The Incarnations of XXXTENTACION and How It Relates To Jungian Symbolism

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The death of 20 year old musician Jaseh Onfroy a.k.a XXXTENTACION created a storm of controversy as the public drew a line in the sand. The stage was set and the ultimatum was this: you either support the condemnation of domestic violence by rejecting his art or you sympathise with a monster and disgrace the victims if you don’t. This kind of black and white moral compartmentalising is a brilliant analogy for the current state of global politics. It’s tribal assimilation without any consideration of winder context. Life and more importantly people are never as simple as two options.

XXXTENTACION embodied the dichotomy of the human temperament, he appealed to both sides of the individual – rough yet smooth, loud yet quiet, different but the same. The reason why X had such a devoted legion of fans and the reason he had such a fierce opposition is because he represented the duality of the psyche. He evoked a response whether you wanted to pay attention or not and his image and life was loaded with symbolism which perfectly relates to Jungian symbolism – here’s how:

According to Carl Jung’s theory, men and women can be loosely broken down into two categories: Anima (female) and Animus (male). In each of these categories are stages of development which relate to the understanding of self.

XXXTENTACION: first incarnation (2015-2016)

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The first Jungian archetype within the theory of the Animus is ‘Man Of Physical Power’ this is also associated with the Freudian ‘id’ which is the primal, reactionary part of the psyche. It’s the part of the mind that operates on pure impulse – manifesting in heightened sexual drive, arbitrary violence and a utilisation of physicality to assert your presence. All of this is encapsulates X within this period, he was briefly put in jail and his mugshot accompanied his breakout single ‘Look at Me!’. His mugshot went viral and at this stage the symbolism of his contradictions was already laid down in this image: he has his hair in two separate colours subtly and unconsciously representing a conflict within the self. During this stage his presence was defined by physicality and violence; reports of his domestic abuse surfaced, he instigated chaotic riots at his shows, he assaulted fans and the violence culminated in him being knocked out on stage. The footage of this incident is an insight into the unrelenting nightmare of the unbalanced collective consciousness. His own instability infected the entire room and erupted into a version of hell on Earth.

XXXTENTACION – second incarnation (2017)

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X’s second incarnation was in response to the mounting controversy and psychological pressures he faced. During this period his fame reached unparalleled heights in tandem with his infamy. His ex-girlfriend took her case to court and a damning article was published which created a wave of opposition, disgust and fury. Following him being knocked out on stage his already unstable psyche was thrown completely out of balance and this was manifest in his redesigned perception of self. Paranoia and distrust began to mount, his friendships broke down, the chaos grew. He began to hate the ‘pretty thug’ image of himself that his mugshot had created and opted to symbolically destroy that version of himself. This relates to the second stage of Jung’s Animus ‘Man Of Action’. Somebody who takes their life and attempts to radically alter it in the face of imminent threat. He created a sterilised, blank version of himself – symbolically bleaching his persona, ridding himself of the previous character.

XXXTENTACION – third incarnation (2018)

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The final version of X combined the final two stages of Animus which are ‘Man as an Orator’ and ‘Man as a Spiritual Guide’. Towards the end of his life the unsustainability as the Loki character became apparent, with the global fan base he had amassed he was faced with many personal questions about who he wants to be and how he wants to use his power. He commented actively that he had played the role of ‘villain’ in an effort to garner respect but it was the wrong type of respect and it only invited pain. It was during this stage on the other side of the chaos that he began to rationally evaluate his position and his influence and how he could utilise that for the betterment of the self and the betterment of others. He began preaching constantly via Instagram Live to an average of 25,000 people at any given time. He was spreading a message of redemption and positivism. It’s important to note that this doesn’t exonerate him for his previous crimes but we’re only studying this as a symbolic process. The visual associations with his hair being blue are themes of  sadness, introspection, purity and calm.

The story and symbolism of X beyond his music encompass a large amount of associations that cannot be simplified. Just as the complexity and contradictions that are present in the human psyche cannot be simplified. Potently, X’s last music video to the song ‘SAD!’ features him literally fighting a previous version of himself. The chaos that wanted to come back out, the anger inside the id, the reactionary pain and violence. Jung often spoke of the duality within humanity. How people are not simply one thing or another but a multitude of influences  and contradictions that coalesce and overlap. This is represented in the character of XXXTENTACION, there is clear stages to his development and the indications towards the end of his life were that he was reaching the psychological stage of self actualisation. He began to understand how to relate to people and how to interact, his work with charity and his attempt to right his wrongs in the past serve as a lesson in how a person is not defined by their past but rather their future. If our society begins to relinquish the idea of redemption we will regress into a fascistic conservatism which leads to all people being defined by their mistakes. This pathway is a dangerous one because it doesn’t allow people the opportunity to change. Change is essential in the development and redemption of humanity as an entity destined to fall on it’s path to a better future.

 

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Fight You’re Fired with Fire – How To Defeat He Who Shall Not Be Named

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On Friday the 13th July a politician is coming to the UK for a state visit, this is no ordinary politician. In fact his career has been defined by being diametrically opposed to what society would consider an ordinary politician. There is a planned march against this politician as well as a giant inflatable caricature which cost £16,000 to create. Both of these things are devastatingly misguided.

We’ve nearly had two years of this politician permeating and dripping through every single pore of media, every device, every screen. He is a fixture in our lives, an image which we see on a daily basis, more than our friends, more than some of our own family. He’s an inescapable presence in the modern world. Yet we have no tactic or familiarity with his temperament and psychology. First and foremost, this man is a narcissist – arguably the biggest narcissist in living memory. This man exists on controversy the same way fire relies on oxygen.

What would be more devastating to this man then I ask: hundreds of thousands of people in the street chanting against him while a giant inflatable version of himself that people have spent time and money developing floats in the sky? or an eerie quiet, a plot at hand, a political stillness?

The former is the oxygen, this persons ego is so deformed that the former will be taken as flattery and the blaze of ignorance will burn as brightly as it ever has as the small hands of idiocy wave to the subjects he’s summoned. We are as much to blame in his ascent by our lack of vision in credible and effective tactics. The message will not be received, he will not shiver at the people, he will not second guess his politics or quake in his expensive boots at the politely angry and humorously committed British ‘onslaught’. There is no symbolism here, his ego won’t be hurt and we do nothing more than continue the reach of his acidic brand of self promotion by being complicit in it’s distribution.

I intend to use this as a marker to catalyse a new approach in this warfare. Let’s take the weight from the name, let’s never say it. Let’s take the gaze off the face as we never see it. Let’s diffuse the distraction that keeps all of our eyes fixed. We provide the platform as he stands on our backs as we bark his name like obedient dogs. This will be the last time we discuss it. Rather than protest, let’s create strategy and solutions – anything else is a passive waste of time. If we truly want to take the power away from this person we can, the same way he took ours: ignorance.

@thesilenthour

FinDom – The Psychology of Submission

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‘If you dare become my submissive – you’ll be rinsed, humiliated…and blackmailed’

Typically the last three words are situations to be avoided in life, but in the online FinDom community the submissive’s applaud the opportunity to be degraded. Degradation isn’t a new element in sexual psychology, people have always enjoy playing with power dynamics in varying ways. Now however, a new community has emerged online which completely removes the physical element: ‘FinDom’

‘FinDom’ is a combination of ‘Financial Domination’ and it’s a morally questionable trend that is developing quickly in online communities. The basis of this fetish is that dominatrix’s verbally demean their voluntary subjects, explaining to them how they’re weak and pathetic, how their wives cheat on them, how they’re pathetic for cheating on their wives by being optionally degraded – at the center of all of this is money.

The loyal subject willingly donates cash, sometimes hundreds of pounds, usually via PayPal or Apple Pay for absolutely nothing except the thrill of being exploited. I became interested in this as a psychological study because of the exact reason that it’s effectively platonic in most cases. In the sense that it’s a wholly unconsummated abstraction. The sexual thrill for the submissive isn’t based on any physical sensation but only the consistently upheld mental construct of their own irrelevance and humiliation.

Within the FinDom community it seems to be a perfect storm of damaged minds, it would be foolish to suggest that all people involved are deranged and lack the capacity to understand what they get out of it. Whilst at the same time there is a common thread of damaged personalities and illusory character roles. It seems to be the case that the dominatrix’s justify their exploitation in the voluntary nature of their submissive’s – I saw screenshots of a dom celebrating the fact a submissive had literally cleared out his entire account of money that month in donation to her. To me it suggests two things – Firstly, that the dominatrix has an alienated and contemptible relationship with men, as depending on your definition of morality, no moral person would design a life style off donations from somebody whose clearly in a confused state of mind. Secondly, the idea has developed ostensibly from inner neuroses of the dominatrix – whether it’s from previous emotional trauma, or professional instability – it’s effectively revenge porn for suppressed trauma which elevates the female individual with a new found liberty, confidence and sexual superiority which could’ve been lacking previously in their lives.

So the question is what do the submissives get out of it? If we look at BDSM culture as a whole and it’s pervasive nature in society in large, down to the individual psyche it speaks for itself – people yearn to be told what to do. Life as an individual is layered in daily uncertainty – people don’t know if their profession is the right one, if their partner still loves them, if their family are on good terms, if they’re reaching their full potential, if they’re doing the right thing. This manifests in it’s purest form in the setting of BDSM culture – people quite literally break down in these settings and submit to a higher authority in a pseudo-religious sense – in some cases breaking down into tears.

The way this relates to male identity is of particular interest in the sense that I feel it’s reactionary to uber-masculine culture, if you look for example in suicide statistics for every 3 men that take their own lives 1 woman does. There has been many proposed theories for why this is, with the most common explanations ranging from the instilled societal pressure on men to be ‘successful’ and lead financially prosperous lives to men lacking the emotional and vocal capacity to express their feelings. This is capitalized on by dominatrix’s for financial merit and to the submissive it seems like the perfect solution. An opportunity to break down, to be told what to do, to find order in chaos. It’s predatory but knowingly so. In moralistic terms it presents a complex philosophical conundrum – is it immoral if both sides are consenting to the act?

FinDom is only one emerging trend in a new wave of digital sexual identity in which we will continue to see the separation of physical sexual acts and psychological euphoria. Sexual identity will become more abstract as a socio-technological singularity occurs – as we reduce complex individuals to swipes on an app, reduce individuals from people to submissives, as we reduce women to sex dolls, intimacy to a virtual experience the emotional landscape alters.

J.G Ballard summarized it in his famous equation: sex + technology = the future

The question is – what are you into, really?

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In which way should I direct myself, we often ask, peering forward with squinted eyes to try and define the blurred images of the future. Nobody can say, no oracle to describe, no map, no idea, only a compass.

Hubris

Go beyond your means. Dream bigger than what you know to be physically real. Deconstruct the laws of social decorum before disassembling the maxims of physics. Locke, Newton, Democritus, Plato, Aristotle can all reverberate in the still chasm of the mind; making only slight murmurs of truth. Find yourself somewhere new, your eyes tired at the end of the day from processing all those new compositions. Find yourself somewhere sterile, where manners have all but dissipated and then compressed into the ether, passing as softly as a breeze without a flicker of remorse.

Thanatos

Search for dampness, follow the aroma of rotting flesh as you sail down the styx, there isn’t anything in the water but sadness, scoop your hand in it and wash your face with it. Walk into sodom but don’t be afraid, even a spectre has a conscience. Nobody is going to hurt you here except yourself. You can’t spend this much time in the shadows and retain a pure soul. Soon you’ll find you like the damp, there’s warmth in the moisture. There’s a friend in the isolation. They’ll greet you with a broken grin and you can return the same sentiment. Hold each others hands in the epicenter of chaos. People know not what they do, but demons do it for a reason.

Eros 

You could say it’s an anesthetic, or perhaps a responsibility – to use a compass you need a destination, if you pick a destination you’ll get there much quicker. So keep it micro. At the start it’s primal, there’s something to be proven in one another, on one another. Any candle that burns twice as bright burns half as long. So ensure there is a slow burn to avoid spillage. Once you’re there it’s different. Now there’s a citadel you can find refuge in, but what happens if the refuge becomes a prison? How can the warden escape their imposing structures? If you build walls high enough you won’t be able to climb over them. So be sure if you build a citadel you’re on the right side of the wall, with the right people.

Ataraxia

We will all be here together – in the space between the shimmers of light is a layer of thin luminous film that vibrates and scatters the colors and sounds of the universe into floral patterns across the sky. Collapsing and rebuilding is how we’ll find the essence of ourselves, speaking without words is how we’ll know we’ve said enough. Only when the pyramids fall, when the pillars between one another erode away into a fine dust and are consumed by the wind. Only when we see that we are the architects of our own labyrinth can we discover the compass that will lead us to the warmth that’ll incubate our souls for all of eternity.

Art as salvation – Identifying who we are through the lens of media

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We find ourselves in a time where paradigms are being broken, on purpose.
There are several social revolutions taking place at the moment they all have one common denominator – identity. The way we define ourselves is an ongoing process full of apprehension, contradictions and confusion. The reassuring development that we’re seeing in modern times is that people are becoming comfortable with themselves in a way that they weren’t previously.

With films like ‘Black Panther’ set to redefine the role of Africans in film and high end cinema and films like Greta Gerwig’s ‘Lady Bird’ nominated for various high profile awards (including an Oscar for ‘Best Picture’) we’re seeing a mainstream recognition of what is is to be everybody who isn’t the archetypal white middle aged male. There’s a line from The Simpsons (my life compass) that summarizes the old paradigm perfectly:

‘Lisa: it’s awful being a kid nobody listens to you

Grandpa: it’s rotten being old nobody listens to you

Homer: I’m a white male aged 18-49, everybody listens to me, no matter how dumb my suggestions are’

The narratives we’ve used to structure our world view have been told through a rigid lens – a perspective that isn’t shared, that is exclusive. We know that all revolutions start from the bottom up, we cannot rely on politics to develop an inclusive world. Politics isn’t progressive – it’s reactionary. Pressure is exerted externally and politics adapts to the mood. An example would be the integration of the LGBT community in the world – an identity which was a punishable offence less than 60 years ago is now accepted in the West as a perfectly normal state of being. Politicians know that there would be an outrage if homosexuality was critiqued (here’s looking at you; Tim Farron) and this progress was not achieved through the benevolence of our officials but rather a peaceful social revolution, a conversation and an enlightenment.

What we’re seeing now is a refreshing diversity in representation – media is the epicenter of the modern dialogue, the images and content we see proliferated world wide such as blockbuster films generates a global conversation in which people can talk about complex topics using the film as a reference point. It opens up debate which provides perspective and opinion which in turn creates a more democratic and equal atmosphere.

In terms of the future of these developments Black Panther is speculated to signal the revival in Black Cinema with studio’s eyeing up reboots of classics such as Shaft, SuperFly & Sweet Sweetbacks Baaadasssss Song. This gives more exposure to Black cinema and projection to the Black voice in the contemporary forum. Meanwhile, Greta Gerwig has expressed a desire to continue down the route of industry equality by aiming to achieve a film in which all the key roles are filled with women – normalizing the presence of high profile female creatives. These events parrallel the #MeToo movement and the Weinstein scandal as a rejection of the rigid patriarchal status quo and a reassessment of entertainment infrastructure.

The times we’re living in now are taking the jaded template of the past and smashing it, breathing a new vitality into the body of creativity and it feels like time. Film is supposed to make a statement and for too long it feels as though nothing has been said, with the social revolutions that are taking place now, we’re not just hearing new statements…but a harmony of voices that have never sang so loudly before.

The Global Theater: What role does Britain play?

You can already see the evidence of how this tragedy will structure the narrative of our country for the next few months – who will manipulate this event to support their argument? what political fuel will be extracted from the well of contention? Based on the available information the perpetrator was not organised, was not heavily armed and had no support. Nobody with a stable mindset would run upon the Houses of Parliament armed with a knife – or drive into other human beings – this tragedy was not a calculated or rational attack. The location of this attack makes it the perfect story to continue peddling fear and hate among the masses. The iconography of the location can be eaten up by news organisations to imply that there is a global radical conspiracy. It’s the kind of story that far right wing platforms will be morbidly smug about because it supports an isolationist world view as oppose to sensible and logical conclusions. Platforms will frame the tragedy in a way that detracts from the fact that this was the act of a lone assailant with very severe mental issues. The facts will be obscured until it fits in as a piece of the ongoing narrative that the world is not safe – broadly speaking, the world is safer now than its ever been before any previous time in history.

The hallmarks of a civilized society are key: an economy, transport infrastructure, cultural activity, social assimilation – but most essentially – peace. The belief in the idea of the state & a citizens adherence to the states law is based off the mutual agreement that law and order is kept by the state in return for social conformity. When an event of terrorism takes place in a society that prides its self on peace achieved by military prowess and strength, it undermines the social order. This is why attacks in Western cities like Paris & Brussels are considered more horrifying by the global community than events in the Middle East despite the victims shared humanity. The global communities perception selectively sympathizes with first world cities over second & third world cities because of a debased idea of inherent societal superiority – of  Western civility. This kind of selective regard produces humanitarian issues and perpetuates global instability.

It’s eerie the role that the affected state has to play in the global theater when tragedies like this occur. The country must demonstrate its capability in dealing with these events, in containing these breaches. The international community is watching, everybody is watching. The state must demonstrate its ability to respond to these incidents swiftly. The issue was responded to in a stunning six minutes. All credit due to the sharp efforts of world class British security services. Beyond this Westminster has been combed, police are en mass in central London. Choppers dot the skies. Terrorism units are surveying, forensics are busy. The scale of the operation will be in the millions of pounds already and reflects the heightened state of fear in the current political climate. There’s a cold duality to England’s response to this situation: an assurance to its citizens that the state is very much in control and also a demonstration of strength to the leaders of the world & extremists of any kind – Britain is armed. It’s important now more than ever to remain in solidarity, to not become erratic. The response from the international community has been an out-pour of love and support despite stormy political seas. This love and solidarity needs to continue and be built upon. This kind of unity and support shouldn’t require a tragedy to ignite it.

Anxiety: How Meme Culture Normalized It

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Mental health issues are now pandemic, a staggering 1 in 4 Britons suffer from some variation of mental health problems. How do we as a culture and a society tackle this issue rationally? The internet has fueled anxiety in the most insidious of ways. People are constantly comparing themselves to other people and trying to project a highlight version of their existence onto social media. The intention of doing this isn’t so much to create a digital photo journal but more so to feel socially accepted and relevant – the community in which the individual is showing it is now seen to be more valuable than the images themselves. The numerical value of the likes on your post is seen to be a direct reflection of your worth and ingenuity – people become woefully dejected if their likes are only single digits.

In the late 1970’s during the emergence of new technologies such as commercially available video-cameras and cable television acclaimed sci-fi writer J.G Ballard made an eerily accurate prediction for how technology would impact our day to day lives:

‘Every one of our actions during the day, across the entire spectrum of domestic life, will be instantly recorded on videotape. In the evening we will sit back to scan the rushes, selected by a computer trained to pick out only our best profiles, our wittiest dialogue, our most affecting expressions filmed through the kindest filters, and then stitch these together into a heightened re-enactment of the day’

That is basically internet culture summarized – people leaving out 98% of the day, with all of it’s common and shared regularities, leaving only the images that can be seen as unique or enviable. This in turn precipitates a culture of animosity among each other which results in many things, including the normalization of mental health issues. The reason this is dangerous is because it obscures the realities of mental health and dilutes them into something that conditions a defeatist attitude.

The broad increase in social anxiety can be attributed largely to social media – firstly, in how it creates social hierarchies in which people feel they have to compete in. Whether the individual sees someone in a relationship, someone announcing: ‘I GOT THE JOB!!!!!’ or whether they see an ex-partner succeeding in some way – it all creates an atmosphere of fierce competition. The irony is that the individual never recognizes that the person who posted the article that threw them off also feels the exact same pressure.

Below is an excerpt from an article titled ’22 things people with anxiety want their friends to know’

‘9. They’re sorry for all the declined invites, irrational behaviour, and hurtful things they said when they were feeling overwhelmed or scared. They’re sorry their anxiety hurts you too’

Posts like these are commonplace on social media sites, these kinds of posts only exacerbate the issue at hand by displacing the reality of it. The reality is this – anxiety is part of the human condition. It is not an isolated medical condition. It shouldn’t be taken and reformed as a defining character aspect or as a defeatist creed. The most important conclusion we can all reach is that anxiety is natural.

Anxiety is something which needs to be moderated with gentle, compassionate care – articles which say the things you feel you cannot will only silence your voice further. It’s important to find the words yourself, tap into the confidence that does exist and build on that. If society begins vicariously speaking through articles it will only increase the alienation that is present today. It must be understood that there isn’t a mystical person out there in the realms of instagram who lives day to day never experiencing any sort of anxiety, plodding along in perfect harmony. Every single person in the world feels anxiety – of course in varying intensities but to feel connected to everybody the similarities must be understood.

To know that anxiety is an evolutionary reaction that we share with everybody in our species lowers the walls that divide us. If anxiety creeps and suppresses the person you know you are, you shouldn’t submit to it and remain vulnerable – underneath it’s rule. Feel energized to resist it, understand that you’re not isolated and this isn’t abnormal. If individuals take social media seriously they’ll invariably end up a nervous wreck, a shell of a person trying to reach impossible goals that they set for themselves in the impossible heights of their mind. Don’t let articles speak for you and don’t let profiles define you – this could be taken as a new age overreaction by some, but everybody has felt the cold touch social media. If anxiety smiles at you – smile back.

High Courts Ruling To Block Labour Voters is an Orwellian joke

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The high courts ruling to bar 130,000 people from voting in the leadership election for the labour party is flagrant totalitarianism, I sincerely struggle to think of any action more apparently undemocratic as one to restrict individual input – the parallels between now & a the political sphere a century ago are staggering, I would say almost comical only the jokes not funny. Accusations of Bolshevism in the early 1900’s were to imply that you’re
an enemy of the state and of liberty. Similarly we see ‘Trotskyism’ now surfacing as a similar pejorative term. The implication of both accusations is that you are against a free market system and against the western ideals of which we all live and thrive on. This logic is riddled with contradictions and false information.

Firstly lets examine the fundamentals of Trotskyism

  • Support for the strategy of permanent revolution, in opposition to the Two Stage Theory of his opponents;
  • Support for social revolution in the advanced capitalist countries through working class mass action;
  • Support for proletarian internationalism; and
  • Use of a ‘transitional’ programme of demands that bridge between daily struggles of the working class and the ‘maximal’ ideas of the socialist transformation of society

So examining this information we can deduct that the fundamentals of this ideology are rooted in social equality – at which level is this theory wrong? The militancy of Trotskyism is what worries people – something I don’t necessarily agree with. All to often politics in this country is some school ground affair rife with name calling – socialism is the new cooties. The taboo of being a socialist has been carefully instilled to inhibit the rise of ideas that benefit the masses as appose to the few. It’s no secret that a free market economy simply ISN’T working, this year each month has smashed the previous years record for highest temperatures due to global warming attributed to unsustainable levels of industrialism and corporate negligence, we’ve used our cache of available natural resources half way through the year & social equality is non existent at the moment.

Also some 25 year old twat inherited 9 billion without tax…doesn’t that get under your skin even slightly? When you’re hastily dividing your pay packet on your iPhone to see if you can afford another drink on your night out some twenty five year old lid inherited more money than he can spend in his life time and has to pay zero to the state – doesn’t that make you second guess how this society is constructed? beyond this – are we forgetting about the scandals of Childcott & Panama Papers? Have we not remembered that our leaders have been readily revealed as vile and undignified people with no fixed interest in the masses beyond the extraction of any residual coins we’ve mustered together. It’s as though we as a society were waiting patiently in some dim auditorium to see our leaders – behind the curtain we hear muffled ruckus and we suspect something may be amiss…suddenly the curtains fall down and reveal a whole set of the people who lead us doing disgracefully immoral and unjust deeds. However, we as a desensitised nation forget about all of this once the hash tags move back to whichever celebrities birthday it might be.

Following on from the parallels of the early 1900’s we seem to have gone full cycle again and reverted back to callous and suspicious as a nation. It’s absolutely absurd that the woes of the nation have been blamed on immigration when the culprits are so clearly smeared across front pages yet we’re still to blind to see. The reintroduction of casual racism and semantic racism within politics is absolutely mind boggling to me. Beyond what the media insist how many negative run ins with an immigrant have any of you ever had? really? I live in a multi-cultural community and feel no sense of conspiracy against me or England, I’ve only ever been greeted with smiles, open doors and thank you’s.

There isn’t really any central message to be deducted here except for the devastating reality that regardless of how much we strive to be pure, good and justified it’s within the nature of humanity to destroy itself – physicist Enrico Fermi theorised the Fermi Paradox which aims to address why, given the vastness of space and the mathematical certainty of extraterrestrial life we haven’t ever seen any other form of life. His theory is intelligent life inevitably reaches a point within it’s own existence where the species develops technology powerful enough to destroy itself – foolishly wielding this power without serious consideration Fermi believed that we’re alone in the universe because any other previous civilisation has destroyed itself in egotistical madness. Now, I’m only using this as a point of reference and musing as appose to a serious suggestion – but with the current state of politics, the renewal of Trident, the sheer horror that seems to be spilling across the world on an increasingly frequent basis – our negligence and lack of altruistic consideration may very well mean we’ve began our course towards assured extinction – purely because we couldn’t just get along without being massive, massive dickheads.

Snapchats Coverage of Brussels – The Implications of Omnipresence

The playfully ghoulish Snapchat mascot would imply that this app is purely for fun, since its initial inception in 2011 by two entrepreneurs from Stanford University: Bobby Murphy & Evan Spiegel the app has had a meteoric rise. The current net worth of the company is valued at $10 billion and nobody could have predicted this ascension. The concept is straight forward and at the same time ingenious: you send pictures for a decided amount of time before they expire. Initially this concept aroused controversy in how it’d be utilized by the technically savvy younger generation, how this app fits in with their budding sexualities. Critics denounced it with the defense that it’ll encourage and facilitate underage pornography and exchanges of nudes leading to an increase in cyber bullying and victimization.

The latter has happened indefinitely but this is symptomatic of human nature as appose to propagation by Snapchat as a concept. Aside from this dark crevice of the app, it’s been a corporate dream. What Snapchat has effectively done is create a super network of perspectives – turning the phone into a visual conduit into places all over the world. Once Snapchat went beyond being purely a platform to send amusing selfies it became somewhat of a supernova and created a singularity between consumers, news & media – if you have a phone, you have a perspective and a viewpoint. Companies have bought shares into Snapchat and it became truly successful once we saw branded promotion on the app. I have been on the red carpet for the Oscars, I’ve been in Brisbane on Australia Day, I’ve been in the offices of Buzzfeed and I’ve celebrated Chinese New Year in China…all without having to leave my bed.

What we’re seeing here is a shift in how we consume media and events – the shrouded mystery of the world is gradually dissipating as we can now see significant events from a firsthand perspective. No longer are the Oscars a super high profile mystery to me…I now know it’s a white hot, cattle kind of an affair where people grin on the carpets before being rounded into the venue. The human mind has a tendency to romanticize events, now we can see them from the typically human and typically awkward perspective firsthand…the world is becoming much starker.

Today I went on Snapchat and saw Sky News had coverage of the second Brussels attack – I was running through settling dust and destruction, outside of the attack locations, near the emergency services…heard the screaming of terror and devastated sobbing of people who had just witnessed relentless horror and were experiencing tremendous pain…I was 333 miles away though. The reality of this dawned on me in a sensational way – what does this mean for how we digest media? The potential for how this can work is incalculable; can Snapchat serve as an egalitarian and real conduit for news events? Where there is no agenda, only coverage by real people in real scenarios? Is this beginning of news without persuasion to take a side?

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At the moment the answer is no – the banner I saw over the harrowing events was ‘Brussels Attack: Could we see these scenes in the UK?’ ahh…there it was, the ol’ fearmongering. Perhaps corporate ubiquity has yet again seized a liberating concept before it can blossom into something that benefits humanity. Snapchat takes away the assumption of events; it leaves nothing to the mind and puts you there to see things first hand. To wield the power of omnipresence has profound implications of which we may have not yet considered. How this will alter society in the coming years is at this point indeterminable. I didn’t quite know what to make of what I had seen from the Snapchat coverage. It felt like immoral voyeurism – these people were experiencing unimaginable terror and I was merely an observer from an ivory tower…what are the moral implications of having this perspective? I think it represents a shift in moral outlook, it epitomizes the raw desensitization of the public. Where we want news in an instant but we no longer want bullet points, we want something visceral, we want to be there.

@thesilenthour

Everything I learnt About Death From A Funeral Home

I found myself in the waiting room of George Ball & Sons Funeral Directors – a family business tucked away from the bustling streets, a little house in Heaton Moor, Stockport. I looked around trying to absorb as much as I could – the first thing I noticed was the silence, there wasn’t a single vibration ringing in my ear. What would they do really? having Smooth FM for ambiance wouldn’t go down to well in the ears of grieving customers – one of which had just left. I looked at the carpet, the walls, the patterns – everything had to be anodyne in here, I figured this was a place of earnest discussion and that the interior design would naturally follow suit. I look at my watch and have a moment of confusion as I try to calibrate myself at 10am in a funeral home. People don’t usually come to places like this optionally.

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Daniel Arnison reveals himself as he comes in from the office to greet me, he’s dressed professionally with a tie and a waistcoat, a tall man with a kind face. He invites me into his office to begin our discussion. I go on to explain my reason behind my visit…which I’ll just re-word in here: As morbid as it sounds I have a fascination with death, I feel like contemporary society (ironically) has no time for death. Death is pushed aside and ignored in our society, it’s not marketable except for on halloween – even then it’s trivialized and becomes a commodity. It’s something people would rather pretend doesn’t happen. I feel as though this is a bad approach because when death inevitably does rear it’s cadaverous face in our lives it’ll be all the more traumatic because of our blissful suppression. Each day is more precious because of death. Hunter gatherers had a very tactile and direct relationship with the dead, it was explicit and true – funerals have been around as long as humans have. A ritual to put the deceased to sleep – this ritual has transformed over time in western cultures to become more discreet. I wanted to know what the process was, what life working for a funeral directors was like, whether it affected the outlook of life, how it shaped the employees beliefs & how they master the art of being perceptively sensitive to their clients needs whilst seamlessly and respectfully forming a business transaction. Two things which seem impossibly opposite but are in actuality a daily routine for some people. Daniel was about to tell me all about it…

Matt – Could you give me a bit of background and history of this business?

Daniel – It’s a family run business, we were traditional joiners/undertakers. My great great grandfather George Ball Sr. started the business in 1870, he moved up from the Derby area to look for work & set up his own joinery business in Heaton Moor.

Do you think that you have a peculiar job?

It’s something I’ve grown up with, I did my GCSE’s and my A-Levels geared towards this. I grew up with the business, we live in the local area so people are aware of what we do – I don’t personally feel it’s unusual…but yes, I recognize it’s not a normal job.

Are you religious at all?

I was raised Church of England, I have very quiet religious beliefs. It’s not something I’d impose upon anybody, the nature of my job means I must be impartial to a certain degree. I have friends who are ministers, I have friends who are non-religious efficient’s.

Has this job at all shaped your beliefs in regards to spirituality?

The main thing it has taught me is how to help people and look after people which I think is more important than one particular doctrine.

When you are approached by clients is it typically the case that they’re unaware of the processes of funeral directing, are they quite sensitive to deal with?

No one client is the same, there are several variables that can determine the appropriate approach to a client. It depends on the conditions of the passing, whether it was sudden, whether it was anticipated, whether plans were in place – it all varies.

Do you feel that this job has shaped your beliefs in terms of mortality?

It’s not something that I particularly worry about (laughs)

Would you say that your work place is a solemn place?

Every emotion under the sun is experienced when arranging a funeral – there can be jokes made by families, humorous elements that the family would like to have included in the arrangements…five minutes later there can be tears, that’s the nature of grief. We have a tightly knit group of employees here, we’d never belittle anybody or act in a disrespectful or inconsiderate manner.

Do you think to be able to function within this particular industry you need a certain type of personality or skillset? 

I think the ability to be understanding is paramount, you’ve also got to be willing to learn. My attitude has changed as I’ve grown up, when you’re young you think you know it all and as you go on you realize you know nothing.

Has the ritual of a funeral changed much in your opinion?

It’s changed massively even just in the 25 years I’ve been involved in it. It used to be very much religious, non-religious funerals were more low key. Now there are more specific and specialist funeral arrangements. There are also cross denominations within funerals now – two religions being represented which didn’t happen often before.

What would you like your funeral to be like? 

I haven’t even thought about it…

What struck me with Daniel was his calm demeanor, I wasn’t really sure what I expected a funeral director to be like. A morose solemn character in a dusty suit? A crypt keeper? He didn’t have a weary, jaded look about him nor did he seem too overly existential about any of the topics we discussed. He had a respectful tact about him, a man who doesn’t fear death but who has a closer relationship with the reaper than most. Here’s a man who people don’t want to visit at work, people only come to a funeral directors once or twice in their lives. Daniel has to deal with people at their most frail, their most emotionally distraught. He catches people in disarray, when people are numb from the shocking reality of death. He has the monumental task of triumphantly sending peoples relatives off into their final resting places – a process which is both very specific and very sensitive. His handshake was soft and gentle, much like his approach to our discussion and much like his business ethics.

Yes, death. Death must be so beautiful. To lie in the soft brown earth, with the grasses waving above one’s head, and listen to silence. To have no yesterday, and no tomorrow. To forget time, to forget life, to be at peace. You can help me. You can open for me the portals of death’s house, for love is always with you, and love is stronger than death is.”- Oscar Wilde 

@thesilenthour