Identity politics - Gilad Atzmon vs Ray Keenoy @ The Albion Beatnik Bookstore


By Tom Fry

On the 4th June 2013, a group gathered at The Albion Beatnik Bookstore, Oxford, to see Gilad Atzmon present a screening of his new film; "Gilad And All That Jazz". It was an opportunity to hear him philosophise upon themes from his recent internationally acclaimed book; "The Wandering Who?" and maybe gain an insight to the man behind the documentary.

I often wonder, so wandered in, full of it. Wonderful. Happy days..

Beatnik books; being a cool and hip kinda place, was warm, cosy and inviting. Hand-painted bench-tables and instruments of the arts scattered the bifurcated feng shui. A faint sniff of sandal-wax hung like cinnamon in the heavy summer air as dusky acquaintances were made and inadequacies pardoned, this was Oxford, I'm no academic, just a regular schmo with a camera and a smile, and a low slung hat with a plastic feather. I slid into a spot at the front near the niche, possibly a nook, and parked my arse in a steam pressed high back to recover my breath. I'm a low altitude kinda guy.

Dennis Harrison was a marvellous host for the evening. He provided tea that was, as Ray so delightfully put it, "unique in having both laxative and aphrodisiac properties." Which meant unthinkingly that I, sat behind the camera, needed the loo like crazy for over an hour while loving every minute but I digress, and yes, the Albion Beatnik introduced the evenings events charmingly.

Gilad, once introduced, seemed willing to rush straight to the screening so that we could all get out of there to go to the jazz that was to be playing just up the road later on, so he undertook to precis the book and propose a discourse in one paragraph.

Next on the rostrum, there was to be a short prebuttal** by Ray Keenoy, then a Q&A before Gilad was to expound, but..

With a sheaf of notes flapping it was only halfway through Ray's monumental thirty-three-and-a-half-minute monologue that things started getting interesting. Twas a cross legged tea torture that one might describe as; part educational, part critique, part epic, part genetic analysis and mostly discussing a different set of interests entirely.

Sixteen minutes in, Gilad had had enough of his name being misattributed to points of unfact, a whole sweep of projected supposition, parallel arguments and antagonistic analogy, so he piped up and said so.

The results are amusing. Oh, and thought provoking, naturally.

To see the entire debate follow the link.