meditate Prepare to die you're over 70 prepare to die 20 years at best prepare to die like a buddhist prepare to die on your own prepare to die facing nothing prepare to die facing whatever prepare to die with dementia prepare to die with loss of self prepare to die with no warning prepare to die with no dignity prepare to die take it easy prepare to die deny it prepare to die fuck it prepare to die my name is death die, already
We think we’re nice, interesting people. But we might not be. But how would we know? Who would convincingly tell us? No one – not even our significant other, if we’re lucky enough to have one – really knows us well enough or cares about us enough to do that. The Sage said, Know yourself. I used to think it’s better to be known. But maybe the Sage had a point. The problem is that once you discover what a piece of shit you are, where do you go with that? To a schmychotherapist? Is it possible just to stop thinking that you’re really great person? To be modest about yourself? Tone down your amusing charisma? Assume the cloak of humility? Worth a try.
…and shame the devil.
That’s the brave challenge I imagine you issuing, dear Reader, given the pretentious name of this blog. But do you really want me to take on the devil? Have you read some CS Lewis or something?
Let’s put it another way. Is telling the truth necessary for good writing, writing that people like reading? No, obviously not. Mainly because we’re not capable of it.
The truth would only be found in something like the Akashic Record. That might sound like an ancient idea, but it was actually invented by Blavatsky & Co. in the 19th Century, and touted by hippies in the last one.
For the sake of argument, belief in Akasha isn’t needed. Just imagine a full and complete record of everything. Every incident with all its background and circumstances. What was done, said, felt, and thought. All of it, for all time, unchangeable.
Expensive to record, archive and maintain such a record? No problem – on Planet Akaksha, there’s an energy tree powered by time-looped anti-entropy perpetual motion. Or whatever. Free energy. In another dimension, basically: Dimension Akasha.
Here on Planet Earth there’s truth with a small ‘t’. (Actually, the word ‘truth’ only ever has a small ‘t’, except for believers.) For humans, truth is slippery, and – embarassingly for the Crown of Creation – impossible to grasp.
We may not be capable of truth. We might know that, and be up for some postmodern fun. But we know what truth – however amusingly diffracted into multiple realities – sounds like. Ring it!
Say I wanted to write about a difficulty I’m having with a member of my, er, extended family. My wife’s family, really. Her sister.
So I had a legal confrontation with her about their dear departed mother’s will. Their mother was blameless, the will was clear – the house was to be divided between four sisters.
This one was the executor. But she thought she was the executive. She didn’t discuss selling the house in order to share it. She lived in the house. Made no attempt to sort things out.
On behalf of the other three, I teed up the law. Her sisters would take her to court if she didn’t cough up. So she did.
Maybe she thought she was protecting them. Given what two of them did with their money, maybe she was right. She’s rated as a good cook, so she can’t be all bad. And she’s disabled. With polio. She also has a small portfolio of rented properties. You couldn’t make it up.
I made her do the right thing. Which she resents, of course. I put a stop to her arrogant mismanagement of her mother’s will. Unforgiveable.
She and my wife are currently friendly, and she and I tolerate each other. But I think she’s secretly seething and avenging herself by demanding more and more of my wife’s time, especially in the evenings, especially Friday and Saturday evenings.
Going out or not, Saturday evening’s special. Even sitting on the couch watching TV. She’s stealing that from me.
My wife knows I don’t like it. She says her sister’s on her own, and there’ s nothing special about Saturday, now all the days are the same in covid lockdown.
My wife doesn’t understand me. Ain’t that the half-truth?
Did you like reading that, dear Reader? If so, I told you the the truth – the writer’s truth. If not (or, worse, it was OK, but – blah blah blah), it’s the Limbo step for me.
[Editor’s note: at this stage of his life, Brucciani, apparently embittered by failure and given to extensive substance abuse, now opens and closes his poems by arguing with an imaginary critic. He also has a product-placement deal with Nando’s.]
lockdown is like the end of the world
by hugo brucciani
dear reader, please
add a short
pause after each
think of it as
you say my poems are
the stoned ramblings of a
well, fuck you
here in the garden in an
infinity recliner, i wonder
how does it feel to
be a bird? hey, bird
does your tiny mind
bliss out when
it’s hard to
acknowledge feeling in
advanced awareness but
can’t control it
for some, its
shininess is too
they live in
hoping it works
to a point at least
(what shiny beast
saunters towards Nando’s
to be born again
as a chicken?)
others connect better yet but
it’s still not enough
think of us as
an evolutionary dead end
nice while it lasts
apart from when it’s not, like
it feels like it’s the end of the world
the end of the road
for us and our one thing after another
farewell cruel world
it’s all your fault
your human nature failed
its epic test
failed to fulfil its
got so far, only
couldn’t connect with
the, you know, thing
couldn’t connect, so
couldn’t relate, so
we’re self-destructing and fuck it
if we’re going down we’re going to
take a lot of other life forms
to whatever is
good try, and
better luck next time
the multiverse will
carry on evolving but not
with us and not with
we know it
Jim (lucky to be
worried about by
so we’ll never know
how the multiverse evolves
we’ll never see
the bigger picture
that’s the worst thing
here in my bubble
still, could be worse
my worst thing
could be a third-world problem
the one we made
could be a pile of shit but
it’s not that bad or sad
it’s OK. it’s fine
it’s only love, and
that is all
love of my life
love of it all
fuck some universal purpose
let’s live for the future
the one that’s got people in it
fuck the self-destruction
let’s kiss it better
love it better yet
save our souls
are we saved? not yet
a shallow epiphany, you say?
well, fuck you
[Editor’s note: In this poem, Brucciani seems to see humanity as a failed experiment in multiversal connectedness. For an alternative (if equally bleak) view – of life as a crop – see his poem, God the farmer?]
This coronavirus – what does it think it is? Coming over to us humans from bats, or pangolins, whatever, killing off our vulnerable old people, making us all stay in, destroying our socio-economic system and that. I mean, what’s it all about? You know? Bollocks!
Mind you, as a global threat it’s shown up market forces and the nation state as inadequate. So, if we end up with voluntary one-world government that can end poverty and war, give us a universal state income, and replace the environment-destroying debt economy with social credit, might not be so bad. Apart from the killing and destruction. Which is bad, obviously. Means and ends and all that.
But this isn’t a case of means and ends, is it. The deaths aren’t a way to get to utopia. The utopian idea comes from the deaths but isn’t caused by them. (The deaths are a way for nature to maintain its inhuman ecosystem. We’ve had plenty of warning.)
So this modern idea of utopia isn’t caused by the sudden mass deaths. It’s caused by the usual complicated pattern of thoughts and events. This virus is probably the catalyst (O-level chemistry, failed). The reaction is taking place. The result won’t be known till the post-virus dust has settled.
So would “they”, the Illuminati or whatever, the union of the super-rich, allow an end to neoliberal global capitalism as we know and hate it?
Not willingly, of course, but they might be forced to acknowledge a tidal turn of events and find another way to keep their loot; or they might try to co-opt New Utopia and bend it to the will of their ruling cabal; or – with a bit of luck – they might retreat in a sulk and rot away behind their security fences.
In the new utopia, in 50 years’ time, United Earth, having repaired the damage done by their greed, will round up the remaining cohort along with their warlord accomplices, convict them of their crimes and exile them to the Moon.
- Mummy! I’m not an animal!
From Bodies by The Sex Pistols from their 1977 album Never Mind the Bollocks.
Q: Why do people say, ‘More tea, Vicar?’ when someone farts?
A: It’s a joke about the thin veneer of civilisation covering our all-too solid animal nature, and our embarrassment about it – always good for a laugh.
It’s a joke about the incongruous congruity of a human (the vicar) representing morality ordained by a supernatural supreme being (God-based civilisation), an undeniable animal stench (the fart), and the consequent irreverent humour (the joke).
God being spiritual, and farting, animal, the saying ‘More tea, Vicar?’ humourously encapsulates the tension between those two worlds of meaning. The tea is a healing balm. The fortified wine that might then be produced closes the wound. Tea and sherry – closure medication for our divided souls.
But how does the vicar come into it?
Imagine a semi-mythical English past where people, whether working-class or middle-class, called their front room, if they had one, the parlour.
The parlour was the best room, reserved for special occasions. One such occasion would be a visit by the vicar, the Church of England parish priest. The family would wear their Sunday-best clothes, and tea would be served using the best service.
The conversation would be somewhat strained, due to the status of the guest depending on a shared tradition of faith in a supernatural supreme being (a belief which would inevitably cause some doubt in the minds of all concerned, not least that of the vicar).
During an awkward pause in the conversation someone, perhaps nervously, lets rip a loud fart. To allay the even more awkward silence and the undeniable animal stench, Mother – who, traditionally, pours the tea – brightly asks, “More tea, Vicar?“.
(Traditionally, Father may relieve the tension with a cheerful “Better out than in!“, thus enabling the conversation to sputter on. Fortified wine might shortly be produced, to the relief of all.)
Here we are – animals with consciousness. We’ve achieved civilisation, again. And it’s about to be destroyed, again. Mass immigration, mass poverty, turning on each other, breaking alliances with neighbour states, about to destroy our environment. Vulnerable animals with a big brain. The only protection is world government. Like United Earth in Star Trek.
If universal consciousness caused DNA, it’s ironic that we highly conscious humans, the crown of evolution, are apparently unable to apprehend it. Metaphorically, God made man in his own image: with consciousness; but even to conscious humans, God-consciousness (whatever gnostics, mystics and gurus say) is unknowable. Non-metaphorically, science for all its brilliance, is unable to agree on a theory of everything. Metaphorically again, science in its current state can’t look upon the face of God.
I should add that I’m an agnostic. I’m implying design, but not a designer. Evolution is designerless design. I’m suggesting a universal non-divine design process analagous to evolution.
The purpose of universal consciousness in fostering life might be to produce mirror or companion consciousness (perhaps the result of cosmic vanity or loneliness). Or – more darkly – it might be energy farming.
As a UK citizen, I suggest a compromise solution to Brexit: be in and out. Ie, stay in (promise reform of EU free movement of people to the UK, then get a remain result from a second referendum) but be the outsider.*
The 2004 neo-liberal experiment of allowing virtually unrestricted access to the UK of people from poor east European countries (pushed by then UK Labour premier Tony Blair) upset many locals. Boosted Euroscepticism led to the referendum, which was, in effect, the first public consultation on mass immigration. Result: split nation: loquatious liberals versus a taciturn precariat.
Offered a binary choice in 2016, I voted to remain – but was actually undecided. As a left-liberal who welcomes immigration, I nevertheless sympathise with the overlooked precariat – who have been wrongly dismissed by the metrocentric liberal establishment as ignorant provincial racists.
But it’s madness to abandon a good trading deal with our near neighbours in exchange for environment-destroying air and sea miles, and a sweetheart deal with corporate USA involving chlorinated chicken and a garage sale of the UK’s National Health System.
So, let’s stay in and, firstly, use the same EU rules as Germany and France have to restrict the “free movement” of people. (Mobility of cheap labour is no freedom.) Then vote for reforming the sh*t out of the corrupt, bloated, neo-lib EU gravy train. Then, with harmony and unity restored, we can resume our previous blissful sense of indifference.
*Update: the 2019 UK general election gave the Conservatives a large majority, so staying in was out. Harmony could now only be achieved by keeping as close as possible to the single market. Premier Boris Johnson, no Brexit idealogue (he flipped to Brexit in 2015 for reasons of personal advancement), might do that.
Image: David Masson
Started December 2019 | Last updated March 2020
European Union Brexit official Guy Verhofstadt was shown in a 2019 TV documentary making an extraordinary defence of the current version of the free movement of people.
The free movement of people, one of the supposedly sacrosant four freedoms of the EU’s single market, morphed in 2004 into the unrestricted mobility of cheap labour when EU ‘Enlargement’ into Eastern Europe, led by UK ‘New’ Labour premierTony Blair, allowed mass immgration to the UK.
Although widespread resentment of unrestricted immigration from Eastern Europe was one of the main causes of the leave result in the UK’s 2016 EU referendum, EU officials, in their post-referendum negotiations with the UK, held blindly to the untouchable indivisibility of the four freedoms.
As shown in Lode Desmet‘s fascinating fly-on-the-wall documentary, Brexit: Behind Closed Doors (shown in the UK on BBC Four’s Storyville in May 2019), Verhofstadt, Brexit coordinator and chair of the Brexit steering group for the European parliament, pompously and melodramatically – if unconvincingly – lectured a 2018 UK parliamentary home affairs committee on the supposed sanctity of the free movement of people.
MEP Verhofstadt – who, unlike fellow EU Brexit officials Tusk, Juncker and Barnier, was at least elected – duly preached the 4F credo to the committee:
- ‘You cannot pick and choose one element out of this concept and say, “We like everything, services, goods, capital, but not people. We don’t like people. They cannot come. Our goods can go out, our capital can go out, services can go out, but not people”. That is not the single market…
- ‘Everybody on the continent understands that when you’re talking about the single market, it can not only be the freedom of movement of goods or services or capital, but that it also needs to be the freedom of movement of people…
- ‘There are some countries in the single market who are specialised in goods. So they have an advantage on the single market with their goods. Some countries are specialised in services. I think we are here in the centre, in the capital of a country that is specialised, that has a huge advantage in services…
- ‘Other countries have an advange in that single market, because of their work force. And if you want to take out one of these elements, you destroy the concept itself of the single market.’
Transcript of edited scene provided by Lode Desmet, and ammended according to official report
In other words, rich west European countries could export goods, services and capital. Poor east European countries could export cheap labour. Anyone who challenged this – as, say, a mutant version of the original notion of the free movement of people, typical of neoliberalism at its grubby worst – was threatening to destroy the very concept of the single market.
Verhofstadt did point out that the UK hadn’t bothered to use the restrictions available under EU rules for EU citizens immigrating with no jobs – the same restrictions that his home country of Belgium had applied. Similar restrictions have been used by Germany and France.
This was a good point, but made too late. Grassroots dissatisfaction with unrestricted immigration from poor east European countries was a main reason for the referendum’s leave result. It was also the main reason for the ‘red wall’-turned-blue Conservative victory in the 2019 general election.
The London-centric UK liberal establishment – including the Labour Party – wrongly dismissed that dissatisfaction as ignorant provincial racism, and paid the electoral price. (See my post, ‘Brexit and free movement – the east European Elephant‘.)
The detail of Verhofstadt’s evidence to the home affairs committee (and earlier on the same day to the parliamentary Brexit committee) shows that he wielded statistics – as many UK liberals do – to loftily dismiss the scale and effect of unrestricted immigration from Eastern Europe to the UK.
Verhofstadt’s blind post-enlargement loyalty to the principle of the free movement of people as an essential component of the single market was intellectually shoddy. Such obstructionism, based in condescension and wilful ignorance, showed the arrogance typical of EU Brexit negotiators.
Perhaps that arrogance was a defensive reaction to the Brexistential challenge. Stronger negotiation by UK premier Theresa May might have countered that, but she weakened her position by calling the 2017 snap general election and losing her majority.
If the EU negotiators had looked beyond their offended sensibilities, and had understood and sympathised with the scale of UK grassroots resentment of post-enlargement mass immigration, they could have offered to reform the free movement of people. Assuming that a general election would still have been needed to decide how Brexit would be completed, ‘Red wall’ Labour leave voters might then have voted in the 2019 general election for Labour’s proposed second referendum, which might then have resulted in a decision to remain.
In spite of that, I don’t blame Verhofstadt. Apart from his overblown free movement bombast at the committee hearing and his complicity in the EU’s high-handed negotiating stance, he came across in Desmet’s documentary as a likeable Anglophile and a decent politician who – like all concerned – was out of his depth.
I blame Tony Blair, the UK premier who led EU enlargement in 2004. Blair must have foreseen the mass immigration of cheap labour to the UK when he pushed for EU enlargement, but like the 1948 patrician government that facilitated postwar mass immigration, he didn’t consult the people and apparently had no concern for the social wellbeing of either the immigrant or the host community.
(See my post about the racism provoked by such careless social engineering, Colour me racist, blame my genes – racism explained as a redundant instinct.)
In both instances, if the host community had been consulted, had agreed that large-scale immigration was necessary and had been prepared for two-way cultural integration, there might have been a more welcoming atmosphere.
The referendum, caused by grassroots pressure, was a direct consequence of Blair’s EU enlargement project. It was, in effect, the first UK public consultation on mass immigration. The people expressed their dissatisfaction and that was fair enough – but the result has left us out in the cold.
In a 2004 speech Blair said, ‘Enlargement will increase stability, security and prosperity‘. How wrong he was. He apparently realised how wrong he was and tried to make amends when, in 2017, he called on the EU to reform free movement to show leave voters that ‘their concerns are better met without the damage Brexit will do’. This belated appeal fell on deaf ears.
As a left-liberal supporter of internationalism and free trade, I voted in 2016 to remain. I hoped that the UK could reform the corrupt, bloated, neoliberal and over-bureaucratic gravy-train that the EU has become.
Instead, we now faced the double-whammy dystopian prospect of losing free trade with our neighbours, and having Boris Johnson’s US billionaire friends parasite the NHS and send us their chlorinated chicken and drug-riddled beef.
Amazingly, even after Brexit many of the liberal elite still agreed with Verhofstadt in supporting the unrestricted post-enlargement free movement of people. They should have learned their lesson: Blair’s neoliberal mobility of cheap labour was no freedom. It was what brought us to this sorry state.