Minutes To Go, years apart

Do please come to an event I am doing with Liliane Lijn and Richard Norris at the October Gallery at 3pm on January 17, alongside their current Burroughs exhibition. Liliane and I have worked together a couple of times (see Art and Science at the Beat Hotel, and Atomanotes) while Richard and I first performed ‘A Porky Prime Cut’ together for the Free University of Glastonbury in the 2011 Glastonbury Festival in a collaboration that was put together by the brilliant Mathew Clayton. It will be great fun to do that again.

Booking info below. Here’s the blurb:

Liliane Lijn met William S. Burroughs at the now legendary Beat Hotel when they were each exhibiting in Paris in the early 1960s, while author Tony White encountered Burroughs’ work as a teenage art student in the early 1980s. These encounters are still being traced and articulated in each of their works. From collaboration to ‘control’, conversation will range from Lijn’s first meeting with Burroughs that led to her kinetic sculpture Way Out Is Way In Poemdrum (2009) — which is being exhibited for the first time in London at the October Gallery as part of William S. Burroughs: Can You All Hear Me? — to White’s use of the Burroughsian satirical routine in his rare, cult police novel CHARLIEUNCLENORFOLKTANGO (1999).

Readings will include an excerpt from Lijn’s epic feminist prose poem Crossing Map and ‘Electron Notes’ her cut-up statement written in 1964 and published in Signals that year, and ‘A Porky Prime Cut’, White’s tracing of impacts of the first UK TV broadcast in 1983 of Howard Brookner’s seminal documentary Burroughs: The Movie, in his story about Throbbing Gristle fans, Bournemouth soul boys and the birth of acid house. ‘A Porky Prime Cut’ will be performed with a live musical accompaniment by UK acid house pioneer and former Psychic TV collaborator Richard Norris.

Liliane Lijn, Way Out Is Way In, 2009. Painted steel solvent drums, 3 phase motor, inverter & programmed speed & direction control chip, halogen lighting 300 x 60cm. Photo © the artist.

Liliane Lijn, Way Out Is Way In, 2009. Painted steel solvent drums, 3 phase motor, inverter & programmed speed & direction control chip, halogen lighting 300 x 60cm. Photo © the artist.


October Gallery, London: Saturday 17 January 2015, 3pm.
Admission £7 Concessions £5, Book tickets here.

Read more about Minutes To Go, Years Apart — readings and conversation with Liliane Lijn and Tony White, on the Art Update website.

‘Torture is torture is torture…’ — after Gertrude Stein

Any pals who have read my novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South (Science Museum, 2013), will recall that one chapter détourns the former US Deputy Assistant Attourney General John C. Yoo’s now infamous so-called ‘Torture Memo’, 80-odd pages of dense and legalistic justification for the torture programme that underpinned former US President George W. Bush’s so-called ‘war on terror’, the details of which have now been laid bare by publication of the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence or US SSCI’s Committee Study on the Central Intelligence Agency’s Detention and Interrogation Programme.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 20.17.10‘The Beatification of John C. Yoo’ was first published in 2012 as a standalone short ahead of the Science Museum’s publication of the novel, when I was ‘resident thinker’ for Alex Hartley and Situations’ Nowhere Island project. The story is derived for satirical purposes from then US Assistant Deputy Attorney General John C. Yoo’s memo from the Office of Legal Counsel in the US Justice Department to the US Department of Defense of 14 March 2003. My text was produced by redacting around 99 per cent of Yoo’s original to create a new series of simple anti-torture statements in strict order of the appearance of their constituent parts in his original text and without any rewriting or insertions (this extends to capitalisations, italics, spacing and punctuation, which are all Yoo’s own) in repudiation of his chilling argument to the contrary.

This literary and satirical manoeuvre allows Yoo himself to be cast — fictionally at least — as a ‘celebrated 21st-century humanitarian and anti-torture campaigner’ and his vile text to become ‘a simple plea for humane conduct and the abolition of torture, which clearly displays Yoo’s almost childlike and now near-legendary lack of sophistry.’

‘The Beatification of John C. Yoo’ also yielded this riff, after Gertrude Stein.

Screen Shot 2014-12-10 at 19.40.15



P.S. The aptness of this formulation after Stein is perhaps underlined by BBC News coverage of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence’s report, in which there seems to have been a reluctance to use the word torture without qualification. Instead they say ‘CIA “torture”…’ (in inverted commas, in the headline of this article), or ‘tantamount to torture’ (in the introduction to the 10 O’Clock News, 9 December 2014 — no link).

In another article published yesterday by BBC News, the official, euphemistic terminology of the time is used: ‘enhanced interrogation techniques’. In the same article — scroll down for a section entitled ‘Do the techniques constitute torture?’ — BBC News repeat the very distinctions made by John Yoo in his now widely reviled 2003 memo.

TW December 11 2014


Read ‘The Beatification of John C. Yoo’ on the Nowhere Island website.

Download my novel Shackleton’s Man Goes South from the Science Museum website in ebook formats compatible with most devices.

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The Holborn Cenotaph

My new short story ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’, published in a limited print edition by Piece of Paper Press, was written for and first performed as a live reading at ‘The Cenotaph Project & the public sphere’, an event that I did with Maya Balcioglu, Stuart Brisley, and Sanja Perovic (chaired by Johanna Malt) that took place in the King’s College Strand Campus chapel in London, on 24 October 2014.

-1Presented in the Swiftian tradition of a ‘modest proposal’, ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ frames a satirical proposition: that the current high-rise tower of Holborn Police Station be decommissioned and converted into ‘a new Holborn Cenotaph, a 50-metre high, networked memorial to those men and women who have lost their lives or who will die in contact with the police in the UK.’

‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ draws on conversations with Stuart Brisley et al that I have been conducting through 2013-14, through my residency and current Visiting Research Fellowship at King’s College London, in order to research a new work of prose fiction exploring aspects of Brisley’s work. ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ is one of two* stories that were intended as prototypes or test pieces for this larger project, after a method adopted by French poet Louis Aragon in the early stages of writing his novel about Henri Matisse, where he noted the need for:

a kind of trial approach to my theme, a marginal commentary on [his] method, in order to justify the liberty taken with my subject, my own variations, the sort of detachment I aimed at.

During planning for ‘The Cenotaph Project & the public sphere’ event, I recalled that Stuart Brisley had been a supporter of Piece of Paper Press in the early days of the project during the mid-1990s (donating the early publications that he had collected to the UCL Library’s Little Magazines Collection). We thought it might be apt to use the format for a publication that we could give away on the night. An uncorrected proof edition of ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ with variant text and limited to fifty numbered signed copies was distributed to the audience at the event itself.

-2This edition of ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ is published by Piece of Paper Press in a limited edition of 150 numbered copies. To obtain a free copy while stocks last please send a stamped and self-addressed envelope to:

FAO Patrick ffrench
c/o Department of French
King’s College London
Virginia Woolf Building
22 Kingsway
London WC2B 6NR

‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ was written for October’s event at the King’s College Strand campus chapel, London, but could be read in any public or civic space associated with ceremonial or displays of power. In addition to the updatable sections indicated within the text, the story could also be adapted for performance in any UK location, whether alongside Brisley and Balcioglu’s The Cenotaph Project or not, by substitution of Holborn Police Station and other London or location-specific detail with any UK police station building, town or city; MOPAC (the Mayor’s Office for Policing and Crime) for any local police authority, etc.


Download ‘The Holborn Cenotaph’ press release (opens as PDF).

Piece of Paper Press was created by Tony White in 1994 as a lo-tech, sustainable publishing project used to publish new writings, visual and graphic works by artists and writers. Past contributors have included Michael Moorcock, Tim Etchells, Bruce Gilchrist, Liliane Lijn, Elizabeth Magill, James Pyman, Suzanne Treister, Alison Turnbull, Penny McCarthy and others. Each book is manufactured from a single A4 sheet that is printed on both sides using a photocopier or a domestic printer, and then folded, stapled and trimmed by hand to create the book. The edition is limited to 150 copies, which are usually distributed free by post. This is the 28th title from Piece of Paper Press.

*The other story written as a test piece for the larger project in this way is ‘High-Lands’, which was originally commissioned for radio by London Fieldworks as part of their Remote Performances project, broadcasting live from Outlandia on Resonance 104.4fm during August of this year. Listen to ‘High-Lands’ on my SoundCloud page.

Missorts Volume II reviewed on 3am Magazine

“White is our nimblest political novelist … Foxy-T toughened his linguistic resources further and moved him away from pure fixed literary shapes, again showing a resourcefulness and agility that writers from this political, republican, revolutionary imagination have always embedded. Fellow novelist Toby Litt recognized this when he cited Foxy T as one of his favourite contemporary novels. White’s writing is a deliberate disjunction from tyranny, something tougher and more disruptive than the Icarusian tones of the modern globalised style. What White is engaged in is an occult activism whereby the subconscious imagination merges the political, scientific, natural, educative and mystical through several types of process … Unlike Coleridge White hasn’t shifted from the radical ground to the conservative but finds new juice in the underground rivers of radical art streams and writing that Missorts_vol_ii_cover_lo-rescontinue to roll out like a sacred river, kind of measureless. With Tony White’s fiction there is always an engaging lightness of touch, a deft abilty to wind out stories that carry a freightload of edgy material with a beguiling ease. Missorts II is no exception to this. It steps briskly out and quickly brings the reader the sorts of pleasures that only a writer at ease with his material and form can deliver, a series of voices that can hold the geographic and historical action together without any sense of forced engagement … He’s found a way to negotiate the pitfalls of modern fiction”

Find out more about Missorts Volume II.

Missorts Volume II

ICYM — 9:00am, tweeting a short story a day until Friday

Twitter pals, I’ll be tweeting a link to audio of a short story at 9:00 today, Tuesday 18 November and another at the same time each day until the end of this week. Each recording is a collaboration with a different artist or musician.

Video still © Inga Tillere, 2014

Video still © Inga Tillere, 2014

Tuesday 9:00am, ‘High-Lands’ — art school, shortwave radio and The Stranglers at the Roundhouse in Jubilee year. My short story for radio featuring a live soundscape accompaniment by Johny Brown of the legendary Band of Holy Joy. ‘High-Lands’ is due for publication in August next year, but was first broadcast in the summer as part of Remote Performances by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm.

Wednesday 9:00am, ‘A Fragment from the Lives of the Conquistadors’ — Did Cortés come to LA? A psychedelic parable, Castañeda apocrypha, feat. sound by Steven Hull. My short story which formed the basis of LA artist Hull’s extraordinary Puppet Show at the last Glow Santa Monica, now available on yellow vinyl LP A Puppet Show, with sounds by Gibby Haynes et al.

Thursday 9:00am, ‘A Porky Prime Cut’ — Bournemouth Soul Boys who were so hard core that they were into TG? My short story for SCAN’s Digital Transformations project, this is the studio version of the story as performed with UK Acid House pioneer Richard Norris for the Free University of Glastonbury, at Glastonbury Festival 2011.

Friday 9:00am, ‘Stormbringer’ — My short story for London Fieldworks’ Syzygy project performed in full for the first time in August 2014 with live musical accompaniment from guitarist Peter Lanceley, in a Lochaber living room overlooking the Sound of Arisaig at sunset as part of Remote Performances by London Fieldworks and Resonance 104.4fm. Recently repeated in tribute to the late and legendary bass player Jack Bruce.


ICYM will be tweeted at 9:00 Tuesday to Friday this week.

Follow Tony White on Twitter