Douglas Bastard's Rants of Rage

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This article was written on 20 Aug 2017, and is filled under Uncategorised.

Death, Europe and hypernormality

‘Nobody,’ said Jim Morrison, ‘gets out of here alive.’ We all die, sooner or later, and a pressing sense of our own mortality makes all politics recede. Get a serious diagnosis or lose someone close to you and what the government of the day says or does, or who it is composed of will cease to matter in the time it takes for your mortal heart to beat again. That means that the question becomes ‘how can I have the most comfortable death in the most pleasant surroundings,’ and that changes the view entirely.

This thought floated to the top of my mind when I watched the Adam Curtis documentary on what he calls ‘hyperrealism,’ borrowing the term from another theorist. We are lied to all the time by people in charge of us, who want us to think certain things, and the hapless victims of forces immeasurably larger than us, is Curtis’ thesis and one in find persuasive. The response to this will depend, perhaps, on age and personality, but you can either resist or, as is my favoured option, look to live in surroundings that are at least congenial.

Resistance does not commend itself to me because it is utterly futile. The powers ranged against the would-be resister are infinite and superior. If they wanted you dead, then you would be taken out of your bed and murdered or else beaten down by the courts and there is nothing that anyone could do to change it. It’s one of the reasons why I stopped paying any mind to peace organisations. The ones that want war are stronger and have the ear of government, so half a dozen very well-intentioned people meeting in the foetid basement of a left-wing bookshop in north London aren’t going to do anything much.

There’s also Brexit, in which the country has voted to turn itself into a latter day East Germany, although without the Wall, hilariously described in the propaganda of the time as an ‘anti-fascist protection barrier,’ it seems that the Channel will have to do instead. Deciding who you want to lead the country after that is as pointless as worrying about the colour of the deckchairs on the Titanic as, within a short space of time, you’re not going to be on a liner anymore but in the freezing cold ocean with a life span measured in minutes.

As with East Germany, the media and the political parties will invest all their energy in pretending everything is fine, when economics tell a different story. Living standards will drop, of course, and choice will be tightly circumscribed, but nobody will want to talk about that as it’s too complex. The flight from messy complexity towards simple and wholly ineffective solutions and mindsets is, again, a thesis that Curtis develops well and very convincingly.

Given the impossibility of opposition, the opening question, namely where and how you die, becomes the most pressing. I’m 44 and barring a rewriting of my genetic code, can expect to be dead within the next twenty years, something I’m immeasurably glad of. I didn’t want to be born in the first place and existence is something that was forced on me, while I lack the courage for suicide. Moreover, being part of a society which is slowly ossifying and watching as my living standards slowly grind into reverse doesn’t appeal in any way. I’m not patriotic and don’t feel compelled to work for the greater good.

My choice, assuming anything so fanciful exists, is to move abroad, ideally to Europe, where I can work for a few years and then die, cheaply, in a state hospital. I apply for about two jobs in Europe a week and if ever hear back, it’s generally to tell me that I’ve been unsuccessful. They vary from journalism to writing and my applications vary from plaintive to confident, but the motivation behind them is the same: don’t leave me to piss away my last years in an undefended NHS hospital in a diseased country.

My favoured options are, in no particular order, that I go to sleep tonight and don’t wake up or get a job overseas, leave and am then offered citizenship elsewhere, enabling me to drop a great, steaming turd into my passport and forget that I was ever British. Life bores and appals me in equal measure. Maybe it’s better elsewhere, and for all that I won’t get out of here alive, I’d like to be somewhere pleasant while I wait for the end.

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