Rishi joins a Unite picket line of Ambulance Support Crews[i], nr Audenshaw, Manchester, 6th Feb 2023
Now that the Doomsday Clock – as of Jan 24th 2023 – is set at 90 seconds to midnight or doomsday, how does anyone function at any level open to us in this world? Obviously, distraction is the main answer. Not knowing, thinking or caring . . .
Easy for anyone to be distracted by this Thatcheresque, roadside poodle . . .
Consumerism is as deadly as alcohol or drug dependency, but it is so much the norm in our neoliberal[ii] world, that it largely passes without question. Along with supposed progress, we are unable to see how enmeshed we are. All of which vaguely relates to a discussion I was having with a group of people the other day about escapism. The arts generally – music, writing, painting and so forth – are often approved or condemned as escapist, and certainly the accelerated dumbing of film[iii] in its current ‘mainstream’ form would support such an argument, as would much bestseller fiction and chart music.
Praying for some kind of future[iv], Red Bank cliff, Bolton le Sands, 2020
Many people in the group quietly accepted the pleasure principle of escapism: the worlds they go into when they finally escape work, are what help them to keep breathing. It would’ve been too involved in the circumstances, to raise, explain or detail exceptions to my old challenge that “work [acts as] a worldwide curfew”[v]. Yet it remains obvious that the round of work, raising children and so on – in the way we do it and what we expect and take for granted – is a well-engrained distraction, which – negative or positive – supplies an escape from thinking about what we should really be doing, how radically we should be changing our entire approach to life[vi]. Work or unemployment, anxiety about paying the bills . . . are the inevitable side product of our mass hypnosis. The powerful and rich don’t even bother to try to disguise their exploitation of the rest of us anymore. To mangle metaphors, though their centuries old trick[vii] is out of the bag, still nothing happens!
Surrounded by stupidity . . . Another nuclear flask train failing to tidy up a predictable mess, Carnforth, 2022
It has always been a constantly aggravating enigma to me, just how humanity in general has ended up in such a woeful position. All our intelligence, learning and technology are not helping. Days after Shell announced their biggest profits in 115 years, BP[viii] were crowing about more than doubling theirs[ix]. Why do we just accept such things? Why do we accept that 65% of the food we feed our children is dangerously over-processed?[x] What happened to whatever sense of community we may once have had? Has almost everyone developed a resigned, nihilistic or purblind viewpoint? My equally old argument about inadvertency – a cynical or stoic one I would like to be able to escape – would say that this is our fate. We were always doomed. Always too ‘clever’ . . . yet totally without wisdom. Thankfully, there have always been and still are, big groups of dissenters: CND, Greenpeace, Extinction Rebellion as well as an increasing number of central and left-wing political parties, but to even the biggest demonstrations of popular dissent – those for example, in February 2003[xi] against the war in Iraq[xii] – the puppets at the top fail to sufficiently respond.
These Scrapstore robots would run the country more fairly than the current lot . . . February 2023
Out on a rural limb a couple of miles north of Kendal, in the foothills of the Lakeland Fells, the home of Ragtag Arts and Community Scrapstore[xiii], is almost hidden by trees in summer. Situated in a dell beside the river Mint, the old mill building contains artist’s studios, a café and regular workshops of all kinds. Take this as a place of regeneration if you like, certainly as a partial alternative to consumer madness.
The accepted network of hypnosis . . .
Travelling by (t)rusty Transit along the accepted network of hypnosis (M6, M61, M66 and M60) to a less rural industrial estate just beyond Audenshaw on the eastern fringes of Manchester, pondering about acceptance and limitation, I did not expect the cheerful sight of red flags in sunlight when we reached our destination.
I was here to collect materials for Scrapstore: recycled wood to go towards a commission from South Lakes District Council to make trolleys full of other recycled items for the Early Years Foundation Stage network[xiv]. Waiting for the van to be loaded, I crossed the road to chat with the Unite pickets, who joked with a Rishi Sunak mask and cheered all the passing drivers who tooted in support.
At all the numerous demonstrations I’ve joined in the last few years I’ve met people from every walk of life, and never encountered one who wasn’t accommodating and thoughtful. So, what is it that happens to us en masse, how does the inadvertency take over, why are the huge majority of our supposed ‘leaders’ so dire . . . in the case of the last ten years particularly, not just criminally bad, but in many cases plainly criminal. Society appears to slide on like some vast anaconda with us caught in its coils forced into one or other, more or less destructive form of distraction . . .
© Lawrence Freiesleben
Morecambe, February 2023
[iii] One only has to glance at the appalling degeneration of films considered mainstream from the 70s to 2023 to be forced to suppress howls of derisive laughter at the modern world. Many films considered mainstream back then, would be labelled art films now. I dread to think what is happening to the mass human mind . . .
[v] The Bow, 1983; revised version published by Stride in 2000: ISBN 10: 1900152657
Irrelevant bull with your arrogant noise
you symbolize the ruling class!
Foghorn blaring monotonously down the night
you need putting down.
What happened to the idea expanded from Robin Hood
(a Hood not respectful of kings)
or the meek’s kingdom to come?
Over a thousand years ago some moron thugs
bonked a few random others over the head –
or ran them through by surprise,
still, we’re living with the ordure,
a stinking attitude from centuries of privilege
sanctioned by family connections,
ordained by greed.
Earnings, ownings and profit margins, all need to be capped
Boards and figureheads offered the guillotine:
these bloated maggots are our burden
they will never grow wings.
What became of the spirit of revolution?
or valuable education, disdaining
upmanship or the material gorge?
Aspiring consumers caught in the precariat trap
Need a cathedral of sense to avoid short cuts . . .
A fairer society must banish stupidity but
no undeniable path stands out
Since idiocy penetrates equally,
all levels of wealth, education, opportunity, and class . . .
Against bigot, patriot, straw-head and zombie
good-natured protest may not be enough.
The ragdoll of democracy has been hijacked by strings or wires –
shadow-puppet you are falling apart!
Your body twitches, incorrectly ignites
legs quavering towards goosestep
arms to beat on your chest.
On this floor what does this all mean to me?
My value is nil, I do not fit
never have, never wanted to
this human world makes me sick.
A machine-gun or bomb would blast only a temporary satisfaction.
A short hysterical laugh.
(A polemical surge of irritation from 2022)
[viii] Don’t believe the hype and dazzle camouflage employed here: www.bp.com/
See Also: www.thepetitionsite.com/en-gb/117/506/987/