letter to a friend…

Hi LM,

Hey… I have been thinking a bit about society & culture. Arguably we are disconnected from our roots in nature, the landscape, the seasons. There is no over riding or guiding philosophy in large parts of the world. Just postmodernism, hyper capitalism, consumerism and runaway technology. Yes, we are disconnected from our roots. Society is spinning too fast. 

As an artist and someone who observes the world how do you respond to this? In most senses it is too big to conceptualise let alone deal with. It’s like the world is a gyroscope spinning on a wheel. 

Shelley said that the poets were the unacknowlgded legislators of the world but writing in the 21st century another English poet Benjamin Zephaniah said that ‘the advertisers are the unacknowldged legislators of the world’. 

I was brought up Catholic on my mum’s side. I feel as though English society doesn’t have any guiding principles. It’s just a mish mash of different policies and opinions.

As an artist I feel you can just reflect the disconnect and the general social decay and disintegration. A society with no foundation, spinning out of control. No respect for the mystery of which we are a part. A society which has to be constantly controlled and monitored which doesn’t regulate itself organically.  

When I think of this social decay my mind turns to a moral compass. The works of Ursula Le Guin. Thinking about her Taoist ideas can orient me in the right direction. 

So much of what goes on in the world is for naked ambition, prestige and power. The Tao Te Ching says ‘power is goodness’. Honesty is power. 

My mind also turns to other times in history when society was disintegrating. Maybe the warring states period in China or the Tokugawa period in Japan. 

We are facing an environmental holocaust. What if anything will be left after the seas rise? 

I feel like it’s all a load of dominoes about to collapse. 

It makes me sad to live in this culture that does not respect Mother Nature. 

Le Guin goes deep. She asks deep questions. Not shallow questions. There is a deep respect for the world in Le Guin’s writings. She goes to the root. 

Also using resources from social anthropology and ethnography I have built upon some of Le Guin’s ideas. For example Ursula talks about the industrial oligarchs who rule our lives. In the ethnography of anthropologist Jeanette Edwards she traces how the oligarch class was formed.

I feel I am putting together pieces of the jigsaw. 

I always ask deep questions but I don’t always get answers.

I feel like I am an anthropologist.

I wonder about past and future lives. I feel it could be true.

I dunno.

The mystery.

People don’t respect the mystery.

The Tao Te Ching.


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