Looking out of the curved window, your head turning to the right, eyes drifting down past the steel barriers dividing incoming and outgoing traffic. There the plastic bottles lie slowly degrading in the ultra violet light. Polymers gradually breaking down, their long molecular bonds snapping off from each other soundlessly, endlessly, forever. The plastic becoming more and more brittle, making it easier to crack and break like dry vegetable matter. The oil that was once under the ground has now been forced, sucked and routed to huge industrial complexes on the coast, overlooking grey blue seas near estuaries calm and fenced off. This liquid sludge, a product of dead marine life, its gases already burnt off into the wind out onto the grey North Sea. The glutinous matter has been refined and processed to make the essence of life. Your motor calmly turning over, exploding twenty five thousand times a minute, piston and pump and chamber, squirting and moving in unison. Another litre of essence sucked and burnt and spurted out into the engine air intake of the car behind.
In the spaces between major traffic zones we find certain clues to the dilemmas
The blue plastic bottle started life in a stainless steel tank, as an organic molecule that was polymerised and given long, long beautiful chains of carbon, hydrogen and oxygen molecules making it slinky, sexy and feline, like a rubber wearers day dream. Pushed, pulled and extruded through pipes and tubes of exact calibration with tolerances much less than a millimetre, released from a spinneret, the fetishist’s arachnoid scene, round and round inside the mould. A blue plastic bottle appears, a virgin vessel, pristine unscratched and untouched by human hand. Ridged and ribbed and safe, rewarding and tactile to hold with a warmth of its own, responsive to human touch and body warmth. Filled with water pumped from underground aquifers, filtered and gassed according to your taste, tickling the back of your throat, pleasingly. Drivers throats are parched red, interior flesh, moist and mucoudal, dry from the heat pumping out of the dull grey plastic dashboard vent. The cool fizzy liquid gushing down the oesophagus taking with it a white tablet, lozenge shaped. Synthesised painkiller. Salicylate acid, is easing a headache resulting from dehydration.
The weather in North Europe is getting darker due to cloud cover but paradoxically not getting wetter. A curious counter-intuitive state of affairs, the sky gets gloomier each year with less sunlight getting through to the ground level. 1.footnote
Tossed out from the motor, from your slow dirge-like procession across the country, onto a landscape that persists in the spaces between steel barriers, your pale translucent blue bottle is now empty. A green of grey hues, evenly covered in PCB's. The metallic dust from the red and green brightly painted HGV's that move apples, red or green from the farm to central distribution apex to retail outlet. At the retail outlet shed, a pantheon of all oral desires, a nice clean man with a blue plastic badge, his name is Timothy, a nice sweet man. He will smile at you in an open confident manner and direct you to the fruit produce section. How comforting his confidence seems in a system that moves the soft flesh of farm fresh produce around the landscape. The weeds continue to persist out there in the zone between cars. The now static cars caught in a traffic jam backed up from an accident five miles ahead. People in high visibility jackets, some green and crouching on the ground, some yellow moving briskly shouting into radios, adjusting red heavy rubber based cones out into the slow moving traffic. You file dutifully past, every eye straining to catch the sight of blood and the last fugal procession of mortality. Your very own, Burial at Ornans. The smell of death, transmission fluid, hard edged plastic with rusty iron undertones merging with the smell of diesel engines, steam and hot cooker gas aromas.
Artists for the most part are content to act out the position of entertainer in a dumb
parody of their more famous city cousins. The New Celebrity with their strange tans and strange xenophobic lusts for sameness and fear of difference. A herd instinct is taking over.
Herb Robert, is a delicate pink, four petalled flower clinging to the ground amidst the short stunted grass and groundsel. A weed that is common across most of Europe. Petals covered with a gentle dust of carbon, lead, and sulphur compounds, lying amidst some larger pieces of rubber, charcoal black vulcanised and pliable. Black flowers in a hard gritty desert. Occasionally, the odd brown and yellow picture, of a piece of cork wrapped around a cylinder of cellulose strands, stained brown, a forgotten skid mark, squashed at one end by dirty fingers angular yet firm. The plastic bottle lands, bounces once and rests next to a steel bolt sheared off from a forty-eight tonner thundering towards the sea-port miles ahead down the road. Black brown, greasy, the raw sheared metal shining in the late afternoon light, its shimmering glint passing through the blue plastic. A weak blue sparkle as you pass slowly on the outside lane hands holding the wheel between palm and the bony inner thumb. Traffic backed up for miles ahead.
They all meet in an international hotel of their choice, walking purposefully towards green glass doors in order to decide how to stop or arrest or slow or ameliorate the advance of climate change. Outside the avant gardists protest. Policemen advance in carefully organised and choreographed phalanxes, blue black against the swaying green of early summer oat fields.
Caught between barriers in a landscape, nearly empty of moving life, where hardly a human being walks, only matter, vegetable or mineral survives out here
21st April 2005, between three to eight years remain before peak oil reserves point is reached on the planet. Peak oil has been achieved 2008.
The mild steel posts holding flexible, elastic steel, restraining barriers, gently susurrating the reflected engine hum against the side of the pressed opalescent blue carapace of the car. You thought the motor looked like a soap bubble when you saw it, a fleck of spittle at the corner of your mouth as you signed the monthly repayment contracts. How much soap, detergent, non ionic cleansers, fragrances, dispersible waxes, plastic foam sponges, yellow rubber gloves with fleece lining, will it take to clean the automobile coated in grey dust, a light brown emulsion of water and clay substrates, blue black oil sprayed up from the tarmac road. All the colours, dull and earthy combining with dust from metal, PCB’s, and grit from the rock salt. The ground hard and unwilling to accept much in the way of plant life, except for odd patches of brilliant groundsel, white and frothy, the lacy filigree on the glass of European lager drunk and hour ago. Here and there, the odd herb Robert. The grassy hops from the beer still belching up from regions of the gut trapped behind the nylon webbing of the seat belt. The open window allows in some cold afternoon air as the day turns to dusk. Outside a patch of yellow flowers swaying in the wind whipped up by the cars speeding by on the other side of the reservation.
26th April 2005; International Herald Tribune, reports a meeting between President Bush and Prince Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, “The Crown Prince understands that it’s very important for there to be, to make sure that the price is reasonable. A high oil price will damage markets. It’s an important subject”. Bush hoped that Saudi Arabia will raise production levels from 9.5 million barrels a day to 12.5 million barrels a day.
Phlegm flying through the air in a graceful parabola towards the empty space at the side of the road. A flying arrow of DNA, saliva and pathogens hits the other metal barrier and begins its slow slide down the grey galvanised metal stain it a darker hue. The only moisture to hit this part of the world for a while, has been numerous gobs of spit flung out of phlegmy mouths by drivers to hot to speak. You notice that car, white like a coke dealers, driving along on the opposite lane on the outside edge. The man, hard and lean, smelling of old sweat and sour adrenaline, gone in a second.
The crop for this years (2007) opium is going to be a bumper crop, a 49 per cent rise in production. Afghanistan accounts for 92 per cent of world heroin production. The ousted Taliban are using the trade in heroin production to fund resistance to US/Nato forces. The connection between insurgency and opium production in the Helmland province has become a vicious circle. 2. footnote
Pulling into the back street round the back of the station, where the snotty prostitutes click clack down the cold streets, a yellow sodium glare bouncing off the wet tarmac. The spotty youths, caps backwards, slipping into the telephone kiosks to stick up new cards in the windows. Tart cards with full colour pictures offering O 'n A and many, many other services to the weakened body. Recently arrived here from small towns at the edges of the European Economic Zone. Caged in small grimy rooms, with thin floral curtains barely keeping out the orange light from the street, shadows passing across the curtains. Anna’s emaciated arms pin pricked in wriggly lines up the veins. Another fix is on it’s the way as the last one wears off. Returning out of numbness to see the glare of a 60 watt light bulb burning a yellow hole against the dirty white ceiling. A packet of dirty brown stuff drops through the letter box. It’s not the drug that harms, it’s the people you hang out with it that do the damage. These people don't fuck about, if your slow producer and don’t turn clients over fast enough, then your face meets the wall pretty bloody fast. Her snot, teeth and saliva smearing hard against the floral decorative wallpaper. The paper bubbling under the surface. The brain macerating against the hard bony points inside your skull. Maybe one day, Anna will get out of here but only when the clients stop turning up for trade. It’s a business, a life at the sharp end. The oleaginous smear of a cars red lights sliding down the shiny road, back to another meet. You are the next deal whether you like it or not
International Herald Tribune, 26th April 2005; reports the arrest of Haji Bashir Noorzai in Afghanistan, accused of building a multi million dollar drugs trades through an ‘unholy alliance’ with the Taliban.
Jack got out of the force 2 years ago after the war. He had to, otherwise he would have gone mad doing grunt for another five years, his C.O. was making life hell for him and the redtops were closing in on the deals. Out here life was worse, you never know where your going to get hit, at least inside the firm you knew who were your enemies. They were usually the ones staying close to you, watching your every fucking move. Out here all you could see were shadows in the shadows. Even the shadows were safer places than the daylight spaces, the bright lit rooms, the overhead fluorescents humming and flickering, and the blue green light breaking your eye balls. We speak with corpses in our mouths, before the deal is done, and then get the fuck out of there afterwards in case any bleeder gets frisky. Business is divided into sectors, you don’t buy an alliance in this business, and you make it with your hands, muscle and grease. Some of his other mates who left the firm weren’t so lucky as J, ending up staring into space after a bottle of ice white, shuffling down windy streets to the next pissy doorway.
Summer Lilac. Profit margins are moving up on the heroin fields. You can take a hit and still be making sixty per cent across the distribution chain.
In black and white on the surveillance camera you are another piece of white trash relieving your dick against the wall. The security camera can see nothing more than a leather jacket, pale shirt and shaved head. A large hairy dark dog slowly lays a turd at the corner of the flickering image, the animal slowly wandering off, flicking its back legs involuntarily. The street lamp at the top of the image burning an after-image into the lens. A hole in the sea of things that are called observation and security. Rubbish bins against the drain pipe. Four pints of lager and a packet of crisps. Please. The wire fence rustling with the brush of buddleia against the galvanised metal and crumbling concrete posts. The derelict ground covered in mounds of rubble, rank weeds, low bushes, thin grasses, condoms and thin crushed beer cans. The colour mags rustling in the grass, a face tanned and orange smiling up at you offering great success and fame. Her lips peeled back in a rictus grin without any trace of crinkling lines. In the distance a police siren screams down another orange-sodium main road.
Buddleia, originally imported from China by 19the century explorers, now considered an invasive weed in many parts of US. Not easily killed, grows in most soil, especially that which has been disturbed. Often to be seen growing on tops of disused buildings, crumbling masonry, and derelict ground sites left undisturbed.
Arriving at the airport in your pale blue motor, sleek and glass, the car stereo playing a reassuring adagio. Drifting the car quietly into the long term car park, slipping the clutch into 1st and arcing wide into the space. The jet drones overhead, a high pitched whine with deep bass undertones alluding to great commercial power. Pale grey trails bursting out of its engines, the smell of aviation fuel drifting across the car park, as the mighty great tube of lightweight metal weighing more tonnes than you can think about comes down onto the tarmac, wheels angled, jerking back to face the ground with a puff of white smoke, black rubber burning. Engines screaming into reverse. Observing this spectacle of commerce and power you wonder how to compute fuel in tonnes rather than litres. What is it like to know in an intimate but rational way that underneath your feet there is 30,000 feet of air? Out the tail of this monster spurt all the shit, piss and bodily fluids of your flight into the atmosphere breaking up, dispersing into many tiny fragments permeating the clouds with frozen E.Colii. like some giant fat slug across the blue sky. The pilot flies across the curve of the earth in a great slow parabola easing controls onto automatic and calculating the fuel remaining.
Aviation is believed to be responsible for at least 5-6% of the total warming effect caused by greenhouse gases. Nitrogen oxide having the most disproportionate effect due to the emissions in the upper atmosphere.
UK Royal commission on Environmental Pollution
Stepping into the cool air conditioned hum of the terminal through wide sweeping doors that gather you into their embrace like the giant arms of mother. Swallowed in whole, the terminal will spit you out at the other end re-born, all your senses working attempting to assimilate information from your new risk free environment. Check in your bag, the leather one last, on top. Do smile at the attendant, you might need their help. The first gin and tonic in the bar airside, tasting like the purest bitter sweet water ever tasted, juniper and metal. A sterile environment where your every bodily function is weighed monitored and calculated according gains and losses on some imaginary Stock Exchange of the Visceral. Many socks and pairs of underwear and irrelevant tubes of toothpaste are carried across vast distances, in fast moving vectors of fuel and metal. The finely ground mineral and mint mixture with added synthetic sweeteners in a plastic tube made pliable by phthalates that will eradicate your male chromosomes, squeezed between thumb and finger onto the plastic brush hairs to scrape away last nights bacterial scum. But when you go to meet the man, you want your game face on. Not the one borrowed from the airline free vanity packet with disposable brush.
Bisphenol-A compound found in plastic food containers and cans has been show to be a contributing factor in women developing breast cancer. Researched at Nagoya City University Medical School. Those women with three times higher levels of BPA were more likely to miscarry.
Opening the soft translucent package, releasing the steam from the brown meat and gravy and removing the white plastic knife and fork from its sheath of plastic and paper, he realised that he hadn’t eaten for nearly a day. Eating returned him to something like a human again. He felt warmth and compassion for his fellow human beings, running around inside their fantasies of travel and new horizons. Didn’t they know the finitude of the objects surrounding them; the future is running out fast. He felt somehow sad for them, poor little buttons. Contentment is going to be the ultimate human condition not self realisation, a contentment he was happy to participate in momentarily for now. A calm smothering contentment that will allow us all to talk about our selves endlessly to whoever is within ear shot, or who will listen.
Evidence presented at the Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals Forum, San Diego, have found that chemicals used in plastics called phthalates which makes plastics pliable, were likely to lead to feminisation of boys similar to studies demonstrated in animals. Leading to all aspects of male identity being altered as well as measurable physiognomic alterations; including levels of aggression, parenting behaviour and learning speeds being altered.
They all meet in an international hotel of their choice, walking purposefully towards green glass doors in order to decide how to stop or arrest or slow or ameliorate the advance of climate change. Outside the avant gardists protest. Policemen advance in carefully organised and choreographed phalanxes, blue black against the swaying green of early summer oat fields. People in the meeting move large bound documents around on polished mahogany tables, underneath soft diffused fluorescent lights discussing leverage, hedging and holding companies, and how to defray risk. Ties of military stripes maroon, beige and duck egg blue, grey charcoal skirt suits of sober intention rustle with the tension of decisions taken. New side operators were being frozen out of the loop. Notes were taken in abbreviated terse language of a military nature, committing as little as possible to the record. Groups were moving forward on this one in a proactive way, while other lone operators held back in the shadows waiting for mistakes to occur, for an opportunity for advancement to come their way, the crumbs off the table. Re-entry back into the car was smooth, synthetic surfaces of reassuring neutrality. Grey charcoal plastic gave the car a slightly clinical smell above the other smells of cologne purchased on holiday and synthetic upholstery slowly warming up in the sun that was filtering through the tinted glass. Over the car radio, in restrained tones of carefully modulated delivery, a voice softly spoke into the car, “the future of technological advancement rests on the future of plastic”. A light sweat from the palms of his hands coated the plastic steering wheel. He drove faster into the certain future out there at the apex of the perspective where parallel lines never meet. The future lay in wait for him.
1. Ballard,J.G, Crash, Cape,1973, p78-79. “The crushed body of the sports car had turned her into a creature of free and perverse sexuality, releasing within its twisted bulkheads and leaking engine coolants all the deviant possibilities of her sex.” Ballard has been a continuous commentator on the entropic machinery of our culture.
2. Robbe-Grillet,Alain, Project for a revolution in New York, Calder & Boyars, 1973. P1-2 “The wood around the window is coated with brownish varnish in which thin lines of a lighter colour, lines with an imitation of imaginary veins running through another substance considered more decorative, constitute parallel networks or networks of only slightly divergent curves outlining darker knots, round or oval or even triangular, a group of changing signs in which I have discerned human figures for a long time...” The importance of Robbe-Grillet for taking up the phenomenological method to pursue the real cannot be underestimated. Always within a narrative that is always on the verge of spinning out of control, placing ever more emphasis on the strains upon representative language to describe the flight of desire.
3. Ballard, J.G. Super-Cannes, Flamingo, 2000. P 356. “Paul do we need a rear view mirror? The future was a second Eden-Olympia, almost twice the size of the original, the same mix of multinational companies, research laboratories and financial consultancies. Hyundai, BP, Amoco, Motorola, and Unilever had secured their plots, investing in long-term leases that virtually financed the whole project.” Ballard’s writing has a haunting nihilistic tone a dystopic yet careful observation on the prevailing social mores and manners of European culture.
4. Pynchon, Thomas, Gravity’s Rainbow, Jonathan Cape, 1973, p 4 52-453. “ In aerodynamics, because you’ve only got the thing on paper at first, you use the dimensionless coefficients: ratios of this to that – centimetres, grams, seconds neatly all cancelling out above and below. This allows you to use models, arrange an airflow to measure what you’re interested in, and scale the wind-tunnels results all the way up to reality, without running into too many unknowns, because these coefficients are good for all dimensions.” Pynchon in this book pursues the paranoiac schizoid method tracking the development of plastic through the WW2 back to USA. A landscape of fact and mythology interspersed with lucidity and drug induced epiphanies regarding technological progress.