Its been another week for yov of rising at 7 and working until 12 noon or 1pm marking a tower of undergraduate dissertations. Yov also managed to stay pretty much off of social networks for the best part of 2 weeks and yov feel better as a result. When yov do go there you feel like yov get up to yovr neck in not-so-valuable information and experiences, it often seems a waste of yovrs and everyone else’s time.
Yov’d always dreamed and hoped that social networks would finally be the revolutionary way in which people could talk across cultures and evolve a more equal and understanding society, but yov’re disilusioned. If you want to understand something it sometimes pays to look to its source, and the best known social network was of course founded on the particular cultural principles of an American university graduate connections book (what was then called a ‘facebook’). And that, yov think, tells yov a lot about the best known social network’s original, underlying and ultimate persistent purpose and identity.
What yov tend to see on social networks is birds of a feather flocking together into more or less safe silos. There they flaunt, secretly, envying (there’s an emoticon for this), compete, elbow, crave attention and accept little rewards, like biscuits. And all of course done with a smile, like ‘good service’ in an American diner. It is fun and friendly of course but is also quietly doing all the things that the famous bourgeoisie -for whom the modern world was literally built (and/or who literally built the modern world) – are so famous for.
And who are yov to judge them or even refer to others as such, as ‘them’, just because yov have reconciled yovrsef to never being able to become ‘them’ but to reside in a discomforting limbo, on the margins of ‘their’ (or perhaps the) world, able to see just enough to be able to comment on and contribute an image of this world, but never enough to ‘become’, ‘win’, ‘succeed’, ‘achieve’ and ‘progress’ – which are, pretty much, the raison d’etre and silent mantra of that same peculiar and particular society, that more or less runs things, and does so with its very own brand of ‘soft power’.
It wasn’t ever thus of course. History teaches us that the bourgeoisie are a historical force. There were, and are, other societies, but they are not in power, and you are not a member of any of those either. Yov are not even a member of the society, even the family, into which yov were born, having made it the central purpose of yovr life to get beyond the inauspicious place where you begin (notwithstanding yovr exceptionally kind and creative parents and siblings). And yov certainly do not have any national affinity . Nationality, to yov, is an abomination that you pray will soon pass out of our lives, something poisonous that any wise body rejects.
Yov sense, strongly and lately that yov are turning towards the end of yovr life now. Yov are more or less proud to say that yov haven’t accumulated anything, other than yovr work, yovr art, yovr writing, yovr images,yovr photographs, yovr songs, yovr films, yovr short stories, yovr poems and yovr drawings, all things that to you are priceless but may be of little or no value to anyone else. Yov don’t own anything other than those, a few clothes, nick nacks, tools, and quite a few books. And then of course there are your memories … The most valuable aspects of yovr life of course cannot be owned.
Envy is a powerful emotion, driving a lot of what artist’s do, though they would be reluctant to admit it. It sounds like an ugly emotion and it mostly is, but there are times when yov must admit, yov did a lot of work, and sometimes yovr best work, motivated by some sense of competition. Yov don’t like that bourgeois thought but it’s probably true. Yov envy peers who seem to have the time, the leisure, the wealth, the property, the space, the connections, the confidence, the unhurried faith, the social skills, the style etc. that yov feel would make such a great difference to realising and fulfilling yovr own creative potential.How are art and artist’s fairly compared or judged (yov often want to understand) when varying talents are either fostered and encouraged or curtailed and repressed by their relative socio-economic advantages and disadvantages?
Yov groan and ache over the lifetime of disappointed opportunities and frustrated dreams, are the legacy of socio-economic realities that have never allowed yov to be more than a rent-paying worker, even now that you are a PhD qualified, seasoned professional, academic, artist and much published writer. The only times yov escaped this treadmill was, not by transcending and winning and rising above (as the dream promises) but by failing all the more utterly and surviving more barely and abjectly, as unemployed, in poverty, beyond the clutches of boss, landlord and bank (yov must have spent a good 10 to 20 years like that). Yov still find yovrself grinding through work at what others think of as holiday time, and always driven primarily by the fear of not paying the rent, of falling and failing and of being obliterated again, as happened so often through your 20s and 30s.
Recently yov’ve ‘pulled in yovr horns’, feeling OK about being more private, realising there is little or no reward for all the time and thoughts and words and pictures yov contributed enthusiastically to social networks for the best part of the past 10 years. This is still a public space of course, but it no longer strives or aspires to gain attention. Privacy is a beautiful thing, and so is quietness. It may be true in fact (as Walter Benjamin reminded us in his best known essay) that the value of creativity may in fact be enhanced most by its invisibility, not by its exhibition; that the sacred object that resides in a cave or goes unseen in a special vault of a church, is in fact the most valuable object, and not the one which flinches in the face of a thousand camera flashes every hour of its life.
Yo’vre coming to the end of yovr word-count, yov can see the number counting up in the bottom right corner of yovr screen, yov’ve begun to like it … there is it is, yes! a sense of satisfaction, Oh! yov’ve gone too far, Oh No!, now way too far, once again.