The crash landing of one’s life at the end of the year

 

 

With every year that passes I seem to be moving further away from a life defined by certain things (such as age-group, and its associated lifestyle, it’s forms of socialising; dreams, expectations) yet not arriving anywhere, just drifting further away from anything that is anything. I admit to my obsession with time; at the back of my thoughts there always remains an hour glass of days, months, years, all falling away, adding an unnecessary and unrewarding haste to everything I do, and within every space I find myself within.  This haste is reducing my ability to be an emotionally developed, sensual human to a zero point. I watch with cold, distant horror as I finally dry up into a husk of a person, as if I was seeing myself through someone else’s eyes.

Those who simply tell you to ‘lighten up’ cannot see these ticking time-bombs that exist within a mind, that envelope and pump their poison ink into every care one has until what is good or bad, what is likely or unlikely become indecipherable, and everything just becomes like a weight that eventually makes one sink into oneself – a long-lasting depression that one learns to deflect the detection of with billboard smiles, hyper-irony, and running around/never standing still. Depression is easily mistaken as selfishness, and an inability to care for others, but it is more accurately an inversion of selfishness; when all that is external becomes so heavy that you literally sink into yourself; you backfire on yourself, ending up many fathoms deep within you. Yet the world still demands a You that isn’t submerged, demanding a increasingly more performative/c.v-friendly You, and this is when the god-awful frictions/arguments, whilst trying to be ‘normal’ whilst many fathoms deep within yourself, occur.

This is always more likely around the super-massive black hole event that is known as Christmas/new year. Anyone who can claim that this hyper-event doesn’t tamper with their every emotive response during December (those who may very likely say “just try to ignore it!”) is a lier. It gets you in headlock and, drags you to the front of the stage, and makes you engage in dialogue with your most destructive tendencies, which most of year (save the bi-monthly blips) you can just about tolerate from afar, at the back of the arena. I feel a growing sense of what the theorist Mark Fisher called ‘reflexive impotence’; lacking the capacity to even consider making a move, choosing between yes or no; and as each year comes and goes I watch everyone move on, coupling up, or finding a new path in life, as I just stare like a person trapped in a busy transport terminal, or worse: a person trapped in front of a Facebook newsfeed of everybody you’ve ever known desperate to tell you how well they are doing (and I am both of these people).

It feels both humiliating and frightening, but I can see no way out; and as soon as I think about the feeling that there is no way out, the more that feeling seems to fill my thoughts, as if my thoughts were arteries that were being clogged up by cholesterol.  Desire is no more; too high; too far away; and I can’t even conceptualise the existence of something this far away, not anymore anyway. It needs to be instant, I don’t want it be, but it needs to be. Thus (for example) drinking is no longer that anticipated once-weekly chance for fruition of desires for that young person; but something that is fixturing itself in on as many days a it possibly can as I leave my 20′s behind; no desire only stimulation (perhaps to keep up with the constant nagging of/ the dependency on instant messaging). The world of the Internet 2.0/rolling news anticipating The End in a few seconds/a hyper capitalism that has colonised a future that it’ll have destroyed for us anyway/the anticipation of Google Glasses, and all else that constitutes the tyranny of the immediate; collapsing the world into an ever-present that obliterates desire, leaving us in the hellish void that leaves us with no alternative but to continuously seek immediate stimulation.

Kill off all hope and lingering dreams, and then maybe the pain of what seems increasingly unlikely will go away, so that I am not dragged into hasty, desperate demands for them, triggered by conversations drenched in future plans with colleagues that make me feel compelled to re-convince myself that I “can still sort this” and be the ‘John Ledger’ I told myself I was when I was younger. Maybe it is time to accept that the reasons I have ended up like this may not be down to external social/environmental determinants, not even  in the form of the mindfuck-diet served to us under late capitalism, and more genetic; that I may indeed have a syndrome, as I spend an entire decade locked in a brief moment of it, whilst others seemingly glide from one moment of their life to another. Maybe it’s only a syndrome detectable by me being inapplicable to the human capital system that demands us to all to be applicable formats to its computer world, but a syndrome all the same. Yes, self-diagnosis may just be a way to escape all responsibility for the way you are, and evade the long, and potentially futile, road you must take to change yourself, to which to self-assured will now mutter “only you can change your life, john!”. However, such a diagnosis, if it were the case, may just ease the burden of years of battling feelings of social inadequacy, and destructive guilt when I am made aware that I have acted inappropriately in social situations, when the social situation made me feel trapped, forced into certain shape as if I was putty in its hand, and ‘inappropriate’ reaction an inevitable outcome.

But how do you begin to build for a future, and not look to the past, when you’ve looked so much at what is in store for us under this system, that a future with any offer of something more desirable looks impossible? As things stand the future the world offers is akin to the man who sits on on his toilet considering the decoration of his bathroom whilst his house burns down.

oh, and 2013…

Despite being a child born into the postmodern age I still feel like a child of modernism; that the hopes, desires and mores of modernism found a back-door into my mind. Maybe it was because the music played in our house was largely pop music when it was at its most modernist; when it really did believe that singing ‘peace and love’ could stop the human beings from tearing the shit out of each other, and also having vague (but seemingly-building) memories of the (what seemed then) gigantic collieries that looked like something that had crash-landed in a largely green landscape from a distant future, making my past seem more futuristic than our ‘cupcaked’, retrophile present world. Or maybe my injection with the belief that world was moving towards a better more peaceful world was born in the 1990′s; a decade that seemed to bring back into the cultural psyche a feeling that the world would be more glorious and exciting, albeit now completely capitalist and via the utopianism surrounding the early years of cyberspace – that is before it turned all dystopian, and began to feel like it was turning all of life into (un)sweet-nothings, soundbites falling onto our heads like rain serving as the slow collapse of civilisation rematerialising as Miley Cyrus, rape porn, Syrian gas attacks, and an art/music facebook page you must ‘like’ for every human being alive.

The thing that struck me most about satirist commentator Charlie Brooker’s summing-up of 2013 in the Guardian was that he was saying exactly the same as I have been saying all year (albeit in a way that attracts reading and doesn’t find itself compelled to the cybergraveyard of unread plentitude, which is here this is likely heading). My entire adult life has been largely spent trying to understand this world: why it is like it is. This is largely due to losing my way as a teenage and finding myself unable to enjoy things in life for their own sake. As fruitless as this probably is, it seemed compulsive to me – a less self-obsessed outlet for obsessive behavioural patterns.

However, between the spring of 2012 and now, the world shifted a gear, and went beyond the even remotely comprehensible and towards a new plateau of fucked-up. There remains a feeling within me that something gave up and died within this period, yet doesn’t yet realise. Something died within me and within the world, and now we’re merely the walking dead going through the same “keep calm and carry on” motions again and again. Personally I feel spent; my art, my voice, my only voice of defiance has said all it can say. And to keep making the work feels like I’d have to become pastiche of my past self. Yet I have emotionally depleted myself, messed up all other glimmers of chances for something different in my life for sake of my art. Now it feels spent I just feel like a husk of a person staring into the abyss of the present, where the whole world seems to becoming over saturated with a ‘gooey’, cutified child-like  manner, becoming more infantilised the more the world looks evermore terrifying and falling apart.

So, where the fuck now? I can’t drape myself in retro bubbles, pretending the present isn’t happening; I can’t seem to settle down, start a family, first off with a ‘doggy-woggy’ or ‘cootie-wootie moggy’ that I can saturate facebook with instagrammed images of, and make the centre of attention at friends parties, just so we don’t have to look at the reality that becomes more grim and closer to our doorstep the more we ignore it. I can’t do any of these things. Yet people are starting to comment that I’m drinking too much, often the same people who find it possible to live these lifestyles I find impossible. Just what then?

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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  1. Share the Pain | John Ledger - December 22, 2014

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