The Criminal Alphabet by Noel Smith is published by Penguin.
When the first British series of Big Brother aired in the early 2000s, the commentariat fell over each other’s Hush Puppies to condemn this storming of the cultural gatekeepers by Essex girls and Scouser boys intent on fame at any cost. As the Observer’s TV critic at the time, I was among these Cassandras, all of us reaching into our grab-bag of quotations to pull out the same, shopworn one by Warhol: “In the future everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” We decried the way Peter Bazalgette, the boss of Endemol, the production company that had developed the format, was severing notoriety from renown once and for all so that the talentless could take their place on the winners’ podium. Those of us who had wasted our youth on cultural theory went further, calling our readers’ attention to Guy Debord’s characterisation of “spectacular fame” in his collection of Marxist-Zen koans The Society of the Spectacle.
Will Self is the patron of the Architecture Foundation’s Doughnut festival at the University of Greenwich on 5 September, “A day long exploration of London’s rapidly transforming periphery” with Hanif Kureishi.
Read why at the New Statesman here.
Amy Fellows, a final-year student in Illustration at Norwich NUA, was inspired by Will Self’s short story iAnna – which was written to mark the 10-year anniversary of 9/11 – to create a set of Russian Dolls looking at “themes of madness, technology and internal incarceration”. Here, she gives a brief description of what the piece is about: