Life For Sale
We spend our lives gathering things, not knowing what to do with them
Step right up, step right up, step right up, Everyone's a winner, bargains galore That's right, you too can be the proud owner Of the quality goes in before the name goes on One-tenth of a dollar, one-tenth of a dollar, we got service after sales You need perfume? We got perfume, how 'bout an engagement ring? Something for the little lady, something for the little lady, Something for the little lady, hmm Three for a dollar We got a year-end clearance, we got a white sale And a smoke-damaged furniture, you can drive it away today Act now, act now, and receive as our gift, our gift to you They come in all colours, one size fits all No muss, no fuss, no spills, you're tired of kitchen drudgery Everything must go, going out of business, going out of business Going out of business sale Fifty percent off original retail price, skip the middle man Don't settle for less How do we do it? How do we do it? Volume, volume, turn up the volume Now you've heard it advertised, don't hesitate Don't be caught with your drawers down, Don't be caught with your drawers down You can step right up, step right up
Lyrics from the song “Step Right Up” penned by Tom Waits © Fifth Floor Music Inc.
An apt opening to this collection of ramblings no doubt. However there is subtle message hidden within my introduction. That not only is Tom Waits a master in his creation of himself, but an astute song smith observing the changing dynamics of cultural and economic change. There have always been con-men out there trying to sell you some piece of shit you really don't need and for some god damn fucking reason you find your arms get shorter, your pockets get deeper and before you know it, you’ve been drawn in, compelled to buy this thing of beauty, of which serves no purpose to your life 99% of the time. But there it is, like a huge white elephant in your mind, “Trumpety, trumpety fucking whooo!” And before too long, you find yourself rushing out into the urban jungle, arms waving, ATM cards maxed, whilst all the time proclaiming your life is incomplete without said item.
"Times are gone for honest men, and sometimes far too long for snakes" -Soundgarden’s "Black Hole Sun.
With the invasion of the interpipe into our homes, these salesmen have found new avenues and back streets in which to flaunt and peddle their junk, and boy do they ever come in different waves and disguises. Most of which you’ll never see coming. It’s like a subtle knife in a crowded street, an owl swooping for a mouse, a shark eating a surfer... Ok I admit not so subtle, I just wanted to get the word shark into this paragraph and give you the mental image of a surfer being munched. Don't want this to happen? Don't go swimming in the sea, you don't belong. My point being, that the shift, from the high street, to your home has been a quiet unrecognised event, clever, ingenious and cunning... subtle, not unlike a shark eating a surfer. And how have they made us do it? By allowing us to believe we need it.
"Why go out at all? Stay in, get your shopping delivered. Why struggle with all that fresh air and possible contact with other human beings? Sit back, relax, eat another packet of biscuits, buy this, buy that, get 10 free that you'll never use, but don’t worry about waste, we’ll just build houses on it, that’ll sink in time. Watch this shitty TV programme, read these terrible newspapers and magazines, help develop your hatred of other human beings further. As long as you don't ask questions, we'll keep providing you with all that you DON’T NEED".
Of course this is OTT and slightly embellished granted, but we are not too far off I tell you (My rich inner world :D) And as I write this, today is the day Marty McFly, Doc and Jennifer come to the future, and how unlike that depiction the world truly is. Zemeckis, Spielberg you lied to me. Ya bastards! Where’s my god damn hover board and self lacing boots?? I have waited 26 bloody years for them, and what do I find, some Canadian twat has stuck together some bloody drones, attached a skate board and floats around a pond on YouTube. Well that's shit).
We have allowed so many of our civil liberties and rights to be taken away in the past few decades, hard won rights curtailed and cushioned by the expansion of the internet and by the ignorance of an apathetic society devoid of value and worth for itself.
Though your right to gorge yourself on a diet of rubbish not fit for animal consumption, to pay excessively for fuel when the price of oil has dropped by half, to buy a stamp for 64p, seriously 64p?? When the fuck did that happen? To allow governments to U-turn on tax credits, flood defences, education improvements, to buying toxic toys for your kids, treat others in need like they’re the enemy and the cause of all your misery. These rights and privileges are all firmly in place and intact. The fact that a tin of soup costs nearly a pound a can riles my innards the most. For Soup!! The staple diet of students and the poor alike. And as far as I can see, nothing about the ingredients has changed, apart from there’s more water than normal and apparently it’s all organic. Two things wrong here, watery soup and this notion that just because it’s organic, it should cost the earth. Seriously!? So once again, we’re left with the dilemma, fast food = cheap, but endless health issues, long term strain on an already over stretched NHS system. Proper food = healthy living, vitamins, nutrition, but also not being able to pay rent, heat my house, run my car, cloth my kids, technically live like a normal person, but pay 25% VAT??... Ummmm.... Worst of all however, is the price of train tickets... Jesus, this royally bites my goat. How can they justify charging three times as much, as it would cost, to travel three times further in a plane? Are they intentionally trying to stop us from exploring our own country, the next town over?
“Take a bus”
Sure that’s all well and good, but when a bus journey takes almost as long as a transatlantic flight and stinks of shit and piss, you do have to ask yourself the question.
“Is it really worth it?”
And the rub to all of this... we can’t change it. It’s too late! We already allowed it to happen, because... we let them. We have such immense power to effect great social and economic change, but instead, settle for the lesser value trinkets they sell us as compensation. Because, essentially we are all magpies at heart.
“Acquisition is the root of suffering.” -The Middle Length Discourses of the Buddha
Never a truer statement Mr Buddha, I couldn’t agree more.
Advertising or ad vertere (Latin) as I have learned from my many years working within the sector is an incredible communication tool with varying conflicting objectives. Most effectively used to influence and create short-term positive individual feedback, with high levels of negative output. In short, making people feel bad in order to make them live beyond their means, or to do things they normally wouldn’t do, or to allow things to happen that they shouldn’t. In short, altering your opinion and distorting your perception into somehow reassuring you that you’re a viable success in society, a contributor, a model citizen, a hero underdog the champion of champions. They are designed and built to take advantage of who we are, how we work, every second they are poking you, prodding you, grabbing for your attention, all the while trying to get you to look in a certain direction, or feel a certain way and before too long, they have you exactly where they want you.
“Hello new iphone... Well I can’t afford to eat or pay my rent for the next 3 months, it'll be a struggle, but hey, isn’t it a pretty thing? Look my pictures move!”
"Monkey see, monkey do. I don't know why?" -Nirvana "Stay Away" lyrics
And what does it say about ourselves?
We are influenced only by the moments we choose to pick out, and these signals are barely perceptible, however they leave us feeling that all is not right with the world that there is something missing. And when we can’t see the world as we think we believe it should be, it becomes a dark and frightening place, a place bared down to only a few vague signals, devoid of comfort, control, sanctuary. And it is here, in this place, a place of their choosing that they exploit our inner fears, namely isolation from the rest of the pack. We after all are such sociable creatures, unable to separate completely from what we want for ourselves and what our society and culture wants for us. We are in essence a product of our own making, flawed individuals tied down to cultural expectation, imposition and rigorous demands from the hierarchy. Reaping long term benefits and profits at the expense of human dissatisfaction, is the key attribute to subjugating the masses, more fool us for thinking they have our best interests at heart eh! And the sad thing about it all... is that we are able to overcome our instincts, and are capable of reason, though we allow ourselves time and time again to slip into the vague madness and false security of belonging and want. I know I am just a susceptible as anyone else, but I would like to think I am responsible for my own actions and thoughts, wouldn't you?
“Settle for nothing now, we’ll settle for nothing later” –Rage Against The machine "Settle For Nothing"
Ad vertere – actually means to turn toward. And in truth, we should all be fucking walking the other direction and shouting at the tops of our voices
"We’re actually doing just fine without it all thanks!"
Whilst many will be steadfast in their beliefs of themselves as heretics, mavericks, and freethinkers, I would counter this by arguing the point that we are all creatures of habit, predictability, uniformity and synchronisation. To such lengths, that if we could dip ourselves in ink and be plopped on a blank piece of paper, the boxes we contain ourselves within would inevitably start to plot a form on the page. Of course there will be moments when you go skipping off in the opposite direction, make pretty chaotic patterns or indeed fall off the page entirely, although these momentary glitches in your order will be few and far between. Ultimately you’ll fall back in line, we always do. We’re unable to stop ourselves, enslaved to these patterns, indoctrinated by the predictability and comfort they provide. We feel safe and secure in knowing that our future is a simple stroll towards a preordained destiny and fate; there is no need to cover one’s eyes, nothing bad could or will happen right?
We’re tethered to these patterns like fish to a line, unable to break away no matter how hard we try. True unpredictability, challenges us, forces us out into the open, starts asking awkward and uncomfortable questions, makes us look inwards, and sometimes the eyes staring back at you, are not the ones you want to see.
However, if we push ourselves enough, open our minds to the possibility that everything thing that can happen, does happen at every given second, good and bad, right and wrong, and that these things are continually waging war upon themselves in the background. Then we start to see the inevitability of change as a constant factor to life’s undulating magic, and moreover something that should be embraced and not something to frightened of. Staying still, gives the false impression of safety when in truth if you stand fearless in the face uncertainty and doubt, beyond these limits and expectations, extraordinary things can and do happen. Admittedly sometimes at great cost, just as when a fish breaks free from a line, two things generally happen, either it’s left with a disfiguring wound to its face, or it’s left with a hook firmly wedge in its throat, both unpleasant, but somehow both are manageable and survivable, it is how you act from this place that will ultimately define your character. Do you choose to cut off your nose to spite your face, or hope that other factors give way first, namely leaving fate to decide your outcome?
“And what does this have to do with anything Mr Nearly?” I hear you ask.
To be concluded....