It isn’t cool to be interested in politics. ‘Politics’, according to the current misuse of the word, refers to Westminster MPs politicking their way into cosy careers and ﬁddling their expenses. It means complex statistics on the economy, and an ability to name all sixty Welsh AMs. It’s unsavoury and/or boring. (For a perceptive piece on why young people in Wales aren’t interested in politics see the blogpost ‘ “Devo-wuh?” Young attitides towards devolution’ by Oggy Bloggy Ogwr.) Being interested in local authority politics is even worse. It’s like saying you love housework. We all know, as grown-ups, that it’s necessary, but it’s tedious. So I’ve dragged my attention over to the subject of local authority politics only because the decisions being made there now are going to fundamentally aﬀect us all (or at least the 99% of us who can’t aﬀord servants, private health-care, private education…).
At present there’s a great deal of hype in theWelsh-language pop scene around Bromas, the Carmarthen-based quartet who recently made the cover of the Welsh-language pop magazine Y Selar, and whose debut album, Byr Dymor (‘Short Term’, Recordiau Rasp), was recently released. At seven tracks, it’s short, and displays signs of having been put together in a hurry, not in terms of playing or the visual presentation – both of which are commendable – but in the songwriting.The unusual choice of opening the collection with an instrumental, the ponderous ‘Alaw’ (‘Melody’), is odd, the track being insuﬃciently distinguished to make of it a statement of intent. It is followed by the lightweight ‘Sal Paradise’, a song that establishes movement and the search for personal meaning as abiding themes of the album, and is presumably named after the narrator of Kerouac’s On the Road.
As a child I was always told not to draw on tables, walls, or any other surface that would have made a perfectly good canvas. Making marks with a crayon, pen, pencil, or even food comes very naturally from a young age – a desire that can always be tapped into under the right circumstances. It is not surprising that our ancestors were painting the inside of caves from an early period. Paleontological ﬁndings from the caves at Chauvet dating from some 32,000 years ago can be interpreted to suggest an important shift in mankind’s organisation: from existing as beings preoccupied with everyday tasks as a means of survival, to becoming ones distinguished by individualisation and reﬂection. Philosopher Maria José Mondzain, in her publication Homo Spectator, makes a connection between early inscriptions and the birth of spectatorship. By blowing pigment held in the mouth onto the hand extended at arm’s length a hand print is made. It is not surprising that our ancestors were painting the inside of caves from an early period. Mondzain argues the moment the hand is withdrawn is key in locating thought and gesture outside of the self.
Buy a copy of the magazine here