Thursday, 24 December 2015

MERRY CHRISTMAS TO ALL AND TO ALL A GOOD NIGHT!










EYEWEAR WISHES THE PEOPLE OF THE EARTH AS MUCH PEACE, LOVE, JOY, BALANCE, GOOD CHEER AND FOOD AND WINE, LIGHTS AND WARMTH, AND SHELTER, AND HOPE, AND FRIENDSHIP AS THEY CAN FIND THIS NIGHT, AND ALL NIGHTS TO COME, WHETHER THEY WEAR SPECTACLES OR NOT.

THERE IS ROOM FOR ALL OF US, BUT BE GENTLE WITH EACH OTHER, WE ARE IN TOUGH TIMES.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYBODY!

Monday, 21 December 2015

EYEWEAR BEST POETRY BOOKS OF 2015 - DAY ELEVEN

We are coming to the end of our 2015 list - today is the penultimate one - and of course we are unable to list all the many brilliant poetry collections that came out this year, but we hope that by tomorrow, and our 12th day, we will have shared a number of them with you. Think of this as a taster, a jumping off place, a gentle nudge.










Sunday, 20 December 2015

EYEWEAR BEST POETRY BOOKS OF 2015 - DAY TEN






EYEWEAR'S POETRY PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR 2015 - DON SHARE



A few years ago, when I first moved to London (after a few years in Paris), it was possible to bemoan the lack of any true Trans-Atlantic poetry exchange. The vital modern link between London and Chicago (and NYC) pioneered by Pound and Eliot, and then the Faber and Alvarez initiatives that allowed Lowell, Plath and Berryman to be household American names in the UK, were a thing of the past.

True, some Cambridge experimental poets had links to Americans like Dorn, and others to Ashbery, but mainly, a distance had drifted into view, and the so-called various languages, American and English, were firmly entrenched, as "two solitudes".  Meanwhile, 21st century poetry had lost its ways.  True, we had some critics offer their guiding poetics, like Bernstein. For awhile, Roddy Lumsden and Salt did a good job of trying to sort this mess out. Eyewear in 2012 also started building bridges. But still, most Americans never read a British poem anymore, and vice versa. All this changed a year or so ago.

Don Share - a mild-mannered, if brilliant, poet, scholar, critic, anthologist, with a background in a Penguin Classic on Seneca, and a spell running the Harvard Poetry series - became the Poetry Foundation's new Editor of Poetry magazine. Poetry was already an iconic magazine, more heard of than read in these British isles, and under Christian Wiman's solemn, intelligent editorship was already a quality journal that every poet in the world wanted to appear in.

But it was not any more relevant, or exciting, than half a dozen other magazines, which we could all name. It was not the most indie.  It was not the most inclusive. It was not the most international in reach. It was not the most eccentric, surprising, and stylish. Wiman was a poet and critic and editor of brilliance, and his work is to be honoured. But Don Share is a rarer creature even still - for he is an editor of genius.

What does such a claim mean? Precious little perhaps in this Digital Age, except, just as JJ Abrams is the go to guy to reboot something classic, now the poetry world has its own master rebooter - Dr Share - and not since Wordsworth has a name meant so much more than something to sign a book with.

For Share shares.  He has made Poetry the place where poets meet in this new world.  Online, and in print, every kind of poet and poem and poetry - so long as it is potent, effective, genuine and vital - appears under his expertly curated editorial open door policy - a policy that once seemed practical, then quaint, then foolhardly, then impossible - but renewed under Share is not only plausible but essential.

In the year of To Pimp A Butterfly, in the age of Ferguson and Trump and Daesh, month after month Share has astonished readers with a breadth of taste and selection opening readers up to what new, fresh, young American, British, Irish, and other poetries, actually sound like, now. Open as never before to Hip Hop/ rap poetics, for instance, Poetry is about as cutting edge as Pound's Italian razor from 1915, when he began cutting out a lot of guff.

Poetry the magazine and Foundation has its detractors, sure, - envy is always a presence in the poetry world - and some of its critics no doubt have a few good points - but nothing so big and generous and brave is ever going to please those who seek to set terse, grim limits. Sylvia Plath once said to Alvarez that "the little say No, the big say Yes."

Don Share is about as big as they come in the poetry world - a poet who has put his own strikingly clever and engaging poetry (some of the best of his time) to one side, in the service of editing and promoting thousands of other poets. All editors are generous. But none more so than Share - and daily he amuses and informs thousands, even hundreds of thousands, of readers, on social media, as no poet has before.

Don Share, in 2015, is the global face of American poetry - dare we say, of world poetry in the English language? And there is nary an edge of canon-crushing, cant, or cruelty, in his statements or judgements.  His vision is kind, if firm. His sense is humorous, and compassionate. His imagination is lively, avid, roving, and never-shut.

If we had a dozen Share-alikes (of all genders and races and ages, natch) running the other top mags and poetry publishers, we might have a total renaissance. As it is, there is only one Share, and he is doing a pretty good one-person job as it is. Thank you, Don, for changing how and why we read poetry, and Poetry.

Here's to Eyewear's Poetry Personality of the Year 2015!

Monday, 7 December 2015

THE BEST FILMS OF 2015?

SHE WATCHES TOO MANY ART HOUSE MOVIES

Reviewing the best films of 2015 from a British perspective is always slightly frustrating, as several of the big Hollywood films actually come out here in January - or just before Christmas, so we cannot say for sure if The Danish Girl, Creed, Trumbo, the new Tarantino, The Revenant, or indeed the new Star Wars* may actually be the year's best.

However, bearing in mind this is a not very definitive blog, one can still say the following TEN THINGS ABOUT TEN MOVIES IN 2015, based on what we have seen...

1. THE JAMES BOND WAS A DISAPPOINTMENT - MORE MOONRAKER THAN THE SPY WHO LOVED ME, MORE THUNDERBALL THAN GOLDFINGER. TIME FOR IDRIS AND A NEW DIRECTOR, LIKE NOLAN, SPIELBERG OR TARANTINO.

2. BROOKLYN IS A TAD TOO MADE FOR TV AND SICKLY SWEET TO BE A MASTERPIECE, BUT IS STILL A GENUINELY FUNNY AND MOVING PICTURE OF OLD-FASHIONED DELIGHTS.

3. MAD MAX'S LATEST INCARNATION IS WITHOUT DOUBT ONE OF THE GREATEST SPECTACLES EVERY PUT ONTO FILM AND ONE OF THE YEAR'S TEN BEST.

4. EVEREST HAS SUPERB PERFORMANCES AND WAS MORE THRILLING AND POWERFUL THAN MOST THIS YEAR.

5. THE MARTIAN IS ONE OF THE BETTER ADAPTATIONS OF A SCI-FI BOOK IN MEMORY, WITH A BRAVURA CENTRAL PERFORMANCE BY MR DAMON.

6. BRIDGE OF SPIES IS DULL AND WORTHY AT TIMES, BUT BEAUTIFULLY FILMED WITH SOME GREAT ACTING AND A POWERFUL SCENE OF POLICE INTOLERANCE IN AMERICA CONTRASTED WITH STATE BRUTALITY IN (EAST) BERLIN.

7. MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: ROGUE NATION WAS ACTUALLY A REALLY FUN, WELL-MADE FILM, BUT PROBABLY SUFFERED FROM A SENSE THAT WE HAD BEEN HERE BEFORE.

8. AMERICAN ULTRA WAS NOT AS FUNNY OR AS SMART AS IT THOUGHT IT WAS BUT THEN I WASN'T STONED OR 16 WHEN I SAW IT.

9. JURASSIC WORLD WAS BETTER THAN THE ORIGINALS IT WAS BASED ON, MUCH LIKE ALIENS IS BETTER THAN ALIEN.

10. CAROL BY TODD HAYNES IS THE GREATEST FILM OF 2015 - A POWERFUL, STYLISED, HUMANE AND TERRIFYINGLY, ACHINGLY POIGNANT RUMINATION ON LOVE AND/OR DESIRE, SEXUAL AND SOCIETAL TRANSGRESSION, HETERONORMATIVE JUDGEMENT, AND, FINALLY, AMERICAN FILM AND PHOTOGRAPHY.

*we have now seen The Force Awakens and it is not the best film of the year, but surely the best Reboot of a Franchise ever, including smart works by Nolan, and Casino Royale.

EYEWEAR BEST POETRY BOOKS OF 2015 - DAY THREE



ASBESTOS HEIGHTS
DAVID MCGIMPSEY
COACH HOUSE BOOKS

Saturday, 5 December 2015

EYEWEAR BEST POETRY BOOKS OF 2015 - DAY ONE

Eyewear publishes its own books, and while we could easily list our Humbert Summer by A.K. Blakemore, and Hungerpots, by Hester Knibbe translated by Jacquelyn Pope - indeed all our brilliant books from this year, we won't.

Instead, in the spirit of collegiality, we will mention a book or two every day between now and Christmas, give or take a few days, with special emphasis on British poetry, which we of course know best.

We are not going to offer, however, potted little reviews for these books. We stand behind these books and will simply list them by cover and a link.  You can Google and chase them up to see what others have said, and, hopefully, decide to read them for what is beyond their covers.

COMPLETE POEMS
R.F. LANGLEY
CARCANET

Wednesday, 2 December 2015

STOP THE WAR?

According to Time, The Observer, and David Cameron, "we" are at war with IS. This is debated, but if you consider the murder of 30 British tourists in Tunisia by an IS gunman provocative, and if you believe the news reports that 7 major attacks on British soil were foiled this year alone - and that one is pending any moment - you might think that IS was attacking UK interests.

At any rate, the decision facing the British Parliament this week is  - bomb Raqqa in Syria, or not. As is widely known, Labour is divided on this issue, and some Lib Dems and SNP are also unsure it is a wise move, as well as a few Tories; Canada and Australia are not currently bombing Syria, it should be noted. Russia, Turkey, and France, however are, along with the USA.

Mr Corbyn's pacifist leanings are not 'terrorist sympathising' despite what the British Prime Minister has said - it is honourable to question going to war. Furthermore, Britain could and should take far more refugees from Syria, and develop cultural, political, economic and strategic plans for replacing bankrupt leaders and ideologies in the region with those more rational and less fanatical, while respecting the culture and beliefs of the Middle East, and its complex histories and own needs.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

15 SONGS THAT DEFINED THE YEAR FOR EYEWEAR IN 2015

SHE LISTENS TO SPOTIFY A LOT
It's so typical of me to talk about myself.. Adele's great song 'Hello' sums up the Selfie age, perfectly, and also Eyewear's BLOG, which has always been of the digital age - self-important, fluid, ephemeral, fashion-aware, ubiquitous, curious, seeking, innovating, changeable, and deeply trivial.
 
Tis the season, again, of lists and we love them here but know them to be of course profoundly personal - and so what? Here are the fifteen tracks we played most this year at Eyewear HQ, and loved the most - though a few nearly got through, including songs by Madonna and Lana del Rey.... indeed, you know the year is rich beyond belief when we cannot even fit in critical darlings Julia Holter, Diiv, David Bowie, Ezra Furman, Everything Everything, Petite Meller, Peaches, Sleaford Mods, Grimes, Mark Ronson, Sia, Beck, Bob Dylan, Taylor Swift, or Deerhunter, to name just a few.
 
15 for 2015, get it?  Silly but it helps us to cut down the writing. And, if you made this as a list at Spotify, it would run for exactly 60 minutes!
 
So, here, in alphabetical order by title, are the 15 best popular songs of 2015 according to Eyewear's blog....
 
1. 'All of Me Wants All of You' - Sufjan Stevens
This is not only alphabetically the first songs, but coincidentally simply the finest song of the year. Chanelling Elliot Smith and Paul Simon, Stevens, himself a lyric genius, has composed a song that is as poetically confessional as Robert Lowell, but as contemporary as the masturbation while his friend checks her phone - melancholy, tender, fragile and a work of art.
 
2. 'Are You Ready?' - Mercury Rev
An indie band of somewhat mysterious purpose, enigmatic and rarely noticed, Mercury Rev are capable of creating an uncanny sound that skirts the edge of the experimental.  Here they combine their love of strings, echoes, and dreamy vocals, with a pop song about loving "psychedelic rock and blue-eyed soul" that is both sad and exhiliarting.  It may be about getting ready to dance or hit the town, or die, or have a kiss or a hit of something potent.  It is a very lovely moment.
 
3. 'Bills' - Lunchmoney Lewis
Few songs sound like instant classics. This is one of them - it arrives with its own zany post-Crisis/Crash exuberance and intent. If songs are meant to lift the soul and also tell a truth, few songs of this decade have been as tellingly accurate about Austerity and its personal demands.
 
4. 'Body Talk' - Foxes
Electro-pop was everywhere this year, and huge hit-making song-writing teams combined on many gigantic albums. Foxes released a clutch of singles, but this is the one that most strikes a chord. As catchy as anything Madonna or Lady Gaga or Robyn, or Taylor Swift have ever managed to produce, the themes of love, heart ache and desire, were as direct as the finest 80s hits - so it ended up speaking for itself.
 
5. 'California Nights' - Best Coast
Best Coast are a duo with few critical friends. This new track arrived without champions and the album was ignored at year's end by many list-makers.  However, in their attempt to take a Smiths riff and generate their own anthemic dream pop legacy, they have written a masterpiece of guitar indie swoon and jangle. I get high still every time I listen to it.
 
6. 'Can't Feel My Face' - The Weeknd
Canadians like Justin Bieber, Grimes, Carly Rae Jepsen and Drake dominated the charts this year. No Canadian song-writer managed better to create a classic, however - this song could be a missing Michael Jackson #1, and made the idea of loss of face oddly meaningful. A master class.
 
7. 'Cranekiss' - Tamaryn
A number of indie groups sought to revive the best dream pop traditions this year, but only one wrote the finest dream pop song since 'Fade Into You' - perhaps my favourite group now working (aside from The Jezabels). Exquisite, romantic, sad, and proto-gothic, it sets a thousand bedrooms darkly ablaze with passion and sensibility.
 
8. 'Decided Knowledge' - Dutch Uncles
Sounding like an oddly quirky revision of Tears For Fears, by way of OMD, this came in under the radar, as a deeply insightful and critical discussion of a life beset by the Toad work, and CV-obsession. Few songs discuss work, harmony, opinion, and money without letting on what is at stake, but no song I have ever heard could better soundtrack the ending of a film about an accountant, MP, or civil servant turning whistle-blower.
 
9. 'Hello' - Adele
No song will say 2015 like this one. Arriving late in the year, at a point when Ronson or Swift were poised to be the artists of the moment, this blew the world away. Simply put, Adele sells like Elvis, the Beatles, Wacko Jacko - she is as popular as any Brit has ever been Stateside, Churchill excepted, and is beloved because of her sincere small-town airs, and great pipes. You can run, but how long can you resist it? The video, brave and ludicrous at once, dared to be as big as the 80s, and won over a world. The anthem of the decade.
 
10. 'High Enough To Carry You Over' - Cvrches
This track reminds me of another funky 80s synth-pop band from Scotland, Endgames, but that was 35 years ago. Preposterously OTT, danceable, and twee, sung in a breaking male voice of angsty drive, as if Madonna's 'Borderline' had been sung by Joe her cousin, it is hard to let go of. I let it take me.
 
11. 'J1M1' - Atari Teenage Riot
If you want to hear the sound of angry hacktivism set to dance rock, turn to this German group as perturbed, left-wing, pacifist, and political as it is possible to be without becoming Jeremy Corbyn's campaign manager. An alternative indie anthem for the age of IS. "Don't let them break you" indeed.
 
12. 'New Americana' - Halsey
Remember Lorde? That was so, like, last year. High on legal marijuana, here comes the hippest singer-songwriter from the States since Lana became sort of well, old hat. Witty, satirical, and infectious to the max, this was the college radio classic of the year.
 
13. 'Sprinter' - Torres
Few songs are as haunting as a novella, or as serious, but Torres managed to tell a disturbed tale of running in school, a perverted pastor, and how glory, porn, theology and grace merge in a confused maesltrom of adolescence and identity-wonderment. Lyrically striking and fiercely intelligent, she has written a major song, with echoes of PJ Harvey's best work in the background.
 
14. 'That's Life, Tho (Almost Hate To Say)' - Kurt Vile
Americana is the gift that keeps on giving. Vile, a brilliant sometime collaborator with The War On Drugs, has written a few of the best songs of the 00s but this may be his most resonant, effective. Blunt as a clawhammer, and homely as a stoop that needs a lick of paint, he sits down and picks a few chords and a few words that manage to sum up the sorrows of the whole of existence. As poetic as the strangest Dylan works. "So sad, so true".

15. 'What Went Down' - The Foals
In many years, the Foals would have been said to have made the album of the year. As loud yet sensitive as Royal Blood fused with Fleet Foxes, or perhaps Nirvana and The War On Drugs, this was the loud-soft rock explosion of 2015 - a weird, driving, angry, leonine, Marlboro-burnt story of falling in love with a "girl with a port-wine stain" - it felt almost as if Lee Child's latest pulp novel had been set to throat-burning roaring lyrics, inflected with all the rage and sadness that only these violent, unsettled times can inflict upon sensitive artists and musicians. Grand, noble, tortured, majestic.














BEST TV IN 2015

As befits this new age of entertainment excellence, it is possible to declare 2015 one of the best years in the past 50 for TV, film, and popular music.

No list of excellent, popular TV in English would exclude Downton Abbey, Mad Men, Homeland, The Affair, Game of Thrones, Daredevil, Halt and Catch Fire, Mr Robot, Wolf Hall, Humans, The Americans, Manhattan, Jessica Jones, True Detective (even season 2), and some guilty pleasure lists might even include Better Call Saul and the absurdly kitsch T&A throwback, Quantico.

However, in a supremely crowded field, Eyewear wishes to select two mini-series, one from America, and one from the UK, which both exemplify the very best of TV drama, especially when it comes to grips with politics and recent events.

The UK show is London Spy - not even concluded, but already, in its first three hour-long episodes starring Charlotte Rampling, Mark Gattis, Ben Whishaw and Jim Broadbent, startlingly brilliant.  This series manages to combine the stylish and literary elegance and sad beauty of Brideshead Revisited with the violence and pornography of the most shocking art film you have yet to see. Based on a true spy story (a shy maths genius spy was found dead in a BDSM encasement in his locked rooms), it manages to yield scenes of poignancy, horror, romance and genuine disgust almost unparallend in current British drama. The script, cast and direction are all five star. A new benchmark.

Meanwhile, handsome smart rising star Oscar Isaac, in Show Me A Hero, a six-part series based in Yonkers in 1987, becomes a young mayor accidentally embroiled in a national race issue over affordable housing for African-Americans in a mainly White neighbourhood.  What could and should have been a rather dismal local politics miasma becomes as fascinating as if Dickens had written up a show about the Russian Revolution and set it in a small city outside New York city. Hugely rich characters, and tragic human failings, lead to small yet elementally seismic losses and bad decisions, even amongst those with the most ideals to waste.

Both shows reveal the darkest hearts of human behaviour, and of human governance, but offer glimpses of hope, and both, curiously, for such gritty and secular narratives, have a sort of King Arthur mythic template beneath them (both are about a Waste Land, a young hero, a quest for a cleansing grail, and, well, both have mentors and enemies).

Regarding camp choices, I reserve a space in my heart for True Detective 2 whose few episodes became Lynchian and Kubrickian and rather thrilling at times. As well, Quantico, the most popular new US show, was so achingly crap it was very sexily fun trash, a sort of FBI Baywatch.

It is true that Dickensian, the new Luther, and Christmas Sherlock are still to air, but this is it for now, give or take.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

EYEWEAR PUBLISHING PRAISED IN THE TLS!

Good news in tough times. Eyewear Publishing
is mentioned in a new review by poet and critic Rory Waterman in the latest issue of the TLS - it's a round-up following the Michael Marks shortlisting, discussing various pamphlets.

 Here is a brief taste: 

'Eyewear Publishing, founded by Todd Swift in 2012, has quickly risen to prominence for its similarly attractive poetry volumes, and has now launched the stylish pamphlet series Eyewear 2020/ (get it?), which demonstrates much of the rich multifariousness of British poetry in 2015.'
 
There is mention of Sam Jackson, Matt Howard and Damilola Odelola, among others.  Seek it out.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

THE GOD OF CARNAGE


2015 has been a year of outrages - terrorism - a word which may have its origins, as some rather crass pundits wryly observed, in the rampant and often cruel massacres of the French revolutionary period.  The West - no stranger to cruelty to the Other and others itself at least since its settlers and explorers raped, tortured, and pillaged across the Americas - and in two World Wars the perpetrators of the worst atrocities in human history (the Holocaust, the dropping of nuclear weapons) - has finally met its match.

Civilization was once used to contrast the good with the barbaric.  The endless random killing masterminded by half-insane fanatics and fantasists, motivated by a medieval theology of incompatible Jihad, has cast itself as the new normal of barbarism. IS, the current bogeyman, though having never put forth a 9/11 style spectacular, instead went all Digital Age on our asses, chopping off heads for our apps and iPhones, smashing ancient cities for the cameras, and then pulling off a Mumbai-style and curiously pathetic spree of slaughter in Paris, twice, in one year, like a sequel to its own crazed movie.

At time of writing, mourning has become eclectic, and divisive; in what can only be called post-rational society, we now accuse our grieving allies of not caring as much for the fallen of Beirut, Mali or Kenya - and Ukraine is half-ignored. Realpolitik's diktats now mean the UN has rallied its Security Council and the world, including odd-man-out Russia and standalone China, in a bid to obliterate IS, which is both a bastion and a bastardised idea. You cannot kill ideas, but one supposes, you can blow those who hold them to shit, as Trump, panto Nazi Yankee, now says.

Paris II was the threshold of violence across which IS took us - a ritualistic breaking of our taboo-protected soul-hymens. They have helped us to grow up, our liminality now shed.  We are adults at last - face to face with an evil enemy worthy of our own past sins, and our own demons. IS is the perfect foe, because it lacks any empathy or recognisably sane goals. If there is a clash of civilizations between the West and others, there is also a clash of barbarisms, and IS has seen our Nagasaki, and raised us a Bataclan.

Few sober soldiers and terrorists (even terrorists) shoot weeping teenagers at rock concerts, unless they hate the very idea of youth and rock music. As I have said elsewhere, killing people while they laugh, and drink and talk at a Paris café is the secular analogue of killing a person at prayer in a Mosque. But how to grieve the unspeakable and unsayable? The media, never exhausted by spectacle and carnage, has packaged nightly this last week of candles and banners, and wreaths, as if we had a thousand Lady Di's dying each day. Our ability to be moved by our own suffering is, in the Selfie Age, extraordinary. As one poet said recently, we turn from murder to kittens, in one click or swipe. We hold heaven and hell in our hands.

IS is the opposite of kittens, in every way. Hart Crane knew that a kitten cried in the wilderness - kittens are the Western image of helpless lovely cute decency and hope. So long as there is a kitten there is hope.  IS expends and desolates hope with every gay person thrown off a roof, every child shot in the head, every atrocity enacted with definitive aplomb. They like being themselves, just as we like loving kittens. They represent precisely what we are not. We know that so why have we not destroyed them yet?

Ah, we do not want boots on the ground, blowback, and so on. We blame ourselves for our incriminating actions in the Middle East and Latin America and Asia and Nuremberg. We suspect this is our Nemesis.  We hate ourselves like all good narcissists, really, deep down.  We have expected this punishment since Hobbes, Darwin, Nietzsche, Freud and Foucault told us we had monsters within - but of course we never really repented or stopped being who we were. We just made movies and pop songs and porn and colas and shoes and cars instead and bought them.

However, despite our evils, IS is not finally about us. Sorry, but even narcissism has limits. Just as metorites and storms and cancer cells are not about us, in the first instance, IS arises alien not from the West but from a perversely dogmatic (but human) misreading of a book that is not of Western origin.

Harold Bloom might appreciate the sinister irony that all the evil in the world seems to come from misprision and misreading, still.  IS wants to generate a divinely-sanctioned Caliphate, underwritten by murder and cleansing sacrifice, smack dab in the centre of the oil fields and temples of the world. Like Superman in one of those films, they want to fly around the planet backwards and return to a time before Americans and post-Christian decadence, and Western power, before Bush and Bach, before Pope and popes, before Swift and Taylor Swift, before Whitman and Chaucer. Before Rousseau, Lincoln, Austen, Sontag, Justin Bieber.

In their sandy severe and devout world, without sex accept on their curious terms, and without love except the love of killing and their God, and without reading except of their select texts, they will build a new order, not so different from Hitler's.  Just as we have learned not to judge or blame the victims in the death camps, we cannot blame the beheaded and callously shot victims of IS. We are blameless because this meteor of hate rides before us, and would do this to anyone, at any time, unless they spoke their endlessly limiting language of focused rage and transformation.

God help us all.  Help us to read properly. And to love more than kill.

Teach me how to mourn properly, without malice or sentimentality.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

EYE SPY

SHE WAS A SPY
The new UK Spy bill being mooted - see here - is unacceptable, and yes, will out people's private browsing habits, which are more personal and potentially embarrassing or damaging than we might care to admit, as a society.

Simply put, a large percentage of the British public uses the Internet to do one or more of the following: a) cheat on a spouse or partner; b) look at (legal) porn; c) look at (illegal) porn; d) read up about suicide or mental illness or some other illness they may wish hidden; e) illegally pirate/ download American TV shows; f) pirate music, books, movies; g) explore other odd, eccentric or very personal hobbies or obsessions.

If the government is able to collect the data exhibiting this behaviour, and if it is gathered, and then perhaps hacked, or simply used by their own unscrupulous intelligence agencies, mass harm to the society would ensue.

This is because you could easily blackmail anyone in politics or any position of authority to make them do your bidding in exchange for suppressing a-f above.  Given that almost EVERY young British male between the age of 15-25 does at least b) as do may women, you would quickly be able to embarrass or blackmail many persons in Britain once they reached a position of power - until such time as looking at porn was no longer a social taboo.

If this seems far-fetched, consider the life and story of J. Edgar Hoover, who compiled dossiers on tens of thousands of Americans, via wire-tapping and then blackmailed them for over 40 years, becoming the most powerful man in America, able to make and break Presidents even. This is because of human nature.  Humans sin, and the Internet encourages a variety of legal sins, some of which are socially unacceptable.

Grown married persons who are, say, politicians, priests, generals, doctors, educators, CEOs, and so on, might not want their partners to know they look at legal porn sites that feature young-looking women dressed as schoolgirls, or whatever their particular kink was.  Newspapers would and could topple leaders. We are in a new Victorian Age - but instead of the brothels of Marylebone (that serviced thousands of men every night 130 years ago in London) - we now have the Net.

The question becomes, what are the threats such blanket spying on us all would defeat? Terror attacks - however terrible - usually only kill a few hundred people at a time.  Their impact is awful but containable

Allowing a home-grown spy agency to possess information rendering all our online behaviour transparent is not containable, and would damage the lives not of hundreds of people, but tens of millions. If it stifled expression, exploration, and creative expansion of the Internet, it would also ruin the economy.

It is a Police State charter.

The State can always find an enemy to justify taking our rights away.

It is our duty, as citizens, to oppose this, even if it means putting our lives at some risk by risking we will leave some of our enemies able to communicate without our knowing about it.

So we must oppose this plan, even if it leaves some questionable, even unethical, human behaviour in the shadows.

A society with all its vices exposed at once to public inspection would collapse.

THE SECRET TO PUBLISHING

THE BETTER PUBLISHER
I have discovered the secret to publishing success: print money.

Seriously, the success of a publishing house is directly connected to the following statement: if you publish books people want to own and read, they will buy them from you.  If they buy them from you in large amounts (over a few thousand copies) you make a profit on initial expenses, and can also cover overhead costs, marketing, salaries, design, postage, etc.

In short - if publishing as a business model is to be viable, the publishing company must produce goods/items/units/books that are in demand.

The reason poetry presses fail, struggle, and generally require state or private funding (subventions) to survive, is because they underperform at generating sales revenue.

In ugly words: poetry is something not in demand.

Despite some big selling poetry titles every year, most poetry titles will sell between 50 and 800 copies - usually around 200. Very few sell more than 2000.

A company that only produced books (or any product) that only 200 people wanted would soon face financial crisis, unless the total cost of manufacturing those items was less than the amount you could make from selling 200 copies (the most, after deductions to retailers and distributors is around 50% of cover price for most presses) - so if your unit cost was £10, you would make £5 per book sold - selling 200 would make you £1,000.

Most presses need revenue of at least £20,000 a year, if not triple that or more, to employ staff, and cover expenses - which means you would need to sell 4,000 books a year to break even.  And that would require you to produce around 20 poetry books a year.  And of course, this would not leave room for growth.

This is why almost all the poetry publishers are either supported by larger genres, or grants.

POETRY IS IN INSUFFICENT DEMAND AS A COMMODITY TO SUPPORT THE PRODUCTION OF POETRY BOOKS ON A LARGE SCALE*.

So, any press that is interested in publishing poetry and wishes to survive must

a) publish other kinds of books in greater demand;
b) find patrons;
c) seek arts support from government.

And this is what Eyewear currently is doing.

*This may be a good thing; poetry's resistance to commercialisation is a strength as an art form, but a challenge for anyone wishing to try and run a business based on selling poetry books to people, even excellent poetry books that might raise the consciousness of their readers.

THE 1&1-ARVATO ONLINE HOSTING SCAM

Eyewear - no naïve wanderer in the online world - has become victim of a dreadful scam. A few years ago we bought a number of domain names from a supposedly-reputable company known as 1&1. Sadly, at the time I did not Google their reputation. It turns out they have, at least since 2010, if not earlier, been accused by hundreds, perhaps thousands, of former customers, of running a breath-taking and cynical scam.

Though they have been taken to the Trading Standards people, and often threatened with legal proceedings, this seems to have avoided major media attention - though that may change, because we at Eyewear are outraged at the intimidating way we have been treated by these unprofessionals.

To summarise, the scam works like this: when you first order the domain name and web hosting, you have to give them your credit card or PayPal details; you also, unbeknownst to yourself (because it is in illegally dense and opaque terms and conditions) agree to pay them in perpetuity - unless you can cancel. In short, you sign up for renewal every year or two, forever.

When Eyewear cancelled its contracts with 1&1 this August, because we no longer wanted to use them, we ticked the cancellation boxes, and removed our credit card details. We then received an email saying it was cancelled.  Which is where, ethically, it should stay.

However, a few weeks ago, a so-called collection agency named Arvato sent me emails, letters, and then began daily phone calls, asking for over £900! It appears that 1&1 "renewed" all my cancelled domains, and seek payment for them anyway - though I clearly told them I did not want them.

When I contacted Arvato I was told there was nothing I could do. I had to pay before my "account could be unlocked" to further discuss matters. In otherwords, I am locked into a running contract in perpetuity, and every week I do not pay this agency, the fees mount.

It turns out, you CANNOT ACTUALLY CANCEL your 1&1 contracts by email or online, but have to also send them a passport photo and signed special letter "proving" you wanted to cancel - this information buried deep where no one ever sees it until it is too late.

Since I have been billed for now over £1,500 of web-hosting stuff I do not want, starting less than two months ago, I have tried to speak to a human being at the company, but it is all designed to defer you endlessly back to a website that never seems to work when you get to the cancellation pages.

I always pay my debts. I believe if you want and use a service, you should pay for it. It is unethical to tie people down to service payments that people say they do not want, and are not using - and then pass them on to a collection agency within a fortnight.

The sinister aspect is, when I Googled this subject, I found out that hundreds, possibly thousands of people, have this experience every year. And some people, when they try to transfer or sell their domains registered at 1&1 discover they never really owned the domains anyway.

Most disturbing, Arvato is a company owned by 1&1 - an arm of the company, designed only to chase these bogus bills, and threaten escalating costs and fees. They also use other companies of their own devising to chase these debts.

The unethical aspect of this is that they claim that 1&1 cannot discuss the billing now that the matter is placed with the debt collectors - but they are based in the same company, and according to dozens of online reports from ripped-off customers, this is part of the structure of the scam - some people find they get bills years after they cancelled.  Once they have you, they try to scare the weak, the old, the nervous, the ill-informed, or the honest, into paying up - paying for a falsely-incurred, contrived debt. They threaten court, but never actually - apparently go that far, since they know what they are doing is against trading standards in the UK.

It is a web of lies, and I regret the day I ever went into any form of commercial dealings with 1&1. Avoid them at all costs.

GUEST REVIEW: PAUL S. ROWE ON BEN MAZER'S SELECTED POEMS

Possibility Glimpsed Through Windows: A Review of Ben Mazer’s Selected Poems Ben Mazer.  Selected Poems . (Ashville, NC: MadHat Press,...