By: Alex Waller
I have never had an overwhelming taste for consuming media, apart from fuel, which is of course music. Maintaining sovereignty over your own good taste can be difficult when it is under constant scrutiny. The culture I grew up in stigmatizes novelty, even traumatizes its sources. Radical self-love can probably heal all traumas, yet somehow it is nothing that many of us have a hold of.
I grew up in Nottingham, England; not far from the external shots of Batman’s house in The Dark Knight Rises, which in real life is a park where there is also an industrial museum. Among the exhibits is an ancient, operable 3-story steam engine that had been continuously pumping water for over 100 years. In terms of relevant effects on contemporary existence, there is a wall (at one time a moat) around the perimeter of the extensive grounds – which remain as some welcome greenery, a lake, golf, and a population of ritually culled deer. Because of one 17th century industrialist’s greed in building a massive house on a fuck-off chunk of land, everyone now has to drive around it in traffic jams.
Road navigation in Derby, by contrast, is directed with flyovers. I moved here last year, on the other side of the tracks about 15 miles from Nottingham. Half an hour from anywhere: the furthest point in the UK from all the shores, spectacular countryside, my first music festival, and the cradle of revolutionary industrial equipment. Which is ironic because my sister is currently in South Africa, the cradle of all human civilization. Allegedly the safest multi-story car park in the world is in Derby.
Although there is some gradual, UK-wide social restructuring towards the service industry, some high-end manufacturing remains here, and the usual spectrum of everything contemporary Britain uses is in between: construction, football, outsourcing centres, and retail parks. Entrepreneurs in unseen maelstroms of money make themselves known by vast, tailgating, flash-sports 4x4s that will slow down a touch when you slipstream them on empty motorway, but rag right on past your miserable little hatchback at the next set of lights towards metropolis.
The sexist gift cards in Asda (roughly proclaim… Pink: it’s great spending someone else’s money (in Asda) Brown: BUY MANLY MAN THINGS YOU FUCKING PRICK ARE YOU SOME KIND OF CUNT LOOK AT THIS MOUSTACHE AND TOP HAT GRAPHIC (man you’re in Asda)) are shifting remarkably more pink ones. Sad realities of this observation could include the minimalist gift card transgresses gender in tastefulness, men buy more thoughtless gifts than could previously be conceived, or perhaps these cards are being used regularly for domestic economic policy.
I’m actually not very well socialized, I dropped out of university and somehow have had something difficult to pick up in the years since. Thus far I have a piss-poor start to completion rate with my creative work, but then I have stock-piles of office-crafted post-it notes and hastily-scrawled notebooks from gleaming pinnacles of experience. There is something I have access to under certain life conditions, but I only know roughly what they are at the moment.
The ideologue of gonzo is intuitive. The needs of the seeker are authentic individual experience: individual truths are the basic experience of learning carried through from childhood itself. When you reach a certain age this is what you are supposed to have grown out of and had a meaningless haircut so that you can follow society’s instructions. I will not get a haircut at your request, but if we need to in all other respects I can always do it your way.
After leaving the juvenile concentration camp (complete with solitary French-naturalised mate born in the USSR), my experiences have varied from entrapment in the very Doc Marten boot-tread of British society, to, as they are right now, dangling on the end of a boot-lace about to fall in slow motion between a tread block and a snail.
Before I reached the age of reason to excuse pointlessness itself and take up smoking, there was a brief period of aspiring for political domination. This lasted barely a year when my government and politics grades told me that their truth is fucked. The only good system is a sound system.
A few years later I was at university in London and I remember pulling up at the lights next to a brand-new Mini Countryman with a woman of an uncertain age driving it. I was in an amazing old-skool Mini I somehow ran at the same time (thanks mum!), and in South West London, one of the most gentrified places in the country, this was a confrontation. Dented and covered in hazard tape as it was, I looked across at her from my canted muscle car steering wheel and bucket seats and shook my head. “It’s the Arnold Schwarzeneger of Minis,” she protested, it’s just the steroids. A real Mini is Bruce Lee.
It was a journalism and Social Anthropology degree, and between student riots and completely forgetting an exam, the phone-hacking scumbags folded the despicable News of the World newspaper. Since then I qualified as a car mechanic, toiled in a stagnant office for a longer while, and now I am becoming less stagnant, but I always pursue my own autodictat and seldom exercise a truly gratifying (or necessary) level of self-determination.
I saw recently the human brain in terms of data is supposed to have a capacity for 300 years of video. Through excruciating emotions it feels like at least 36 years are crammed in the past 24 already. All I can say from personal experience is that love and the moment are all that there is. Yeah we’re different from animals in that we can plan time and make language, but beyond that, we’re just a quaking mess.
Nobody is perfect. Nobody has the answers. Offence and connection are synonymous – BUT – the quality of connection lies in mindfulness of the distance required to stretch for each other. For optimal romance this reach is short, and egalitarian. All we and the planet want for us is therapy: exchanging an impossible game for a possible one.