Bob Dylan fans will recognise the title of this piece as a great line from It’s Alright Ma (I’m Only Bleeding).
If you don’t, then shame on you and shame for you, because as much as it has become a disgruntled white liberal’s bent to lay claim to the hidden wisdom of the post Jewish curly-haired prophet, he really does speak with clarity.
I raise this issue of money’s obscenity not as a declaration to join the EFF – at least Juju doesn’t evoke god to do his political bidding in the same way Zuma does – but because everywhere I am, the pervasiveness of money rears it’s monstrous head.
Before you all start yelling “privileged whiteness affords the luxury of the rejection of wealth” – a bit of a wordy thing to shout, sure – I am deeply aware of the virtues in stability, comfort and freedom from worry that money brings.
It is more money as the end goal that unpleasantly itches like a rusty coat hanger on an unsuspecting scrotum.
I was at a braai recently – thankfully it wasn’t Heritage Day, where the conscious white man realises his cultural millieu is nothing better than a history of colonisation, rape, murder, exploitation and then we deceitfully temper it with some dead beast on a fire.
Back to the point. We were standing around the flames when an engineer type said: I hear you do comedy.
I nodded in the way that someone who is not yet feeling established in their field of interest does. Without conviction and with a niggling sense of uncertainty.
Do you make any money in that? Were his next words.
And there it is.
Not, is it a fun thing to do? Or what kind of comedic interests do you have? Or have you ever had no one laugh? The answer is yes. Thanks Belville.
How can you do anything that does not make money? How can you even fathom to engage in behaviour that does not, as the end goal, produce you vast amounts of wealth so that you can buy that shiny motor? Or those pin-striped satin boxer shorts? Yeah they must feel far better than rusted metal.
Now this is just one example. But many I have spoken with ask questions of me, others, themselves – can you make a living from that? That phrase is vastly misused. Livings are not so dear as to forego idealistic pursuits.
But the cash question is so often asked with regards to the creative arts. Yes arts. For stand-up comedy is most certainly that. Assuming you hear people break away from the hack bullshit of race gags and dick jokes.
As soon as we evoke the almighty Dollar, or your respective nation’s currency as your motivational force, your brain gets bloated and slow. Your vision becomes cluttered. Your integrity wanes. Christ, you even dress up in strange outfits and talk in funny voices for cheap laughs because someone is paying you to do that.
The generation afore us cannot grasp that we have grown up in an age where stability and money are not in themselves favourable goals. Instead a desire for happiness and purpose – however deluded that may be – is what guides much of our decision making.
Yes, we need to have a place to live and food to eat. But we don’t need to use our iPhone to control our TVs, surround sounds and sex toys while we lie in goose down bed linen.
Temper your material desires and focus on your ‘production’. I use a capitalist and in some sense a Marxist term here intentionally and ironically.
Go forth and create. Create for the love of the process. For the desire to touch, challenge, tickle and shaft – that sounds like a video I watched last night on an unmentionable website. Know the real value of your material wealth.
So the next time you’re burning the flesh of a deceased mammal and someone asks if there is any cash in creative pursuits, wrestle his or her wallet away and toss it in the fire, uttering the immortal words: Go fuck yourself.
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