I always feel like an outsider except when I really am one.
When listening to a very short extract or rather the start of a longer talk by Zizek on utopia this is what I understood: that he understands discussion of utopia to be by its very nature a discussion of something which does not take account of material conditions, the contradictions, conflicts and struggles, out of which it arises. Therefore, I surmise, that the discussion of utopia is in fact the discussion of elements which in themselves are not corrupt, in themselves itself having no material expression.
In discussion with a true believer I asserted that there is no more shame associated with the Western tradition than with others. That indeed this analytical mindset was one that enables the person to understand the viewpoint of another yet maintain their sense of being within that analytical framework. Other frames, other traditions but not all, cannot understand the other’s position as their own has yet to collapse. Our tradition emerges from collapse. The collapse of an ordered cosmos, the collapse of the order at the very least. The collapse of the soul perhaps. The collapse of the ego. Even the disappearance of heroic embodiment in favour of celebrity. It is the recognition of the possibility of collapse, its inevitability having already once happened, that forms the very freedom necessary to rebuild in a materially profound fashion, elements of the world which surround us. The heroic and true believer negates all this through a willingness to self-sacrifice, death not feared and it is true that death cannot be avoided. And it is true that the desire to maintain one’s eyesight after the onset of a debilitating eye disease may well be a desire to avoid that death. Death is inevitable but what we try to avoid is not the inevitable but things that are markedly evitable: high mortality rates in childbirth, frequent insurgencies of painful ways of dying. We do not play God. But God does not play God. God doesn’t play at all. We play that being people. That is what we are, scrawled out of the mud. A material. Consciousness as material.
I’m on my way home now
It’s not quite getting late
But I’m getting quite tired
Someone’s been singing about how
I put a golden comb in your black hair
I’m sick of you being dead
So I’ve been wanting to write this for some time. It’s something to do with all possible futures.
We have been to Cornwall as a family over the recent Easter holidays and on the return journey we stopped in a service station. One of the children had some sort of toasted Italian penny type sandwich in a Costa coffee. There were people queueing to get burgers from some sort of burger bar. The usual shop was there with crisps, bars of chocolate and a variety of drinks and newspapers knickknacks, the usual things. And then we had a couple of lovely bean salads from Waitrose or possibly Marks & Spencer’s.
I was talking about this to my friend Afif and mentioned that the one group of people for whom there was no particular offer were the Muslim population. What struck me was that you could be somebody who wanted a cheap burger, somebody who wanted a coffee shop experience, somebody who wanted to eat organic food. The service station would support all those choices as the market for each of these forms of food commodity was sufficiently powerful that they were now well installed even in roadside service stations. Every body was served.
At the same time in my life my 2nd daughter has announced that she is transgender, transsexual, gender fluid, wishes now to be known by a boys name, referred to with the masculine pronoun and introduced as our son. This whilst we live in an area where such ideas would be anathema to many of the religious believers in our community as well as others of course.
At some point in the conversation my friend Afif said something about how when he had been young it was difficult to imagine that the future would be like this. What this made me realise was that we live in a state where all futures are possible. Each of these choices can be made and each of these choices has a sufficiently large network to support it even broadly in the public domain. You can be a Muslim and everything is there for your requirements. You can be part of a closed Christian community and have a wide support network. You can be an open racist in your life and find support. You can be a transsexual and find support. You can wish to live entirely from organic food resources and live amongst a wide and supportive network. You can wish to eat cheap burgers factory produced. All of the choices, not necessarily tolerant of each other, are possible, are available within a wide support network of similar minded people. All of the possible futures have come to be at the same time and in the same place.
Well after my fieldwork was completed and towards the end of writing this thesis I had a dream. Alaigne was a river and I was to cross the river. The water level was low compared to what I knew it could be and this was good because I wore Wellington boots that came up to just below my knee and I wanted to cross without getting my feet wet. I wanted to cross to show that it was possible to get to the other side without getting my feet wet. I started into the water and found the bottom of the river to be muddy so though the water was low it began to lap the top of my boots. My boots were stuck in the mud and as I struggled to free them wanting to show that I could cross the river without water in my boots yet my boots they sank further into the mud. Yet still my feet stayed dry and I didn’t see the other side.
“John thinks you are not honest – you don’t really care.”
“But I’m here two weeks” I replied, wondering at first who John was at first.
[Two weeks to complete this thesis John]
To enter the cathedral of Wells you must first pass through the cloister. The south west tower of the cathedral abut the arcades of the cloister. Entering at the back of the nave to your left are the lower rows of dressed masonry stone forming the base of one of the south west tower. Low down is a full-size face carved into the stonework of the tower. It is certainly very old. It appears that this part of the cloister, known as the West cloister, was not involved in liturgical life. As today, this was the main entrance into the cathedral from the marketplace. At what point and who – somebody found the space, out of sight, to mark the stones this strongly I don’t know. It makes a fine figure for someone forging their identity in the cathedral.
As I walked through Wells this evening I saw a man leaning against a car.
Who is that walking through town? He thought. I’ll keep an eye on him.
This town is bloated with money yet nobody is spending enough to keep it happy.
Across the road a figure stands
Like those dry appearing higher branches of an old tree
The greenery clustered below