‘”No Give and Take,” Eeyore went on. “No Exchange of Thought. ‘Hallo – What‘ – I mean, it gets you nowhere, particularly if the other person’s tail is only just in sight for the second half of the conversation”‘ (p. 147)
House at Pooh Corner (1928) A. A. Milne
Is Eeyore actually a character visiting, or on loan, from a Samuel Beckett text? Waiting for Eeyore, perhaps, or Eeyore’s Last Tape, or even Not Eeyore, starring only his mouth.
Still powerful, still relevant: Are you sitting too close to the television, iPhone, iPad, PC, laptop, telescreen?
… or bearing ‘no relation to any reality whatsoever […] its own pure simulacrum’??? Simulacra and Simulation (1994) Jean Baudrillard
The ‘simulations’ are more interesting than the market place because they offer a narrative-of-possibility, within which you, yes YOU, are the hero: Anything would prove to be possible if you lived in a room like this – an unreal space, with no dust, no dirt, no humanity, no humanness, and therefore, no mess – a hyperreality, a fishbowl, a vacuum. There are no drains, no bins, no wires, no junk – or rather, there IS junk, but it is ‘IKEA junk’, manufactured junk with clean, clear lines – so not ‘real’ junk. There is – in the world of IKEA (not dissimilar to the army) – an IKEA version of everything, including IKEA toys, IKEA fairy tales (just look at the warnings against climbing up bunk bed ladders) as well as the mandatory IKEA ‘fast food’.
Yet it feels real, like you are a flaneur of the interior, a voyeur, peeping into a private space with everything present, accept the one key, notable, necessary and bizarre absence – The Occupants. Real Fake Reality. So much so that the toilets boast explanations that ‘non-display’ toilets are available in the restaurant. Why not ‘real’ toilets? Or would that become too post-structurally confusing altogether…?
Have you noticed that when inserting notes into self-service machines, or cheques into bank self-deposit kiosks, you have to be very tactile? You have to be much more gentle, and particular, than when engaging with a person, otherwise you ‘upset’ the machine and it rejects the note/cheque. In fact, often, the machines require such a specific handling or ‘touch’ that they are paired with a practiced member of staff who knows just-what-they-need, in order to work… I am hereby trying to show, rather than simply tell, how absolutely absurd this situation is – if the AI takeover begins with self-service machines, it will yield a memorably anxious revolution.
Why are more and more statues ‘active’?
The Sea Squirt is a creature that starts life as a ‘tadpole’, it swims, it is conscious. Then it attaches itself to a rock, it absorbs its own brain, and it becomes to all intents and purposes – a plant.
The less humans think, the more thinking is deferred by technology, the more it becomes unnecessary – abdicated – does ‘consciousness’ go with it? Is the future the absorbing inertia of the sea squirt…?
Protect and Survive – Stay at Home
When does ‘threat perception’ become paranoia, or collective delusion? When does propaganda trip into psychosis? And, transversely, when can mental illness reveal ‘truth’?
I have been considering whether or not J. M. Coetzee and Hilary Mantel have ever been compared. They are the only two writers to have historically won the Booker Prize twice, and this shared achievement offers a point of departure. Then there is the masterly control of the prose of these two, beneath which something elusive always vibrates; again both have this quality to their writing.
Finally, there is the question of meaning and its origin, here is Coetzee in Life and Times of Michael K:
‘Michaels means something, and the meaning he has is not private to me. If it were, if the origin of this meaning were no more than a lack in myself, a lack, say, of something to believe in […] if it were a mere craving for meaning that sent me to Michaels and his story, if Michaels himself were no more than what he seems to be (what you seem to be) […] then I would have every justification for retiring to the toilets behind the jockeys’ changing-rooms and locking myself into the last cubicle and putting a bullet through my head’ (p. 165).
Now, here is Mantel in A Place of Greater Safety:
‘Adultery is an ugly word. Time to end it, Annette thought; time to end what has never begun’ (p. 86).
It is the doubling and duplicitous figure of the ellipsis once again…
Finding myself pushed, I realise that I must ‘out’ myself… I am… a critical theorist. In fact, more than that, I am a poststructuralist.
The current fashion in critique of postmodernism is, in my view, not only lazy and at times quite obviously self-serving – the need to say-something-new, anything at all, being utmost – but also oddly elides poststucturalism, its frightening, yet charismatic, non-identical twin.
In the words of Margaret Drabble, completely reapplied: ‘I’d rather be at the end of a dying tradition, which I admire, than be at the beginning of a tradition which I deplore’.