What I need to do less of

1. Stop being miserable – even if I am sad at times I must always try to be nice to other people. I am very conscious that my resting face is the personification of watching my own mother being molested so I need to switch things up and even when I am knee deep in the dullest of conversations I need to plaster on a big old smile.
Being miserable doesn’t just hurt me and my life, being miserable rubs off on other people, and at social events people don’t like it when you answer their question of “What’s your favourite sport” with “I like the one that is played forever and ever on a constant cycle of winners and losers aimlessly until I die”.

2. Stop being selfish – altruistic behaviour is crucial for a happy life. It is hard not to be selfish because we are wired to work that way but we do have a choice. Doing good deeds for others is the main sweetness in the fruit cake that is life.

3. Stop eating so much – I accidently shaved off my beard the other day as the razor broke and I thought as I looked in the mirror, you fat chin-less nothing. I need to lose weight and always have but I am at the point now where I will live until about 60. The problem I have is that food is delicious. A chocolate bar is never going to taste the same as an apple. My girlfriend told me she ate at Apple the other day and it made her feel full up. I am considering renting out my stomach as storage space for when people move house.

4. Being afraid – I have moments where I am scared to try something or put myself in a tough situation but life is about living and sometimes if we push ourselves now we will thank ourselves later. I have a funny feeling about flying and fear of turbulence but I need to travel the world, so I must force myself to go against my instincts as I will thank myself for the life experience.

5. Start listening to my parents – my parents have a lot to say and often I will disregard them because they don’t have a complete grasp of the modern world. My parents are the only people in the world who will do anything for me so I need to appreciate that. Even if they don’t always show it, they have my best interests at heart.

6. Stop listening to my parents – My parents can say things that poison my mind and can tell me hurtful things. Sometimes rather than being direct and having a heart to heart emotional conversation instead they will say something hurtful as though I should know better and just indirectly pick up what they’re trying to say. I can always remember when I got offered a new job, I was so excited and when I called to speak to my parents the first thing they said was “How much is the salary?” A little bit put a back I told them and they were disappointed, they said I had to ask for more money. I tried with the employer and they turned me down. My mother then said in a passive-agressive tone “Oh well never mind, I suppose it’s a step in the right direction to getting a good job”. I felt so deflated, I couldn’t be excited again. It felt like a wake up call. I try to protect myself by not telling them things that make me happy because I don’t want them to undermine the happiness I have.

7. Acting like nothing matters – yer okay humans are insignificant! and yer okay there is no god!, and yer okay the planet is on a trajectory into a sun! and yer okay all humans are essentially animals that have predictable reproductive cycles that become about as cliché as the sun rising and setting but things have value. I need to take a leaf out of Stoicism and say to myself none of this is in my control. I am aware of all of the above and I can still wake up in the morning. Ignorance is definitely bliss and I must try to enrich people’s lives by being loving, caring and considerate.

8. Being a shit friend – I have always been a crap friend, I have paid for it in my life by losing some wonderful smart people. Life moves on and our lives change but I can’t help think of the NIN lyric “Through the stains of time, the feelings disappear. You are someone else, and I am still right here”. I need to do altruistic things to overcome my own anxieties and if I work really hard and make an effort I know I can earn back and retain the friendship of the many I have lost and will inevitably lose later on.

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You should be afraid

When I was a young boy I was fascinated with dreams and how they can take complete control of us. Although I often had fun telling tales of the places I had explored in my psyche I was still unsettled by them. As a young boy I was easily spooked and just so much as a 10 second clip of a horror film was enough to keep me awake at night and lent itself to nightmares. Some of the imagery in horror films plays on out fight or flight modes and gets the adrenaline running.

I can remember when I was very young I would often sit awake in that darkness completely petrified. When you’re young a lot of basic things don’t make sense and you are constantly trying to make sense of the world. When you are having nightmares as a child you try to make sense of the madness and it is even more upsetting.

I can remember a nightmare where I was on the moon trying to run away from some crazy surgeons with butcher knives. As I ran into the horizon I could see the whole of space and could see the earth glowing in the distance. As I was running away a sea monster larger than the whole planet appeared and swallowed the entire planet I was on. When I awoke from that dream I sat awake for 10 minutes trying to come to terms with what I had witnessed.

The fear of nightmares used to ruin my sleep and it got the better of me. I used to go on this was for quite a long time. One evening I had a revelation. I was stirred from a nightmare like always and instead of staying in bed I stood up and walked to my bedroom window which looked out over the street I lived in. As I glanced out the window I saw the light from a large lorry zoom past and lit up the street. As soon as I saw that I realised that person is working. When I went to sleep I thought the whole world stopped but obviously it doesn’t. I started to think that actually the world is bigger than my nightmares. As I worried in bed people across the world were having the time of their lives, people getting married, holidays, new lives being brought into the world! I had nothing to worry about.

As I grew older I watched horror films, played scary games and I kept testing my limits with horrors. As I have grown older I have learnt to appreciate the thrills of being scared. Life can be very hard and you don’t have to be afraid if you don’t want to. No matter what scares you, you’re much stronger than you think you are! 

Modern Art: and why people hate it

Modern Art has always been a point of contention for many people. In the past Art was often dedicated to try and represent reality and painters would produced very detailed art that didn’t necessary hold any particular subtext. For example in 1400 during the Renaissance period in Italy the people requesting art were incredibly wealthy and normally of a Christian persuasion, which is why we have such a wealth of pieces depicting religious accounts such as the crucifixion or the Virgin birth. It wasn’t until 1814 when Joseph Niepce invented the first working camera that changed the landscape of Art forever. As soon as cameras became commonplace a photograph could capture real life easily and this would be a lot cheaper than hiring an artist. As history went on artists could no longer just create literal interpretations of nature or history, instead they had to try and create art which expressed feelings that couldn’t always be expressed through a simple picture.

The period of modern art is supposed to have begun during the middle of the 19th century when artists approached art in a different way. It is not to say that they stopped depicting real life, but they experimented in holding a message behind their work, something which lends itself to the viewer as a message that also came with that moment in history. No longer were artists restricted by the conventional ways of working and instead they were able to experiment. If you take work such as Vincent Van Gogh, this isn’t necessarily set out to perplex the viewer but instead presents reality in a different way using different brush stroke techniques and styles. In my view this period of Art history is one of the most exciting and shows a rebellion to the fusty old ways of producing art.

Kandinsky 1910 (above)

By the end of the 19th century Abstract art came along and artists were using this medium to express art which wouldn’t always hold any particular meaning. Art no longer needed a strict meaning but could be open to interpretation by different people. As history went on even further the subjects became intensely complex and often no explanation would be given to the work at all. Sometimes when it was explained the viewer would be left with the complications of working out how an artist can associate such a simple image with such a large moment in history.

Why Modern Art upsets people

I have heard many people say that they dislike modern art but often think of the word ‘Modern’ to mean this very moment or within the last ten years. Modern art of course is actually quite old now and so I imagine they probably dislike certain types of modern art such as Cubism, Abstract, Surrealism etc. Certain types of people like their life to be simple in ever single way. Complex Modern art doesn’t lend tself to that type of person.

I was at a party and I overheard a group of individuals saying they were shocked that Tracy Emin’s work titled “My bed” was sold in auction for 2.5 million. The work of art is such a commonly given example of something that upsets people. Emin herself has always tested the boundaries through taboo in her work. The party continued by saying “How is a ‘bed’ art?, anyone could have done that” the person then pointed at a table and chairs at the party and said “I might as well call that art” I then said in return “Okay then, explain to me what that represents?” The person was flummoxed, unable to think of what to say. That moment proved a point that art isn’t just about what we see but is instead about what we feel. If something is created to provide a reaction then that is art.

Another conversation I had was with someone getting furious about a musical composition titled “4’33 – John Cage 1952” where the whole length of the work is heard in complete silence. There is an orhestra that all sit down together as if to perform but all the sheet music shows is a rest for the entire performance. Part of me wonders if this was inspired by Samuel Barbers 1936 piece adagio for strings which contains a haunting silence in parts of the sheet music. The issue again is not with the piece itself but with how we Interpret the piece. My friend was not wrong in disliking this piece, but how you react to art describes the lense at which you view your own experiences.

Unfortunately for my friend, artists know that this bothers people and some work is intended at making people furious. A great example is Artists Shit – Piero Manzoni 1961 where an artist supposedly canned 90 containers said to be containing 30g of the artists own feces. Each container was sold by the artist. The tins each were labelled saying that the feces belonged to the artist and that the intention of the work was for his feces to eventually be worth more than the price of gold. Historically this feat was achieved. In 2016 a single tin sold for €275,000. This of course outraged some people, but we will never know whether the artist actually did as he told us. To engage in this thought process is to capture the nature of questioning that comes with modern art.
I don’t enjoy all modern art, but then I do find some of the work challenging, and this is not a bad thing. To get furious that you do not understand the intentions of the artist is hilarious to me. We mustn’t fall into the trap of saying that if art is complex and we do not understand it, then it must be rubbish. I believe that not wanting to have to invest in something to understand it is reflective of a persons philosophy of the world. Often life doesn’t make sense and we have to try and make sense of it to ourselves.