Thursday, 3 July 2014


Convention must be the most insidious form of repression, because it is the most invisible. Strangely enough, my most immediate association with the word is conventional bombing, which is a mind-blowing enough notion in itself. Convention can establish and excuse anything. It is ultimately convention that determines that 2+2=5, civilians may be murdered in masses, or whole peoples kept enslaved.

It also governs social etiquette. It becomes a more or less all-pervasive orthodoxy. You get the secular orthodox, liberal orthodox, easy-going orthodox, masculine orthodox, emotionally orthodox, constructive orthodox - not to mention the various forms of Orthodox orthodox.

I've just seen this film:

For a few weeks now reviewers have been going on about this film - justly, it transpires! - but they keep accidentally describing it as the story of a bunch of bored and unmotivated soldiers. It is in fact the story of a full-blown anarchist in military uniform, and her fight against the repressed repressors around her. It's sort of almost an apolitical film, but its and its protagonist's indifference to politics and army affairs is very strongly and stubbornly felt, the latter going as far as to claim that her sabotaging of army equipment was ideologically motivated. I believe her.

Anarchists. I am reminded of a song by Rage Against the Machine that ends with a seemingly endless repetition of the line "Fuck you I won't do what you tell me". It sort of seems like a silly line by a band with a silly name and a simplistic world-view, but it stuck in my mind. Mindless anarchism feels like as good a response as any to mindless conventionalism. If everybody does what everybody does just because everybody does it, it might be a demonstration of integrity to say "I will not do this, because you expect me to."

It doesn't even matter if the repressors are in the right. Even when obedience is necessary it is soul-and-life-destroying. You're supposed to step out of anarchistic adolescence and into responsible adult obedience, but it's fairly obviously a developmental regression. I really do think that in Israel it happens mostly in the army, and my exemption from it may be why I still feel like an adolescent, but I seem to be trying to convince myself now that is not a bad thing. Better immature than dead inside.

I get irritated with people a lot, but I do believe most of the time they're genuinely trying to do the right thing. That's probably the problem - that they're too convinced that they know what the right thing is. Usually "the right thing" just means "the commonly accepted thing".

I'm not good with the commonly accepted. It tends to bore me and I miss it or forget it. I'm not good with social etiquette. I'm really no fucking good with orthodoxy in any of its guises. It kills me that in some form, to some extent, I have no choice but to accept it. It confuses and unsettles me when I'm reminded that sometimes I actually don't have to. Sometimes boring bullshit can be called out, or dismissed, and they don't take your grown-up badge away. Sometimes they're only pretend rules. My least favourite kind.

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