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Thursday, 2 March 2017

Checking out the narrative

Part One

I was born in 1953. For me, the 1960s couldn't come quickly enough (curiously, they eventually turned up on January 1st, 1960). From an early age (about five), a most urgent priority was escape from the culture of my parents' generation, and the generation before it. It was, seen through the lens of my infant eye, a culture that was restrictive, negatively conventional, devoid of possibility, crushing of the human spirit, and productive of little happiness and joy (yes, an infant mind can perceive such things).

I exerted great energy in uncoupling myself from the grasp of this fruitless way of life that most adults around me seemed to embrace only too willingly. The gods had looked upon me favourably, bringing me into life just at the right time to benefit from a decade impeccably suited to the shape of my daemon, the 1960s.

Expanding horizons. Possibility. The promise of magic and goodness. These were some of the attitudes which infused my soul as I grew up. Every week, it seemed, brought something new, something wondrous. This was particularly so in the realm of music, experienced through the media of grainy black-and-white television and, rather later, a crackly dansette record player.

They may appear commonplace nowadays. But I vividly recall first hearing the opening chords of 'House of the Rising Sun' by the Animals. What rich, deep resonance to those chords, with more than a hint of menace. Never heard anything like it before. Then, a couple of years later, the Beachboys' 'Good Vibrations' getting its first airing on Saturday's 'Juke Box Jury'. Was this really the same bunch of smiley-smiley surfing dudes who, just one year before, had brought out happy-clappy nice-boy songs like 'Barbara Anne'? This could not be possible.

For many years the story told by the mainstream media about the 1960s was generally favourable. It was about freedom, good living, a kind of healthy hedonism. The Swinging Sixties, new cars, new fridges; it was the Beatles, miniskirts, martini-shaking James Bond, sex without AIDS. It seems to me, though, that in recent times the flavour of the narrative - the story that's being told, by the way to mould our idea of reality - has changed. It wasn't such a good time after all. Reckless, dangerous, irresponsible. Sexist, demeaning to women. These are some of the themes which now prevail.

To investigate this topic a little more, I shall have to turn to the story of a most unpleasant, unsavoury person: Jimmy Savile.

Part Two

As an aside, which is not completely irrelevant, many folk could have been saved life-damaging trauma by listening to the young people. By the mid-60s, Jimmy Savile was a regular face on the television. If you had asked my sister (then aged eleven) and me (fourteen years old) in 1967 whether we would like to meet Jimmy Savile, you would have got an unequivocal response: "No way!" I would have run a mile, and my sister two miles. Through the still relatively undistorted perceptions of our young minds, it was clear that this guy was no good. It was not a question of being 'weird': it was 1967, and my heroes - Syd Barrett, Jim Morrison, and Jimi Hendrix - all came soaked in weirdness. No. there was something creepy, scary, not-human about the guy that was transparently clear to us. Why so many 'people in high places' didn't see it - or chose not to see it - for decades I will leave with you to ruminate on.

What is interesting from the viewpoint of this piece is how, around and following the time of the public oncovering of the Savile affair a few years back, suddenly a flood of allegations appeared. Soon half the DJs on Radio Two were embroiled in accusations fair, false, or in between, of pedophilia or some other form of sexual abuse. Other celebrities were indicted. 'Everyone was at it' ran a headline in a mainstream 'newspaper', although if you actually cared to read the article it wasn't talking about pedophilia at all. Amidst all this was the insinuation that these were people from a bygone era, and good riddance to that era, of the 1960s and 1970s. Even if the accusations dated to more recent times, the implication was that these were people from that era, that culture. Thankfully, the story continued to infer, we have moved on; things are better today.

The question remains: why did all this stuff suddenly pop up, out of nowhere it seemed, in such recent times? "Ah well, you see, sir. We have now developed a culture where the victims of abuse feel freer to come forward and tell their story. Without fear of being rejected or ridiculed." There may be something in that. But I don't buy that as the whole story. Things don't 'just happen'. That's a lie put about to befuddle people's minds; to clothe and justify all sorts of malevolent behaviour. As Buddhists are fond of telling us, everything arises upon conditions.

Despite my efforts to turn it off, my internal weirdometer continued quietly ticking away. For a long time, I couldn't join the dots. I didn't try very hard, if truth be told, since the topic is so unpleasant. Then, recently, I came upon an article (in the mainstream media, as it happens) about student activism. Students have always been hot on protest, activism, putting the world to rights. What this article pointed out was how the aims of much student activism nowadays is different to that in the, ahem, '60s and '70s. Then, it was about freedom. Demanding freedom of expression, freedom of
speech. Now, a good chunk is about the polar opposite. Some students are extremely vocal in squashing freedom of speech: they protest vigorously against certain people being given a platform to air their views; people who they don't like, especially people who don't follow a globalist, multicultural agenda. Oh, and they want to knock down statues of people they don't approve of. A bit like the Taliban.

What has happened over time is very clever. Student protest has been successfully co-opted by the elites. While it was once vehemently anti-establishment, it now stands up for the values of the status quo, while still believing that it is being radical. You have to admit that is clever. Just like all those modern 'liberals' who think they are the radical. leading edge, while they have, in reality, simply been repositioned into doing the dirty work of the elites.

So this is the message for modern times: freedom is bad. Giving people too much freedom is dangerous, irresponsible. You end up with a society full of pedophiles, sex abusers, and other abusers. It's in the news, on the television, every day now: pedophiles, child abuse, sex abuse. The world is full of it. Incredible. So we need to be able to control life, for the greater good. We are all potentially victims of the predators roaming around out there, and we need to be protected. The ethic of the 1960s was very bad, and should be rejected wholeheartedly.

The model human being created from this message, this narrative, is of a person far from their own authenticity. It is a victim. It is a person full of fear, worn down, their own vital spark reduced to the smallest flicker. It is a person afraid of their own spontaneous energy, their own natural instincts. They live in a world which constricts and inhibits, with ever more controls, ever more protection for the 'victims', the 'helpless'. It is a world in which, as I learnt while working in retail, an adult male dare not smile at children, for fear of being considered a pervert, a predator on the groom. Where, should a child fall over and hurt themself, you must not lend a hand, must not touch. It is a nightmare fantasy world, the product of a nightmare narrative. And created deliberately: remember - things don't just happen.

Part Three    

This, for me, is the focus of significant fascination with the Trump World. It is not about individual policy decisions: as with most politicians, the majority are either devious, silly, misguided, damaging, or any combination of the above. No: it is the subtexts, the underlying messages. When Trump recently banned the BBC, CNN, the Guardian, the New York Times,and a bunch of other neer-do-wells from a White House briefing, this was huge. There was the predictable bleating about freedom of speech, etc. Bullshit. What the Trump was saying (how conscious of it or not I do not know) was this: "You guys are not in the business of communicating truth and reality. You guys are in the business of creating and sustaining a narrative. And, you know what? - your narrative sucks."

Never in my life have I seen a national leader put out this truth so transparently. We've heard about spin doctors before, but this is a big step further. Media weaves a web, spins a dream. The notion that it seeks an objective reality to impartially report is gone. The genie is out. It's the first and necessary step in human beings taking back their own powers of narrative, rather than having it handed to them by other, generally rather ill-intentioned, beings. Without seeing this, and to a degree at least breaking through it, the individual is severely compromised in any attempt at self-determination. And thus they remain far from their divinity (or their potential, if you're squeamish about divinity). A person needs to throw off the grip of the dream; and while many folk who follow traditions of oriental origin see that spinner of illusion, Maya, in their personal life, they avoid its manifestation in the human world all around them.

To hang loose to all narrative, be it social or personal, is the place to be. Create your own narrative, and don't take that very seriously either. Take back the power of narrative into your own world, then shatter its power completely. 'Get out of the way', as some traditions put it, to allow the real power of the universe to guide and inform. And anybody still mired in the fabrications meted out by media, school, and other officially-sanctioned organs of story-telling, just can't do it.