October 10th, 2005


And they all lived happily ever after

Something that often annoys me about newspapers is that they report a story and then don't follow up. Things begin dramatically, then get left dangling, only to peter out into obscurity. Newspaper websites often refer back to related stories from their archives, but old stories are rarely referred forward. If you're trawling through old articles you can find out how the story began, but not how it ended.

So today I decided to look at the things I was talking about on this blog one year ago, and give you updates. How did it all turn out? One year ago this week I'd just returned to Berlin from a month in Japan and had plunged straight into a student theatre production. I was making music for Martin Crimp's "Attempts on her Life", a production with the Hochschule fur Schauspielkunst Ernst Busch. I was unexpectedly shy, and was learning stuff about myself as a team player: "The trick that the actors pull off with such panache, and which I'm not so good at, is negotiating this contradiction: doing their charismatic, loud, proud, subtle performance thing on cue, within all the constraints of the direction and the script. Pouring their creativity into nuance and interpretation, but leaving the more substantial meanings to others. Being 'themselves' but also being smooth, likeable team players. I must say I admire them enormously for these skills, which, because of my strange alpha male / outsider status as a solo artist in total control of the little worlds I create, I've never learned."

So how did it all go? I felt more at ease when Kaori Mitsushima arrived, a talented laptop girl I'd met in Tokyo and invited to join me on the play. Kaori lives in Prague now and this month married her American boyfriend Mika. They live rent-free (thanks to a friend who works in advertising) with their cat Ponpon. Her latest thoughts are here. Hisae and I now live in the flat Kaori and Mika used to share in Berlin, not far from where Anne Laplantine and her husband (yes, they just got married too) Xavier live.

As for the play, it didn't do as well as expected: it closed after a handful of performances attended mostly by friends and relatives of the cast. The director thought this was because the director of the school didn't like her, and felt vindicated when a couple of theatre festivals booked "Attempts on her Life" in early 2005. By that time, though, I was away at Future University in Hokkaido, and the rest of the cast was scattered all over the world, so the revival had to be cancelled. I think director Gergana is now back in her native Hungary.

A year ago I was also raving about the work of Berlin artist John Bock, then showing at London's ICA. I have to say that although I still enjoy Bock's work, I've slightly gone off him thanks to over-exposure (he's been shown everywhere in the past 12 months). Just the other day I was calling him "a bit smartypants and show-offy". The (utterly infallible) Artfacts website seems to agree, showing Bock's career peaking in 2003 and beginning to decline slightly.

Exactly a year ago I was rejoicing in Elfriede Jelinek's Nobel Prize for Literature and lamenting the death of Jacques Derrida. I'm not sure if Jelinek's profile has risen as much as it should have done, though I did recently see a piece of hers on Arte which I'm sure wouldn't have been staged otherwise (it stood out from any other TV drama I've seen, much more stereotypical, scathing and sarcastic). One year on, Derrida still seems to get derided as much as ever in general messageboard chatter, held up more often than not as an intellectual fraud or a "symptom" of postmodernism, which is still held in suspicion by people who nevertheless love The Simpsons. My brother, who's a Derrida specialist, just got appointed Professor of Contemporary Writing at the University of East Anglia, though, so it hasn't done him any harm. And in December he too will get married, to fellow prof Tory Young. Mark and I were both at university with Ali Smith, who's up for this year's Booker Prize. How will that particular story turn out? We'll know tonight.