Sunday, 4 September 2011

Net-Kipple and My Secret Life at The Dump.

I have not blogged during August and late July because it is the summer holidays and I had set myself the task of catching up on the novel, some poems and reading for my next Poetry School Course on Point of View.

I did this but not necessarily as much as I would have wished to. Why not? Because I got distracted. By what you may ask dear reader? And I will reply by saying, nothing much.

I am a great follower of tangents; I can go off on one quite easily. Tangents present an opportunity to find out all manner of things I don’t really have to know. The things I don’t have to know, I tell myself, may be precisely those things I might find useful one day, like the piece of string, the AA battery (power status unknown) , the small blunt blue crayon, found at the back of a kitchen drawer. The small detritus (detriti?) of knowing could one day prove useful or at the very least help my team win at Quiz night at the local pub.

I spent some time this summer trying to throw away or give to charity shops items and books I did not need or use any more. The men at my local Refuse Recycling Centre started to call me by my first name and enquire if I was moving house, so frequent were my visits. Even whilst at the dump, I kept spotting other people’s items in skips I longed to rescue and take home, so profligate did their abandonment seem.

I exercised restraint; I hurled black bags away like a champion shot putter. I assuaged my guilt and environmental consciousness by advertising things on the local Freecycle web site and four big bags of novels went to The British Heart Foundation. Old mice chewed discards extracted from my garden shed, however, were piled into the back of the Clio and ejected from my life.

I have written about kipple before, as Philip K Dick coined it and at the end of the blog given you a scene from the novel ( Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep..which was adapted into the film Bladerunner) in which he writes about it.

I can recognise that stuff can gather around us in an almost sinister way, it mounts up without serving any useful purpose. Yet still I can watch ‘Life of Grime’ and empathise slightly with the man who allows newspapers to stack up over the years, the woman who rescues old battered dolls to a point where she has only one seat she can sit in, the twins who never let a milk bottle escape from the house.

This is, in the extreme, a psychiatric condition I know but I nurture the seeds of this in my own life. I have stuff therefore I am. By stuff I don’t mean a rampant display of materialism but those items that are generated just by being. There must be an existential angst associated with identity and things we surround ourselves with, both intentionally and unintentionally.

Do Facebook friends sometimes count as kipple? Those with over a 2,000 such friends can only be intent on self advertising and serious networking in order to achieve an end. They must have realised very early on that the word friend means something totally different on this site. Does the use of the word kipple now have to be extended to cover all forms of internet accumulation? Is there net-kipple? Is this blog just another example of net-kipple, something that just hangs in the ether once read or even without being read and takes up some notion of space ( but not as we know it Jim)?

I was astounded when I cleaned my browsing history out, how many sites I had visited in the space of just a month. My browsing history was leaning heavily towards kipplisation. I now set my history time span to just one day and even that can, at times, produce visits that seem randomly bizarre.

I needed to research mortuaries in St Petersburg for my novel and that alone generated twenty four sites and pages examined. The physical ability to wander tangentially by following links probably increases exponentially the detritus in my computer’s cache. If things that accumulate randomly on my computer were translated into paper I would have to camp out in the garden and give the whole house over to them.

I have been editing some poems and fiction recently and realised how much kipple can accumulate in the written language. Do I need that word, does the reader need that word, that paragraph, how much wordage have I accumulated because I can rather than because I need to?

The old adage of ‘show not tell’ can leave you giddy with loss but there are also words that build up without the writer’s conscious intent. I have word ‘tics’ that accumulate and which my brain strangely doesn’t even seem to register, there are probably some in this blog post, in fact I know there must be some.

Not all poets and writers choose to use the short punchy sentence. The lyricism of the longer line or sentence can serve the writer’s individual voice better but I am trying to discipline myself to recognise what I need rather than what I think I need. I am also working harder at seeing the things that by constant presence become unseen. I am sure the elderly twins don’t see their thousands of milk bottles in the same way others see them. Perceiving and seeing are two different things, the former being ties in more closely to the vagaries of emotional reasoning.

The era of the assiduous editor who lovingly trawls through every line and sends his or her notes to the poet or writer is a luxury many publishers cannot afford, especially in the small independent presses. This then makes the role of writer as editor even more crucial and highlights the importance of ongoing workshops for writers and their access to good feedback from knowledgeable individuals. I suspect quite a few Arts Council grants are in part used to pay for such feedback.

Now if I could de-kipple more easily in life I wouldn’t be on first name terms with the men at the dump. However I embrace and am thankful for all those good souls out there who give me feedback on my work and allow me to see my ‘stuff’ as others see it.

Extract from
Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
J.R.Isidore explaining kipple to Pris

- Kipple is useless objects, like junk mail or match folders after you use the last match or gum wrappers of yesterday's homeopape. When nobody's around, kipple reproduces itself. For instance, if you go to bed leaving any kipple around your apartment, when you wake up the next morning there's twice as much of it. It always gets more and more.
- I see.
- There's the First Law of Kipple, "Kipple drives out non-kipple." Like Gresham's law about bad money. And in these apartments there's been nobody there to fight the kipple.
- So it has taken over completely. Now I understand.
- Your place, here, this apartment you've picked - it's too kipple-ized to live in. We can roll the kipple-factor back; we can do like I said, raid the other apartments. But -
- But what?
- We can't win.
- Why not?
- No one can win against kipple, except temporarily and maybe in one spot, like in my apartment I've sort of created a stasis between the pressure of kipple and non-kipple, for the time being. But eventually I'll die or go away, and then the kipple will again take over. It's a universal principle operating throughout the universe; the entire universe is moving toward a final state of total, absolute kippleization. Except of course for the upward climb of Wilber Mercer.