Monday, 21 November 2011

And Your Prejudice Won't Keep You Warm Tonight

Sometimes I wonder who it is that manages to persecute me so fiercely all the time without anybody but me ever noticing.

But then I consider my new hero Morrissey. The only thanks he gets for being the coolest person on earth is their adamant refusal to accept that under the hatred there lies a murderous desire for love, and how they look into his eyes and still they don't believe him, and how they hear him say those words and still they don't believe him, and if they don't believe him now will they ever believe him? Thing is, Morrissey is probably very much what I would be were I not full of shit. I suspect there's a kind of personality-trait constellation too many people are too stupid to be able to deal with for it to be a comfortable thing to carry around.

People too ignorant and vulgar to deserve being treated like grown-ups are trying very hard to create a public atmosphere that would make me ashamed of caring about the suffering of people towards whom they'd prefer me to be indifferent or hostile. It's insulting, and it's depressing, but somehow, it's not even remotely frightening. Possibly this is because it just hasn't gotten bad enough yet, but my feeling is that this whole current of political "delegitimisation" - a peculiarly Israeli preoccupation - doesn't sway me too much because I think myself a pretty convincing citizen. I don't seem to convince myself as much as a regular social person.


"You shut your mouth
How can you say
I go about things the wrong way
I am human and I need to be loved
Just like everybody else does" - The Smiths' "How Soon Is Now?"

If only I could muster that same kind of militant independence in dealing with complete tools saying incredibly stupid things directly to me or around me as well as with those passing laws against me, I'd probably be a much happier guy. But it's a much tougher argument to win in the first place. "I am human and I need to be loved" doesn't pack quite the same punch as "your infantile posturing jeopardises the freedom of us all and your irresponsible confrontationism could lead to unnecessary war and countless pointless deaths". It's an entirely different ballpark. I'm not saying "agree with me", or "let me participate" - I'm saying "love and respect me, you stupid shit." Why must you be so stupidly stupid in your stupidity?


"I was happy in the haze of a drunken hour
But heaven knows I'm miserable now
I was looking for a job, and then I found a job
And heaven knows I'm miserable now

In my life
Why do I give valuable time
To people who don't care if I
Live or die?" - Heaven Knows I'm Miserable Now

I'd always really really really liked this chorus. It felt like an epiphany to realise I didn't have to care as much as I did - to devote as much of myself, and "smile/" in the words of the poet, "At people who I'd much rather / Kick in the eye." Many people probably wouldn't notice for very long your disappearance from this earth - a sad result of our living in the hyper-socialised, deeply-alienated group clusterfuck in which we do. But, it has occurred to me, there's more.

Even many of those who would prefer you breathing and with a pulse, would still like you as dead as possible within that physiological framework. You are best loved automated and conditioned into full basic predictability. Your feeling of self-fulfillment or silent desperate misery are by the by. I know I say this a lot, but I think I'll repeat it, to create a constant refrain in this blog: FUCK THEM.


"If you're wondering why 
All the love that you long for eludes you
And people are rude and crude to you
I'll tell you why
I'll tell you why
I'll tell you why
I'll tell you why

You just haven't earned it yet, baby
You just haven't earned it, son
You just haven't earned it yet, baby
You must suffer and cry for a longer time." - You Just Haven't Earned It Yet, Baby

No, I'm not kidding. Someone or something is actively fighting my attempts to live a life I won't hate. I am wondering why. What's wrong with my way? What is it with people and their aversion to being human? Why do I need to be terrified of approaching life as anything other than a fancy dress party? Why does it feel like a disadvantage to approach a social situation not sufficiently dead inside?

It's like an army of zombies, trying to take everybody down with them. They need to be quarantined and gassed or something. Problem is, when you're in a room full of idiots, and they idiotically pronounce you deficient in some way or another, it is more or less undeflectable. I just really wish they'd cut it out, at least long enough for me to wade through the dead and find some of the living.


"Sheila take a, Sheila take a bow 
Boot the grime of this world in the crotch, dear
And don't go home tonight
Come out and find the one that you love and who loves you
The one that you love and who loves you." - Sheila Take a Bow

Probably a good start.

Friday, 7 October 2011


Tonight I made myself a proper dinner for the first time in probably about three weeks. Fried rice with vegetables and little hamburger pieces that took time to make and was surprisingly good. As I was eating on my own, immediately after taking my last forkful I got up to clear the dishes, but then I stopped myself, sat myself back down, and allowed myself to calmly feel the satisfaction with what had just happened, for the first time in about as long. It was one of those "moments" usually reserved with me for reactions to popular or "high" culture, allowing me to see how I'm being a real dickhead towards myself.

Somehow, still, every single time anything turns out well, it is always a surprise. It's nice to be pleasantly surprised, but because these instances so skillfully manage to evade predictability, they don't get very many opportunities to present themselves. Few things (and people) in my life enjoy focused, unequivocal attention and effort, and instead I find myself in a kind of aimless, permanent hurry to get through the things I think people think I'm supposed to do, without letting it become too much of a strain. And then all of a sudden it's 1:00 am and I haven't taken anything seriously in another day I'll never get back.

Everything and everybody become blood-sucking leeches to whom I'll give free access to my body but never my soul, and somewhere along the line I'll lose sight of the fact that my dinner is not fucking out to get me. It's dead.

It is difficult for me to express the degree to which I despise the arbitrary system of expectations and demands I feel myself subjected to. I hate it with an energy that could fuel a small village for a few months. It has nowhere to go. It confuses me. Mostly, it confuses me how any of this is acceptable or even legal. People will make demands or accusations the only appropriate response to which is to ram your hand down their throat  and rip their heart out of their ribcage, and usually you don't, and everything is supposed to go on as normal. Today, on the national "atonement" day, the countless people who would be shocked at my publicising my orgasmically delicious dinner, wouldn't give a second's thought to how their casual praise and condemnation vaporise people. And unfortunately, it's not because they're bad. It's because they're idiots.

When people hurt you without being malicious, how are you supposed to deal with them and the world that contains them? How do you participate, without prostituting yourself? What does it even mean to participate, besides playing your assigned role?

If I could crack the code to what makes experiences satisfying, rather than shit, I'd stop being so surprised all the time and be able to regularly communicate with the world without feeling constantly violated. Dinner is outside the danger zone. And trying to get through things I hate quickly doesn't solve anything. It's probably a good idea to attempt specific things more often.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011

Dark Passenger

Dexter Morgan can't muster any feelings for the people around him, because he is removed from the experience due to the need to keep under wraps his inner need to kill people for reasons other than self-defence. He doesn't conduct his killings unreasonably or unconscionably (he insists on proof of guilt and intent of future harm), and there's no good reason not to accept them and him, but people wouldn't understand. They get touchy about the deliberate removal of life.

My life is much better than Dexter's. My girlfriend kicks his's arse, for one. And I have a bunch of friends whose company I enjoy and with whom I can have conversations I don't feel alienated from; the events of my life are far less convoluted and the people around me are far more convincing as human beings; and I never debase myself with his brand of appalling dad-jokes. And yet, the resemblance is uncanny.

I'm not actually indifferent to my surroundings, but then neither is he. We are both blunted. More to the point, almost exactly like him, I get terrified whenever my dark secret seems like it's getting ready to surface. My secret is that I get sidetracked from the attempt to function like a person far more easily than other people, and don't see (or feel) as quite as obvious or simple the preferability of life over death. When full-blown, this was designated "clinical depression", and now once having come under control, it's an ill-defined psychological rather than psychiatric issue. Like Dexter's, this is an unfortunate condition, but it's not something that justifies condemnation. But people get touchy about the deliberate complaining over that which isn't a big deal for them.

Until he and I can say "I feel the need to kill people" and "I have serious trouble dealing with life", respectively, out loud, there is no point to having a relationship, or at least no chance for any degree of intimacy or emotional significance within it. It is very very important to be able to tell sanctimonious intellectual midgets to fuck off and die when they challenge the legitimacy of your feelings and existence, rather than try to explain and apologise your way out of their criticism. Because even the less convenient aspects of your personality are here to stay.

Sunday, 15 May 2011

Too Sad to Play Dodgeball

I totally would make a youtube video just for the sake of making this point, but I don't happen to have any video-editing software on me, so what you're going to get instead is a transcript of selected scenes from this probably my favourite Simpsons episode. I'm probably pretty much alone in being reduced to a gibbering mess by this rather than seeing it for the simplistic sentimentalist platitudity that it no doubt is, but hey, it's my fucking blog.

Season 1 Episode 6 - Moaning Lisa:

  Lisa:  [standing still in a gym, being knocked on the head with dodgeballs] Ow, Ooh, ow!  Ooh!
  PE Teacher: [blows whistle]  Lisa!  We are playing dodge-ball here. The object of the game is to avoid the ball, by weaving or ducking out of its path.
  Lisa:  In other words, to dodge the ball.
  PE Teacher: Listen missy, just tell me why you weren't getting out of the way of those balls.
  Lisa:  I'm too sad.
  PE Teacher: Too sad to play dodgeball?  That's ridiculous. [to the rest of the class]  Now let's see some enthusiasm.  Play Ball!

  Marge's Mother: [in a flashback, to young Marge] Wait Margey, before we go out that door, let's put our happy face on, because people know how good a mommy you have by the size of your smile.
Young Marge: [turns to her mother, wide toothy smile plastered across her face. Walks with it out of the house]

  Marge:  [driving Lisa to band practice, turns to her in the front seat] Now Lisa, listen to me, this is important.  I want you to smile today.
  Lisa:   But I don't feel like smiling.
  Marge:  Well it doesn't matter how you feel inside, you know?  It's what shows up on the surface that counts.  That's what my mother taught me.  Take all your bad feelings and push them down, all the way down, past your knees until you're almost walking on them. And then you'll fit in, and you'll be invited to parties, and boys will like you, and happiness will follow.
  Lisa:   [feeble attempt at a smile]
  Marge:  No, come on.  You can do better than that.
  Lisa:   [a much brighter smile]
  Marge:  Aww, that's my girl.  [rubs Lisa's hair]
  Lisa:   [through her teeth]  I feel more popular already. [Walks into the school grounds]  
  Boy 1:  Hey, nice smile.
  Lisa:  Thanks.
  Boy 2:  Hey, what are you talking to her for?  She's just going to say something weird.
  Lisa:  Not me!
  Boy 1:  You know, I used to think you were some sort of a brainiac, but, I guess you're okay.
  Lisa:  Uh-huh.
  Boy2:  Hey, why don't you come over to my house after practice.  You can do my homework.
  Lisa:  Okay.
  Music teacher: 5 minutes people! 5 minutes. Now, Miss Simpson, I hope we won't have a repeat of yesterday's outburst of unbridled creativity.
  Lisa: No sir!


I have never understood this. What's the big deal about being sad? It's not that bad, and it doesn't have to constitute so dramatic a statement. It's an integral part of the experience of all of us. Sometimes things make us sad. Often, in fact, and it doesn't prevent us from doing anything, beside participate in the collective pretence of being happy. Of being jovial, I should say.

Why does anybody want to play this game? What do they get out of it? Why is it ridiculous to not want to? I have heard people tell me a million times that it's best to try and put on a happy face, because nobody likes hanging around pouty people, but have never felt an aversion to anybody because they weren't happy enough. And what is this "fitting in" I keep hearing about anyway? Is it pleasant? What is everybody smoking? Why is there an expectation that you waste so much of your time and energy, on such fucking bullshit?

All being "sad" means, is that you're dissatisfied with the way things are at the moment, and you would like to make some sort of change. Are changes that bad? Is it that important for everything to always stay exactly the same? Who are the people who decide these things and on what grounds do they decide them? Somebody somewhere has declared war on personality, and they're fucking winning.

So what's the next step after not playing? I still find myself mainly identifying with the Bonnie and Clyde method, but I'm probably missing something far more sensible. What would Neil Young do?

Friday, 15 April 2011

The Man in the Moon

The Man in the Moon - by Roger McGough

On the edge of the jumping-off place I stood
Below me, the lake
Beyond that, the dark wood
And above, a night-sky that roared.

I picked a space between two stars
Held out my arms, and soared.

                  *       *       *

The journey lasted not half a minute
There is a moon reflected in the lake
You will find me in it.


What I'd really like to do, is live on the moon. I can see people hindering this, and I can see them not hindering this, and I understand that they can play an active part in enabling it, but I can't make myself see it.

People are very anxious to tell you about how you have to choose between Earth and the moon. Not many, it appears, are looking for the lakes. This makes the notion of time spent with them depressing. They could at least pick the fucking moon.

Very probably, few people actually care what place you jump off and where you arrive. I could probably live a far more comfortable fantasist's life next to many people than I imagine. But to assume and expect people's indifference feels a little like missing the point.

So what is this so-called point? It is, I believe, twofold: 1) Roger McGough rocks. 2) His rocking deserves your recognition. It deserves a whole page in a book of poetry, and your undivided attention while reading it. I can't make people do this, though possibly I would if I could, but I think I can expect it - that is to say, seek it - as a general orientation. So there.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011


"...Man's life is like morning dew,
A flame eating up the oil night by night.
Why should I strain my ears
Listening to the squawks of this autumn insect?
Better lay aside the book
And drink my cup of jade-white wine." - Su Shi's "Reading the Poetry of Meng Jiao"

Yeah, Chinese stuff. Forget that though. I found this amusing as well as insightful. It's the kind of issue I've been grappling with pretty much non-stop for at least the past year. You hear Meng Jiao is like a big deal (presumably), and you try to be open-minded and give him a shot, but he's a pain in the arse, and life's too short to be spent on things other people find exciting, for reasons that are more often stupid than not.

China rocks. When you put aside all the organ-harvesting protestor-shooting internet-censoring business. China rocks in a visceral, non-rational, more or less irrational way, which is the only real way for things to rock.

I'm thinking about this again mainly because I need to find another subject as awesome as China to do a degree in, but also because it represents some kind of point I keep trying to make to myself without much apparent success, which is one of those advantages you surprisingly don't get from limiting your conversation to yourself. This point has been illustrated again today (or technically last night), when I decided to return to the library my copy of the Analects of Confucius - which despite being Chinese is one of the dullest, most insipid and philosophically depressing books I have ever misguidedly begun to read - and to take out Spenser's The Faerie Queene, which has nothing to do with anything, but appears to be written by the real-life equivalent of S. Morgenstern

I have been forcing myself through Confucius in the thought that it is a good thing for a student of China with an interest in Chinese philosophy to do, especially if he has as much free time on his hands as I do, much like I have been forcing myself through countless conversations and relationships over the years in the thought that it is a good thing for a social person to do. And what I'm thinking right now is, who makes up these rules anyway? Stupid people, no doubt. Or people operating on stupid assumptions, in any case - I'm not sure you can actually define a person as stupid. I do feel pretty comfortable though defining boring shit as "squawks of autumn insects". It's not so much Meng Jiao, for me, as it is the people who tell me I have to read and admire and "appreciate" Meng Jiao, or would at least if we lived in China. I say fuck Confucius. But I wish I didn't feel so apologetic saying it.

Truly spiritually healthy people, according to a doctrine that probably has a name I don't know but that I stand behind anyway, know how to separate between that which they get a kick out of, and that which is basically irrelevant. I can tell that this sounds like some kind of call for impulsiveness, but I don't think I've said anything I can take back yet. Daoists claim you can find a way to connect to any activity; I claim there is nothing within the realms of reasonable real-life eventualities that could induce me to not hate every single second of telemarketing if I was forced to engage in it. And it's not because telemarketing is exactly bad (hey, bear with me here) in a moral or universally spiritual sense, but it does not mesh with the constellation of neuroses and timidities that is Naty Amitai. I can actually live with that, but I keep finding myself trying to fight it. Some things that don't work for me aren't as obvious as telemarketing. Confucius for instance. The Western philosophy program in the Hebrew University. It doesn't take long after the beginning to see that these things mean absolutely nothing to me (I'm looking at you, fucking Judaism), but you feel like you ought to humour the people saying it's actually really good and you just need to get used to it.

So what I'm saying is, you don't. Rules suck. Anarchy in the UK and stuff.

Saturday, 15 January 2011


The End of Conflict - Avinadav Begin: 

"Chapter 34:

These thousands of years men have been legislating laws to organise society and minimise the violence in it - state laws and religious laws, international laws and commercial laws. See, for instance, the Hague Convention. It is supposed to determine what is moral and what is immoral in a time of war, through the formulation of laws. It seeks to make war more moral, more tolerable. Eminent judges in polished shoes sit in air-conditioned halls and discuss "rules of war". What nonsense man can create to justify the violence seething within him.

If I try to subordinate myself to something external, to adapt myself to the law, it will always create friction and conflict between the inside and out, always create distortion. There will always be an aspiration to become "something". This something can look wonderful, be serene, calm, spiritual, moral, wise. But there will always be a gap between what I am and what the external asks for. The inherent contradiction between the two - between what we are and what we aspire to be - is the source of violence.
Violence can end only when there is no more conflict between inside and out, when you don't aspire to become any thing, when you reject every truth you've heard, when you cease to separate yourself from the rest of humanity, from the world, from the whole universe."

To call this simplistic would be to make a dramatic understatement. The laws of war have saved hundreds of thousands - probably millions - of lives, and polished shoes do happen to clash with my set of aesthetic prejudices too, but there's certainly nothing remotely wrong with air-conditioning. The definition of violence itself is very selective here. It could also be defined as "intimidating people into doing what we want" or "the infliction of bodily and mental harm", and it is probably more these last two aspects that the various humanitarian law conventions have tried to and succeeded in mitigating.

Still, whatever Begin's actually against, what he's for is very clearly love. To talk about love is considered trite because we've spent so long prostituting the concept - paying lip-service to it without making any genuine attempt to take it to its logical conclusion - but Begin does. The main point being made, here as well as in the Tao Te Ching, is that devotion to love means, first and foremost, abstention from its opposite. Saying "This I will not be a part of, because it's thousands of years of a tradition which is shit".

The opposite of love is not hatred. And not, I think, as is often suggested, indifference. I think that violence, too, is too broad a term to suffice, for the reasons I mentioned earlier. I'd go for "repression". There's a (hypothetical) mode of living that is based on and around love, and there's the alternative people adopt when they're too terrified of the emancipating opportunities and open questions involved to embrace it. Instead they embrace laws.

I'm going to randomly throw out "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" in the full knowledge that this will influence nobody to read or reread it, but one of the more dominant themes in it is the view of intellectual analysis and scientific inquiry as a "knife" that brutally dichotomises our existence into "true" and "false", bringing order but also suffocating us under a blanket of insipid and alienating homogeneity. That book was better than most such "spiritually"-oriented works at recognising the need and value we nonetheless have in the scientific and systematic pursuit of order - the laws of war are an excellent example of its utility in terms of human welfare, despite the smugly disregardful attitude most people enjoy adopting towards it - but it insisted that to continue to categorise and catalogue our existence anywhere beyond where it is very strictly necessary is to completely miss the fucking point.

A mission-based life - socially, politically, romantically - is a life based on something other than love for people and for ourselves. Specifically, it's based on distracting us. If there's a set of criteria we can constantly try and consistently fail to meet, it can easily divert our attention from the fact that we have no understanding of what we're doing and how we got here. We can make ourselves too busy to even notice we're alienated. It's as effective a way as any of wasting our every waking second, but if we ever actually decide to live we'll have no choice but to embrace the chaotic and "anarchic" reality of a life based on nothing except love. And no doubt it will also result in us being less violent for transparently stupid reasons. It will make less sense.

Friday, 14 January 2011


I finally got around to taking out Menachem Begin's grandson's book – the one that made the news about a year ago when it came out for being leftist to an extent they're trying very hard to make it illegal to be in this country. That's kind of a dismissive way of describing it, so I'll add that his first name is Avinadav, the book is called The End of Conflict (though I don't think there's an English version), and it's actually surprisingly good.

It seems deliberately modeled after the Tao Te Ching, but maybe that's a commoner format than I think and I'm just drawing from my limited pool of literary comparison. In any case, in style as well as content it could be accused of slight pretentiousness, but I think it's worth bearing with. Whether intended or not, it does have a certain Chinese flavour to it, and it's kind of par for the course for that kind of thing to be a little over-stylised and didactic. Two of its very short "chapters" spoke very specifically to what I keep trying to talk about here, and seemed to give something of an insight as to how my separate tangents may be linked. These chapters, translated below, immediately follow one another in what seems like a seldom-made statement about the spirituality of politics. There's more than a small chance that this won't become entirely clarified from the translated text, but the important thing is that I know what I'm talking about. More or less. Begin is in italics.

"Chapter 16.

Hanukkah, Sukkot, Passover, Yom Kippur, Ramadan, Eid Al-Fitr, Eid al-Adha, Independence Day, Holocaust Remembrance Day , the Nakba, birthdays, brit milah, bar mitzvah, wedding, funerals. Festivals and ceremonies; national, religious, personal. Why do we need them? We repeat them compulsively, year after year, time after time. They constitute for us a rock in troubled seas. We hold on to the time markers and are afraid to let go.

The ceremonies constitute peaks within a homogeneous sequence of superficial and cold life, a great excitement for a single moment. Whole lives pass over us without direct relation to reality, to the forming and emerging existence. We try to connect to it through ceremony, trying to dredge up some depth from the shallowness consuming us. In our day-to-day routine we are indifferent to the labouring ant, to the weed waving in the wind, to the beggar lying in the street; indifferent to asylum seekers without a roof over their heads, indifferent to suffering, indifferent to love. We allow it to penetrate for a small moment when the glass is broken underneath the HUPA, when we see a couple kissing in the street or witness a car accident, but immediately we go back to our concerns, to routine, back to thinking about ourselves. Our souls swim in circles of shallow water. We have no clarity. Our empty heart is full of anger and bitterness.

The ceremonies and festivals, events and rituals are part of a conditioning mechanism meant to create a cultural person, that functions in the social arena within obtuse, mechanical conventions. Like a dog bringing back a thrown ball, we become moved when a flag is raised, a ring is worn, a birthday candle is snuffed out or the singing of the anthem is heard. We are moved at the right time by the right thing, sad on a memorial day for a friend or relative and happy on a birthday or the day of the nation's independence. Happiness and sadness by demand.

This isn't true identification with suffering or joy, this is conditioning. This is a mind carefully tamed since a young age, through promises of reward and punishment, under a steamroller of conformance to the collective, fearful of peculiarity, of judgement and criticism. A tamed mind, its horizons always narrow, will always look for an owner. Can I observe the mechanism that makes my mind a tool in the hands of others?

Can I live in a world devoid of the false mannerisms of this insanity? Can I live an existence without marking  of time, with no place for ceremony and gesticulation,with no need for the marking of territory, for declarations to the public, for declarations to the self, with no place for rehearsal, for ritual?

Chapter 17

Let us observe our mind - how it thinks, how it ties knots. Such an abundance of knots leaves it stuck in place, unable to escape its contradictions.

The observation itself, the question, the echo returning - will start unravelling knots.
Throw a stone into a lake, observe the stone, the impact on the water, watch the forming ripples, observe the throwing hand.

The act of observation has power, it will start collapsing walls.

It will expose the heart."

I'm going to get carried away and also give you the ending paragraph of chapter 19, which is also quoted on the back cover:

"It's not possible to love a country or a nation, not possible to love a land or an anthem, this isn't love but lordliness and possessiveness; it's the mind clinging to what gives it security, a promise of force and power. Force corrupts the heart, force does not discern beauty, force leads only to pain."

And all this somehow has to do with my "social life", which no longer seems cynical or superficial enough to warrant that handle and that will therefore be tentatively re-dubbed "my relationships with people that are on some level or another based on love." When you have love, you don't really need any of the other bullshit, and when you don't have love, all you're operating on is bullshit and are effectively wasting good sleeping time.

I would like to be free of ritual. Almost all of what I do, all the time, is purely obfuscation. I think I do this much more than most people but that doesn't really even matter. Everybody, in life in general, constantly has to choose between predictability & approval and conduct that isn't entirely meaningless and divorced from who they are, and most people consistently make the wrong decision. It's a question of deciding to love. It is not reconcilable with the desire to never have life surprise or disappoint you - to never feel anything. Down with Big Brother.