Saturday, 28 January 2012

Be Your Part

I dug this out of an old notebook - it is dated July 2010.

I’ve been doing a fair amount of thinking lately. Well…more so than usual, and also a great deal healthier than usual. Basically I’ve arrived at the conclusion that I should know by now exactly what *I* want and exactly what I’m going to do to get it.
See when you spend more time than you feel you *want* to on other people, helping them, investing in them, whatever it happens to be…that’s not healthy. It’s unbalanced. And pointless, and hypocritical. At the end of the day there is a line in the sand where you must realise that people are the way they are out of choice. There are acute circumstances and situations that are exceptions to this, but think of people who are struggling – the single mothers, the friend who’s dating a shithead, the uni student drowning, in over their head, the broken hearted friend, the grandparent that is drowning in their own complacency, waiting to die… how many of those actually take the hand offered them? Not many, right? That’s because they are exactly as they feel they wish to be. They choose their reality, just as you must choose yours.
So, if all your time is spent churning over everyone elses' “issues”, it suggests subconscious hypocrisy. Such ‘idealistic’ 'care’ is often tinged with a sense of the frantic, of urgency. It smells unnecessary. And it’s certainly not healthy. What is it in yourself that you’re either deflecting or projecting? All this obsession with other people… are you not at least as valuable as them (as far as your own efforts are concerned)?
When asked in that light, it becomes quite difficult to argue against by any measure.
You’re the centre of your world. That’s how God, the Creator, Divine Spirit, whoever or whatever you know him / her / it to be, designed things. You are here, so you may as well be awesome. Enjoy your time, take responsibility for you and your world, and create the kind of life that you want. Be your part of all that is, in all the ways you wish to be.

Biological Diversity is just a fold in the fabric of life.

Today I hopped onto Facebook to find a link to the following page/article:

It is a group called the Center for Biological Diversity, calling for a boycott on the movie "The Grey," which features a group of Alaskan oil workers crash landing in a frozen wilderness teeming with local Grey Wolf packs.

The reason for this dramatic stand? The production crew of the movie hired a local trapper/hunter, Mr. Dick McDiarmid, to catch and kill four wolves. Two of these carcasses were to be used as props for the film, and the other two as meals for the actors, to assist in their ability to do their jobs - sensory engagement and stimulation has a profound impact on acting, and the deeper an actor is immersed in their character and context, the better they perform.

The director is accused of being all manner of things, from wasteful, to disgusting, to evil. Little enough of this vitriolic mudslinging is coming from the Center for Biological Diversity itself, but they are at least partially responsible for the responses they incite in their readers and followers.

Okay, seriously...this boycott is ridiculous. It is fundamentally contradictory and damaging to their cause. They are attacking a tiny little facet of one tiny issue. As the trapper Mr. McDiarmid says he gets $100 per wolf pelt...what do you think happens to the rest of the wolf that is killed for its skin? The meat, offal, bones, claws, fat, much do you want to bet that every piece of every wolf he or anyone else kills is never wasted?

Getting people all fired up over this, for no reason other than they can, and have hollywood hype to exploit, is immoral. Both the Centre and its followers don't even know *why* they are getting angry. A couple of wolves were killed and used for something other than providing for human survival. So *what*? Animals are killed and otherwise used for all manner of things, in huge numbers. This has always been the case ever since humanity came into being...our eyes are not in the front of our skulls for nothing, you know.

The Centre for Biological Diversity is dedicated (as per their description and mission) to preserving endangered species. A noble cause, except this - the Grey Wolf is not endangered. It hasn't been for over a decade, since conservation and sustainable practices were employed 25~ish years ago. The Grey Wolf's genetic diversity may have suffered thanks to American hunters in the past century, but our own race, homo sapiens, has one of the blandest and shallowest gene pools of any species on the planet, which actually now that I think about it, explains a lot. But the Grey Wolf is no longer suffering any more than human overpopulation and the very nature of life itself are causing.

Instead of ideological soapboxing and plugging into Hollywood hype, a moment should be taken to consider that this behaviour and this stance are undermining the justness and integrity of the cause. There are lots and lots of good-hearted, intelligent and educated people putting actual effort and time into researching, to come up with these conclusions, you know - who develop conservation and sustainability practices that are creating a new balance for the 21st Century ecological landscape. Life is about the cycle of energy - and predators have their part to play. Wolves interact best with humans and the prey animals and so on if their populations are controlled (and human population is not), if their contact with humans is minimal, and they are hunted occasionally. As I said, our eyes are in the front of our heads for a reason.

Biological diversity changes all the time, just at a much more placid and unfathomable pace than humans can comprehend. We had better start comprehending it however; just as the people who are actually contributing to resolving these issues are beginning to do. Biodiversity is just a fold in the fabric of life. A thousand years after we humans shuffle off (or get our act together and stop the kind of behaviour I am picking on), the earth will have a flourishing biodiversity, that looks nothing like it did the last time it flourished - a thousand years after Rome fell.

Spitting the dummy about this and not, say, growing one's own vegetables, endorsing sustainable and practicable population controls for humans, or campaigning against the millions of instances other than four wolves in a movie that people participates in the killing of animals for. Boycotting this film is a bit like making a scene at a restaurant if one's vegan meal accidentally contained a little bit of meat, and demanding the meal remade, often and loudly, so everyone around caught up in one's moral crusade that one forgets that to send the dish back is obscenely wasteful, as the animal who died to put the meat in the dish is now dying in vain.

I call for a lull, however momentary, in the ideological soapbox derby, taking a deep breath, and thinking about what's really going on here.

Monday, 16 January 2012

Go Forth And Consume

Mankind's collective activities are a product of its collective structures, which are in turn created by its collective thoughts. And at the time of writing this, as humanity stands at the crossover from the 20th Century to the 21st, we are seeing a potential extinction scenario for our species. Yet despite warnings blaring across all temporal, cultural, language and spatial barriers, it would seem we are still collectively rushing headlong to our own demise. We had better start taking responsibility and exploring this conundrum. Today I am going to have a go at explaining what collective structures are, and if they are necessary. It will then follow that democratic capitalism, the current dominant system, is failing, and leading us into the aforementioned potential demise, and why.

And of course, the serious question - can we collectively learn our way out of this?

Collective structures are those systems that humans establish to function within and to access and manage the energy/entropy flows that keep us one step ahead of the flat line of energetic and chemical equilibrium, thereby sustaining life and all the potential that being alive makes possible. Humankind has always managed to produce these systems, and indeed, such systems are required, whether it is a system of family units bound in oral culture to facilitate subsistence agriculture, or a highly mobile, complexly globalised web of informational, human, social, and capital flows. Collective thought and learning generate ideological, technological and scientific outputs, which in turn contribute to the evolution of these systems. They are, like life itself, self-perpetuating systems - perhaps subject also to Darwinian Natural Selection*.

Multiple ideologies and systems can and do exist concurrently, such as religions, economic and political structures, but they almost always compete and conflict when they do not see eye to eye. There are many contributing factors to this. Such institutionalisation of collective awarenesses can turn them into cultural and evolutionary traps. This illustrates the ‘mind-binding and blinding power of paradigm,' in the words of David Loye, which is the worm in the core of every systemic step and structure that humanity has tried in the 20th century, the common reason for their failure. The apples of our eye aren't always delicious.

At the present time, capitalism is the dominant system. And according most earnestly to Slavoj Zizek, among the majority of others, it is currently failing. Sardar and Davies suggest that we are all ‘citizens of America,’ referring to the United States of America and its status as world superpower, and its economic influence. Dylan Moran, one of the world's best and most incisive socio-political commentator, and, incidentally, one of its best comedians, relates a chilling allegory of how the system works:
                “…America has a nosey in some war-torn…place, looking for oil…or whatever else it wants, and all the local people obviously begin to get pissed off. They begin to meet and foment…in the local bombed-out cafĂ©...and then what America does is, while these people are talking, they very, very gradually build the Starbucks around them. Then they all become addicted to latte and lose the will to rebel. And then they become Americans.”
Capitalism’s rise to become the world’s dominant collective structure has led to an inexorable, undeniable quest for newer, more profitable and productive methods of interaction, at the expense of due regard for any other consequence or circumstance. It is in this sense amoral, as the infamous Karl Marx put it, drowning ‘heavenly ecstasies of religious fervor, of chivalrous enthusiasm, of philistine sentimentalism, in the icy water of egoistic calculation.' It is arguably the most resilient system humanity has employed to date, as it aggregates and assimilates almost anything that challenges it. It, like medieval Christianity, has learned this lesson well from the Roman Empire. Paradoxically, it is also the most fragile. Since it can only exist through such progressive growth at any cost, this in effect becomes an act of borrowing from the future (Zizek 2009), and the wellspring of the future is beginning to run dry (Foster 2009 p.203). Physical waste, degradation and mistreatment of the world’s land, overpopulation, and socio-economic ruptures and inequalities, are unsustainably adding up, on a global scale. These are products of the capitalist system that is finding it has less and less of the resources of tomorrow to consume, and simultaneously accumulating an entropic debt that it will not be able to repay (Rifkin 2009).

Paradigms – or, ideologies – including those that fuel capitalism, are blinding and binding when they are institutionalised. This institutionalisation is a process of collective disavowal as opposed to collective learning, in that it addresses reality by mystifyingly distorting it. The forms of tolerance and cultural substitution that are taking place are a form of lazy idealism, serving only to further aggravate the problem, as they are just substitutive adaptations within the capitalist system, rather than replacing it with a more integrated, synchronous, and empathically embodied reality.

Every age, says Viktor Frankl, has its own sense of collective neurosis, and ours is an existential, apathetic vacuum. The ‘Starbucks’ cultural capitalism of Zizekian awesomeness provides an example that encapsulates all of these cracks in the integrity of the system: a percentage of the (high) price of your (delicious) beverage goes towards feeding starving children, or sustaining fair trade coffee. In essence, here one’s redemption from one’s consumerism is already included into the very act, and the price tag of their purchase. Many who might otherwise be facilitating real change are caught up in this trap of institutionalised collective disavowal, instead of collectively learning their way out of the system. So if you hear me call anyone a "Soros," yes, it is an insult, and this is why.

This is compounded by the gloomy idea that ecology is becoming the new opiate of the masses. Thanks, Zizek, for pointing that out. Bastard.

Our survival as a species may depend on our ability to collectively learn our way forward, and thus the question – “Can we?” Ronald Wright argues that we can and indeed must, because the current system is a ‘suicide machine.’ Wright contends that the advantage we have is hindsight, but wonders if it will be enough. Henryk Skolimowski promotes ‘lucid understanding’ as the missing piece of the current thought-system equation. Thoughts and values are of the utmost importance in this process, because they define our systems. This is the proverbial fork in the road, with the stakes as high as our extinction, and as low as a return to something bleaker than the post-roman Dark Ages, agree both Jeremy Rifkin and David Christian.  More and more minds (and at a slower pace, hearts) are turning to the question of how to move forward. This is collective learning slowly building momentum. Autonomy and empathy have been suggested as the key ingredients for any coming changes, because they are physically and emotionally embodied, and a positive, synchronous application of energy. These attitudes have seen more and more of the human race recognised and actualised over the 20th century; slavery has been abolished, women emancipated and persons with disabilities are widely accepted, religious dogma has lost its absolute authority, and the prejudice against homosexual individuals has markedly reduced.

While the ideology behind the capitalist system, especially in its current eco-cultural incarnation, is indeed very slowly becoming the new opiate of the masses, this trap has been identified, and progress is still being made. It's not perfect, and it has a long way to go - but at least there are lights in the darkness...beacons of hope to guide our way. If, of course, we choose to follow them.

Collective consciousness is evolving, positively, exponentially, though it has only just begun, and perhaps this is why an impatient bastard like me can get so perplexed. Take the Occupy movement that spread to over three thousand cities worldwide in its first six weeks, for example. Its function may eventually be to marinate all the different ingredients that have gone into it: people and ideas and wounds to heal and love, essential ingredients in the recipe (that fell forgotten and unseen behind the cosmic bookshelf a long time ago) that others have begun calling things like “The Empathic Civilisation” (Rifkin), “practical humanism” (Ralston-Saul), bringing together structure and agency in ‘human geography’ (Cloke, Philo & Sadler).

Nobody knows it yet but what they are doing every day precisely by being in that slow-cooker is literally creating exactly that unknown new system that they have been searching for. Viktor Frankl, a survivor of the Nazi death camps, said:
“Let us be alert in a twofold sense: Since Auschwitz we know what man is capable of. And since Hiroshima we know what is at stake.”

While it remains to be seen whether or not it will happen in time, humankind is finally learning to be alert.

There is an overwhelming trend at play in the wider world that transcends mythology, religion, ideology, psychology, nationalism, and any other -logy or -ism or evolutionary stepping stone in human that has come before. Humankind is learning to empathically embrace more and more of itself at an ever-increasing rate. The collective mind of man is learning that thinking is doing, and doing is becoming. Becoming an embodied, synchronous, sustainably evolving juggernaut of collective consciousness. Fragmented interpretations of fragmented, specific doctrine will be drowned out. We are coming into our own as a species. Finally. Those who bury their head too deeply in temples or mosques, climate change crusades or ‘ancient’ groves, pubs or brothels, science, boardrooms, or occupy somewhere rallies might just poke their head out the window one day and wonder why they're suddenly on their own. The analogy of the watermelon seed fits well to conclude this dialectic. When one presses a watermelon seed (humanity’s destiny) between the thumb (the system and old ways of thought we are “under (the thumb of)”) and forefinger (new ideas and collective learning), the seed will want to go down, or up, but the squeezing pressure forces it to remain in the grip, until eventually it will suddenly shoot out at great speed in a direction that nobody can really predict, and never even knew existed before.

*Since we still have no clear understanding amongst the battlefield that is evolutionary debate, we will leave this point to be looked at another day.

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Dear Ruth Limkin.

First, the article that I read - the first product of this mummer's farce that filled me with disdain:

My response (the comment may appear in the above link, if she chooses not to censor (read: moderate) it):

"I must make two comments here: First, Typo are irresponsible for conspicuously stocking such items alongside back to school promotions. You have hit that nail on the head squarely. Or would have, if not for the following that bent the potential efficacy of your hammer-stroke all out of whack:
Second: Ruth, I found your article to be a cheaply written ploy, in my opinion comparably cheesy to whoever it was in Typo’s marketing/management division that made the decisions that led to the situation you are attacking.
Ideological spin is most certainly a good way to get attention, but the only thing such an agenda can accomplish is to address very real (and often troubling) issues by mystifying them – that is, decoupling them from reality and corrupting them with emotional manipulation. Your articles may seem like good reading to most people who read your articles, but more discerning eyes (like, I humbly consider) my own, wish you would spend more of your effort on addressing actual issues rather than this depth-deprived ideological spin.
I apologise if my abrupt manner has caused any offense – this is just my way. I am attempting to be honest, and offer constructive commentary. Cheers."

Okay, to elaborate/clarify, all that she had to do is say something like:
'Typo stores have pornographically themed items on their shelves alongside their much publicised back to school sales...I worry that this might be devaluing to women, and that it is pornographic, inappropriate, and irresponsible - I saw a little eight year old girl looking at them, and thought to myself, "This is wrong!" I encourage you to look into this issue for yourself and combat it if you find that you agree with me."

But no, why would she do something so responsible and on the level, when she could spin some ideological bullshit about the eight year old girl she saw in the shop, who could have been thinking ANYTHING about the items in question - including nothing at all. What does she know? Is it a skill of good writing nowdays to be able to gush rhetoric polemic out of your arse? If so, I will never be as good a writer as Ruth Limkin. Ruth Limkin is a great entrepreneur/successful writer and a sterling champion of human rights who guilts others all day as to why they don't advocate for/love/save/bail out/clean up after, EVERYONE, when she doesn't do it herself. Instead she bitches about the most trivial and stupid detail about the Occupy Movement, while actually admitting to not knowing (or caring a damn for) any of the other and much bigger and more important issues at hand, while taking a cunningly brief moment to blow her own and fellow members of the Brisbane Soros club's horns, for 'helping the poor' (a thing which made me sick). She is pretentious enough to write an obscene ideological spin-letter to an eight year old child that she does not even know, and under her 'articles' tagged "religious freedom" bitches regularly about the oppression of Christians. She wears gold jewellery and a cheesy, crusty, overstretched smile in her profile photo. I would find this funny if it were not so sad. Ruth Limkin appears to be a text book example of why religion is quite deservedly being expunged from society and granted an awkward place on the dusty rim of obscurity. Very sadly the same is not happening in the case of the ideological spin that produced it. So do not take me for a religion hater - the first instance I find of a climate change crusader, or an occupier, or whoever else, pissing me off to this extent, engaging in this same flagrant bastardisation of my craft, will be ranted about as well.

In my opinion she should stop vocalising her decadent ignorance, bourgeois hypocrisy, and religious bigotry, as she is making other Christians and other writers look bad.

See what I did at the end there? My clever little polemical turns of phrase? Looks like Ruth Limkin is not the only one who can do it.

And this is the part where I insert - for the benefit of any ofRuth Limkin's demographic audience, a *trollface.* And hope that among the dozens I am sure to annoy, that this helps at least one writer or one reader take a more responsible attitude towards themselves, the people, and the world around them.

~Joel Ivory

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Revelation is Immoral and Irresponsible.

Revelation: The Easy Way to Shirk Stewardship.

Throughout the (recorded) history of humankind, many of our most sweeping and evolutionary course-changing catalysts have been dubbed to have been divine revelations - the laws of Moses, Mohammed, Joseph Smith and/or Jesus, clothing, animal husbandry, domestication, salvation, imperialism, democracy, gunpowder, capitalism, and/or the role of sex, and so on. It seems to me that humankind has an unfortunate tendency to blame the catalysts that have catapulted us to what, where and especially why we are now on 'divine' or 'higher' inspiration. This is foolishness, and is snowballing to a point where it has become a prime and acute threat to our survival as a species.

Life (itself) is the only real miracle in this universe, and we invest next to none of our resources in beginning to understand it. To say that we have no idea what we are capable of doing with said resources, and our own will, is therefore pretty much on the money. Stupid turn of phrase. I don't even want money. Or maybe it's not a stupid turn of does money. The sky is still above us, and the earth still below. So maybe we're not all *that* bad...yet. But I digress. Which is not a bad thing, it just appears that way to most of us most of the time. But I digress again. What fun!

So, we seem to at once be both up the creek without a paddle, and not all *that* bad. In the beautifully eloquent words of Viktor Frankl:
"Since Auschwitz we know what humankind is capable of.
And since Hiroshima, we know what is at stake."

We KNOW this (did you get goosebumps reading that phrase too?), but we are still hurtling on at breakneck pace to our own decimation - and probably destruction. We know next to nothing about anything about our own planet, the flora, fauna, chemical reactions, physics, spirituality, and so on, around us. What to me is truly disgusting about all of this is how little effort we invest into rectifying it. Frankl is more right than he knew - we DO know what we are capable of, and we DO know what is at stake - but what are our excuses for acting as though we do not?

And yes, I know that there have been doomsingers and people crying about the apocalypse that is going to happen in our lifetime in every generation. I am not one of those. The first reason is that I am neither a narcissist nor insane. The second is that I don’t put enough stock in the worth of humanity, when considered against two factors: One, the backdrop of the truly epic temporal and spatial scale of the cosmos. And two, the inescapable law of causality – choices have consequences, no matter where you go in the universe, this is so…and our collective choices don’t hold much credibility in my mind. The third reason I don’t believe in any kind of ragnarok or ‘hard’ apocalypse is that they are divine revelations, too; another symptom of whatever spiritual malaise that we suffer from that compels us to thank (and blame) everything but ourselves for the situation we find ourselves in. And the fourth reason I differentiate from doomsayers throughout history is that the sparks of our ignorance have never conflagrated into a global inferno that is burning the only earth that will ever be beneath our feet.

It is a form of sheer arrogance to say that we need to ‘save the planet’ or whatever – we are not destroying the planet, but we are destroying its capability to keep us alive. And so I am not an environmentalist or ‘climate change crusader’ or a vegan or whatever, either. As Slavoj Zizek pointed out, these are becoming a ‘new opiate of the masses’ in the current twilight of religion. But it is not religion I am attacking, nor is it ideological thought itself – it is the disastrous consequences of such thought.

This is why I love Slavoj Zizek - he's bat shit crazy and strung out, which is probably why he is able to explain why ideology by revelation is wrong. We are disavowing, disowning, and destroying our responsibility to ensure our survival. And soon, it may not matter. Let's get some broader perspective here - the extinction cycle on this planet, as far as science can tell us, suggests that we have just about done our dash. And, quite frankly, it would serve us right. We are ignorant, dirty, petty, selfish, arrogant and blind. We have the capability to be so very noble, humble, powerful, inspiring, beautiful, and universe-changing. How is that for a paradox of wasted potential? And how funny would it be if we get what’s coming to us?

Here's the real onion - on the rare instance it occurs to us what we are, we disavow it into oblivion. Our recognition of our capabilities is non-existant. I mean, sure, the odd...oddball, like me, or Viktor Frankl, or Jesus, figures it out, but the collective human race exists at more or less the same level and pace - those who lag behind rarely suffer because it is hard for someone that simple not to be able to sustain themselves - subsistence is, after all, a piece of cake, unless of course we rob the planet of its ability to provide this for us. But you want to be wary of getting too far ahead of the curve - too different - because you do not want to end up nailed to a cross. Humans have a tendency to crucify anybody who is wiser/more enlightened than the norm with remarkable viciousness, relish, and alacrity.

We deny/dilute the naked truth about what we are, and have such stunning obliviousness to what we are collectively capable of – in the positive sense, I mean - Frankl put his finger squarely on the mark about our negative capabilities, which we demonstrate all the time.. We tend to, wherever we are, so scattered across the earth, attribute the really important stuff, whether good or bad, to divine revelation, and the consequences of this are hugely destructive. The idea of "revelation is obscene, not immoral" was what sparked this article, and despite getting caught up in the complexity of the ideas involved, I have endeavoured to remain focussed.
We should be known as the masters of limitation. I temper, second-guess, hestiate, edit, censor and silence and suppress, myself, too regularly because of the audience that doesn't even pay attention anyway. People really are screwed. Heh. We actually deserve it, and that, dear everybody, is the most honest truth you are ever going to hear. Fuck your hope, your divine inspiration and revelation, and your Guy Sebastian songs telling you not to worry and be happy (rant about this coming soon, stay tuned).

Have faith in yourself, your neighbour, your hard work and your planet. Love and care for all of these. Stop shirking the responsibility for looking after yourself, the people, and the world around you. I thought that humanity would take responsibility for itself when religion lost its chokehold. For our own survival’s sake, let us dispel the sickness we all suffer from that compels us to deny responsibility for the reality all around us in divinely ignorant idealism. 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Jamie and Dawn of Dayboro.

So I am so physically exhausted right now that I don't even know why I set this sentence up for some kind of allegorical comparison. Bugger it. The body is failing but the mind - and sense of righteous, idealistic blasphemy is alive and seizing. And so, I will tell you about an experience I had several years ago.

I am not entirely sure when it was, but it was during the time I had a car full of clothes and whatever shit I could justify keeping in it, and not knowing where my next meal was coming from, or whether or not I would have a roof over my head that night. Now, at the time, I was broken. I can look back now with a 'healthy disrespect,' for who I was, then - but at the time, I was seriously hung up on some really heavy crap. I had just lost everyone dear to me, for good or for ill, and considered that the world owed me a living. I hadn't yet realised that it is perfectly fine to sleep under a bridge, or in my car, or that a slice of bread, an apple, and clean water is a perfectly beautiful meal. I was, in short, a colossal broken fool.

The mother of the family whose spare room I was inhabiting at the time suggested I visit her friend out in the sticks. This friend, whose name I forget, but what the hell, we will call her Dawn. Anyway, Dawn had been known to my erstwhile landlady to take in strays and orphans and fuck-ups. Usually a decade or so younger than me, but perhaps in a desperate attempt to get me out of her place, I got sent to meet Dawn and decide whether or not I could move there.

I noted with dismay, on arriving in Dawn's town, that it was no longer the picturesque and tranquil rural village I had known and loved since the first time my father first got it into his head to 'go for a drive in the country.' It had become yuppie central, full of pretentious cafe's, child-care centres and supermarkets with polished boardwalks. Even the streets were sealed and had concrete kerbs and streetsigns. They seemed also to have launched a crusade against dirt roads. Fuck.

Dawn was not the first person I met. Her 'adopted 'son'' Jamie met me in the front yard. We spent several minutes talking. The boy was strongly androgynous, 13 years old. I remember his straight, black hair down to his shoulders, and his melodic voice. Dawn knew I was there, but for some reason, did not deign to come and meet me for a good while - over half an hour, if memory serves. In that time, Jamie and I had talked about all kinds of things, from our experiences of life, to Warcraft II, to all the things the game meant to us. I just...knew deep inside that the kid was alright, and so was I.

Dawn was, in short, a caustic bitch. She had horrendous body odour, and her home smelled and looked the kind of mould-and-mildew-ey that you don't get unless you don't clean it properly for months. It ran deeper even than the filth I had endured in my mother's home growing up. Anyway, she barked an order at Jamie to go to his room when she found us talking, demanded to know what the hell I was thinking, to which I replied something along the lines of, he's a good kid, and we both like the same stuff. To that, she warned me about how unstable he was, the abuse he had suffered, how he still wet the bed and was prone to violent fits, and (this is fucking gold, right here) how she had worked too long and hard to 'fix' him to let somebody like me threaten all her hard work.

I mean, SERIOUSLY? He was an alright kid! You don't...DO THAT, to kids, unless your goal is actually to fuck them up even more. Dawn, you egocentric selfish fuck.

Back then I was pretty spineless, sure, but that incensed me. She then went on to ask me what I wanted from living there - I replied with a suggestion that she already had an agenda picked out for me. Spineless, yes. Diplomatic and insightful, absolutely. She demanded that I have a job, contribute to society, and be a part of her family. In short, the pattern came full circle. Unhygeinic control freaking bitch. As a dear friend of mine said, "people who want a certain atmosphere in their home usually expect it on their terms." Atmospheres rely on behaviour, which relies on stimuli and choices. At the time of the story I'm telling you here, I was in desperate need of a place to fucking collapse for as long as I needed to. I had been through hell, and knew my limits, despite having them pushed at every fucking turn. I knew I could not abide a home where I was being perpetually hounded by an egocentric, smelly fuck, so, as politely as I could, I declined to move into her home, and left.

I found Jamie sitting in the tree that I had parked my car under. He told me he wished he could go with me. I asked him how I knew I was leaving (since the last thing we had said before Dawn ordered him to his room (away from me) was that I was sent there to see about moving in), and he said he had not stayed in his room, but had listened to Dawn and my conversation.

All he wanted was a brother. Shit, not even that - just family, whatever that means. A connection with someone. This is our last conversation - what I had felt in my soul about him, and everyone like him, all my life.

"Dawn thinks you're bad, but I know you're not. If you stayed..."
"You heard what happened, mate. I can't stay."
"Yeah, I know."
There was a long silence, as he picked components off the tree, agitatedly, and I picked similar components off the bonnet of my car, in a similar state of agitation. Then he spoke again.
"Thanks for the Warcraft II cheats - whoever would have thought you could make your people invincible? I'm going to win the entire game with only one grunt, now."
"What will you name him?"
"What should I name him?"
"Jamie. 'Cause Jamie IS invincible, and he can do anything."
He sat quiet for a long moment, until Dawn screeched his name. He flinched. Dropped out of the tree and ran inside.

I drove away with several anguished thoughts. The predominant one being that Jamie and I had shared something profound - what was, at the time, a sublimely pure and beautiful human connection. For all of under an hour.

Not a day goes by that I don't lament the rarity of that kind of thing.

And not a week goes by where I don't, somewhere inside me, wish I had stayed. For Jamie.

And somewhere even in the deep, dark recesses of my soul, loathes myself for not being good enough to sustain every connection that has failed.