Feb. 8th, 2010

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I'm looking in the mirror and I have a dog's head. It's a small dog, rather well-groomed, with a bear-like snub nose and golden-brown hair. I have to go somewhere, see an art exhibition in rural Turkey, catch a train to the mountains... Oh, wait, that was a dream. I've woken up. I don't feel so great in the mornings -- a bit stiff. I'll be fine once I have some tea and move around a bit.

I jump up off the futon, leaving Hisae to doze. The rabbit lopes after me, down the corridor -- via the bathroom, where I pee and brush my teeth -- through the living room, into the kitchen.

Fuck, it's still totally white outside. I'm peering short-sightedly out into the courtyard garden as the kettle boils. This winter is just a tedious permatundra, more like Moscow than Berlin. I don't think I can take another like this; subzero, and everything locked under treacherous ice and snow for months. You never want to go out, but then you get cabin fever. Got to move somewhere warmer. Osaka, Athens.

I'm in my pink Habitat dressing-gown, the one I bought at Republique in Paris when I moved back to Europe from Japan in late 2002. Wearing this thick toweled garment, I feel like a prize fighter about to step into the ring. This, if anything, is my blogging garment; my pajamahadeen battle dress. I lie back in the reclining chair that faces my big, bright iMac screen. Check the remote control for the Japanese vibration device built into the chair; no light. The rabbit may have bitten through the power cable again. Fuck! I could do with a bit of a back massage.

After a cup of tea I feel better. Not just because my limbic system is flowing again and my stiff limbs are moving, but because there's a slight tingle of adrenalin now, a mixture of challenge and anxiety. My body is being led by my brain, which feels alert, crisp, purposeful. In a couple of hours I'll publish an illustrated article which people all over the world will be able to read. They'll start commenting on it almost immediately. I'll make the last editorial tweaks, and field the first comments, lying in my bath, reading my iPod Touch.

But first the big question, the Scheherazade question. What to write about? This is the key part of the process. Basically, it's about redemption. I must find something inspiring and exciting in my daily round of webpages, something I want to relay, repackage, expand on, interpret, rail against, connect unexpectedly to something else.

It's a bit like alchemy, turning base metals into gold. I'm actually rather unexcited by most of the stuff I read in the tight circles I make on the web. Let's see, on the Guardian news pages a law lord says the Iraq war was illegal, and British universities are having their budgets cut. You could do a piece on how those connect (Britain spent so much on the war, and later on bailing out the banks, that now they're chopping off bits of the future-national-brain to pay for it), but that way lies a bottomless pit of bitterness.

No, we want something a bit more arty and colourful for our topic. Check the Culture pages. Because when everything else is winter and gloom, culture can be glitter and bloom. Hmm, Gil Scott-Heron's back, and someone's written "an explosive new history of anti-semitism" which "has liberal intellectuals in its sights". 200 comments by lunchtime! But no thank you.

At this point I'm wondering if I have a "stub". A stub is a TextEdit document outlining an idea for a blog piece. It's usually just an URL and a few lines of notes connecting that topic to a photo and a few other topics. I open a folder marked "2010 alias" and arrange the files by type. There's one about Alan McGee closing his Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr accounts ("i got fed up with being in other people's personal real life shite drama's so closed them all down.it feels like freedom", he writes in his MySpace blog). Nah, lay off McGee, let him be free. I shall also be released soon.

There's a stub entitled "Modern Painters mystery" which is about how the art magazine's Wikipedia page mentions nothing about the origins of the much-relaunched title. The Modern Painters disambiguation page says "for the art magazine founded by Peter Fuller...", but the actual page doesn't mention Fuller at all, nor any of the umpteen editors and companies and headquarters the mag has gone through over the last decade. I'm sure there used to be a Wikipedia page mentioning some of these things, and the corporate gloss that now stands in for a proper account of Modern Painters strikes me as a kind of Orwellian propaganda -- the kind of thing Marxy is always complaining about re: the Japanese Wikipedia, in fact.

But no. Bringing Marxy into it would feel terribly 2005, and bashing Modern Painters would feel wrong too, because they covered me at generous length in 2003. Ha, what about a waspish, self-mocking piece saying that every media outlet that covers Momus is doomed to go on the skids shortly afterwards? Then I could say that failing to respond promptly to Tokyo Art Beat's request for a TABuzz feature recently has been my way to spare the troubled website (currently requesting donations) "the curse of Momus"! No, but that's stirring it, and the TABBERS I met in Tokyo this trip were lovely people.

What about a Japan-themed entry? Aha, there is a stub for one of those. It's about Wim Wenders' late-80s film Notebook on Cities and Clothes, which is about Yohji Yamamoto and video imaging technology. I saw it when it came out, and it fits (along with Chris Marker's Sunless and Elizabeth Lennard's documentary on Ryuichi Sakamoto) into a fascinating subgenre of Western takes on late-Showa Tokyo. There's a really interesting sub-theme in Wenders' ruminative, oblique film about peace-as-war. Yamamoto says that commerce has been, post-war, Japan's way of holding its head up in the world, and that it's pursued like a peacetime war effort. Japan doesn't really have that attitude any more, though maybe China does.

Anyway, blogging about that would be a good opportunity to link to Toog's excellent interview with Elizabeth Lennard. God, how I admire Toog's blog! If people should read any blog after mine stops, they should read his. And Toog himself is really an inspiration: the handmade book of poetry he sent me recently, for instance, the one that looks like a passport to higher states. What an elegant project! To take orders for a book of poems then write each one by hand! It's monklike, it's quirkily humourous, it's exactly the kind of stubborn gesture that commands interest and respect in an age where it's far too easy to launch culture electronically.

Speaking of "too many words", I still haven't settled on a topic to blog about. But maybe -- since I've written about trying to find something to write about -- that's no longer necessary. I can just blog about blogging. The medium is, after all, the message.

Remember that piece I wrote, A cup of tea? Mischa Shoni had written asking "Momus, what should I blog about?" It was 2006, and everyone was supposed to blog. So I did an entry saying you could blog interestingly about anything, even a cup of tea. It was one of the first blog entries to use numbered paragraphs, which later became a bit of a Click Opera signature (I later discovered Alain Badiou did the same thing). It made Mischa happy, and got 80 comments.

Well, I don't think I'm going to blog about cups of tea again -- Click Opera ends on Wednesday, and I don't want to repeat myself -- but it might be a good plan to drink one. For some reason Samuel Beckett's line about how "having nothing to say, no words but the words of others, I have to speak" pops into my head. Maybe that would be a good title for today's entry.

I raise my pink-clad body up out of the vibrating, reclining chair (I seem to have spent a big chunk of the last decade cranked back in this "driving seat", facing the big iMac "windscreen") and head for the kitchen. Instead of the wireless mouse, I click the button on the kettle, and soon the fresh water is chuckling to a boil. It's coming up to 11am, time to post. But what'll I use for pictures?

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February 2010

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