Richard’s father tried to make money by investing in an exploitative banana plantation in Latin America.
Lunching with Lunatics
Bertrand Richard says, in his preface to Paul Virilio’s The Administration of Fear, that fear ‘was [once] the sign of a weak character’ but that now it has turned ‘into something more than just a legitimate feeling: it has taken on an additional temperamental solidity’ and there are a number of reasons for this.
Amidst sensationalist news coverage of terrorism, racially motivated attacks and racially motivated politics, mass unemployment, increasing levels of poverty, drastic changes to education and other policies that continually seem to serve the small elite, you’d probably be a fool or a very rich person not to be afraid.
The constant barrage of fear-inducing media is plaguing your mind.
Then you look around at the support gained by right-wing politics more and more each day and the way in which people so fervently defend it: ’they’re responding to what the people want' and this sentiment makes me afraid. They aren't responding to what I want. But surely if this many people are supporting them then perhaps I'm the one who is on the outside here?
Perhaps people have just become successfully frightened into believing all the terrible things that the media, with their wealth and arrogance, have told us.
Either way, I’m unsure at what to do.
But recently, walking through what might have been central London, I found myself walled in. All those elegantly insidious buildings, standing like wraiths of capitalism, looming over me like authoritarian sentinels watching me sit and cough in my prison camp.
an apparition of a living person that appears as a portent just before that person’s death.
I totally dig graves
Apologies for the incoherence…
When you’re not young, or, when you’re beginning to lean away from being young – that’s when you begin this unconscious consumption of everything around you. As a child, cawing at your mother for sweets or McDonalds, you were perfectly aware of what you wanted. You wanted these sweets and were very particular about them, as was evident when you were given something else and you let rip, exploding in a selfish tirade of ungrateful hate. All for a reason. You wanted this thing. When you get older you consume on an even greater level but without reason or decision. You walk, as in a daydream, through the blurred streets of your city, with people and buildings and street-lights and cars all merging into one painted entity, a wisp of cloud on the horizon, and you walk through this background without thought of where you go, but, as if programmed back to your default level you enter the shop, spend five minutes in the queue and you buy a coke and if you happen to look at something you buy it: a chocolate bar, a packaged sandwich sealed in its crisp plastic wrapping, sharp on the edges. Later, if questioned on it you have no recollection of what you bought, (you weren’t hungry or thirsty so why would you have bought anything?), and yet, when you are sat in front of the television; feet up with a beer, a tea or some biscuits to hand, and you let out a small belch, there’s the faint whiff of something strange on your breath, something mechanically produced and false but, still, it does seem to reek of old chicken and sweaty bacon.
A list of nine rules that I live my life by.
1. There is no easy way to tell somebody that they are going to die. Much less that you are going to kill them.
2. The ripped up shreds of crisp packets, salt ‘n’ vinegar, blow like metal confetti along the underground station platforms.
3. A boy with no ideas in his head blows his brains out through a hole he makes in the back of his skull with a cordless drill.
4. When it is wet outside it is wet outside.
5. The gas leaks out of holes that you cannot see in the cold pavements that border the roads.
6. The gas first smells like egg, and then it kills you.
7. Sawdust must have other uses.
8. The example given on dictionary.com for ‘identical’ is “girls in identical outfits”. This is the example given for the definition: “similar in every detail; exactly alike”.
9. Are you certain that the earth’s population is only 7 billion?
I am an Angry Bear and, as such, have no use for this peace.
I was reading a newspaper today and on the second page there was a small gimmicky sounding list which showed ‘our top ten regrets’ that we each consider on a near daily basis. The content of the list was unsurprising for the most part. I thought it strange that we live in a time where people are this fixated with their own mistakes. I don’t consider anything regrettable since things would always have worked out to the same level of mediocrity. People are happy to spend fifty years of their lives regretting their career so long as they don’t actually feel pressured into doing anything to change it.
Similarly, the front page had something which dealt with the minimum alcohol price increase. Again, this brought up terrible (and panicky) thought. I wondered why, when the state of most people’s lives are so bad, that the government have decided that we must face these difficulties sober. Not only is spending being cut and taxes going up but you can’t even drink unless you’ve got excess cash.
Last night I wrote this.
The violins are quietly playing their sorrowful tunes. Chords are being struck with amazingly gentle simplicity and each one feels less cathartic than I thought when I decided to put the music on. It soars and sweeps across the bedroom, washing the air with a thin grey film like water collecting on an eyeball. Then comes in strange dissonance which I can’t quite place; an instrument which could just as easily be a stricken sea-bird, calling for a lost infant, or howling at the blackened sea to deliver a meal. Gradually as with all things which succeed, the music begins to build. It gets faster. It gets louder. There appears to be a number of instruments so meshed together that the music is like the starved, bare branches of a tree in winter; tangled and twisted, moving further away from the centre. It sounds far removed from each individual performance. It builds and builds and the music soaks into the room like pollution soaking into the cloud formations above the city. The music builds to a frightening climax and simply and uncompromisingly falls flat and peters out.
Everything is left bare and cold and disgusting. The noise was so loud that I didn’t realise my heartbeat, disjointedly, hammering away in my ear.
I stood up from the desk and picked up the small tumbler from the bookshelf next to the whiskey. Upon inspection of the tumbler I found that there were dried liquids on the bottom, dark and unhappily glued to the glass. I took the whiskey down and, disregarding the stained base of the tumbler, poured in the hot brown liquid. I took a drink of it and wretched from the centre of my stomach upwards; the gasses blurting out of the dank green pool in my gut, bubbling up and out of my mouth in a burp. My skin was hot and the alcohol from yesterday was still sweating out of my pores leaving a greasy film over my forearms and hands. My armpits were very hot.
There was some water in a large pint glass on the floor next to the bed, a few feet from where I sat at the desk. I had no idea as to how long the water had been there; I did not remember when I brought it in from the kitchen. I decided that it would suffice to ease the pain caused to my sick body by the angry burning of the scotch. I picked up the glass and took a look at the water, trying to jog my memory as to when I had brought it in. I couldn’t remember at all. I took the glass and poured a little of the water into the syrupy brown scotch in the tumbler. Bubbles, small black dots and one or two lengthy black hairs flowed out of the pint glass along with the water, landing in the whiskey.
I momentarily considered the small black dots before taking a large drink.
So thank you, once again, dear friends.
Sorry for talking about myself
The ‘I’ is inescapable.
Wherever the hell you are you are never far away from talking about yourself. It’s the number one topic on your mind. What you are worried about. What you dream about. What you find difficult. What makes you especially vital to the rest of us.
This last one is not a question although it may read like one. You are self-absorbed and think of only yourself. It’s fair to say that, even in the kindness in which your intentions are concealed, you are working, unerringly, for yourself.
It’s a shame.
There is a huge gap just above our stomachs. It feels huge, certainly.
Of course, there is no gap really. Just a hollow feeling which comes about from either doing something of no worth (so you believe) or from feeling like there is nothing out there which you can do of worth. For a long time I (that’s me) thought that there was nothing I could do to fill this hole and that, perhaps, if I talked about myself for long enough – convinced others that I am, in fact, a worthwhile creature – then that hole might be filled up with a warm glow of self-satisfaction. But this never happens.
I’m similarly unsure if there is anything to do which can make an impact.
Every morning the sun rises and occasionally it rains and it doesn’t look so pleasant outside and when it rains I like to just stay inside and pass the time. It’s the most worthwhile thing I get to do.
It’s all too often I think that it would be best I didn’t speak.
Searching for truth (in the mirror).
Just about now I’m sat before a mirror and looking at the reflection of my own face. My hair is wet from showering and looks almost Grecian, to me. I have large bags underneath my eyes which make me look sad all the time, or tired, or stoned. None of which I am consistently not guilty of failing to attest; that is to say I have not played down the import of these appearances when questioned.
My main objective was the prolonging of my vanity, by looking at myself for so long I find that I ‘lose’ myself in the image and fall slowly and silently, with joy, into the pool of myself. Take from that what you will.
Upon inspection I see that the mirror presents my face backwards which does not defeat the purpose of seeking my own reflection; it is a general summary of what I appear. Slightly skewed, to the left and to the right, simultaneously. It is in this that I understand that I cannot truly know what I look like at this moment which leads me on to the personal revelation that I barely even know what I am. What I think has amalgamated from everything else that I have ever known; everyone I have ever spoken to; every book read; film watched and so on. It saddens me (which is good, because I have the look down), that I am not even slightly original.
Spending my time on other people’s work seems undeniably useless also, since from doing so I can only further myself from true originality.
None of us are original I am sure.
There are many books that I have been reading, (hence me bringing this up now), which pose questions regarding truth and how it stems from existence, and that there is no knowledge except for that which is present in things. This 20th century feeling of denouncing the search for truth is at once both brilliant and horrifying. I am certain that there is no possibility at finding any meaning in any aspect of my life which reassures me that it is not just my own mind that fails me. But to consider finding meaning from the works of others suggests an openness to accepting a truth, which I’m not sure is right.
Essentially, I think that things can’t be expressed in enough detail with the language that we have, our words aren’t close enough to the minute intricacies of this world that they can fully explain them. If they were then life might not seem so unusual and surprising.
Rather hilariously, this last sentiment is not something I have thought of all on my own.
Today I have been thinking about darkness.
I thought that perhaps I might like to exist in such a place where there is nothing but darkness. Above me would be dark, I could reach out and touch absolutely nothing. Below me would be dark and I wouldn’t sense anything under my feet, nor would I know whether or not I was falling or floating. I thought that perhaps it would be nice to exist in a place where thoughts are abstract to the point of bypassing all linguistic norms, where messages are conveyed simultaneously but that wouldn’t matter because you’re in a place where time is kept firmly outside.
I thought about being dark chocolate. How, if I were a thick melted rich chocolate, I would like nothing better than to slide across some cool marble surface until I began to return to my original state. It would be the darkest thing possible and, indeed, the sweetest.
Then I thought about how these thoughts made me feel. I thought that this delightful, all-encompassing darkness was the exact opposite to pain. But it was also the exact opposite to life itself. There were no anxieties, no fear or hatred. It was purely inhuman.
Then when I stopped thinking about darkness I thought about the sun and how intensely it was pulsing down on us today. How the beads of sweat dripped down my lengthy curly hairs and onto the collar of my shirt. I thought about how it seemed nice enough, that the sun was out and people were in high spirits. I walked along forgetting entirely about the darkness and the disgusting yearning I had for it. I was enjoying the weather. I enjoyed a can of Diet Coke in the weather.
I walked for a while down a quiet road with hanging baskets outside the doors of the houses. Each house had a face which looked at me intently like I was intruding on their privacy, their wide eyes, darkened and booming. I began to grow nervous and even though the sun was still blazing high above I felt as though clouds were gathering. I finished my can of Diet Coke, the sun glinting off the highly polished silver, and I looked for a recycling bin to put it in. Roughly fifty feet ahead I saw the meshing of purple and green and headed for it; green for cans and purple for card. As I got closer and prepared to throw the can into the green bin I saw that there were no bins at all. The green and purple mesh I had seen were from some flowers which were growing up against a wire-mesh fence in one of the gardens. The purple petals were swaying gently in the evening on green stalks.
I carried the can the rest of the way home and when I got there I came inside, logged on to my computer and went on the Wikipedia page for Morality.
Where I’ll be in ten years (a life of death)
Hello there chirpy birds!
As the eternal optimist, often find myself wondering aloud to myself; musing on the subject of my own memoir. An autobiography that I, at the ripe old age of seventy, set down and write. An account of the intriguing and influential events which have shaped the face of my particular field. I wander around my job in the late afternoons, idly shelving books and thinking of how my fans will rush to the stores to buy this book of mine, this volume of biblical proportion.
This is the desire I have to be a success. The desire we all have. I am sure I am not alone in this immature daydreaming. Wishing away our lives; imagining our greatest achievements so we don’t actually have to go out and accomplish anything.
But in reality I make an attempt to picture myself in ten years time and I know exactly where I’ll be. I’ll be on a train. Commuting.
I’ll be there with all the other suits (you included) and we’ll be awake at these evil times of the morning. These times when the sun hasn’t yet risen from behind the greying horizon. We’ll all have those weird sick pains in our stomachs and we’ll all be drinking cheap coffee which wont help. On the way home from the office we’ll scramble off the tube in a vain attempt at making the quickest train back. We’ll be like flies on shit trying to get seats on the train. Do you know why we’ll want these seats?
We’ll want the seats because we’ll need them to do our work. After a hard day at the office what better opportunity to sit back, relax and open a nice cold can of more work. More demoniacally gazing at spreadsheets and preparing lazy powerpoints. Or, if you fit into the other half (and there are ONLY TWO types of people that you can be) then you’ll be passed out. Physically unable to stay awake any longer than it takes to do a days work.
It’s not the life we pictured as kids but there is precious little we can do about it if we want to exist in this angrily expensive world.
We all had dreams but for most of us they will never ever be attainable. We each lack a special something which is absolutely necessary for success.
Some of us lack any drive. We can picture what we want, we even spend hours talking about how we’re going to get there, how we’re going to work super hard at achieving our dreams; becoming that singer, writer, actor, etc… but aside from planning it we do next to nothing towards it.
Many of us are interested in things which simply present too little opportunity. If it’s the arts you’re into then it may very well be that people simply aren’t giving you the opportunity to get anywhere in it. OR, more likely is, the single biggest barrier stopping most of us achieving anything other than a well paid but boring job, LACK OF TALENT!
That is a universal thing.
Most people (myself included) don’t seem to realise how unlikely it is that they’ll ever be good enough at what they really want to do. How they’ll have to settle, like gold on the bottom of a sandy river, for a life of grim boredom.
But maybe this idea of well-paid office work, a nice short commute, a stylishly furnished flat on the outskirts of the city doesn’t seem too bad to you. The next fifty or sixty years of your life doing the same thing every day? Perhaps it’s just me.
I’d rather choose a life of no work, a life of crime or danger, a life of living in the woods and perhaps an untimely death than the life of the eternal working man. A life of death.
But I wont choose what I really want. I’ll choose the comfortable reality of getting up early and going to work. Something simple that I don’t care about so that I can live for the weekend. One weekend at a time until I’m ready to drop off the edge of consciousness and into the dark oblivion of retirement.
It’s Christmas so we’ll lighten our hearts
Nothing says a classy Christmas day more than sitting on the toilet leafing idly through a book of poetry, feeling that ache in the belly that only a good gluttonous session could garner. It’s bastardizing that some people don’t get Christmas, and that some people don’t get how classy a bowel movement can be.
So I wash the Baileys off my ice and pour some whiskey in on top of the cubes instead. A cool, clear and pale brown liquid fills the bottom of the glass.
I haven’t written anything in a while and I can’t imagine how dangerous it is to jump on a trampoline in socks like Tom Hanks is doing on the TV right now. I’d imagine you could put your back out like that. Now seems as good a time as any to write something since I’ve been having a wonderful day.
The day has simply oozed cheer; the Queen’s speech: merryment; the turkey: grease. BUT, and let me point out how big that but is, all I’ve got to look forward to is a return to work.
That’s all any of us have to look forward to.
And it’s a Catch-22 of sorts. You can either make the day go really slow and have no fun and do nothing whatsoever, or you can have the traditional good time and before you know it you’re back to work and you don’t get the nostalgic fun of being a kid on Christmas for another year. That’s if you don’t get hit by a bus in the meantime.
This is the first ever Christmas break I’ve had that hasn’t been AT LEAST two weeks long. It’s a massive four days I’ve got off this year. I barely had enough time to get into the spirit of the thing.
That’s how the bastards get you. They bring you up raised on the idea that you’ll have this lovely time of the year when you get to do nothing but sit-back and watch the same stuff every year. It breeds nostalgia and so every year it builds more and more in your head that this is how things ARE. And suddenly you leave education and your fun is done. You get no time off. Christmas isn’t special any more, you’re just killing four days until you go back to the office for more drudgery.
If anyone cared about Easter it’d be the same then too.
The main problem with the devastating return to work which looms over my shoulder is that I can’t relax as I normally would. I’ll drink myself into forgetting but I can’t relax. I know that before long my life will carry on in the same old way and I’ll be watching the same old crap in the few hours I get off in the evenings and that is how your life slips, ever so slowly, down the drain. Down the toilet and into the sewer.
The most important thing to remember about Christmas is: if you want to enjoy it then there are a few things you can do. You can join a cult. You can return to education or you can live in the forest for the rest of your life, coming down from the hills once a year, darkening your mother’s doorstep with your hairy self, asking for more cranberry sauce for your turkey.
Do anything but work.
So there it is. Something else which was promised to you in childhood but was ruined because your life is, quite simply, not your own.
(I wanted to finish this with a picture of me in a Christmas hat blowing one of those party blower things but I didn’t have one.)