“They say the working class is dead, we’re all consumers now/ They say that we have moved ahead, we’re all just people now/ There’s people doing ‘frightfully well,’ there’s others on the shelf/ But never mind the second kind, this is the age of self…”– Robert Wyatt, “The Age of Self.”
I don’t like capitalism. I don’t like communism. I don’t like socialism, really. Isms make me nervous and confused. They try to pigeon-hole me in a single group exclusively, when all that I really want is to be out everywhere– while rooted in one place.
What I like is the music of Robert Wyatt (and the work of many different artists, in many different fields)… I turn to music and to writing and to art in general when I need stability and inspiration. I turn to them the way I turn to the fields and rivers, to the mountains and the seas beyond…
So why do a stupid thing like “stepping out” beyond the self? Why should I try it, even for a little while, when actually I’m rather happy where I am? Well, why not? Nearly everyone tries to step out in one way or another, even when it’s the last thing one would consciously acknowledge doing.
There’s a thousand (usually futile) ways in which people try to go beyond the self, but the only ways that interest me are those that are acknowledged by the seeker and can show responsibility– to improvement of the individual or to our lives on earth.
In Rivertop Rambles, I don’t talk too much about drugs or religion or sex (yeah the fun stuff, the popular pleasures or antidotes to the heaviness of self) but, as you know, I try to bring some smaller pleasures (nonetheless important) to the fore, the kind of stuff that the
mainstream world ignores.
In the global and cosmic view of life, I’m nothing, but I like to think that when the time
arrives to spin from this mortal coil, I’ll be able to glance back at the flow of life and say, you know, it’s been a good wade, folks, and maybe I’ve made a few casts for the betterment of all.
They say we need new images to help our movement grow/ They say that life is broader based, as if we didn’t know/ While Martin J. and Robert Maxwell play with printer’s ink/ The workers ’round the world still die, for Rio Tinto Zinc…
Wyatt’s lyrics, published in 1985, still sound prophetic. Today, when I sense that selfishness rules the way we live, when it seems that everyone’s gaming or involved with the Desperate Housewives of Des Moines, and when it looks as though every other human toad is posing for a “selfie” while another bullet rends young flesh or some distant bomb explodes, I look for truth in a trout stream or a well-done piece of art.
It doesn’t make me any better than those I do not understand, it’s just that I want to take a different route.
When it’s zero degrees outdoors, on its way to -16 Fahrenheit, I’ll head to the woodpile to split some ash and maple, but I won’t stay out for long. The wood will heat my body
twice– first, while splitting it with a maul, and second, while burning it in the stove, and it helps me stay in touch with what is real.
Inside the house I’ll crawl back into my skin. I’ll read a book and have a drink; I’ll work on my blog or hear some music I enjoy. I will find another way to get… out side, and still stay warm.
And it seems to me if we forget/ Our roots and where we stand/ The movement will disintegrate/ Like castles built on sand.
Like castles built on sand.”