The Curse Of Atemporality In Tech-Saturated Late-Capitalist Cultures


… the sea of muddy kids in the crowd, a sea in movement as well as density. So many humans, packed into a small space together, bobbing around every which way. Shit-eating grins, sodden jumpers.

And not one phone in sight.

Don’t worry, this isn’t some Back To The Land, Look Up-type post, entreating that we should all abandon our tech, wear waistcoats made out of rabbit skin and change our names to Oliver and Jeremy.

I love technology. To a large degree, I am technology, if you factor in the various systems that interweave with my life, like vaccines and Wikipedia, that produce a human utterly unlike any human three hundred years ago.

Also, I’m not saying those kids would eschew waving their mobiles around if they’d had the chance to have modern tech back then. They would have loved smartphones as much as we do now. As much as I do since I was a kid back then.

But the lack of opportunity forced those audiences to be totally in the moment. They’re watching the band play with their own eyes, not looking at a tiny screen and trying to figure out how best to frame the action.

Contrast that with a modern gig which is most often a forest of hands held up not in tribute but in video capture. The audience are not in the NOW of the gig because they are too concerned with the FUTURE video/pics of the gig. They have become atemporal.

This moment, this instant you’re reading these words will never happen again. It’s here, it’s gone. Poof!

Did you make the most of it? DID YOU TAKE A PIC? FOR GOD’S SAKE, WHERE IS THE PIC??

If the now you inhabit is merely a film set on which you construct media for a future audience to consume, that leaches meaning from that now.

You’re at a gig, you think, ‘This is brilliant, I need to take some video, show off how great it is.’ The instant you get your phone out and start taking video, you ruin the gig for yourself as you’re not actually immersed in the gig anymore, you’re immersed in getting the footage. And when you re-watch the gig footage or see how many likes you’ve got, does that give you the feelings back that it destroyed in manufacture? Of course it doesn’t.

Now, obviously, there are exceptions; wedding photos, a five-second video of your child’s first step. I’m not saying any vid or pic is a gateway to atemporal dysthymia. Like everything, there’s a spectrum here.

But if you look around, you’ll see atemporality draining the mana of the instant in many different areas of your life. As a musician, I sit staring at a digital audio workstation screen on my Mac. This contains a piano-roll type display of my song such that I can see what parts are coming when, what’s playing now and what’s played in the past. The temptation here is to listen atemporally, to not listen at all but look-listen.

If I switch my monitor off, I am back in the instant of the music, in the NOW. That break that I thought was cool is actually kind of weak, it just looked good.

Of course, we can drift into atemporality all by ourselves, no tech needed. We can lie in bed obsessing about past conversations and how they should have gone. We can sabotage relationship after relationship in the hope that we’ll meet the perfect paramour just the day after tomorrow. We can imprison ourselves by worrying what might happen if we are bold when, rationally, we know we are perfectly safe.

However, today’s tech is both fidget spinner and magic mirror. At the party, when we’re awkward, we can pretend to check our phone. Or we can take a picture that will hopefully provide later validation of our cuteness/craziness. All of this is a distraction from the now, a small destruction of the now.

Enbies, ladies and gentlemans, I present to you

Mishra’s Ironic Inverse Presence Law:

The more pictures or vids you take at an event, the more you weren’t truly there.

Source: Me, just now

Imagine this: you’re with someone you’ve fancied for a while. They’re close to you. Their hand brushes your shoulder, your face. You smile at them and gaze into their eyes. They get closer. Their mouth is nearly brushing yours, you can feel the heat from their lips….

AND YOU STOP AND SAY – ‘Hold up, dawg, I just want to get a picture of our first ever kiss!’ Then you spend five minutes staging and posing until you get something that looks “real.”

I repeat, I am not saying throw your phones away, bring back the carrier pigeon.

All I’m saying is that sometimes it’s better to make memories than make TikToks.

Ladybird Invasion

I saw some familiar round shapes on one of my windows and thought, ‘Oh, there must be a little nest or something.’ Came downstairs, looked at my patio windows and… loads of ladybirds!

I don’t know why they all came out at one go, I’ve never seen that happen before. Is this another climate change thing?

Here’s some pics of the beautiful critters anyway, enjoy!

Ladybird - 07

(No flying ant day this year, I must have missed it. But this is pretty close!)

Telex – Haven’t We Met Somewhere Before?

I only know about Telex cos my mate who worked at WH Smiths with me lent me their album ‘Birds And Bees’ (called ‘Sex’ everywhere else, apparently).

I knew nothing about the band, it was 1982, who knew anything about musicians back then? If they weren’t in Smash Hits or on the Oxford Road Show – nada.

I fell in love with the mystery of the band and of this album, which sounds like a synthpop soundtrack for a film noir. The production stands up now, forty years after it was made. It remains one of my favourite ever albums. I didn’t even know then it was a collaboration with the equally awesome Sparks.

I’m gonna rip off the Telex sound as much as is humanly possible.

Come and get me, coppers! NYAH!

On Sleep Deprivation

deep breath

So, I’ve not been sleeping much because I’ve had a weird bastard cold. I’m getting around 3 hours a night.

This morning I woke with bad jaw gland pain at around 6am and went to take 2 paracetamols and 2 ibuprofens. I use different shapes to help me differentiate which is which. But this time, due to the confusion of no sleep, I went wrong and took 4 ibuprofens.


Still half asleep, I got into a big panic, googled ibuprofen overdose on my phone and got something saying 800mg (which I’d just taken) would damage my kidneys and I needed to go to hospital.

So, I spent 10 mins panicking, trying to make myself sick and couldn’t. Tried both ends of the toothbrush which was not fun at all. Nothing.

Finally, I calmed down a bit and phoned my sis (who is a doctor) and luckily she was up.

Her words, “No, no, you’ll be fine. If they were that bad, they wouldn’t give them out like Smarties. Just drink loads of water and take rest”

Cue very embarrassed me.

I really, really need some solid sleep.

At least I didn’t got to WebMD and find out I’ve got cancer.

Loach On Starmer’s Treachery

The people who fell for the lies of the Blairites about Corbyn were just being good little Guardian readers, you can’t blame them for not knowing about politics.

Of course a lifelong anti-racist campaigner is actually a secret racist, IT WAS ALL A CUNNING PLOY. It’s so obvious!

Starmer, on the other hand, wants to get rid of one member one vote. He LITERALLY wants to make the Labour Party more un-democratic.

And from those same Corbyn-haters: silence.

As one of my fave folk tunes says:

Raise the scarlet standard high
Beneath its folds we’ll live and die
Though cowards flinch and traitors sneer
We’ll keep the red flag flying here

Just One Platonic Cornetto

PHOTO OF A CORNETTORemy Sharp from Brighton, United Kingdom, CC BY-SA 2.0 <>, via Wikimedia Commons

My proposition today: the idea of a Cornetto is far better than the reality.

Or should I say, the ideal of a Cornetto is something that cannot be matched by the faint, 4D shadows that our universe’s Cornettos exist within.

It’s hot. You imagine a Cornetto. You imagine unpeeling it, hoping the little chocolatey end bit won’t break off. You imagine biting into the creamy top, the crunchy little bits of chocolate and peanuts, the crisp, delightfully frangible wafer.


You buy a real Cornetto. It’s a bit squished on top. No worries. You unwrap it and half the chocolatey bits are stuck to the foil at the top. You try to lick them off. They fall on your clothing and melt immediately into what looks like a catshit stain. The peanut bits – they’re gone. Were they every really there?

Oh well.

The cone itself is… squishy. Like a piece of cardboard that you forgot to put in your bin and now it’s been out there a fortnight and you know you have to pick it up but you know when you do it’s gonna be major ick as it’s all squishy now. It has the floppiness of a newly dead corpse, before rigor sets in.

Never mind.

You attack the head of the cone. As the result melts in your mouth, you realise it’s not the premier gelato you imagined but some frozen white foam that tastes of late stage capitalism and diabetes. It evaporates from your tongue leaving no trace, like the promises of teenage romance.


Well, you’ve started it now, you have to eat it quickly or it’ll just melt all down you, then you’ll look like you’ve jizzed on catshit. You wolf it down, chasing entropy like a greyhound chasing a tachyon. Inevitably, your fingers end up covered with sugary slime and you lick them clean but not in a savouring way, in a sad way. Reflecting on all the bad choices you’ve ever made in your life, you slurp at your fingertips.


You swear to never buy another Cornetto.

You buy a packet of six soft Cornettos. No, but these ones, these ones are soft? Do you see?


When I Invented Silent Gigs / Discos

Have a look at this interview from March 1997:

(Source: New York Times)

If you look up Silent Disco on Wikipedia, you get this:

In May 2002 artist Meg Duguid hosted Dance with me… a silent dance party at the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago where she created an outdoor club installation complete with velvet ropes and glow rope in which a DJ spun a transmission to wireless headsets that audience members put on and danced to.[4][5][6] Duguid threw a second dance party at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago the following year, entitled Dueling DJs where two DJS simultaneously spun two separate musical transmissions various wireless headsets that audience members put on and danced to. This performance was repeated the following year (2004) at the Chicago Cultural Center.[7]

The term “silent disco” has been in existence since at least 2005 with Bonnaroo Music Festival advertising such an event that year with DJ’s Motion Potion, Quickie Mart and DJ medi4 and headphones provided by KOSS.[8] In recent years Silent Events has presented Bonaroo’s Silent Disco.[9]

In the Netherlands, the traveling arts and culture festival De Parade already featured a “stille disco” [silent disco] earlier, for example in 2003.[10] Dutch DJs Nico Okkerse and Michael Minton have been described as “the pioneers … in the legend of silent disco” because they started “stille disco” events in 2002.[11] Okkerse claims his company “created Silent Disco in 2002”[12] and its site does have photos from such events going back to at least 2003.[13]

(Source: Wikipedia)

So, yaay, that was five years after when I invented it, depending which one you believe.

But then…

A silent concert (or headphones concert) is a live music performance where the audience, in the same venue as the performing artist, listens to the music through headphones.[20] The idea originated in 1997 when Erik Minkkinen,[21][22] an electronic artist[23][24] from Paris, streamed a live concert from his closet over the internet to three listeners in Japan.[25] The concept led to a decentralized organization known as le placard (“the Cupboard”),[26] which allowed anybody to establish a streaming or listening room.[25]

The first headphone concert taking place in front of a live audience took place March 17, 1999, at Trees in Dallas, Texas. The American psychedelic band The Flaming Lips used an FM signal generator at the venue and handed out mini FM radio receivers and headphones to each member of the audience. A normal speaker system was also used so the sound could also be felt. This continued on their “International Music Against Brain Degeneration Revue” tour with mixed results, with technical problems including dead batteries and intoxicated audience members having trouble tuning to the correct frequency.[27]

(Source: Wikipedia)

So, depending on when in ’97 Minkkinen did his proto-Twitch stream, maybe I’m a co-inventor. But Flaming Lips, March???

Highly suspicious…

UPDATE!!! Just got this email in:

Hi Jyoti,Erik Minkkinen here. Fell on your post about silent disco. Yes those wikipedia articles are quite erroneous, never bothered to try to fix them, actually I don’t claim to be the inventor of anything.

The fact is , true , the idea came up in 1997 , but the actual first festival which happened in Paris in sept 1998 was a non stop 72 hour event , and became a yearly festival for many years. here are links to the archives

The first one was not streamed , it is only starting from the second one in Vienna that we opened to distant concerts. The festival is still ongoing , not as much activity as there used to be, have been concentrating more on micro fm and radio works with

Hope this helps

Take care


Isn’t that cool? Please check out Erik’s sites, there’s some lovely, creative stuff there!