We’re brought up to believe that the Holocaust was unique, industrialised genocide was invented by the Nazis.
Reading a fascinating, sobering, infuriating, terrifying book by Sven Lindqvist, The Dead Do Not Die, and it’s bleeding into my dreams.
On 2 September 1898, Kitchener’s army of 8000 regulars used Maxim guns, Dum Dum bullets and 12 gunboats to mow down 12000 Mahdist forces in a few hours and secure the Sudan from the French. The British lost 47 men and the enemy never came closer than 50 meters to their lines. He then ordered the wounded and captives be murdered and around 18000 were duly killed. Even young Winston Churchill blenched at that.
Hitler studied the British and Americans avidly in prison in the 20’s: white supremacy, eugenics and genocide. This is who we are. He was a good student and took our own brutal cultures to new heights. Perhaps we need something more thorough-going than a commission on statues or whatever. And I’m not sure we really need any more … of anyone. We need to start to de-colonialise, de-imperialise our culture, our institutions and our society in the same way Germany has striven to inoculate itself from totalitarianism and look its own history in the face.
I’m not sure we need “Black History”, but we do need history. And if it focuses on Britain then it needs to be looking at what we really did. Our actions, in the past and still today, look monstrously different from the other side in Australia, North America, China, Africa, India, Iraq, the list is almost endless … everywhere we plundered to build our better world. We need the Truth before there can be any Reconciliation.
Oh and by the way: Happy Golowon! Late night, early rise! Happy Solstice!
The police here, as much as in the US, strut and strike as a pumped-up, psyched-up occupying force, cuffing and humiliating, electrocuting and bullying and terrorising neighbourhoods where “nice” people don’t live and the “nice” people see them as their personal security service and they do this to enforce the boundaries, the differences, the variable opportunities, the access and freedoms that our system grants to the families of those who are already in charge, or those who service them.
Our democracy, institutions of power and privilege, our systems of access are not policed in the same way, here or in the US. Nice people, nicely spoken, nicely dressed, liberal, highly educated people sit in quiet studies and say 3 powerful words: Black Lives Matter. Well, they did this week.
And they say: It’s just that … I’m sorry but … very high calibre … unfortunately this time … a difficult decision … the right fit … you must understand … 3 powerful words.
They blight lives, exclude and act as gate keepers to defend their own supremacy.
Admissions tutors, arts administrators, hiring committees, social workers, teachers, bankers and civil servants.
To paraphrase Roy Batty: I’ve seen (and heard) things you people wouldn’t believe.
Cool shoes, smart casual, herbal teas … they do the same job. They don’t see themselves that way but they are the thug police.
They are defending Rhodes’ statue at Oriel College in Oxford … It’s been four years but now: Rhodes Must Fall.
And it must be the start of a new conversation and not the end.
Under a full moon the Chief Economist, High Priest of the Cult of Mathiness, crosses the obsidian abyssal waters of the flooded caldera of Mount Data to the Temple of Light to consult the Gods of Money and read the measurements from the great golden armillary sphere, literally made of money; bringing an offering — a poor human baby.
Busby Berkeley meets Albert Speer, Nuremberg meets Vegas on a sound stage in Hollywood.
Weird that such a cold intellectual conceit came fully formed and just needed to be executed. Just! Ha! Ambition is a terrible thing and biting off more than you can chew can choke you. Perhaps a bit over the top … so unlike me … why be subtle and nuanced … when you can just beat them over the head? … and stretching my skills beyond breaking point but … it seems to hold together and does reflect the pomposity and self-importance of the financial world’s “Masters of the Universe”, not to mention the misanthropic, libertarian homunculi in Downing Street.
Fetishising models means that the only ideas that can gain traction are those that can be modelled and an elegant model that bears no empirical, indexical relationship to the real world or simply ignores the fact that it refers to real living breathing people just like the ones we know and love is worse than useless: it is a weapon. Dominic.
Ancient Chinese astronomers of the Zhou dynasty were mathematical virtuosos and their measurements were amazingly accurate but as there is no causal connection between the way the arrangements of planets and stars look from earth and what happens here on earth, save for a supernova, it won’t help your marriage, win your war or guarantee a bumper harvest.
In 2003 I read Brian Greene’s Elegant Universe trying to learn about about quantum physics and string theory — I understood almost every word, and looked up the ones I didn’t. I read it from cover to cover hiding from the celestial fire in Canicule Paris but I didn’t understand string theory — I didn’t know what the words meant, I didn’t understand how they related to the real world. I can still repeat some of the phrases but they don’t make sense. To paraphrase Wanda: Apes do read philosophy, they just don’t understand it!
We use metaphors and models to help get a grip on complex ideas, so that we can grasp them in our three dimensions, turn them, animate them, look at them from the other side. We mustn’t mistake them for the real thing.
This morning I read about a guy called Toby Hall, a member of Glastonbury Town Council’s 5G Advisory Committee. He’s been recommending a device sold by BioShield Distribution for £340 to protect their parishoners from dangerous radiation from electromagnetic fields. But for all their talk of “relativistic time dilation and biological quantum entanglement at the DNA level”, the £5 usb stick does absolutely nothing. At least he is sleeping better and having more dreams, feels a ‘calmer’ feel to the home and still thinks the company might be able to develop a system to offer protection to the whole town of Glastonbury. Good grief. We have to find and ask useful questions, to get meaningful answers which will help us better understand the world.
To return to one misanthropic, libertarian homunculus in particular: it’s not about the details of what he did — it’s the fact that he did it; it’s not about the inconsistencies in his story — it’s that he thought he had a right to tell it when others could not; it’s not about the judgement he used in realtion to the imperatives he faced, it’s about his judgement of the nature of his position, that he thought he had a right to use judgement at all in this case. You can argue endlessly about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin until you face up to the fact that none can … full stop.
If Cummings can’t see that he has broken the contract of trust and that means even more people will die unnecessarily when they feel free to ignore the guidelines, use their own judgement. And now rules which were brought in to protect us, while systems were established and perfected to crunch the threat, are retrospectively amended and ameliorated to accommodate his actions, senior figures in the government and the health system vomit faecal vacuities in his defence and undermine our trust in our guardians, then he’s an idiot or a liar or both.
The thing I find most contemptuous is that he has shown the rule of law is not, he has shown us that there are some people who are “free” to do as they see fit. And get away with it. And that the rest of us are subject to arbitrary power. This is what fundamentally identifies a slave.
He sees himself as one of the Masters of the Universe. I’ve met some of them and they are clever people — he’s not thick but he’s not in their league — he’s a dim person’s idea of what a clever person is.
But they too mistook cleverness for wisdom and they are not the same thing. And not what we need.
Ray Harryhausen’s Dynamation meets Ilya Repin’s Volga Barge Haulers, Poussin meets Hergé, ancient myth meets Mary Shelley.
Blind Orion drags the 200,000 ton mega rig, Berkut, into the Arctic Dawn.
Orion, earthborn, the most beautiful of the giants … the childhood of mankind. Innocent but insatiable: took whatever he wanted. Was blinded for raping Merope. Forgiven and restored. And still boasted that he could kill all the animals of the earth. Horrified, Gaia created a giant scorpion on which he trod. And that was the end of Orion.
Not that you could stretch beautiful or innocent to include Trump, Johnson, Bolsonaro, Putin or their moneyed master giants.
Everything must change … we cannot just go back … we will not just go on, we have relearned what we had forgot … sheesh, how naive can some people be. Don’t worry your little heads, they won’t let you get ideas. The people who created this disaster by dismantling even our prepared response, who had already dismantled so much, the value of which we are now rediscovering are spying new opportunities, new horizons as we hunker down, reconnect to our communities and fall in love with peace and quiet and clear skies and birdsong … though the boring, sour dough cruelty of lockdown has been denied to so many who had no choice but be our front line.
They knew they would not be forgiven for spending to avert a disaster but know they will never be forgiven for not spending to rescue us from it either — so they spend. The bill will be so much higher in money terms, never mind human, but so will the upsides too. Clear the decks, reset, game over, on to the next level. You cannot argue with a divine dispensation. But they didn’t just stumble because they were short-sighted short-termists. They are thick and stupid, greedy and selfish but they also do not care at all. If we die, if we get sick, if we go hungry, if we are fired, if we are homeless, if we are afraid, it simply does not register as valid feeling never mind pain. It’s not just that some animals are more equal than others, it’s a nineteenth century dichotomy: we have eternal souls, they do not. If it means anything at all to them it is a moral lesson to the dead — you, individually and in isolation, failed the rest of us, you failed your family and yourself. It must be so — black or brown skin, underlying health conditions, poor housing, hard work, low pay — these are lifestyle choices after all. It is right that you paid because everything must be paid for. Except what isn’t.
Baffled and frightened, angry and … helpless and just so fucking angry. Is it too drippy a retreat to wander the glades of Mount Latmos or wherever? I think I love Poussin because I am intrigued and entranced but not intimidated. And like Beethoven with Diabelli’s trite little waltz, you’re somehow liberated. Eee — you grandiose … Whatever.
“Continual reference to your properly set compass will accurately guide you to your goal.” The man said.
Oh, if only.
There are times when sharpening pencils is not just therapeutic but genuinely useful.
The piece I’m working on is just not being cooperative … and I’ve banged my head against the wall for long enough. The horse is totally flogged and still not showing signs of life. That is a gruesome phrase. Time to come at him sideways. Sidle up and smile. The work, the horse, the confidence … someone’s going to end up with their head bashed in …