Moments of Despair

It’s going, going – almost gone: a time to turn around; a chance for a future worth living (and being that we are social beings, reciprocating hope and happiness, it is a fading of betterment for all).
We live in a time where, after generation of improvements to the standards of living, we know that those qualities which we have been reared to expect more of are only going to decrease. This wouldn’t be so bad if we were to be released from the total infiltration of consumerism into our lives, with a chance to form a more egalitarian community-based society, but we have missed too many chances to take this route, and we are now heading in such a wrong, denial-fueled, direction as we enter perhaps the ultimate privatisation frenzy – the only direction capitalism can now proceed in now it has taken over the globe. And there is now no hope of anything but a gradual deterioration of the qualities in life, as democracy and social welfare fall by the wayside.
No more space to dream of a better world to come as our forefathers did; and this system, fueled by envy and anxiety is making an otherwise preventable nightmare inevitable. No-one knows when this nightmare will enlarge to its unbearable state, all we know (yes, we all do really know) is that the nightmare has already begun. Whatever one may call it, does not change what it is: a fucking up of the globally interconnected natural environment system, by human actions, causing irreversible climate chaos, which may end up making the Earth Uninhabitable (see 6 degrees: life on a hotter planet- by Mark Lynas). It currently lingers like a terminal illness in the back of all of our minds; we know that one day it will catch up with us.
The current flooding in the southern hemisphere tells us much. First of all it shows us that not even the rich nations are safe; as we have seen with what has happened in Australia. Secondly, the way in which the events were covered very much revealed that these “worst disasters in living memory” will continue to happen. The Brazilian floods killed far more people than the Australian floods, yet news coverage about them was minute in comparison. The way in which the news is broadcast very much mirrors the inequality, unfairness and the sheer refusal to accept these problems in the first place which describe the human race’s existence on the planet in the early 21st century.
The way the news is delivered to us is the way we act: amnesia sufferers, forgetting the past news, thus unable to make connections in order to put plans together – all we do is panic in reaction to the immediacy of the event, and hope it will go away “bring us some small local incident to focus our attention’s on!” The news of an environmental disaster is delivered with barely any relation to other recent events, and barely any information as to why it happen/they are happening. It teaches us not to make connections; to treat all events as isolated anomalies. Thus, far from questioning the current actions of humans, it actually promotes the dominant idea of atomisation/that we are isolated individuals whose actions have no consequences, on which this consumptive system so ferociously feeds.
To add to this, news items are arranged and prioritised in a way that perpetuates the inequalities and the western world’s belief, which is still imperial in its outlook, that it is more worthy than the people who inhabit the developing world. Thus, it is the images of the blond-haired Australian bothers, who were swept to their deaths (which is still obviously tragic), that we are greeted with as we turn on the TV/ pick up the newspaper as opposed to the countless bodies being pulled from the wreckage left behind by the flash floods in Brazil (of course, there is alternative media out there, which do the opposite of this, but they are harder to find that an independent, non-chain cafe in the heart of a UK city centre).
Without diverting any further in being a, so called, “do-gooder”, what this much more than hints at but blatantly reveals is an infrastructure which is inadequate in the face of looming climate catastrophes; a media system that is actually a booster to the human tendency of denial about climate change, by perpetuating an idea of atomization; of unrelated events which, if we switch to our local news stations, are no longer happening; a developed western world which is eternally safe. For all of us who don’t buy it, these are bleak times.
But the denial only works on the surface level. Deep down I think that all of us are affected by the prospect of an already shattered future. But for those who cannot help but dwell on it, the main feeling generated by news on floods, earthquakes, plus the prospect of a dying democracy, is a horizon laden with despair, which only looks like it will intensify and spread to other walks of life as time goes on – hope of anything but this just looks daft.
Thus the hopelessness and the conjuring up of a past, ever-more desirable as the future looks ever-more bleak, spreads into every walk of life, especially when familiarity with places leans to a reminder of rosier times spent in them/ times when I was more blissfully naive of an unbearable future, and time went just that little bit slower so that I didn’t feel like it was running out.
Some years back I took a slight comfort in the fact that most around me saw my concern in the idea of a coming environmental apocalypse as an absurdity. This calmed my fear, and actually reimbursed a blissful naivety in me, from where the future was “going to be OK in the end” As misguided as this was, it helped.
People around me don’t think like that anymore. Last night my friend cut a conversation short on the issues by saying “let’s not talk about this man, it really brings me down” – a confirmation that other people are seeing what I see, and are fearful and despairing about it like I am. Thus, my ‘worst nightmare’ is no longer something that only affects me, it is really happening. A fitting description of this feeling is of one finding that they are at the bottom of the barrel of hope-resource.
We were in our local town centre, having a few drinks; the arena in which all desires,urges, dramas and stories in the post-modern world play themselves out (at least here in the UK), either in hedonist nihilism or fatalist nihilism, as the night swings from a pursuit of something more to an urge to forget. The Friday/Saturday night view on town centre becomes an early scene from the death of civilisation.
This night, I had too much climate change on my mind for the night to be anything but a topping up on alcoholic in an attempt to forget – and the majority of the nights have the same kind of the feel to them since I reached my late mid-to-late 20’s and began to feel alienated from the predominantly under 24 crowd. I know the bars in this town too well; I remember when hedonist nihilism was still sometimes achievable within these places. I can’t escape from the feelings that things are only going to get worse; everything I see seems to point to this. Should I attempt to address the issue more so, and risk damaging my social ties further-more, as people turn away not wishing to hear it? Well, it’s unavoidable – all conversational alleyways which don’t lead to the past must lead to the future and this is all I see in the future. This year I have decided to put all my energy into my artwork (and sideline endeavors such as writing pieces like this) as I do not have a personality equipped with the goods to be an activist, group member, protester and so forth. I sometimes fear that my art is just one big procrastination, putting everything into the work instead of facing it in the reality, but it’s the only way I’ve found. But I know that my art will never change anything, but at this moment I’m have been weakened into a belief that change just isn’t going happen – not fast enough, and not big enough.

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About John Ledger

A visual Artist, eternal meanderer and obsessive self-reflector by nature, who can’t help but try to interpret everything from within the tide of society. His works predominantly take the form of large scale ballpoint pen landscape drawings and map-making as social/psychological note-making. They are slowly-accumulating responses to crises inflicted upon the self in the perplexing, fearful, empty, and often personality-erasing human world.

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