Monday, November 08, 2010

and then I dreamt of yes

I’m not interested in an agony offset, an equation of suffering. Freedom, liberation, equality - thats not a trick conjured by trading the moments of power with the moments of powerlessness, however consenting either and each way. It’s not about a balance of submission and domination. It’s about everyone being free, about everyone having power with and through others, not over them. Even if you let them, or others - especially others - have power over you to convince yourself that makes amends. That’s a sham, a lie. That’s a world that still needs slavery, still needs hierarchy, still needs chains and prisons, no matter how gilded and long, no matter how comfortable and willingly accepted - it’s the algebra of choice that got us where we are now, and where we are now is fucked. And not in a good, respect you in the morning and fry you breakfast way, but a didn’t-want-that-damaged-for-life way.

Now, while we’re straying into that metaphor, I’m not saying we can’t play. I am saying we can’t use that game as a design for life. If thats your revolution, I’m not dancing. Thats not the change I want to see, let alone be. But we’re coming from where we are, and we all have our own way of working things out. It’s a journey, as they say. A process, not an event. Justice is not about scales, or about blindness. We make society and the basic rule, across the board, is just try and be better.

Consciously so.

So, if your offer is about a give and take of fucking over, a compromise where suffering is balanced, an equality of pain, but no aim to work to a gross reduction of suffering, forget it. I’m not playing a zero sum game, mine is a zero end game.
And I play to win. Because that way we all win, as much as possible, preferably always. And we all loose as little as possible. Preferably never.

Now, how we get there, that’s a tough one. But it would be great to have you with me as we try. Work with me on it, it just takes practice.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

piece of crap

…And then, something filmic actually goes and happens. Something huge. And you spend a week having your life written by Iain Banks. And not in a good way.

You find yourself heartily wishing for this to still be nowhere, for it all to stop, because you know the whole fucked up mess can’t get anything but worse, for everyone concerned. For some, much, much worse. But it’s not a film, it’s life. No rewrite. No alternate ending. No directors cut.

In some ways, in fact in every way but one, nothing has actually changed. But that one thing changes everything - the point of view shifts, One Big Lie is revealed, and the whole meaning of so much stuff is forever changed. Betrayal so huge it feels like a death. Or a murder. It contaminates memory, it stains the past. It’s such a shocking thing, how one fact can trigger a chain reaction, and show you how utterly wrong you were about a chunk of your life. The past is still there, those things all happened, but the meaning has been changed, soiled and sullied.

So now we pick ourselves up, and we keep going. We remember this is exceptional. We try to remember how to trust. Because this is life, and we must live.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

everybody knows this is nowhere

So, more of the same. Only more so. A little further into the Great Whimper, unless we finally plump for the Last Bang. I’ve always favoured the whimper. Welcome, or welcome back, by the way. And what have I done with my bitter, cynical, disappointed - oh so very disappointed - pessimism these past few years? Got drunk and watched Radiohead in a bout of miserablist hedonism? Sniffed around community activism to build the transition to a new resilience? Joined a gang and got us some land with a rocking chair on the porch? Maybe.

I got older, and more tired, that’s for sure. And I got myself to a new postcode. And a load of other stuff. Some of which was quite complicated, and difficult and draining. Some of it still is… But, that’s not why your here. Well, not that anyone is.

Anyway, here we all are in our little versions of nowhere, doing our best impressions of nothing. Just kind of waiting. For something. Obviously, this all fits into a mass of busy interlinked schedules full of stuff, you know, working, shopping, recovering from working and shopping, and people, and that. But that’s just the background noise, thats just the scene setting, yeah? Thats the first 15 minutes of the film, till the Life Changing Event happens, right? You know, the chance meeting with the love interest, the accidental bag switch for the one full of money, the conspiracy that hacks your work email. Or something less, it’s not like we want that much, even just a soap grade event, eh? Anything for a life less ordinary.

Well, no. I have actually had a somewhat less than ordinary life. No, really. Nothing filmic, nothing epic, but I’ve done things that are not usual. A fair few of them in fact. And I’m still here, and everybody knows this is nowhere. Then, most people have done loads of things lots of other people haven’t. We just tend to value otherness, the otherness that fiction posits as exciting. Not generally the stuff which is actually fulfilling. At least not realistically so. The apogee of cinematic excitement seems to be blowing a lot of things up these days, which I’m sure is pretty exciting - the nearest I got to this was fireworks as a kid, and I thought that was exciting - but I doubt it makes many people happier. Especially the relatives of the folk in the things that get blown up. And the more we use films for excitement, the more we use soaps for community, the more we use such mass media for emotional hits, the less we value the experience of our own real lives. And the more control over our lives we hand to the people who make the stuff. This may be nowhere, but at least it’s not La La Land.

Hang on. Miserablissed. Hmm, I like that.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

out on the weekend

Well. It’s another train, heading south backwards. New laptop out, bike hung like fresh beef in the big new racks. And I’m travelling from a relatively new origin to a less common destination, shades of change. But not so huge, the basic narrative, the characters and dialogue, huge chunks of the scenery, indeed, whole scenes, could be cannibalised from earlier episodes. We hold change like we do risk - very poorly assessed. We latch onto minor detail without considering context or bigger picture. We confuse a bit of minor redecoration with real change, and we mistake risk for danger.

Much, I suspect, has to do with control, with power. We choose to believe that those things we have control over In some way, those areas of our lives in which we have agency, are the important ones, and overestimate the degree of change our actions therein actually represent. This is why we spend so much money on DIY. And hair care. Which is interesting, as it points to a consequence. Them as wants to sell you stuff know all this, so they actively spend a lot of time, energy and money telling you the vast array of their relatively inconsequential tat represents a powerful toolkit to deliver real, significant and lasting change in your life. Yes, your life - here and now. You, yes you, are just one small step, one little purchase away from new! A brand new life! A brand new world! A branded new you. With highlights and body. And new wallpaper.

Except your not of course. You are the same you, only a bit poorer and maybe a tad more neurotic or deluded. Shopping won’t change your history, or your DNA. Well, not yet anyway. But, it may change your future, then that’s also what they say about voting. Which is sold as the ultimate power choice. What’s more it’s free. Well, freeish. I mean, it’s not like voting affects our taxes. Or the result of an election could see us loose our jobs. Or end up with us in a war. Or anything.

Besides, I always thought branding was what happened to cows… and we all know what happens to them.