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BOOK REVIEW: "2023: A Trilogy" by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

Dead Perch Books / Faber & Faber
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BOOK REVIEW: 2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (Dead Perch Books / Faber & Faber) 2017

Ever since reading John Higgs’ mindbending book The KLF: Chaos, Magic and the Band Who Burned a Million Pounds, I have been utterly entranced by the work of British musicians/pranksters/chaos magicians Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty.

After all, who has the balls to go to an obscure Scottish isle and burn 1 million pounds? Who destroys their back catalogue of music (as The KLF, the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu, etc.?) and is it for the sake of art? What is achieved? What is the statement? Will anybody even care?

And why did Drummond and Cauty – as the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu (or “The JAMs”) – wait 23 years after burning said money to return to the public eye, this time in the form of an utterly bizzare, challenging and discordian book called 2023?

Because they can. It’s in their blood to raise questions while bleeding sacred cows to death. Making them into Big Macs for vegetarian Buddhists.

I did manage to read 2023 from cover-to-cover, all 376 pages of it. I was confused by much of it, as much as I wanted to understand it, if that is even possible. But maybe that’s the point? The question is – interestingly enough – being asked of director David Lynch and his decision to reboot Twin Peaks, a show that is baffling in its dense mystery and puzzling peculiarities. Plus portals, time shifts, bottled screams, ZZ Top, tree stumps. steampunk tea kettles ... who knew that was in the stew, my grandma used to say ... 

So, jumping right in, we find that in the year 2023 (only six years in the future, my friends) that much has been achieved: the world is at peace, there is food and housing for pretty much everyone and our benevolent overlords, in the form of familiar, faceless corporations (“Facelife,” anyone? “Googlebyte”?), there is a desire to be free of the bonds of peace and serenity.

Or, maybe it is 1984, when the writer Roberta Antonia Wilson (she wrote Fish Farm, ya know), a year that has had many lives before and after it appeared on the calendar, is actually a “George Orwell,” while Beatlebuster Yoko Ono the Older (there is a Yoko Ono the Younger) “cannot sleep.” Why? She regrets throwing a “yellow book with the grapefruit on the cover over the railings of her balcony. Maybe there was a fan letter in the book. Maybe it would have been a good book. Maybe it would have inspired here. So little inspires her these days.

Only the 23 chosen ones get Grapefruit Are Not the Only Bombs. It is the Bible of our story. A new era, a “new messiah” will be born in a London prison ... as Echo & His Bunnymen told us all those years ago, back when Roberta was writing in her journal on the magical Scottish isle of Jura. A safe place to ride out a nuclear holocaust, said Mr. Blair.

Yoko Ono? Brian Eno? Oh no! And we know Ono believes “PEACE IS POWER” but that is not proclaimed in 2023, since peace has already been achieved, but many people have utterly no power and McDonald’s no longer offers the mantra: “Big Mac with Fries” the way it used to, inspiring Tibetan monks high in the Himalayas – like the nomadic and driven fast-food fan Chodak.

PEACE IS POWER? (Andrew W. Griffin / Red Dirt Report)

Winnie Smith (or is it Winston Smith’s sis?) knows nothing of Divine, a Congolese woman whose destiny is yet unclear, but does require her to leave her squalid village on a stolen boat on to a better life. She is one of the The Three Shepherdesses. Fate, was up against their will, ya know?


Ultimately, 2023 is about women. They are the heroines. And it's about the decline and fall of “The Age of Men” and how women (Angela Merkel, “M’Lady GaGa” “Tracey Tracey” (not “Tracy Tracy” of The Primitives, sadly), Michelle O'Bama ... will finally take their proper role in running the world, after millennia of men fucking things up. 


"It's a girl. A baby girl. A beautiful baby girl. Winnie, you have a wonderful healthy baby girl. Do you want to hold Her?

The New Age arrives . . . but you knew that already.

But will Drummond and Cauty - "The Undertakers to the Underworld" - along with Utah Saints and Tammy Wynette - begin working on the Great Pyramid of the North? A "people's pyramid" and not one for hip-hop illuminists and "The Three Popes"?

2023 is an utterly batty-and-brilliant book, which will be shown to be waaaaay ahead of its time by the time 2023 actually appears on our wall calendars. By then “world peace” will be more than a wishful bumper sticker slogan, laughed at by Alex and His Droogs, “Saul Goodman,” Dudley Dursley, “John Lennon the Younger” and Vladimir Putin. Alan Moore is no longer on drums on this ill-fated tour of Extreme Noise Terror ... 

No, this is a guide, preparing those “with the all-seeing-eyes-that-see” that better (but maybe worse) days are ahead of us as the Internet Age crumbles and leads us into a shining-new-Dark-Age where new beginnings are allowed. After all, look at our good pal Chodak. He runs the McDonald's in Lhasa and gives away free hamburgers to street kids each Christmas, a holiday he doesn't celebrate, per se.

Sure. Most people reading this think that 2023 is utter rubbish. But it's all fucking true. Every last word. They told me so.

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Andrew W. Griffin

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Andrew W. Griffin received his Bachelor of Science in Journalism from...

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Red Dirt Report was launched July 4, 2007 as an independent news website covering all manner of news, culture, entertainment and lifestyle stories that affect and interest Oklahoma readers and readers outside of our state. Our mission is to educate, promote civic engagement and discourse on public policy, government and politics. Our experienced journalists provided balanced in-depth coverage of news stories that affect Oklahomans. Our opinion/editorial stories come from a wide range of political view points. We carry out our mission by reporting, writing, and posting news and information. read more

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