Actually Existing Dystopia

Rather You Than Me: Dreaming of Dystopia

In a Commune article from 2018, Kim Stanley Robinson argues that the dystopian genre is a blinkered, politically-inhibiting and defunct mode of thinking. As we are living through compound crises of health, finance and ecology, have grim visions of science fiction become an indulgence we can no longer afford?

Robinson claims that dystopia is part of an all-encompassing hopelessness. We can return, in a later post I’ll return to what art and fiction media’s response should be, for now let’s say Robinson is right to state that utopia and dystopia are not the only forces at work. By mapping the phenomena onto a Greimas square he distinguishes between dystopia, the opposite of utopia (malign in both intent and outcome e.g. Nazism) and anti-utopia, the contrary of utopia (benign in intent, malign in outcome e.g. Soviet Russia). He doesn’t go into detail over the fourth category, anti-anti-utopia, instead ending with an insistance on the need to return to the purism of a utopian horizon.

Robinson’s fatigue with dystopia echoes well a point made by Slavoj Žižek’s on the inherently conservative nature of dystopian media. In an article for The Indepent Žižek explains the soothing and cathartic function of Margaret Atwood’s dystopia by referencing Frederic Jameson’s “nostalgia for the present”:

The entire story […] is permeated by the sentimental admiration for our liberal-permissive present ruined by the new Christian-fundamentalist rule, and it never even approaches the question of what is wrong in this present so that it gave birth to the nightmarish Republic of Gilead.

As he says, this kind of dystopic speculation allows us to morbidly contemplate the intricate cruelties of a 20th century anglophonic theocracy whilst safely quarantining its evils within the realm of fiction. Such a smug denunciation of religious extremism on the part of viewers cushion them from the fact that our supposedly enlightened society is already suffused with ideological essentialism of a not-so-different kind. I’m talking of course about Capitalist Realism, the “business ontology” as Mark Fisher called it, of begrudging acceptance that there can be no alternative than to apply cold market logic to the administration of human life. It should be noted that this is a relgious attitude., more accurately it is fast becoming a death cult. Max Weber, in The Protestant Work Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism (1905) and Walter Benjamin, in Capitalism as Religion (1921) both have pointed out the parasitation of religion by capital and the intermingling of their histories (capitalism may resemble a religion, however a Christian society without capital or class would less resemble Gilead and more primitive communism). The “necessity” of capitalism’s attribution of commodity value to every last slither of human experience, to every public institution and every corner of civic society, along with the percieved impossibility of escape or change betrays its cultic nature.

Capitalism is a religion of pure cult, without dogma. Capitalism has developed as a parasite of Christianity in the West … until it reached the point where Christianity’s history is essentially that of its parasite – that is to say, of capitalism.

actually existing dystopia

Is late capitalism all that bad? Isn’t an emaciated state and an end to the concept of public good surely a fair tradeoff for short-term GDP stability ? Most people seem willing to put up with dropping living standards and increasing inequality but the mask finally slipped when the complete incapability of a defunded and privatised state aparatus to respond to exogenous shock, combined with an unparralelled demand-side economic disaster has led us to Actually Existing Dystopia. This is the future. Britain, the second largest GDP in Europe has the third highest Covid deaths per Capita and the most overall deaths to date.

This should hopefully remind us that the most frightening examples of the dystopian genre contain spores of possibility in our present. Children of Men is rightly acclaimed as a dystopian film par excellence. In the words of Mark Fisher: “The changes that [Children of Men] introduces do not point toward alternate reality, they simply make reality more what it already is.” This umbilical connection to reality is what enables truly artful dystopias to raise our conciousness and gird us with the necassary “pessimism of the intellect” to face the coming storm. Pessimism can be distinguished from cynicism by way of comparing Children of Men to one of the more hyperbollic dystopias like A Handmaid’s Tale or Elysium. The pessimist expects the expects bad things will happen, a cynic believes. Counterintuitively, the extrapolative nightmare of Children of Men provides us with greater hope and better instructions than the grim what-if scenarios of alt-histories like The Handmaid’s Tale or The Man in The High Castle. What were the warnings we missed?

This isn’t the familiar totalitarian scenario routinely trotted out in cinematic dystopias […] For all that we know, the authoritarian measures that are everywhere in place could have been implemented within a political structure that remains, notionally, democratic […] The world that it projects seems more like an extrapolation or exacerbation of ours than an alternative to it. In its world, as in ours, ultra-authoritarianism and Capital are by no means incompatible: internment camps and franchise coffee bars co-exist.

I won’t go into the coexistence of internment camps and cafes this time and will let the mere existence of Yarl’s Wood should speak for itself. Let’s instead look at a key theme in Children of Men which has been excaccerbated by the COVID-19 crisis: the aging population in a crisis situation. The elderly, we were told by the WHO and European leaders needed to be “cocooned”. Instead though, British politicians sent home early from hospitals to care homes where the virus has since run rampant, leading to incalculable  early deaths either of- or with COVID-19 whilst whistle blowers like MP Nadia Whittome are gagged to protect their employers. There is a chilling resonance with the P.D. James’ novel on which Children of Men is based as over-60s in the near future are pressured into suicide to ease the welfare burden of a depopulating society.

Utopian Surrealism

Back to Kim Stanely Robinson. In Dystopias Now he motions to a parallax representation of both cautionary future and metaphorical present. Robinson refers to this bisected reality/unreality of dystopia as a “kind of surrealism”, which struck me as odd. As anyone who knows about the surrealist international movement, proponents of surrealism tacked much closer to utopianism than dystopianism and many were either communists or anarchists.

To quote Andre Breton writing in Nonnational Boundaries of Surrealism:

The whole future includes the unlimited hope for the liberation of the human spirit that surrealism, perhaps the only existing intellectual effort to be concerted and sustained on an international scale, can infuse into that word

He later goes on to state the “indivisible propositions of surrealism” including the creation of paths to the superstructure so it might be changed to influence the course of historical struggle. It should be obvious that this deploying of Marx and Engels’ dialectical materialism to invoke historical change is an emminently utopian objective and not inherent to the dystopian metaphor from Robinson’s standpoint. To be clear, Robinson isn’t wrong to raise surrealism in diagnosing the experience of contemplating a bifercated reality, he is however wrong to attribute this to dystopia alone. Furthermore, this ceding of territory to political cynicism in fact cements our predicament: imaginative energy is being used only to cook up nightmarish potentialities for sci-fi paperbacks, video streaming services and other apocalypse simulators. Considerv the continued popularity of dystopian media throughout the 2010s alongside the uptick in civil wars, mass shootings, deepening environmental collapse and the resurgence of xenophobic populism. Pardon the slightly hack observation but if you want catastrophe just turn on the news.

Since the Corona outbreak, already bleak socio-economic conditions have exploded to historical levels which makes dystopia indistnguishable from reality. Hence “actually exisiting dystopia” and the need for a new radical cultural imaginary. Here I’ll give a few examples of how the neoliberal consensus has  broken down and forced a recoordination of Western politics as we know it. This moment must be seized upon to, as Breton put it, lay a path to the superstructure…

  • Capitalist parties have been forced to deploy socialist-style interventions to rescue the failing corporations which were previously cheered on and allowed to perform the roles of state organs.
  • UBI-style measures are being used across Europe to keep workers employed and hotels are appropriated to stop homeless people from dropping dead in the street.
  • The West Texas Intermediate for crude fell more than 100% to -$37.63 per barrel, making crude oil less than worthles for the first time ever.
  • The UK’s only significantly profitable sectors, non-productive areas of the service economy such as retail, leisure and higher education have all been hit hard by social restrictions and will crash and burn spectacularly, probably leading to an extremely slow recovery or none whatsoever.

To fight the phantasmagorical miserablism of the now superfluous dystopia genre and perhaps fill the hole in Robinson’s utopia/dystopia Greimas square we have to revisit, among others the Surrealists and salvage the “open realism” of 20th century utopians for our own transformative ends.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

Robinson, Kim Stanley. “Dystopia Now”, Commune Magazine website. url:https://communemag.com/dystopias-now [accessed 02/05/2020]

Žižek, Slavoj. “Margaret Atwood’s work illustrates our need to enjoy other people’s pain”, The Independent website 14 September 2019  url:https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/margaret-atwood-handmaids-tale-testaments-human-rights-slavoj-zizek-a9105151.html [accessed 02/05/2020]

Fisher, M. “Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?” London: Zero Books, 2009. p17.

https://ourworldindata.org/coronavirus [accessed 08/05/2020]

https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-51931602

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1394655/Elderly-patients-sent-home-from-hospital-too-soon.html

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2020/may/06/mp-says-she-was-sacked-as-volunteer-carer-for-speaking-out-on-ppe

Žižek, Slavoj. Transcript from promtional content from Children of Men url:https://jdeanicite.typepad.com/i_cite/2006/12/zizek_and_child.html

Fisher, M. “Capitalist Realism: Is There No Alternative?” London: Zero Books, 2009. pp5-6.

Breton, André. “Nonnational Boundaries of Surrealism.” Free Rein. Trans.Michel Parmentier and Jacqueline d’Amboise. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

Breton, André. “Manifesto for An Independent Revolutionary Art.” Free Rein. Trans.Michel Parmentier and Jacqueline d’Amboise. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1996.

 

‘Negative Solidarity’ in the age of Covid 19

Apologies to all other Retro Bar members (and other potential contributors): this was meant to be a Yarn thread upon which you could contribute, but it became too ‘blog-like’, required too many link pages, but I have still shared it on Yarn for the purposes of a debate on ‘Negative Solidarity in the age of Covid 19 http://yarncommunity.org/stories/799

 

I don’t know if you have felt the same this week, but maybe you’ve also started to feel a familiar kind of anxiety? I’m not talking of the anxiety of contracting Covid 19, specifically, or an anxiety directly corresponding to whether you are fortunate enough to be able to stay at home or not. But an anxiety that has been generated by a set of dynamics that appear have been (re)employed since Johnson’s Sunday evening address to the nation. Amidst a confusion, which almost seems to have been intentional, there are many signifiers leading to ‘divide and rule’. There’s a weighty sensation upon our lungs. This isn’t the virus, but a vague feeling of being dragged, prematurely, back to ‘business as usual’; and it seems that it is being channelled by spreading a ‘Negative Solidarity’, or, when we tell teachers to be ‘hero’s’, a ‘back-handed schadenfreude’.

In recent history we seem to find it easy to feel a sense of schadenfreude towards groups of workers like teachers. Whether we individually share these sentiments, or just collectively engage with them through the likes of Tabloid headlines, I think this “it’s your time to become ‘an hero’ now” narrative we see being peddled by The Daily Mail, is an example of a ‘back-handed schadenfreude’, where becoming an ‘hero’, risking your life, is a kind of comeuppance. The term ‘negative solidarity’, roughly explained, is a collective desire not to work together to improve our lot, reduce working hours, etc, but to scapegoat those who seem to be getting an easier ride than the rest of us (which, of course, teacher’s are weirdly always said to have).

Although this post on the blog ‘Splintering bone ashes’, predates the near total dominance of social media in life for the decade that followed it, it helps us understand ‘negative solidarity’ in relation to what we’d normally call the ‘post-industrial’ or ‘neoliberal’ era:

“More than mere indifference to worker agitations, negative solidarity is an aggressively enraged sense of injustice, committed to the idea that, because I must endure increasingly austere working conditions (wage freezes, loss of benefits, declining pension pot, erasure of job security and increasing precarity) then everyone else must too. Negative solidarity can be seen as a close relation to the kind of ‘lottery thinking’ the underpins the most pernicious variants of the American Dream. In lottery thinking we get a kind of inverted Rawlsian anti-justice- rather than considering the likelihood of achieving material success in an unequal society highly unlikely and therefore preferring a more equal one, instead the psychology of the million-to-one shot prevails. Since I will inevitably be wealthy in the future, this line of thinking runs, I will ensure that the conditions when I become wealthy will be as advantageous to me as possible, even though on a balance of realistic probabilities this course of action will in fact be likely to be entirely against my own interests. More than lottery thinking, which is inherently (if misguidedly) aspirational in nature, negative solidarity is actively and aggressively anti-aspirational, utterly negative in the most childish fashion, and drives a blatant “race-to-the bottom”.

Of course, by ‘childish’ Splintering Bone Ashes isn’t questioning our present-day behaviour as a Johnson-esqe figure may do, and so exploit, in a headmaster-like address to the nation (as Russell Brand recently brought attention to ), he is talking about behavioural reflexes that human beings employ in a state of assumed helplessness, and powerlessness to improve their predicament.

Mark Fisher, whose ‘capitalist realism’ now almost infamously gives diagnosis to the cultural realities explained above, said that the “others should suffer as we do….slogan of negative solidarity...” arises from a place where one can no longer “…imagine any escape from the immiseration of work.”

However, after 7 weeks of a semi-shutdown of ‘normal’ functioning society, brought about by this pandemic, an ‘escape from the immiseration of work’ seems very imaginable. Of course, this period has been awful for many people who have had no choice but to work, or live in poor areas (the poorest sections of society, in general), but, because millions of staff have been furloughed, basically being paid by the government, and the overall impact of the work/life daily grind on the physical and emotional geography (if that’s even a term!) of the nation, we have been momentarily gifted, by accident alone, the chance to see an exit from a reality, which itself offered only one kind of exit: extinction.

In many conversations it now seems polite to agree “we can’t go back to ‘normal'”, even if we don’t broach the subject of what it was about yesterday’s ‘normal’ we think was problematic.

However, the political forces that are most invested in keeping reality how it was, are fearful, because such seemingly passive sentiment is a big problem for them. They can see that new opportunities to organise society are making themselves visible during this semi-lockdown, and ‘negative solidarity’ is, I think, one of the best tools to utilise to convince people to go back to the same old shit that works so well for the them.

Because, we don’t just internalise our negative solidarity judgements, we internalise them. The ‘back-handed schadenfreude’ aimed at the soon-to-be ‘hero’ (and sick?) teachers in The Daily Mail, and many other places, stirs an aching feeling of responsibility/duty inside all of us: we too must take it on ourselves to put ourselves in danger of contracting Covid 19 for the purpose of working as hard, and as miserably as others. This is the upcoming psychological ‘war’ (if that’s the best way to describe it?): a gigantic public relations effort to guilt us back to ‘normality’, (or ‘the ultimate gaslighting, as the ‘Medium’ blogger Julio Vincent Gambutoto wrote about far more powerfully and comprehensively than I do here). It will aim to set us against one another, likely in a mass ‘workers’ vs ‘shirkers’ battle, that will be far more divisive that the one aimed at the unemployed in the 2010s austerity project, because this divide goes right through the heart of so-called ‘respectable’ society.

I argue that it is not just wise to resist, but to address, and share sentiment, relating to the sheer impact this (inner) conflict will likely have upon our mental health.

Is Hauntology dead?

untitledObviously not! At least from the perspective of Jacques Derrida, who theorised Hauntology.

Derrida’s deconstructionist argument, that no one thing can ever obtain full presence over something else – that which isn’t referred to always (sub)exists, exists in traces an example of deconstruction (when we say the word ‘man’, it is always in relation to the word ‘woman’, which haunts like a ghost word. The word ‘man’ cannot be thought of without that which isn’t mentioned: ‘woman’) – is elemental to a critique of many of the certainties placed down in the history of Western philosophical thought, and cannot be a passing trend in philosophy.

Hauntology refers to what exists precisely because it has been ‘absented’, from words, language and culture. Derrida’s most famous example of this is when a political idea (or an ideology) claims it has triumphed over all others; the ideas, beliefs and attitudes of that which has been ‘absented’ haunt, because their absence is conspicuous (a time traveller from the 1920s to the 1990s, in England, would be left dumbfounded, looking for ‘Marx’, or for socialism, within the then newly opened shopping malls in post industrial towns).

If I haven’t made a good enough impression of what hauntology is it is because I have perhaps been more involved in its latter usage. A wholly justifiable employment of hauntology that sprang from Derrida’s ‘Spectres of Marx’; the idea that what Francis Fukuyama called ‘the end of history’ ( as liberal capitalist democracy moved into the spaces left by the collapse of the Soviet Union), became a self-fulfilling prophecy, as, consequently we became a culture unable to imagine anything different from what we already existed in.

The most important writer, and inspiration for the ideas of hauntology in relation to this historical period, was Mark Fisher. Mark Fisher diagnosed our times as afflicted by ‘capitalist realism’; where not only had the ideas of the market penetrated far more parts of our lives, but none of us were able to conceive that things might be otherwise.

Fisher, who was equally at home writing about music, film, and novels as on politics, argued that there was a growing trend of repetition of styles and formulas in the arts, that seemed synchronous with a trend towards increasingly computerised, media-focussed technology, and the increased emphasis of individual market-based competition, over previously existing forms of social security (what most of us found easier to call neoliberalism). Fisher saw that what was once dynamic, and constantly breaking norms in the arts, especially for Fisher in 20th century pop music (which either himself of Owen Hatherley defined as ‘pop modernism’), had evaporated in sync with a feeling that it was impossible to imagine a future tense different to the tense we were living within. Fisher, and ‘Franco (Bifo) Berardi’ argued that the triumphalist feeling that surrounded ‘the end of history’ had ushered in a sense of malaise, exhaustion, and eventually a depressive realism, in what they both called ‘the slow cancellation of the future’.

Becoming a devout follower of Fisher’s outlook, that in the early 21st century, we were surrounded by ‘ghosts’ of lost futures (in the ‘failure of the 21st century to arrive’, in the omnipresence of music that could no longer be identified as belonging to a certain time), I began to see ‘ghosts’ all around me; things that ‘didn’t quite fit’, that were ‘eerie’ because, fundamentally, we were in a moment that ‘didn’t fit’.

A few of us eventually set up an artist collective in the name of such a cultural experience: the Retro Bar at the End of the Universe. Our projects were ‘haunted’ by ‘hauntology’, we became expert pub-seat observers of our cultural ‘condition’, obsessed by our personal lost futures (most of us, after all, grew up amidst those very promises of a culturally-determined individual self-fulfilment, in the heady early days of the ‘end of the history’; the 1990s), constantly wondering if an ‘afterwards’ will ever come. What could occur after the end of the future, what music could surpass the already zombified ‘Vapourwave’, for example?

Well, in 2020, amidst events that everyone seems to be calling ‘unprecedented’, suddenly the sense that ‘the futures of the 20th century haven’t arrived’, that clung to everything in the 2000s and 2010s, no longer seems relevant. Our past decades seemed to be laced by two contradictory sensations; one of anxiety about what tomorrow would bring, and one based on the sense that things won’t ever change. Today, amidst Covid 19, it feels like everything may change, often from one day to the next, whereas 3 months away feels like could bring anything as unprecedented as a police state or the end of capitalism as we know it.

It truly feels like we are within what the documentary-maker Adam Curtis called ‘the Desperate Edge of Now’, an experience people in war-torn, famine ridden countries will know too well, but one, we in the West could never imagine happening again. Yet, as much as words like ‘war torn’ can only ever terrorise our imaginations, what we face is a cliff edge of Now-ness, beyond which it feels anything could happen.

As much as I do not want to follow in footsteps of other ‘triumphalist’ proclaimers (and wouldn’t it be the ultimate irony to proclaim that an idea that nothing can ever be fully absent, is now absent!?), is ‘hauntology’ as we know it, dead?

This is a thread that I both wish my fellow collective members to chip in on, and others too. Please add some constructive thoughts on this. Thanks 🙂

“When We Woke it Was Spring”

 

IMG_20200322_151849

(Title is taken from Patrick Keiller’s 1992 film ‘London’)

And so it was.

I realised this as I looked up at sunlight piercing through the grey sky between the Poundland store and the former BHS. A lone tree bares blossom, reaching above the white cladding. The 21st March.

“No, to the apocalypse” isn’t perhaps the most cathartic inner utterance to murmur up from my cold, uncertain flesh, but it’s an adequate reaction to the thing I could have chosen to highlight, as I begin to mentally retrace my steps from here, outside Poundland, back through the 1990s shopping centre, and to my studio in an red brick Victorian building.

The building is just over the rail-tracks from the football stadium, and, what was most likely the sound of tyres of the road surface, became the sound of a crowd cheering. I was expecting to hear what we’d so complacently call ‘normality’ for a Saturday afternoon in a northern town. It’s true that it feels like a ghost has walked over your grave when your habitual state of mind receives a reality shock.

The shopping centre, although still being used, gave you enough of an impression of what it would be like if humans had vacated it. However, nothing did as much to shock, probably all of our states of minds, than coming face to face with the reality of all the pubs, bars and restaurants being closed.

Nothing, I believe, could make us feel like it’s the end of the world more than seeing all the pubs closed. Irrespective of the nuances of drinking habits specific to our post-industrial age, whether the pubs are ‘shit hole’s’, ‘hipster’, or ‘local’, England without pubs evokes an absence akin to a hole left in a life by a recently deceased lover.

What made this more eerie, was the presence of smell, of spices and cooking fat; the habitual state of mind looking for reassurance that ‘normality’ will resume very soon.

Stay cautious, yes. Stay respectful of the situation, yes. But, scared, not really…

This doesn’t have to be the apocalypse. It’s why I refrained from photographing ‘the signs’, the eeriness. After all, I’m just thinking of the endless end of days films we’ve consumed as a population over the past decades;  I’m Will Smith in an empty town, I’m the disembodied eyes watching a human-less world, as the animals take back over, I’ve spent too long looking for ‘signs’.

Spring is here, and can I not find something better to occupy my thoughts?

Many places depend on Springtime for optimism, hope. Not because it promises the beginning of the very same cycle, but because it always promises that the cycle may be different. Every new cycle gives us the chance to imagine how things could be different. Winter will come, we will all one-day die, but this virus for the terror it promises, may allow us to think of renewal differently.

Who knows what things will be like in a few months. We only have predictions, based on the amount of people who could die. It’s anxiety provoking because we are still in an individualistic culture, where anxiety is the flipside of “I want this, I am this” ( it seems that when we are left to our own devices, within a larger cultural narrative, we are more likely to behave like children, helpless to the greater forces surrounding us).  But out of it all, we may re-find some things we collectively lost, and new things entirely, that just won’t fit with the old ideas of ‘business as usual’.

So I log off here with a daft sketch for something I told myself I had to give up: drawing. It seems that creativity finds its way very much like life does; both crawl like the blind, often convinced that they will no longer find a new way, but then we clasp a new form in our hands, and it begins to form new inner landscapes.

Ouroboros, The snake eating its own tail, is here speaking of the cycles of societal trauma, one after another, eventually destroying themselves. Yet each time the cycle begins, there is just a chance the it will be different this time.

 

The Monkey Mind and/as The Sentient Experience

HELLO, THE RETRO BAR AT THE END OF THE UNIVERSE AND BEYOND! 

Finally! After years of false promises, I’m finally getting round to solidifying some of my points of view into the claustrophobic straight jacket of written prose! (how delightfully kinky!) I’ve decided that the most appropriate voice to use on this platform should be my ‘most authentically me’ voice – which seldom displays the quality of ideological rigidity and academic seriousness. Therefore, I would imagine that most of my content should be read with a qualitative empathy and knowing nature that allows for poetic licence, subjective expression, and the undefined limbo where writer/reader interpretations lurk silently in their eternal infinity. That is not to say my content won’t be sown together with academic support from culturally acclaimed voices across the vast landscapes of human knowledge when the time calls for it, but I’m not in the business of selling you my world views as facts either; it’s here for free. Take what you will, and leave what you won’t.

The Monkey Mind and/as The Sentient Experience

I started psychological talking therapy in Summer 2014, and it has been one of the greatest things I’ve ever thrown money at. Throughout my counselling journey, the common theme of Driving has manifested itself in my metaphorical analogies when trying to make sense of my experience of the world out loud. After graduating a degree in music composition about 4 years ago, I was struggling with a lack of motivation to achieve anything that I’d planned for my life after graduating (still an occasional issue it has to be said… LOL). When discussing this with my therapist, I said something along the lines of:

“It’s like trying to get to 70mph in 5th gear! Only, I’m currently going at – like – 5mph, and when I realise I cannot achieve the momentum necessary using the only gear I have (5th), it’s as if the clutch becomes disengaged, and the engine (mind) begins to rev much faster. Only, the energy being used to revolve the engine has no application or effect on the rest of the car (body/outer world), because the engine isn’t connected to anything.”

When my therapist asked me what the experience of driving felt like once the clutch had become disengaged, I said something like:

“It’s like a membrane of white noise that just sorta glazes over my entire being. I’m just not present in my worldly situation. When this happens, people can talk to me in English, and it can sound like a foreign language I’ve never heard before. The sounds have gesture, contour, and musical line, but no literary meaning.”

I’ve since come to know and realise this to be a psychological defence response called Dissociation, and it is something that I have gotten much better at being aware of and inoculating the disorienting effects of when its psychological fragrance arises within me. Actually, I’m being too polite. I’m a fucking pro these days mate… and I’m all about you doing you, boo, but all I’m saying is: Go to talking therapy, bitch, and become your own psychological AirBender. Why? Coz it’s cool.

Later into my talking therapy adventures (circa. early 2017), I read The Dhammapada, and began to indulge a personal curiosity surrounding Buddhism. This lead onto reading articles, journals, and watching video content around Buddhism and similar topics. During this particular phase of my World View Development Program 3.0, the concept of The Monkey Mind kept popping up in field research. In Buddhism and surrounding philosophies, The Monkey Mind is the name for what I experience as the spinning sphere at the epicentre of thought; the unfiltered, raw, perpetual drive of cognitive momentum. It is the singularity that will magically manifest the symbols of pink Elephants, when you’re told to not think about pink Elephants. It is the liminal orb that manifests non-linear symbols for the egoic lens to focus into some sort of familiar, digestible narrative.

This concept of The Monkey Mind was something that really seemed to resonate with me, and it began to give my own analogies a higher fidelity. In my driving analogy, The Clutch was now representational of my Ego: The lens that connected the outer world to my inner world, and gave me a sense of place in-between them both. The disengagement of the clutch was no longer just an arbitrary metaphor that fit the feelings I felt uncontrollably sweep over me. It was part of me – this Egoic lens – moving out of focus so that my insatiable monkey mind couldn’t observe the outer world and violently distort its true nature, like a hamster to a liquidiser. My inability to change from fifth gear also rendered a deeper meaning, too. I have always accommodated a highly obsessive and ruminating mind for as long as I can remember, and I never thought I had any other choice but to put up with such an aggressive tenant in this body. An authoritative tenant that expected me to be travelling at speeds that 5th gear was most suitable for; a tenant that was always primed and ready to see the world as either a great burden of responsibility, or a predator on the attack. I had never realised that I had choice. I never realised that I could agree or disagree with this Tenant’s interpretation of the world. Up until then, I either aggressively fought against the grain of the world, or served to please the world and its given responsibilities. A binary of extremes.

So that’s all great then. Fantastic! I have all these words and labels for things, and one near-perfect metaphor that fits with a wider logical truth… Problem Solved! Right? Unfortunately not. Knowing the mechanics of my car, is not the same as navigating it round unpredictable roads amongst another 7.8 billion people trying to navigate their cars too. Nevertheless, having a name for The Monkey Mind has allowed me to hold it as the tangible object. A tangible ‘thing’ that is mine and part of me, rather than the omnipresent reality that exists beyond me, happening at me without consent.

I have choice. You have choice.

In recent years, it has become imperative for me to learn the Monkey Mind’s behavioural patterns, its relationship to the outer world, and ways in which I can tame its volatile temperament in the delicate cradle of our shared, chaotic outer world – cos shits getting wavey as balls out there these days. That being said, I don’t doubt for one Planck length that all of us don’t already have everything we need in our un-manifested potential to become something of extraordinary benefit and value to ourselves, this world, and the souls we share it with. So shit yourself not babe: Listen to The Monkey Mind, it’s incredibly resourceful, but try and avoid being lead by it.

Safe Driving, Huns x

Wall, i

I have reblogged ‘Wall, i’ onto the Retro Bar at the End of the Universe, because it was developed through, and from many of our collective discussions, raised concerns, and learning experiences from our previous exhibitions

John Ledger

Precursor: I developed ‘Wall, i’ as a film intended for exhibitions, and independent screenings, but was encouraged to make it accessible online. The work covers a series of complex contemporary issues, so whilst the film is available to share, I just politely ask people not to share clips of it out of context, as, out of context it may unjustly offend (even in our are of stimulation-saturation!), So, please, share with consideration 🙂

‘Wall, i’, is a young male who is born into a world that tells him he can be whoever he wants to be, that the ‘old world’ of duty, discipline, division and drudgery has gone. Yet the promise doesn’t turn out quite how it was anticipated. In a new world of new technologies and self-help slogans, the past returns with anger, and ‘Wall, i’ becomes trapped inside himself. Unable to connect, he descends into a spiral of…

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