‘Big Nasty Pointy Teeth’
Where’s the evil?
Christopher Columbus is a celebrated national figure in America even though he was a slave trading genocidal empire builder. Papa Stalin though he’s an evil man….and I don’t like Stalin much either; I expect the body counts about the same though. It’s one of those words we like to bandy around that sounds suspiciously like a cop out about something we refuse to understand. It’s a lot easier to say so and so’s evil than accept that humans, particularly the more sick individuals, are capable of brutal, nasty, unpleasant things. I’ve said it before; we forget we’re animals – animals with brains but animals none the less. There’s no good and evil in nature. Maybe you think the Church is ‘good’ and take your guidance from that? The Church has been responsible for some of the most brutal slaughters in history while it harps on about a god which most societies have, but who seems to wear a different face in each. The Church is an organ of the state, the moral majority’s fist in a glove. The institution might have improved but it’s wise not to forget it’s past. Same thing goes for the monarchy. These are organisations that control and exploit often under cover of what’s ‘good’ in us. But what was in us was already good, so why do we need them telling us that, or what to do with it? So, when we start banging on about evil I tend to think what is ‘evil’? You mean Satan possessed Stalin and told him to deport everyone to Siberia where they could die horrible nasty deaths? It seems to me Stalin was unable to see humans as what they are, as in there was something missing in him that didn’t allow him to see the rest of humanity as human beings. Often the people who we like to describe as evil don’t have the empathy for other humans the rest of us have. Maybe it’s just pure arrogance, or maybe it’s something else – like thinking they’re something different, above, everyone else.
It’s not that I don’t believe in bad things happening, that’s ridiculous the world’s full of calamity and heartbreak, but a lot a lot of good stuff too. What I really disagree with is the notion of evil. Who’s deciding this stuff? People with my best interests at heart? You think I particularly want an organisation with a well-known history of sheltering and protecting paedophiles to decide what’s right and wrong for me? Or a society where someone like Maggie Thatcher is held up as the saviour of a nation? Maybe a better way of putting it is to watch how it all works. If you ask me the painters, gardeners, brickie’s, musicians, artists, performers and artisans they’re the ones more likely to be good. It’s in how they earn their daily bread. They’re still capable of bad behaviour – who isn’t? But then society doesn’t hold them up as the ideal does it? It doesn’t say ‘that’s how you should behave’. What it says, or at least what we’re encouraged to be believe, is that that bloke/woman earning 100K a year – that’s the hero/ine. The winner is the man/woman with the money. What they’ve done to get that money well…. let’s brush that under the carpet ey. They’re rich, they’re a success. They might have sold baby milk to starving African mothers, or torture gear to Saudi Arabia, exploited tribes in Nigeria for their oil, but they’re the winners in this society. They’re the ‘good’ ones. Can you see why I have a problem with what we’re told is ‘evil’ now? Before I stop my rant, its worth pointing out that I’m not saying they are evil as such. That’s the whole thing. They’re just humans, trying to feed their families, trying to support themselves and their kids, co-operating with the group they’re in. Evil….I don’t like the term.
Pills and Thrills
What does it say about life when the cannabis shops that recently opened in Canada sell out in two days? There was abound to be a rush as people got worked up over legalised pot but you’d think the shop owners would have planned for that. They were bound to have got in extra to deal with the initial excitement no? But the queues stretched round the block and soon the shelves were bare…Makes you think doesn’t it? And its not just the shops. The communities were the product is grown are finding business is booming. So if everyone is desperate to get high doesn’t that suggest a few things about modern life? Maybe modern society. My doctor just prescribed me some more anti anxiety chill pills (I now have two different types) so may be I’m biased. But the sight of people who look like your Dad buying pot suggests something might not be all that great in the wonderful world of bullshit we get fed. You know along the lines of – play the game, work hard, study hard, get the loan/mortgage/colour TV and you’ll be fine. Maybe they’ve been faking it till they make it all along? Dad’s just as stressed as I am. Jesus…all along I was fooled, secretly he wants to get out of his mind on drugs to cope with the pressure. He’s just better at disguising it. (It’s a fictional theoretical Dad I’m describing here….mine wears a robe on special occasions and goes to church twice a day.) Funny though isn’t it? We’re told all along by society drugs are bad, don’t do drugs – they’re evil….then the minute they’re legalised there’s a huge gold rush to buy up as much drugs as can be found.
Axes to Grind
I’ve had this on and off my mind for ages. Life’s like a shouting match isn’t it? Who shouts loudest wins. When I say wins maybe ‘gets what they want’ is a better way of putting it because as far as I’m concerned I’m not really in a competition with anybody. That’s part of the many reasons for being a writer. But the bloke/woman with the best clothes, flashiest car, most money etc is shouting right? See that gold watch on their wrist? That’s a statement that some deserve, some don’t, but either way it’s saying something. Part of the difficulty for creatives is that for a long time our shout is a feeble mutant thing that’s too warped and sick to be of much interest to anyone but yourself. Basically we don’t get paid for it until we’re very good. I’m not saying I’m there…you can tell because I just had pasta with errr pasta and errr pasta for lunch (plus herbs and olive oil mind you). Anyway, I’m well used to poverty. I’ve been poor most of my adult life (in fact you could say all of it depending on your definition). The thing is the man you don’t see because he’s not stood at the bar still has a voice; it’s just one you aren’t going to hear much. The woman in her flat struggling to bring up a kid on her own has a voice too, but I doubt you’ll hear it either. There are a hell of a lot of people like that we don’t see. It makes me wonder what it’s like for those in loads of debt too. In the end if you can handle being locked out of the world for long enough to learn to shout so well they can’t not hear you might be listened to. That’s if you’re a creative; or you can get a real job!
The Lies We Tell
I can easily wrap my head around humans having an inbuilt need to believe in a god that doesn’t exist. Back when we were slinging mud and rocks at each other (some things don’t change much ey) it must have been one of the few things that made life bearable. That life being the nasty, short, existence which saw most women die in childbirth btw. Imagine that – watching woman after woman that you love producing your kids and then dying because of it. But you have to have children, they’re the thing that’s going to look after you in old age, and secure your line. So there we are, it must have looked pretty attractive having lots of weird mythological beasties, gods, saints, and demigods. I’m using my catchment for ‘religion’ pretty broadly here, from ancient Celtic beliefs to more modern Christian ones. But to me (I’m an atheist) it’s all fiction. Sometimes brilliant fiction, sometimes rubbish, but definitely all fiction. I’d be prepared to give ground on the idea of aliens with godlike powers but a God with us as the apple of his/her eye? No way.
So maybe as we evolve and mature and we need this sort of quasi science less and less we’ll be more honest about our fiction. Our computer games, art, and literature will take the place of complicated multifaceted religious beliefs. We’d basically substitute entertainment for our dying religions. The church of xenomorph could finally exist…in a VR sense hopefully. We’d worship the creations in our films and bow down before the great god of production.
All Hail Discordia!
I was talking to one of my old friends from site yesterday (site= Traveller park up/squat with vehicle access etc.) He tell me he’s really into old Communist stuff these days and he’s been travelling all over Eastern Europe checking the place out. Latvia, Estonia, Albania to name a few of the countries he’s visited. In one of the Baltic states apparently there are still buildings missing that were bombed into rubble. It makes you think doesn’t it? The problems we have in the West are still real but I doubt they’re as stark as the ones you get elsewhere. You see what I mean? They have the sort of problems that equal not eating that night, or freezing to death come winter. If you’re proud of yourself for being a good friendly human being despite the crap you have to put up with imagine what it takes to pull that stunt off in a former Soviet era housing estate. It’s something I think about off and on quite a lot. British people have lived cushioned by the welfare state for a while now. I don’t want to see people have to face the sort of hardship that folks in the former Eastern block or developing countries do. But First World Problems is what we dealing with over here. ‘I’ve lost my job – shall I sign on?’, ‘I’ve got no food what shall I do?’ – well there’s the supermarket skips overflowing with the excess we don’t consume, or any number of food banks. You see what I mean? We deal with debt problems, they deal with starvation problems. What do you do if you injure yourself and you’re in a third world country? You better have some decent friends and neighbours or you have big problems. We think we’re so tough because we deal with our poverty. Well there’s millions who have it tougher on a daily basis. Not that I’m trying to take away anyone’s self respect; there’s enough people who’ll try to do that. It’s just balance what we have to deal with what a lot of foreigners have to put up with I suppose. I think the sad thing is we take it all foregranted. We were born with these things and like you do when you’ve had something from birth you don’t realise what it is or what it took to put it in place. I have my problems with the welfare state. But its tricky, if you were to pull that carpet out from under people it would cause a lot of suffering. Maybe the universal wage like they’re beginning to implement in Finland is the way to go. The greens are into it in Germany as well and its an exciting idea for sure. But what I’m saying is I’m glad I have First World Problems and not the other sort.
I’d like to think poetry changes the world. I really would. In fact I think I’d like to live in a world where it does. But maybe the question we need to ask isn’t whether the written word/art/music change things as how much they do? For sure an idea can change our experience of reality, look at Christianity, look at Communism. But the ideas are already in people’s heads, or at least the seeds of them are. Poetry is just an expression of some of what’s in mine (you don’t want to know everything trust me on this). But below all the usual chatter that flows through our stream of consciousness there are ideas worth expressing, thoughts, and feelings too. You know those moments you have on the bus? On the train? On a long drive home? Some of them deserve to be given life.
We have short attention spans for much that doesn’t immediately excite us, and they’re getting shorter if we believe the hype. That’s where poetry comes in. It fills the gap. It’s short; it’s sweet. It (hopefully) gets to the point. We can read poetry quickly and easily and get the gist of what the poet is trying to say, or at least help formulate things in our own heads. In those terms poetry can change politics. It can influence the opinions of the people trying to alter the way we are ruled. Maybe its easier to express what I’m trying to say by providing an example – what would you prefer to do, read a poem, or read a speech by a politician? I’m not saying its perfect. Poetry isn’t going to tell you everything, but if nothing else people are more prepared to read it than a twenty page annoted rant about the ills of the world. We’ve heard it all before, we’re tired, we’ve got bills to pay, mouths to feed, work to get on with, no matter how interesting the writing. We want to be gripped and poetry can do that. But it can’t take us all the way, and it can’t argue with a coppers baton can it?
Why do so many people think when they’re offered something from a company that’s worked out a green/alternative product that its dodgy? Offer some of us the eco rainsaving ethical bathroom grouting and they’ll immediately go ‘oh that’s got to be dodgy’. I don’t get it, offer the same person the Maggie Thatcher/Blair/Trump global megadeath product tand they’ll immediately buy it…all. Global mega death’s bankable right? It’s a solid investment. I don’t know – we so often seem to choose the bad option and I’ve a suspicion why. Option ‘a’ is going to be more expensive and it might not give you as much bang for your buck. Times have changed its true and the option ‘a’s’ out there are far better than they used to be, but that aura of total crapnmess lingers like a badly knitted sweater.
But that’s only part of the problem. What really gets to me is when the people whose side I hope I’m on start up with the propoganda. I know people are fighting a war, or at least consider themselves to be doing so…and when my writing goes well I get the same feeling. But I write all sorts although there should be the same messages in there….I digress. The point is its the age old adage isnt it? ‘The end justifies the means’. Some think its ok to lie and decieve because it will get the job done. But when I get lied to by the (I dunno what you want to call em lefty liberals or anarchists) good’uns I feel betrayed and pissed off. I have got an example in mind but I’m not going to mention it because I wasn’t able to contact them. It really upsets me. I want to put some trust in the people I think are thinking along the same lines and I can’t – well I can , but only as far as it goes. I trust them in as much as we want the same things (broadly). No propoganda and its many devious techniques pisses me off.
I’m not going to lie (if I do it’s most likely unintentionally) to you to make you believe my point except in humour. I am biased and I do have an axe to grind – like every geezer you ever met down the pub. The problem is I have a conscience…it’s the thing that made me just get out of bed to rewrite this. I hate my conscience.
I was lying on a hillside looking up at the night sky when I thought of this one although I sound dangerously like my old man, and its not the first time I’ve thought it. A lot of people think freedom is freedom from responsibilies, right? They think that anyone considering the subject wants to be a child and have no things that they have/need to do. Of course it doesn’t, (I’m forty one btw) but try telling that to your Mum for example. What it does mean is the freedom to make your own choices; we all have that I suppose but there is such a thing as two bad choices. I keep thinking of the sample: ‘Six million ways to die choose one.’ It’s the same principle.
Anyway, thought I’d drop that in the mix in case anyone thought I was turning into a hippy.
So, I’ve been thinking a bit about what having a strong system of control and hierarchy in a community does to it. Maybe I’m pussying out – it’s Aldershot (where I live) that’s got me thinking about the subject again. But it doesn’t have to be a military town; it could be anywhere. A town where a prison is the main employer for example, or one of those company owned towns they used to have in America would have the same symptoms I’m going to describe. I think they do still have closed towns in the USA; there’s government owned hidden towns in Russia as well isn’t there? But that’s more extreme than this small market community. Aldershot was built as a base for the British military and whilst the armed forces are not as big as they once were I’ve been wondering how much of the attitude that flows from the forces still remains in peoples heads.
Anyway, I’m going off on a tangent. the point that keeps rearing up in my head is if people are raised in a society where there’s always an authority figure telling them what to do they are going to work around it. Any authority figure in possession of all the power and resources to cause you problems is going to be lied to, undermined, and redirected. It’s an understandable attitude if you ask me. I don’t enjoy someone making me do things I don’t want to do, and authority figures tend to put my back up. Not that I can’t cope with the situation we live in; I’m not two. But it strikes me as an unhealthy state of affairs to be always under the thumb and you start to wonder what effect that sort of system has. A community where there’s such a divide between the people in charge and who’ve been in charge all your life and the people who are disempowered. Surely those at the top are going to be able to get away with murder, no? Or maybe it’s not that they’re getting away with it as much as they haven’t got a clue what’s going on because the people who they rely on aren’t telling them anything but what they want them to hear. Why should they do otherwise? If you want to put yourself up there as god almighty you deserve to be knocked down. (a very English attitude btw.) I’d be careful when someone’s polite to your face whose been living under those sort of conditions for a long time.
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