The Utility of Embarrassment

What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve done? Think back to the things that makes you flush even at the slightest reminder.

I’ve just listened to a recording of when I was on a Raiders FM programme called The B*stard (sic) Sons of Cool and am almost dying with retrospective shame. If I could pinpoint the reason the next issue of The Mind’s Construction has been delayed for so long I would say this interview. That was when I stopped being able to answer the question: why? And yet, rather than merely ignoring it, destroying it and denying it ever happened, I have made a vow to listen, transcribe and, by doing so, overcome.

Embarrassment (despite the heat it produces) is like diving into ice cold water, initially shocking but eventually invigorating. Most people – like me with this interview – prefer to dip our toes in a few times before we can face being submerged. Either way, it is far better to face up to uncomfortable facts than merely repressing them. If anything survives from Freud it is the idea of the return of the repressed – who knows what monsters grew in my unconscious as this festered in my mind for the last 10 months?

The B*stard Sons of Cool are Paul Dowsett and Shane O’Donoghue, they broadcast across the internet from a small room in Balham. After waiting outside the tube station for fifteen minutes, I worried that I was going to be stood up. Secretly I was glad that I wouldn’t have to go through with it. But just as I was about to walk, the station’s controller, Mike Summers, introduced himself and took me to a studio situated above the taxi rank. They were playing Kings of Leon as I walked in. I braced myself …

radioShane: “We’re going to talk about you and talk about the magazine. You know those interviews you do in the magazine, we’re going to stick it on you and see how you get on. We won’t be too hard on you.” Shane smirks after saying this.

Shane: “How’s the magazine going?”

Me: “Very well. I think it might actually break even in the next few days.”


Paul: “If you’re wondering why the webcam isn’t pointing at us it’s cos we have someone in the studio. We’re talking with Neil Scott. Neil is the editor of Mind’s Construction magazine, which is a … new magazine. How are you today?”

Me: “I’m very well. I’ve had a long day of sitting in front of the internet and not doing very much.”

Paul: “That kind of sounds like you’re downloading pornography.”

Me: “Only for a little bit.”

Paul: “Only part of the time. That’s the morning session. Your magazine, Mind’s Construction. Can you tell us a bit about what it’s about?”

Me: “The Mind’s Construction is a quarterly magazine devoted to everything that makes up a mind. I think it’s the only magazine that views the mind body problem as a source of entertainment as well as a cause of anxiety. But it also has interviews, features.”

Paul: “What gave you the idea to start this magazine up?”

Me: “Well, one of the inspirations, I suppose, was Smoke magazine which has done really well in the same kind of format. I think in a world of weblogs and webzines, to actually have something palpable for people to read …”

Paul: “It seems you have quite a lot to do with ideology or belief and things like this.”

Shane: “Paul’s a philosophy student.”

Paul: “It’s right up my street.”

Shane: “You’ve got an erection sitting beside me.”

Paul: “That’s got nothing to do with the magazine. It’s you, Shane, as you know.”

Me: “Well, it’s psychological interest, more than ideology. A book that changed my life was RD Laing’s The Divided Self which uses a mixture of philosophy and psychology to, er, get to the bottom of things.”

Shane: “So it’s just trying to basically find something new through the magazine, give people something different…”

Me:”To give people something that isn’t out there … it’s a product of and a reaction to the whole weblog phenomena which has completely changed the way people read. Everyone has access to publishing. Anyone can publish their thoughts immediately, so The Mind’s Construction is a kind of filtration of what I consider to be the most talented writers of that scene.”

Paul: “I notice you have Richard Herring, who some people may remember from Lee and Herring.”

Me: “Well, indeed, his blog is great. His Warming Up is the most consistent blog on the internet and that piece is a rewritten account of one of his blog entries.”

Shane: “The next magazine is out in March?”

Me: “End of march beginning of April. Although I completely believe in the pilot edition it has allowed me to think a lot about how the next one should be.”

Paul: “So you still feel you finding your legs with it?”

Me: “Oh definitely. I’ve never done anything like this before.”

Shane: “What did you do before?”

Me: “Part of the reason I did the magazine is that I was working in a library and I was incredibly bored.”

Shane: “We’re going to play a song then we’re going to back for a small interview.”

[Tattva by Kula Shaker]

Paul: “That was Kula Shaker. Who remembers them? Handful of Brits, they’re nothing now! So we’re back with Neil Scott from Mind’s Construction magazine. A magazine for mind and body.”

Shane: “He’s actually standing on his head while he’s doing this!”

Paul: “In the magazine we have 10 essential questions? This is what Neil does to other people so we’re going to do it to him.”

Shane: “First question. Who are you?”

Me: “I’m Neil Scott. I’m the editor of the Mind’s Construction magazine.”

Paul: “No, really, who are you?”

Me: “That question has been known to invoke a crisis of confidence in most people. It makes me feel particularly self-conscious. I suppose my real self is unknown even to me.”

Paul: “Maybe this is what you’re trying to find out with the magazine.”

Me: “The magazine is a form of autobiography. And even asking these people these questions is trying to help me …

Paul: “…trying to help you understand yourself. A bit of a selfish episode maybe?”

Me: “It’s not selfish, but there’s a definite element of self-help in all the things we’ve done.”

Shane: “What are you up to at the moment?”

Me: “We’ve got an event on the 9th of February. Launching John Moore’s album.”

Paul: “Okay, what three rules make up your manifesto?”

Me: “1. Try and be honest with yourself and other people. 2. To try and search for the truth no matter how many cul-de-sacs you go down. 3. And to never do things just because they’re fun.”

Paul: “If you were a dictator of a modern, industrial society what would you abolish?”

Me: “I think I would probably abolish industry. If we went to a kind of pre-industrial society, just around 1750.”

Shane: “What is your opinion of the contemporary music scene?”

Me: “I get sent a lot of music and tend to only listen to that. The Vichy Government, Luxembourg, Flipron and John Moore have all been things I’ve enjoyed a lot recently.”

Paul: “What distinguishes you from your peers?”

Me: “I suppose that most of my peers try to have fun when they do things, whereas I am totally anti- the whole fun ethos.”

Paul: “So you’re almost got a bit of flaggellation going on. No pain, no gain.”

Me: “I think you have to sacrifice things for your art. You have to make choices. You can choose fun or you can choose your art and I usually prefer to chose fun, but in the end I’d go for the art.”

Paul: “So in 5 years time where will you be?”

Me: “Obviously, I’ll be a great big publishing magnate, like Citizen Kane.”

Shane: “You could give us a leg up.”

Me: “I definitely will.”

Paul: “We promise we won’t have any fun.”

Shane: “Any regrets?”

Me: “Oh, this interview.”

All: “Laughter.”

Exit pursued by Kasabian.

Link: Raiders FM