2023 – Reviewed | Battle Of The Book Clubs: Luke Elston -VS- Aaron Nathaniel Standen

August 23rd 2017, 00:00:23
The Justified Ancients Of Mu Mu returned…
There was no music…
Instead, they published a book…
It is called ‘2023’.


Hundreds of people queued outside News From Nowhere on Bold St, Liverpool to get a stamped copy from Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty.
Press copies of the novel were not made available prior to the launch.
Some reviews have surfaced since…
But not enough…

August 23rd, 2017, 13:00:00
The 400 volunteers descend on Constellations, Liverpool.
Jobs are allocated…
Within those roles are two book clubs…

The first is the ‘Pop Up And Burn Down Book Club’ who must meet and conclude that ‘2023’ is a great work of literature.
The second is the ‘Readers From Hell Book Group’ who must meet and conclude that ‘2023’ was a waste of words.

We have not heard too much from either party since…

Until now…

Having had some time to read ‘2023’ in full – we present to you a member from each book club with their respective reviews in…

‘Battle Of The Book Clubs!’

Let Battle Commence… courtesy of our guest reviewersLuke Elston and Aaron Nathaniel Standen.

Follow Luke on Facebook.

Follow Aaron on Facebook.

[And for those of you concerned with *spoilers*, I am not going to advise you as to what you should do. Read on at your own peril…]

Round 1: The ‘Pop Up And Burn Down Book Club’ represented by Luke Elston

2023 – The book you should stick your face into

My name is Sham Ibriham Gettobird Lycanhirst Veard of the Void KSC P4K OCO p296 and I am not a cabbage or some thing.

I am a devout member of the Pop Up and Burn Down Book Club and we absolutely love 2023 by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu.

2023 is probably the greatest book ever published that won’t give you the same sort of hangover as a bad lager. Occasionally, it’s the worst best book in existence or the best worst book in this version of reality, most of the time it is just a bloody good read…or doorstop, paperweight, nemesis of cockroaches; An instruction manual for the new dark age; A fascist bashing curmudgeon… I really want to hit the Wrong Dishonourable Teresa-Mog Toilet-brush May-Trumpcowels with it hard, in the face. This may be a little unfair on the book but I have been informed by a reliable source that the fish think this is a good idea.

If it is beginning to sound like I am some crazed multiple agent for the word hating ‘Readers from Hell Book Group’, I assure you that I am not, never have been, never will be. I do not take any instruction from Hagbard Celine. I do not post contradictory flyers on walls and I never whistle while pissing.

I do occasionally drink while pissing but thats a zenarchist mindlessness practice that I can recommend, it is a little bit of infinity and very odd.

You should read 2023 it is also odd.

The world is odd.

You are odd, even if you don’t accept it yet.

This book will either change your life by beginning the ever-more important process of deprogramming your self, holding open those annoyingly perilous doors to some inner chapel or other – you know, the ones that have a tendency to shut just as you begin to cross the threshold holding something hot and sticky like a freshly microwaved bowl of cockroaches – or it will be a kind of paper brick ideal for building sacred pyramids for your out of date ghettoblaster.

On a personal level 2023 helped me to understand why I hold a dead fish in my self-portraits, what the fuck a psychic fox is doing in my head and why I talk to birds whilst studiously ignoring the ghost squirrels. It is quite phenomenal.

This book has crept into my dreams and stood at the end of my bed incanting disjointed irreligious hymns to some frankly worrying trickster gods that are all aware of their own lack of existence but insist on being none the less. It is a Horkosian oath of Dysnomian imaginings raving like Loke on the battlefield of modern kulture.

2023 will wrap around your preconceptions like the loving embrace of Lethe…

What was I saying?

I’m sure there was a point!

Ah yes! Get hold of 2023 by the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu it is going to be useful in the coming darkness. It is a map of mist in an age of fog and it may just help Eris forgive you. You want her to forgive you, especially if you have not done anything yet. Not doing anything when so much is wrong is as bad as doing the wrong things.

Score: 2853/100

Round 2: The ‘Readers From Hell Book Group’ represented by Aaron Nathaniel Standen


Welcome to the Dull Ages – a review of 2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu

As a caveat, I should begin my review of 2023: A Trilogy by The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu with an admission: as a member of the Readers from Hell book group, I was tasked with reading the book and “coming to the conclusion that it was a waste of words”.

Unfortunately, I rather enjoyed it. So in the spirit of the book, I’ll do my best to give you my honest take and then end my review with a punchy dismissal. Deal?

2023 owes a debt to the puckish prose of Robert Anton Wilson – which is playfully acknowledged by making the fictitious “real” author of 2023 a gender-flipped version of RAW (going under the nom de plume Roberta Antonia Wilson). Roberta’s personal diary entries appear at the end of each chapter creating a book within a book (within a book!). These diary entries serve to tie up loose ends, create new ones, excuse hack writing, kvetch about getting old and to gossip about the real-life authors.

I’m not sure how much of the structure of the story is indebted to the Illuminatus! Trilogy as I only ever read the first book in the series and that was in 1989, when I was 13. Now, I was a bright kid, but not a prodigious one, so to say the nuance and counter-culture subtext of The Eye in The Pyramid went over my head is an understatement.

The reasons that RAW was on my tween radar are lost to time. It’s entirely possible that I was inspired to seek out his work after reading a JAMs related reference in the NME… but that theory feels fanciful. It’s much more likely I was led there by way of an insatiable pubescent drive to get my hands on anything sexual that was subversive enough to not tip off my parents as to its adult nature (basically, the Adrian Mole effect).

Much like my Athena Lord of the Rings poster, it would be many years before I discovered the connections between the contents of my teenage bedroom and the platter of my turntable.

Sometimes the synchronicities related to The JAMs feel like they’re everywhere – sometimes, like in the case of reading 2023, the synchronicities are downright overwhelming.

For example, much of the action in 2023 takes place within a 5-mile radius of my home, just off the Columbia Flower market in East London. I share a running route with one character and I can see another’s home from my doorstep. The Turner Prize-winning artwork central to the story was discovered at the end of my street and my partner has put on theatre productions at the Arcola Theatre. I’ve also clogged my arteries at the Shepherdess on City Road after many a night out.

I’m curious to hear others experiences reading 2023 – did you find many parallels to your own life? If not, did that affect your enjoyment of the story?

A book might seem like a strange format for a comeback for a pop group after 23 years in the wilderness to the uninitiated. To me, it feels like a logical and natural progression – it’s the literary extension of the musical output of the JAMs.

For example – it’s heavily sampled. Characters like the Illuminatus!’s Barney Muldoon and Saul Goodman are stolen outright – whereas other characters appear as remixed versions of famous literary creations, YBA artists, celebrities, friends and associates of the band.

In the spirit of Whitney joining The JAMs, the book is uninterested in drawing distinctions between high and pop culture – A Chapman brother here, a discussion of whether the dress was black and blue or white and gold there. Yoko Ono and M’Lady Gaga are on equal footing in this utopian costume drama.

Most importantly, the book is playful with the legacy and mythology of Bill and Jimmy’s combined output. Most, if not all characters in the book serve as proxies for them or some aspect of the KLF. (Jonathan King is surely a stand-in for Gary Glitter?).

This playfulness makes for a richer reading experience for fans and wonderful fodder for discussion amongst conspiratorially minded die-hards (is Gimpo really Banksy’s dogsbody?).

Sadly, that’s the sort of dissection that would have been so welcome had our Readers From Hell book group actually met. It can’t be too late! Get in touch fellow Readers from Hell, I’d love to meet!

So! In conclusion, on behalf of the Readers From Hell book club:

2023: A Trilogy is a book that was more compelling when it existed as a mostly blank promo-only version.

Welcome to the Dark Ages? More like Welcome to the DULL ages!

Furthermore! When is The KLF going to give us what we really want? Chart-topping new choons! An ambient podcast! They could fund it with a butter advert! We want our youth back Goddamnit! And now that Twin Peaks is finished I’ve got nothing left to look forward to!

What a waste of words!

Score: 23/100

And the winner is…

Oh come on, you really expect us to tell you who won this battle?

Did you learn nothing from The JAMs?

They want you to decide.

They want you to tell them…

If, for some strange reason, you do not yet own a copy of 2023, abandon everything you are doing right now and buy it.

And only get your copy from the excellent Dead Perch Merch (we are not associated with them, we just happen to love them. And if you purchase from them you get a rather special stamped edition of the book that is not available elsewhere). Grab your edition of 2023 today!


Intro and Outro words by WTTDA.