I've indulged my emo duty with a diet of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Jo Shapcott's Of Mutability back to back giving me quite the existential crisis just after the confusing news that all my scans were clear (which should be good news, but I'd kind of rather know what was going on with these seizures). The whole thing of getting to grips with the idea of there being times when I'm not properly present in myself, or that my sense of self is not reliable is quite chilling.
Oddly, rather than spiral into woe from running blades or the sharp turn of beautiful poetry, I've found solace in remembering the Circle of Zerthimon:
"There is great strength in numbers, but there is great power in one, for the strength of the will of one may gather numbers to it. There is strength not only in knowing the self, but knowing how to bring it forth in others."
The Nameless One, reflecting on the lesson of the fifth circle of ZerthimonThings like that keep bringing me back to that idea that has been floating around for a while from Alan Moore and, oddly, from the Church of England, where both argue that religious teachings shouldn't rely on absolute but poetic truths and that it doesn't matter whether the source of your teachings is something that's real or not, but whether it's something you learn from and whether you grow from it. When CoE people argue that the questions about archaeological evidence or otherwise for Jesus' life distract from the beauty of the lessons of the beatitudes, I think they're saying the same thing as Alan Moore was getting at when he said Superman was one of his moral compasses when he was growing up.
There's a power in symbols that's not to be ignored, and it makes me wonder if artists, writers and designers understand that they're often skirting into the same territory as priestesses and shamans of other ages. That, in itself ties back to these moments of transience that I have, where some shudder takes me out of myself and away from a sense of what's real.
The power of symbols, though, is raw in a week of births, deaths and marriages. The Obama birth certificate, the Royal Wedding and the assassination of Bin Laden all within one long weekend. The inane nonsense around the nationality of Barack Obama makes me wonder a little bit about how others must view Britain at the moment if this is the kind of thing that America's projecting. We're telling the world that we support democratic reform around the middle east, but we're having pre-emptive arrests, slaughtering our welfare state, taking a machete to the NHS against a 96% vote of no confidence and over half a million people on the streets in protest against a government that no-one voted for. This is not fair.
A month ago, half a million people went out in London to protest to ask for a fairer society, to ensure that the rich understand the idea of noblesse oblige through fair taxes, welfare for those who need it, healthcare and education for all. The newspapers described the gathering as anarchy intent on destroying society and causing criminal damage and the police attacked people and MPs demanded that laws were passed to ensure the police had even more powers to arrest and attack people who they suspected might possibly disagree with them. You know, people. The people who the MPs work for. The people who pay their wages.
This month, a similar number of people went out in London to celebrate the wedding of two wealthy people, paid for out of the public purse, harming the economy enormously with a day off work. There were raids around London on anyone who might be want to protest against such a craven display of gratuitous wealth in the face of national poverty and distress, people were arrested pre-emptively to protect the peace and the papers declared the day a triumph of national unity and identity, while so many of the people I know just felt like bunting lepers, waving neither a Union Jack or a black flag, but feeling more inclined towards the latter by the end of the day at the reports of how many mass murderers were in that church and wondering to myself how poorly the two roles as head of the church and head of the army sit together.
And to close the long weekend, after visiting my boyfriend in Brighton who'd been kettled with his shopping bags for the crime of going to buy dog food in Sainsbury's and stopping to talk to a friend in the street at the weekend, I hear that we're now meant to be awash with triumph because Osama Bin Laden has been assassinated in Pakistan. My friend Claire put it best with this quote, which is all I think I want to say on the War on Terror at the moment.
"Through violence you may murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that"
Martin Luther King