Masterpieces of Mediocrity What happens when everyone transmits, leaving nobody to receive?Impossible to attain that elusive zone of substance, in between ta’arof and bullshit How did we go from a debate over authenticity To a culture clash over technology? From setting straight mis-summariesTo sucking up debate’s oxygen With talk of safe spaces, shimmering vistas of offense, personal hurtTrauma, therapy, respect, patriarchy Appeasement. #MeTwoPalpitating lakes of loss, resentment, misdirection Oh for a drought!
The universe, at 3:30 am’s desiccated depths Beamed down the evanescence of a million fading stars A muted, inscrutable forest treelineWithin which dormant night’s silenced, birds and animals dwell The opposite of a world where silence Is banished through an abundance of noise Take out your earbuds when running through the woodsIndeed, don’t run, accelerating your passage through a wise reality Accept Nature’s purest musicWithout deafening your ears with Urgent podcasts broadcasting a tree-huggers’ gospel In a reminder that, come day’s endWho will have heard of Tolstoy’s daughter? Only the works remainNeither his dinners, nor the offspring
Can you deal with life emotionally? Or get by with living rationally? Towards which will your life keel? Accelerated tech-reinforced soporifics in San Francisco, Dubai, Hong Kong?Or liminal living in the Cairos and Tehrans of the mind? Middle class عادی وگوسفندی in post-crisis Athens? Or down-and-out in 21st century Paris and London? A life of updated OS’s, mental breakdowns, unfree Medicare, extreme processing and uplevelling?A life of anxious positionings in the face of the seeping inevitability of technological domination over human will?Succumbing to the belief that walls must be erected, exoplanets colonized, Antipodean boltholes secured?While scrambling for meaning among cultures once rejected, once repressing, now severed-from? Or will it be a life of regimented unpredictability rooted in traditions, however deficient?And a human will unsubjugated to politically correct behaviours? Eat, Pray, Love for the delusional and privilegedHuman agency extolled for its capacity to self-actualize rather than socially mobilize. Diverted inwardlyDefused
She didn’t get her visa, even at last appeal. All summer’s plans annulled A body released through a trapdoorWrenched back – lifeless – by a noose. First World problems, neverthelessNone of whose consequences can deprive us of a future, shelterOnly of comfort. Back at the talking shop, we discuss expectations of how our lives ought to unfoldOught to?Reinforced by the Gospel of American can-doism, therefore will-doismCarefully skirting away from won’t-happenism What if you were not to expect as muchIn a society where others have been trained to expect the most? Would you tame the wolves? Or be devoured by them?
12 pagan gods parachuted into the automated 20th centuryBlinking at the profusion of screens; blinking at the replacement of essence with speedFlummoxed by the banishment of relations by technological crutchesInhuman transactionality The gods noticed that the most exploitation Happened in the space where human relations had frayed the mostThere, the awesome bulldozers of neoliberalismWere at their busiest dispossessing communities, privatizing and extracting value (But all is not lost – a wag said – when hollow emotionality can sluice into the emergent gaps!)Hollow, nevertheless. Repelled by the artificiality, their initial amusement at the weirdness rapidly clottingPost-haste they reentered their car, headed back to the train station Perhaps Olympus might still be there; a redemption of sorts.
I’m not in a position to tell you how to drink your soup, said the ColombianI will eat the Marco Polo sheep, the honorary Tajik decidedI don’t want to offend the local code of hospitalityAfter all, dead is dead, and the living must take care of the living I’m triggered by your idea that Honesty is TruthThe offensiveness of dictating your self-perception, and buttressing it with the threat of personal offenseThe idea that you can be – in that fragile space of trust between us – whatever your self-image dictatesAnd rather than being allowed to interpret, I be obliged to accept, But you can’t be what you’re not. Much as you may want itStrive hard, to be what you ‘seek’ All the rest is Eat, Pray, Love and aspirational self-help.
A musician striving to express an idea without his foreign origins ringing a false-note accent Milan Kundera’s dying father, finding it all oh-so-strange. A dancer performing in a stadium before an audience of 10.000, but nary a person to connect with The celebrated father’s son, paying forward to reap future crops, dividends-to-be. A victimized Iraqi rewarding the small-minded around her with gushing torrents of love, from the far side of evolved consciousness.A photographer, fresh from a tribal migration, whose blueprint for survival is social embedding – and Mujahedin dinners. The Iranian in Latin America who, embargoed by his passport, earns 72-hour tranches of freedom by becoming a pilot. A long sojourn in Algeria, and an encounter in Oran’s student protests with a baby-faced Ahmad Batebi, in a pre-sentiment of a turbulent future. Stabs at individuality struggling against the era’s homogenizing artificiality.
A crowd of fishermen content in their indolence; marauding maddened pachyderms, discontented by jilted Empire’s reluctant reps; whip-yielding convict executioners flexing in dusty Rawalpindi execution fields, their stretched biceps wooing dazed, lusting crowds All commenced a mad stampede, on Thursday, through the muffled hallways of a 15th-century castle in the Loire Valley Thundering under elaborate chandeliers, past peering portraiture of yesteryear’s regal gentry, past the encrusted blood of a woman’s handprint – vanished overnight in the 1920s – and the etched hopes of jailed Jews consigned to the peeling walls of SS-commandeered attics What a noise, what a hullabaloo! Only the enclosing forest’s massed ranks of trees could hush the fuss, muffle the amok, preserve sanity. And they did. Escape into the forest, its muddied, ambiguous lakes, enigmatic thickets, unbroken treeline stretching away into Time.
This rare sight of a pure sky, unpolluted by electricity or the dimming reflections generated by cities, makes for a good start to a time-segment dedicated to exploring notions of authenticity and how they apply to an ever more polluted world.