At any street corner

November 9, 2010

How do you deal with absurdity? The feeling that nothing makes much sense. It is a pulsating force that does not subside.

My grandma died today. My granddad died last week. My mum went missing on Friday night and I was up all night, whilst my dad was out searching for her at 4am until around 8am. We were panicking hugely.
She then came home and said she’d met someone else and left, on Sunday, and hasn’t spoken to us since. It has been an awful week. Life slowly crumbling in less than seven days is difficult to rationalise, but I am trying to remain logical. I do not get overly sensitive or upset easily. I recognise that life is absolutely insane at all times. I recognise this, because I recognise that the universe is insane. Humans tend to try to rationalise the insanity and try to pretend order exists. It doesn’t. Chaos ensues. We lie to ourselves, and that in itself is absurd.

It is virtually impossible to have a week like this, and not want to laugh at every other triviality of life. At work, we’re told to we’re not allowed ‘designer stubble’. Am I supposed to take that seriously? Laughable. Pointless. A waste of a life adhering to. We pour drinks for rich people and occasionally get shouted at by management for absolutely no discernible reason. Food has to be presented at a specific side of the table. Bullshit after bullshit after bullshit. What is the point? Perhaps the point of my life, is to always be entirely at odds with that World. I tend to see the entire World, as Theatre. When my boss has important meetings and wears expensive suits; it’s a game. One big game. Like little kids with their toys. Often I will stand there, as still as a tree, in the middle of serving a rich person a drink, and think to myself “What the fuck is the point? What am I doing?” You start to question whether you’re actually alive. Conflictingly, I do not ever want to accept the bullshit, as if it is necessary and meaningful. I like that I reject it.

But then I am suggesting life has a point.
It doesn’t.
There can be no point in a universe void of point.
There is no purpose, there is no reason, there is nothing beyond the physical World. Even that, is simply the way our eyes and our ears and our nose and our touch perceive soundwaves and rays of light. It isn’t real. We invent the idea that our lives are supposed to have meaning or purpose. We will always find that the World does not have the sort of meaning we try to attribute to it. Absolutely nothing makes sense. God is nothing but a man made personification of fear, in all its various guises.

Perhaps we make our own neat little abstract theory on purpose. Perhaps my purpose is to recognise that life is absolutely pointless, and live life accordingly. I know what it is that makes me happy; so perhaps that is the pursuit of my ‘meaning‘.

Gazing up at the dark sky spangled with its signs and stars, for the first time, the first, I laid my heart open to the benign indifference of the universe.

– Albert Camus

In talking about the death of my grandparents, I keep hearing people tell me “Well at least they’re together again” and “They’ve gone to a better place“. I find this a little bit unnerving. As if my intelligence is being insulted, with make-belief stories. It is a nice little story we all tell each other because death is something humanity hasn’t yet evolved as a species enough to reject silly little stories of comfort. Religion fills this gap nicely. A kind of weakly tied bandage over the hole of absurdity. For the most part, if you look through all the evidence, and the contradictions, you will find that religion and the idea of a God in the organised religious sense, is absolutely unnecessary and illogical and a barrier to human advancement in the psychological, social and medical sense. The idea of an afterlife, whilst it is a comfort to people, is absurd. Not in the sense that it is obviously untrue; no one can possibly know that. But purely because humans are limited by our senses, and our perception of the World. That perception does not include an afterlife. We cannot know an afterlife. It is far beyond our scope of understanding, and always will be. So it is absurd to pretend that we do. It is absurd to wear religious garments. It is absurd to pray. It is absurd to follow religious rules in the vain hope that you will be rewarded (surely a God would reward true morality, rather than coerced morality?) Belief is absurd. I would rather not be comforted by something that to me, makes no sense, and in fact, I find an abhorrent mask. I prefer to look at the life of the person, rather than the death and ridiculous notion of the after-life of a person. The life, is what I know.

I am getting my first tattoo in January.
I have chosen to have it written on the left hand side of my torso, from the bottom of my chest, to my hip. It will be an Albert Camus quote. Camus is my favourite Philosopher. I find myself relating to everything I read of his. He recognised the pointlessness of much of what life offers, but the realisation and the happiness one feels when recognising how absurd life is. The simple things that make us smile. That is what one should be living for. Everything else, is bullshit.
The tattoo will read:
At any street corner the feeling of absurdity can strike any man in the face.

It is not soul destroying

October 9, 2010

Today I was subject of a ridiculously inane and somewhat poignant issue at the place I work. I happened to place a tray down on the table of a bunch of people who were eating dinner, in order to put the veg from the tray to the table. I was looked at, by the waitress, as if i’d just walked into their house on a child’s birthday and pissed on his cake; I was told it was unbelievable that I had done that, and I should have in fact used the serving table a couple of metres away. What would the guests think? Surely they would be shocked? Surely putting the tray on their table in order to remove the veg, as opposed to using the table two metres away, was comparable to wacking out my todger and waving it in the face of the eldest member of the group, and then pooing.

The use of the word ‘unbelievable‘ was perhaps a little bit over the top, and worked not to make me regret my apparent lack of hospitality etiquette, but only to insight a burning hatred toward the entire charade. I marvelled at the level of pretentiousness one must have to get to, to resign oneself to a life of getting frustrated if absolutely meaningless table etiquette rules have been a little bit bent. I was told it ‘looks bad’. If someone is to complain that I put veg down on the table an inappropriate way, simply because I put a tray on their table that in no way obstructed them from doing anything else (including laughing and joking with me, as the gentleman did), then I would have to consider telling that person to sit down and maybe re-evaluate what it is that is important in their life. It doesn’t ‘look bad’. It looks nothing. Because people in general are not as pretentious as the overly obsessed soul-less workforce that provide them with a service sector devoid of any social benefit and working – aimlessly – only to illuminate an already overly developed sense of superiority and manic egotism that the guest must have if they take such things seriously.

One has to ask, why does it ‘look bad’ to put the tray on the table? Who does it ‘look bad’ to? People are entirely different. Their experiences in life, their memories, and how busy their minds are at the time will all go toward evaluating who thinks that putting a tray on their long table to put veg from the tray to the table ‘looks bad’. My guess is that it was none them. Especially the nice old gentleman who had a joke with me about the local football team as I was standing there. In fact, i’d guess that’s the most any member of staff in the entire building had said to him (other than ‘lamb or pork?’) all day. There is no inherent way to remove food from a tray. There is no universal immovable law. It doesn’t exist. The idea is contrived by humans, and more specifically, by the place I work; not the guests, and after the idea is there; a funny little tale about it ‘looking bad’ otherwise is created to attempt to justify absolutely nothing. Do you like how I am applying Nietzsche to my work situation?

These etiquettes, these meaningless etiquettes, these weak pointless upper class meaningless etiquettes simply perpetuate the pretentious. And pretentiousness is a rather repulsive trait that humanity has created (it isn’t natural) and amplifies in workplaces like mine, which again has absolutely no social benefit and actually appears more like a cancer to me.

You see how frustrating it is? It is inevitable for someone like me, who struggles to be happy at the very best of times with the direction of their life, and resigns their self to knowing that an absurd World is the one in which they inhabit, like Camus’ Outsider, and have to play the game accordingly; that eventually, they start to struggle with that game, wanting to just throw the board up in the air. Make sure the ones with money are happy. See to their every need. Bend over for them. Wash up after them. Feed them. But feed them the proper way other it’s unbelievable. Take their money. Get a tiny percentage of it back. What a waste of a life. I am currently looking for work elsewhere. Hopefully not in hospitality or the service industry at all. I do not want to be part of a generation wasting away answering phones. Often, when I am performing a worthless task, I wonder ‘what is this achieving?’ and I can’t honestly and forthrightly answer. The mellifluous sound of guilt takes over a little. It is a particularly disagreeable feeling in the mind and pit of the stomach when you suddenly feel like you’ve walked into a wall built entirely out of the words ‘What the fuck are you doing with your life, standing taking this sort of shit? A monkey in a science lab has more social use than you do, and he flings his own faeces around every day. Quick, better get back to work, someone wants a bit more milk with their tea.’

I stood today thinking, whilst at work and decided to write down the first thing that came to my head when I considered my work life. I immediately wrote: “It isn’t soul destroying. It is a curiously undesirable and regrettable form of soul searching”. This surprised me for a second, I was taken aback. I had to think about what I meant. Because I have always been under the impression that the place I work, and the service sector in general is emphatically soul destroying. There is no room for creativity or a sense that you are working to help further mankind and provide a societal benefit. Yet now, I was contradicting myself. And I think I was right. It isn’t soul destroying. It is certainly tedious and laughable, it isn’t real and it is meaningless in the long run; but it isn’t soul destroying. It takes tedium and anguish, and it takes a feeling of emptiness and futility to accept that you are in fact deep in a life of nihilism and the only way out is to decide what it is you want and get it. You create the meaning and the purpose you wish to create because it simply doesn’t exist otherwise; meaning is not an objective truism. Today’s issue with the tray proved that. Meaning is subjective. You insert meaning into what it is you want, and you disregard that which you find absurd and wasteful. My workplace management created the meaning behind the issue with the tray, some people mindlessly sucked it up and live it, others notice that we are not the place that we work. We are ourselves. You start to appreciate what it is about life you adore, and cherish, and what it is you find utterly abhorrent and useless. It nurtures your soul by testing your soul.

Today I had this new sense of self and of ambition that I have admittedly been lacking for quite some time. I am asserting myself entirely to becoming a teacher. I would like to do some teaching in a poorer country first. I would also like to eventually teach history. There are certain aspects of my life that are not important. Learning table etiquette is never going to be important, to any life. I am also going to get right back into Photography. I need an artistic outlet because I cannot fully deal with the way much of the World around me works; again, I find it all one big game, with silly little rules to keep the game moving, and yet all they actually do is make me scrunch my face up and proclaim the World to be a miserable absurdity at the best of times. For it to have been soul destroying, I would have had to accepted the pretentious etiquette as essential and purposeful. If I ever get to the stage where I believe that certain etiquettes have any use whatsoever, I will be able to say that my soul has been destroyed because my soul, as I know it, is utterly at odds with that World.

I do not want to end up actually caring that a tray has been put down on the wrong table.