500 years…the birth of bad, bad thinking..

It occurred to me how many films they have made on the wars of Europe. About America’s post enslavement agitations, mostly, the myth of white pioneering spirit that was more barbaric, coarse and full of lies, than anything else. The exercise in deception continued, as they tackled 19th century conflicts. Conflicts caused because of their inter-greed and rivallry. The demonising, for example of the Russians, the Germans to name two…whom they were at ‘war’ with. Fighting among themselves…so many films were made about this sordid insight into their own civic and social unrest. Hundreds.

So I ask…. for the 500 years of African enslavement….centuries of human degradation…despicable acts carried out by white people, so called religious white folks, calling themselves  ‘godly’ ….inhumane acts and thoughts, specifically targeting enslaved African men, women and children, generations in captivity…you can count the films made about this period on two hands. Yet it was a period that lasted 500 years. And when I think of the plethora of ‘westerns’…that in itself became a staple in the US..so much so it birthed an European influenced version that we know as ‘spaghetti westerns’. They churned out these types of movies like hot cakes. Lies. Very few dealt with the genocide of the Indians. Instead they perpetuated the deceit. The wicked whites. Maybe in today’s quasi-equitable, covertly racist social settings, we are not supposed to talk about the collective white psychosis that unleashed so much atrocity (and continues to do so), on the world, on nations, on blacks, and other peoples of colour. Maybe we like to fool ourselves because we see the successful black faces here and there. But that’s not an indication that all is well. It’s the opposite.

White racist thinking is pervasive. Take the US…Trump can only be sitting ugly there because of the cracks in their false veneer of ‘we-are-no-longer-a-racist-society’ and that is just the US living their own special brand of delusional thinking. Europe and elsewhere they too remain wedded to white supremacist thinking, because whether they accept it or not, their modus operandi is to remain dominant at whatever cost….and racism and dominance are two sides of the same ugly coin.

Forgive me if I say that in my view, the white western psyche is a delusional set of thinking that has caused so much disharmony and distrust in the world. Look at the long history of war-mongering and its effects. Unfortunately, for us all, they are still in wilful, ignorance. There is no group or ‘community’ of people as consistently deceptive. Sorry for the fragile, self absorbed, nay-sayers out there, who might have a problem with this. Go off and cry. Boo-hoo… false modesty and denial, because many are misguided, and misinformed and that is what is the biggest impediment to progress. Part-time activism too is a joke. Racism continues to flourish because whites are not psychologically able to deal with the ugliness of historical and present day racist thinking and practices. Heaven help us as we continue to co-exist with their armour of wilful ignorance.

 

Warning: Long post

You don’t have to be a star…

 

As I sat on the verandah yesterday thinking about this and that, the book title came to mind… A title I have always loved,  ‘One Hundred Years of Solitude’ by Gabriel Marquez. Alas it is a book that I attempted to read and had to abandon, maybe because I did not have the will to be silent myself and immerse myself in the words of one so gifted and generous and magical in his writing but I have gifted myself my own personal copy which I will attempt again, this time successfully, to read from cover to cover. It is silly of me to like a title without having read the book but the point is, it is a great title. It makes me think of how noisy we are, the way we live, noise and uproar and no real substance. Of course I am not as generous or sophisticated in my thinking as great writers like Marquez but it is precisely because of that artful ‘eye’, the gift of imagination, the generosity of spirit, that writers like him exhibit, that I smile when I read in my feeds, on blogs, etc those who so easily refer to themselves as writers, thinkers, religious brokers, self made experts on every subject.

I am writing my first book. I wish! Hats off to you I say. The fact is we all do have our stories to tell. The trick is can you write a story that is honest and humanizing without ‘lovely you’ as the central theme?  Everything takes time. The fast paced growth of social media has thrown up so many forced-ripe would be experts that it is normal for us all to refer to ourselves as hands-on experts in artistic and intellectual pursuits that we have no real development of craft in. Vive la Internet. I believe there is an imbalance and that perhaps not shutting up, or putting away our soapboxes, or stopping our pretences, is one of the reasons why fantasy and wilful ignorance reigns rather than reason and thoughtfulness. Solitude is an old-fashioned pursuit,  a relic of ancient times. Nobody wants to be alone, when they can turn their hand to blogging, or posting their life story on social media. Imagine you can be a self proclaimed writer, photographer, life coach etc, in just about anything you want to be through the digital age. And many will herald this sudden uprising in self anointed expertise as being good for us, democratizing the world, making it  a more equitable place, where pedestrian thinking and emotional clap-trap becomes the topics of inane discussions. Of people engaged in the wholesale selling of themselves as being ‘writers’ or whatever expertise they think they have. Noise.

I cannot imagine a more displaced view of what is often touted as ‘progressive’. The Internet is full of charlatans, of sales people selling their own brand of nonsense, only this time around, their audiences are more gullible, less informed and sensitized to instant gratification, all of which is what social media platforms are about. Easy access to manufactured emotions.
Thought is boring. Especially if you want to be someone in the digital world with hundreds of followers. You have to be seen to be a seller of much needed  ‘goods and services’ and this is why, to give a good example, the ‘pied pipers’ of religious zeal are popular. The Five-minute Chefs, the Sinners who have now become Saints, the Stylist with their touched up imagery, the Fashionistas with their endless photo shoots, the Yoga experts with their top of the line leisure wear, the travellers and their niche markets. And then there are those with other ‘needs’ like wanting to be told how to ‘live well’, or how to eat right, how to be a perfect wife or mother or lover or how to get over your lack of discipline, the list goes on and on. Every topic is a potential sales plug and/or topic that needs someone’s expertise. Essentially, there are many out there who have convinced themselves (and others) that they are the one-trick ponies that can do all of these things. Feed the masses and feed off the masses. A win-win situation for the self anointed experts. You have to master the art of selling. Selling ‘your unique fabulous story’…about life and living. Since when did human beings become so pompous and so seemingly sure of themselves? Is Instagram, WordPress etc along with the site producers of memorable quotes and memes on every conceivable subject and human emotion, that infests the Internet collectively the cause of this swell in the millions of self anointed priests and priestesses, newly arrived God lovers, new age nutritionists, lifestyle experts….that have become the modern ringmasters of the digital circus show otherwise known as social media?

I remain baffled by the show of grandiose thinking and what could only be described as digital madness. I believe in the power of thought, not driven by prescribing what we think people need, but by describing the feelings, thoughts, emotions, challenges of being human. What is really in your heart? What drives you? Is becoming a ‘blogger expert’ all that you seek so you choose to make mundane small talk turn into some commercial success for you? Isn’t some knowledge of writing, ie technical and intellectual skills, the nuts-and-bolts a pre-requisite for  writing well?

I ask myself too…..why are so many people fearful of life, they would diligently go about creating fantasies or so called ‘truisms’ about the mystery of life and packaging and selling it as they do. Why are so many claiming to seek God when they already act like ‘Gods’ pronouncing judgements on others,  invoking self righteous clap-trap in their views, wielding harsh recriminations on those who differ from that which they know and consider to be ‘right’? For me, having fear at times is part of living, just as hope, or faith. Why would I want to demand or expect fit-all models of thinking to be a cure for what troubles me during different stages of my life? How could I grow if I know all the answers? What is wrong with being unsure of situations we may find ourselves in from time to time?

I marvel not at the gloss and glitter that many try so hard to put out in public but the capacity for BS that they so easily slip into, all for the sake of some inner need that would be better serviced offline, in quiet reflection, in meaningful private conversations with oneself or with others. Reflection. Solitude.  Self growth is a slow and arduous process. It is not a show-and-tell for social media. Its real value to you as a person, is that it is and should be intensely private. If you are showcasing your self progressed expertise via your ‘personal growth’ out there rest assured you still have far to go and your journey will really only start when you decide to stop acting and just be…whatever that is.

As the saying goes….self praise is no praise and remember there is a thin line between self promotion and self belief.

I used to know a cat called Chi-Chi 😼😾

Chi-Chi was a well-fed, contented tabby. His face was huge that he had the effect of looking like an owl. He was the first cat I had love affair with. But it didn’t start that way. In the beginning I was petrified of him. He was a little bully. But in the end, I guess his predatory instincts won me over. In the flat that lived I in, he was the first owner of the room that I had. He had colonised it by default and for weeks he refused to accept that he had been evicted. His much smaller brain could not process the idea that I paid rent and he didn’t. Every night he would push open my door and saunter in as if it was his right. Me, being new to the domestic cat scene was not having it. These animal-loving first world democracies did not impress me. In the Caribbean we are naturally pre-disposed to be wary of them and their animals. Besides, we had enough local ‘Nancy stories’ about cats … like if you wronged them in any way, they would come into your room whilst you were asleep and stuff their snake-like tales down your nose to stifle you to death! You know how many cats in the Caribbean get run over by motor cars just for the fun of it. Horrible. Now I’m not that way inclined but still… Maybe I could put him in a box and take him on the train, leave him somewhere and that would be that! What is wrong with this animal? But within a few weeks, we kissed and made up, and the Gaza strip stand-off was no more. It was a perfect Mills and Boon love story, hate at first, then love and passion in the end. We became inseparable.

I lived in a place called Forest Hill, south east London. There was no tube, instead it was a fifteen-minute overhead train ride into Charing Cross station. We were all students, well not really proper students, but living in that flat-sharing way that students did back in the early 80’s. K was of some distant French and more recent Welsh heritage…. she was happy not to be ‘English’ in that way. A was half-Japanese and half-American with a most posh British public school accent. His father was an American journalist during the Second World War, his mother was from a wealthy Japanese family but they had a bad divorce and A and his sister were carted off to public school, a little country town not far from Windsor, where they grew up alone. This sad state of affairs, made him a hurt and angry child by the time I met him he was shy, hesitant, reserved … and still angry.

At the time, new to London…I could not understand that desire that many young people I met had this tendency to disassociate themselves from being seen as ‘British’. When I think back now I perhaps can understand better that disconnect. It was during an economic downturn… socio-economic and civic breakdown. Politicians were looking crappier than ever. There was debilitating industrial unrest. England was on its knees. That can’t be an easy thing for a society to have to deal with. Doom and gloom. I think the idea of it being self-inflicted is why there was so much angst, but that surface angst belied a deeper problem. All the ‘problems’ or challenges that never went away. The wrong-doings, collective psychosis. Passed on from generation to generation. They morph into something else and like anything you try to hide or avoid, it pops up. I always say in mischievous glee, skeletons-in-your-cupboard or secrets or denials are like the rolls of fats you try to hide on your body, you can dress to camouflage it, you can even highlight your better assets to detract attention away from it – and that’s okay, but at some point, the only way to get rid of it is to deal with it. Otherwise it will remind you in some untimely, inconvenient way that it’s there! And even if you do deal with it that in itself is an achievement. I should know. I have been actively pursuing the body-brain-beautiful for more decades than I remember and it has still eluded me…. but that is not the point.. on my epitaph will be the words ‘she tried… So I remember landing in London on a cold November morning and being blown away by the greyness of everything and everyone. Even people of colour looked ashen under layers and layers of drab man-made, hard-to-breathe-in fabrics, garments they wore as shields for the weather but also, I thought, to protect themselves from each other or whatever it is that was invading them. Oh, it was unfriendly. I almost cried as I made my way from the airport all the way down, on those rumbling, dirty trains, looking at people, wondering why no-one looked anyone in the eye. And when you did make eye contact it was like looking at the dead fishes eyes, that you see lying on the makeshift concrete slabs in fishing towns like Carenage at home, where over-talkative fishermen, would be cleaning and gutting and filleting for you … everyone’s eyes looked like that, glazed and unseeing.

Now too, I could see why ‘Queen Lizzie’s portrait, hanging in faded grandeur in my shabby, elementary school classroom, looked out of place. She would fare much better in this subdued, sad lighting here in this town. I could see too, how for centuries the people here might need this kind of affirmation by holding on to this fairy story of crown jewels and castles and gentrified pastimes like hunting and fishing and horses with ornate carriages that belonged to some far away time. Being ordinary and common was not celebrated. Blue blood and privilege was the aspiration except you couldn’t go to university to get it! But the idea of greatness and grandeur is seductive. In the England of my early encounter, I felt they developed the knack for selling it. All wrapped up, an affordable luxury item that anyone can buy… like good hand-made chocolates. The point is that what you’re really buying into is the ‘feel-good-factor’ that denotes comfort. But it seems to me, as I began to immerse myself in the culture, that many people were not buying the idea of that brand of fairy tale anymore. How could they? Something as mundane as going to the grocery became an assault on your senses. Tables and tables of out-of-work miners and their families and supporters confronted you, asking for you to buy them cans of cheap brand staples, baked beans, steak and kidney pie (in a tin?!), anything you could give them. They had no jobs, no money, they had families, they looked poor, they looked miserable. Most of all it seemed to me that they felt they had no hope. The old fairy tale was not working. It became untenable. It got messy and violent and everyone began reviving old hatred and resentments. Europe was like a miserable, aging parent that was throwing its hands up in the air, not knowing what to do, in the face of a motley collection of badly behaved, neglected children. Children that they had sole custodial care of and made it seems, a pig’s ear of it. It did feel like doom and gloom and what was I, a little island girl, two months short of my twentieth birthday, with a mental age of 10, thin as pin, awkward looking, thinking, that she could make a living here. Never laid down with a man yet..(yes..one of the country folk way of saying you’re a virgin😁) but ‘woman’ enough to feel that I could traverse these foreign waters here and make my name. So with a few pounds in my pocket, living at the top floor of a council flat in Brixton, that same Brixton that erupted in violence a few weeks after I got there, brick and stones flying, hand-made explosives, looting, and God alone knows what else, what bacchanal did I find myself in? Yet I was determined that I was going to ride this out and see where it took me.

Faded grandeur…

I felt it was kinder to take pictures of the old buildings and the surroundings than focus on the people, who seemed just as tired and faded as many parts of the town itself. I think Fort de France or Martinique in general is one of the saddest places I’ve spent time in. People usually look at things like poverty and other overt signs of decay and under development that influence how they see a place. Martinique is not like crazy poor or anything like that, after all it’s still a colony of France and so things are better managed so to speak but there are major cracks. A low-skilled workforce, inflated prices and a very, very poor work ethic, worse than some other Caribbean islands I know. Everyone shuffles around, consciously subdued, heavy, tired-looking wherever you are …..in the malls on the streets in restaurants. It’s one of the few places I have been where I could find little to keep me engaged. Reminded me of my first and brief impressions of Tunisia, although to be fair I was mainly in the capital, Tunis. My point is it’s a place I will not return to even if you paid me.

What’s in your handbag?

Seriously….what are you carrying around in there?!👠💟🍞🍫🌂💌⌚👓💄💳📖📲🕶🖍🗝🆔 ….😨 🔫..the last ‘item’ is a joke!😢😬But I pretty much have all those things and more!  I always manage to have a bunch of useless leaflets too…about trips I will never take, spa treatments that are far too expensive, websites I would never visit, let alone buy from, old receipts…(Lord alone knows I am always playing catch-up with my accounts😬)…Oh and my worse habit…disgusting…dirty tissues, in every nook and cranny!😣😱…Oh…and mustn’t forget, sometimes the odd unflattering bra and panty…if I am gyming…Normally clean ones I might add..🙄

PS. Men have ‘handbags’ too…seems fashion has convinced them, just as they have  ‘convinced’ them to wear skinny jeans, have ponytails, and wear nail varnish on some fingers, that carrying around their vital supplies is what real men do!😬 So I wonder …what do they have in their ‘man-bags’…For example, do they have deflatable egos…tucked in there?!?😕😯