Monday, 8 October 2012

Automatic Living, Otherness and Death by Gantt charts

There are only two ways a professional can kill themselves: one is with whisky and the other is with Gantt charts. If a life of automatic living doesn’t particularly appeal, you can take a lesson by ignoring a writer you’ve probably never read. Ignoring Aristotle might just be the best thing you ever do.

In contrast to Aristotle I don’t think we need unity to tell a meaningful story. In contrast my prescription would be the 3 ‘Others’ – the otherness of place, the otherness of action, and the otherness of people.

Every journey begins with a place. For all my movements, and the eternal missing of that smoke-filled hive I used to call home I’ve learned one thing – I need to take more holidays. I’m down in Brighton right now and for the first time in years I’ve been somewhere I don’t know, on my own. For the first time in years I haven’t spoken to another person in several days. Sometimes taking a holiday from other people is the healthiest thing you can do. Blaise Pascal put it best when he said “All men's miseries derive from not being able to sit in a quiet room alone.” Pascal knew speaking to oneself self is the first sign of sanity.

We make a very weird habit of associating consistency with integrity. The Gantt charts mentality puts us into a psychological prison – we normalise and repeat what we do and who we are - and become slaves of routine. Art as a reflection of otherness is useless to a Gantt mindset. Freedom of action and a discovery of the unknown can only be achieved with an otherness of action.

Finally there is the otherness of people. After twelve years of debate I can testify that my only enemies are people who agree with me.

My first ever Dolansphere post spawned from a disagreement with someone called Ian. Ian is homosexual, is exploited with zero hour contracts to the benefit of heartless capitalists and consistently votes Conservative. Ian is misguided, arrogant and will verbally bitch-slap me every damn chance he gets.

I wouldn’t have him any other way for two reasons: He reminds that otherness gives me a sense of who I am. In knowing who Ian is, he reminds me of whom and what I am not. Ian also reminds me (perhaps too much) that I am not always right about everything. If I could make one recommendation: having a shouty, self-important man convinced you are wrong about everything in your life will definitely make you wiser.

Much of the emphasis on being functional in todays society is based around adopting and strictly adhering to the most demanding routines. The Business “Go get-em” manuals may proclaim “Consistency is king” but personal development requires attention and involvement in a diverse world. Without a commitment to an otherness of place, action and people the only option is death. Death by Gantt charts.