Wednesday, 27 April 2011
'Interjections' - My First Publication
Announcement, I am going to have my first book published. Now, we'll not be hasty here - as yet, I have no publisher and only I know anything of its existence - but rest assured, the book will happen.
'Interjections' will be a collection of micro-essays each with a common goal - to encourage you to think differently about the taken-for-granted social world around us. There is no revolutionary agenda here and no suggestions are made for how to bring about changes, where needed. The idea of interjections is that they appear spontaneously in the taken-for-granted flow of life, and in a short utterance, cause you to question the way things are, things which might not have registered as existing.
The essays are tiny problematisations and uneasy questions that lead not to a conclusion, nor to an answer, but to further questions.
I can't be publishing them all on this blog, or else I'd have nothing unique to put into the book, but to give a taster, I have included one interjection below.
Please spread this page like wildfire, especially to any friends you have who work in publishing.
Why shouldn't children drink alcohol?
If an 11 year old boy, standing outside the corner shop, implores you to buy him alcohol, the impulse would most often be to refuse. This refusal might not rest only on a sense of personal discomfort with the situation, or with the illegality of it, but on the commonsense logic that an 11 year old should not be drinking alcohol.
The arguments for why a child should not drink alcohol invoke all the arguments on why adults should not drink alcohol, but also all of the reasons why an adult should drink. So not only is it prohibited for children because, like for adults, it is likely to make them ill – short term through drunkenness, and long term through liver damage – and make them act dangerously, irresponsibly and aggressively, not only this, but a child should not need to drink alcohol to steady his nerves (adults might), a child should not need to drink to socialise (adults might) and a child should not need to drink to escape the base sorrow of his situation.
The conditions which justify alcohol – the lack of confidence, the feelings of depression, the nihilism and the need to help yourself ‘let go’ – are not conditions which you inherit on your 18th birthday. Ever more, the world of teenagers becomes moulded and merged on an adulthood which is directionless, tired and resigned.
Extra prohibitions against children drinking alcohol emphasise something about alcohol that we seldom admit to when we are thinking of adults drinking – alcohol is an admission of defeat. This is most clearly visible in those who are wounded by existence – those who are homeless, drug addicts and alcoholics, the solitary widow, the dispossessed and those deprived of liberty. Less apparent, but nonetheless a reality, is the pessimism inherent in the social drinking of the festive family gathering, in which individuals can enjoy/endure the company of their supposed nearest and dearest only by sedating themselves. Meeting for a social drink after work is but one small normalised fix of defeat. As a substance whose function is effectively as a numbing agent, and one which slows time, incapacitates the conscience and destabilises self-restraint, every swig concedes failure. From the solitary silent rage of the dictator’s drinks cabinet, the fatigue of the worker’s morning vodka and the rituals of bread and wine to the wanderer’s cheap cider and the victim’s attempt to forget.
Why refuse the 11 year old?
Is he immune from the spoils of existence? Is he insulated already against the cold truths? What, you will foist drink on those you love and call it a gift, without guilt. You accept the numbing agent as a present without feeling offended. Why not this anonymous young stranger?
We know that the history of humanity has been one of servitude and exploitation for the majority of those born here. Somebody keeps you in check, something denies you the full use of your agency – your faith, your master, your owner, your employer, your lawmaker, your neighbours, your parents, your wife, your daughter, your husband, you bank, your qualifications, your gender, your love, your ego, your poverty, your desire, your biology…
For millennia we suffer. Our parents did. And theirs and theirs and theirs. Our children will suffer. And theirs. And theirs. And theirs.
Is not society just the culmination of mankind’s long history of denying, glossing over or collectively ignoring the grey futility of it all? Eventually, a corpse is just a corpse, whether it once carried the automations of a master or a servant, a prophet or a sinner, a knight or a knave, producer or consumer, millionaire or a beggar. Social structures crumble into the soil.
Isn't the best gift that one could give to anyone the ability to numb oneself to the reality of sobriety and the sobriety of reality?
We tend to think not. Not for the little ones. Not for the lambs.
Generation after generation rests its hopes on those which will succeed it – the glitter of civilizations’ hopes rest always on the slim shoulders of the youth. We hope things can be different. We hope things can be better. We hope for the eternal trend to be bucked.
If we concede that the children are as hopeless as we are, we could go on no more.