Paris stays with you.

June 13, 2013

You can hear the World, in a coffee shop.
It is shapeless rumbles of noise that emanate from all corners and they crash into each other and I think the human mind learns how to drown it out without knowing that’s what it’s doing, dismissing it all as dreary, though it is anything but.
I sit with a book.
Hemingway’s ‘A Moveable Feast’.
It’s a quaint little book that reminds me of Paris, and Michigan and I read it with the desire of a wealthy traveler but the wallet of a beggar.
I first drank a Mocha in Michigan. I’m drinking one now as I write this. I drink one in the coffee shop. If I drink two in the coffee shop, I wont sleep much that night.
But I feel as if I am being judged, if I only have one, yet expect to be in there for an hour or two. So I buy two. And then I don’t sleep much that night.
… and then there’s 37 rue de la Bûcherie.
With its Tudor-style beams overhead, and its drooping book shelves under the weight of so much genius. The staircase has books running up it. There are old typewriters too. Quintessentially Parisian, with a nostalgic charm, as you climb the little wooden ladder to your chosen book.
Hemingway knew it when it was on rue de l’Odéon.
Joyce stayed there. T.S Eliot. D.H Lawrence. Larbaud.
We owe this to the wonderful Sylvia Beach.
On a step, you read “Live for humanity“.
A wonderfully simple yet beautiful command.
It reminded me of Aeschylus, the Greek Tragedian:
To tame the savageness of man, make gentle the life of this World“.
Parisians don’t like you paying with notes. They like coins. Notes seem to offend them. I don’t know why. The man at the Eiffel Tower, selling crepes huffs and puffs if you hand him a note. Maybe they don’t offend him. But they seem to bore him. Bank notes are boring. I’m huffing and puffing just talking about it. Pay with coins. But always buy a crepe on the cobblestoned lanes of Montmartre.
The walls are thin and cracked and the tiny balconies with the black metal frames of the hotel rooms are the beautiful lookout of millions of lovers in the morning, passing through Paris on their way.
She has pale skin, and freckles, and reddish hair which she often brushes behind her ear and she smiles as me. I smile back. It is easy to fall in love with a smile. You can fall in love on a train station platform three or four times before the train arrives, all for a smile.
And then forget it all by the time you sit down.
Even on warm days, I choose to sit inside the coffee shop.
I seldom contemplate sitting outside on the terrace, as I stand in line.
Because when I do contemplate it, I exaggerate the significance of it.
I am convinced that it is reserved for Macbook clad, cigarette’d business people.
The ‘yar…. yar, like… totally‘ people.
And that the busy shoppers walking by would look at me in disgust if I were to sit outside.
And they’d all stand still, in shock.
And they’d cover their children’s eyes.
And they’d go home and recite to their friends, that the man without the Macbook, who didn’t sit cross legged, smoking a cigarette, was sat outside the coffee shop, and their friends would recoil in horror as thunder crashed dramatically over head.
And then I’m back in line being asked what I’d like to order.
So I seldom contemplate sitting outside, as I stand in line.
Because when I do contemplate it, I exaggerate the significance of it.
You can sit outside the coffee shop in Paris though. It is almost necessary. At least it feels necessary. And I like that. You are surrounded by lovers in their romantic dream, and a faint sound of an accordion player. You are surrounded by cafes and shops with dirty old verandahs, and nuns walk by on their way to Mass. You are surrounded by the shading trees and bicycles with baskets on the front. You are surrounded by Paris.
The soft light of sunset that glistens the Seine, and that hugs the Pont Neuf, makes it hard to place the terror of Robespierre’s reign, or the riots at the Bastille, or the Napoleonic era, in such a serene city. But it happened.
Hemingway speaks beautifully of the Jardin du Luxembourg before reminding me of Chicago.
But as hard as I try, I can’t focus in a coffee shop on the book.
The people are too distracting.
But people are fascinating.
Intimate detail of lives are expressed so openly, as if no one can hear.
And so I thought I’d learn to make order from the chaos, and take my little black notebook, and write down the odd snippets of conversation that distract me and make distinction between them.
And not know which face belonged to each voice.
And not know the context of the stories.
And not know the turn the conversations would take, or the ending to the conversations, just a line here and a line there.
Mixed together.
The result – that I have so far written down – is exceedingly mundane, yet fascinating to me.

A metre. I told him. No. …. Yeah. A metre but He never fucking listens. I hate squatting… oh… before I forget… do you have Fletch’s number? With a big fat cherry on top? There are usually seventeen but I swear she stole one. Yeah things aren’t going too well for me at the minute. No reason for us to stay together when the cat died. Two coffees too many dad. I can’t believe it was 2, I didn’t think there’d be time. Tell her we can go ahead with terminating his contract… yeah he deserves it. Sometimes you’ve just gotta say fuck it, you know? It’s a shame, he seemed nice enough at the time… I never thought he’d do it. Some solids. Walked home until I had a car. Cream on that? I swear mate, she doesn’t even get off the couch, fucking lazy. People die, it happens. They don’t do curry sauce with the chips any more though. Nah Liz told me that it’s likely Jen will be cautioned for it but probably not Bek. Blatantly gay. What if he finds out? They don’t teach manners at the fucking border agency. She ain’t even sucked his dick yet. Twice but sometimes if it’s raining there will be more. Sensed it. Two brake lights I think. Yeah Dave’s had it with Sky, never fuckin’ works when it rains. A girl? Daisy? Or not?. Isn’t it though?. Season 4 was the best so far but. Does it smell funny in here to you?…..no…… oh. Birmingham is quieter I think. Three massive blokes just fucking…just…came out of fucking nowhere. I don’t think they’ll get married. Repping in Mabella I think.

Sometimes I wonder who these people are; their names; what comes next; if they have terrible secrets; when their parents first laid eyes upon each other; their favourite subjects; if they talk to themselves when they’re alone; if they’re in love; if they ever called their teacher “mum”; have they ever ran from the police; how old they were when they first smoked a cigarette; if they play the piano; what expletive do they shout when they stand on an upturned plug?; where they will be when they’re 80; what pressures they’re under; do they write? sing? do they want children? are they scared of spiders? do they have an incredible family history they’re yet to uncover? do they drink? What insecurities plague them? What did they do on their 18th birthday?

Sometimes I imagine their stories.
The old man who sat three tables out from me, wore a grey beanie hat.
He looked cautious and uneasy.
I imagined he was hiding out. I imagined he’d fled to Vegas in the 60s in search of a piece of the pie. The small Nevada town exploded into a heaven of seedy gamblers and quick-buck gangsters in the 50s. Grey beanie wanted in on it. Being a young hothead, believing the World was his to take, he just pushed his luck a little bit too far. He now owed millions of dollars, that he lost in a string of bad luck, back room, smoke filled poker games, surrounded by strippers and the smell of desperate nobody’s, in the mid 70s. He borrowed more and more to try to win it all back. And now he owed. Having packed up in the middle of the night in August, ’76, he fled eastward. Having walked for miles, hitched for miles more, snuck onto trains, and slept with one eye open in the dingiest motels that lined the route, he spent the 80s hiding out in a tiny one roomed shack in the Shenandoah valley in West Virginia, just outside of Jefferson County. He had a stove, and a stream near by to collect water. He hunted for food. He learned to love the basic life. He would sit outside every morning with a coffee, and just listen. Listen to the soft, mellifluous sound of nature. He would close his eyes and the sounds seemed more prominent. They made him feel alive. This is what it was to be living. Vegas didn’t exist. Money didn’t exist. Nothing else existed. Reality though, reality is indifferent to the dreams of absolute serenity of one man. His creditors caught up with him. In 1991, he fled to England. He’s been here ever since. First, in the Welsh valleys; in a town called Hirwaun in the Cynon Valley, before marrying a girl in Yorkshire. He wears the beanie to cover the scar from a barroom fight in Vegas; an easily identifiable scar. His wife doesn’t know his past. He thinks it’s safer that way. And all of the places he’s been, from Vegas, across the midwest, to the Shenandoah Valley, I want to see.
It is me, living vicariously through stories that I attribute to unsuspecting faces.
And here he is. Cautiously watching the World go by, in a little unknown coffee shop, in England, as if any second could be his last, as if Michael Corleone could walk out of the bathroom at any moment and end it all in a flash. I watch him as I take a sip of Mocha.

These are lives. It is a World that you hear in a coffee shop.
We all share a single ancestor. All of us. And yet here, in a coffee shop, we are all a rich tapestry of easily forgettable, beautiful mundanity, dreaming with stories that aren’t real, and Paris stays with you.


Defending Westboro

January 12, 2013

“He that would make his own liberty secure must guard even his enemy from oppression; for if he violates this duty he establishes a precedent that will reach to himself.”
– Thomas Paine

I have been struggling with my conscience and with my ideas of liberty, to come to terms with the hate spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, especially in recent weeks as they expressed their wish to protest at the funerals of the victims at Newtown, and the fundamental principle of free speech; the most important right. It is a real test of personal belief in the beautiful sentiments expressed by people like Mill, or at the beginning of the Age of Reason by my personal hero Thomas Paine; that my right to offend is under attack the moment I restrict anyone else’s right to offend by being offended or upset by words. How do I rationalise the right of someone to offend the innocent and broken relatives of murdered school children, in the most malicious and sickening display of hate speech possible? The Westboro Baptist Church, for me are the ultimate test in my belief in freed expression.

The only way to rationalise my thoughts, is to take away my individual emotion, and focus purely on the abstract. And it is with that, that I have come to the conclusion, that the Westboro Baptist Church should be allowed complete freedom to picket, voice their hate, protest all they want. In addition, others should be allowed to protest against Westboro, to picket them, and to voice their opposition.

I have spoken to many ‘Unite Against Fascism’ members whom appear far more totalitarian than they wish to accept. I spoke to one guy a year ago in London, who had protested outside BBC studios as Nick Griffin was set to appear on the flagship show Question Time. Griffin is the leader of the British National Party; a far right party with ties to neo-nazi groups across the World. Griffin is the most repugnant man in British politics. And I too fell into the trap of totalitarianism in voicing my opposition to his appearance, accepting everything the UAF protester was saying. The Welsh Secretary at the Time Peter Hain voiced his totalitarian principles with:

“The BBC should be ashamed of single-handedly doing a racist, fascist party the biggest favour in its grubby history.”

Having had time to think it over, it seems to me to be equally as repugnant to have supported attempts to silence Griffin simply because Hain and others didn’t like what he had to say. Peter Hain is effectively telling me, as a viewer, that I shouldn’t be allowed to hear Griffin speak. I must automatically dislike what he has to say. I must trust conventional wisdom. He is telling me that he alone is more able to comprehend and analyse Griffin’s statements, whilst i’m not. Like a father, without any sort of justifiable authoritative qualification (being a politician certainly doesn’t qualify him in this way) over me, deciding he knows what is best.

Hain is also politicising the BBC, by subtly hinting that it must only reflect the voice of more centrist viewers. The BBC must reflect secular principles, not partisan principles. By denying Griffin the right to voice his contradictory opinion to mine, I am denying myself the right to form a rounded opinion; to investigate, and to inquire. Griffin once, like David Duke, denied the Holocaust. Now, when States ban the denying of the Holocaust, they are denying the Right to listen to dissenting opinions that might challenge me to both inquire, and solidify, or modify my own. It is almost criminalising the necessity to question. Why do I believe the holocaust happened the way it is consistently documented? I’ve only heard about it from two or three sources. Shouldn’t I be given a plethora of ideas since I have no way of fully accepting just one, given that I wasn’t there to experience it first hand. By accepting the banning of unpopular, and offensive views, I am also harming the Right of others to hear a plethora of views and to educate themselves further. I am institutionalising a way of thinking that exists on the left of centre, whilst criminalising those on the fringes for saying words I do not like. This way, I become a slave to convention. I have learnt that this is unacceptable.

We grow as people when we are challenged.

Benjamin Franklin Bache, in the late 1700s, wrote a newspaper called Aurora. The paper reflected his views, and soon he became staunchly antagonistic toward the Presidential Administration of John Adams, accusing him of ambitions of monarchy and incompetent governance. Bache was arrested and never spoke another word out of place. The Adams administration could therefore go on, unquestioned. John Adams was able to abuse the power of the Constitution, by enacting the Sedition Act. Though it was designed in an atmosphere of fear that the new Republic was under threat from secessionist voices in the Southern States, the Act was actually used to silence critics of the Adams administration whether calling for secession or not. The Act made it an offence to publish:

Malicious writing…

… against government officials. It hurt political discourse, it made a quasi-Monarch out of Adams, and led to countless imprisonments and fines.

“I do not agree with what you have to say, but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.”
– Voltaire

I am however convinced that Westboro as a Church, are child abusers. Substituting teaching their children to be critical, rational, and to think for themselves; for teaching hate, and bigotry and forcing them to hold placards and repeat hate filled mantras that they cannot possible understand at that age, is child abuse. The children are being prevented from freely expressing themselves via systematic thought control and indoctrination.

It is true that whilst people like myself are irritated, disgusted, and offended by the speech spewed by the Westboro Baptist Church, and neo-Nazi’s like Griffin, we are also ignorant to offence caused to others, when for example, we insult, degrade, and belittle religious figures and symbols of faith. I have long been an advocate for the right to blaspheme, and judging by my posts on this blog…. I blaspheme at a rate of about three times a paragraph. It is a sign of intellectual maturity, that we can take offence without resorting to banning words, books, or calling for Salmon Rushdie to be killed for The Satanic Verses. We take offence, and we move on. Or we take offence, and we debate. Many religious people will be just as offended by my characterisation of their deeply held beliefs, as someone else is by the actions of Westboro. If the Pakistani delegate to the UN, who now has the right to publicly seek out and condemn “abuses of free speech, including defamation of religions and prophets” is able to restrict speech based on weak religious conjecture…. shouldn’t someone else have the right to publicly seek out and condemn Koranic abuses against non-believers and women? I am fully aware that I may offend the religious – be them Muslim or Christian – when I suggest Islam and Christianity, whilst having their peaceful merits, have very fundamental totalitarian and fascist principles at their core. For people who consider Islam to be a major part of their lives; insulting or degrading their faith is a sickening act. I respect their Right to be offended and disgusted. Those who call for punishment for anyone who insults their faith, are reflecting the tactics of Peter Hain and the UAF in attempting to silence anyone who fundamentally disagrees with them. If I were to claim that fundamentalist Muslim groups should be banned from, or even extradited for protesting against ‘Western Aggression’, or demanding Shariah for Britain, then I forfeit my Right to claim secularist values, and place myself on the side of totalitarianism.
I can protest, argue, shun, and degrade their view, but I cannot rightly suggest they should be banned from protesting, or throw out of the country. Eliminating what one person considers “hate speech” from public discourse solves nothing. The ideas are still there, they are simply violently repressed. In the case of the Westboro Baptist Church, by protesting the funerals of children killed in such horrific circumstances, they open themselves up to criticism, and actually, for a brief moment, unite both right winged and left winged, both religious and atheist, in condemnation. This is a positive effect of freedom of expression.

Extreme political movements tend to begin, where the freedom to express their views are oppressed. When they are allowed, they open themselves up to criticism, ridicule, and can be swiftly dealt with. The best way to counter hate speech, is to openly debate it, and shame it for the nonsense that it is. It is dangerous to silence dissent.

Words can inspire, they can hurt, they can upset. Without directly calling for violent action, they should not be shackled by convention. Westboro holding a sign with “Thank God for dead soldiers” is disgusting and shameful, Islamic fundamentalist groups calling for Shariah for Britain, Nick Griffin insisting that Muslims cannot be considered British are all offensive ideas to me. But they are not restricting my Rights by their words. The moment that is criminalised as “hate speech” is the moment we advocate the use of force, against none force, against words. Opinion is personal. The use of force cannot change the opinion, in some cases it hardens the opinion, and makes a martyr out of the individual. The use of force against words simply makes sure convention is not tested.

A rather wonderful Islamic writer, head of the Islamic Society for The Promotion of Religious Tolerance, Dr Hesham el Essawy espouses secular principles in a spectacular way:

The manner in which we conduct such dialogue is also important. And how should this be? In goodness, gentleness and tolerance, the Koran says. Each must present his evidence, and each must respect the right of the others not to accept it. “Your job is to pass the message along. Whether they believe or not is none of your concern” God said to His Messenger in the Koran…. What is important, and least emphasised, is the social function of belief, the all important earthly purpose of religion. It is what you do with your belief that should concern one, not the belief itself…. The test of your beliefs, whatever they may be, is in how you treat me….

In this case, it would be wrong to suggest that religion is solely responsible for attacks on free expression. There are certainly many in the religious community that are hardened supporters of free expression, many having tasted the cruelties that come about from restricting basic human rights.

Religion may emphasise a level of loyalty or faith, that makes offence far more likely, and so heightens a desire to silence, but it isn’t responsible for it. It is a state of mind, that seems to afflict those with such strong loyalties but also insecure loyalties, be them religious, cultural, patriotic etc. It is a totalitarian mind set, whether consciously so or not, set in fear of ‘different’. The administration of John Adams as pointed out above, or Stalin’s silencing of any dissenters, or the UAF’s attempts to silence Griffin, or Polpot’s extermination of those he considered ‘intellectuals’, or the lynching of any abolitionists in the Southern States of the US, or any pro-slavery writers in the Union silenced by Lincoln during the Civil War. It is totalitarianism borne out of the fear of ‘different’, a challenge to insecure loyalties. Usually, the anger stems from what might happen, if people hear the dissenters. Will power structures be challenged? Certainly Stalin and Pol Pot worried about this. When it comes to Westboro, I think it is just an emotional defence mechanism. Perhaps we need to be seen to show an outward display of disgust, to insist upon others, or mainly upon ourselves, that we are morally outraged for the second or two that we allow the subject to cross our minds, before we forget all about it and move on to something more inconsequential and easier to intellectually deal with. Either way, if we wish to uphold the values of the enlightenment and secularism – as I do – then we must take the bad and the disgust, with the good and the decent. The balance of the two is what separates us from the uncivilised, and the cowardly.


Tribute to a reverie.

November 28, 2012

There is a walk between the little town and the promenade and
the wind blows as the train rolls past.
And the stone wall is old. And it never changes.
And the sound of the sea amazes me. The most perfect sound. Man has never been able to create a sound as mellifluous as the sound of the ocean.
At the halfway mark or there about’s sits
a quaint old ice cream shack.
And a cliff top.
You can climb the cliff top and sit in a state of unbreakable reverie.
I do this. And when I don’t do this, I wish I was doing this.
And the World doesn’t matter.
And the people don’t matter.
And for a short time, you don’t exist. You were a murmur. A blip on the unfathomable tapestry of time. How comforting this is. The shadows that follow you always, slowly wash away each time the tide pulls itself further out. And you hear them crashing against the rocks, and they are meaningless now. And I feel fine. For just a little while.
Sometimes faces pass below and I wonder who they are. What thoughts are they having. How did they come to be here, today?

“In these deep solitudes and awful cells,
Where heav’nly-pensive contemplation dwells”

And then I stop wondering.
And the waves steal my thoughts again, and wash them away. And It’s calming too.
Thoughts of an introvert are masked in public and chaotic and self destructive in private. It never ceases. “Just be yourself” people tell you, not realising that it takes a tremendous amount of energy and concentration to ‘just be myself’.
But everything is beautiful.
Do you ever get the feeling that no one listens to you? And you want to scream? It is a lonely feeling.
The sound you make, is a blur to them. A faint hum on the wind. An irritating distraction more than anything, that quickly passes and is forgotten. A vacant nod of insincerity crosses their face. So you slowly say less and less. Because it’s easier. And then you write. That’s the beauty of the written word. It is a drug.
You don’t have to see their disapproving, or bored faces staring back, or glaring around the room looking for something more interesting than your apparently lifeless words. It is a drug, and it subsidises your wistful desire to be heard. How arrogant it is to wish to be heard.
I feel like a caricature of myself. And everyone else merges into everyone else until the faces are a haze. I don’t remember a time when this wasn’t the case.
But on the top of the cliff with the quaint old ice cream shack below, and the passing faces, where there is no one to talk to,
there is also no one to not listen to you. And the fleeting sense of freedom is ineffable.
The balance is harmonious and sad, all at the same time.
But it suits me just fine that way.


The time I almost had a fight with a ghost in a tent in the woods in Michigan.

June 27, 2012

To fall in love with the tip of the pinky finger on the Michigan hand
is to look out across the lake at sunset and view complete perfection as it glows red and sinks into a seemingly unbreakable horizon. How lucky we are to be able to perceive this.
She is my favourite of all the Americans.
There was New York and then there was Michigan. Michigan is stunning. I could sit for hours and just watch. The sound of running water is as mellifluous as any other to me.
I wore a cowboy hat. Well you just have to. Don’t judge me. Howdy!
The lady in the bar in New York told me she had just moved to Manhattan and had already been arrested for trespassing. We drank beer and talked about the Constitution. She was obsessed with the Constitution. I wanted to watch the football game on TV. I missed the goal, because I was being told about her rights. It is at that point that I decided my favourite Founding Father; Thomas Jefferson was no longer my favourite. He had pushed for the First Amendment – the right to free speech – and I would have given anything to be able to put gaffer tape over her face at that very moment. Go to hell Jefferson. You ruined the match for me.
New York is oddly captivating.
It is one long, unending car horn. It is the reason behind the one long, unending car horn. The fragrance of Central Park breaks the mold. I loved Central Park.
What a wonderful view it is from the 102nd floor of the Empire State Building. And how much I felt like I had been transported back to the height of Art Deco when walking through that triumph of 1930s architecture with the elevator doors as criss-crossed steal that a bellman pulls across. This building has existed, and been seen by Roosevelt, by Kennedy, by Truman and Nixon and Carter. Standing at the top of history.
Manhattan is a forest of concrete.
What a dull sentence. But the reality is that it makes you marvel of what humankind is capable of producing. We have came such a long way in such a short space of time. We are impressive. In less than 200,000 years we have gone from communicating via gestures, to developing languages, concepts borne out of ideas, systems based on survival instincts. Humanity is intensely brilliant. We do not need Gods. But we are dangerous and destructive also. Our excellence breeds our ignorance. I stood at Ground Zero. The fountains. They epitomise humanity. Their design came from the beautiful mind of an artist. A mind. A piece of matter that has become self aware. A piece of matter, like a stone. How did it become self aware? Self aware, and capable of dreaming. Dreaming is art. This is what sets us apart. How can this development in human evolution not over awe you? And then the juxtaposition. The fountains reason for being is the horrifyingly destructive nature of humanity and what it is capable of doing to its own species. It is a harrowing place. I used to
Can somebody please tell Mitt Romney to stop telling everyone how much he doesn’t want to become like Europe. The reason the US isn’t like Europe, is because it has rejected the idea of austerity. Stick with Obama, he’s doing it right.
I was stopped at Heathrow by a security official with a drastically over inflated sense of his own importance. This is a man who had contempt on his face for anyone who isn’t him. A man who only smiles, cries with awe, and manages to achieve a sexually aroused state whilst looking in the mirror. At no other time is it possible for him. He stopped me and said “What’s in your bag?” So I told him. He knew anyway, having been watching the xray machine. He said “Anything else you want to tell me about?” Patronising question. I had two books, my glasses, my sunglasses, and my wallet in that bag. Nothing else. So I said “no”. He then said “What do you do for a living?” I told him that was none of his business, and then asked him what he had for dinner last night. He told me not to get cocky with him. He then got a lady to go through my bag in private, wearing rubber gloves. She treated me like a criminal. She then got to the end of the bag, and said “Okay, there’s nothing concerning in here, I apologise for the inconvenience”. I didn’t want her to apologise. I wanted the man who stopped me in the first place, who for some reasons needs to know my main source of income, to come and profoundly apologise. He didn’t. He walked away. I was held back for 35 minutes for that.
The Statue of Liberty is the face of freedom. Though it also makes me reflect on America over time. Emma Lazarus wrote the ‘New Colossus’ poem that sits at the entrance to the Statue. It reads:

“Keep ancient lands, your storied pomp!” cries she

With silent lips. “Give me your tired, your poor,

Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free,

The wretched refuse of your teeming shore.

Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me,

I lift my lamp beside the golden door!”

This beautiful sentiment epitomises how it must have felt for those immigrants coming on the boats into New York harbour, to have seen the Statue with the promise of a liberty that had been kept from them for so long. Whether it still applies now (considering the Arizona border dispute, it’s hard to say) is debatable. But the original sentiment is one that makes me smile.
We do not go into BOBs in Grand Rapids. Only douches go into BOBs.
I went into BOBs.
Ssshhh.
I hate flight.
Whenever the plane experiences turbulence, I presume we’re going to crash.
I don’t understand how such a big tin can is able to stay afloat. It seems unnatural. And yet it is wonderful.
Over the skies of the United States on my way to Michigan, I looked out of the window. It struck me; I am only one of a very few number of people in the World over its history to have seen the planet from this perspective. Great people have come before me and never experienced this. How lucky it is to be me. Our ancestors looked into the heavens and wondered. I was now in the place that drove such profoundly wonderful men and women to meditate on what the sky had to offer. Da Vinci was desperate to invent a machine that could take humanity into the sky. Newton was fascinated by it. The Aztecs would pray every night to the Gods in the hope that it would ensure that the sun would rise the next day. Galileo was imprisoned for his fascination with that which existed above the surface of the Earth. Religions were invented to try to make sense of the unknown. Plato was a part of a society that believed the Gods dwelled in the clouds. And here I am. Sat above them, in a machine that man built; essentially the culmination of great thinking up until this moment. All of those names; Newton, Galileo, Plato, Da Vinci had some influence on the reason that I was sat in the air that day. I love humanity. But humanity is a product of natural selection. This is the reason that I have a love affair with nature. Its possibilities are endless and we should be constantly amazed by this.
We went to a vin yard to try to some local wines.
We then went to another vin yard to try some local wines.
We then went to another vin yard to try some local wines.
Sometimes people take your breath away.
Their quality is ineffable.
But they just glow, and you can’t explain why.
New York is full of these people.
I could live in Michigan. Happily.
We see a plane, and our eyes are used to it. We know how it works, we are not surprised, it is a fact of our lives. Sometimes I wonder if wonderment is the essence of life. Do we lose a certain degree of beauty, when we understand? I choose not to understand how a plane works. I don’t want to understand. This makes it far more bewildering and ultimately astonishing for me. Yet, conversely, not understanding is part of the reason that I hate flying.
Free front row ticket to Jersey Boys on Broadway. I had no idea Frankie Valli had sang so many great songs. ‘My Eyes Adored You’…. I forgot about that one. ‘Begging’… Had no idea he’d sung that. Sherry, Big Girls Don’t Cry, Walk Like a Man. The entire show was fantastic. Oh what a night.
The woods are wonderful. She said that these places go on without humanity, that regardless of our worries and our problems, this beauty still exists. She’s right. That is what makes them beautiful. We stood on the rocks after sunset and talked about people and about nature. Everything that had happened before us, and before our mums and dads, and before our grandparents, and before nations, religions, empires, before language and before art and before….everything, had led up to the point where we could be stood on rocks after sunset talking about people and about nature.
Apparently Americans are quite the fan of Brits reading Harry Potter whilst holding a box of Hobnobs. There is no need to explain the context here. It is EXACTLY as you just read it. So I made them say the pledge of allegiance. Fair trade I feel. If you are English, take the opportunity to have your American friends speak in a British accent. It is much fun!
kbye….
We sat in rubber tubes, with cold beers and floated down the river into Lake Michigan in the sun. I couldn’t help but note that ten years ago I was in a shitty school, expecting to spend my life on a rough council estate with multiple children and a dead end job by the time I was 20, holidaying in Skegness. I am proud of me. A lot has happened in ten years and even the bad, I am in a strange way grateful. I am grateful for Mrs English the day she told me that I would never be smart enough to read a book cover to cover, or ever be eloquent enough to write anything of any significance. I hope the phrase “Fuck you, you incompetent bitch” is eloquent enough for her. I am grateful for everything. But not so much for Reese’s. I hope they go away.
Take chances, and be happy. Lose sometimes. Smile. Do it all again. Life.
There were footsteps outside the tent. Then they stopped. Right outside the door. I sat up, ready for a struggle.
There were no more footsteps retreating or pressing forward.
they just stopped outside of the tent.
But, no one there.
I was preparing for a fight still.
Apparently with a ghost.
This was the thoughts and the events and the people that led up to the time I almost had a fight with a ghost in a tent in the woods in Michigan.

— Click on the picture to enlarge —


An absurd introvert

June 16, 2011

Learning about myself is like reading a book I need to reread over and over to understand. Sartre’s Being and Nothingness had that affect on me. Read a page, sit and wonder what was just implied, reread the page out loud, put the book down, decide I’ll give it another go tomorrow night. I can’t imagine being in Sartre’s mind, though there must be a serenity in being able to so openly spill your insecurities and create an entire new branch of philosophical thought from them.

If I sit listening to my mind, I confuse myself excessively and have to take a minute to meditate on those confusions before ignoring them, and deciding I’m just being over analytical. Nonetheless, it is quite vicious much of the time, to feel a sort of annoying hot poker jabbing at your brain, whispering “who the fuck are you?” whilst you’re trying to focus on menial life chores.

I decided long ago that I adhere to the philosophy of absurdism made famous by Albert Camus. I discovered this absurdist leaning after becoming most annoyed by a certain work etiquette and a work colleague who seemed to embody it, like Camus’ Sisyphus quietly pushing the rock up the hill only to watch it fall down again and again. I had taken a tray of food over to a table in an uninspiring conference room. An old portrait of the owners’ grandma as a toddler plagues the far wall. An old fireplace confirms my suspicion that the whole place had failed to progress beyond the 1950s. The dullness of the room was reflected in the dullness of the people sat around the conference table waiting for their overpriced dinner to arrive. I had been asked to help take the food out, a joy that I rarely partake in, not least because it is about as intellectually stimulating and as jubilant an occasion as realising you have no toilet roll left in the house during a moment of terrible bowel discomfort. Anyway, I took a tray to the table, placed it down, took the food from the tray and put it neatly in front of the gentleman. We talked for 30 seconds or so about the local football team, and we laughed about something. He was actually very pleasant. He seemed desperate to talk to someone other than the lifeless souls who had gathered around the table to eat, like robots refilling on oil. He gave me a tip too. At my workplace, they don’t normally tip. I walked out of the room and my colleague said, in a brash tone, with a stare that could cut through solid lead, said “I cannot believe you just did that“. After giving her a look of confusion, she told me that I should NEVER put the tray down on their table because it makes us look terribly unprofessional. At that moment, it struck me, just how pointless and meaningless my job was. Just how useless an existence it is to say that your full time job, is to serve rich people. She told me it was awful to put a tray down on a table; she became red with anger. To an outsider, it was as if I had gone into that room, quietly walked over to the table and waved my willy in their faces. It was an absurd situation, of which I had to laugh. I laughed at her. Not intending to be rude, I just laughed, which is rude, but I honestly don’t care. The situation deserved a laugh, and it just spontaneously came out of my face, it couldn’t be stopped. The whole episode was so insignificant it holds more meaning to me, than much of my life so far. That very episode changed my philosophical self reasoning far more than any other.

Discovering your life and your essence are absurd; putting an end to what is seemingly considered an innate search for truth and purpose, by accepting thoroughly that truth and purpose are simply man made concepts that are vastly incompatible with the chaotic and aimless nature of the universe and the random process of natural selection, we must then discover who we are individually. This is the tricky part. There are so many contradictions in my personality and so many faults and flaws that I cannot pin down exactly who I am and this frustrates me. I want to be fully rounded, I want to understand myself entirely and I want to know that I am in control of who I am and what I do.

I think it is fair to say I am decidedly introverted. I would be happy living my life with no interference from anyone else. Whereas many people can count “good listener” as a positive personal trait, I can’t. I may act it, I may pretend to care, but ultimately I am easily bored by the stories of others, I get anxious about how to respond, especially if those stories are excessively trivial. I hate clubbing, I hate too much socialising, I prefer solitude and thought. I like my own company and time to myself. I like losing myself in a book. I may come across as ignorant and at times I wont talk much, answering everything with a simple “yeah“. This is either because my mind is wandering, or I have very little interest in what is being said to me, and feel any response would be forced and inadequate. The only person I like listening to, and being around is Ash, which is probably a good thing. We went viewing homes around Bendigo in Australia last weekend. Beautiful, and yet affordable homes. We both want a personal study room, to lock ourselves away in when we need to be alone. Often you will hear people insist that a happy relationship and a happy family is achieved by spending quality time together, and that’s true. But equally as important is having your own space. Independence is a feature I must never compromise, nor would I ever wish to throw myself so deep into someone else’s life that they feel less independent. If I feel my control over my own life is under threat, I pull away and start to question the route down which my life has rolled. I do not particularly need anyone else. I simply need to know that my World remains my World. Over my domain, I am a control freak.

Carl Jung brilliantly hypothesised that introversion and extroversion are chemical reactions in the brain; the introvert experiences large energy surges when alone or in a small group, whilst the extrovert thrives on less cortical arousal, needing instead outside stimulation. I am far more comfortable writing about how I feel, than actually telling people, because whilst I know I’m being completely irrational, I subconsciously presume that no one wants to hear my ranting, in the same way that I don’t particularly want to hear the rantings of others. I cannot abide people bitching endlessly about each other, or quite clearly having issues with each other and not communicating them. I notice the unneeded tension that I am not a part of, and wonder why the fuck I am in that situation, feeling slightly uncomfortable. I suppose introvert is simply a synonym for prodigiously self involved. That is certainly what “blog” is a synonym for. Or maybe it is the climax to a series of insecurities that chip away but never get faced. I don’t know which line of reasoning I prefer. Spending too much time around others drives me close to insanity and drains me of all energy, I get all anxious and need to get away. Life is not a waste of time, if it is spent on introspection, and reflection, as long as it doesn’t eat away at you. It is a constant search for an identity that seems to so fleetingly blow in the wind. There is an impeccable beauty in the solitude I feel when I am sitting on the beach wall at Dawlish Warren on the English south coast, in the early morning, with no one else around, the sounds of the sea at that particular place is the most serene and perfect of all places in my World. That is where I go when I close my eyes at night.

That is me.


…solidarity to pure wind

May 11, 2011

Political language is designed to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give the appearance of solidarity to pure wind.
– George Orwell

Everybody on the planet is capable of synesthesic thought. Usually we only identify the most extreme and unusual cases of synesthesia and single them out for investigation at the most and a nice little story to tell your mates at the pub at the least. Synesthesia is the ability to transfer the sensation of the stimulation of one sense, to the sensation of the stimulation of another sense. For example, people who see colours and hear a sound corresponding to that colour. Or vice versa. The truth is though, we all do, every moment. The simple way to measure this affect is the bouba keke test. Look at the picture underneath and decide to yourself which is called bouba and which is called keke:

If you are like everyone else, you will call the rounded shape bouba and the spikey shape keke. The reason is the rounded shape we see, corresponds to the rounded sound of “bouba“. Around 1% of people who take the simple bouba keke test will not instantly see bouba as rounded and keke as sharp and spikey. Similarly, 99% of people will not instantly understand why someone else sees green when they think of the number 2. It similar to seeing a bright green shirt and calling it loud. In short, synethesia is involuntary metaphor.

You have all no doubt seen this. Try to say the colour, rather than the word:

This is an example of cognitive dissonance. The tension we feel when the literal translation is somehow impaired by another perception we are simultaneously holding. The above will make you struggle when you get to the word and colour that conflict with each other, because human thinking cannot disregard what we consider to be the literal meaning. We cannot shake that.

This brings me onto the point of this blog.
A few days ago, was the Royal Wedding. Predictably discussion turned to Patriotism. There is a sort of expectation in the minds of the collective, that we are supposed to feel a sense of sacrificial pride to the landmass on which you were born, loyal only to the abstraction of the National flag under which you had no choice in. And I am left in two conflicting minds.

I cannot fight the powerful urge to feel a sense of community when England play (and inevitably hopelessly lose) at a World Cup. I feel a defensive sense of anger, when I hear American Republicans insist that a British style NHS will result in refusal to treat the elderly. When I’m abroad and I hear a British accent, I feel a slight tinge of kinship, even though I have no idea who that person is. The feeling of patriotism is there. The idea of a Nation creates an automatic expectation within each individual to feel a sense of loyalty and pride toward it. Yet, it doesn’t exist. It is the solidarity of pure wind.

The sense of Patriotism and its expectations are quite unnerving. It is a type of respect and loyalty that is supposed to be given without question. We bow in its presence as if its worship is just as natural as breathing. To even question the validity of such authority is considered unpatriotic. We group ourselves, not on merit or on objective morality, but on the idea of where we were born. When the British armed forces are in Iraq, they are there for “our freedom“. Our, being the key word. We are all apparently connected by an abstract principle. They are the “heroes” and those fighting against “us” are “terrorists“, “extremists“, “insurgents” or any other noun we choice to aimlessly proscribe to entire groups of people who don’t agree with the mainstream cultural sentiments of that specific country. We are asked to look at the “enemy” as an “other“. They are not like us, because they are not from our land and our land means we are all one. They are the “enemy” because they are from another land. We look at what happened on 7/7 and see a great evil, we see the deaths of innocent people amplified because “they” are “us”. We hear news of a bombed town or village in Fallujah, and we ignore it, because “they” are far away. But if “they” shoot “our” troops, we get angry.

When Wikileaks released the video of the the American Apache pilots killing twelve innocent people, and talking about it as if it were a video game, or when video was released of American soldiers firing into a prison and throwing a grenade at the building whilst laughing and joking, no one called these people animals, or criminals, or terrorists (in fact, what we do instead, is imprison the guy – Bradley Manning – who released the video). We ignore it. We ignore it, because we have built a Patriotic narrative that whatever crime they commit, they are heroes, but the “enemy” are always “terrorists“.

This comes at a time when Americans are on the streets celebrating the death of Bin Laden. One wonders why? It will almost certainly cause a revenge attack and America may well be the target. Celebrating a death of what is perceived to be the enemy (remember, much of the World considers America to be a great threat and enemy) simply seeks to perpetuate division. President Obama said justice had been served. Justice? Hundreds of thousands of people have had to die in a war, to seek one man? And that’s justice? It isn’t a video game.

The ultra-Patriotic movement in America also creates its antithesis. There is a section of the Left that is so viciously anti-war it presumes and subtly declares as loudly as it can, that America perhaps deserved 9/11 or at least had it coming. The problem is that America didn’t create militant religious activity, it is simply a case that Nation States that aren’t built around militant religion will always come into conflict it, because the abstraction of a Nation is similar to that of religion; divisive.

It isn’t a case of Islam vs America. America, by its very nature has always been imperialistic and expansionist. It has had designs on Cuba for centuries and it shares this trait with organised religion. When Nation States mix with Capitalism, it is inevitably going to create a strain on religions, and the old power structure in which religion was built into the system is slowly eroded away to the dismay of those who quite liked the old ways, and having had the opportunity to follow the industralised Nations of their own accord, rather than being forced to for the sake of profit.
That tension between the old religiously-led system, and the new more secular way of governing was essentially forced upon the Muslim World for the sake of a more integrated global community, imposed by those in the West who thought our way was somehow “better”. Hassan al-Banna, the creator of the Muslim Brotherhood in the 1920s said:

“Politics is part of religion, Caesar and what belongs to Caesar is for God Almighty alone Islam commanded a unity of life; to impose upon Islam the Christian separation of loyalties [into church and state] is to deny it its essential meaning and very existence.”

– Here is the conflict. Islamic nations under the control of fundamentalist dictatorships consider religion to be a necessary part of the existence of the Nation State. The West doesn’t. I would up and leave the UK if we were even to impose strict religious theocratic guidelines to the politics of the country. Islamic nations in the 1920s (and arguably today) are not ready to accept the separation of religion and state, and they must be allowed to walk down that path to religious freedom themselves, without America claiming to be on a moral mission, whilst plundering the area of its resources. We cannot impose Lockean principles on Nations that are not ready for it, because by definition that is not Lockean in itself. That being the case, it is absolutely no excuse to fly planes into buildings killing innocents. If they believe their religion promotes that kind of act, then that religion deserves no respect. If it can be interpreted to include violence and death against innocent lives (which it can) then it deserves no respect. I am deeply suspicious of anyone who tells me I am offending their religion, when their religion says people like me will burn in the pits of hell for eternity. I do not respect that religion. Any religion. In the same breath, I do not respect the armed forces of a Nation who are in a foreign land, killing, to protect its resources. The two systems do not work well together. There will never be peace whilst Nation States and Religion exist.

There was a sudden burst of outrage against the “ground zero mosque” on the grounds simply of “us” and “them“. Nothing more. It was right winged outrage and very hypocritical. The right wing of America tend to have an almost Messiah-like obsession with free market capitalism. But only when it works in their favour. The buying up of the space for the what they have termed the “mosque“. It is like saying “We want no government interferen……what? They’re building a mosque for brown people? WHY ISN’T THE GOVERNMENT STOPPING THIS!!!” It is surely property rights that the American Right believe the government should not be interfering with? Property rights for everyone except those that don’t fit the American Right’s narrow vision of the World? As I stated on my blog entry last year, on the the subject, it wasn’t just a Mosque, it was the Cordoba Center. It will include a Theatre, a Performing Arts centre, a Basket Ball court, Bookstore, Child care, Prayer space, Restaurant, culinary school and fitness centre. It is already being used as a place of prayer for Muslims, and has been for quite some time. As I stated in that blog:

There is nothing that honours the victims of religious intolerance more, than a center dedicated to building relations, and showing that there does not have to be such separation, anger and fear. A symbol of the coming together of Islam and the West, and particularly Islam and America is a stage in contemporary times that we REALLY need to get to, and this Centre is an attempt to provide that link. We should be celebrating it. We should be celebrating that we are trying to move away from the past decade. We no longer want people like Palin and Bush and Cheney making sure fear is the order of the day. Innocent, decent Muslims are no different to innocent, decent Americans.

I stand by that today. Artificial, yet deafening boundaries like religion (built by faith) and nationality (built by patriotism) are dangerous and lead only to violent tension – always has.

The Imam of the Omar-E Farooq Mosque in Madrassa, Kabul in Afghanistan teaches his students to hate America. He does this, not for political reasons, but, as he puts it:

God says… we can never be friends with unbelievers

Whatever the foreign policy of the United States, Imams like this one, will also preach division and hate, because their religion tells them to. “Religion poisons everything“. One child in the school said that:

America are doing suicide attacks and blaming Osama Bin Laden……. we can never be friends”

– Absolute indoctrination of the worst kind.

The two systems (religion and secular nation states) were always going to come into conflict and I dislike them both. It is easy to say that the Reagan administration created the Taliban and militant Islam to deal with the Soviet threat during the 1980s, but it stands to reason by that very logic that fundamental protestantism created America, and so Christianity, by proxy, created militant Islam. That is the sum total of the logic taken to its limit, by the delusional anti-war Left. The truth is, militant Islam has always existed. It is based on religion and nothing else. The militant branch of Islam had no problem when America was in Latin America supporting right winged terrorists; in fact the militant branch of Islam was working with America at that point. Militant Islam is expansionist by its very nature and has been responsible for both empire, and human rights abuses, much like the nation of America, over the centuries. The two are similar. Patriotism creates two breeds of lunatic; firstly the type who refuse to accept their nation could do anything wrong, and cheer on the streets of Washington when the leader of the supposed “enemy” is killed, like they’ve just beat the top bad guy on Call of Duty but refusing to acknowledge that hundreds of thousands have been killed or displaced using their tax dollars. The second type, is the antithesis mentioned above, who are content with defending militant Islam as a by-product of aggressive American foreign policy choosing to ignore the history of organised religion as one of sheer violence and coercion long before Nation States came onto the scene. Patriotism, like adherence to religion is simply a perpetuation of the inherent problems the two mutually exclusive yet very similar abstractions inevitably create.

I don’t know if it is a natural reaction, when we are constantly exposed to patriotic sentiment, that we adhere to this us VS them principle. I know I certainly do, and it takes me a minute or two to logically think through the implications of unquestioning Patriotism. That, leaves me feeling slightly uneasy.

We are blinded by the perception of what we expect to see.


The Royal Summary….

April 29, 2011

It is nice to see that William and Kate chose to get married 66 years to the day that Adolf Hitler and Eva Braun tied the knot. And as Australian Geoff pointed out, William is a relative of Henry VIII. We can expect Kate to be his first wife, and for William to try to invade France at any point. James Hewitt’s son, Harry is not dressed like a Nazi.

It amused me greatly that the Ambassador of Syria was uninvited from the wedding. An ambassador of an anti-democratic regime banned from the wedding of the epitome of anti-democracy who are where they are through centuries of fear and violence, for being too un-democratic. It is almost poetic.

Elton John and partner David Furnish arrived at the Abbey. He always gets called “…partner David Furnish“. When we see the neighbour, we say “There’s John, with his dog Max“. Partner David Furnish is spoke of like Elton’s pet. Partner David Furnish mustn’t like that.

“The first ray of sunshine shone over buckingham palace, literally the exact moment Kate walked into the room” – Fox News. Brilliant. The land of make belief is very very prominent within the four walls of Fox.

Here is me. Look at me smile. Look how happy I am. Look how bright the room is. That isn’t the sun. That is the light of the Monarchy brightening my otherwise dark day.

– Incase you’re wondering, the midget on the mantlepiece is Elf Ash.

A woman being interviewed on ITV just said “Oh they’re a lovely couple. They’re so down to Earth”. I’m not too sure how that woman knows the couple so well, but apparently she does.

Why do we still have a monarchy? Why? I don’t understand.

Fox News, in its typical brilliant way, showed a montage of Diana’s face fading out and Kate’s smilie face fading in. I wanted to be sick. I still do. To their credit, they stopped short of blaming Obama for Diana’s death.

Cleggs missus looks like she has JFK’s assassinated head on the side of her face. Perhaps her choice of hat was an unconscious decision, a symbolic attempt to let us all know how it feels to be married to the most hated man in British politics. Like being assassinated….

Speaking of assassinations, Obama is in Alabama today. Or as the rest of the World calls it, the 1800s.

Blair and Brown have not been invited. Major and Thatcher have. The official line is that Blair and Brown are not Knights of the Garter. Though why Boris and Douglas Hurd have been invited is a little bit bemusing. Perhaps Boris is about to become Sir Boris for services to being a massive twat. Blair won three elections. He also managed to pull the Royals out of the shit after Diana died. Thatcher was thrown out by her own party. Major was the most boring man in history.

I like that William is balding. I feel relieved.

There is a man in the crowd with a very funny moustache. It has no relevance to this blog or to the wedding in general, but the moustache looks like a small woodland creature attacking his face. If that isn’t worth a mention, I don’t know what is.

It is nice to see The Met managed to be next to young people, without smashing their faces in.

I hope Prince Andrew turns up at any moment, drunk, with a 16 year old girl on his arm, and announcing that he has sold Westminster Abbey to a consortium of Bahraini business men and that everyone needs to leave immediately because it is being bulldozed to make way for a car park.

David Cameron thinks the hundreds of thousands of people lining the streets of Whitehall and the Mall are there for the wedding. Actually, they’re the people he is in the process of making homeless, for the sake of big business.

President Obama was far smarter than Prime Minister Gillard. Obama clearly knew that this was all just a ploy to get the leaders of former colonial nations in one place, whilst we secretly take back our old possessions. Australia will be ours again. We will forget about this silly independence thing.

The priest said “William and Catherine, you have chosen to be married in front of a generous God”. Yes, he’s generous! Yeah but, what about all the killing in the old testament by God?…… forget that. But what about all the wars in the name of that God?….. yeah forget that too. But what about all the people in Africa who were told by the Pope that condoms actually spread AIDS?…….. can you please just forget that and listen to the Priest! He’s never wrong! Oh and then an attack on secularism. Nice.

In the build up to the wedding, BBC and SKY kept telling us how wonderful Kate is. “Look at her walking around and shaking hands. Isn’t she amazing. It’s like she’s been doing this for years.” No one can walk like she can. Is there anything she can’t do? I see her walk and think “My god……. what a woman!

Prince Harry is dressed like a curtain. It has given me ideas for our kitchen windows. I am still annoyed that he isn’t dressed as Goering. Prince William is dressed like Pete Doherty in the ‘Don’t look Back into the sun’ video.

Princess Eugenie has a butterfly splatted on her forehead.

The Dean of Westminster is dressed like a Jedi.

Apparently the Middleton family really annoyed the Royals when they first met. They did something horrific. Something beyond repulsive. Something that makes me heave. They said “Pleased to meet you” as opposed to “how do you do“. Scum.

They have been described as a typical middle class family. You know, those typical families that own multi million pound businesses and live in a five bedroom estate, and a full private education for your kids and a £750,000 flat in London. Ah yes, I know it well.

Is it wrong that when I saw Kate in her dress, my instant reaction was “Miss Havisham”. And just in case you’re interested, Kate is wearing, erm, a dress. It’s white. It’s a white dress. A white wedding dress, actually.

BBC described her as “she looks, behind that veil, a picture of contentment“. I had to sit and wonder for a second whether they said “contemptment“. Having checked my dictionary, and discovering that contemptment isn’t actually a word, I figure that Kate Middleton isn’t full of contempt, with hate behind her veil.

The Queen is taking the time in her bulletproof car to wave to commoners. Remarkable. Those people are mere scum, and she has such love for them, as she waves to the poor, working class feces that line the street outside her home, drenched in ignorant patriotism.

Interestingly, the last King William was William III. He went to war with Catholicism and the French. Before him, William II went to war with France. William I took on Brittany in France. Is this a trend? Is William going to dress like a Knight and single handedly invade France. I once dreamt that David Beckham single handedly invaded France dressed as a Knight. David Beckham is in the Abbey today. Coincidence?

With David Cameron, Nick Clegg, and the Royal Family all in Westminster Abbey, could I potentially stage a coup? Emperor Jamie?

It is history being made. I dislike the symbol of the history being made. It’s a big game in pomp. It isn’t real. It is actually quite disturbing when you consider the amount of homeless people living in London, to see the biggest benefit claimants in the Country have a wedding so lavish, at the expense of the people. But it is history. So it goes…


…from her melodious lay

April 20, 2011

If you take the time to read the diary entries of Christopher Columbus after he found land in the “New World“, you notice a distinct lack of awe. There is no language describing in detail the land itself. This is a continent that no European had ever step foot on before, and Columbus spends almost the entire length of his journals, telling posterity that he expects to find gold any time soon. He speaks of all the marketable goods this new World could offer. The first group of people who meets, are the Taino’s. He describes them as:

They are very gentle and without knowledge of what is evil; nor do they murder or steal..Your highness may believe that in all the world there can be no better people ..They love their neighbours as themselves, and they have the sweetest talk in the world, and are gentle and always laughing.

This admiration for the Tainos does not foreshadow the devastation that the arrival of the Spanish would cause to the Taino people, who by 17th Century, were all but wiped out. After noting their friendly natures, Columbus regained his European nature, and wrote to the Spanish government:

The Tainos could all be subjected and made to do all that one might wish.

Suddenly, the people became a commodity.
Columbus’ diaries show that the mode of thought that Europeans had in the 15th Century was aimed exclusively at commerce. Columbus obsession with finding gold was entirely because his financiers would demand it back home. The lack of description of the landscape is echoed in the lack of descriptive language in their vocabulary. Gonzalo Fernández, the Spanish historian proves this decisive lack of language, and leads me onto the point of this blog, perfectly:

Of all the things I have seen, this is the one thing that has most left me without hope of being able to describe it in words. It needs to be painted by the hand of a Berruguete, or some other excellent painter like him, or by Leonardo de Vinci, or Andrea Mentegna, famous painters whom I knew in Italy

To understand my favourite era’s in art – the Renaissance and Pre-Raphaelites – we have to understand the context of the time period in which they were created. The vast majority of people were supremely materialistic and beauty was largely ignored unless it had some sort of commercial value in the 14th, 15th and 16th Century. The way Columbus spoke of the Taino people in Hispaniola was not malicious for the time period. Through 21st century specs, Columbus’ words regarding the subjugation of an entire group of people seem heartless, especially given that he had already noted just how gentle those people were. But through 15th Century European specs, they were common.

Renaissance and later Baroque artists managed to convey a World both lost to antiquity, and contemporary but free from the constrains of a deeply materialistic World that they inhabited. That is their genius. The beauty of the World is somehow missed when it is overshadowed by the need for “things”. We ignore objects that the artists amplify. The natural World is just “there“, it becomes both a commodity and entirely ignored because there are apparently more important things to focus our attention on. If we get very little pleasure from seeing a tree because we’re so used to it, but we note the beauty of Giorgione’s (or Titian’s… no one is sure which one of the two painted it) pastoral scene in which the trees have an almost dreamlike quality, for no apparent reason, we have heightened our sense of reality. That is what art is supposed to do.

I cannot put my finger on what it is I love so much about Renaissance art. But I suspect it is because the artist takes an everyday object and makes me take note of that object in a painting, despite the fact that I wouldn’t normally take note of that object in reality. It heightens my sense of reality. If we jump forward to another favourite time period in art, of mine, to 1829, and to the Pre-Raphaelite Sir John Everett Millais (which is odd, given that the Pre-Raphaelites really hated Renaissance concepts), and more specifically, to his work “Ophelia” (one of my all time favourite paintings), this heightened sense of awareness becomes apparent:

We sense calm, we sense perhaps spring, we sense the contrast between the strong colours of nature, and the grey, lifeless colours of Shakespeare’s dying Ophelia. Her face does not stand out among the very allegorical choice of flowers. Pansies were also known as hearts-ease, meaning peace in feeling. The poppy has always signified death. Daisies signified innocence. The plants and flowers Millais included were not at the scene in which he painted, he added them himself for a reason. The poppy doesn’t appear in Shakespeare’s description either. Ophelia’s expression contrasts with the madness of the character Shakespeare created. She looks at peace. The flowers she holds signify the peacefulness of her death, despite the madness of her life. Her hair looks peaceful, it is not all over her face. She is not face down in the darkness of the water, she is holding flowers. The Victorians had a little bit of an odd obsession with the “language of flowers“. Her face is white and her clothes flow into the river at the end of the painting neatly. There is no madness to her death. That is why Millais’ Ophelia heightens my sense of a reality I am blissfully unaware of in my every day life.

In his book “The Florentine Painters of the Renaissance”, Berenson sums this up perfectly, by stating that:

… the chief business of the figure painter, as an artist, is to stimulate the tactile imagination

– That is to say, the artist is there to point out the World that we are unaware of, and say “look, this is it, enjoy it!!” Art is a reminder of what is real.

The 15th and 16th Centuries needed the Renaissance painters to convey a World that was beyond the imagination of the every day person looking for material gain. Columbus is the epitome of that obsession for material gain. When faced with a brand new World, his only thought was material wealth. Conversely, without that obsession with material wealth, art is pointless.


Like life

April 15, 2011

Sometimes I just want to write.
I don’t know why, but it becomes a sort of irreproachable desire that overwhelms whatever it is I am doing at the particular moment and I want to write. I have hundreds of drafts of random blogs I’ve started when the propensity to sit down at my laptop and arrange thought patterns into words massacres all other modes of thought. And then I get frustrated with the direction the blog takes, knowing it has no real ending, and so I just give up and wallow in languid self pity. I am told this is common for people who enjoy writing. Perfectionism is a fucking bitch. So I thought i’d just write, and see where it leads, and when it ends it ends. And like life It has no overwhelming purpose or meaning, and just imposes itself on those it chooses without aim, quickly forgotten. Bits and pieces imprint themselves on the memory of the back of the darkest reaches of the consciousness, but its essence is always there contributing to what it is (even in the smallest and seemingly insignificant ways) that makes you, you.

I was five when we moved away from Cavendish Road, just off of Saffron Lane. I vividly remember a significant amount of enlightening episodes from before the move. Here are a few:

I remember the fucking horrendous accents – I hate the Leicester accent. I have made a conscious effort over the years to eradicate it from my own speech. If being beaten up badly, and then being spat on as you lay crying in a wrecked ball in a shit filled gutter could be conveyed through an accent, it would be the Leicester accent. It does however provide some beautifully crafted sentences I over hear a lot. Today, in Tesco, a boy on his mobile phone, said “yeah well Josh can suck the fucking piss out of my dirty black nips”. I have never in my life wanted to kill someone for raping the English language, whilst at the same time wanting to worship him as the God of beautiful sentences, so much.

I remember a man being kicked in the face by two other men and then being chased away.

I remember drawing a picture of a boat and my teacher pinning it up on the door of the classroom. I was so proud. But we lived in the social darkness and backwardness of Tory England then, as we do now, and no one told me that pursuing art for art sake is irrelevant in Tory England, we should aim for a life in a call centre instead. Beauty is the destitute office with the distinct smell of printer ink, in Tory England.

I remember adorning myself in Leicester City blue and white and walking down to Filbert Street with my dad, past the rows of cars with Leicester City badges in the windows, and drifting into the wind with the same fans week after week. I was born one year after Gary Lineker moved to Everton from Leicester. The early 90s weren’t the greatest years for Leicester. Though I saw them play in the most exciting Wembley play off final i’ve ever seen, when Swindon Town beat us 4-3 after we went from 3-0 down to 3-3. Steve Thompson was the man on the back of my Leicester shirt that year. The walk to Filbert Street down Saffron Lane was one of the highlights of my childhood. I once saw a man push a grown woman down a flight of stairs of the double decker stand at Filbert Street, she smacked her head and passed out. That wasn’t such a highlight.

I remember my dad and I watching a sunday league football match on Nelson Mandela park, when the ball was manically kicked out of play, and smashed me in the face. The guilty player (who I am adamant even now, should be shot) came over deeply apologetic, and is now one of my dads good mates. My dad befriended my abuser. Thanks dad.

I remember walking downstairs one morning to find our shop had been broken into, the windows smashed, and police talking to my dad. This is pretty normal when you live a few doors in from Saffron Lane. The terraced houses all look the same; the towering army of Edwardian brick chimney tops, street after street. England. But the street is usually full of kids kicking a ball, and old women with nets over their hair for some uninspiring reason. Mrs Spick lived opposite us. I always thought ‘Spick’ was a name that conveyed the feeling of living in cramped streets. She was about 50. I vividly remember the awful smell that emanated from her. She spat when she spoke. Missus Spick spat when she spoke. Oh how the structure of language can disguise the vile essence it is trying to convey. Which leads me onto the next memory.

I remember the day I learnt the word “cunt”. I was 5. I overheard a man on my street call his girlfriend a cunt. We Leicestarians know how to treat our ladies. I didn’t know what it meant, so I thought i’d put this wonderful new addition to my vocabulary to use immediately. My friend who was over with his mum, and I were playing with our wrestling figures. I was Brett Hart, he was Crush. Crush attacked Brett and kicked him across the room. I didn’t hesitate any longer, “you cunt”, I yelled as loud as I could. The helper at our shop overheard me and went insane at me. So I called her a cunt too. I didn’t know what it meant, but the reaction was amazing. One single word could cause an atomic bomb to explode around me? This was like gold dust! Thus began my fascination with the power of language. Word became both exciting, yet largely meaningless and empty. My year 7 English teacher told my parents I would never be a reader and i’d never be a writer. I’ve told this story to a lot of people, because it explains exactly why I struggle at times with my confidence. She used language to convey her stupidity and ignorance and I knew it even back then. Just because I didn’t like Shakespeare, nor her, I was doomed to sit dribbling on myself and getting fat in a dark room with nothing but a TV for entertainment. What a cunt.

I remember cricket. I come from a cricket background. My dad played cricket. He now coaches cricket. He loves cricket. My mum catered for cricket testimonial matches. I could often be found in a hired out old pub, surrounded by people in grey suits talking about who should and shouldn’t make the team. Cricket is an odd game. It is played by kids, coached by the kids grown up, and watched by snobs. The pub rooms and the snobs always smelled of real ale. I can remember the smell so distinctly. Sometimes I miss it. Real ale, and old leather from the seats in the pub rooms. I played cricket for the school for a few years. I was pretty good too. But my god, it’s a boring sport.

I remember being told by our school that we should be careful because there is a man roaming the area trying to take kids by offering them sweets. I have only just learnt that all schools do this every year to teach kids about the risk of paedophiles. But when I was younger, it sounded to me like they were warning us against taking sweets from people. Why would they do that? If someone is offering me sweets, I should say no? Only people who offer kids sweets, want to kill me? All of them? This confusion led me at the age of seven to accuse the shop keeper at the end of the road of trying to take kids, because he sells Snickers. In a shop full of people, me, a kid, accused the shop keeper of being a child molester. Great. Thanks school! Not only did you make me believe I could be Fritzled at any moment, you also ruined the life of the nice corner shop owner. I hope you’re happy with yourselves.

I remember a man a few doors down from us, who was in his 90s and had one leg, the other had been blown off when Saffron Lane was bombed during the war. On the BBC war website, a writer who was eight years old during the war writes:

The worst bomb damage that I saw was in Cavendish Road, on August 21st 1940. I was with my dad in his lorry on the coal wharf at Danvers Road. The air raid siren sounded, it was just after ten o’clock. Dad made me go into an air raid shelter near by, when the all clear sounded, I came out of the shelter and we could see the smoke rising. Dad was worried as it looked to be in the direction of where we lived. He said “come on son we had better go and see if mum is OK”. As we came up the Saffron Lane past the end of Cavendish Road the gas main was blazing and I could see lots of bomb damage, many buildings were in ruins, people were just being rescued with ambulance’s and fire engines all around. This was less than half an hour after the raid. Six people were killed

All I knew from the history of my street, was that it had been destroyed during the war. This one guy in his 90s used to say this his knee in his one remaining leg hurt, and he’s lucky he doesn’t have to deal with pain in the other one. He was fascinating. Here is a picture of the building that got hit. Our place was a few doors up from here:


The houses are pretty much exactly as they were back then. Though, minus that massive gaping hole on the corner.

I remember my primary school teacher had some sort of odd mental breakdown whilst reading a book with me one day, and started to sing “the wheels on the bus” whilst stood on a table. She then collapsed and was taken away by the school nurse and a few teachers. It’s funny because I worried about her. We never saw her at school again. Years later I saw her driving.

End.


The mouth of a river in spring

March 17, 2011

When I was six, before life became work, and taxes, and benefit cheats, and women, and racism, and war, and men in suits, and bin collections, and Churchill car insurance, and bank charges for unplanned overdrafts, and Company mission statements with their empty phrases, and burnt out cars, and call centres, and fights to prove you’re masculine, and cars, and alcohol and other games that adults play, I got so angry at my mother one day that I ran away. It was a big decision. I packed my rucksack with crayons and a yoghurt, and ran away.

I braced myself for the harsh conditions I expected I would face as I set out on my trek.

Before I continue, I thought I should explain the state of mind I was almost always in, as a child. And nothing explains that state of mind better than a picture of me apparently pretending to be a surfboard.

If that isn’t enough, here is a picture I drew a couple of years later. I think this should convince you of my state of mind. And also, convince Tate Britain that I have been overlooked far too often for the Turner Prize.

Anyway, I had ran away from home.

I lived for the next ten minutes in a bush at the bottom of the garden, before making my way back across the hostile environment of the 20 or so feet to the house, to get back home because it was a bit cold, and I liked Saved by the Bell. I was under the impression that my mother must be going mad with worry, and the police might now be in the house, and that it’d teach her for not buying me the football magazine that I wanted.

Whilst I was in the bush, I decided that the ladybird that was on the leaf next to me, was called Daisy and that she was playing hide and seek with another lady bird and that I had to tell the other lady bird that I hadn’t seen daisy, if the other lady bird were to ask. The other lady bird never appeared. I guessed this was because Daisy had chosen a fucking amazing hiding place. She was on one leaf out of the hundreds of thousands of leaves that were enjoying the great British springtime. The leaf she was perched on was facing downwards. I decided that the leaf must be helping Daisy out but I couldn’t decide whether this was cheating or not.

I vividly remember wishing Daisy luck with the rest of the game, and that if I were her, i wouldn’t hide in the shed, because I once put all my action men figures in there and they are now covered in spider webs from the World’s biggest spiders. I used to think the dad spider (which was obviously bigger than my house) would eat me if I tried to rescue my action men. One day a few months later, I hatched a profound plan to rescue the action men (and wrestling figures), by creeping into the shed, with a beanie hat on, and my face covered by my hands, and making what I had decided were “spider noises” to trick the dad spider. It worked. The dad spider must have fell for my tricks. I felt so fucking clever. The action men and wrestling figures are now gathering dust in my loft, because my room is too full of work on the “qualitative methodology in research journalism“. So, when I remember all my little imaginative games (which I believed were real at the time), in those ten minutes in that bush when I was six, I had an imagination that I now envy twenty years later.

We are like roses that have never bothered to
bloom when we should have bloomed and
it is as if
the sun has become disgusted with
waiting

It is like a door that is slowly closing, to a room full of imagination. Every year that passes, the door creaks ever so more toward being fully closed, as your mind is taken up with things that do not make us happy, or achieve anything of any worth. I try to peek inside that door, when I am taking photos, or writing in my notebook, but it still requires much thought and consideration to enjoy. When I was six years old, it took no effort to believe that a ladybird on the leaf next to me, was enjoying the sun, with a game with her ladybird friends.

Imagination is limited to dreams now. When I was a child I had no need for dreams at night. My imagination in real life was adequate. Some days, I was a professional footballer who was only six years old, but had become the most successful goal scorer in history. The commentators would say “He’s incredible. The greatest that ever lived“. Other days I was a professional boxer. The World Heavyweight Championship was my pillow. I would put it on my stomach and use my mum’s dressing gown tie to tie it around my waist.The commentators, quite coincidentally would say “He’s incredible. The greatest that ever lived“. I was the greatest that ever lived at a lot of things by the time I was seven. I could sleep easily at night without having to dream, knowing my World Heavyweight Championship would still be there in the morning. Now, I dream every night. I remember every second of every dream. I interpret it as a desire to imagine. My mind simply telling me “Okay forget everything about your boring day, here is what matters……” followed by a dream about a theme park being built in my street over night and no one knowing who did it or where it came from (a genuine dream I had not too long ago).

When I see a ladybird now, I don’t even acknowledge it. I don’t count its spots. I don’t even give it a name and a back story. I am too busy thinking about the NHS reforms.

How sad.

I want my imagination to explain why I prefer the mouth of a river in spring, to the grey lifeless buildings filled with the grey lifeless people with their grey lifeless language, that frequent them, even though those lifeless buildings are where the money and the apparent “dignity” lies and why those grey lifeless people in the grey lifeless buildings with their grey lifeless language, don’t congregate every evening, to forget their colourless lives, at the mouth of a river in spring.


The antonym of reason

February 7, 2011

It is no secret that given my way, I would have chapters from ‘God is not great’ by the wonderful Christopher Hitchens read loudly to school children in early morning assembly, followed by a reading from Darwin’s Origin of Species. Sadly, at my primary school, we had to endure horrid little assemblies that started with prayer, followed by hymns, followed by a Jesus story; all presented as fact, father than fairy tale.

So I took it upon myself, now that I am older – and free to question without being sent out of assembly for disrupting prayer – to send an email to our local council, to raise this with them. I inquired:

I was wondering if you could spare a couple of minutes to answer a few questions I have.
I am an ex-pupil of The Meadows. I am 25 now and studying at Demontfort University. I was talking to another ex-pupil a week or two ago, and we both vividly recall the school assemblies in which we started each one with prayer and hymns. This strikes me as a little odd. I never questioned the religious aspect of what we were being taught. As a kid, I understood the stories from the Bible that our trusted teachers were reading to us, as fact. Why would I assume any different? We weren’t being taught any different.

The stories we were read from the Bible were taught as truth and as factual as 1+1=2. If we did not sit in silence and pray and sing hymns, we were sent out of the assembly. I wondered why this is?

I do not recall hearing the name Darwin until I was at least 12, and even then it was in passing. We were encouraged to read or listen to Biblical stories, which I’ve since dismissed as nonsense, and yet were never introduced to even the very basics of Darwinian thought.

We were taught the Christian way in the truth. Any one of any other religion was sent out of the assembly for prayers and hymns, creating a horrible social barrier that you can’t see past as children, it simply perpetuates the problem of suspicion toward anyone considered “different”.

I also note that the Christian story, whilst not being contrasted with the very fundamentals of Darwinian fact, was also not contrasted with any other form of philosophical thought. We were not taught to question what our headteacher was reading out to us. We were not taught the frankly appalling history of Organised Religion, instead we were apparently a part of that organisation because we were being told that fairy tales were truth without being encouraged and taught to think freely for ourselves, we would be punished if we were to do so.

I was wondering if this was a government policy at the time, or if the school imposed those ideas on us themselves, and if so, do you believe it was the right thing to do?
Thanks for your time.

It is surely a matter of concern when a teacher is imposing religion onto easily suggestible young minds, without teaching them also how to question what is being said? The Jehovah’s Witness kids along with the Muslim children were always sent out whilst prayer was conducted. And as kids, we always viewed them as “different”. This apparently needless social barrier is reflected later in life. Especially in deeply religious Nations. Muslims and Atheists especially in America are treated with fear and a degree of resentment from the Christian Right. I cannot see any purpose in morning prayer and hymns. It certainly isn’t cultural learning, because it espouses the ideals of Christianity above all else.

Anyway, the Senior School Development Advisor for the School Improvement and Performance Service of the Council very kindly got back to me, with:

Dear Jamie

Thank you for your e-mail which has been passed to me for response.

The legislation around assemblies (which is still in place today), is that there should be a daily act of collective worship which should be wholly or mainly of a broadly Christian nature in every maintained school, whether it is a church school or not. Therefore, what you describe as practice at the Meadow Primary School would have been following the legislation. There is scope within the law for parents to request that their children do not attend Collective Worship and alternative supervision has to be put in place for these children. In some schools, parents make alternative arrangements for their children to have tuition about their own religions at this time. From your description, I would imagine this was the case at The Meadow Primary School when you were a pupil there.

The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum, although the school can designate assembly time to cover part of the syllabus if they wish. The religious education curriculum is education about different religions and the syllabus is drawn together in each local authority by an independent group of advisers from different religions. Teaching in religious education is intended to inform about different religions, not convert children to any religion. Darwinism is not included as it is not considered to be a religion. Again, there is scope within the law for parents to request that their children should be withdrawn from Religious Education.

The theories of evolution are covered in the Science curriculum, particularly in primary around the way animals and plants have adapted to their environment. At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.

In your e-mail you question the school’s practice of withdrawing children who misbehaved from assembly. Every school has a duty to ensure that the behaviour of some children does not interrupt the concentration of others and I presume this is how the school implemented that duty.

You obviously feel strongly about the collective worship and religious education in Primary School and the effect it had on you. Legislation about Collective Worship and the content of the curriculum is set by central government. The Department for Education is currently running a consultation on what should be in a revised curriculum. Although they are not looking specifically at RE, I strongly advise that you consider responding to the consultation with your views of the curriculum, as it is important that young people who have recently been through the education system should have opportunity to contribute. I include a web-link for your convenience, which also contains links to the DfE curriculum review facebook page.

Whilst I appreciated the response, I did get the feeling that she was suggesting that she sees no problem with the balance being tipped too far in favour of religion over the fundamentals of Darwinist thought. The entire study of Modern Biology is based on the concepts discovered by Charles Darwin. In fact, not just Modern Biology, but all the life sciences…

  • Ecology
  • Biocomputing
  • Nanotechnology
  • Botany
  • Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Food science
  • Immunology
  • Zoology
  • Biomedical Sciences
    etc etc etc etc etc.
    Whilst it might be true that the adaptation of plants and animals to their environment was taught…. I don’t remember it, it wasn’t pressed home, it wasn’t explained, and its immense importance on philosophy, science, human development and our ancestral history was passed over because they apparently think it is far more important for us to believe that God put us here; a lie. We certainly never knew that all life is descended from common ancestry; the very fundamentals.

    The problem, as I see it, lies in this line:

    “The collective worship does not form part of the religious education curriculum.”

    The above line is reflected in the legislation that it references.
    The School Standards and Framework Act 1998, section 70, states:

    Requirements relating to collective worship.

    (1)Subject to section 71, each pupil in attendance at a community, foundation or voluntary school shall on each school day take part in an act of collective worship.

    That’s quite a worrying line in a piece of legislation, to me. Why is it considered necessary, by law, for a child to be involved in worship? Why isn’t the child allowed to choose? Surely it is not a requirement of the State to be demanding mandatory religious worship of its children?

    The “collective worship” (what an awful phrase, very cult-like) is not a part of the education curriculum. It stands outside of that. It transcends the curriculum. Something as unimportant as unprovable dogma and superstition is considered strangely important enough to be placed above the curriculum and used primarily for a method of Christian indoctrination, as it was at my school. At the same time, the way plants adapt to their surroundings, is on the curriculum, it is of secondary importance, according to the legislation of the land, and it is all that exists in the way of the fundamentals of Darwinian thought. I see this as a major, major imbalance in the system. Couple this with the incredibly unhealthy concept of Religious Schools themselves, and humanity is always going to be strangled at a very early stage in the development of our minds, by religious dogma.

    “At Primary School, “Charles Darwin” might not be mentioned in person (this is not prescribed in the curriculum) but some schools might choose to do so.”

    – That is absolutely not good enough. His name is far, far more important, to be heard at a young age, than Jesus. There is absolutely no question about that. One of those names probably didn’t exist, and simply speaks of a very narrow spectrum of morality, contradicting himself and prior Christian teachings, endlessly. His words were written down 40 years after he died, and have been rewritten, manipulated and revised for centuries. The other is responsible for the most important discovery that humanity has ever stumbled across.

    The Department of Education issued guidance on collective worship, which states as its objective:

    …. promote the spiritual, moral, cultural, mental and physical development of pupils and of society.

    – It is true that an assembly is a great way to bring children together, but it shouldn’t be assumed that religion is the basis of morality. There is a quite a formidable case to be made, that says religion has not been a force for moral good in the World, and that by excluding the horrific history of religion, schools are teaching a vast amount of ignorance on such an extreme level. Basing morality on Christianity is an epic over statement, and suggests that without collective worship, children would be unable to taught to distinguish between right and wrong. Morality is not based on religion. Religion attempts to base itself on the contextual morality of a specific time. Morality is simply society evolving collectively, for its own survival and advancement. Christian interrogation techniques of the 1500s would not be considered moral today. The slavery advocated in the Old Testament, is certainly not moral. The imprisonment of George Holyoak for blasphemy in 1843, would not be considered moral now. Religion is a dynamic force that updates along with society, it is not special, it is offering nothing new, and it is still a force for regression. Humanity invented it, so humanity can do without it.

    The guidelines go on:

    It is a matter of deep concern that in many schools these activities do not take place with the frequency required or to the standards that pupils deserve.

    – What is actually of deep concern, is state sponsored fairy tales promoted as truth. What is “collective worship”? What are we worshipping? Can the state prove that was we are collectively worshiping actually exists, and if by some miracle they can justify it, can they prove that the entity they are worshiping is good? Because for every relatively non-violent passage in the Bible, I can pick out another ten that say otherwise.
    They are promoting Christianity for reasons of tradition, and tradition is the absolute antonym of reason.

    I argue that the balance is tipped firmly in the wrong direction. It is the reason why people will still genuinely believe themselves when they say “yeah but evolution is just a theory”….. no it isn’t. The supreme ignorance cannot be attributed entirely to the individual, it must start from a young age. Evolution; and all the wonderful branches that stem from it, such as biology and zoology, are apparently less important than making sure impressionable children believe religion is the foundation of all morality. The early education system teaches that Jesus was born to a Virgin, they he is the son of God and that he died for our sins. It is a very one sided view of history and a vast manipulation of a child’s mind. A mind which is like a sponge at that age, cannot comprehend the illogical nonsense of what their trusted teacher is implying.

    Religious teaching in schools should be limited to cultural studies, not presented as fact.


  • Multiculturalism in England

    February 5, 2011

    At the Student protest rally in London last November, I saw a group of people marching together; laughing and joking, holding a sign saying “Jewish and Muslim Students Unite“. A Jewish guy was holding the hand of a Muslim girl. Sadly, I didn’t manage to take a photo of those two. But I got a photo of the banner. I cannot think of a better symbol of the success of multiculturalism in this country, than that group of young people. Whilst the older generation (and a few crazed extremists) likes to cling on to some oddly indefinable nostalgic sense of “Britishness”, the rest of us are getting on with each other, just fine.

    David Cameron today has claimed that Britain has become too tolerant of extreme Muslims. It is an unfortunate speech because it comes on the same day as the biggest EDL rally in its history in Luton, later today. Cameron’s mistake is that he mentioned Muslim extremism particularly, and not English Nationalism too.

    Both are intolerable thugs, yet both are just not important. They should be ridiculed and ignored.

    Cameron makes this speech a year after Merkal of Germany made pretty much the same speech in which she argued that German Multiculturalism had failed, and argued for a strong German national identity……… a strong……. German…. national identity…………. I wont point out the obvious flaw there.

    He claimed that too many Muslim organisations are showered with public money, without doing anything to combat extremism. The question is, are the extremists part of these groups showered with public money? If they are, then of course they should be trying to combat the extreme element. But if they aren’t, then why should they? It’s like claiming that all middle aged men should be using their time and influence to combat the fact that a large number of paedophiles, tend to be middle aged men.

    It would be terribly ignorant to suggest that there isn’t an extreme element of Islam in the UK. There is. Is it a threat? No. It is a fringe group of fundamentalists, just like the EDL, or should not be acknowledged or given a platform whatsoever. When either EDL or Muslim groups start to propagate violence, then it is up to the security services to make sure they don’t make good on their pathetic threats. But whilst they keep talking about “the word of God”, we should shake our heads, wondering how humanity hasn’t managed to progress past the middle ages, philosophically.

    There are many many English Nationalist bloggers who blog exclusively concerning Islamic fundamentalism. They never mention violence and racial discourse by English Nationalism, because they are a part of that propaganda machine intended to imagine Englanders as the great victims. It is of course nonsense, but it isn’t just English Nationalists who play that card….

    The Islamic Standard takes fairy tale delusions to the next level. It is religious folk like he, that I despise. They are the cancer of the Earth. He states of a soldier who has recently died in combat:

    The family said in a statement: “Martin was proud to be in the Parachute Regiment and serving his country. He served three years as a Police Community Support Officer in West Yorkshire Police before joining the PARAs.”

    So not only was he in it for the money like many soldiers, but actually believed in this war against Islam and though anyone can change whilst still alive and become a better person, I can’t help feeling the world is a better place without this nationalistic enemy of Muslims on the planet.

    One wonders why he thinks we should be a “friend” of his brand of Islam, when he preaches the total overthrow of our entire culture, and replacement by his.
    It’s an ugly sentiment. It makes me angry to read it. But knee-jerk reactions, to Religious Fascism is what leads to the rise of National Fascism, and that’s fucking horrendous too.
    It is ironic that he uses the term “nationalistic”. Nationalism is the mirror image of Religious fundamentalism. Both are fighting for a silly little concept, an outdated, human invention. A non-divine, delusion. He lives in a Country that allows him the freedom to wish death upon anyone who isn’t the biggest fan of his fairy tale delusion, and yet he condemns it. As an Atheist, I do not condemn him to death, I do not want to impose my ways on him. I’m sure he can be a nice, civilised, loving person, when he isn’t being a massively racist thug. Whether the man who died was a soldier or not, is irrelevant to Islamic Standard, because in his “about” section, he states:

    We also don’t condemn our brethren who do violent acts in the UK, they have their evidence, we have our’s and we love them for the sake of Allah, they are our brothers and sisters and we would never agree to hand them over to the kufr Taghoot authorities and believe to side with the Kuffar, aid them in their war against Islam by either spying on the Muslims or joining their crusading armies and police forces are acts of Kufr Akbar (major disbelief).

    – He does not condemn terrorism. He loves them, actually. For the sake of a fairy man in the sky, he loves terrorists. But he doesn’t love Western terrorism. The terrorists have to be Muslims. Violence and murder is perfectly acceptable, as long as you’re slightly Arabic. Because his God apparently differentiates between the skin colour or culture of his murderers. He condemns Western aggression throughout the World (which I do too), but he does not condemn Muslim extremism, when its aim is to install its punitive religious bullshit on those of us who would rather drink our own piss than submit to religious “values”. What if his “brethren” (a word that always makes me laugh, a product of religious delusion) who “do violent acts” kill a child? Is that not condemnable? What about an innocent old lady (I know extremists like to try to justify their inherently violent nature, by suggesting that no one is “innocent”, but that’s a cop out)? is that okay too, because it’s a fight for a massively overrated religion?
    He, in short, is a thug.
    But he is entitled to his bullshit, in this country. I entirely disagree with him. I find him a virus that the immune system of humanity should be intent on weeding out with logic and reason. But I will always defend his right to be a Fascist, in the same way that his mirror image – the EDL have the right to believe the bullshit that they believe. They are a very small minority who do not condemn violence against those who entirely disagree with them, but want others to understand, believe and treat them like our superiors. It isn’t ever going to happen from me. He condemns me for who I am. He condemns me, because I am not a Muslim.

    Cameron argues that Multiculturalism has failed.
    He’s wrong.
    It hasn’t failed.
    Thirty years ago, the Tories ran a campaign in Birmingham with a leaflet stating “If you want a nigger as a neighbour, vote Labour”. Thankfully, that sort of far right Nationalist bullshit is past us. Now, your kids could be white and Christian, playing football in the street with their black, Muslim and Sikh friends. My dad coaches youth cricket teams; the young players are all very very good friends, and are all mixed culturally. Cultural integration is a slow process that takes a generation or two to take hold. This new generation of children are far more culturally aware and integrated that we ever were. Cameron’s speech is inflaming a culture of suspicion of the “other” that until now has been left to the idiots on the far right. He is giving a credible face to that intolerance, especially by not referencing the anti-British values of the EDL.

    That being said, I am no fan of organised religion, and if I had my way, no religious organisation would be receiving public funds, and I absolutely wouldn’t tolerate religious schools. I do not want Christian influence on politics and law, just like I don’t want Islamic influence on politics and law. I do not want fairy tales to influence reality. Cameron would do us all a credit, if he is taking a swipe at Islam, to also take a swipe at extreme Christians. Contrary to Christian belief, Western law is not based on Christian reasoning. It is based on social evolution and common sense. Law should be based on irrefutable fact, not on largely discredited miserable fairy tales from 1500-2000 years ago, in the desert. Whilst religious people like to suggest that homosexuality is unnatural, I would suggest that religious belief, is the most unnatural and vicious pessimistic invention humanity has ever had the misfortune to invent. The moment we no longer need such bullshit, is the day when we have evolved to the level that we can truly call ourselves civilised. Fundamentalist Islam, like Nationalists in the EDL are not civilised. They are barbaric thugs and nothing else. Do not let them convince you otherwise.

    Multiculturalism has not failed.
    The experiment of Nation States has failed. The experiment of one overriding National identity has failed. The experiment of organised religion has failed.
    Nation States are a left over from Colonial days. They have nothing but a violent history. They are like a market place, always looking for resources to plunder. It doesn’t matter if it is Western Nations or Middle Eastern Nations; the rich ones always want more. It isn’t Islam vs Christianity. It is the rich vs the poor. Always will be. Religion is used as a way to separate the poor Westerners from the poor Easterners, when actually they have more in common with each other than they think. They should be joining hands and fighting back. Racism has always been used as a divisive tool to stop popular uprisings.

    We are all a product of multiculturalism. A British identity has always been a little bit obscure. For most of our history, since the year 0, we were a Catholic country, in which the majority of our citizens considered themselves loyal to Rome before loyalty to the Nation. Protestants and Catholics fought for their vision of what it meant to be British. The English fought the Scots. The Royalists fought the Republicans. The Enlightenment thinkers struggled against the “traditionalists” of the elites. Darwin struggled to find a time to reveal the greatest discovery in the history of mankind, in the face of religious fundamentalists, so backward in their thinking, so dogmatic in their delusions, who would have liked him to have been silenced. We are a land of multiculturalism. I guarantee my idea of what it means to be British is far away from what David Cameron thinks it means to be British. Perhaps, in a very broad sense, we can deduce that to be British, is to believe in Democracy, the rule of secular law, and socially liberal values of acceptance. And tea drinking. Lots of tea drinking.

    I have always argued that mass migration is linked entirely to global inequality. We, as a Western State had a foot up the ladder of global Capitalism long before Middle Eastern countries started to climb. We used our days of Empire to secure great wealth, that has kept us relatively privileged ever since. We pillaged the World and then blocked our borders to them. We stole resources and labour supplies, and gave nothing back. Now we are complaining that the people we left behind, want a better life for themselves and their families in the UK. That to me, is irrational. The balance has to be tipped toward the centre economically. Flooding the World with American and British multinational companies, is not fair. It is perpetuating the problem, it results in war and in hatred. Always will do. Especially when mixed with religion.

    Fundamentalism in religion, is built on a bedrock of intolerance, hate, violence, delusion, anger, and whilst their mindset is undoubtedly influenced by their religious beliefs; they also must have psychological issues in the first place, to allow themselves to condemn large sections of humanity, who have done nothing personally to upset or hurt them, to a violent, miserable death. This is the legacy of religion. To call any religion, the “religion of peace and love” is a contradiction in terms.

    George Bush said he had heard the voice of the Christian God, who told him to go to war in Iraq. Absolute madness. And very very worrying, that a man who has such strong delusions can acquire the position of the most powerful man in the World. It is the 21st Century and our leaders are no different from the 16th Century European leaders who were raging wars based entirely on religions. It is almost beyond comprehension that our history for the past 2000 years has been plagued by the dictatorship of a work of fiction. Christian fundamentalism has been the driving force behind the power of the Catholic Church for decades.

    If those of us who are sensibly minded, and optimistic for the future of humanity, those of us who are not infected with the disease of organised religion, all accept that it isn’t Islam itself or Christianity itself that are the problems, that they are just systems for spirituality; and we accept that it is indoctrination into extreme tendencies that are the problem, throughout the World of organised religion, we are sure to prevail. Logic, reason, and fact always prevails.

    Moderate Christians, Muslims, Jews, English, Middle Eastern etc should be banding together, and enjoying each others company, learning from each other, and progressing. We should not be suspicious of each other, and we should not be condemning each other, purely for the beliefs one has.

    Be black, be white, be gay, be straight, be Muslim, be Christian, be Jewish, be Atheist, be female, be male, be fat, be thin, be happy, be miserable, be sporty, be artistic, be eccentric, be philosophical, be left, be right, and live together.

    I do not want to see people as being Muslim first. David Cameron is pointing and saying “look, a Muslim, be suspicious“.


    Futile Scribble

    February 4, 2011

    I am writing more and more in my little notebook recently, and I’d quite like to blog the notes I make, in some sort of vain attempt to appeal to my creative writing side. So alongside Futile Democracy and Futile Photography, I now own Futile Scribble.

    The difference between this blog, and Futile Scribble, is that I do not want Futile Scribble to involve much thought. It is just for simple, quick, off-the-cuff notes that I feel the need to write down, and then to preserve. Almost an experiment for my own sake, to note how my thought patterns change over time. It is also an attempt to think in the moment, rather than becoming deeply anxious constantly through only thinking about the future. I am finding spontaneous note taking, to be rather settling and serene, in an odd way.
    That is why Futile Scribble now exists.

    Go subscribe!


    O’Reilly proves the existence of God.

    February 2, 2011

    I quite liked this video.
    It is disturbing to my sense of rationality, that Bill O’Reilly is one of the most watched men in America. In this video, he proves the existence of God (in the illogical world of Christian America, if nowhere else) by saying the the tide goes in and out.
    Just incase the American Right decide my EVIL SOCIALIST ATHEIST agenda is misleading, O’Reilly actually said:

    “I’ll tell you why [religion is] not a scam, in my opinion. Tide goes in, tide goes out. Never a miscommunication. You can’t explain that. You can’t explain why the tide goes in.”

    It is been quite some years now, since humanity first discovered why the tide goes in and out. We are pretty certain that it isn’t because of a God in a cloud somewhere using a big sea magnet. I am sure I learnt in very early school, that the tide is controlled by the Moon’s orbit.

    Bill then goes on the defensive:

    You’re calling me a moron.

    Yup.
    That’d be pretty accurate.
    Sadly, I’m sure there are a number of American Christians who sat up during this, and said…
    “YAR! That there is one heck of a good case for Jesus, yes sir! He was all like, what about the tides going out and shit, now i’m no racist but that nigra couldn’t god-damn answer him. Fucking Atheists tryna turn my Kids into an-tie Christian, an-tie- Amerkan pro-gay commies”

    Perhaps O’Reilly was suggesting that the moon is ideally placed to create a tide. I doubt he was suggesting that, because, that’s not what he actually said. But for arguments sake, let’s say he was suggesting the ideally placed moon. It is only ideally placed, because we exist. There is no design or reason behind it. It is just there. It isn’t “perfectly placed” because we invented the concept of something being perfectly placed, purely because we’re here. It is rather vain of us to decide that the chaotic universe, and the size and scale of it, exists, purely for us. There is no reason, or logic, or cause, or meaning. It stands to reason that if a Moon is at a certain location, and the planet is at a certain location relative to its star, and conditions for life exist, then life will pop into existence. It is just how it is. It does not mean it was designed that way at all.

    By measuring the total mass of stars and luminosity in our galaxy alone, there are estimated to be 100 billion stars, plus another estimated 200 million Galaxies. A star is like the Sun, so for every 100 billion stars, let’s say there are roughly 5-10 planets around each one. That would produce around 500 billion planets in our Galaxy alone. Is it not reasonable to suggest that one of those 500 billion might have a Moon placed in a position that has an affect on the liquid of its planet?

    How arrogant one must be, to suggest that this was all created for us.

    That being said, conditions on Earth are not perfect for human existence. They are adequate to say the very least. We have natural resources that are running out, not enough food to feed the World and billions of people live in abject poverty for their entire lives, on very inhospitable land. A cyclone is currently tearing its way through Queensland in Australia, only a few weeks after Queensland suffered severe flooding on a scale unknown to locals. If the Earth is the creation of God, for the intention of housing man, then God is a little bit incompetent.

    We are an insignificant, tiny race of apes, in an unimportant dot on the map of the universe. There is no grand design for this tiny little dot.
    Probability is irrelevant. We are surrounded by absolutely no evidence for the existence of God. Saying “yeah, but you can’t disprove the existence of God” is meaningless. If I see a dog, I shouldn’t be expected to accept the possibility that it might be a monkey. Similarly, I have all the evidence for Natural selection, I shouldn’t be expected, when faced with such a plethora of evidence, to say “yeah, but it might be a God.”

    Now, O’Reilly then uses a classic logical fallacy. If person X cannot prove their position, then person Y must be right in theirs. O’Reilly suggests that because Silverman was too stunned by O’Reilly’s intense stupidity that he didn’t answer him in the millisecond that O’Reilly allows his guests to actually speak, that he must therefore not be able to answer, and so he presumes he is correct.

    O’Reilly then goes on to complain that by saying Religion is a scam and a myth (which it is), American Atheists are insulting Americans. This comes about two minutes before he calls Silverman a “loon“.

    O’Reilly would insist he insults no one (except every week, when he refers to someone new, whom he disagrees with, but doesn’t give them the opportunity to argue their case, as a pinhead). Fox News spent most of 2008 attacking President Obama because Obama included non-believers in his inaugural address. The title of the piece just after the President’s speech was “Obama reaches out: addresses Muslims and Atheists in speech“. As if we’re the “other“. As if we, along with the Muslim community are a problem that needs to be addressed. The Fox host (I don’t know his name, but he looks about 12), said:

    “It surprised me when I heard it, it made me do a double take.”

    Why? Because some people aren’t all absolutely mad Christian Right Wingers? Mike Huckabee on that same show, said that Obama had acknowledged that some people don’t believe in anything….. “but themselves”. So, if I don’t believe in the Christian God, I must be a bit of a narcissist and nothing more. Am I unable to believe in beauty? Do Christians have a monopoly on beauty? When I see something beautiful, must I thank Christians for giving me that sense? Am I unable to believe in love? Must I thank Fox News for how I feel about Ashlee? Without Glenn Beck and Bill O’Reilly, would I just be raping and murdering my way through life? Fox went on to ask if it was offensive to include a reference to Atheists in the speech. As if we’re non-human. We shouldn’t be recognised. But if we dare question religion……. we’re the ones being offensive. The mad World of Fox News.

    Here is O’Reilly again, being insulting toward Atheism. Mocking it. Not logically, with well thought out, reasoned Philosophy; just the ramblings of a mad old hillbilly Christian, who has absolutely no idea what he’s talking about, and is just appealing to his very low-IQ’d viewers. Here, he refers to a sign that was shown by Atheists at Christmas, and says “No God, No Problem; be good for goodness sake” (which is a fantastic and optimistic and not in any way offensive at all; sign) a “dopey sign“. He then says:

    “What is it about Christmas they don’t like”.

    What a ridiculous question. Atheists aren’t attacking Christmas. We still celebrate Christmas. We don’t celebrate it for the birth of Jesus. I’m convinced he didn’t actually exist. We celebrate it, because it is a time when all our friends and family have time off work at the same time, we share gifts, we have a family meal, and we create memories and stories for our children. It is a small break from a very rushed life. We absolutely love Christmas. O’Reilly is trying to spread fear and hate. O’Reilly then, quite brilliantly says:

    “Why do they loathe the Baby Jesus”.

    As if we’re all sitting around, throwing darts at a printed picture of the baby Jesus. We get angry when we see the baby Jesus. Some of us can’t control that anger, and we actually vomit.

    He then ponders how Atheists sell Atheism by “running down a baby, it’s just a baby”. That’s not what any Atheist has ever done, in the history of the Catholic Church allowing Atheists to exist without being executed for it. Nor is it what the poster is actually saying, or even alludes to. I’m not sure how more manipulative one massive twat could actually be.

    Some equally as vacant Fox presenter tells O’Reilly that the sign is a:

    “direct and deliberate smear against Christianity”.

    In other words, anything that remotely questions a socially prevailing belief system, must be an attack on it. Atheists should all keep quiet, we shouldn’t question, we shouldn’t be allowed to present an alternative. We should accept that homosexuality is a disgrace because the Bible says so, we should accept that abortion doctors deserve to be shot, we should accept that the Pope shouldn’t be brought to trial for covering up child sex abuse, we should just accept that schools in America teach Christianity as fact and evolution as theory, and just ignore it, because the Christians’ point of view is far more valid and reasonable, simply because it is based entirely on tradition; another logical fallacy.

    She goes on to say:

    “What comes with Christianity are traditional values”

    Really? Is that so? And what are those traditional values? Burning witches? Beheading perceived “heretics”? Hanging gay people? Fucking children? For every positive value one can loosely ascribe to Christianity, it is equally as easy to ascribe a pretty direct link between Christianity and shameful violence and corruption.

    O’Reilly ends the piece by suggesting that Atheists are just jealous because we have nothing, that Christians have Christmas, and we don’t. He asks “what do they have?” and concludes “nothing”. We have wonderment. We have the understanding that nature is so beautiful and creative itself, without the need for a cruel and angry dictator in the sky. We see the stars and stare in awe at how inspiring it all is. We see a slug and admire how this ugly looking thing is so beautiful because it is as evolved as we are. We have Darwin (Not even the baby Jesus is as great as Darwin). But most importantly, we have fact. To quote the brilliant Douglas Adams:

    “Isn’t it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?”

    I do not accept what Silverman is saying in the first video. He says that he believes people in America only go to Church because their is a social pressure to announce your belief in Christianity, but most people don’t believe it. I’d say that may be true to an extent, but for the sake of O’Reilly thinking Silverman is being insulting, I can go one better and say that those people actually go to Church because they are brainwashed and deluded; uneducated and illogical; unthinking and weak minded.

    If O’Reilly thinks Silverman is insulting toward Christianity….. he obviously hasn’t read my blog.


    On a Metro train in Paris

    January 27, 2011

    What is a writer? An artist? or just a narcissist. Especially bloggers. We think we have something important to tell the World, or to convince the World that we are right when actually we are the crowd. We are the amplified vanity of our real life selves. We can be creative and we can have spells where our mind is numb and empty. Most of the time we are just attention seeking. We need people to know our thoughts and opinions. If we locked ourselves away in a room and smoked ourselves to death reading the great writers like Hemingway, the World wouldn’t miss us. The World would have missed Hemingway. Perhaps we are interpreters. Perhaps we feel the need to vent or maybe we have no other way to express ourselves. Do we bring something to the World? I think so. I think bloggers are a new field of writers entirely. We are journalists without employment and yet our work is free for the entire World to see. We are commentators. It doesn’t matter our motives or our apparent desire to feel we have your attention. Are we artists? Some of us, yes. Most of us, no.

    Sometimes we all just need to scream and punch and kick and fight and laugh crazily and beg to get off the train and lock ourselves away and think, because if we don’t we will be inflicted by a ferocious, endless insanity. But introspection is much like a kettle. It has a boiling point. It needs to be poured out when it reaches that point.

    Writing, is my way of doing that.

    On a Metro train in Paris, a young French mother was sat next to her little boy. She was sketching fellow passengers. Not all of them. Maybe just an arm of one of them, the hair of another. She sketched beautifully the vacant, lost expression of a middle aged tall man with short grey hair and a tweed jacket. She could have chosen anyone on that carriage to sketch; she chose the man with the most forgettable face. She saw the ordinary and created something extraordinary. And when the man left the train, she switched her eyes to the next person she wished to sketch, and she never scribbled anything out or started again. I was intrigued by her, the entire way. She is an artist. I wish I could do the same. I don’t have it in me. So I write. But there is no difference really. It is an outlet. An artist or not, it is an outlet. We are both channelling our minds to something that is uniquely ‘us’.

    I do not write for any artistic sake. I am not an artist. To be an artist, you need to be able to suspend a sense of reality and express the sense of private solitary that is just aching to burst out. You see it in the writings of Silvia Plath and Allen Ginsberg. Theirs is a unique Worldly interpretation that is expressed beautifully. They see a red rose and say it’s green, and you don’t know why they say it, but for some reason it makes sense that they do and I want to be them. But i’m not. I cannot express why I sometimes see a red rose appear green. I guess that is why I, like everyone else in the World, cannot do what these geniuses do.

    There are many parts of the World and reality that I live in and don’t understand or find absurd or want to throw in the bin and forget, which other people tend to find normal or at least easy to deal with and I can’t and I don’t know why. I frustrate myself if I try to explain the way I see much of the bullshit I’m supposed to accept as a mere “fact of life” that you “can’t change” so “why worry? just get on with it“….. no, I have no time for that attitude. I mentioned not long ago, being yelled at at work by a colleague for putting a tray of food down on the table that people were sat at, rather than the table that they weren’t sat at, and taking the food too them. It wasn’t inconvenient. The people at the table were laughing and joking with me (which they weren’t with any other staff) and no harm was done. To be shouted at, made me stand for about three minutes, and laugh to myself. You have to laugh at absurdities, because if you don’t, you risk acquiescing to that way of life and you risk trying to legitimate it to yourself, you risk betraying your thoughts and your unique understanding, and I don’t want to be in that World. Fuck that World. I don’t fucking want it.

    “At this point of his effort man stands face to face with the irrational. He feels within him his longing for happiness and for reason. The absurd is born of this confrontation between the human need and the unreasonable silence of the world.”

    It is a childish rebellious nature. And because it is my nature, I cannot change it, nor do I wish to change it. I don’t want to be like everyone else. And that’s where writers fall down. We assume that we have something unique to say, that we aren’t like everyone else, that we think differently and can’t seem to understand the World like everyone else seems to manage to do perfectly. Realistically, we’re not tortured, or artistic, or even different. We are just far more over analytical and far more self aware and far more neurotic. I am horribly self aware, that I have to be in control of every situation I find myself in. If i’m on the street walking, I have to know who is in front of me, who is behind me, who is walking up the street from me, which way the car in the carpark opposite is likely to come, and if it’s going to rain at any time soon. I’m neurotic as hell. I don’t particularly need control with my friends or relationships. I just need to know that I am fully in control of myself and aware of absolutely everything that is going on around me. I absolutely hate that idea that I am boring someone, or that I am being made out to be stupid. I analyse everything and everyone. I am trying to hold on to my own sense of self all the time and I feel like I am losing. I question everything and everyone. I question my own intelligence and worry that it’s all false and that i’ve managed to somehow manipulate everyone into thinking I have an ounce of intelligence when in fact I have nothing to offer anyone in the way of intelligent conversation. I cannot relax. I am a fucking mountain of anxiety. I try to pander to what is emotionally acceptable in the hope that I am acceptable to you.

    Introspection is not necessarily a bad thing. It helps me grow mentally, and places the present in the context of what came before, and what I expect of myself tomorrow. It is my meditation, because it is myself, testing myself. It is a form of creativity in itself for me. I like that. It is however different to a constant feeling of awareness. Awareness is good, but constantly, it just creates anxiety, and anxiety at awareness exhausts itself because it allows for nothing but the negative to take hold. Introspection leads to a natural rebellion. Awareness leads to anxiety.

    If rebellion was not natural, and was pointless, we would not have the great works of art of literature that we today admire so greatly. Rebellion is simply dissatisfaction at the workings of the World. It seems to exist more with the younger generations. The older generations claim ‘wisdom’, because they’ve given up, lost hope for a better World, and acquiesced to the whim of those who pay them. The rebellious nature acts as a kind of spark that you need to keep going. I cannot live without that feeling. It would be a waste of my time. It is rebellion, in the sense that it makes no sense to me that 6.5 billion people, can be classed as one of very very few Nationalities or Religions or Races, like little cylinders all fitting nicely into the round hole they have been assigned. We are all, absolutely all of us, rectangles trying to be forced into the round hole. It is not cynical or pessimistic. It is sincerely optimistic that humanity is better than this.

    Camus begins his book The Outsider with the line:

    “Mother died today. Or maybe yesterday; I can’t be sure.”

    It is a beautiful start to a book. An existentialist book about a man who has completely rejected expected human reactions and emotions, and is just a very natural person, unaffected by the emotional norms forced upon us by society.

    Trying to define oneself is in essence limiting oneself to the limitations of language, and around a social framework placed in the context of your time and geographical location and it is therefore quite impossible. I would also be limiting myself to collective understanding, and I cannot know experience and definition of myself, outside of my own constructed reality. No one else has had my experiences, or my memories, or knows how I react to situations, to people, to colours, to objects, or to events. I am me and I like me but I cannot define me. There is no absolute. A lack of absolute individually, and logically therefore collectively, leads me to conclude that nothing has to be “just the way it is, you just have to get on with it” if that is not how you interpret the World. Trying to define oneself is like trying to hold sand. We define ourselves and those around us, by our individual perceptions.

    You build up a persona for yourself in front of different friends and family. It’s all fucking bullshit, but you start to believe that’s who you are. It isn’t who you are. Who you are is screaming at you to open its cage door. Sometimes you want to go away and start again, like your whole life had been written on a piece of paper you now want to screw up and throw into the fire.

    The only truth is that happiness is fleeting, because for happiness to be meaningful, it requires the opposite. The past is gone. The future is irrelevant and living is what actually matters. And so when we aren’t living, when we are just existing, we are more aware than ever that happiness is fleeting, and it has fleeted. Perhaps we think that by writing and gaining recognition for our writing, we are creating our own fleeting happiness that is vacant from our lives elsewhere. Like a drug. A thought needing to be written down, takes the shape of our life until it is written. Until we sit back, and see it written. Then we momentarily feel a fleet of happiness and accomplishment. We are not alienated from our writing, like we are from our day to day work. The writing we have created is as much a part of us as our legs and arms. That is satisfaction on a level that is inexplicable.

    We expend a great amount of energy trying to seek meaning to our lives and our World. We fail every time. We fail because natural meaning or purpose is absurd. The universe is indifferent to our existence. It isn’t laid out for humanity. It isn’t hostile to humanity. It is simply indifferent. And so trying to seek a natural meaning, is illogical. I write, to try to define myself and sort of create my own meaning.

    I cannot word my arguments very well when I speak. It is my biggest set back and I hate it. I get so frustrated with myself. I see words jumbled up in my mind and I want to say them all but I cant arrange them in a logical order and so it just becomes a mess of words and sentences that mean nothing and I start to panic, which only makes the situation worse. I cannot construct sentences in the way that I want to. I have ideas and arguments and yet they are just feelings that I cannot convert into words and I despise myself for it. I don’t want to come across stupid and useless. I want to come across strong minded and passionate and in absolute control. I want to come across confident and authoritative when I speak. But I can’t.

    That is why I write.