Sunday, 1 January 2023

Tomorrow I celebrate Xmas

We each live in a dream-state because there are two worlds, one we make that revolves around our memories, our desires, our individual bodily imperatives, our loved ones, and our friends. This world is private and hidden, it is the secret world that appears suddenly on our TV screens at night when we settle down to relax at the end of another day of hatred, struggle, and toil because of the other world, the world of financial statement, holidays, employment (another word for wage-slavery), and sporting festivals. Religion can sit on the border between the two because it is in any case by definition something that can be shared widely, we “observe” a religion so it sits outside out bodies, external to our minds, it is a refuge in the second world where our internal world can feel something like familiarity.

Our lives in this dream-state are challenging not only because of whatever physical challenge we deal with (many of use deal with more than one) that drags our private world out of shape, bends it to the will of others (doctors, psychiatrists, nurses, receptionists, healthcare practitioners and administrators of every kind, especially the ones who oversee the payment of Medicare rebates that we wait for expectantly after a GP visit), and offers us a routine procession of small barriers to mind-peacefulness at the event of every consultation, blood test, or RAT. They’re also challenging because of the persistent shame we feel when our courage is not up to the task of defying the machine we’re born to serve.

The ancient Fortress Capital of great renown that gives us the opportunity to have enough to eat but barely enough to find shelter. What we’ll never have inside this fortress is time to indulge the demands of the first world.

This Fortress is celebrated every year in Sydney when the authorities (those responsible for paying the wages of the people who process our Medicare rebates) spend millions of dollars on pyrotechnics they place on the exoskeleton of the Beast, not only on the Harbour Bridge but even on office buildings and on barges in the estuary surrounding them, so that we can experience the night sky as if it were a Christmas tree, the large blobs of burning red, green, and  blue like fragile stars on its peak. Those millions might otherwise be spent on making messaging that contradicts our endless striving to distract each other from the burden of the never-ending task of getting up each morning to get on the commuter train with dozens of other wage-slaves, facing a workplace that fills us with loathing if not fear (will we be sidelined, will our contract be renewed again next year, will we be the one to get that coming promotion or will it be someone who hates us), and that leaves us exhausted at the end of the working week so that all we want to do is drown our grief at the death of possibilities by getting drunk at the pub or at home on the couch in front of Netflix.

The cultural products we consume in this dream-state are like drugs. Many (we know how many approximately by the constant sequence of busts the police publicise on nightly TV) use actual drugs, not even including in this word alcohol, to compensate for the feelings of frustration, confusion, and despair that the dream-state leaves us in. But we lay the tribute of our obedience at the feet of the Statue every year and we’ll do it next year because we’re afraid of the shame we’ll feel if we fail, the shame of failing in the eyes of our peers, our families, and our loved ones, people we hide the truth from most of the time.

So let’s make 2023 the year we say “I can’t take it anymore,” when we cut loose from the bonds that tie us down, when we acknowledge that time is limited. I was talking the other day it was before Christmas, anyway I was talking with a very young man who wants to be an actor and we shared ideas about work and I want to be able to replay that conversation because he seemed to me to be, at twenty years, the sanest person I’d come across in 2022 for the first time. I met some great people in 2022, people you’d want to spend time with, who keep their hearts open, who say strange things, who have seen what the first dream-world looks like (even if only while asleep), who you know you can trust because their hearts are in the right place. I wish everyone in the world could be happy like they were when we spoke, looking for ways to connect, ignoring the outward trappings of the second world, the things and semantic markers we attach to ourselves when we can’t acknowledge our fear (because it would make us look weak). I wish everyone would say “Happy New Year” every day. Tomorrow I celebrate Xmas.

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