Screenshot_4

A POEM ON BEING COOL

I’ve seen things that most my age haven’t.
At least not in this place,
where bins with yellow lids watch you roll past,
and on television broadcasts are pictured the flames
from the drunk dragons of Northbridge.

But I cannot preach or boast I feel, despite my hero’s eyes.
I am bad with girls.

But I’ve seen things like arms
riddled with holes in my backseat
she missed her vein and stole fifty dollars

And I went to the slums of the third world
where men with lacerated grimy flesh
sleep on dusty pavement stone.
But I am shy, I am alone.

I cannot boast, I get afraid.
Please- spare me the looks
AND DON’T TELL MUM
but sometimes I hang out in meth labs for fun

I’ve eaten crickets, tarantulas, ants.
I dabble with bikies and I spray paint on walls
until cameras installed put my face in the paper
and I say see you later and hide from the city

But nothing comes of it.
Because no one looks at that polite young man
with his nose in a book.

But all I crave is Cambodia’s coke – that stuff is from heaven
and 3AM meals with a genocide survivor and his AK-47

I could stand here endlessly,
making referential allusions
to my excessive consumption
of experimental drugs with names you’ve never heard

But that’s not me
Once it was my crux identity,
My misspent youth and kitchen chemistry,
but I hate what I used to be.
It is only a part of me.

There are intersecting values like
location and family and money,
spirituality.

Maybe that’s what it is to be adult.
Actualize that recognition.

But there’s something that’s irking me
for 21 years, its one of my fears
not to see it but to know that it’s there
lurking underneath the ancient ice of my denial

A generic abscess seeping the
insidious pus of mediocrity
into my personal sanctuary of creativity
an infection of cells, my diseased content breeds in the bin

And I hate that it might be true

But maybe just maybe this self-hating drug-taking
regurgitating pontification has something to do with

the lack of a Dad.

How fucking cliche is that?
Underlying truth: This shit makes me mad

file9301345604424

BONES V5

Dinosaurs used to roam the planet.

The atmosphere was far richer in oxygen, and insects could grow to the size of small mammals. Being there would probably be a really weird experience with all kinds of prehistorical shenanigans happening everywhere you looked.
This will come up later.
Coming up now: the leg of the Gigantosaurus megalonyx, a sauropod from the third epoch of the Jurassic period. Aptly named, the Gigantosaurus was presumably quite large by all evidence that we have. It’s hind leg would have boasted an impressive femur bone of considerable weight. So far, no femur bone has been found of any megalonyx type, and the potential discovery of such a thing awaits within the foggy future of archaeology, far beyond 2014.

And yet, despite defying the laws of time, the curator of the British Museum is holding one on a doorstep, using it in a way quite unique to the remains of ancient creatures in that he’s using it as a battering ram to break into our protagonist’s house.

And for sure, it does have a considerable weight.
Our protagonist, he immediately closes the door freaking out. Shit, he thinks. Finally, someone has come to reclaim the shrunken head. This has been coming for a while but  he’d just gotten around to forgetting about it completely. Or maybe even using it for an opportunistic profile picture. Who knows, it’s all in the past.

All that he does know is that someone – the curator of the British Museum – has come looking for it. And he’s angry. And on drugs, for some reason. Clearly cooked out of his mind, because the guy looks like he hasn’t slept in months. The eyebags, shaking and his deeply philosophical ranting gives it away as he smashes down the door.
BAM!
The curator slams the femur bone against the flyscreen door relentlessly. He hits it with such force that it shatters the glass of the second wooden door behind it.
BAM! BAM! BAM!
Shit, shit, shit. What to do. Fuck.

BAM!

He immediately thinks ‘call the police’ but he hasn’t been able to find his phone since lunchtime yesterday. And besides, the last thing he needs is police inside his house, given the head of a man underneath his bed. A few other things too, but mainly the head. Wooden splinters start to fly. The curator is getting through the door.
How the fuck did he get a dinosaur bone to Australia?

“Open this door right now! You’ve got no idea Kant, you need to take the head back, you need to take the head back to him!”

He’s fucked. This curator has gone mad. How does he know Kant’s name? What does he mean take it back? Shit. Shit. Shit.
Kant can’t stop thinking. He runs to his room, and grabs the box with the ancient man’s shrunken head inside it. He blows the dust off the top.
BAM!
BAM!
BAM!
The front door continues to give away. A hinge gives loose. The curator is still screaming.
“OPEN THE DOOR! OPEN THE DOOR!”
And, with one final blow that the whole street must have heard:
The door finally smashes down.
With intense fury, with eyes huge like he’s in a primal death mode and blood running from his nostrils the curator throws himself at Kant, tackling him straight onto his back while he holds the box between protective crossed arms. Despite his age and apparent severe weight loss, the wiry strength of the curator is almost impossible to overcome. His raving, manic eyes are blank with no colour, only huge black holes that look like twin abysses.

“We’re going to go on a journey” the curator tells Kant, still pinning him down with one arm and bringing his face down close to his while while he grabs something out of his shirt pocket, using his bony legs to trap Kant underneath him. “You’ve got the head, that’s good. That’s easy. That’s a good boy Kant.”
Trapped there underneath the curator like that, he can’t do anything but string profanities together as he tries to wrestle the supernaturally strong old man off the top of him to no avail. From his pocket the curator pulls a translucent capsule, full of a crsytalline white powder.

“Wait a fucking minute” Kant says. “That’s my TMA-6″.
The curator looks at him with hatred.
“You’re going to help me fix all this.”

Kant starts to ask what this insane old man truly wants from him but he can’t, because before he can do that the curator of the British Museum opens up the capsule of phenethylamine salts and pours half of them into Kant’s nostril as he lay on his back like the force feedings at detention centres.
Then the curator leans back, snorts the other half of the capsule, and immediately there is an incredible ringing.

You can’t describe the void. There’s no point trying.
It’s real, and it’s looming, and it hums quietly underneath our waking lives.
But there are no words to explain it.
And into it, Kant and the Curator plunge.

There’s only a white light, it’s blinding. The ringing gets louder and louder, piercing the eardrums like nails scraping the cosmic blackboard. Then there’s an even brighter flash, one that burns the eyes, and for a brief moment there is black. Then there is a quiet. Not even silence, which is the absence of noise. There is an anti-noise that fills the infinite.

Then:

OH MY GOD, OH MY GOD!
OH MY GOD WE ARE GOING TO DIE!
There is screaming. Swearing. Crying.
There is so much crying, screaming, so much agony in so little time. In a flash. Children screaming, people sobbing. Thick black smoke. There’s a sensation of falling. There’s a smell of smoke and fire. The sound of a plane engine. The falling sensations gets more gut punching. The gravity gets more intense. They are in a plane plummeting towards the earth. Kant and the curator open their eyes, trading a glance. They’re laying in the same place, Kant wrapping his arms around the box of human remains with the curator pinning him down. They are laying in the walkway of a Boeing passenger jet. All around them, screaming. Screaming in all different languages.
THE PLANE GOT SHOT! WE GOT SHOT! MAYDAY!
From somewhere else on the plane:
OH MY GOD MY KIDS! MY WIFE! NO NO NO NO
Screaming. So much screaming. The sound of the engines is getting louder as the world around them plummets. But Kant starts to feel an intense tingling from his nose right up through his skull into his brain, and he looks up at the curator who has seemed to become less hostile and more frightened. Screaming gets louder. Things get whiter.

“No”, the curator says.  “We are on flight MH17. This got shot down recently. The time jump didn’t work properly.”

Then he grimaces. “No,’ he says again.
This is too soon.”
‘What do you mean it’s too soon?’
“It’s just too soon or this. We’re going deeper, hold on!”

The ear-piercing ringing starts again.
There is a wall of fire and a tremendous crash only a split second before Kant and the Curator find themselves completely encompassed, once again, by white.

Then, it stops.

There is no more screaming, no smoke. A feeling of sudden warmth. Kant opens his eyes. The curator gets off of him, sniffles a few times. They’re in a canopy of trees now. No plane at all. Three hundred feet or so ahead they can make out a small clearing. All around them, birds chirp. The air smells different, air Kant has never smelt before.

“This is where I meant to take you. Two thousand years before Christ, the curator says. You’re going to fix this mess’.
An insect the size of a small mammal flies from a tree branch overhead, and our protagonist realises that they have indeed actually travelled back thousands of years in time. TMA-6 is pretty good, but time travel? A drug that makes you travel through time? Our protagonist is dumbfounded.
Unable to contain himself he says: “that’s pulled straight from a Philip K Dick novel.”

What this process of realisation is like, you just can’t put it into words.

Then Kant looks up to see a man in a loincloth approaching from the clearing ahead. And he recognises him immediately. The shrunken head of the ancient man he holds in a box in his arms has the same face of the man walking towards him in a tribal garb.

The curator looks on.

Our time travelling, drug taking protagonist: he vomits and faints, face-planting straight into muddy jungle floor.

Brick-Wall

UNEMPLOYMENT AND FOXES

I’ve been unemployed for two months now and as a result I feel that I have matured in unexpected ways. Now I understand two crux experiences of life so much better – guilt and boredom.

When I was young, ‘unemployment’ was one of those alien aspects of adulthood – the “outside” or “real” world. In those days there is a disconnect between the implied grave nature of unemployment rates warned about amidst prophetic broadcasts, and the actualized reality of unemployment which – during childhood at least – simply means ‘not working.’

But there is that moment – those moments – in which innocence dilutes into the cloudy tincture of morality we all procure with our individual accumulative actions. There is the moment where we learn ‘not working’ means more than that phrase alone. When do we actualize the importance of work? Paid skill, production, contribution? During my, your, our teens; unemployment does not have the same weight that it bears in your twenties.
Somewhere along that brief passage of time unemployment stops being benign and becomes volatile. Feelings of guilt simmer all the same in your teens but only somewhere deep and permissible. Rarely does it rise to the surface.
But then when you are older – mentally or physically, ideally both – these feelings go beyond a simmer, the boredom included, and they start to boil, hiss and spit at you like hot oil. That’s definitely what they did to me.

This hot oil I feel is responsible for instigating the process of change that I’m identifying as the development of my maturity. Although to be fair, for all I know I am developing a tumour. Whatever the case, for the first time I have actually been feeling ashamed by my lack of contribution. My perception of work has turned to that of  moral obligation opposed to some draconian societal contract. As time goes on, my guilt only gets worse. The hot oil more vehement.

And then there is the boredom.

The boredom comes seeping through in many ways. As frustration. As a semi-legitimate tendency towards sudden manic episodes of unprecedented energy. As rigorous introspection followed by intense periods of irritation at one’s own tendency to be so. The boredom gives impetus to seek out intoxication, distraction, vice – some occasionally adopt a routine with positive and productive outcomes, like the elusive and mythical ‘healthy person’, but us ordinary sinners, we fight with boredom and we do not negotiate with it or domesticate it. Us the sinners go forward with our schemes and goals. In unemployment, this extract of boredom connects with the hot oil of guilt to pave the way to a truly scrumptious omelette of disaffection.

But I have never liked omelette, so what then? How many unanswered e-mails, how many absent callbacks can you go through? Strong types of all natures will tell you to just keep going, to keep persevering, to ‘suck it up’ and remind yourself that it could be harder, and maybe they’ve got a point but they probably don’t, because if they did have a good point everybody would have fucking killed themselves by now, like they already have. They are living suicides, drowning in their own malcontent. But perhaps it takes one to know one, which is why I hate them all the more. When we eat these omelettes, is it true just like it is for them that we forever turn to stone?

You come to hate it so much.

No matter how many ways you find to occupy yourself, this proverbial pot of oil (I’ve moved past the omelette) always boils over and you’re left with burns on your hands, hopping up and down from foot to foot hoping that your little dance will help the pain to stop, those deep ebbing throbs of pain that come from burns. Incredibly similar are the waves of boredom that ebb, roll in, rise, crash, roll out briefly and then start to ebb back in. These little dances we perform to distract ourselves consume us, in one bite they take us underneath the surface, plunging us down below like alligators drowning antelopes.

Eventually you can’t sit still. No matter how accustoming your environment, you start to hate it. Eventually, one day, the seed will be planted. Once that seed germinates, it grows with a shocking propensity. You cannot control the vines.
You start to hate your shitty cramped room, even if it is not that shitty nor that cramped. Your car becomes your only key to freedom but simultaneously an antagonist, it’s obsolescence rapidly approaches up behind you in the rear view mirror, and you realise that nothing can be stopped. These things are always there. They always exist, lingering, we can only keep them at bay. Constantly pushing them back in a perpetual sumo wrestle of the spirit, these dark feelings. All of us, people, we are in the shade of a disembodied and forever looming malcontent.

This is probably depression.

If you need an example of what I mean – you probably do, I would – look no further than dust. In the quest to find time-consuming tasks, you inevitably at some stage pick up a routine of tidying and cleaning unless you are a truly hopeless independent. Perhaps it is daily, perhaps it is not. It does not matter, because dust is your enemy either way. For some time, this routine may sate you. Some kind of foundation. But it can only be temporary. In the face of this omnipotent and carnivorous boredom, all is temporary.

Dust, you should realise, is the world’s oldest terrorist.
There is a specific moment the narrator can recall where he could no longer maintain a daily war with the dust.

Dust can break a person.
Anyone worth their domestic salt knows that the essence of decay resides in dust. Stick with me. The essence of decay, of inescapable death is represented as dust. Dust invades our homes, our lives, our minds. It makes it’s presence known. In this sense, dust is a natural extremist. Dust is collective small particles falling away, descending, shedding. A large portion is made of up our own dead skill cells. Dust is the dual representative or time and mortality. You can never win against dust, you can only keep it at bay, holding shut a wooden door with all your strength as on the other side it bashes with ever increasing strength.

You may hold it at bay your entire life, but it will come. If you slip – the moment you miss one week, one day – the dust only builds. It congregates. Falls and settles. Amasses. Colonises. This endless war against dust, you can only take so much of it. You can only sweep out underneath your bed, behind your drawers, along the skirting boards so much before you find yourself driving around aimlessly at nights, staying away from home and that which is sickly familiar for as long as possible. I drive around, living my own weird re-enactments of Taxi Driver. Because of dust. This whole thing, this oppressive boredom and depression, this limbo of frustration to which I am, you are exiled, it resonates all of the hallmarks of a bad trip.

This freedom, you want it to all be over the way you want a bad trip to be over but like any trip or any taste of freedom, the moment you are no longer experiencing it, you will want to be thrown again back into it.

So I am stuck between the guilt and shame of wanting to work but enjoying the freedom, while suffering from the intense boredom that ensures you hate your freedom for the very fact of it’s own circumstantial being. This dual downward spiral drills into you, only deeper as time goes on. What is one able to do but drift amongst the grabs at hope, the optimistic waits for callback, the possible avenues of nepotism? What else is there to do but fill nights with driving, days with writing, to waste the hours drinking and to waste the hours smoking, smoking cigarettes, smoking weed and sometimes smoking different things? Trying to distract yourself more and more like this, only further intensifying the problem. A Chinese-finger trap. A Catch-22.

And then you start seeing them. Only when it’s you at night. Have you always seen them, but never noticed?
It doesn’t matter.

There are foxes in this town. They live amongst collections of bushes, anywhere big enough to make a series of burrows. Nocturnal and masters of stealth, they are everywhere and nowhere. Nobody believes me. Common sense tells us that foxes don’t live in heavily urbanised areas.
I feel like a trope. The old drunkard, blind in one eye, sees the legendary monster fish in the lake one night. He would have no outright reason to lie, but who could trust him? Of course I would be the only one to see it. It all just fits together so well.

The foxes play with us like this. Do with the claim what you will, but they’re there.
This is true. Sometimes driving past you can see the glints of flashing eyes in the bushes, floating in the under-shadows of low hanging trees. They blink and go black, disappearing into thin air. Sometimes I think I’ll see a snout or a tail poking out from underneath a shrub, but who could ever be sure?

One night, out there driving around with nothing to do, I looked to the road and I swear to god right there along that patch of road that runs by the river past the yacht club and the barracks, a fox the size of a farm dog stood there on the bitumen. Staring right at my car, at my windshield. I tend to be sceptical about such things, but I have never been able to shake the notion that it was staring right at me.

Nobody has ever believed this, of course. And who can blame them? That a fox the size of a small Labrador lives down on the outskirts of town by the river is a hard notion to accept. And why accept it? It defies common sense.
But that fox is there. More than one of them, I can promise you that. And while this moment came as no reconciliation to my struggle, amidst all this darkened thought and disappointment, this guilt and boredom, for one moment – just briefly – it was as if that fox appeared for me.
What this means, if it means anything at all, I don’t know.

I don’t really know why foxes came into this.
I need a job.

file9301345604424

BONES (V4)

Babushka doll bullshit.

Inside the crate lies a smaller crate. Metal this time, imprinted with another series of labels. He cannot process this disappointment with acceptance and disheartedly tosses his crowbar to the floor, uttering more than a few self-pitying statements about his luck and the state of things and the state of crates and the postal service.
In that moment he feels as if maybe he should just be trialled at whim to try and organise global postage operations himself, and that would show them, ‘them’ who waste their time sending seemingly interesting crates around the world with smaller crates inside them, like this is some irritating form of torture conceived in the sick and deluded mind of an anthropologist working deep within the bowels of the British Museum, or perhaps the Royal Post, or whichever other institutions seem likely of blame.

About 10 minutes later he has a good sit down after letting himself get carried away, internally spiting the various systems in place, penetrative in their systematic essence, systemization he settles on coining, and he continues on getting carried away in a thought loop almost identical to this while he declares new words. And he does it for quite some time.

One might say that he does this out of an underlying diagnosis waiting to happen, perhaps an attention deficiency or an obsessive nature indicative of a larger problem. Of course, another might say that it’s just because he’s fucked.

Besides, there’s still another crate to open. Somewhere in his head he hears one of those old truisms ring throughout his conciousness, spoken in unison by the collective characters of his memory: ‘good things come in small packages.’
He re-approaches the crate and removes the small steel box, which constitutes most of the weight. A second label reads:

HUMAN REMAINS. BIOLOGICAL HAZARD. HANDLE WITH SAFETY EQUIPMENT AT ALL TIMES…

followed by a small square sticker scripted with identifying details. He pries at it’s lid with his fingers this time, finding it disconnects from the container with minimal effort. A small wave of cool air comes out of the box, as if it had been lingering in refrigeration. When he looks down, he almost falls over.

Inside the box a small grimacing shrunken head stares back at him with an open agonized mouth and dark, hollow eyes.

Weeks pass.

It had been the biggest letdown of the year. Maybe some insight is needed. That whole morning it happened, that big build up, he’d been envisioning strange preservations. He had been imagining and outright hoping that the crate was filled from one end to the other with ancient content. He had envisioned an entire skeleton, an entire man preserved, perhaps vacuum wrapped in his own
tan leathered skin. The crate was about the size of a dwarf and he could remember reading somewhere that ancient people used to be very small. Supposedly Jesus himself was only about 4 feet tall (and totally high on mushrooms all the time, look it up.) So his hopes were not entirely unsubstantiated.

After taking some photos of the shrunken head and doing the rounds of telling trusted peers, he quickly grew bored of it and shoved the steel box under his bed. He couldn’t sell it, for it had been on the news and he’d surely get reported. He went through a thick period of paranoia that lasted three days, checking the two containers and even the inside of the shrunken head over and over again for any kind of microchips or electronic equipment that might be traceable. His inspections turned up nothing, and his handling of the artefact (complete with all kinds of finger probing) probably devalued the priceless relic beyond comprehensible belief. He was racked with nerves, constantly looking out the window whenever he heard a car driving past, assuming it would be the police. Every time he heard a car door open or close outside he gulped. He answered no calls for two days.

But, nobody came.

As the dust began to settle atop the steel container, slowly shrouding it’s memory in time, his nerves dissolved and as far as he was concerned the whole thing blew over. He went back to job hunting and flirting and driving around the place and sitting around getting high and staying up nights or sleeping for days and everything just kind of went on totally as normal, and despite his usual demeanour of pessimism he even found that the disappointment of the whole affair had sobered him for a few weeks away from the mental realms of the philosophical and romantic and he instead found a temporary sense of contentment with his life as a student in the free world just taking it all as it comes, trying to be a good guy along the way. And all of this was fine with the head of the man underneath his bed too, or at least he assumed and dictated that the head was fine with all of this, because he did not consult with it. Even while the head of the ancient was under his bed, he still woke up with a boner every morning, he still had a cigarette with his coffee and suffered from mood swings. So it goes.

And so it went, and so it seemed it would continue to go pleasantly forever, until about 2 months later the curator of the British Museum arrived on his doorstep shaking and sweaty with pupils the size of 20 cent pieces, bleeding from one nostril and severely underweight, waving around a Jurassic femur.

 

file9301345604424

BONES (V3)

The curator of the British Museum has been in the interrogation room for upwards of six hours now. Tensions are wearing thin – both his, and the detective’s. The latter resumes questioning after gathering some new information from preliminary substance analysis.
“So tell me. What on God’s earth is…TMA-6?”
“Detective. Listen to me. I am being honest – I do not know. I don’t know about any of this. All I know is that I was supposed to be receiving an important shipment – the remains of the warlord. I’m telling you, I did not order that stuff!”
The detective says nothing.
“Please listen to me. There has been some kind of mistak-”
“Mistake nothing. I’ve been doing this for years, and I can spot a liar.”
The curator slams his handcuffed fists down on the table in frustration and cries out.
“I’m not fucking lying!”
The detective doesn’t flinch.
“Here’s how I see it. You’re holed up in that museum everyday, curating this that and the other. Am I correct?”
“W – Well yes. But I’ve never used any website called ‘silk road’ and I’ve never seen that stuff before in my -”
“The TMA-6.”
“Yes.”

The detective takes a deep breath in.

“Try to fool me all you please. I think that you traded the remains of an ancient warlord for a few grams of fun-time for you and your curator friends.”
“That is insane.”
“If you keep giving me lip I’ll give you another 2 years.”
The curator of the British Museum utters a few noises of protest, before resigning to a defeated and bewildered stare directed at the table.
“So. If you want to see the light of day from the right side of a cell wall again, you’ll tell me – who is your contact in Australia?


Sixty five dollars. Outrageous.

That is how much it costs for someone in this day and age to buy a crowbar. What kind of place is this, where crowbars cost sixty five dollars and internationally renowned artefacts are accidentally shipped to a nondescript brick and cream paint house in sprawling Australian suburbia?

And where the hell were those drugs he ordered?

After the unexpected expenditures, there he stands in the living room, wielding his crowbar with one hand as if on the post for some post-apocalyptic film, staring down the wooden crate. The big sticker on the side stares back at him, mocking him.

CROWBAR NEEDED.

He smirks to himself, feeling the cold weight of the metal.
There is only one thing left to do.


“Please, I’ve been in this room for hours.”
The detectives say nothing to the curator.
“And we’re going to be here until we find out what’s going on.”
The curator sighs, beginning to sound more and more upset.
“We just got word back from the boys up top. TMA-6 is an illegal designer drug, synthesized from mescali-”
“Please, stop. I don’t know what any of that means.”
“Don’t play dumb. Says here it’s an amphetamine. I’m surprised someone of your status would be involved in something like this.”
“I have no interest to take amphetamines detective.”
“What makes you so exempt?”

The curator takes a deep breath in.

“I am sixty two, and I already cannot sleep.”
The detective says nothing.
“And why do you find yourself unable to sleep?” He asks, eyeing the curator suspiciously.
“Because I have a brain tumour.”
There is a heavy pause in the room. He goes on.
“I have enough medication to deal with before I start getting involved with obscure white powders.”

The detective lets a deep breath out.
“Do you honestly expect me to believe that there was some kind of international postage mishap which sent ancient human remains to a residential address in Australia, and somehow, you simultaneously received a delivery of twelve grams of t-tri-trimethox…”
The detective clears his throat.
“Twelve grams of TMA-6, which was destined for that same address?”
The curator does not answer for a moment, and a pained look lingers on his face.
“I don’t expect you to believe it, I am telling you what happened. Because that is what happened.
There is another pause.
The detective sighs and leans across the table, bringing himself closer to the curator.
“But that doesn’t even make any sense.”


After having a bong, he resumes working the crowbar’s fangs underneath the edge of the lid on the crate. After some struggle, he finally breaks the seal free, unleashing the mystery. He takes in a breath. His heart skips a beat. Slowly, he peers inside the crate.

“Oh, Goddamnit.”

10500251_641298289292282_8901736369157678175_n

PROFILE PICTURE POWER

Lately I have realised that many of my peers, if not a fair deal of our generation, are caught up in impossible expectations of individual originality. The essence which lies at the heart of this issue I am trying to define is hard to encapsulate, for it strays into the territory of those things incommunicable by human language. Particularly identity, and thus sentience. Perhaps it is not an issue at all, and purely the natural evolution of things in the face of societal dominance by technology and social media. Perhaps the overwhelming frequency of audio-visual content to which we are exposed every day of our lives has shaken only my own outdated foundations, and I am nothing more than a born again Luddite.

Nonetheless, I have found that amongst peers, and most people of my age demographic I meet in passing, there exists a kind of underlying competition between us, in the struggle to be recognised and acknowledged as actualized and unique beings. I do not mean to try and generalise broad facets of existence for I am aware that some actively choose to be as homogeneous as possible, finding security in culturally-imposed dictations of normalcy. This reflection I’m making is nothing new, and extends back at least to the early 90′s that I know of. Fight Club touches on this idea in Tyler Durden’s semi-famous speech: “…You are not a beautiful or unique snowflake.”

All of us want to be unique. I, like many others, based a solid percentage of my teenage years on this quest. However, there is room for conflict when there are a group of individuals – close friends – whom are all struggling for the same thing. For example, I write. A close friend of mine produces artistic content through other mediums. However, he seems to me to be wading within a halting cycle of self-criticism, believing that an idea that has been “done before” is unworthy. Often he is not concerned with a proposed project being good or bad, meaningful or not, but rather whether or not it is “original.” As if a unit of meaning can somehow be rendered void by it’s reproduction. Following this line of reasoning, I can only see that inspiration becomes plagiarism. I do not feel that this is the case. Another close friend of mine goes to the opposite extreme, and seems to be transfixed on believing that he has created everything. Here, I can’t help but feel this individual – who is a dear friend – fails to realise that things indeed have been done before, and just because he is not aware of this does not mean that he has pioneered entire stylistic movements from within his wardrobe (to fill you in, this particular friend likes to believe that every fashion trend in Western Australia originates with him.)

I believe these behaviours come from presumptions that originality is what brings success, recognition and true contribution within the arts. I do not believe this is so. I feel there are beliefs that, for example, you could only make money off a creative product if it is “original.” A quick glance at the music industry proves that this is not the case – in fact, the opposite is. Same too for visual arts. Decades of progression in ‘Modern Art’ exists in the collective conciousness as obscure and often ripe for ridicule, whereas the conceptualisation of “good art” has remained fixed for over 500 years. Subversive, alternative or otherwise ‘non-mainstream’ content can never break free from the categorisation of it’s own secondary nature. I believe that despite the existence of a cultural longing and encouragement for individuality many of us feel, it is antithetical to the development of arts and culture in society.

I do not have a degree in sociology or cultural studies – nor do I have any degree for that matter – but personally it is still clear to me that this desire for originality comes from a peculiar mechanism in which we do not take power from our actions, we take power from images. This concept I was not introduced to until I reluctantly decided to read through one feminist’s article on ‘Women and Desire’, wherein the author (whom I no longer remember) highlighted this central trait as being a major factor within the contemporary minds of women. Whether or not this is the case for women exclusively I do not know, but I do believe that this trait is embedded within the psyche of our generation – which is currently divided into Generation Y and/or ‘Millennials’, truly displaying how regressively tribal the ‘generation’ system is. By image, I refer to self-image.

I think for most of us in non-regional and primarily non-disadvantaged circumstances born beyond 1987, our reflection and personal appearance is a massive part of our identities. We are aware of what we look like at all times. This seems like an obvious statement, and to an extent it is historically true to before the 20th century, but I feel that the level at which ‘we’ – us, this generation, those born towards the 90′s – do it is unprecedented. ‘Web 2.0′ I believe is a massive driver of this phenomenon. Myspace and Facebook (even MSN) all had/have profile picture features. The ‘profile picture’ has become a dominant social icon. You would be hard pressed to find any online profile service active today which does not include an option for a profile picture, intended to be filled with a picture of yourself, the user. In fact a majority of contemporary profile services, from gaming websites to accounting firms, all require an uploaded profile picture. It is no stretch to claim that the virtual world is, as far as the eye can see, now permanently embedded within the real world, and as such so is this element of inherent self-awareness.

So we are always aware of ourselves, the protagonists of our own daily lives (although I am aware this romantic way of thinking is a long-documented hallmark of youth), and while we are aware of our own physical selves in relation to the world around us and other physical selves, there is also the existence of an underlying competition to be unique and separatist. And of course at another level, there is nothing wrong with this. What kind of world would this be if we were all the same? That is not some sort of ideal ubiquitous utopia I’m proposing. What I’m suggesting is that perhaps it could be beneficial to the progression of contemporary arts to try and wean out the hype surrounding originality and the need for “new content.”  This ‘need for the new’ is fuelled by the expansive nature of Web 2.0 and the online sphere of 2014 – there are billions of videos on youtube, millions of units of original content posted everyday – but perhaps most interesting of all, the most dominantly circulated things are reposts. I do not believe that being connected online, that having a profile picture is a trademark of narcissism, as some suggest. However, I believe it is narcissism when the focus is not on having an identity, but having an identity that nobody else does. If we are so caught up in being or creating that which is ‘original’, how can we ever have any bearing of relevance to the world around us? There is nothing shameful in re-visitation or retrospection.

Something can only be original if it is surrounded by other things which already exist. These other things are what give that originality meaning. For example, an ‘individual’ can only exist when you are accounting for the presence of another party. An individual can only be individualized when they are separated and referenced against other individuals. To be truly original is directly oppositional to the desire to be acknowledged as unique, for that uniqueness can only make sense in terms of it’s antithesis.

What there is shame in is blatant plagiarism, which in a sense is being committed en masse by everybody doing the exact same thing in trying to achieve opposite. The conformity of non-conformity has been written about thousands of times before, but if you’ve gotten this far, hopefully you’re agreeing with me that it doesn’t matter at all.

download

LONG STORY SHORT, I DON’T HAVE 20

Dear Tracey Elliot.

First and foremost, I urge you to acknowledge that I am fully aware I cannot change the established voting system with a letter. I am a 21 year old Arts student seeking to neutralise a $20 fine against his name. I am confident that I am one of many employing similar tactics. I’m sure that you find these expressions of disobedience ultimately tiring, irritating and repetitive by now, all forged in the dangerous mix of a self-aggrandizing young person’s mind and the political sphere (with a good deal of pseudo-philosophy to boot).

By now, you have probably realised I am just trying to prove to you, Tracey – my honourable reader – that I have an education and have actually considered my position. I decided to actually enrol at 21, after watching Scott Ludlam’s scathing monologue against Tony Abbott. Like most of my peers, I was just wonderfully impressed.
If we were looking at this on the scale of Geological Time, I stopped being impressed only tenths of a millisecond later. Over the progressing weeks that preceded the West Australian senate election, I watched Scott Ludlam and his invisible think-tank gain support for himself and the Greens by:

a) Producing posters emblazoned with slogans (this is as extreme as this letter is going to get, but if you look it up that is the original thesis of propaganda)

b) Reducing the confronting and omnipresent concerns of Climate Change, Atmospheric Pollution and Oceanic Degradation into 15 second sound bites, nipping at the heels of the ALP.

c) I watched him “DJ” a [pre-recorded] set at a popular Nightclub in Perth, because hey, Scott Ludlam likes to have fun too.

By now I’m sort of hoping that you’ve already decided I’ve actually got a really good point and wavered the fine, because this is objectively ridiculous. Has life become a satire? Is this South Park? Maybe saying “why can’t a senator DJ” is a good question, but if you’re asking that you also have to ask “why can he?”

And this is the side of the coin which actually means anything to anyone. I don’t care what year it is, the supposed anchor of the ‘free world’ – the democratic process – is never going to the be the time for the celebration of Post-Modernist Relativism.
I have watched good friends of mine, autonomous and free thinking in the past against the sea of suits and ties that make up the Labor-Liberal political scheme in our collective mind (which is perhaps the underlying problem), become sucked in by the exact same tactics they complained about, just because some handsome young guy comes along telling everybody what for and isn’t that just so fucking relatable (the only time I will swear).
I have no confidence, that is why I did not vote. I could have donkey voted, but being told “why didn’t you just donkey vote” is like asking me “why didn’t you just go in and perpetuate an issue which is going to be highly problematic in a future not too far away?”
Receiving this fine is insult enough. I am sick of being told to ‘grow up’ because I actually have an opinion. If ‘grow up’ means become a slave, kept docile with the proverbial Soma, Orgie Porgies and Feelies of our contemporary society (and ultimately the choking financial burden of marriage, children and property) then I wish to remain forever young, stupid and angry.
The independent parties are a joke, and both Labor and Liberal wish to send people looking for a new life into prisons. Manus Island is a prison. It is a prison. I do not know how to manage populations, but I know that this is not the right answer. And by voting for either side, I am partially to blame for those people’s suffering, by keeping the leaders of our pristine Oligarchy in power. By donkey voting, I validate their existence.
I refuse to take part in this. I pay my taxes. I usually follow the speed limit.

Also, I don’t have $20.

With utmost sincerity,
Jonathon Davidson.