What happened in Liverpool is that all of the 400 people present had their own personal myths connected up to Cauty and Drummond’s extensive body of myth. They weren’t there as an audience.
Lucky John Higgs, author of the widely loved history of KLF, was in Liverpool for the KLF event. What did he see? And what did he make of it? We asked.
From what I can make out, there was some music, including Jarvis Cocker performing some KLF, there was a sort-of book release (Illuminates inspired) and a funeral procession of some kind. What happened that I haven’t yet mentioned?
John Higgs: There was quite a lot. A new band was formed, Badger Kull. They were hyped to beyond, performed their one song at a sell-out gig and then disbanded. There were a number of Badger Kull tattoos. Drummond and Cauty embarked on their new career – they are now undertakers. A brick pyramid is being built in Toxteth, Liverpool. A dead perch was released in a canal, in the belief that it would swim up the River Mersey. There was strange chanting performed in McDonalds and Yoko Ono-based brand subversion in Starbucks. There was a public hearing held into the burning of a million pounds 23 years earlier. There was soup. Every page of Drummond & Cauty’s book was assigned an owner, who was tasked with creating art in reaction. There was a recurring level of petty theft and vandalism in the service of a higher calling. Greg Wilson and DJ Food performed DJ sets. Robert Anton Wilson was repeatedly mentioned in mainstream British media. Various things were burnt, including a make-shift wicker man in a Liverpool skate park. An ice cream van with Ukrainian lettering was pulled three miles through the streets of Liverpool by a tribe of people in panda skull make up. The police weren’t happy about this.
This is only a fraction of what went on – every one of the 400 people present will be able to add further events, which may be known only to them.
But in short – something was detonated.
Was it exciting, apocalyptic, disappointing, all of the above? Was it sad or happy or profound? Too sedate or wild in the streets?
JH: It was all of the above. It was a reminder that life is never either/all, it is always both and more. The event was self-evidently extraordinary and I think I will be speaking for all the 400 attendees if I summarize it as just fucking great. Admittedly, at the time of writing, a lot of people are having serious trouble adjusting to normal life again. But the event itself – fucking great.
Those who were part of it were soon experiencing a sort-of wide-eyed magical giddiness. Anyone familiar with the neo-Discordian events that have occurred in Britain over the past five years – such as Festival 23, the Cosmic Trigger play or the Super Weird Happenings – will know this reaction well. But it is still quite a shock to the system.
Quite what people who weren’t there will make of it I dread to think. I appreciate it must look totally bugnuts from the outside. The people of Liverpool were in the most part tolerant, but they were clearly bewildered.
What do the former KLF have to bring to the 21st Century?
JH: It’s a bit like David Lynch’s return to Twin Peaks – a slap in the face for creators who thought of themselves as artists when in truth they are entertainers, too desperate to give the audience what they want instead of what they need. It’s also a reminder that artists don’t need permission to remain true to themselves throughout their lives and that trends and fashion can go whistle.
I mean, have you seen money? It’s all paper-y and hand-sized. It’s practically demanding the flame.
The event also tied together a number of threads that I am still trying to process. The ringleader of the event was the theatre director Daisy Campbell. In her work she is consciously trying to weave together a mythic narrative so complex, so self-referential and so expansive that it will become to all intents and purposes alive. It’s a monster on the slab at the moment and while I can’t say for sure it’s a living thing, I’ve definitely seen it twitch.
What happened in Liverpool is that all of the 400 people present had their own personal myths connected up to Cauty and Drummond’s extensive body of myth. They weren’t there as an audience. They are all part of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu story now. And in return, the JAMMs are part of them. The monster has grown. This is entirely in keeping with the development of the 21st Century as I understand it – the shift from a postmodern world to a metamodern one. I’ll attempt to make this topic clear and comprehensible in my next book, wish me luck.
Was there lots of ecstasy?
JH: I didn’t see a huge amount of drug use. It really didn’t seem necessary.
Why do you think they burned a million pounds?
JH: I’m increasingly of the opinion that the money was asking for it. I mean, have you seen money? It’s all paper-y and hand-sized. It’s practically demanding the flame.
I hear Robert Anton Wilson appeared as a giant beaver from outerspace and handed out Frop. Any truth to the rumors?
JH: It wasn’t a beaver; it was a badger. If you look on social media you’ll see that people got badger tattoos to celebrate. I am not making this up.