McKowskis obituary and the battle for the intangible
Don’t worry. I’m not actually dead. Even though this weeks article is my obituary, which is written by my good friend Jack Burgess. Jack is an artist in every sense of the word. He writes like a painter. He paints like a jazz guitarist. He makes films like a beat poet. I’ve only known him a short while but right from the second we met it felt like we were old friends. He’s half my age. But only if you count using the human clock. In actual fact he is older and wiser than anybody I know. He is ancient. His spirit has always been here, since the dawn of man, and it will live forever, long after we are all gone. But for now, here he is with my obituary. Over to you Jackson.
McKowski’s obituary and the battle for the intangible
Mark, McKowski, Mark McKowski, Mark McCausland, Author of Notes from the Boneyard, and Creator of Notes from the Boneyard Vol. 1 has passed away, all that remains is his memory. The less-than four weeks in which he was created and then mysteriously disappeared from my life.
McKowski was born, to me, in the passenger seat of his Renault, acting as temporary chaperone to late-arriving members of his film’s cast and crew. Through the car’s stereo I was introduced to Ireland itself, his CD scoring the landscape. His melancholy music set the tone for the unfamiliar place – a dark place with a hostile, moist atmosphere, but I never really felt any discomfort despite the climate.
The same can be said for McKowski’s Music. Notes from the Boneyard Vol. 1 feels intrusively personal, as if by listening I could step inside the haunted aquarium of his mind. His music-box-country crossover sound sees to bridge the fault line between his americana fantasy and the authentic beauty of his small life in Omagh, which became rather large over September. Relatively little of his personal life came up in conversation, but I have a sense of knowledge through what he volunteered within his work, which I feel is all that’s needed of me to know. He strikes me as someone whose spoken words fail him anyway – The album has no lyrics.
We once spoke about intent, and how Intent isn’t all that necessary sometimes. We spoke about DNA, how an honest piece of work will always have the DNA of the place and time and headspace it was made within. As I loom above his life now, like an omnipotent English deity, I see fragments of the world he inhabited within the greater mosaic of his work, dreams of the arid desert, low-budget American TV-dramas, flying saucers.
McKowski’s obsessions with the extra-terrestrial were a symptom of something larger than I think he knew: the dissatisfaction with the reality which plagues us all. The reality which taunts us out of bed each morning, the reality of looking the cashier in the eye when you ask her to apply the discount manually, the reality which gets between your idea for a film and the distortion that gets squirted out the other side. It’s a nasty little thing, reality is. It’s so nasty, in fact, that it’s tempting to deny it altogether.
Fascinations with the intangible are really fascinations with humanity – is a sentence I dribbled out of some Guinness bubble 4 hours into meeting the man. To be obsessed with that untouchable mystery, whether it be the light in the forest, the American dream or even hard drugs, is an exercise in exploring human curiosity. We make these stories for each other, whether they are true or not is an inconvenient detail. So, by the power of my own perverse, illogical logic, McKowski was the best damn storyteller there ever was.
I have an intuition that the kindness he offered to others he did not extend to himself. He missed out. And to the ghost of McKowski himself, I hope with all the conclusions you’re experiencing right now, including this one, you aren’t feeling too dead.
I look forward to your rebirth.