I have just finished my MA, so I am now free to skip through the streets and frolic in meadows. Instead, I am immersed in Edinburgh festival delights, which involves weaving your way through swarms of tourists like a ninja as you try to get to events on time.
My first festival event was the debate ‘Natural Vs Unnatural’ at the Edinburgh International Book Festival. Sounds geeky, and I guess it is. Even more geeky is that this kind of thing excites me. I’m a big fan of Donna Haraway’s ‘Cyborg Manifesto’, and I’m generally intrigued by advances in science and the way it alters our bodies and our culture. At the centre of the debate is how the word ‘unnatural’ is imbued with moral judgement. What I especially loved about this debate was the mixed panel – there was the science writer Philip Ball (his book ‘Unnatural’ looks intriguing), sociologist Steve Yearley (Director of the ESRC Genomics Forum at Edinburgh University), artist Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg (Design Fellow for ‘Synthetic Aesthetics’), and Dr Sarah Parry (lecturer in Science, Innovation and Technology Studies at Edinburgh University).
It was fascinating, but also frustrating. It’s the kind of debate I’d be happy to indulge in for a few hours, rather than one. My only issue with it was that it was an anthropocentric debate, and I didn’t get a chance to bring animals into the discussion. But it did get me thinking, and will definitely influence my writing.
I was ill and missed ‘The Rise of ebooks’, but the illustrious Christina went along and wrote about it here.
Next stop was the delicious Meow Meow, who has won numerous prizes for her postmodern comedy cabaret shows. She has delighted me every time I’ve seen her – she has the power to make you laugh and break your heart all at once. She has the same mischievousness and irreverence with which Gregg Araki has seduced me.
This appearance at The Hub was a public discussion and taster of what she’s currently working on, and it was a lovely intimate little show. She is in the process of putting together a piece called ‘Kissing and Dying’, embracing the extremes of life and stage. Meow handed out a questionnaire with questions like “Who was the first love kiss? What was the environment? Where were you? In public? Private? Where are they now? When you die, do you want to be buried or burned?”
Her Director joined her on stage and they discussed some of her influences, from her ballet teacher (“She sculpted the musculature of my body”) to Sarah Bernhardt, and Pina Bausch.
She sang in-between the discussion, and it was beautiful. I’m in love with her voice – it sends little tingly golden tentacles down my spine. Whenever I go to see Meow Meow the whole world just melts away. I am in the moment. I could never get in the moment when my yoga teacher was trying to get us all to relax; all I could think of was pizza. But with Meow Meow there is no pizza. She is so delicious I wanted to lick her, but instead I shuffled up to her like some shy kid and asked if I could take her photo. I’m so useless I wasn’t even able to tell her how amazing she is. I then had the pleasure of watching my wonderful partner Cinnamon Curtis walk up to her to return the questionnaire. She was talking with someone and he didn’t want to interrupt. He stood there fidgeting and blushing like a shy wee boy handing his teacher an apple.
I came away energised, inspired, and very excited about ‘Kissing and Dying.’
If that wasn’t enough delights for one day, in the evening we went to the beautiful Queens Hall to see Henry Rollins (the inspiration for the name of this blog). I had never been to see him before, so I was excited, and big thanks goes to my friend Kristi for getting tickets.
As soon as Rollins hit the stage, he owned it, filling that huge space with his wonderful physicality. This energetic raconteur mesmerised the audience with his anecdotes. A particular highlight was the story about his impromptu performance piece with Dennis Hopper. Although, ‘at’ Dennis Hopper might be more appropriate. Another gem was the gruesome stage diving anecdote that really put in perspective the time I lost a sneaker at a Manics gig (and I really loved that sneaker).
I just adore Rollins’ whole attitude to life – such energy, enthusiasm, and interest in other people. Anyone that can turn a trip to Costco into a story that makes me double over with laughter is someone I want to know. I love the way he sees the world. His optimism and sheer delight at being alive is infectious. A truly delicious evening.
My next festival plan? Handcuff myself to Henry Rollins and get him to shout “Everybody Moooooove!” a la Andre the Giant in ‘The Princess Bride’.
Then I might just lose the key.