Lose the Label

‘It’s Mental Health Awareness Week,’ I said.  ‘Oh my God, no!’  He replied.  I laughed, not least because it came from more than a little knowledge – a guy I work with who’s suffered for years with bipolar (including frequent hospitalisations) while also having to deal with type 1 diabetes.  Yet, this is a guy who talks a lot about ‘finding peace,’ ‘inner stillness,’ ‘listening to your heart’ and ‘losing the label.’  Mental Health Awareness Week could learn a lot from him, though I doubt its protagonists would even notice the likes of him much less listen.

The above brings me to an on-going irritation I feel towards one of the most fashionable of diagnoses: depression.  It seems everyone’s depressed (or anxious) these days, and are in urgent need of taking some time for ‘self-care.’

Excuse me while I vomit.

I do not believe the truly depressed would advertise their ‘illness’ like a badge of honour, often alongside all manner of trite identities – non-binary, queer, neurodivergent, trans (sponsored by a multi-billion dollar pharmaceutical industry, no less).  The truly depressed are surely the ones who despair of such things, for they are the ones who are more inclined to want to ‘lose the label’ like the good man I work with.

I recently watched some documentaries about The Rolling Stones (one of my favourite bands), a band that encapsulated the spirit of the Sixties more than any other (including the Beatles – yeah, you heard me right!).  The Stones revelled in a kind of Dionysian excess amid a remarkable explosion of human creativity (and diversity) the likes of which has not been seen since (and is ever-decreasingly so as the arts become more homogenised, bureaucratic and beholden to the whims of a globalised, technocratic corporatism).

The Stones rebelled against the old order of a stuffy bourgeoisie from which I have come to realise the irony of how the tables have turned, I.e., the stuffy bourgeoisie are back, taking form in the very institutions that once railed against the established order.  The stuffy, boring squares are now the arts, media, academia, literature, music, film and theatre!  Conformity is the new cool; Mary Whitehouse has returned … reincarnated as a less fun and more moralising entity than previously.

I walk through the city I was born in and no longer recognise the indie town that used to close its shops on a Sunday.  For one day of the week, the landscape offered something alternative amid a sea of repetitious slogans promoting the acquisition of disposable commodities, the city transformed into a park for the skaters and BMXers!  No more, the once scruffy indie town, full of little shops and a cool music scene, is now a 24/7 shopping mall sans any creative verve, a clone like any other town across the land (Warhol was no genius, just a ‘lucky idiot’ as a friend once said – perhaps that’s why so many arty-farty academics revere him?).

Banality is the food of despair crushing the soul, and we are surely in the most soul-suckingly banal of times.  What adds to the spirit’s melancholy is the dreadful realisation that there will never be – nor indeed can there ever be – a revolution of the kind that embodied the Dionysian hurricane epitomised by the Stones, and indeed the Sixties in general.  The 21st Century is the Post-resistance Era where Consumers have become The Consumed.  The arts have been colonised by the privileged who themselves have been colonised by the limiting whims of highly centralised tech platforms: a passive ensemble of lookers.  Those who understand what I say are the ones who see: the true minorities who come in every colour – citizens of the Cosmos who see beyond the divide and rule ruse propagandised through useful idiots serving the con.

Tech has quashed creativity and the imagination.  It has destroyed freedom of thought, freedom of expression and any hope regarding a return to the kind of Dionysian excess previously reached and channelled into a remarkable era of human creativity witnessed in the previous century.

Art has been reduced to empty moralising.

We are explorers no more.  The artist’s pioneering spirit has retreated from any vanguard and subsumed back into the role of the stuffy bourgeoisie that even the old stuffy bourgeoisie find too constraining!  To those reactionaries, I say only this, own your fuckin’ mistakes!  This horror show wasn’t created by ‘Cultural Marxists,’ this is a neo-liberal abomination spearheaded by the likes of Thatcher and Reagan, let that sink in!  Fuckin’ cowards.

The world has become transfixed by inane images all too quickly forgotten, mere seconds after liking, only to get angry about an equally vapid and ridiculous issue the next.  We have gone from the space race between Russia and the US to believers in 57 genders fighting believers in biology.  It’s like living in a giant South Park episode.  If that does not depress you, if you can claim to enjoy being in such a world, then you are a tragedy.

For those who despair in recognition of all that I say, who each day feel the gravity of dejection pulling their soul down, like dragging around a giant rock surrounded by idiots, I toast your good health.

‘Good health,’ you say?

Indeed I do, for you are the ones who see rather than look.  Seeing comes not from sight but from listening to your heart, which is total anathema to our godforsaken, egocentric times.  Right now, to see is painful but, nevertheless, I hold on to the hope that, as Sartre once said, ‘life begins on the other side of despair.’

To all such people, I put to you, if I am mistaken in my belief that there will/can be no revolution (and I truly hope I am wrong!), against an all-pervading techno-fascism, then the rebellion surely begins with losing the label.

19 May 2023

© Percival Alexander