One of the authors of "Nothing Hill" reflects on the text.
1988 - New Postscript to "Nothing Hill": February 2004 - David Wise
The two of us - the twins - who wrote this text with a little help from friends must admit that of all we've written we rarely re-read, because immediately acute embarrassment kicks-in as we cringe at the failings. Whatever qualities were in the writings - literally often quite arbitrarily pushed together – and not withstanding what we felt at the time are immediately pushed aside. It was initially put together by the now defunct box number, BM BLOB about seven years after A Summer With A Thousand Julys. What makes up this mishmash is a much greater emphasis on the critique of art corresponding to the much greater emphasis the free market was placing on culture generally as distilled in the media and the nascent emphasis on celebrity. Essentially, 'Notting Hill' notes the freezing process inherent in the rise and fall of artistic form which we must firmly embed in the "table turning" of the perhaps open-ended characteristics of the commodity as outlined by Marx in Capital 1. Assisted by the reification process inherent in the attributes of the commodity, essentially the pamphlet on Notting Hill notes this deadly process which must keep alive at all costs the archaic paradigms/paralyses of art which no longer has any intrinsic value. All the commodity now can have is the endless promo-ing of increasing emptiness whilst affirming it is an increase in riches beyond our wildest imaginings. Real life can still only be elsewhere.
It is also much more than that with its insights into the spawning of community ideologies and how the proletarianised/marginalized base of a clued-in Notting Hill got turned into the excreta of Community Politics – that spawning ground of so much 'new' social democratic experiments – through which so much of this 'art' was expressed.
Behind all this lay the libertarian community, its oddness and 'madness'; it's flight pattern for the poor and the welcome maladjusted. Behind all this also lay the welcome Afro-Caribbean community and a subsequent, slowly unfolding on-going riot.
In this text there is undoubtedly a lauding of riot – no matter how brutal everyday life insisted otherwise. To be sure, distinctions are made between lousy and laudable riot when in fact, it was far more of a complicated matter. Loren Goldner in America now always querulously raises this matter: when was it OK and when did it go ape shit? When did the real era of fuckhead culture kick in (let's attack and fuck-up everybody) which it ominously and tentatively forecasts. And then on the terrain of All Saints in Notting Hill, how gentrification and increasing fuckheadism danced, tango-like, to a deadly tune.
However, the times in which 'Notting Hill' was written in the late 1980s meant the insights weren't proclaimed loudly enough. It is an in-detail account of a developing process that goes on far too long and is too far ranging despite the need to constantly keep the concept of totality ever present in the mind when it's still necessary to put forth the even more dire need for total revolution. At the time, individuals belonging to the Here And Now collective in Leeds, West Yorkshire said the text should have been reduced and the section related to the mini-stock market crash of 1987 was a distraction. Well, for sure, as there is a certain desperate clutching at straws – and the hoped for breakthrough never occurred ...and one gets older!