No code: recode. The rules are broken. Re-write the rules.
You should dig him.
Jefferson Hack (co-founder of Dazed, AnOther, NOWNESS, and perhaps more)
The Quotation Game
There are very few people I have met who have the ability to think on their feet as quickly as Jefferson Hack, who I’ve had the honour of working with on a number of books. Having conducted twenty-plus hours of interviews with him in the process of the team effort it took to pull We Can’t Do This Alone together, I suggested it would be fun to play a game in which I would fire a phrase at him that he had spoken about and record his quick-fire response within a strict two-minutes on the stopwatch. It was intended as a way of crystallizing some of the concepts at the core of We Can’t Do This Alone and of creating an alt-glossary, of sorts. Importantly, it was also a nod to the beat doctrine of valuing intuition over pre-considered analysis – a celebration of the ‘first thought, best thought’ mantra of Allen Ginsberg. We called it The Quotation Game and I guess it was not unlike the classic BBC Radio Four game ‘Just-A-Minute’ – in which contestants speak on a chosen subject without pause, repetition or hesitation – although it was double the length, and not quite as draconian in its rules, as that would ruin all the fun. The results are below in full – taking into their sway everything from ‘art directing reality’ to the ‘the fourth dimension’ – and they hit the page more-or-less straight from the horse’s mouth. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy reading it as much as we enjoyed playing it. It’s an insightful wander into the mind of a guy who is constantly thinking way ahead of the curve at the rate of a rock’n’roll finger-click, both seeking and providing constant, intuitive, inspiration.
– John-Paul Pryor
THE RE-WIRED GENERATION
The Re-Wired Generation is a mindset that thinks differently – re-wiring being a metaphor for developing new thinking patterns. It’s about new directions not revolutions – as exciting as a revolution sounds they always lead to failed utopias. To re-wire is a way of re-directing energy, and a way to re-program the system so that we can engage in the creation of a positive future rather than opt for replacing one power structure with another.
Declare Independence is a call to action. It’s a point of provocation and it’s a point of difference. It’s also about accepting that we belong to a tradition, tribe or philosophy that puts art and honesty before commerce and power.
DON’T READ IT, FEEL IT
For me, it’s about the emotional experience that good storytelling can give a reader – that sense of empowerment that comes from emotional engagement. It’s about the transference of energy from passive to active.
INTUITION NOT INFORMATION
The best magazines are the ones that you learn something from – they are manuals or toolboxes to open up the mind and inspire and evoke multi-dimensional conversations. On a sub-conscious level we make associations that we may not make with the rational conscious mind. Intuition is the melody that holds the lyric, which is the information. In that respect, I often imagine a physical magazine as a collection of songs, where the information is a layer, and sometimes an ambiguous one at that!
THINK THE IMPROBABLE
Counter-intuitive intelligence leads me to improbable thinking. It’s about unlikely scenarios. Not impossible ones but achievable ones. Improbable thinking is about not following trends. It’s about looking elsewhere, under the surface, under the radar of the mainstream.
DON’T THINK, ACT
Don’t think act, is about constructing new rules of the game to invent new possibilities – a form of stream of consciousness writing or stream of consciousness thinking is a good entry into it. It’s the idea that the idea itself is a trap and it’s about how a pure emotional and visceral reaction, or a reaction that comes without limited pre-conceived notions, can be liberating. It’s the pre-idea move.
WASTE YOUR TIME
Time needs to be wasted because I don’t have good ideas when I’m working. Ideas come to me when I dream. I get a lot done when I’m sleeping, or in between sleep states. It allows me to process quite complicated ideas and I can get a better steer on how to handle them after some rest or change of mood kicks in.
BE RADICAL, MAKE MISTAKES
Malcolm McLaren told me its better to be a flamboyant failure than a benign success. Anything but that! There is simply no learning without making mistakes and consistent failure is about consistent repetitive learning. The danger zone is that when you get to a certain level in your work, you stop wanting to experience the frustration of failure. If that happens then start making mistakes on purpose and force error – mistakism is the art of making mistakes.
COMPASSION VS COMPETITION
The artist Joseph Beuys had the notion of a compassionate culture and it feels more important than ever, because a compassionate culture is still such a radical concept. The Western capitalist culture is one in which most magazines reflect the idea of a competitive culture where compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses. A compassion for our relationships with others and to our environment is put to one side in favour of society’s own relentless pursuit of wealth, power and control. The compassionate culture rallies against that and has another set of codes that threaten that.
OPTIMISM VS NIHILISM
I see a lot of punk posturing, a negative solipsism or fake attitude that is considered cool. It’s actually highly self-destructive. Optimism is not just the opposite of that – another fake reality or unconscious happiness. Optimism as punk positivism, as a way of framing new possibilities for change and emergent patterns of new production is what I’m attracted to. It lies in the power of positive thinking. Optimism is a form of cultural rebellion because it’s not the dominant social ideology.
No Code is analogue and it could even be anti-digital, because code is what drives machines. It’s the analogue fetishisation of a non-digital world – a place where you can escape from any form of digital interference; a place that increasingly no longer exists.
THE REAL VERSUS UNREAL
Is it an illusion to care that there is a difference? There needs to be a new philosophical discussion about the real and unreal states that we live in – the virtual and the physical, the analogue and the digital, It’s all up for grabs, isn’t it? It’s all a projection at a deep level, and I am starting to feel increasingly comfortable with that. The speed of indoctrination and change was both intoxicating and anxiety inducing. But ultimately, who’s to say this isn’t all a dream or a nightmare anyway?
INSPIRE COMMUNITIES OF THOUGHT
The structure of a magazine is built around a community. The ambitions, hopes desires and fears of the readers are reflected in the content of the magazine, and as a creator it’s a duty to inspire new horizons of thinking, to feed the imagination with stories. We are the inspiration point and it’s not just one-to-one, it’s one-to-many and more than ever now many to many.
THE REVOLUTION OF THE OPEN SPIRIT
Dazed has always been an open house, letting whoever feels they don’t have a home in. The idea I think I was writing about when I used that phrase must have been about being anti-professional, anti-class, anti race, anti barrier. It’s the walk in off the street and have a go ethos, and it’s that ethos and open spirit of invention that leads to a unique energy and that energy leads to a revolution in aesthetics; a revolution of storytelling and a cultural revolution in terms of attitudes around how we interact on a human and societal level with each other.
USE OR BE USED
You have to use what you have to your advantage – use being small, use being nimble, use being independent, use being anti-bureaucratic and use being de-centralized to the advantage of getting your ideas out there without falling into the trap of being used by the system. To conform is to be used. It’s a fine line I battle with every day and it goes to the heart of all the decisions I make, personally and professionally. Do I get it right every time? No, of course not. But I aim to be of use. To be useful to others, to serve in promoting positive social change through journalism and creative storytelling, to do the best I can.
CHARACTER VERSUS CARICATURE
You can lose yourself in the war between character and caricature if you believe your own hype. I’ve fallen for it and been a victim of my own ego, my own overblown sense of self, hiding behind different masks and avoiding confrontation or honesty. It’s tragic and utterly boring to watch. Character is about the poignancy of the message. It’s about pure meaning and the intent, an honest set of values and ideas. It’s much harder to be.
ART-DIRECTING THE MOMENT
We are all broadcasters, producers, directors and stars of a new reality show. Life is the stage. Art directing the moment is taking control of that reality and shaping the way you look and are presented within it. Most youth do it without even thinking about it. It’s second nature.
THE FOURTH DIMENSION
For every book Claude Levi Strauss made he would create a four-dimensional model of space using string or some kind of wool or twine because he couldn’t conceive of a narrative structure unless he could perceive it with his own eyes. That’s a beautiful metaphor for magazines because magazines are containers of stories, but stories are multi-dimensional and the two-dimensional plane of a magazine cannot really contain the extent of a story. The story isn’t owned by its author and it isn’t owned by a magazine because if it’s a great story and a great set of images that has great relevancy to a great deal of people, it will explode out of all physical limitations.
Is beauty definable? Beauty is an emotion that fills me with a state of awe and wonder, an opening of the mind to a new recognition to something that make me feel excited and stimulated to be alive. For me beauty usually lives in-between states. I am attracted to extremes and something extremely ugly to you can be extremely beautiful to me.
THE LYRICAL MIND BOMB
This is a phrase to describe how language and words can create a set of sensations that change your physical state of mind from uninspired to inspired, indifferent to different, from being unloved to being a lover. I think I used it to describe Patti Smith in my profile of her for AnOther. Language that is lyrical is attractive. Also, invented language can lead to many new possibilities of thought.
TAKING THE LONG VIEW
To do this allows you to discard a lot of the current obsessions and pressures and puts a more epic framework around projects. Take the long view and ask now what really matters? It’s not immediate results or validation – it’s a deep-seated knowing that it’s all adding up to something.
HUMANITY IN CRISIS
The planet is dying. There is more information yet more fear and intimidation. There’s more wealth created yet more economic inequality and even more political and social upheaval. Have we tipped over the edge of any possible equilibrium with the planet? It’s a connected crisis at the heart of humanity as we struggles for survival. As Buckminster Fuller wrote in Spaceship Planet Earth, we are all travelling through space on this planet as one species. I ask myself what am I willing to sacrifice for future generations?
BE DEFIANT NOT DEFINED
To be defined is to be a product of the system. It’s the language of media and communication to put things into easily recognized marketing boxes. It’s all labels and categories for youth culture and I have always seen it as our role to stand beyond categorization.
disclaimer:[ I don’t own this article or the screenshots; Jefferson Hack does ]