A great chaos of sound: alternative practices of working through madness, alienation, and the aesthetics of catastrophe in 60s Britain

After Bomb Culture, Jeff Nuttall’s valediction to 1960s relentless anti-system experimentation, what kind of call to order were the Portsmouth Sinfonia’s commitment to community DIY practice and Veronica Forrest-Thomson’s withdrawal of language from meaning? Nuttall’s Laingian references to madness acclaim culture as symptomatic of living with the H-bomb. This essay considers alternative expressions of intimacy and apartness like Doris Lessing’s writing on women’s madness, the Caribbean Artists Movement’s understanding of schizophrenic post-colonial consciousness, and Kate Millet’s and Robert Wyatt’s eulogies to friends and partners, as marginalized by the aesthetics of catastrophe of Nuttall and his Destruction in Art Symposium colleagues.