Friday, March 31, 2006


We all fetishise particular parts of the body when we look for a partner. Men and women will emphasise hair colour, or skin colour, or height, or breast size, or sometimes just a particular "look"; none of these characteristics are, in themselves, human. Even though psychoanalytic theories of repressed incestual desires remain largely subjects of ridicule, it is frequently accepted that a man will look for aspects of a woman which resemble those of his mother.

The girl who got on the 29 bus the other afternoon had what I considered nice eyes, hair and skin. So, as you do, I shot her a few passing glances. Not psychotic staring, you understand, just a couple of seconds looking, then a few minutes reading, then another couple of seconds looking, the back to my book etc etc. Before long she caught my eye and we looked at each other for one of those fairly short periods of time that feels like forever. I don't know why she looked back at me, but these extended glances continued until I got off the bus at Camden. Having my gaze returned so intensely made me feel excited, exposed, uneasy and diffident in equal measure. This is precisely what Lacan refers to as "the Gaze".

The Gaze

Our starting point here is that looking is never a meaningless act. It is as symptomatic of the unconscious as speaking or dreaming. Of course, the way that men and women look at each other is partly designated by social relations between the genders. John Berger begins one of his essays in Ways of Seeing thus:

A man's presence is dependent upon the promise of power which he embodies. The promised power may be moral, physical, temperamental, economic, social, sexual - but its object is always exterior to the man. By contrast a woman's presence expresses her own attitude to herself, and defines what can and cannot be done to her. Presence for a woman is so intrinsic to her person that men tend to think of it as an almost physical emanation, a kind of heat or smell or aura. One might simplify this by saying: men act and women appear. Men look at women. Women watch themselves being looked at.

We see that the relationship generated by the exchange of gazes on the bus was, in some sense, imbalanced, in spite of the fact that she returned my glances, that it was often my sense of disclosure which broke the exchange of glances, and that (God forbid) she may even have been looking at me for the same reason that I was looking at her.

Why might this be? What causes this imbalance? We have dismissed the notion that looking can ever be meaningless, but it is certainly true that different looks contain different levels of meaning because they are generated by different reactions to different situations and contain different relations of power. An image will provoke us in a certain way because of its imagery content, and because of the ways we have been taught to respond to it.


The Real

The act of looking is first imbued with meaning in early childhood, perhaps between six months and one year of age. Before this time, a child is in complete chaos: it cannot move or communicate independently, it cannot differentiate between itself, other people and the outside world, it does not possess any sense of subjectivity. This state of the world can be seen as the-world-as-not-seen-through-human-eyes. It is the unsubjectivised world, the world without human interventions, and, as such, is the nearest we ever come to what Lacan calls "the Real".

The Imaginary

When the child first sees its own image in a mirror (or encounters other children), it realises that it is, in fact, a separate and coherent entity, and not the bundle of chaos it originally thought it was. In one respect, this will be a joyous epiphany, but it is also inherently alienating since this initial awareness of the self is as an other, and because the child realises that it is separate from everything outside itself. The ego is thus, by definition, alienated and should not be trusted. This should not be surprising: the ego is simply the object of the ultimately more dominating superego and id. When, in Matthew's Gospel, Christ becomes tempted by the Devil, he finds himself in the invidious position of the ego: subject to the demands of moral law and dissolute jouissance.

The image in the mirror becomes elevated to the level of fantasy (what Lacan refers to as the "ideal-I"). Throughout our adult lives we aspire to close the gap between this coherent, complete image and the chaotic self we feel internally. This estrangement of the ego from the rest of the psyche never leaves us - hence the frequent feeling of surprise when one sees oneself in the mirror.

One analysand recalled looking at a photograph and seeing a male figure in the background. The man saw that this figure, despite not being the subject of the photo, had a presence which pervaded the image. He was fascinated by this figure, simultaneously venerating and envying him. It was only after much scrutiny that he realised the figure was, in fact, himself in a scene from several years ago. His initial response to this realisation was relief, but it very quickly returned to disappointment. In the sense that we aspire to, and yet resent the idealisation of, our "ideal-I", we have both a sadistic and masochistic attitude towards ourselves.

The Symbolic

After the Mirror Stage come the Oedipus and Castration Complexes. Like Freud, Lacan says that to achieve "normal" adult sexuality, we must accept that we cannot have our mother. Freud says that this acceptance must come about by the intervention of the father, who lets the child know that it cannot have its mother, but reassures it that one day it will be able to have its own love object. Lacan agrees with this, but takes it further: the intervention of the father also happens at a social level. We learn laws, social conventions etc which permit and prohibit certain behaviours, especially those relating to sex. These social rules are what Lacan calls the "Big Other" (equivalent to what Althusser calls "ideological states apparatuses") and our subsumation into the "Big Other" is produced by the intervention of the "Name of the Father" - not a literal father, but a kind of paternalistic-tyannical social code.

The "Name of the Father" coincides with the learning of language (around 2-4 years old) which launches us into the Symbolic Order. Lacan's great insight is that the acquisition of language actually limits our communication. If there is no language there is, by definition, nothing that cannot be communicated. Language, with its rules and structures, is incapable of expressing many human thoughts, and it is certainly not capable of communicating the truth of subjectivity. The biggest mistake a person in a relationship can make is to ask his partner how much she loves him - and if he does, she must refuse to reply. Language cannot express love and any attempt to do so will limit one's love, and give it parameters.

So by around the time we start primary school, we have entered both the Imaginary and the Symbolic Orders. At this point, we are really quite ready to embark on any sexual adventure, except for the fact that our anatomy is not ready. Shortly after this point (and perhaps for that reason) our sexuality goes underground until we hit puberty.

Lack and Loss

The effects of living in both the Imaginary and Symbolic Orders are that we aspire to be like the fantasised "ideal-I" of ourselves, but also that our desires are created and kept in check by the society we live in. So, for example, the boy or girl we choose as our partner acts as a mirror for our fantasy image of ourselves. This is why falling in love is fundamentally narcissistic. The effects of entering the Symbolic Order are different for men and women, however. In accepting his own inadequacy, and by accepting the dictates of society, the man is able to realise his sexual desires (what Lacan calls "reaching the phallus"), but his very acceptance of these dictates means his pursuit of sex will be in some way limited. Women do not lose anything (anatomically or socially) through the Castration process (because they do not have a penis / Penis in the first place). Thus, their pursuit of sex will be less constrained by the world around them: they will, in Lacanian terms, be freer in their jouissance, but because reaching the phallus (which, by the way, is symbolic and thus applies both to men and women) entails an acceptance of loss, they will never reach the phallus to the same extent as men.


Let's return to the girl on the bus and imagine the following scenario:

What if, upon answering her mobile phone, I had discovered that she had a particularly braying voice? What if the Mona Lisa had a speech defect? Why is David Beckham attractive so long as he keeps his mouth shut? Beckham is instructive here, because actually he remains attractive even when he does speak, precisely because of what he does. As John Berger implies, Beckham's phallic pull comes from his talents as a footballer. It is difficult to imagine a male sex symbol who would be attractive solely for the way he looks. Female sex symbols are frequently models; male sex symbols never are. Our perception of men is that their phallic power comes from their place in the Symbolic Order as much as (if not more than) in the Imaginary Order.

We have implied that the phallus (by definition, since it is taken away from the infant) is incomplete, and that men and women need to find mates who complement each other and complete the phallus. But since we exist in both the Imaginary and Symbolic Orders, the phallus becomes, in a sense, both real and Real. Which means that, whatever the relationship between me and the girl on the 29 bus, we were both predetermined to be reticent about communicating to each other. But perhaps that's a good thing; after all, if communicating can only tarnish the Real of love, perhaps such matters are better left unspoken.

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


One man's demonstration is another man's dribble of piss.

Sorry mum, that's two posts in a row where I have been a potty-mouth, so I promise to be clean on the next one (the rub being, that it will be on Freud on Lacan, which means I will tell everyone about my unresolved respressed desire for you).

Is this blog starting to get weird?



Hoo-fucking-rah. Someone can spot barefaced horse-cock when it deflowers their duff. And in response to the person who wondered what my problem with da Monkees is ...... oh, forget it.


"It's age discrimination," said one manager to me yesterday. He was talking about a raft of unions' strike action today in protest at the government's plans to scrap the rule of 85, which sayd that local government workers can retire early if the sum of their age and the length of their employment is 85 or more.

The government claims that this rule is unsustainable. The odious Digby Jones says the government should bring public sector pension policy into the 21st century - which roughly translates as "exploit the buggers even more". To call the rule of 85 (and the Unions' industrial action) discriminatory is rather like saying it is ageist to give up your seat to an older person on a bus. The new EU age discrimination legislation is a waste of time precisely because it actually means forcing poorer public sector workers to work longer.

Of course we live in an ageing population and, on the whole, people are healthier in their old age than they were 20 or 30 years ago, though there are still areas of the country where the state of older people's health is shockingly bad (in one constituency of Glasgow, average life expectancy for men is still less than70 years). But these pension reform proposals fly in the face of the Department of Health's mealy mouthed words about reducing health inequalities. The north London borough where I work has very high levels of deprivation and vast disparities in health and wellbeing, and the Council is the biggest overall employer in the borough. Forcing people to work longer will only exacerbate these problems.

And as for Phil Woolas's claims of "ongoing cost stability" - well, Andy Brammer, the Wakefield UNISON branch's shop steward sums it up perfectly:

This strike can send a clear message that we’re not prepared to see our hard won rights taken away, especially at a time when the government can find billions for war and tax breaks for the rich.

Why should street sweepers, school cooks, refuse workers, teaching assistants and the hundreds of thousands of other people doing vital jobs be forced to do an extra five years after decades of work on poor pay? That is exactly what will happen if the government force through their plan to scrap the “rule of 85”, which says that some local government workers can retire at 60 if they have worked 25 years.

I happened to do some volunteering for Age Concern this morning (yes, angelic as well as militant!). I must admit I did mention the fact that I was on strike several times, and at first got a muted response, mainly because (a) people had believed the Government's bullshit about economic insustainability and (b) because they thought strikes led to elderly people being left vulnerable by not getting their home help. Well, the first point is very quickly answered by Andy in the quote above: if the Government can afford to spend £6 billion in Iraq (for the fruits of their labours, see here) or on the exorbitant sums incurred from disastrous PFI schemes (value for money, Ms Hewitt? I don't think so...), why can it not afford to support its lowest paid workers? And on the second point, I can confirm that no older people will have been left vulnerable by this strike - all workers who attend to life-and-limb situations are exempted from the strike. Besides, it is not dewy-eyed to say that the nature of public sector workers is to put the people they serve first. They are not a naturally militant or politicised bunch at all. In fact, the idea of going on strike seems, to some, like a betrayal. But when the government puts forward such damaging proposals as these, what choice do they have?

Sunday, March 26, 2006


A human being has the same number of chromosomes as a privet hedge.


And while we're on the subject of useless trivia, Norwich has the highest per capita number of eBay users of any town in the UK.


What is Homo Ludens?

Snowball, in his very kind plug for this blog, asked this very question. Culture vulture that he is, he correctly identified Huizinga's Homo Ludens as the source of the title. So what did Huizinga identify in his analysis that is so appealing and / or important?

The very same thing that Henri Lefebvre identified in his re-routing of Marx. Lefebvre was originally a fairly orthodox Marxist critic, and one of the ideologists in the French Communist Party during the 1940s. But, attracted to the attempts of Guy Debord and the Situationist International (see here for superb web coverage of the SI) to focus on Marx's analysis of commodity fetishism rather than exploitation of labour as the locus of alienation, Lefebvre re-routed his analysis.


Greil Marcus, in Lipstick Traces: a secret history of the Twentieth Century (the greatest work of non-fiction I have ever yes ever read), takes up the story:


In 1967, a year before French students and workers reenacted the Paris Commune in the uprising of May '68, situationist notions about revolution were patent nonsense. "The situationists," Henri Lefebvre wrote then,

propose not a concrete utopia, but an abstraction. Do they really believe that one fine day, or one decisive evening, people will look at each other and say, "Enough! To hell with work, to hell with boredom! Let's put an end to it!" - and that everyone will then step into the eternal Festival and the creation of situations? If this happened once, at the dawn of 18 March 1871, this combination of circumstances will not occur again.

The agreement, between an eminent sixty-six-year-old sociologist and young extremists drunk on their own theories, was as complete as the breach: the agreement that the Commune had been a rejection of "boredom" in favour of "festival". Those words were not part of conventional critical discourse; they were part of a discourse that, once, Lefebvre and the situationists had invented together.

In the aftermath of the Second World War, Lefebvre was the chief theorist of the French Communist Party, which many thought was on the verge of taking power. Perhaps the leading Marxist philosopher in France, he was a scientist with a tenure more valuable than any university could guarantee. But over the next decade he turned away from Marxist scientism, arguing that to change the world one had to think about changing life. Instead of examining institutions and classes, structures of economic production and social control, one had to think about "moments" - moments of love, hate, poetry, frustration, action, surrender, delight, humiliation, justice, cruelty, resignation, surprise, disgust, resentment, self-loathing, pity, fury, peace of mind - those tiny epiphanies, Lefebvre said, in which the absolute possibilities and temporal limits of anyone's existence were revealed. The richness or poverty of any social formation could be judged only in the terms of these evanescences; they passed out of consciousness as if they had never been, but in their instants they contained the whole of life. Once, perhaps in the Middle Ages, every moment had been part of a visible totality, just as the language of religion was part of the language of work. In the modern world, where God was dead and the division of labour divided every sector of life from every other, each moment was separate, and none had a language. Still - what if one took a moment as a passageway to totality? What if one based one's life on the wish to affirm the moment of love, or negate the moment of resignation?


Graffiti found in London at the beginning of the 1970s:


And today? Well, things haven't changed so much:


Wednesday, March 22, 2006


Conservatives are filthy, apparently. I went out with a girl whose dad was a fundraiser for George Bush. She was hot, but she was also a liberal, so maybe it's a good thing it never worked out...

Monday, March 20, 2006


[Apologies for lack of pictures in this post - this computer is being an arse. Will hopefully upload some soon]

Build 'em up, then knock 'em down. Such a performative approach to politics - creating your own critics and then refuting their outlandish (not to mention false!) arguments - is hardly new. In the most brutally authoritarian of regimes, the creation and destruction of straw men is usually physically violent as well as verbal. Stalin's purges are a perfect instance, though in that case the creation of enemies was borne out of paranoia, whereas Bush's are borne out of smugness: it is beneath him to answer to his real critics, so he invents his own.

Slavoj Zizek notes that Hitler's sub-humanisation of the Jews during the 1930s was achieved through performatism. First the Nazis created subhuman conditions for the Jews to live in, and then they induced revulsion for the "dirt and decay in the Warsaw ghetto - that is to say, the very horror that the Nazis themselves had created."

We can see this subhumanisation in the treatment of Muslims (the word literally means submission to the will of God - and my, how the West have enjoyed exploiting that suggestion of non-rationality!) by America today. In Michael Winterbottom's film The Road to Guantanamo, we see the attempt to dredge every last vestige of humanity from the Muslim inmates by a combination of physical and psychological torture. The images in the film - the barrage of roaring thrash metal, the pursuit of prisoners by seemingly-rabid dogs, the incessantly repeated questions, the fabrication of evidence, the ritual beatings, the enforced isolation - are consistent with what has been reported by Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International among others.

Actually, the film shows that the inmates remain human, and even retain a degree of humour, but this is only through their own refusal to become subhuman, and through the refusal of a few American guards (one is portrayed in the film) to treat them as such. Two scenes, where the US guard stamps on a tarantula in one of the Tipton Three's cell in the dead of night, and where the same guard asks to hear one of the captives rap, are moving because the guard's rejection of the myth of Arab-prisoner-as-animal kills that myth at its root. The British prisoners remain human in spite of their Arabness. The same cannot be said, probably, for the hundreds of non-Western Arabs who remain in captivity in Guantanamo, and who have no common language or pop culture to humanise themselves in the eyes of the West.

So captives in Guantanamo are arrested, never charged with an offence, and then accused of fucking up, of not being cooperative. Iraqis endure the decimation and occupation of their country, rebel against this, and are then accused of being terrorists. These various performative, myth-making techniques work in the same way that the psyche represses aspects of childhood. The myths become endemic.

How to do things with actions?

Performatism can, according to Hardt and Negri, be subverted by the multitude and used against imperialism (which they correctly see now as transcending nations and states and any any traditional notions of sovereignty).

Liberal democracy itself is performative - the democratic consensus is achieved by the imposition of a set of ideologies by representative bodies. It is not democratic in any real sense, and indeed today this obligatory consensus is so narrow as to permit a choice of three virtually identicals variants on a single theme of governance. This situation is quite clearly a dictatorship of the bourgeoisie - a dissident in the UK has no more chance of realising his political will than one in Cuba.

Hardt and Negri think this system may be reversible. They locate "the rise of the multitude in the heart of capitalism," and see this is the source of a new form of revolutionary democracy. At the heart of this seems to be the distinction between material labour (where your labours produce a tangible, sellable goods) and non-material labour (where your labours produce ideas, or affect human life in a social way - teaching people, for instance, or - perish the thought - writing a blog). When Marx analysed capitalism, the proletariat were largely material labourers; today, more people who work have not produced a sellable object as such at the end of their working day - and this, according to Hardt and Negri, is inherently democratic. I must admit to not reading either Empire or Multitude in any detail, but if anything I see non-material labour as having less potential for revolt than material labour. It has a dual effect of dissolving workforces while hegemonising capitalism. Zizek (him again) claims that "immaterial production is the production of social life," but this must be a social life shot through with capitalism. Far from socialising capital, it capitalises social life. Whether your labour is intellectual or affective, it remains driven by the need for profit rather than any individuality on the worker's part. So, although non-material labour is indeed more social than material labour, the social life is not the realisation of emancipated subjects, but the playground of capitalist objects. Anybody who works in an office can see workers who unconsciously (or at best pre-consciously) swear blind allegiance to their company, or feel guilt when they get ill and call in sick. By having such a social component, the separation between work and leisure becomes ever more negligible - which is why the multitude swallows the capitalist myth hook, line and sinker.

In fact, non-material (you might even call it "virtual") capitalism, by allowing workers to believe that they are bringing their own unique vision to "the project," makes individuals feel superficially fulfilled, and thus reduces their potential for conflict. But that unique vision was created by the demands of profit in the first place.

Sunday, March 19, 2006


Is it me, or are girls becoming increasingly open about their periods? Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against it - I like a bit of openness as much as the next man. In fact, on Wednesday I was asked by one girl (in something of a state of emergency) to buy her some tampons, a purchase which gave me a certain (and, ok, perverted) thrill.

If the same thing happens to you this week, you will want to impress said girl with your in-depth knowledge of the sanitary towel. Which means you will want to read this first.


Many happy returns to Ornette Coleman, who reaches the big seven-six today. He must be one of the very few major-league jazz pioneers who is still alive - Sonny Rollins is the only other that I can immediately think of.

I went to see him at the Barbican last year, and he was stunning. I figured beforehand that his particular brand of screeching dissonance might get boring if I was sober, so I had three quick red wines at the bar before the gig started (though, since it was at the Barbican, I suppose it was a concert rather than a gig) and two more at the interval. This strategy worked a treat - it was literally one of the most exhilerating concerts I have ever been to. Ornette was dressed all in white, wore a white porkpie hat, played a white toy saxophone, and occasionally switched to a white violin. He had two - count them - double bassists, one plucked, one bowed, and his son Denardo on drums.

I don't think I consciously recognised many of the songs, but that is hardly the point with Ornette Coleman's music. A lot of it was virtually white noise, though Joe Zawinul's description of Ornette's music - where "nobody solos and everybody solos" - defines it better.

I also bumped into a 75 year old relative during the interval - now you wouldn't get that at an Arctic Monkeys gig.

So, your task for this week is to try out Ornette Coleman - you won't go far wrong with his first few CDs from the late 50s and 60s (The Shape of Jazz To Come, for example, or This is our Music), though I am also a big fan of his most recent album, Tone Dialling, from 1995.

Today is also Sir Ian Blair's birthday. He is 53. Another day closer to death, Ian...

Saturday, March 18, 2006


Coolidge: a different type of Presidential dullard

When the notoriously monosyllabic Calvin Coolidge died, Dorothy Parker reportedly asked "How could they tell?"

And while we're on the subject of the 30th US President, it is said that after a church service a reporter asked Coolidge what was the subject of the sermon. "The minister preached on sin," CC replied. So what exactly did the minister say about sin, the reporter asked. "He was against it," said Coolidge.

Would that US Presidents were that witty these days.

Thursday, March 16, 2006


"The concept of free speech [...] got into a mess [...] because we persist in the notion of a 'right' as something to be claimed rather than accorded. While claim and counter-claim are presented as absolutes, this is a debate that not only will have no resolution but cannot have a resolution," says Tom Stoppard in today's Guardian Review. Well, bugger it - here's my two pennyworth to that debate anyway.

Freedom of Expression is often spoken of a philosophy in itself, or at least as an outpost of liberal democracy. But because its absolutist advocates tend to sit on the liberal democratic side of the fence, Freedom of Expression is seen as an ideologically neutral topic, one which can be discussed in the abstractest of terms.

So let's remove this abstraction and talk about something more concrete. We could talk about Irving, or Danish cartoons, or Abu Hamza etc etc. These are all very relevant topics. But I'd like to talk about something which I once experienced.

When I was at University, the Free Speech Society pedlared their wares at the Freshers' Week Fair. As it happened, one of the big cheeses of the Free Speech Society has gone on to become a leading light in the BNP. He was on trial with Nick Griffin earlier this year on charges of inciting racial hatred. He was acquitted, but he and his party are, of course, overtly fascist. I'm sure he would not try to (or even want to) deny this charge.

At two consecutive Union AGMs, there were proposals to ban the Free Speech Society from campus. The first proposal failed; the second succeeded overwhelmingly. Why? Because at the first AGM, the protagonists of the Free Speech Society (who were overtly and obviously arrogant, racist pseudo-intellectuals) stayed away. Freedom of Expression remained an abstract, and who could vote against such a thing? But at the second AGM, where other political groups and individuals had nailed the FSS as a student branch of the National Front, these protagonists were forced to turn up and defend themselves. They were thus seen as the racists - and potentially physically violent racists - that they were. They didn't stand a chance.

Freedom of Expression is not a concept in itself. It is inextricably linked to another freedom - the freedom to commit acts of violence - and a limitation, that imposed by power relations. To not vote for the expulsion of the Free Speech Society from campus would have implicitly meant subjecting vulnerable groups to violence. This is precisely what backing Jyllands-Posten's decision to publish anti-Islamic cartoons means. To suggest, as some free speech absolutists have conveniently suggested, that J-P is attempting to ignite debate around Islam, is absurd. The newspaper is operating from a particular ideological viewpoint (it famously refused to print blasphemous images of Christ), and out of a country whose race relations are somewhat parlous. This is not to say that they did not have the right to publish the cartoons, but merely to say that they were wrong to act on that right.

As one of the panellists at the Guardian debate pointed out, if Freedom of Expression (which I will persist in writing with capital letters) is an absolute, it must have parity with other absolutes, such as religious ones, or other political ones. Otherwise, the liberal democratic notion of free speech (which is, after all, the notion which is under discussion) falls prey to the accusation that it imposes itself on others. There are clear parallels (which follow the inevitable link between freedom of speech and freedom of committing acts of violence) with the invasion of Iraq. One of the several claims for invading Iraq was to "liberate" its people from tyranny. The disastrous aftermath of that invasion appears almost irrelevant in this context (the context being that Iraqis had no say in whether they were liberated or not), but actually it is very relevant, since the imposition of Western-style democracy has betrayed its posturing.

There are links as well to the notion of freedom of markets. The neoliberal model of free markets is anything but free - it relies heavily on an impositional approach (hence the interventions of bodies such as the G8, the World Bank, NGOs etc). The suggestion made by Gary Younge that the right to free speech must entail the right to be offended can thus be extended to the military and economic interventions perpetrated by the powerful against the powerless today. The right of the oppressed to fight back - frequently denied by the very people who preach the sacrosanctity of freedom of speech - must be protected at every opportunity. Particularly when, as in the case of Danish Muslims following the publication of the cartoons, the right to be offended actually means facing the reality of increased threats from a hostile society.


A nice straightforward one to cut the red ribbon on this new all-singing, all-dancing Homo Ludens site. Next month MOJO celebrates its 150th issue. MOJO began in October 1993, and quickly became the cauliflower to Q's cabbage.

It was aimed at the all-important 25-40 year old market. I was only just 13 at the time, but I bought it all the same - as I did the next 42 issues. Issue 43 must have been a stinker, because that was the first one I didn't buy.

Anyway, to celebrate their big one five oh, they have asked readers to select their top 10 albums since October 1993. These are mine:

DJ Shadow, Endtroducing
2. Baby Bird, The Complete Lo-Fi
3. Arto Lindsay, Mundo Civilizado
4. De La Soul, Art Official Intelligence 2: Bionix
5. XTC, Apple Venus Vol. 1
6. Bob Dylan, Love and Theft
7. Kate Bush, Aerial
8. Streets, Original Pirate Material
9. Eminem, The Marshall Mathers LP
10. Brian Wilson, Smile!

60% of that list were making records before MOJO began. Still, I guess I shouldn't be too hard on myself for having fogeyish music tastes. I mean, what's the alternative? The Arctic Bloody Monkeys? Actually, before I slag off the entire post-1995 musical output,
this suggests that the Futureheads (pretty much the only NME arse-lickees of the last 18 months to whom anyone with a semblance of taste should give a second look) might pull off the difficult-second-album trick.