Days like today are few and far between. Today, I woke up early, didn’t miss one minute of lectures, skipped my usual ten-pieces-of-bacon breakfast, joked and laughed with everyone I talked to, got smashed, slept well (albeit briefly) and the whole experience left me feeling like a million bucks. I can’t put a finger on what it was that made today a great day, but it was. And then, then I went online and it all started turning to crap. I liked Dan’s update, admittedly, but reading about Brunei made me realise how divorced from it all I’ve become, it all just sounds so damn weird now with spandex and things. Then I find out Justin’s packing it in over on his site… what the hell is happening? Justin was his site, and so were we, in a sense. It was a part of the familiar life that used to exist in Brunei, a life that is indisputably consigned to the annals of history. Not even the main annals of history, the crap ones that you’ll find wedged between the sections labelled ‘Gay Studies’ and ‘Erotic Folklore’… in other words, it’s been scraped and a society of candy-raving theme parties built on the ruins… a dark day for one’s past.
I think taking history as a degree was a mistake… I enjoy it, it’s not beyond my capabilities and I’ll finish it, there’s no doubt about that, it’s just that it’s such a depressingly sad subject. Melancholy seeps up from every page as I read about people, ideas, even entire civilisations, that were brushed aside, that died out, were replaced, and now only exist in volumes of text. The Egyptians, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, and about a dozen other, magnificently sophisticated, almost precociously developed civilisations, have been overrun by Islam. Now, before anyone declares me a heretic (though I indeed am), what I’m saying is that it frustrates me immensely to think that one society had to be swapped for another… couldn’t we still have liberal, intellectual, technocratic countries in the Middle East? Why is it that prayer has to replace culture, that the Koran (sic) must supplant the library? Thousands of years ago, the Middle East was the cradle of human civilisation, its thinkers and politicians concerned themselves with every area of philosophical and scientific enquiry. Now, the best they can manage is mindless anti-Semitism and ultraconservatism. Even Hitler, a fascist, a military dictator of the worst kind, a mass murderer and profoundly anti-democratic, anti-Semitic, and anti-human… even he managed to develop Nazi Germany’s infrastructure, bureaucracy and technology. Not so with the Middle East, where we’ve exchanged knowledge for ignorance, multiethnic integrationism for genocide and racism, freedom for outright oppression. Middle East? Middle Ages, more like.
Now, in my own life, I see a similar kind of history developing. Nothing is achieved of its own virtue, the new parasitises the old, the fleeting joys of a well-spent youth buried under mountains of spandex parties, ripped-up chairs, disney porn, and surprisingly good home-made sausage rolls. I am online, but I’m also disconnected… maybe I shouldn’t even read this site any more. Well, I guess with Justin gone I might have to, you know, but certainly not for old time’s sake. They say time seals all wounds, but it’s life that’s forgetful, history remembers… history remembers everything. History has shown us, unequivocally, that the precious minority in life are those who actually lived it, who invested their strength of body and mind, the fire of heart and spirit, in the act of living. What is it to live? Is it to have a pulse? To breathe, each swelling of the lungs inebriating us further with this metaphysical anomaly, this ephemeral nightmare? Or is it perhaps to transfer dream into reality, to interpret Platonic form into imperfect existence, to fashion being from thought? I believe that it is, and that the only truly necessary morality is that of the individual. I don’t mean that we should be selfish, or exploit those weaker than us, but that we must rely only on ourselves, that we tend only that land which has been allocated to us and make decisions concerning only those matters which affect us- that is, like a sort of karma, to live consciously and conscientiously in equal measure. I was going to start quoting Sartre, but I left my books in Brunei. Hence, I shall resort to my final option: quotes from Sam Raimi movies. This one seems disturbingly relevant:- “You earn the American Dream… you don’t steal it.”
Another thing I’d like to add, to share with you, is an excellent Rudyard Kipling poem, my personal favourite of its genre, which highlights the Hooverian principle of ‘Rugged Individualism’ in simple and eloquent terms. Unfortunately, people have suggested I take up too much space as it is, so I’ve hyperlinked it. Here it is.
PS Why has Pat’s update got so obviously the wrongest date ever?