I recently watched an old Russian four-part film based on a 1933 V. Shishkov novel set just before the 1917 revolution: Ugryum Reka, or “Gloomy River”. I was dismayed to find that no English subtitles exist for it, for I would so strongly recommend it to any of my friends interested in politics and the human condition… therefore I decided to synopsise it in (very) brief. My Russian is far from perfect, so some of the details might be inaccurate and the quotes are heavily paraphrased, but the meaning shone through to me almost like an epiphany, despite linguistic obstacles (my god, was it chock full of beautiful literary Russian). Here it is anyway. There is a whole religious theme running through the piece as well which I did not mention for lack of thorough comprehension.
A film about the inherent corruptibility of man.
The film starts with an old bandit on his deathbed, warning his son not to follow in his footsteps. First thing the son does is dig up his father’s ill-gotten goods.
Years later, he has built up a successful enterprise and sends his own young son on a long adventure up the Ugryum river to help expand trade. The father sends a Circassian guard with him: a brutal, slavish man with a wild accent. The man who rows their boat (carved out of a single tree trunk) tells them the story of a ghostly shamanic woman who lives in the woods by the river and appears at critical moments in people’s lives.
Continue reading “Gloomy River – an allegorical masterpiece of Soviet cinema”
Free markets may have been paved with good intentions, but they failed to take into account man’s vulnerability to the dangerous drugs called Comfort and Convenience. Of course we honed in more and more on tools that made everyday life effortless, and our devotion to the democratic concepts of capitalism only cemented our delusion.
We pretend like dehumanisation is a terrible crime, and yet our tech-obsessed society persists in its mindless pursuit of ever more advanced technologies that spare us the “burden” of interacting with each other.
I grew up an introvert, almost any interaction requiring at least an initial effort on my part. Even calling an old friend can be an ordeal. My neurosis is such that if the conversation turned out merely neutral, it felt like a failure. Am I boring? Can I not entertain my friend like I used to? Have we lost our touch? Why can’t I just relax? Maybe if I could relax, that conversation would have been of some value to us. As it stands, it was dull, surface talk that neither of us could bring to an end as we helplessly tried to make it into something at least mildly memorable. Maybe she will never talk to me again.
That would probably be a relief, actually, a tiny voice tells me cruelly.
Continue reading “The Unholy Gods of Convenience”
I am fully aware that this will read like a crybaby manifesto to many, but I don’t think I am alone in saying: if I take your shot now it will only be because you have broken my spirit. In the current and upcoming dire economic circumstances, that was pretty much all I had!
All right, moral citizens of the modern world, you win. I am no longer so conceited as to consider myself a “free thinker”, for all my contrarian views and nagging doubts about everything that’s been pushed down our sore throats over the past twelve months. Maybe this whole crisis was purpose-made to uncover the real filth in society: us childish, oppositional assholes (actual quote from an acquaintance’s social media post) that need to be taught a lesson and given a good extra-hard jab in the arm. Sorry, I didn’t mean that as a conspiracy theory or anything. Just a figure of speech.
Look, what I mean to say is, I’m one of those assholes. I am hesitant about getting the vaccine, at least for the time being. My reasoning goes along the same lines as ignoring the annual flu jab – I simply don’t think I need it. As for the effect on those around me: despite ongoing uncertainty as to the amount of inoculations required to bring overall deaths back down to pre-pandemic levels, it is clear enough that that number is less than a hundred per cent. Since so many are willing to take it, what difference does it make to you if I choose to wait a little? You never gave me such a hard time for not taking the flu shot every year. This may sound crazy, but I don’t think it takes a medical degree to look after yourself: what feels necessary, and what doesn’t. Every body is different.
Continue reading “My very personal lament against the forced vaccination programme”
As we here in the UK kick off our second indefinite term of social deprivation, I send my thoughts to the innocents cruelly imprisoned in their empty homes.
I met a dear old lady, out like everyone else to mark the last day of “non-essential” businesses being open. She sat next to us in the pub, with her glass of water, perusing the menu and looking around with big glossy eyes. She caught my eye and smiled. “That’s it then, our last night out,” she said.
“Yeah, it’s madness. Just as perfect pub season is coming up. Mulled wine, fireplaces, cozy warm chit chat, and it’s gone just like that,” I said forlornly with a snap of the fingers.
“I love eating out,” she added innocently. “It’s getting too cold to do gardening. Then again, I’m getting too old to do gardening. I’m eighty-three.”
Continue reading “Yet another lockdown victim”
People in the 21st century were very much like us, only they had to live through a time of intense anti-social upheaval as values were turned on their head and human intelligence took a back seat to that of the machine. Some of these poor souls were conscious throughout each phase of the short-lived digital revolution and subsequent fall into chaos.
Continue reading “A history lesson from the future”
Sometimes I get drawn into social justice warriors’ proclamations of righteousness, worried that maybe I really am the crazy one, that perhaps some people really do need to be forced into acting decent, reminded not to harass or exploit their inferiors. Hierarchies will always exist and as long as there are people in power, there will be rude, abusive or downright dangerous characters sitting on top of it.
If we install, perhaps, a new order wherein there exist a few extra commandments such as “thou shalt not sexually proposition thy employees or co-workers” then the world may indeed become a better place.
That is, if we eventually evolve into some weird, obedient, androgynous, asexual, dystopian species.
Continue reading “Workplace transgressions and how not to deal with them”
Trump is just a puppet at this point, albeit an amusing one. Andy Kaufman’s Tony Clifton character in glamorous orange.
Originally, Trump led a campaign that was staunchly anti-interventionist in its foreign policy. Of course this was swept right under the media rug, but he clearly stated that he wanted to get out of the Middle East, make friends with our old rival Russia and focus on the USA from the inside with nationalistic rather than expansionist values.
Have you noticed that there has barely been a peep from the raging Left about Trump’s recent interest in bloody warfare? Where are the protests? Where is the outrage? Funny, it’s almost like the media’s reporting on a topic may vastly influence the public’s reponse to it. If there had been one article and just the one, maybe two news shows about Trump’s pussy comment video, it may very well have been dust in the wind by now. But the papers are so cool, so impartial when it comes to reporting war. Suddenly they take the big clown more seriously. Who knew that was all it took? Team up with our ex-imperialistic buddies and bomb a small Middle Eastern country. Finally, some news to report on other than the “you-won’t-BELIEVE-what-he-said-this-time!” formula, which was getting a little old since 2016 be to honest. Here’s a bit from my favourite journalist:
Trump has gone from anti-establishment figure to frightened puppet. Jimmy Dore shared an excellent tweet to this effect:
Who’s running the operations here? Who holds the reins but the media, just like it did with Iraq? It’s that old collective amnesia acting up again. It’s only fair, you can’t expect us to remember every time we killed some thousands of brown people in some remote land. We’re busy over here, fighting for our rights to free stuff and unlimited sensual pleasures.
NOTE: This is NOT intended to be a pity parade. I learned a lot, and was not traumatised.
A few years ago, I was a “victim” of sexual harassment from my unofficial boss at the time. This was before I started questioning social norms, reading political opinion blogs (ah, the glory days of inner peace), and before I truly understood my own boundaries…so…whose victim was I really? Possibly my own.
I was interning at a small events and media company headed by a successful bloke from West London. He offered me a weekly unpaid job and I thought job opportunities would just burst out at me after this, no doubt. I wrote up phony articles about some bars in Camden (for a website I now suspect he’d just set up to occupy my time) and was part of a team helping him to organise some skeezy luxury-themed events. He would get me in his office whenever I finished my writing and would congratulate me for my work and “confide” in me. He’d show me a terrible film he was working on and ask for my approval. It was weird, to say the least, but me, being the remarkably agreeable person that I was, I went along with it. I kind of admired him as I tend to admire those who make something of their lives, I assumed I should probably learn something from him.
Anyway, one evening he took me and a friend of his to review the opening of a new club night in central London. It was exclusive, fancy, free drinks, great fun. I interviewed some people just to impress my boss – I hung out with him and tried to ask him what elements I should review and how (this was my first reviewing gig) – most of all, I drank. His friend kept seeming to leave us alone together and bring us booze whenever we ran out. Somehow it wasn’t quite the professional visit I’d bargained for.
Continue reading “Soul education: How I used an unpleasant life event to become a stronger person”
I was a little apprehensive about writing this piece, because what authority do I have? I hold no degree in “Gender & Sexuality studies” like the writer of this drivel. Then I decided that if people can write politically acceptable articles based on nearly nothing, then I could do the same, only a bit less acceptable – ‘cause why the hell not.
I’m saying it.
I think traditional gender roles are beautiful.
It took a few years of consideration but the movie Deerhunter did it for me.
There is a meaning and a priceless value to intense emotions, so intense that they scar you physically as well as mentally. I personally have cherished every bursting surge of life that a rush of uncontrollable emotion brings – this is why people often take drugs if they are feeling understimulated by their day to day routine. This is why people have casual sex, or go paragliding, or get into street fights. These are all short term, life affirming moments accorded us by our fellow humans.
But there is truth in saying that ultimate transcendence, in the form bestowed upon us by Nature herself, lies in birth and death. In between those two events of a person’s life there are countless opportunities that allow us to experience these core feelings to varying degrees, such as the ones mentioned above.
I think it is fair to say that two concrete manifestations of these events are war and childbirth.
Continue reading “O Glorious Gender”
You know how, as people grow older, they become more and more conservative? Ugh, I can’t believe I’m that guy, before even turning 30. This might be due to more than just bitterness and being overworked. I think a lot of it has to do with nostalgia.
Even after long years of consideration, debate, and self-doubt, I’ve realised that I simply and honestly prefer lots of things how I remember them to the way they are now. Sure, progress is a staple of humanity and it’s unstoppable. But could we not have progressed more in some other directions? Ideas: Matches are still essentially the same as nearly two centuries ago, and so are sailboats.
Continue reading “The Glory Days of the Web”