Pretty Fly for a Sci-Fi

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So I watched Blade Runner 2049 a couple of weeks ago, and wow.

Wow at the beautiful, ridiculously gorgeous cinematography by Roger Deakins (seriously this man needs an Oscar or the Oscars have no meaning). Wow at the industrial, haunting, pulsating score by Hans Zimmer and Benjamin Wallfisch, blending into the sound design to create the dark, brooding atmosphere of this bleak future. Wow at the bravery of Denis Vileneuve, already one of my favourite directors after the incredible run of Prisoners, Sicario, and Arrival, to not only take on something as beloved as Blade Runner, but also to take his time with the story, to take the substance seriously and earnestly and let the story unfold at its own pace. It’s not wall to wall balls to the wall all out action explosion time: it’s measured, meditative, and when the action does come it’s that much more impactful for the silences in between. Wow at the screenplay, from the original Blade Runner scribe Hampton Fancher, which doesn’t shy away from the big questions yet also refrains from offering any sort of concrete answer, something a lesser film would attempt to shoehorn in. Wow at all of it, at them pulling off a sequel 35 years after the beloved original and delivering in spades.

Wow, wow, wow.

I’m going to try and stay clear of out and out plot spoilers, because this is a film that will be more rewarding the less you know about the specifics, but I’m going to guess that anyone who is planning on seeing it will have at least watched the original in some form (and hopefully not just be going for the sake of Ryan Gosling). Seriously, don’t go just for Gosling, he spends most of this film covered in some form of grime/blood/grimy blood combo. Not hot.
But for a quick recap, let’s cast our minds back to the first Blade Runner, from way back in 1982. Here’s the Sparknotes-y bit, skip to the next paragraph if you know it all. Written by the sci-fi great Philip K Dick, also of The Man In the High Castle fame, the original name of “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?” is a clever allusion to the themes of the story. In the near future the Tyrell corporation builds artificial humans known as Replicants to do dangerous work on off-world colonies, they are built to be strong, smart, with fake memories to develop personalities and with determined lifespans to shut them down when their use is done. A small crew of these Replicants escape, led by the amazing Rutger Hauer as Roy Batty, steal a ship, kill everyone on board, and make their way to Earth for a lil’ tete-a-tete with Tyrell. Cue our leading man Rick Deckard, a Blade Runner, being assigned to the case to find these Replicants and “retire” them. And that is all I will say of the plot, but suffice to say that if you have not seen Blade Runner you should 100% watch Blade Runner. But forewarning, it is a pretty slow film, as much a noir detective story as a sci-fi one,

I’m not writing this blog to talk about plot, or to just heap praise on the new film, but rather talk about the wider school that these films come from. What the first Blade Runner (which I’m now going to shorten to BR for the sake of my carpal tunnels) did, and what BR 2049 carries on in spectacular fashion, is the spirit of proper, old, hard science fiction. These are stories that delve deep into the biggest of questions, about the nature of humanity, the purpose of existence, the meaning and importance of memory, the ethical complexities of creating intelligence, the necessary evils committed by man for the sake of progress and expansion, and so much more. BR is not alone in this field, not by any means. Pretty much since Metropolis back in 1927, one can trace a long and storied lineage of science fiction films in the more serious vein, that aren’t just about lasers and explosions (sorry Star Wars/Trek, I love you but you aren’t quite on the same level of deepness), but instead tackle serious, searching, and often unsettling questions about our own nature, as well as the nature of the universe.

From 2001: A Space Odyssey, perhaps the pinnacle of sci fi filmmaking, via Solaris, Close Encounters, Twelve Monkeys, Contact, Gattaca (which more people have to watch), Minority Report (also based on a story by Philip K Dick), and Primer, up to more recent endeavours such as Children of Men, Moon, Her (kinda), Ex Machina, Interstellar, and Denis Vileneuve’s previous triumph Arrival, the grand old tradition of science fiction has been kept alive by subsequent generations of filmmakers who are brave enough to tackle these ideas without the campy overtones and styrofoam sets of things like Doctor Who or old Star Trek. They are films that continue to inspire and awe today, make you think, question, leave you with your mind considering all of the possibilities and problems, exploring the beautifully simple yet open ended question of “What if?”

The old stereotype and cliche of sci-fi being for nerds is dead, over, done. Although nonsense like The Big Bang Theory continues to try and perpetuate this myth that sci-fi is all about silly lasers and cosplay and man children with patriarchy problems, I like to think people are more aware of the fact that it goes far beyond that level. Sci-fi has crept into every level of public consciousness, from terrible YA novels to The Handmaid’s Tale, Marvel movies to Misfits, Westworld to Stranger Things, it’s all over the place. But I digress, this isn’t meant to be an “Aha! Got you, you secret nerd” moment, just an observation on how god awful TBBT is.
The flip side of everything being a bit of sci-fi is that sci-fi in its original sense is often distorted, lost to high camp and special effects, treated as a joke or a peg to hang a more easy going comedy or action film off. These are the crossover sci-fi films, which may still be decent, but aren’t fully focused on the real core of the idea they’re tackling. A good example is the Matrix, a sci-fi premise teamed up with Hong Kong wire-fu action and a pulsing electronic soundtrack to blow the minds of everyone in the late 90s, but the minute it tried to go a bit serious with the Architect the entire thing collapsed under the weight of its leaden handling of the subject. On the comedy side we have Back to the Future, Bill and Ted, and to an extent the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (although those books get surprisingly deep bro), but they all leave a nice cushion of humour between themselves and pure sci-fi.

Then, every so often, a film comes along that sets all of that artifice aside in the pursuit of something purer. Films that pick a question, a massive, huge question, and run with it. “How will humanity survive in the future?” “What happens when we make contact with extra terrestrials?” “What happens if we create artificial intelligence?” “What if we name that artificial intelligence HAL and he goes a bit mad?” “What if we could predict crime?” “What if we could travel in time but have to deal with very real consequences of duplicates and timelines?” “What if nobody could have children?” “What if we were sorted into a society based on our genetic disposition at birth?” “What if aliens arrive and we need to learn how to talk to them?” “What if we find a big black monolith and touch it and then creepy Ligeti music starts playing and a monkey kills another monkey with a bone and is that the first murder and oh god can mankind ever rise above its base urge to kill?” Please watch 2001. If any of those things sent a little shiver up your spine then good, because they should. Science fiction authors and filmmakers don’t pluck these ideas from nowhere, they look at the world of their day and see how it could develop. Ever since H.G.Wells was inspired by the industrialising world around him to eerily predict chemical weapons and mechanised warfare, those who write and envision these scenarios always take something from the world of their time.

So what do the hard sci-fi films of today have to say about our world? Ex-Machina takes place in a clean, glossy future, where the main character is summoned to conduct an AI experiment by a reclusive tech genius, selected based on his search history and browsing patterns. Sound creepily possible? How about in Interstellar, where global warming has decimated the world’s food supply, leading to arid dustbowls hit by violent windstorms? The DNA based life plans of Gattaca find their real world echoes in increasingly accurate embryo screening and gene editing, Children of Men’s childless future mirrors a steep decline in real world fertility rates, and the bickering nations in Arrival failing to work together look eerily like the ever more fractured international relations of the world today. BR of course has its real world echoes, many of them. The increasing focus on AI and machine learning, the millions of second class citizens across the globe who live in slavery, the gulf opening up between the richest and poorest in society, the increasing growth of sprawling urban centres, the list goes on.

That is what great sci-fi does. It holds up a mirror, a Black Mirror if you will, to the world, and asks us to dive into the realm of possibility. I know what some of you may be thinking, “But wait, all of those possibilities in those movies are just really bleak, where’s the happy stuff? Where are the rockets and hover boards and shiny buildings?” That idea existed, for sure it did. Look at anything we would now deem retro-future, think The Jetsons, the hopes for the future back in the 40s and 50s were of bright, clean cities and flying cars and house cleaning robo – oh wait, we kind of have those. But it’s hard to envision that kind of future building from today, or from the time when the sci fi greats like Heinlein, Asimov, Dick, Clarke, Herbert, and more were at the height of their powers. They lived in the aftermath of WWII, driven by nationalism fuelling a global conflict, under a looming cloud of potential nuclear war, in an era of rapid and unchecked technological advancement. Seem familiar?

We need films like BR 2049, just as back in summer I wrote about needing films like Dunkirk, because we need to consider our future as much as we need to learn from the past. We need science fiction, in all of its weird forms, to take itself seriously and to in turn allow us to take it seriously, to really think about these fundamental, pertinent, and ever more pressing questions. Great sci-fi should leave you wanting, leave you hungry for meaning and answers, because it poses questions that we don’t have the means to solve just yet, but someday will. Authors of the late 1800s had their fantasies of tanks and rockets become reality in the 20th century, the authors of the 20th century are seeing their imaginings of AI, ecological collapse, and enduring slavery come to light now, what will the authors of today predict for the world of the 22nd century? It’s natural to hope for a happier, brighter future, but if the startlingly accurate predictions of sci-fi are anything to go by, we’re in for one hell of a ride.

Also, if you haven’t seen Blade Runner or any of the films mentioned, please please go and check them out. Plenty are on Netflix/pop up on TV every so often, they are all brilliant and all worth seeing in full. And then watch the new Blade Runner in as big a cinema as possible.

 

xoxo, The Angry “Do you like our owl?” Indian

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If You Want Peace…

This has really taken some time hasn’t it?

Thanks to the wonders of a masters degree both my time and desire to write (after many assignments and essays) were worn down to a nub, a far cry from the proud obelisk of creativity and outrage that previously thrust proudly into the sky.
Even now I sit and write this instead of my thesis, which granted is fairly important, but it feels like I need to get a good ramble out of the way before I can talk all academically about blockchains and commercial law.

So, introductions done, explanations for absence noted, let’s press on.

I saw Dunkirk the other day, the new film from one of my all time favourite (yet weirdly divisive) directors Christopher Nolan, and I loved it.
I loved every minute of it from the almost silent movie-esque opening title cards to the beautiful final shot like something out of a Tarkovsky film and the whole 100 minutes or so of beautifully shot and edited carnage in the middle.
I loved the interlocking narratives, the almost complete (by blockbuster standards) absence of dialogue, the haunting score driven forwards by an endlessly ticking clock, the wonderfully practical effects in an age of CGI, the fact that Nolan has stuck Tom Hardy in a mask again (because we all know the best Tom Hardy films have him in a mask), the all star British cast, the gorgeous visuals, the ear-splitting cracks and bangs of gunfire and bombs placing you in the dizzying centre of the action.

Most of all I loved that it is a true story. A wholly true, relatively recent by human standards, inspiring, cautionary, harrowing, almost stranger than fiction story. It isn’t the story of a great victory, nor one of a great defeat, it isn’t about aristocrat generals behind the lines bumbling about like Melchett in Blackadder, nor is it a single boots on the ground soldier’s tale like Saving Private Ryan.
The scope Nolan goes for is both intimate and large scale, a close up face of an anguished soldier speaking more about the global conflict that was unfolding than the story of a single squad behind enemy lines. Dunkirk is a film about a tumultuous period in human history, six years that changed the course of the planet, that shaped innumerable advances in everything from rocket technology to the Geneva Conventions. And that is why it is such a vital story and such a vital film for today.

The side of the second World War that Dunkirk sheds light on, especially for those of us who dropped History at the earliest possible opportunity (like me), is one that is often ignored in popular discourse.
We all know something about D-Day, we know about Churchill’s speech and the Blitz spirit and Rosie the Riveter, and we all know to some extent that the Spitfire is one bad ass piece of machinery.
We also know a fair bit about the other side, countless books and films have been devoted to Hitler and the other Nazis, the ruthless industrialism they espoused, the terrifying, world conquering ambitions, and of course the genocidal horrors of the Holocaust.
But about Dunkirk? I must confess I didn’t know very much at all, even after watching the film, and sat down for a post-movie drink and discussion with B that involved reading up on wikipedia about how the whole situation started. I still don’t know the whole story, and I’m sure there are many many books and documentaries out there to shed light on the matter, and I’ll get round to those. Someday. The list is long.

But what did come up in conversation, what resonated with both of us, and what inspired this blog, is the message that the evacuation of Dunkirk has for the world today. Simply by virtue of what happened Dunkirk takes the gloss off war, it takes away the tendency (by the Yanks especially) to glorify victories and ignore defeats, to reduce a conflict to an “us v them” binary, good v evil, right v wrong.
It reinforces the actuality of war, that it is fought by real men and (in more recent history) real women, with families and homes. It reminds us that WWI and WWII weren’t some dazzling triumphs to be looked back on as wins, but rather horrific conflicts that scarred individuals (like Cillian Murphy’s character in the film) and the world alike.
The street battle that opens the film, reminiscent of Saving Private Ryan, and considerably less slo-mo and badass than the storming of the village in Wonder Woman, takes place down a quiet Belgian street that B mentioned could quite easily be a street in Maastricht, or any other Dutch/Belgian/French city. We tried to imagine what it would have been like, sandbag barricades on Markt, Nazi flags hanging from the town hall building, Vrijthof as a parking ground for tanks. This isn’t pure fantasy either, Maastricht was occupied by German forces from 1940-1944, that’s just over 70 years ago.

What would such a scene look like today? And more pressingly, could it happen again? The question that naturally followed is one that actually took some thinking about, what would we do if it happened in our lifetime?
In the world we have today a third world war no longer seems like an impossibility to many, and though we may not term it as such there has been conflict around the globe that is either localised or run as proxy conflicts in the pissing contest between the US, UK, China, and Russia for pretty much the whole of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Today we have an eerily powerful Vlad in the Kremlin, a manchild with no limits on his power in North Korea, an increasingly isolated and beaten down UK led by a cabinet of Spitting Image puppets, and the less said about the hare brained bad hair mouth breathing infantile pile of human excrement cleverly disguised as a barely-billionaire in a bad suit in the White House the better.

This cavalcade of clowns with barely a moral to scrape together between them and fingers on the H-bomb button of doom is, quite frankly, a terrifying prospect. Not one that we deem pressing enough to really impact our day to day, but a hovering spectre that seems to be growing larger behind us like a creepy shadow in a crappy horror film. Boo.
So what happens if it happens? Doesn’t have to be nuclear, not by any means, that is the “last resort” after all. Suppose a ground invasion, like the sort that has happened in Philip K Dick’s alt-history landmark The Man In the High Castle, pitch battles on the street, civilians in the crossfire, cities turned battlefields. One need only look to the images from the Middle East to see the consequences, devastated cities, soldiers fighting in streets that would have been buzzing with life and people, a seemingly endless stream of refugees fleeing for their lives to a safe haven. Well, what should be a safe haven.
What would happen if the tables were turned? What if Europe was the war zone as it was not so long ago, where would we run to? If it is truly a World War, with everywhere and everything at stake, the answer is nowhere. As it was back in 1940, home would no longer be safe, our neighbouring countries may fall to the enemy, we may have to evacuate and retreat, knowing that no matter where we are in the world an ICBM could find us.

What country would want to give those from Europe and the US a haven? Based on the way we’ve treated refugees so far, I would hazard there wouldn’t be too many friendly faces to look to across the globe. So what then, escape isn’t an option, do we fight or surrender?
This lead to the next question that arose during our post-film debrief: if the time came again today, would we fight?
It may just have been the post-cinema buzz in effect, but I said yes. Yes I would. If, as then, everything and everyone I knew and loved was in danger then I would take up arms or whatever else and pitch in. But do we really want it to come to that? Fuck no.
Nobody should want the world to end up back in that position, with war in our streets, young men being sent off to fight, nations occupied or on shutdown in horrendous circumstances. But there is, and it’s kind of undeniable today, a growing shadow of war on the horizon.

It might not be in our lifetime, and hopefully it won’t be in the lifetime of any future generation either, but if things stay the way they are, if systems don’t change and the public remains largely apathetic and content with their lot, it might not be very far away at all.
Furthmore, and contrary to what the scaremongering press in the UK and US would want us to believe, the main threat isn’t from ISIS or terrorism, those fringe groups don’t have the capacity nor the numbers to escalate a conflict to a global level. The real threats are from the states we call home, states which at present argue for strengthening militaries and police while defunding healthcare, states that use the argument of “national security” as a catch all to excuse everything from sweeping surveillance laws to human rights violations.
I’m not sure about you, but I have such little faith in our elected leaders right now to do the right thing, the moral thing, to take the decisions that would really protect “national security.”
That route would of course be to de-escalate, to wind it back, to not end up in the situation so wonderfully parodied by the great Stanley Kubrick in Dr.Strangelove all those years ago. National security shouldn’t mean more guns for policemen, or in America the use of ex-military hardware (watch Do Not Resist for a fascinating/scary insight into this), to try and convince the public they’re safe. How can we feel safe with armed policemen in the street? In the UK this was almost unheard of outside of London until a few years ago, and it seems to be a reaction to a threat that is not as pervasive as we are lead to believe. You’re more likely to die in a car crash, in a fire, being hit by lightning, or attacked by a shark, than you are to be killed by some bearded loony with an AK.

I realise that this, as with all things I seem to write, got a bit rambly and unwieldy, so let me try and bring it all back together.
Dunkirk is not only a fantastic film, but it also lead to a chain of thoughts that haven’t quite culminated yet, but make me just a wee bit worried for the world we live in. We shouldn’t kowtow to fear, to politicians telling us what’s good for us while they strip away our liberties, to men in suits with bunkers at the ready engaging in some good ol’ fashioned brinksmanship in pursuit of some pathetically small gain. What use is a £138 billion nuclear defence system for a poky little island like the UK? Why not spend that money on education, healthcare, infrastructure, actually help the people to prosper instead of telling them they’re safe with nukes floating around.
It’s mind bogglingly contradictory, idiotic, and objectively insane. Great thinkers and authors and artists have been telling us for generations now that war is not the answer, that co-operation and peace are the only way forward for humanity, and Christopher Nolan is just another name on that vast and illustrious list. Humans have enough self awareness to see their own tendencies for what they are, self-destructive, and to portray them as such in a variety of guises as art, literature, music, and cinema.

It’s just a shame our leaders don’t seem to have paid much attention.

 

xoxo, The “I know it may not seem like it but I’m still totally” Angry Indian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Is And What Should Never Be

Did anyone out there manage to clock exactly the moment when this happened? Genuine question. By “this” I mean the gentle slide from normality to absurdity that we’ve found ourselves in for the past couple of years, the slide that looks set to continue, like some kind of demented water park where the landing pools are full of spikes and salt.
What was the first moment/Patient zero/D-Day/Whatever we want to call it? Some might argue it was 9/11, the turning point just over a year into the new millennium, that set the tone for what was to come in the form of surveillance, terrorism, paranoia, the transformation of the USA from “that place with the burgers and fat people” to “that place that could reeeeeeally fuck things up if it wanted t- oh wait it already has.”
But it’s not just the USA, it’s also happening in the UK, across Europe, in Russia, in Turkey, and the Middle East hasn’t spent more than a day out of the news cycle because of war, terrorism, refugees, and more often than not, all three together.

As someone who isn’t particularly old, who’s only been kicking about on this planet since 1994, this strikes me as odd. But not in the “Woah, far out man” kind of odd, but that really unsettling kind of odd when something is just a little bit off. Like a creepily lifelike mannequin in a shop, that’s just on the verge of looking too real, or those moments when a door opens itself and for a minute you just can’t figure out how it could have happened scientifically.
That’s the kind of odd feeling I, and I’m sure many others, seem to be getting these days. Things just seem a bit off, not quite real, but as though something artificial is striving so hard to be real that it’s almost breached the barrier where it no longer becomes possible to tell what is fake and what is not. As it’s referred to in the world of CG and computer games, the uncanny valley.
It’s as though at some point between 2001 and now we slipped unconsciously into a parallel universe but nobody noticed. To borrow a little idea from Community, we may well have entered the darkest timeline.

Now I don’t want to get too philosophical or physics-ey about all this, partly because it would just be boring and confusing, and also partly because I don’t actually know all the sciencey and philosophy-ey part of it, and people many orders of magnitude smarter than I am are still debating this stuff. So let’s move on with our science hats safely placed to one side, and let us don our fun speculation hats instead, because this shit is about to devolve into “Ooh but what if” moments faster than you can say “I bet MJ and Tupac and Elvis are still alive on an island somewhere.”

Let’s assume for a second that 9/11 never happened. Big ask, I know, but in your mind just picture that familiar Manhattan skyline we all know thanks to decades of films and television with the twin towers of the World Trade Centre still standing tall and shiny.
How different would the world be?
For starters, the USA wouldn’t have had to retaliate to a non-existent attack, so Afghanistan would probably have been left alone (under the Taliban which, spoilers, the US created, but going that far back would make this blog a bit unwieldy). That means no billions spent on war, and no destabilised Middle East. Fast forward a year or two, the allegations against Iraq of harbouring WMDs were bolstered by claims that they were sheltering Al-Qaeda, leading to the invasion of the country. But wait, that never happened, because Al-Qaeda never made it to the USA. So Saddam or his weird son Uday may still be in power, but Baghdad wouldn’t have been reduced to a smoking pile of rubble, and the coalition of armed forces wouldn’t have spent years and billions and lost lives fighting. As a result? Perhaps no Arab Spring, perhaps slightly fraught but generally good relations with Hussein, Assad, Gaddafi et al., perhaps no ISIS arising from the power vacuum left in Iraq and Syria.
Okay, early days, and only on one side of things, but already history has diverged pretty dramatically. And just consider the knock on social and psychological effects.

Without the “War on Terror” (as it was so dramatically called way back when), the current air of distrust and paranoia between the West and the Middle East may not exist, or not as strongly. The simmering undertones of racism and Islamophobia, when even the most well intentioned and liberal of us can do a double take when we see an asian man with a long beard and a backpack, may have never come about.
This would be the brightest timeline, the timeline when harmony and good will would have expanded. When Europe wouldn’t have turned inwards and started blaming its ills on foreign devils, leading to the rise of the BNP at first, and later its pasty faced UKIP successor, with similar parties like the FN and Pegida across the continent. Obama may still have made it in, but he wouldn’t have been drone bombing villages, and perhaps that money spent on war would have made it to a better cause. Relations with Russia wouldn’t have deteriorated to the point at which we find ourselves on the cusp of a new Cold War, with the looming threat of nuclear weapons, and increasingly fraught and convoluted relations between Moscow, Washington, London, and Pyongyang.

However, as stated before, this is all just speculation. Speculation at its best can allow us to envision brighter possibilities that we can then work towards, and that’s good, because it inspires a desire for a better tomorrow. Speculation for a better yesterday? Well that strikes me as a bit of a fool’s errand. Which is why I’m doing it. Duh.
This notion of timelines and possibilities has stuck in my mind since I read it in a rather fantastic book called Our Mathematical Universe by Max Tegmark, which I urge any amateur science fan to check out. Not all the theories come from Tegmark, but the book explains it rather well, and makes the aching “what could have beens” just that little bit more bearable.
The idea (grossly oversimplified for the sake of brevity) goes thusly; that every time we make a choice, the universe splits, into one where we continue with the choice we made, and another where we made a different choice. If a dice is rolled, it can land on six possible outcomes, and there is a universe somewhere where every possible eventuality of that roll exists. (For further, more tangible explorations of this idea, check out Meanwhile by Jason Shiga). It’s an awesome idea, one that has gone from the fringes of science to the mainstream thanks to comic books and science fiction, but it’s a rather melancholy idea too.

Things could always be worse in other universes sure, but there’s always the lingering thought that they could be better. We have Trump, which means there’s a universe that doesn’t, there’s a universe with Hillary, there’s a universe where Trump is actually a seven foot tall space gecko, there’s one where he’s a maniacal dictator who has already captured France (because easiest country first right? #Agincourt), and one where he spent his life as a kindly old spoon whittler with no interest in real estate, politics, or banging his own daughter.
There’s a universe where the refugee crisis doesn’t exist, where people aren’t being forced to flee their homes because of war and famine, there’s a universe where all illnesses can be cured, and one where religious, ethnic and political divide don’t exist. There may be one where money literally grows on trees, rivers are filled with chocolate, and every man, woman, and child has the face of Ryan Gosling, but that’s besides the point.

The point is, and there is a point, that though this may seem like the darkest timeline, the one where things are as bad as they can possibly be, it’s still ours.
This is the world that we have, and to spend our days bemoaning what could or should have been, upset that Leave and Trump won, feeling sad every time we see refugees on the news, feeling a shiver of fear every time another story about potential nuclear war or a foiled terrorist plot pops up, is a waste of time. Let’s take our fun speculation hats off, and instead don our introspective, “seriously nodding over a fine espresso” hats.
There comes a point when the choices we didn’t make become as important to us as the choices we did make, and that’s baffling, but human. We are almost quantum creatures, existing in one plane, but constantly dreaming and imagining innumerable other possibilities. What if I spoke to that one pretty girl on the train? What if my parents moved to London instead of Yorkshire? What if (and come on we’ve all thought it) this aeroplane I’m on goes down over the sea? What if I choose a blueberry muffin instead of triple chocolate? Well actually that’s pretty obvious, I would be a lunatic.

But perhaps this near constant rumination on different possibilities is just a very important way for us to remind ourselves that although things might not always be at their best, they’re definitely real. Without getting all existential about what “real” means, perceptions and senses and brain images and the universe is a simulation aside, I think it’s safe to say that our day to day lives as we know them are as close to (if not totally completely) real as things get.
In this age of #fakenews and photo-realistic de-aged actors in films, when the boundaries between reality and fiction are becoming increasingly blurred, this state of constant “What if” wondering almost becomes more necessary than ever. We need to remind ourselves that there are things that are real and things that are not, and our minds need to be trained to know the difference. We need to remember that this isn’t some parallel universe we’ve all unconsciously slipped into, it is the only universe we have ever known.

I understand that this blog took a bit of a convoluted journey, but that’s because (as with most things) I sort of just made it up as I went along, and somewhere out of the chaos of thought and typing, I hope, a sort of coherent image formed. It might be a bit much to link diverging timelines and multiverses to a CGI Carrie Fisher (R.I.P. Princess) and polarising elections, but I like to think there’s a common thread running through it all: What is real, and what is not.
Our choices and their consequences are real, our imagined honeymoons with Jessica Alba on a Caribbean island are not. The universe where 9/11 happened and refugees are fleeing for their lives is real, the one in which Woolworth’s pick’n’mix still exists is not. Acceptance is key in order for us to go around with some sense of security, and I like to think at this stage more people have notably become more accepting. The ones of us that aren’t polarised are more pragmatic, more measured in our thoughts, and that is vital for any sort of meaningful discussion and progress. So although the fringes continue to dominate what we see, we can take solace in the knowledge that there are also level heads at work in places that matter, and working for change for the next generation if not the current one.

“It is sometimes an appropriate response to reality to go insane.”

Philip K. Dick, VALIS 

The Angry Indian (of this universe)

Frac/ture

Hi.

Quick word before we get started; this blog has been dormant for quite a while now because of various happenings, most notably me moving to Maastricht to start a masters (but not abandoning an admiration of alliteration) and all of the required studying and stress and friend making etc. that come with it.

Now with that out of the way, let us proceed.

It took me a long time to settle on a topic for this, quite simply because there is just so much going on in the world right now. The US election is (finally, thank god) over, and yeah the result is a bit shit but let’s just see what happens (on the plus side at least John Oliver can do jokes about something else now). The UK is in a post-Brexit buzz with daily news about something or other, mostly Theresa May being a giant emotionless turd cleverly disguised as a human being and getting parred by every other European leader. All over Europe there’s controversy and intrigue, from a right wing politician on trial for hate speech here in the Netherlands, the increasing popularity of Le Pen in France, and the election of  the mayor in Srebrenica who denies that there was ever a genocide.
On the international stage we have the continued fighting in Syria, which only seems to be getting worse by the day, accusations of human rights abuse in Sudan, a president in the Philippines who admitted to the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug addicts and dealers, a severe lack of basic supplies in Venezuela, a struggle for power in Libya, the list goes on and on.

Any one of those things would be enough for a whole litany of blogs, so forget trying to cram such large topics into a few thousand words. The post-US election debate is, quite frankly, exhausting, and that’s all I’ll say about that. Likewise Brexit is an ongoing process and one I’ve written about before, so no use getting all annoyed about it on here again.
But what underlies all of these things is much more universal, and is also something I can attempt to jovially and semi-pretentiously poke at over a few paragraphs while enjoying the soundtrack to Hell or High Water by Nick Cave and Warren Ellis. That thing is, as the title may have given away, the idea of an increasingly fractured world. Let’s begin shall we.

There is a buzzword used by many internet warriors these days, globalisation, or variations thereof. As a student on a course called Globalisation and Law, this naturally causes me some consternation when it pops up on reddit or under a Facebook post. Do these people know what that word means? Do they simply use it as a shield for the notion that “people that are foreign are bad”? Or worse still, that the explosive pace of improved connectivity across the globe over the past couple of centuries is somehow a bad thing.
Surely to any globally minded person, someone who has travelled, who may be from one nation but lives in another, a global citizen shall we say, the idea of a connected world is one of the greatest advances mankind could have made. This is a relatively small planet after all, and it took us a few thousand years to get to the stage at which we could cross seas or travel long distances, to undo all of that would be quite a task and essentially impossible.

But then I thought a bit deeper, and things weren’t quite so clear. Humans are social animals, said it before, will say it again. Without our inherent desire to work together with others we would never have made it to this stage, we would have lived and died in our caves and some other species would have dominated the planet. Probably dolphins.
So naturally over the course of human history we have come together to build villages and towns and cities and civilisations and empires, each more sprawling and encompassing than the last. People travelled and traded and warred, and in the case of Genghis Khan, fucked their way across a continent to ensure that a staggering number of people today could claim some form of genetic link to him (Mad tings).
So it is easy to argue that the process of globalisation is in fact an ancient one, not a recent phenomenon driven by “all dem bludy imigrunts,” and without it the world wouldn’t be the way it is today. The end. Or is it…

It isn’t.

The backlash against an interconnected world is spreading. Some people decry the integration of different cultures as a social experiment gone wrong, others argue (without a trace of irony or historical knowledge) that people should remain isolated and that they were fine before all of this mingling malarkey happened. Seriously guys, the internet is a sad, horrible place sometimes.
But we’re seeing increasingly fractious relations at the highest levels of international relations, namely the UN. There was a hubbub recently after Russia lost their seat on the Human Rights Council, yet Saudi Arabia (yeah, these guys ) retained theirs. The reason wasn’t because everyone in the room had been zapped by some kind of comic book mind control ray, it was because the UN and the Human Rights Council specifically have devolved into bloc voting, with countries voting in favour of their regional neighbours, international allies, or even trading partners. When the paragon of a united and peaceful world established in the wake of the atrocities of the second World War starts to crack after just a few decades there is some genuine cause for concern.
This is nothing new of course, Machiavelli wrote an early version of the realist critique centuries ago, arguing that statesmanship and diplomacy will always take precedence over the concerns of the man on the street. But still, every time a country puts state interests ahead of human rights concerns, such as the UK selling arms to Saudi Arabia or the US arming the Taliban in the 70s to fight the Soviets, there’s a bit of an uproar and everyone acts all surprised and shocked. And then they move on.

There is a paradox in the notion of humans as social animals, because we are also very individual creatures. We work together sure, but we are just as capable of being self sufficient if the situation calls for it. If someone Bear Grylls-ed you and dropped you in a forest somewhere, it’s reasonable to assume that you would make some attempt to find food, water and shelter, instead of walking around helplessly in a circle while trying to figure out where the nearest Costa and Holiday Inn are before collapsing into a sobbing heap. Though for some people I’m not so sure.
The point being that bringing us together can bring co-operation but it can just as easily breed conflict by virtue of our own individual self-importance, as illustrated by the Tower of Babel in the Old Testament. Though actually that’s more down to Old Testament god being a bit of a prick and fucking with people because he’s bored. But forget all that, could there perhaps be some vague grounding to the anti-global crew, the ones who argue that this level of interconnectedness is a step too far?

Thinking about this as an Indian who has grown up in Britain, spent a year in Berlin, and is now studying in the Netherlands, I want to laugh and then get angry and then make some tea. Thinking about it from a detached perspective, perhaps not.
During a visit to the World Trade Organisation in Geneva we were given a lecture about the impact of free trade on developing countries, with many graphs showing the progress made by BRICS over the past twenty years, and of course all of the increases in the quality of living that economic prosperity (mostly) brings.
However the whole time I was sat there I couldn’t help but think of places not too far from home in Yorkshire, the mining and steel communities left in a state of decay when the government pulled their subsidies, when companies took business to countries with cheaper manufacturing costs, workers unable to retrain with their skills rapidly losing relevance as time passed. Is that a necessary cost? The price of progress? What would have happened if China had never opened its market up, if manufacturing had stayed in Europe, how drastically different would the world be?

These are big hypotheticals, and of course we should deal with reality before we ever get to shoulda woulda coulda’s, but they’re things that bear thinking about. As you watch the news you can see relations between countries deteriorating and unsteady new bonds being formed, and it’s understandable that these shifts are mirrored by the increasingly nationalist and individualist sentiment brewing across Western Europe and the USA, and even in Asia in the case of the BJP in India and Duterte in the Philippines. The government of a democratic state should reflect the will of its people, but the opinion and will of its people is in turn informed by the actions of their government and other states. It’s circular, a feedback loop, and one that’s hard to break out of once a pattern is established.
Many people smarter than I am have written many theories and arguments and won Nobel prizes for doing work far more empirical and insightful on the same idea, that history is essentially a cycle, but as the adage goes “Those who cannot remember the past are doomed to repeat it.” Centuries before Santayana gave us that wonderful gobbit, religions like Hinduism and Buddhism based their philosophies on circular conceptions of the universe, a constant cycle of birth and death, creation and destruction, the consumption of a tub of Ben and Jerry’s and the horrible guilt that crops up a few hours later while you  reach for the next lot of Chocolate Fudge Brownie without a trace of remorse.

The point of all of this rambling isn’t to say that any one side is right, as Obi-Wan said “Only the Sith deal in absolutes” (and the less said about the absoluteness of that statement and all of the Star Wars fan bickering the better). But we aren’t Sith, oh no, unless we’re Darth Maul who is an absolute badass.
We’re citizens of an undeniably connected world in 2016, a year that has given us such gems as “dat boi,” dabbing, and not one but two superhero face off movies. D r e a m.
As I’m pretty sure I’ve said before, ignorance is a choice nowadays, when so much information is available to us, but it is important to consider all of that information. There is no black or white, the world exists in shades of grey, apart from Essex which seems to exist in a permanent haze of lurid orange spray tan. Closing yourself off to different points of view, no matter what they might be, brings you to the exact same position as the people we all love to make fun of (Hint: the Daily Mail comment section is a goldmine of dumb asses).

Not going to lie, kind of lost track on this one. Oh yeah, fractured stuff, that’s the one. The reason this blog has been so quiet recently is partly because of actual life things happening, but also because I’ve just been content to watch what’s happening. More than any year so far this feels like the year that will yield seismic change, major shifts in power, a reshuffling of the status quo. Check the news on any given day and guaranteed there will be something somewhere in the world that is pretty damn major, whether it impacts you or not, be it political or financial or natural.
As an observer it’s nice to have so many interesting things going on, but as an active participant in the day to day of this planet, it’s hard not to be worried. If things continue as they are, if division continues to grow, discontent and disharmony spread further, it isn’t too hard to foresee a future in which all of the work of the past few millennia is undone.

Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen, or at least perfect some sort of interplanetary travel before then, because fuck hanging around on this rock when the nukes start flying.

 

xoxo, The “Slightly Less Angry But Still A Bit Miffed” Indian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2016

AKA The Year That Couldn’t Stop Giving

2016 just doesn’t know when to stop giving.

2016 is like that relative whose house you go to for dinner, and they won’t stop putting food on your plate even though you barely choked your way through the last pile of mush devoid of any and all seasoning.

2016 is like that moment when you step out of the shower and your foot slips a bit, you know that weird falling feeling you get? It’s that, but permanent. Permanent shower slipping.

2016 is the guy at the Pizza Hut salad bar who uses the same ladle for all of the dressings, but somehow gets some on the croutons as well and makes them soggy.

2016 is your neighbour from first year halls who complained about the noise even though every other flat was also having pres.

2016 is a lego brick to the bare foot of humanity. It’s a coffee table corner meeting a shin, an undone lace, a frozen puddle, a comedy banana peel at the top of a flight of stairs covered with spikes.

2016 is the boulder from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

2016 is a million kicks to the crotch that all strike the sweet spot for maximum pain

2016 is the kind of year to be a public masturbator, a locker room peeping tom, a drunk guy outside Wetherspoons on a rainy night trying to convince his girlfriend that he’s sober.

2016 is single ply toilet roll.

2016 is store brand baked beans.

2016 is a loose thread on a sweater that unravels the whole thing when you thought it was just a bit frayed

2016 is a landmine, left buried, stepped on by an unsuspecting child

2016 is the start of the clock turning backwards

2016 is introverted, insular, indignant, inconceivable, insane

2016 is the year people proved once and for all that they are weak, and afraid, unable to sustain peace, unable to tolerate differences, misinformed, unwilling to think, segregated, isolated, easily instigated, braindead sons of bitches who have and always will put themselves first.

2016, is a mirror.

2016 showed us ourselves at our worst and some happened to like what they saw.

More than we thought.

 

But there’s always next year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Extra! Extra! Read All About It.

It’s time to talk about the news.

This post was in part inspired by John Oliver’s recent segment on the gradual demise of print journalism (John Oliver on Journalism (might not be up in the UK yet)), but I want to take things in a slightly different direction.
Oliver talks about how newspapers and journalists are forced to drop more meaningful stories in place of pursuing clicks online, how they have to post a certain number of articles a day, and how they have to tweet a certain number of times, and of course what this all means is that real news is set aside in favour of puff pieces that draw in the braindead denizens of the internet.

I’ve complained about this before, about websites like Complex and the Huffington Post that have eroded the status of old fashioned real journalism, and have created a new generation to whom the very concept of a newspaper is alien.
Of course the news being online is nothing new, it’s 2016 after all, and every newspaper from the big national ones to local heralds have a website. People just don’t buy newspapers anymore, that’s a sad fact, and so they’ve had to focus on ad revenue online (or a paywall in the case of The Times) to keep themselves afloat.

For readers the advantages of websites like those above, not to mention the great internet Satan that is Buzzfeed, are obvious. You get concise stories, you get the basic outline, and you get a comments section so you can debate with equally misinformed people about who’s more wrong. Spoiler alert: it’s everyone. Everyone is wrong.
Add to that Facebook’s trending section, which many people will probably see as a series of headlines about the most important things in the world, only they’re not. They’re just the things that other people on Facebook are talking about, people who have also clicked on things in that sidebar, see the problem?
This dumbing down of what was once a very serious and very noble profession is worrying, especially for people like me who want their news unfiltered and unadulterated. Yes there’s bias in our media, especially in the UK, but the internet is just as susceptible to bending to the will of owners and benefactors.

However there is an even newer phenomenon which is starting to drive me up the wall, and it’s videos. Not videos in general, that would be daft. I’m not a 19th century Parisian to be shocked and awed by the concept of moving pictures, but I am shocked by the rampant popularity of the new breed of short form video “news” that is turning brains into mush and thoughts into a distant memory.
They’re absolutely everywhere, spouted by the aforementioned big hitters and also by smaller pages like AJ+, Attn., Viral Thread, and a whole host of other websites that nobody has ever heard of and have nigh on zero credibility.
They’ve infested my Facebook feed, liked and shared by friends and thousands of others, simple clips that could be from anywhere overlaid with short captions that often come with no citations or sources.

How did we let it slip so far? How did we get to the stage where even an article on a newspaper website is considered too much work by so many? It doesn’t take long to click onto the BBC, or The Guardian, or The Times or even the Daily Mail if you’re so inclined, and find a short to medium length piece about the issues of the day written by a real journalist and backed up by real sources. If you have digital TV there’s a whole raft of news channels, there’s the radio, there’s DAB radio, there’s podcasts from reputable sources, there’s so many options and yet so many people fail to utilise any of them.
Instead we have a generation of people getting their news from social media, news which is influenced not by actual events but by what other people are interested in, and what they are often interested in is not what needs paying attention to. You know what’s trending right now? Tim Curry talking about the remake of Rocky Horror and Pokemon Go. Yeah.
People are interested in celebrity and scandal, in sport and simplified science, and when it comes to serious matters like politics and economics and world affairs they don’t have any interest at all, instead they want the facts dumbed down and a point of view fed to them.

It gets even worse when it comes to social justice causes, the comments under every video turning into a nightmarish echo chamber of like minded young liberals who enforce each others views and fail to see that what they’re being presented with is no different to the hardline stance presented to and promoted by those on the other side.
The recent BLM UK protests (my opinions on which I will reserve) were accompanied by a spate of short videos overlaid with simple captions and accompanied by an endless stream of hashtags, the activist spirit is alive but its application is so far removed from the revolutions of old that it’s glaringly obvious to anyone who looks why things aren’t being taken seriously by a great many and why genuine change isn’t being made.
There are some things that must move on, but there are things which are better the way they were, and the news is one of them.

It’s all too easy to get your news and opinions from the wave of websites that exploit the inherent drawbacks and groupthink of social media, to have everything condensed into a listicle or a video, to nod along and like the comments of those who feel the same, to fall for confirmation bias and think “Yes, I thought the same so it must be right”.
All the while the newspapers that gave us real journalism, that investigate and interview and source, and as John Oliver says in his piece, still provide much of the information for television and internet news, fall by the wayside as we migrate to dumber pastures.
I ask, no, I implore anyone reading this, to stop falling for the short form mentality that has permeated our society and start reading and watching real news again.

It may seem long, it may seem boring, but it’s better to be bored and informed than entertained and patronised. I’d rather spend ten minutes with a cup of tea and a good article than thirty seconds with a video clip and the company of mindless netizens, and
I’d rather pay for a newspaper written by genuine journalists than put money in the pockets of faceless websites with advertisers to please and arbitrary article quotas to fill.
We live in a world of misinformation and misunderstanding, and if things keep going the way they are then that problem is only going to get worse.

Don’t be a moron, read.

xoxo, The “10 Reasons Why You Should Buy A Newspaper” Indian

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

War and Peace 2: Electric Boogaloo

If you had any hopes of the world becoming less fucked up in 2016, abandon them now.

In fact if you have any hopes of the world sorting itself out, transforming into some future Star Trek planetary war and religious divide-less utopia for at least the next couple of centuries, put them to bed with a well placed bullet to the head.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, or like me at least intentionally avoiding the news for as long as possible, it can’t have escaped your attention that a lot of very bad things have been pretty much constantly happening for quite some time now. One could even argue that they’re getting worse, increasing in frequency and severity, a constantly climbing graph ever since 9/11 almost 15 years ago now. Or rather since the advent of recorded history.

In the past few days alone we’ve had policemen being shot dead in Dallas, car bombs in Baghdad, and just two nights ago the horrific use of a truck to murder innocent people celebrating Bastille Day in Nice. Oh and to top off the shit sundae then there was an incredibly shady attempted coup in Turkey and 200 people died. Perfect. Murder is becoming background noise, a statistic used to score political points and inflame ideologies, the loss of life so commonplace that at a certain point it’s hard not to become numb to the endless headlines that drive home with soul crushing regularity just how incapable we are as a planet to sort our shit out and just coexist.

But that’s a naive sentiment.

The world has never truly been at peace, the one constant of life is conflict, humans just managed to turn it into an art form. We evolved from tribes killing each other for resources to nations strategically attacking other nations for resources, from using slightly pointy sticks to tanks and battleships and fighter jets.
War and killing have been a constant of human life on this planet as long as breathing and breeding and eating have. It bugs me when people treat war and violence as some new phenomenon, something that’s developed over the past couple of centuries, or something that is exclusively waged by rich western nations in order to subjugate the rest of the planet.
Go back to any part of history in any part of the world and I can almost guarantee that you will find at least two groups of people who didn’t get along and express that displeasure through violence. Be it Europe in the Middle Ages, or North America before Columbus, Asia under Genghis Khan or the Shoguns in Japan, people have been fighting and killing and pillaging and oppressing as far back as history goes.

Races have seen themselves as superior to others pretty much as soon as we became different enough to notice, people have enslaved other people for millennia, people have suppressed and abused minorities within their cultures, they’ve segregated based on class and wealth and gender, the rich have used the poor and the poor have risen up against the rich, it’s all been seen and done before.

Of course, arguing that war and injustice are the status quo would be a pretty easy copout. After all, and as I’ve said before, the reason why humans have made it this far is because we’ve risen largely above our base instincts to maim and consume and used our powers of reason and objective thought to co-operate and achieve great things.
However on the other hand, I would argue that accepting inevitability is not the same as acquiescing to it. If an asteroid were heading towards Earth and there was no way to stop it, the inevitable outcome would be the loss of a lot of life if not complete extinction. But accepting this fact doesn’t put you on the side of the asteroid, all it does is show that you have accepted that certain things are beyond your control.
Even in this highly democratised period of time, there are things that are beyond our control, and accepting that is not condoning it. These things may come into our control in time, we may develop a new system of government for example, America may adopt a radical approach to policing and peacekeeping, religious extremists may become fewer in number and easier to contain if not destroy. But at this present moment there are too many plates spinning in too many places for a few not to shatter, too many vested interests, too many self serving individuals, too many entrenched ideologies and prejudices.

In an ideal world, in the post-conflict Gene Roddenberry pristine future, these things won’t exist. We will have set aside our differences, embraced unity, cast aside notions of nationality and religion in order to work towards a greater goal beyond our planet. In science fiction worlds such as those of Star Trek and Mass Effect, this development only happens once contact is made with an extraterrestrial species, and perhaps they’re not too far off the mark.
Perhaps what will eventually bring the world together is the acceptance by every man, woman and child that we are minuscule parts of a mind scramblingly large universe, a speck of a planet in a tiny solar system in one arm of one galaxy in one local group in one meaningless microcosm of the universe. Perhaps what we need is for an extraterrestrial race to arrive and show us objectively just how ridiculous we’ve become, when we kill each other because we think somebody with a different skin pigment is inherently a criminal, or because somebody believes in a different imaginary sky fairy they deserve to be burned alive, that a whole army should have to go and fight another army because someone who speaks a slightly different latin derived language strayed over some imaginary boundary line.
The aliens would be baffled, they would wonder how a world that has such advanced technology and such profound writings and observations of itself could continue to fall victim to its own acknowledged shortcomings.

The aliens would wonder why a small planet, one so connected, could stand to ignore and look away from problems happening a few hours of flight away. And then perhaps they would realise something.

They would realise that we have come to accept an inevitability, we have come to accept that we can’t stop these things from happening, not as mere individuals, not just yet anyway. We can’t stop ourselves from holding prejudices, we can’t stop ourselves from holding on to petty notions of nationality, we can’t stop ourselves from scrambling to claim every drop of every resource for our own at the expense of others, no matter how dire we make their circumstances. Even when we make a stand against something all we do is highlight our differences, it’s an unwinnable fight, we’re too far down the line for things to reset themselves.
Many blogs ago I quoted the great science fiction author Robert A Heinlein, who wrote the following in his book Double Star; “Take sides! Always take sides! You will sometimes be wrong – but the man who refuses to take sides must always be wrong.”
It may be somewhat paradoxical, but that’s the way it seems to be. The only way to bring about an end to conflict is to start a conflict with those who create it, the only way to stop division is to take a side against division and simply create more division. It’s like a fractal pattern, an endless spiral, a self replicating machine that requires no outside input to create. Gandhi famously said that “An eye for an eye makes the whole world blind,” but even then he was a few centuries too late, the world has been blind for quite some time now.

But even though we acknowledge we do not acquiesce, and if there is one silver lining to the endless grey clouds of misery then it is this. People are taking a stand, people are making their voices heard, and though the voices may not always be wholly rational they carry a passion that is sorely necessary. People may not acquiesce to violence but all too often they are ambivalent, apathetic. I’m guilty of this myself, wondering why or how I can even begin to sympathise with every person that falls in the name of whatever cause. Being uncaring may not be the same as actively not caring, but it isn’t too far removed, and one could argue it’s a pretty slippery slope.
Yet for every person like me there now seems to be another who is unwilling to sit there and take it. This person might be protesting against austerity in Westminster, they could be marching for BLM in America, in India there was an uproar following the Delhi rape case, and people went out of their homes and took a stand. The new divisions we are creating could be seen as not divisions between people or ideologies, but divisions in time.
The divide is being created between the past and the future, putting old ideas to rest in order to create new ideas for the next stage of our society.

It’s hard to root out what one perceives to be an outmoded way of thinking, and likewise it is difficult for us to see the other side of an issue. If you argue against somebody by arguing the exact opposite you merely become a reflection of them, stalemate, unable to find a third way.
In the social media activism age the answer seems to be to change the definition of something to suit your own agenda (racism isn’t power + privilege or whatever, it’s racism), or to devalue intellectual debate which could lead to genuine change by reducing everything to a hashtag and one of those goddamn bullshit caption filled clip videos that do nothing but reduce independent thought even further. And it’s painfully ironic to watch people unable to see that they are just becoming the very thing they are fighting against, being so educated yet so unaware. Every person seems to be a micro version of a macro society, aware of their issues but unable to change them, a self-replicating machine. Social activism is necessary, but activism with genuine intellectual insight, rational arguments that aren’t driven by emotion, treatises instead of tweets, plausible solutions instead of utopian fantasies.

There is no answer to this, there is no quick fix, there is no bloodless revolution on its way. The best we can do is hope, and have our say when we can, and in my case churn out poorly structured, rambling, hugely subjective blog posts in the hopes that somebody will read them and agree with even the smallest part. And now, like any smart alec grammar school middle class malcontent, I’m going to quote someone.

Way back in 1971, John Lennon sang the following verse on his immortal song Imagine;

Imagine there’s no countries
It isn’t hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion, too
Imagine all the people
Living life in peace…

Forty five years on, we’re still imagining.

xoxo, The “Out of his Vulcan mind” Indian