Monday, 1 August 2016

More mad personal shit

I am hardly jeopardising myself by divulging this information. I have written stuff a lot worse than this in the past. On this blog I have written about mad personal shit on this blog in excruciating detail.

I am going to type out some of my personal fantasies. 'Keep it to yourself!' I hear you say! Well, the thing is I find that I need to expurgate a lot of thoughts that circulate round my brain. I prattle a lot about these things to those close to me. We are social creatures, so it's only natural to do so.

********

Fantasy 1: The Imaginary Girlfriend

It's really sad that, aged 26, I've never had a girlfriend. It's really sad that, aged 26, I don't even know what procedure to follow to acquire one. What is even sadder is that I occasionally fantasise about the ideal girlfriend.

My fantasy woman has the following characteristics:

- Red hair.

- Grey eyes.

- She is really tall.

- She only wears black clothing.

- She has a PHD in English literature. (Her thesis was about Charlotte Bronte.)

- She is a world-renowned and really accomplished classical pianist. She often goes on world tours. She specialises in modern classical and baroque music. (She plays a handful of Romantic composers, too.)

- She's really kinky. She likes to have sex whilst bashing out the chord off the second movement of Rite of Spring again and again.

Fantasy 2: Living in a Galleon

This fantasy involves living in a galleon. I have a room with a desk in it. I write novels there on a manual typewriter. I get pissed on red wine and often lie pissed next to the mast. An exotic woman lives with me. She's also very kinky.

Fantasy 3: Stay at home

In this fantasy, I simply stay at home with mummy & daddy. I get cooked for etc. I get £200 deposited into my bank account every month. I get a blowjob every day from a bimbo so as to ease off all sexual frustrations. The rest of the time I get to read, write etc.

Fantasy 4: I win the Booker prize

Now this is ridiculous, isn't it?! In this fantasy, all the novels that I write get published. I get interviewed by journalists. The most ridiculous thing about this fantasy is that I would have to write something readable. Who would want to read the esoteric crap that I write?

Fantasy 5: I become leader of the Labour party

Now bear with me here. I get elected leader of the Labour party, even though people compare me with previous disastrous leaders (Foot, Kinnock, Miliband and Corbyn). I make a pledge to 'make the Labour party an electoral force again.' I am pathologically nervous around journalists and shy away from the spotlight. I disappear when I should be making crucial media interventions. I draw up a series of policies that get called 'a dreary return to Milibandism.' I spend most of my time trying to appease warring factions in the party. I spend an inordinate amount of time appeasing the Blairites. The grass root membership leaves. I pontificate endlessly about 'pragmatic socialism.' I get pilloried by the press. I lose the general election in a spectacular fashion.

Fantasy 6: I become a football manager

I get a Eufa licence (or whatever it's called) even though I never played professional football (or even at an amateur level!). I take over my crappy little team - the fourth tier team Fernandez Vial. We climb up to the first tier over a period of five years. I stay in the first tier with them for two more years. In my final year I manage to finish in a 4th placed position. I attract the attention of Colo-Colo (the biggest Chilean team), even though I previously make the statement that I would never manage for them. The Vial supporters call me 'Judas' despite everything that I did for them. I win a couple of Chilean titles and have a couple of good runs in the Copa Libertadores. I become manager of the Chile national side and I manage to reach the semi-finals of the world cup with them.

Fantasy 7: I live in a castle

I live in a giant castle, placed on the crest of a hill overlooking a small town. The local community say 'he's a bit mad, y'know?' I spend a long time brooding. I have a cellar stocked with a lot of red wine. Every week a prostitute comes over to have sex with me (to ease off sexual frustrations).

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Tuesday, 29 March 2016

University unions

'BUY. PARTY. SELL. HAVE FUN.'

Those words. They are hardly words that you would associate with a union, but they are roughly the words that my university union brandish outside their premises.

I do really find it rather ridiculous. A university union should be able to intervene when students are treated badly either by academics, business people of one stripe or another or extortionate landlords. If you an academic won't grade your paper or treats you unfairly, there's nothing that they can do. That's what they are meant to be there for. If the university is charging too much for rented accommodation, again, there's nothing that they can do or willing to do. They are supine and powerless.

And why is a union associated with a club? When I went to see the winners of the union elections, it was held at a club. Every time they would announce a winner, they would have intermittent blasts of pop music and the winners would dance around. What does the union say? WE CAN'T HELP YOU AT ALL WITH ANY TYPE OF INJUSTICE BUT, YOU KNOW WHAT, LET'S PARTY!!!!!!

What the union is ultimately there for is propping up careerists. Aspiring Conservative or Labour politicians run to further their nascent careers. It looks impressive on their CV. Even Conservative people, who do not even believe in the very idea of unions, die to control them.

Universities should be a hot-bed for discussion and free debate. Yet it really irks me how anodyne they are in this respect. Rather than allowing free debate, they promote a lot of PC stuff like LGBT awareness and anti-rape propaganda. Whilst rights for the LGBT rights are fine enough cause to espouse and rape is clearly abominable, this does not contribute to discussion or even any tangible change. They are just platitudes that make you look good.

It really does make me sick.

Tuesday, 8 March 2016

Sell yourself

Our society is becoming increasingly commercialised. Commercialisation has not even impacted public services such as hospitals and schools. It has impacted the individual. Every act is now effectively a commercial act. All behaviour is commercial.

Let me explain why I think this. We all have our profiles on social media. I am not exempt from this. As a matter of fact, my blog is not exempt from this. In this blog I have listed my preferences. This in itself is a form of self-commodification. It becomes capital. I project an image of myself online – I sell myself online – and people consume a projection of my individuality. This is the same with social media. People list their favourite books, films and music.

It becomes paranoid and neurotic. All types of behaviour become commodified. People constantly self-monitor themselves on such media. People become consumers of their own minutia. If I go out and I make an idiot of myself, I am neurotic the next day because the incident might become currency on social media. Meaningful communication becomes redundant because we are all performing as an idealised version of what we think we are. Only idealisations sell.

This trivialises politics. By becoming members of groups, it becomes more of a statement of yourself rather than a meaningful statement on affairs. Being a Marxist is edgy, as is being an Anarchist. People brandish t-shirts of Marx, making a mockery of what he stood for. Clothes are an important currency. By being a Goth, or an emo or a hipster – or whatever – you have to dress appropriately. Just walking across the street, every individual is a walking advertisement for a certain lifestyle. A lot of these subcultures don't propound theories about the state of affairs. They are simply profiting from zeitgeists.

The notion of having a public service funded by taxpayers is an anachronism. Even these remaining services are sold to us with garish pamphlets and the like. People are forgetting about this. All that matters is that you should have a good time. Don't foget to buy a cappuccino while you’re at it.

Sunday, 6 March 2016

Desert island discs

I started thinking about my choices for this program recently. I recall that I did the exact same post a number of years ago, but I have changed my choices since then. This is a very indulgent thing to do - but this is my blog, where anything goes, so who cares?

The premise of this program is that you choose eight pieces of music, one book and one luxury item to take with you to a desert island.

1. Ich Ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ (Piano Version) - J. S. Bach

Bach has now become my favourite composer. I like his music very much because 1) It has a mystical quality that's very similar to a lot of religious art - i.e. cathedrals and Renaissance painting - where your senses are disoriented and you feel overcome by something larger than yourself. 2) The counterpoint, where several layers of music play at the same time, is especially interesting to listen to. It's fascinating to listen how the musical voices interact with one another and how they are resolved. 3) The seemingly endless treasures you encounter the further you dig into his body of work. He was an extremely prolific composer, yet very little of what he wrote is uninteresting to me.

Bach never wrote music for the piano - it didn't exist during his lifetime. He wrote for the harpsichord instead. I especially like the way a lot of his pieces sound on the piano. My favourite of these arrangements would be 'Ich Ruf zu dir Herr Jesu Christ.' I like the performance by Alfred Brendel, a brilliant pianist, the most.



2. 'Death and the Maiden' String Quartet No. 14  in D Minor by Franz Schubert

I like Schubert for the same reason that many people listen to music - he writes beautiful melodies and his music is very pleasant to listen to. I am especially fond of string quartets as a whole and this is quite likely the most well-known quartet piece ever written. It is a 'programmatic' piece, meaning that it has an accompanying story attached to it.

Schubert was one of the early 'Romantic' composers. To put it simply, the movement in music was largely interested in 'emotion.' This piece does indeed stir the emotions quite a lot. As the piece progresses, it becomes more exalted. Schubert wrote astonishingly beautiful melodies, but it's also very interesting to hear how he harmonises the voices.



3. String Quartet No. 4 by Bela Bartok

Bartok is my favourite composer after Bach. Although his music is very dissonant, it's still melodic and it is tonal - though it does shift across many keys during the course of a single piece. What I like about modern music is that I do hear melody in a lot of it, but it's a lot more angular. There is a lot of strangeness and beauty to that. Bartok drew from Hungarian folk melodies and transformed them into visceral modern classical pieces. In this piece, the five movements 'mirror' each other. The first and fifth movements are related, the second and fourth movments are related and the third movement is a quiet interlude. Like a lot of other modern music, Bartok was interested in ryhthm. In this piece, the melodies are played almost rhythmically.



4. Clocks and Clouds by Gyorgy Ligeti

Post-war music was considerably more abstract than the music that preceded it. Ligeti, another Hungarian, is one of the more approachable ones. His music employed 'micropolyphony,' which involved many individual voices playing simultaneously. This created large tone clusters, a large homegenous sound constituting many individual parts.

This piece is particularly impressive. Unlike a lot of other modern music, it sounds somewhat mellifluent. It is dream-like and strange. It has a disorienting effect, much in the same way that a lot of Bach's music affects my senses. I am fond of getting drunk whilst listening to music - Ligeti is one of my main choices for such occasions, alongside Bach.



5. Autumn's Child by Captain Beefheart & His Magic Band

I have a strong emotional attachment to Beefheart's music. I have been listening to his stuff for twelve years now. This song is more 'straightforward' than a lot of his other stuff. It's somewhat mawkish, even. I still find the 4/4 section very moving - and very evocative. You have Beefheart's vocal about a past encounter, the chorus sings about 'go back four years' ago and finally you have the eerie theremin to boot. This being Beefheart, the more 'striaght' sections get interrupted by unusual time signatures. This really is a truly overpowering song.



6. British Grenadiers - Gross Chapel by The Fall

The Fall are my favourite rock act, alongside Beefheart. Whereas a lot of their output is somewhat blithe, this track is a lot darker. I have always thought that the album this is from, Bend Sinister, is one of their best and very underrated. The Fall are from the post-punk era. This meant that consumers who were not technically proficient realised that they could make music. This led to very unorthodox and interesting results. These bands were listening to a lot of interesting bands, such as Beefheart. Mark E. Smith hardly ever sings; he recites. His lyrics are very abstract and very embittered. On paper, they are baffling, but they are mesmerising on record.



7. Naima by John Coltrane

Jazz is easily one of my favourite genres - it's possibly my favourite genre alongside classical. I fondly remember being a lazy 15-year-old who would sit in his room all day listening to jazz records. I was a terrible student back then!

'Naima' is such a wonderful tune. This tune is just so life-affirming and soothing. I feel infinitely better every time I give it another spin. Coltrane's virtuosic technique takes me to the most wonderful places.



8. Flamenco Sketches by Miles Davis

Everything about the record Kind of Blue is just perfect. Every note is in the right place. There are so many tracks I could choose from Davis' discography, but I would have to go for this one. Again, it's a very soothing and uplifiting piece. I love how Miles' stamp is firmly indented in all of his music, even the cheesy 80s synth stuff.

This is the first jazz record I listened to. It's a record a lot of people start with - it's a great portal. Finally, I'll just end by saying how much I regretted leaving Ornette Coleman's 'Lonely Woman' out from this list.



Book: Fictions - Jorge Luis Borges

I thought that I would chose a book that I can read many times. Borges' stories are something you keep returning to and something that you find surprising every time you re-read. His stories are so intertextual that, in many ways, you are familarising yourself with literature culled from many centuries. So this is more than  one book in many ways.

Luxury item: A typewriter with a lifetime supply of ribbons and paper.

I would want to be able to write in this island. Typewriters are cumbersome, but then computers are too distracting. I prefer to type when writing stuff - I am not a pen-and-paper person.

Thursday, 25 February 2016

When relativism becomes sinister

‘The intellectual’ is often an archetypal ‘outsider.’ This is a cliché – and, as another cliché would have it, there is truth in clichés. The intellectual doesn’t partake in popular culture. He is critical of trends; he lives in an Ivory Tower. This leads the intellectual to rail against ‘power’ and, another yucky word, ‘imperialism.’ He will assiduously rail against all of its manifestations. Power covertly manifests itself in everything – it is, to a degree, ‘pan-power.’ However, the intellectual instinctively identifies himself with the person who stands out from the herd. This is often the madman, who is institutionalised by agents of power and henceforth labelled and repressed. Hence, French intellectuals will relativise and say there’s no such thing as madness. Or they will say that the entirety of the western canon is imperialistic, that both Bach and Kant are imperialists.

These intellectuals identify with mad people and racial minorities. They are ‘the voice of the voiceless.’ What I find is that this is completely disrespectful to those demographics. It is nothing more than self-aggrandisement and empty posturing. By reading the entire canon of western though as being ‘imperialistic,’ it does not seem like an honest assessment. It’s a cheap way of overlooking a complex body of knowledge. Viewing mad people as poetic outsiders who defy society is disrespectful to those people. So is being a ‘voice’ to ‘voiceless’ third-world people. By using obfuscatory labels such ‘globalisation’ and ‘neo-liberalism,’ you are hardly empathising with their plight. You are simply putting yourself on a pedestal.

As someone who has had issues with a mental illness in the past, I do find it troubling to hear that madness isn’t ‘real.’ I had an episode and it was a disgusting, frightening and horrifying experience. I find that both psychiatry and psychotherapy both have their uses. But when psychotherapists use that rhetoric, it just becomes political. It employs that relativistic trick beloved of those French relativists – psychiatrists wield power and hence must be bad. Foucault even goes on to speak of madness as being a ‘choice.’ This is a way of rallying against the Enlightenment and ‘reason.’ Madness isn’t a way of rallying against the Enlightenment, reason and agents of power. For largely chemical reasons, it happens. Literature – especially the Romantic movement – romanticises it. Anyone who has lived through it – and relatives of people who experience it also live through it – realise that it is anything but romantic. It is often mundane, painful and burdensome.


Institutions are needed to taxonomise madness. Psychiatric medications are not always the solution, but they do work. It is great that we have institutions like the NHS – free at the point of use – that are able to intervene in such incidents. This kind of intellectualising and relativising becomes sinister when it profits from people who go through hell. 

Thursday, 18 February 2016

Rational/irrational



Surely we are just a bundle of rational and irrational processes. I am capable, just like any other person, of making reasoned judgements. I can make logical propositions. I can do basic arithmetic. Other humans, endowed with higher cognitive abilities than mine, can solve gargantuan mathematical equations.  Equally, I can be irrational. Not all of my actions are intentional or even voluntary. I have desires, which I often cave in to. I might make judgements that are capricious and not informed by reason.

There is nothing earth-shattering in all this. In fact, the further back in western thought you go, the more prominent this type of thinking is. The pre-socratics often thought in these dualistic terms. Plato came up with an allegory of a carriage. Reason was represented by the person who steered the carriage. One horse represented reason and logic whereas the other represented the irrational. The person who steered the carriage had to make sure that reason prevailed. This was symbolic of Plato’s conception of the soul, which was a composite of rational and irrational tendencies.

Schopenhauer believed that, like the rest of nature, we are driven by a will. This will, however, is not under our control. It is bodily and irrational. It can be controlled, however, by the faculty of reason which is able to make sound judgements on complex matters.

All these philosophical theories are corroborated by recent science. The left side of the brain, apparently, is the rational side whereas the right side is creative. We clearly are driven by desires and needs that defy our ability to make sound judgements. If we introspect, we quickly arrive at these conclusions.

Yet it does seem to annoy a lot of humanists and preachers of reason when you bring up this blindingly obvious observation. I don’t really need to be told that we need to follow reason, that we need to be logical and that democracy is a great thing. It is a wholly unoriginal argument that smacks of banality. If you want to promote the cause of reason, surely there are more interesting and nuanced ways of promoting your argument?

 I like believing that I am in a perennial liminal state, that sooner or later I may go stark raving mad. I like having the choice between Dinosysian excess and Appolonian purity. (More Greek stuff right there.) The Greek pagan gods were great. Heresy or blasphemy weren’t really things as such. If you offend a God, it’s not a big deal because there are other gods to offend. They even a God for wine, ecstasy and excess! To counterbalance that, there is a God for purity! I like that idea of dualism. It’s much more closer to the truth, and much more liberating, than a staid monotheism. Millennia later,  it paved the way for a kind of Protestanism that said that you can never have fun, that everything must be drab and grey and that all of your energy must be devoted to work and the economy, which is God’s will…


I make room for the rational. There is something about the Protestant work ethic that I admire, too. I like the notion of putting all your energy into your profession. Still, you could make the argument that a quotient of unreason is healthy. Without a quotient of unreason, reason can become stifling and might even tilt you 180 degrees toward madness. There is something healthy in random acts of senseless destruction, if they are utterly harmless to others. This is what I like about Freud. We are sick creatures which can’t be cured, but we are all the better if we expunge our irrational impulses.