Proles

If there is hope, it must lie with the Proles.

1984. George Orwell.

This thought came back to me today, fitting in both a wider and a narrower, smaller sense.

In the novel, Winston writes it down in his diary; the omniscient, omnipotent, omnipresent power of the Party and Big Brother cannot, knowingly, be fought against from within. The power to overthrow a system must be from without. Where does this thought take me?

The political side of the thought can take a back seat for now; give it some Haribo, a large Coke, stick Star Wars on and it will be a happy chappy until I pay it more attention.

The personal side.

The proletariat are the downtrodden, in the novel, they are seen as simple people who are controlled, by the crumbs that the Party throws at it: the literature section, the songs created and the Lottery. Moving swiftly from that thought. Importantly, the proles do not believe they are being controlled, of course, there is the fracas in the pub about the lottery numbers; aside from that, they go about their lives in seemingly blissful ignorance of the power of the machine that is above them. Reminiscent of a subterranean metaphor there. The base instincts are geared towards survival, while the higher brain and moral functions keep them in check, they are determined and will test the boundaries.

Take hunger for example: base instinct tells brain (adopt caveman growl and grunt): hungry, must eat. In the primal sense: go out, hunt food, eat. Rather than going out with spear to hunt rabbit or some other creature, we turn to the fridge, or cupboard to eat. The higher brain instinct is guided by learning: fat intake, salt content, best before date on packaging, manufacturer and its ethical stand point. All of those things don’t matter as long as what we eat is food. Media tells us all sorts of things: fat is bad, too much salt, too many carbohydrates, eat five-a-day, our higher brain function takes all that in and taints the primal need to eat. Point: homeless guys on the street may exist on fast food or sandwiches bought by kind passers by, does the person care that junk food does not represent a balanced diet? What matters to that person is that there is food. A primal urge satisfied.

When it rains, how many people do you see taking shelter under some ledge of a building? It’s not great shelter, it probably doesn’t keep the rain at bay and won’t stop a wind blasting in, but it’s shelter. A primal urge to take shelter; keep ourselves warm and dry, a building ledge, bus shelter or shop doorway won’t keep us warm. Higher instincts want to improve our shelter; decorate. We spend money on soft furnishings, rearranging furniture, all to make our home more comfortable.

In my mind, we keep these primal instincts, these proletarian thoughts, subdued; they serve a purpose when we need them, but otherwise, we think we are better than them. We have intelligence, we have choice, we have individuality. Those base actions make us part of a herd, a collective.

Listening to those urges, that level of primality, can we take back elements of the higher functions? Is there a freedom to be had by embracing them. The sad thing is, using the Orwellian analogy, our higher functions trap us. Winston is seduced by the idea of somewhere away from the watching eye of the telescreen, a place he can go and be free.

Thanks for reading.

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Direction

A few days ago, I was agitated. Not a mental agitation, a physical one; I get them every so often, the worst kind is where I want to walk. It doesn’t matter where to, I cannot stay in the same place. Put paranoia in the mix, too. If I stay in one place, people look at me; if I keep moving, I can blend in.

On those occasions when it takes over, it sucks not being able to drive. Although, if I did, I’d probably end up in a different part of the country without realising it. Ok, that sounds a little far fetched. I have to walk to somewhere, driving would be the same. Driving may be worse, as anxiety takes over and I have to know how to get back. These days, sat nav is everywhere; thank jeebus for google maps! I’ve had to declare on all medical assessments that if I am going somewhere unfamiliar, I need someone with me.

Standing in a place I don’t know, or even somewhere I know and I get a little disoriented, panic sets in. Chances are, if you’re reading this, I don’t need to go into detail. I need someone with me to take me through a few simple steps, telling me that it’s ok and we can get back to familiar territory with ease. It can happen if I’m coming home on the bus in the dark; one slip in concentration and I unsettle myself.

Where’s that second star?

Laugh

Creativity is coming back to me, slowly, it’s getting there. I’ve turned attention back to the pre-NaNoWriMo project, working on the file that has the astoundingly original title ‘Village First Section’. Answers on a postcard or the back of a sealed envelope.

Re-reading the section was, interesting. Yes, read that with a hand on your chin and a slow nod. Even the redraft feels cumbersome, I’ve stripped bits out. I’m fairly sure this was in previous.

I’ve not been sleeping well of late. A couple of nights ago, I had three hours; woke at half-two, by three I’d given up and went downstairs. A day or so later, it was broken in half to three-quarter hour bouts. I got through three or four episodes of ‘Party‘ in the night. If you’ve not heard it, give it a go! Try it, you might like it.

Tomorrow is the weekly visit to GP, it’s a review of the quetiapine and possible move to a different drug. Also: I’ve got something strange on my hand. All joking done, it’s on the palm. Yes. Laugh. It looks like it could be a blister, but how it got there is beyond me!

Progress and routine

As the year begins to yawn itself into a state of waking, routine is setting in. TLM returns to his routine this week, I am able to get back to mine. After a week of not knowing what day it is, routine is a much needed and welcomed friend. The bubble of the festive season has burst and we have survived.

Today, I was able to settle down to writing. I know it is early days of getting back into the routine, I was able to concentrate enough to get a decent amount done on a first day back “at work”. One prevailing thought today was: did I write this, it’s horrendous. Well, maybe not so horrendous but it was so steeped in me trying to be clever, saying more than I had to, saying what I wanted to say in such an inflated way. Does the reader need beating over the head with the point that the pub is a gastro-pub that is frequented by the middle class and above? An entire paragraph was given over to making that point in about three different ways. Overkill, much?

The drafting process is taking a scalpel to your creation. It can be painful. It can be a sense of relief; getting rid of the pompous and verbose sections, while they were fun to write with me pulling mileage out of every possible point. Yes, it cuts the word count, but the deadwood needs to be cut. There are times, not today, where I have read what is on the page, while I know the thought process behind what I am saying, it is not there on the page; stick another paragraph or two in to bring out what is on the page.

Writers like VTO desperately need pencils, your urgent donations can help writers be productive. Donate today, help a writer.

The power of music

Yesterday, I listened to the Prophets of Rage EP for the first time since buying it some time ago.

I admit that while it lacks the punching power of RATM, it still packs a punch; tickles the funny bone in me that wants to advocate change. I am a believer in the power of music to unite people; when a band carries a message that the status quo has to change, it is intoxicating. On the day that I listened to it, I replayed the RATM Christmas Number One video (skip forward to about 0:30 to get past the pre-amble).

In a subversion of Trump’s election slogan, the Prophets state that it is time to “Make America Rage Again”. In a time where discontent and disbelief in the political and social order is at its height, there needs to be a catalyst for change and a banner under which people can unite.

If the heaviness of RATM or Prophets of Rage is not to your taste, check out The Nightwatchman.

Listen to music that moves you.

Contact

After a couple of months of fruitless searches for this elusive person I met at Novel Slam, I met him today in the local library of all places.

The writing group is now looking for a new venue, the existing one closed down for some unbeknown reason. Add in to the mix that the local library has also advertised a writers group, already my solitary pursuit is looking more sociable. I’m relieved to be finding these outlets, I have been feeling withdrawn of late.

That’s all.

Stories

Three days into the new year, two stories are planned; one of those two is started. I have to ask myself, how difficult can opening dialogue be? Well. It proved difficult.

The second one is planned, a few question marks in the details, the essence of the story is there.

In other news: the two big projects are still sitting there, staring at me. There are times when I look for the inspiration to bring them out and have some kind of eureka moment, spend a couple of days and BING, done. Yes. Deluded thinking.

That’s all for now.

Kthnxbai

 

Thanks

The sun is setting, the year is drawing to a close. Reminiscences are taking place, reviews of the year are on the TV schedule.

In the time I have been blogging, there has been a steady number of people reading and liking the posts. I would like to thank those of you who are following my ramblings. Those of you who read the posts on a regular basis, thank you. Thank you for giving me a sense that people are out there that are interested in the ramblings.

Thank you to those of you in America, the UK and Ireland, that seem to be regular visitors to my site!

I’m ready to start trying to break old habits, and start new ones: reading, writing, music.

Resolve

It’s that crazy time of year, people are talking about what the new year will bring. By next week, the supermarkets, and other various shops will be full of exercise equipment. Bookshops will be awash with self-help books, the celebrity diets that really do work (honest, guv) and there will be a relaunch of the ‘think yourself x, y, and z’ by a pioneer of NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming). Most of those resolutions will be cast aside by mid-February, earlier by most standards, but let’s give ourselves the benefit of the doubt.

Resolution making is easy. Doesn’t matter if it is because of a calendar turning over, or you decide that you want to make a change in your life. It is the commitment to upholding that resolution. I’d love to know the percentage of people that say, perhaps on New Year’s Eve, they want to do something positive, give up a bad habit, or whatever, how many people would class their first breaking of that resolution as a failure. If a person resolves to give up smoking, at 11:57 on 31st December, would they have a cigarette by the end of January 1st and then decide to give up trying?

I’ve been looking ahead and deciding what I want to change about myself in 2018. I’m finding it hard to make a definitive list; I know habits are hard to break, behaviours are learned and getting out of those patterns is difficult.

I started this blog because of a desire to write daily; write about mental health, write about creativity. So far, most of this has been about mental health and my own foibles. I dislike that I have let it slip. I read an entry in the past couple of days, I think it was from Nerdy Lion (thanks, man), about how making more thoughtful, thorough and well constructed blog entries is important as posting regularly. I would like to return to a more frequent posting schedule. Shall we call that a resolution, I think so.

Reading. It is as important to the creative process as writing itself. In order to know the style of what I am writing, I have to read it. Currently, I am making progress through The Invisible Man on Kindle, as much as I love books, a Kindle makes things a little easier. Yes, I know the arguments about it; I’m normally an advocate of old school, paper books. I need to start devoting time each day to reading, before bedtime or having the Kindle to hand for quiet time. Part of this resolve is to start breaking the habit of playing Minecraft every bloody day. So, if I make reading more important in my days; the habit of Minecraft needs to be broken. Delete it off my phone, perhaps?

Writing. I need to bloody finish projects! I have two that need drafting, one that is sitting at the bottom of a drawer. Ok, it’s at the bottom of a cupboard, the drawer is metaphorical, or is it? I need to dedicate time to writing. Hour a day? Regular scheduling? Timetable it, the teacher in me likes that idea.

Lastly, but importantly: self-care. Not a metaphor. I need to learn to take care of myself, recognising what helps me in crisis as well as what helps keep me stable. Self-soothe box will need to be more developed, and no, that is not a metaphor.

As we hurtle towards the celebrations of New Year, remember: it’s not just for New Year. Yes, that sounded better in my head.

Whatever you plan to do in 2018, make it count.

The Force

It has been a few days since the last entry, I need to be better at updating.

Before you read on: NO SPOILERS.

I’ve seen Star Wars: The Last Jedi. I will repeat: there will be nospoilers.

A recurring theme throughout Star Wars is the balance in The Force: the balance between the Light Side and the Dark Side. You can liken it to the balance that has struck when dealing with mental illness. It’s very dramatic, over the top, hyperbolic to say that there are days when I become Darth Vader. It is a slippery slope when I start giving in to urges; one day of indulging can all too easily give way to two, then it becomes a landslide. I am very good, far too good, at keeping myself on a tight reign; I can spend days without spending a frivolous penny, there may be the occasional pound on something, but that is where it stops. When I ignore the slide, I get too caught up in: I’ll just buy that, that won’t hurt, oh, look at that, that’s pretty. Those days are when I chastise myself.

Being healthy, being part of the Light Side, is a lot of work. I cannot quite remember his exact words, Anakin sums the Jedi up in a statement that they act selflessly, working to protect and obeying a strict code. The Sith? Selfish? The Sith Lord teaches his Apprentice the same as the Jedi, the semantics may be a little different; the Jedi do the same.

The Mental Health services can give me all the knowledge I need to remain healthy, to ‘follow a path’, but it has to come from me. Following the analogy of the Jedi/Sith, I am my own Master/Sith Lord. I am my own Padawan/Apprentice. I can learn from others, but I have to teach myself; reap the rewards of feeling healthy, that I am in control, and learning from the failures. Oops. Edited for possible spoiler.

If I am training to be a Jedi, where’s my light sabre?