For No Good Reason at All

I think that I am correct in writing that the icon to the right of these words once stood at a gate of Constantinople, in the wall, protecting the city--until it stopped doing so.

I woke up thinking of Shelley's Ozymandias poem this morning;
I met a traveller from an antique land
Who said: Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. Near them on the sand,
Half sunk, a shatter'd visage lies, whose frown
And wrinkled lip and sneer of cold command
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamp'd on these lifeless things,
The hand that mock'd them and the heart that fed.
And on the pedestal these words appear:
"My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:
Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!"
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away

I often feel somewhat disassociated from the world these days. One of the fallacies which arise from thinking about things a lot--or, for that matter, blogging about them--is that you end up thinking that your thoughts mean things, and that they are the equivalent of doing anything. They may, to you and your God, of course; but what, equally they might mean is nothing. Worse, it may be that you can see what is happening, and confidently expect some outcome; and the world in its recurrence might just shrug and say 'go on'. It could be that you can only watch, as things unfold in front of you. You wish for change--you can summon leviathan from the vasty deep if you want--but will they come?

So you see workers paid in pre-paid debit cards they have to pay banks to use, and think, well, 'can that really last?'--and it can. You see the trains that people depend upon to get to jobs they need desperately put up their prices by over a hundred per cent in a transparent dodge and think, 'well, they can't have paid the government enough, or established enough of a grip on the minds of the people in charge to get away with that, can they?'--and they have. Read the comments. Even the Daily Mail readers want the trains nationalised again--The Daily Mail. Will it happen? You see soldiers being abandoned in awful vehicles and a war with no point, and think, well, that won't go on, will it? And it does. And so on and so on, from every lying bank, every opportunity people under pressure take to kick down, every moment when they absorb a kick and don't react, every moment when you think, 'no, this musn't be the way it always will be, this must end', every moment when you see people's faces and wonder about the strength and the buckling and the heartbreak in there.

I once wrote a note to a man suffering in Zimbabwe. I meant nothing grandiloquent about it; I just confidently expected that he could dwell in the lonely resource of his soul until day came around again. I hoped that he could hold on, and the message, it seems, helped some. I'm glad of that. Now I need hope. I find it in the palm of Christ and in the love of my friends and in laughter and in the eyes of students who just needed to see. Thank god for that. But I am clinging to it now.

The west in general, and the Atlantic world at the moment, are sleepwalking into a nightmarish crisis. Are we so far under water, all of us? No one seems to be thinking of the greater picture. Seven million Americans have lost their jobs since the crisis began on official figures alone, and wider measures suggest many more are in deep trouble. At least twenty million full time jobs have gone in the developed world. In this country, people are living in fear of the phone, of the next demand through the letterbox, of the redundancies and debt that are descending across Europe. Agents of propaganda are everywhere assuring people that the recession is easing, yet--where? What monetarist, what follower of the Solow model, what worshipper at the foot of Keynes could say anything to the people being systematically betrayed every day of the week?

Jesus wept. I know how fortunate I am. I know that the combination of fiscal, monetary, industrial, social and environmental crisis (even NASA now thinks a Maunder minimum is possible), and the erosion to breaking point of legal and political legitimacy, is stealing around like disease.

But, is what my waking mind is telling me only that, in the long run, all would ease? One slip up, and this world and the things we've been used to are gone, reader. A flu here, a bullet there, a bank run thataway, or an earthquake yonder and--well, the resources to cope are gone.

Maybe. Maybe that's why people shouldn't think too much. Maybe I just need my girlfriend's embrace again. She's back soon. I'll stick a cheery Dean Martin tune up on her return....

Comments

Mary said…
Cheer up Martin, She'll be home soon.
Martin Meenagh said…
haha, you know me so well...:)
DBC Reed said…
Pre-paid debit cards have possibilities.You could program them to go demonetise themeselves or go blank at the end of the month,so people would spend like mad beforehand, on a use-it-or- lose-it basis.Or if you wanted to keep the money in the bank,you would have to pay a hefty fee,which money would go the government as a tax on money hoarding. So Silvio Gesell lives!Perhaps not.
Martin Meenagh said…
I don't know, DBC, I was appalled by that. I know the state is owned by financial interests--and run by a media-political class--but, imagine dribbling your precious life out in some factory and then getting paid in what is essentially a sort of coupon for the company shop. Workers should have the dignity of a wage, not a credit chip in a cage.

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