I’ve been thinking a lot recently about the practice of kintsugi or golden joinery in literal translation. The process of repairing a broken piece of ceramics and in the process making it more valuable. It’s a strange notion not to throw away stuff to modern western minds. If something doesn’t work now we sling it away, be it less than perfect food, televisions and washing machines and now often people are regarded as disposable on both personal but mainly governmental level.
My heart wasn’t disposable (although to some that is open to debate), I’m well and truly stuck with it. Sadly we are a long way from the Singularity, that point where one will be able to upload their consciousness into another vessel and mortality is no longer an issue. I’ve been thinking a lot about the wonder that is the stent, a gossamer wire mesh that expands inside you to open up collapsing arteries. One moment you are at death’s door and kicking off your shoes for the last time and the next you are skipping down the road like a giddy child. Stents are the modem day kintsugi for that we cannot discard, a simple solution and a technological wonder all at once.
In my painting research I recently discovered that the brain of a depression suffer appears almost uniformly blue when the subject is put through an mri scanner, it seems the notion of feeling blue is far more profound than just a hackneyed old song lyric. Recently I have wondered if anyone will ever come up with a way of stenting the human brain but that is an altogether more complex organ than a simple pump. The drugs Do Not Work as the song says, they help a bit but there is always a pay off somewhere along the line. The other problem is that sanity and normalcy aren’t really constants; culturally, geographically and historically our perceptions and actions that have been deemed to be insane, eccentric, whatever are those that step out of the immediate societal norm. For example if you were seen walking along the street talking to yourself in 1980’s you were mad, now you have a hands free phone. Sanity is relative, sanity can be damaged by your relatives but that’s another blog. Our concept of normalcy is relative too. When the serial killer Jeffrey Dahmer was drilling a hole into someone’s brain and pouring in bleach to try and turn them into his lobotomised sex slave, that was normal to him. That was Sunday afternoon between making lunch and doing the laundry. To conservative politician Iain Duncan Smith turning up to his cabinet office and lying and strategically omitting the truth so as to throw tens of thousands of people into poverty and causing countless deaths and suicides was just a normal Wednesday morning. Perceptions of what is normal often aren’t
To give you an example this is my normality right now. Wake up earlyish have a bit of a panic attack, have breakfast, swallow a load of heart medication, do a bit of artwork, go for a long walk, chat to a few people come home,get a bit depressed, have lunch, do some more art, do a bit of admin, chat on the phone, get upset, do more art, have dinner, chat a bit more while doing more art, have bath,swallow another load of pills, do more art, go to bed, read a book, get upset, fall asleep. Fair enough but probably not the most exciting lifestyle but it works well enough for me, well excepted for the crushed from being chucked bit anyway. Six months ago it would have possibly gone. Wake up, do art, go out, pop in and see my girlfriend at work, have a crafty snog, go for a coffee, go home, prank call said girlfriend, do art, cook dinner for said girlfriend, watched crap television, have baths, make love, make more love, snuggle up and go to sleep. Fifteen years ago I would have rolled out of bed smoked a Marlborough red, had a cup of tea and ate some sliced bread (because I couldn’t be arsed to toast it) smoked another fag, downed some codeine tablets, swallowed heavy duty anti depressants, rolled a joint, smoked it, watched a DVD , smoked more dope, had lunch, smoked more fags and more dope, drew some stuff in my sketchbook, smoked more pot, took more painkillers, smoked more dope and fags, smoked more dope, had dinner, smoked more fags and dope, watched more films, took more painkillers, passed out hallucinating. Not my finest hour by any means. During all those times though, that was normal. The only thing I will say in my defence is that my normal changes and adapts and hopefully what is normal for me, without the interactions of another human being, is better for me and more constructive than it used to be. The key is to keep making new mistakes rather than repeating the same old ones, and when you need to, get professional help.
In a way, cultural normalcy is all about the set of lies and truths that we choose to believe. The major ones being religion, governance and money. Religion stops us going mad from the constant pressure of mortality and the inevitability of our deaths, its also a fantastic form of control, “do this or you will go to hell”. Governance isn’t much different with notions of “the greater good” and making sacrifices for your country and the notion that everything is done in society’s best interest. This lie and all the media outlets that prop it up have been starting to crumble of late. However, people’s faith that something better can be created or will come along is just that, a faith. History teaches us that societies ebb and flow and civilisations crumble and from Ancient Rome and Greece,the Pharos, the Chinese dynasties, tsarist Russian and European communism , nothing ever truly lasts and every power vacuum that is left behind sucks in the most greedy, the most powerful, the most ruthless and the most manipulative person or persons around. Be it cricket club, women’s institute or political party. It’s odds on that the person in charge will be a complete bastard or tick nearly all the boxes of narcissistic or psycopathic behaviour traits, regardless of how much they may smile or how reasonable they may at first seem.
As for money, that is the most insidious of faiths there is. It doesn’t exist and yet we all believe in that promise on a piece of paper or those digits on a screen or printed on our bank statements. I take it from people for things I make and give it for stuff I need but I still refuse to believe in it wholeheartedly. It’s capricious stuff that can have a terrible effect on people, sometimes as mentally damaging as drugs and totally accepted. But we need it, we slave for it, we deny our principles for it, some even kill for it. I try and see it as energy, I can turn that paper idea into a thing and not give it control of me.
I used “verum est aureum”, truth is golden, as a motto on my most recent painting. Gold is a substance that has a dubious history, it is decorative, easily workable, it doesn’t tarnish and is bodily inert, I even have a false tooth made from it, yet it caused the massacre of South America’s indigenous population by the Spanish conquistadors, slavery in African and in the nazi death camps millions of gassed bodies were stripped of their gold teeth to be melted down into gold bullion which most likely still sits in a Swiss bank vault to this day. Truth as a concept is as easily molded, bent, stretched and sullied.
Truth can be a good thing but sometimes lies are more expedient and convenient. Those and their ugly sister The Stategic Omission can solve a problem instantly but they often come back on the teller (or omitter ) tenfold later on down the line. I have driven myself quite mad of late trying to find the truth and indeed the sense in many things. I have given up now, let it all go as it did me no good. Regardless of the reasons, or the skewed logic there are some things best left alone. They may make sense in time and a measure of justice, karma, whatever, may prevail, but Oh! Hang on! But what are they but more lies we tell overselves to feel better. What happens, happens. What is, is. End of.