Neighbourhood of Infinity

Lyrics

(1)

Perverted by Language

Man whose head: (2)

A - Knew about politburo facade behind "Kicker" (3)

C - Who stole cafe's collection box

B - Who applied cut-up technique literally to himself (4)

E - Who wore a red scarf to remind him of his fiancee

G - And visitor esoteric Japanese says analyser. Mr Alastair touched off the tragedy. (5)

Taped voice, barely audible: 'You can tell by the way [...]

H - There's a claque that makes use of Lancastrian patronisation of vice.
Their rep Jim Davidson. (6)
The love of Paris infects the Civil Service.
Lichen on the...N

I used to have this thing about Link Wray (7)
I used to play him every Saturday
God bless Saturday
God bless Saturday

 

We are The Fall

Palace of Swords Reversed (4/4/1984, Munich)

 

The man whose head expanded knew:

a) Who stole cafe collection box

b) Stupid facade behind Jurgen

d) Who wore a red scarf to remind him of his fiancee

e) The love of Paris, infects the civil service lichen on the North



It was the time of the giant moths
In the neighborhood of infinity



I used to have this thing about Link Wray

I used to play him every Saturday
God Bless Saturday
God Bless Saturday

We are the Fall

In the neighborhood of infinity



It was the time of the Giant Moths


It happens... It happens... Instincts lost... It happens...
Lost through purple blossoms... It happens...
The desire will turn rotten


We are the Fall

In the neighbourhood of infinity (8)

 

 

 

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Notes

1. Although balance's comment nearly balances itself out of existence at the end, it is a useful one, on balance:

"neighbourhood of infinity" is a maths term that describes an area close to the limit of a function, given the limit of this function as infinite (the limit of a function could also be definite). As simple (and as difficult) as that. Methinks "Neighbourhood of Infinity" means either nothing less than a) they (or MES) consider themselves to be of nearly infinite greatness, as the whole song appears to me like one big statement of superiority (the man whose head sees through all of them conspirators) or b) if you take MES by his words‚ "'It's [Perverted By Language] a suburban album. You just have to look at some of the titles - "Neighbourhood of Infinity..."' (Renegade, page 147)" about living in a boring and uninspiring neighbourhood, close to the end of civilisation, surrounded by inferior competitors, or c) a mixture of both, or d) something completely different.

^

 

2. A reference to "The Man Whose Head Expanded," as the full title is sung at this point on some live versions.  

^

3. This makes reference to the contemporaneous Fall song "Kicker Conspiracy." A "facade behind" something is an odd choice of words.  

^

4. The cut-up technique involves cutting up and rearranging a text, in order to arrive at a new text by chance. The technique was pioneered by some of the Dadaists, and became closely associated with WIlliam S. Burroughs in the late 1950s. Burroughs was introduced to the technique by the former Surrealist artist and author Brion Gysin (from WIkipedia): 

INTERVIEWER: How did you become interested in the cut-up technique? BURROUGHS: A friend, Brion Gysin, an American poet and painter, who has lived in Europe for thirty years, was, as far as I know, the first to create cut-ups. His cut-up poem, Minutes to Go, was broadcast by the BBC and later published in a pamphlet. I was in Paris in the summer of 1960; this was after the publication there of Naked Lunch. I became interested in the possibilities of this technique, and I began experimenting myself. Of course, when you think of it, The Waste Land was the first great cut-up collage, and Tristan Tzara had done a bit along the same lines. Dos Passos used the same idea in 'The Camera Eye' sequences in USA. I felt I had been working toward the same goal; thus it was a major revelation to me when I actually saw it being done.

The cut-up technique seems particularly suited to MES's approach to writing lyrics; he likes to rearrange words and phrases, and to unmoor them from their original context. One senses in Smith a strong faith in the power of language as a fount of insight; rather than simply seeing language as a medium for expressing meaning, MES often seems to regard it as a rich source of meaning. 

Here is a link to an online "cut-up machine" where readers can try the technique themselves. The following text is this note run through the machine:

to regard it as a rich source of meaning. Here is a link to an online "cut-up machine" where readers can try the technique themselves. The following text is this note run through the machine: likes to rearrange words and phrases, and to unmoor them from their original context. One senses in Smith a strong faith in the power of language as a fount of insight; rather than simply seeing language as a medium for expressing meaning, MES often seems idea in 'The Camera Eye' sequences in USA. I felt I had been working toward the same goal; thus it was a major revelation to me when I actually saw it being done. The cut-up technique seems particularly suited to MES's approach to writing lyrics; he became interested in the possibilities of this technique, and I began experimenting myself. Of course, when you think of it, The Waste Land was the first great cut-up collage, and Tristan Tzara had done a bit along the same lines. Dos Passos used the same far as I know, the first to create cut-ups. His cut-up poem, Minutes to Go, was broadcast by the BBC and later published in a pamphlet. I was in Paris in the summer of 1960; this was after the publication there of Naked Lunch. I introduced to the technique by the former Surrealist artist and author Brion Gysin (from WIkipedia): INTERVIEWER: How did you become interested in the cut-up technique? BURROUGHS: A friend, Brion Gysin, an American poet and painter, who has lived in Europe for thirty years, was, as 3. The cut-up technique involves cutting up and rearranging a text, in order to arrive at a new text by chance. The technique was pioneered by some of the Dadaists, and became closely associated with WIlliam S. Burroughs in the late 1950s. Burroughs was 

^

5. Maybe this refers to Alistair Cooke, who hosted the BBC's Masterpiece Theatre from 1971 to 1992. Like Mark Smith, Cooke was from Salford. 

^

6. This probably refers to the controversial British comedian of that name, although he is from London rather than Lancaster.  

^

7. Link Wray (1929-2005) was a rock and roll guitar player who was perhaps best known for his instrumentals, particularly 1958's "Rumble," often credited as the first hit song to employ power chords (a "chord" that consists only of the root and the fifth, and thus arguably not a true chord), a technique developed by blues guitar players. "Rumble" has been enormously influential, and the power chord became a staple of rock guitar. "Neighborhood of Infinity" sounds a bit like "Rumble" in the way its simple riff carries the song, although it is played faster than Wray's song was. "Rumble" is slow and menacing and very simple; it was actually banned from the airwaves in several markets, for a time, which is unusual for an instrumental number (in fact, this may be the only case). This was because the title refers to a gang fight, a phenomenon the menacing music seems to be evoking, if not endorsing. Smith and Wray met at least once, as documented here.  

^

8. The title line is probably taken from "Gunslinger" by Ed Dorn. From Book I:

and as the disputational 44
occurred in his hand and spun there
in that warp of relativity one sees
in the backward turning spokes
of a buckboard, then came suddenly
to rest, the barrel utterly justified
with a line pointing
to the neighborhood of infinity.
The room froze harder.

Thanks to Rich B from the Fall online forum.

Dan points out that the phrase also means something in math. What it means is probably expressed in the following statement:

"The exterior of any (arbitrarily large) circle centered at the origin is called a neighborhood of infinity if is a set in the extended plane (containing ∞) and a deleted neighborhood of infinity if is regarded as a set in the finite plane (not containing ∞)" (Complex Analysis with Applications by RIchard A. Silverman).

^

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Comments (32)

dannyno
  • 1. dannyno | 04/04/2013

re: reference to "Masterpiece Theatre". Not likely, as this was an American TV series, or way of packaging BBC dramas for the US market. It was never on UK TV.

Martin
  • 2. Martin | 11/03/2014

You've got the first word of the title spelt in the American way. Nothing wrong with this, of course, except that MES and his record companies have it according to British English spelling convention: "neigbhourhood".

Martin
  • 3. Martin | 16/03/2014

Or even "neighbourhood"!

bzfgt
  • 4. bzfgt | 17/03/2014

Shit, I never remember that British stuff. Like "judgement," I hate that one.

Joseph Mullaney
  • 5. Joseph Mullaney | 13/06/2014

Re note 5: `Lancastrian' can mean anything relating to the county of Lancashire, which Manchester belonged to historically. Doesn't really help us interpret the line though...

Mark
  • 6. Mark | 28/06/2014

I think there was a magazine ad for PBL that had a phrase along the lines of "... that Smith applied cut-up technique literally to himself".

Mark
  • 7. Mark | 28/06/2014

Re: previous comment - it's in the inner sleeve of PBL amongst the typed lyrics to "Neighbourhood": "that Smith applied cut-up technique literally to himself".

bzfgt
  • 8. bzfgt | 15/07/2014

Mark, I'm in a different town than my CD. In case you see this before my CD collection and my annotation time againcoincide, can you give me a little more context--does the phrase randomly appear? Is it a picture or quote of a magazine ad?

Martin
  • 9. Martin | 13/10/2014

This is an interesting one, because original gig outings for the song have lyrics which substantially differ from those on officially released albums. Its debut was on 14 May July 1983 at Tiffany's, Derby. I'm not very good at deciphering Mark E Smith's vocals, so this is the best I can do:

(?) to the world then aspired to the height, aspired to the height
I used to have this thing about Link Wray
I used to play him every Saturday
God bless English Saturday
God bless English Saturday
I was in south Germany
So bored I had to read the passport
...We are The Fall and Steve has forgot his (kinky?) pitch..."

Subsequent live versions retain the bit about Germany ("being stranded" is a slightly alternative lyric sung). Link Wray and the giant moths are present from the start. I'll be listening to all the live versions of the song I have in the next week or so and will report back if more information comes to light.

Now, the reference to Germany could of course be Mark E Smith thinking back on the mini-tour of Austria and Gemany in June 1983. The Fall Online gigography says: Austria / Germany : ca. 5 - 15 June, 1983. We have information for a gig in Vienna on 5 June but then nothing until Hamburg five days later. The only other German dates mentioned are ones in Hamburg and Münster. Nothing in the south of the country at all. It would seem unlikely (though not impossible) that the group flew to Vienna, back again to England and then back out to Germany again. But staying in hotels in Austria and/or Germany for five days would also seem a waste of financial resources, so one guess would be that the group played a couple of dates in the south of Germany of which we are unaware.

Sorry, I realise that speculation about gig dates is not the prime idea behind this website, but it's the sort of thing which keeps me awake at night!

Martin
  • 10. Martin | 14/10/2014

Date in commentary above should read July 14.

Joseph Mullaney
  • 11. Joseph Mullaney | 23/11/2014

It sounds like `infests the Civil Service' rather than `infects'.

bzfgt
  • 12. bzfgt | 01/01/2015

I think you're right but I'm not 100% sure about it. Thhe blue book has "infects..."

bzfgt
  • 13. bzfgt | 01/01/2015

And it's definitely "infects" on Palace of Swords Reversed...

dannyno
  • 14. dannyno | 19/07/2015

In mathematics, "neighbourhood of infinity" appears to have something to do with the exterior of a large circle.

bzfgt
  • 15. bzfgt | 24/07/2015

I don't understand the definition I added to note 8, not knowing much about math (lamentably), but it doesn't seem to have anything to do with the size of the circle (I take "arbitrarily large" to mean "of arbitrary size," and after all a larger circle would be no closer to infinite than a smaller one). I don't know why it's in note 8 rather than the beginning, maybe the Palace of Swords section just looked bare. I started to move it all up to the top and switch the numbers around etc.but I hit the wrong combination of buttons trying to italicize or something, and lost the whole page, so I had to say fuck it and leave it in note 8...

bzfgt
  • 16. bzfgt | 24/07/2015

Odd, I kept saying "note 8" but it was note 6. But then I noticed that there were two note sixes....so seven it is.

I suppose you don't need to know every twist and turn of my annotating efforts tonight, but it's 5 am and I am loopy...

dannyno
  • 17. dannyno | 24/07/2015

There's probably room in the world for a "annotatedannotatedfall" site.

bzfgt
  • 18. bzfgt | 08/08/2015

An appropriate song for that observation!

balance
  • 19. balance | 09/05/2017

‚neighbourhood of infinity’ is a maths term that describes an area close to the limit of a function, given the limit of this function as infinite (the limit of a function could also be definite).
as simple (and as difficult) as that.

me thinks, the fall in ‚neighbourhood of infinity’ means either nothing less than
a) they (or MES) consider themselves to be of nearly infinitve greatness, as the whole song appears to me like one big statement of superiority (the man whos head sees through all of them conspirators) or
b) if you take MES by his words (see reformationposttpm) ‚It’s (PBL) a suburban album. You just have to look at some of the titles - Neighbourhood of Infinity...", about living in a boring and uninspiring neighbourhood, close to the end of civilisation, surrounded by inferior competitors, or
c) a mixture of both, or
d) something completely different

bzfgt
  • 20. bzfgt (link) | 13/05/2017

balance, the regulars here know I edit the fuck out of their comments and they seem to accept it, but let me know if I've done anything you find objectionable (note 1).

What is "reformationposttpm"?

marc balance
  • 21. marc balance | 15/05/2017

..this is reformation post tpm : https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/fall-tracks/neighbourhood-of-infinity
and, yes, part of paragraph b) was in quotation marks because it is a quotation from an interview (you'll notice if you follow the link), and you wrote 'me thinks' in one word... otherwise all fine with me, thank you very much ;-)

bzfgt
  • 22. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

1. "Methinks" is one word, I don't think it's correct to write it as two words, is it? Is this another British thing? Third party opinion? Arbitration? Martin? Dan? Anyone?

2. What the hell is TPM? I've been linking to that site for years and never noticed there was a TPM in the address. Martin?

3. Thanks, I didn't notice because the quote mark is upside down and closes as a double quote right side up...check it now, I think it's right (I added the citation from TPM because it is helpful but it does break the flow of your sentence a little, maybe I should take it out?).

bzfgt
  • 23. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Although the triple quote there--one for TPM, one for MES, one for the title "Neighborhood of Infinity"--is tortuous. It's a good thing I good Marc's comment in without having to put that in quotes, but if anything gets added to that note it'll have to be, and they'll all reverse polarity....fuck.

bzfgt
  • 24. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

OK, look, Marc-- I can't even find a single instance of "me thinks" on Google. Can I please leave it the way I have it? If not, I have to warn you, and I'm being as diplomatic as possible here --I'm going to "sic" you. I'll fucking do it, man!

Now, no one wants that to happen. All you have to do is let me change it to "methinks," and we can all walk away...

bzfgt
  • 25. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Sorry, this is my Google search:

https://www.google.com/#q=methinks+vs+%22me+thinks%22

bzfgt
  • 26. bzfgt (link) | 18/05/2017

Thanks for your excellent comment, and I hope you realize I'm just fucking with you. I mean, I will slap a "sic" on that fucker, but as congenially as possible...

dannyno
  • 27. dannyno | 19/05/2017

Comment #22.

1. "Methinks" is absolutely definitely one word. Confirmed in Chambers Dictionary and Oxford English Dictionary, neither of which allow "me thinks" even as an alternative. Two words would just be ungrammatical.

2. "Post TPM is "Post The Pseud Mag". "The Pseud Mag" being the fanzine that succeeded "The Biggest Library Yet". The people originally behind the Reformation! site had previously been involved with "The Pseud Mag".

marc balance
  • 28. marc balance | 21/05/2017

..okay okay okay.... I was wrong with that 'me thinks' one.... ;-) I apologize!

Martin
  • 29. Martin | 23/05/2017

Re comment no. 27 (2): To be precise, The Pseud Mag was founded and edited by Dave Bromwich, known on the forums as fallfandave. Reformation! was set up by Bob Osborne and is largely edited by him and yours truly, though a man known as Alan Ford has been helping out a lot. By the way, if anyone else would like to contribute/make suggestions about the site, then they are more than welcome, as with so few people involved in its maintenance there will and have been errors, omissions, etc-

dannyno
  • 30. dannyno | 23/05/2017

Thanks for the clarification, Martin. But was there not more of an overlap - of contributors, at least?

at https://sites.google.com/site/reformationposttpm/the-pseud-mag-archives, we're told "As you may know we were all in the team that worked with Fallfandave to put together The Pseud Mag.", and that was always my perception too - that there was some continuity.

Martin
  • 31. Martin | 24/05/2017

Yes, indeed: Bob and me both contributed to The Pseud Mag, as did Mark Harris ("Gladys Winthorpe"), and Stephen Fall, among many others. The first impulse for Reformation! was to continue the fine work of Clayton Hayward's Track Record, which has now unfortunately been lost from the internet. I suppose that in the end you could say that the history of The Biggest Library Yet, Fallnet, The Fall Online (previously known as The Fall Forum) and The Pseud Mag is vaguely similar to the story of The Fall itself, with changing and shifting members along the years.

Sorry, all of this has squat all to do with Neigbourhood of Infinity!

bzfgt
  • 32. bzfgt (link) | 27/05/2017

"..okay okay okay.... I was wrong with that 'me thinks' one.... ;-) I apologize!"

Ha! YOU apologize? We were douches about it, not you!

I mean, mostly Dan, of course...

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