January 7th, 2005


Ambition and bastions

It seems to me that my life and work have always been tied up with my ambition and my vision of 'the good life', and that in turn has involved the storming of bastions. A bastion is like a treasure house, an idyll, a utopia, a woman. If you actually get inside, you're likely to be disappointed and to stop obsessing over it. The important thing is what you imagine it's like in there, and how you tie all your dreams up with the attempt to topple the walls and lower the drawbridge.

To schematize somewhat, I could lay out my various 'bastions' like this:

1980-85: Poured all my energy into attacking the dreaming spires of university, and also targeted indie labels. A good degree and a record contract: success!
1985-90: Tried to conquer the British weekly music press and then the Top 40. Some good press, but no UK hit single.
1990-95: Concenrated on 'being Serge Gainsbourg'. Got laid, got married, got out of Britain. The big bastion was Japan, and I got all the way inside! Success!
1996-2001: America became the bastion. The America of Clinton and the dot com boom. I ended up moving there. Some limited American fame. Forays into digital art.
2001-2005: Living in Japan became the goal, but I found that it was better to stay an eternal visitor. From my new base in Berlin I tried to establish myself as a more experimental musician, but those bastions at The Wire didn't fall for it. I turned increasingly to visual culture, becoming, bizarrely enough, a design commentator.

So what are the bastions I'll be besieging from 2005 to 2010? China, perhaps? Will I discover a spiritual path and follow it to some mountain in India? Will I concentrate my firepower on the bastions of contemporary dance or theatre? Will I do more stints as an artist in residence and give Scanner a run for his Arts Council money? Will I snipe the 'post' off my 'post-literary' tag and become bookish?

I really have no idea. What I do know is that there's no ambition without appetite. As usual, I'll be paying a lot of attention to glamour and desire, because those are the beacons that'll lead me to the next bastion. But what I'm realising, as I get older, is that glamour and desire are both in the eye of the holder. The bastions are all in the mind. I hope this realisation itself doesn't make them collapse into a heap of boring rubble.