The Wandering Id

A Blog by Jimmy Sky – featuring reviews, interviews, stories, music, poetry, politics, art, travel notes, journal scraps and pieces of Jimmy's soul,

The Problem of Attachment – Also COVID

Do you know what’s quite bizarre about existence, is this.

The more you care about a thing – it doesn’t really matter what the thing is, it might be a loved one, or a political issue, or, the latest fashion, or your garden – but regardless, the more you invest yourself in seeking the most positive outcome for that thing, throwing yourself madly into it, caring, caring and caring some more – the more unhappy you will be.

You won’t be able to stop worrying. Oh no, what if this or that goes wrong, I must forever tend to this interest of mine. I desire so very strongly to see it prosper, for the ‘right’ thing to come about. The moment something goes wrong, you’ll need to be front and centre doing your best to fix it, to make that thing better. And the thing is, life doesn’t work like that.

If you’re a parent who has brought up your child the best possible way, sent them to the best school, given them all of your love – there is still no guarantee they won’t end up addicted to something, or just an awful person. Certainly you’ll have given them a head start over others, but if you look closely at a lot of parents there’s a line that many cross, despite the fact they genuinely care, between positively assisting their children, and inadvertently setting them up to fail later on. Some, of course, genuinely do a wonderful job, but there is still that possibility that some aspect of their child’s future will be far out of their control. And then when that thing comes about, or when outside forces take over where they left off and a negative outcome occurs, they are beside themselves, “oh I didn’t raise you this way!” Worse still, they may simply blame themselves, as if they’ve done some terrible disservice to their child, despite having done nothing wrong at all. Ultimately an adult must make their own decisions at some point, and they are responsible for who they will become.

Similarly, a person who wants to bring positive change to the world, when they are so caught up in that change happening – well there’s a lot of people in the world and they are very hard to sway. Many such people simply crumble into despair, and where before they were such positive, hopeful people, ready to save a fish or stand up to the authority for whatever encroachment – and there are so very many they might decide to put upon their people; well such people transform. We’ve all seen it, the despair turns to anger, the anger turns to bitterness, and they’re an entirely different person. There are so very many people who fit this description.

Another example is if you wanted to build a house. Now let’s say you’re the kind of person who invests their time, energy, resources, their own labour even into this house. It’s the dream of a lifetime, and after some saving, some contracting, yet more labour of one’s own, the dream is finally realised! What a palace for one person, all finally complete. Then, just as you’re about to step into the house, a hurricane comes along and tears it down completely.

Now this is a very old parable, reframed into a slightly more modern context. It is covered by nearly all the religions in some way or another, and aspects of psychology touch on it too. For many the problem is known as attachment, but try not to think of it in the colloquial sense of the term. Think of attachment the way an eastern philosopher might think of it. It is less about wanting the best for that thing, or person, or even enjoying them, and more about your personal, emotional attachment to outcomes related to that person or thing. The trick is to learn detachment – which, it should be said, is entirely different from disassociation, and indeed separate from a lack of positive association. It is not as if we suddenly just drop everything we care about in the bin and decide to live selfishly. That’s a whole other problem, dealt with very skillfully by the twin concepts of karma and dharma, but those ideas are another discussion for another time – preferably with someone more knowledgeable about the topics than me. At any rate, detachment is a skill, where one by small degrees, emancipates oneself from the outcomes associated with a given thing, creature or person. In other words, to become more concerned with the journey, than the destination. Even if the ‘journey’ is your association with a person. You might teach yourself to enjoy observing them instead of fretting about how they are going to injure themselves. Chances are, they will do it no matter how you intervene. Of course, a bit of common sense must always be stirred into such recipes.

In the most recent context, we have all very much succumbed to attachment with relation to that big nasty virus that just won’t sit down and be quiet. That is fair enough, given we are human! Humans at the best of times struggle with amygdalic responses, that old reptilian part of ourselves that wants to respond only from fear, or survival-based, breeding-oriented processes. In eastern philosophies this is referred to in various ways, but could be distilled into the words desire, attachment, and of course, the illusion of material existence. Nobody wants to die, and they certainly don’t want to see their friends and family die or be severely incapacitated either.

So we have set out looking for a cure, and come up with some rather promising vaccines. Things were looking very good. Yet despite this, all manner of problems appeared. Politisisation of medicine, polarised politics regarding how to administer, or with relation to vaccinated and unvaccinated people. The media storms its way in and out of our lives on a daily basis, firing up our attachment drives and filling us with dread, anticipation, fuelling that need to have control of the outcome for ourselves and for others. Of course most of us have the best of intentions. Well, except perhaps for the people leading the giant company hell bent on profiting from medicine, but that is a different problem of attachment and desire once again.

Somehow, despite our long journey toward beating back the onslaught of nature’s newest killer, we have travelled a spectrum that screenwriters might struggle to get across the table a decade ago, simply because nobody would believe it to be true. We have travelled from two weeks to flatten the curve right down to everyone is going to get it at some point.  From vaccination protects you completely to vaccination stops the spread to vaccination stops you dying or going to hospital- but everyone’s probably going to get it. From get your shot and you’ll be safe to get another booster and you might survive, but looking at the numbers…we don’t know. You might die. From certainty, to a hopeful gamble on what we think we know. Meanwhile, one of the leading contributors to the system underpinning the solution, has become one of its most vocal antagonists.

Humanity has responded in kind, and mostly from an attached, amygdalic perspective. The most logical solution, to vaccinate oneself against a disease, has become a source of extreme prejudice, not just in political terms, but from house to house, and even within families. Many wish to force vaccination on others, and openly despise those who refuse to receive the almighty needle. For these types, vaccination remains a holy grail-esque activity, despite the new and less optimistic landscape of Omicron. For others, the vaccine remains the single greatest threat to human survival, despite the massive rate of survival recorded worldwide. For many, the problem is with mandates and segregation, and this returns us to our central point – the problem of control, and of attachment.

In some beautiful, perfect version of the world where each person is self-actualised, self-realised, and eternally living simultaneously in the moment while musing on the best options for optimal futures, none of us are responding in these ways. We are all in agreement. Whatever that agreement may be. But for those of us in this material reality, this rather awkward, ungainly, but incredibly beautiful physical realm, things aren’t so simple. Most of us respond instinctively, and that includes those of us who do have a rudimentary understanding of attachment, and methods of slowly removing attachment.

And so the wheel turns.

Now here we are, despite all of our best efforts – some will live, and some will die. How awful. How apt. And yet in all likelihood, regardless of protests attracting hundreds of thousands around the world, the hated mandates will probably continue, and the segregation will continue, and the duality of commercial chaos and enforced order will march on, grinding all beneath the boots of change. The ignorance of climate will continue as new synthetic plastic toys are tossed into the ocean in vast quantity, as microplastics are discovered in embryos for the first time. Most of us will continue to ignore the words of the prophets, the mad ones, those who point the way past popularity, fear, ignorance and the mire of karmic reaction. Instead we’ll switch on our TV, or pick up a portable device, and skate headlong into escapism, or sensory pleasure, and most definitely into instinctive responses to events we cannot possibly begin to control. Yet in the end it is all for naught, as the cold skeletal hand plucks each soul deftly from its mortal skin at the alloted time, no sooner, no later. Oh, the hubris of man.

Some however, will ask, “well then, what on earth am I supposed to do about this? If I can’t care too much, and I shouldn’t worry about how things turn out, perhaps I should just stop caring all together and give it up! Why should I suffer when everyone else seems perfectly happy to indulge themselves constantly at one end, largely do as they’re told at the other, and in between, occasionally rise up as a single mass in absolute rage at something they collectively disapprove of? Why can’t I do that?” It’s a common response, and a fair one, but if you’ve ever watched The Matrix, you should be aware that nobody promised a cushion under your bum when they promised you the truth of things.

To understand the nature of things…well, to begin to understand…is quite difficult. It is uncomfortable. It’s often rather painful. The question asked above is about one-third right, but it should stop at “why should I suffer?”

The answer to that, of course, is very simple. You should not have to suffer! At least not in the sense that we all tend to think of it today. Now here’s the important part, if you’ve made it this far. Remember, you’re not here to exercise escapism, or to stop having hard times, nor even to stop having good times. Go and build that house. Care for that child. Do it all! But remember, the journey is important, not the destination. And for goodness’ sake, you cannot stop a tidal wave, so stop trying to stop it. This applies to all the big things. Sometimes you really do have to just let it come, and ride it to its end. These cliches exist for good reason.

If you are curious about attachment, desire, suffering and the material realm, there are myriad philosophers, religious scholars, gurus, prophets, authors, teachers and the like (yes, I said teacher twice didn’t I?) and even scientists, occasionally – though they tend to deal more in the how than the why of things – whose works can assist you far more than I. After all, I spend many of my days ‘caring’ (mostly worrying) far, far too much. It is very hypocritical, but I have always been far better at dispensing good advice than adhering to it. So now that you’ve become curious about how to reduce your stress, to not worry so much about the big stuff, to move away from your amygdala, your instinct, your desire – your attachment – get out there and start reading! Enjoy the ride, dear friends.

Meta-Tech Folly Part 2 – Reconnected

A little update regarding the journey of those without a device as the burgeoning new world of technology inexorably advances, grinding the less fortunate beneath its plastic-coated iron wheels.

Because I am a privileged person, with a job, and an income, I have purchased a new mobile device, thereby rejoining the collective connected. I am updated the moment another human being expresses thought in my general direction, or, more importantly, if a company wishes to step into my personal space to advertise a product. What comfort.

Prior to the purchase, you may recall I posted regarding my experiences with having no device for a little while. The QR codes popping up everywhere, replacing menus, sign-in sheets, and the like. You may recall my thoughts regarding those less fortunate than myself, for whom access to devices and indeed printers and computers may be limited at best. Let’s not return to that, for the story just prior to reconnecting myself to this tiny little blue dot whose even tinier inhabitants are so very certain of their ‘rightness’ in any given situation, continues to its inevitable end (where I bought a phone).

I called my bank from a different phone number, to ask a question. Due to calling from a different phone number and this discrepancy popping up in front of the person taking my call, I was required to use the banking app on a mobile device to identify myself – despite telling the person on the line that my device was broken. I was assisted with my general enquiry, before being advised that I was, for security reasons, summarily barred from calling again, until I found the time to visit a bank in person, to identify myself. This was also because I don’t have a ‘phone banking password’ (because I don’t use the automated phone banking feature and prefer to talk to a human, as my queries are almost never assisted by automation – I know how to use the internet after all). I was helpfully assisted with advice that once identified at the bank, I could add this new number and it would not be a problem in future.

Here’s what was not requested or useful in managing my identity – my date of birth or my current address, or similar. You know, the things that actually identify my knowledge of myself as a person. What is now considered more secure, is one’s possession of an arbitrary number, or, you guessed it – the app that only works on your mobile device.

As always, I am fine, personally. Basic societal privilege allows for option. I walked into a shop on the weekend, they weren’t too fussed with my inability to sign in digitally, and so I bought a mobile device. I’m back online. Of course, we are not yet subject to many of the proposed changes in this country, or indeed the world.

However, as I sat in the cool, air-conditioned space, beating the intense heat emanating from a near-reflective pavement outside, I once again considered the following potentiality in the near future, a time when I, and more importantly, others, may not be so fortunate:

– Assume we advance a little further, with changes implemented as continues to be proposed

– This means my identity is now digitised, as is my vaccination status

– I can’t obtain another device, so I MUST go to the bank before I can access any of my financial information or indeed get a payment method like an ‘old school’ (LOL) card – because that was just stolen (hypothetically) – and cash, ha! That’s a thing of the past in this supposedly idyllic, safe near-future

– A problem arises: I have to first prove my vakkination status/sign-in digitally, to obtain to my payment apparatus, be it card or other

– This means due to my lack of a device, I must obtain a printout of my health status

– I don’t have a printout, or perhaps I did and it was lost, or wet and frayed and gone, and besides I don’t have my own printer or computer. Perhaps things have become very bad very quickly, and I am recently homeless

– I think quick, and realise there are still options! I still have an old library card, I can print it out at the library! I’m vacks-ed after all (let’s not bother with the unvakked discussion, too much heat in that. Let’s just stick with the easy-level discussion for now).

– I arrive at the library, which is a government building; the government however, has now decided that I need to prove my vakkination status to enter said government building successfully

– At this point my mental health begins to decay, fast. I’m very hungry, and the mobile charity van only turns up once or twice a week at best. Who knows when they’re going to start asking for a vacks status just to eat. Finding them is almost impossible – after all, I need a device, or to prove my vacks status to enter a building where I might be able to get that information. Other human beings look bewildered when I ask for coins, not least because what on earth would I do with them? Ride the bus? The bus doesn’t accept coins, nor does the coffee shop! One man wants to transfer the address of a mobile charity food van to my maps app. Except, there’s no way to do that. I ask him if he can draw the map on a piece of paper – he looks at me in fear and confusion and hurries away.  

– I decide to try the doctor. Surely I can obtain a printout of my vacks status there. If worst comes to worst, they can give me a damn needle, it might be a risk as I’ve already had a couple of boosters and I have some myocarditis stuff from a previous one, but I’ll do what I have to do to stay alive. I’ll comply. I’ll comply! Please!

– The reception staff are supportive. They say yeah, no worries, we can get that information with a doctor’s appointment. If you’re not already vakkinated, we can give you a new one. Print it out. You’ll be on your way back to success. We can bulk bill you too, after all you live in Australia. Socialised healthcare! I am so relieved, what an ordeal!

– They tell me I will have to wait outside because they can’t identify me, and I may not be vakkinated therefore. But someone will see me outside. I am prepared to go through nearly anything at this point. I just want to eat. To feel normal again. To buy a device and maybe call an old friend if I can just download my contacts from the cloud!

–  “So we don’t have to charge you for your appointment, can you just confirm your Medicare details? Oh, yes physical cards were phased out weren’t they…hmmm…”

– “Ah, so…you’ll need to contact Medicare then, as your details are also long out of date after we helpfully tried to call Medicare on your behalf. I’m sure you understand there’s only so much we can do.”

– These people are particularly charitable, so they let dirty, unhealthy looking-me use their phone (“we’ll be disinfecting that right after so I guess it’s okay.”).

– Medicare says “Yes! We can send your information to this new doctor – we just need to identify you. We do that through the app now. Do you have one of those on your mobile device?” I drop the phone, unable to concentrate. I think I’m going to have a heart attack. No, it’s just a panic attack. Maybe that’ll get me into hospital. Maybe then, I can get something to allow me back into society!

– There’s an old TV hanging off the wall in the corner. As I collapse, I wonder why it’s not been replaced. Like me. I hear the newsreader talking about “the largest ever solar flare in written history. The implications for mobile devices are enormous. There has also been talk of our foreign competitor switching to EMP weapons.”

– Where will I go from here?

Food for thought. Pun intended.

Singularising the Multiple Timelines Theory

An interesting thought occurred to me regarding timelines, Mandela effect, and the fabric of reality. The following apparently unrelated items decided to coagulate, creating a hypothesis that I think may have some merit. I’m fairly certain most of it already exists in current multi-dimensional/multiple timeline theories. This one’s a bit of a synthesis. It is essentially magical, rather than scientific thinking, but there’s a logic to it that I enjoy, and who knows, perhaps it will turn out to be correct. Not sure I’ll be alive live to find out though.

Item 1 – it is currently considered that we experience reality through the filter of our senses, interpreted by our brains – essentially, each person more or less hallucinates their own reality. There is also a modern theory that our perceptions inform our reality, and in some aspects it is theorised that our perception influences our reality – a two-way street, in a sense.

Item 2 – at a quantum level, entanglement is now, more or less, a given. The experiments with quantum particles and their ‘instantaneous’ communication with each other, have a lot of still-theoretical ramifications in terms of how particles (and ipso facto, reality) interact.

Item 3 – some theorists consider that potentially, each divergence, each decision made in our lives may create a new timeline, each of them coexisting side-by-side or at least dimensionally separate, parallel, more or less. Rick and Morty has a fun episode about this construct. YouTube also explains it nicely if you don’t enjoy dry theory.

Item 4 – noting how human memory works – it is essentially considered (in a sense) to be memory remembering a memory – one plate or photograph, if you will, slowly degrading until the recollection is re-imposed over itself, creating a new, improved version of the same thing – eventually, the original memory alters, sometimes only slightly, sometimes radically. But more often than not, memories over time end up looking quite different to say, video footage, or other people’s recollection. The more time passes, in many cases, the more that difference expands. This is said to be due to the action of memory remembering itself, rather than recreating a true original. Copy of a copy of a copy (thanks NIN) and we eventually get a visibly altered version of an event.

Item 5 – in physical terms, it is historically demonstrable that humans work the same way with written manuscripts copied by hand. This could be said to be an issue of skill, but we also find that humans have a tendency to want to add their own flair, or sometimes they will even insert whole new parts to a story – even with history. The original version is rarely enough if another human is given the opportunity to recreate, interpret, or revisit that version of an event, a historical narrative, a story, a myth, or a legend. We are storytellers by nature, and what is the point of telling the same story over and over again right? We evolve it. We see this with oral tales too. Over time, things are added, changed. It is almost as if this is our nature, that events in their true form have multiple potentialities. This also appears to the case with evolution itself. Mutations occur, and are selected for, or against (more or less). The action of the mutation however, could be said to be a similar action of change (taking the other elements previously mentioned into account).


Hypothetically….

In terms of timespace, and multiple timelines, and a potential relationship, the ‘time is not linear/all time is happening at once’ could be applied not only to time, but also to diversionary events in space and time. What if how we perceive, remember, and enact our stories was a reflection of reality as a whole? Meaning, what if we didn’t necessarily create parallel timelines, but they are all happening at once, connected in a sense? Overlapping, occasionally merging into each other. A variant on the ‘Large Hadron Collider Collapsed Our Universe’ theory, in a way.

This would be a different way of explaining the Mandela effect. For some people in this world, that event actually occurred. For others, it didn’t. The universe itself, consistently shifting and changing as different choices and variations create different actuations of events, constantly correcting and therefore creating anomalies of memory. But rather than being wrong, or hallucinatory, rather they’re simply additions to the story, making the old version obsolete, as if it never existed – even though it did. Another way of describing this could be as simple as a software upgrade imposed over an existing operating system, if the operating system is considered to be the fabric of reality experienced by humans as memory.


A simple example might go as follows.

1. I decide to travel to a location.

2. Alternatively, I decide not to travel to that location.

This is a decision branch. Conventionally, this creates a diversionary timeline where I did not go to that location, potentially creating a whole new life that I might have lived (and a different version of me is currently living that life right now).

3. There is no such thing as a ‘branch timeline’. Instead, both events happen concurrently, and two versions of me exist at exactly the same time, and experience both events as one entity, but, are not necessarily conscious of each other. So, unconscious quantum entanglement, but differential instead of being exactly the same, and applied to the whole, rather than the particles.

4. My reality dictates that I did in fact, go to that location.

5. A decade passes, and I seem to remember more and more of the events that occurred if I had not gone to that location. More strangely, the world appears to reflect certain events that would be more congruent with a timeline-decision-branch where I did make the decision to go that location (if I think deeply about probabilities).

6. This makes sense because both events happened, but reality continuously corrects for all variable ‘decision’ events (conscious and non-conscious) which creates a single continuous flow – that to the conscious perceiver, doesn’t always appear correct, because that event should not/did not occur.

7. We experience the singular flow as one coherent (if it can be called that) linear story, because that is how our senses are designed to receive or ‘hallucinate’ it. From our perspective, there are simply a few glitches in the Matrix, despite the reality that we are in fact living multiple lives all at once, all the time.
Kind of like the tree fell in the woods, but nobody heard or saw it, so eventually when it rotted away, and new trees grew over it, as far as visitors were concerned, it never happened, except it did. But, in a more tangible sense. There are elements of Rampa-esque supersoul theory in this too. Perhaps we will find evidence of previously imposed/superimposed/obsolete reality timelines (that existed, that we experienced at the same time as our other divergences, but now have been replaced) in the quantum space, one day in the distant future.

For now, it’s a fun little bolt-on to current theories regarding space, time, and multiple timelines.

Meta Tech, or, The Madness of the Next Step

Late afternoon on a Thursday, my phone died without warning. I was cut off from posting on Instagram, and felt a little annoyed. I reminded myself, this is privilege, and besides, too much screen time is bad for your health. Consider it a blessing in disguise. Besides, a new handset could be purchased on the weekend.

That night, my partner and I went to a local restaurant for the first time in quite a while, to celebrate our anniversary. Just the two of us this time, something simple, something intimate. We were excited. The reservation was in my name. Thankfully, the girl (and she was a girl by definition, another member of the wait staff was serving alcohol in her place, due to her age) had written my name down on paper. I say thankfully due to what came next. She was lovely, incidentally, and the sole reason I didn’t give the restaurant hell for the rest of it. That, and one should be thankful for learning experiences.


We were handed our menu, a single square of laminate with a QR code on it. A separate card with a different QR code allowed us to sign-in. I asked about payment options – QR code coming soon, preferred, particularly over cash.

Without my device, I was unable to sign in. My licence, my passport, all of my forms of identification were rendered void for that purpose. There was no manual method for sign-in. Therefore, I was, firstly, unable to “keep other people safe”. My partner was able to sign-in for me – as she had remembered her device. I was then unable to access the menu. My partner had to access it for me using her device. I successfully ignored the social distress of having to take my partner’s phone out of her hand (she offered, but that’s not what the observers at other tables saw) followed by squinting at the small print (even after zooming in) as if I was going through her messages or some such. Social cues are not forgotten for some of us, regrettably in this case.


I took stock of the implications, (and yes, it did occur to me that society itself is adopting the DENNIS system – if you’re an ‘Always Sunny in Philadelphia Fan’ you’ll get it) For a moment, I felt visibly ill. I looked around at all the people dining and laughing. I wondered how they were not bothered by these small technological advances infiltrating their lives. It occurred to me most of them were just happy to be out and about, satisfying their material urges. The implication had not yet occurred to them, or if it had, they’d squared it away with a sub-conscious calculation of opportunity cost – or, I am happy to lose certain abilities if my pleasure senses continue to be satisfied, and, I do not wish to bite the hand that feeds – therefore, accept.
I should mention the entire experience of the restaurant, aside from my intense cognitive dissonance (presque-vu?) was immaculate. The restaurant was merely adopting technology based on economic, political and societal expectation.
Within these situations, we must first assume that QR codes have been normalised (they will be, do some reading, look around). We should also assume vaccine (and potentially other) forms of access passporting exist (let’s not forget some people have already reported a link from card payments at stores, to an alert identifying they have not ‘checked in’). We should lastly assume that cash is gone, and cards are, if not already gone, virtually obsolete. These three claims are far from baseless. Look around your society in real time, and do some reading. This isn’t theoretical, most of it is already in place, and if not, the framework definitely is.


Situation 1 – The Poor Person

I am unable to afford a phone or similar device. Previously I was able to scrape a few coins together, go to my local and get a cup of coffee or a pie. Now everyone just shrugs and points to their phone (this happened in the past with card payments, but there was always a choice). I am so hungry. I have somehow, despite these issues, managed to find a few coins to once again feed myself, maybe buy a blanket, but nobody accepts these coins anymore. The bank will not issue notes. They ask me where my device is. I need to scan myself in. They ask me to identify myself. I have an old licence and medicare card. They used to work. But a device, a scannable device, that’s all we accept now. I can’t afford a device. And even if I could, I have to first identify myself to be able to purchase one, or go on a plan. I have to sign-in, I have to show I’ve been vaccinated, just to enter a building to get the money to go to a store, all requiring sign-in and vaccination scans from a device I can’t afford. I fear I will die in the street – the charity van sandwiches are still days away.

Situation 2 – I Still Did Everything Right

I have a decent job, and I do the right thing. I downloaded all the appopriate apps, I got vaccinated. I put that up on my Facebook posts too, and if you didn’t, you’re a danger to society. I have a digital licence, digital identity, my banking, my medicare, my insurance, it is all available online, in the cloud, and it is stored in my device as well. It is so handy, I can walk into any store, any public building, you name it. All I have to do is put my device up to the QR code and scan. Boom, I’m inside. Want to purchase something? A wave of the phone. Want to identify myself at the club? Hold up that device. It’s all-in-one! I have saved SO much time with having to obtain, store and locate all these different cards. It was such a hassle. Now it’s all there in one easy location.


Except today, I dropped my phone in the street and then a truck ran over it. LOL, that’s not true, it was stolen. Haha, that’s not true either, though either of those things could have happened. Truthfully, I just lost it. But that’s okay, I’ll just get another one and re-download all my information and I’ll be set. Except – I can’t. I need the device to sign-in and prove my vaccination status. I need the device to enter a building to get money …wait, how would I pay for things without my device? This is fast becoming a circular problem and if it all follows its natural course where I can’t identify, can’t sign-in, can’t pay for things…I might actually end up on the street. What will I do then?

Wait, LOLs, I have a second phone, OMG! No need to worry. Except – crap I’ve been robbed.

Situation 3 – A Future Where We Work This Out

Time has passed. The first two people are a population now, a problem. People need a hand! Too many have fallen by the wayside due to the pitfalls of these applications, and all the well-meaning committees have failed to come up with a system that works. But wait, there’s HAND-y solution that will suit everyone. A solution where you CAN’T lose your identity, you can’t lose your money, you can’t lose your ever-so-important information. We’ve advanced again, and we are a compassionate society. We want everyone to have the best opportunities to participate. You guessed it – ditch the device, slip a silicone chip into your wrist (or forehead, those little guns can scan you as you walk through a door, in fact it’s preferable because it is simple, more efficient – never mind any potential issue with your frontal lobe). We will add ALL of your relevant data, and you can join society without any need to worry about losing that device. Best of all, we have 6G now, so everything – and I mean everything – is connected. Need food? Get scanned. Need to ID? Get scanned. Need to prove you’ve been vaccinated, or that you complied with (insert x mandate here)? Get scanned. It’s that easy! How did anyone every live without this?

So good! Well, until someone cuts your hand off and assumes your identity. Or your head. But hey, new tech, new problems right? Can’t throw the baby out with the bathwater. But what’s that you say – you caused a ruckus over an obviously fascist political issue and need to hide away because people are looking for you, even though you’ve essentially been framed by online media as a dissident when all you’re trying to do is improve society? Yeah, it works as a tracking device too. Because of safety, you can be found if you’re even kidnapped. But mostly, just remember, if you don’t have a chip, you won’t be able to buy, sell, eat, identify, prove yourself, or essentially participate in society, and you will be considered to be breaking the law when this concept normalises. But it’s good for society.

This potentiality can be considered a conspiracy theory. A wild, radical dystopian piece of sci-fi silliness. Hell, ten years ago I had convinced myself that the me ten years before that was jerking it to the extreme with a massive tinfoil hat in place. Except, it isn’t. In two years, we’ve seen vaccination passports and QR code payments linked with a basic form of social credit framework (“you didn’t check in, your card knows this!”) go from tin-foil hat rambling to rolled-out reality. RFID chips, an early, clumsy form of the above tech, have been around for decades. Their experimentation has ranged from finance chips in Belgium allowing nightclub entry in the 2010s, to Iranian scientists designing an RFID cyanide insert intended for use with prison inmates.

Considering where we are now, and the ramifications of the above technologies as they are being implemented, Situation 3 is the next logical step. It is particularly logical if you are organisationally minded. People will laugh and jeer in reading this. Every concept I’ve ever put forward – green buildings for example – has been laughed at, and I’m not the only one. Before you laugh and jeer, consider the world seven to ten years ago. Really immerse yourself mentally. Take away paywave. Spotify was pretty new. Now, go back another ten years. Just ten. No more. Then, as you’re imagining those things, go to the front door of a shopping centre. Then step inside. After immersing yourself in that, jump online and search out emerging technologies in the identification sectors. Look at Meta. At AI functions. At neural networks. There is no conspiracy. There is no need for one. Yet that future, despite its myriad benefits, has the potential to be our most extreme social disaster.

Beyond this, taking a greater step back, the option to ‘opt-out’ of society and whatever norms are imposed, has become increasingly difficult, decade by decade. To say nothing of non-indigenous people who just want an alternative, spare a thought for those who actually have deep connections to traditional life and pastimes. Consider the impacts as these advancements spread, just as civilisation spreads. Consider that culturally, the very idea of ‘opting out’, or indeed, anyone living a traditional lifestyle, in particular with relation to the choices inherent to such lives regarding food, religious activity, and medicine, is fast becoming an object of ridicule. It is fast becoming insane, in the eyes of those who comply without question. This too seems like a claim – until you stop talking, and start listening. Really listen to how people around you speak of such lives when they are presented with the idea of living that way themselves, or the impacts of their lifestyles on the elders of all our lands. You’ll see it in their eyes. They’re amused. This bleeds into their choices around technology, and it informs their true opinion of anyone who won’t, indeed can’t, comply with the requirements of any and all new, enforcable-adjacent economic networks. The very idea that one would not live in society as it is (insert current time here) has always been considered insanity by those who rabidly consume its offerings without thought. Previously that attitude was woefully destructive. Now, it is without exception, moving toward assimilation – or cultural annihilation.


However, we have digressed a lot. Let us step back into the now. Let’s look at our immediate future, and come to a close.


Ultimately the direction we are headed removes multiple options for identification, payment, freedom of movement, and more. From a broader perspective, the system we are entering into will require one large solar flare to remove most of us from being able to access basic goods and services. Yes, we must adapt to new ways of doing things, but we must also question adaptations that are restrictive. These changes are not genetic mutations that we are born with, and therefore can only do so much to amend. It is not a matter of natural selection, it is a matter of conscious choice. As a society, we have the benefit of such choice where technology is concerned, in particular, how it is applied to our daily lives. I for one would prefer to to choose applications of technology that do not carry obvious design flaws involving the complete shut-out of individuals, and potentially larger groups, as it advances.


Perhaps I am overly pessimistic, and a new age of barter is around the corner. Let us hope the solutions outweigh the difficulties. In the meantime, it’s time to open your eyes.

NOTE: Not once has the efficacy of vaccination been discussed in this piece, nor inferred, or alluded to.

How Not To Be Better: Vaccine Misinformation

From the outset, don’t spread information you know to be untrue, or that is significantly untrue just because it conforms to your beliefs. Of course, do spread verified, positive messages regarding health and wellbeing, COVID-inclusive. This entry is a little more specific and socially oriented than that, regarding people with concerns they feel are genuine, and who base those concerns on previous medical information. Specifically, the social response to such people.

Today in Australia, a person who recieves and acts on expert health advice – the top QLD Health officer – advised a press conference that people should be speaking with their GP (doctor,) about individual, personal risks associated with vaccines (slightly paraphrased, it was live). What she did not say was that they should never be concerned regardless of their circumstance, nor that they are terrible people. Second, she mentioned that vaccines are still not available for many, due to supply. Yet somehow the social norm among the vaccine-happy is quickly shifting to demonising anyone – anyone at all – with concerns. The very same people demanding of each other to listen to experts, have literally ceased listening, and instead now apply cult thought processes to the issue. Do it, or else. That is the social response to anyone with concerns now.

This information is shared very specifically for those on my feed – and there are many – who continue to spread false medical mythology, and to reasonlessly demonise and push every single person they see and speak to, to get a vaccine immediately. For these people, circumstance is irrelevant, and collateral damage is perfectly acceptable in terms of human life.

Today, it is given that people who could be termed “hardcore anti-vaxxers” are misinformed. That’s fine. It is easy to recognise such a person, who tends to include information in their claims that is obviously off-the-wall at best. However, those people are not what is being discussed in this post.

Human beings with existing medical issues, family histories and the like, who have genuine concerns do exist. While it is true that they are, numerically speaking, a small minority from the results we’ve seen so far, they are not wrong, stupid, second class citizens, spreading misinformation, or otherwise terrible in some way. They are also not numbers. Advice regarding such people lifted directly from health officials, from data, from medical practitioners, is far more trustworthy than people spouting how bad anyone not getting a vaccine is, across the internet.

This includes people demonising anyone who has not yet obtained, or who is personally concerned regarding adverse vaccine response. People get frightened. Their reasoning goes out the window. And that is assuming their concerns are unfounded. What exactly is wrong with that? Nothing. Fear is a natural response to the unknown. Transforming a scared person into the enemy and bullying them about something they’re clearly frightened of, is ironically quite sick. I have never had time for bullies, and I never will.

In Australia at this position in the long COVID process, anyone with concerns can speak to several doctors – many bulk bill after all – about family medical history and any predisposition to a given adverse response. I say several because medical practitioners are also human, and some GPs can be a bit too gung-ho. It is quite a simple process to track an average across several advices to find your appropriate advice.

Not regarding vaccines in any way, but rather obtaining sound advice – I have several family members and friends who passed, who were misdiagnosed under a single opinion. So when it is really, really important (and you have good, logical reason for concern)  seek multiple (professional, medical) advices. However, it’s also for reasons like this that you should probably think twice about ripping into someone if they’re worried about a personal circumstance they understand intimately, and you have very little knowledge of.

Returning to the vaccine conversation, from a social standpoint – don’t land on the other end of a polarised misinformation spectrum. It is not only anti-vaxxers who spread falsehoods and cause damage to innocent lives though their militant social zeal.

The best approach is to educate if you can. When someone says “I have medical issues/family history and that makes me worried about the vaccine” the best advice you can give, is talk to a doctor – multiple doctors in fact. If you demonise them, realistically you are the fool, and not just because it’s heartless, cruel, inaccurate and selfish to do so – but also because those who are rejected will find each other. There is a significant likelihood due to shared beliefs and shared rejection they will band together, and voila, a new social problem arises. You certainly don’t need to be responsible for yet more anti-vaxxers, simply because you don’t understand (or care) how humans work, and felt compelled to (putting it very, very nicely) stand by your principles no matter the circumstance. Or because you decided to be an asshole to people who were already scared. Not a good look.

Try to remember too, the virtues of open-mindedness and scientific enquiry go out the window when you reject such people. What if they really are an outlier? Who are you to say they are not, when you yourself have no access to tests and outcomes for that individual? Being a decent person means supporting people even when they are clearly in the wrong. Sometimes it is most important to do exactly that. Some successful mental health programs are based directly on that philosophy. Fear is rarely functional or effective in the civilised world, and if you respond this way to scared people, the truth of the matter is that you too are exhibiting a fear response. Worse, you may also be exhibiting a superiority complex or sociopathic tendencies. Beware of those. Or, you might just be a trash person. Compassion is everything.

So do your best to avoid applying mob justice to individuals that you really aren’t qualified to understand. Your passion is not sound medical advice at the end of the day, regardless of how right you think you are simply because you normally do listen to the experts. The parrot attitude is generally wrong, and critical thinking skills are, well, critical. That’s another conversation for another time, but in the basic sense, always question your own biases. Nobody is immune to confirmation bias. Questioning one’s own bias helps a lot with compassion, and assists with avoiding the pretense that you are personally qualified as judge and social executioner. Ultimately, diverting people to medical advice is most appropriate, and that does come from an expert.

Meditations Inside a Metropolis: Caffeine at Daybreak

I bear witness to men in suits sharing coffee
Feet firm on ancient concrete
A ragged old-timer stands bent like a tree 
Selling secondhand magazines for sustenance

There are mirror windows in the skyscrapers
All ablaze with golden fire
Buildings lit brightly, illusions of dawn
Within a sack of skin is hourly

I see prisoners in soft cultural collusion
Endless like shimmering glass
Distraction refracted as humanity repeats
Evening souls dancing on the walls of time

Long ago in the youth of my cosmos
I could shout at those glib faces
Rip up my robe and scream down from on high
Intoxicated with delicate city mourning

Now a nebulous present watches hungry
Vagrant actors blending
All men are shadows in a passing dream
Tomorrow spinning fortune’s wheel, endless

Would that we could ask this transparent reflection
Who gave the mask so clearly borrowed
Yet into ephemeral glass we follow
Just another city morning

Floor Mattress Men (and Women!)

Society’s problem with owning a bed frame as related to maturity and being a decent human being, is a direct insult to minimalists, those who follow certain martial arts traditions, many Asian cultures (futons and tatami anyone?) genuine spiritual life in general, and overall it is just a fine example of materialism at its worst.

The memes, the derision, can all be encapsulated in a simple catch cry. “Oh you don’t have a bedframe, WHAT A CHILDMAN.”

Darling, I’m so very sorry that my:

(a) poverty and ingenuity

(b) aesthetic taste or

(c) lack of need for the ostentatious choice of FRAMING A MATTRESS LIKE A PHOTOGRAPH BECAUSE SOCIETY TOLD ME IT IS PART OF MY SELF WORTH –

… offends your priveliged sensibilities.

Let’s be real here. If you’re going to purchase a decent bed frame – not four IKEA slabs that absolutely look and will likely feel much worse than sleeping on the literal cold hard floor – bereft of any mattress at all – you’re investing some decent cash. In the current economy, do you have access to such basic opulence that your primary choice of purchase in life just has to be the holy frame of “making your sleeping position look a little prettier”? That, incidentally, is the point. A bed frame is, and always has been, a status symbol. Thus, equating it with the worth of a person, is equivalent to cruelty or at best, the form of addiction known as materialism.

I have flat-out refused (see what I did there) to sleep with women who definitely wanted to get down, based on the argument for bed frames (in my twenties, when I was better looking – obviously). Perhaps that was over the top, but when it’s about your value as a human being and the deciding factor is how you present your mattress – I don’t know if I’m right, but my gut feeling tells me, withholding sex is fair as a minimum. Maybe don’t be so judgemental next time.

I’ve also been the one to complain about the ‘nice’ bed, which is often not a bed, but instead an apparent pile of feathers zipped into a mattress and surrounded by cheap wood or metal, specifically designed to destroy my spine. How do you sleep on these pretty clouds of spurious hate for human existence packaged as a better bedroom experience? Madness.

For the record, I’ve owned a four poster. In fact, I’ve owned a number of bed types. Sure, some bed frames – some – are great for bedroom play (light bondage and such). However, as a man who at long last can kind of comfortably afford a bed frame, I can also unequivocally say there is NOTHING WRONG with a mattress on the floor. It’s good for the soul. It allows you to jump up in the morning, instead of rolling like a lazy oaf across a sea of sheets and satin which, while they feel great, are little more than sensory distractions. Been there, done that, enjoyed it immensely. Felt better when I returned to the floor. The thinner the better I say.

I am happy to say that my partner also enjoys a quality floor mattress. She’s got taste. She’s also a high quality human being. So it’s really not an issue of worth, unless you make it so, due to a brainwashed societal delusion.

To be fair, now that I’m getting older, life enjoying floor mattresses has been getting a little tougher. However, this also follows a year of near-atrophy. But that brings me to my last point.

Obviously never write off the advice of a medical practitioner. You may genuinely require a soft, sinking demon-bed. Unless it’s medical though, (and in many cases you’re better off on a hard surface anyway) perhaps the ironic twist is that you are the person who needs to grow up, and look for what matters in the soul of a man, do some stretches, have some discipline, and stop whining like the gross materialist that you are. Perhaps it isn’t the floor mattress owner at all. It probably is actually, but the one thing it isn’t, is the floor mattress, nor is it the choice to buy one and sleep on it. There’s always more to it, and avoiding the reality of why someone is a pretty terrible person, well, that’s another issue that might stray into the medical.

A final consideration: for the majority of you, maybe just buy a decent bloody mattress instead of spending all your money on framing it. Your back might work better. Your focus may shift to more rewarding pursuits than the open derision of the young, the poor, the aesthetic, the physically fit, and those who know how to make tough choices for their own good.

Not Pepe le Pew Too! Or…Perhaps?

To begin, we should agree; if everyone is found to be arguing about a cartoon, we are at once wonderfully distracted from politicians who knowingly support rape and sexual assault; who are known to have visited the island; and from those who turned a blind eye to such; that much is incontrovertibly true.

After writing the original form of this article-rant, I was forced to take a moment, to remember that in our current climate, the Flat Earth Society continues to gain members. With that in mind, perhaps the idea that human beings can see relevant context from an old cartoon character is asking way too much. For the current generation, perhaps dualistic character presentations for children are simply too complex. After all, it seems that many of the adults in question cannot fathom the proven shape of the land we stand upon, let alone interpret insinuated influences by putting aside one’s own responses and stepping into the lens of a child.

So, perhaps we should axe them after all, starting yesterday.

Another interesting point to note, is that the argument regarding cancelling Pepe le Pew, is posthumous. It has already happened. Warner Brothers made the cut, and the bilious argument spewed from there: not so much the other way around. Yet the argument persists regardless of the timeline.

My original post argued mostly with the public reasoning surrounding the cancellation of Pepe le Pew (and whether it should occur, prior to being advised it had already happened months earlier) rather than the cancellation itself. I would certainly and with great vigour, defend the position that arguing about a cartoon is a wonderful distraction from politicians who by virtue of their actions, support rape and sexual assault. Recent events in Australia and indeed the world at large point to much broader concerns than a cartoon skunk. I would also defend the position that the catch-cry ‘why not deal with them all at once’ is great in theory (much like the reasoning underlying the cancellation of Pepe le Pew) but in reality, it is impractical, misguided, prone to unintentional bias and therefore divisive.

Personally, I could not care less if Pepe le Pew disappears forever, but there is a reason behind my sort-of support for his consignment to the scrapheap that is not what one might expect.

As a child, I came across the Demtel collection (remember that guy? ‘but wait there’s more’ – now he was offensive), a re-release of all the Looney Tunes cartoons. I was privy to viewing a few others as well. Being a boisterous, intelligent and energetic child, I very much enjoyed the wild antics of the Looney Tunes (I will not dive too deep into the fact that all the racial stereotypes eluded me completely – being a child lacking in background parental reinforcement of such, I simply took them to be animal characters). I very much enjoyed Daffy Duck, and of course, Bugs Bunny kicking the ass of the hillbilly hunter time and time again. I also enjoyed the theatrics of Bugs crossdressing, thinking of him as brilliant in outwitting his foe in that manner. But I digress.

I must also avoid digression into the comedy style known as farce – which many such aged pieces make heavy use of – and how people today seem to have utterly forgotten how farce communicates. Indeed, many appear to have forgotten that comedy itself is rooted in tragedy, and this must always be considered in one’s judgement of comedy. A different rant, for another time.

The core of my issue with how the Pepe le Pew argument has proceeded, is that I despised Pepe le Pew as a child. There appears to be a consensus today, that the character of Pepe le Pew is beloved for his characteristics, and not enjoyed as the object of humorous disdain, given that his very name implies an awful stench. My friends also disliked Pepe le Pew. Sounds of disappointment and distaste occurred when he appeared. Sometimes, it went as a little group calling out ‘not Pepe le Pew!’ Then we followed by making fun of his character.

To us, the children, his forceful antics were frustrating, the way cats and such kept pushing him away and he kept coming was not only infuriating but also BORING, and the fact it was all about a white stripe made it even stupider. Pepe le Pew was DUMB, and nobody liked him. Penelope is first bewildered by his advances, his assumption that she is in fact a skunk, and then tries to escape him, still utterly confused by him all the way – and Pepe le Pew sees none of it. He only becomes aware of her distaste, once the cat has vanished, at which point he assumes that he must redouble his efforts (a common cultural assumption for the period in which it was created). For the child viewers, myself and my friends, this total lack of understanding and continuous chasing made le Pew an idiot. It was always the same thing, and he was tiresome. So, we lambasted him, as well as children can.

In particular, I find the popular argument around consent (from the perspective of the cartoon) to be lacking in emotional intelligence served with a culturally blind and extremely modernised, personalised and politicised perspective attached. The argument ignores the child perspective, and it ignores the narrative of the cartoon itself. As an example, many have claimed that the character of Penelope Pussycat is terrified. Perhaps there was a clip where she was indeed terrified, but upon inspection, the depiction (yes, perhaps not the reality, but that is part of the point) is one of confusion followed by struggle for escape. For us as children, in stark contrast to the current claims, Pepe le Pew taught us all about consent, and also the subtle strength of the feminine. He taught us how much we disliked people like Pepe le Pew, who was not only completely convinced of his own worldview (and his own charm) but at the core of it all, he didn’t understand consent. We did not like this. We did not accept this. We rooted for the cat, and when she inevitably struggled out of his grasp and left him on his face, we were happy. The cat was indeed capable of escaping the clutches of the pervert, if that is what he should be called. Nonetheless, we also waited for a violent end to Pepe le Pew (a la most other Looney Tunes cartoons) which never came, and this too was disappointing.

In this, the creation may well be a piece of genius, and, perhaps it should be shown to all children, because:

– the insertion of a little parental guidance, for us, enhanced the consent message, with some very simple words: “he’s a nasty sleazy guy isn’t he?”

– Pepe le Pew is used as a fine example of consent (or lack thereof) across the world by adults, but in this day and age, apparently children are too stupid to understand.

– Pepe le Pew is a real-world persona. I’ve met this person. I recognised this person. And this person pissed me off, just like Pepe le Pew. Children should be given the opportunity to understand that such realities exist, albeit in a form that is palatable to the fantastic sensibilities of their hallucinatory brains.

Another consideration to give us all pause. If your child does not instinctively react to Pepe le Pew within the range of somewhere between ‘I don’t understand’ to ‘that’s silly’ to ‘get rid of him’ then some parental life guidance may be in order. If Pepe le Pew is teaching your children how to live, and their response to his antics is genuinely positive to the point that they begin to emulate him, then you might be the problem. If you can’t use le Pew as a fine example of consent (that is, a lack thereof) and obtain positive results, you may need some expert assistance. Worse, you might want to consider if you have a little psychopath on your hands. It might also be a simple matter of neglect. The bottom line, for me at least, is that children have a tendency to be averse to the actions of Pepe le Pew, which in the past gave him a function in their development and understanding of what a lack of consent looks like, and how the recipient responds (by escaping, every time – there is no welcome, there is no acceptance, ever). That function was a far cry from what is being accused today.  

What is interesting is that nobody is talking about how Pepe le Pew is an obviously slanderous French stereotype. Maybe it is still okay to crap on the French? Ah, but it is, ask the British, they will tell you all about it.

I cannot help but agree with the now famous meme out there on the interwebs (yes I just called it the interwebs – I know, I’m hilarious people). I refer to the one pointing out that Pepe has to go, but Grand Theft Auto, a game easily accessible to children, that don’t show subtle consent issues, but instead allows you to actually commit obscene violence when told ‘no’ – well, according to society, those can stay. It is a meme that speaks not only to other more powerful available influences, but also refers to walking one’s talk. Perhaps GTA was not designed for small children, but in the real world, a highly connected world with screens around every corner, the true likelihood of exposure to the content is almost absolute. Stickers do very little, which is why despite the warning labels, music industries to this day rely heavily on the 10-14 purchasing market.

The notion of removing one but keeping the other, at least from a moral perspective (perhaps not a values perspective, granted) represents hypocrisy at a high degree, and I think it may constitute a reason for why (aside from the fact that humans hate change) whether they know it or not, Pepe getting axed makes them rage up. It could be due to an unconscious understanding that such an action, particularly when accompanied months later by loud cries of sexual assault and declared horror at a children’s cartoon, realistically does not solve the problems of the world. Rather it is a fine example of addressing minor issues that may have some basic merit (perhaps), but won’t change any of the big ticket items at all (thus dragging us deeper into the overall mire as the domino effect continues forward due to ongoing distraction). That, and let’s be honest, erasure never solved anything. Assuming Pepe le Pew really is damaging, the concept remains fatally flawed, as a viable and predictable potential end result of these cultural acts (this one is historically documented in the form of book burning and the slow creation of cultural hegemony) is that at some point World War II and the many atrocities of the world, will become offensive to the delicate constitutions of the many privileged. Naturally this is the kind of world that many of us believe we want, a peaceful utopia full of kindness, with no need for hard outer shells forged from the fires of an agonising youth. It would be a thing of the past. Yet the true nature of the process, again and again through history, appears to end up with the removal of truths and historical cycles from the common tongue. Eventually, we end up with another war.  For this reason, on a broader level, far beyond Pepe le Pew, we must always beware of any mob, no matter how well meaning.

If you find yourself agreeing with a large group that is a moment for pause. You may find that you still agree after taking your time to re-examine what it is you’re going along with. That is well and good. Just make sure you take care to do that very thing. Stop, introspect, ask yourself the right questions, always. It is sometimes hard to tell when trash is coated in honey, particularly when all the other ravenous dogs are lapping it up around you.

To return to the cartoon, in a few words, for me at least: Pepe le Pew was rubbish. Warner Bros. can cancel him all they like. You can too. In truth, I could not care less. I was never a fan. But do that thing because his character was and remains frankly unentertaining, and there are better examples of how to deal with consent today (maybe). Cancel him because he was a pretty rank French stereotype, and all of the other cartoon stereotypes have come under pretty heavy scrutiny in the last few years.

Just remember, if you have half a brain (children are smarter than you and I, and this becomes very apparent if you spend some time with them – they have a whole brain, so be careful!) you’ll understand that Pepe le Pew actually teaches consent – particularly if an adult guides the lesson. He does not teach consent in the fluffy manner that we today have become accustomed to, that much is true. He also requires context for that lesson but children seem to get it without much, if any coaching on the matter. What I would urge you not to do, is to get caught up in false equivalency from people who study everything from deep within their own skewed perspective. Academia has its merits, but it is a tool that can be used for good or ill, as with any power. So, if you think Pepe le Pew is not a lesson in consent, and/or teaches kids that force is a good thing – you should (I shudder saying this, it was a crap cartoon) keep the filthy mongrel around, and watch him some more. You may at the very least feel some pity for the French.

What might be equally pertinent in the argument for cancellation of all such ageing serials, is the changed world we live in. As I re-watch them, it occurs to me that despite my familiarity with the content, they feel somewhat alien now, and the many basic cultural norms that inform them (and their lessons) may well be dead. Even with my background, they do not play as I remember them, for I have now been influenced by the predominant culture of the time. They move differently, and my adult mind cannot help but draw dark and strange conclusions from the smallest exclamation. I realise that I too live too far in the future, with too many adult ideals clouding my vision, too many modernist concepts bouncing about in the brain, to view Pepe le Pew without a heroic effort on my part to shut it all out, reprising a simpler perspective devoid of the cacophony of internet voices.

My assessment of the cultural mismatch warranting the cancellation of many such icons may not be far from the mark. An example of this, is the simple derivation of the name ‘Pew’. It should be a clear logic (as it was to children of my age in a bygone era) that Pepe le Pew was a reference to the smell of the skunk, or “peeyeeeew!”. However, today I hear people arguing if it isn’t in fact a reference to the seating found in a church. This example seems trite, but it really isn’t, it speaks to an immense change experienced by each passing generation, resulting in a cultural gulf. That gulf leaves the average person guessing at the meaning of a given thing from the past. Pepe le Pew’s name is up for grabs, so why not the context of his actions in his storylines? Who are we, today, to argue whether le Pew promotes sexual assault or is a simple lesson in consent, or is a poor French stereotype, or if he is in fact a lovelorn romantic caught up in a farce beyond his ken, doing what it is he was born to do with positive intention, comedically (tragically) bemused by the ongoing rejection of one who (in his eyes) genuinely enjoyed all of the games he presented only moments before? If we cannot even interpret his name, culturally, anymore – if we lack the cultural lens to do so – then we also lack the ability to interpret him as a character.

If something makes no sense anymore, and causes this level of argument when for many who lived through previous eras the message was obvious and clear, due to the cultural backdrop that existed at the time – perhaps it is time to dispose of it. At some point, the world moves on, and Carthage must burn. Of course, do not misappropriate the preceding line as a comparison of le Pew to the vast knowledge of Carthage, when it is a clear analogy directed at a much broader context.

Yet the Carthage analogy does have merit. It is imperative to avoid deleting these pictures entirely. Erasure is always negative in the grand scope of things – after all, imagine everything we lost in terms of historical information, cultural context, and social understanding with the burning of Carthage. At least give the thing we now consign to the scrapheap, a contextual space in the history ‘books’ of our new age. We possess very large hard drives and servers now after all.

Beyond this, it is always an important introspective exercise when viewing anything designed for someone who is not yourself, (i.e. a cartoon designed for children being viewed by an adult) to ask why you are reacting in the manner you are reacting. Are you objectively viewing the piece through the lens of an impressionable child, a child who by modern research accounts has little definition between reality and hallucination until after the age of seven? Or, is the more likely potentiality true, that you are viewing a given piece through your own lens, far removed from realistic outcomes for children?

I would concede that my evidences are all anecdotal, certainly. They are also drawn from personal experiences, albeit from a group situation. However, that is also the basis of most arguments beyond the truly scientific, how one has experienced the subject matter. I believe that is the important factor in this case, how children have received the subject matter, as opposed to those prone to self-agitation drawn from a personal philosophical perspective. Beyond this, the concept of removing such pieces from access altogether, particularly from a point of access with a measure of context, is concerning. We must ask ourselves, where does the process end? It is perhaps not Warner Bros. who would enact the outcome of absolute erasure of all content considered to be offensive, but it is the potentiality of such public arguments, to slowly but surely erase more and more, until such time as important lessons are also erased, such as the horrors of extremism, and consequent war. Perhaps though, the arguments for historical preservation, and indeed the prevailing presumption that humans may or may not require a measure of (curated) exposure or hardship to enable resilience and adaptivity, could be saved for another time. So too could be saved for another conversation, the debate over what impacts the reality depicted by big memes (Cardi B’s W.A.P. vs Pepe le Pew, or Pepe le Pew vs Grand Theft Auto) will have on this generation of children.

Another piece of the wider puzzle is a phenomenon I have noticed as the years march on. During my childhood and my youth, those with the loudest voices were almost always those under the broad banner of ‘conservative’ (a moniker I have always found offensive, given their propensity to ‘conserve’ very little. They certainly failed to conserve the trees for which I have always held a deep fondness, and you know, survivalist reverence, because they help me breathe). When something new was released, the rage of ‘conservative thinkers’ would be levelled at music, television shows, art, and the like. Of course, these groups still exist today, forever causing the hair of anyone on the fringe to exit their scalp before its time. However, in the last twenty years, those once on the same fringe – those fighting for their rights, fighting to be heard, those with new and liberal ideas for a more beautiful human future (now sadly grouped under the awfully loose and inaccurate title ‘the left’) have begun their own campaign. Perhaps it is unintentional (my vote and observation is that like most human activity, it is incidental that is appears organised, when in reality it is the product of chaos) but the outcome is the same.

Where the ‘conservative’ element roared (and occasionally still roar, usually inexplicably) at new art forms, new social orders and structures, the ‘left’ (that term never ceases to bother me) have taken aim at various elements of historical media, art and publications. Pepe le Pew is one example in a long line of them. The intention appears to be one of removing content that damages the perspective of our youth. Regrettably, it often takes the form of erasure. Worth noting once again, Pepe le Pew is a fine example, removed by Warner Brothers, but the argument afterward is rife with people swearing black and blue that le Pew was damaging to, well, everything…and potentially responsible for just about everything violent and negative in the world (almost…not quite…but surprisingly close). As people of similar mind come together online, their coalescing views form them into active groups. Ironically, these groups are formed of people who were often at the mercy of the ‘conservative’ complaint process, but it is now these people who serve the role of the outraged. The ‘left’ (still struggling with the term) has taken on the mantle of censorship. They are in fact, the new conservative. The only difference is that the focus tends to be retrospective. Otherwise, they might as well join up with traditional ‘conservatives’ because their willingness to bandwagon regarding anything that remotely offends their cultural sensibilities, must, in their presumption, be removed. Even the (polar opposite end by description) reasoning is the same. Pepe le Pew creates rapists, which to me reads very similarly to showing gay relationships on television will make your children gay, and gay people are going to hell. For me, it reads this way particularly, in terms of the principle: good intentions enacted as hubris, as ungainly moral assumptions predicting social outcomes. It is a strange success for such people, that is the large and varied liberal collective we (horribly) title ‘the left’ (a group that by inclination and belief, I am a part of) to move from pariah to making outraged demands to cancel this and that. It feels like a war has been won, but very little has changed. One might do better than dwelling too long on the new conservatives, and instead consider who benefits most from such divisive success.

Perhaps the best note to leave on, is a recap of the first and only definitive truth, a truth that is most likely the most important theme of this particular article-rant; if we all start arguing about a cartoon, well, that really is a fantastic distraction from politicians who actually support rape and sexual assault, isn’t it?

Who Have I Become in 2021

Here in 2021, who have I become?

About 6 years ago, I had been living life on a razor’s edge, balancing as the singer in a band, and in many descriptive respects, band manager and executive producer; while at the same time, finding the funding the only way most people who can’t land a genuine record deal, benefactor or patron, do. I worked full time, pushing dual careers in a hard-working (and draining) attempt to achieve my goals. Meanwhile, I still made the attempt to engage in a long-term relationship while being a part of family responsibility and friendship circles. I was eternally hustling, high energy, burning the candle at every possible end. I was also consistently tired, on edge and emotionally drained.  In a stroke of egregious irony, many such years before and after the dates in question, were spent in debt and close to poverty. I felt no reason to complain however. I had a roof over my head, food, and compared to the world of my teenage years, I lived somewhat opulently. Not from a Western perspective, but certainly in the eyes of anyone who had lived below the poverty line (as I had), I was doing quite well.

I thought of myself as devoted, driven, creative, a seeker of high goals, as well as empathic, humanitarian, libertarian (tempered by compassionate idealism), a globalist, and overall, kind. It is possible none of the things I thought I might have been, were in fact who I was. I could have been described as an enjoyer of wine-soaked philosophy, music, art, the pleasures of good living, pushing often at my co-workers toward green thoughts, green deeds, compassionate thoughts, compassionate deeds. Consistently fighting and arguing with those enamoured of industry and bigotry, with sensitivity and inconsistent emotional regulation landing me in deep, constant stress, and a desperate need to manage anger, no matter how righteous it might have been. Many values to keep to, while keeping the moral compass blurred. These things at least, were observably true. I remained, for the most part, conflicted and fatigued.

About 6 years ago, I dumped myself out of corporate life for several reasons;

– a significant and unchangeable clash of ethics and values
– ongoing clashes between that career which I used to fund my creative projects, leaving me in a position of ironic near-poverty, and my creative projects
– the usual items that galvanise life changes; breakups, the death of someone close, the breakdown of social circles, so on and so forth

I set out to devote myself to a more personal creative path. Age had begun to creep in, and the capacity for the sale of youth (as is the masthead of the music industry) had begun to fade. I wished also to lay my own foundations, aside from my father’s training and dreams. So, I took a casual job to pay the bills, and spent the rest of my time writing a novel, self-releasing back-catalogue lo-fi recordings of all the songs my bands had set aside over the years – some I considered my best work – and returning to the craft of acting that I had moved away from many years before. I took up a gig writing for a music magazine, and set myself a number of goals. In short, I ceased the attempt to balance a life of giving to others, with a life geared toward hitting the big top in a creative industry. I decided I would chase the dream at full speed. I would be truly selfish for a while.

As it would turn out, the cycle of my life would resume itself in a near-automated fashion, as if by force of habit or nature, I had no true free will of any kind, despite the choices being mine and mine alone. I would have to ask the question of my soul – do you really want the success in creative arts you say you crave? After all, for that honour, you must be prepared to set aside everything but your own ambition, and you in particular, you seem so clearly unprepared to do that thing. In previous decades, my relationships, my friends, my lovers, my  family, my loyalties, all would play small but significant roles in sticking my somewhat fragile soul to the floor, instead of allowing it to fly toward whatever sky-high dangers lurked in the clouds overhead. One must take accountability however, as I was, and remain the only person capable of making the choice such sacrifice, or not. At every turn the choice I made in the end, perhaps unconsciously for the most part, given my lamentations thereafter, was to sacrifice ambition for some link related to love. There were many such links.

In the latest cycle, I would make the same choices, once again involving myself in relationships designed to pull away the time required to achieve. It should be said that it is never the fault of the participants in a romantic relationship that this should happen, it is simply the nature of it. The choice between ambition and intertwined, codependent relationships, is not the choice between ambition and a particular person. It is the choice between ambition and being in such a relationship at all. In such a choice, one’s ambition is not the underlying fulcrum upon which the relationship ultimately operates, it must be discarded in order to succeed. Such understanding is a simple matter of time management. Looking back, ambition played second string, no matter how I spun it to myself at the time.

Then came the major event, and a far more significant choice. The choice to return to full-time work in one of the few environments that paid enough money, that would not also ride me into the ground. After all, farm work, food, retail, sales of any kind, all dragged my energy levels into the murk of either exhaustion or depression. I was familiar enough with corporate office environments.

Those close to my heart needed my help. Perhaps, they might have prospered without the intervention and assistance of my hand. Yet at the time, they believed it could not be so, and neither did I. So I dove headfirst into the money-pit once again. The full-time day job, the loan, the collared shirt, all of it returned with aplomb. Sadly, I felt there was little grace in the prospect of my decision, but one must love one’s own. For their part, my loved ones honoured the favour and their commitment to assist the situation once on their feet, and they did so exuberantly. At the end of the day though, the matter of my selfish goals closed itself. After all, though we like to tell ourselves we can, one cannot serve two masters – creative ambition and mammon.

After setting aside the bulk of my creative works, re-entering the workforce in a full time capacity nearly 5 years ago; adding that debt to the residuals from previous failed endeavours; after breakups, professional, romantic and creative rejections; after riding waves of acting positions to stay afloat, remotely managing family issues and struggling with mental health; after meeting a beautiful soul and coming together with a new dream at hand; after a further journey of discovery taking around 6 months, then another 6 months wrangling with lenders; the path has changed somewhat. I no longer have a solid view of myself in the sense of what makes me, me. I know that I exist, and I know that I am adrift on the river of life, its twists and turns dictating choices I never desired to make. I know that despite my past grief at the fall of my creativity, no other choice could be made that I could live with in my heart. Those who abandon their loved ones, ask the universe for an even darker road. So perhaps at long last, the compassion I once believed to be part and parcel of my intrinsic self, has flowered into a reality, rather than a nice intention.

I do still create. What may be my magnum opus, if that’s possible for someone at my level; a six-song pop-rock journey dedicated to my family, my past, my lovers and my future, nears completion. I paint. I write, and will likely never cease writing. I take part in acting whenever the opportunity arises. So it is not as if I’ve doffed the mantle of creator. It is no longer my backdrop, middle and foreground, however, and I know now that a man with drives such as mine, may never rise to the glory so dreamed by not only his forebears but himself as well. He is just too caught up in the love of those close, and all that goes with it. And that is alright.

Meanwhile, the path continues to twist and turn. I am something of a property owner now, with the rent almost enough to pay off the loan over many future years. With this, I was enabled to purchase my own 3 bushland acres up in Agnes Water. Well, the bank owns it, but I was at least enabled to make it my own. Perhaps one day a beautiful life near the sea shall resume. In this, my loved ones have repaid my kindness many times over, for there was no way, if such a notion came to me in years past, that the kind of collateral required was even possible.

So at this juncture, I would perhaps no longer call myself green-oriented, or into social justice, or libertarian (in the old sense, not the new sense), nor even a singer, musician, artist, writer, dreamer, so on, so forth. I spent many years fighting what some call the good fight. I grew tired. Too much has passed. Nowadays, I might call myself, considerate son, reliable employee, loving fiancé, middle-aged, and a kind-of sort-of landlord, as well as a landowner. My far-left leaning friends whose motto is the only home you need is the one you’re living in would label me the ultimate hypocrite, but we do still live in a capitalist economy, and I’m trying to get by, supporting myself and my loved ones. Unlike many of those, I want to live among the leaves and animals and hear the call of the sea one day, as I did in the days of my childhood. I would say now, that those friends remain in my old mindset, and have as yet most likely not been called upon to make such choices. No preaching here, as I know the magnitude of potential that I cast aside a long time ago, and it only now becomes clear the why of it. The message of this particular paragraph may simply be, perhaps don’t judge the landowner too harshly. At least not until they’ve paid the mortgage. Nobody is making any money here, of that you can be certain. Maybe in twenty years.

There are indeed future costs to develop the land at all, to be able to live on it, so on and so forth. But it is nice to say you’re a landowner, and in particular, when it is a choice you’ve finally made for yourself. And that is the point. Once again in the land of irony, the choice made at last for myself, the selfish aspect rising back up to the surface as my middle-age comes into its own, was not to doff any of my people, nor to follow the dream of the singer, the writer, the artist. It was to buy a block of land, in the hope of retiring peacefully in the future, among the leaves. After all, geologically speaking, I shan’t be around much longer. That alone is a matter worthy of consideration.

Having said all that, I’m not an idiot. Should you, the reader, have come across my music, my literature, my showreel, my scripts, my poetry, or any such creative work; and should you think to yourself “I could bankroll this, and it would be a great thing”; well, I’m certainly not saying no. Send a message, and send it with haste! The likelihood, however, grows thin with time, and previous years brought agony forth from such thoughts. Today, at last, it is finally alright to say that it’s all going to be okay.

Social Media is Not Your Friend

Look, I like Facebook and Google as much as the next person, but let’s just stop freaking out for a minute. Let us also not place our loyalties into the wrong spaces. Two things can be true at once. The decision by Facebook to cut off Australia from Australian posts, and the corruption of a government in allowing conventional media giants to coerce their decision making, can both be reprehensible at the same time.

Firstly:- there are alternatives to Google (this isn’t just about Facebook, Google sits in with this issue as well) – Ecosia, for example- there are alternative social media sites (does anyone remember when MySpace was THE thing and Facebook didn’t exist?) Social media should not dominate anyone’s life, nor should a search engine, and the removal of those things should be an inconvenience, not a significant alarm in the switching off of our lives. For those who must remain online – there are alternatives. You can find your news sources through conventional means, and alternative means. Facebook has ALWAYS curated that information.

Trust me, the number of posts I’ve put up over the years that NOBODY has seen – despite having more than a thousand, then more than two thousand people connected to my feed – come on now. It’s not as if this is a new thing. What this is, is a pissed off corporate giant flexing its muscles to get its way.

This brings me to, second:
– granted, Scott Morrison and co are among the most morally bankrupt we’ve had in government for a long time. You can see it in their dealings, their hands in business pockets, their lack of noteworthy, values-based speechmaking, their consistently questionable decision making for the long term in particular. – granted, Murdoch IS Satan, or one of the big Satans. That’s the point though. It can be true that these people are utterly corrupt, and it can also be true that Facebook’s decision to smash Australian post information is also (given its awareness of the power of its social reach across a huge swathe of society, the private entity aspect notwithstanding in terms of ethical decision making as being human within a business) extremely concerning.

It is based on false pretences, i.e. ‘freedom’, which is why so many people are jumping to the defence of a hugely successful, highly profitable corporation that literally sells their information for profit. The success of the platform lives in that very truth, that people are defending an entity that sells their information. For what? The right to share posts they could share elsewhere using a plethora of other apps and software, IF it was just about connecting with friends and family. But it isn’t about that anymore. It is about a well-cultivate culture of reliance. This is a reliance that is not required. It is a reliance within which people have convinced themselves, despite evidence and facts to the contrary, that Facebook is the frontline of free speech and free movement.

Facebook is a private entity with the absolute right to curate all posted information, which it does. It always has. Your freedom of speech AND freedom of access to information is as much an illusion in this space as it is out there in the real world (try breaking a simple law you don’t like with the attentions of a police officer on you). What Facebook is actually fighting for is the absolute right to operate its platform, and how it curates its news, how it wants to. How the people behind Facebook, want you to see the news.
That is the battle. The battle is between the Murdoch empire, who want premiums set to enable the curating of news in their favour, and Facebook, who also have algorithm and policy-bases for how they curate your news. The little spoon feed where you get to post what you want is an illusion. That’s why when they got sick and tired of a lot of that American BS it started getting ‘fact checked’. This fight isn’t for your rights, it’s the beginning of a longer campaign for platforms and companies like Facebook and Google to exert more and more influence over how they run themselves, regardless of consequence.

Lastly:
– Facebook is a social media platform, first and foremost- Facebook is not life, goals, dreams, hopes, ambitions, or indeed, news- Once again, there are alternatives, you just might have to get off your ass and do some actual digging to get back to what you want, instead of lapping up third-hand posts from other human beings- Facebook is a convenience now
You do not have to defend Murdoch or Scomo, to understand that the flexing of a burgeoning technocracy is deeply concerning – because behind that flex is a board of directors. Not an elected government, and certainly not your friends and family. The reverse is also true. You can acknowledge the slow growth of Facebook from social media space and friends/family connector into a soul-sucking techno-addiction piece that curates every post to ensure how many do or don’t see this or that, and acknowledge its actions of late are that of a pissed-off, bloated corporation too big for its boots; you can acknowledge that as technology advances and we get even more connected through platforms like this, and traditional government appears more and more foul and obsolete, that the next logical step for such an entity is to exert its power more and more, initially for the ‘greater good’ but ultimately and in the end only as it is profitable to do so; you can ask the bloody obvious question, what happens when it gains that much power and it answers to nobody (just like a government between elections, more or less); you can acknowledge all of that, and still know our elected government needs voting out due to far too many hands in pockets.

You can know all this, and not rely on a piece of software for your well-being, nor defend it when it is utterly undeserved. The best part is, you can do that while still using the social media platform that is selling your information for profit.