2. Races are for rats, not artists
“The trouble with the rat race is that even if you win, you’re still a rat.”
Just until a few years ago, I found it very difficult to escape the burden of the rat race taking place around me, and as much as I knew that it was an exploitative and selfish way of living, I just could not escape the feeling that with each passing year, I was falling behind everyone else.
In fact, when I had decided to extend my years in higher education, it had not only been a desperate attempt to appease the questions that were evolving in my mind, but it introduced me to a reservoir of extraordinary ideas such as the malice of capitalism, which I previously knew nothing about. These next few years of real education then also became an opportunity to delay my entrace into what I confirmed as being the oppressive 9-5 grind. Some sociopath had dreamt up this daily mental and physical incarceration where each of us should be forced to wake up and spend the most productive hours of our life functioning as anonymous and dispensable cogs in the proft-making wheel. Oh, and it would last till we were 70 – then we could f**k off and live our lives, if there was any left.
“How in the hell could a man enjoy being awakened at 8:30 a.m. by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress, force-feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, and fight traffic to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so? ”
But, even after nourishing my mind with all these grand ideas, I could still hear time ticking, and despite not being overly thrilled as my impending future as a rat, and nor having much motivation to possess the objects of desire that motivate most people to ‘get rich or die trying’, I needed a stable job… just so that I could say to myself and to others that I had a job. Isn’t it outrageous how much of a man’s identity and raison d’etre is constructed around what he does? That’s perhaps why every person – whose status, self-worth and identity is derived solely from their profession and their wealth – tries to break the ice, or should I say gauge the competition by asking: “And what do you do?”
“Hi, my name is I pick up garbage”…usually stops the inquisition dead in its tracks for some reason.
Anyway, I believe this dissonance between what I knew, and what I was doing, was not only because of the inescapable need to earn money to fulfill basic necessities, as well as the overwhelming power of the promoters and participants of the capitalist system that never give up on trying to suck you in, but also because I had no knowledge or faith in any alternative escape route.
I simply did not know myself, and what I needed to do.
Who was I? Where was I going? Was there any substance to my ideas? Or was I just another dreamer who needed to wisen up quickly to the ways of the world?
Filled with self-doubt, and lacking the necessary courage or know-how to plot any escape route, meant that I would remain in limbo – this seesawing (which was propelled by a constant sense of guilt of failing those who had their hopes pinned on me – which I will discuss in part 4) between the two worlds would continue for many years.
Dancing with the devil
Only now after years of being weak and cowardly, do I consider myself to be ‘sufficiently’ ‘detached’ from this turmoil. Certainly not liberated, for that demands a far bigger sacrificial, and spiritually ascetic life-long journey to some Shangri-La that is not based on the values of individualism and greed which underpin our societies.
For now, I have a need to make more films inspired by the experiences and realities of the land I have grown up in. So I must negotiate and survive. I continue to detest the rules of the game, but now I have trained myself to accept it with an emotionally detached attitude. I have reframed my role in this extremely powerfully indoctrinating system, as that of a saboteur working to expose its secrets, while at the same time exploiting the wages it provies me so that I can satisfy my physical necessities – being sheltered and fed, but also use the surplus as a means to realise my creative ambitions as an independent filmmaker.
I consider these wages to be nothing more than (inadequate) reparations for the years of conditioning that has been inflicted upon me, the monetary fines it has levied upon me where it convinced me to participate in it’s programming during my unenlightened years, and the minutes it continues to steal from my day that could be spent in cultivating my individual creative potential.
And as much as it tries to entice me, and drag me in – the bribery of the competition, the so-called thrill of the chase, the promised wealth and the never-ending greed that it creates – it just cannot excite or motivate me to participate in any race. I remain a slave to my imagination alone…
“God damn, it, an entire generation pumping gas, waiting tables, slaves with white collars, advertising has us chasing cars and clothes, working jobs we hate so we can buy shit we don’t need.”
(Chuck Paluhniak- Fight Club)