I have spent the day up to my crown in crosshatching, obsessively drawing thin black line after thin black line. My drawing style appears stark and simple, but the amount of time I spend on single crow’s feet around the eye of a distinguished scientist is ever increasing. On the day’s I draw (that is when I can muster the requisite patience) my behaviour becomes positively OCD; almost as though comfort is derived from the repetition, and the world outside the paper fades away. As soon as a picture is finished the usual outcome is that the world crashes back into place and the drawing reveals itself to me as a pile of shite. This happens way too often for comfort.
Today however, out of the five drawings completed, two of them are extremely satisfactory, with the other three being pretty good. I was able to enjoy a few moments gazing with pride at my creations. The drawings are being done for the Papergirl Manchester project in which art is distributed free to the public by bike riders. The impending deadline for submission is 1st September (next Wednesday). I am printing runs of 10 of each picture (on Tesco value paper), individually signed and numbered. Despite my using the cheapest refilled printer ink, a terrible scanner/printer and flimsy paper, they still look pretty good. The colours have not turned out as intended, but that doesn’t really concern me. Colour is colour; there is no important distinction between any of them.
Today I have also been enjoying the artwork of Yamataka Eye from Osakan noise band The Boredoms. His album covers, art, music, painting is raw, lo-fi, ugly and ace. His most well known artwork is the relatively sedate cover for Beck’s Midnight Vultures album. His 80’s band Hanatarash was known for extreme onstage violence and venue destruction. Check out this blog for some fantastic hardcore gig massacre photos – like the aftermath of a Combat Zone Wrestling tournament of death final.
Drawing days and writing days don’t seem to mix. Seems like they are controlled by different parts of my brain, and when one rumbles into life it short circuits the other. As I have spent the day drawing and thinking about art I don’t seem to be able to write anymore. Every word is a struggle, and the unusual flows and effortless aversion to clichés aren’t presenting themselves.
To make it worse I made the mistake of reading a Bill Bryson book called Neither Here Nor There. What a waste of time. For some reason Bryson’s travel books sell by the billions to critical and popular acclaim. I have previously read, and reread A Short History of Nearly Everything and Mother Tongue, a general science primer and a history of English language, respectively. Both of these books are fantastic, not because Bryson is a particularly exciting writer, but because the subject matter provides its own fascination. In these books his writing voice doesn’t stand out particularly, but he has structured the information extremely well. Really the only negative with either of these books is that Mother Tongue contains some info which seems very much like rumour or urban legend presented as fact.
Neither Here Nor There is the first of his travel books I have ever read. It falls into the category of gonzo journalism; he talks about places and events using himself and his own experiences as the main narrative thread. This style of writing can work fantastically, but very much relies on the personality of the author. And here lies the problem; Bill Bryson is fucking boring. In this book he travels around Europe writing about his experiences. In every single city he arrives in we get a brief description of his hotel room, an account of buying and drinking a cup of coffee, a walk around a park, an observation that there is/isn’t a MacDonald’s, something about a museum, and a loooong long story about queuing. Queuing for train tickets, queuing at government offices, queuing, queuing, queuing. It’s not exactly Hunter S. Thompson. There is more excitement and love of life in a single sentence from The Great Shark Hunt than there is in Bryson’s entire European tour. He talks to almost no one and does nothing. I regret reading Neither... Bill's crap attempts at humour and stupid prose have poisoned my writing brain.
For me by far the most annoying thing about the book is his obsessive lack of interest in exploring foreign foods. He complains if the food is too familiar and he complains if it is too foreign. If he can’t read the menu he won’t order anything on the off chance that he is served something ‘weird’. His fear of anything odder than coffee, coke or pasta makes him, in my mind, a twat. That his travel books are so popular only indicates that the majority of people are excruciatingly ‘normal’ and boring.