Monday, 14 November 2011

Ornette Coleman

Focus On Ornette Coleman

This week, we're focusing on a true giant of modern music, a man who, in his time, has both dominated and divided the world of jazz - like a brutal, multi-instrumentalist tyrant - for more than half a century. He's a genuine great - a description I take issue with, though I wrote it myself, because what on earth even is greatness, for Christ's sake?

It's an entirely artificial concept, a construct, a structurally unsound house made of hubris and bones, utterly meaningless beyond the human world. Do - oh, I don't know - cats speak in hushed tones about the feline stars of popular YouTube videos? No. They just get on with it. No cat was ever paralysed by ambition, or driven to self-loathing by its unrealistic demands of its own creative abilities.

The human is a species gone wrong. We, my friends, have forgotten the animal, and now we're hurtling - obliviously - head-first into a bubbling lake of our own gastric juices. We call our sickness consciousness, we mistake our malfunction for sophistication.

Greatness is the very nadir of this wrongness, a tag that denies not only the animal, but even the human. When we call someone great, we accuse them of being the sickest of all. We must pull them back, grab them by their ankles and drag them from their perches, put them below even ourselves. We should subvert greatness, reconfigure it so that it no longer implies transcendence over frail, filthy humanity, but rather emphasises that very frailty.

It is ridiculous to attribute such supernatural qualities to human beings. Humans are as foul and unpleasant as anything else in nature. Did you know, for example, that Plath shat? And Picasso, you can bet he wanked - perhaps on the toilet, hovering over mounds of his own filth. Chekhov will undoubtedly have been sick, maybe even on his own balls, how can we say for sure that he wasn't?

Is this your idea of greatness: Charles Darwin, rolling around on the floor in a dirty nappy, twitching glans protruding from the waistband, groaning like an wounded camel? Jesus.

Or Kierkegaard in the supermarket at 3am, studying the back of a packet of instant noodles. And you look down, and you realise that his penis is hanging out of his trousers. And as you're gawping at the flaccid, shrivelled cock of the father of existentialism, he sees you, freezes. And you both stare at each other in stunned silence for five long seconds before he blurts out: "I... I I... I was just trying something!"

Stockhausen applying lipstick to his anus and admiring it in a mirror. Debussy, semi-comatose on Frosty Jack's and quietly pissing himself at the back of a bus. Virginia Woolf vomiting on a baby. Frank Lloyd Wright, naked, smothered in WD-40 and masturbating over pictures of meat.

And you think these people are worthy of glorification? What on earth is wrong with you?