Standard Oil Company and Petro-Subjectivity, Performance – Radio Revolten

“Just a note to say I had a listen to ‘Petro-Subjectivity, attracted
by the title, and love it — you really get to the heart of the toxic

and the Neruda poem, oh yes…. in every dimension, really beautiful work…..”  

Gregory Whitehead, radio artist.

Making notes is the key to being a good poet, we were told, as we sat cross legged on the lawn of an Indian music academy in Maharastra, India in 1999. The speaker was a retired accountant, now renowned not only for the music academy he founded, but the many Qawaalis and poems he had penned since. He went on Write down anything that springs to mind; a line, a phrase, you never know what it may blossom into.

Now, years later, in a new century, in which the fall out from past actions by BP in Iran are still surfacing, old lines come to mind. On this reflection, we performed an hour’s live piece for Radio Revolten, composed of my recordings of the sounds of my surroundings in Halle, a town full of astoundingly detailed architecture. I also pulled in a thread begun in my last post, the poem by Neruda, and a book on my shelf, Petrosubjectivity by Brett Bloom, who I’d interviewed many years ago for Resonance104.4FM.  The sounds of Halle were: football hooligans (one wearing an electronic tag on his ankle), the train from Leipzig to Halle, an impressive array of musical instruments decorating our Airbnb: Persian tar, a guitar I prepared, electronic keyboards, an accordion, a ukelele, a berimbau…and voices at Radio Revolten. Here Georg Nicholl translates my Neruda reading spontaneously into German, in an improvised ping pong of thought and suggested images. The sounds of being in Germany then, with thoughts of a reoccurring greed for profit.
What has Neruda’s pen done to stem the growth of hatred, except to identify more clearly the uninhabited gestures of a common enemy.