Not what I wanted to blog about

I was thinking all night of the post I’d write about a clock, an 18th century clock. It started with the clock, anyway, and ended up being more about a mother and daughter.

It was going to be a post about self-isolation and self-improvement, about reason and tolerance defeating ignorance and greed, about women’s fight for equality and independence; about jealousy and love, egos and guillotines; about rebellion and restraint; about philosophy, education and religion; about gaiety, satire and burlesque – lyrics from Gypsy were going to be included (“Sing out, Louise”) – it was a mess, less than the sum of its parts.

The object still exists for you to look at. All you need from me is a link. No words. Everything has been said before. No more blogging, I say.

Instead, I’m copying and pasting a Tweet from the journalist John Crace, about today’s cause célèbre, the latest gobsmacking hypocrisy of the Vote Leave coup leaders who are turning the ancient democracy of Great Britain into a shoddy dictatorship, a tax haven for corrupt, nihilist capitalists, while the rest of us, if we survive the plague, will die from poverty and bitterness, and malnutrition from lowered food standards.

We will be deprived of freedom of movement to work and live and love where we want in Europe, our continent. For some of us, that freedom and that love are the meaning of life itself. We have been dispossessed. We are aliens in our own country.

Tick tock.

The rich will still be able to do what they want, just as Cummings, Great Britain’s eminence grise, did during lockdown, when, knowing he and his wife had COVID-19, he flouted government restrictions by travelling 260 miles to visit his elderly parents with his four year-old child.

Cummings, in his own mind the child of Machiavelli and Nietzsche, doesn’t care; the pastiche prime minister/world king manqué and his equally over-entitled, even creepier associates (who can’t wait to stab him in the back) don’t care; they know there will be no consequences for the shameless. They are unaccountable. They have called democracy’s bluff.

They prey on human frailty. They play on the ordinary person being as selfish and venal as they are. They taunt and tempt like the sleazy admen and dodgy goods’ salesmen they are.

Everything they offer you has fallen off the back of a lorry. They know most of us know. They don’t care. Look how we can spin! Aren’t we funny! More entertaining than the Opposition. Razzamatazz! (Theatre is dead, due to Coronavirus, showing off isn’t.) Bragging how you have twisted the truth impresses more, nowadays, than telling the truth.

If you weren’t as bad as them before, you will be soon.

Tick tock.

John Crace on Twitter:

According to @michaelgove
and other cabinet ministers,
those of us who didn’t break government guidelines
to drive 250 miles just didn’t love
our families and friends enough

Another Tweet, from Aditya Chakrabortty, sums up the depth of this government’s betrayal of a nation:

If only Number 10 had acted as quickly and forcefully on the pandemic in March as it has to save Dominic Cummings

And, because I can’t bear to leave you without something old and pretty, here’s the link to a relic from the Age of Enlightenment and Reason, a neoclassical feminist clock illustrating the power of solitude:

Mantel clock eMuseumPlusb
Mantel clock c. 1768 made for Madame Geoffrin (1699-1777) The Wallace Collection

“One must work with time and not against it.”
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Dispossessed

Take care of yourself first

ToiletteDelicious

“I went to collect the few personal belongings which…I held to be invaluable: my cat, my resolve to travel, and my solitude.” Colette

“The world is very lovely, and it’s very horrible–and it doesn’t care about your life or mine or anything else.”
Rudyard Kipling, The Light That Failed

“He’d never seen anything in a cat’s face but simpering incuriosity and self-interest” Jonathan Franzen, Freedom

“After the attrition of thirty humdrum years, he no longer loved her for her human qualities. He still found her attractive because she was as self-possessed as a cat. Observed or unobserved, wherever she was, she behaved the same, with the same rhythm and attention to detail, a graceful selfishness, true to herself, if not to him.

He was as absorbed in her as she was in herself. Watching her brushing her hair, applying ineffable creams to her face and body, swiping her tablet as if it were a mirror to her other, secret selves, or eating her small helpings of balanced meals at the same table as him without once looking at him, he felt he barely existed. He was not offended. He admired her independence and indifference to other people’s petty jealousies. When she came home in the small hours, without telling him where she had been, he knew better than to ask. She was her ‘own damned cat.'”
Noëlle Mackay, Human Rites

“Nothing resembles selfishness more closely than self-respect” George Sand, Indiana

Self-isolation? No problem

The Cardboard Throne photograph by Martin Hübscher ©2018

The Power of Loneliness or The Loneliness of Power? I think it’s the former.

There’s a value in social distance and self-reflection that we humans have been overlooking.

We are not all herd animals, and the pressure to conform has been damaging.

Self-isolation is the least of our national problems at the moment.

This cat is king, and he’s not getting palliated by any crackpot, incompetent, nihilistic human government.

He will live and die as he wants. A free cat.

 

Silent, upon a peak in Darien

LFT on steps2020-03-01 at 14.44.31

photo © 2020 Martin Hübscher Photography

Despite his soul-piercing look of reproach, hope springs eternal while King Cat surveys
the ruins of his kingdom left by human occupation.

What are you doing while the world burns?

Boris Johnson is reputed to compare himself to Britain’s World War II leader, Winston Churchill, a showman with genuine political foresight whose rhetoric thrilled a nation into active resistance: “we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.

A narcissist who thrives on attention, Johnson probably won’t be upset by some of the hilarious parodies now in circulation:

Johnson and Trump are both corruptly democratically elected dictators and share personal characteristics. There are two differences, balancing each other out. The first is personal. Trump is stupid and instinctive, Johnson is intelligent and calculating. The second is circumstantial. Trump rules a super power, Johnson is the figurehead of a declining power that has done the “stupidest thing any nation has ever done” (Bloomberg) in choosing Brexit, making its own people poorer and its global influence impotent.

Johnson did not believe in Brexit in 2016, and we may safely assume he doesn’t believe in it now. He doesn’t care. He believes in himself. It is not a coincidence that humans are being led by megalomaniac lying narcissists at the beginning of the end of the world. Even if we didn’t vote for them ourselves, we didn’t fight hard enough to stop them.

So we are all accountable.

We have got to fight harder. Or have we? What do you want to do? People have always adapted, haven’t they? Survival of the fittest and all that? Is that what you want? Is that the sensible thing to do?

Johnson’s absence lotus-eating while Trump plays WWIII games with world peace and the Australian burns has been called cowardice. That jibe would cut most of us to the quick. Not Johnson. Not Trump. Their narcissism gives them armour for self-preservation that the average person doesn’t have.

They don’t care. That’s why they are successful, that is why they were elected by people in flight from the horrors of reality, overfed on lies and false promises, bored by facts, obsessed by structured reality shows, who wanted leaders in their own image to reassure themselves that they are good. They don’t care that it’s a lie. That’s where we are in evolution. The age of denial before extinction.

It’s not going to happen in your lifetime? So you don’t care? I hold you to account. I hold myself to account, too, but I would rather scream alone in the dark than break bread with any collaborator.

We are witnessing the slow agonizing death of our world, and most people don’t care. So they follow leaders who make not caring look aspirational.

Look! Be a PM or President with a subjugated trophy women at your side! Look! Tax havens! Free use of millionaires’ villas on sleazy sex islands! Look!

Look!

baby kangaroo

Look!

Australia

Look!

sof_aacute__by_ekhi_guinea-d756999Sofa by Ekhi-Guinea

We still have a choice. We either continue to self-medicate or we get off the sofa and fight.
If we are financially able, we must give money to those who need it more.
If we are physically able, we must resist and protest.

Goodbye, bloggers

The Rotten State

 

Apples Screenshot_2019-10-21 The Independent on Twitter

BrexitbasketfrBalthasar van der Ast, Basket of Fruits, 1625 Oil on wood, Staatliche Museen, Berlin. Image: WGA

via Scorched Earth

Britain 2019-10-20 at 20.22.26

Hope & Glory Martin Hübscher Photography ©19 October 2019

All the world wondered

With their take-over of the British government, Vote Leave’s subversion of our democracy is so complete, the country’s divisions so wide, the future of families and businesses so bleak, that no joke about it seems far-fetched enough to be funny any more.
Brexit has plunged us into wartime black humour conditions. Not altogether healthy: we laugh at truths we want to minimize.
This, for instance, sounds more like a plausible outcome of the new Home Secretary, Priti Patel’s, tenure than a laughing matter:
Screenshot_2019-07-25 Richard Coles on Twitter I suppose one way round the Brexit problem would be for Priti Patel to sell [...]
Priti Patel, sacked as a government minister by the previous Prime Minister for pursuing her own secret foreign policy and lying about it, is typical of Boris Johnson’s Cabinet of Rogues. The stench of their lies and amorality is polluting the air of an already over-heated country.
It is being said across the world that this is Great Britain’s nadir. The election of the classically educated dreamer of Ancient Roman emperors and do or die global swanking, the narcissistic liar and charlatan Boris Johnson (“It’ll take more than shouting some pig Latin and waving around a kipper” to run the country tweeted Larry the Cat) as Prime Minister, by 0.13% of the country, is the latest sign of our democratic dysfunction.
Nero_Glyptothek_Munich_321
Head of Nero (popularly regarded as one of the worst Roman Emperors) Part of a statue, after 64BC. Glyptothek, Munich. Image: Wikipedia
This, it is being said, “is how Britain ends”. (James Butler, The New York Times, 22 July, 2019)
The Tory Party members who voted for him “were obviously dominated by people who like Boris Johnson, do not distinguish between fact and fiction”. (Lawrence O’Donnell, MSNBC, 23 July 2019)
The organization Vote Leave, to which the majority of Johnson and his appointees belonged, has been found guilty of breaking electoral law. As they are now the rulers of Britain, it follows that Britain is no longer governed by the rule of law.
Accountability, keystone of Democracy, is now eliminated from the UK government. Vote Leave’s reign of liars, racists & careerists, enabled by most of the news media, most notably by the BBC, lacks the most basic justification for power.
Many of us feel ashamed to be English. Brexit is an English far-right project, either dragging Wales, Scotland and Ireland down with it, or threatening the Union itself.
We must resist it.  We, “lions led by donkeys”, have been betrayed by the privileged political classes before. We have defeated fascism abroad. Now, we must defeat it inside our own borders. Our island has gone mad, and we must heal it.
We need your support, wherever you are.
When men come to be undeceived, it is too late; the jest is over,
and the tale hath had its effect….like a physician, who hath found out an infallible medicine, after the patient is dead. Jonathan Swift
LightBrigadebyChristopherClark
Someone had blundered.
   Theirs not to make reply,
   Theirs not to reason why,
   Theirs but to do and die.
   ….
All the world wondered.
From Alfred Tennyson, The Charge of the Light Brigade, which, before Brexit, was England’s iconic worst self-inflicted disaster.

Friendly intervention (2)

“But for what purpose was the earth formed?” asked Candide. “To drive us mad,” replied Martin.
Voltaire, Candide

The great English immigration question: Why was Hamlet, Prince of Denmark, sent to England?
“Twill, a not be seen in him there; there the men are as mad as he”. Shakespeare, Hamlet

As a nation, once praised by the rest of the world for its common sense, marches to the sound of Trumpery ever nearer towards the cliff edge of “Global Britain”, we need to listen to the advice of friends, sincerely alarmed for our well-being. Nobody wants to see an old friend behaving irrationally, suffering delusions, swallowing a diet of deep fried lies and chlorinated chicken, deliberately detaching themselves from reality.

Delacroix Hamlet and Horatio in the Graveyard 1839
Quintessential pan-European heroes of English literature, visualized by a Frenchman, taking a look at 21st Century Brexit, the death of the UK as they and we know it.

Friends all over the world, not just EU Members, have warned us against Brexit for 3 years. Mark Rutte, the conservative-liberal Prime Minister of the Netherlands, candidly told us that Brexit would diminish the UK and that our own next Prime Minister is disregarding facts about trade, treaties and constitutions, all the stuff we thought politicians needed to know about. Johnson is a Post-Truth leader. He knows facts don’t matter to his supporters.

“Is politics nothing other than the art of deliberately lying?” Voltaire

Lying was not invented by Trump or Johnson. They’ve just dumbed it down for modern consumption, and it’s working, just like extra sugar, fat and salt have worked.

But the thing about these demagogues, these narcissists spouting racism and sexism with impunity on either side of the Atlantic, these satanic tempters of human vice disguised as wobbly blonde clowns, the thing that lets them get away with betraying the national interest while promoting their own, is that they are rich, very, very rich. They can afford to tell lies because they, unlike the majority of us, can afford the consequences.

“The comfort of the rich depends upon an abundant supply of the poor.” Voltaire

New tariffs, higher basic food and drink prices, job redundancies, increased travel tax, the severance of rights to work and love abroad, the erosion of workers rights and environmental and food standards, the cancelled scientific and cultural projects, the loss of opportunity for equality and liberty, the loss of all the things that make the human condition bearable, which was once collectively called civilization, don’t matter to the Brexit ringleaders because they can buy the food and holiday and lover and power they want.

You vote for a madman, you get a mad country.

Or, as a European friend to humanity warned in a more elegant turn of phrase, long, long ago:

“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” Voltaire

Will anything spewed on to my obscure web page change a mind? Of course not. I am not an Influencer. I am one of a million Cassandras, shrieking on our self-assembled walls.

I defer to Remainer Now, the community for people with the courage to change their minds, heroes of the corrupt 2016 Referendum, along with Led by Donkeys, who have given the ineffectually led Remain cause the inspirational marketing that it needed from the beginning.

Led by Donkeys projection on the White Cliff of Dover, appealing to our historic friends in Europe for help in our time of madness, 2019

The right to change our minds is at the heart of democracy. That is why, after a civil war and constitutional revolution or two, we have fixed term parliaments. The idea was to save us from tyranny. Brexit is delivering us to a specifically modern tyranny, designed by oligarchs to be delivered by the people against the people. There are risks to another referendum (the third in UK on EU membership, not the second) but it would be entirely democratic in principle.

 “The human brain is a complex organ with the wonderful power of enabling man to find reasons for continuing to believe whatever it is that he wants to believe.”
Voltaire
The great advantage that Leavers have over Remainers is optimism:
“Optimism,” said Cacambo, “What is that?”
“Alas!” replied Candide, “It is the obstinacy of maintaining that everything is best when it is worst.”
Voltaire, Candide
If you are neither inveterate Leaver nor Remainer, if you are the Great British Fence Sitter, if you are Micawber or Waverer, or Neutralist or Opportunist, if you think not taking sides in the moment before an execution is morally superior, if you think there is nothing better you could do, then be quizzed by our friend Voltaire:

“I should like to know which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off…and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley – in short, to undergo all the miseries we have each of us suffered – or simply to sit here and do nothing?’

 

“That is a hard question,’ said Candide.”
Voltaire, Candide
Nobody reads for long anymore. I don’t. Farage was right not to bother with a manifesto. Nobody reads a manifesto, nowadays. Ignorance is power.
We read slogans that would fit on a T-shirt.

“If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”
Voltaire, Candide
Stop Brexit. Save Britain. Revoke Article 50. Reform. Reunite.

Friendly intervention

A true friend tells you the truth, even when it hurts. We are all better at judging other people’s mistakes than our own. The reflection that I see in the mirror is not the person other people see.

We should listen to friendly warnings before we walk over a cliff. “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm.” Proverbs 13.20.

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main. If a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were: any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bells tolls; it tolls for thee.” John Donne, Meditation XVII