Thursday, 31 December 2009


The Noughties were the shiny shiny decade of the bankrupt and the bewildered; the decade of the commercial, the consumer, the credit and the crash; the decade when the world stopped asking questions and gave us certainties; when Young British Art moved out of the underground into the establishment; when the angry young novelists grew comfortable pot bellies and politics forgot to be political. The decade of the surface and the superficial. Of lightness and greenhouse gases and other hot air. The decade our dreams were banished to the shadows and we lay trampled in the rush to the mainstream.

A new decade is here at last. Consumption and excess and luxury and the light in the sky and on our dressing tables is dead. A decade of darkness is ready to draw down on us, but darkness is only frightening if you're a creature of the day.

And we are not. We are writers, artists, musicians, poets, filmmakers, thinkers. We are creatures of the night; of troubled sleep; of disquieted walks under fizzing streetlamps; of screams hidden in the depths of our skulls as those next to us slumber in peace. We go blind at the shiny surfaces of consumerism and spin and the glib and the slick; we throw back questions to every answer; we refuse to take the easy path even when lame.

In the darkness, people won't need bankers to make them rich, scientists to heal their broken bodies limping on the surface of this broken planet. They will need voices to speak to their night terrors; hands to hold them and ease their passing; songs to explain the dark; to build the foundation myths of a new era; to unravel the damage and the guilt; to tell the stories that construct the new communities from the rubble.

The collapse of society is nothing to fear if you've always lived on its edges. Madness and despair hold no horror for those to whom they are lifetime companions. A decade of darkness is coming and the world is in retreat. It's time at last for us to step out of the shadows and into the full gare of the abyss. The twenty teens belong to the fuck-ups and the freakshows; the sickboys and the weirdos; they belong to the Cassandras and the Johnny Boys, the poet, singer, artist, piper, storytelling lunatics who believe that art brings its own light, its own truth; that words, pictures, music, film, community, society, myth can transform the ashes and make new.

When your fingers hurt, keep smashing them into the keyboard; when you head is cut in two with pain, pull it apart and let the hurt gush onto the page; when the world demands your silence, say "yes", say "no", say anything but "OK".

A decade of darkness is coming, of damage and despair and doubt. A decade at last that belongs to us. Your scream is its soundtrack. Don't be silent for a second.


  1. "A decade of darkness is coming and the world is in retreat" more like a decade of S.Meyer "Twilight" is already here to stay...

    I love the poetry of your vision. Not sure I share it's redeeming heart though...


  2. Just had to add the security word was 'falier' and I was automatically drawn to reverse the 'l' & 'i" ...

  3. Someone invited me to a New Years party in 1989 saying "The eighties was our decade, now it's time to let someone else have a chance", well I've decided that this second decade of the millenium is going to be my decade again :-)

    Don't worry about me, I'm going to make as much noise as I can.

  4. good riddance to the 00s. This was of the worst decades for the arts, period... excluding the great boom of London's political theatre, which has witnessed an explosion in popularity. Otherwise, cinema, literature and pop culture in the 00s were laughable and pathetic.

  5. I would say the decade has been one of extremes for me whilst the world sat in the middle blending into the same tone of monotony

  6. Poetically fascinating...I'm not sure I agree with all of it, but this really made me think. I'm a night person in a literal sense, but never considered the fact that because I write, because I explore the dark recesses of every corner, and the deepest fears people have, I might be more able to accept the state of affairs our world is in more easily than a non-writer. Maybe even help make it less scary.

    Fabulous post, Dan. Happy (?) New Year!

  7. First, apologies, of course, to the legion of Ginsberg fans. The title is a blatant riff on Howl, and I am aware that I will never produce anything a tenth the value of a shadow of that piece. But I got carried away writing this as a poem.

    @Marc - I've always thought of myself as a pessimist. Just one who, having found the cloud, always dissects it for its silver lining. I think my point is that it is in the bleakest of times that art really has its place - and its value is recognised, ironically. We've done commercialism and Meyer and Rowling, and I really think that kind of consumerism will reach meltdown in the decade to come. Which will be a cause of great and genuine misery to many whose jobs depend on it - but that is when art thrives - it's also when we must remember our responsibility as artists most keenly.

    @Jonathan - yes, I felt like that with the 90s - they were my decade - they were a genuinely exciting time for art. And you have reminded me that, having finally finished SKIN BOOK, I should drop you a line to see if you would still like to work on a musical adaptation.

    @Sabina - "good riddance" about sums it up

    @Saffy - that's a beautiul way of puttingit.

    @Jamie - storytellers have an ambivalent place in society in that regard. On the one hand we tell ghost stories to scare people and keep them up at night. On the other hand, when there are REAL unformed monsters lurking in the shadows, it's our job to give them form and, if not make them go away, at least bring them into the open. A very happy New Year. The energy and verve of your Variety Pages have been a inspiration onmore than one occasion when I've felt too exhausted to carry on.

  8. au contraire Dan, the market & the superstructure have remarkable elasticity and more ways of regenerating and preserving themselves than Doctor who.

    I will continue of course to rattle my pewter trencher against the prison bars, but the chances of any of us breaking out without being frozen in the mainstream's searchlight and cut down in a hail of withering self-protectionist bullets is slim indeed. Whatever is left of culture simply isn't listening to the margins for it perceives there simply isn't enough money to be made there.

    "cowered in unshaven rooms in underwear, burning their money in wastebaskets and listening to the Terror through the wall" = A.Ginsberg

  9. Ha ha - yeah, I was rereading Howl this afternoon after I posted this. "unshaven rooms" just makes me think of your TTT :)

  10. Is there room in all of this for a cat, claws carefully retracted, who just wants to purr occasionally and try to give other people some purrleasure?

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