Under my current view that life is basically meaningless, and in the knowledge that the cricket’s yet to quite get going, I might as well catch up with a few memes proferred by Carl Packman. The first is on good, bad and undervalued left-wing influences. As I don’t see myself as being of the “left” (and am a lazy bugger) I’ll offer some general principles I think deserve consideration (and leave it at five).
To some extent I think that scepticism as a conscious task has been monopolised by its misinterpreters: flagbearers for secular presumption; closed-minded and dogmatic. And some are wedded to the hardly Humean campaign to ridicule homeopathy. I see zeteticism – advocated by the great Marcello Truzzi – as a willingness not to reject any idea ’til it’s been exposed as hollow or mistaken; to humour what you can’t dispute; to investigate the weird but with rigorous caution. Curiosity, in the knowledge of one’s biases, armed with the tools of scepticism.
Not that parapolitics – defined by Peter Dale Scott as the “system or practice of politics in which accountability is consciously diminished” – isn’t influential; the study of it, however, remains undervalued. This is due, no doubt, to the disdain for conspiracy theorising, and a will to act as if one’s a conscious and accepted participant in the systems one observes. Well, we’re often not – facts are concealed or ignored; conspiracies enacted – so it’s wise to be both sceptical and nosey. (Examples I’ve covered here recently include the silence of Lockerbie; the mysterious killing in Afghanistan and, digging back into the past, the U.S. and U.K.’s employment of war criminals and fascists against Stalin’s Russia.)
Social and Environmental Realism
The human body has a lot of great ways to tell us when it’s sensible to stop running. Our eyes can see the path begin to narrow and our ears makes out the distant kiss of waves on shore and cries of, “Look! A cliff!” Sadly, the time where human behaviour provokes emergencies that stretch beyond the limit of our ingenuity won’t be quite so easy to discern ’til we’re flying through the allegorical air. And once we’re there it could be rather late to fashion wings.
This shit needs to be reclaimed. Through A Modest Proposal, Animal Farm and, heck, Beyond the Fringe some of the most incisive social commentary has arisen through the medium of piss-taking. Now what do we have? That woman from The Culture Show, that bloke from rubbish low-rent comedies and that other bloke from everything sneering on the legacy of Chris Morris, Peter Cook and even David bloody Frost. Satirists, sharpen your quills! Then stab some commissioners and write something more interesting.
A Sense of Humour
The second meme is on one’s favourite books of 2010 (that you’ve read, that is – they could have been released whenever)…
Early novels by my favourite contemporary authors. Characters, bewildered by the universe they’re slowly trying to comprehend, blunder through the worlds the novelists were starting to understand. Funny, touching, scary, sad. With disconcerting amounts of farm animals.
The Peregrine, J.A. Baker
We’ve all seen or read of anthropologists who began to favour their subject’s lifestyles over their more dreary ones. In The Peregrine the inexplicably obscure Baker seems to be overwhelmed by the lives of his subjects: the birds that swooped around near his home one Essex autumn. The prose is beautiful and captures the unfathomable awe nature inspires in him and sometimes takes the rest of us aback with.
The Rise And Fall Of The Third Reich, William L Shirer
A slablike factual tome that keeps one riveted with its depiction of the strange mobsters that took control of Germany. What’s fascinating is how the regime fomented its own logic; its own ethic; its own hierarchy. Over years, like a tumour in the body of a man, it corrupted Germany but its dynamic wasn’t too reliant on it. By the end the Nazis had quite separated themselves from reality. Heck, if Adolf had stayed in his bunker and we’d just ignored him he’d still be devising movements for Steiner’s Detachment.
Randi’s Prize, Robert McLuhan
My favourite films, for the one of me who finds it interesting, were Of Gods and Men, Lourdes, 8 1/2, Autumn Sonata, Memories of Matsuko, Tony Manero and this parody of MasterChef. I avoided Avatar and, once again, 2 Girls, 1 Cup. Long may this continue.