Life Update

Sorry for the witless title; it's 2:42 & my heads buzzing from listening to the whirr of the computer & the sly-blinding of the pixel for the last 4 hours. So if this reads a little off-the-mark, that's why.

Havent posted on here about what i've been up to in ages, & thought it might be nice to have a recap.

BEAT MAG

The magazines going really well, from strength to strength really. It's getting better with each issue, more formed, more sculpted to what we want. Getting better also because we came into it as amateurs, & naturally made mistakes. Slowly the errors are getting ironed out & the ideas are blooming.

One thing I like about doing the mag is that it brings a natural flow to my life; you have this wave that builds - you gather the content together, get the interviews done, go about selling the advertising space - it builds & builds for a month. As it reaches the peak you're all flustered & driven to get it done, then the final week comes, no doubt, I find myself there till the last minute, doing the design, getting it all in order. Then finally it's done, sent to print - wave comes crashing down, the feet go up & the day is spent breathing calmly.

Infact this wave was a problem before - that's why we switched to doing the mag bi-monthly. The problem was, you'd get it printed, but then straight away be onto the next one - no time to bounce back.

But that is nice, now, it has a natural flow - the wave that builds, then you have a month where it's easy-swimming, & youre all ready for the next one by the time it comes around.

This 'natural flow' suits me quite well. One thing i'm really working on with myself is tuning myself from being a 'reactive' person (Shit! This needs doing! Quick! Panic!) to being proactive. Proactive makes sense, is logically correct, however I read Notes From The Underground recently & Dostoevsky seemed to sum up the proactive life accurately for me.. 'The life of twice two's four is not life atall...'

Yes it is. Stop procrastinating you bum. Get your work done.

I really enjoy the mag in general. Quite simply, what do I love to do? Talk to people about things that interest me/things that they know deeply about. Doing the mag I get to brush shoulders with some really interesting people, & get educated folk* to spill the beans on interesting subjects like climate change, University fees, homelessness, travelling etc.

*educated folk - as in, folk who know much about there given subject. Not necessarily people who are scholared in it.

It's also been an avenue into unexpected areas, we're getting alot of support off people we werent expecting or weren't aware of.

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FALMOUTH
I haven't posted about this atall yet, but i'm currently working away at something which is  really exciting for me. For the past couple of months I've been going down to Falmouth each week. I'm working with the students there in a mentor/director role to make a tribute to the Beatles film Yellow Submarine. I'm really pleased to have the opportunity for several reasons:
1) to help pass on whatever knowledge I can, I like helping people, really like it. Hopefully my knowledge ain't too scatter brain'd & inane, ey?
2) Work on a tribute to the Beatles! As if, ha.
3) Be back in beatufiul Falmouth. Literally love Falmouth. Aaaahhh.
4) Get a bunch of skills. I still, & hopefully for a long time will, firmly believe that life is all about experience. This is a great chance to get so much experience. I'm learning alot about how to try to motivate people, how to manage people, & to do it all with conviction & assurance, regardless of the sometimes open-endedness that the work entails. (film making is alot of decision making)
5) Great to be back around young & prosporous folk. I spose you find this in any university town, it's one thing I hold dear from my time in uni. Everybody goin' about in a state of prosperity, getting better at something. Whatever it is; be it their course of study, their practice, or perhaps just life. Everybody is active. Thinking about something. When I first got back on campus I had a little chuckle to myself seeing all the folk walkin round with there little scrunched up faces, no doubt thinking about some deep down thought for their dissertation (or perhaps how much change they had handy for the laundrette). It's great.

Anywho, in a nut shell, loving it. Really thankful to have the opportunity.

It's fun working in the Yellow Submarine style too. It's much simpler than how I typically tend to draw, very appealing to look at, very colourful & fun. It's not too hard & very playfully creative, drawing lots of swirling plants & curved lines.

It gives me a good appreciation of the style too. When I first watched the film I saw the style as strictly amateur. Although I did realise it was ignorant to see it in this light, I still didn't appreciate the artistic quality of it. Drawing in the style really makes you appreciate it.. the welcoming aesthetics (curvyness of everything), the interlaced pop-iconography & Britishness, the use of colour, and the intended naivety & simplicity of it - that which I originally wrote off as amateur!
Here's a bit of concept work:


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Besides all that, i've started getting back into reading more & just living. Am really enjoying being in Torquay at the mo, feels great feeling we're doing something positive for the town (the magazin) & I think it's going to be a great summer.

Ciao for now.

PS dyed my hair blonde. Haha.

three short poems

1)

I heard Plato from the cave,
& how living is easy with eyes closed
& I saw the people on the streets, politicizing there small worlds & making ends meat
& I know that people know their own lives best, and nothing of the unknown.

2)

A bedroom full of books & halfwritten manifestos,
post it note quotes,
concerning all sorts, mainly life, death, living & dying,
& sincerity be at the heart of it.

3)
You are what you eat

Smother yourself with indolence
& indolence you shall be,
watch all the while the most scant of times
& as such you shall see.
Each evening
make friends with gluttony
Lay a bed
& lie in it, slovenly
...

I remember you well..

..in the Chelsea Hotel.

Tribute to my future home & Cohen/Joplin



Working nine to five..

My mate told me a funny story once. He said every time he was rotor'd in to work 9-5, he'd be walking along the long grey dreary road to work, all the while, Dolly Parton ringing in his ears.. "I'm working nine to five..."

Any who, tonight for the first time in a while I just spent the evening reading. It's nice to just dig your noes into something it ain't seen/felt/smelt/heard in a while..

I read again 'wage labour and capital' by Karl Marx. It is a text that has been lingering around (my brain) recently, in relation to unfostered thoughts of the economic system, the welfare state, the dole etc etc. reading it over I realised what a 'founding impact' it had on the way I view work. To quote an early paragraph..

"the putting of labour-power into action – i.e., the work – is the active expression of the labourer's own life. And this life activity he sells to another person in order to secure the necessary means of life. His life-activity, therefore, is but a means of securing his own existence. He works that he may keep alive. He does not count the labour itself as a part of his life; it is rather a sacrifice of his life. It is a commodity that he has auctioned off to another. The product of his activity, therefore, is not the aim of his activity. What he produces for himself is not the silk that he weaves, not the gold that he draws up the mining shaft, not the palace that he builds. What he produces for himself is wages; and the silk, the gold, and the palace are resolved for him into a certain quantity of necessaries of life, perhaps into a cotton jacket, into copper coins, and into a basement dwelling. And the labourer who for 12 hours long, weaves, spins, bores, turns, builds, shovels, breaks stone, carries hods, and so on – is this 12 hours' weaving, spinning, boring, turning, building, shovelling, stone-breaking, regarded by him as a manifestation of life, as life? Quite the contrary. Life for him begins where this activity ceases, at the table, at the tavern, in bed. The 12 hours' work, on the other hand, has no meaning for him as weaving, spinning, boring, and so on, but only as earnings, which enable him to sit down at a table, to take his seat in the tavern, and to lie down in a bed."

Still very much today, tho one change. The worker still sells his 'life activity' to secure the 'necessary means of life', however, many workers have forgotten the simple humble beginnings of the trade-off they partake in - they see money as the reward, as a separate commodity, entirely unbound from their 'life activity'. They therefore spend their money (most indignantly in the voice of the great I am) tyrannically, dumbly, lavishly, indolently, furiously.. It is not their hours spent spinning, weaving, boring, typing, building, shovelling, clicking that the modern worker hands to the cashier -- to them it is simply money; they have lost the connection.

The modern wage-worker who spends his cash so fleetingly and can, on consideration, admit so, can also then (- once he has re-established the connection of his life-activity (labour) and the wage he trades it for -) see that he works beyond his needs. That the money he spends away on nothing is actually hours he's spent typing, building, shovelling etc for nothing. If he were not to burden himself with waste - several pairs of trainers, the latest gadgets, expensive sandwiches that still only fill a hole - he would not need to exchange so much of his 'life activity' for wage.

--
Any who, the above is a bit of a characterisation, so to fully divulge that character I'm thinking people roughly my age (young adults) with somewhat disposable income still (if not the ideal of a disposable income) . It's not an assassination of a particular kind of person; I can sometimes be this way myself, it is an assassination of a indolent way of being.

Mulling over  the other benefits you get from work with my mum, she pointed out job satisfaction, the joy of a job well done. This is true, however, it turned me on to something I believe is heady-prevalent in our society; just a landscape of socieatical nihilism. What I mean by this is simple;

With capitalism as the driving force, every nook and every smear that causes a crease in expenditure is ironed over once-twice; 'how can we squeeze this to make more money?' 'Where can we trim the fat?' (Not forgetting as Marx above suggests, that your wage-labour is simply another commodity much like the tools you use or the computer you type at) it is all about maximising profit

One example of this is McDonald's. McDonald's is a restaurant. It is (I know, I know). However you don't see a head-chef waltzing about the open back kitchen tasting the onion rings. There are no head chefs or suet chefs . Rather than hire skilled workers at a higher price, what McDonald's has very cleverly done is hire unskilled workers; rather than having the head chef, you give every pawn his one job. You! Flip the burgers. You! Toast the buns. You! Slam the cheese. As they are unskilled workers, they are employed on minimum wage, and easy to replace. This is the theory of the factory process line. Of course you can delve deeper, (like a Buddhist, exploring the interconnectedness of the whole world) where do they import there beef from? Is it slaughtered here or abroad? How many people are involved in that process, that back in the day, would have all been performed on a farm, before a dinner plate. The capitalist world often seems nonsensical & illogical, however remember, the logic lies in profit, regardless of the route to it.

So, with this happening to all areas of all employment (look into your line of work, do you see it?) we have moved ever graciously away from the big boss. Back in the day, your boss was visible, he was probably the bloke who owned the biggest house in town, or bought everyone a round once in a while. At work, you would probably pass him and maybe coyly say hello, or at the least know which door his office was behind.
Now however, the king (the big boss) has distanced himself greatly from the pawn. In between himself and them, he's put all the pieces, many knights many rooks, even bosses and bosses on top. The pawn now stands 50 lines ahead of the king.

To the pawn (the common, modern wage-worker) the king is invisible. He is just some man with a lotta money someplace distant, perhaps abroad, or perhaps part of a board,  some uptown twat in London.

So, returning then to job satisfaction, my point is this; for my generation, many of us had our first job experiences working for some big corporate chain like this - McDonald's, tescoes, HMV, sainsburys etc etc. we were bathed in it. and its a fool who doubts the power of formative experience in moulding lasting opinion.

My question to the lasting-practice of this king-pawn conundrum - how much empathy can be expected of the pawn when his master sits so far away? For these big corporations, they can thank their lucky stars that compassion within communities has grown colder and colder in the last 70 years - where we now instinctively imagine a tanned man with a beard to be a terrorist, or consider in equal measure,  whether the man holding the child that's not his own is either a good-Samaritan or a pedophile.

If the world were a little warmer, perhaps dominos pizza workers wouldn't care - and infact be rather happy - that the fresh, untouched, still warm pizza they had to bin because of legislation was now in the hands of someone who would have otherwise not eaten tonight. Or perhaps people working in supermarkets will 'give away' stock by merely turning a blind eye to his fellow man as he leaves without paying. Who does the working class feel empathy for more? One another? or the fatcat miles away. If we keep getting poorer and those corporations keep on swelling, perhaps we'll see a tilting of the balance..

Any who, that's that, socieatical nihilism, on your street corners, in your nearest tescoes.

inspiration


Patti Smith: Advice to the young from Louisiana Channel on Vimeo.

Gotta keep your intergety about's you.

Also, this that a few of you may have seen before. Saw this on the net a while ago & found it so true. We planned to print it in next month's magazine but unfortunately ran out of room. Check it :

Digital Disatisfaction

Working on the magazine, most of my work recently has been done sat in the glare of a computer screen. It's been this way for a while now, when we were making Dark Descent we spent whole days sat behind a computer.

I think there's something strange that happens when you're on a comp. For example when animating at a computer, at the end of the day, you dont seem to feel the same level of satisfaction as you would if you'd spent the whole day working on paper & a light box. Same for writers - filling 30 notebook pages is much more satisfying than a hundred Word document ones.. Even if you'd completed twice as much work, working digitally you are left feeling a little empty.

I think this is because of the loss of the whole physical game; When you're working with your hands, you've got this over here, this over there, you have to get out your chair, go get stuff, look through drawers etc etc. What'smore you can pick it up at the end of the day, move it about, look at it. It's there. Sat infront of a box, your whole work is created within the box & when the light blips off your work has vanished for the time being.

I'm not bashing the box; i'm a huge fan of computers, especially when it comes to animation; whole films can be made in the box goddamit! Go consult Ralph Bakshi .

So what it's all about for me is overcoming this digital dissatisfaction. A couple of things I do;
  • If i'm going to be working at a computer predominantly for the day, I lay out a little schedule. eg:-
1 hour - Draw up sketches for bla bla bla
3 hours - Design template layout for next issue
 -------1 hour - have lunch --------
2 hours - contact new contributors / advertisers
etc etc.

  • Another thing I think is important to do is to keep a list of all your achievements throughout the day. Whatever it is, it's nice to have a check list that you can look back at come the end of the day. Even things like 'updated the Magazine Facebook page'. It may seem small & needless to record, but it still took 20 minutes/an hour of your time.
  • Also, be active elsewhere in your life. I think this is why so many people are getting into running now; you spend all day at a desk, then go for a run, helps revert that inbalance in nature.
I find these little methods also stop me procrastinating so much, or atleast, help me be aware of when I am procrastinating. If you have a day schedule, regardless of how feeble it may seem, it still lets you be aware of the track you are on.

Also to be aware of how innumerably handy these little whirring boxes can be; sending out emails may seem simple, but look at your immense productivity! 40 years ago, writing all those letters, heading to the post-office, mailing them, that woulda taken some time..


Vegetarianism

I implore everyone who reads this blog to watch this documentary about human treatment of animals. A warning though - it's not the pleasantest way to spend an evening - infact rather harrowing - but very beneficial. It's also not '14 year old anarchist' material if you get me, it's spoken very plainly (by Joaquin Pheonix, no less) and factual.

Anywho, without further ado:


Just to clarify, none of the following is written with a hostile tongue, please don't read it as such.

There are a few defences for meat-eating, most often, people will defend it as 'the circle of life'. This is true to a degree, however, it's simply not necessary to eat animals in this day & age. Each species has a fantastic virtue, developed in the 'survival of the fittest'. For example a Leopard its speed. Sharks the ability to smell blood from a mile away. Birds, there intuitive ability to fly in formation. (Don't mention the sloth) We should use our fantastic virtue, our conciousness (I think, therefore I am) to be above murdering other being's.

Another defence for eating meat is farming being good for the environment. This is true in the idealistic image of farming - happy pigs, rolling fields, a bloke with a stick of hay in his mouth etc, but that isn't the truth of the world. Consider the impact of capitalism on farming. If they can make the quantity of their produce bigger, their production method cheaper, & any other means to undercut their business rivals  - of course, logically, they will. This has led to it's natural conclusion, demonstrated in the documentary above; The truth of modern farming is live chicken's on a conveyor belt - 'whats the most economical way to kill them?' capitalism asks; to have them catapulted into a brick wall at the end of the line, any live one's being stamped to death by steel toe capped boots. This actually happens. As if.

'It's natural to eat meat', true. But let's not pretend we are these all natural being's; Afterall, it's not natural to wipe your arse.

Oh and finally, I promise you, dinner is not boring without meat. At first it can be, when you're still stuck in the 'chicken & veg', 'sausage & mash' routine, but soon enough you'll be filling your plate with all the flavours of the world.

---

I think it's important for people - not necessarily to become vegetarian's - but to understand that eating meat is a choice. Be aware of you're choice when you sit down to dinner; was it worth an animal's life for you to fill your belly for an hour or two?

A great benefit I have found from being a veggy is the moment that veil drops in your mind. I remember walking along a roadside with my pal and seeing a huge billboard for McDonald's. It was a massive blown up picture of a Big Mac. That moment I saw this as no different to it being a human corpse up there, blown up big, all bloodied & battered, resting inbetween two buns, the stench of death. Anywho this was the moment the veil came down in my mind, & I saw it for what it was. I feel that vegetarianism is a pathway to feeling the interconnectedness of the whole world & the beauty that permeates. Eating meat is the closed curtain:- children don't see the connection between those chicken's in a field & those chicken nuggets on there plate. Adults don't see the connection between a rare rump steak & a bloody cows arse. But this is a beautiful thing - the moment the veil drops & you're able to feel that compassion within, to a greater extent than you've felt before. As Tolstoy put it;

"This is dreadful! Not the suffering & death of the animals, but that people suppress in themselves, unnecessarily, the highest spiritual capacity - that of sympathy & pity towards living creatures like themselves" - Tolstoy
Do have a think about it. I see it as one of those things, once you have addressed it - looked yourself in the mirror & made the concious choice either 'I am okay with eating meat' or 'I don't want other animals to die for my dinner plate', you are able to reap the benefit I said above. It's good to abolish your ignorance, wherever you find it.

It helps you reckognise your own level of selfishness also - I don't mean to use this word as slander, I mean it in the true sense, how we are all selfish to some degree (the baby crying for milk, the man in a traffic jam kicking off about his right of way). Vegetarianism is simply saying i'm not cool with death for my dinner plate. It is not black & white - i've heard vege's chastised for walking on the ground incase they kill a worm, or whatever. My own level of selfishness finds it hard to extend any further passed vegetarianism. For example into being a vegan. I would love to, & have great admiration for vegans, but it's too much for me, too much of a lifestyle choice in terms of money & time spent pursuing the cause. This is where my selfishness draws the line - the simple practicality of being a veggy.

If you're interested in giving it a go, check out this great initiative set up by Paul McCartney.
http://www.meatfreemondays.co.uk/