Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now… (2014)

Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now  (1959x3000)Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now… (2014)

The future returns from the past. Yesterday’s future left unchecked, comes back to haunt.  Not the great expectations of that high modernist period, but those dangerous potentialities and instrumentalist horror that ran alongside it.

Nothing much feels real any more, at least not in the way I’ve grown to expect real things to feel. Even events that directly concern me are experienced as if they’re behind a screen placed there to transmit the spectacle. The anguish of unreality is most acute when you try to sense the sadness and horror caused by  “the planet’s little wars [which are] joining hands” (Sweet Bird of Truth, The The), and the world’s little climate disasters which are joining hands, and yet it somehow doesn’t feel like it’s happening. You know our species has a shared interest in preventing such things, and even as you protest, one banal social media post can distract you and make it feel like it can’t really be happening anyway.

P1010252Banality reigns supreme, at the same time as situations that should deeply alarm us collectively unfold. And as information sharing speeds and increases, we find it far easier to share things that reassure us/things that make the world seem childish, a depolitised, dehistorised ever-present of fun/funny/adorable things.

Re-repeats of our alcohol-based social events, which (if all goes to plan) usually result in a -re-laugh and re-listening to old-time favourite songs, now (I would argue) work alongside the social media banality, and life is lived as if in an eternal now. As the dynamic of capitalism requires ever-faster and ever-more intrusive cyberspace technologies mediating life, life feels so fast that it no longer feels like we are moving, just on a stuck record, going round and round. This has lumbered us in the eternal now, or at least, what feels like an eternal now…

P1010253 (3000x2391)The night after yet another heavy weekend night’s drinking in town, feeling more content than usual due to the passivity caused by the numbness felt the day after, I was hit by an unexpected reality check whilst I lay in bed. With the intensification of conflicts in areas in a land mass, generally speaking, between Europe and Asia, bringing all the superpowers into potential conflict, whilst I lay in bed in this supposedly post-Cold War world, I suddenly thought “is it plausible that nuclear war could actually escalate at any moment?”

As much as we know it has always remained possible, it doesn’t feel possible any more, it feels like it fell with the Berlin Wall, and was cosigned to books after Francis Fukuyama’s proclamation that we’d reached ‘the end of history’. But at that moment it did feel possible, I was momentarily jolted from the laughing/sedatory gas of the banal. Remembering the alcohol-soaked walking down a street in a town with the highest concentration of pubs in the UK (at one point,  apparently), depicting this reality check felt like a necessity.

Underneath the street-scape is a near past of activity and desire to change the world. Theorist Slavoj Zizek described this period (2011) as the year of dreaming dangerously. Since then this impulse seems to have been covered over, drained and exhausted by the very media-scape from which it gained its initial collective body. There as been a noticeable intensification of information sharing even from 2011 onwards, coupled with the disbelief and apathy the powers that be have brought about, with an ever increasing influence over the shaping of our opinions and reactions in the information age, whilst they the impose an ever-more draconian economics onto us. No wonder we wish to drink to reach the reassurance of passivity, and share reassuring information via cyberspace.Yet, within this depicted landscape, the covered-up near past still offers a glimmer of a way out of this.

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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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