Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Talk about the weather

One of the problems a writer has, even one with no readers, is what to write about. Which is why most interwebnet writing is pointless drivel. And I'm no different from most of you: a dull person living a dull life in a dull backwater.

So we could talk about the weather. The weather is flat and uninspiring. It has rained a fair bit recently, and we have laboured under heavy grey skies. Well, you're saying, isn't that what you expect in winter? Actually no. This is Australia. We're all upside down and shit. The winter here is mostly dry, with the skies predominantly blue and clear. Yeah, we do it differently here, and kangaroos march down the high street.*

Okay then, not the weather. Iran is exciting, right? What can I say about Iran? Well, I have my doubts.

What? The thing is, I'm not keen on Mousavi, who seems to be an opportunist: an Islamist when it suits, all for the unveiling of yuppies... sorry, the liberation of women everywhere when that is what is needed, and the same can be said of the faction he represents. Only in Iran could Ali Rafsanjani be considered a "reformist". On the other hand, one does want to support the populace, and it's hard to know how broad based the protests are. Hard to know because our media is pushing a particular agenda hard, and the blogosphere is aflame with the spirit of crusade.

But, you know, people talk about repression, but the regime in Iran is not deeply unpopular, and probably would not have survived if it was. It just isn't the case that the whole world shares our Western "values". And some places, such as Iran, insist that their millennia of history, indigenous culture that runs deeper than jazz and cheeseburgers and tradition of on the whole being a positive influence on the world around them entitle them to run their affairs as they choose.

So yeah, I suppose I'm all for the people, but not much in favour of posturing neocons who are pretending to be liberals (or are being painted that way by Westerners). It's tough for people of goodwill** to know what to make of the whole thing. What I do know is that I will avoid what I see at Lenin's Tomb, a blog I read and sometimes enjoy, where Richard Seymour trips over himself in trying to figure out how he can support what seems to be a popular uprising while not supporting the people behind it. Seymour's failing -- common on the left, and one he is particularly prone to -- is that he argues from what he wants to be true backwards. I'm sure there's a Latin phrase for that, but anyway, we all know it when we see it. Ideologues feel obliged to make the world fit their ideology, rather than their ideology fit the world. Seymour is a socialist of a particular type, which constrains him to see the world in a particular way. Sadly, I do not think there is a faction that the left can side with in Iran. Two rightist gangs are clashing over control of the economy of Iran, and the protests are mostly just fallout. I do not think a popular revolution will follow .***

Okay then, not Iran either. How about them Cubs? Erm no. How about football? Well, it's become a bit ludicrous. My own team -- the valiant, underachieving "sleeping giants" of Leeds -- are not involved in the hoopla, except that their young and talented squad is going to be raped by people with more money, but isn't that football in a nutshell? It's become silly now, particularly with Arab money involved. Or has it? I'm in two minds, because Arab money didn't spoil horse racing really. It just changed the colours that the jockeys wore. And football's slide into being just another tawdry form of celebrity worship (rather than the fine artform we know it is at heart) has not been caused by, or even particularly helped by, the Arabs.

On the subject of Arabs, I'd like to note that it is almost the world's problems in nutshell that a few families have become insanely rich and believe it to be their right while many of their compatriots starve. I was reading about Bahrain, which is owned by the Al Khalifa family. And as I read that, I was thinking, wtf. Some greedy shites killed some other greedy shites a hundred years ago and now their descendants, who have never done a thing to earn a cent of it, are rolling in the clover?

Well, wtf. Should I even care? I have my own problems, right? Let's talk about how I am going to make a living next month, or next year, or about my prolapsed disc, which has been painful recently, or the holes in my teeth, or the woman whose car I ran into yesterday and as I stood in the rain listening to her shouting at me for not realising that she had purposely driven into a gap to block me from reversing I lost my temper and told her she was a cunt -- but in my defence, if you are going to act like a cunt you can hardly expect me to shake you by the hand and call you sister o' mine, or the frighteningly real dreams I have in which my children succumb to leukaemia, or the loneliness and alienation of 21st century suburbia, living out in the sprawl of a dull provincial city in a dull insular island in the middle of a sea full of sharks, so that even if you swim for your life, you will not live.

And isn't that what all my problems, and most of our problems, come down to? We cannot live. We are tied up in chatter, blather, endless empty words, lies and blandishments, 24/7, on every channel, in every place we look. Isn't that all it is and if we just stayed calm for a while, it would all blow over, we would live and all would be well?

And if not, why not?

* No, they don't really. I think what is most surprising about Australia is how utterly prosaic it is, what a cavern of dullness. You might imagine nothing could be duller than English suburbia, but you would be wrong. You couldn't even get stabbed around here. Return

** By which I mean, leftists. But I do not call myself a leftist too often, because for me, being on the left simply means being on the side of the people. It seems impossible to me to be rightwing if you like people. I mean, we all understand being selfish. We were all five-year-olds once. But we mostly learned that you can't get what you want like that. Unless you are privileged and basically already begin with what you want. It's just screamingly obvious that human greatness is a product of cooperation, not exploitation. Anyway, I would not be a socialist. I'd find it way too hard to be all doctrinaire and pofaced, and I don't want a dictatorship of the proletariat, until the proletariat have been freed and do not consist so markedly of people I would not leave to watch a fire, let alone run the country. Yes, I agree that an idealised proletariat would be fine for the job, and I realise that what we have now are products of a system designed to lessen, to blunt, to diminish. I have faith in us, but that is like saying I have faith that Naughtyman will learn how to swim. I'm sure he will, but I wouldn't throw him overboard from the family yacht**** to prove it. Return

*** Don't get me wrong. Seymour is a lucid and intelligent commentator, and I do recommend him. I just cannot help feeling he would be greatly improved for becoming a humanist and abandoning ideology*****. Return

**** No, we don't. Nor would I want one. I like sailing and I like yachts, but I don't want one. I am not one of these people who dreams of sailing the world on a motor cruiser. I don't in any case much like being out of sight of land. Like an ancient Greek, I prefer to hug the coast. I like to flatter myself that I could swim back home if the worst happened, although, let's face it, it's unlikely I could outswim the sharks. Return

***** I know what you're going to say though. You are going to say, but don't you have an ideology, Dr Zen? Aren't you some sort of commie yourself? Well no. If I had to be an anythingist, I'd be an anarchist. I think we are better on a smaller scale, and would have beautiful lives were we to abandon materialism and live within means that would have all comfortable and content. I could describe that world at great length and it's a fine ideal. But that's what it is. It is not our world and getting there is probably not possible. I mean, we could shoot everyone who refuses to share, but most of refusing to share is built on having the guns. In practice, I'm a bleeding heart liberal, largely a rejectionist, and I am content with that. I believe that making the world more just****** is a good thing, and making it less just a bad thing. Return

******Yeah, I know, justice is a slippery concept. We sort of know it when we see it, but we don't always allow ourselves to see it. Largely, I think it boils down to saying that we should all have what we need, including the space to think through what we need. And yeah, I know you think you need a helicopter, but you're going to have to narrow your definition of need so that it is not too much broader than what is possible for all to enjoy. Come on! It's not that impossible. We are conditioned to be greedy. I don't believe it's what we are. If we are secure and comfortable, we are quite happy to become indolent. And I do not mind indolence. The lazy only kill by inaction; the energetic are the fuckers who cause the chaos. Return