As I sink into my two main projects for 2011 – Lenin and Theology and The Sacred Economy – a brief intro to the book I have just completed on Nick Cave, with a preface written on the Trans-Mongolian train, somewhere in Siberia …
Over 2010 I wanted to engage in some other material that has interested me for a while – the Fleshly Readings book, which has managed to piss off a goodly number of people, and the one on Nick Cave. The latter is called Cave Droppings, looking at things like his engagement with the Bible, the novels and total depravity, death, apocalypse, love, Jesus and a big chapter on the philosophy of music and musical form, via Ernst Bloch and Theodor Adorno. The best bits were listening again and again to all of the music (back to 1977 and the Boys Next Door), engaging deeply with Bloch and Adorno on music, and reading through some 300 or more interviews, unpicking the narratives he spins about himself. And that’s where you find some pretty good turns of phrase, like:
I’ve got to stop quoting from the Bible because it’s irritating.
A chilly thing. The Bible. Sometimes.
All they wanted was the usual holiday snap of hell.
To eat at the same ball of vomit year after year.
When the big bomb goes off, all that’s going to survive are goths and cockroaches.
Two abiding passions – crime and theology.
Death looms large because it should.
And the decomposing lover says …
Jesus only loves a man who loses.
When those two things get together, love and violence, it makes for some nasty song-writing.
But he [Blixa Bargeld] was always more concerned with making his guitar sound like a dying horse, more than anything else.
Sometimes it [Cave’s voice] sounds like the moaning of a dying insect
And the TOC:
Chapter One: Searching the Holy Books.
Synopsis: Nick Cave and the Bible.
The Life of Nick.
The ‘Word’ of Cave.
Conclusion, or, Strategies of Containment.
Chapter Two: The Total Depravity of Cave’s Literary World.
That House on the Edge of Town.
A Slug of White Jesus.
Rain in the Valley.
Lamentations of Woe.
The Calling of Eschatological Madness.
Conclusion: The Dialectic of Redemptive Depravity.
Chapter Three: Some Routine Atrocity, or, Apocalyptic.
God’s Anger: The Flood.
Murder, Mayhem and Atrocity.
Glimpses of Redemption.
Chapter Four: Death.
From Form to Content: The Sinister Song.
Conclusion: Death Is Not the End?
Chapter Five: God, Pain and the Love Song.
Secular Soppy Songs: No Pain, No God.
Painlessly Divine: No Pain, With God.
Painfully Secular: With Pain, No God.
Brutally Divine: With Pain, With God.
Chapter Six: Jesus of the Moon, or, Christology.
Volume and Noise.
Sex and Seduction.
Chapter Seven: Hearing Round Corners: Nick Cave Meets Ernst Bloch.
Hearing around corners.
Concerning the Wandering Path of the Note, or, Forms of the Song.
… and Discordancy.
Hymn (and Lament)
Conclusion: The Dialectics of Theo-Utopian Hearing.
Conclusion: Gates to the Garden: The Search for Redemption.