Being entombed in your own self-centeredness is not at all pleasurable, believe me. It’s a lonely prison cell, where the pass-code for exit is constantly altered, vapourising escape plans.
But the likelihood is, if you’re a decade or so younger than I, you know exactly what I mean already. I can’t be sure I’m right here, but scrolling the Tumblr and Pinterest profiles, it seems that society has produced a 18-24 age group, who a large proportion of seem locked in these aspiration-cum-desperation cells. Poor bastards – that’s how I feel about most of those ten year younger than me.
The cell is like a snow-globe, settled, shook up, settled, and shook up again; as the rebounded echoes of one’s hopes and desires are energised in a tightly sealed space, only for inevitable exhaustion by the inability for this energy to escape and materialise into anything (except art – “everyone’s an artist nowadays!”), and everything settles down into the same inert, cold, dead space; enducing the wasteland of depression.
But I feel wrong even ascribing a wider-social context to this condition. Maybe it feels wrong because at the times I find myself aware of my self-entombment, I am usually feeling at my most alone, alienated, and possessing a freakish, weirdo mind, and thus feeling immense shame. “What a fool I am thinking others are like this – I’m such a screwed up weirdo” (and then the lyrics from Just, by Radiohead, “you do it to yourself, you and no-one else” start pouring into my mind; chit chattering as a fluid of fatalist failure ferments all thought).
Why is shame felt? Why when ‘the downer’ catches you out in the middle of the day, in the middle of town, why is it shame that seems to hang from the flesh, making you feel as exposed as if you were naked?” It may sound ironic but when you’re entombed in self-centeredness you can’t actually locate a self. I don’t mean here, or believe in, the idea of a core person-hood that stays unaltered from birth to death; but I do mean at least a core security construction within a person that they can rely on.
For those entombed in self-centeredness there is nothing to rely on, no place of safety to rest in, when one’s person is attacked or thrown into a disorientating situation. Such a sense of self actually comes from interacting with and feeling part of the world; a secure self comes from that self being able to be porous to all that surrounds it – saturated by it at times.
The entombed self-centered person is envious when they see people touching, hugging, interacting, doing, and building things, seemingly without thought. He/she’s thoughts are always over-thoughts, unnecessarily rebounded contemplations of things that he/she is sure others don’t even contemplate. He/she retreats into depressive-pleasure-seeking every day instead, and the nihilist-pleasure compound of late capitalism yet again seems like the only world, and one he/she increasingly depends on when the external world looks more fucked up by the day. The only solution seems to be to share the burden – but the cell walls seem to respond like vinamold around attempts to escape them. He/she wished they could build something, join hands and build something. But art is the only thing the entombed self-centered person can produce; cave paintings, mere images of the world, painted within the cell.
Is this a externally-enduced condition that has then freed itself from it’s causation, only leaving the atomised self to answer for problems that arise? Well, surely under a dominant belief system that negates society for the individual when it comes down to success, achievement, wealth, well surely the opposite (perceived shortcomings) cannot help but becoming the individual’s burden?
Personally speaking, I have found myself caught between academia and personal experience, and find myself merely hoping my personalised analysis is somehow spotted and incorporated by one of the professionals into their own theoretical discourse – X Factor society or what?! (see here). I have found myself within a constructed reality that is way beyond comprehension for me (just hoping the theorists I quote can pick my unseen blogging-batton up). It is certainly a political issue, but explaining this to friends/family (to anyone) when the shit hits the fan (mentally) – as it is clearly doing right now – has proven unsuccesful so far. Where do I go from here?
Over the past 2 week I’ve had my works in two exhibitions:
In Unity Hall Launch exhibition in Wakefield I exhibited The Place of Dead Ends, The Index For Child Well-being and Whilst We Were All In The Eternal Now…
And in Our Corner: Art as Political Expression, at Bank Street Arts in Sheffield, I exhibited …Coils Tightening
This is the third post in a series that I still call psychogeographical maps (or cognitive mapping). Quoting certain sections and using a selection of photographs to widen the project, which at its core still has the intention to be a Cognitive Mapping of Now – aiming to be useful for locating the current socio-political mood, and the psychological impacts of it.
The 1st post can be found here.
The 2nd here
A collection of the 2014 maps can be found here.
6 September 2014
“Homeless man [near bus station, Leeds], head tucked into jacket (probably soaked by the rain earlier on). He looks beaten [by life]. Strangely I never expect to see homelessness on a weekend. Has the 9-5 logic fooled me into thinking that homelessness isn’t a never-ending job?”
7 September 2014
“Around Wharncliffe, the displaced huge rocks, the tall, dark pine trees, and the almost monster-like pylons, make for an unusual and eerie landscape. A feeling of ‘something’s not quite right’ fits with my [current] feeling for a need for erasure or [momentary] disappearance”.
8 September 2014
“Realise with dismay that today is the day when Peak Hour rail prices are extended [by Northern Rail, meaning that I have to pay them if I travel after work now. Due to this, which just feels extortionate, and the increasing presence of ‘rail guards’ stopping you and asking to see your tickets (sometimes almost frog-marching people who just haven’t been able to get a ticket yet to the ticket desk), it is beginning to feel like this private company is harassing people already struggling to make ends meet, and seeing their earnings diminished. Yet I feel like I have to keep my mouth shut, because someone could always remind me that I haven’t attended a protest against it all yet (even though I haven’t had the chance yet)”.
9 September 2014
“Walk right, off The Moor high street. Barely anyone around already (at 6pm). A black male stumbles [just] in front of me, leaving a trail of smoke from something he’s smoking. He isn’t wearing any shoes, and at times looks as though he’s about to fall to the ground, but then seems to walk OK again. He looks like he’s broken down in life. Across from him a white male [sat in a doorway] who looks homeless clutches a can of strong beer. “It looks like America” is what I think to myself; a social space and people within it laid to waste by the cruel level of inequality we usually now – thanks to less rose-tinted US dramas – associate with the United States”.
16 September 2014
“Not sure why, but this area, the [hilly] former mill area of West Yorkshire, feels like coming home. Maybe it’s due to a mythical construction of home [as in ‘the north’] I learned from being a child. Or maybe it is because this area is [topographically, and settlement-wise] almost like an exaggerated version of where I grew up, so that it [this area] is laden with signifiers of early identity-forming?”
16 September 2014
“Looking at all the windows of the apartments lit up in the tall buildings, as the train leaves the station. I’m reminded about what lures me to cities; the promise of life, of people, of things happening. Yet they [cities] never fulfil the promise the lights seem to offer, at least not in neoliberal Britain. They always frustrate”.
I can’t be bothered explaining myself, why I feel the need to sell. So, if you’ve read some of my blogs and find it hypocritical that I’m now trying to sell prints of my work, please refer to these two blog-posts here: