We are facing a crisis the likes of what we have never witnessed (political, and economic, but first and foremost, cultural). But who exactly do I mean by We? Well, according to the prolific online writer Umair Haque, it is ‘Us’ right ‘here’ (a place that cannot but see itself as the centre) in the English-speaking world. With its anti-socialist ideology that is so wedded to the idea that pure market freedom equals pure freedom per-se (and thus must be the best possible system), as its functionality seems to have congealed with crisis, “the English-speaking World is The New Soviet Union.”
Haque, like many jaded Americans who can still see stains of social democracy in the European fabric that we here are blind to, sees the current American nation as a lost cause, whilst holds out hope for the other Anglo-Saxon countries. But perhaps whilst Haque’s American perspective helps him see still existing stains of our faded socialism, he cannot see the deeper dye of Christian values that are more surface level in his own country. This conservatism has always been one part of the UK’s great social torsion with the nature of capitalist exploitation. But I wonder for how much longer.
An unprecedented amount of scandals are rising to the surface, the tax evasions are the most recent, but are totally overshadowed by the deluge of reports of sexual abuse and harassment perpetrated by individuals in positions our society underlines with trust and reverence.
I would argue that it has been caused by a three-way collision of trajectories all fueled on the rocket fuel that is capitalist culture in the ‘always on/always exposed-to age: the unprecedented exposure of corruptions that go on at the pressure points of high power and high pressure, first, colliding with the enlightenment principles of transparency, and secondly colliding with a culture that still holds true to Christian notions of what ‘sin’ is.
A painful, but necessary transformation has never felt so urgent. But left to the impulses propagated by deep-seated media tendencies, we seem to be hysterically heading towards a new age of show trials. The hysteria is tangible: “who is the next monster to be unveiled?” But where will such impulses lead us to?
I’m sorry, but anybody who is interpreting what I’m saying as acceptance of the institutionalized misogyny, and exploitation of people in vulnerable places, really has got the totally wrong end of the warning flare I’m waving around here. A crisis solved by ripping the plaster off as fast as possible is to allow blood to gush like never witnessed.
To ignore the male prison within patriarchy, to ignore that squeezing of desires into opposing sides; and then to ignore the extreme humiliations at one end of the male camp and them extreme lust for power at the other end that underpins the past 40 years, and then (!) to ignore the Pandora’s box opened by the capitalist cyber-sphere is to say, “I’d rather hysterically finger-point, and just hope the finger never turns on myself”.
A lot of men who have been made socially, and thus existentially limbless creatures, lunge out misogynistically into the mire of the patriarchal wasteland, before turning the violence back in on themselves. Whilst the men with all the power are slowly incriminating themselves, the men with no power are slowly committing suicide. With the advent of our ‘always on/always bearing-witness’ technologies, we are within a machine that stops at nothing to monsterise us. And the ghost of an Enlightened liberalism responds by saying “you don’t have to buy into it”. But this ghost is running out of bodies to possess.
Under Soviet state crises everybody was expendable for the cause; under extreme Anglo Saxonism everybody is held individually responsible for the crises. If we allow our deep-seated media structure to guide our impulses we face the Anglo-Saxon equivalent of Stalin’s show trials, where everybody is forever watching their back from an out of control justice system that will become indistinguishable from a mob.
That our current cultural structures are utterly dysfunctional in the face of the conditions that have been thrown up by this collision is the biggest understatement of 2017. I’d argue that beyond our reactions, there is a post-crisis stage that the painful transformation the internet age has precipitated could arrive us at. It’s the hardest path to take in the long run, but my word it is the better one; the one where we, to quote the brilliant words of Yorkshire poet Gav Roberts, we can Put All Weapons Down. And That means fully-loaded penises as well as fully-loaded guns. I suspect the sense of liberation this would allow for, would make owning your own gun seem laughable.
I’m really in a work-in-progress point at the moment. I’ve got a bit more time, because I’m doing a part-time Masters, and working less hours. Getting into more debt by taking a loan and returning to further develop my art may seem like a foolish move to some, but with working five days a week (no matter what that work is!!) the sheer lack of time was meaning my ability to think creatively and strengthen my work was being starved. Fair enough some may say: ‘that’s life’. If I was to stay working 5 days a week I would have had to give up making my work, because it had no room to maneuver and expand, and could only contract. But I saw an opening to keep on working on it, and that’s what I’ve done.
The Eternal Blip (A Mary Celeste Decade)
<p><a href=”https://vimeo.com/239828894″>An Eternal Blip (A Mary Celeste Decade)</a> from <a href=”https://vimeo.com/user60125733″>John Ledger</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a>.</p>
For years I have been reeling from accusations that not only is my work very negative, but I also am negative. I have never accepted this, and from a person who suffers quite a lot of anxiety, I think it’s a given that on first impressions I’m not as warm and accommodating as I’d like to be, even though I nearly always come around, when I have chance to ‘breathe’.
The work (or ‘what I can contribute’) is more difficult. I’ve felt that my work has been trying to help harness a ‘dark optimism’ or a ‘punkdrunk idealism’ for some years now. But maybe it hasn’t been a strong enough element. I have become tired of trying to piece together how fucked up the grand scheme is, if it shows no sign of leading anywhere, especially when the grand scheme, and the awareness of it, isn’t offering yourself out of a future of deteriorating mental health and behavioral patterns.
It may not seem evident within these works in progress straight away, but there is a concerted effort to try to reach out to others in the work. The Eternal Blip (A Mary Celeste Decade) basically tracks the past ten years, since the year when the financial crash happened to now, asking if others feel the same way as I do: that with retrospect it feels like a lost decade (?).
Now, I haven’t been forced to rely on food handouts, had to choose between heating and eating, or found myself on the streets (an awful new normality in the past ten years). But in hindsight I feel like it has stunted me, almost caged me in a previous point of my life. I feel like when I shut my eyes and reopen them, I can’t remember the decade, as it has been sucked from under me.
The parallels between a long depression, and the memory loss it can cause are very closely tied, and I can only hope that it isn’t a lone experience, because I want the other aspects of the work to make sense to people, as they are where the optimism lies.
Within this submerged soundscape there are points of emergence that correlate with times within the past decade when I felt ruptures in default reality fabric occurred. For good or for worse, new horizons felt palpable, as was a sense to act. Ultimately the default reality fabric reasserted itself, and, arguably the depression/memory loss resumed.
From the 2011 English riots to Trump, from Corbyn to Brexit, constructive or destructive, the fact is that these ruptures offer(ed) alterior possibilities from the business-as-usual outcome. I don’t know, I just know how I feel /felt in these moments seemed to contain some kernel of something other, that allowed me to imagine myself in relation to the world in a different manner.
Below is a series of maps that work with the same motives, which are an extension of mapmaking I have been doing for around 5 years now.
Battlegrounds between potency and impotency