KLF Khronicals #2
A week closer to the big event, Vicky Pea continues to absorb all KLF information like a sponge… A confused, disorientated sponge.
July 27th 2017
Boy oh boy did I tumble down the rabbit hole. I wonder if Echo‘s hanging about here somewhere?
Getting my thoughts written down has proved to be one tough task this week. Like a child at Disneyland I just can’t wait to see and share everything. I’ll try my best to make it coherent.
One of the most pleasurable results of publishing this journal has been interaction I’ve had with KLF fans. Hearing their stories and theories on what I might expect has been entirely enjoyable and I’ve become quite envious of some of them due to their in depth knowledge and first hand experiences.
Having mentioned in my last entry that the The Manual had a £100+ price tag online a handful of friends came out of the woodwork with photos and stories of how they came to own theirs and whether or not it was worth reading anyway. A couple of them don’t seem to think it so, but I’ll still give it a go.
Planet Slop writer Chris (check out his fantastic Twin Peaks series here) managed to dig out his old copy (above). A reprint and by his reckoning a slightly dated and repetitive read. Chris was the first of a few different people to tell me how similar they were feeling about the event after my first entry, it turns out fear and trepidation was a fairly normal reaction.
My good friend Banjo told of how he unfortunately lost his copy, having picked it up for just 25p at a book sale before ill-advisedly lending it to someone at the Liverpool School of Performing Arts. Who knows where it ended up. He’s got a better souvenir anyway from Bill Dummond‘s Big In Japan days, an autograph that Bill would go on to recreate again some years later; “Last time I saw him was at his 100 questions event. As he was autographing my book I told him that the last autograph I had was from BIJ. Without missing a beat he signed my book Big Bill Drummond“.
Interactions on Twitter and seeing the updates through the KLF Facebook groups have given me a real sense of belonging to something. Even if I still don’t understand all the references (you guys get pretty mysterious at times), it’s like a little living consciousness of its own. Maybe, just like the theory of the Ideaspace, our own actions/stories/theories/creations etc could somehow, in some way, go on to effect the event itself, or even the outcome? Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself, something I find myself doing more and more.
Continuing with John Higgs’ book doesn’t help that, as stories of coincidences and chance meetings only seem to highlight the ones in my own life. I’ve never been a big believer in coincidence and always leaned toward the explanation of selective perception. (E.g When your friend rings you just as you were thinking about them it seems mystical, but you don’t remember all the times they didn’t phone you when you were thinking about them!)
However, I will admit that this week has thrown up more than the usual. Firstly it was pointed out on Twitter that my initial journal tweet was posted at 10.23. Now I would love to say I planned that, but honestly it didn’t even cross my mind. Just a slice of luck.
Then later in the week I went to the British Music Experience for a talk and Q&A with music photographer Kevin Cummins. I hadn’t known before hand (I had always associated Kevin with Bowie) but turns out he worked extensively with Echo and the Bunnymen as well as a host of other artists with early connections to Drummond and Cauty, including those surrounding the Eric’s scene such as Big In Japan and Julian Cope.
Less impressively John’s book also heavily references a lot of my ‘favourite’ artists. Aldous Huxley has been my favourite author since I first read The Doors of Perception, now here he is somehow involved in the story of the KLF. I’m prepared chalk this up to taste though. It’s quite believable actually. Of course the things you like come together at some point, through their similarities and shared ideals. D’uh.
July 28th 2017
Today starts with a copy of Bido Lito! Included in this edition are a introductory piece from editor Christopher Torpey and a two page feature from Damon Fairclough aka noise heat power. Both of which I’d recommend reading.
— Vicky Pea (@vxpeax) July 28, 2017
Throughout these pieces and my wider reading it is clear that from many perspectives the story of the KLF is not merely one story. It is the accumulation of many. A convergence of stories. A bit like ley lines.
Both articles heavily reference ley lines and their relevance to the KLF‘s story so far. I don’t believe in the power of ley lines or that any thing mystical happens on them. But if you do something mystical and powerful on them, you’re essentially creating the same effect. A self fulfilling act.
Do people choose to visit ley lines because they expect something amazing to happen or do people do amazing things on ley lines? The only thing people see is amazing things happening either way. Who cares which way round it is, they both provide fuel to the fire.
The idea of self fulfilment is another that has popped up again and again this week and is probably the most sensible and grounded set of explanations I’ve come across. Whether they’ve been fulfilled consciously or otherwise by the duo is left to be seen.
After the article appears a full page poster for the upcoming event. 400 tickets. £100. Are you thinking what I’m thinking yet? £40,000. Surely it cannot be another coincidence. £40,000 being the amount offered by The K Foundation to Rachel Whiteread as 1994’s worst artist of the year. Could it be they’re awarding themselves the prize having come to the conclusion the burning was a worse piece of art? Have they found someone else to award it to? Maybe it is just another coincidence though. Maybe capacity just topped out at 400. Maybe…
My new purchases (45 and Illuminatus!) arrive today, but as of writing I’ve yet to start them, and honestly, one of them may have to wait till after the event. I’ll let you guess which one.
29th July 2017
Today I watched the infamous burning footage for the first time. I’d purposely wanted to hold off from watching it for as long as possible to avoid the risk of it influencing my still open and receptive mind. Part of me also wondered if after seeing it I’d think they were idiots and hate them but I couldn’t avoid it any longer.
It was almost exhausting to watch them throw bundle after bundle onto the flames without any fan fare at all. Their boredom is evident to me and I can almost feel them thinking to themselves “Why are we doing this?”. The money looks fake to me initially, but money has changed over time so the bills in the footage are somewhat unfamiliar to my relatively youthful eyes anyway. I can understand the claims though, that the bank provided them with money already destined to be destroyed.
I watch it one single time before making my verdict. I believe it.
Something about the body language and the production of the footage feels genuine. I may change my mind in the weeks to come, but for now at least, I’m on the side of it being genuine.
The scene is not so different than when me and my friends would walk around a campsite, picking up bits and bobs. Broken draws, rugs, snapped shelves, and carry them back for a bombfire. Not for warmth or for cooking on. For no purpose really other than to have something to do and something to look at. We’d often stand in almost silence, staring into the flames, adding whatever we’d collected to the pile slowly and without any real attention to what it was.
I started to think, under what circumstances would I burn money, and a large sum at that? Say we did find a draw out behind some old caravan filled with cash. What would make us burn it? The prospect that finding it and keeping it would be too much trouble? Being in a circumstance where we just didn’t need it? A dare? I mean we were pretty anti-materialistic in those days but I’m still not sure it would have extended to burning money, even a fiver.
30th July 2017
Do you know what the hardest part of this experience has been so far? Talking to people. By this I mean friends, family, work mates. Not you fine Twitter and Facebook folk who’ve been in touch. Because you understand me.
When you’re this immersed in something, as I’m sure you’ve all been at some point, it’s impossible to talk about any thing else.
“What have you been up to?“, “Are you working on anything at the moment?“, “Got any cool events coming up?”, “Any plans for tonight/tomorrow/the weekend/next 3 weeks/rest of your life?“.
Pretty much every conversation I have at the moment somehow weaves in the bloody KLF. Take this work conversation for example:
Colleague: As much as I don’t mind Doctor Who being a chick I am glad Capaldi‘s got one more in him.
Me: DO YOU REMEMBER THE SONG DOCTORIN’ THE TARDIS? NO? LET ME TELL YOU ABOUT IT.
OK fine, it wasn’t exactly coerced out of me but still, how was I to resist? Turns out they didn’t know and equally didn’t care much for my 7 minute ramblings on the topic either. It is however a very accurate portrait of my life at the moment.
Several times this week I’ve been invited by different friends to explain what it is I’m working on. I’ve almost got it down to a rehearsed speech by now, but the more information I read and the more I learn the more convoluted the speech gets. Just try and imagine me explaining the theory of the Ideaspace to someone in the pub after a few ciders?
Going forward I’ll be mentioning this whole thing as little as possible, unless invited especially to. I’ll revert to good ol’ British politeness and respond “Ah you know, not much, the usual” to any general questions to save my sanity, and theirs.
31st July 2017
If you haven’t already, head over to The Quietus to read Phil Harrison’s What The KLF Burning A Million Quid Means In 2017 article. He presents some pretty interesting ideas surrounding art itself, and how by burning a million pounds the KLF had made an artistic investment. One so good it continues to make returns today, alas in reputation more than money – but you only have to search KLF on eBay to evidence the drastic increase in value their output has benefited from.
This line of thought becomes the latest to occupy me. The article goes on to explain that by making the ‘investment’ it was transferred to all of us. Something everyone could benefit and draw from should they want to. That the burning may have even been an act of generosity. I’m not sure I’m ready to go that far just yet, but this could be an idea that Drummond and Cauty would favour. I know I would.
August 1st 2017
In the week that has past very few new details of the event have come to light. Tickets have started to show up in the mail, pre-orders of the book have halted on some online stores only to be reinstated once the confusion has spread.
The only ‘solid’ (I use that word cautiously) piece of information regards the arrival of the Justified Ancients of MuMu titled The Ice Kream Van Kometh.
Other than that I have only come across one other potential clue. Liverpool venue the Invisible Wind Factory started following me on Twitter and liked the KLF related stories. Now it could just be that the person running the account is a fan, but the venue is versatile, and the productions the team has put on in the past have been nothing short of incredible. Sometimes even ritualistic. All speculation of course, but I’d like to see them involved in some way. If not just to prove myself correct. I mean it can’t be as simple as them just liking it all can it? Not in this story.
Finally I’m ending with a shout out to a reader who’s coming to the event from America, but without a ticket, so if you know anyone with a spare, or can’t go for whatever reason please get in touch so we can make the trip worthwhile.
— Vicky Pea (@vxpeax) July 27, 2017
To follow Vicky’s KLF experience between entries and bug her loads follow her on Twitter and Instagram @vxpeax