Come in, take a seat. Close your eyes. I want you to think of your power animal. Maybe you’ve subscribed to the latest headspace guru’s podcast or drank so much soulful chicken soup you’ve water-boarded Steve Peters Chimp Paradox. If you don’t know your Deepak Chopra from your Ajai Chopra or you think Jack Welch is Raquel Welch’s son then you’re probably doing alright. Most days the best thing you’ll read is the back of a breakfast cereal box.
While the Opinion Makers and Society Shapers (sic) queue up to proselyte on the new doctrine – hint, it’s the same as the old doctrine but now includes a foreword written by a celebrity academic – telling us that the conventional wisdom dictates we all fall inline, allow them select the topics we can be outraged on and face into a glorious sunset or some such nonsense can we just be ornery enough to ask who’s driving the bus?
We are the A la carte herd, born of the echo chamber of post austerity propaganda. I imagine it’s quite like being in the Matrix. It has you, you feel it and you’re pretty sure it’s not great for you but you have no idea of the alternative. Nor do you much care to find out. I’m All Right Jacks pervade in the herd. Citizenry Stockholm Syndrome is not just the latest Nordic Noir Television Series…
I remember the old Dalymount Park, the Old Shed Terrace and how the dropping of a Halloween Banger sent the herd into frenzy. Bohs fans scurrying, knocking over cans of Dutch Gold and cursing everyone within a ten mile radius. Some days I want to throw a banger into the ether just to see if there’s any life in the herd anymore. Every sensible and reasoned argument for new routes or alternative thinking is met with sympathy and sighs that say “The trouble with your Utopian vision is that it’s just too Utopian.”
A child lies dead on a Turkish Beach and we get outraged, a 90 year old man lies dying on a trolley and the radio phone shows light up like a phosphorescence night vision of some bombing campaign in some city where the now drowned child had fled from to begin with. Then we go back to despondency and impotence, feeling a little better for the venting.
The ticker news reel scrolls across the bottom of the screen, 22 dead in suicide bombing, 48 girls kidnapped, drought causes bush fire and wipes out crops, some new variation of influenza is coming, it’s coming, for You, just wait…
So are you thinking of that power animal yet? I’d like to imagine myself as a Great White Shark (of course you would, I hear you scoff) and not because of the Biggest Fish in the Sea metaphor, or because there’s something appealing about a creature of such oxymoronic complex simplicity. No, my admiration is more prosaic than that. It’s the image of the shark, swimming a few metres below the surface, hungry and solitary. His eyes scanning above for the telltale shadow of a passing sea lion. A glimpse and he’s off, rising suddenly, jaws agape, determined. And then the magic happens. Before the Shark begins to devour the helpless prey those dead black eyes roll over white. Smash.
Now, I know we are told the eyes close as a safety measure, sure didn’t David Attenborough tell me so? I understand an apex predator doesn’t want any flailing limb striking and injuring the eyes essential for survival. But still, I like to imagine it differently. I like to imagine the eyes close for a different reason. I like to think the Shark knows what he’s doing is wrong, he understands his victim is outmuscled in this game, he feels a sense of shame, a guilt that means he closes his eyes; an abdication of responsibility. Sure he didn’t even see the crime, “Not guilty your honour. I was asleep at the time.”
Now we face an election season where we’re asked to forget the last 7 years of austerity and hear the Opinion Makers Public Relations Engines roaring “It’s Stability or Chaos” & “Keep the Recovery Going”. A Political Manifesto Maelstrom in which Retrospective Bank Recapitalisation was but a turn of phrase and Pre-election promises are are real as Enda’s man with two pints.
Meanwhile, I’ll be nearby, swimming just below the surface, eyes watching for passing shadows. Sickened by the theatre, disgusted by the Auction Politics and Spin but ravenously hungry all the same. Hungry and ready to pounce. I might even keep my eyes open just to peek at the spectacle. May God have mercy on the Faux Politician who knocks on my door. I certainly won’t. Sure worse things can happen at sea.
Tony Groves Jan 2016