Dumb questions.

Don’t know about you but I hate feeling excluded from stuff; whether it be (literal) entry to something or exclusion through snobbery, for example. For now, if we stop to reflect on all manner of political discourse (please, do!) we may find pretty early some obstructive force, some veil through which we feel we may or should not peek.

On times this will feel just ‘right’, the presence of some justifiable and even necessary filter, through which we have to earn passage, through understanding. Because we need to feel confident of a certain level of intellectual competence in Subject A before we run with it, debate it, unconstruct it. So essentially we fore-arm ourselves, against asking dumb questions, often by turning sheepishly(?) away from those things we ‘don’t know enough about’. Though I am guilty of it, I hate that.

My suspicion is that much of this self-denial of the cerebral joust (that might on reflection be regarded as a life-enhancing or defining stimulus) is more coerced than personally screened. We are made to feel inadequate. Pressures emerge from all levels of the sky-scraping beast that morphs into (or rises from?) say, the body politic/the fiscal gherkin/the evolved system. Us normal folks are lost or spun or misled by something in the constricting ether; something on the one hand rather rundown and bad-breathlike and on the other awesomely pervasive; powerful.

My instinct is to fight that stuff; to defy and to undermine it. This may mean pushing out beyond the ledge of my core subject expertise – that would be er… sport maybe? – and blowing a raspberry at the notion of received wisdoms elsewhere. Received wisdom often perpetuates myth, right? Is often grounded in smugness; may need the faux-oxygen of privilege or the cover of opaqueness. Perhaps mystery itself may be an outlier in this matrix of conformist gunk? And perhaps, therefore we need an occasional, demystifying blast of… punk?

Punk was wonderful for its moral zeal-with-a-mohican. Punk said – if you were listening – stop preening and start speaking from the heart. Stop twiddling those solo’s and tell me something real. It was magnificently articulate and magnificently necessary in that respect. Punk began unpeeling the facades of the worlds of art/music/politics because it seared angrily through; it was a focused mischief blaring wildly out for betterstuff. It may not have paused too long in consideration of the need for nuanced arguments but maybe that counts for urgency rather than in some cool deficiency column. Great punk(s) had no respect, other than that which was earned. Great punks did not understand, so they demanded answers.

John Lydon may have been the only great punk. ‘Metal Box’ from Public Image Limited remains a staggeringly discomfiting but articulate noise, an appropriate racket from which to launch an onslaught against (capitalist(?) drudgery—witness the “shallow spread of ordered lawns”. Something is being punctured or exposed or better revealed; a kind of hypocrisy, a kind of normalcy; a sad, bad intellectual thinness. There is poetry in these dumb questions. These questions might not have been asked… if we’d have just… behaved.

So though I do despair at how we still fawn before the current gods – for ‘growth’/some careering stability/the normalcy of sheepishness – those rib-progglers, those UnCutters, those Occupiers give me hope.

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