20 slides are each projected for 20 seconds and spoken to for the same period, no more, no less. The script for one of these precision-based presentations is found below.
Season 4: #PC20
I had hitched a ride from Lord Alan Sugar to the border of Essex and Middlesex. We got on well. Lord Sugar invited me to stay in his bungalow. He was quite pleasant. But it was time to move on. We could chat amiably enough but there were sharp ideological differences.
Lord Sugar gave me some sandwiches and an old Morris. With time on my hands, I decided to drive at random. There was an old eight-track cartridge, the precursor to the tape cassette, under the seat. I recognised the feel of the plastic casing before I pulled the thing out. This meant nobody had felt beneath the seat since the 80s.
I was startled by what I saw. The Fleetwood Mac Greatest Hits cartridge was the last one ever to be released, by Warner Brothers, in November, 1988. This was a collector’s item! I had to sell it as soon as possible then I could finance my new in-car lifestyle and travel widely throughout the United Kingdom.
I picked up some triplets, who are normally considered very lucky. Not lucky as people but for the person who collects them. I had Tom in the front and Rob and Bob in the back. I asked them what they were up to. Each spoke one word at a time but in perfect sequence.
They said “We find it difficult to get work because we do not like to be apart.” I said “There must be work for you on television.” “That’s no good,” they replied, “everyone has seen triplets. We’re more interested in deals.” “What? Contracts?” “No. Three pairs of socks in a pack.”
The brothers seemed to have quite modest ambitions. I was still curious about something though. “Do you find,” I asked “that your sense of identity is three times stronger or three times weaker?” Their response was depressing. “We cannot tell you. We have never experienced ourselves in the solitary state.” I wanted them to go away.
I stopped the car to eat my sandwiches. Another car pulled up behind us with steam billowing from under the bonnet. As luck would have it, the driver and her passengers were also triplets: Lorna, Dawn and Vaughny. Tom and Rob and Bob turned to me: “Sometimes you have the chance. Other times it’s just a curtain of shit.”
I was glad to see the triplets leave. There was something just a little too symmetrical going on. What I needed now was a collector who would buy my rare 8 track cartridge. It seemed to me there were two sorts of collector: those who actually liked what they collected and those that didn’t.
The second group sounds pointless. Why would you bother? The thing is, I suppose, that it enables you to control the world. It gives you a platform. You are the explorer. The detective. You go out and bring back the goods. You have personally accumulated the entire contents of a category. It doesn’t matter what. Now you are free.
Perhaps in seeking a buyer for the 8 track I was passing up a grander opportunity. What would I do with the money? Live the life of Lord Alan Sugar? Surely there was more to it. I went to the Record Collector’s Fair in Ipswich Corn Exchange and sold the Fleetwood Mac for several thousand pounds.
I then purchased copies of all the 8 tracks released in 1988. I had two boxes full. Most of them were shit. I was mindful, nevertheless, of Baudrillard’s essay ‘The System of Collecting’ in which the gifted French thinker had described ‘a powerful anal-sadistic impulse that tends to confine beauty in order to savour it in isolation.’
Fuck. I wasn’t into that. The 8 tracks were really ugly. I’d never stick them up my arse. I preferred it when he compared the collection to a harem. He said it was a series bounded by intimacy and an intimacy bounded by seriality. That didn’t sound too bad. Anyway, I was king of the world now. I needed the Fleetwood Mac to complete the set but it could wait.
Everything felt light but deep. The objects in the world were like weights on a diver’s belt – and now I had left them behind. I drove the Morris to Ramsgate and took the ferry to Ostend. I caught the train to Tibet with minutes to spare. I knew exactly what I wanted. I was free but I had no power.
Thondup said if you concentrate hard enough, and I mean really hard, the mind can be brought to create any particular object desired. The Tibetans call this concretized visualization a Tulpa, meaning a magically produced illusion or creation. At first it’s a purely mental image but it gradually takes material form.
They were a simple people. Clear and straight. They wore no watches and knew nothing of glamour. They carried old lager cans full of sparkling river water and they came down the street from the houses and they came down from the hills above the houses. They sang as they walked along and everyone knew that their hearts were open and joyous.
Osma was their leader. Where the others were pleasant but not obtrusive, Osma stood out. She was firmer and more impressive than her lighthearted companions. When she spoke she would touch me lightly, which the others did not. When they came towards me, she was at the forefront and the others, joyful as they were, were not as radiant as she.
I walked beside Osma and slowly we moved ahead of the others and their soft laughter. Her hand lay lightly on my forearm and her wonderful dress with its flowers swirled around her legs. We didn’t need to talk much – she would breath and hum and nod her head very slightly and I knew she knew my thoughts.
I found I could look through her eyes and I could see with her delicacy and I understood how she let the world run through her and I smiled and she saw me and looked at me with care and I knew that she liked that I looked and she looked like she saw what I was which was so pleased.
We walked through the night and the ones without names fell away, hanging back, their murmurs and whispers fainter and fainter but Osma was stronger without them, she grew by the moment, the more that I opened myself to her presence her presence grew bolder and sharper, she slipped like a snake from old skin to new skin
We lived where we could in woods or flat places sometimes for months sometimes for days. If she was, at times, distant, then I would bring her back, bring her down to earth. I would set aside my mementoes and gaze at her and back she came. She had only gone while my mind was elsewhere. When my mind was there she was there.