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Saturday 11 February 2012

A Review by Dom Gabrielli of 'The Hell In Me, The Hell In You', by Craig Podmore

‘In a place where material progress, where the conquests of a superficial perfection in which we cannot participate either emotionally or physically, where all stable elements are concentrated on commodities to the exclusion of all interior progress, we can say that true culture has ceased to develop.’ (Artaud)

Many sane and less sane writers and thinkers have spoken of the ills of the so-called Western civilisation based on technology and capital at the expense of, and  for want of a better word, what one could quickly call the Soul. Pasolini saw the rise of the Consumer culture as fulfilling fascism by other means and it led to his apocalyptic critique of society, his still unwatchable film, the Salo or the120 days of Sodom, loosely based on Sade. What in simple terms he meant was that the particularities and subtleties of cultures of diversity and tolerance, many of which were extremely old, had been suddenly and callously obliterated, at least most seriously attacked, by a cultural imperialism from the outside, a hyper-capitalism which threatened the very basis of human relationships, of the poetic word and spirit. Pasolini was convinced, most contemporaries laughed at him and saw a personal vendetta, a megalomaniac's delusion. However, as Artaud before him, Pasolini had seen that true culture had ceased to develop and with it, true love and true relations, of course.

I have often asked myself what would happen if Pasolini or Artaud for that matter - souls who had based every hope on a particular form of revolutionary culture - returned to see the world as it has become today. What would they think of the liberation movements? What would they think of the development of pharmacology? How would they see the ubiquitous television advertising moving image?

Craig Podmore give us a partial response, or rather one possible answer, taken to its fullest and most brutal conclusion. Podmore's The Hell in me, the Hell in you, now available from SAM Publishing takes as it parting first principle, the obscene inhumanity of the hyper-capitalist people, that sprawling anonymous mass of consumers bombarded continually by subliminal messages and modulated as if by magic into walking robotic criminals. 'Bruising trash/Fuck-able car crash, Ashtray eyes/And gilded vulvas/For the target audience./Our children are bored/So they kill others to pass the time./'

In the manner of the sadist's clinical ordering of his desires, Podmore dissects the advertising/media hell which as the book amply proves is in you and me and most certainly in him, and even more surprisingly in her. It is a shocking enterprise in  slow sea sickness, the dark humour of which is often only a veil over a grander and more revolutionary anger. There is a genuine growl, a well of intellectual discontent which gathers pace through the book. "Televise my problems./Make my wounds propaganda./A punch in the eyes will do./Starve me because your power makes me horny./Cut off some strands of my hair/And sew them into the liver of a eunuch./Beat my child up./Feed me oil./Shit and piss all over me./Desensitised to inhumanity. Masturbating to war and chaos." And most importantly, this:

'Please note; this is not a list of submissive perversions but the thoughts of the
powerless workingman. We are passive to the corruption we nobly accept.'

In conversation with Podmore, he said:

"The violence is a metaphorical mirror of the obscene inhumanity we witness in our civilisation (as it were). The riots in the UK last year were a big factor of inspiration specifically the poem 'Unrest'. The violence is used in order to portray the cold and brutal culture of consumerism. Pornography is the very typical nature of it. How society sexualises (due to advertising/control) mostly everything just for the masses to consume, buy and seek identity. The religion in the material is to emphasise how it seeks violence and war. How it is a demon, another consumerable, indifferent element of our society. I think that the themes of the book are like a cycle. One inflicts the other. I wanted to visualise society as a trash can - like one big heroin addict. I think the pornographic element also plays with the idea of how sex and death have an intense, transcendent relationship; on an ecstatic, spiritual level so, in a way it's very much a 'Bataille' inspired collection if I were to mention an inspiration."

Yes, this is an important book to understand what neither politics nor religion in all its extremist furore, can come close to understanding and why a poet with a good stable mind to navigate through the while and the horrors, a fair grasp of the history of words including a necessary passage through surrealism, has more chance of helping us through our atrocious times. Because we are talking about the fundaments of man, his psychology, his primitive resurgences and the sinister Burroughsian powers who have understood, as Artaud prophesied, how to manipulate the masses down into their very sexual habits and instincts. The sexual robotisation of the masses here amply proven and documented. Podmore, whose sensitivity was palpable in his previous tome, Diary…, has understood and he needs to be first read and then listened to. Here in hell there can be no sensitivity left in you nor in me. Here the death of affect is law! And we need to start thinking…

You can buy 'The Hell in Me, the Hell in You' by Craig Podmore here

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