Turn, Turn, Turn – Spinning Away from the Mysticism of the Dervishes

When I was a toddler I used to like spinning around and around for long periods of time. Sometimes I’d fall down, while on other occasions I’d stop still standing up and marvel at the room still spinning around me despite my movements having ceased. When I first tried acid as a teenager it took me right back to these early childhood experiences of spinning. And although those first LSD experiences are a few decades behind me I can still dig whirling around and around.
I was spinning around this morning for the first time in several months and it really grooved me as a trippy experience. There’s nothing mystical or new age about such activity – it is simply playful fun. After spinning this morning I wondered if other adults liked to spin in this way without resorting to mystical justifications. Putting spinning into a search engine I was disappointed to discover the top results were all for the fixed bicycle exercise of that name. With whirling the lead results were for Sufi dervishes. Turning took me even further off-subject to items such as lathes.
For me spinning is just turn, turn, turn – but from there we can go on to overturn, overturn, overturn! Constituting yourself as a bourgeois subject is all about decorum and there is no decorum frolicking around in a spin. Whirling without mystical delusions is fundamental anti-bourgeois! Marx famously described religion as ‘the opium of the people’ and the ‘heart of a heartless world’, and so Marx would have understood the necessity of stripping the mysticism out of spinning and instead linking it to the states of radical subjectivity that accompany revolutionary activity. Disalienation entails reforging all our connections to our species being – and living up to our status as homo ludens! Turn, turn, turn to overturn, overturn, overturn!
And while you’re at it don’t forget to check – www.stewarthomesociety.org – you know it makes (no) sense!


Comment by Michael Gray on 2012-09-02 22:16:28 +0000

This is a novel spin on political spin and way better than a spin painting too!

Comment by David Cross on 2012-09-02 23:39:51 +0000

You left my head spinning.

Comment by Lucy Johnson on 2012-09-03 04:12:15 +0000

I used to love rolling down hills. I think if I did it now I’d feel sick! Anyway, up the revolution!

Comment by Guy N. Smith on 2012-09-03 12:46:50 +0000

In girum imus nocte et consumimur igni

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-03 20:46:14 +0000

@ Guy N. Smith – I generally do my turning in the day rather than the night and I’ve yet to be consumed by fire…. but each to their own!
@ Lucy Johnson – I used to love rolling down hills as a kid. Maybe I should try it again!

Comment by Christopher Nosnibor on 2012-09-03 21:56:16 +0000

Always thought you were something of a spin doctor for the Stewart Home society…. I’m just relieved this blog didn’t contain any Bob Dylan.

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-03 23:07:45 +0000

He is in the blog by implication if you have vinyl and spin your discs – see Revolutions Per Minute/RPM…
Revolution: the first uses of the word occur in medieval Arab texts on astrology and astronomy…
Spinning naked by day in the open air could be a new psycho-geographic strategy – a contestation of social space according to the Heresy of the Free Spirit. Whatever its political shortcomings (nudism as the revolt of the petty-minded etc), at least spinning naked gets us away from the sad eccentric cul-de-sac of psycho-geography as little better than a post-prandial literary walk…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-03 23:54:11 +0000

By coincidence – or not – I was drafting a future blog post for here earlier today entitled “Walk Backwards and Fall Down – Against the Gentrification of Psychogeography” which kinda for me was a logical follow on from this post because psychogeography as middle-class wankers sedately walking in urban and suburban locations rather than the countryside but then wanking on endlessly about it in print is so forking boring something needs to be done to stop their shirt being published…..
@ Chhristopher Nosibor – as you spotted I had “Turn! Turn! Turn! (to Everything There Is a Season)” in mind when I came up with the title… “Turn! Turn! Turn!” as you clearly know is a song adapted entirely from the Book of Ecclesiastes in the Bible (with the exception of the last line) and put to music by Pete Seeger in 1959. The song became an international hit in late 1965 when it was covered by The Byrds (who also covered a lot of Dylan tunes). And I was also thinking of Abiezer Coppe riffing on the same source material in his “A Fiery Flying Roll” with it’s “Overturn, Overturn, Overturn….”

Comment by Jean Baudrillard on 2012-09-04 01:09:34 +0000

Forget radical subjectivity and try radical objectivity – take on the destiny of objects!

Comment by Michael Roth on 2012-09-04 04:11:05 +0000

While I don’t do much spinning nowadays, I make up for it with lots somersaulting . Keeps me close to the ground and moving ahead!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-04 10:25:11 +0000

You are invoking the spirit of the Elizabethan actor and dancer Will Kempe. Did he not somersault all the way from NorwIch to London?… And let us not forget our own Dervishes – the Moorish Men, ‘counterfeit gypsies’ and motley crews who roamed these lands while the Tudorbethan ruling-class were enforcing their great enclosures with branding, flogging and hanging. The next time you snort at a group of Morris Men, remember what their forbears did – that’s what I call a contestation of social space…

Comment by Erasmus Grasser on 2012-09-04 15:02:23 +0000

What about wassailing in defence of drunkenness? In the cider-producing West of England (primarily the counties of Devon, Somerset, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Herefordshire) wassailing also refers to drinking (and singing) the health of trees in the hopes that they might better thrive.
An old rhyme goes: “Wassaile the trees, that they may beare / You many a Plum and many a Peare: / For more or lesse fruits they will bring, / As you do give them Wassailing.”
The purpose of wassailing is to awake the cider apple trees and to scare away evil spirits to ensure a good harvest of fruit in the Autumn. The ceremonies of each wassail vary from village to village but they generally all have the same core elements. A wassail King and Queen lead the song and/or a processional tune to be played/sung from one orchard to the next, the wassail Queen will then be lifted up into the boughs of the tree where she will place toast soaked in Wassail from the Clayen Cup as a gift to the tree spirits (and to show the fruits created the previous year). Then an incantation is usually recited such as
“Here’s to thee, old apple tree, That blooms well, bears well. Hats full, caps full, Three bushel bags full, An’ all under one tree. Hurrah! Hurrah!”
Then the assembled crowd will sing and shout and bang drums and pots & pans and generally make a terrible racket until the gunsmen give a great final volley through the branches to make sure the work is done and then off to the next orchard. Perhaps unbeknown to the general public, this ancient English tradition is still very much thriving today. The West Country is the most famous and largest cider producing region of the country and some of the most important wassails are held annually in Carhampton (Somerset) and Whimple (Devon), both on 17 January (old Twelfth Night).
Private readings about people in Somerset in the 1800s revealed that inhabitants of Somerset practised the old Wassailing Ceremony, singing the following lyrics after drinking the cider until they were “merry and gay:”
“Apple tree, apple tree, we all come to wassail thee, Bear this year and next year to bloom and to blow, Hat fulls, cap fulls, three cornered sack fills, Hip, Hip, Hip, hurrah, Holler biys, holler hurrah.”

Comment by Sydney Gale on 2012-09-04 18:56:58 +0000

Spinning on a stationary bike is great – you should try it!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-04 21:02:03 +0000

Grasser, you are onto something… Surrounded as he was by deadwood in the British Museum, Marx liked a good old wassail. Ditto Guy Debord who did more drinking than thinking – he had to wassail with so many of his Situationists colleagues being such planks…

Comment by Cathy Jordan on 2012-09-04 21:03:38 +0000

Actually Dervish play traditional Irish music! In fact Dervish were responsible for the original demo and arrangements for Irelands last Eurovision winner “The Voice” sang by Eimear Quinn and written by Brendan Graham. Due to touring commitments the band could not represent Ireland at that time.

Comment by Albert Hofmann on 2012-09-04 23:43:47 +0000

LSD is a trip and so is whirling!

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-04 23:54:04 +0000

Cathy Jordan – ‘Fine girl y’are!’. You’ve reminded me that, amongst all the lumber. I have a tape cassette of Dervish’s PLAYING WITH FIRE from 1995.

Comment by Michael Roth on 2012-09-05 05:14:08 +0000

I am determined to be the Canadian William Kempe and somersault my way from Vancouver to Whistler. While Kempe reportedly morris danced on his trip, I’m choosing to somersault as it lends itself better to being both psychogeographic and gymnastic!

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-05 09:33:04 +0000

And I thought Whistler was a rather boring painter – didn’t know it was a place in Canada…. Although James McNeill Whistler’s dispute with Ruskin was amusing! As every school girl know, in July 1877 Ruskin published a scathing attack on paintings Whistler had exhibited at the Grosvenor Gallery. He found particular fault with Nocturne in Black and Gold: The Falling Rocket, and accused Whistler of “ask[ing] two hundred guineas for flinging a pot of paint in the public’s face”. Whistler filed a libel suit against Ruskin. Whistler won the case, which went to trial in Ruskin’s absence in 1878 (he was ill), but the jury awarded damages of only one farthing to the artist. Court costs were split between both parties. Ruskin’s were paid by public subscription, but Whistler was bankrupted within six months. The episode did tarnish Ruskin’s reputation.

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-05 10:55:35 +0000

Michael Roth – will you do your trip naked? The Greek root of the word ‘gymnastic’ means: stripping off for a bit of action… If you don’t go forth naked, then in honour of Herman Melville you could wear a Whistler Jacket.

Comment by The Man in the Iron Mask on 2012-09-05 20:22:28 +0000

Mea culpa – the sin of spiritual pride – too clever by half… I have been hoist by my own punning petard – what a fart! In attempting to play on Whistler the place and Whistler the painter, I invoked Melville stupidly thinking that he wrote WHISTLE JACKET when of course it was WHITE JACKET. WHISTLEJACKET is a painting of a horse by Stubbs and today I am a neddy enjoying beating himself up over wrong references – in fact later tonight I will beat my meat over images of Anne of Cleves the Flanders Mare…

Comment by mistertrippy on 2012-09-06 01:29:52 +0000

If you’d kept mum I’m sure no one would have noticed before I closed the comments on this blog – and once I’d done that no one would have been able to point out the error (here anyway)…..

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