Brain Damage (Pink Floyd-style; that is – all of us)

“searching for the world I left behind
A shadow hunting shadows of childhood life
It’s all I want and all I miss but how can I return to a place that don’t exist?” –

Twilight of a Champion, The The

Almost 3 years ago now, parts of urban England (not the whole of Britain, as Mark Fisher pointed out) were engulfed by an unfathomable rage, as riots took hold of certain urban zones. The media-spectacle made it feel like it was on every street in the country. Surely nobody, from the most reactionary Conservatives to the would-be theorists, desperate to understand the reasons, was left unshaken by the media-heightened prospects during the early days of the rioting. In the midst of 2011, I have never felt so compelled and compressed to understand, and to try to be part of something that could change a global society that felt unacceptable. The resulting years I have felt increasingly more abstracted from the reality of this reality (whilst still being subjected to it), and less cognitively-equipped to stay in tune with the really important things, and partly due to this, have felt like an emotionally-damaged zombie going through the motions of caring.

“when I look over
Over my shoulder
I can’t see my past
It seems so far away”

So, it’s part the way the world has gone, and part the world my life has gone, that I rarely feel I am at looking at the world as a living person anymore; scatterbrained, by a compulsion (unconsciously connected to the survivalist fear in an austerity climate) to remain constantly “sociable” via cyberspace, miserably, yet parallelised-drunk on continuous imagery; you’re trying to care, but eventually you just succumb to the “desensitised” rather than the perpetual “panic” (Franco ‘Bifo’ Berardi) state, amidst the info-frenzy of cyberspace; the latter becomes an unbearable state, that makes you dysfunctional, and after 2012, I realised that the world “disallowed” the disfunctional, caring me, but accepted the disafffected me. Damaged Beings. Only when I walk the same road to work, a long, boring road, does the feeling of being post-life, post-human, envelope me.
Artwork products still create meaning, the only meaning really. And from that, purpose, drive; an hyperstate, that ices over the feeling of lack of life. But this obviously has to come to an end. And so begins the desperate attempts to find oneself in a mirror. You can have tantrums, seasonly breakdowns, but you’ll only arrive at the same conclusion; that all you have just broken into pieces is what must be eventually fixed back together in order to be able to get into the thick of the world again.
But isn’t that precisely the place your refraining from heading back into? Of course it is, and right now (the moment after a climatic build up of energy put into work that has to end, thus a huge anti-climax) you’ll try to do this very act of abstaining; and 20 minutes into doing so you’ll realise the separation from the info-frenzied, mediatised, precariatised contemporary world is impossible (ignoring the “you can always just switch IT off” because it rarely deserves the attention it gets).
So, within the next few week, what was staring me in the face 6 months ago, will soon be staring me in the face again. Contemporary capitalism does not allow for honest self-reflection; it allows pre-packaged self-realisation, or melodrama, as a desperate attention-seeking to showcase in 3 minute-pop song duration what has been denied (usually via Twitter or Facebook).
Some kind of intuition to a book I couldn’t remember the substance of, yet that bears great relevance to the nature of my thoughts right now, must be at play, as to the reason why before I left my room I picked up Theodor Adorno’s Minima Moralia (which, I admit, I’ve still only read fragments of), with a subtitle that has become the subtitle of many of my thoughts today: Reflections From A Damaged Life. This following segment from the book’s beginning explains much towards what gets me stuck in this aforementioned existential landslide:
“The occupation with things of the mind has by now itself become “practical,” a business with strict division of labor, departments and restricted entry. The man of independent means who chooses it out of repugnance for the ignominy of earning money will not be disposed to acknowledge the fact. For this he is punished. He … is ranked in the competitive hierarchy as a dilettante no matter how well he knows his subject, and must, if he wants to make a career, show himself even more resolutely blinkered than the most inveterate specialist.”
So, if steady footing is called for right now, and if that means occupying a seat in a chain cafe (ooh naughty me for not frequenting a small independent cafe, so small that the barristas are giving me the body language to say “can you leave now please?” after 25 minutes) where I can find my thoughts with the aim of finding ideas for new “art production” because, sadly, a “specialist” or identity-bust I must be. Home is not, and never will be a place for reflection; tasks mount up around you; the scattered mind parachutes in, and on comes cyberspace and the sound-bite encourages a melodramatic end to an anti-climatic moment, when what is needed is pause/reflection (even if it is in an increasingly diluted dorm, found in private-public spaces in large cafes, large pubs.
(p.s: If you wish to reply, please don’t repy saying “are you ok?”; right now I’m far removed from doing that whole “cry for help”, fruitless endeveour – anyway I’d use Twitter or Facebook for that. I’M EXPLAINING, I’M EXPLAINING, just explaining – that’s all!)

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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