Saturday, 6 September 2014
At the end of August I spent a couple of days in the far north-west of Scotland. Beyond the little port of Ullapool, the countryside of Highland Scotland changes dramatically. Trees generally give up the ghost in an unequal struggle for survival. It is a bare landscape, almost constantly battered by the wind, a terrain of moorland out of which weirdly-shaped mountains appear, as if scattered randomly on the scene. Begin to climb, and you soon appreciate that this apparent carpet of heather and rock is illusory. The place is as much water as dry land: a multitude of lochans dapple the landscape opening up at ones feet, on a sunny day glistening brilliantly.
It was on one such day, with not so much as a cloud in the sky, that I climbed one of the region's strange extra-terrestrial peaks. With every step onwards and upwards, the landscapes opened up all around me, daring my consciousness to reach out, absorb, and embrace this expanse, this almost infinite space. Nearing the summit and clambering over boulders and bare rock, I found myself thrown about by the wind characteristic of this unique corner of the planet. And on the way down, I sat for a while and looked out northwards across this magnificent scene of mountain, rock, and water. The colours I beheld gradually became more pristine, as if emanating from a place that we rarely contact. At one point, it seemed that the green-and-golden land reclining between two long lochans was breathing, the inhaling and exhaling of Gaia herself. The rhythm of my own body appeared to synchronise with that of the land, forcing me into concentration, into feeling my unique presence in this precise and present moment. Simultaneously, as may occur in such times of minor epiphany, the normal affairs of humanity fell naturally and effortlessly into their rightful place in the bigger scheme of things. They were revealed asgenerally trivial, while being lauded as critically important down in the town, the city, the marketplace.
At 600 metres above sea level, gazing out across some of the oldest rocks on the planet in mid-afternoon at the tail end of August, I fancied that I perceived the distinctive rhythm of the natural world as it goes about its particular business. And foremost amongst the trivialities of human affairs as experienced from this perspective was the subject of the day, the matter of independence for Scotland. Suddenly everyone must have an opinion on this topic of topics. Funny, since until only recently we were all happy to go about our business without giving the question a moment's thought. Then some smart dude began banging on about how important it was, and what a difference it would make. And now everyone has to have something to say. This, I submit, is a classic example of mass mind manipulation; I reserve the personal freedom not to have an opinion should I decide not to do so.
The bottom line is that, whatever the result of the referendum, the Empire will get in, with its own set of assumptions, prejudices, and lists of what is really important. The notion of 'independence' may appear superficially attractive, but its major proponents have shown themselves to be a bunch of dark clowns, who rarely have a clue what they are doing or are going to do. Instead, they revert to every low trick in the handbook of amateur mind manipulation. The sad thing is that there are folk out there who actually fall for it.
The streets of my home town are plastered with placards and posters of the 'Yes' campaign, the final last-gasp bit of brainwashing of those without a brain. It is noticeable how a certain portion of the 'Yes' supporters resemble religious zealots in their style and emotionality. Independence has become for them a religious matter; they have turned into political fundamentalists, embodying all the dangers that fundamentalism incorporates. It is an evangelism that I find disconcerting, and leads me to the observation that some people readily embrace a cause. In fact, they are desperate for a cause. There is a notion - quite correct - that something is not quite right in our planetary project. But this particular response to this uncomfortable feeling is totally inappropriate. Find a belief, embrace a cause. In this state of despair, such people do not examine closely the object that will bring salvation. To do so will probably be self-defeating anyway. The important thing is to have a cause, a campaign, a belief that will take away the pain, will make things better. A cause - any cause to save the world from its own horrible self. Religion will still do for some people, but for many this has worn a bit thin, so we're out in the world instead. Politics, green issues, health issues. Save the planet. Save the seagull. Save the lowly worm from the seagull. Almost anything will do. And it's all to no avail - pretty much, anyway. Things don't really work like that.
I continued to look out over the rocks, the lochs, the mountains. A homecoming and totally alien at the same time. It is an irony that, on this, the theatre of independence has been completely silent on both sides. What is Scotland if not its ancient landscapes? Intrinsic parts of its history, prehistory, and cultural heritage. Its peoples viscerally moulded by sea, wind, hill, and its strange beauty. On preserving this elemental aspect of Scotland nothing is said. And, believe me, it needs preserving - urgently. No. Not a word. You see, the agenda is programmed, pre-arranged, and the ordinary folk flock to speak and bleat, like lambs to the slaughter. The 'independence debate'?: a surreal play enacted in a theatre of darkness by a bunch of ne'er do wells spouting bullshit.