Doing what comes naturally is steadily being criminalised. The Slog argues that we need to reject huge swathes of the technomedia world we have created.
Very much in the manner of Fantasy Football, Owen Jones and his Momentum mates spent part of the weekend playing Fantasy Fascists. Their target was a demonstration in London – the Brexit Betrayal March – which, because it contained Tommy Robinson, was deemed the latest emergence of rampant Nazism in the UK. Such is the nature of what passes for Left logic these days: demonstrating displeasure at the empirically obvious – um, a betrayal of the Brexit referendum result – is sufficient to draw the conclusion that demonstrators are scumfascistbigotfilth. Pretty much in the same way that Nigel Farage was personally responsible for Jo Cox’s death, if you follow.
I urge you to follow this link to Jones the fascist-smasher’s Facebook page and enjoy for yourselves the obviously massive ego erection this most odd of men gets pretending it’s 1936 in Cable Street. He really is almost dribbling with faintly giggling delight at “a day of total humiliation for Tommy Robinson and Fascism” and “a catastrophic humiliation for Tommy Robinson”, and then “It’s worth emphasising what a catastrophically humiliating defeat this was for Tommy Robinson and his fascists” soon followed by “this was humiliating for Tommy Robinson and his tiny group of fascist weirdos”.
So we’re all absolutely clear about the humiliation suffered by Tommy Robinson, then. The Jones boyo rounded off with “so humiliating for Tommy Robinson and his tiny group of fascist weirdos that if I were him, I’d be too embarrassed to show my face in public ever again” then “his demo was an embarrassingly pathetic joke”. Right, so he was humiliated and it was embarrassing for him.
Thanks Owen bach, I think we’ve got it now. But it does the beg the question, if Brexit Betrayal marchers are an embarrassing joke, why was this such a Great Victory? I would ask the dear boy to pick on someone his own size, but to be fair that wouldn’t give him much to go at.
Words like mountain and molehill spring to mind. But we have precisely the same thing in the US, where a few infantile twerps cavort about in white hoods and burn crosses, so Antifa arrives in force and smashes the event….thus saving the Land of the Free once more from a fate worse than Owen Jones. Ditto in the EU, where one regularly reelected dissident in Hungary tells Brussels to stick the euro up the Soros back passage, and the entire Commission and Parliament vote him down as “not sharing our democratic principles”.
We’ve been here before, but I do have a bigger point to make this time. There is an increasing tendency in Western culture now to ignore evidence, believe stuff, do things and say things that are completely unnatural.
It isn’t natural to prefer sex with one’s own gender. It is exceptionally unnatural to have fantasies about being a macho Red Army tank commander in 1943. It is absurdly unnatural to suggest that one third-rate working class misfit represents the full-scale emergence of Jew-baiting Brownshirts. And it is insanely unnatural to see the KKK in America in 2018 as anything more than sad blokes who like dressing up, and playing with model trains.
It is unnatural to behave like tin-pot dictators, and then accuse a democratically elected conservative of not sharing one’s democratic values. It is terrifyingly unnatural to be exposed to such grandstanding from a chap like Guy Verhofstadt…..and soak it up like an A3 sheet of double-thickness blotting paper.
We are, as a species, polarising into those who use their experience, discernment and research, and those who are losing (or have already lost) the capacity so to do.
Increasingly, I am beginning to wonder if large mobs of Homo “sapiens” are suffering a primary senses crisis.
Bear with me while I develop this hypothesis.
The five primary senses are generally accepted to be sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. The increase in size of the humanoid brain occurred roughly (based on such palaentological evidence as we have) about 1.8 million years ago, possibly as the result of African drought causing our descent from the trees. The frontal lobe sapiens bits are believed to be far more recent – perhaps 250,000 years ago, maybe even less.
We know that most ‘higher’ animal/mammal forms have all five of these senses. We also know for sure that their relative importance differs markedly by species. Dogs, for example, have eighty seven times more ability than us to use smell as a form of discernment. A shark can smell one millilitre of blood at the far end of an Olympic size swimming pool. Eagles can see clearly about eight times as far as humans can, allowing them to spot and focus in on a rabbit or other animal at a distance of about two miles.
Arguably, four of the five senses used by modern humans are at some time or another distracted by our unique ability to create art, and scientific prowess in spreading the ways of broadcasting its associated information. That is to say, sight and hearing are used to receive entertainment, news, or hear disks, see art exhibits, read books, watch movies and so on. They are also closely associated with leisure activities, along with two other senses: touch (the pleasure of shaped and sanded wood, and another’s skin) and taste (cuisine as a hobby, restaurants, bars) such that, for example, sculpted stone and wood are recognised art forms, as increasingly is the chef’s skill with sauces and taste combinations.
Those four senses, if you like, tune into things abstract as much as they do physical items. They are not only capable of distraction, they seem at times to be addicted to it: as media forms proliferate, attention spans decrease. As alcohol and salivating food become more universal, we see increased inebriation and obesity. All of this adds to a decreased ability to tell reality from fiction or – at the extreme – fantasy. As ideologies are pumped out with greater and greater insistence, the pack-desire to unite in belief comes to the fore. Minds close….along with ranks.
The exception is smell. There is no entertainment medium based on smell. The smell of good food is enjoyable, but people go to restaurants to eat, not smell. There is no sport or art form based on smell. We do not hear on broadcast programmes, “For those of you listening in or watching in black and white, the Manchester United team are wearing Brut, and City are decked out in Old Spice”.
There is but one quasi-art form based on smell, and that is the fragrance business. Significantly, it is exclusively about being acceptable (and attractive) to our fellow human beings. Unpleasant body aromas can be avoided by anti-perspirant formulations, and women (or men) made allegedly more attractive to the opposite sex with perfume.
Smell is the one primary sense still largely undistracted by other ‘media’, and yet it is the most common form of discernment and warning among the greater number of animals. Clearly, the human instinct to use smell is still there, and it is powerful: but again, it is abstract much of the time. We say something “smells fishy”, or “I smell a rat” and “This accusation just doesn’t smell right”. When we are outdoors, the smell of woodsmoke mainly evokes a race memory dating back to caves for protection and food from the hunt. The smell of brewing always takes me back to Burton-on-Trent. The odour of wallpaper glue reminds me of the 1950s. Bovril makes me think of floodlit football matches at Old Trafford.
We are all instantly alerted, however, by a physical unexpected smell once in the cave – that is, our own homes. Stale urine, cooking gas, stagnant water, burning food, pet faeces, mustiness, wet paint, dead rodents….unexpected odours warn us of dangers and problems just as the okapi catches the scent of lion, and legs it to somewhere else as quickly as possible.
Finally and probably most important of all, as the fragrance business proves, when a relationship becomes closer and proceeds towards the bedroom, the smell of someone’s body is of paramount importance. We all emit natural scents, and they can turn potential partners off or on in an extraordinary (at times mystifying) way. For some reason, in my experience, that sense is more evident in women than men; but we all have it.
In short, smell is the only primary human sense that is still working properly.
You can be the most delusional fan of neoliberal greed on Wall Street, you can be the ultimate left wing admirer of the EU, you can declare Islam to be the religion of peace, you can perceive Theresa May to be an honest woman….you can even hold onto the idea that there is no connection between mass immigration and housing shortages.
But on awakening to the strong smell of burning carpets at 3.00 am, everyone from Owen Jones via Harriet Harman and Dominic Grieve to Gerard Batten is going to go “whoooaaaawhaaaaarsheeeeetletsgetthefuckouddaheeeeyeeerrr”.
Now oddly enough, the point of this post is not to relaunch the habit of smelling other people’s bottoms during a meeting or sniffing beards at a cocktail party. I am using the sense of smell as a contrast to the other four. I am suggesting that we have lost the ability to discern what is natural, unnatural and even downright dangerous.
This is especially true of what we see, hear, and read. But it also applies to taste (too much fat, too much wine) and touch. It is not surprising to me that rabid feminists and liberals can infer life-changing abuse from a simple bodily touch – even an accidental one: they are, in many ways, the quintessential example of completely unnatural opinions and behaviour. Truth is, we do not touch each other anything like enough in modern culture: we have lost the ability to discern between appropriate and inappropriate touching.
The more we disbelieve the evidence of our own senses and native intelligence, the more vulnerable and dysfunctionally robotic we will become. Above all – and this feeling has been simmering in my overworked head for several months now – the key driver in this process, I’m sure, is the explosion in media infotainment.
Laptops, smartphones, Satnav, tablets, the internet, online advertising, apps, spin, celeb magazines, programming and news bias….all of them are implicated. Our social skills, cooperative instincts, faith in our own judgement, self-esteem, orienting abilities and familial warmth (even integration) are under attack.
This makes mass population democracy a very clear case for inevitable extinction, for those with the legislative, business and media power will destroy natural discernment for their own disturbed ends.
We need to reject a lot of what we take for granted as progress. We need to get back to some form – all forms, in fact – of connection with our nature.
We need to think more about being.