New culture injection at keyboardpoint + attack journalism + pop-culture analysis + drunken musing = [The Rhexis].
Saturday, July 31, 2004
Saturday, July 17, 2004
Apologies (yet again)
I'm aware that there's been a bit of a falloff recently in posts, but that's mainly because there's a lot of multimedia stuff that I can't put up until my aloofhosting account comes through. Meanwhile, have an image:
I can be reached at crazy_street_poet AT hotmail DOT com (Without any of the underscores. Sorry about the convolutedness of the address-hiding, but I really hate spam.
Wednesday, July 14, 2004
A Boredom Short Story - Written a while back, to be finished at some point -
I do not understand what is so amazing about Civilisation, or at least what we perceive it to mean. Most people would consider countries such as the UK, USA, Europe, etc, to be called “civilised”. I don’t see how. For example, in England, many of our inhabitants I would not consider civilised by a long shot.
I have nothing against Civilisation in theory. A community of creatures, living alongside each other aiding one another when necessary, fine. But we do not do this. Our social structure is far from equal. It may be considered so by some short-sighted individuals but, by and large, I think most people recognise this to be true. However we measure social status, no-one is ever equal to anybody else. Wealth, obviously, is very important in this world, so measuring social status by this may seem sensical, but no-one is equal, save in theoretical communism (practical communism is doomed to failure, however, it’s a nice idea.). Power, this is clearly distributed in the world unevenly. Clearly dependant on what the Power is over, we all have different amounts of it none the less. Number of acquaintances clearly will vary dramatically, so this is out of the question. I cannot see what makes us all equal? Maybe human rights? No, wait, again I am mistaken. You would think that if you were attacked for no clear reason in the streets, punched for example, then you would have the right to sue for damages or something akin to that? Well I am sure some people do have this right. I think that if this happened to Tony Blair then, while many people may applaud that person, they would indeed be sued and punished. However, say I were to get punched by someone, completely unprovoked, and that person happened to be Asian, then no I would not have the right to sue them. Because then I would, you see, be being racist, and I believe that’s breaching my attacker’s human rights which are clearly more important than my own. (I do not consider myself a racist, however I dislike the way many ethnic groups will claim racism despite there not being any present and so again this is racism but against ‘white’ people.)
So, if we are not all equal, then how is this community fair. How does this make us civilised when a swarm of bees is not? Why must we eat with a knife and fork to be considered civilised when a pack of lions need not, yet clearly their community is as good as ours, possibly better as it is not complicated further by “unwritten laws”.
Maybe equality is not what makes us civilised. So what does? The lack of violence compared with that of the natural world. Oh no, wait a minute. I think humans are possibly the most violent creatures on the planet. Maybe it’s our intelligence? I’ve never been convinced about this argument for us being superior to animals. Is intelligence not just another attribute like strength? The Polar Bear has got its immense strength to survive. Humans have increased intelligence to survive, because let’s face it, if we had the intelligence of, say, apes, then we wouldn’t have got far. We would have frozen to death, or starved to death as we moved out of the forests and their fruit or been killed by other animals trying to survive. Intelligence is just another means to stop us from perishing. Maybe, the fact that we can build beautiful buildings and machinery and create wonderful works of art and song that makes us civilised. Personally, I’d rather look at a tree, or a waterfall than look at ‘stunning’ architecture or ‘brilliant’ paintings, or listen to the dawn chorus or the sound of a river than listen to most of the “music” we churn out. I think I’ve figured out what it is that makes us civilised creatures and animals uncivilised. It’s the fact we have a conscience. Yes, that must be it. A conscience clearly makes a difference with regards to making us civilised. Because, you see, the cheetahs that go out hunting on the Savannah feel no remorse for their prey after they kill them. But us humans, when we sit there in front of the television and eat our steak or sausages we feel really sorry for that poor creature that has been killed for our sustenance (no wait, we can of course survive without meat so in fact it’s not for our sustenance, it’s because it “tastes nice”.) And the bird that steals another bird’s nest, yes, they feel no remorse at all. But us humans, when we steal a car radio, or burgle someone’s house, or pickpocket someone or steal their car, we feel incredibly guilty for that, don’t we. And those humans who steal every other taxpayers money by cheating their benefits (that’s something I don’t understand, also. Why do people who are unemployed get money when they have lots of children. If they have lots of children then they should be able to cope financially and if they can’t then it’s their own fault and maybe the children should be adopted, but there we go.) they feel incredibly guilty as they swan from their council house to the local off-licence and spend it all on cheap beer before returning to their council house and sitting in front of their TVs with cable or Sky or both and eat their ready meal that’s been shoved into the oven for twenty minutes and then slapped onto a plate. And those animals that go around and wipe out vast numbers of their own species, no wait, my apologies, that’s us isn’t it. Never mind. Those animals that go and wipe out vast numbers of other species, oh dear, I’ve done it again, that’s us again. I should clearly concentrate more.
To conclude, why in the name of anything are we considered civilised when animals are not? If you can answer my question without the use of swearing or that odd language involving abbreviating everything as to make it illegible then I welcome them.
Saturday, July 10, 2004
"When I were a lad"
The above is what I consider to be the most irritating and misinformed phrase ever used ever in the whole of human history ever. Apart from its "whimsical" usage by people who actually consider its simple grammatical joke amusing, it indicates an atavistic paradigm of societally counter-evolutionary nostalgia that is, in my opinion, a dangerous and unpleasant trend.
Picking up the middle section (T2, that is) of Friday's Times, I find modern "youth" described variously as "stroppy modern teenagers", "pizza-munching computer nerds", "wimps", and "weed-addled wasters". Possibly the tone of the article, reviewing a programme entitled "Bad Lads Army", is intended to be mildly ironic, but these pejorative epithets hint at the disgust heaped upon the "younger generation" (generally consisting of their own offsprings' peer groups) by the current set of (mostly) middle-aged, middle-class, and white journalists, politicians and broadcasters.
This concept of the declining of the times is not a new one, and can clearly be seen in literature dating back to the Hellenic era. However, now more than ever, it is utterly erroneous and without basis in fact, and so should finally be laid to an overdue rest.
A rather telling example is that of the constant hysteria over the "sexualization" (an unpleasent neologism if I ever
Infuriatingly, I can't find any reliable statistics for global illiteracy in 2004, but I recall that last year's Times ran a report, stating that 3% of British adults were functionally illiterate, compared to 15% of American adults. Disregarding the worrying imbalance, these figures clearly show that, in Britain at least, 97% of adults can therefore read and write. In a historical context this is astonishing and a great victory for non-Church-controlled education - the earlier the historical period, the greater the illiteracy figures, and the more people who are literate are affiliated with the Church.
To appropriate another cretinous phrase, we've never had it so good. None but the most reactionary of neoconservative thinkers could possibly suggest that, to reuse the previous examples, a reduction in the forcible marriage of young girls and a vast increase in global literacy are not desirable, and therefore it would seem that any such quasi-nostalgic reversion to an earlier moral landscape would be an undeniably retrograde step for civilisation.
However, it could be argued that the aforesaid Western Civilisation did in fact reach its peak in previous ages, and the morality of another decade, for example, the 1950s, might be superior to that which we have today.
Social Darwinism would seem to defeat this hypothesis, but unfortunately, Social Darwinism is one of the most unpleasant political theories I have ever had the misfortune of reading about. Nevertheless, it seems that people are generally happier and have more opportunity to flourish, in the relative cultural freedom of today, than in any other period. Perhaps I'm a pizza-munching pinko nerd, but that seems to me to be a good thing. Certainly, in the West (the only geopolitical area of which I am sufficiently qualified to speak) the current generation is mostly free from the threat of military conscription and being sent to war, the threat of virulent and incurable infectious diseases produced by poor sanitation, and much Establishment censorship of art-forms (which include journalism) has been abolished. This is not to say that we have Utopia on Earth, but that this is the closest we've got yet. It could (and has) been argued that this ease of living and flourishing has produced a decadent and weak generation, but I wonder whether "strength", as defined in this way is a good thing. Unified Germany under the Kaisers was a society obsessed with strength, and the backlash against the "decadent" Weimar government after its eventual military defeat produced the political psychosis that was National Socialism. A "strong" society may win wars, prestige and economic dominance, but has by definition to suppress many of the natural expressions of human existence. By contrast, a society that lives without the threat of war and can justify its own existence without violence allows for the development of a mentally healthy and well-developed populace. A strong argument for not returning to the days of National Service and press censorship is that these methods of strengthening a country individually dehumanise its citizens, creating what is in effect a "sick" society.
Therefore, although today's "pizza-eating wimps" may not be able to survive on an all-rat diet in a trench under heavy enemy fire (and why, I ask, would anyone want to do that in the first place), but their existence is the sign of a society with a more proportionate attitude to cultural pursuits.
Or, the short version: All you bloody crypto-fascist National Service monkeys can cock right off, because all you really want to do is kill the rich cultural environment which precludes the existence of your temporal power.
Thursday, July 08, 2004
"DON'T AWARD HATE"
Was the slogan smeared on the swingeing protest signs of misled citizens. Outside some sort of hop-hap or rip award ceremony. I personally have no idea where or when, I just caught a glimpse of the foredepicted scene flashed, almost subliminally, during an Eminem music video.
It made me very angry.
Not that the director had elected to include a brief clatter of protest footage, for that was indeed a most fortuitous artistic cliché.
In spite of being one of the classical techniques of visual propagandic rhetoric (that of questioning viewers' opinions and beliefs, and inciting the feeling of self-righteous rage enjoyed by the perceivedly injusticed out-group, by juxtaposing images of the misunderstood protagonists being long-sufferingly, pathetically virtuous and generally minding their own (entirely above-deck) businesses, with contrasting images of the unreasoning "angry mob" of protesters clamouring for blood, burning crosses and screeching, "WITCH! WITCH! WITCH!" The efficacy of this dramatic manipulation of the audience's opinions is often augmented by reinterpreting the mistreated party as tragic heroes; the unstoppable grind of the Wheels of "Justice", pulled by corrupt, aloof, right-wing judges and politicians, and the relentless battering of the all-but-buckled door by the frenzied company of witch-hunters, imbues in the viewer an overpowering empathy with these poor, misconstrued Heroes. Furthermore, in montages such as this, the viewer is made complicit in the instinctive fear and noble sacrifice by the artist apparently addressing his audience directly through the Fourth Wall. This is particularly powerful in televisual as opposed to theatrical presentations, because the sense of artifice is strengthened by the severe sensory limitations of the Cathode Ray Tube. For something that is considered so patently unreal and totally divorced from the viewer's influence to suddenly transcend several levels of reality and deliver its message direct is still (in spite of its visually rhetorical cliché), subconsciously at least, attention-retentive. The further advantage of thus addressing the audience is that the sense of artifice, and of lack of uniquity of circumstance, is not destroyed, due to the physical and psychological barrier of the television screen. The viewer can therefore both feel complicit in the fate of the protagonists, and yet, should the artist campaign against his audience, claiming them to be fickle trendies or glory worshippers, each individual viewer can sit back and feel that he is one of the élite few who do not fall into these sweeping categorisations), it posts an uncomfortable message regarding many people's hypocritical miscomprehension of radical art.
They fail to realise that the acts of violence, hatred and dysfunxion Mr. Shady describes in his lyrics are either (a) satirical or (b) purposefully lit by pejorative lanterns. I am no fan of "urban music", nor can I claim to be a conoisseur of this artist's work, but that Eminem which I have experienced is corrective, not promotive.
Slim Shady is subversive -- all good art should be, to whatever extent -- but culturally rather than morally. And not even particualrly culturally -- only so in the eyes of the sheltered, conservative bourgeoisie, who take offence when reminded of the alien conditions inhabited by what is underneath. Alas, cultural unfamiliarity is too often equated with moral bankruptcy, particularly by the earning classes in this nation of mine which has been pampered by the smothering pillows of economic luxury and global social isolationism (very few Americans have a passport) for so very long.
And surely the very act of vociferous protest against thoroughly legitimate art shows a hatred far beyond any that remained trapped in the merely conceptual in Mr. Shady's music?
The educated unintelligentia have judged, and in return, they have been judged themselves.