We at Jezebel have breathlessly followed the news of the return of the KLF, the Eurodance conceptual artists/professional pranksters who had global pop hits in the late ‘80s and early ‘90s like “3 A.M. Eternal” and “Justified and Ancient” (featuring country legend Tammy Wynette). What began as a mystery that KLF members Bill Drummond and Jimmy Cauty simultaneously distanced themselves from and confirmed, announcing they did have a reunion of sorts in the works, turned out to be a book project, 2023: A Trilogy. Today we received our first taste of the book and are sharing it with you because we love you so much.
Yes, that’s right, in another in a career-long series of trolls, the KLF and their publisher Faber & Faber sent us a blank book. The accompanying press release explains in typical vague fashion:
On 23rd August 1994, Jimmy Cauty and Bill Drummond set fire to £1,000,000 of their own money. This happened in a derelict boathouse on the Isle of Jura, Scotland. The £1,000,000 had been amassed from their career in pop music. The burning was filmed.
On 23rd August 1995, Watch the K Foundation Burn a Million Quid, a 63-minute film of unedited footage was screened in the village hall on Jura. It was followed by a debate with the islanders. The following month, a full page national broadsheet ad asked: ‘Why did The K Foundation burn a million quid?’ Cauty and Drummond took the film to a series of locations, after which they would question the audience in order to find the answer.
At the close of the year The K Foundation pronounced a 23 year moratorium, banning themselves from discussing why they burnt a million quid for that period.
On 23rd August 2017, The Justified Ancients of Mu Mu will publish 2023: A Trilogy, which may or may not answer some of the questions raised 23 years previously. The Notebook you are holding contains the Publisher’s Preface and Appendix to that forthcoming publication. The rest of the book will not be publicly available until the lifting of the embargo, at 00.01 on 23rd August 2017. The blank pages are to be used as you see fit.
Note: The £1,000,000 story is true. Also, the K Foundation and the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu are the group’s alternate monikers. You can read much more about their money burning and other public mischief in this Guardian article from April.
Down through the epochs and out across the continents, generation upon generation of the Justified Ancients of Mu Mu have told variants of the same story - an end of days story, a final chapter story. But with one hope, even if the hope at times seems forlorn.
The story contained in this trilogy is the latest telling. Here it is presented as a utopian costume drama, set in the near future, written in the recent past.
This review copy (ha ha) does at least explain the book’s format. The publisher’s preface (attributed to Dead Perch Books) describes Cauty & Drummond as “undertakers” who set out to buy a plot of land on Jura, on which to build a pyramid, but were distracted when they came upon a memoir in their hotel called Back in the USSR by one Gimpo. After serving as a nurse in the Falklands War, Gimpo went to Kiev, where she met two women Tat’jiana and Kristina, whose several aliases included the KLF.
The conceit of 2023, it is revealed, is that it is a Google-translated reprint of an obscure Ukrainian book called The Twenty Twenty-Three! Trilogy by George Orwell (a pen name for Roberta Antonia Wilson), that influenced the KLF (that is, the Tat’jiana and Kristina KLF).
This is just a few pages worth of material, by the way, and it’s already bending reality and caked with references to such an extent that I feel delirious. It’s like Pynchon with a rave pulse. I’m not even going to try to make sense of the publisher’s appendix, which has even more references and seems to contradict a lot of what I assume will fill the blank pages. I have to lie down now.