#gladitsgone

I don’t know if it’s just me but, um…

I was one of those kids that was raised painfully polite.

I was taught to say aunt and uncle, mister and miss, but only when the adults were quiet and there was a proper break in conversation, but preferably never, and then only in self-defence.

I was taught that it’s rude to point.

I lived in a constant state of anxiety in public spaces forever after, and became a hermit just so that I would never encounter strangers who would ask for directions.

I found ways to shop online before the internet was even invented, and so you can imagine how I for one, welcomed the age of GPS. Problem is I was already like one of those “lifer” inmates that gets released from jail and then finds it almost impossible to integrate into the ebb-and-flow of life again.

Almost…

All because kids should be seen and never heard.

Which of course makes me deliriously thrilled about the banning of corporal punishment in South Africa.

But I digress…

The reason – which for now will seem disconnected but I promise to neatly resolve – I mention this all is, I’ve fallen in love with internet radio done right, in the shape of radi0.garden.

It started as a research paper and became a thing, and what it is, is:

Using a Google-earth scrollable interface you can take the globe for a spin with your mouse or your finger on a phone or tablet, and in seconds be listening to anything from post prog metal in Latvia, to Hindi new-wave pop in Helsinki, to boere musiek in Argentinia.

No shit but that’s cool.

And it’s FREE with none of that credit-card with zero charges, or, social/google “one-click” signup (big brother) bullshit.
(I mean, please tell me you don’t actually do that…?)

ANYWAY…

I was listening to these guys broadcasting out of St Petersburg https://radio.garden/listen/shok/lypD3AfF

They have good rocking tunes, including Russian and other, other-language rock bands that you never get to hear through mainstream media.

And then, just as I’m about phone my mate Fabian, they play a song…

And suddenly I’m back in high school, standing on the edge of the disco in Std 8, awkwardly aware that I have a body and so do girls, and feeling the pressure of needing to be in a relationship with somebody but unable to approach those I was attracted to. Conditioned to be meek and timid and polite and reserved.

The girls who were pretty to me were too bold and too confident for me. I was

Too polite
Too self-aware
Too awkward
Too ill-equipped
Too…

Well, I’m still a hermit, because I love tranquil spaces. But things have changed and I’m 47 now and through with living that bullshit hold-it-all-back-and-keep-yourself-reserved life.
I won’t be confined by being too anything for anyone anymore, and least of all by myself and by the corporal conditioning that was nothing less than lazy parenting and unwillingness to engage.

I have a wild childhood to make up for… so I don’t know how deep this thing goes.

To you all, it’s ok if you don’t like me sweetheart.
There are tribes for everyone…

ANYWAY…

I digress again, so let me close.

Hearing this song again in such an unexpected source was hilariously contradictory, but also brought a flood of memories home again.

Michelle van Zyl. Std 9.

For a long time, this was one of the top, high-school disco, for-the-inept-in-the-dating-dept, rescue songs.

I know.

It rescued me…

Literacy Day – God Help Us All

Today is world #literacyday
A day which should be celebrated with real enthusiasm and interest and vigour by every citizen of planet earth – an earth where progress and advancement is celebrated, and where reason and intellect are nurtured and valued for the positive benefits society reaps.
It’s a fact of nature that when we raise our young minds to blossom, like so much canola in a springtime field, amazing things happen for all of us. But no…

We celebrate Manchester vs Liverpool and shower performers of physical activity with riches and fame, openly professing, by doing so, that we prize the body instead of the mind.
And so no one even bats an eyelid when our leaders openly lie to each other, and to us – and why should we when it’s all just a game…?
Ndumiso Ndima Ntshinga, Ambassador of South Africa to Ethiopia and Permanent Representative to the African Union and the Economic Commission for Africa in 2013, utters this bullshit at a UN meeting.
“South Africans, who only 19 years ago were subjected to discrimination and oppression by their minority apartheid rulers, today reaped the benefits of freedom and reconciliation, including a well-developed civil service”

Good god.
This man clearly inhabits a different planet than me.


Our civil service is in shambles.
Incompetence, laziness, complete disregard for discipline, systems and structure, a total inability to grasp the individual’s role in the country’s bigger picture, nepotism, corruption, the list goes on and on.
In all sorts of metrics it’s brazenly clear that management is spiralling out of control.

Something is very wrong with the way we’re marketing “team south africa” to the people who occupy the civil positions. As we weather the current barrage of blatant food-trough plundering by our nation’s “fathers”, I can’t help but wonder – surely human beings cannot be so wantonly evil that they openly “will” themselves and their young ones toward oblivion?
Now, I’m actually not talking about the leaders and elders now, but further down the chain, towards middle management and coalface operations of all branches of government – what if these people don’t know the definition of oblivion? What if they don’t know the definition of success?
I’m not a government expert, nor am I a management fundi, my skills lie in marketing, therefore it seems to me that people don’t know there’s a bigger picture, and therefore they can’t comprehend how important their role is, and therefore, they have no inspiration or reason to be motivated.
I know that’s a lot of jumps of logic in one sentence, but just follow with me for a second.
What if, no one is explaining to our civil servants, how each one’s role, well executed, makes it easier for citizens to trade and and do life and business, and therefore makes it easier to generate value that can be applied for the benefit of us all, while keeping us competitive in a global world?
What if, once you’ve removed the openly corrupt members from the pool, the remaining civil servants are actually just like Frodo?
What if they just can’t think further than the shire?
What if they don’t know there’s a world out there which we must jointly work towards staying afloat in…?
Or what if they do know there’s a world out there, but they just aren’t being inspired to strive towards it?
Seems to me there must be more we can do to explain, remind daily, and/or inspire.
The alternative, simply sitting back and throwing our hands up in the air and letting it all collapse is frankly illogical.
Unless of course it’s going to interfere with the game on the telly…
.
For those of us able to digest and willing to engage with these words – happy literacy day.
For the rest, and in particular those who couldn’t care – may the odds be ever in our favour.

Build himself a sun

He had looked into the void and the void had looked back into him

He wasn’t prepared for that

The void had probed deep into his core code

It explored beyond his highest logic centres, filled with their carefully rehearsed narratives…
_ who I think I am
_ where I think I come from
_ who I think you think I am
_ what I tell myself it is that made me this way
his familiar stories had had no power on it

He learned that he had bluffed himself,
he learned that he couldn’t bluff the void

He tried to hide, but the void sought him out from dark corners of himself where he didn’t even know he had learned to crawl into to be away from himself, and others

The void stripped him bare of everything familiar, and taught him new rules

“If you’re going through hell – just keep going”

“The only way out is through”

“You just need to get half way, plus one step”

The void, a place of emptiness. Barren of long-time companionship.

But eventually the storms that had been whipped up inside of him by the prodding and poking of the void, had begun to subside.
The darkness that had consumed his consciousness for the longest time began to draw back and revealed a new landscape

In the literal sense, he found himself physically living far from where he had begun his journey of exploration, and from his first timid steps toward the edge of the event horizon at the centre of his conscious world. He had uprooted himself from his work security, from the annuities, unit trusts and insurance policies to which he had faithfully contributed, all promising security for him beyond retirement, and beyond his death, for his family.
He had left behind him, people who had accepted him – who had played a role in the seasons of his life before this journey into his own nothingness.
He had left behind him fellow worshippers still locked in their limiting views of life and reality, people he knew to be good, but not ready to face a void of their own

From them, and from all of this, he had been uprooted and had then been thrust into the wild by a chaos of the void’s making

The tearing away had very nearly resulted in him ending his own life

Fortunately, as the void had forced him to investigate his own stories about himself, he was able to see the holes in the narrative – holes through which he had felt the need to feel sorry for himself, and therefore end his life – and so he had been empowered to dispense with these harmful stories forever, and found new ramrod, steel-clad strength inside of him…

He learned a remarkable truth about the friendship and help of complete strangers – fellow pilgrims on journeys of their own – not blind and existing at surface level in this world like so many, but like him, drinking deep from the rivers of consciousness that mark a well-examined life

He had given up on all other narratives and fables concerning this life or any other and had determined to find his own truth, no matter how ugly or how magnificent or, how plain, it could possibly turn out to be

He learned that specifics mean nothing

A car doesn’t bring you happiness

A blonde wife doesn’t make you more fulfilled than a brunette one does

A house really won’t make you feel secure and safe

The choice to be possessed by “things” in order to find fulfilment, or (heaven forbid) to be “successful” is shallow and meaningless, he realised. Many desperate lives are led by people who find themselves trapped by the “things” they worship, and in which their search for identity is wrapped up in vain

In a desperate bid to validate themselves they identify with people who are “more successful” than they are, and acquire the things these people have, hoping to discover the fulfilment and happiness they see in the fake instagram smiles they blindly follow. Groping about in the shallows of consciousness, they fail to see how they teach their children to sacrifice their own identities one day

He had encountered a lot of that and it caused him to question himself. “If they all say life is this way, maybe by the weight of their numbers, they’re right”, he had reasoned

He had previously believed that he had messed up in his own life with regards to not caring for family, or having family-first principles

He had had to leave familiar but toxic shores to learn within the void that “family” is people who choose to bare all of themselves and share all of themselves with you, and in front of whom, you are safe to do the same, no matter what, no matter when

The void showed him many things

He had challenged it once upon a time, saying, I don’t care how terrible or how dark or how bland the truth is, and I don’t care if seeking it kills me.
I am already dead in my own mind.
Whatever life and meaning I discover, I’m happy to accept, so long as none of the lies from my past, and which we tell ourselves, continue to trap or define me.

He had come close to the edge of stepping himself over physically into the black-hole beyond the reality he knew before.
It was touch-and-go for the better part of 18 months.
Death by exhaust fumes,
death by drowning,
death by his own hand.
All welcome options to him at various dark moments within the void

But he had pressed on

“learn to rest – not give up” – he had learned another new rule for surviving life’s journey

He had looked deep into the void, probed it intensely, picked it apart and examined every angle. It felt to him like he had looked all the way in – but do you ever really know?

It didn’t matter anymore, he found

The void had looked deeply enough back into him, he felt. He hadn’t asked it to stop, and now the storms in his life were calming down as a new reality opened to him

The void had done its work

What it left behind was a new man, an unafraid man. A man who now grasped the value of time like he had never done before.
It left a man who could be thrust into the deepest, most fiery parts of hell, and make a home there, shining a new light for himself and those around him. Surprised he learned that as his journey into the void drew to a close, he was discovering a new light inside of him.

As he looked back he realised, whenever the void had threatened to swallow him and everything around him, he had found himself learning to burn for himself and for others, a sun.

Things were going to be different now…

Not sure why we’re surprised

Once upon a time a lot of really bad stuff happened to homo sapiens on Tuesdays. They, sorry, we, got eaten by saber-tooth tigers, were trampled by woolly mammoths, bitten and stung by the worst imaginable insects, and without flouride toothpaste, suffered serious tooth decay and major dental inconvenience and pain. And don’t get me started on prehistoric childbirth…
These earlier, smellier versions of us broke their limbs and had appendix problems just like we do now, but they had no anaesthetic, antiseptics or antibiotics, which I’m sure we can easily agree is a bad state of affairs, and so life for them was a much shorter and somewhat brutal affair. The “art” of surgery does fortunately go back a few thousand years for these early us-oids, but was carried out with the kind of tools that cause us to scream when we see them being used in horror movies today, albeit for slightly more altruistic purposes. It’s exactly things like this that cause me to view with suspicion any person who sanguinely states that he wishes for the “good old days”…

Anyway, to roll even further back, there was a time when dinosaurs walked on, swam under and flew above, the earth. Back then, there existed a variety of huge, lumbering, land-bound beasts that scientists now believe were adorned with feathers rather than the reptilian scales made popular by Hollywood, and boy, did they have it bad. The popular saying, “it’s a dog eat dog world” hadn’t been invented yet, and so, since no one had explained the rules of engagement to them, everything pretty much ate everything else. And if a dinosaur or really big insectoid thing wasn’t being eaten, or doing the eating, it was being spat on by super-massive volcanos that were impolitely and inconveniently coughing up new lands everywhere, or it was being rained on by bits of space rock that were fairly commonplace leftovers from the lego pieces that make up what is now our (relatively) stable and peaceful solar system, and which hadn’t yet coagulated properly together to form a Haiwaii beach on a balmy Friday evening.

And before that, well, things were even wilder and weirder.

But let’s fast forward a bit to somewhere after Mrs Pless, but not too close to Jacob Zuma. For calibration purposes, there was a time historians refer to as the Dark Ages, and a time after it known as the Enlightenment, which we are allegedly still experiencing, although a perfunctory glance at a newspaper on any given day would probably supply enough grounds to successfully refute that. And before the Dark Ages there was a time that has different names in different cultures because those different cultures pretty much believed they were the sum total of the known world, so they didn’t have to be “inclusive”, and before all of that is a time we call pre-history.

Throughout the piece of history that includes us, whether in pre-historic or modern guise, the rule about dogs eating dogs was known, and some took this to be the desired state of affairs, like it was an objective to achieve. Which is important to state because, in light of that, farm murders are nothing new, for example.
Vikings conquered, raped and pillaged.
Visigoths burnt down and looted.
Ottomans were not pulled up for a quiet sit down and a cup of tea with somewhere soft to put your feet. They were vicious brutes who rode on horses and chariots and made subjects of peasants on conquered land, while doing things that their version of Mark Zuckerberg wouldn’t have let them post on FacePapyrus.
Before the new world was discovered, and violently oppressed, the old world had known and suffered violence and oppression, and people had experienced waves of being subjects, followed by waves of dominating their neighbours, as kingdoms and empires successively grew and waned.

You see, there is a funny rule of nature.

States of chaos and order are opposing points of a pendulum, and reality, which fancies a bit of swinging about, likes to cycle between those states as it orders and then tears itself down again. No one knows why, or knows how it all started, except for some of those sanguine fuckers who like to quote camel-rapists from old books, but whatever the cause, and whatever the reason, this pendulum swinging nature is clearly how the game goes. Right now, we are experiencing a strange kind of cycling where we are enlightened enough to know that we shouldn’t be stupid and tear it all down, but stupid enough to do it anyway even while realising that the consequences of our stupidity are going to be of a global scale. In addition to that, as the dominant life form in our neck of the woods, we appear to have split into 2 distinct branches. One branch appears to be orderly, conscientious and conscious, and the other, dull and ignorant and ever-so-slightly chaos-inducing. This wouldn’t be too much of a problem if the conscious lot had superior weapons, were better organised and were less hamstrung by a new thing called “rights”, which kind of interfere with the dog eat dog rule, or if the ignorant lot would start watching more television and stop producing dull and chaotic offspring. In the old days, the dull and ignorant lot weren’t as prodigious in number as they now are, but they behaved pretty much just as they do today, and back then the orderly lot could get permits to hunt them and instil a bit of righteous fear in order to stop them from fucking up the royal pumpkin patch. Mind you, when I say the “orderly lot” could get permits, you had to be a very connected part of the orderly lot in order to do so. Of course, nowadays that sort of thing is frowned upon and for good reason. A lot of innocent, orderly people have suffered through the centuries under the hands of these permit holders and despots, who are typically of a kind that are bent on enriching themselves – despots with somewhat of a god-complex about their intelligence and ability, while oftentimes spouting nonsense about divinely appointed bloodlines and families – and able to do pretty much as they pleased with no oversight to rein them in. We as a species just don’t seem to learn.

And all of this, to make this point…

I’m frankly surprised that we as a species and what is now called, a society, are individually or collectively surprised that life and existence is in such a sorry state and seems to be headed for a wall. I hear people complaining about one faction of their society or another, or about how we collectively and globally seem to be shitting in our bed, and polluting and killing everything, as if we ever had a decent, inclusive, actionable plan or the ability to control this cosmic game, and I shake my head in wonder. You see, reality is and always will be a swinging pendulum, and any time reality is experiencing a period of calm and collective orderliness, it, and by extension, we, should be aware that chaos is waiting just around the corner to have a go at the wheel, and that chaos isn’t too picky about what the agent of disaster will be.

It’s nothing personal.
It’s always been that way and it just always will. The fact that some information within this cyclical mucking about has gathered itself together and become self-aware as expressed in the shape of a sentient, albeit somewhat anxious ape, doesn’t suddenly stop the cycling or change the rules or the nature of the cosmic game. One way or the other, order follows chaos follows order follows chaos, and one way or the other, chaos will follow order which will follow chaos which will follow order and so on. Even, and especially on Thursdays.