Who has the time to write?

When your mother is asking why you haven’t blogged in a while and that seemingly you should be pulling material out of your butt-cheeks, you know you have to hunker down and make the effort whether or not you have anything sensible to say. Mom, it’s all about the time.

 It’s not easy coming up with a storyline between the harried days at the office and projects laying themselves down on top of more projects, regardless of capacity – sometimes I think that a new paradigm is upon us: whenever some says to you that change is constant, or that you work in a dynamic environment, what they really mean is that the resources available to support you are not there, so suck it up; it’s more with less – and if you are watching the clock, God help you in this day and age. There is far too much pressure to perform, something I have come to accept in middle-age.

Back to the story line; the honest truth is that I’m not so reflective with my day in order to carry a clutch of issues or ideas around with me to write about. Who has the time, after all? I am lucky enough to wake up but that’s about it.  The rest is trying to keep up, or ahead, of the curve.

Barry Levinson’s 1987 film Tin Men starring Richard Dryfuss and Danny Devito rattles through my head every now and then in parody of a comedy of what my life has become. I didn’t know it then. There are a number of similar revealing films, through which I should have seen the writing on the wall, with David Mamet’s 1992 depiction of Glengarry Glen Ross – starring Alec Baldwin, Jack Lemmon, Ed Harris and Alan Arkin – being high on the list as well.

I’s these stories of keeping up through life changes that I can’t bare to watch nowadays. A friend mentioned a few weeks ago that she wants to take time of in a year or so to write a novel. Good on you! I encourage everyone to plan ahead. I think I have enough food in the fridge for a couple of days and I forgot to water Lynda’s plants while she was away recently; sorry Lynda, some will grow back.

I heard once that time goes faster as you get older. I’m not sure how it works, or whether it had to do with being on a train going in one direction with a stopwatch, but it was science based and came up with a figure of 19% faster by the time you are 60. It’s not so far away really, when you are fighting the plateau. It puts an end at least to the argument that you are only as old as you think you are. No, that’s not true. You are perceptually older, and older.

OK, so I’ve went onto the wrong track with this and I do sometimes wake up in the mornings thinking life is going to be awesome, yet another friend recently explained the awesome philosophy as, “I don’t have a choice!” I got it. She’s also the same age as me!

Perhaps I have to get back to my foundations of living in the moment. Hmm. Great therapy, but tell that to the dozen or so clients chomping down on you with every need imaginable throughout the day. I’m not being manic here, though I sometimes feel panic and I truly do believe there are more important things in life than being a circus monkey, but sometimes you just have to rest the brain. Sometimes the writing just doesn’t come, and other times things have to get in the way…just because. All I know is if I have to be creative 19% faster just to keep up with my mom, I better be awesome!

Groupthink; student protests and elitism

It’s a cliché that individuals give up their values or individuation in crowds and assume a groupthink. It may not even be true as convergence theorists suggest that the opposite happens, that groups of people with expressed ideas bring them to the crowd, and it is the prevailing attitudes of a group with some history that dominate the others. It appears that these two may go hand in hand. Then there is the psychoanalyst that focuses on the emotions of the individual contrasted with the psychology the group itself. Novelties such as Adolf AHitler placing individuals in crowds to act in certain ways demonstrating support for the fuehrer, sound fascinating and well worth exploration, but I am wondering about the power and influence of the group, in particular the Quebec student movement and of similar student group endeavors.

To start, I am not a student of political of cultural history so I will limit comments on the specifics. What I believe to be true though is that student movements, often ideologically based, are no more than a bourgeoisie attempt to recalibrate power, and win concessions regardless of staunch support for the contrary elsewhere such as nationwide. The difference is groups do have power as opposed to the individual. Why?

 The most obvious answers are liability of authority and voting block inertia. Simply, those in power are responsible to maintain order – safety, expense, economic impacts are general factors – and also believe that their power could be challenged by opposition that gains momentum or lasting influence. In these respects, political power is challenged and weakened.

What is not seen is the cultural dynamic of social contract, of institutions that have become less transparent and increase their own power at the expense of the individual. It’s a current of neglect of a number of areas of social strength, from economic systems, health care, or even government itself. In this respect, the convergence theorists win out. But we are not speaking of a revolution in Quebec.

Student protests, and yes, riots do more than advance singular examples of groupthink – adopting pots and pans to amplify their voices – the bourgeoisie will assume ideological references from practical social implications; but the elitism, materialism and hedonism of student groups signify a much deeper mistrust. It is the loss of entitlement, of becoming ‘like everyone else’ that inevitably translates to participation in demonstration, the very thing that they are ironically trying to avoid. This is not an Occupy movement – it does not take widespread social malaise and channel emerging socio-economic variation through to direct action.

If you want broad social change, this is not it. The students themselves will inevitably assume power as they have always done, with a collective feather in their group cap, enacting similar legislation against protests, and dealing with the problems and complexities of leadership twenty years from now.