Ideology: It’s all lies.

Ideology includes these little stories that eat away at us. These falsehoods that we have picked up from the dominant culture, that are reflected, though not created, by the media. They are the words that we use to chastise ourselves.

“You are not productive enough”
“You are a bad person for not living up to your potential”
“You do not work hard enough”
“You are a worthless blight on society if you do not have a job”
“You should have achieved a certain career status by your age”
“You can make a difference if only you tried hard enough”
“You could be as rich as them if only you were a better person, if you had the intellect and the motovation”

LIES!!!!

Most of us do not need rulers to tell us what to do, to make us behave in a manner that is advantageous to their class. We just do it. There are no real Kings and Queens anymore anyway, there is a global system, and we all keep it going, not that we have a choice, not that any individual action on out part can change the system. But, we all, to some extent, buy into the ideology that keeps it going, and we suffer under it’s weight.

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What even is this blog??

This blog started out as a rant, a rant from a sick person in pain about all the stupid shit around her in the media and our culture. Then it went on a bit of a Marxist tangent, and then took a turn towards a bit of a queer politics.

It has been a while since I have written because I have been ill. Diagnosed with Adrenal Insufficiency (from now on known on this blog as AI) and trying to get my medication levels sorted has been a bit of nightmare. Part of said nightmare has been extreme anxiety (a symptom of AI), leaving me unable to even think about writing without having a panic attack. 3 weeks after upping my SSRI’s and I am feeling a bit better. However, I am having to force myself to write this post. I want to write, I need to keep writing, I don’t want to lose it as a skill, I want to improve, and the only way to do so, is to KEEP WRITING!!!

However, at this point I don’t really have much to say other than #worldisfukt. It is fucked up in so many many ways and it just seems as though it will never be unfucked.  We like to kid ourselves though, we ignore the stats, we ignore what is right in front of us, we ignore the suffering we see because it is just too fucking much to deal with and we have no easy solutions. We pick the easy fights. By we, I mean the privileged middle class feminists who spend their time fighting for diversity on the catwalk, women on boards, same-sex marriage or one of the many number of pet projects that don’t really make a difference. Okay, so they aren’t me, not anymore, but they are my peers. We are distracted by the representation of equality, rather than addressing the fact that the system is fundamentally fucked. We are ignoring the fact that even the very notion of equality under a capitalist system is a fucking joke, and that we need to try to think beyond the ideology, beyond this all pervasive idea that capitalism is the natural order. It isn’t, it is a creation, and we must think beyond it if we are to have any hope at all of living in a world in which people are not enslaved, are not dying of curable diseases, are not literally starving to death.

Okay, that got a bit serious, it isn’t what this blog post was supposed to be about. It is supposed to be about me!!! so rant over. For now, I don’t want to be thinking about how fucked up the world is, I need to relax. So, I will try to focus on something else, probably myself and my own life challenges. Which are rather insignificant the scheme of things, but they are mine, so they are important to me.

I think this blog will turn into a bit of a journal, I’ll try to keep in mind that people may be reading it and try not to too boring and self-involved. But it’s a blog, what are they for if not indulging one’s own inner dialogues and getting all the thoughts out of one’s head. I am going  to try to write something most days. We shall see…

In the meantime, here is picture of the view from the balcony of our apartment in Gosford, NSW, Australia. It is here that, weather permitting, I do most of my reading and writing and thinking, and drinking of coffee, and sipping of wine, and eating of cheese and crackers… you get the idea.

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No Longer Queer

 

Marriage is a cultural relic, a “throw-back”,  if you will. No, I am not just talking about “traditional marriage”,  I am talking about marriage full stop. I am talking about the state having the power to certify certain relationships over others. Actually, not even that, it is the fact that the state has any say at all in our private affairs that is at issue.

I am not going to go into the history of the institution of marriage in the western world, but let’s just say that it is a story about private property rights.  Full Stop. It has nothing whatsoever to do with love so let’s just get that straight to begin with.

Marriage is not some romantic ideal which transcends the historical, the cultural, and the geographical. The very idea of romance and marriage, and even our very concept of love itself, is ideologically driven. An ideology that is not born out of religion, or art, or poetry, but from economic necessity. Let us not be blind to this truth.

So, where does that leave us today in Australia, in 2015?  Well, same-sex marriage is not about love, it is not about equal rights under the law (we have those already) it is about our own insecurities. It is about a community which has seen great change in the last half a century, which, at one time, pushed against the dominant culture, challenged heteronormative, stood up and said “Fuck That”.  However, like many other political and cultural movements, we have been absorbed by the dominant ideology, we now no longer want to push the boundaries,  we no longer fight to change the system, we want to be part of it, and in doing so, we are no longer act as an oppositional force.

By asking for same-sex marriage, by allowing our pride symbols to be co-opt by major financial institutions and by fast food companies and the like, we are capitulating. We are saying that there is no longer a fight, that there is no queer, that we are all the same.  We need to stop, think, realise what has happened, and re-start the fight. If the Queer movement isn’t acting as an oppositional force, then it is no longer queer.

“when I grow up, I want to be…”

The question every child is asked by friends, teachers, and relatives.
We are all trained by this very question to believe that we are our career, that our role as a worker is our role in life and that each of us must choose a single career path and that is what we are. When we grow up, rather than being a person, a human being, we will become a job.
This is a problematic and harmful for all concerned, but particularly for those who, for whatever reason, grow up to be a person who sits on the couch in their pyjamas all day eating cheese toasties.  (Okay, so I do other things as well, but I don’t have a job)
The reason is neither here nor there. I am sick of explaining myself in an apologetic manner as to why I have dropped out of the labour market.
My point is that it has made me into a kind of illegitimate person. A person without that crucial identifier, when I meet new people and I am asked what I do, I freeze, I have no acceptable answer and I need to provide an explanation for my life that seems so absurd.
I know fully well that it is bullshit and I have learned, at least rationally, to not to let it bother me.
In a world that is obsessed with  personal identity, that demands that the individual categorise themselves and thereby legitimise their every desire or action from their gender and sexual preference, to their eating habits, I am certainly not lacking in terms to describe myself.
BUT, I am not my labour, I am not my job. If I was, I wouldn’t exist.

A Licence To Be Queer?

It is very difficult, from a queer perspective, to argue against Same-Sex marriage. I am met with reactions ranging from bewilderment to outright hostility, from gay and straight alike. So this is an attempt to outline, hopefully in simple terms, why exactly I, and many others in the queer community (perhaps more than you think), would take such a seemingly contradictory stance on what has become the hottest “gay rights” issues of my generation.

Firstly, I am writing about this as an Australian. We have equal rights under the law (with the notable exception of adoption in NT, VIC, SA and QLD). We have, for now, universal health care and a comparatively sufficient welfare system. We are very lucky. The basic, material human rights that are denied to American citizens based solely upon their marital or employment status, and the way in which this impacts upon the queer community, is not being discussed here. If you would like to read more about this topic, I highly recommend you read Gay Marriage Hurts My Breasts by Yasmin Nair.

When I say to my queer friends that we already have equal rights, they exclaim “but we do not have the right to marry!!!”. Is marriage really a “right” and if so, should it be? Well, have you heard the term “marriage licence”? Tell me this, if you could drive a car without obtaining a licence, would you fight for the “right” to pay for your driver licence? Let’s take the analogy a bit further…  Say you argue that driver licences are a good thing for the safety of the driver and the community. I wouldn’t disagree.  However, what is the benefit of a “marriage licence”? …. think about it….  what does it mean to licence a relationship? It implies that there are good relationships that meet the standards of the state, and that there are bad relationships that do not. We are saying that it is the role of the state to decide who gets the tick of approval to be in a relationship and who does not. Marriage is not about love, it is about the state defining and sanctioning something as personal and arguably indefinable as human relationships.

My point is, that the state should stay out of our bedrooms/lounge rooms/kitchens or wherever it is that you do whatever it is that you do with your partner/partners/friend/friends/companions/undefinedhumanrelationofsomedescription etc. I am being completely serious. I am not saying that there is no place for legal arrangements, but I am saying that these arrangements do not have to take the form of a life-long commitment between two monogamous lovers. Life is far too complicated for that. It works for some, but is it really the way in which we should be basing the organisation of our society?  Surely it is the nuclear family ideal that we, as queers, should be rallying against, not campaigning for, and thereby solidifying.

To Be Continued when I can figure out exactly the what it is I want to say and how to say it.

“Know Thyself”

According to Pausanias, there is an inscription in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi that reads, “Know thyself”.

At first, I thought that this was very inward, self-centered thinking, and that it implied that the most important thing was to focus on “the self” and, by extension, “self improvement”. I think that my initial impressions were wrong. I now think that it is actually incredibly important advice.

The way I interpret it, is that to “know thyself”, is to understand our own personality, our strengths, our own body, our own limitations, and, importantly, to accept them. Through knowing ourselves, we can come to understand other people, to understand their actions and anticipate their reactions. Knowledge is power, but only up to a point.

To “know thyself” is also to understand our own place in relation to the world, to recognize the way in which luck and our political and economic systems impact upon our lives. We need to recognize the limits of our power. However, what we can control is the way in which we think about ourselves in relation to the rest of the world.

In an infinite number of ways, both subtle and glaringly obvious, we are all taught that there is a “normal” way of being, and that it is to this end that we must aspire. Whether it is to be part of a functional nuclear family, to have x number of shoes, jackets, houses, cars, friends, sexual encounters etc. No one lives up to these illusory, and even contradictory, ideals. However, that doesn’t stop many of us from spending our lives trying. This drives us mad. We strive for a happiness that can never be obtained.

We are also told, and this is very insidious ideology, that it is human nature to want more, to constantly strive to be a better version of ourselves, and to want more shiny things. That aspiration is an essential and a positive trait. This is not true. It is not a natural state, it is ideology that has developed over time, and it is Capitalism’s wet dream.

The leaders of the ancient Greek world traveled many miles to seek ambiguous fortunes told by the Oracle of Apollo, and as they entered, they were greeted with words γνῶθι σαυτόν “know thyself”. The Ancient Greeks knew that it was a key to knowledge, and they were right.

 

 

 

 

‘A Productive member of society’

Basically, shit happens, and you are powerless in the face of global economic systems and, for lack of a better word, fortune.

The social model of disability is correct. However, for those of us who are chronically ill and in pain, it is Medical research that has the greatest potential to change our lives. Sure, there are things that will make my life easier (decent voice activation software – which I can’t afford, better chairs in public places, an enforced ban on smoking). However, the pain will still be there, my asthma will still be there, it is a matter of degrees.

The effect of chronic pain and illness on our society is always measured in dollars. That is the system we are ruled by. Governments are always focused on turning us into “productive members of society” but seriously, fuck that, this should NOT be the goal. 

We are told in insidious Centrelink advertising that those of us on disability pensions need to get a job because it will “give us a sense of self worth”. THIS is the whole problem in a nutshell. We are told, that if we do not participate in labour, that we are useless, that we are bad people, that we are “bludgers”, “scabs”, “layabouts”, “A waste on the tax payer’s purse”, and “burdens”. This is ideology, this is capitalism.