Thursday, 20 March 2008


Funny old thing, change.

It's a good song by Tears for Fears (there aren't any bad ones); although my mis-hearing of the lyrics inadvertently make it more interesting than it actually is. I thought the refrain was "you can't change", which gives it a refreshing negativist spin, but it's actually "you can change" (zzzzz). Also I thought they had been incredibly clever and written "and something on your mind/became a part of you" whereas it only says "became a point of view" - much less intruiging.

I'm not saying change is impossible or bad but I think that the progressive view that it is always a good thing should be challenged: as if progressives themselves didn't object to change anyway, wanting the clock to remain at 1974 in perpetuity. Change is primarily the means by which rulers, especially the progressive type, keep people on their toes: you prevent anyone becoming too familiar or comfortable with the law/ethics/their local street/the price of a pint - you keep them dependent on you to help them navigate the morass of increasing difference. When the means of running your life keep updating themselves you never feel as though you truly know what's going on. When the buildings of your childhood, the streets and yes, even the trees are gone, it's like a part of you has already been consigned to the grave -what made you no longer exists, some of you is hanging by a thread from the scarce reel of memory. Then doubt seeps in; disagreement and forgetting and anyone could tell you anything about your own past. So you shrug and try not to think too much about the destruction of your own history. No-one's history can keep useless buildings up of course: I mention it not for public policy reasons but rather to suggest that a shifting built environment is not always good for psychic health. I know I risk sounding like an ignorant mix of Oliver Sacks and some twat in a tent with a ouija board but we are part of where we are as much as we are discrete entities. Melting away the ground we walk on creates problems for every opportunity it brings.

I am a mere 31: yet I feel very, very old sometimes. Many of the places I once knew no longer exist: I cannot buy my favourite music in shops and the space in shops for my favourite books is now small as to say, effectively, "we don't want your sort here, so fuck off". So many laws are different from even 10 years ago that things I used to enjoy (an occasional cigar over a few jars in the local, say) are illegal. I literally do not understand quite a lot of what the children I teach say.

And my bald patch is absolutely fucking massive. Jeeezus.

I remember reading a lot in the 90s and you still see it today in some lefty novels (Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman springs to mind) about the "true" motivations of the opponents of change: that they were in power, they were the establishment, they were privileged, they were always wrong. But of course reformers of all kinds want to change the stuff they don't like and preserve the stuff they do in amber. No-one actually likes the idea of change. Ask Ken Livingstone if he wants change in London right now. I'm sure he'll say "Yes, but only through keeping things the same - ie me in power."

Hey ho. Time for a change, eh? Oh how I laughed.


fake consultant said...

there is little doubt that the primary interest of those in positions of power is to preserve that power...but that said, i would suggest that the question of will there/should there be change is irrelevant.

change happens, like it or not.

the most effective leaders get out in front of change and try to manage what's coming...but all too often, and for a variety of reasons, government seems to always be playing catch-up rather than anticipating the future.

Crushed by Ingsoc said...

But it's all too late, it's ALL, tooooo late...

Change, You can change...

Class track.

Change, is facet of existence. In fact, that is what existence is.

Even you've changed, reading this comment. Cells have died, more have divided. Tomorrow, you'll be different again.

In ten years time, most of you, will be composed of matter you aren't composed of now.

In fact, the child who saw those streets WASN'T you...

You've changed.