I was discussing with another writer my John Osbourne Jealousy situation. I’ve always wanted to rant about the state of the nation in huge polemical blasts – but I’m forever out of step with the Oppositional Zeitgeist. In fact – I forever vehemently oppose the Oppositional Zeitgeist & the Oppositional Zeitgeist is not here for that. It rightly objects to having its flaws pointed out before the next Oppositional Zeitgeist – which will be born of its flaws – and which should be The Glory Years when I’m Proven Right – but won’t be because I’ll be too busy spotting its flaws.
I’ve missed three windows now – this is not happening for me.
My friend has a more demoralizing situation. She’s passionately against many of the things that millions of women suffer from. But millions of women suffering is not enough to make an Oppositional Zeitgeist unless some male borne problem is shoe-hornable into it. Her main obstacle seems to be that when women stopped being property – they didn’t become fully autonomous living creatures separate from men – they became products. They sell sexy, they sell kindly. Or its sold for them. Or it’s bought from them. And as earning is slightly more palatable than domestic purgatory – no one really wants to closely examine a system that would have almost all of us out-ranked by a sex-robot who could make a cup-of-tea.
bell hooks – sexless, grumpy old hag – is getting a drubbing for pointing out that Beyonce’s song-pushing – great as the material is – is not going to free most women. And feminism is about freedom. Femmephobia yells anyone heavily invested in looking cute – as if looking cute is ever going to be an issue – it’s trying to get cute looking, or keep cute looking or find something to do when you’re not cute looking that’s the bloody hurdle. Take a seat Femmes – your lipstick and breast implants are safer than most of the world’s water supply.
The Crisis of Masculinity gets more traction because – it’s male – and it fits the old heroic pattern that our world was traditionally built around – albeit with more unhappy bloke at the beginning before he takes on his adversity & triumphs over it (even if he has to chuck his moped off a cliff). It’s also less likely to trigger off that bitchy bit of our souls that objects to a lecture on account of us being stronger and therefore able to crush the hectorer like a flea. It’s main problem is the opposite – if the audience doesn’t identify with the lead their fear of reprisals might be so strong they avoid the theatre like it’s a gallows. Which is financially ruinous if you’re trying to complain about colonialism and half the audience has bailed out of the building to avoid a reparation bill.
One way past it is flattery. It’s not you Dominant Class – you’re lovely – it’s that easily ring-fenced sub-set of the Dominant Class over there. They’re c*nts.
But then – that can easily escalate into civic breakdown – everything from lynchings, to riots, to war and while some women may thrill to the proxy power of it – it’s hardly worth it when your social position stays as exactly as naff as it was before. Worse – your man’s enemies will likely hate you more than they hate your man. You’re weak, hiding under his wing; you smell of blood in the water. Hate gives social permission to do anything. Doing anything is sexy. Killing women is more likely to involve sexual assault. What kind of feminist writer is going to risk triggering that? Easier to cut out the middle-man and go straight to attacking other women, eagerly cheered on by that most odious of modern activists – the Ally. The Ally has a title – could anything be more egotistical and faux servile than that?
Our economic unit isn’t great for men either. They mostly get to be leaders (yay! Ulcers! Heart-attacks! Coups!) or consumers – which is so soul-sapping that men (and women – we get to be consumers and occasionally leaders, just as a few of them get to be products) are seeking focus and meaning in addictions and obsessions – none of which can be public without being contested and colonized. You can’t even squeeze a blackhead without some corporation trying to make it go viral. Women will bound over the Adam’s Rip No Internal Life Pink Glamour Bollocks only to arrive at the Eat Sleep Buy Die Who Cares Sign This Contract Knackers Yard.
Fashion sees two ways out:
The Old Heroic Pattern – which is hard. It involves discipline, clarity, guilt and tenacity. It’s a competitive fight for the most resources. It’s more fun to watch than experience.
And – The Revolution.
The Revolution is dead to me for many reasons.
Violence to end all violence is outright bull. Who fights for Eternal Stagnation? Who gets into a pattern of aggression and division and then turns into a sappy co-operator? How can anyone be sure they’ll stay in the Us & Good category – instead of being hounded into the Them & Evil category. I was born into the Evil and Them category and I’m quite nice unless you feed me after midnight.
I was born a suburban Rangers fan. Suburbs are great. You can be anything and no one gives a damn unless your hedge grows too high. But Glasgow will have none of it. Glasgow doesn’t care about your hedge – it just cares what side of it you’re on. And the rest of sodding Scotland – rather than helping a bitch out – snootily compounds it.
Rangers is protestant and right-wing, Celtic is catholic and left-wing; right-wing is trying to hold on to something, left-wing is trying to get something – there’s no inherent vice or virtue in either – but that doesn’t stop the flashing blades of stigma and praise from jabbing relentlessly at misfits to force us to switch teams, or switch vote or dwell in the twilight zone of other people’s version of our reality. They do it to make alliances easy – to get a clear run at their pet target – even though their pet target keeps changing to keep up with secularism and the divide making no sense outside of Northern Ireland. So they can brag and bark in the pub and get laughs and agreement. And we resist because human attachments are stronger than rhetoric and anyway – we – all of us who do not fit neatly on one side or other of the fence – f-king despise the pub bores. I’d rather be burned at the stake than concede one inch to those lazy, whinny, psychopaths (I say this with affection).
My third objection makes a fool of my loyalty to the groups I grew up with. I believe in verifiable facts. However much our shared reality depends on constructs – money, laws, a living faith – we still breath, we still die – it’s still true. But I’ve been infected with postmodernism. I know we need a value system. I know it’s fake. I can’t decide which fake value system – or interlocking set of value systems – best serves our needs and wants. Every liberation movement seems to lead to shopping; I’d never make a subsistence farmer. I keep being Oppositional to the Oppositional Zeitgeist and the actual Zeigeist is nightmarish wallpaper to me. A bloody awful online slipstream of thwarted ambitions and lying avatars. A pointless Ponzi scheme we pay into in selfies and scandals.
So really – I fail at polemic – because I’m not really a polemicist.
I’m a nihilistic debunker with separation anxiety.