You know the feeling; you’ve read a damn-good book and then the film comes out. What do you do? Do you watch some chump mash up a perfect story or do you give it a chance?
That’s how I’m feeling about ‘High Rise.’ I love JGB’s book, and yes, I’ve bought the film on Blu ray. But, I haven’t watched it yet.
The story is compelling in the sense that the characters choose the hell they end up living in – Ballard’s ‘elective psychopathy’.
Maybe we all choose our own hell and rationalise it by claiming it is paradise. Whether we will to Certainty, to Negation, to Despair or to Sensation, those tentacles are wrapped around our ankles pulling us into the Sarlac’s pit.
All I know is that we can choose otherwise. And there is help there if we ask for it. The opposite of negation is mercy and mourning, the opposite of sensation is peace and a healthy heart, the opposite of despair is humility and trust, the opposite of certainty is doing what were supposed to do and not stopping when we take a beating for our troubles.
Evil is a poison, a disease, infectious and spreading.
I recommend the serum of the Mount.
We’ve had days, weeks, years, centuries, millennia of hatred. You can dress it up in whatever disguise you like: religion, nationalism, football teams, whatever, its so damn easy to hate, particularly if you feel you are the victim.
Hate goes down real easy, it feels good, but the hangover hurts like hell. The obvious solution? Hair of the dog – more hate.
Forgiveness? Impossible surely. How can you forgive someone who kills, who hurts, who causes pain to another.
The problem is we just pass the pain on.
That’s when we turn around and say ‘Fuck you, God.’ Usually we follow that up with a prayer.
But in the words of Saint Paul of Tallaght, ‘Daddy’s Gonna Pay for Your Crashed Car.’ And he does and he has.
That’s the unique selling point.
… without a thought for tomorrow. We live, breathe, shop, play football, watch football, eat, sleep, make love, with either the faraway concept that one day we die and that is it, or the faraway concept that one day we die and there is so much more.
Each of us has to choose our own ludicrous.
Despair is a process, the eating away of belief in a meta-meaning until all that is left is us as kings and queens of a ruined kingdom of one. Maybe we are right to reject the possibility of life after death because hell, there is no proof! At death, we simply cease to be in the same way as before our birth we did not exist.
Belief and Faith are oft derided concepts, these days. Just because we believe something to be true does not make it so. People talk about the ‘leap of faith.’ But I don’t believe it is a leap; it is more of a step, a decision to set out on the road from the City of Destruction to the Celestial City.
Who knows, we could be wrong. We might fall into a ditch along the way. The people who guide us could be charlatans.
But what is the alternative? A planet of reason consumed by consumerism, a world of warring certainties?
No thanks. I’ll make my choice, I’ll take my chances, I’ll fall over, curse my own stupidity and try again. But always believing in grace and mercy.
That’s my ludicrous.
Lewis’s ‘Screwtape’, Milton’s ‘Paradise Lost’, Blake’s ‘Marriage of Heaven and Hell’ and the Book of Job all take the point of view of Satan, the Enemy, and use it to reflect the point the author is looking to make.
The great difficulty with staring into the abyss is the point that Nietzsche makes, namely that the abyss can stare right back into us.
But then that is reality, we live that every day, choosing the Will to Love or the Will to Power. We choose to become a cancer cell, or one that is alive.
But existential prevarications are meaningless in the face of life’s stresses and strains aren’t they? Human beings evolved to become nature’s greatest killers because we faced down starvation and fearsome predators and took the Earth and all that is in it. Without the Will to Power we would have become extinct in the Rift Valley. Evil is our greatest good. Would we stand back and let our loved ones die, turn the other cheek, or would we fight back?
Where is God in all the suffering and pain?
And yet, what is our purpose amidst all of this? Is it to die fighting, to win the world like Thomas Shelby, or is it to die alive and loving?
Enough questions. For all is vanity and striving after the wind.
I remember train journeys. For some reason they stick in my mind. I remember going to Southport as a child and losing my bear. I remember travelling to Scotland and the land was under a blanket of snow (I was visiting a university and had ‘Fisherman’s Blues’ by The Waterboys on my Walkman).
Other times I look through train windows and see a despoiled land that doesn’t seem to give a shit. Other times I look through my car window at motorway verges and roundabouts and see the trash that people have thrown there.
I take the dog for a walk and have to lead her feet around the smashed beer bottle and the Maccie D’s boxes thrown from the passenger seat of a speeding Ford Fiesta.
I walk through London’s parks and see two things: a sign saying don’t leave food for the birds because you’ll attract rats and a homeless man sleeping in the sun.
So what is to be done? Say ‘fuck it’ and throw our own garbage into the hedgerow? Leave our towns and cities a wasteland of industry and consumerism? Accept that those less fortunate than us live like human garbage wrapped in cardboard and plastic in the doorway of Matalan?
I admire those that volunteer, those who tidy up, who plant flowers and crops, those who help those in need. Those that do something instead of blogging and reading blogs.
‘The Abyss That Laughs At Creation’ is an illuminated book. I had the privilege to see some of William Blake’s original books in the John Rylands Library in Manchester last year. We live in time of crisis, change, revolution and uncertainty, as did Blake. My own country voted this week to exit the EU. I voted to stay, my parents voted out. We are a nation divided, a family divided and as Blake and Milton illustrated, we are people divided. It is intra-personal conflict that interests me, that led me to create this book.
Abyss is inspired by my heros: Alan Moore, Alan Garner, Susan Cooper, Montaigne, PKD, Massive Attack, John Foxx, Dylan, Goya, Joy Division, Hoffer, Spencer, Nietzche, JGB, Camus, Jean Grenier, Norman Maclean, JKR, and many others. The story is 120 pages long, circa 8,000 words-ish I think, and then you’ve got my Wacom inspired doodles instead of WB’s genius. The central character is John Walsh, no it isn’t, the central character is the Will to Negation… To misquote Neil Young, a little part of it in everyone.
As Saint Paul of Tallaght says in ‘Wake Up Dead Man’ Jesus help me, I’m alone in this world and a fucked up world it is too…. If you like ‘Abyss’ please do review and rate it. If you hate it, please do review and rate it.