The summer shuffles on, head down and no apologies for lateness. Every year it feels more Mediterranean around here – the humid evenings are a sinister pleasure, temperate omens of disaster, mostly for others. The irony hasn’t escaped THAT’S JUVEY? who appears on this month’s cover, wearing head-to-toe SEVENSTORE clobber. The title of his upcoming EP, Sunbathing In The Apocalypse, bears the mark of the absurdity of our times.
I read somewhere that this generation believes its artistic output will be remembered in terms of an explosion of technology – the sudden flood of information being exchanged; how this oversaturation and accelerated change impacted art forms. In actual fact, they argued, we will remember this time as the last period in which we took the variety of nature for granted. Jaded by the flavour of Huel and insect protein, we’ll read casual mentions of grapes and grimace at the memory of a flavour. Each recipe will be an obituary, memorialised in pale, artificial limitations.
That’s Juvey? by John Latham
We’re in a passive fight with a complacent world – our paper straws and veganism are tokenistic offerings, a new way of confessing to shared sins. We cycle furiously on roads built for cars. Then we fill planes with our vegan, absolved bodies and poison the sky, because it’s nice to get away. And who can blame us? Our lives are filled with compromise every day. Drake does victory laps in a private jet when his sport team wins. Our autonomy can feel negligible. We bargain with escapes.
This month, we meet the man behind spoken-word artist/storyteller ROY – he tells us how writing was his escape from the fatalistic blueprint laid out by an upbringing in a rough area. The characters in his stories are loving enactments of flawed people, negotiating their own little escapes from the madness of conformity. In the Roy extract featured in this issue’s Artistic Licence section, a young ketwigged psychonaut coaches his jaded boss through a classic ‘This is not my beautiful house! This is not my beautiful wife!’ moment. How many of us are living without intention, destined to look at our nice things one day to find they are unrecognisable? How can we avoid this?
Abandon comfort and certainty to find new joy – this is the young psychonaut’s answer. And also get really into all the stereotypical counterculture figures, and do loads of drugs. I wouldn’t necessarily take his advice to the letter, but there’s something in it that appeals to the mystic in me. Nihilism, boredom is a type of comfort – it’s always felt like the end of the world to some, because it’s soothing to unburden yourself of a futile grasp for paradise. But we have to keep grasping for it. We might be sunbathing in the apocalypse, or eating the final grapes. This is no reason not to eat them. To suspend yourself in the beauty of this folly, and go towards joy, feels like the only true rebellion available. To commit your neighbours’ idiosyncrasies to memory. To feel the wind in your hair in Hanover; to tour in Canada. To build relationships, knowing they are finite. To start a new venture in your twilight years. To give your energy to a losing cause. To make art that maybe no one will remember. To clean up your litter, knowing it will be shipped elsewhere. To keep moving and changing, without despair or expectation. All of this is to protest boldly in the face of human insignificance – it is to say, ‘We make no apology for the strange heaven we desire, and we don’t care if we get it’.