Failing Freedom of Outer Space= Losing the Plot on Planet Earth.

I think this ‘thing‘ is a bit like being in outer space.

Despite the fact that I can escape my house quite often, I always make the same return journey and come back home as if on a powerful elastic umbilical cord.

Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey to Screen in IMAX
https://cdn1-www.comingsoon.net/assets/uploads/2018/08/2001two.jpg

Although I’m fortunate to have people around me, the reduction in social interaction is reducing me. Conversations are snippets rather than true exchanges and when I find myself talking with somebody or rather, at them, it all gushes out in a stream of mad subconscious breadcrumbs. Having honed my listening skills over many years I was really good at paying attention and excelled in giving the opposite of a poker face. I now fear it’s slipping away. When Mandy and I go for a walk, I try to give good ear but am dreadful at it. If there’s a gap of silence I feel a need to fill it up as if it were a pothole that needs padding out with whatever comes to hand; mud, horse manure and dead hair for making up underwear; all this to avoid my mental wheel (which already has a rocky axle) from falling in to it.

Talking of vehicles, let’s launch…

I think that being in space is like this: 

You’re belted into a very small capsule and you can’t move. Even if you need to empty your bladder, you cannot ‘go’, you simply release.

There’s a round double-double glazed window and everything you can see looks like the 1960’s because that’s when space was invented. The sky, which is really just a lot of tiny zeros, is thoroughly black. Not even navy blue. Not even MIDNIGHT Black/Blue, it’s dead-panned black. And it’s not even the sky because it’s not above you like the real sky is. This thing is underneath you too and it’s around the invisible corners. If you’re lucky enough to be in a space station you have more windows but to be frank, the non-sky, which is the floor, the walls and by now, the inside of your mouth too, is still matt black. A forever deep blackness that knows no time lines or boundaries and ceratinly has no truck with doughnuts or tulips. Loads of sticky stars have been thrown at it and they conspire to give a false sense of comfort to suggest that we aren’t alone. But we are. Alone.

So, I’m strapped in this very confined metaphor, struggling to make it work and outside it is just this corner-less plate of zeros. Except, as I said, the stick-on stars but, and I don’t say this lightly, they’re nobody’s friend. Certainly neither yours nor mine. And let me tell you something else, all this stuff about them twinkling is a lie. The stars are actually a combination of shoddy time lapsed recordings of rude, hot and very loud implosions and explosions. Their only mission is to fry you if you come within a light year. Sparkling, cocky bastards; nothing more. Not your friends.

So, communication from/to this tin can is via a radio or perhaps nowadays, a video link like in The Big Bang Theory when Howard ‘Fruit Loops’, has his moment up yonder but like my walk in the park, it’s no walk in the park. Just crackles, beeps and sounds that remind us of dial-up internet or even…the Fax machine. Communication has been redacted and if only we could read under the blacked out lines, maybe we’d connect properly, like they did in the old days. Freedom to communicate has become a frozen FaceTime image. Over.

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I read that Einstein said gravity bends space and because very large objects such as solar systems contain a lot of gravity (suns, planets, aliens etc) they wrap large hunks of it around themselves. I think this includes time too.

This makes me picture a journey that ends at the beginning, just like 2001 Space Odyssey.

So, when flying in my Covid capsule I can see space bending and mashing the freedom of being up and out there – with no obvious obstacles (other than Elon Musk’s growing pile of space debris) with the warm urine dampened space suit of my rocket confined prison. To hammer home the point, if I can leave the capsule to pursue the infinite freedom the lack of long term air suggests that freedom is neither attainable nor desirable.

So, back to earth and shut my mouth. 

I thought I’d do what my then children did some years ago and make a word cloud. The idea was to mix up 4 rock tracks about space to see what the consensus was. The result is quite interesting but not as I grand as I had hoped. When I listen to these tracks, which are all the same theme of being lost in space, I get a large hit of nostalgia. Consider these words by Matt Bellamy (MUSE)

Let’s conspire to ignite / All the souls that would die just to feel alive / Now I’ll never let you go If you promised not to fade away

How, I wonder can nostalgia be triggered for something one never experienced? How do words and music do this?

I can only guess that CoronavirusC19 has triggered a sense of yearning and the mind turns it into a deep space exile. There is something about this present crisis that feels like being jettisoned into the nothing. We shall return, but it will be different but quite how different…

For what it’s worth:

My word cloud throws out: away, never, feels , arms, spaced, time, life, unreal which kind of creates the feeling but as random experiment is nothing insightful.

It includes lyrics from Muse: Starlight, Aerosmith: Spaced (2nd album dummy; Get Your Wings), Radiohead: Subterranean homesick alien and Mott The Hoople: Sea Diver. Obviously I could have used tons of Bowie lyrics (which I did twice in the body) and those who know me will appreciate I left out The Beatles’ Across the Universe and Elton John because I don’t like moist music. Purely my prejudices, nothing more.

{im}perfect is as good as it gets

 

The nearing horizon flattens and remarkably the third World Cup since I’ve been blogging about football bends into view.

I have in some ways detached myself from the sport. There are ‘good’ and ‘bad’ reasons for this. The primary ‘good’ reason is that I have as far as my writing is concerned, successfully transferred my football thinking over to other topics and because of this have reached more people. I always intended to use football as a metaphor and am glad my hunch was right, people do ‘get’ it. BALL BEARING

The ‘negative’ reasons for me being less involved in football are more basic. Both my domestic and my international teams have embraced mediocrity and achieved little. There is nothing as powerful as failure if you want to un-love something and both Arsenal and Italy have done this for and to me. They have lost a lot and are withered, weak and imperfect.

I have frequently written about the emotional pain that is football’s inevitable long shadow and that fans buy into a team because they somehow value the particular flavour of the pain/pleasure doled out by their side. I have also confessed how I’d like to be completely un-committed to any team and am frustrated as to why I am forever pulled towards an entity, a pseudo tribe that knows nothing of nor cares for me.

In 2012 I began to sidestep soccer and address other (more important) subjects such as mental health, emotional wellbeing, isolation and nostalgia. Although these subjects may have random elements in common with each other I now realise that as a group they reflect the fact that our lives and our world are dominated by flaws. It always was and shall always be this way. Even if something appears to be perfect e.g. a ball bearing, when examined under a microscope it is dented and scratched and even worse its constituent neutrons keep shivering and shaking. Dancing a jig as if to poke fun at observers who talk about objects being solid and reliable. There is basically nothing fixed or in a steady state in the world. It’s all in flux and vulnerable.

It’s as if hidden within the collective psyche people sense the imperfections of existence. It defines our mortality and confirms our impermanent nature and I suggest the single greatest reason why humans have invented and bought into faiths and dogmas is that they come with seemingly perfect frameworks on which questions and answers are hung side by side. As theories and paper-bound manifestos these things appear all knowing and protective but the physical realities of life can undermine any scheme in a moment.

Being of a Learning & Development disposition I have tried in these blogs to come up with ways of vaulting over or at very least, accepting life’s pitfalls. However, ‘Positive thinking’ and I divorced some six years ago when I was picked up in a seedy bar by a dominatrix called Madame Stoicism. In no time at all she signed me up and ever since then I’ve been an almost committed (reminder, I am Mr 70%) modern stoic. Phrases like it’s pretty bad, but as not as bad is it could be and expect the worst and hope for something just a bit better have helped me see things from a better perspective that has its strength based around having lower expectations

wabisabi-cup
This old Japanese tea cup is cracked. The fissure has been enhanced in gold to show how a flaw can enhance an object, and does not need disposing of.

Taking matters further, Madame S. introduced me to the Japanese philosophy of WABI-SABI. A concept more sedate and demure then stoicism, Wabi Sabi is based on the notion that flaws are inevitable and can be seen as differences not errors. They should therefore be embraced and even enhanced. A good example is that of older people. An old person has crinkled skin and failing eyes but their insight and experience can add to many situations and ought to be valued. Equally, a person with an Autistic Spectrum Disorder might have different ways of dealing with life and can bring other skills to the party such as deep knowledge of a special interest or have the ability to see into and around a quagmire of numeric data that looks like random digits to most neuro-typical people.

Completing the centre circle.

WABI SABI is purloined from Buddhist teachings that look at the three marks of existence; suffering, impermanence and emptiness.

If this trio doesn’t sum up being a football fan, then nothing does but when it brings in the acceptance of differences as part of the whole we can maybe feel the suffering a little less. It also brings us nearer to the Olympic ideal that: The most important thing in the Olympic Games is not winning but taking part; the essential thing in life is not conquering but fighting well. (Baron Pierre de Coubertin). Given that my team is not in this World Cup I shall observe the unfolding events and with an impartial view accept flaws and difference within the concept of a beautiful game without having to feel sad.

 

Some useful references:

https://savvytokyo.com/wabi-sabi-the-japanese-philosophy-of-embracing-imperfectionism/

And here’s a cynical and predictable counter argument;

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/men/thinking-man/wabi-sabi-new-hygge-spare-half-baked-philosophies-new-age-bilge/

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/ethics/sport/overview/introduction.shtml

Ball Bearing; https://www.brickwerks.co.uk/ball-for-gearlever-detent-t3-5spd.html

Wabi Sabi Cup: http://eclecticgirldesigns.com/index.php/2017/01/21/the-wabi-sabi-of-collecting/