Boat Shoes: What the fuck is that about?
Or so it seems. I haven’t written on here for some time. The pressure of my consistently longer, more complex (well not that complex) posts weigh heavy on my shoulders. Indeed, the pressure to come up with some worthwhile contemplation that didn’t yet again involve rallying against conformity and work and blah blah blah has become a formidable challenge. Having a blog is an exercise in who you are or what you really think - if you wish to treat it so. Therefore do I think the only thing I’ve got to say is about rebelling against the norm? I hope not. I don’t know what I think about anything. I don’t think you’re ever meant to know what you think. If you did, there wouldn’t be much point in anything.
Still, a pretentious thought did occur that I might change the name of this blog to ‘That Would be an Existential Matter’ - Take that philosophy. Over 2000 years of modern thought shat upon by a rambling twat who resents his cushy job. In your face Socrates. Up yours Plato. What the fuck are you looking at Nietzsche? (No, I can’t think of any other philosophers). Anyway, that idea’s been shelved as the current name still fits and let’s face it, this blog is disappearing up it’s own arse already. I mean, compare this early post to this post a few months ago. I feel a little narcissistic referencing my own blog, but the mere act of having a blog is partly an exercise in having a toss in front of a mirror. As it were.
Still (I’m about to do it again) after this muse a few years ago, I think I’ve kinda found a purpose for this site. Let what I think spew forth in an unregulated stream of consciousness onto thy blog. Or something. Edited and censored for public consumption of course. Which in a way defeats the object. Which leads me to think there is no purpose. In fact, I’d like some comments from people who do have blogs to tell me why. Is this gonna happen? Is anyone gonna read this far down? Of course not!
I don’t even know what I’m talking about really so I’ll wrap this post up… Ok, noticing that passing off mere links as a substitute for blog posts is somehow becoming acceptable, (why write anything when you can just direct everyone to someone else’s efforts eh? This is the literary equivalent of pointing at books in the library and taking credit for them) I’ve decided to jump on the bandwagon. “It’s an update” you think whilst posting a link to a story about a pigeon living in a lady’s hat. Well two can play at that unsubstantial and lazy game sunshine. Here’s my
two cents two pigeons in their respective hats:
People who move home to be closer to work, rather than work closer to home: Twats.
“God is a Concept by which we measure our pain”. Or so said John Lennon. And my Facebook update today like. This is from Lennon’s song God. Dunno how I hadn’t heard it before. You think you know something about a topic and the older you get the more you realise you know nothing about anything… which kinda makes me think that if we all live to old age we end up realising life is one big fallacy. The longest joke you’ll ever get to hear. It’s all bollocks really isn’t it? Just 6 billion lost souls wandering around trying to rationalise existence and consciousness through self inflicted external sources, whatever that might mean. OMG yea!!1111111 lolz11 Still, it kinda ties into the song lyrics. Give it a listen you gypsies. It’s rather good.
Here we go again, it’s another rant. Over the last six months I‘ve complained about the work fetish of modern society, the empty promises of career, the soullessness of conformity and you know what, it’s all fair enough. It’s my blog and I’ll cry if I want to - Sucker. Questioning the reality to which you’re presented is the responsibility of every living person on the planet. I don’t mean question whether or not you agree with the congestion charge, I mean question everything. Why live in a house? Why sleep at night and be active in the day? Why abide by the laws of the land? Why resist the urge to punch slow walking people in the back of the head? “Why”, (they deserve it) that’s the key question.
I’m not here to attack or belittle anyone’s choices. The best part of living is your ability to choose. If that choice is to play the money chasing game because you like the materialistic benefits then fine. Keep on rockin’ in the free world. But I do wonder as a society how much we question anything. I constantly debate this issue with people. I argue that they’re wage slaves, playing what they perceive to be the only game in town. They argue that it’s all their well thought out choices, a magnificent example of their free will and… as I’m basically a wage slave also, I’m clearly a gobshite of the highest order, which to be frank is only a half truth.
Still, I protest. Isn’t it the most incredible coincidence that what is expected of you from the moment you are born happens to be what 99% of us do? It’s the easy option. It’s the predictable path. It’s the no brainer. Work. Financial security. Investment. Mortgage. Pension. Car. You don’t have to think about it. You can coast along, ticking the boxes as you go. You could do it with your eyes closed. Most of us do. It’s not just the ease, it’s the intoxication of these life choices being smothered in affiliation, status and peer approval. Family will applaud your growth from boy to man. Friends will envy and marvel at your financial achievements, the opposite sex will swoon at your resources and society will deem you worthy. Alain de Botton says something about this in his book Status Anxiety:
Increasingly since 1776, status in the West has been awarded in relation to financial achievement. The consequences of high status are pleasant. They include resources, freedom, space, comfort, time and, as importantly perhaps, a sense of being cared for and being thought valuable–conveyed through invitations, flattery, laughter (even when the joke lacked bite), deference and attention. High status is thought by many (but freely admitted by few) to be one of the finest of earthly goods.
For this reason, we worry whenever we are in danger of failing to conform to the ideals of success laid down by our society. We worry that we may be stripped of dignity and respect, we worry that we are currently occupying too modest a rung or are about to fall to a lower one.
(I got that bit from the publishers book description. I haven’t read it yet). The point is that even if we convince ourselves that we’ve freely come to the conclusion that the optimum model of living is being a wage slave, it’s fairly likely we didn’t. You’ve been brainwashed, just like me and the rest of us. The money fetish that I’ve banged on about in previous posts is only part of the bigger picture – Everything is tuned towards conforming and chasing the dollar. It’s inescapable. We worship the business men, the Alan Sugar-ites, the CEOs and the money makers. We actively belittle “crusties”, alternative livers, or even those with a low wage, the cleaners, the check out attendants and the manual labourers without for a moment questioning whether their happy in their life and money isn’t on their radar.
To me, the conventional wage slave route is lazy. It’s dumb, predictable and most of all, it’s boring. If it were a band it’d be the Kaiser Chiefs: Obvious, pre approved shit for the masses, momentarily gratifying, sucking you in before realising it’s a crock of shite. Too late, you’ve bought the album. But at least you didn’t have to think about it. As good old Tom Hodkinson puts it:
Quitting your job, refusing to vote, not taking pharmaceutical drugs: these are not acts of apathy but of a radical re-engagement with society and with your own self. It is, in actual fact, lazy and apathetic to be employed, to vote and to take Prozac, because in doing these things we are handing control of our lives to others and implicitly accepting that we are more or less useless unless we contort our very selves to conform to a pre-planned model of how we should act. These are acts of giving up.
I berate myself daily for walking the wage slave path. The honest truth is I’m too scared to deviate from the path in case I look a fool. What if I fail? What if I end up homeless? What if I can’t afford a mobile or watch TV? We’re all attached to our materialistic goods. What we own, owns us. We’re all attached to our need for acceptance, we all crave status. We’re imprisoned by the manacles of our brainwashed minds. Sometimes I think feel I couldn’t be free no matter how hard I tried.
So where now? More moaning, more bottling? The longer the clock ticks, the longer I look like a buffoon. “You sir, are a buffoon” someone might write as a comment. Well, it’s not all doom and gloom. Life is great and choice is great. Just make sure it’s your own. Hey, even money is great, possessions are great, excellent gadgets are great, it’s just realising that ‘one’ doesn’t need them to be great. Yet dropping out is almost impossible. I’ve talked about this before. So, logically that leaves attitudinal shift. Everyone is free in their deepest thoughts and self. So I guess it’s little victories and small steps. This is the only way I can envisage. Don’t try to be something, try to do something. Surely we should all strive to make our life our art.
So I’ve got loads more gear recently. Excited? Thought so. Of course, by loads I actually mean two different items but nonetheless, my wallet’s still been relieved of a good £300 plus, leaving me with literally jack all money, Jack. Still, such is the lot of the pedal obsessed, talent-barren guitarist.
First off we have the stylish Electo Harmonix POG. A sexy little silver number that promises to create more octaves through it’s sheer polyphonic generating ability than a predictable punchline at the end of a sentence. (I’m not sure what that means, I wrote some of this post really late at night). That’s right. Look above, there’s a picture. I haven’t really got to grips with this so far to be honest. There’s a fine line between crystal clear chimes and oninous bass heavy octaves to stepping firmly into the I-sound-someone’s-leaning-on-a-cheap-Casio-by-accident area, so I need a bit of time tweaking it.
Second on tonight’s gearograpahy rundown is my new, swanky pedal board. Unlike this beast here, it’s made by Diago (possibly the best manufacturers of guitar accessories ever) and is a called a ‘Showman’. It’s great. Really well made, light, robust, all of that… except it’s well heavy when full. Carrtable but heavy. Majorly heavy. But brilliant. And heavy. Did I mention it was heavy? Although it’s the lightest board I’m going to get for it’s quality and it’s only my lack of car and huge pedals (look at that Russian Big Muff, it’s 99% lead) that’s the issue, not the equipment. And it’s still 4000 times lighter than my Fender twin. Still, definately investing in one of these in the near future.
It takes literally weeks to escape the cycle of accidently biting your cheek, causing it to stick out slightly, causing you to bite it again, causing it to stick out slightly more, causing you to bite it again. Arggghh!
Sitting, thinking. Thinking, sitting. Pontificating, musing and deliberating and endlessly, endlessly worrying. Fucking existential bollocks, I’m sick of it. To able to drink would be nice. To escape the mindless, cyclical over analysing that’s driving me crazy. I despise the careerist, status orientated consumers, but I also envy them. They achieve their satisfaction from an endless cycle of working and buying, buying and working in which they seem to find some sort of bizarre contentment. Content in buying, satisfying themselves with big televisions sitting within mortgaged properties, representing achievement. This is living! The sportier-than-my-neighbour’s-car representing freedom, individuality and success. The frequent city break to feel cultured, the newly tiled bathroom to feel clean, the gated property to feel important, the saving account and pension to feel secure.
This modern living epidemic never stops, but then again who want it to? Everybody’s happy; happy painting their lives by numbers. Brother, ignorance is bliss. Amen to that. Why think about who you aren’t helping or what you might be contributing to when you can watch Eastenders in High definition and have a quiet life with a bit of cash in your pocket? I don’t blame them.
But I can’t do it. I can’t feel that contentment. I feel at odds with just existing. I love life but I’m smothered by middle class guilt, overwhelmed by societal expectation, shackled by possessions and trapped by my own neurosis. I literally don’t understand how I should be living. Part of me, the old, healthy, drinking, fingers in ears me thinks that worrying about who you bank with, where your food comes from, what you give to charity and how much you explore your so called yearning soul is so exclusively a middle class privilege and is, well frankly fuck off embarrassing. What a bunch of hippy bollocks. But another part of me, the part that’s always been there, the part that makes me think I’m a sell out moron every morning my alarm goes off, the part of me that feels life is so precious and scarce that I want to violently shake strangers in the street and scream at the top of my lungs “DON’T YOU UNDERSTAND?!” realises that it’s the most important decision in your life… how to actually live.
What is life if you’re not true to yourself, or you’re not brave enough to act on your instincts and cast aside everything that means nothing? Possessions. A secure job. A pension. I hate them all. Hate them, hate them, hate them. I feel their weight on my shoulders, the burden increasing every day as I wonder what to do. How to “get out”. How to live ethically, morally, truthful and most of all how to live free.
The truth is, as humans, most, if not all of us don’t want freedom. We have enough thank you very much. We’re free to go anywhere we like! Well, passports permitting. And money. Which is in turn dependent on employers. And then there’s the airline schedules of course. And the limited stay based on visa documentation (or lack of it). Well, we’re free to watch what we want on TV. Well, apart from what they choose to show. And we’re free to read what we like! Of course, depending on what the papers are allowed to print, what they chose to ignore and what books are not censored. Still, we’re free to say what we like. Unless it’s deemed politically incorrect or inciting terrorism. But we’re at least free to do what we want with our money. The fruit of our labours. As long as we declare it of course. And pay numerous taxes on it. And of course dependent on market fluctuations and the next pending pension’s crisis. But who cares, ‘cos look, Dot Cotton’s face in HD. Go on, look at the detail in that scrotum faced old biddy.
I don’t blame people for wanting to live what they might call ’simply’ (even though by definition, there is no simplicity to modern life). The path of least resistance is indeed the most tempting. As Christopher Brookmyre puts it, let advertising do their dreaming for them. He has a point. Even the lottery fantasy is just a unique product being pushed by Camelot. That can be the nice dream but it’s alright here thanks very much. We’re doing ok they demand. “The sleepwalking suburban slave classes in their Wimpey mock-Tudor penal colonies. A jail that needs no walls because the inmates have been brainwashed into believing they want to be there. Incarceration by aspiration”. And so the beat goes on.
But what to do. What to do. Sit and think. Think and sit. Pontificate, muse and deliberate some more. I know, we all know that you can’t drop out completely. Whatever that might entail. Henrik Ibsen said “to be oneself is to kill oneself”. You have to compromise, that’s clear. So why fight it at all? I think some people find it easier to paint by numbers than others, it’s just a case of how much you’re prepared to compromise on the given issue, that being your life. Or maybe more importantly, it’s realising how much you are already compromising and deciding to take back what’s rightfully yours.
A truly good book teaches me better than to read it. I must soon lay it down, and commence living on its hint. What I began by reading, I must finish by acting.
Henry David Thoreau