Thursday, February 16, 2012

Why I'm becoming a nomad

We are going to be talking about austerity for a long time. If not, then we'll be talking about the next great depression, or the last great depression, or end days, or whatever. The new measures to be rolled out in Greece under pressure from the EU, and the response by the people have been a major talking point for future pundits of late. How the people of Greece respond to austerity will be closely watched and I hope that in the west many lessons will be learned. It will be a great shame if  we don't because as many of the aforementioned pundits have been saying "the rest of the west is next".

'Tramping for Tucker' by Lionel Lindsay from the Josef  Lebovic  Gallery

To quote a recent article by Charlie Brooker in The Guardian "Money is broken". He's right, and many writers have been trying to say the same for a good while now  - though I think Mr Brooker gets the prize for brevity. The sense that our problems with money are intractable is inescapable given the west's failure to resolve the issues brought forth since the GFC and the excruciating money games being played out in Europe. Those of us here in the overprivileged west who are blessed with foresight have begun to adapt to the spectre of an uncertain future. Yard sharing, urban agriculture, alternative means of economic exchange, schools of everything, survivalism lite, the Dark Mountain Project, the occupy movement, and many more responses have been issued forth. Some of these retain an air of western self interest while others look to develop frameworks that are mindful of, or can be shared with, the unprivileged world. But can we fix money? I doubt it, and I have a feeling those gen y folk whom I'm told have an intuitive sense that something is wrong doubt it too.

The history of the west, the history of the last two millennia, is a rotting midden of externalities that the people of the unprivileged world and some in the west are forced to pick through. Us overprivileged types - of which Australians are of the highest order - are grudgingly given our right to consent as we enter into adulthood, and as our eyes open and the scales fall away we adjust to the truth of our condition reassured that we can comfortably close them again believing something is being done to remedy things. I have watched this reality unfold, bleary eyed, privileged, sometimes unbelieving, often giving in to immense freedom, in the safest country in the world. By dint of birthplace and by choice I have come to be privileged. As the truth of my present affluence has unraveled I have had a sense of unease - a feeling that has been growing since I left university and my cookie cutter degree - a sense that I should be without many 'things'.

I have had for several years now this idea of building an escape pod, a small parcel of items of irreplaceable value. Inspired by an event in Star Wars and the idea of jettisoning the unnecessary into space at an opportune moment, I plan to purge myself of my hoarded goods and chattels as I am propelled into the unknown clutching onto a few belongings and some big ideas. This idea has been a foil against my hoarding tendencies and an antidote to conformity and the relentless pressure to give in and give my consent in the hope that privilege will keep me safe. I have to note here that this choice is easy for me, no kids, no wife, no mortgage, little debt, and a long shit-list of people for whom I refuse to work. I am privileged even in my choice to reject, and I can be confident that I will be safe even if destitute.

An old friend who works in the book selling trade recently gave me a copy of Bruce Chatwin's 'The Songlines'. He had heard me talk about my aspirations toward nomadism and found the perfect book to help crystalise my ideas. Through it I felt my restlessness validated and my sense that I need to be both resourceful and embracing of otherness reinforced. Bruce Chatwin's compelling argument that with settlement and the aggregation of power comes the hegemony, war, and genocide strengthened my sense that this civilisation project was broken and hollow. His own nomadic drive, his forthrightness, and his well integrated experience of being 'the other' and of being with 'the other' make him a model for a life of truth searching.                  

Australian? Check out this article by John Birmingham      

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