A dingy affair. Some of it smells, it’s dangerous when it’s dark and it doesn’t like to be told what to do. A perfect match.
Joburg, I know we’ve just met, but I think we could get on.
Cue the Fancy Rat Society. Discharged by Brendan Murray & yours truly. We’ve decided our political real estate needs an extra informal settlement. Critical thinking meets manicured filth. Defiant, beligerent & more wrong than we’ll ever admit, but active. Like that old dog Emerson taught, the active soul is all.
Bukowski was right about waiting, and we have. We’ve waited and read and written and now it’s time to speak.
It’s a little exercise in retribution. To unfuck in jest, attack some pigs and partner with a little chaos.
Harakat al-Shabaab al-Mujahideen, the new anti darlings from the terrorist stable. Yes there was Mali, but this is a fight too girded in hatred to understand. It surpasses retribution, this sphere of toxic tit for tat cannot be grappled with.
Monday morning I walked into the writer’s room at the LNN studio, filled with all the slow go gifts of Mondayhood. That quickly changed when I saw the aftermath that was half a dozen politico junkies with their fingers on the pulse of this thing called news. Wind out of their sails, distraught and scattered cuttings of existential disgust plastered every conversation.
We have to say something, something needs to be said.
The script was written but we spent an hour we didn’t have editing careful references of this manifest nightmare into the final cut. So much respect, careful wording. To and fro we chiseled our words to display how we felt.
I was blown away by the pathos I saw in satire’s hub. No jokes, no flippancy. Being the new guy on the team allowed me to see the collective empathy this group operates in so clearly. The saddest most beautiful thing I’ve seen in a while.
Braamfontein has proved more interesting than it needs to, I’ve just skipped a road down from my humble square meterage to the 11th floor of the Liberty building to visit the opening night of the Dipych exhibition. The elevator stops at the tenth because the 11th isn’t actually there.
I feel a gonzo-esque bond with the idea of attending an exhibit on a floor that doesn’t exist. I also sometimes miss doing drugs. In that true Jozi hustling spirit this hasn’t put anyone off from staging a rather large exhibit there.
Listening to the conceptual unveiling of the work was interesting. I particularly enjoyed a cat named Bevan De Wet, who despite his unfortunate name, has some exquisitely made shit to show the world.
I guess the idea of an exhibition interests me more than actually beiing there. In hindsight, making small talk surrounded by the product of hours worth of creative effort is riviting. The background jazz of sleepless nights and spent passion. In reality I feel like I’m on display as much as the work is. That ever moving focal point of events attended by narcissists.
Here’s what De Wet had to say about his superb linocut.
One of way too many artists to mention here. Go see, go play. The event will be open to the public on 21st and 28th of September.
Oh forget all that, it’s all the same.
I often hear this summmation ring from the intentionally ill informed, news wise that is. It’s all the same. These people aren’t interesting. Who wants to spend their time getting depressed?
Corruption/cronyism/nepotism/abuse of power.
The reason it’s all the same has less to do with the perpertrators than the electorate. The jibe is of course aimed at the repetitive, reworked nature of our upper echelon’s failures. These democratically elected failures. Carlin’s words ring out again, “maybe it’s the public that sucks.” They were chosen from amongst us after all.
Is it impossible that the repeat nature of corruption might have something to do with us? That doing nothing and being unhappy are more congruent than we’d like to admit.
We need to understand the connection between loving people and taking an interest in our countries political landscape. We also need to see our inaction soberly. (Yes, I use ‘we’ too often.)
For some reason we allow the enitre nature of the transaction to warp when funneled through middle class mouths.
Loving people and taking an interest in politics are the same things. Looked at through the right kind of eyes, the act itself can be felt as one of love.
Love isn’t easy, it’s not always entertaining, it smacks of sacrifice.
See, the money pissed away by the bent business pigs parading as politicos is meant for the poor.
Even ‘the poor’ seems like a silly & aloof term. They’re our poor, our fellow citizens. The people we brush up against every day. The traffic lights we nervously linger at, populated by this sub culture of the disaffected, are our people.
But the borders are set aren’t they. My bank account, my car door, my walls- this our becomes a vague thing.
Counter culture grit, alternative cogitation, underground sentiment, anarchic agitation- these are words handed to us by a context long gone. Even Gonzo feels awkward in this new world. It was a response to its day, a stylistic extention of a time gone. A taste evolved.
Our time calls for something different.
When it comes to aspiring to agitation. To finding a rebellious affair to solicit that age old experience of chaos stirring, we need to be conscious of our immediate surrounds.
Mine, which might not be yours, is the great middle class insulator. I don’t burn with anger, constantly in tune with the yogi’s prescriptions of detached bliss. The grand hipster ideal, art for its own sake, bending the corporate world’s cash flow to float meaninglessness.
That is our great challenge. How to remain interesting, unique and individualistic. How not to sell out. Ego driven dribble.
News junkie activism is seen as an old man’s sport. To occupy the bizarrely privileged real estate of the edge requires thought, an inner Bob Black type aggressive application.
Here’s my question, what does the counter culture look like? I think it’s a sober, hard line rebelliousness unfettered by the anethetised drunk wanky accumulation of material possessions. I think it’s about following the right people.
The important national discourse cannot be ignored for reasons of comfort. We need an administration that doesn’t steal, we need a knowing application of our truly enormous education budget. If ignoring the scope and relevance of these ideas leaves you unentertained, well, wait until the ignored’s understanding of entertainment germinates action. The apathetic have everything to lose.
The two fold agitator’s obsession, the chasis of our rage should have contempt for kak leadership and tireless fury for shitty education at its center.
So who are these right people to follow? Jesters, raging opinionistas, bomb makers- the internet is a beauteous place. Curate a faculty of your own, make a list. Spread their commentary, their jokes, their anger.
Let’s get on the same page.
It’s a strong word. Meaty in its meaning. Tidy in its appearance.
I am using the word here with its definition of expressing complete disapproval, rather than its other meaning of sentencing someone to death, or a worse punishment. Like being chained to a computer screen where twerking GIFs set to Robin Thicke’s Blurred Lines trigger your epileptic gag reflexes.
Governments around the world love this word. Opposition parties have rammed it into many press conferences shined up with the lofty spin of self-righteousness and rebuke.
Some easy examples to think of. The South African government condemns the xenophobic attacks. The Obama administration strongly condemns the chemical warfare in Syria. The DA roundly condemns 2% milk in its morning cappuccinos. The power of your condemnation is linked to the helpful adjective you attach to it.
It is not that condemning these things is bad. I don’t drink milk, but I can imagine 98% lacking would be pretty grim and worthy of condemnation.
But the point is that merely using that strong, tidy word is never going to be enough. It almost feels like a political blanket being used to put out a raging veld fire. Wholly inadequate and if observed from a distance, pretty ridiculous.
No right thinking person is going to believe that our government wants foreigners burnt in the streets. No person who has cultivated a mindful sense of this world will think that chemical warfare is acceptable. We know these things to be heinous. Decreeing them so in a rote manner for the sake of politically expedient commentary is offensive and ineffective.
Merely condemning an act – and this is perhaps a much better metaphor in my head – is a bit like jumping into a comfortable bathing pool filled with lukewarm apathy, where those in power can splash around feeling moderately cleaned from responsibility.
The “appropriate” things to say in situations are often meaningless. Think about the “I’m so sorry line” as a response to news of the death of a person’s loved one. It is meaningless to the hearer. It is self-serving and cathartic to the speaker. It is at best a thoughtless line heard enough times to fill the silence and walk away disconnected from the pressing reality.
So the next time you hear a suited politician shimmering with that public relations veneer, offering a strong condemnation of something as heinous as xenophobia, corrupt coppers, chemical warfare, or the DA’s disregard for watered down bovine juice, ask what the benefit of their fancy words are.
Press them, some how, to put the words away and lead the action. Make the changes.
Like I’m sure you know by now, some Ruskies have the international community a little flustered with all their fussing over who puts what where. The face of athletics (and ungroovy quips about interesting sleeping arrangements) dished some smack to LGBT folk the world over. Some rural cut and paste nonsense she probably picked up in Sunday school. ‘Boys don’t sleep over at boy’s’, or some such drivel.
Cue a few days after and it seems like we have what I feel could be the most touching bit of protest imagery I’ve seen in a while. Yes touching.
The Kremlin’s new law is a strange one, homosexuality remains legal, but any upbeat mentioning of it isn’t. SO you can be gay, but quietly gay. Fuck that big brother nonsense.These really are entry level obstacles. It’s embarrassing to see powerful people with such a limited grasp of their world.
Vitaly Mutko, the Russian minister of sport and fascist sexual musings, said the law is there to protect Russian children. He then mentioned drugs and alcohol abuse in the same vein.
“We want to protect our chidren whose minds have not yet been shaped by propaganda over drug abuse, alcoholism and non-traditional sexual relationships.” -Vitaly Mutko
There’s something irritating about the structure of that list.
A modern civilization without drugs, alcohol or sodomy? We might as well turf the wheel while we’re at it.
The idea that homosexuality has taken an evangelical turn is ludicrous. Besides, sexual disposition isn’t the pressing issue here, what matters is that people get off at all. A phenomenon this law puts a lot of pressure on. For the simple fact that nobody wants to shag a bigot.
I don’t get this ridiculous allergy, Ivan the Terrible, the Prince of Moscow himself, was thought gay. Good enough for the Tsar, good enough for the proles.
Vine videos can cause existential despair and self-improvement is masturbation.
There might be something noble, in a sadly myopic sense, in the second statement. The pop culture masses will recognise it as a scathing insight from Tyler Durden in Fight Club. You remember the scene. They’re on a bus looking at an advert of a male underwear model. Ripped and packaged in muscles and a hundred percent cotton.
Edward Norton’s character is lamenting the gym mentality of being crammed under fluorescent lights on sweaty equipment just to look good in your undies. Within this paradigm self-improvement does seem a bit narcissistic and defeating. The irony is that Tyler Durden was more cut than any model you can recall, but let’s blame the director rather than Chuck for this intended oversight.
But increasingly it seems that any notion of improvement, a deep profound improvement of who we are as people, is marred from the start. We live in a world where rather than try to become better at things, we create situations and fixes that make our mediocrity and shortcomings easier to deal with. We talk about being better. But this just means we move faster towards temporary satiation at a cheaper rate.
This melancholic realisation today, my cadres of the forlorn, comes from Vine videos.
Twitter’s six second video service, far from being a tool we should all clutch at for commercial gain as we have been told we should do by those in the know, is indicative of a much greater crutch in our lives.
Six seconds of video. Admittedly some of these clips are funny. It forces the maker to tell a story in a tenth of a minute, which is not easy. Well not if you want it done well at least.
The point is not the maker, but the watcher. The consumption of six seconds of video is considered ideal, because no one has the attention span to deal with anything longer – seven seconds and more.
We must change the technology, the delivery, the style because people can’t focus on anything anymore.
Doesn’t that seem like a bad solution? It’s the wrong way around.
It’s like dealing with people’s increasing levels of unfitness by placing a human conveyor belt between your lounge, kitchen and toilet.
It’s like increasing the production of diabetes medication rather than avoiding that bag of fizzers and mini chocolate bars.
It seems, and one feels that there should be a “hell yeah” in this crescendo, that rather than continue to placate the paucity in attention, we should reject it. Burn the crutch. Fight the good, long fight.
We should read a book that we struggle to understand. That we cannot read at 11pm lying in bed, but instead need the fresh mind of the morning to grapple with it. We should watch a documentary that ends with us in tears of profundity, but only if we could last the 60 minutes to that beautiful moment before the closing credits. We should listen to an album from the first track to the last and marvel in its composition and order in which it was intended to be experienced. We should try writing a poem for someone we love and spend enough time on it to realise the power of our thoughts as well as our emotions.
We need to train ourselves to be better. To focus longer. To challenge our feelings and opinions over a longer period. We need to avoid saying well that’s the way it is, so just deal with it.
Self- improvement is masturbation. But maybe that’s true only if you have a puritanical interpretation of masturbation. Maybe with a little love and attention with a desire to increase your longevity, far from being a bad thing, your wanking might take you all the way to an intellectual awakening.
I remember speaking to a well established comic about creative direction, his words cut crisply, “fuck your agenda, just have a stage and a microphone and see what happens.” What grand advice. Though it’s proved impossible to keep the equation agenda free, antagonising the sentiment has proved liberating. Yet it remains difficult, agendas are lubricated and camouflaged and deliberate things. Yet not nearly as tricksy as their defining characteristic, god honest sexiness.
There are many drums that need banging. From social justice to neo-liberal egos to spaced out spiritual tripe. An entire wiki of ‘isms with ballsy adherents pitching and molding and coercing. It’s part of the fun I suppose. Wading through the muck of human plans. We have too many of those. Plans.
It’s in that spirit that I hesitate to pen a manifesto. The hoarding spirit of middle class materialism has an ideological counter point, it has to, people get off on different things after all. There’s no denying that manifestos can be little more than a primer for aesthetic fascism.
People are always talking about how, “if money wasn’t a factor”, they’d do this or that. It’s a healthy question. If money wasn’t a factor what would you be doing with your time? This serves as a kind of carrot on a stick to fuck through two or three decades of hamster wheeling. Once the vaults are full, then maybe, freedom could be realised. What a load of wank.
Yet money talks, and why shouldn’t it, especially when the lefty elite are all balls deep in disjointed hedonistic excess. It’s rare that freedom from economic necessity leads to anything other than freedom to fuck it up, all day, every day. Make no bones darlings, bohemia is in peril.
The thing is that maxim works both ways. ‘If money wasn’t a factor’ also applies if we question the fundamental values of modern society. Here…
“Reject the basic assumptions of civilization, especially the importance of material possessions.”- Chuck Palahniuk
Social wealth and higher pleasures, but what a silly suggestion. Who would dare promote such a thing?
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