Sex, Drugs & Romanticism

“If the doors of perception were cleansed, everything would appear to man as it is: Infinite”

The Marriage between Heaven and Hell, William Blake, 1793

In 1792, William Wordsworth and Samuel Taylor Coleridge came out with their Lyrical Ballads. To many, this particular moment in time marks the beginning of Romanticism, a movement which opposed the rationalism that had been central in the Age of Reason decades earlier. Plays made way for a focus on poetry and prose, in which themes like youthful innocence, a connection to nature, and the confrontational breaking of taboos started to play major roles. Institutions like the church, the government, and even the education system were consistently besieged with heavy critiques, showing the irrationality within the rationality their so-called systems claimed to have. The Romantics attempted to once again enchant the world, to restore its magic, to bring back the supernatural, and to purposefully not answer all the questions life puts forward, but instead display the enjoyment of clueless wonder, in a language anyone could understand. Approximately 150 years later, a new sense of rebellion came along, partially voiced by artists once again embracing the mysteries of life. In a world just struck by war, seeing the rise of feminist marches, civil rights movements and the developing voice of younger generations, the Hippie movement and Rock ‘n Roll soon took over. Paving the way for the mainstream were people like the beat poets, who, during the 50s, started to write about junkies, the lower class, and homosexuals, thereby actively breaking with conventions. Additionally, the language used became more free verse, more direct, and simply more accessible, therefore strongly opposing the rational, almost pretentiously complex texts modernism had put out the years before WO II. Unsurprisingly, the beat poets themselves felt aligned with the romantics of two centuries earlier. Allen Ginsberg even named William Blake as one of his biggest inspirations. In other forms of post-modernist writing, an enchantment of the world once again arose through the humorous existentialism of, for instance, Samuel Beckett and the irrationally mythicized mundane of the Magical Realists. What more do these similarities tell us about that period, and in what ways has it influenced our own?

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Who needs reasons when you’ve got heroin?

“Reality is just a crutch for people who can’t handle drugs.” 

Robin Williams

Drugs, or drug culture, are often associated with tie-died t-shirts, the south Americas, the 70’s, rock and punk music, and ultimately, Snoop Dogg. Yet, in between those stereotypical manifestations of the junkie lifestyle, there are deeper, subtler, more complex – that is not to say better! – forms of culture, critique and commentary hidden. Drug usage is often seen as a form of escapism, associated with a strengthened tendency to ´go with the flow´, as an uncontrollable entering of a world other than the capitalist reality the rest of sober society lives in. And although the life, or world, of the average addict or regular user might be utterly different from the routine of those working 9 to 5, it is the similarities or the grey area between the two that makes drug culture so significant.

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Ode To Iggy Pop

Although it might seem like yesterday to some of the older generations, the year 1969 is already half a century ago. These historic 365 days gave room to Woodstock, saw the election of president Nixon, and were filled to the brim with events relating to the Vietnam war. All of this might make one think that a simple 12 months could not be filled with any more history and change, yet the year also contained the debut of The Stooges in the music industry. In a time where music, or popular culture in general, was mainly occupied with love, peace and overall flower power, the Michigan band  – initially formed by Jim Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop – suddenly introduced a totally new sound. The controversial, dark and almost aggressive atmospheres that the group conveyed were  early signs of what Iggy Pop was about to become: a voice of the anti, a personification of Raw Power, or in other words, ‘the Godfather of Punk.’

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No Difference, No Direction

In January I wrote an article that connected the increased use of Spotify and Netflix with the lack of direction millennials are famous for having. Yet, it´s not only billion dollar companies and streaming services that are to blame. Jacques Derrida is known worldwide, within both philosophy and literary theory, for his notion of Différance: there is no meaning without contrast, and since language consistently fails to be the unbiased, unchangeable, solid block of binaries we wish it to be, our life-long search for real truth will sadly never find its conclusion. The Frenchman was preoccupied with only words because, as he put it himself, “there is nothing outside the text.”

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Losing the ‘we’ in TV

“The truth is in the whole” might be some of Hegel’s most cited words, and although this phrase has inspired lots of philosophy, art and theory that followed, it seems like current younger generations, particularly known as millennials, didn’t quite get the memo. Apart from infamously taking pictures of nicely arranged dishes until they go cold, stereotypically acting like Wi-Fi is more of a primary need than water, and worshipping Steve Jobs like he created the planet earth instead of the Iphone, millennials are also widely known for their lack of goals and direction. The internet is full of articles, interviews and statistics pointing out this particular problem. Bosses and managers complain more and more frequently about the difficulties in having millennials as employees; mental health issues, like depression and burn-outs, are widely referred to as being epidemic, and switching between studies or jobs is becoming closer and closer to being the rule, rather than an exception.   Continue reading “Losing the ‘we’ in TV”

Memes of Consciousness

Although some say that Mark Zuckerberg,, with his lizard-like features and robotically generated emotions, might not have a consciousness at all, his social-media-giant Facebook simulates that very thing perfectly. The same goes for Instagram, which was bought by Facebook in 2012. By having riverlike feeds from picture to picture, post to post, and therefore from subject to subject, they present their information in somewhat of a Joycean stream. Instead of the absence of chapters, a constant, infinite input; instead of eclipses, white bars dividing the first and the next post, and instead of the all-over-the-placeness of thought, a randomized collection of birthday parties, holidays, articles, advertisements and memes, or in Joyce´s words: “There is not past, no future; everything flows in an eternal present.” Despite the fact that Facebook and Instagram are easily finished within the ten minutes you are waiting for the bus, – whereas, for instance, Ulysses takes a full 800 pages -, both platforms carry aspects, and are in ways equal to, the stream of consciousness novel. Continue reading “Memes of Consciousness”

From Swinging Swords To Giving Signatures

As if he has returned from a years-long quest, the medieval knight seems to be back. Yet he is  no longer wearing a heavy armor set, carrying a throat-slitting sword, nor arriving on some biologically perfect stallion: he has humbly traded his signature gear for a Thrasher sweater, a pair of artificially ripped jeans and an eye-catching BMW. His Lady, the pinnacle of his private world, the absolute test of his chivalry, has become the owner of an 11-million-followers Instagram account, spending a dollar per like on plastic surgery. Where ever one looks someone with a perfect life is present. The rich and famous have returned to being an idealized version of themselves, so we, the commoners, aspire to be them even more. Celebrities have become knights, and in romances of secret affairs, public rivalry, and battles with drugs, depression and alcohol, they spread their names across the globe.

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