Thursday, 4 September 2014

Our Tiny War, My Tiny War, the Kind is Dead (Guest Entry by EE Parker)

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(I am both pleased, and proud, to announce that Dr Emily Ellis Parker has agreed to write the final piece for the collection titled 'Cleaning Down' - Craig Guthrie.)

Before I say 'firstly' I would like to express my regret for the passing of Craig Guthrie as an Artist, and would like to think that I say for all of us, though we are but a few, that the anticipation of a new piece will be as sorely missed as the reading of the piece itself.
But firstly, I would like to say how glad I was to be asked by Craig to write a sort of epilogue to this collection of writing. Unfortunately, I do not personally know the characters that he writes about, nor do I know much about kitchens and so do not feel best placed to entertain with such matters. Some regular readers, I fear may be disappointed with this, but Craig said don't give a ballyhoo about the readers and to just write what I want.
I am perhaps not best qualified to speak about kitchens, but I am very well placed to speak about the writer, perhaps knowing him better than he has ever known himself - and so this final post in a short diary of work by Craig Guthrie shall be invested in him from the outside in.
 I should say that I am also upon my duty to tell you that Mr Guthrie is now neither available to comment on this or any of his other work, nor available to speak to or contact under any terms, due to his untimely demise as an Artist.
Predicting his future state of nonexistence, Craig gave me the advice "be upbeat."
 He told me to find inspiration in the better craftsman.
And incidentally, in terms of who he might have considered the better craftsman, I know that recently before his period of inactivity he contacted Craig Murray saying how much he enjoyed and respected his work and though he wasn't one for recommendations, how he would advise anyone he might come across to read it.
Craig Murray
He said that his name was also "Craig", that he was a nobody and that perhaps Mr Murray might enjoy reading some of his work if he ever had a minute to relax.
Mr Murray replied saying that he would.
Mr Guthrie then advised Mr Murray to "get drunk first, so that you might properly enjoy it."

On this upbeat note, I would like to say that Craig recently sent me an e-mail requesting that he see "a video of someone being nice to someone else, someone generous and gracious bestowing a piece of undistilled, selfless charity of spirit, upon another human being. A video of someone perhaps down on their luck, receiving some good news, or coming across some strange benefactor who lightens the weight of life.

"But more than this," he went on to finish, "if Danny, Danger and Jams ever open a restaurant, I would want to go there... firstly for the food and secondly for the entertainment value.
Yup, that sure would be the place to go."

"Don't be flat," Craig had said.
But B flat may be the best note to end on.
But then I wonder what note it started on. Why did he begin this twisted diary?
To connect? Only connect?
Was it meant to be about him, the people he connected with, or the people he wanted to connect with?

To create any piece of Art which might be considered worthwhile by God or Nature, one needs to feel the genuine spark of inspiration. And likewise, to throw in the towel one needs to feel the genuine blow of despair.
A human being with a particular connection to Mr Guthrie died early this week.
 As soon as I knew, I imagined that some monsters of the past would begin to rear their ugly heads again, slowly, into his world.
But then I was standing outside all of the madness and looking in, unscathed, for all I knew, those monsters may well have been bluebirds, scattered throughout the blue skies.
But I digress and should now speak of the author with respect to this collection and recall the very first thing he ever said to me, which was:

(Come in under the shadow of this red rock),  
And I will show you something different from either  
Your shadow at morning striding behind you  
Or your shadow at evening rising to meet you;
- TS Eliot, The Waste Land.

Oh, but I can unravel the text but not the emotion!
He was going to say so much...
it was going to be so important... inducing a life-changing epiphany in the reader...
it was going to have the sort of shock value which changes one's world view...
and he had every intention of sharing his concept of life and death, the repaired dichotomy of the heightened states of elation from witnessing creation and the crushing pain of loss and destruction.
But he was just a little dickhead from Dundee.  And so there he stands in my mind, not a political writer of international calibre, but a drone, chopping onions and cracking bad jokes.

Many might say he lacked each the brains, talent or drive to do more and better work, but that small connected audience he had might understand the concept of the firework, the shortest flash shining brightest, the power and impact of a bang as opposed to the boredom of a drone.

The second thing he ever said to me was perhaps:
"Only connect! That was the whole of her sermon. Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted, and human love will be seen at its height. Live in fragments no longer. Only connect, and the beast and the monk, robbed of the isolation that is life to either, will die."- EM Forster, Howards End.

He was going to write about all the important books and poetry he had read, all the life-changing music he had listened to and all the ground-breaking art he had set eyes upon.
But there was never enough time, or he was half-drunk, or washing plates.
Or life was not good enough.
Or he was too tired.
Too tired from what?
 But what is modern life?
Working for someone he had never met, paying bills to people he had never met, answering phone calls from people he would never meet, cooking for people he couldn't meet, voting for people he never wanted to meet - agreeing to abide by laws, social decorum and following twisted modern fashions set by the team he was not a part of. Indeed, I cannot even blame him for the Artistic suicide, but the Rothschilds were always going to get rid of him eventually anyhow.
"Was this always the way?" he wrote of their modern usury system.
"Pandering to people and paying interest to animals we have never even met in person?"

It was on this note he consistently told his family that, one day, he would work out a way to remove himself from the mechanics of modern civilised society, like Thoreau did, to transact a little business with himself.
But then he was well aware of the fact that Thoreau did not have three children and a hefty mortgage on retiring to the woods for two years.

 And so there we have it I guess, Craig Guthrie, a man whose ambitions were greater than his abilities? A better writer than a chef? Of course. God rest your unsettled soul Craig.

And so below, twenty-one pieces of writing, twenty-one pieces of literary faecal matter, he would say - a trail of shit which can possibly stand in testament to something - he would say (being in love with the idea of excrement): perhaps they doff the cap to the principal of a shared environment, a metaphor for the human race sharing the earth...
 ...perhaps they are simply a tribute to the people who share that environment - largely good, decent individuals, who understand on an instinctual level that to take something out of this world, one has to put something back in...
 ...or maybe even these notes from the ether might stand in testament to his own audacity, maybe even tenacity to write, while a sea of compulsions beat against his naked torso, persuading him that it is was not a good idea, that he should give up, that he was not a writer, but a drone, with nothing more to offer than a simpleton's mechanical response to commands in order to maintain the illusion of a contribution to society.

 Craig told me that when someone laughed at the suggestion of him being a 'writer', he had hung his head in shame and replied subserviently,  "Yes, you are right to laugh, I am not a writer, I merely toil in a kitchen and dream that I am someone else."

But with a pen or a keyboard in hand, he became a different person, not fragmented, not a keyboard warrior, but simply a whole, an honest man, completed by God and scarred by the beast, who desired to communicate.
He was undoubtedly a better writer than a chef, however only the hungry reader can decide for themselves.

I believe that Craig considered this small collection to have a stream running through it which connects each piece with a fundamental element. Not that this is "left-wing psuedo-anarchist literature" or whatever he described it as, but more the notion that we are all essentially preoccupied with the same habitual prisons of distraction which ultimately divert us away from the inspiring and life-affirming acknowledgement of the creation and destruction running throughout our lives. 

Twenty-one pieces of writing which illustrate the fact that he was a better writer than a chef, yet he could not procure one single offer of work, project, employment or remuneration from pursuing the former.
Twenty-one pieces which tell the story of a wasted talent, a terrible joke, a broken man.
And so let it be known, from this point forth, that truly, when he turned from cutting the onions and tears were filling his eyes - those tears had welled before the onions ever appeared - those great, bitter tears of regret and disillusionment - for stood next to you, was the broken, bitter, disappointed baby, a victim of nothing except one lost match.

But what was he writing about?
These snippets of writing - are they about me? Are they about you?
It was he who was der auschlande platte, he who existed where others could not exist, he who was Plato on the lawn, the man within the man without, the little dickhead from Dundee, the roaring crowd from Dens.
He said once, in the voice of a bad advert, "is your life defined by moments of extreme elation and unholy despair, coloured-in by boredom and apathy?
Then write it all down, seal it in a nice clean envelope, soak the envelope in standard petroleum and set a zippo to it. Either that, or mail it to your local MP, they should be able to help."
I didn't laugh.
But then we can't deny that it turns out that the chef you were once standing next to was not a chef at all, but a struggling writer, the greeter at the door is not a greeter, but a 
...a brain... athlete...
...a basket case...
...a princess...
...and a criminal...
...Don't you, forget about me, hey, hey, hey, hey...
And are we there yet?
Do we all get it now?
The last big metaphor?
Craig may be quoted categorically during an episode of evangelical preaching in the big hall, indeed shouting, screaming, red-faced and shaking, "Quit your jobs, say 'no more' to the company you work for, say 'I have had an epiphany, I have suddenly been made aware of this modern quasi-slave-trade and its power to corrupt me with the illusion of repayment and I shall be part of it no more'!
 "No! Pay your alms another way. Remove yourself from the machine, remove yourselves!"
These were not the words of a worm.
The irony was that he began to define himself as such towards the end. Cleaning Down was never about cooking, but restrictions.
All the restrictions and a burning impulse to break free, to rebel, to revolt.
And "da da da" - was perhaps his only counter to all this frustration:
da-  be compassionate,
da - exercise self-control,
da - give alms.
But then I have had so many nightmares about the Rothschilds lately, I forget my da, da, das. The Rothschilds Mr Guthrie so unkindly introduced me to and even as I type the name, (and realise it shall be flagged up again, onto some expensive laptop, illuminating my name to so many monitoring, I can only guess) I shudder at my own habitual prison of distractions.
He introduced me to the reality of the Rothschilds - the family who own the world yet appear on no rich list - and I wish he never had, because as they say, once you know, you cannot unknow.
But that is another story.
I shall be shut down soon, too, for even daring to mention them.
Something bad shall happen to me.
Why should something bad happen to me?
Because I know the name Rothschild?
To Hell with those miserable animals, those unworthy Greek Gods of today, maintaining a level of world poverty while casting the occassional lightning bolt at the luckier few.

"This is the life of illusion, wrapped up in trouble, laced with confusion.
What we doing here?
We take the pressure and we throw away conventionality - (it) belongs to yesterday...
There is a chance that we can make it so far, (if) we start believing now that we can be who we are."
- Barry Gibb.

"Someone died today," Craig wrote on Tuesday - on the back of a cheap magazine and left it in the small toilet before giving up for good.
 The last written words of Craig Guthrie are as follows:

"Someone died today, a friend.
 God rest your soul Adam Esposito, I shall crack on, like you did, enjoy my beer, like you did, and shirk my responsibilities, like only we know how.
"Goodbye Danny, goodbye Jams, see you Dave, farewell Danger, so long Jojo and au revoir the rest of you, the rest of you beautiful, complicated, annoying souls."

RIP - the Art of Craig Guthrie,
 friend to all, master of none,
your tiny war was lost,
before it had begun.

written and arranged by Dr Emily Ellis Parker.

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