The Directionless Generation

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Advice and Structure doesn’t just end with school.

I have so many friends who were treated well when they were younger, they all grew up with Tamagotchi’s and the latest Disney movies, they never missed out on a school trip; Their lives were structured. Then they turned eighteen and their parents stopped helping them. 

We spend so many years in the cotton wool world of secondary school,  you turn around and find;  it’s up to you to decide whether to go to College, work for a paltry zero-hours contract or go to India to ‘find yourself’ 

They told you in school that if you didn’t do well, you wouldn’t amount to anything; so you take on a job in a phone shop and find that the structure suits you, okay it means you have to flat share; maybe get in a bit of debt, but nobody ever explained that the same debt incurred by Student Loans is never going to be possible to pay back. So you work and go out on the lash, perhaps fall in love or just sleep around.

Yet, much like the fact nobody ever explained that University Debt is totally invisible; you are left wondering where your life is headed, if you’ll actually grow out of perpetual student mode.

The Christmas shoppers descend upon your phone shop and you want to quit because the manager is practicing his best Donald Trump, day in-day out mithering at you to meet your sales targets. You want to quit your job, but you are already in debt and the older you get, the harder it is to apply for a college or get into a University.

This is happening all around us at the moment; I’m not saying University is the answer to all your problems; I happened to pick at random and ended up in Northampton, which was a vast wasteland in comparison to the city of Swansea in which I lived (and that’s saying something)

 I was taken in by the idea of further education after a difficult secondary school and a frustrating college Education in something called ‘Media’  many of my classmates dropped out to work in call-centers lured in by the certainty of money. 

Their parents either lacked an awareness of the stresses of the modern world or in some way, decided that supporting their children through the early steps was sufficient. Some teens even end up having to pay their parents rent; as if they should magically know what to do as soon as they turn a certain age. 

Some parents even use money to control their children or fail to recognise the drudgery that a life without any clear guidance can produce. I’m fortunate to be aloof to this kind of challenge, as I’ve always had at least access to money. Therefore, it’s impossible for me to feel entitled to let any personal sniping or emotional problems of any of my family get me down…Makes no difference to me.

Given that Rates of depression and anxiety among teenagers have increased by 70 per cent in the past 25 years.’  This type of neglect is creating further distance between young adults and their parents; they see their job as the caregiver to be over with and never have the privilege to think of their teens as ‘friends’

I’ve seen friends spiral down into drug dependency and unhealthy relationships as a response to lack of guidance. I was lucky enough that one half of my parents was willing to support me financially; until I found a concrete opportunity to work abroad.

I was encouraged to go up to London for interviews for Voluntary Service Overseas, which could be seen cynically as time I should have been putting money into the household.  It’s time to acknowledge that parenthood doesn’t have a sell-by date and that there is so much more obstacles in early adulthood than there ever was in the Tamagotchi days.

I Dreamt I was mugged outside Tesco: It taught me things, I think.

 Last night, I dreamt…

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Dali’s ‘Sleep’ (1937)

In a flash, I was mugged for exactly £50, I immediately find out his name from an envelope which he handed to me,I then vow that I was going to report the wastrel. Shortly after, a comet falls and annihilates the entire planet; Death Star style. Rendering the whole affair completely pointless.

Somehow, within this great mysterious, subconscious television show of my dreams, this plot unfolds and seeks to have me questioning things and naval gazing my way towards writing this blog post, which you are now not reading.

Awaking at 5am, staving off the Gin Tremens; it feels powerful, An affirmation that we shouldn’t sweat the small stuff. Does the mugger represent life itself? Death as a cosmic yob? If it functions to remind us of the stride and shuffle of our existence, then it also functions to let us know that the pursuit of money is futile, even if that seems like where all the fun and the power is.

Personally, I think money can buy happiness on some level: but it can’t always keep disease at bay, it can’t stop the tides of decay and only history will memorialize us. Money buys Absinthe, Absinthe was historically thought to have some part to play in these bizarre picture shows of sleep; What possible reason otherwise, would you have to find yourself out at 4am with people you don’t know?

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A Lady before dreams of Tesco or more likely;  The Absinthe Drinker by Edgar Degas (1876) 


We use the word ‘Dream’ to sell lifestyles; most notably with The American Dream, which at is not simply about money, it’s about the status, respect and power that money brings;

My favourite commentary on this comes from Arther Miller’s A View From A Bridge, which bankrupts the entire concept. But American society still falls for it, even when the majority don’t actually wish to have ‘nobodies’ even trying climb the ladder of their states.

Heavy stuff, I know, I know: writing about dreams on a blog, if we dig deeper into every aspect, It’s almost as if I was handed an envelope to deliver this message to you, Whether you like it or not. We could even dive deeper in, drag out the really big fish like;

Why did the mugging take place outside Tesco on St.Helen’s Road in Swansea?

Why was the mugger a man?

Hmmm…

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Enough already…

The nearby presence of the mystical Indonesian eating-house might even hold weight, that Confucianism and all of its systems serve to govern the stinking plate of Rending of life, before the squirts ruin our hopefully well seasoned Ruby Murray?

We can naval gaze, we can speak utter drivel, waffle on until we are worm food, there are all sorts of systems, religions to connect to and all sorts of feelings, some of which; such as fear and anxiety which we arguably should strive to rid ourselves of.

Have you ever had a moment of self-actualisation? Wherein, you suddenly feel a mental or even a physical feeling of being alive? I have been trying to work my way through this and flush out brain fog which sometimes sets in with winter.

I am still full of energy, I am calm. This dream tells me that things are shifting significantly in life, at least in the opinion of quick Google search and years of belligerent research into the ‘Hypnologic State’ as advertised famously by Salvador Dali, that in the moment between being awake and asleep; we are at our best;

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Salvador ‘Avida Dollars’ Dali’s worst nightmare was likely to have been to be parted from his money, particularly if the assailant had been a particularly vicious grasshopper.  


This concept that mere day-to-day life is a costume party, a play that we don’t even know we are part of is fascinating, there are those that seek faith in Buddhism, in Transcendental Meditation (Meditation for Dentists) or even the humble Avocado.

There are ‘Hygge’ heads and Hardcore Ravers, Take it from me, as someone who occasionally has Tequila for breakfast; I haven’t found much from substances beyond a few great stories and enhancing the flavour of food. I have tried to seek out new means to explore the mind, finding Travel, Comedy and Photography as the ultimate drugs for me;

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One of the most curious incidences was seeing this image in front of me before I’d even taken the shot,  I could see how life worked together in the moment and knew it would make a great picture.

But are we confusing passion with spirituality?

Why is there a curious peace in Buddhist Temples or a satisfaction in the company of somebody else?

Why do a few lyrics move us?

Are these things, along with our dreams; just a chemical mess emanating from the fact we are all a race of ancient lumps of cheese?

Seriously,  this is why they say ‘write what you know’

because now;

we hit a roadblock in our writing,

a roadblock of which dreams are made of.

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David Lynch, There Is Nothing Here Please Go, Away, 2012

 

Politics and #TheFuture (if it’s possible)

Twitter lets us dumb our thoughts down, photography apps, particularly Instagram and Snapchat, let us reveal small visual details of our lives without any meaningful context. Even meditation is blogged about, advertised; without giving the reader the real tools to explore their consciousness. Everything is now self-serving. 

Music used to be important, back in ‘the olden days’  it wasn’t so easy to just Google hundreds of songs weekly. The cult of personality shifted from music to politics as a result, oversharing revealed itself in the carbuncle of Donald Trump, Brexit and the agenda of pretty much everyone in Los Angeles. Our oversharing has made us easy pray for targeted marketing. 

It reads like a high school essay to basically write ‘Internet=Bad’ and therefore we have to acknowledge that it’s given as much as it’s taken, but what it’s taking specifically, seems to be our attention spans, modesty and our ability to talk to another human being in the flesh.  

This type of oversharing was basically the making of Trump, we created a cartoon villain who also fed on the oxygen of negative press, knowing through his advisors how to manipulate everything to an exact social science. The Republican party reptile didn’t just measure every column in inches, he tweeted about it and used it to win.

And now he wants to thank you for it. 

Saturday Night Live and other fairly crude entertainment outlets prayed on our shortened attention span, failing to recognise that Cantaloupe Trump isn’t quite as ignorant as he comes across in speeches. If this had been the case, he would have never ran for president, he would have ran straight to E! Entertainment and become either the next Hugh Hefner or be devoted to giving impassioned speeches to ‘Make Tila Tequila Great Again’

Okay, he once wrestled Vince McMahon, but the point is: he didn’t disappear into his parents money as so many people claim, he used the ignorant perception that he was simply ignorant to win. We are forever in the grasp of these tricksters, they are locking up people like Chelsea Manning and deciding what is ‘right’ for the collective online consciousness to know.   

The newspeak of this era, has got to be the repeated empty slogans repeated ad-nauseam in order to win an argument. ‘Brexit means Brexit’ and ‘Make America Great Again’ are political memes. Slogans that are supposed to drive us to the same fever that was echoed in ‘Dig for Victory’

Sometimes 

Any decent idea can’t be expressed in the new mediums of Twitter; everything must be 140 characters, unless you are quoting something from that’s already been said. Issues became simplified and neatly as minimalist as the apartment in American Psycho

A Capitalist Zen emerged, whose main tenants were greed and the chakras were all in the pants has emerged as a result. I know that there is a counter-movement, but isn’t it time to put ourselves on a technology detox and find a way to beat this movement on a different level?

It seems we need a middle ground between the radical far-left and the far-right;  we need to work within the system rather than try to change things as outsiders, but it seems right now; the system is already rigged.

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Though they do have some good graphic designers over at occupy…and kale…

There are no easy answers, we’ve had The Occupy movement, we’ve had Street Art protests which surely worked in some Third-world countries; but it has always been on a marginal scale in the US and the UK. People understandably have zero hour contracts to attend to or vaguely comfortable jobs.  Without some kind of chaos,resulting in losses of life to rile up the people; which would be dire;

There isn’t a way to really restore the system or even an idea of what a decent system would look like anymore.

Any ideas?

#FloodtheSystem?

#Whoknows

A Hundred Ideas For Sale.

A minuscule while ago, I couldn’t sleep; I started picturing Barbie dolls pressed in glitter on canvas, I thought about buying paint, making things etc… and soon enough I was listing things…So what began life as a list of Art pieces I could attempt, has now developed into a hundred random ideas, some possible, some frankly impossible.

As I was finishing this list, I thought some of the random ideas would even make pretty decent story titles. Writing is a form of exploration. So if there’s any particular title for a story, art piece or project that appeals to you…let me know?

Maybe I’ll do it.

Maybe we could do it.

Maybe not.

 

  1. Melted Barbie Doll, covered in glitter and pressed into a canvas while warm.
  2. Venus Flytrap, inside a honey lined picture frame. 
  3. Presidential podium on a Segway. 
  4. Painting made using Human tears.
  5. Donald Trump depicted as a liberal, transgender vegan. 
  6. Entire day recorded using a GoPro. 
  7. Nazi Chicken Coop.
  8. Comparison chart of how much dictators sleep/slept. 
  9. List of failed Art pieces. 
  10. Suit made of spaghetti. 
  11. Collection of liver scan videos. 
  12. All the remaining ashes of the photos I burned of myself as a baby. 
  13. Sweetcorn fritter on a wire. 
  14. Clanger in a cage. 
  15. Sausage made of Vegans.
  16. Five-pound note made entirely of meat. 
  17. Aquarium full of sea-monkeys. 
  18. Brain scan of an ice-cream headache. 
  19. January Christmas party. 
  20. Opposite day. 
  21. Trampoline made of crumpets. 
  22. Buddhist bullets. 
  23. Calpol in a syringe. 
  24. Spaghetti hoop swimming pool. 
  25. Whetus fetus. 
  26. Serial killer cereal. 
  27. Coins made of meat.
  28. An office block for hamsters. 
  29. All Cat rap group. 
  30. Kimchi lipgloss. 
  31. Potato band playing Neu!
  32. Eminem made of M&M’s. 
  33. Magnetic sculpture of Jesus. 
  34. Kentucky Fried Barbie (KFB)
  35. Sperm bank statement. 
  36. Celebrity sperm for sale. 
  37. Lawyer for your hair. 
  38. Kurt Cobain action figure. 
  39. Gyoza Bra. 
  40. Prime Ministers questioning time. 
  41. UKIP Hijab. 
  42. Brighton Rock band. 
  43. Sisyphus as a Dung Beetle. 
  44. Case for baskets. 
  45. Heavy words written on balloons.
  46. Drunken Tamagotchis. 
  47. Supine singing competition. 
  48. Cheerleaders of the apocalypse.
  49. Bambi with a gun. 
  50. Acne filled with diamonds. 
  51. Intoxicating holy water. 
  52. Male Geisha.
  53. Nail varnish for truckers. 
  54. Fish with feelings. 
  55. Morning wine. 
  56. Swearwords for the blind. 
  57. Golden cardboard box.
  58. Kimchi Ice Cubes.
  59. The American Dream. 
  60. Vegan Slaughterhouse. 
  61. Assassin Christian Band.
  62. Candles made of blood.
  63. Polaroids of modern dinners. 
  64. Children dressed as old people. 
  65. Candy anti-depressants. 
  66. Cornflakes made of actual gold. 
  67. Flavoured Snot. 
  68. Fluffy Chains
  69. Celebrity Ouija Board. 
  70. A Laptop Turtleneck. 
  71. Blackened Bonsai Trees. 
  72. Photographs of a Night Out: Before/After.
  73. Memories of suffering. 
  74. Anti-Art Exhibitions. 
  75. Aloof Priests. 
  76. An emergency feeling.
  77. Iceland Food Cafe.
  78. Tinder for Sheep.
  79. Fairgrounds for Cats.
  80. New money for new rope.
  81. Bagels made of Bengals. 
  82. Fears of Death in Poetry.
  83. Kentucky Fried Disappointment.
  84. The Benefit of Distance.
  85. Homme Fatale.
  86. A Sober Artist. 
  87. The Excitement of Evil. 
  88. Listless Creativity. 
  89. A Beautiful Motorway. 
  90. Flavoured Wallpaper. 
  91. Celebratory Death 
  92. Classy Vegas. 
  93. Theme songs for everybody. 
  94. Pyramids to commemorate slaves.
  95. Elvis in the building. 
  96. Sycophantic bucket shakers. 
  97. Enjoying silence. 
  98. Somebody modest. 
  99. Experimental Advertising. 
  100. The Bitter End.  

 

Thank-You for Ignoring This.

Lazarus- a Sunken Dream

 

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I don’t know where I’m going from here, but I promise it won’t be boring,’  David Bowie, 1997.

Perhaps there was just nowhere to go with the story, if only we could have resurrected just a small flavour of Bowie’s 1970’s Diamond Dogs and breathed a bit more into the whole thing.  It might be too fashionable; given that the bowels of London has had the runs for flashy productions for decades; but at least it wouldn’t resemble a hipster coffee morning for extraterrestrials.

If you’ve stumbled into a modern art gallery in the last century: You’ve pretty much seen it all before. It’s all right in front of you the moment you enter the theatre; like a glimpse into Andy Warhol’s bedroom; There’s a fridge full of gin, there’s a little Bowie shrine and a vast ‘television’ which basically fills in the gaps and makes the whole thing feel a bit like American Idol on Mars.

The minimalism doesn’t just limit itself to the set however, the plot is as waifish and incoherent as Bowie on milk and chillies way back in 1975. The addled alien Thomas Newton is now a wet brained wreck, living on Gin and Twinkies.

Somewhere along the way; his housekeeper suddenly decides to fancy him, rather than pity him and there’s some sort of Yuppie murder plot going on in the background. Overall, the characters take it in turns to break up all the vagueness with a couple of Bowie hits, Sometimes it works, But it’s limited by the need for Michael C. Hall to deliver everything every line as if he’s just had his breakfast (yes, more Gin).

By trying too hard to break away from  The Man Who Fell To Earth and the generally lighter sides of Bowie: all we are getting with Lazarus is some sort of knowing, actorly stage show with Balloons, Geishas and Milk.

Obliquely put: It’s cold ice, hardly masquerading any fire.It begins suddenly, it ends suddenly; but still how the audience clapped and for £25 and the sheer effort the cast put in; perhaps it was worth it…Just for one day.

 

 

 

 

Even Buddha likes Biscuits. (Or are they cakes?)

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Offering

They came in quick succession; first a pack of Sun Maid raisins, a bag of fig rolls and a tin of fruit shortcake, appearing slapdash on the mountain alter. There was no magical sound they just were suddenly there. Gifts from the Dharma Directorial Centre in Hull.

As always, like a child he poked at the items with a curiosity, eventually he would get around to peeling away the wrappers and perhaps figuring out how exactly to consume them, but for now only one thought appeared between his long ears:

‘I knew, I should have provided guidance on Jaffa Cakes!’

The Zen Garden was full of little mistakes of his disciples on earth, little trinkets and even a receipt left idly on the throne in Thailand. Little by little, though his soul was by default the cleanest a soul could be, his garden was beginning to resemble a Holy Jumble sale.

Buddha, who in seconds  could levitate 20 feet off the ground, make the fish tap-dance and make time move forward, curiously found that like his many followers at Christmas, getting rid of unwanted gifts was a burden that even those who had reached Nirvana had to bear.  His followers bestowed upon him great trays of Ferrero Roche, yet he had a nut allergy and had done so since 624 BC.

It had been so easy back then to tell the servants about his demands, okay there hadn’t been as many sugary confectionary to go with all the tea, but at least in the great mandala of the world, there had been a choice in what vegetables to eat. Now he was sometimes reduced to snacking on whatever some well meaning schoolgirl had brought him from the 7/11. Like the rest of us; he had a very specific biscuit itch which was beginning to gnaw at him. Something had to be done.

‘What if I tried to send something back through the alter?’ 

This thought had been planting it’s seed in his mind ever since he’d started receiving the dreaded pink wafers; between the long periods of meditation, a  mantra which was always followed by a secondary chant as he rubbed his curly head;  I’m not supposed to intervene.

But even if he could; how could he justify such earthy pleasures as the sweet amalgamation of orange jelly, spongey base and chocolate known on earth as the Jaffa Cake?  He had lambasted his father from birth for dining in the palace on steaming pots of Moon Toad and other long-forgotten creatures;

Yet Buddha, the Buddha, who had shunned earthly pleasures and risen above them, found his stomach, his very Solar Plexus Chakra, pining to scrawl a list of demands to his loyal horde, who dutifully exhibited their socks during drop-in sessions between gruesome shifts at Aldi. Who sacrificed their very ability to grow a quiff in order to follow his teachings.

Yet automatically, he still found himself scrawling onto joss paper the following;

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He placed it on the alter, and with a faint pop it vanished.

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2.

What Fresh Hull is this…

Finally things were starting to fall into place for Harold, this was his first lesson in front of his superiors and he’d managed to get most of his students to sign up for a wet weekend in the country. They would have to ship in more lentils to feed everyone at the retreat and it was all down to him. Just another 10 minutes and he’d be able to go home and  celebrate in front of Come Dine With Me.

‘…and now we open the floor to questions’

Harold excitedly gathered speed concerning all things in the eternal law of the cosmos, how iPhones were distracting us with a panache that even awoke the heavy eyed of the contingent. It was all going to be bliss from now on;

Until he got to the elderly Ms.Peters, who always had to bellow on account of her hearing; 

‘Harold!…Harold, I’d just like to know when did you start allowing letters for the Siddhartha? I think it’s so sweet so sentimental especially in the run up to CHRISTMAS!’

As she stood up to draw attention to the letter, nestled directly on the Golden statue, the rest of the class snapped out of their poises to crane their necks in mimicry of her pointed, jeweled hand, Harold was tasked with checking the offerings for posterity and now he could see that some prankster was about to jeopardize his possibilities of getting invited to the secret retreats.  The ones that could practically turn you into a Karmic celebrity overnight.

‘A very good question Ms.Peters, let me just have a look…’

But reaching for the letter, he was beat to it by his mentor Babayev, a wrinkled tortoise of a man who had entered the room suddenly, Babayev was a quick reader despite his advanced age and it took a mere 20 seconds to finish the letter before he keeled over and expired from this confusing world without so much as a wriggle of the toe. Things were left up to Harold to explain what he could not.

As they gathered around like soldiers inspecting a trench, superstition was overcome by curiosity and one by one, the nice couple who had just gone vegan, the old man with the drink problem and prying, braying Ms.Peters in quick succession read out the letter, all the while wondering why they hadn’t fallen down dead upon it’s completion.

Babayev had looked weathered, but Harold had put that down in parts to the punishing diet of lentils and he expected; Whiskey. 

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Maybe it was those damn heart pills…

Part of the requirements of Harold’s post was to monitor Babayev’s taking of the little candy colored pills for a weak heart. there was only one thing to do; check the little pink box in which they were stored like less fun Smarties. Cocooned around him was the class that wouldn’t leave his side in the wake of the disruption, Going to storage they found that Mondays supply had been consumed. It was a Tuesday.   

There was only a second thing to do;  check the CCTV cameras that had been reluctantly installed in the wake of some burglaries of the offerings. They each gathered around the small televisions to observe a more curious event in progress; on the screens in one window stood Babayav, happily lapping up the pills (albeit Wednesday’s supply) and on the other, as Babayav shuffled towards the prayer room, a flash of light appeared behind Harold and the letter that had brought this misfortune appeared.

It’s a miracle, it’s a bloody miracle.

The old people were getting restless, led by Ms.Peters into a frenzy of speculation; It’s Jesus! Jesus did it! He has returned! I only come ere’ for a good stretch!  The nice Vegan couple had to be talked out of calling the fire brigade and the rest of them thought it was a dirty trick, like he always did in times of peril, Harold consulted the most weathered copy of the Buddhist Review and turned to the page marked ALTERS.  Suddenly observing a glued page where OFFERINGS had been singled out.

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Playing the footage over and over, the hexagonal shapes that appeared before the letter, alluded to what was explained on the page and how, in a rather extraordinary way, they could receive offerings from the Buddha in times of great need. The page also went on to explain the importance of never offering the Buddha a Belgian Chocolate Sea Shell, along with a faint illustration of a cabbage. 

Checking the CCTV from previous offerings later revealed that each and every single item, from a pack of raisins (who steals raisins anyway?) to a set of incense stick, had all disappeared in a flash of light when placed on the offering table. While each member of the group sat cross-legged and shut-eyed.

Immediately ushering out the class, Harold approached the alter as a hunter approaches a deer, there didn’t seem to be anything unusual, no hollow dent, no silly trick he’d seen on The Best of Magic.

It was real. It was all so real. And the only way to find out is to offer up myself.

And with a now familiar pop; Harold disappeared.

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So, here we are again

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Surely we can’t dismiss all things as mere trinkets below thought and feeling…oh fuck it. 

Beyond writing, beyond thought. There are some phases in life that seem harder to describe. If we are to follow that life means suffering in the Buddist Dukkha sense, then there is some life to be found in the cliched, detective stories I’ve been trying to finish, for some ill fated literary prize around the concept of a Ben Franklin quote. 

Here’s a brief extract of the story that I know finishing will not achieve my ambitions:

‘The suspect, known locally as Rick,  had all the facial furniture of a real hard dockworker.  A kind man would have said he looked like he’d worked late for a long time, an honest man would say that he’d spent too long fortifying himself with dutch courage, just in order to slip through the purple shimmering curtains of peep-o-rama porn shows down in Boston.’

As they say: “write what you know” and all that. As someone who has had an obsession with seeking out pleasure and new experiences. I find that it’s still serving me in some new and interesting ways, but at the same time I think it’s been one of my greatest downfalls.  I don’t want to be known as someone who misses out on opportunity eternally for the gratification of the immediate moment. Who just resides in the very definition of madness: doing the same thing again and again.

As the grey literally creeps into every morning, as ambition is outweighed by lack of opportunity. We can only find solace is smaller, intimate moments that have aways seemed the most real anyway. It’s like life is a vinyl record, where we can only see the groves, crackling out some good times and the bad. (Another cliche? )

Then again, there’s also the contradiction that life is for the Flaneur, life is about appreciating the aesthetic thrills, in equal measure to the spiritual quest for simplicity and meaning. You can’t just go from all the drab writing of cover letters to lying on the floor with your mantra. Even an incense stick can eventually become pungent. The truth is;  buildings and trinkets can be just as thrilling and Buddhism itself, like many religions is built partly on the splendour of it’s wonderful buildings.

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Sketching these potato headed things everywhere now that I eat my lunch off the original plates. 

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I’ve been to many wonderful places, but Bath has some rather nice ones too.  Aren’t they artistic temples to the power of man…Moulded by hands instead of Gods?