2016 – What a Year it’s been

As 2016 draws to a close thousands of talented celebrities from around the world will be crossing their fingers in desperate hope that they can hang on for a tiny bit longer.  It is irrefutable. 2016 has been a bastard to the famous.  Thankfully I am only a Y list celebrity and thus so far have been spared.

I am the one that looks considerably less cool….

I refuse to see the entire year as something all bad.  On a personal level it was a year of firsts.  I finally visited New York which was just awesome.  I threw myself out of an aeroplane without any sensible reason.  I appeared on stage for the first time, rather than my customary position in the shadows, and bizarrely people laughed.  Not at me either.  But with me.  I think.  Somehow during all of this I learned something important about myself.  The greatest of pleasures stem from escaping my own comfort zone.

This year I largely took a well earned break from writing.  I tried to write a few half-arsed ideas which all proved to be little more than brainfarts.  Eventually reality stepped in and put a boot in my bottom.  And that’s how the novelette PiSlamistan was born.  It lead me to getting a wide variety of threats and abuse, including accusations of Judaism, communism and photographs of dead babies.  It also led to the first Polish translation of my work.  So I would like to say a hearty thank you to each and every person that took the time to send me hatred.  Without you, none of this would be possible.

2016 saw the release of ‘We Are Sorry’, one of the longest running music projects I have worked on.  There were music videos to ‘God Doesn’t Love You’ and ‘Walec’.  It was both amazing and at the same time a massive relief to finally see it come to fruition as the origins of the project go back a number of years. I believe we made a huge mistake by not calling our first album ‘Greatest Hits’ as it would have saved us from ever having to record another album.

All that is left for me to say to my readers, groupies, and troll army is Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

P.S. In the spirit of the festive season the good people at Amazon have decided to give Mourning Morning away for free on the Amazon Kindle Store on Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

A Commemorative Poem For Saint Donald’s Day

The sadness of footsteps that beat out a tune,

The knowledge that death comes to all that’s in bloom,

The relief of raindrops that bring hope for change,

The kinship of laughter that says we’re all strange.

We’re are all fucked every one of us,

We’re all gonna die,

We are all dead, dead as dodos,

And we don’t know why,

We are all fucked; lifeless corpses,

We are alive; alive and useless,

And we don’t know why.

The feeling that burns you when you lay down to sleep,

The tissue that holds you when you sit down and weep,

Your office and laptop that gives you your wage,

Your daydreams are violent they withhold your rage.

Text from ‘We Are All Fucked’ by Yu

published by Agora 2016

A Gaggle of Cun….

It seems that barely a week is able to pass by without an underclass of social media users sharing images of something disgusting.  This week’s image in question, which incidentally, I am not going to share, is of a dead Syrian child lying on a beach.  It is an image so repugnant in its very idea, that there is absolutely no need for anyone to ever share it.  Unless they are morally obtuse, self-absorbed, shitbergs.

This social media underclass of keyboard warriors and online campaigners believe that they are making a difference.  In my own encounters with these feckless morons the most common defence that I have encountered is that they are, in fact, ‘raising awareness’.  In this particular case they might be right.  There might be someone, probably called George, that lives in a closet, has an allergy to news, and has only one friend in the entire universe responsible for shaping their world view.  Them.  In such cases it is indeed true they are raising awareness, raising awareness that George should likely try living a life in the real world.  However, putting George to one side for a moment, I cannot help but wonder what it is precisely that they are raising awareness of?  Death?  Their penchant for collecting pictures of dead children?  The fact that life is unfair?  That war is fatal?

The fact is, these click-baited mindless morons gain a sense of usefulness and righteousness from their actions.  They are honestly that stupid that they believe with a genuine conviction that sharing distressing images does something positive for the causes which they care about.  That all they are required to do is click one button, or touch one screen and life will become inordinately better.  It is self-delusion of a scale that in past centuries would have landed them inside mental asylums, and yet, today, is the true epoch of our modern age.

The saddest thing of all is that this sharing, caring, generation of internet zombies are, deep down, exactly the same as George.  They are all blithely unaware of the universe which lives outside of their own doorsteps.  It is as if the genius of Zuckerberg is that he has convinced us that we are regal in our kingdoms.  That we Gods of the touchscreens are able to shape the perceptions of others through tacit use of shock and awe.  That humanity is a community interconnected by screens.  It is not.  It is a living, breathing dying gaggle of gene machines.  Humanity cannot be saved by the power of want.  The force of intention does not put food in the bellies of refugees.  The awe of image cannot stop wars.  The divine power of the share button cannot stop people dying, no matter how many times you share a photograph of a dead child on a beach.

Labels

Once upon a time there was a language in which words had meaning.  And then came the devil Ambiguity, along with his minions, Politics and Religion.  From that moment forth, meaning became as cloudy as a shower of piss.

When contentious events unfold, anywhere in the world, there is a scramble to gain control of the narrative.  It is commonplace for businesses, governments and individuals on occasion to hire people to manage the flow of information and colour it appropriately to try to morph the story into a predefined version.  This behavior affects all forms of media, stretching from newspapers and magazines, all the way down to simple memes which people share online.

One of the key strategies in public misdirection is the inappropriate use of labels.  When a news story becomes attached to sometimes a single word, or a single idea, the public’s attention is driven away from considering what truly happened and instead the public become recipients of a ‘manufactured’ intrepretation.  A recent example is the shooting in Paris.

For those of you that have been hidden under a rock for the past week, two gunmen entered the office of a satirical magazine and murdered a number of people.  Various ‘labels’ for the shooters were flung around in the beginning such as ‘terrorists’, ‘extremists’ and ‘Islamists’, before they were quickly replaced by an ideology so important to Western European societies that almost immediately the crux of the problem was forgotten.  At some point it stopped being a terrorist attack, we were all mistaken, it was in fact an attack on free speech.  Except that it wasn’t.

There are always few bare facts in a story.  In this case the one fact that is crystal clear – a satirical magazine was attacked for cartoons which satirized Islam.  It was not the office of journalists without borders.  It wasn’t an association against censorship.  It was a targeted attack against one magazine.  To claim that this attack has anything to do with free speech makes as much sense as blaming it on cheese, or blaming it on religion.

In France there are an estimated 4.7 million Muslims.  There were three gunmen involved in this spate of attacks.  If by any chance this was genuinely caused by religious beliefs the result would have been significantly different.  And yet there were no riots or large-scale protests like we’ve seen in the past.  There is only one conclusion any rational person can draw from this.  What is the label that adequately describes men such as these, that purposely acquire weapons so they can murder people who create cartoons?  Mentally ill, perhaps?

Last weekend people marched in solidarity and didn’t really seem to know why.  They felt the very human urge to say that they are not scared, that they believe in free speech and that violence will never win.  Despite the fact they weren’t really sure of what they should be afraid of, nor were they sure of what precisely free speech is or who is threatening it.  The important thing is that ordinary people marched arm in arm with the free-speech (not so) loving leaders of the free world to send a message.  And the message was thus ‘we are blind’.

This ‘wave of feeling’ which has ridden across the western world is not going to be a catalyst for change.  Therefore it is meaningless.  The idea that doing absolutely nothing is going to stop further terror attacks is absolutely mental.  If anything they will only increase, as every single example only further demonstrates what sitting ducks we all are.  The worst thing is that whilst we all focus on the European narrative, while we raise our pens and proclaim ‘Je suis Charlie’, little by little our freedoms and our rights are going to be stolen from us piece by piece.

How Many Fingers Am I Holding Up?

On either side of your body, starting somewhere(hopefully) by your shoulders are a set of bones which you most likely know as your arms.  At the ends of your arms, are five pointy collections of bones which you will probably refer to as your fingers.  If you do, you are wrong.  Not wrong as in incorrect, but wrong is absolutely, unequivocally, unquestionably entirely NOT RIGHT.  It is quite possible that I have never ever met you.  It is likely that I have never even seen a photograph of  either one of your limbs.  Yet somehow, I can say with utter certainty that you have absolutely no idea about what is happening at the ends of either of your arms.

Picture the scene – it’s a crap day.  It is raining, the sky is greyer than a monk’s underpants.  It is lunchtime at a Primary School.  There are dozens of children filling a miserable concrete playground with enough kinetic energy to propel a small rodent to Saturn.  Two young boys get in an argument about a bench.  Although some other kids see parts of it, nobody sees all of it.  When the kids go home that evening the first boy tells his Mum that he was bullied.  The second boy tells his Dad that he got in a fight.  Nobody saw either boy strike the other, yet there were many witnesses to the first boy pushing the second.  Was it a fight?  Was it bullying?  Who was the winner?  Who was the victim?  How is possible that two small children that cannot possibly grasp the concept of advantageous lying  somehow do?  What if the first child is an only child?  What if the second child has two big brothers?  Who was right?  Who was wrong?

There are three conclusion we can draw from the tale of the two boys.  The first is that there is no such thing as a single truth.  The truth is pliable to the facts which weigh upon it.  The second is that our truth changes shape to accommodate any information we gain access to.  There isn’t such a thing as a certain truth, a pure truth that can never ever change.  The third is that a snapshot of a moment is so extremely misleading that only a fool would believe that they are privy to the whole story when they have only caught a glimpse of the truth.  If these conclusions are indeed valid why is it that so many people share images that have no other purpose than to shock, often alongside a hastily assembled slogan intended to draw a sense of guilt for a single event that took place within the myriad of  atrocities that are being carried out in the countless number of active war zones around the world?  Are we really that much more foolish online than in the real world?

There is an easy way to test this.  Extend your arms in front of you.  Now extend your fingers.  Now count them.  How many fingers are you holding up?  The answer dear friends, is eight.  And you can’t argue with that.  After all, it’s reality, isn’t it?

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