Wednesday, 11 August 2010

Did They Expect Us To Treat Them With Any Respect?

Got re-reading an excellent book by John O'Farrell today, An Utterly Exasperated History of Modern Britain, it's a satirical look at the past 70-odd years, with the inevitable left-leanings. Early 50s, new arse sits on the throne, and apparently, it was the dawn of some sort of "New Elizabethan" era. Which got me thinking.

In 500 years, or something like that, when future historians look back (if they actually exist, and human society has managed to carve out another half-millennium) on this time, and wonder why the hell people actually willingly spent money on iPhones, what term will they give it?

It's easy enough for us to split by decades right now, we actually exist at the moment, it's a practical way to split up things when there's so much info. Not practical when there are 5,000 separate decades. There hasn't been a period defining event for a while, in the same sort of way that the Second World War was, so what do we use for now? Such times tend to get named, as above for the monarch.


Let's be honest, hereditary rule was one of the stupider ideas we've had, even more so than the likes of reality TV or McDonalds. There's no disputing what it is - ignoring all the best possible rulers, people who actually have some sort of leadership ability, in favour of the last boss's kid. Who knew he was getting the job all along, and so has never had to do any preparation for it. Clever.

And yes, I know that, practically, Bessie's just a figurehead, a face with no influence, other than the millions of kids who grew up scratching every picture of her on every 50p coin in the desperate hope of getting infinite amounts of ice-cream.

But you tell that to 70s Australia, where the governor - i.e. the Queen's representative - actually used the powers she has, but most people are willing to ignore. I can't remember the exact details, to be honest, I can't be arsed to look them up, but it essentially came down to the monarchy changing the government without any sort of, er, what are they called again? Oh yeah, democratic elections. This is not an opportunity to go "oh, but it's not a real democracy," or anything like that; as interesting an argument that is, not the focus for now, maybe tomorrow, if I can remember.

Anyway, this woman, whose only claim to any sort of power is that she was lucky enough to have been shat out of the right hole before anyone else got shat out of it, is able to change governments at a whim, and can essentially impose her own will on anything - pretty much everything that parliament does has to go by her.

And, yes, I know, she's not going to refuse anything, because, if nothing else, she's still actually human, and like the rest of us, probably couldn't be arsed with the constitutional crisis that would follow.

And yes, I know that this whole post is rendered obsolete by the fact that concepts such as "parliament" or "government," or "royalty," for that matter, don't actually exist in any real form, with the possible exception of our over-active imaginations. Let's just ignore all of that, it's all very well saying that they don't exist, but in practical terms, its easier to just by into the myths and enjoy yourself, as opposed to spending the rest of your life in some Parisian corner cafe.

But the fact is, no matter how we vote (and admittedly, we, as a collective electorate, really fucked that up last time. Thanks, Nick. For the record, I voted Plaid.), there will always be this dynastic leader at the top. That's a really encouraging thing to tell little kids, with boundless ambition: "no, Jim, you can't be boss here, because your parents weren't important enough."

The Royal Family: Oppressing little kids since 1066. (Not to be confused with paedophiles.)

Say what you like about the big, nasty country over the pond, but their system is better. Not perfect, but better. Its a system where, ignoring everything else, like social situations, background, and of course, the destroyer or worlds, the American dollar, anyone, theoretically, can get to be in charge. Not that everyone is perfectly suited to be in charge, this just means that those most suited to the job can actually come to the forefront. They aren't necessarily blocked by the easiest prejudice going - your family background. Doesn't work at all in practice, of course, but it sounds nice. Though while we're here might as well make the point that Bessie's family background is hardly exemplary. I'm looking at you Edward VIII, Kaiser Wilhelm, Victoria - you get the picture, all the way back to the Norse gods. Odin, you twat, look what you've done!

I'm probably not getting through to any loyalists here, so I think I'll try a different tack. Stop me if you've heard it before...

Due to the reasons above, no matter how much Dumbo wants to get involved, the Royal family are, justly so, considering their enormous power that they just happen to have, not allowed to et involved in politics. Or the close family, at least, extend that, and we'd be able to wipe out the Tories once and for all. If only...

Anyway, the upshot is that there is a group of people who, say what you like about them, have done absolutely nothing wrong - apart from be born to the wrong people (and I'll make the point here that I have no animosity to them as people, just towards the system), and yet they are not allowed to be involved in any real way in, what I would argue, is one of the most important areas of society. Put simply: the Queen may have been the one who first saw Cameron become PM, but she wasn't allowed to call him a Tory cunt.

Is that fair? Regardless of what their opinions are, they are still entitled to express them. They are people, aren't they? I know how I would feel if I were in their situation. Pretty pissed off. These people are trapped, no better than gorillas in zoos! It's time for that to stop.

By abolishing the monarchy, and the hereditary system that controls this island, we can save these people from their political exile. We can let them have an opinion! Oh, and send the island catapulting to a fairer, more equal society, where the people with the power are the ones with a mandate.

Or something like that. Let's just get rid of them, and be done with it. Of course, technically, Im committing treason by saying all of this.

I'm quite glad about that.

And yes, I'm well aware that Waters isn't referring exclusively to Royalty with the line in the title, and I'm fairly sure I've used it already, but I can't be arsed to check, and I was struggling to think of anything better. If I do, I'll change it, but for now: deal with it.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Who Wants To Live Forever?

I've been in a morbid mood recently. Don't know why, too much Roman-ing, probably. Pretending to be people who are dead, and all that. Ah, isn't history fantastic?

Anyway, I'm about to commit one of those heinous crimes that normal people aren't supposed to do, and that means I'm some sort of psycho-socio-path who'll end up killing everyone for kicks. Yay!

When people ask you - in what can only exist as some sort of hypothetical question, whether you want to live forever, you're supposed to say no. Oh no, I want to do a load of stuff until I'm old, and then die when I'm bored. Yes, very good, now let's talk about something that matters. It's as if society pre-conditions everyone to think that immortality is a bad thing, that its too powerful, that too you'll see too many bad things happen. Like, I don't know, cot death or something. Or the Royal Family.

But let's actually think about what's actually been said. "I don't want to live forever." Therefore, at some point, in the far future, most likely, "I want to die." Er, what?

I don't understand a lot of things (such as why people find onion not only bearable, but pleasant to eat, I mean, what the fuck happened there?), but this is a biggie. This isn't suicidal, there's no hint of "I want to die within the next few minutes (quick, kill me now before Big Brother comes on!)," but there is a very strong hint of "I can foresee a time when I will, not just accept my own mortality (which just causes problems when you don't) but welcome it."

Here's another big question that's sort of important to the whole thing, and therefore, of course, I cannot hope to answer. One of these days, "42" will work, but until then, I'll just apply some PSP (look at the title you idiot, I'm not advertising a games console as some sort of philosophical guru) fucked-up-logic, and see where we end up. Here we go:

What is death?

You can take this anywhere you want, but it's fairly clear to me that death is the ultimate destruction of me. This isn't losing a leg in a car crash, or an orifice in some horrific sex accident; there's nothing there that a well adjusted individual can't adjust to. This is loosing my very being. I don't, really, need a leg, or various other orifices, so long as I exist. So long as I can think, can consider, can imagine (all the people...). That's what death will take away.

This is all totally hypothetical, of course, it's a post about immortality, for fuck's sake. I'm not considering that I could survive without a body, and just float around in space for, literally, eternity. But I could. Nothing else, just me. Nothing to see, and nothing to see it with, nothing to hear, and nothing to hear it with, nothing to feel, and nothing to - you know where I'm going with this. Maybe I'm being really short-minded and, as so often before, stupid, here, but I reckon I could be quite content in that situation. I mean, obviously, given the choice between my current state, or some sort of non-existent-yet-existent ghost, it's a no-brainer. I like playing guitar too much.

The alternative is, of course, none of that. Absolute nothingness, where I can't even think. Hey, welcome to death!

It seems to me that this very noble tradition of refusing immortality is based on the premise that we are in a way, immortal. Just we have to "die" at some point to go to some sort of heaven/hell/underworld/reincarnated form/super orgy to "live" out the rest of infinite time. If that were the case, excellent, I look forward to it. But I can't accept that. I simply can't do it. The notion of there being some sort of science-defying realm is simply too ridiculous. The language is quite telling, as well: dead people aren't going to sleep after a long day, or having a rest after some hard work; people generally wake up from those stages.

Yes, it's all opinion, and I don't want to go off and say that everyone's wrong (which of course they are), but it seems to me that once you get over the fact that this is all there is, it's illogical to want to give it up. Why choose non-existence over existence? Doesn't make any sense whatsoever. So here we go (and yes, it does feel like a total cop-out using Queen lyrics here, but it sort of fits in better than anything else, and they're not as shit as, say, the bane of Floyd, Scissor Sisters (ugh, I feel dirty...)):

Who wants to live forever? I do.

Yeah, there'll be bad times, and shit times, and times that'll make me want to kill someone (I'm looking at you, Cameron), but they'll just make the good times feel even better. And when I'm all that's left? I'll be the most important being in the universe, and let's be honest, that's pretty epic. Even if it only means that I could survive the Total Perspective Vortex.

Don't worry, I'm not going to go off and turn into some nutter trying everything to stay alive. I can accept my mortality, if not welcome it.

Secret Bonus Ending!

I'll often have music playing whilst typing these, some Floyd, maybe, Yes, Jethro Tull - the usual suspects. I branched out a bit today; using Youtube's wealth of weird random shit, it was orchestral versions of the usual suspects. And by sheer, genuine, coincidence, as I was about to finish this, an orchestral version of the prophet Jagger's words blasted into my ears, that sort of summed the post up perfectly:

Angie, ain't it good to be alive?

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Oooh, I Need a Dirty Woman, Oooh, I Need a Dirty Girl

Right, now that I've got your attention... (Well, ish. There is actually a sort of reason for the title, apart from it coming from an awesome Floyd song.)

Here's something I don't think I've ever discussed here. I'm somewhat of a nihilist - I see most things as concepts, as ideas, and not much more. Logically, these ideas and concepts don't actually exist, but we act and behave as if they are, because it's easier, and helps us explain what's going on when there is no explanation. Mental software, if you will.

Just by reading this, you're doing it (yes, I know the concept of a reader is ludicrous, but run with it). These words don't actually mean anything, they're just symbols, that you then give a meaning to based on what you've been taught. Fairly simple, and the upshot is exactly the same, as long as you and I have been taught the same thing. Dictionaries are powerful tools.

That's all fairly menial, not really all that complicated. So let's take it a bit further. Time to use the E word: emotion (insert generic dramatic music). Science has shown that emotional states are caused by some sort of chemical balance/imbalance that's far too complicated for me to enough imagine understanding, but the theory is simple enough. This is scientific fact, not too controversial, admittedly, but fact nonetheless, and so the only idiots who would take it on are the Bible Belt preachers.

But "happiness," "sadness," "fear," "lust" (I said there was a reason for the title), and all the rest of them are all, logically, concepts. "Happiness" doesn't exist as anything else but an interpretative state - like words. The chemicals themselves are just there, and our body reacts accordingly, based on how it interprets these chemicals. That's all very well and fine, if not at all romantic. That hot girl isn't what causes the lust directly, she just causes the chemicals to move around a bit.

Therefore, it must be wrong to say "I am happy" or "I am sad" or any other feeling. I can't be "happy," it doesn't exist, it's just that the chemicals were in a state that was pleasurable. This one act of logic pretty much destroys the concept of emotion, turning us all into fleshy Daleks.

Except, obviously, apart from all the stupid fighting we get into, we have, sometimes, saved the odd life.

I struggled with this for a while, like a lot of things, it didn't make sense. If "happiness"doesn't exist, what the hell was that drug I'd taken when I saw the pyramids through Cairo's hazy horizon?

Then something hit me while I was picking up skittles. Metaphorically speaking, of course, none of the pins or balls have hit me yet.

What if we consider "happiness," not as an emotion, but as analogy. Doesn't make it any more real, but lets us play around with it a bit more. A bit like melting some weaponry down, and turning them into something useful. I can't explain why we let these ideas affect us, or rather why we consider them as something more than concepts, but we have to. Even Hitler felt something, not nice things, but things nonetheless. I can't explain this paradox. Someone probably can, and I'm sure a psychiatrist would probably say this whole thing was a load of - in the words of Ford Prefect - dingo's kidneys. But if I consider these emotions as analogies of what is actually going on, it's suddenly a lot easier to justify it all.

When I say "I am happy," it's an analogy for the chemical state that's being caused, and my unconscious willingness to accept it. Makes things much easier, and means that I can actually still use these concepts do describe myself. No need to break any annoying habits that I've picked with them (like learning to stop saying "thank God" when I was old enough to have picked the saying up, but then realise what I was actually saying). The best thing about it is that, to all intents and purposes, I hadn't got anywhere, just seeing things in a slightly different way. And that realisation made me happy. Oh, see what I did there?!

Right, now that that's solved, where that dirty girl gone...

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

And gathered on the Cenotaph, they all agreed with hand on heart to sheath the sacrificial knives. But then...

Ok, here's something that's nice and uncomfortable.

The right wing media, spearheaded as always by Rupert Murdoch, inevitably likes to bring up the armed forces, or "heroes" as we're supposed to consider them, and heap all sorts of praise and admiration on them. Can't blame them, they're right wing, it's what they do. Just like an infant can't help shit itself.

But, as a pacifist (though I'm willing to acknowledge the existence of a just war, but the only example of that to me, in modern times at least, would be the Second World War), I can't accept their titles as "peacekeepers." I'm not interested in discussing the actual reason why we're in Afghanistan, or anywhere else, the reasons are far too complex for some pretentious little shit in a bedroom to even imagine understanding.

Let's consider things from the very top, the Ministry of Defence; an Orwellian name if ever I saw one. What part of "let's go into another country and topple the leader" sounds like "Defence"? No, I'm not interested in a discussion about the merits of Hussein either, but the war was an inarguable attack by us. Legal/just or not, "we" were the attacking party. Ministry of Defence, indeed.

These "heroes" have all, for whatever reason or cause, have all decided that they are willing to kill. As far as I'm concerned, doesn't matter what uniform you're wearing, if you intentionally kill someone, that's murder. It's not a moral or ethical issue, it's a simple one: what right does anyone have to destroy the existence of another?

So we are being asked to commemorate, to feel indebted towards, to glorify all these people who are willing to serve an entity to its fullest, and put them on pedestals, and call them "heroes." They want us to thank them for killing?

Fuck off.

But I will be the first to accept that it's not their fault that we are at war, nor that they are ultimately responsible for the overall outcome; they are, after all, only following orders. Which is what makes me uncomfortable.

They are all, obviously, not bloodthirsty ogres looking for a meal. But in the same way, I cannot see them as the noble protectors of the people, slaying the dragon that ate the rather nice looking princess.

Its not helped by the fact that so many people have been taken in by the right wing media, and believe in their heroic qualities. I'm reminded of the commentary on some football game; after a wayward shot from some way out, the commentator would ask: "is he brave? Or is he stupid?"

I can only ask the same question of the people who willingly join armies. To me, at least, I can think of very little more shameful than being a soldier. To have willingly joined an organisation that openly ignores the humanity in people.

So when I see parades of soldiers, people cheering them all on, thanking them, praising them, the same people who decry the same parades made by the Nazis or Soviets, I get that same sickness I get when I see the Union Flag. That uncomfortable detestment of all that it represents. And the worst part is the knowledge that there are people who have the nerve to openly disagree with me, that this view is, or at least seems to be, in the minority.

Monday, 26 July 2010

Hydref eto a bydd yntau gyda'r dail.

Yes, I know...

Anyway, I've been off for weeks now and have, of course, used that time wisely. By doing nothing. Filling my days with crap, getting up in the afternoon, going to bed after the street lights have gone off - and everything in the middle a bit like the filling of a mini roll - looks nice, tastes ok, but hardly the highlight of the day.

And as per usual, the hours before sleep are filed with assorted musings about life, the universe and everything, before I eventually wake up at some stupid hour again, ready to ignore and forget any resolve I had.

The musings of late have been strikingly similar to the last few posts, and as you can guess by the gap, I'd forgotten about them. So, re-reading the words of an absolute immature git, what struck me?

I haven't gone anywhere.

You'd have thought that seven (or however many) months down the line, I'd have finally got bored of trying to solve the universe in a paragraph, but apparently not. Asking "what's the point?" a million times, disguised in a million different ways is, of course, ultimately futile, etc, etc. I've been here before.

And will go there again at some point, I'm sure, racing around that same circle, over and over. Nice. I can't be arsed to go through all the shite I've written here, but I'm fairly sure that I'd still agree with it all, in some form. Maybe.

Quite frankly, I'm bored. I've lived in the same house, doing the same things on the same planet for nearly nineteen years, never daring to go out, because I've settled into this same pattern that people expect me to follow, which is fair enough, and can't be arsed to go through the whole culture shock of revealing that I have an extra ear on my shoulder, or whatever, and the reaction that that would give.

Ok, bad example. But the point is, things have got stale. To take the half-arsed food analogy to the end, variety is the spice of life. Yes, I'm well aware that anyone who uses that saying sounds like an utter twat. I've got a vague recollection that I've mentioned at some point that I have this stupid and futile need to justify all that I do, in some way (pathetic, isn't it?), and I don't like spicy food. So if I were to suddenly say, "ah, go on! Cover the chips in pepper or whatever little black bits people put on food for some stupid reason!" I would get weird looks. That's ok, that's nothing new, I encourage it. But I just can't be arsed to deal with those looks. Do I really want pepper on the chips that much?

Ok, I'm going to stop with the food analogy there, hopefully it makes some sort of sense (I highly doubt it), because I have a (cunning) plan. Or more a sort of experiment. Just run with it. Anyway, on the futile notion that there is someone actually reading this (ha!), I have a proposition. It's called:


Yes it's audience participation time! On the basis that my mind is simply re-visiting old ground in some pathetic attempt to be deep and meaningful (yeah! (the sarcasm is, hopefully, palpable)), I'm inviting you, the aforementioned non-existent, imagined reader (let's face it, after however many months, even fucking Stephen Hawking has got up, turned off the light and left), to suggest something for me to express an opinion on.

Despite the name, I'm not charging, you can give me money if you really want, (please don't...), just something I haven't covered. There's a lot, I know, but my thinking is that something random to bullshit on might kick this braindead fucker into action. Or not, it doesn't matter. I would say that I will continue to write regardless, but at my current rate, that's a pretty stupid thing to say.

If, like me, you too can't be arsed to do much, and have skipped to the end, what I've said, in a nutshell is this:

I'm bored, give me something to do. Please!

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

How Many Roads Must A Man Walk Down? (42)

Nothing overtly political or patriotic today, I'm feeling philosophical.

If I haven't mentioned it already (and I'm sure I have), I'm an atheist. I.e. religion is a load of crap, shat out of the mouths of assorted power-hungry manipulative cunts. Well, organised religion, at least. Science, however, makes sense. (And no, I'm not interested in a debate as to how compatible they are, and I accept that I'm speaking in broad, extreme terms, etc. - I'm just setting the scene.)

Science can, of course, offer a plethora of provable, reliable answers, in a way that religion, by its very nature, cannot. So let's ask the big one:

"Why are we here?"

Ah, shit, I just broke the universe.

Obviously, science, by its own very nature, cannot answer this. Because, logically, there isn't an answer.

We are here by total, random chance - and nothing more. We are born, we live, we die. Fin. We have no purpose: there is no sense in giving someone a task without telling them, and any purpose given that doesn't require this (as in Douglas Adams' brilliant Hitchhicker's Guide to the Galaxy, where we are here to discover a question for a bunch of mice) is so individually mundane it makes no difference - in such cases there is purpose for society; what the individual does is of no real importance.

I know this may sound weird coming from a socialist, but that's an economic term, not philosophical. And besides, individuality is still important even in the most socialist of societies.

So why do we all bother, if what we're doing has no purpose? Obviously, many will give themselves their own purpose, be it from religion or simple willpower. But such purposes strike me as being just as pointless as no purpose - even if you do everything you want to do, and kick the bucket as the happiest person on Earth- or, hell, in the Universe for that matter - you're still dying, taking none of your achievements with you (not that there's anywhere to go), and no real part of you will remain in any sort of working state. In short: no matter what you do, you'll be just as dead as everyone else.

And yet we go, still motivated by meaningless goals or ideals. How anyone can actually care about anything whilst still accepting the above is beyond me, yet I'm just as guilty (for lack of a better term, I'm not calling everyone a convict) as everyone else.

My only justification (and I've got a funny feeling that I've gone on about this before) is that since we are here by such pure random chance, we might as well get as much from life as possible, otherwise it's just a waste. Death will wait, it's just another, terminal state of life, but since it's the only one that's completely inevitable, might as well leave it till last.

Other than that, however, I see no other reason to want anything, to be ambitious, or to be motivated. And even if everything gets fucked up the arse, no big disaster, since there's no real loss.

And if all that sounds morbid, and depressing, just go and watch some Monty Python, that'll cheer you up.

Friday, 25 December 2009

Oi, Santa! Pass Us That Bottle, Will You...

In the words of Noddy Holder:


Oh fuck off.

Any sort of lovechild from Religion and Capitalism is bound to be a disaster, and, lo and behold, it is. It's easy to simply ask, "what is the point?" but this fails on two respects: one, if there is no point to life, as I believe, then logically, there is no point to Christmas, and two, there is something much more cynical going on here.

Yes, it's a cliché, but Christmas is not a Christian festival, and never was. Any and every "primitive" culture had some sort of festival to mark the Winter Solstice, and rather than spend effort on removing it, the Church simply absorbed its own traditions into the festival, in a great big religious con.

But there was another ingredient, one that's developed over time. Corporate greed injected consumerism into the day, just as with every other half-festival, admittedly, but there seems to be more emphasis on Christmas than on any other event. We are encouraged - directly or otherwise - to spend, spend, spend on other people, and that we reap the virtuous rewards of giving - whilst giving the most to the fat cunts, of course.

I will admit that I spent all day in Cardiff's brand new Temple of Capitalism (sponsored by the DFS half price sale) buying shite for other people, simply because it's easier in the long run. To say after 18 years that I am to utterly shun Christmas in all it's forms sounds good on paper, but you try explaining that to the grandparents. It's now so ingrained into our social conscience that it's almost impossible to ignore, and even then, my suggestions that we all just chip in a tenner and call it "Christmas" fell on deaf ears.

I can accept the now secular nature of it, it's just a part of a wider culture. I can just about accept the consumerist nature; if you accept, regrettably, that we live in a Capitalistic society then, by default, it is society's fault, not "Christmas'".

But I can never lose that nagging feeling that it's all pure escapism: "Yes, I've done shit things all year and been a horrible bastard, but on Christmas Day everything's fine, and I can pretend to be this perfect person. Of course I'm a conscientious person, look how much I work with charity every Christmas, even though I can afford to give and help all year round."

Yes, escapism is good thing, and uffach, I feel escapist every other minute. It's not what actually happens itself that gets me, I always get some sort of enjoyment from the day, but there's a sinister edge here, that people aren't aware of, and that unsettles me. More unsettling, personally, is that for all my ranting and raving, I'm just as bad as the rest of them.

This has probably all been said before, and in a much clearer way than someone with half a bottle of wine attacking their liver, but fuck it. I can only end with a nice little phrase that can describe nearly every single thing in the universe:

Pathetic, isn't it?