Heroes of Zag

Heroes of Zag

Sir John Hegarty’s book There Are No Rules, the advertising giant’s take on creativity, is a great insight into the workings of a successful creative mind, packed full of inspired analysis and advice.

The chapter that leapt out the most for me was the one titled “Zag” in which Hegarty explains the importance of zagging – moving in a different direction, standing out from the crowd: “When the world zigs, zag” (As seen Hegarty’s own Levi’s ad above).

And how does one zag?

Well you could start by looking in unusual places, drawing inspiration from unorthodox, unexpected sources to bring something fresh to whatever medium you’re working in. Why not dance about architecture, to defy an often misquoted adage? Spread out your feelers and see what there is to appropriate from other art forms or cultures, the worlds of science and nature – Something ELSE, something OTHER. Zag away from the usual, the predictable, the tired, the norm. It’s a great philosophy if you are looking to produce fresh ideas in a world of homogenised stodge (note fresh, not original – what is original these days?).

After reading There are No Rules, I began to think of previous disciples of zag, compiling a list of those who have been an influence on my own work. Below is a short, and by no means exhaustive, sample of my personal Heroes of Zag:

  • David Bowie – a man who lived his whole life under the flag of zag, particularly Ziggy (Zaggy!?) Stardust his otherworldly alter-ego through which he brought mime, performance, fictional backstory and fancy-dress to the world of rock.*
  • Captain Beefheart – a true Zig-Zag Wanderer. A stand out moment being the album Trout Mask Replica where he moved away from desert fried blues to blend avant-garde jazz with wild surrealist poetry.
  • Charles Bradlaugh – unorthodox politics and atheism in Victorian England.
  • The Beats – zagged against what had gone before, experimentation a key recipe.
  • Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band – considered to be the most influential album of the 20th century, and coincidentally a big moment in the history of zag.
  • Frank Gehry’s design for the Guggenheim Museum and Jørn Utzon’s design for the Sydney Opera House (the latter inspired by the segments of a peeled orange).

 

*I feel like I should also mention the song “Seven Years in Tibet” from the album Earthling, where Bowie splices chilled out muzak with industrial grunge as only he could.

An Impotent Library Revealed

An Impotent Library Revealed

 

“Being rich is not about how much money you have or how many homes you own; it’s the freedom to buy any book you want without looking at the price and wondering if you can afford it.”                                                                                                                                                        ― John WatersRole Models

For my first post I feel like I have to get something off my chest…

I admit it. I’m a Bibliotaph… A collector of books. I’m obsessed and I can’t stop. It feels like an illness, a real overwhelming obsession. Am I mad, Doc!?

But, wait a second! Don’t call the doctor – it feels… GREAT!

I love books – books about murder, books about cults, books about jazz or about the occult; books on the décor in dictators’ homes, Weimar-era Berlin, sex in Ancient Rome; books about books, poetry, plays, books for all seasons, a book for each day…

Ok.

Enough with the Dr Seuss spiel.

I love books. Well, collecting books. And over the past four years I have managed to accumulate around 540 of the buggers. My real trouble is… I’ve barely read any of them! Maybe 50ish in total? That’s not great, is it – an impotent library.

Sure, I dip in and out of the non-fiction and poetry books, but I’ve not seriously sat down and consumed as many as I should have. So I’ve made a list – just a short one – of the top 18 books (poetry not included) which I aim to read this year.

I’m a pretty slow reader and I could blame the internet or the fast modern world which we live in for distracting me and keeping me away from all these glorious books, but I won’t.

I henceforth will strive to read, read, read and gorge on this platter of paperbacks which I have included below.

So, there we are. I’ve been publicly shamed. Now I’m off to read a book.

 

  • Show Your Work – Austin Kleon
  • Perversion (Ideas in Psychoanalysis) – Claire Pajaczkowska
  • The Art of Creative Thinking – Rod Jenkins
  • Sex and Rockets: The Occult World of Jack Parsons – John Carter
  • Ways of Seeing – John Berger
  • Misogynies – Joan Smith
  • Marquis de Sade – David Carter
  • The Victorian Underworld – Kellow Chesney
  • Bob Dylan: Watching The River Flow 1966-1995 – Paul Williams
  • Dictator’s Homes – Peter York
  • Meat is Murder – Mikita Brottman
  • Innocent When You Dream: Tom Waits’ Collected Interviews – Mac Montandon
  • The Odyssey – Homer
  • Writing In Restaurants – David Mamet
  • Chronicles Volume One – Bob Dylan
  • The Labyrinth and Other Stories – Luis Borges
  • The Bloody Chamber – Angela Carter
  • David Cronenberg: Interviews – Serge Grunberg