Tilt Republic. Johannesburg. New York. Cape Town. London.

a rough draft of a sewer screed

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We were throwing ideas around earlier, and something unexpected happened. The conversation turned on and fuckslapped the word ‘underground’ with such excessive gusto that countering the sentiment needed a strategy.


It was one of those well balanced, conceptually sound conversations; considering facets, meaning and symbolism. The spirit of Michalis had descended.


A clever argument pursued, revolving around how the sentiment has some how outgrown the term, now stale and overused, garnished with exquisite reason.


When, the fuck, did we grow tired of the word underground? Has our constant obsession with the new and our exploitative approach towards everything fascinating finally compromised our lexicon’s soul?


The only reason we could be tired of a term, and not the idea it stands for, is if we have allowed abuse to happen. There are no men on the wall.


As it stands there should be a thousand libel charges flung at the Guevara merchandisers that cluster fucked this iconic figure‘s potency into materialistic obscurity. Throw in a few Ramones’ t-shirts while you’re at it, douche bags.


A country with a main stream as conservative as ours has no business condescending to the underground sentiment. We need it more than ever.


In the spirit of full disclosure, my inner bits do at times recoil when I encounter the ‘underground’, but I’m always aware of the wrong kind of light it happens in. This globalized mash up contemporary culture has seen the lines between mainstream and alternative, counter culture and mass opinion, blurred. This is a good thing. Adopting the fringe is almost always a good idea, it keeps the conservative pigs at bay.


A majority share of my gag reflex is set apart for clichés, I take pleasure in hating repetitive, thoughtless behaviour, but there’s another thing far worse than the repetitive and that’s shallow novelty.


New isn’t better, look at our fickle, growing disregard for Facebook, watch as it turns into one of those cluttered community newspaper leaflets jobbies, consumed with adverts and gimmicky pornsite like click throughs. The world stopped and marvelled at the monolithic Zuckerberg and look, his glory has begun to fade before my spellcheck had time to acknowledge his existence. This happened because we’re here, the perpetual consumers have spoken.


That’s the sign that you’ve made it, when open source software makes a place for your product’s name in the spell check department. Until then, join Aquafresh and Chappies in the squiggly red line zone you fucking nobody.


I don’t think ideas should suffer because we’re unable to think deeply about them.


I’m not ready to say goodbye to the term for a number of reasons, mostly because it evokes so many of my favourite ideals. Individualism, freedom of speech, bawdy clout, anarchy and aggressive cogitation are what make my world go around and I’m not alone.


Given this strange attitude I agree something needs to be done, a revisiting with newer, hungrier eyes. We talk about the underground and feel like we understand its parameters, but I don’t think we do- there’s no other reason we could have grown tired of this idea.


The onus of understanding falls first on the artist and then the punter, those who promote, associate and deem to represent the sentiment need to have their shit beyond figured out. Of course none of that matters without a congruent punter pursuing the same ideals, here symbiosis is Queen.


Alternative, counter cultural, edgy, what are these things? If we revisit it, it must be through the right kind of eyes, defining it with longevity in mind. What we need is to rebuild the cross beams of this ideal. Turn it over to understand it at its simplest form.


And while we’re here let me say ‘fuck doing the right thing’, I’m talking about doing the interesting thing, the fascinating thing. Any two bit marginally evolved bipedal simian can bang on about the right thing. My dog shows remorse when I catch him on the couch, just trawling for a better class of communicator, that’s all.


Our preoccupation with morality has fucked us into a Mexican stand off with charm, and it loses way too often to justify the amount of neurosis we throw at it. Cheap talk and Velcro dispositions has turned morality into a cheap ideological condiment.


My point? Let’s revisit the core ideals of underground comedy.


Approaching this thing bends me, but I find solace in knowing how infinitely irrelevant finding an ideological flag is. Philosophical solidarity is a waste of time. This obsession with associating with collectives remains infantile and I consider it a form of segregation.


Individualism has found its way into my prejudice, I’m beginning to see those who associate too deeply with a disposition as weak, if what you project associates you with a collective you’re pretty sure to be annoying and thus dead to me. So it has little to do with consensus and solidarity, we must learn to run off our own steam. Like Timothy said, think for ourselves and question authority.


So that’s my first concern about sketching this manifesto, irreverence for it, I feel like it could do just as much harm as it does good. Another gnostic cult of self congratulating humps circle jerking themselves dry. No club, no inner circle, no team, stand alone, ideologically speaking. Be yourself.


Second on this reverse shit list is cultivation, there is an innate, too often neglected, perquisite attached to underground comedy. Thought. We read, we think, we write, we perform, we die. There might be a completely adequate alternative approach, but I don’t want to associate with it. Our stage is for cognitively agile opionistas who pursue creative excess. If you don’t pursue knowledge or care to interpret it you have no business getting on this stage.


Next is charm. A beauteous word best understood through the collected works of Oscar Wilde. If you can’t get around to that I suggest being Peter Sserwanga’s wingman for a weekend, the motherfucker could bottle that shit. Engage, connect and love unabashedly. Momentarily present conversationalists who engage their immediate surroundings are all that matter when not actively pursuing progression. Be charming.


Lastly we have this thing called work. A sickening and one dimensional necessity. Of the mutts that trawl the scene Dylan Skews must get a special mention, if I’ve ever seen a bastard produce the minerals it’s him. Put in the hours, be single minded and make it rain.


That’s enough of an outline for now, will sketch on in a bit.

Keep fighting.

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August 23, 2012 Early Tilt