KLF Dark Ages
KLF Dark Ages

KLF Khronicals #4 – A Week Out From WTTDA

With a week to go before the KLF’s Welcome To The Dark Ages event, Vicky Pea finally experiences the calm before the storm. 

By Vicky Pea
Wed 16 August, 2017

One week away from The Jams Return

August 10th 2017

Due to the influx of news last week I decided to cut the last of my reflection on John Higgs’ wonderful KLF book, but seeing as we’ve had a slightly quieter one I’ll give it another bash here, but be warned, I get a bit rambly.

Towards the end of the book John presents us with two choices. Accept the magical version of events and put the book down, or continue to a more rational explanation. I find it hard to believe anyone has ever put the book down at this point, whatever their belief, because it’s easily one of the most enjoyable reads I’ve had and I there was fat chance of me ending it early.

The second approach considers the strategic use of various models in both our lives and throughout the book. Now this really speaks to me. It’s about taking what works, what is most effective for the task at hand or the story you’re currently telling, applying it where appropriate and disregarding it where it isn’t and is a concept I touched on right at the beginning;

“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!”

This is a basic example of employing a model to creative a narrative. Flipping a coin to decide where to go to dinner because every time you do you end up somewhere delicious could be another one. You fail to disclose the fact that both options were bound to be delicious regardless. We all do it, often without thinking.

I was speaking to a friend about the book and was asked “Don’t you feel a bit silly having pointed out all those coincidences in your own life now that he’s basically nullified them?” No. Not at all. All those details were presented in a way for me to latch onto so that I could appreciate the alternative and the power of the narrative. You can’t show someone the opposite of something they know nothing about.

Yes, my mind did get a little blown with all the parallels in my own life (like the significance of 1994). And yes I could probably find just as many wow moments with the years 1998, 2001 or 2016 if I looked. Just as the Discordians could have found an unusual amount of quarters on the street if they’d only be trained to instead of spotting the number 23 everywhere. It all comes down to how you frame it.

John frames the K Foundation burning by consciously employing a model made up of a carefully curated selection of data points that support his predetermined outcome (to fuck with our heads), casting out the countless other data points that could potentially derail the story to create a spectacular version of events. Then, in just a few pages, he tears it all down to bullshit and my mind was blown all over again, no closer to the truth that I was at the start.

All this being said, I still prefer the magical argument even if it isn’t entirely plausible. It’s certainly more entertaining.

August 11th 2017

I’m starting to feel like a bad parent today as I’ve read far more regarding Bill than Jimmy and it’s hard not to show favouritism. I can’t be blamed though considering how much more prolific Drummond has been in writing, making his life the more accessible of the two. I suppose I should be thankful, I’d hate to think how many more books I’d be buried under is Cauty had the same disposition for publishing as his counterpart does.

Because of this Jimmy has taken the mantel of the more mysterious one. Through reading it’s possible to build a sort of fake rapport with the writer, as I tend to do with most non fiction books I engage in, understanding their influences, motivations and personal circumstances. All things that give context to a persons actions.

Often when knowledge surrounding a duo or group is limited it’s easy to take any disclosure of information and apply it to the whole. You know, that thing called stereotyping. It’s not solely reserved for the larger sections of society!

Before this journal it’s something I had done to the KLF. What little I knew of either of them was immediately applied to both and I couldn’t have named one from the other. If someone would have asked me ‘what they were all about’ they would have received a vague response about two blokes that destroyed a load of money for art. How naive I was.

Although Cauty and Drummond do appear to have been on the same page throughout their relationship it doesn’t necessarily mean they shared the same reasoning for their actions and it would be ill advised to brand the KLF with the ideals of either man.

In my mind there are three parties involved. Drummond, Caulty and the K Foundation. Two men and then the sum of their parts. To come to an informed opinion on the KLF is to understand all three in equal measure. This is where I’m struggling.

I do not feel confident in my interpretation of the events whilst my knowledge is so biased. If I were to give an opinion now it would be 90% Drummond influenced. As such I need to turn my attentions to Jimmy. I can’t possibly start to understand the third part – the sum of them both – without doing so. And I’m running out of time!

August 14th 2017

The postal service hit hard today. Delivering approximately six hundred and thirty five pages of additional research to my already intimidating stack of recommended reading.

Due to page count and content I temporarily put a dog ear in Drummond’s 45 and prioritise Turn Up The Strobe. Not due to a lack of enjoyment I should clarify, I just feel I can get this one out of the way easier whilst delivering some valuable information on the duo and their activities in Liverpool especially, that and my recent requirement to level the playing field. It’s also lighter to carry to work and I’m a lump.

August 15th 2017

As others scramble to get new details out as soon as possible, without any apparent additional context, I simply sit back and allow the calm before the storm wash over me, providing myself a good amount of time to reflect on each revelation as it comes.

After all no one’s discovering any breaking news from this journal, we’ve all seen the tweets and the updates and are entirely abreast of the situation. I know that. There’s a whole community of people sharing updates as they happen so why should I bother myself with the busy work others are already doing so well for us? Especially considering it’s my unique insight and charming personality your here for… right?

Anyway today was another one of those days (which always seem to be Tuesday’s as if to give me more last minute material to add in) as Faber released details regarding Day One of Welcome To The Dark Ages which you can see below. As usual I’ve cut it down to the most interesting bits seeing as well all know the history by now.

A Public Hearing, The Black-E, Liverpool, 23rd August 2017.

On the evening of 23 August 2017 a public hearing is to be held at The Black E in Liverpool, to find out if there is an answer to the question (Why Did The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid?). This public hearing is to be chaired by the artist Tom James. A panel of five people will be brought together, to each explain why they think the K Foundation burnt the money. The panel includes: Jeremy Deller, artist; Ann Pettifor, economist; Tom Hodgkinson, editor of The Idler; Annebella Pollen, art historian; and Clive Martin, journalist.

Various witnesses to the original burning and subsequent events will be called for testimony. These witnesses include: Gimpo, Jim Reid, Mick Houghton, Chris Brook, Angie Sammons, Craig McLean and John Higgs. Note: neither J Cauty nor B Drummond will be amongst the witnesses, as they have nothing further to add.

The audience will be composed of the 400 ticket holders for Welcome To The Dark Ages. At the end of the hearing, this audience will vote on which of the reasons provided by the panel is the true one. If the voting process is inconclusive, a further 23-year moratorium will be called.

Why Did The K Foundation Burn A Million Quid? is part of the three day Welcome To The Dark Ages event, to celebrate the end of the Twenty Three Year Moratorium. All tickets have been sold. No guest lists. No exceptions.

At the start of this journey I pondered that maybe, somehow, my own adventure into the KLF could have an effect on the event or the outcome.

“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?”

Turns out I wasn’t getting ahead of myself at all and was entirely justified in making that prediction.

On Wednesday we (the 400) will be asked to cast judgement on why the K Foundation burned a million quid. After all the analysing and speculation it now comes to this and my journey so far will have a direct and correlated effect on my vote, and therefore the potential for its outcome.

I am now heading into this decision with my own opinions, formed around what I’ve read and experienced. Perhaps I should have never had started this and gone in as a blank canvas? As that is the only way I could seriously consider all arguments equally. But now, having read so much material which I’ve gone on to relate to my own life and beliefs, I have created connections to events and scenarios that are bound to influence me.

Alternatively if you’re going to leave the final verdict to a group of people, perhaps it’s best they’re fully educated on the matter and have had time to first form their own opinions before the closing arguments. If they could have hand picked the 400, which do you think they would prefer?

Will I go with why I think they burned it, or why I want them to have burned it? Will the head or heart come out the victor? Should we fail, another 23 year moratorium awaits us. I wouldn’t even put that outcome past us.

Shortly after the Faber news hit Liverpool Confidential published an article claiming that “for much of the past 23 years, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have worked as undercover Scarecrows.”

This must mean something. Or at least it might. Or actually it might not. That’s basically the KLF summed up in a nutshell I feel and it only took me four weeks to figure that out.

I could sit here and ponder on the significance of this story/non story, theorise about the symbolic significance and potential clues it leaves us for next week but honestly, I’m kind of over the fear and anxiety now. Replaced by an analytical intrigue and contained anticipation.

My new composure comes from flipping the tables. All this time I’m been concerned about two unpredictable artists being in control of my activities for 3 days, but the recent description of Day One makes me realise, it is us, the 400, that are in real control.

We’re not putting our experience in their hands but rather it is the other way around. They are putting their project (for lack of a better word) in the hands of 400 people who understand the nature and art of chaos, who are aware of the significance of magik – even if we don’t all hold a belief in it. 400 people who probably want the most freaky fucked up result possible at the end of it all. A jury of 400.

Bring it on. I’m ready.

👈 Return to KLF Khronicals #3 here

Onwards to KLF Khronicals #5 here 👉 

To follow Vicky’s KLF experience between entries and bug her loads follow her on Twitter and Instagram @vxpeax

  • Main photo by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu for Liverpool Confidential

Welcome To The Dark Ages was covered for free (actually at quite a large cost!) by Planet Slop and Vicky Pea. If you have enjoyed the coverage, please consider donating to Planet Slop to keep us running. Thank you.

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