It is sweeter to wander with the wretched and outcasts than to sit crowned with roses at the banquets of the rich
Elisee Reclus

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Babylondon - We Love It!!

'The return journey from the sanatorium afforded able time to think through and out the misery of 'As Long As Voyeurs In The Black Night Substitute Themselves For Seers...'. The horses went quite slowly over the barren ground and the driver was relaxed about our pace. We later entered the southern quarter of The City as dusk painted the cold and snappy streets with an array of autumnal colours quite cheering to the soul despite all the cold. I had amused myself now and again during the journey by reaching out of the window to try to catch leaves that were falling from the trees. With no pressure to collect or accumulate them, to store, catalogue or define them, I was able to keep up this diversion for minutes at a time when the burden of thinking about stuff become too much...At the porte-cochere, I paid the driver well and gathered up my bags of books, magazines and notepads and began once again to ascend to my lodging place, the Full Moon above creating a effervescent silver halo around the top of my Tower'
The Ruinist, Homelesshome (2005)

These days, it seems, that in order to be overwhelmed by the hypnosis and panic in the streets of London (and beyond), one doesn't even have to journey out of the house. Despite the past few days when The Ruinist had occasion to visit two galleries, three bookshops, a train station, four restaurants, two cafes and numerous shoe shops in the central district of London Town, it has mostly been in the house that the horrible question of over-consciousness has been springing up uninvited. Even the experience of trying to equip myself for another winter with some kind of waterproof boot or shoe by trekking down Oxford Street, the highpoint of London no-places, was not as dastardly as the random arrival of pain-filled facts and jarring lived experiences that come to reside in my head through my own mere act of living (in my hermit's cave).

I'm having problems with the issue of political consciousness and it's a problem in the same way that I have a problem of a unstoppable water leak in my house. It gets in the way of my everyday flow. It's there and everything's likely to go mouldy. As someone who is interested in politics because of how I live, that is to say, I am poor, I am one of those political animals that you can see on any metropolitan safari.

Unhappilly, the political animal is a wounded beast. In permanent exile from their fellow animals who live seemingly spontaneously dealing with or not dealing with the joys or blows of the everyday. In permanent exile from self-relaxation because every action, interaction, inaction is conscious of social relations, because they see what they don't really want to see. At their best, the animals inspire because, well...they just are! Beautiful human beings, without an instant response, without always having the name of who is to blame, without judgement to lay at the heads of those of trangress, without bitter fury or loveless love. But that is a rare species of wounded beast. Mostly they are quite tedious...

Consciousness (Version)
The problem of consciousness over false consciousness is one of the nastiest sinkholes in political theory or action. Conscious? Unconscious? Falsely conscious? It's obviously bullshit. 'These ideas are in everyone's heads', my utopian impulse clings to. This translates as 'everything will be alright in the end', a fine notion especially if the weight of living isn't too pressing, no death squad at your door, no problem of starvation wages or slave indenture. So we slouch towards communism, despite it all, because of the contradictions. But ouch!, those contradictions! I'm much better these days at not involving myself in misery-inducing internal monologues about the kind of itchy conversations you overhear in London, or the kind of interactions you witness in shoe shops, cafes, galleries, on the bus or as you ride a bicycle. I'm not moralistically inclined to put what seems like people's increasing banality, role-plays or lack of human understanding into the category of 'false consciousness', because I see that people remain human most (or at least some?) of the time. It's not a question of education, propaganda, activism to raise the consciousness of the masses, the famous masses. It's only a hope against pessimism, against despairing. It's hope against the details of that mobile phone conversation you overheard, that car driver who didn't take care, that neighbour who's violent, that shopper who expects too much from the worker, that bureaucratic rule, that loud drunken yuppie Friday night in The City, that racist older person in the lift who assumes affinity with you. It's believing in slow decency of humans against fast-track world that increases the spaces between us all, and worse, has us believe that we are individually all our own countries, our own economies, our own celebrity, own historians. Is it any one of our faults. Can we point the finger at any of us? I try not to.

But the world's going to shit! The political beast unearths all the details and rolls around in increasing piles of facts of who is doing which horrible things to who and why. Conscious of the essential bad guys and gals and also the redeeming good guys and gals. Then the question arises..don't people know what's going on? In Palestine, in Congo, with the Kalahari's, the Ogoni, the Mapuche, in Iceland, in Poland, in Chechnya, in Brixton, the Kurds, the Tibetans, the...

But all of the above seems increasingly visible yet made invisible at the same time. Any flick through a Sunday 'quality' newspaper seems like an inventory of 'false consciousness'. Famine next to fine cheese, celebrity next to poverty. It's not well rounded and informative, it's rounded-off and infotainment. Flick the pages...images, adverts, faces, places, words all words. Nothing here seems particularly difficult or obtuse. This is not a subtle analysis.

So, I do not even have to travel far to see how the world lives. Genuine global village idiot that I am, these are the troubles that now arrive in my refuge, my monk's cell, my Tower: I pick up a newspaper or a free magazine and bring it home. I try to listen to 'alternative' Resonance FM but it's dumbed down. I watch my manic neighbours and aggresive locals out of the window as I type this. I am phoned up by busineses, sent credit card offers and legal threats about my non-existant TV. A free 'style magazine' called Living South is dropped through my letter box, as is The Mayor of London's paper, as is the Liberal Democrat's Focus newsheet. In none of these intrusions can I find what's in my head. These intrusions exist in time and space as a nowhere. I stumble and curse but still I can find no edge to this Colony.

'...I will not sign a peace treaty with the world on your backs...Resitant reason, you will not prevent me casting, absurdly, upon the waters drifiting on the tides of my thirst, your form, deformed islands, your end, my defiance...'

Aime Cesaire, from Notebook of a Return To My Native Land (1938)

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