play and failure

We’ve presented the performance part of Nag in the context of a sort of Edwardian adventure. As something new and amazing and exciting, although nearly everything in Nag is made of recycled materials and of old yet efficient technology.

There’s a reason for this. We all want to be people who lead exciting lives. Adventure narrative, which is often combative and colonial, is generally used to inspire people and to sell ideas. We’re told to “Discover” things that are well discovered already, to “Take up the challenge” of something laughably easy, to “Seize” things that are actually very mundane.

So we’re creating here our own little adventure for ourselves about sustainability and efficiency and art. It’s a very boys-own adventure. The sort of thing (again) that bored children dream about on hot days. Which is why what we’re doing has to be difficult. Which is why what we’re doing has to be a challenge. To be damn-near impossible. And I think it will be.

Onwards and upwards chaps! Forward, in the name of Art! Forward, into the very teeth of our own imaginations! We’re setting out to discover what we’re capable of.

It’s an expedition through the minds of Andrew Shaw and Marcus McShane with gun and camera!

Exclamation mark!

This is going to be fun, however exhausting it’ll be.


So we’re playing here, and we’re also bound to fail. Play and failure are both good ways to learn things, so we’re committing to playing and we’re also committing to failure.

We’ve set ourselves up as experimenters. As art meets faux-science.

(I know enough scientists not to actually call this science. If I did I’d be in line for a scientific dead-arm)

We’re going to learn, but we’re only going to learn when things go wrong. We’re going to learn from our mistakes.

I sometimes think that people only learn from their mistakes.

If we function perfectly here, without failure, then we learn nothing. But if we fail, then we have to try again, and differently, and so learn from it.

So failure is something that we accept as a normal part of this process. In fact, most of you who are reading this will have failed to read this far. That’s normal too. This really is an exercise in literary exhaustion thinly disguised. Almost all the people who begin to read this are going to fail. Not you though. You’re amazing. Well done. You have a curious soul. So in your honour I’ll get to the point for once. Nag is an experiment in writing and drawing, and in how obsessive personalities get themselves to do such queer things. It’s going to fail, but it might be hilarious as it does so. We should learn something at least along the way, and perhaps there’ll even be a few shreds of good stuff. If you’ve got any suggestions, make them while we’re working and help us out. Otherwise we’ll just be sitting there writing and drawing about how weird it is to write and draw whilst riding a bicycle.

And who knows where that’ll end.

Nag is also a rather self-indulgent exploration of my obsessions and the things that I nag myself about. Writing, bicycles, efficiency, and old stuff.

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