Ok… I can feel everyone checking to see if there is a clear path to the exit and backing away slowly and asking themselves if Chris has gone completely over the edge. Probably, but no more than usual and no more than anyone else.
I’ve been thinking about my own mortality on and off since all that heart business a couple of years back and my legacy or lack thereof. Take yesterday for example, I ended up crawling back to bed for the afternoon as I was getting so down about how little I have achieved and just tipped straight over into a depressive slump, and off to bed I went. Of course, that is the worst thing I can do as another couple of hours of being unconscious solves precisely nothing. When I get a bit of distance, I can see just how much I acheive but, without that clarity, I see myself as just floundering about. The facility for ignoring seven, metre square, portraits that are taking up space across my room that were produced over the last few weeks, while still lamenting how unproductive I am, illustrate perfectly my capacity for kicking myself up the arse. It’s all very well churning out all this stuff but if I can’t sell it or there is just too much to show then what is the point in it?
The sheer amount of artwork kicking about has been very much on my mind of late as I’ve had the builders in. My flat is rented and whilst usually I can just merrily get on with my life with the minimum of disturbance, I have been very aware that this place is not mine and, however much I dig myself in, this address is temporary. Granted, from a point of views, everything is temporary and the longest length of time any of us can own anything is a lifetime which, in the grand scheme of things, isn’t that long, but renting from a private landlord is extremely precarious, particularly for a homebody like myself. I can’t help thinking that one day , a couple of workmen are going to be sent into my lovely world that I have fashioned for myself and dump it all into a skip. This thought has led me to the question of archiving my world. I am very aware of my current place in the world right now, or rather my lack of it. Rightly or wrongly, I get very little recognition right now and that scuppers my plans on a number of levels. What I’m aiming for is museum status, you go into Canterbury museum and there is the writer, Joseph Conrad’s work room lovingly installed for posterity, the same goes for Francis Bacon’s studio in Dublin art gallery and various other notables here and there. Even better, a whole house gets turned over to the national trust and teams of volunteers and archivists lovingly clean and dust all your things in perpetuity. Sounds marvellous doesn’t it? Much better than two geeezers with their arses hanging out as much as their slack jaws, chucking your world out into a big yellow skip. Of course, you have to convince people that you are worth all that fuss and before that I have to convince myself that I am not the half mad useless slab of lard I think I am on every other day. The major obstacle to any form or level for success in art terms right now is me, I have little to no understanding of the current workings of the art world as it has zero focus on either ideas or talent but rather on the ability to network, schmooze and fill in grant applications in a way that frames what you do as saleable. So, in the current creative and arts climate, I am totally screwed. Given this situation and what I wish to secure for posterity for my artwork, I figured it would be prudent to look at backup options and the least mad of these seems to be to start up my own religion.
The idea has mostly come from seeing what is happening right now with Jeremy Corbyn and Donald Trump. The world has become such a deranged place that an old school, dyed in the wool, socialist has become viewed as the new messiah for no other reason than him just not being a self serving arsehole like 99.9 percent of those in British politics. Whilst the shambling wreck of a Tory party shaw up their disastrous regime with a handful of religious extremists, Jeremy appears at Glastonbury to masses of adulation as everyone wants to touch the hem of his garments. I’m not really sure how long the current situation will go on for, and frankly I don’t care, but it is interesting for the End of Times nature of it. The same goes for Trump, while Corbyn is no more the messiah than anyone else, Donald is not the Devil, well no more than any other figure in American politics. He’s no madder than Dubya, Reagan or Nixon and he is actually much less of a lothario than Clinton or the much worshipped J F K, only his dire use of Twitter and the intrusive nature of modern media highlight that he is as much a stupid, entitled, sexist creep as countless politicians before him.
What I find fascinating is our need to find heroes in such tedious times. We seem to be living in a post heroic society, in every single field mediocrity seems to rule. In music, where once we had the Beatles and Jimi Hendrix, now we have Adele and some ginger bloke whose name I can’t recall. Same in all the arts, no more Warhols, no more Piccassos, no more Wolfes, Callas, Monroes, Joyce. Just some geezer writing game of thrones sequels and a load of ex talent show contestants.
When the competition is so poor, there couldn’t be a better time to make a new religion.
It might seem ridiculous but this is hardly the first time it has been done, there is the one ending in “ology” started by a science fiction writer. I’m not daft enough to say more as they are famously litigious but I’m sure you know to what I am referring to. The other is the Church of the Subgenius, created by the Reverend Bob Dodds (made up person), the basic tenants of which are the world does in fact does owe you a living and the secrets of the universe are hidden in plain sight, in the static on the television, on the back of crisp packets, in junk mail stuffed through your letter box and that the only way to see them is to be constantly stoned.
Of course, if you go down the Richard Dawkins path, all religions are made up. There is evidence to support there being a god gene, a piece of our coding that predisposes us to have some sort of belief in an afterlife or a higher power, a way to stop us all going completely mad through existential angst. Follow this with the idea that the promise of an afterlife is a salve for those whose mortal life is grim and totally filled with suffering and pain and that death is just a path to something much better.
Now we have some presidence and some guidelines to work from, how does it help me get my place in history and, more importantly, my stuff looked after in perpetuity? Obviously, I’m not going to proclaim myself as the new messiah, partly because I am not in the least charismatic and partly because every psychiatric unit is full of people with religious pretensions. Being a prophet, now that’s a different matter, you get the kudos of a religion but you have put yourself far enough down the pecking order so that the focus is elsewhere, but you are still holy by association. Anyone with a true understanding of where power lies has enough sense to keep themselves a couple of rungs down the ladder as figureheads, whilst getting all the attention, often get chopped off. The Mormons worked a brilliant wheeze by a ‘simple man’ finding a golden tablet full of extra bits of scripture. It’s funny how they mysteriously disappeared… And what a successful
business religion it’s turned into.
So, Christopher becomes a prophet for profit. I guess I had better change my name as ‘Christ child’ won’t do at all, something more exotic I’m guessing…
So, when you go for your higher power is it best to go for the old “thou shalt have no other god but me” malarkey or something that is more pantheonistic? I suppose a ‘one true God’ gives a strong brand identity, so to speak, but a pantheon is probably better for merchandising. Talking of which, you can’t have any brand, and that really is what any religion is, without a logo. When thinking of brand identity, it’s good to look at what is already out there. Obviously there is the crucifix but, as Bill Hicks noted, there is something deeply twisted in have a form of torture and execution used as a form of marketing. The Star of David works, it’s symmetrical and easy to draw although it does look a bit like a hood ornament for a car. Buddhas are rather friendly, the religious equivalent of the Pilsbury dough boy. I do love the Indian gods there is such a variety, all the colours, all the animal bits, so very imaginative, Ganesh is particularly wonderful. I have decided to use the belly button at my logo as it is a perfect symbol of the continuity of humanity and being connected to one another as infinitum. What good about that is that if you draw it in the right way it will also look like a bum hole. What you need in any religion is something to squabble over and this would set everyone up nicely for an alternate belief that the world was shat out of some deity’s bottom. It’s a sad truth of human nature that if you give people something to fight over, it will keep them amused for centuries as the reasons become lost in time and the essential point of the religion becomes lost. Whilst some will worship the great belly button, others will bow down before the great bum hole, marvellous!
Rather that find a mysterious artefact, book, tablet, scrolls, what have you, which would now be subject to carbon dating, x rays and all that annoying science stuff. What ever happened to just having faith? We have already established that having God / gods sending you visions or speaking to you will get you sent straight to the funny farm, so how do we establish a belief system without getting locked up for something or other? I suppose the best option I can come up with is to find people I don’t already like and let them have the visitation, would be that difficult to dangle the odd speaker outside a window at night, use a few old magicians tricks. It might be worth rewatching all those old scoobi doo cartoons and see where the villains slipped up, it might also be worth looking into the cia’s mk ultra project and getting some tips on brain washing. Then, once there is a tipping point reached, I can have all the great words of wisdom revealed to me in some conveniently unprovable way that is collaborated by all the other stories of the other people who have been visited by the great mysteries supreme being and suddenly I’m a prophet.
Making your own religion makes fantastic business sense, they are tax exempt for a start and like any pyramid scheme, once you have got yourself on the gravy train you just let everyone involved argue and fight amongst themselves and fight for their positions while you reap the rewards from being at the pointy end. Of course, there are plenty of marketing opportunities in the form of relics and holy scriptures. The Book of Dweeb would be a big seller and while the text would probably not be subject to copyright as it was dictated from the teachings if the holy deity (honest guv!) the illustrations would be and of course that would be my job. I would of course donate said profits to the faith, which would in turn provide for its faithful (namely me) and, mostly importantly, I could wangle it that all my art and all my stuff would be maintained and displayed and dusted by devoted minions in robes and they would be cared for in perpetuity. Talking of robes, I can’t bear anything itchy or uncomfortable and I would very much like to get my raiments provided by Maharishi as their gear is half way there anyway…. With M&S undies of course, I can’t be doing with any on those Gandhi type incontinents pants type affairs or Mormon temple garments, those weird and shapeless combinations they have to wear that are conveniently sold through their own specially licensed suppliers. Mind you, I could be missing out on a nice little earner, so how about dweeb pants? They could be blessed even, so that when someone says they are wearing their lucky pants they really will be.
What’s worrying is just how much I’m getting into this idea. I wouldn’t trust me in charge of a goldfish, let alone the immortal souls of countless follower. It is a strange irony that me knowing that one simple fact is what separates me from the Bushes, the Blairs, the Trumps, the Teresas and the Jeremys, however crazy I might be I am sane enough to know that no one has a right to be in charge of anyone else. If only they all knew that too the world would be a much better place.