“My Dear One. All or none. Everyone under the Sun. Mine own. My most excellent Majesty (in me) hath strangely and variously transformed this form. And behold, by mine own Almightiness (in me) I have been changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the sound of the trump.”
– Abiezer Coppe
Several of those celebrated during the SydArthur Festival, though not rock’n’rollers themselves, nevertheless lived to the hilt the life that would become synonymous with the rock star. Abiezer Coppe sits atop that pile. Espousing free love, free speech and lambasting the establishment with his venomous, incisive, drooling/dribbling lyrical outpourings, Coppe lived and worked at the cutting edge of the English Revolution: that time which would slide inexorably into the English Civil War. His place in the SydArthur Festival is guaranteed specifically because of the manner in which he chose to represent himself and because of the culturally liquid period through which he lived. His detractors dismissed him as a ranter: as a Ranter, he has gone down in history. Sniping from the very edges of society, Abiezer Coppe and his so-called Ranters demanded such social change that English society thereafter could never again return to those forelock-tugging times in which the divine rights of kings and the ruling class prevailed.
In truth, we know not precisely when Coppe died – only that it was some time in early August 1672. Nevertheless, that in itself is enough for us to bring this extraordinary motherfucker into the hallowed ranks of the SydArthur Festival. For under this lunar spotlight, he gains his rightful place. Earlier than Burroughs, earlier than Huxley, earlier than Shelley, earlier even than the Storming of the Bastille: Coppe and his Ranter cohorts stood baying and howling at the gateway of World Change. It was a time of new messiahs. It was time of new possibilities. It was a time of extravagant characters roaming the landmass. It was a time of cliques. It was a time of confrontation. What time was it? It was 1649. It was 1789. It was 1967. It was all of these times. And we’ve still got time.
Today let’s run screaming round the boundaries of our settlement, noting where we feel our safest and noting too those streets and avenues that make us uncomfortable.