ime is a fickle bitch, unpredictable. I’ve been having a little holiday, one of those ones where you kind of fall of the face of the world – or at least the world you usually inhabit; one of those holidays where you decide that you are going to wilfully ignore your need to do things – and by things I mean write, I mean actually doing something with the plague of ideas, of words, that flitters around the interior of your skull like locusts, devouring every thought that doesn’t begin (and end) with “sit the fuck down. Now. No, with the laptop, not the television. No no, with the interwebs turned off. Now write. Write. FUCKING WRITE”; one of those holidays where, contrary to your usual experience, time seems to exist in all its states at once – as opposed to that only state in which you otherwise perceive it, being the one that disappears so fucking quickly you basically don’t experience it anyway; one of those holidays where the days flitter past like a newspaper in a hurricane, and yet it seems like last time you were at home, or went to work, humans were only just crawling out of the ocean, where summer afternoons that last forever go by in the blink of an eye.
Despite the tidal ebb and flow of dissatisfaction that comes from that one locust in the back of your head you can’t quite ignore, scratching on the inside of your skull, trying to make you aware that you’re not doing. Anything; despite the regular consumption of yeasty, fermented beverages, and the madness of running around trying to see as much of the family as possible; despite being left in charge of multiple (ok, two) small children (and fuck me, parents, you are lunatics, LUNATICS… and properly amazing); despite all of this, this sort of holiday is really quite a peaceful one, and very conducive to some self-reflection.
I don’t mean the sort of self-reflection I usually engage in: “Should I have said that? I shouldn’t have said that. Did I come across as an arsehole? I should eat less pizza. And drink less. Oh my god, I am an arsehole. But I’m funny. I think I’m funny. I should cultivate that. Maybe someone else will think I’m funny. I should ask the wife. No, I should not ask the wife. I really need to exercise more. And drink less. And write more. Whisky.”
No, I mean the “Oh, what does it all mean? How do I get to not have to work for someone else anymore? Why hasn’t someone offered me a six figure advance for my novel? Why haven’t I finished writing my novel? Do I have to get older? Am I really good enough to even bother trying to be a writer? Will I be able to afford the liver transplant when I inevitably need it? Whisky?” sort of self-reflection, where you come to realise that there’s a level of constant rancour that’s suddenly absent from your life, and you think that this is it. This is The Life. It’s been over a week since I’ve sworn at someone just for existing, this must be the life… right?
Of course, the early days in familiar places are deceptive. You get all caught up in that moment of stepping out of the car into the fertile, hazy green of a New Jersey morning; or onto the tarmac in New York’s cool humidity, before the sun turns it into a sauna; of the smell of post-adolescence as you drive past the Morton Bay figs along Anzac Pde; of exiting the airport into the first chill fingers of the haar, surrounded by bright fog and the yeasty smell of Edinburgh’s breweries. Those deep inhalations, nostrils filled with the breath of nostalgia, with longing for things half-remembered, for the things all around you, as ephemeral as the touch of the air on your skin; filled with the sense of belonging, of coming home, these are heady and comforting breaths. But the nose quickly returns to its usual state of inertia, unresponsive to all but the most redolent of stenches. And the fading of comfort, of relaxation is never too far behind that. So too the clash of indolence and ambition… and back to the realisation/reflection equation.
Now the thing about reflection making its laboured way to realisation is that, without comparisons, it usually doesn’t. It isnae too bad for me though, being as I’m rather fond of comparisons, though typically I tend to compare the past more favourably to the present than I am currently. I have, in fact, spent more time than I care to admit in the throes of a desperate longing for something else, anything else, anything other than where I am, what I am. I have fooled myself time and again with a nostalgia for idyllic pasts that don’t exist, except in the imperfect black and white of my memories. I have tantalised myself with dreams of flight, of ceaseless travel, of worn boots, and a perpetual gaze into a bright, uncluttered future. I have succoured myself with the delights of inebriation. And I have bludgeoned those around me (and even nowhere fucking near me), all undeserving, with the ire of my dissatisfaction. This last bit probably a bit too much.
In fact, there seems to be quite a lot of this going around at present. Was reading one of Birmo’s Brisvegas Times Posts recently, which usually I think are a bit of faffle – frequently amusing, to be sure, but not quite as thinky as they might be… to be fair to the guy though, that’s not really easy in the twenty seven and a half words that editors typically limit opinion pieces to. Anyway, he asked, rather poignantly I thought, pertinently even:
Are we just so miserable and dissatisfied with our existence, so pissed off that we do not have everything we think we deserve, that we cannot help but lash out in retaliation for our relative deprivation? And I emphasize relative because most of us are not deprived at all. Does some sense of having missed out on something surround us like a poison fog, infecting everything?
Um… yes. That’s me, up the back, with my hand in the air, and my eyes on the floor. Oh my god, I am an arsehole.
Look, for the record though, while we’re on the realisation/reflection bit, this doesn’t change the fact that Josh Pyke really does suck, and Perth still has no fucking idea how to use a train (or an escalator) that has more than two people and a midget on it.
Anyhoo, years ago – actually, thinking about it, it was fifteen… fuck. FIFTEEN… years ago. There’s that fickle bitch for you again – at one of the many mind-fuckingly amazing Tool gigs I’ve attended, the Rev. Maynard James Keenan said something along the lines of:
So, I’d like to clear up a little misconception about the band, if I could. A lot of people think that just because there’s a lot of energy coming off the stage like this that we’re all about hate -violence & stuff like that. And that’s just not the case. We’re about a lot of things; unity, evolving thoughts & ideas, choosing compassion over fear, emotional stuff and, uh, anger which is ok. Anger is constructive, unlike hate which is destructive. This particular song is about choices…
And now, possibly the only cross-referencing of John Birmingham and Maynard Keenan that will ever exist.
So very little of the anger that gets bandied about by, well, nearly everyone, is constructive. No, don’t fucking argue with me, I should know, I’m a bandier… or I have been… I’m mending my ways… I’m going to meetings… Hi, I’m Gethin, and I’m a bandier. It has been twenty one days since my last…
It’s destructive. It’s hateful. It’s bullshit.
If we weren’t all so fucking concerned with Mackbook Pros and Google Glass, with a fifth bedroom, fourth bathroom and third ensuite, with amassing our fucking dollaroos, we’d realise that we’re not deprived, of basically fucking anything… other than what we deprive ourselves of – see afore mentioned lack of six-figure advance and unfinished novel. And there’s the rub. We. Fucking. Deprive. Ourselves. Because it’s easy… but we hate ourselves for it, which is not quite as easy as hating other people for it, so let’s fucking do that instead.
Ok, look. I know there are plenty of people who are genuinely deprived of things. But they’re typically deprived of things like drinkable running water, and access to basic health care, and enough food, and a roof over their heads, and somewhere to hang out where they don’t get shot at, and somewhere to stay while their asylum status is determined that’s not behind a fucking barbed-wire fence. And they’re generally not the ones using their Macbooks to spew forth HateTweets about Android users having access to Instagram, or about equal rights for all mobile operating systems, or about lefty/hippy/liberal weenies wanting to see other people being happy and having some of their basic needs met, or about said weenies wanting to take away the soft, plush carpet of poor people that lines the halls on the way to the penthouse suite.
Oh, and for the record, shouting about people other than ones self being (genuinely) deprived of the basic things we rely on, that is anger, shouting about ones self having to pay too much tax to help people who are deprived of privilege, and BMWs, and 24-carat gold plates to snort their uncut cocaine off, well, that’s hate motherfuckers.
* * *
Um, so apparently, credit for that Maynard quote is required to be given to http://www.collectiveunconscious.org, because said website, it would seem, has copyright over something that someone else said, in public. There you go.
All you read and wear or see and hear on TV is a product begging for your fatass dirty dollar so … Shut up and buy, buy, buy.