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Tales from the near future


WHAT COUNTS IS TO JUMP OUT OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AS FAST AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN ...

Malcolm McLaren, 1977

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Tales from the near future


WHAT COUNTS IS TO JUMP OUT OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY AS FAST AS YOU POSSIBLY CAN ...

Malcolm McLaren, 1977

Excerpted from 'Introduction: Tales from the Near Future,' Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine.

Excerpted from 'Introduction: Tales from the Near Future,' Sex Pistols: Poison in the Machine.

Julien Temple, the earliest chronicler of the Sex Pistols, has described the first time he encountered them as being akin to witnessing an alien visitation: four figures, silhouetted against the light, making a racket of a noise inside a darkened warehouse that was located amid the ruins of London’s docklands – a site, in fact, that had been deemed irrelevant and redundant just a few years earlier. Johnny Rotten, the singer of this group, with his unusual spiky hair – which might have been dyed green, perhaps orange – was clad in a fuzzy striped mohair sweater and a pair of trousers that disobeyed the current fashion for denim flares that skirted the floor.

He contorted himself into unnatural shapes. And, with a pair of thick rubber-soled brothel creeper shoes seemingly sucking him to the ground, his hands gripped a microphone stand as his limbs moved, marionette-like, as if he had no control over himself. 

This was August 1975, and Rotten looked like he belonged on another planet.

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Strange-Familiar


Encounters

with the Strange

and the Familiar ...

Strange-Familiar


Encounters

with the Strange

and the Familiar ...

Contemporary life provides a fitting stage on which to unravel the seemingly immutable contradictions and complexities of human memory. To take one example, advocates of scientific research into the possibilities of seemingly infinite data storage would have us believe that whatever our anxieties about forgetting, or lacking the means to adequately and reliably record (or ‘remember’) the particulars of a world in motion, we can rest assured that the latest technological fix will allow us to leap into a new future in which human limits become increasingly irrelevant.

In such circumstances it is always wise to take the temperature of current futurology, which offers – among much else – a fascinating insight into the new phenomenon of ‘memory engineering’, or ‘the process of fashioning our inchoate digital pasts into useful memories’. Digital memory, with which almost everyone reading this book now relies on, is currently the subject of intense scientific activity aimed at uncovering the means by which it can be shrunk in physical terms while being expanded in its virtual storage capacity.

Excerpted from 'Introduction' to Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar (2013)

Excerpted from 'Introduction' to Memory: Encounters with the Strange and the Familiar (2013)

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Anniversary Potlatch


The Anniversary Potlatch ...

or, Cultural Heritage

and the Sex Pistols

Anniversary Potlatch


The Anniversary Potlatch ...

or, Cultural Heritage

and the Sex Pistols

 

November 2016 marks the 40th anniversary of the making of ‘Anarchy in the UK’, the first record released by the Sex Pistols. The mere fact that this event will not pass without being celebrated or mined for its significance reveals more than the interest that we – writers, historians, and the media, among others – have in the idea of that record as some kind of milestone in popular music, or in the recognition of the Sex Pistols as an out-of-control cultural phenomenon the likes of which will probably never be seen again. 

The fact of the anniversary, indeed, reflects more widely on the cultural obsession with the past that has sprouted across post-industrial societies in the decades since the 1970s, particularly where culture and tourism replaced old industries as motors of the economy. But back in 1976, the anniversary treatment was mostly reserved for events or institutions that held some kind of political and national significance. One such institution was the monarch.