180 seconds of what? [boardwalk]

The three minutes silence today is a sneak preview of death. It lets us all be ghosts together to get a tiny taste of what it’s like to be one of the thousands who died. It’s a chance to share a tiny slice of a massive global mystery. Who wouldn’t you want to be part of that?

The Sneering Right, led by ex London Standard editor Max Power, apparently. Who claim that these 180 seconds dishonour our Glorious War Dead.

Those unemployed 15 year old boys tricked into throwing their lives away to defend the luxuries and privileges of those who made them unemployed in the first place. Very honourable. Very glorious.

There is a seething resentment that current events are again taking precedence over the British cultural pantheon. That real deaths are moving people more than the propaganda deaths of history. That the Martyrdoms used to reinforce the notion of a stable, permanent establishment are becoming more and more of a formality in the face of a world which is obviously not learning the lessons of the Martyrs – unless that lesson is: Carry On Killing.

Martyr ideologies seem to need replenishment. Whether it’s the catholic church, the Aztecs, I.R.A. or Hamas. Each generation has to feel that it too can contribute. So the killing has to go on.

At least this morning’s silence will be carrying a different message.

re: A Sneak Preview of Death Joe Jones – 579th post – 5 Jan 2005 12:36

Unfortunately, I went to fill up with petrol this morning and the place was plastered with notices that said “Please observe the three minute silence at mid-day today – Please not that we will not be serving during the period of silence” … And many, if not most, of the stores I’ve been into today have had similar notices …

Even though I might not agree with it, I can understand that a government may make a call for such a commemoration; but I resent being pressured into it by the putative pious who wish to force their own opinions onto others as a way of grasping “a little brief power” to make their lives seem less futile …

It’s the same ‘peer’ (ha!) pressure that Labourites and trades unionists used to employ in the 1970s, who would then claim that a ‘free vote’ was ‘proof’ that they had the backing of the majority. [reply] [Complain about this post]



re: A Sneak Preview of Death Little Richardjohn – 568th post – 5 Jan 2005 12:50

I get it. Acknowledging the instant deaths of 130,000 people is the slippery slope to the Gulag Archipelago. 180 lousy seconds out of your entire life is too much to ask.

Slide your right hand under your shirt. On the left. The brick still swinging? [reply] [Complain about this post]

re: A Sneak Preview of Death Joe Jones – 581st post – 5 Jan 2005 13:02

You just don’t get it, it seems …

I don’t object to people commemorating whatever they want in whatever manner they want (within obvious reason) – I do , however, object vehemently to the enforced expression of an emotion I might not even feel … No one ever forces me to observe a two-minute silence on November 11, and no petrol station I’ve ever visited has ever insisted that I do, nor that it will not serve me for the two minutes after 11.00. [reply] [Complain about this post]



re: A Sneak Preview of Death Little Richardjohn – 569th post – 5 Jan 2005 13:11

So you object to the annual cenetaph silence.

And who’s enforcing anything. Did we pass a law? Do what you like. Blow party-poppers and klaxons if you want. Just don’t expect much sympathy from normal people.

This is a deep seated resentment indeed. And I get it perfectly.

And you want everyone at your beck and call 24 hours a day.

“Hey you! Never mind taking 3 whole minutes out to acknowledge a massive human tragedy. Give me my Doritos NOW!!”

Beyond Belief.

[reply] [Complain about this post]

re: A Sneak Preview of Death geejaybee – 93rd post – 5 Jan 2005 13:24

Little Richardjohn – “Beyond Belief.”

No what’s beyond belief is your sanctimonious preaching that collective demonstrations of sympathy have a higher moral value to it. It is little more than self-indulgent emotional masturbation. People die in their thousands every week through individual smaller accidents, and their loved ones have the same degree of grief as those suffering in this tragedy with no corresponding outpouring of sympathy.

To compare a public demonstration of sympathy for the accidental deaths of some thousands within the last 2 weeks with the public remembrance and acknowledgement of the deaths of millions who actively and deliberately put their lives at risk is simplistic and specious.

PS If you need the ceremony of 3 mins silence to bolster your sympathetic quotient you are the one who should look closer at himself. [reply] [Complain about this post]

re: A Sneak Preview of Death Little Richardjohn – 572nd post – 5 Jan 2005 13:44

So there is no role for collective grief or respect in your view.

There is a Tsunami Sized death toll every week in the Third World. If we were to react proportionately to all the horrors of the world we would go mad. We’ve known that since Hiroshima and Auschwitz. It doesn’t stop us feeling. And when enough people feel this way, it is entirely proper and human that this form of recognition should take place.

This isn’t about ‘letting the grieiving fit the loss’ this was a chance to be a part of something bigger than the individual. To feel part of something. Which is a very instructive experience, and not at all self-indulgent. It is being open to influence.

The bitterness of the opposition to this idea is very bewildering. It seems to come from a resentment that we are paying any attention to foreigners. Very bizarre.

No-one would condemn you for not taking part in this brief moment. But your railing against it lays you open to all sorts of criticism.

And try letting off party poppers outside Parliament or your local pub on Armistice Day. See what you get.

OK, keep your grief to yourself. But the majority of the people who are able to feel the poetry of the traditional collective silence should be allowed their instinctive act of respect without your sneering.

The dreaded word is spirituality. The spirituality of knowing that you are part of a greater event. Like singing the national anthem, if you like. The knowledge that other people feel the same way you do. And therefore that in the end, people are not all that different. That their needs and yours are pretty much the same.

That is a very democratic sentiment. Its ample busom in contrast with the ragged, withered Thatcherite dugs of your sterile individualism.

Personal grief at the loss of a relative is not the same as paying a silent tribute to the victims of an event like the Tsunami. It’s not the same kind of emotion. The ARE different kinds…. And they demand different responses. This is one of the few times when the form of the response was ‘demand-led’ (god help me). The people wanted it. If the government hadn’t co-ordinated something similar, they would have got into trouble.

There was a similar response to the victims of Aberfan, if I remember. And that was a much more preventable disaster than this. The fact that there is no-one to blame makes it even more important that people are able to take part in some ceremony which does not involve MONEY or taking sides in some way.

Silence is the perfect vehicle for private contemplation. It’s your loss that you didn’t try it.

The fact that you would poison that moment for people is worrying. Congratulations. [reply] [Complain about this post]

re: A Sneak Preview of Death Geoff Frost – 131st post – 5 Jan 2005 15:48

Thanks for the congratulations, I will treasure them during my mawkish moments of silence when I dwell upon all the sorrows of the earth. [reply] [Complain about this post]



re: A Sneak Preview of Death Little Richardjohn – 581st post – 5 Jan 2005 16:06

‘In the silence of your lonely room’ How does the rest of the song go?

Here is a genuine cultural moment. With no real political or class issues to stop you taking part. And you turn your back on it because… Why?

What IS your problem? That other people are obviously able to feel and express emotions which you can’t?

Sorry to get personal. But you’re asking for it and you do serve to illustrate the emotional bankruptcy which has always been the flat tyre on the sleek British roadster.

The fact is that someone incapable of understanding the sincerity of today’s observance is probably incapable of dwelling upon the sorrows of anyone but themselves. [reply] [Complain about this post]

re: A Sneak Preview of Death Geoff Frost – 132nd post – 5 Jan 2005 16:47

“Sorry to get personal. But you’re asking for it…”

Oh my dear Little Richardjohn you can be as personal as you like. I love it when you talk dirty. Just keep making me laugh, that’s all I ask. [reply] [Complain about this post]



re: A Sneak Preview of Death Little Richardjohn – 585th post – 6 Jan 2005 11:42

Laughing at what exactly?

At the sympathy others can feel and show?

There is no such thing as collective grief you say. What about collective joy? Is that verboten too? Or are collective experiences confined to tribal expressions of hate and triumphalism as in football matches? What a wonderful world.

Only someone hopelessly stranded from any sense of community could say that collective emotion is an impossibility.

Go to a play or gig or circus. That’s a collective experience.

You know you’re making this all up. Why the resentment at others taking three minutes out to think about one issue in their own way? It probably confirmed some people’s resolve to actually put their hands in their pockets. And so it wasn’t some futile token gesture as some pieces of flint would claim.

You would have to be dead to not believe the sincerity of those observing yesterday’s silence.

So back to the workhouse, Mr Bumble. And if those brats demand more gruel, do what you gotta do.

THREAD2

re: 180 seconds homage to rumour – 105th post – 5 Jan 2005 17:17

If compassion is real it is complete, felt for all things and only once; the rest is just shallow public display. If compassion is real it changes outlook and behaviour; standing around for 3 minutes but remaining unchanged means nothing. This is why these shallow traditions must come to an end. [reply] [Complain about this post]

re: 180 seconds Little Richardjohn – 595th post – 7 Jan 2005 13:42

But they won’t go away. And not because they’re imposed by some overweening government. If people weren’t sincere about the Tsunami Silence, they wouldn’t have observed it.

This wasn’t a shallow display. People virtually stopped in their tracks. There were people weeping at bus stops. Huge sections of the most metropolitan city in the world ground instantly to a halt with the blessing of big business.

That could never have happened by imposition or if people were outraging their true feelings. The British people would have felt stupid. They and their employers would have simply refused to have anything to do with it.

And it could never happen without the sense of collective grief, which some people deny.

There are times, Dunkirk, famously, when the vast majority of people feel the same way. To deny this is to deny the history of mankind and everything which we’ve achieved. The Beatnik Philosophy of cosmic isolation doesn’t work in he face of real sorrow or joy or resolve in action.

Anyway, there’s a huge hole in that pose which is that the Silence IS an individual act. Everyone shouting the same slogan – or burning the same witch, that’s a collective emotion to be feared. 1984, the Two Minutes Hate. An act of mass silence is neither collective nor individual.

One is alone, but doing the same thing as everyone else without communicating with them. But – at the same time thinking your own thoughts about the same thing everyone else is, and knowing they are doing pretty much the same ..

It’s a very unique situation for human beings to find themselves in and quite capable of changing your outlook and behaviour. It’s called contemplation. It’s the non-sexual equivalent to eyes meeting across a crowded room. Like watching TV, only for real.

Anyway by the time the Silence was observed, people had already ‘changed their outlook and behaviour’ by donating millions of pounds. They didn’t wait to be told. And they didn’t need to be encouraged to take part in the silence. In fact they were the driving force – any government not reflecting that mass feeling would have had a bad week in the press.

And if you object to expressions of collective grief, what about Aberfan? There was an event which went through the nation’s heart like hot needle. How do you avoid being part of that? One key reason for en event like this is simply to show you that IT ISN’T JUST YOU WHO FEELS THIS WAY. To serve as a record of moments of collective grief and to remind people that the wider community is still capable of feeling the same emotions as you. By doing that they provide a valuable service, and do alter people’s lives. By reinforcing, or resurrecting, some sense of community.

Sometimes they are not credible, sure. There have been times when they are used for political purposes. Royal deaths, for instance. When they are used to demand or reinforce a subservience from the observer. The Cenotaph Service comes very near to being a glorification of war, and is certainly not as credible now as it was forty years ago. But this was different.

And what about collective expressions of joy? What about theatre? About feeling that you are part of something bigger than yourself and that your humanity is not that different from other people’s. That people are more similar than they are different.

It is the sheer democracy of that concept which bothers people like Margaret Thatcher, who didn’t believe in society while manipulating it shamelessly for ten years. [reply] [Complain about this post]

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