Award Machine Reading Group

This event took place at Sian Pattenden and Pandora Vaughan’s pop up space called Grrrr! on the afternoon of 17 June 2017. The below information was issued to participants in advance.

For Award Machine, we invite you to a reading group which considers a short text. Although a compact 145 words, we consider that Acceptance Speech for Best Album of the Year, AM by the Arctic Monkeys, Mastercard Brit Awards 2014 by Alex Turner is one of the key theoretical works of the millennium.

As the text we will be reading (below) was originally conceived as a performance, the event will begin with a series of readings. Participants to the group are invited to stand up and read the text aloud – as Award-Karaoke, or as at an AA meeting. By allowing readers to inhabit Turner’s words, to imagine standing in his postion, and to feel what Turner felt, our words will act as ritual incantations, perhaps invoking the spirits older than time itself which Turner alludes to. We hope this practice will grant us a privileged understanding of the forces which Turner documents.

We will then move onto a close reading of Turner’s text, informed by a supplementary reading list (listed below) dealing with some of the major themes therein. Participants are asked to read at least one of the supplementary texts linked to below, and to come prepared to discuss themes raised by Turner’s work.

We welcome suggestions of further reading which you feel may be relevant.

The event features a performance by the Gospel Oak Community Choir, who will perform the Arctic Monkeys smash hit I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor along with a choral version of Acceptance Speech for Best Album of the Year, AM by the Arctic Monkeys, Mastercard Brit Awards 2014, arranged by choirmaster George Thomson. The event also includes a new sound installation by Siân Superman.

The Text

Turner, Alex: Acceptance Speech for Best Album of the Year, AM by the Arctic Monkeys, Mastercard Brit Awards 2014

Thank you. Thank you, 1-2. 1-2.

There we go.

Ah. That rock’n’roll, eh? That rock’n’roll, it just won’t go away. It’ll, erm, it might hibernate from time to time, and sink back into the swamp.

I think the, er, cyclical nature of the universe in which it exists, demands it adheres to some of its rules, but it is always waiting there just around the corner, ready to make its way back through the sludge, and smash through the glass ceiling, looking better than ever.

Yeah, that rock’n’roll, it seems like it’s fading away sometimes, but it will never die. And there is nothing you can do about it.

Thank you very fu- much for this. I do truly appreciate it. Don’t take that the wrong way.

And, er, yeah. Invoice me for the microphone if you need to.

(drops mic)

Some questions for the group to consider:

  • By invoking the swamp, is Turner referring to the bayou of the Deep South? Or something more primordial? Is he saying that rock’n’roll predates time itself? Is rock’n’roll somehow connected to Lovecraft’s Great Old Ones?
  • Turner emphasises that rock’n’roll adheres to only some of the rules of the cyclical nature of the universe. Which rules does rock’n’roll respect and which does it ignore?
  • Does configuring rock’n’roll as the force that ultimately smashes through the glass ceiling represent a victory for feminism, or something more sinister? Where does Turner’s position fit with contemporary intersectional critiques of the glass ceiling model of white feminism?
  • Is Turner actually accepting the award or is he not accepting the award?
  • Is the award real – to Alex Turner, the band, and us? And if it isn’t real, what is it? What purpose does it serve? Does the award’s meaning change between “offer” and “acceptance”?
  • Is it true that there is nothing we can do about it?

Supplementary reading

On the cyclical nature of the universe:

  1. Vladimir Nabokov, Ada or Ardor: A family chronicle, Chapter 4 (Van’s lecture, “The Texture of Time”) any edition but available online (NB: horrible website design) here:
  2. Gilles Deleuze, Nietzsche and Philosophy, chapter 2, especially pages 44-52 (in link below) on the notion of eternal return:,%20Gilles-Nietzsche%20and%20Philosophy.pdf

On rock’n’roll:

  1. Marcello Carlin, review of Elvis Presley, Rock n Roll:

On the nature of the swamp:

  1. Natasha Ginwala and Vivian Ziherl, Sensing Grounds: Mangroves, Unauthentic Belonging, Extra-Territoriality a-territoriality/

On the glass ceiling:

  1. Sarah Jaffe, Trickle Down Feminsm, Dissent magazine:

Grrrr! Art Space 44 Ashdown Crescent, London NW5 4QE (behind William Hill on Queens Crescent) Bus: 24, 46, C11. Nearest tube: Belsize Park or Chalk Farm. Overground: Kentish Town West