Wake up, Ego, time to die – on Creating Freedom

You want be free, to do what you wanna do, and you wanna get loaded. Well Peter Fonda, I am afraid that may not be such an easy thing to do if you listen to Raoul Martinez and Brian Eno.

I just urinated on a fly, does that make me a fascist?
It was downstairs at the Nellie Dean.
It wasn’t deliberate, it flew into the path of the urine just as the flow began.
And as I discovered tonight, just a few yards from Brian Eno, it really wouldn’t be my fault.I blame the parents, or at least the parents of the parents, actually, I might have to go a little further back…

If you beat yourself up for your shortcomings, then stop. You are not the inventor of your own predicament.

And if your chest puffs up at thoughts of how you, and only you, have been the creator of all the glory you bathe in, then stop that too.

I was at the Tabernacle in Notting Hill to watch Brian Eno discuss Creating Freedom, a new book by artist, filmmaker and campaigner, Raoul Martinez.
It is a book that will not rest comfortably on the mantelpiece or in the mind of some readers.
It is well-researched and incisively written gut punch to ideas of free will , free markets and freedom of choice.

Everything Donald Trump thinks he is turns out to be what he is not.

In his opening speech, Raoul explained the seed of the book. It all grew out of a walk to school with a religious friend. The friend was explaining the rightness of his religious belief and Raoul questioned this. What if he had been born in a different culture that worshiped different thoughts, images and deities, wouldn’t he now believe those fundamentals were the only way, the only truth and the only light.
His friend was quite convinced this would not be the case.
Some time later, Raoul thought on this more and realised that everything we are, our opinions, philosophies, religions and ethics are the result of the lottery of our birth.
The book is a comprehensive call to check our privilege and then to try and understand what that means for human nature and human society.

Brian Eno sent a copy to David Byrne who wrote to him, “I’ve highlighted so much of the book that I’ve stopped bothering”.

It disturbs us to think that we are not in charge, that we are a collection of things we have, and have heard, and of opportunities that we were in the right place and right time for due to a myriad of circumstances and luck that goes back for many generations.

We prefer to imagine the good guys are the good guys because they just are and the bad guys are the bad guys because they just are. On yesterday’s Sunday Morning Live, Carol Malone was on the humdrum tabloid track of explaining that prison is Maplins holiday camp and punishment must come first and the bad have had as many opportunities as the hard working good. She should read Erwin James’s Redeemable. He does not try to excuse the murder he committed, but by telling his life story to the point of redemption, it becomes possible to understand how human life can become worthless. What are we more interested in, punishment or creating a society where we can cut the need for punishment because we have cut the number of people who commit crimes.
Why are we still stuck in a medieval refusal to learn why people become what they become?

The dialogue between Eno and Martinez was rich, informative, philosophical and passionate.
This call to understand ourselves, why we are as we are and others as they are, is not just an exercise in popular science, it is a call to start dealing with each other and world problems in a sane and rigorous manner. It is a call to use the best sides of human empathy. It is the antithesis of what you may have seen on last night’s presidential debate. But as Raoul warned on stage and in his book, there is a danger of weaponising empathy. Buy the book, and you’ll discover what that entails.

Brian Eno talked of the iPhone being entirely compiled of inventions that were publicly funded, but which are now in an iPhone of pure private profit.
“Privatise the profits. Socialise the cost”

If you wish to be constructively disturbed, and why wouldn’t you if you are curious (and if you’re not, then why are you bothering weighing down your skull with frontal lobes), I would highly recommend Creating Freedom. You may not agree with it all, but isn’t arguing with a typeface a good way to refresh your mind on the journey into work?

After the Tabernacle, I increased my dose of passionate and discursive humans by going to see Josie Long’s new show at the Soho theatre. The silly bits get sillier, the passionate philosophical bits get more passionately philosophical. Delightful, just the sort of person I should do a podcast with, which I do, so that’s good.

Creating Freedom is out now from Canongate.

Josie and Robin’s Book Shambles series 4 has begun, so far it’s been Lisa Dwan, Alan Moore and now, it’s Noel Fielding.

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4 Responses to Wake up, Ego, time to die – on Creating Freedom

  1. Your piece really caused me to sit upright as if a bell had gone off in my head! I will find myself pondering this for the rest of the day… Thanks for the brain exercise… 🙂

  2. liliannberg says:

    not much editing needed – pretty much your best blog so far – my ego wasn’t impressed, but I certainly am – keep it coming

  3. rocknjizz says:

    This particular view of the world is what I apply when watching the news…well, anything really. If someone commits a crime, I am curious how someone got to that point. (Applying some empathy because there have to be a series of events to take place for someone to reach that point.) I started saying, “I blame the parents.” There are so many variables involved that it is an endless thing to debate which makes psycho-analyzing entertaining and stimulating.

    I’m really curious who the “good guys” are in your history books in elementary school. The U.S. has some really dark and disturbing history while still being the alleged “good guy.” Since spending more time with the English and having to hear the media regurgitation about Trump, I’ve started saying, “I blame the parent: England.” They are not amused. 🙂

    Great blog post.

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