Strange Days

I completed the first of two bike events yesterday: 56 miles as a warm-up to 45 might seem a bit excessive, but having never done endurance before a lot of lessons were learnt. Also, the county in which I live’s reputation as being a little bit hipster, a little bit posh but an awful lot of self-obsessed, selfish idiocy remains 100% unopposed. Yesterday’s random poke was just that, and it would be easy to just dismiss it as such, except there’s anger at the fact this kind of behaviour isn’t going away, and is becoming increasingly ‘normal.’

I know I’m supposed to do no harm, but some days it is really a tough ask.

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I’m gonna work hard to get the £500 total donation to Mind for Sunday’s ride covered, and after that I’m wondering how to start making a tangible difference when there are days I have trouble with motivation. The obvious answer is to do something creative, because then the timetable is mine to dictate and cope with. I have a month to think up something suitable, and the idea situation would be to ask people to donate to a mental health charity as a result.

This is something that doesn’t go away, and I need to keep raising money. Not because I might one day need it, or because this is somehow a worthy cause to make my own self look decent and fair. This should just be something people do without thinking, like reading a newspaper or buying a burger. Giving people money to be able to help those in pain express how they feel, when they’re struggling, to find the means by which they can explain what is wrong and how that needs to be treated is an absolutely massive issue.

Some days, I can’t even explain what is wrong, and writing is what I do as a living.

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The trick, I suppose, is to just keep plugging away and to ignore the haters, which is how my life online has taken place since the start.

It’s a Small World

Today, we start a daily endeavour for the next week, which may well be extended as time goes on, depending on reception. I’m using every character of the 280 word Twitter limit to tell tiny stories about technology, and how it might alter our lives as time goes on. I’ll then be adding all the tweets (and the tales) to this thread so that when the week is done, you have a record of them all.

Without further ado, let’s begin:

Torn

At the end of last year, I quietly announced via Social media that 2018 was the year I’d learn how to draw. I suspect that a number of people will have seen the intent and expected this was happening because of a desire to produce art for people in exchange for cash. That has, and never will be the point. The only reason I’m here, lets be honest, is for me.

I’m looking for various means of expression this year, and Inktober awoke in me the understanding that art is not just a full torso shot, or a lovely picture of a dog. It is the means by which I am finally able to take the mess of feelings and emotions inside my brain and makes sense of them in an environment that is non-threatening and helpful. I picked a comic strip format, it is now apparent, not because it needed to be filled with my slowly evolving sketches. I already know that the process of even basic visualisation is having definite and positive effects. So what if I’m beginning with boxes and easily createable metaphors I’m comfortable using? It is still drawing.

Admitting any problem, after all, is the first step to solving it.

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I’m also REALLY conscious of stepping on other people’s artistic toes. This is not an attempt to try and ride coattails or steal other people’s thunder. I don’t admit to being an expert at anything except my own feelings (and even that is stretching the definition at present.) What this daily process allows me to do is make sense of a part of my mind I’ve simply been too frightened to address… and already this is having a positive affect not simply on workload, but the means by which I can become happy. There’s a desire of course to help other people out and try and make thinking more attractive on a wider stage… but the comics need to remain mine. Just for me. It’s satisfying if someone else can associate with them, or compliment me on them but honestly, that’s not whey they’re here. This is not a Twitter account set up just to cash in on the concept. I’m not here to make a story and ask you to back it.

I’m here to learn to live with myself.

The J Word

I made a graphic so when I upload all the art to Flickr at the end of each month I have a space to store it all, and can archive it here. After that, I can look back on the first real and tangible effort to deal with my mental fitness for several years and know this should have happens a LONG time ago.

You live and learn, if you’re doing it right.

Seconds Out

I made it through an entire week of content. I’m not sure whether I should celebrate or not, because this means I am now obliged to do the same for the next 51 weeks, and that might be a bit of a stretch… except the process of organising myself is already reaping unexpected rewards. Instead of feeling sorry for myself whilst unwell yesterday there was a bike ride and some really satisfying application of energy to improving the World around me. All that stuff about individuals being unable to change their circumstance is only true to a point.

The more sharp-eyed amongst you will notice that there’s now a page dedicated to my poetry (in graphic format) which started to appear on Twitter in the second half of 2017. I’m hoping to write at least a couple of these a month for 2018, and when they get an airing on Social media you can expect to see them archived here shortly afterwards. I hope at some point to shove all of these together in an e-book or some kind of more formal presentation format, but don’t hold your breath on that.

Traffic Jam Remix

After that, this week is about getting ahead on posting and making some clear air for editing and back-end work. That means you may not see me about as much on Social media but you can rest assured I’ll still be around, working hard. I am looking forward to sharing with you what is coming up for February too, which I’ll be revealing this time next week.

For now, it is on with the grind.

The Last Time

A particular movie has prompted a vast amount of reaction on my timeline in the last few weeks. I feel this is the right moment therefore to highlight some basic truths about art, entertainment and expectation to this very vocal selection of an audience who feel… well, somewhat aggrieved.

flawed

A long-time contributor to my Twitter feed linked this man’s video into my timeline yesterday. Normally, I’d pay such stuff little mind (mostly because I’m one of six people who’ve still not seen the movie) but the You Tube screencap for the video made me literally spit out my tea:

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NOTHING WENT WRONG with this movie. At time of writing, it’s cleared the 1 BILLION DOLLARS made worldwide mark in less than three weeks. However, if you want to cash in on a huge commercial success, the current trend is not to acknowledge acceptance of how good something is, but to savagely rip off its genitalia and then wield it in the manner of a trophy. That, all told, is not good criticism. Saying something is fundamentally flawed is also not good criticism, but this video is, by its own admission, a ‘discussion starter.’ If this video had been titled ‘What I didn’t like about The Last Jedi’ it would be a vast improvement. But hey, that’s not nearly as snappy, and You Tube remains a pretty cutthroat marketplace.

There’s been an inherent problem with the Internet for a while now, and I’ve experienced it at first hand more times than I care to remember. Not liking something is totally fine, discussing that in a respectful and realistic fashion is also fine, but telling people they’re wrong and you’re right is not. That’s not how art works. It is not how cinema, or books, or TV works either. You are presented with something that is whole, made a certain way, and that’s it. This is not a video game where complaining at the design team will get your issues addressed. Art is what it is and if you don’t like it, that’s acceptable as part of the experience.

Just because you don’t like something does not make it fundamentally flawed. It means you don’t like what you saw.

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I’m making no comment on the content of this movie, because (as was stated at the top of the article) I’ve not seen it. However, there’s plenty to say on people who create an online petition to strip The Last Jedi from Star Wars canon. I get that outrage gets you click throughs and makes money, but seriously? All this kind of behaviour does is reinforce a stereotype that trust me you will not want to hold onto for much longer if 2018 goes the same way as 2017. Yes, you can object to a film if it ruins your idea of a canon, and that is totally fine. The fact remains that if the film-makers decide to take things in this particular direction, there’s a good chance in the second part of a trilogy it has been done for a damn good reason.

That’s the small issue I feel that’s been utterly overlooked by the vast majority of the haters. You’re dissing a piece of cinema that’s not even finished yet.

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I made a promise this year to be more tolerant of those people with whom I do not agree, and so there is just this post to remind myself that when somebody else spends millions of dollars on something and I don’t like it, letting that hate consume my existence or capitalising on it for my own financial gain is not the ethical way to react. As a result, I won’t watch that video, sorry. When this work of art is finally finished, feel free to tear everybody a new set, haters. I still won’t respect you, and that’s the bigger takeaway. However, if by the time we get to the next episode of this serialised content and you’ve learnt some humility? Perhaps we can talk.

It is one thing to disagree with someone’s motivations, but quite another to make money on the back of a wave of hatred.