked about didn't actually exist beyond the idea and a self-printed T-shirt. Cope was ahead of most, as he had already written the best part of three songs and was showing no signs of getting bored and giving up.
Cope suggested Drummond release a record by McCulloch's new band. Drummond was initially wary. McCulloch was known to be a fan of David Bowie,
The singles were "shit", at least in Drummond's opinion, but he loved the bands that made them. Or more accurately, he loved the idea of those bands.
Things had not yet begun to get weird, in other words, and for a respected public figure like Garrison there was little to indicate what surprises the future had in store. He would have been quite unprepared, then, for the book that Caplinger and her friend Greg Hill were producing in his office.
They made a first edition of five copies.
Some believed that the book was the work of Timothy Leary. Others claimed it was written by Alan Watts, or by Richard Nixon during "a few moments of lucidity".
It was in one such bowling alley in 1957 that Thornley showed Hill some poetry he was writing. It included a reference to order eventually arising out of chaos. Hill laughed at this. He told Thornley that the idea of 'order' was an illusion.
Clearly, if anyone wanted to worship a deity who was genuinely active in this world, then Eris was the only credible option. All that was needed was for someone to create a religion around Her which, naturally, they decided to do.
Catmas are similar to dogmas, but they are considerably less rigid. Normal religions consider dogmas to be absolute, unquestionable truths. Discordians consider catmas to be absolute, unquestionable truths, for now at least.
Some Discordians may even genuinely believe catmas on occasions, should the mood take them, but this is certainly not compulsory.
Nobody believes a word of this, of course, yet Discordians have respected the catma of the forbidden hot dog buns for over forty years.
Should Discordians ever find a better catma to ridicule religious dietary dogma, then the hot dog rule will no doubt be dropped without ceremony.