Thursday, 24 March 2011

A night at the zoo?

After a recent visit to Hanley in Stoke, I feel compelled to write on what I found there…

On a Saturday night I tagged along to a nightclub with an old friend from school, it was called ‘Manhattan’.  After an entry fee of £2, kindly paid for by my friend, I walked in to find a dark room, poorly decorated, with a small dance floor and a long bar.  Not really worth the £2 at all, but I remained hopeful all the same.  My friend and I always used to go to this place in Wolverhampton that looked ten times worse, walls covered in black peeling paint, sticky floor, and absolutely vile toilets! ‘The Planet’ was definitely far from ‘home’.  But we enjoyed it nevertheless.  We loved the music, the people, the bar staff, the tacky freebies, we even learned to love the sticky floor! 

So let me explain what I saw in Stoke and how this made me feel…  The music was pretty awful.  I don’t think it even deserved to be called music.  It wasn’t like that stuff in the charts that is tolerable in a sense that you can at least sing along to it and forget how lame it really is.  But it was just awkward sounds that repeated again and again, each track jumping into the next so that they became indistinguishable.  The room was filled to a high capacity, a much higher ratio of males to females.  The males mostly wore jeans and a shirt or t-shirt.  The females wore hardly anything.  They danced on a platform that ran along one of the walls, while the guys in the club stood below on the floor ogling at them.  From below, I saw some disgusting sights, as the girls put their legs up on the railings and their short skirts raised to reveal an item of ‘clothing’ that I never thought I’d see: crotchless underwear. 

The whole scenario reminded me of one of those fancy restaurants, with a tank of lobsters from which you can choose which creature you want to kill and eat.  But this was at the complete opposite end of the class spectrum.  The guys in the club had the whole night to decide which half naked girl on the podium they wanted to take home and kill her soul.  And unlike the lobsters, the girls were eager to be chosen.  It made me feel physically sick.  I don’t think I’m naïve, I’ve always known that this kind of thing happens, after all I grew up in Wolverhampton! But this was like nothing I’d ever seen before.  Literally every other person in the room was in it for the prize sex at the end.  It seemed to be pointless to even go to the nightclub in the first place, they didn’t want to dance or enjoy themselves with friends, they only had one thing on their agenda, but I suppose they needed somewhere to congregate to find like-minded people…

I felt like I was experiencing a part of hell.  Everywhere I looked I was deeply disturbed.  I wanted to close my eyes and disappear, but I wanted the whole room to disappear with me.  I didn’t want it to be real.  I didn’t want to accept that such things were so ‘normal’ to these people.  I didn’t want to accept that this was happening not only here and now, but recurring over and over in many places… 

            After an hour or so of straining to enjoy myself, I soon lost the strength and it became apparent to my friend that I was miserable.  She asked what was wrong, accusing Nottingham of turning me into a boring stuck up twit.  It made me question myself…  If I could enjoy The Planet, why couldn’t I enjoy this?  Had I really become a snob or was this really the epitome of hell that I’d stepped into? 

I’m not a complete Marxist but I am all for liberation of the oppressed, so this is not an attack of class.  I gave up drinking alcohol just before I came to University in September 2009, but I have more fun when I go out now than I ever used to.  I spend less money, I no longer hit that point of tiredness at 2am, I never get hangovers, I hardly embarrass myself, and the day after I can remember everything that everyone else forgets! It brings a whole new light to going out!  So it’s not that I’m boring at all, or so I believe, but it really was that grotesque a place in reality.  There was absolutely nothing there that I could enjoy, no matter how hard I tried.

So what should I do?  Should I even do anything?  Society is becoming more and more accepting of this kind of behaviour as time goes by.  Even my friend, who was always so like myself, now engaged in this activity and saw it as completely normal.  Is there any stopping it?  I could say the whole ‘I don’t want my children to have to grow up in this world’, but haven’t things gone too far out of control for anyone to change it now?  It made me thankful that I have been saved from that.  I wouldn’t say I’m a ‘good person’, but I am comforted in that I’ve found meaning in my life.  I suppose all I can do now is to pray that others will find meaning too, and do my best to question everyone I can about it.  Too many people choose ignorance over thought.  Human beings were made to question, so that is what we must do, yet so many fail to do so when wrapped up in a world absent of reason.  People have become animals, and thought and reflection have been discarded into the trash of unnecessary life tools.

“Are we not perpetually falling? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there any up or down left? Are we not straying as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is it not more and more night coming on all the time? Must not lanterns be lit in the morning? Do we not hear anything yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we not smell anything yet of God's decomposition? … God is dead … And we have killed him.”
- Nietzsche

 Needless to say, I won’t be returning to that place anytime soon…

(This piece is not a personal attack on Stoke, and is based purely on a single experience in one nightclub)

Wednesday, 16 March 2011

little something/big nothing

A little something I wrote in September 2009:

Well-being seems to crumble when a lost cause begins to rumble in the thunder of your nightmares of the bitter taste and petty cares that hold the heart in a thorny cradle you just don't seem to be able to eat or drink or sleep or breathe you realise that underneath the poison never settles in one place but spreads amongst a web of lace that catches words that look like gold but break the net so this unfolds...

Tuesday, 8 March 2011

ἀπορία (Aporia)

‘The owl of Minerva spreads its wings only with the falling of dusk’
 – Hegel

Consider this: we exist on the horizon of reality.  The sun sets on history, and we live always at the tail of it.  We are unable to re-live that ever-increasing day which constructs our current being, we are restrained to merely tracing over the line and considering how we got here and where we went wrong.  Can we ever detach ourselves from that line and start a new one? Or does the human memory bind us to what has been and gone for as long as memory lives?

I am only 20.  I feel I should omit the word ‘only’ as it would seem that I have been on a greater journey than most people my age.  However I know that the mathematical proportion of my past compared to my future proves that there is much more to come.  I’m sure I will read this in another 20 years and agree…

I don’t remember much of my childhood, my teens were rough, my parents divorced and I was kicked out at the age of 16 to find my own way.  During a period of severe depression and insomnia, I experienced what most would call a ‘religious experience’ at the age of 15, which literally saved my life.  I gave my life to Jesus two years later.  I would say I’ve been in two serious relationships in my life; the first wrecked me, the second made me aware of how wrecked I really was.  All these things make me who I am.  But each new dawn, and each new struggle that comes with it, is made heavier by the things that I carry from my experiences.  Not only does it effect times of struggle, but it dominates my thinking, my philosophical contemplations and my search for truth. 

As human beings, it is in our nature to ask questions.  To live is to search for truth.  Even the seemingly naive search for it, focusing on the truth of the self, testing their identity with the activities they partake in and the people they relate to, in an attempt to know oneself.  One truth that seems to dominate over all others is that of love and all its subheadings.  What is friendship, compassion, communication, trust?  What do they mean to us?  This is certainly something that has been central to my life; my years spent searching for security, acceptance, affection.  My two major relationships provided a drastic dualism upon which I have tried to base my philosophy of love, as well as the masses of second hand experience that back it up.  A search that I have ached with all along that line of history, can I finally spread my wings with ‘the falling of dusk’?

“…take the case of a lover who has been unhappy in love, and suppose that the way he yields to his passions is really unreasonable, impious, and unchristian.  In case you cannot begin with him in such a way that he finds genuine relief in talking to you about his suffering and is able to enrich his mind with poetical interpretations you suggest for it, notwithstanding you have no share in this passion and want to free him from it - if you cannot do that, then you cannot help him at all; he shuts himself away from you, he retires within himself…”

- Kierkegaard

I believe that God is love.  Therefore God is the definition of love, the one knowing love in its entirety.  I also believe that God is unreachable in terms of us gaining understanding of Him.  This notion, in concurrence with my aporia, brings me to the conclusion that I will never know love.  I have come into wisdom, in the sense that I admit that I do not know anything.  As Kierkegaard puts it: “Truth is subjectivity”.  There remains hypocrisy in that I cannot but help longing for the search to go on, despite my accepting that the search would be an eternal process leading to no possible conclusion.  I am only human after all, and as I said before, that is what we do, we live to search for truth.  Perhaps some day I will find a new love that will spark a revision of this philosophy, perhaps one day I’ll be put into the situation whereupon I should have ‘the marriage talk’.  How do we really know we’re in love, when we cannot know what love is in its entirety?  That question can be asked day after day for months, even years, and it can never be answered.  Unlike a relationship with God (for which we have reassurance or ‘proof’ from the Holy Spirit), we must take a blind leap of faith based on what we think we know about love.  The search brings no gain, so now I retire within myself.  And that, for now, is my horizon.

“If you marry, you will regret it; if you do not marry, you will also regret it… Laugh at the world’s follies, you will regret it; weep over them you will also regret that… Hang yourself, you will regret it; do not hang yourself, and you will also regret that; hang yourself or do not hang yourself, you will regret both… This gentlemen, is the sum and substance of all philosophy”.

- Kierkegaard

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Blog One

What a better topic to write on for my first blog than blogs themselves?

What are blogs? And why do we write them? What do they really say about us?

I’m no pro when it comes to technology, but it doesn’t take a genius to see that the internet has changed the world.  It’s amazing to think that we can type a word into a little box, and at the click of a button we can access thousands of pages of data that relate to that very word.  We can keep in touch with people all over the world, find lost friends, make new ones.  We can build relationships with people that we may never even meet, look at their pictures, watch their videos, read their blogs.

I remember there was a boy at my school who wrote a blog.  It meant so much to him.  It was his catchphrase.  The word’s “read my blog!” passed his lips at least 50 times a day.  He thought of himself as a comedian, and bothered everything with a pulse to get online and read his material.  Needless to say I never did read it.  He lived and breathed ‘blog’.  He even named his band ‘The Monobloggers’…

So why did he write a blog?  He was a lonely guy.  Didn’t have many friends.  The friends he did have didn’t really know who he was.  Maybe we all cry out for that deeper relationship, urging for others to try to understand us, what we think and how we feel.  Everyone is lonely in their own way.  Even those of us who are surrounded by people every day.  In fact those tend to be the loneliest kind of people.  We write diaries, as private accounts of the things that mean the most to us in our lives.  Is a blog just an online diary?  If so, how much of ourselves are we really putting out there, and why do we do it?

It’s interesting to consider how much truth goes into a blog.  I have never written a blog before so it will be interesting to see what I leave out of it.  As I begin this newfound hobby I promise that I will never write anything dishonest in my blogs, and that everything I write shall be the truth as far as is in my knowledge.  But it shall be interesting to see the truths I am afraid to include.  If you are reading this and you write a blog, how much of it is true?  How closely does it match up to the real you, and how much does it really say about who you are?  Can you really come to know someone simply from what they write?

And the blogging begins…