Masochistic Perceptions, Trials and Truths

These are my cyberfied cerebral synapses ricocheting off reality as I perceive it: thoughts, opinions, passions, rants, art and poetry...

Thursday, October 30, 2008


Relaxing with a wee dram of Jura 16 year old single malt and a good book (presently reading Eknath Easwaran's translation of The Dhammapada) is how I imagined life to be as a school teacher after hours. Sadly, I do not have the opportunity of making such things as a nightly ritual, but would really like to. Perhaps throw in smoking a pipe (an affectation, but aromatic), wearing a nice cardigan (I own one that I bought years ago in Scotland, but it itches) and scratching my grey-flecked beard thoughtfully as I venture into writings for literary greats and incredible histories. This is how I imagined school teachers to be in my youth – eccentric individuals immersed in academics and the pleasantries of being grown up in smoky, dusty home dens. Perhaps this is how it was when I was young; after all, in my youth, there were still shop keepers, men wore fedoras, shoe salesmen actually made careers of selling shoes, chain stores did not monopolise the planet and, generally speaking, life just seemed to have more substance. I'm not being a romantic here – conservatism was rife, women oppressed and minds somewhat narrow, but there is a certain je ne sais croix that was abounding back then.

As a teacher today, I feel fortunate to work with some amazing people. I am distressed, however, at the number of teachers who teach things like History or Literature, but never crack a book on these subjects themselves. Part of the reason is certainly much like why I can not engage nightly in the aforementioned ritual – folks are busy. The workload on teachers today is immense, and the general 24/7 high-speed mentality of Western culture adds to an overall drain on working people. Add in families with all the parental responsibilities, and one is left with a calendar, sparse in spaces.

Ultimately, however, I blame much of this on Western culture in general. For example, I went to see Wagner's "The Flying Dutchman" performed the other evening. Though German opera tends to be a bit heavy and make you want to die, what really depressed me was that the majority of the crowd (approximately 75%) was old and grey, and the opera being performed was written in the 1800's. Simply put, when we go back the past 2500 years in human history, we are saturated with incredible music, Philosophy, Literature, Art, etc. Though there are many great late 20th C/ early 21st C writers and performance, the general standard of popular culture has disintegrated into a ball of chimpanzee smegma in the past 25 years especially. In stark contrast to Wagner was the Halloween dance at my school today where I endured monotonous bass, lyrics with no substance and songs that basically takes all the progress we have made in regards to women's rights and sexual liberation and reduced it all to crude and disrespectful degradation.

Perhaps these are the senile ramblings of a middle-aged man, much like my parents disliked my writing "Ozzy" on my knuckles and biting the heads off rubber bats in junior high, but I don't think so. Back then the bands were writing songs about things and playing instruments. Today, Guitar Hero and Rock Band have eclipsed the real stuff and innocent (but provocative) screaming of "God hates us all" has been reduced to some punk propagating the gangsta lifestyle and demonstrating the inability to wear a belt or his hat straight. I am hyperbolising for effect here, but I am simply trying to make a point…

People today are generally self-absorbed and apathetic. Television has reduced us to the lowest denominator ruling, our leaders have no vision and we seems like sheep heading to slaughter. People are afraid of dealing with real and heavy matters. We are oblivious and de-sensitised to things going around us to the point that it's scary. People with ideas are punished in our general corporate mentality that permeates throughout most organisations running our societies, and spirituality is either dead, made into a fundamentalist fanaticism or corporative (i.e. Yoga). We are all sleepwalking toward death. We are missing the beauty of sensuality. Life has become a matter of quantity, not quality. We crusade against smokers, but fund leaders who commit genocide. We talk about freedom and democracy in Afghanistan, committing our soldiers of whom nearly 100 have perished and many more have been de-limbed or de-brained, but only 57% of people voted in Canada's last federal election. We worry about lead in toys made for our children in China, while pumping their future fresh water into oil wells so that the multi-nationals can make an easier buck. This is insane.

Perhaps I should not think so much and join the masses in the bliss of their ignorance and denial. Perhaps it is I who am dead. Perhaps I am as Wagner's Dutchman – damned within a conformist society, sailing the seas until the day of judgement, which, ultimately, is the day that I cease to be. I know, I'm being melodramatic like those silly theatre people with perhaps a rather haughty self-concept. Perhaps I should loosen my belt, parade around with my boxers on display and wear my cap wonky. I've always felt a fraternal bond with Dostoevsky's Underground Man. But sometimes one needs to be dramatic so that they might be heard. Cheers to the aesthetic and the romantics!


Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home