In case you have never read my blog before, be wary that I just hastily type it out in some form of public transport. It is the scraping off the top of my brain with no editing, spelling, grammar or logic check.
“if others examined themselves as I do they would find themselves as I do, full of insanity and nonsense” Montaigne
The internet has opened my eyes to too many people’s 140 character thoughts and selfish swipes below newspaper articles. I fear that the world wide web, this magnificent tool for the dissemination of information and encouragement of human contact without the embarrassment of having to look it in the eye, has made me a sociopath. To access spite in the past you could look at a newspaper letters page, overhear it on a bus or take a look into some of the mean-spirited thoughts that had populated your own mind. Now it is wherever a wifi signal and a laptop lie, and even if you do not see it, you are aware that a finite but multitudinous number of monkeys are typing something unruly, foul or threatening in the houses and office cupboards of the world. Many of us have become obsessed by the importance of our own opinions and, thanks to the internet, we can always find at least one person who agrees with us, thus confirming that we are right.
I am guilty. I have sold my opinions on the past. For a couple of years I was one of the smears of bacteria in the petri dish of TV list shows. In my naivety and, more importantly, my desperation, I imagined that saying things about Pamela Anderson’s sex tape or The Marx Brothers would earn me the next ladder rung to success and seat sales. One Christmas I realised that for 5 nights in a row, people could find themselves looking at my gesticulating face and wondering aloud,”who is this man who keeps ruining these clips with his interruptions”. TV reviewer Ian Hyland wrote that Christmas TV had been overly populated with clip shows with “Iain Lee and Robin Ince” and I realised the time had come to stop peddling my memories for £200 a shot (“We’ll Remember Blake’s 7 Wholesale”) mainly because I had no idea why was doing it beyond habit and remuneration. The list shows are endlessly repackaged, and I am notified by tweets that my Dorian Gray is on again while I remain in the attic (yes, I am being loose with literary accuracy).
I was then elevated to opportunities like Newsnight Review and given the chance to raise my eyebrows as Peter Hitchens was antsy about Philip Pullman. That stopped after I decided I wouldn’t cross a picket line. As I have moved further into middle age I have become increasingly uncomfortable with television. I decided against Question Time because I thought the space I would take up could be occupied by someone who knew what they were talking about. I am also a weaker human than Mary Beard and would not take well to having slurs and family threats hurled my way. Whether they would debate the capacity of my vagina too, I have no idea. I have taken a more primitive view of television, realising that the tribes who feared the theft of their soul by photography may have been on to something. Whatever you are on television, that’s what people thing you are.
My last toe dips into television were a Stewart Lee produced stand up show and a panel show. I was unhappy with my performance on the night of the stand up show and went into grey mood for a couple of months knowing I had armed those who would enjoy deriding me, while the panel show was apparently edited in such a way that it appeared to be like a William Burroughs exercise of literary cut up. Since then I have turned down the oddities offered to me, finally realising at 43 that TV is not a prerequisite to existence. If you perform, but no one is there to film it, have you made a sound?
I have not retired from forming opinions, I am just trying to take Neil Postman’s advice and cutting them down by a third, or maybe even a half. I still liberally project my thoughts when I tour, and then I can be taken to task in the bar afterwards.
I am trying to be more careful with my opinions nowadays, but i am afraid I am still having them, I am just restricting where I release them, but…
To be continued (I have promised to keep all my blogs under 800 words, so splitting them up rather than learning how to edit)
My imminent tour starts soon, this is because it is imminent. Belfast, Wolverhampton, Spalding, Dublin and Eastleigh get early visits. http://www.robinince.com is place of dates.