Category Archives: Politics

Spot the difference – Solidarity, Intersectionality, Empathy, Compassion, Love

Sharing

This is in response to a lot of things that I don’t think I’m going to address directly. If you’ve been following the people I follow on twitter this weekend, you know what it’s about. There’s been some awesome responses, particularly here, and shockingly, three years ago, here.

The thing is, we’re all so very different from each other.

This is the thing you have to learn, again, and again, in order to be really good at being a human being.

It’s not easy, but if you look closely enough you can see that we are all different. Your viewpoint on anything is not the same as mine. We have lived entirely different lives, lived through different experiences, and so become different people. We’re also made up of entirely different genetic material, so even our starting points are different.

Sometimes, when fighting against injustice, we use words that hurt someone. Sometimes we’re not even fighting against injustice.

Because we are not other people, we cannot always hear when we’re hurting someone.

Here’s the key.

When someone says you’ve said or done something hurtful, you should probably stop and listen, because they are giving you a chance to use their ears to hear your words.

It’s an incredible opportunity, the thrill of communication. By listening, we can actually learn something about the way someone different from us thinks. Language is this incredible gift, it’s clumsy, and its easy to make mistake, but it gives us the opportunity to share experiences.

You use it best when you listen, or read.

If you’ve not heard of intersectionality, don’t worry, it kind of means the same as all the others. It’s the idea that we’re all part of multiple groups. Some of those groups are mistreated by ‘society’ (that’s a word that means ‘us’, by the way), and because people fit into more than one group, they may have their mistreatment multiplied, and that can be really fucking difficult. It also means that you may be mistreated as part of one group, but also have ‘privilege’ (I’ll get back to that in a minute) in as part of another.

What this means is you can experience being white and a woman. You can experience being gay and disabled. You can experience being Jewish and black and transgender.

Depending on these experiences, your life may be different.

This should not come as a surprise. There are a lot of people out there, and a lot of groups, defined in a lot of different ways.

Privilege is a word with a couple of different meanings. It’s easy to think of it as meaning rich. In fact, we mostly think of it as meaning ‘something other people have’. When we’re talking identity politics (which I’m pretty sure we are), privilege means a lot of things, the simplest of these to understand is probably social capital. Some people, in a room, will be more likely to be listened to on the basis of what they look like and their apparent life histories. Some people are valued more than others. This reinforces itself because when people listen to you, it’s easier to assume that you’re right. These same people will have easier access to spaces, resources and all the other things that are divided and controlled invisibly on the basis of spurious ideas of ‘social status’.

That whole thing is a form of privilege. The ability to speak, to command attention, just by having lived a certain life (or being seen to have lived a certain life), is one of the things we must be challenging constantly.

And we must do it ourselves.

It sounds like a tricky thing. To recognise something that is invisible. It is tricky, but not because it’s complicated, just because it’s hard. I’m trying to explain all of this in the simplest terms possible, because I think it really is simple. Even if applying it is difficult.

We are all different.

The only way to know what it is like to be different to you is to listen.

Ear View

If you think there’s any chance that you’re in a position of privilege, that your perceived life experience has made your life easier, then when someone different from you says you’re being hurtful, you should shut up and listen. Hear their words. They are reflecting you back through them.

Doing this, is an act of solidarity. Recognising that we are all different, and trying to cross the bridge of those differences, is empathy. Caring enough to do that. To pay attention, listen and think, is compassion.

We can’t change the world by putting people down, but we can if we change ourselves enough to recognise that our very difference is what unites us. Our ability to listen and care is what makes us powerful. We are different, but if we listen to each other, we can be more than just individuals.

You cannot speak for other people. I cannot speak for other people. I am only myself.

But you can listen to other people. You can always listen, and that gives you a broader base of experience, that expands your unique viewpoint on the world.

If we all listened hard enough, maybe eventually we would almost be the same.

That’s an impossible, but we can aim for that. Aim for everyone taking the time to understand everyone else.

It’s not derailing the struggle to think about this stuff, this is the personal face of the struggle.

The personal is political, and the political is personal.

I have not figured it all out. I am trying constantly, to recognise my failings as a person. I get things wrong, constantly. I get called out, all the time. But I hope I do one thing right. I try to listen, I try to let what I hear change me.

We are different people, but by listening to each other, we build bonds of empathy and understanding. With compassion, we become powerful.

We can fight for each other, with love.

Illustrations by Emma and Helen

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Mounting Darkness and Creative Destruction on the Dark Mountain – Uncivilisation 2012

Uncertain Ground

To civilise is to build.

To uncivilise is to destroy?

I may just be tired, but I actually feel very lost. Last year’s Dark Mountain Uncivilisation Festival made me grounded and full hearted, my mind swirling with ideas. This year, the thoughts are still torrential, but my physical form feels adrift.

It’s a scary place to be. But I think that might be part of the point.

There are some things we need to look in the eye, and they are going to be terrifying. The future is real, and it’s not far away.

Someone this weekend bought together a number of statements under the heading ‘why am I here?’ I was reminded of my fear and dread of why questions, and the leaps they ask you to make. It remains my conviction that no ‘why’ question has an answer that isn’t guesswork or an act of faith. Reasons aren’t available, no matter how hard we reason. A why asks a fundamentally different kind of question. We don’t tell people why the sky is blue, we tell people how air bends light. Or we just lie and make up an answer.

Dark Mountain is looking for new whys. Rightly so. Our civilisation is based on a series of misleading myths that are causing us to eat ourselves. The world is falling part, and we are just digging deeper into it. This weekend’s recurring motif was mythology. Stories that can accompany the logos of understanding. Stories that can tell us ‘why’.

Myth is everything that we think we know, anyway. Our memories of our lives are as distorted as our understandings of history. A well told story is what builds our past. That’s how we remember things.

I am intensely conscious that as I write about this weekend, I am going to create my vision of it. Make it again, after the fact. Ignoring the grumpiness and tiredness. Probably unable to go into why I repeatedly lost my voice and felt afraid to speak. I am here to build my own Dark Mountain myth.

But I am tired, and I am worried it will be the wrong one.

It’s the problem with trying to build our own whys. A new myth is untested in the waters of people, open to interpretation and destruction, a story has as many sides as it has listeners. There is no way to know the impact of a new myth. The inventors of the myths of capitalism probably never saw its natural result as the greed of today. Adam Smith’s invisible hand was supposed to stop this kind of thing, not claw into the world, desperately tearing its livelihood to destruction.

We either need to get this right, or we need to work out a new way of myth making, something that allows us to adapt, something that returns us to the now, allows us to be more present in the moment, more aware of the now.

Steve Wheeler, dazzled me a little, drawing links between the slow disease of ‘progress’, the notion of apocalypse, and utopian, teleological world-views. It’s seems so simple to remember that some of our oldest revelations are not simply about the world ending, but about something new and perfect beginning. The book of John of Patmos does not mourn the destruction of the world, but beckons in the kingdom of god. Even Ragnarok ends with two survivors building a new world. Marx pushes towards another utopia, the apparently inevitable conclusion of wave after wave of revolution.

Our apocalypses are our idealisms.

Steve tried to draw us into the now. To stop wanting stuff for the future. To live in a now that would not rely on desires and fears, that could be content with what is.

It’s that thought from last year. To be happy in the future, we’re going to want to be happy with less. There’s a lot of internal work you can do for that.

Tom Hirons pulled me into the woods, and tried to offer a brief taste of extreme wilderness. The taste and feel of the earth on your face, screaming into the ground, whilst hearing a chorus of others doing the same. It is something I will never forget, perhaps the wildest moment of the weekend (apart form my wriggling terror as I forced myself into the dark night’s woods, jumping at every noise). I admire Tom even more after his talk, in which he talked of trying to create  a rite of passage without appropriating the culture of other peoples. He is one of many people there this weekend, who I am simply incredibly glad exist, and feel blessed to have even passing contact with.

Speaking of passing contacts, I only spoke to Vinay for about two minutes, and still got an intense snippet of knowhow that I think I need to build on.

Stories are better with a little added noise. That was taught by Tom and Rima on the first night, and Martin Shaw the next day.

And an intense debate about I vs We, sent me into tumults of worry about the nature of consensus, and the ability of people to assume its presence. No community is uniform. Be wary of your words when you speak for others. I am not enough, but I cannot know enough of others to speak for them. That is dangerous personal mythmaking.

But then, there is this desire for community, and I suspect that’s what draws the Dark Mountaineers together. The people that really want to leave civilisation can do it. There is still wildness, and it can be escaped to.

There’s more than that, somewhere. There’s a desire to make change. I hope that’s what it is, anyway. Because this isn’t just about personal reinvention, this is about finding a way to make our society stop killing people, and stop killing the planet. I really hope so. Because beyond that goal, I don’t really see what’s worth it.

I feel like we’re sometimes too far up the pyramid of needs of the world. We haven’t found a way to feed everyone, we haven’t found a way to stop burning and poisoning the actual ground and water and air that gives us everything we have, have ever had, and will ever have. We’re obsessing about self actualisation when there are people dying.

But then, as individuals, we need to focus on our own changes and our own world in order to exemplify, promote and build a new way of thinking. Without doing that thinking (and the acres of self destruction and re-creation that accompany it) we can’t make new things, escape old traps or be new people.

So we must be in the now, whilst remembering the past, and building a future that might be able to work for everyone.

The weekend sometimes feels like time travel, or perhaps, stepping out of time long enough to get the overview, seeing how things once were, are still, and always will be. Changed, different, but built from the same stuff.

That earth, that water, that sky.

When I was there, I thought I saw a common theme. I thought the answer was in building mythologies. Finding old stories that can show us new ways. Finding new stories that can reconnect our future to our past. Building worlds within worlds to teach our world new dances.

Now I return, and old fears come back with me. How do we build a right future, built on uncertain ground. How can we decide to teach myths as truths, when we know their truths, and ours, are so malleable, so frangible.

Frangible

I touched the earth, the ground, and told it I was grateful. I acknowledged that it had built me, fed me, made everything I have ever known. I screamed, giving it my voice. I didn’t feel like I was pouring out. Maybe I was feeding, as it always fed me. It was a connection, nonetheless.

So I did connect. And despite my voicelessness, I found connection to people as well. I am not as good at this as I imagine, or perhaps I have just forgotten some of my people skills, or perhaps I’d thought I was going for my self, and not to connect with people. This is probably the wrong way to go into most things.

Or not.

I honestly don’t know. I feel more questioned and challenged than solidified.

But this is good.

Controversial example.

After the festival ended, many people stayed behind to finish off the beer and have one last fire and gathering. A great atmosphere was suddenly interrupted by a story. Someone had ventured into town and stumbled upon a symbol of civilisation, he suggested we burned it. Another chimed in saying we should tear it apart and burn it piece by piece. Properly excoriate.

Before it got far, some raised a complaint. The ritual interrupted, atmosphere shifting as people try to search for something.

The symbol, you see, was a book. The burning of books is a deep symbol, easily misread and misinterpreted. A reminder of savagery, organised violence. Impromptu rituals, a joke to celebrate the destruction of civilisation, worry of what that destruction is, or means.

The story needs to be told in bits and pieces, with weird disjunctures, because it was a hundred stories.

I for one, felt my mind tumble through them.

The book burned, but not by consensus; the owner took charge. A line was drawn between burning ‘civilisation’ and burning ‘Civilisation, by Kenneth Clarke’. The knowledge inside it was given respect by some, the author disdain by others. The iconography was terrifying. Reminders of oppression. Oppression is still everywhere. This is not safely ironically distant territory.

As I watched the book slowly explode and burst outwards, I wondered. Were we ready to destroy civilisation?

The noise of thought processes around that fire. The arguments and emotions. The fear and the anger and the humour. A real, deep sacred happening. Sacred and scared.

If we are truly to become uncivilised, this is not the only taboo that will need to be put to the flames.

But do we want to build our world on destruction? Is there even a choice?

How to we destroy destruction? How do we consume consumption?

Dangerous symbols make for dangerous ceremonies. It was the first time the festival had felt dangerous. And something was created from that destruction. Every mind focussed and intensified. Not necessarily for the best, but it’s good to shake things up.

A simple act. A simple fire.

It was a terrible and beautiful moment.

I felt like it shouldn’t have happened, but I felt it was needed.

Written down, it probably doesn’t have the power. But in the moment, my gut was wrenched.

What would it really mean to undermine and challenge the very fundaments of our civilisation. To not just nibble at the edges, but cut to the centre.

To burn something up.

Last year, I was reminded of what it was I wanted to protect and connect too. This year, Uncivilisation felt like it was more about facing up to how challenging it will be to change the world, and the self. The things we need to destroy are dear and dangerous. The arguments we need to have are heartfelt and hurtful. There will be pain, if we are to wrench our world into something new. There will be a risk, that we will turn into things we despise even more than our current state.

Dark Mountain remains a very civilised festival, full of very civilised people. It’s hard not to see it as having a taste of that kind of middle class avoidance of privilege that is so common. This was expressed eloquently and emotionally by someone who noted that they wanted to scream, from knowing that in their day to day life, they did not always live what they believe. Trying to connect, from behind a wall of socialisation and comfort, to something more primal, honest and pure than the myths of progress and futurity is painful and difficult. I am aware of how lightly and slowly I am treading that world, kept wrapped and safe in my comfort and my privilege.

Eventually, there are parts of our selves we will have to burn up and cast aside. We need to do it inwards, and then outwards. Our black iron prison will need to be burnt. Watching that happen may feel a lot like tearing hearts out. It is not safe, it will be misunderstood, it could lead us closer to destruction.

We have to be wary of the myths we create. They can make us destroy, they can convince others to destroy. I don’t know how to do this right. I feel paralysed, knowing that the destruction I am living in now is killing, but that any step forward could do the same.

I want to run away and cry tears into the ground. Let it know that I don’t know what to do and how to live any more.

I am cut adrift, my anchors burned off.

Actually, somehow, I feel like something in me has been uncivilised. More than before, I am adrift from my assumptions. I do not feel like I went to the same Dark Mountain as most. Even though I had plenty of (wonderful) company, and was shown some beautiful things, I feel like a scaled a height, was torn apart, and will now fight to put myself together.

This is probably only a first step, still. I think I need to work on this more. Work out where it should take me. Work out where I should take it.

My heart is opened up.

I come back down the mountain, and the world swirls around me as it always has. Will this be enough to make a difference. Will I be able to leave my heart open in this other world, that will not care for me as the community of the fire would? I am worried I will become overexposed again.

It’s scary, but I think that’s the point.

The work to be done, on self, on the world, is scary.

I feel I have walked into a fire. Sunk into the earth. Drowned under the water. Dissolved into the air.

And yet I am still here. In the now.

I do not have a replacement for self, for civilisation.

I do not know what to do next.

Illustration by the incredible Helen. Apologies this is being posted so late. I had a crisis of faith in it.

The Unbearable Darkness of Mountains – Uncivilisation 2011

Last night, as the sun set, I wandered into the woods. Dosed up with Valerian and on barely any sleep (third hangover of the year, too soon after the second) I was already hazy, and I became totally and utterly conscious of how terrible my eyes were.

In the dark of the evening, as everything turns into greys and blues, everything seems to dance. When I stopped walking to take stock, the sound wrapped around me. Tiny titters of birds, bleating lambs far away, owls some closer. But closer, there were the snaps of twigs, the rustle of leaves, the shifting undergrowth and mulch. Footsteps not mine. Movement all around.

And me in the middle, vaguely terrified, and unable to tell what movement was my eyes playing tricks, and what was the forest itself.

It was incredible. Not least when I understood, as my sense reached their limits, that this was all playing around me, but I was nowhere near the centre. All around me was life that cared not for me. I was barely a part of it, even as I felt connected to it. This swirl of noise, the clatter of life, slowly going it’s own way.

I was not in the middle. The world was. I was just a tiny thought, drifting across the surface.

This was the evening after Uncivilisation 2011, the second ‘festival’ of the Dark Mountain Project. It was the first time it started to feel really uncivilised, and was an incredibly intense experience. Not quite has scary as returning to the city, and feeling some of those sensations again, only related to the thing I’m supposed to be used to. The swirl of noise and the clatter of life, amplified and drowned out all at once, but I’ll get to that. Maybe.

Basically, it was a weekend for creative types interested in the manifesto of the Dark Mountain, to get together and talk. There was a lot of great talk. There was a lot of fascinating stories and people. There was so much going on in a very small space, often seemingly rushing towards you like the ground as you fall.

My brain is genuinely aching. Though my heart is swollen.

I didn’t really expect it to be like this. I was expecting to hear politics and get fired up. I was hoping to learn and grow and solidify.

Instead, I just feel like I have been put in contact with a part of me that has been missing.

This is also good.

I’m not going to talk too much about the speakers and the talks, or even the bands. I’m sure other people will post much more eloquent responses and critiques of what was said. I don’t remember many huge bombshells in the actual programme. Nobody has many answers about what to do next apart from look after yourself, pay attention, listen to stories, tell your stories, and learn how to live with less.

Possibly the simplest and most obviously true statement of the weekend was something along the lines of  ‘get better at enjoying non-material things, because if you want to be happy, those are going to be the only things you can rely on’.

In shorter, if everything runs out, make sure you’ve got something that can’t run out to make your heart sing.

That wasn’t actually shorter, was it.

I’m not good at brevity right now, maybe. I’ve got a lot of listening to try and take in and and process. At some point I think a lot of things in my brain are going to pop, in various different ways.

The weekend clicked for me about five times, after initially seeming like something utterly contradictory and so somewhat failed. When people who are talking about the end of the world get angry and self righteous about a cafe only having jacket potatoes left, it makes you wonder. Dougald, one of the organisers, noted that someone on twitter had described the festival as ‘luddites with iPhones’, he was aware of the irony. Smari pointed out earlier (quite probably joking, but still quite probably right), the people who were prepared were probably somewhere else, being prepared. This was not a place to learn how to prepare for the apocalypse. This was a place to talk.

Which seemed kind of pointless.

Until. Well. Until it started to feel right. Until I realised that this wasn’t necessarily about building bunkers, it was about building soul, heart, spirit or something like it. There are many sorts of preparedness.

The ‘What next’ talk helped, particularly when Paul Kingsnorth (the other founder) noted that the festival had kind of started out as a place to get writers together.

Once you start thinking of it as a writer’s workshop at the end of the universe, it kind of made sense.

But before that, it really clicked, as I got in touch with exactly the sort of hippy I am.

People call me a hippy all the time, and sometimes I get annoyed, but mostly because I don’t know what it means. I acknowledge that I don’t help myself by wearing skirts and long hair and liking flowers, but, well, it still seems like a derogatory term. Something ineffectual. I guess this could be historiographical. During one conversation, Vinay noted that the cultural revolution died because all the clever people died in the first years of battle, leaving nobody to lead that side in the war.

So; failed and idealistic revolutionary? Possibly not that far off. But there are other trappings.

This weekend, for me, was actually a deeply spiritual experience. Despite me not having any clear definition of what that is. The biggest learnings were not about people (though the campfire was one of the most supportive singsongs I’ve ever taken part in. I’ve never sung solo acappella in front of strangers before, and I felt happy to do it and to fail. Thanks to that fire. If you’re reading this, you know who you are.)

Really, the awesome ritualistic theatre of Liminal, was what bought my heart into action. A small prologue, a procession through a series of unneverving dreamlike vignettes, and a  final ritual, of noise and movement in the depths of a candlelit forest. Through that, I felt centred and connected to all of life, all of the world. Like had taken part in some kind of bonding ceremony. My centre suddenly felt further away from me than usual, but in the right way.

I celebrated by getting drunk, which was almost as stupid as some of the decisions on my cycle out from Petersfield to the campsite, which took five hours instead of one, and almost as fun. (Though it was the cycle that nearly killed me, if it hadn’t been for a spanner and a nice old lady called Anne, I’d probably be dead. Or at least very, very ill.)

The next day I was less engaged, but still picking up fragments, and maybe the odd braingrenade from Vinay. My mind was struggling to keep up with some of the learnings of the night before. Not least a weighty discussion in the almost sacredly intimate space of the hexayurt (which I stumbled drunkenly into at four in the morning).

I think spaces need to be small for real weight to be talked about. A conference or lecture is not a supportive or communal environment, it is a space for hierarchy and showing off. There were problems with some of the spaces, that bought out some odd things in people, and made me shut up and feel alienated. But when things worked, they worked.

And actually, shutting up and listening was what I needed. It wasn’t until everyone one faded back to their real lives and I was left in a quite countryside that I really appreciated that. And that I finally got to listen to what I really needed.

I made a new friend, who fed and nourished me in a number of ways, not least with actual physical real food. I need to get the micro infrastructure for cookery into my camping bike loadout pretty sharpish.

After absorbing some silence sunshine and beauty, we talked about sheep, unicorns and ancestors. Myths and futures and spirits.

The thing is, when you have the space to look at the noisiness of the quieter, less verbal world, you realise that these spirits, while metaphors, are utterly, utterly real.

Our myths and stories are wrapped up together, and they can still be shared around a campfire, and nothing will make you new friends like laughing and sharing them.

We are going to be ancestors. Even if we don’t have children, those around us will. We will tell them stories, and they will tell stories about us. Eventually, that is all we will be. Stories.

After my final commune with nature, the final fire of the weekend was shared with total but beautiful strangers. The chance to bounce around some chatter, to hear our thoughts and stories of the weekend shared and stretched and played with. Repeated and explained from different angles.

With the owls for company.

We were not the centre, we were just part of a stream through eternity. We looked backwards, and we looked forwards, and we saw everything stretching out beyond us.

I think we are tiny. I think we make tiny marks. As a civilisation, we have wreaked huge damage, but still, where it is, life persists. We will, eventually, wash away (barring the definitely real possibility of biotech, nanotech or nuclear catastrophe), and leave a world that will move on without us.

But civilisation is not actually us. Not the deep us, at our core.

Politically, we must make sure we demand the world the world deserves. We must learn how to change our civilisation so it does not destroy everything. This will probably not happen until it’s all gone horribly wrong. This is a tragedy for us.

The world will pick itself up and carry on without us.

We need to do something about this. This weekend was not about finding out what. It was about finding out why.

It was about seeing alternatives and feeling them.

It was restorative to something in my heart. Like a tree was growing there that hasn’t been watered in forever. Finally it is growing again, maybe even bearing fruit.

I still don’t know what to do about civilisation. But I do know I need to distance myself from it. My path seems clearer. Move, slowly and safely away from the horror of it all. Find somewhere I can live a simpler life.

The route will not be simple. I don’t have the wisdom and skills and power of my ancestors. I don’t know how to live off land, and I don’t have land to live off.

But. Well. I need to be out there.

Where the real world is. Living and bustling in it’s own way. I must visit it more regularly and learn how to work with it.

These are musts now, not just idle dreams.

I’m not going to stop talking about the problems. I’m going to continue to try and make the world change. But I am also going to make a tent on a darker mountain.

My spirit belongs with the others. In the darkness.

It’s not easy to see in the dark. This weekend, I practiced opening my eyes wider.

With time. I will work on my eyes.

And my heart.

And my soul.

So I can see deeper into the darkness, and maybe even live there.

This is a first response. It is tired and slightly crazy, for that is where I’m at right this moment.I’m going to use Unstruck this week to explore a few questions that came up over the weekend. This is technically breaking the rules, but that’s what they’re for, right?

It’s all in the Execution – Art with Heart

Manet Vs Lichtenstein

Corner of my bedroom, complete with Manet’s Execution of Emporer Maximillian and a Lichtenstien with a title I can’t find.

First up, apologies for the puns in the title, sometimes (most times) I just can’t help myself.

Right.

Art.

Hmm.

To me, the most powerful and beautiful art unfolds.

I mean. The pieces that I love. Or rather, one category of pictures (or whatever) that I love, have a factor in common. Multiplicity of meaning.

Don’t get me wrong, I love the potent, filthy erotic monstrousness of Francis Bacon. But I don’t come away thinking, I come away feeling. I love that feeling, and that is the other category of art i love, the stuff that makes me feel baptised in…something. Whatever it is.

But these two paintings, there’s something more ethereal in them that I love. It’s all about meaning and interpretation. It means that they excite me now, in a way that I don’t think many people understand.

I’m going to try and make you understand now. I will probably fail, but let me know what you think.

Let’s get back to unfolding. It’s a recurring feeling. It’s not like turning an origami swan, it’s more like turning an origami swan into a smaller origami swan, like a fractal.

Down the rabbit hole.

I’m going to anchor this with something more solid, like a picture of the piece we’re looking at first.Lichtenstein's Pianist

‘Although he holds his brush and palette in his hands. I know his heart is always with me!’

I discovered this piece upon moving into a house. The poster was on the wall, and it gazed over our kitchen table for the whole year. Everybody wanted to take it down, because it looks (apparently) uncannily like a friend of some of the people that lived there, and it freaked them out (aforementioned someone passed away in tragic circumstances sometime before). I insisted it stayed up, because I thought it was magical. When we moved, I took it with me, and it’s always been on one of my walls.

What is it that strikes me about it?

Well, I’ll tell you what it isn’t.

It’s not the image.

It’s not the whole ‘Pop art’ thing either. No praise of kitsch or low culture. No blowing tiny items up to a level where they become art. No celebration of the infantile or banal. No. It is none of these things.

Not for me anyway. And that’s what everybody says when they talk about Lichtenstein.

I think they miss the depth, or at least, the critics I’ve read miss it. They miss a lot.

For me, it’s the wordplay. The thought bubble, and the way that interacts with the artist, the girl trapped in the image, the viewer and society at large.

Like I say, once I start looking at it and engage my brain, it starts unfolding, until it has engulfed everything.

I still don’t have it all in my head. I still find it challenging to think how the very thing that fascinates me represents a critique or reinforcement of the male gaze. I rarely even try and explore that avenue.

Let’s look at what I’m trying to talk about here. That might help.

She (the flat static image) is pondering her relationship with the Artist, Roy Lichtenstein. She sees him, from the canvas, painting her. He is entirely focussed on his art, the creation of a beautiful meaningul object. But in true pulp style, she is in love. She senses, beneath his art, his love for her. She is in his heart, and he is pouring that heart onto the canvas, which is her.

And then my heart skips a beat, as I wonder if she’s right?

What was Lichtenstein thinking? Who is this woman (eerily like someone I’ve never met, but who has had an impact on my life)? Did he sneak a lover into one of his pictures? Or is she just an object? Is he aware of his objectification? Is she? Why does she decieve herself? Is Lichtenstein an aware tool of the patriarchy? Why does he create this woman for us, society, or me?

What is she playing on the piano?

Is the whole, together, a statement about art? Is it a parody of assumed relationships between artist and model? Is it simply a sad, mournful statement, that some people fall in love with people who could never love them back?

I always settle on melancholy, but maybe that’s just me. THe fact is that I feel like I can always break it down another layer, in ways that I can’t describe.

I do this for hours. And with each new level of discovery, I am more in love with the interplay between everything. It is the meaning that gets me, not in anyway the aesthetic appreciation. Aesthetically, I find it bland and static. Well. It’s striking, in a way, but it doesn’t excite me.

But behind the image, is something far greater.

Next.

Manet's Execution

Manet’s Execution of Maximilian – Fragmented , and with earlier (complete) versions.

Édouard Manet’s painting, perhaps requires a brief history lesson. I’d recommend a read of the article I just linked to, it’s fascinating, though I’m making a point of not re-reading it now, as that’s not really what I want to talk about. This one is perhaps more ethereal than the last, but I’ll try my best.

Basically, it’s the fragments.

The history lesson will tell you more about why it is like this. But I don’t really see the magic in the image until it’s broken up like this. Not even because of the politics behind that.

Once again, I think the critics are missing the point, at least the ones I’ve read.

I love the way the different elements are frozen in blankness. Isolated from each other. The focus (perhaps) of the piece, is entirely missing. The Emperor is nowhere to be seen, though someone who holds him is still there. The puff of smoke is all the evidence of the action. We don’t know who or what is being held, but it’s absence is telling. Like the red hatted sergeant, it is distanced, and cut off from everything. Not just his attention, fixing the barrel of his gun, not paying attention to the destruction he is supposed to be leading. He washes his hands. And he is cut off. A fine line breaks him apart from his unit.

And so we see the world, as a series of fragments. Like the old cliched story of the blind men and the elephant. The whole picture is absent, we only see tiny elements. We can’t have everything, and (if you want to take it that way) the victim is removed entirely.

Which makes it briefly about news media.

Or is it just about alienation. The way we stand aside and watch things happen. Or the way we may never see our firing squad.

I love it. I can’t explain it. But somehow it’s fragmentary nature speaks more to me than a whole painting like this could. It engages my mind and makes me challenge the very image I am gazing at. Questioning it and everyone in it. They become more relatable, because they are only one piece of the puzzle, like all of us.

I find it incredible.

One last picture, which we’ve already seen, but bears repeating.

Manet Vs Lichtenstein

My corner again.

So the reason I decided I wanted to go in depth into this post, and these pictures, is because of this picture. Whilst scouting around my room for my last post, I was just snapping everything I cared about, and I took this picture of my two pictures.

I saw something I had never seen before.

The way I had arranged them, meant that Manet’s Firing squad was shooting Lichtenstein’s Pianist in the heart.

Another layer started unfolding, entirely unique and other. Entirely accidental.

No authorial involvement whatsoever, and suddenly I had a new meaning created. We have the forces of oppression, fragmentary (not knowing themselves?) and male, shooting an image of femininity, totally unaware of her imminent doom. Somebody please tell her it’s not a palette and brush (false consciousness?), it’s a gun.

The oppression of the patriarchy, and the way people stand by and watch, ignoring it, whilst the oppressed are left unaware and fooled?

It’s a horribly depressing image, and incredibly infantilising to women (many of whom are aware of the bullshit that slowly tries to destroy them) and it lets the men get away with it (what’s this ignorance business all about…they are murderers, surely…all completely guilty and involved).

The stories multiply. The meaning increases, and the whole thing unfolds.

And tomorrow it will tell me a different story entirely.

Which is one thing I love about art.

***

All images low res photos of reproductions. Copyright definitely not mine, but I feel it’s fair use. If representatives of the copyright holders ask me to remove them, I will, but it will make me sad.

Where is the left? – One hand can’t find the other as Capitalism Collapses

Okay. A current conversation with the lovely PaulGrahamRaven on twitter is goading me into writing a piece I wanted to write a while back. This is going to get messy. And maybe it should.

Also, first up. A confession/analysis regarding the amount of research actually collected for this article. Basically, it is about the osmosis I’ve received from the mainstream press (which mostly consists of the Guardian, the BBC and a million random and variously significant web sources). I’m not massively diligent in my news scouring, but I grok the hypothetically left leaning dead tree Guardian cover to cover between once and four times a week and flitter around the website daily. Then I’ve got twitter news feeds and all sorts of bits and bobs. The point here being that I may (I hope) be missing a lot of the stuff I’m complaining about not being around, so I hope people can link me to the things I should be reading.

Anyway, the sum total of actual specific research rests on a text exchange with the delightful Sahil ‘I only like economics because it means I get to use tenuous cricketing analogies’ Vaughn from over at that there unlearned.

Basically, I asked him for an explanation of the current financial crisis and how it might represent the fundamental flaws of capitalism. Here’s his response (I haven’t asked his permission, but I’m pretty sure he won’t mind:

Well the millions and millions of consistently poor people suggests it [capitalism] doesn’t work. And in terms of economics, since the 60s there has been a decline in productivity, so in that sense it stopped working a while ago. Finance [as] a system has built in failure (its enabled by speculation). Socialising the finance through co op owned fund which we pay into and secure loans against would be useful.

I asked for clarification of some point (I don’t have the message to give details, sorry) and he responded again:

Finance works faster than production, so downturns become crises, which is what opens space for normative debate. I finish my exams today so chat we shallx

Last bit included despite irrelevancy merely so I can point out that he has not held his promise. The bastard.

Anyway. that is literally the sum total of my research into this piece. I just thought I’d kick off with that so that everyone can help me with the holes in my argument. I also read an issue of the New Internationalist on the subject, which was technically useful and proposed solutions, but it’s so niche and I can’t remember the details.

I am a shit journalist (or rather, I am simply not a journalist).

Right.

So.

Financial crisis, as vaguely explained above, means that the world economy is pretty damn fucked. We can all see this, and we are all hearing it.

The most striking part of it for me is that people ahve genuinely described this as the utter failure of capitalism. Proof positive that the system doesn’t work.

Now, as a dyed in the wool (whatever that means) socialist, all this doomsaying kinda got me excited. I know this is rude, as real people are really suffering, but I can’t help it. As Sahil points out, some people have known and seen for years the problems inherent in the system, and the inefficiencies, and immoralities it has a tendency to at best allow, and at worst promote. And it’s been at it’s worst for the last x number of years, where x is somehow proportionate to your propensity for nostalgia.

We’ve seen this coming. To some extent or another. We’ve known that it’s fucked, and now everyone can see it. Banks are being nationalised, governments are trying to salvage the system by giving vast sums of money to the people who fucked this all up in the first place. Jobs are vanishing and businesses are closing.

It’s visible, it’s real, and it’s everywhere.

But what can I not see anywhere?

Lefties. That’s who.

I’m not reading or hearing people talking about changing the system. I’m just hearing people despairing, or hoping it’ll all turn around in a few years and we’ll be on the up and up again. Nobody is calling for revolution or even devolution on the back of this. Nobody is calling on the bankers and bourgeoisie to get their backs to the wall and face the music. Nobody is revolting.

I don’t understand it.

Where’s Marx’s inevitable march towards Communistic utopia when we need it?

There is no antithesis left.

Seriously.

Okay, quickly for those not hot to trot on this. Dialectics states that a thesis (dominant ideology, in this case capitalism) contains or creates, inevitably, and antithesis or opposite. The two struggle, and eventually combine to form a synthesis, which is the new thesis. And so on, marching ever onwards towards perfect, state-free communism (according to Marx). Or just onwards (according to me).

But it’s not here. We’re reaching the crisis/tipping point where things could genuinely change, and as Paul points out. The press is covering the right wing ‘solutions’. Anti immigration policies are on the rise, and the press attacks the government for letting in foreign investors and workers.

And that’s the trade unionists. Ie, the grass roots left (again, hypothetically).

Now, I do appreciate the plight of skilled workers losing out on jobs, but I don’t like the idea of the proletariat mobilising on nationalist grounds, when they could be marching on socialistic ones. Whatever happened to ‘Workers of the world unite.’

We’re getting a step to the right when we need a jump to the left, or whatever the transvestite vampires like doing.

This troubles me, and makes the recession much gloomier. People aren’t taking this open space, to debate new possibilities, they are falling back on old prejudices.

So come on internets. Renege against this all. Start hanging out and discussing and challenging the media institutions that are failing to represent our honest reactions to this. Shout and scream and blog and tweet.

The world is at a point where revolution is possible. And technology has evolved to the point where people can actually connect fully and wholly across the world (ignoring the technological have nots, which happens to coincide with what could possibly be the new proletariat).

We have the forum to discuss this. We have the power to change. Hell, theoretically we’ve got at least one person in power who might be tempted to listen.

Let’s tear open our government to scrutiny, using the technologies of transparency we have before us (I mentioned in a tweet the other day that I’d like to see laws being written on a wiki, okay, probably a closed one that only elected representatives can edit, but where all edits are visible to everyone, so we can track who is being lobbied by who and what they are changing. The technology is with us, we just have to make it happen. Demand it).

Let’s be the left we want to be.

Lets change the world.

Political Emotions – One Life

New music at the weekend. I enjoyed the new Polar Bear and TV on the Radio albums, the new release of old Matmos is incredible and rich, Four Tet remixes are occasionally brilliant.

But none of them made me cry.

The Matthew Herbert Big Band Album on the other hand, made me cry.

This is a rarity.

Now, let me explain, for which I need your co-operation.

Here’s the liner notes section relevant to the track in question:

One Life includes the sounds of: one beep from the alarm system of my premature son’s neonatal special care unit. Each beep represents 100 killed in Iraq since the start of the war in 2003 to October 2006. Figures based on a study by the lancet. One 10 pound note being torn in to 3 pieces, where each part represents 1 trillion dollars.

Now, go listen to the track. It’s on youtube.

Anyway, I’m going to assume you’ve taken my advice and listened, because if you have, and you’re the kind of person who gets wrapped up in emotional experiences on this level, then you’ll be crying by now.

Maybe it’s just me, and it probably didn’t help that I was reading a comic about child abuse whilst listening to the album (One Bad Rat by Bryan Talbot is brilliant also).

Anyhow, let’s get down to the nitty gritty.

It’s incredible that a combination of a little nugget of information (the source of the sound and what it represents) adds so much to the record. If I hadn’t read the note before (which I wouldn’t have done if I didn’t know what to expect from Matthew Herbert) then I wouldn’t have taken it in, and the high frequency whirring of that beep, underlying the entire track, would’ve been little more than static.

As it is though, that static is so much more. That static became a wall of death in between my ears and the rest of the music. I found myself wrapped up in horror at even the thought of imagining one death per beep, let alone a hundred. The scale of the impact of these kind of events, so often just strings of throw away numbers, is hard to grasp. Above a certain point numbers effectively become meaningless, only relating to anything else in terms of proportionality (we know that three trillion is three times a trillion, but we don’t really have an immediate image of a trillion of anything, it’s too vast to comprehend).

But a beep. A single beep, multiplied however many times (I can’t bring myself to look up the statistics myself) necessary to represent the human cost of a war. Then by a hundred, because the scale needs to change even when it’s been pitched up to that whirring.

That beep, brings me close to people I’ve never met, who’ve been killed in war. It makes them real in a way I can’t comprehend. Nothing has bought me closer to visualising the scale of impact of this or any other war. (Lie actually, as soon as I write that I remember a school trip to Belgium, where I looked out across a field to see a row of about a hundred white crosses in a cemetery. We were driving past in a coach, and I’d looked up at just the right moment for the front row to eclipse the rest of the field. As my perspective changed, that single row of crosses turned into thousands in a moment. All exploding out from the back of the original line. It was shocking to say the least).

Just relating each beep to a hundred people just like the ones I’ve lost in my life. Just thinking about the number of people distraught and affected by those deaths. Families of soldiers, families of civilians. Friends. Communities. All torn apart by death.

And it carries on beeping. Constant, steady, and horrifically rapid.

I’d say that from a conceptual level, it’s almost a pinnacle of Herbert’s attempts at adding political messages to music through the sounds he’s chosen and the way he uses them. He’s not just added a political structure to the piece, but he’s engaged at least one individual with that political side on a purely emotional level. And that’s even before he adds a beautiful a heartfelt song over the top of it.

And the choice of sound to represent this?

A neonatal special care unit. His own premature son’s. This sound is deeply personal to him. I imagine, for him, it represents a period of personal fear and hope. If the beep is an alarm, then that means the sound was a warning that his child’s condition was critical. There’s a deep intimacy and impact to the imagery behind that sound. It’s a warning, but it’s, I hope, a sign of hope. That child will hopefully have been kept alive by the machinery producing that sound. Something is kept alive. With hope and luck and the hard work of people. (I’m not sure if his son survived, I pray and hope so, in the way that I do).

Birth and death, combined together in one symbol. Life is contrasted directly to suffering and death. Destruction is intertwined with a device of salvation.

The imagery is beautiful, and it adds such a rich layer of understanding to a beautiful song.

And it made me cry. Which doesn’t happen often with music. In fact, aside from direct moments of grieving (funerals and the depths of grief) I can only pick out three occasions.

All in a five minute song.

As I’ve said before, music is rich and powerful and overwhelming. Herbert once again shows us that it is also political, meaningful and deep. There is room for this kind of emotional and political expression in music, and there is in all things.

Don’t let your heart harden, let your heart feel the terrible and the beuatiful things in this world. Only then can you engage with politics as a full human being, and that is what we need to really change the world. At least I hope so. Possibly we have to stop crying first, but I have yet to work that one out.

Later this week (hopefully, but I am terrible at keeping promises) I hope to look into contrasts between the disengagement of music and general escapism in culture, and my own disengagement. It’ll be one of those self help, let’s see if I can work out how to make myself better posts.

Here’s to tears and the power to feel.

Did I shoot Andy Warhol?

Of course, I didn’t shoot Andy Warhol, at least not in this life.

But I’ll get back to that later.

First, a warning. This is going to be another of my long rambling rambles. I am not going to restrain the free wandering nature of my mind. It is also potentially a very controversial post. I’m going to be discussing Feminism (and Cow Vaginas) as honestly and openly as I can. This is a dangerous thing to do, as may become clear. I am also intentionally not linking to a couple of posts and discussions that sparked possible elements of this post. I don’t want to target individuals and bring upon myself a torrent of abuse and hatred…I get enough of that going home for Christmas (only kidding). I expect I’m going to get trashed if certain people read this. I am writing in the spirit of free expression and thought. Also I may contradict myself, forget what I’m talking about and be entirely wrong headed idiotic and random.

Welcome to my head…it’s a horrible place to visit, but I wouldn’t want to live here. But I do. I do live here. This is my head.

Hold on tight Sahil, we’re in for a bumpy ride.

And we’re going to start off by saying that I do generally consider myself a feminist. I am also a man. An online test tells me I’m a revisionist Feminist, 100% Gender Abolitionist, 80% sexually liberal (honk) and 60% Socialist. By my reckoning that actually makes me240% feminist. I think that’s going a bit too far.

Anyway, the quiz pissed me off quite a lot…it was very leading and a lot of the questions didn’t make sense. Also I couldn’t answer loads of the questions the way I wanted to. This is why I hate online quizzes. Also double negatives aren’t not bad y’all.

Or something.

Anyway, This is really not the point.

Lets go back a bit.

I’ve had several dreams involving Andy Warhol…the first one involved a journey on the Megabus (a cheap coach/bus service that I have never used) up to London. We spent the whole journey discussing the relative merits of cost of varying forms of transport. This was not really that interesting, but I did think it quite cool that the wig wearer was present. I assumed he was cool and therefore it was rubbing off on me. Well…I didn’t really think about it that much at the time…I was in dream mode. Whatever, we got to London eventually, and we made a film with Lars Von Trier called the five obstructions. This was the day before that film was shown on television (not precognition, I had just read the TV guide before going to sleep and had decided to watch it the next day), go out and watch it, its a damn cool film…especially if you like film making theory. Basically, Von Trier sets Jorgan Leth a series of challenges, all kind of the same. It’s just to remake one of Leth’s first films, the Perfect Human (which I’ve never seen) under the conditions of a series of ‘Obstructions’ set by Von Trier (should that just be Trier?). The film takes the form of a series of chats between the directors, and the new, obstructed versions of the short. It’s absolutely incredible to watch if you’re into films as basically it shows you how great director’s minds can work. If you don’t mind watching artsy documentaries then watch this and your eyes may well be opened to some of the more interesting things to think about as you watch films.

Anyway, I’m getting distracted. The dream version of the film was nothing like that…and to be fair I can’t remember much of it apart from a few images that are hard to explain…needless to say, the sets of the film we were making were kind of living and I kept slipping from the perspective of Director to Actor to Character and back. Though under constant watchful guidance of Andy Warhol. Oh…and there was something to do with the American Civil war…but I’m not sure what.

Ok…so that was Warhol dream number one. I thought it was pretty cool, I rarely dream about famous figures, mostly just people I’ve met. Also it remained vivid for long enough for me to tell someone about it, meaning that some of the details solidified. This is handy, as I often forget my dreams.

Anyway, the second time he cropped up I can only really remember I tiny segment. I was in a Cherry Blossom tree (I don’t know what the symbolism of this might be, but what it makes me think of is a song by the Manic Street Preachers, a band I thoroughly enjoy, though the song itself is from one of their lamer albums…the first three albums all remain high in my esteem, (does that even make sense) after that its mostly just nostalgia for my teenage years. Anyway, they become relevant again later…though some of you may have made the connection already) with a sniper rifle, I looked through the sights to see that I was aiming at Andy Warhol. Holy crap..I thought…I’m about to shoot Andy Warhol. Anyway, as I pulled the trigger and the bullet started heading for the artistic Christian King of the Factory. I shifted perspective (this bit of the dream was very visually impressive) and pulled out of the scene to see that in fact I was just sitting and watching the film ‘Who Shot Andy Warhol?’. My brother found the film amusing as poor Andy died on screen…I wasn’t aware of his biography at that time as this was pre the endless hours spent on the internet. Anyway, bro laughed, I laughed nervously to conceal the fact that I was actually really freaked out by coming that close to shooting someone. Even if it was only a film.

Anyway, I can’t remember the rest of that dream, but I figured it might be significant. I have occasionally explained to people that Andy Warhol may be my ‘spirit guide’. New theories are emerging. And my mouth hurts because I just ate some hot chili sauce. For those of you who are visually minded, I am wearing my favourite stripy jumper and my green corduroy trousers. My T-shirt is poking out from underneath my jumper (which was found in the street on my birthday two years ago…woo). It is also stripy but smaller stripes and different colours, it used to belong to my friend Will. I’m at work.

This is mostly irrelevant information though.

So anyway, recent clues are actually pointing to a different conclusion. I no longer think of Andy Warhol as a source of spiritual guidance.

Let’s come back to that later though, first let me assure you that there is going to be some feminism stuff here eventually. In fact…lets do a little now.

Since starting blogging and reading more peoples discussions and chatting with people, not least of which is my current Significant, I’ve been reading a lot of feminist stuff from a lot of different sources. My eyes have been opened and pretty damn wide. I’ve always considered myself an equalicist/feminist/whatever term it is that applies to me. I fell into a lot of traps though. I did things and held beliefs that would be considered to be the subtler side of patriarchy. I still do sometimes, but I really do try to be otherwise. I find this is a constant struggle and it is difficult.

Aside: I just had an argument with a customer who got banned for saying the c*t word. Now…I say that plenty at home among friends who know I don’t attach significance to it. Anyway, he shouted it at the computer, and got told off by Mr I a friend and co-worker. We decided to ban him once his time was up. He came back and started arguing the toss. Trying to defend himself (bear in mind if you think I’m being harsh on him that he is quite a young kid and we have other young kids in this place). His argument mostly consisted of ‘I didn’t say it it just came out of my mouth. It’s not offensive anyway…nobody was offended’. My responses should be obvious, when he said that nobody in here was offended, I told him I was…he then asked if I was a girl. Now…face to face, my beard usually settles that one. But it really riled me and seemed relevant to this post. Just thought I’d mention it. I told him that my gender was irrelevant, but was interrupted and didn’t finish my chain of thought. I was intrigued by his point of view and thought I might have a chance to teach some kind of equality lesson. I don’t like preaching though…and I was interrupted.

Anyway, I do keep on struggling to improve myself. A hell of a lot of the socialised and peer pressurised stuff is hard to get rid of though. I’m far from perfect. I do honestly try though. As has been made clear in previous posts gender equality is a big deal for me, something that I consider a lot. Among people I love and trust (most people I meet…I’m pretty damn full of love you know) I often make jokes and similar comic statements, I even conform to certain stereotypes in the knowledge that my good friends generally know where I stand on these things. I feel bad about this as I do think that it damages causes that I hold dear, but fun and jocularity is something I hold dear to. What I hate about myself is when I engage in some of the sexist gags of people not so enlightened, or in the presence of people who might not detect the irony. This is similar to something I’ve discussed before (the Computer Abuse Language, I can’t be bothered to find the link as work is ending in an hour and a bit and I haven’t finished discussing all this and I have to prepare the place for locking up) so I won’t go into too great detail. Basically, I’m criticising myself for falling for the jokes and the subtler side of this patriarchy thing. I even used to hold the good old fashioned ‘everyone’s equal already’ and ‘feminists are kicking up a big stink over nothing’ type views…I now realise this is crap. My mind is always open to change, and some of the things the people on the internet have shown me have changed me deeply. Or perhaps just made me realise for real a lot of stuff I half believed already. Those of you who have helped me learn, I thank you…and I pray that you continue.

Discussion with significant and Vintage in particular have been eye opening, plus many other places I have lurked. I thank you greatly.

One discussion with Siggy today went on for hours trying to work out a debate she’s having with people on the internet. The basic gist of it was that some feminists were attacking her for not being man hating enough. This clearly pissed both of us off. I mean sure…I’m willing to agree that most men are terrible in many ways. Patriarchy is fucking horrible. I don’t think that enough people realise just how much both genders are oppressed. And by Jove is it worse for women. I do however think that it is important to recognise that men suffer as well. I find that I am constantly under pressure to conform to male stereotypes that don’t in anyway relate to me. I am bundled together with people who read Zoo and use prostitutes. I read an issue of zoo once to see what all the fuss was about. There was a ‘letter’ sent in by a ‘reader’ who was describing her wonderful experience after a club night where she had got incredibly drunk and then flashed by a bouncer on the way out. She (as any right thinking woman would) gasped in shock and awe and joy at the sight. She then also enjoyed being bundled into the back of a car and driven out to a lay-by and repeatedly and violently screwed by aforementioned security guard.

It shouldn’t surprise anyone that I was sick at this. I mean…this was actually a magazine basically suggesting that women love being sexually assaulted abused and raped. This was so much worse than I expected. I just thought it would be tits and trash. Generally offensive and insulting to the intelligence of most men, but it was so much more horrific than that.

I was literally sickened by it.

Anyway, the point is that it is possible that not all men are of one type. Variation and variety of people is what gender equality and gender issues in general are all about. People should be free to be different. I shouldn’t feel like I can’t express myself fully. I should feel like its fine for me to dress however I want. I lack confidence though. I am incredibly insecure (underneath a thin veneer of boistrous and noisy faux confidence and egocentricity) and worry at the slightest thing wrong with me.

I don’t think I’m alone. V directed me to a great article recently that was stating that the reason that men are insecure is because they (we) realise we’re actually the weaker sex. I agree one hundred percent with that assessment. The author of that piece (and many others) have hit a nail on a head there. Well…maybe not one hundred percent. But it’s certainly true of me. Perhap’s this makes me a gender traitor.

I don’t know.

Anyway…I’m getting distracted and I don’t have long left to write.

Siggy has been being lambasted for not being ‘the right type’ of feminist. This is wrong. Variety and discussion should be the watchwords of the feminist movements. You’re more than welcome to hate all men, but if you start hating women for discussing then you just appear to be plotting for a matriarchy. I don’t think that would be a better world…just a different one.

There is no reason to fight oppression with oppression.

I have so much more to say but I have no time to write over the next few days.

First off, let me tie up some of the loose ends.

I think Valerie Solanas may be a more likely candidate for my spirit guide that poor Andy. Because of course it was her who really shot Andy Warhol. She’s been cropping up everywhere for me lately. Mostly through the Matmos track Tract for Valerie Solanas.

I will, apparently believe anything that has a good beat. This song has a damn good beat. And is made using an inflated Cow’s Uterus and Vaginal Tract. Find out how here. Then buy the album…it’s absolutely incredible.

Anyway, I now believe that I am being told to ‘destroy the male sex’ by my dreams. I really like her writings. I will tell you more about my views on what she has written once I’ve finished the SCUM manifesto. I’m busy lots though.

Oh…and she inspired the Manic Street Preacher’s song ‘Of Walking Abortion’. It’s a good song.

She has been raised in a few days of research to the status of a hero of mine. As have Matmos…who I’m only now beginning to realise just how much.

I assure you there’ll be follow up material for this. Including an essay on Angela Carter’s ‘The Passion of New Eve’ that I wrote for Uni…that book kind of changed my life a little. Maybe a lot. It’s an out of date essay though so my thoughts may have changed.

I’m so sorry for cutting this short, but I really am too busy at the moment.

I’ll post more bits and bobs but will be slowing down around the holiday season as my computer is going to the workshop for retooling.

Also busyness due to travelling to home and back and possibly to Wales as well….which will be lovely if I can afford it.

Erm…any questions or thoughts? I haven’t said half of what I wanted and I will respond and not censor anything…but please don’t lay too hard into me. I try to be good, but I am weak and insecure.

And I’ll leave with an inspirational note from Solanas herself:

‘Life in this society being, at best, an utter bore and no aspect of society being at all relevant to women, there remains to civic-minded, responsible, thrill-seeking females only to overthrow the government, eliminate the money system, institute complete automation and destroy the male sex.’

– Valeria Solanas – SCUM Manifesto