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notes from the golden country

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Was just thinking, while outside for the upteenth time to smoke today, that sometimes, lately, my life feels a lot like the scene that runs from 1:29.10 to 1:29.40 in this clip:

Try not to look at the before or after, which would make all this seem a tid bit melodramatic. And I am never ever melodramatic, even if, sure, there’s been a bit of what comes before and after too, sure. Would that you’d been here to see this non-melodrama, all of you who weren’t!

Do with the politics of the novel / movie what you want. They were totally fucking confused from the start, crossing anxiety about UK austerity with the critique of totalitarianism. I am going to – soon! – write a paper that argues that the real takeaway of the novel is its adolescent sexuality – parents always spying on you in your little room as you write in your journal, dropping notes in the hallway, fucking Julia in the woods, etc etc – and that this is why it works / was adopted as the goto text for American adolescent pre-reeducation all the way up ’till today. That’s always been how the terms of the deal were phrased. Basic American libertarianism is sustained by visions of being disallowed what happens in the back of cars parked in the lot by the football field, Friday night…. Aside from the books I have to write, I can’t decide whether this paper or the one I want to do on Saturday, the NHS, and the War in Iraq is the one to do first. Anyway, that’s another story. Please don’t steal my McEwan idea. The Orwell maybe you can have.

Orwell was a real c___ wasn’t he?

What was I talking about? Right – my feelings. Well, whatever, it’s hard to learn to sit back and enjoy things when you were brought up as I was. Sometimes it feels like your strapped into a machine and dreaming of thinking otherwise. Sometimes you’re Winston Smith, sometimes you’re both Winston Smith and O’Brien at once. When it works, you’re receptionate, you’re in the Golden Country and repeating rote what someone tells you. 2+2=4. No 5! Did I mention that the first book I really read – and really which formed through sinistral means the starting point of this errant mission toward intellectual labor rather than, dunno, financial management or high school baseball coach – was 1984? Discussed it with the smartest guy at school behind the tennis courts, who was a Marxist and an atheist in a school full of defensive ends and third-basemen (like me, like me), and where he gave me a pack of Marlboro Reds, and which I smoked over the course of a few months, and now he’s a vicar in the C of E. And I’m a lecturer in English at a top-flight UK uni and smoking 2 packs a day. Hmmmm…..

He lives in London now, from what I gather. I guess I should look him up. Not the least, for the possibility of free spiritual advice.

Anyway, I’m going to take my last forty-five minutes of allotted consciousness tonight and try to rewrite the scene I pointed you to in the clip, but translocated to heaven. Seriously. I imagine that heaven, if it existed, would be quite a bit like the Ministry of Love. (In the film, the University of London’s Senate House, pictured above, but also here, stands in for the Ministry, even though it does in fact have windows). The most sophisticated version of hell that we were offered back there at St. Virgil’s (we had a relic, btw, probably because there wasn’t much of a market for Virgilius’s leavings….) was that it was like seeing god for an instant and then instantly knowing that you’d never see god again. Losing things, good things, sucks – this much is true. But I imagine that losing bad things, patterns of thought for instance, is hard too, but what would I know about that?

I further imagine, that heaven, again if it existed, might look a lot like one of those capitals of neoliberal giddiness, of consumptive liberty popularly accepted. Like Toronto the last time I saw it, driving north along the QEW past all those new condo developments. Or Shanghai with its strange globes and rockets, the parks with pedestian flyovers. You would have to spend some time in therapy, even the sort of therapy that Winston undergoes, but eventually you’d learn to love it, learn to see more fingers than are really there. Unless you didn’t, but there’s a place for those who are wrongly located: Regions of sorrow, doleful shades, where peace / And rest can never dwell, hope never comes etc etc etc

Nahn sir wii ahm, nahn sir wii ahm, nahn sir wii ahm. Ah, you try not to think it but it just bleeds through. The syllables that you’re not supposed to think, the actions and words that correlate. Build a cloudcastle of no!, fall, and then write tomorrow night, tomorrow morning. You’ll get an email. You’ll show ’em yet. You’ve spent your 45 minutes of consciousness on what, again?

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 15, 2009 at 1:47 am

2 Responses

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  1. I grew up in Toronto, and wound up making the film at the above URL for my undergrad project at an art school in Vancouver. “Consumptive liberty popularly accepted” sums up the film’s inspiration pretty well. (The film itself is a little silly and over the top, but it came from an honest place and I’m still very happy with it.)

    Chris L

    February 18, 2009 at 7:52 am

  2. Ah I really like it! Love the bit where the highly abstract adlogos come out as speech… Really nice and thanks for sending it along!


    February 19, 2009 at 11:58 am

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