Mission Adjustment

This half of the blogging enterprise was established primarily as a refuge for observational things that don’t relate in any strict way to politics or current affairs. It was also a handy place for depositing my efforts in The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge. If you weren’t sure, The Daily Post is in essence the WordPress bloggers blog. Tips and encouragement on how to make the most of your blog etc… I fear my brief regular involvement in these challenges is drawing to a close.

Mainly because the content of the challenges is so variable, and convolutes the theme and purpose of this blog, which it would perhaps be fair to say was only recently (not) clarified. I like the idea of a loose second blog that can broadly deal in film, art and philosophical theory with the odd dash of humorous or scathing random commentary. But in labouring over this philosophical piece, still forthcoming, I determined it was best to at least be far more selective.

I certainly won’t be touching any of what some might call the “twee” blogger’s art. Emotive creative writing, all forms of emotional introspection, most other forms of creative writing (except a few that might amuse me) and assuredly anything that tries to get me to practice generic conventions in writing – style or habit – that don’t appeal to the things that I’ve grown more than confident in. I’m not looking for inspiration, which I guess is what The Daily Post is peddling.

Plus those sunsabitches never Freshly Pressed me.

So, henceforth you might begin to a glean a more consistent vibe from the articles found here, starting with this piece on objective realities, rational actors and subjective ideologies. I can tell you already that it has evolved slightly from the originally stated concept. I have been convinced of certain things by friend and effective collaborator Jack Reilly, and the whole thing is going to be much longer and much, much more dense. Doesn’t that sound fun? Read here soon.

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Coming Soon

Forthcoming is a genuine attempt at a philosophical piece. A conversation last night spun wildly out of control. Where it started I’m not sure but it led to concepts of natural law, agency, potential actors, rational self interest, notions of rights, life, the universe and everything. In this I thought to find a way to consolidate the theme of my two blogs by establishing what perhaps could be a novel perception of the world. Without attaching myself to a marketable and therefore crude niche, a theme was hard to come by. I am not one thing, as such, and neither are you.

It surprises me when someone exclaims anything so certain as, “I am a conservative,” or, “I am a liberal.” To apply oneself to a stock ideology and be contained by it is ill considered, and more likely a conscious enforcement of environmental values. Loosely speaking, Tories create Tories, Liberals create Liberals and they tribally operate in relation to each other and within themselves. Defections aren’t uncommon, but all too often they are merely from one echo chamber to the other. This kind of ideological warring is a blight.

Perhaps too ambitiously I would like to try and establish a baseline from which a rationalist ideology can be extracted. The baseline will essentially be a reductive construction of our reality. What are the bare facts of existence and how are these applied to the human condition? Should we seek to operate within those terms, or in a sense transcend evolutionary imperatives to be more than what I feel this analyses will show us to be? Is it fact necessary to do the latter without limiting ourselves to lesser behaviours and moralities?

I hope it will be controversial. Coming soon to this half of the project.

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Playing With Space – Poetry

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge

Read in the manner of Tim Key. Who is actually a poet, technically speaking, and writes real poetry that complies with poetic meters and so on so forth.

Poetry… is usually rubbish.

It makes me feel… like another person is trying to thrust subjective meaning onto my own thoughts.

Based on their usually limited and effete… sensibilities.

It is… really annoying.

However… it can also be crap when poets try to be overly artistic in a linguistic sense.

Like the… minimalist use of repetitive scatology to create a dumb sense of inner conflict.

Or… something.

I really wish… poetry was better.

For example I really like Allen Ginsberg.

I suspect that makes me heavily contrived but… I just don’t care.

Howl… was a good poem. It made me…

Think… and it had themes.

Not stupid themes… like dew on a spring rose reflecting the colour of my soul.

But meaty themes, like angry, ruined drug addict intellectuals… despairing over the age.

I also happen to like William Blake… he actually rhymes sometimes.

Tiger tiger burning bright in the forests of the night… yeh.

I also really fail to… understand.

Why some poets feel the need.

To… start a line all the way over here… it looks really messy.

What is the… purpose of playing with spaces on the page?

Seriously… I don’t understand and it annoys me.

So as I rapidly exhaust… the names of poets I could recite even a few lines of.

And… grow weary of this exercise in mockery.

I ponder… after wondering if lovers of poetry are laying hate in heaps upon me now.

Is this poetry too?

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Iconic

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge

This week’s challenge is dead simple. Throw up an iconic image, and discuss or write about it. What is or isn’t iconic is another subjective matter, one person’s notion meaning potentially little to me and mine little to them. We all live in different worlds with different influences, but I like to think some things transcend our personal spheres.

jimi-hendrix2

Enough said? Not quite. This is an image of a man who defined for me pure artistic freedom. Jimi Hendrix’s music has appealed to me from the moment I heard it, due in part to my own musical pursuits, but much more still. Here we see him smiling the simple innocent smile of a fundamentally joyous being, in his element. This feeling translated into his music and was shared. Listening to Hendrix still gives me an energy unlike anything else.

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The State of the State

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge

The challenge of the week allows for a huge range of response but at its core is the question of what we individually believe government should be, and what it should do. This is of course a matter diffused with subjectivity and wishful thinking. What I’m about to describe will never happen for a variety of reasons, most of all reality, but here goes. My vision of a perfect government. Subject to mood and possibly the weather.

If I had to express an ideology it would be vaguely libertarian but with a social conscience. Personal freedom is essentially paramount in the understanding that it is restricted by not infringing upon the personal freedom of others. Government should not have the authority to dictate a person’s tastes or activities that are not demonstrably harmful to societal good, but this is countered by the belief that of course government still has an incredibly important function.

Healthcare, law and order, justice, infrastructure, education, defence, sanitation, and all the other generally common services of government are, in theory, well administered by government. They are the completely necessary elements for an effective modern society, should not be for profit and thus should not be privatised. Society should have no qualms about contributing in fair measure to properly enabling these things, sacrificing a portion of the rewards of their labour.

I believe in regulated capitalism, inherent to which I strongly believe is the notion of social mobility. In practice, capitalism has forged indisputable problems and as part of a complex dynamic involving mainly, but not limited to, education, has created entrenched economic classes. But it is at its heart a good economic model. Individual endeavour, ambition and success should be rewarded, just never disproportionately. Excessive, lavish, unfettered wealth is not desirable.

It may be to an avaricious fool, but at the core of all my beliefs is rational self-interest. And it seems empirically clear that the best way to promote this is to promote societal interest. A good, strong, healthy society is the perfect environment in which the individual can thrive, and I can identify no societal interest in the wealthiest people, even in a nominally modern, post-industrial western nation, possessing an earning power many millions times greater than the poorest.

Good government should be a reflection of a good society, so in both you would expect that there be support for those who need it. Monetary welfare is clearly a contentious issue and I’ve played with ideas of material welfare and so on so forth, but the basic principle is this. Every human is entitled to a basic degree of security and dignity, so a decent, warm home and adequate sustenance is a good start. More than this is up for debate.

“Entitlement”, if you were to take the negative connotation with regards to welfare, is a problem, and while it’s easy to moan about benefit fraud or moochers, in less than egalitarian terms, there should be a realistic acceptance of at least a modicum of frugality should a person be relying solely on the government. But I confess, this is a tricky area as clearly disability or a lack of available employment has no relation to a conscious decision not to contribute.

But welfare shouldn’t be a significant burden on the government that does all the aforementioned things right. In probably the greater majority of cases, the need for welfare is the product of a poorly run system. With a raft of well managed services offering stability, and a well managed economy, there should be less individual vulnerability.

Although here we get to the crux of the matter. It’s all well and good having a thorough and robust concept of what has been discussed, and frankly it’s easy to propose all the theoretical aspects. Communist, socialist, fascist, conservative, liberal, libertarian, technocratic, autocratic, despotic, democratic, monarchic, oligarchic, republican or theocratic, all and more, basically irrelevant.

You need competent people performing competently or it’s all worthless. That’s what I really want from government I suppose, hence my slightly defeatist tone at the start. Competence. The Holy Grail. Underlying most of the failures of every incarnation of government was an idiot who got it wrong, not an integral flaw to the theory behind that government. Just do it right and you’re already somewhere.

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Mirren vs Mendes vs News

Soooo… this blog was originally intended to be the refuge for less angry thoughts. A place to throw up my efforts in the WordPress community’s ever thriving competition of the written word, and for me to make observations about the non-political. It hasn’t quite worked out that way, but I can still make a distinction, just more on content than on tone. As indeed today something has riled me that has little to do with government or the affairs international.

It has a lot to do with Helen Mirren and Sam Mendes though. If you didn’t catch it, Mirren stirred up the recent Empire awards with a dash of girl power, calling out the fact that when Mendes gave praise to his inspirations, they were all men. Now “Grrrrrr,” goes the reactionary me, what unrighteous feminism is this? What business is it of anyone’s to criticise a person for being inspired by a group of people that happens to be all male?

Apart from not having previously heard of Truffaut, I’m sure he is a worthy contender amongst the fine company of Anderson, Scorcese and Bergman. And absolutely, if these are the people that Mendes chooses as those who spiritually guided him to his current successes then bully for him. Of course it turns out that this whole “sexism row” is nothing of the sort and I was nearly caught out on a classic case of media misrepresentation.

Frankly not my fault. When the Guardian posts the article as “Sexism Row: Mirren vs Mendes” I could be forgiven for unduly entering the fray with false impressions. Just as Mirren was probably hoping she wouldn’t unduly be judged for not wanting to “unduly” pick on Mendes for his references. What she was touching on was the fact that historically the industry as not allowed or not adequately enabled women to potentially be on that list.

Or perhaps even that women haven’t done enough to put themselves on that list. I’m actually not sure what her specific meaning was beyond that she hoped in a number of years time things would be different. I’m simply sure that her meaning wasn’t to accuse Mendes of being a sexist and her sentiment is likely precisely the same as mine two paragraphs ago. I think she was just hoping for a bit a progress, and I hope the likes of Katherine Bigelow and herself will continue to oblige.

There is the smaller question of the etiquette of Mirren’s actions, as I can imagine Mendes wasn’t expecting to draw attention with his selection of respected auteurs. But this is small fry. I’m raging against the papers right now and the false path they nearly led me down. It’s a prime example of the media generating its own intrigue and I despise it. Instead of focussing on the rational of what Mirren said, they distorted it into this nonsense battle.

From this I remind myself of that most important feature of my discussion of Hilary Mantel and her words regarding Kate Middleton. READ THE WHOLE STORY FIRST.

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2:00 AM Photo

The Daily Post Weekly Writing Challenge

2:00 AM. The unwelcome rattle of the phone on the bedside and the sliver of light emanating from the device, turned face down. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. Decline. Return to sleep.

2:05 AM. The unwelcome rattle of the phone on the bedside and the sliver of light emanating from the device, turned face down. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. Decline. Return to sleep.

2:10 AM. The unwelcome rattle of the phone on the bedside and the sliver of light emanating from the device, turned face down. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. Decline. Return to sleep.

2:15 AM. The unwelcome rattle of the phone on the bedside and the sliver of light emanating from the device, turned face down. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. Irate now. Decline. Return to sleep.

2:20 AM. The unwelcome muffled hum of the phone stuffed somewhere amidst the bedding, consigned thus through anger. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. Incensed now as returning to sleep seems no longer an option. Decline. What kind of arse is this determined in the dead of night.

Or seven...

Or seven…

2:25 AM. The unwelcome muffled hum of the phone stuffed somewhere amidst the bedding, consigned thus through anger. Ponder briefly whether to investigate. At least somewhat curious now but still annoyed and am happy to ignore further out of spite. Decline. Agitator’s probable agitation vindictively amusing to me.

2:30 AM. The unwelcome muffled hum of the phone stuffed somewhere amidst the bedding, consigned thus through anger. Finally motivated to investigate. Seven picture messages received and curiosity somewhat piqued. Would be interested in opening messages but drowsiness returning. Maybe in the morning, still not convinced this person’s rudeness warrants attention.

2:35 AM. The unwelcome ping of the phone’s message tone in my hand, bright LED light fully draws me into consciousness. Forgot to obscure the device. May as well as see to this after all, doesn’t look like I’ll be left alone. First image of balaclava-wearing individual holding knife to the throat of a Mangalitza with one hand and sign in other. “You know what to do” it reads. Somewhat perplexed. Further messages repeat the image but with different signs. “Get it?!”, “Don’t ignore me!”, “Respond or I’ll do it!!”, “Don’t think I won’t do it!!!”. Vague sense of increasingly crazed look in pig-knapper’s eyes. Enthralled but utterly confused.

2:40 AM. The surprise of the phone ringing. Can see number is the same as has been messaging me. Couldn’t hurt to answer and find out what this is all about.

4:45 AM. Exhausted. Was greeted to the sound of the choked tears of a broken man. Learned this was second place runner-up for over ten years at Berkshire County Fair Pig Contest. Was trying to blackmail consistent winner into withdrawing. Could have hung up but decided to discuss the issue with the unfortunate man who seemed lost after realising I wasn’t the intended recipient. Nothing more surreal than trying to explain why pigs aren’t worth ruining ones life over and that maybe one takes pigs too seriously. The Bolshoi it is not. Advised he take a break from the bitter world of prize pig-rearing. Think he will be ok but can’t be sure. Do I care? Going back to sleep. Turning phone off.

6:30 AM. Exhausted. Furious. Time to start the day. Like the sound of slow-roast belly pork for dinner. Rare breed only.

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