Unintended Consequences

The inculcated sense of disempowerment, subjugation and victimhood however real or imagined carried in the minds of today’s generation has led it to adopt, on a large scale, slogans, references and notions about the individual, society and human freedom that it hasn’t (I believe) quite reflected upon.

Let me be more exact, the cliché ‘born that way’ have gone unexamined. It suggests a form of determinism, something which eludes human will or initiative. Regardless of the context in which a phrase like that is used it absolves agency. This is done increasingly with regard to sexuality or crime. If people are to be safeguarded and respected under the pretext of this determinism, how do you respond to lobby groups who have operated in Britain and Holland since the 1980s who say they are attracted to children? That there’s is merely sexual orientation over which they have absolutely no control?

We all know, instinctively that paedophilia is a grave social deviancy which transgresses moral boundaries that are found across the world, boundaries which hold societies in tact, preservation of the species. It is the conscious choice of an adult to act upon the most unnatural desires, desires which emerge in the course of a long dark pursuit of sexual self-gratification. Despite unprecedented attempts in certain countries at finding the wildest possible excuses for human behaviour, I suggest, in accordance with longstanding wisdom which has formed the basis of cultural and legal systems across the world for centuries that human beings are responsible for their actions. Which means responsible for guarding their desires whether perverse or noble.

– In a time when metaphysical determinism is abandoned or reviled and a new scientific determinism has won favour in excusing the inexcusable.

“The soul is not moved to abandon higher things and love inferior things unless it wills to do so.”
― Augustine of Hippo, On Free Choice of the Will

They tried to Abolish all that was normal…

The counter-culture of the 1960s produced art and ideas that have remained for half a century embedded in western societies, embedded so casually that how ‘counter’ cultural they really are is questionable considering that it is less counter and more normative. Yet still people, certainly people who lived through that period of ‘exploration‘ & ‘discovery(self?)’ look back to the 1960s with a sense of awe and admiration for those rebels and iconoclasts, the figureheads of the counter-cultural movements. Yet how much admiration do the figureheads of the counter-culture we live with actually deserve? Is it simply a matter of a courageous, adventurous, universally minded generation rising up to challenge the supposedly oppressive beliefs and cultural norms of older generations?

From the outset let me make it clear that it was a broad phenomenon in which many musicians, writers, artists, thinkers are involved merely by association or simply for being around at the time and happened to get caught up in the movement. The Beat poets are an interesting pre-cursor, some of whom went on to be the figurehead-activists behind the movement’s force and core-ideals. One such person was Jewish-American poet Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg grew up within one of America’s many minority communities in New Jersey to a Marxist mother, whose psychological illnesses and trauma impacted him greatly. In fact Ginsberg spent several months in a psychiatric institution for several months as a young man.

Yet he went on to become one of the most widely read poets of the second half of the 20th century. He like many other poets of the modern period wrote in a free-verse structure without any regard to the formal structures of English poetry that had been the prevalent mode for centuries, furthermore up until the earlier 20th century, competence in pentameter and poetic form was a per-requisite to be even considered for publishing. It was not merely poetic tradition that was to be rebelled against for Ginsberg. Just about every social institution, every tradition and norm needed to be challenged. He along with others he inspired worked tirelessly through music, art and literature to lambast what they saw as old-fashioned and oppressive, any remnant of religious, family-centred world which restricted individual freedoms and whim.

Politics was understood by the counter-culturalists as a self-serving cesspool of corruption out of touch with the ‘common man’ or worse legislating against people’s individual freedoms and desires. The only politics that was worth pursuing was oppositional politics in the streets, demonstrations which could display disenchantment and disdain for policy, the policy-makers and anyone associated with the corrupt ‘establishment‘ or ‘system‘. Ginsberg, a life-long communist did however lobby for reform in his country, he worked for equal legal rights for fellow homosexuals, one of many minority groups in the country who were due to cultural taboos kept their sexuality largely under the radar and had occasionally faced discrimination on a social level.

Ginsberg however campaigned further, not merely for the explicit political/legal recognition of a homosexual minority but for the unrestricted freedom of adults to have sexual relations with children, opposition to which was in his mind, a product of oppressive, old-fashioned obstacles to human freedom such as religion, the state and first and foremost, the family unit. Timothy Leary who like Ginsberg was known for his advocacy of illegal mind-altering psycho-active drugs famously stated ‘don’t trust anyone over thirty’ an ideal intended to appeal to the inherent impulses for creativity and self-discovery present in young adults. Any attachment to their parents, to traditional ways of thinking and living were to be abolished, however persuasively.

The individual was supreme, all else could perish in an instant without a moment’s care, after all the goal was to be care-free, free of responsibility, free of commitment and ultimately free from certainty. The strategy to undermine all the old certainties, all the beliefs and norms of the past was for many counter-culture figureheads to pressure youth directly or indirectly to take illegal drugs to induce altered states, (which in reality was more akin to not thinking at all, to damage a functioning brain) and to sell new exotic, eastern quasi-religions, caricatures of traditional forms of religion found in the Indian Sub-Continent and the Far East.

Freedom was in the counter-cultural view and remains understood firstly as a negatively defined freedom, that is, the freedom to rebel, to oppose, and secondly freedom for the individual, that is to say in contrast and often at the expense of the collective or tribal good. The counter-culture of the 1960s produced an idealism, which has within it some underlying healthy, admirable values such as a questioning of power, a vague pacifism and a sort of open-mindedness, yet how those values are expressed and framed in language, how we, 50 years later project back onto that period that idealism is fraught with insurmountable problems and subjectivity.

The goals however of many counter-cultural figureheads were arrogant, selfish and perverse and it is those seeds that have sprouted more over time than the other seeds, seeds of human respect, trust and decency. What is left is the last generation, in western societies of adults, who worked, lived, and almost always married living among us, they came of age in the 1940s and 1950s when an outlook on life, however flawed, was shared, when the blind desire to rebel, to contradict and to ingratiate had not been fostered by mentally troubled poets and C.I.A operatives.

Source of Misery, Root of Evil.

Something that has the power to cause such fear and strife in families, gives birth to such envy and greed, tears lives apart in its relentless occupation of the human mind…cannot but be considered evil and ought never have been created.

No artificial unit of exchange should be the arbiter of our freedom, yet it is. Is this not a perpetual tragedy in the human story?

It is difficult, more difficult for some than others, to walk away from this abusive cycle of misery. But if you have the will join the land, enjoin goodness and triumph!

 

The Only Show Going

You awake to noise, electronic sounds, voices through every medium but your own songbird.

Open those tired eyes to a tsunami of repugnantly mixed colours, spread across the room, unholy but efficient,

There’s no question of what you do now, go through with it, remember all those plans you made?… but whose plans?

No, no, no time to think about that now…..musn’t think, who knows where a thought could lead? How am I for time?

‘Heavy traffic inbound’, you had hoped to beat the rush, too late, follow through, you feel a sudden shock at your leg, 1 message…

All you ever find with that incessant, beeping toy with whom you’ve bonded so closely, is its cycle of expressionless instructions…

appointment,

business,

coffee,

meeting,

lunch,

dinner,

party,

never ending, unthinking, killing silence, any trace of honest, vital human essence.

Plug in, some music will help, maybe it will motivate you for the day, perhaps you’ll even feel an undetectable sense of triumph!

Track 2, what a privilege to block off the sounds of that mad world around you eh? create that cocoon, an act of true desperation.

Track 11, that one began very loudly, kind of hurt my head, forget about it, just keep looking good as you walk around the city,

Image, keep up the image, don’t let them see you’re vulnerable, you’re not, you’re on top, it’s your favourite song.

Yes turn on that computer, get stuck on the web, caught in the net, who knows whats happened in the outside world since last night?

Your gaze is transfixed, you don’t have much say in that, but you’re getting there, oh yes you are…

A delight for the senses, with lights, sounds, everything to captivate and mesmerise.