distractingdelusions

the muffled screams of a cluttered mind

Hiatus

Time to state the obvious: This blog is on hiatus.

I am still writing a fair amount, but I reached the stage a couple of months ago where I realised that most of what I was writing was long form fiction. As such, it needs several drafts to reach a standard where I know I will be happy with it. However, the temptation to publish things on the blog, without proper analysis and editing, is too much for me. I’ve never been that fantastic at keeping secrets when it comes to the things I’m working on.

Therefore, for now, the blog is on hiatus.

I can still be found spouting random bits and pieces on twitter. Though, even there, my presence is currently diminished as I have been reading a lot more, scrawling indecipherable gibberish in notepads, and catching up on multiple series and documentaries I had previously been neglecting.

Thank you to those of you who have followed my sporadic ramblings up to this point. I will still be lurking in the ether, scouring through your blogs, and I will return to write here again in the future.

In the meantime take care, and I wish you the best in all you do.

Ben – 12/10/2013.

Brazil alarm at UK terror detention

Brazil alarm at Heathrow airport terror detention as UK police abuse terror legislation to intimidate journalists. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-latin-america-23750289

UnAutoAutoPost

I’m on autopilot at the moment. The last week has left me feeling completely drained, and the lack of consistent sleep is not helping matters. I’m still trying to work out why on earth I decided to start exercising again. I’m sure it seemed like a noble (or sensible) idea at the time. But now I just ache and my body hates my brain for suggesting the dumb idea in the first place.

In other news, I’ve been writing bits and bats for a couple of projects, but I’m still throwing out more than I’m creating. This brain fog is evil and most be erased, much like the typo I made a second ago since a brain frog sounds rather derivative of Futurama.

As you will have gathered by now, I have no particular insights to share with the world today. I’m also not comfortable sharing any of the short stories/verses/articles I’ve been jotting down as literally all of them need to be re-written into coherent, presentable forms. 

So this post is more a ‘proof of life’ than anything else.

I hope to come back with something worthwhile soon. But, for now, take it easy. I hope you all have a decent end to your week.

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Stream of Consciousness: “Preposterous”

Somehow I appear to have gained quite a few followers over the last week. So, thank you. I have no idea where you came from but it’s nice to have you around.

<fairwarning> This piece will probably make you disappear again. </fairwarning>

I would like to clarify that, despite its layout, the following piece is not a poem. I don’t do poetry because I’m just awful at it. There are already too many atrocious poets out there; I feel no compulsion to swell their ranks.

So, if it’s not a poem (“But it rhymes so it must be a poem!” *smack*) what is it?

It’s my brain’s response to years of listening to people explain why they support whichever particular political party they support, in whatever country they live in, all over the world. I understand the instinctive human need to establish a core set of values. But the idea of throwing your full support behind an entity whose decisions and responses you cannot predict or influence from one day to the next just doesn’t sit right with me. If the last two decades have shown us anything in this area it’s that such entities are quite willing to ignore the public consensus and just do whatever the hell they want anyway.

So, this is what fell out of my head when I found myself staring at a blank piece of paper waiting for the office clock to hit home time last Friday. I’ve (over) punctuated it since then, but other than that it remains unmolested and rather rough around the edges. It contains some swearing and a weird sexual metaphor that I don’t actually remember writing…

Preposterous

My politics are preposterous: this could be true,
You might call me liberal – but I hate more than I do.
I deplore violence and war and lines in the sand.
But I’d rather cut you than shake a racist’s hand.

I don’t mean to be a dick, but sometimes I am -
It’s one of the reasons I’m writing this down.
You see, if it’s in text form, and I read it aloud,
I’ll hopefully be able to turn that around.

I tried socialism, once, but it didn’t work out.
No-one could agree, and that’s what it’s meant to be about.
And sure, you stand smug with your true party vision.
But what use is a strict core when we only progress through cooperation?

There’s more than one way to skin a cat,
There’s more than one way to cut benefits back -
but fuck knows if your parties can think of another.

My politics are preposterous: This appears to be true.
But so are yours, whether pig red, piss yellow or faded thong blue.*

“All politics are bullshit!” – my inner punk’s shining through.
So, yeah, my politics are preposterous – but at least I’d help you.

I’d help you up, not grind you down,
Offer you support, not judge you as you drown.
And it’s not my religion (I have none you see)
It’s just basic human decency that separates you and me.

So – Yes – I’m a dick, and I’m fuming with rage
Spurting angry words all over this page
My politics are preposterous, now this much is clear,
But I’d rather keep my mind open than blindly follow in fear.

 

*I live in the UK – these are the colours of the three main parties. The piss and the thong are currently ruling as a coalition, though an anthropomorphic piss stained thong would probably be a less damaging option if one were to ever run for election.

Authorial Voice and Blogging

When writing fiction, exercising your authorial voice is a tricky thing to get right. Rough drafts can sometimes end up cowed by its shadow or limp due to its hesitance. Being able to strike a balance is essential in order to allow a story to unfurl organically. Yet, no matter how hard or easy you may find it to begin with, it will always be there. You are writing a story, after all, and it’s rather difficult to tell a tale without a voice driving the narrative forward in some form.

Blogging, on the other hand, is a rather different beast. The possibilities presented by a blog allow for significant deviation from the normal mode of writing. Yes, you can write stories and relay information from your own perspective – you’ve probably noticed that (when I do write) I tend to follow this path. But there are plenty of other ways to approach a blog.

You can address your readership directly and encourage interaction and discussion to gain a wide range of, hopefully, constructive criticism to inform how you to decide to refine particular projects. You can display your work and just be happy that it’s out there for people to see, without ever checking for comments. You can even create a community blog and involve your readership in the creation of content. You can use this approach no matter whether your blog covers fiction writing, non-fiction, or news.

There are virtually limitless possibilities regarding what you can use a blog for and how you can present it. But still, the most prevalent type of blogs are those where news, in all its forms, is regurgitated with no distinct voice behind it. I have never understood the purpose of this last type.

It doesn’t particularly matter whether you are writing about international events or this week’s comic releases. Good reporting, or journalism of any kind, needs an authorial voice just as much as any work of fiction. Yet, there are countless blogs out there that are quite happy to spew up a vague rewording of a press release or news report without ever attempting to comment on the story they display.

I am certainly no great authority on blogging, but the basic purpose of a blog is to allow you to connect with other people, even fleetingly. If you have a personal blog it should be there to represent your opinion, your outlook on the world. If you would rather fill that space with words cribbed from other sources and never comment on a single thing you may as well print out those original articles and throw them blithely into the streets. Without your voice present to explain why the articles you are re-hashing are important in some regard, personal or political, your blog is meaningless.

Blogging is accessible to almost anyone, but it is a medium driven by personal opinion and expression. I learned a long time ago* that not everyone has something to say. I just wish they would realise it so that those that do can be heard.

* In a childhood far, far (OK, not that far) away

Pity for the Poisoner

Venomous words roll from your dissembling tongue with ease in the absence of the defendants. All pretence of comradeship forsaken as the door clicks shut. Your intangible barbs slice deeply, though not as intended. Each acid flecked barrage serves only to sever the final vestiges of our waning trust. No credence is given to the tortuous calumny that seeps so freely through your splintered masks.

What warps and sullies a soul to so extreme an extent that its only solace can be found in such underhanded destruction of civility?

I know not, but I pity you.

You, who are destined to live a life of spite and misery,

You, who would so eagerly ascend on the bloodied backs of fellow travelers to attain nothing of lasting value or worth,

When you finally reach that barren destination you will find that your high tower’s steeple has served only to split the rancid belly of your bitter soul. It has left you cold and hollow; its frosted silken walls will not bring you happiness, or love, or warmth to carry you through the long nights ahead.

The defendants will not be returning. The doors are bolted; Arachne’s weave has been cut.

We have made our homes far from your withering shadow and, though we pity you, you will be forgotten.

Breaking Boxes

Boxes are made to be broken. From the inside out, or the outside in, that is their purpose. You may be labouring under the common misapprehension that boxes are made to contain things. It’s an easy trap to fall into. After all, boxes do tend to end up containing things. But that is not their purpose, it is merely part of their function.

Boxes are a manifestation of decisions, conscious and otherwise, to segregate naturally occurring phenomenon. Sometimes they are constructed for convenience and ease of identification. But too often they are assembled with malign intent.

Not all boxes look like boxes. Some are fashioned from fences and walls. Others manifest in the form of police lines and hysteria.

Most are built with words.

Fear is a box builder, the most prolific of them all. It dwells deep inside us, waiting to be called upon when we are confronted with something we do not yet understand. Initially it emerges as instinct, infecting us in utero, ready to compartmentalise the feedback received by our newly formed synapses. We are then born directly into the boxes fashioned by the fears of our parents and elders to protect us from the tumultuous tides of the world. Though each of these boxes dimensions vary, sometimes wildly, their flaws and knot holes are firmly of our guardians design.

Whilst every new container has been constructed from a blueprint, at this point in our evolution they have been re-drawn so many times the lines have begun to fray and bend. Successive generations of boxes are beginning to break faster than at any prior point in our specie’s short history. Fear may be a prolific builder, but it is not a good one, and we are growing smarter. We are escaping faster. You may cite plenty of evidence to suggest otherwise. But, before you do, step back and take a look at how far we have traveled from our inauspicious origins. If you then take a closer look at where we are now you will quickly become aware that those amongst us that hate, and fight, and kill are still deeply entrenched in their boxes. They have sealed the lids, erected defenses, and declared hostility to everything that exists outside the construct of their inner fears.

That is why it is up to those of us that have been freed from our hereditary captivity to take a stand. The very existence of these boxes hurts us all; they stunt and deform us.

In order for us to advance together, they must be destroyed.


					

The Importance of Non-Violent Protest

I actually started to write this in a notepad late last night with no intention of sharing it on here. But, after today’s events at the Shard, it seemed pertinent to share my personal take on the importance of peaceful protest in raising awareness of causes that would otherwise be overlooked.

I’d also like to say congratulations to the #iceclimb team for being so successful in their endeavour. You stole the spotlight and made a lot of people who didn’t know much about the Arctic drilling – myself included – a lot better informed, and outraged, in the best possible way.

 The Importance of Non-Violent Protest

When I was ten, I was a chorister at Westminster Cathedral in London. This involved singing mass in the Cathedral itself six days a week with Monday off. In exchange for this, I received a private school education between the ages of eight and thirteen. It was a very regimented, sheltered environment

I had no clue about anything.

The real world might as well have been another universe. Please don’t misunderstand me here, I wasn’t a “true believer” or anything like that. But all I knew was the ritual and the songs and, frankly, the ritual didn’t mean anything to me. It just meant standing up and sitting down in a pre-ordained sequence, and occasionally we would get to sing something cool in between the day’s plainchants. I certainly wasn’t alone in viewing it that way. Though I will admit that the pageantry of the main feast days was quite fun in a purely theatrical sense.

My friends and I were just kids that could sing. We didn’t think much of the wider implications of anything we were participating in – we weren’t required to.

The first real indication I got of the reality that existed beyond the high, protecting walls of the choir school happened on a Sunday in 1994. I believe that the gospel had just been read and the presiding priest was mid-sermon when, all of a sudden, there were white balloons floating up to the high arched ceiling, and a small group of people were being escorted from the building amidst tuts of disapproval from the general congregation.

Of course, they weren’t balloons. They were helium filled condoms. But no one bothered to explain that to us. Nor was it explained that the people being escorted from the building were members of the LGB rights group OutRage! who were protesting the incumbent pope’s stance on homosexuality.

It wasn’t until after I’d left the choir school a few years later that I was able to find out any of that information. No one told us a thing. But I’d caught a glimpse of something different. There were adults that disagreed with the established narrative and these people… protested?

“What’s a protest?”

No answer.

As far as epiphanies go it wasn’t anywhere near the level of a particular Mitchell & Webb sketch. But my mind began to open to the possibility that not everything I had been told was necessarily as sacrosanct & agreed upon as I had been led to believe. So I started to ask questions, and when I continued to be ignored, I read books and learnt about things no adult would willingly share with me.

Needless to say, by the time I eventually heard of a band called Rage Against The Machine, a year and a half later, I was already well on my way to leading a much more interesting life than the one that had been chosen for me.

All because a small group of people weren’t afraid to stand up in public and say, “No!”

Changes [aka, How I Plan On Escaping the Rise of the Morons]

I’m going to preface this post with a warning. If you recently started following this blog (*thank you*) because of my short story posts, you might want to give this one a miss. This post is the sound of me writing down what ever junk is cluttering up my head and throwing it out on here so I can think about more important things – like stories! If you come back later in the week there should be something more to your taste up here. But, for now, this is what was happening in my head at eleven this morning. You have been warned.

I spend a lot of time sat at a desk, in an office, doing nothing of importance. I’m doing it right now. Sometimes it’s busy; other times, not so much. But no matter how busy or slow it is I know for a fact – I do not want to be here. This is not what I should be doing with my life. So I scheme, and dream, and imagine an alternate me doing all of the things that I wish I could be doing. Then I go home and plot how to make things change. I do it for hours. Then I go to bed.

Occasionally I will free myself from this pathetic shroud of misery and spiraling disappointment and realise:

“This is the most ineffective and depressing way of going about changing my life!”

Then I sit there and keep right at it, like some demented reverse pavlovian dog/man/dumbass.

On even rarer occasions I get to the stage where I will write about this phenomenon. See, I’m doing it right now(!) This sort of exercise tends to end in me announcing, to no one in particular, that I’m going to change. “I will seize the reins of my own life and do everything that I’ve always dreamed of doing!”

It doesn’t work.

I’ve honed my inner cynicism and anti-establishment sentiments to such a degree that when I make such a grand proclamation some hideous, hipster-like, part of my brain reads those words and screams, “FUCK YOU, I WON’T DO WHAT YOU TELL ME!”

It’s dumb, and it probably relates to the depression that I have, but usually refuse to acknowledge until it has me over a barrel.

So I’m making no promises to anyone, or anything, anonymous or otherwise. I’m just going to try a bit harder to change things from day to day and see how it goes. I’ve already been writing more in various notebooks for the past few months. It’s cool, but it sucks too because I want to share the things I’m working on but they’re nowhere near presentable at the moment. It’s very easy to talk and write about how fantastic something’s going to be in the future. But my problem has always been getting there. Getting to the future with the story laid out in some place that isn’t my head is not something I seem to be able to do much anymore.

I’ll level with you – my grammar sucks. I just don’t understand it now. I used to – I nearly did a combined English/Drama degree for god’s sake – same as I used to be able to read music as easily as I breathe. But somewhere over the past decade those skills have faded as they’ve become less applicable to my everyday life.

It’s probably safe to say that I’ve unlearnt more than I’ve learnt in the past ten years. My memory is definitely worse than it used to be, but I think that’s just because most of what I l hear and see each day is irrelevant to me, personally. It doesn’t compare to the conversations I used to have with friends, teachers, or colleagues at my previous jobs. There is no excitement or interest in the wider world, and I am no longer surrounded by people who like the same things that I do.

For example, if I were to mention any of the following topics: Politics, Gender, Sexuality, Equality, Hacktivism, Comics, Anime, Performer and Performance as Catalyst for Change – all of which can lead to some really interesting discussions, I think you’ll agree – the best reaction I can hope for at work  is a shrug or grunt of disinterest. In some cases these are actually met with outright hostility and a level of closed-mindedness that absolutely astounds me:

Politics – “It’s all Bullshit; they’re all as bad as each other.” <-An amalgamation of pretty much the same phrase I’ve heard from everyone I speak to about this subject at work, and home.

Gender/Sexuality/Equality“Where the fuck did we go wrong?” <- That’s a genuine quote from the woman that sits next to me at the office. This was said in response to the subject of transgender & gay people being brought up about a month ago. I won’t expound any further on her views of equal marriage. But you can see my reaction, here.

Also“They’re not usually pretty, are they? You don’t usually see any fit lesbians.” <- That’s another quote from the same conversation; this time from the woman that sits opposite me. She then went on to say that even her boyfriend (and father of her child) thinks that the sole [unfortunate to have ‘friends’ like these] lesbian they know is an anomaly because she’s, “actually fit enough to be [considered] doable”.

Hacktivism  – Oh god. Yes, apparently hacktivists are the scum of the Earth and are, most likely, just putting on a show so that they can gather credit card numbers and personal pictures… Fuck that conversation, I’m sick of it.

Comics/Anime – I don’t dare mention these at work, even though I have an Adventure Time cast picture as my desktop background. At home, my wife is not a fan. She pretty much just views them as a waste of time and money. I also have one friend who claims to be the world’s biggest X-men fan, despite not reading any of the comics since the early 90’s. Any time I mention anything Marvel related my opinion is (obviously) null and void…

Luckily, though, my kids think that daddy knowing lots about comics and cartoons is REALLY COOOOL, so at least I have them to cheer me up. My kids are awesome.

Performer & Performance as Catalyst for Change – This idea is so far out of the box for my work colleagues that I refuse to ever try and broach it again. Some people are just willfully stupid and I see no point in slamming my face into brick walls.

So, yes, I need to make a change so that I am happy and able to pursue something that I find interesting in order to lead a more fulfilling life.

If you were expecting some kind of pay-off at the end here, I apologise. I just needed to vent and re-kick my own arse to be the change I want in my life. After all, who needs a support group when I can just scream into the internet in vain?

 

TL;DR – I’m gradually trying to change my life because if I don’t I will remain miserable in a pointless job and be surrounded by morons forever.

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