Nature Study: An Anthropocentric Mirror


I have written elsewhere about how we people in the present age largely see the natural world solely as a resource; a utility, a storehouse to be tapped on demand. Whether we view it from a point of view as tourists of exotic savannahs and rainforests; or as food for consumption; as entertainment; as potential nuisance and harm; as materials for providing goods and services in general; the case with the natural world it is still the that ‘Everything that lives and moves about will be food for you.’ but in a way almost a burlesque of the Biblical dispensation.

Robert Burns wrote to his tiny subject in his celebrated poem; ‘To a Mouse’:

‘I’m truly sorry man’s dominion
            Has broken nature’s social union’

And this topic is my theme in this piece today.

Firstly I want to look at wildlife programmes on TV and radio; and at how these are being presented and so perhaps get to the bottom of what presuppositions are held in common between audiences and presenters of them.

Of course, as one would expect, especially from biologists and persons who work with animals, and particularly with wild animals, Darwin’s theories, as these have developed since he wrote them, are high on the list of presuppositions of wildlife presentations. It is presumed always that in the wild life is hard and nature rigorously, even harshly, is ever in action sorting wheat from chaff and winners from losers. No sense that ‘every dog has its day’ or that it might sometimes be ‘summertime and the living is easy’. Alongside this presumption are the distant and inaccessible places, the remote and most inhospitable parts of the world, inimical to human life, which are those most favoured by the programme makers. So that, in contrast with our plushly-furnished living rooms, the ambience is stark and our own comforts and ease are thus felt as being accentuated. Why is this?

A meadow of flowers in late spring is not a subject for television; it pulls in few audiences; nothing moves or preys, nothing is at immediate risk or facing hardships.  ‘The uncertain glory of an April day’ is pretty tame stuff in our mental worlds.  I have written elsewhere about the need to thrill and to captivate audiences with fast hectic and risk-taking action which appears to be the essential one thing needful for ‘good’ television in the present age.  Thrillers, spies, cliff-hangers, whodunits, and such, are all the fare which is the order of the day.  Ever, of course, upping-the-ante, turning the screw, ratcheting up that extra notch of sensation and tension, thrill and shock.  This of course applies to wildlife programmes every bit as much as to fiction (and factual) TV – but there is more than only this here.

The idea of the natural world as at best indifferent, and for the most part hostile to human life and values; that all out there is ‘red in tooth and claw’ and thereabouts only the fittest survive; all this partakes of our general outlooks as well as partaking of Darwinism and of a commonplace romanticism being applied to Darwin.

There thus exists a large and precipitous divide opened up, between our understandings of nature, and our understandings of our own contemporary ways of life. Nature is a spectacle for us; a place we look upon as being elsewhere, almost to the point of it seeming to us to be alien to our own selves and our societies.  A disconnect exists.  It is akin to the same disconnect many of us bear in our apprehensions about the nature and sources of our food, of our medicines and medical treatments, of our deaths, of our human fellows in other places than those with which we are familiar – as if instead of TV bringing the world into our homes it has instead brought a means to see the world and remain untouched by the world it is showing to us.

And not just TV but our grocery shopping, our shopping for clothes, and our general economic setup whereby we are wholly removed from the fact of resourcing, manufacture and preparation of all the things which current lives seem to feel are required necessities for living.  Even the maintenance and repair of aeroplanes, train engines and ships; all happen ‘behind closed doors’ just as death and ritual burial happens ever elsewhere than in our ken or our fields of activity and presence.  At a service we see a boxed up corpse sent into instant incineration or buried; a great cosmetic operation has been performed on the contents beforehand so as to dress nicely the window of death.  We see only flowers and tears; sweet things but nothing blatantly and factually material concerning the demise.  The very thought of being confronted with such is unseemly to many minds and eyes ears and noses; but how far this is a reflection upon us rather than upon the fact of death and its dreadfulness is a moot question indeed.

In the same way we kill our meats in abattoirs again on the other side of a closed door from meat’s consumers.  There are few scenic shows on abattoirs on TV and on the processes by which we get our meats as it comes to us from our butcher’s shop or supermarket. Like all foods it is for the most part wrapped in polythene, possibly vacuum packed or packed in a sterile or irradiated atmosphere; no chance of a human hand having touched it since it was slaughtered – yet God knows what antibiotics and other drugs have been pumped into the animal it came from whilst it was alive and into the meat itself once the animal has been killed?  Ah, but this is all good antiseptic stuff being pumped in and it is all for our goods, our healths our wellbeings.  Drugs and chemicals, packaging and presentation of meat and other goods is not, is never done, for the sake of marketing or for the sake of offering farmers and others better yields and so greater profits? God forbid!  And of course when all this happens behind closed doors we are spared from the nasty and even distressing scenes because of the care and consideration of the abattoir managers and of the manufactures of other goods; who have only our finer feelings at heart. Of course we can trust them. Of course there are not less noble reasons why we do not see, are not easily able to see or to keep tabs on what goes on behind these doors. God forbid!

I am not suggesting anything unlawful or against regulations and regulatory bodies goes on thereabouts; what I am suggesting is that what goes on even though lawful is often felt by those with the say to be done better without sight of and without a knowledge of the actual factual processes, being encouraged to a general public.

Thus we have a benevolent consumerism, benevolent as much as, if not more, towards producers and towards the cult of entrepreneurship than towards the consumer, who is just a piece in the puzzle of the quest of wealth, All is backed to the hilt by government, and again we are felt best served to be removed alienated from production of near all consumer goods.

The emphasis of wildlife programmes is to reinforce the feeling that home is not like that; that home is a place where one need not keep oneself fit to be able to survive; home is a cosy insulated, kapok-lined safe-nest. Nature is other; is antagonistic to life; it is not human or soft and gentle, like those soapflakes which one is warned on the packet not to get in one’s eyes or to leave open near children.

This cosy-home feeling is extensible for many of us to out of doors and to social ‘networking’ in general. The close and insular safety and assurance of a personal ‘network’ wherein one gets involved in and embroiled with fruitless tete-a-tetes which signify little except that little is happening or else registering in the minds of their participants.

Visibly, in manifold ways, it is as plain as the nose on one’s face that our society, it seems to me deliberately, is being closed down from news and understanding, and from awareness of the basic material conditions of life and living. These basic material conditions are not necessarily hostile, perhaps rarely so, nor even often indifferent – we have bread to eat and ale to drink – but whilst we are directed to be focused on buying and selling, on games and on sports and leisure, and on producing and making money; we are in no way able to turn our attentions to more foundational things, such as quo bono from all this hive of hectic activity we name in the present to be our liberal way of life?

It appears to me to be very likely that the mass of people, and myself too, I say, I am just another guy, no-one special, we are being herded and managed like the flocks of sheep and the corrals of beef; which we are not encouraged to access because these things are being managed behind blinds and shutters.  This is not so much the result of a conscious conspiracy as  it is a consequence of a cartel of unwritten, perhaps unacknowledged, agreement on an ethos acquiesced in by what might be called – remembering that scum as well as cream rises to the top – the big entrepreneurial few.

These are those who claim for themselves a title of ‘opinion-former’ and who are contented and self-assured enough to feel that they have the nous and the means and the right and the opportunity to say what goes and how things should be run and set in  order.

Whoever is there amongst us, except the fortunate few who maybe have seen in Christ (or perhaps elsewhere?) another and far better way; who is not the person to capitalise (the word itself gives the game away) on their position were they to be happily translated into such a high and hot seat at a United Nations of predation that is Capitalism?  And if this is true, and I fear it is, then are we to expect those who have catapulted themselves into that stratosphere of Capital to become plaster saints and so to keep a weather-eye out for us rather than to seek out every opportunity for themselves and for their own advancements?

Thus, this is the rationale behind this Troupe of Thieves and Robbers; for them to promote to us their own ethos of ‘every man for himself and the weakest goes to the wall’; and yet be full aware that this ethos of theirs is a divide and rule policy of theirs for their managing of the many; and likewise another management policy is the overwhelming undiluted feelgood factor which is ubiquitously promoted in their consumerism, TV and movie shows, advertising, entertainment, sports, and Uncle Tom Cobbly and all; which for most of us comprises a life. All this is merely window-dressing, herding and flocking, diversion and distraction, a keeping of us ‘happy’ whilst they continue to ransack the planet so as to amass yet more wealth and grandiose power (dreams).  No wonder we have the term ‘midlife crisis’; a time when people look forward and take stock and draw a blank about what life might really be about.

We find ourselves at a loss in a way similar to the gorgeous ladies and fine gentlemen in Robert Browning’s poem ‘A Toccata of Galuppi’s’:

‘As for Venice and her people, merely born to bloom and drop, 
Here on earth they bore their fruitage, mirth and folly were the crop: 
What of soul was left, I wonder, when the kissing had to stop?”

As for nature and that part of the natural world we refer to as ‘the wild’; and as for the painted hostility of nature to its creatures and vegetations; the supposed stark harshness and difficulty of surviving in the wild and so on; the fact remains that creatures do reproduce successfully ‘after their kind’ and that there is – just as there is in our own lives – very often a petulant and abandoned period of early youth, followed by a full summer of light and heat with a graceful autumnal winding down before the dark days come in. This is the way with most of nature; and nature provides for its creation just as it provides for us – even though oftentimes we are not well-sighted sufficiently to appreciate that this is the bedrock we remain reliant on and subsistent upon.

Thus under a belief that offence will be given to others of other religions which do not have such a celebration, Harvest Festival is no longer enjoyed as a Thanksgiving to God in many British schools.  I am astonished that there might be religions which have no awareness of the bounty of Providence towards men and women, but this is the excuse given – in truth.  The fact might be more likely that Harvest Festival has dwindled because our general awareness and appreciation of nature as bountiful; and of our reliance upon it being so; has similarly dwindled.  And along with such a loss of realisation of these connections to whereabouts some of our most important roots lie,  has come too a concomitant loss in quality of life.  Thus we have lives centred on trivia and on marketed leisure; on gossip and on ‘beat your neighbour at his own game’ and on a whole raft of infills and makeshifts which have supplanted an appreciation for a life of gratitude and praise towards the provider of all good thing to us – in whichever shape or form one might wish to try to understand or grasp the idea of such an entity.

I feel that I am rowing against the current and that the wind is not behind me; I am very much aware that I come across to many as antiquated and as ‘living in the past’ and maybe perhaps as ‘unable to accept the fact’ of post modern understanding and post this and that.  Yet I have read post modernist works and many I have enjoyed and found useful to me in clearing my mind on issues and thoughts.  I listen now and then to highbrow-type shows on radio mostly; maybe I read a blog or two weekly also; and I feel I could give a fair account of what the current orthodox intellectual position is -for British intellectuals anyway.

My heart is however firmly with the divines of the Reformation and the two hundred years that followed it in Britain; the time in which the King James Bible was made and The Westminster Divines did their works; when the great Puritans lived and some of them went to found what was to become the USA; this was I believe a Golden Age for religious thought and endeavour; and one which had large and yet-enduring political consequences.

I feel very much that we have, during the past two hundred years, junked the baby, particularly with Christmas hard approaching, I may say – the Christ child – with the bathwater when we emptied the waste away.

As a result our horizons far from having become broader and more exciting – for all that science and technology has delivered to us – have narrowed severely and our freedoms and our awarenesses are constrained and delimited abruptly: curtailed, compared to the horizons available and availed of by persons over much of 2000 plus, maybe 6000 plus, years of history.

Let me give you an instance of this ironic and sad state of affairs.  Copernicus and Galileo were penalised and persecuted because they each saw clearly that man is not the centre of things and earth not in the centre astronomically-speaking – and this clear-sightedness posed a great threat to the authority and continuance of the Church.  The fear of the Church was that people just might start ‘going their own way – like sheep’ and drifting away from the Church itself.  This fear was varnished over and presented in a form saying that Galileo and Copernicus were anathema and even antichrist; that they were mistaken and wrong. Either way they had to be silenced if this was at all possible.  In order for the Church to remain with a firm foot in the door of every person’s house men had to remain at the centre of things astronomically as well as in all other things.  The anthropologists term this conceptual centring of mankind ‘anthropocentrism’.

Galileo is a folk hero these days; he is one of the exemplary justifications for our science and its achievements. A role model.  It is due to him and his like, so the story goes, than men and women became able to move away from anthropocentrism and so ‘move on’ and become set free in mind to ‘boldly go where no man has gone before’ etc etc. OK accepted – all good.

I was hearing a term used yet again last evening on a show named ‘Freethinking’ on BBC Radio 3 when a pundit spoke of an ‘anthropocene’ age, and even more pretentiously of an era presumed yet to be and named by men and women as the ‘post-anthropocene’.  These terms I assume are ones inspired by the geological classification of aeons and eras of ancient prehistory right up to our present time which is normally called the Quaternary Age.  The terms mean: firstly ‘anthropocene’ means ‘the age of man’ of his presence and dominance on earth; and secondly ‘post-anthropocene’ is that putative age to be wherein no human beings have survived and the species homo-sapiens is extinct.

Here we have the age in which we are living defined and delimited by it being ‘the age of men and of their domination of the earth’: I do not think the medieval Church could have put better its own view of life. Further, the gall with which the purveyors of these terms have presumed that there is without doubt to be an age in which humans have died out and become a species extinct, is stupendously audacious in its presumption and hubris.  Here we have displayed one of the crucial maladies which define our age, the age of man (sic); and this is our self-satisfaction and complacency, our racing certainty that we are dead right; so that I might say as Job says to his persecutors: ‘I see that you are the people and that wisdom with die with you.’

Where is our modesty; our humbleness, our respect for nature and for the progression of time to do as it pleases rather than us backing that horse which comes in when we shall all expire?  It is indeed the great arrogance of the Church all over again; only with a fixated belief that our science and technology and our human brainpower combined cannot be matched or prevented in any way – we know we are right.

It is little wonder we have little charity towards those in the world drinking dirty polluted water; and eating husks and scavenged roots, who live on a few cents diet a day in no sort of house or home we should consider suitable. The people who are little better of than slaves and working in atrocious conditions which make our precious concerns for health and safety and for 24/7 A&E (Emergency Room) services look like Paradise on earth.  We have so weak an association of empathy and sympathy with such persons not because ‘that was in another country and besides the wench is dead’ but because our own horizons are so curtailed and stunted. We do not ‘live’ their suffering alongside with them and inside us as we see and we hear of their travails; we are unable to relate because ours is a world, a society, wherein so much has been insulated from us for our comforts and so much shoved under the carpets for us for our peace of mind:  And for the pockets of the entrepreneurial few to bulge yet bigger.

            ‘I am half-sick of shadows said
            The Lady of Shallot’

Rather than us biting the bullet and taking the plunge and testing the water or sucking and seeing for ourselves we are contented, and even so blasé as not to care sufficiently to become  contented with, going out there and seeing for ourselves and feeling for ourselves the misery of so many people’s lives in these awful  places. And also and marvellously so – how such afflicted people can be hospitable and smile and be welcoming and pleasant and overboard with a rush of overflowing loveliness to the stranger from the wealthy place who has dropped into see them and their ways of life.

My friend went to East Africa in the noughties. He was in his early forties and he went out with a team to build a clinic for people there. Noble enough. He was astonished, shocked and appalled at what he found when he arrived in the village – he had never conceived such deprivation could exist and yet human lives could bear it and stay functioning and functional.   He was a graduate. He was not a recluse or a wallflower – he was a ‘networker’ and still is; and I would say at least compared to me a dynamic person. One who kept himself bang up to date on what concerned or interested him.

Yet here he was as if he had flown not to the sub Sahara but to Neptune or Pluto and found undiscovered unimagined life existent there.  I wondered where he had been when the TV had posted up so blatantly such environments across the nation as it is wont to do now and then?  I am no traveller; but many many persons here in UK are so very very embedded, and inured to a comfortable easy life, that such pictures of factual horror just do not sink-in for them as being the reality in certain parts of the world.  Our softness of life has made us insensitive.  Dylan puts it less kindly and sings:
‘Your corrupt ways have finally made you blind’

 Just as the daily doses of horror during the Vietnam years and the daily doses of horror in the post Iraq war 2 years as promoted daily by TV and radio news and newsreel; just as much of it just passed many of us by as being ‘not our back yards’, so it is with these horrors of suffering around the globe when we become exposed to reportage of them – although this said many people do really yet remain guilt stricken here about Iraq.

Just as we find hard our connecting back with nature and with its basis for all life including our own human lives; so we find it equally hard to connect across the sea to foreign peoples, who are yet humans like us, and who are trapped in lives of such deplorable squalor. Much more and rather we would as easily find it in our hearts to complain bitterly and show intemperate anger at our Foreign Aid budgets being ‘too high’ and at our taxes and other dues being outrageous; at our trains being late and the flight to southern Spain or to Orlando being delayed.  Sadly too many of us don’t know we are born – as the saying goes.

King Lear, who lived in a royal palace all his eighty plus years before he found himself cast out and wildly maddened by the treatment that his usurping daughters dished out to him; he says when he bumps into a poor mad beggar who like Lear is also battling with and suffering in the great stormy weather going on around the dramatic action:

“Poor naked wretches, whereso’er you are,
That bide the pelting of this pitiless storm,
How shall your houseless heads and unfed sides,
Your looped and windowed raggedness, defend you
From seasons such as these? Oh, I have ta’en
Too little care of this! Take physic, pomp.
Expose thyself to feel what wretches feel,
That thou mayst shake the superflux to them
And show the heavens more just.”

 It took Lear eighty plus years – but he got there eventually – thus there remains hope for us.


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Nature not Good Enough?

One sees in shops here sometimes grown flowers in bunches which have been dyed.  Usually has been added a Day-Glo radioactive-type blaze of pink or purple, or green or yellow.  One occasionally sees also semi-precious stones for sale which also somehow have been tinted likewise into outlandish colours which are almost luminous.  Sometimes these are sold in jewellery; necklaces, bracelets.

And I guess many of us have experienced an upgrade or a refurbishment, or as they are termed makeovers, which have destroyed altogether what we once felt was a charming and pleasant, even an unpretentious original.  I have seen beautiful solid wood panelling and furniture junked and replaced by melamine or wood veneer faced chipboard sheeting or desks.

There are two issues here; and both are united by a question of taste.

The first issue is; why might we want to ‘improve on’ nature by dyeing gemstones and flowers in this way? The second issue is: why should we want to replace items serviceable and pleasant in themselves, with items cosmetically and superficially ‘new’ but made using inferior materials of a shabby quality?

Investigation of these issues goes to the heart of the way we live now, and to our fetish for ‘keeping up to date’ and so turning around one’s décor and goods, buildings and appliances, regularly as a matter of course.

Of course, it is a commonplace to say that in all of previous history before the consumer boom of the late 20th century into the present, there has been for most people, other than for kings and potentates and the like, no way for them to have privilege and means and power to be able to happily turnover regularly series of material items the like of which we surround ourselves with like candies.

This fetish is for us even yet deeply tied in with the Western world’s 19 century idea of ‘progress’, an idea which many, maybe most, people today, and via lip-service, will be likely to deprecate as ‘having had its day’; but yet by their actions and aspirations many, if not most, people remain convinced  (convicted) of and expectant of ‘progress’ to deliver for them yet; and tied in with this gross misalignment of thought and deeds with actuality, is the all-pervasive and spouting-this-propaganda-ethos and business model of consumerism.

Consumerism needs these ideas of ‘progress’ and ‘improvement’ and of ‘aspiration’ and ‘expectation’ – for them to continue to thrive in the commoners minds of its consumer publics, so that the goods and services which it proliferates to a ludicrous and wholly overproduced, wastrel, extent; and which comprise its ‘bread and butter’ and so has become its tenet; consumerism needs these things and attitudes and so consumerism does everything it can to encourage and promote them and their continuance in our minds.

But let’s not keep to ‘consumerism’ in the abstract; but bring it into the palpable world and say bluntly that Company Boards, Company Managers, and eager Executives, along with the men (and sometimes women) in government whose job they believe is to stimulate and foster ‘the economy’; all these persons are single-eyed and focussed upon propounding these expedient and contrived consumerist ethics so as to keep ordinary people, who are their marketplaces, convinced of the necessity of buying and consuming in a never ending accelerating jamboree of shopping.

In this light dyed flowers and gemstones, the pulling down of perfectly serviceable buildings and a trashing of very useful goods in their untold millions day after day; are all a part of this consumerist engineered and propounded ethos of ‘constant novelty’ and of ‘constant ‘renewal’ of material goods and of services.  For instance, the clothing fashion industry likewise is on the same long express train heading no-one knows where or for how long is the journey; but yet anyone with some prescience carries a reasonable foreboding along with the more discerning passengers; that the destination will not be as planned and hoped for but yet over the ravine and smash into the canyon below.

Accompanying this ‘bandwagon’ consumerist train to nowhere is its effect of vitiating the ordinary person’s personal taste, and also consumerism is perverting artistic taste too.  Not only is the quality of goods which are being sold in mass numbers necessarily so of much poorer value, worth and quality than they had been before the eras of consumerism; consumerist goods have to be necessarily so, in order for the marketplace to provide en mass so much to so many people. And not only this but these shoddy goods are also often generally less durable, less attractive, bulkier and less useful than those durable items which have been and continue to be junked by us unnecessarily in their millions so as to make way for the next tranche of gewgaws and knickknacks in our homes. Consumerist taste thus becomes almost wholly a matter of fashion, of what goods and services are ‘in’ and of what goods and services are ‘out’.  Consumerist taste thus becomes a social following and no longer bears any standard independent in much higher degree of the times and the pressures of contemporary events.

Thus we as consumers – and our goods and services – and our minds – are constantly being kept moving – not in any natural progression stimulated by and inspired by any consideration, or self-reflection or by good conversation with discerning acquaintance, but like a big store’s escalator carries its shoppers without effort on their parts and almost unnoticed by them – and as satirised by the makers of Zombie movies.  Our thoughts are moved and managed by these escalators of the guys and women who sit in boardrooms and at executive meetings planning carefully and deliberately how to mange and direct our minds.

The obvious tools in their bags for doing this mind manipulation are advertising, hype, discounting, ‘giving free gifts’, hire purchase arrangements; no-interest deals; bundles; seasonal sales; bulk buys; after-sales offers and services; pay later deals; etc; but yet all of this fabulous armoury of persuasion for you to buy is superseded by and subordinate in their minds, in their plans, and in their accounting, to their bottom lines of bringing in cash in ever-greater quantities; of expanding the Company ever a bit more day by day year by year; increasing their personal and the company’s domain of power and influence, their range of items provided, the number and size of their offices and factories and centres across the world, ever-better brokered tax deals with governments; ever smarter trade deals with governments; and so on.

These guys and their companies are engaged in empire-building – to an indefinite extension – the sky’s their limit – and to embracing the power and kudos which success in empire-building brings to them as people – success in the eyes of those of us who remain captive and enamoured of, entangled within their webs and clutches.  And so these guys seeking after empires just like their consumer flocks are also on a train going who-knows-where – none of them know where – but the expectation and aspiration is always the same and is always precluded to be more product, more services, more money etc and ever the next innovation, trend, manipulation of and distortion of taste.

But of course, in the material world engines like this consumerist badboy require fuel and use up energy, and fuel and energy are finite resources; thus there will indubitably come a time when the train they are on has to halt or will break down; or even smashes; a time when there is no more fuel and no more track and no more worn-out engine; nor parts or replacements to be had.  The bottom line for us all is that everybody aspiring to live like a billionaire may well be the ruin and destruction of what might easily have been and yet be instead; modest stable adequate living conditions for us all.

And this continual feeding of the flames of the engine’s boiler is another means by which the runaway train of consumerism is kept at full tilt; but it entails an approach to its consumers which aims (falsely and lyingly) to pamper and cosset we consumers’ misguided senses of being individuals and so of us being each one unique.

How often do we hear come-ons like ‘tailored especially for you’ or ‘with you in mind’ and so much low-grade flattery and lies attempting to ‘butter-up’ the person, the consumer, by telling her/him s/he is so special and so important; when the main aim of the seller and advertiser is to sell as much of a standard item of uniform stock as possible to a great mass of persons who are indistinguishable individually by the indifferent lack of attention in the sellers’

The actual product or service once sold to and received by a consumer is commonly without any particular individuation as a product or service or in its terms and conditions of sale. I hope the cynical irony set around these sellers and traders and their promise the earth methods is not lost on you reading this?

In our liberal-democratic societies there is a direct clash when the fixed need for mass production of standard goods and services so as to provide for us teeming multitudes, goes wholly contrary to our ‘liberal myths’ of ‘individuality’ and ‘personal freedom’. Individuality and personal freedom for all!  Goods and services are instead ‘wrapped-up’ and marketed as ‘tailored to the individual purchaser’ – because you’re worth it – but it’s a mass market product delivered nonetheless; unless you have billions of $ or £ in which case you are able to command bespoke items for real. As they say – money talks – and then everything is for sale.

The studied cultivation of and the deceit essentially involved in procuring mass market customers are not recognised as being unlawful or unethical by government advertising standards boards and their like, who are paid to regulate advertising. These tropes and wheezes are recognised instead as being all in the spirit of marketing and so would be buyers are recited that old legal dictum ‘caveat emptor’; and thus consumers are considered to be merely ‘fair game’.

Likewise the terms of employment for most people in the ‘liberal democracies’ are onerous. One is ‘sold’ for 8 or so hours per day to one’s employer so as to do his/her will during that time. Literally one’s time is not one’s own.  The ‘freedom of choice’ cherished and propagated as a cardinal liberal value in our societies is in fact a pretty hollow trinket when employment and its conditions, which occupies up to half one’s waking lifetime, are taken into account when looked at in regard to most working persons’ lives.

Like the media and news magazines, the marketing system by their contents and approaches are not offering a case of what you see is what you get, or offering to tell it to people like it is. Both media and marketing, each has its angles and its needs to fulfil – quotas of customers and  of listeners/readers/viewers; the beating off of the competition; the serving of its political masters;  the keeping the people sweet and well-disposed  – or else making them ill-disposed in regard to certain ‘stock’ shibboleths and constructed ‘enemies’.

Once the angle has been baited and has then hooked the consumers of these media and marketplace products, often, unless the competition doing it better, these anglers will ditch you leaving their product/service/news in your hands and your money safely with their banks; and let you sink or swim as regards after-sales, warrantees, or consequences. With goods this is especially the case with frequently replaced/bought smaller items like batteries, and razors, toiletries and clothes and so on – if the produces of them can get away with dumping you without penalties kicking in for them further down the road and after some fashion.

Just as most of us then are ‘wage slaves’ working to provide and manufacture the goods and services which we are also badgered and convinced into consuming; and just as we as being consumers are being offered mass-market products via marketing methods which proclaim ‘mutton dressed up as lamb’; and just as our individuality though seductively appealed to in the come-ons before sale; and just as there is all this going on, there is yet also the fact of a cynical mocking of us by these industries and their pursuits because they know truly what are our actual standings with them, the providers of goods/services;  and they know also the proper tawdry quality of the actual goods/services they make available and with which we inevitably end up.

But the bandwagon must keep rolling because our participation is what is required to keep the profits rolling in for the people and companies who dupe us in these manners; thus we are building up further their fortunes and empires at our expense, and by our work for them; in short – we have become their ‘canon-fodder’ – their ‘pet rabbits’; and whilst we are under the illusions they like to foster in us, we are transfixed ‘in their headlights’ and cannot see a way beyond or out of their paths.

And thus novelty and new products, upgrades, ‘better’ and ‘different’ things are all largely hype and propaganda; smokes and mirrors; piss and wind; and in fact very few of them are actual radical new directions; even though each of them from the most banal to the most cunningly concealed sleight is labelled in the ads that present them as ‘game changers’ – just as every movie and every book published is now guaranteed utterly to ‘change your life’.

By these hollow claims they hook us in until the scales are lifted from our eyes about a certain product or service we bought; so that we see that it is ‘not what it is cracked up to be’ by any means; and whereupon its providers are already several steps ahead of us, and always at the ready with marketing (racketeering) the next ‘Big Thing’ and the newest ‘game changer’ so as to sucker us, suck us in, yet again with these.

Whilst we are fed the aspirations and the expectations the hype and the glamour ubiquitously propagated in our societies by the consumerist model of commerce; and whilst we are happy to fall into line behind such peddled pipe dreams; all of which are of great of greatest convenience to their purveyors’ own welfares and wealth; and whilst we do not awaken, shake ourselves, and reject these futures planned and orchestrated for us by these entrepreneurial guys and their empires; and whilst we are unable, unwilling, to accept different aspirations and expectations being ones which can be delivered according to their promise; until these things occur we are their puppets and they will make us dance for them all day at their will.

Thus the shopping/recreation cultural hype; the cult of the celebrity TV entrepreneur; the fabricated glamours around sports and sportsmen and (very much less so yet) women; the whole adoration of money, of the rich and of the antics the rich get up to and get away with – which a poorer person would be jailed for and/ ostracised from society for. Our unlucky avid consumption of these provided soporifics. Our being offered as our mentors, our role models, our aspirational guides, the likes of the Dysons and the Saatchis, the Murdochs and the Brookes’; the rude arrogant Sugars and the smiling damned villain Cowells – are they any more or less than supreme egoists cultivating a megalomaniac presumption?

Don’t get me wrong – there’s no envy, no sour grapes in me – only outraged anger at the way the people are the marionettes of these types, and thus are gaily jolted on strings according to their biddings; to their self-interests; to their calculated and inculcated cunnings and manipulations.  They would say and many of their fans would nod their heads in an agreement of assent; that they are ‘giving the people what they want’.   Just like Henry Ford offered a ‘car in any colour you like as long as it’s black’.  They hold the sole reins on what is provided as our fodder and nosebags– and they lack any aesthetic discretion and fineness of judgement to be heard as any true arbiters of taste – and so it is we get dished up to us from them pie and mash with thin sour liquor but on the menu they provide to us it is labelled as being turtle soup and venison.

I have written elsewhere about this LCD culture; wherein the Lowest Common Denominator is considered – by these self–proclaimed, self-worshipping, knowers of the people’s will  – to be the best thing to offer us as the surest money-spinner for them every time – thus there is precious little attempt by them to raise the game in people’s tastes – on the contrary – the game is to drag into the fold the most coarse and least considerate of people and on the way whilst doing so they do not care that they coarsen and make inconsiderate those who come to them by chance by the way. Thus eventually there is nothing, no depravity or ugliness offered and displayed, sold or made or marketed, which might be considered beyond the pale – if the market can bear it, it is a racing certainty to be made and sold – and so it is that guys like Trump and Farage and Johnson are able to become political celebrities – a new category of offense – and thereby they become would-be governors of the ridiculously hyped and misnamed ‘free world’

No we don’t have Gulags and Pogroms; Poll Pots and Papa Docs; Kim Sung Ils and Mugabes; the world is full of them isn’t it? – but our tyrants and the tyrannies they lord it over are ‘softly-softly’ ones – what George Orwell called half-humorously, half- satirically, a use of ‘the iron fist in the velvet glove’.

Ours is a less blatant form of coercion, of enslavement; but for all that all the more insidious – William Blake wrote of it in his times, and during its days of inception and rise to dominance, as it fitting us up with ‘mind-forged-manacles’.  And what better enslavement is there from the point of view of our keepers than one which to the typically enslaved person is invisible because unobserved by them: and what more hateful and desperate case for such unobserving slaves than such an enslavement and not knowing it?

Just a short coda to finish with: You readers may not go with me on this – but what I am going to finish off with is the most important thing in the universe – without any exception or any exaggeration.  Here it is:

Jesus called them [his disciples] to him, and saith unto them, Ye know that they which are accounted to rule over the Gentiles exercise lordship over them; and their great ones exercise authority upon them.  But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister:  And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all.  For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many

I say; Amen; Amen.


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