Is the feeling of hopeless frustration one gets when let down by public transport one of the most direct confrontations with the ruling ideology as one could have? Of course, here I am not referring to the severity of a confrontation – as a canceled train is a tiny inconvenience when compared to the hardship that people are now being forced to face as what was an initial failure of the ruling ideology (the global recession) is being attempted to be redeemed by revving up the ideology to its fanatical extremes – what I am referring to is the fact that the experience of feeling let down by a service such as public transport (a service you have paid for – free public transport is now incomprehensible in Britain), and having frustration with no outlet to direct it at, is a direct confrontation with capitalism’s self-fulfilling rhetoric “There is no alternative/it’s just the way it is”.
The feeling is perhaps most acute at a local service train station. This is mainly because, firstly, it is common place that nobody/nothing bothers to inform you about your cancelled train, and secondly, because local service stops are the first ones to be neglected if there has been any hold-up on the train lines. As you watch a express train whizz past, with no sign of your train, it becomes evident that the fast train – which is running a service which only stops at larger towns – has taken precedence over the local stopping train upon which you, at your little station, depend. The big fish gets right-of-way over the little fish; capitalism runs by the rule of the jungle, and you have found yourself to be nothing but a minnow, with no say in the way things are run, and perceiving idiocy to be the only outlet for this frustration and humiliation.
Idiocy becomes the individuals last resort. Humiliated by the systemic demeaning, stranded with little option, and almost imagining the mocking laughter of those who drive their own car if you were to vent your frustration via Facebook, you get an urge to damage the electric signs – the machines that “will not communicate” – and punch and kick the information point which doesn’t even function. Even with the consequences of doing so, the almost-realised fantasy of going berserk and smashing things up seems much more closer to a cure than the usual apathetic, and very English (who are very used to being ruled) reaction of moaning that “the fucking public transport system is a disgrace” – which instantly feels like a suicide of the soul, like I’m already digging an hole for my corpse; ‘this is the only way’.
The frustration at public transport is a direct confrontation with capitalist ideology, as we acknowledge the futility of our concerns/opinions against its one-way-only dynamics. This leads us to listen to the persuasions of those who have already submitted to the ‘the only way that works’. They encourage us to submit to the increasing atomisation of our lives also. “Get a car” they may say or “that’s why I learned to drive”. These aren’t words spurted out by those in favour of the increasing atomisation of life, but by those who are helping to mould the self-fulfilling prophecy of ‘the only way that works’ further still, because they cannot see the point in trying to battle back any more.
Another confrontation with the ruling ideology, one which has been burning at me for at least 2 years now, due to my never exactly satisfactory social life (at which point those reading this who either make up the Smile Police, or ‘like capitalism’ will probably react by saying “aah, I guessed as much!” – and they’ll probably stop reading my blog – bye!), is the one felt when experiencing the dilemma on whether to be, or not to be on the social networking site Facebook.
Facebook alone isn’t diabolical; it is the correct package for our late capitalist predicament. A predicament which allows those doomed aspirations, forced onto us by indoctrinated individualism, a chance to be revealed, inevitably only to fail and be unheard, as we log off again each evening yet again bemused and confused as to why nobody cares -all those millions upon millions of ‘special’ individuals, who have been conditioned to want to be heard above everybody else, and a predicament which has, via consumer advances, got us to accept that paying to communicate is acceptable, as we desperately search for a lover and those elusive long-lost friends via our £30 a month broadband connection. And I can’t leave! I keep coming back, in the hope of gaining something .
Although you can walk away and leave the room, you feel mesmerised by the screen just as much as it depresses and immobilises you. You become subjected to all the soap-opera-of-friends info which is ever more generic and depressingly predictable as it tries to surprise, such as, what appears to be, increasingly more sexually provocative photographs, mainly of females who seem to have a willfully blind attitude to how they may be being seen by the 300+ Facebook friends who receive notice of photos, or a wave of collective posts that confirm to you, sat in your room, that your life is so much more pointless and aimless. And because anyone who mutters a dislike to the desperate state of affairs they see in front of them, is met with reactions which equate to “you’re a pessimist, you don’t see good in anything” – in a strange parallel to how somebody who struggles with the way the world is who depends on state benefits is collectively viewed as a ‘scrounger’ – you end up deciding not to say anything, largely because it may make you, who is already struggling socially, struggle even more, if you feel that people see you as pure misery.
Like the dilemma of whether to give up trying with the public sphere of public transport for the atomised world of car ownership, in an almost inverted parallel, it is the dilemma of whether to give up trying to socialise without resorting to cyber-space communication (the internet, but also relating to cell phones) whilst the self fulfilling prophecy of ‘there is no alternative but to communicate via cyber space’ becomes an ever more irreversible truth. There are two main reactions to using Facebook which run parallel to the reactions of car users, these two reactions are the two collective approaches which are constantly making capitalism’s modernizations irreversible facts of life. 1: “I don’t particularly like Facebook but it would be really hard to contact people without” it (which runs alongside “I’d use public transport if it was reliable, but I couldn’t survive without a car now”). 2: “I think Facebook is great, I get to know what all my all friends are doing, when an event such as a gig is upcoming, and I can keep in touch with people who live hundreds of miles away” (which runs alongside “I love my car, it gives me a massive freedom to go where I want to go and do what I want to do”).
The former ultimately equates to “I don’t like Capitalism, but it’s the only system that works – Communism works on paper but not in practice” and the latter ultimately equates to “I like Capitalism, it’s giving me a good life, I can buy what I want when I want”. The former is the most depressing one, as these are the people who would be on the side of universal emancipation/progressive politics, but they can’t because they cannot believe in this alternative, and the more they convince themselves that there is no alternative the more that becomes the utter truth.
Sadly I very often sink in to former section. The first section are largely seen as pessimists by the second section. But I largely object to being called so. The former group is the people who feel the conflict with the ruling ideologies rendering of our lives. True, the ideal would be to convey positivity to others by proving that it is possible to resist the rendering of our lives done by the ideology – thus not feeling powerless and voiceless – but, as I explain in the previous paragraph, that ideal has been made to look impossible. I know that if I, amongst others, accept this self-asserted fact, that what we desire is impossible, then “the only way” of capital is more and more closer to being a unchangeable truth. However, trapped between the submission to an awful place and a hope, which has yet to be rendered into a possibility, pessimism is the only achievable reaction.
An exhibition of drawing, painting, collage and photography, at Creative Developments Space, 7 Smithfield, 22 october – 29th october
Preview is: Thursday 21ST October 7-9pm
I’m not usually one to show my emotions in the middle of the centre of the town where I live (there’s too many bored eyes, looking for something to surprise them) but today I found my mouth making the shape of “what the fuck?!?” as I looked up at a telescreen in the town’s shopping centre. I noticed an advertisement: “Spy on Cheaters”. I thought I’d mis-read, but I hadn’t. “Spy on Cheaters: buy your own mini surveillance camera, so that you can spy on your suspected cheating partner.
Now, for many already stated reasons, I have an utter dislike for entire spectrum of advertisement in modern society (even the advertisements by Charity groups seem, somehow, to only bolster advertising’s stronghold over us), but capitalising on certain things is like cutting through morals and respect with a cheese slicer. This is one of these very adverts, which have the feeling of randomly appearing in our world from some parallel, much more dystopian world. But perhaps that’s just it: these disgraceful adverts, and our general ambiguity to their intrusion into our lives, is actually an indication that our world is in fact dystopian (there must be a fine line where a civilisation crosses over into a dystopia – an a citizen of, say, 30 years previous would probably observe our current situation with alarm). This advert wouldn’t look out of place in a 3 minute commercial loop containing pay-per-view executions, or, alternatively, Death row talent shows, in which someone awaiting execution can be freed from death, if they win a contest to become a pop singer. That’s how low commerce will be prepared to stoop at some point along these current tracks.
Back to the actual product of cameras to spy on cheaters: like all products advertised, they don’t need to satiate a need, they actually seek to create a need. Thus, for someone in a relationship, with a moderate level of paranoia (which is more than normal for 21st century living) the very idea that these products are on sale, may just inch them into concluding that if infidelity is apparently so rife in the present, then they too should take these cautious measures. All adverts bolster a society based on social anxiety and forced-selfishness – the more adverts there are the less room there is to see an alternative world not totally based on commerce, and thus the less chance to notice when adverts go well below the belt of what is decent. Adverts also bolster a society of people who are so wrapped up in self-interest that they feel almost permanently isolated. Nevertheless, being a single, isolated person, I have always come to believe that a relationship with somebody may actually go some distance towards healing up the wounds of isolation.
Not so it seems, if advertisements such as this are to prevail more so in the future (which if you take the current political environment into consideration, and assume that insecurity about the self and right wing attitudes are going flourish further on a more-than-ever global scale, seems very likely). It appears that a market can now be made out of anything, (I still believe that cell phones, Internet communication, are still processes heading towards a complete marketisation of human interactions, to the point where the isolated individual will have no choice but to pay for almost every conversation he/she has). Markets can be made out of prising open relationship bonds, creating a feeling that nobody is worth trusting. We risk becoming so isolated that rapid advances in technologies for a CyberSex market will be needed to cater for ever-more lonely people.
The next stop in town for me was the Superdrug store: needed some roll-on deodorant , or should i say that I felt like I needed some (grown to fear the idea that others around me may actually be able to detect a natural odour coming from me). As I was queuing I noticed that the Shop sold magazines. Every magazine was coated with the flesh of a female celebrity to the extent that is was a sea of pink and colourful bikinis: actors such as she who plays Sophie Webster in the soap Coronation Street, who appear to have been reared from child actor into young, sex, desired piece of meat (this seems to be a trend with young female actors, and it’s almost institutionalised grooming-for-sex, or even institutionalised paedophilia – which, from afar, seems no less perverted than the acts of those who society collectively perceives as the scum of the earth: those who sleep with underage girls ). How can this true bond with another person even be fully achievable, whilst we are shown that every perceived role-model, from soap star to female politician (think of French president Sarkozy’s wife, or US Republican candidate Sarah Palin) is presented as nothing more than desirable flesh? Are we not already near a place where individuals in a revered position participate in pornography for the rest of us to view?
All peoples are attracted by the sight of their desired sex, but it doesn’t mean that they appreciate this forced arousal – which is basically what an individual is put through in this perpetual endless city. I would go as far as to say that all that I have seen whilst in my young adult years that has led me to feel that it would be so hard to trust someone – let alone trust myself to be as one with another – are entirely human behavioural aspects magnified by the capitalist system, not merely human behaviour in itself. (Even before I started to be aware of the full extent of capitalist exploitation, I wrote the song lyrics “there is no hope for a stable life when you’re taught to buy then sell your wife” for a song named Generation Slut). I just fear that Capitalism is slowly eradicating any chances of escaping isolation – for all of us.
But it has also twisted our desires over the years to focus our eyes on traits which will continue this isolation process. I know that a woman manicured to celebrity-endorsed perfection (which penetrates far deeper than you’d expect, I’m not just referring to those from, sadly, usually from the poorer quarters who seem to gleam ever-more orange from layers of fake tan, – some level of this perfection half-expected of everyone) would be a totally wrong person for me to attempt to be with. Nevertheless, I am also aware that what attracts me has been so manipulated by years of marketing bombardment, that I am most certainly more attracted to a vision created by celebrity-endorsed perfection (it’s much less blatant to the eye than your Kerry Katona,Jordan lookalikes would suggest), than someone who isn’t so manicured to an extent where there’s no room for anything but narcissistic adoration.
But this is great for the economy for us to be funneled into this homogeneous desire. Imagine the status anxiety caused by ‘acquiring’ (that’s the correct word to use) one of these people, and then imagine the amount of products (beautification products, status symbol products) which could be directed you way in order to quell that anxiety. Imagine the amount of money to be made out a wedding which would be so status driven (grand cars, grand hotels, dresses, fireworks, the list goes on), a wedding so wrapped up in self-interest, hooked on Disneyfied dreams of the most perfect wedding ever, out shadowing any true love which may lie in there (I work at a place where I witness wedding ceremonies, and, my god, they get more overblown and stupid each time – a full choir Elton John, and a wedding inside an American Indian Tipi – A wedding inside an American Indian Tipi in West Yorkshire). Then imagine the paranoia – possibly starting from day 1, as your status-acquired macho friends drool over your new wife. So, yes (like the cuddly bear of the generation game) here comes those ‘SPY ON CHEATS’ cameras!
Then there’s finally the money to made out of the divorce procedures!
Hello to the world of isolation!!!!
I’m sorry, but that’s why I can never show any enthusiasm for anything in the arts involving enterprise, growth, business. It’s all going downhill in my opinion. Commerce is dragging everything downhill.
Isolation can only increase when our attraction to the opposite sex is manipulated into a consumption of flesh.
Violence can only increase when markets manipulate distrust.
Inequality can only increase whilst we are reared to care about Number 1 only
But also, climate change will only be hastened, when we are constantly trying to protect ourselves at the cost of all around u
It isn’t a criticism of my Father, but he only ever allowed himself to get into one band during the last 25 years: Oasis. Neither is it a criticism of both my parents that they would seemingly, if they could, spend the rest of their television orientated evenings on a drip-feed-like consumption of 1960’s memories. The reason why it isn’t a criticism is because I believe that Heartbeat, in the field of TV, and Oasis, in the field of music, are possibly two of the most important cultural products of the last 20 years, and for quite depressing and sobering reasons indeed.
What started this thinking track is the fact that my parents don’t actually value Heartbeat as a program – in fact they don’t even like it – yet they still always watch it. And the same here could be applied to Oasis: people don’t like the band members, and don’t really value their music, yet enjoy listening to it. Enjoying lighthearted stuff with no real depth to it is not what’s in question here: Oasis and Heartbeat standout as quintessential icons of a culture which can see no future and relies on and immerses itself in the hopes and progressions of a past generation (the 1960’s), and by doing so, possibly closing our eyes to the bleak future which so many are now expecting.
Anyway, back to the program of Heartbeat first of all. Heartbeat is set in a small village upon the North Yorkshire Moors. The show started in the early 1990’s and it has been running for about 18 years (ran about 18 years – it has now finally been shelved) yet it never left a mish-mash 1960’s era, which could only be logically located within a permanent 1964/1967 era – almost in a Truman Show-like manner, where nobody remembered to tell the cast that the world they are living in has long since ceased to exist. The very fact that this observation (which even the most dumbly accepting of us could point out) is usually challenged, by those who watch it, with the reply “it doesn’t matter, it’s only Sunday evening escapism” reveals much about the functional purpose of this program: set in the 1960’s, littered with references to cultural, political movements of, certainly, the most progressive and optimistic period in the past half-century, yet appealing to the malaise and apathy of the present, and, more importantly, the need to escape the despair of the present, Television shows such as Heartbeat stand as hallmarks for a civilisation which – due to events which sabotaged and infiltrated the emancipatory movements of the 1960’s – has been shrinking back, like an old person’s body, for the past 40 years. Interestingly a very similar conclusion seems to be made by Charlie Brooker, who speaks words which, although padded by wit, seem to arrive at the same conclusion “Mankind clearly peaked about forty years ago. Its been downhill ever since. For all this talk of our dazzling modern age, the two biggest advances of the past decade are Wi-Fi and Nandos” (This doesn’t mean to say that I think humanity cannot advance any further, my observations are made with the self-asserted triumph of global capitalism in mind, as I believe that humanity can only regress under capitalism, and can only progress after an eradication of it – if that ever chuffing comes; I do bugger all to help the cause, but to moan eternally).
If our civilisation was still progressing, in any way but finding new ways in which to consume things, sentimental programs such as Heartbeat, which hark back in a embrace of the progressive, optimistic mood of the 1960’s, (precisely because it failed in reality) would need not exist – and we’d probably still be receiving the more educational and intuitive TV subject matter of the past, which seem to have slowly disappeared from our screens whilst titillating reality television has risen to take over the non-fiction.
The music of Oasis and the first series of Heartbeat started out at a relatively similar time in the early 1990’s; a period which did contain a optimism (although largely superficial by its commodification and misguided in the idea that the “things will only get better”) for the future, which convinced us that things really were going to be OK under late capitalism; gone was the Berlin Wall, gone was the harsh face of capitalism (Thatcher and Reagan) and the post 9/11, security paranoid and data collecting Computer World had not yet made itself known to us.
Oasis, on a visual and audible front, gave a very similar produce to Heartbeat (not in who they appealed to but certainly in what they resembled): they too resembled icons of an optimistic and progressive past; musically they possessed qualities found in popular and progressive bands from periods in British pop music before the music market became so controlling so as to largely stop musical innovation and merely tend to niches.
Like Heartbeat, the content of Oasis was empty: it merely resembled the past; their lyrics meant nothing much and they largely tended to a newly emerging ‘lad culture’ which demanded no change to the status quo, and just wanted to fester on hedonistic pursuits and social securities won by working people’s from the past (not to criticise this group overly however: they were largely fooled into believing that “they’d never had it so good” and a lot of this group are now – if not suffering from depression and on the dole – certainly struggling to perceive a future, and struggling to settle down and start a family, etc). Precisely because they had nothing to say, Oasis are one of the most culturally important bands of the post Berlin wall/Global Capitalist era, possibly more so that the bands who really have tried to be critical of our present predicament (maybe even more relevant to our era that great bands such as Radiohead). Looking back it now seems inevitable that the optimism would fade, and just as the hedonism of the Blairite 1990’s years petered out into ritualistic farce (“there’s nothing else for us to do, except getting pissed anyway!”) and pointlessness as we entered the ‘noughties’, so did the music of Oasis and the story lines in Heartbeat (“their music/story lines are samey, but there’s nothing better to listen to/ on the box”).
Heartbeat finally ended at the end of the noughties, a decade too late for all but the farce of our times. Oasis finally split up at the end of the noughties also. The end of these two cultural beacons may just mutter a suggestion that the cultural fabric of the noughties – a clinging on to the spirit of the 1990’s, and a marketised magnification of the remaining dregs of that misled optimism from that era – is coming to an end, and it also may mutter what is coming next, not just culturally, but possibly more in an economic, democratic and, finally, environmental sense.
There does seem to be an almost End Of Days aura oozing from our culture at the moment. Not that it is, in any way, braced for an harsher, more authoritarian landscape – like the current Chinese/Indian version of Capitalism, which the philosopher Slavoj Zizek predicts will arise if Capitalism continues to rule on this increasingly troubled planet of the 21st century – only that many of us seem to be expecting it at some point. How could something as sloppy as Heartbeat still appeal in the coming age? Maybe the context of such shows would need to be even more soppy, even more like an anaesthetic to numb ourselves to the world outside? (likewise, would music similar to that of Oasis, need to incorporate, into its music videos, the almost pornographic usage of women, which is already used in music videos just slightly down the music ladder regarding appeal to intelligence?)
The ultimate death-by-slosh, newish Sunday evening drama Lark Rise To Candleford is very ‘zeitgeist’ indeed, and appears to have the exact formula to serve this functional purpose. Underneath these layers of sickening drivel there appears to be an almost anti-capitalist sentiment – when the wise woman from the village post office comes to issue her words of wisdom. Of course, it in no way encourages action, or even a critique of the present (it wouldn’t get a Sunday evening slot if this were the case). Lark Rise To Candleford seems to perform what Mark fisher describes in his book Capitalist Realism, as he explains the functional purpose of the Disney Film WALL.E – about a waste collecting robot on a planet made desolate by mega corporations: it’s function is interpassivity; it actually performs the viewers’ anti-capitalism, good will for all mankind for them, allowing them to return to participating in a capitalist world with a little less guilt about doing so (Or in Lark Rise To Candleford’s case: it allows the viewer to be more at ease for the Monday morning rat-race the day after).
A fairy tale-like town, viewed as if seen through sugar-coated rose-tinted spectacles, where there seems to be a constantly postponed inevitability of modernisation/industrialisation waiting just outside the town’s gates (which seems massively delayed seen as it is set in Britain right at the end of the nineteenth century), Lark Rise To Candleford also seems to function as a defense against what’s going on ‘out there’, in the real world. One could picture this as a pair of warm arms of a rustic and traditional woman baker, protecting the viewer from the amoral destructiveness of capitalism outside. Just like the pointless of a show like Heartbeat in a progressive era, Lark Rise To Candleford could only exist whilst the we live in times so expectant (although we rarely speak of it to each other) of catastrophe.
Another factor in society that seems to point out to me that we are collectively expecting a meltdown is the supreme levels of generic physical perfection that (what appears to be) most young people born after 1989 are striving to achieve. Perhaps it is possible to make a link between looming threats to the existence of our species (i.e environmental threats) and the degree to which consumerism now seeps into our lives, and The Guardian columnist George Monbiot makes me feel more sure that this is true, whilst referring to living under this political landscape that has never recovered since it swerved to the right under Margaret Thatcher, when he says “Confronting people with inconvenient facts is likely only to harden their resistance to change”.
The majority of today’s youth seem to be bathed in a lifestyle which is obviously not going to be attainable for long. You cannot help but sense that somethings wrong, as you are confronted by the eroticness of the clothes and beautification of teenage girls/young women (the girls/young women seem to wear clothes which are so tight and revealing that there is hardly anything left to the imagination, as if there is no time left for it), and the young men would make the girls of just 10 years back look scruffy in comparison. Never before have I seen sexually provocative clothes, so odorous of status, worn en masse – yes, we’ve finally arrived in Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, just before it all comes crumbling back down again!
Perhaps my thoughts are always heightened by memorised song lyrics from times past, but a line from the song ‘Big Exit’ by PJ Harvey seems so fitting that it would be a shame to leave it out:
“Beautiful people, Beautiful girls
I just feel like it’s the end of the World”
It has been said many time that a civilisation is never too big to collapse, but that doesn’t prevent the visual appearance and the actions of the majority from sometimes convincing me that there is no way this could all cave in, and my main concerns momentarily become a stray dog from the house of common sense. I look around at all the well-dressed 20-somethings, settling down and having children, and I think “surely this confirms that we cannot be at The End Of Days just yet….? the reemergence of the 80’s hairdo’s: they could never belong in a barren human wasteland, they’re made for a urban cultural hub!” But maybe the increasing perfection of ones self-image and the increasing numbers of Facebook users whose profile pictures are of their newborn babies, are actions made precisely to put a mental block on any reference to a collapse of civilisation (you don’t want to consider the prospect of oil reserves running out when you’re planning on having a family).
Do I believe this collapse of life as we know it is inevitable? Well, ‘life as we know it’ in regards to living under Capitalism, will have to end. But it will only equate to a bleak struggle for survival for most of us, If capitalism doesn’t end when ‘life as we know it’ ends. It needn’t be bleak: Capitalism isn’t like oxygen; humanity could survive perfectly well without it. One has to remember at this point that all the democratic rights, and social welfare we (still, at this moment) have were gained contrary to the interests of Capitalism – it is a massive contradiction when it’s advocates (think of George Bush’s rhetoric used in the war on terror) speak of the freedom and good living that capitalism countries have . So, counter to the opinions of those who know me, I do have some degree of optimism left. But this optimism will continue to be eroded if capitalism continues to guide us to this sheer drop.
Come what may, we will feel the harsh side of Capitalism on us very soon, and just like ending of Oasis/heartbeat, which were symbolic of the culture the past 2 decades, the tougher life most will experience as the impact of cuts to social spending are felt, may also ‘mutter a suggestion’ of what we can expect to see more from Capitalism, as the planet becomes a less accommodating home. Speaking as an inhabitant of Britain, although most other countries are expecting equally tough measures, these cuts are being used as economic shock therapy, as described in Naomi Klein’s Shock Doctrine: we are being given no choice but to accept that the only way to avoid a total disaster is to slash state spending, and jolt the nation into a privatisation spree: we are frightened of job loss, total poverty, and so will accept the no-security, peanuts-pay, prospects of a nation of privately owned entities – like Britain was in the apparently ‘Glorious age’ of the 19Th century, when most of its peoples lived in abject poverty.
Maybe it won’t get get this harsh straight away, but it won’t get any better, and Capitalism’s going to be trying to ‘manufacture consent’ more than it ever has done before, you can bet you life on that.
Capitalism would be a fascinating spectacle to watch from afar, if I wasn’t living in it. This is why the criticism put upon the system I read in books seems so less harsh than when I re-iterate the same words whilst walkingdown a town centre street: reading it in a book is like reading about a far off world, especially when you’re sat snug in your chosen space for relaxing contemplation. However, as soon as I take a step into the real world I realise that I am partaking in interpassivity: the words I am reading are performing my anti-capitalism for me; so I need not feel shame whilst I sit a chain cafe (so generic that a branch in one city plays the exact same compilation CD, with the pretence of random songs, as a branch in another city 30 miles away) partaking in one of the newer consumer phenomena’s, of drinking in continental-themed cafes. I walk outside. I’ve soaked up my anti-capitalism from the book like the kid who soaks up his thick milkshake in the, now unfashionable, downtown eatery McDonald’s, and now I will calmly put in my earphones and listen to some ‘guilt-free’ non heavy-going 1990’s indie music and wait another day until my discontent grows back like a 5 o’clock shadow from at which point I am ready to do everything the same way again tomorrow.
I couldn’t help thinking about the idea of interpassivity after reading a section about the functional purpose of the Walt Disney Film Wall-E in Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism. The term Interpassivity, named so by Robert Pfaller – who I’ll make no pretence about knowing anything about – has stuck with me more so because it seems to have named the raging-doubts I sometimes have about my morals in relation to my artwork. I have often been really annoyed with myself about why I am so inept in actually tackling concerns, internal and external, whilst continuously reeling out works which confront these concerns, and now it seems likely that I let my creative juices perform my protests, demands, beliefs for me, seen as I do really feel really less troubled by my actions within the real world, after exorcising my major concerns on a piece of paper. Of course, I believe in the necessity of art and in the necessity for me to be making it, but this concern doesn’t cease because the problems around (too large to singularly do anything about, or ones that do appear to be in my grasp) don’t cease either. And it all boils down to a questioning of what is a good person and what is a bad person.
Is a good person someone who is, whilst being loving and caring and generous towards friends and family and all in his/her vision, working for a business that is indirectly contributing to the suffering of many people in far off countries? And this is a crude example as we all have blood on our hands if one takes into account the omni-potent presence the mega corporations have in all our lives. Is what makes him/her bad simply that they are partaking in a life which is causing bones and logs to pile in other parts of the world and know that they are, feel bad about it, but refuse to do anything different and carry on?
If someone has no knowledge of the effects their lifestyle might be contributing to, they see no evil, feel no wrong, surely then they cannot be judged as being a bad person? But when one grows up, sees all the evil, but carries on soaking up the consumer-laden lifestyle they were building and expecting whilst younger and doing nothing to change once they see the destructiveness’ linked to this lifestyle, are they a bad person? Or is it because, despite what anybody might see/be aware of, the brightest lights flashing before our eyes, the loudest voices all seemingly shouting in unison, assure then convince us that living this way is OK “don’t worry about it” ?
Of course, those issuing these ‘re-assuring’ words don’t actually think all is OK. However, we all just keep bolstering the mainstream even if we doubt it severely underneath due to conventional manners in which we communicate with each other (and when someone does “tell it like it is” one is liable to leave their company for the more cosy-speak from others), and we can all partake in interpassivity like I do (At least Fear that I do).
Whether we experience the effects of peak oil, climate extremes or the boot of an increasingly more authoritarian government (which is likely anyway if either of the first 2 occur) the life we are living, the democracies that working peoples have battle hard to win (no matter how mock-democratic they are at present), will be forced to change/contract massively. If we carry on accepting that Capitalism is the only way, and that all we are able to do is to try our best for ourselves and family within its confines, then the majority of us (in the west also) are going to find life very bleak, in comparison with today (even if today is blighted by apathy and anxiety for tomorrow’s world), perhaps as bleak as it was for our great grandparents and their parents, grandparents.
Just listening to stories about my own grandparents’ struggles in pre-welfare Britain cannot help but make me massively concerned, and half expectant of struggles of an equal measure for own generation’s children’s’ future’s, especially as massive slashes to public spending, and the ideological extremity of capitalist thinking appear to have won over as the choice of method to get the machine running again to deliver the world out of this current global recession.
Yet, as much as I know that a new way of living is needed, and needed fast (a new way which can probably only start from grass-roots upwards), I do very little to get involved, in trying to begin this about. I feel meekly unnerved when I see protests from pressure groups in the street, not because I don’t agree with them, but that them being there simply confirms the reality of my concern, and my instinct is to flee the vicinity. As much as my domestication’s, habits etc, cause me profound discontent and worry, a mixture of sources have installed so much fear into me that I feel – what Mark Fisher’s Capitalist Realism called – reflexive impotence, and all thought becomes negative from which the only outlet for it is more art, or the kind of rant I am making here; more drawings and writings which few will see, and fewer still will be seriously moved by.
Yet the last thing I would want to do here is spread apathy. I wish, eventually, to be partaking in some form in a movement which can show people that capitalism isn’t the only way, and that a change doesn’t have to be a change to something worse.