The Working Dead
24th October 2016
Finally, The Walking Dead returns tonight. After what feels an eternity, we finally get to see whose head lies on the end of Negan's lovingly named barbed wire bat, Lucille. It's fair to say that family TV has changed somewhat over the decades. How times have changed since The Waltons ...
And, on cue, this morning also saw large amounts of people on mass, trudging around the streets of Bristol town centre, all clad from head to toe in similar fancy dress attire, all making the same dull groaning sounds, pretending to think they're doing something special, as they staggered around in an uncoordinated manner with the look of death on their faces. But not because of The Walking Dead's return, but because it was another Monday morning. Never mind 'The Walking Dead', these are 'The Working Dead'. We all are. Or at least we are all destined to be at some point in our lives. We're all infected at birth. The condition manifests itself in adulthood at some point. Just another Monday morning in any major city of your choosing. Nothing new there. The things we do day in day out for money. It's called 'The Free World' apparently. Only mostly, it doesn't feel very 'free'.
Saturday saw a similar type one off event to a Monday morning. But with suits, aftershave, lip stick, and hair gel, being swapped for ripped clothes, fake blood, face paint, and some impressive head wound make up. It was the Annual Bristol Zombie walk on the last Saturday of October. I've never been on one myself, and don't intend to if I'm perfectly honest, but as with most people with any semblance of taste in quality tv, I really like The Walking Dead. So rather than slate such an event as 'sad', as other people I know might, I can understand and appreciate how such, what is ultimately a positive fun event if you're into that sort of thing, can come to be.
Truth is, day to day, zombies actually have more freedom than most of us do. We're all wandering around in an open prison and most of us don't even realise it. We're not free at all. You couldn't live off the land even if you wanted to these days. Your mud hut would be bulldozed and vegetable patch repossessed almost as fast as you'd be branded a bearded sex offending pedophile for walking around in the nuddy before being hit with a massive outstanding council tax bill. As soon as you're born these days, you start owing someone money.
If you're a zombie on the other hand, you can just stroll around at your leisure, living off the land, eating people that you may chance across. Nobody telling you what time you've got to get up in the morning (assuming the said zombie can get up that is - some can't, they haven’t got any legs), nobody telling you you're late for work or that your shirt isn't ironed. All zombies have got to worry about is being brutally stabbed in the brain. That's nothing compared to the prospect of another 30 to 40 years work and still not being able to afford a house, nor consequently, retire before you die. One might even argue it a preferable fate.
Unfortunately, it would seem the 'free world' doesn't allow a 'free' exit. Of course not, otherwise everyone would be doing it. We’d be abandoning it in droves. The system dictates that vast swathes of people are working all hours, in jobs that crush and oppress their own personal creative merits, and the things they enjoy doing, just to live in poverty with little opportunity to escape it, whilst making others filthy rich. If we are not careful, the system can turn us all into mindless zombies of sort without us even realising it's happening to us.
Even more unfortunately, although getting stabbed in the brain would do it for us too, it would seem that the only 'smart' way out of the system is immoral corruption, extreme ruthlessness, and the long-term abuse of your fellow man, and then denying that you do such things - if you're lucky that is. Not exactly a good incentive for people born with any kind of moral compass or innate decency. Having the structure heavily rigged in your favour also helps immeasurably too. After all, darling little Archibald deserves so much more from life than that dreaded 'Bazza' in the flats across the way …
As a child growing up in a ‘middle-class’ family, it was always inferred to me by teachers, adults, and tv, that crime doesn’t pay. Education pays. Now I’m all grown up and in huge debt from paying to be educated, this view seems somewhat naive. Having been relegated to ‘working-class’ as a result of irrelevance of said education to the work place, and relatively non-existent Bank of Mum and Dad, unable to save up enough to get a deposit even for the chance to own my own accommodation at some point in the next life let alone this one, I begin to realise more and more that crime is in fact now the only thing that pays! Of course, the interesting thing these days is, all the best paying crimes have been legalised. I say this as a joke, but the only joke is that this is the truth. Brilliant. What could be better than that?
I sometimes don't know why I bother to teach my kids to share and try to help others less fortunate than themselves. I may as well just cut to the chase and teach them to be Conservative c*nts from the outset. After all, if someone knocks little Johnny's only sandwich on the floor and he's crying because he's starving and has no lunch, why should he deserve a piece of your eight sandwiches, 5 bags of crisps, or 3 family sized chocolate bars, that your parents gave to you? He's clearly just lazy. It's his own fault he didn't take due care to protect his sole asset. He's clearly just jealous of your lunch. Tell little Johnny his parents need to get a better job. Little Johnny's parents never should have had him if they couldn't ensure he had back up sandwiches. Wouldn't surprise me if little Johnny threw his sandwich on the floor on purpose so he could upgrade to your Waitrose ham from his Aldi's ham. People like little Johnny shouldn't even have a sandwich in the first place. I don't even like little Johnny any more. He's blaming everyone else for his circumstance just because he has nothing to offer because he didn't work hard at school. What was that? Little Johnny did do well at school? Well then he's clearly just a loser. Give me one good reason why you should help him at all? I blame his parents ...
But as I already said, this is nothing new, it's called Capitalism and the effects of. And its cogs are powered by well documented blind, misguided, uncaring, greed for centuries. Continuously grinding us in one end and out the other like zombies. You’re either getting crushed to death at the bottom of the cog, desperately fighting the futile uphill battle trying to clamber up the outside of the cog to the top using the heads of those getting crushed below you as a justifiable means of gaining a stable footing, or you’re the one turning the cogs celebrating that everyone else is struggling or getting crushed to death whilst you’re not. This is freedom apparently. And apparently, there’s no other way. People who suggest otherwise are apparently all mad, discreditable, crazy fool losers, or at least that’s what the newspapers and people turning the cogs tell us on a daily basis so it must be true. You check in when you're born, and check out when you die, and whether you want to or not in between, you can never leave. And although it sounds and acts exactly like an open prison to the vast majority of us - It's apparently a lot easier and less confusing to just call it 'The Free World' and accept there's no other choice what so ever than to continuously maximise profits for the rich by increasing inequality at every turn.
Inequality? The poor should consider themselves damned lucky to have the privilege of working hard all week to live just above, or even below, the poverty line, making their country great again, before being rewarded with a massive gas bill. No other choice what so ever is worth thinking about. None. There's no point in even trying to think about ways to tweak Capitalism by regulating greed and striving to reduce inequality by helping the less fortunate as it won’t work apparently. Why, anyone that would even try to suggest such a thing must surely be a mad, discreditable, crazy fool loser, as the newspapers and people turning the cogs will continue to tell us on a daily basis to keep the majority of us believing that this abject bollocks is actually true. Apparently, in a man-made control system, no other possibility is possible what so ever, other than the way it works now ... Hmmmmmm.
Zombies have always been a fascination for the human imagination since their origination from the African slave plantations, where lost relatives that were previously declared dead (but were actually stolen for slavery) were seen in the distance working the farms, shackled in chains, gaunt, pale, ill, mere shadows of their former selves, staggering about slowly in the fields. This is also why I must add, despite several Hollywood films to the contrary, you should never have a fast moving zombie! That's part of the essential psychological fear of zombies. They creep up on you like old age. They are the next stage of us. They are what we will become. They look like us, only withered, damaged, emotionless, devoid of caring. Much like the young Liberal that turns into the old Conservative after a lifetime of soul destroying demoralising work. In the end, all that matters is their own sustenance by heartlessly feeding off what remains of humanity. Thank goodness zombies aren't allowed the vote or The Tories would win by a landslide everytime.
It's no wonder people enjoy dressing up as zombies and having a stroll across town. We can see ourselves in zombies. Not just because they look and sound like a badly hung over version of us after a tough night out, but because we can empathise with their repetitive patterns and lost, tired, state of mind. It brings to mind a vivid juxtaposition of our reality. You put a suit on to go to work, persuade yourself this is real life, and feel dead inside all day. Then you dress as a zombie outside of work, pretend you are dead, and feel alive inside all day.
Ok most people, me included, don't dress up as the un dead and go on zombie walks. But it does make for a nice analogy. The whole zombie walk thing is a very recent phenomenon, and one that only came about from those strange weirdoes in society we call young people, having fun rather than working up a chimney for a crust of bread and a night’s board like they should be. You know, that socio-economic group of losers that study incredibly hard on academic subjects they have been taught, sorry, naively made to believe their whole lives, are the pillars of civilised society, but have yet to experience that their years of considerable effort and lifelong debt will have no use what so ever, or even any relevance at all, in the modern-day work place. That socio-economic group that generally still believe crime shouldn’t pay, and believe a fairer, less hostile, less greedy, less selfish, global society is possible if we all work together towards it. I mean what is wrong with these weirdoes? Who do they think they are? And what exactly do they hope to achieve from this kind of dangerous, incredibly fair and rational, level-headed thinking? Losers …
Zombie walks are clearly just a new form of escapism to enable people to feel alive inside, taking them away from their day to day routines and enjoying their day. And with the world people have to face these days - you can't blame them. There are no negatives to this. Escapism is so important for people to feel alive inside, me included. Exploring your own personal creativity, whether that be via drawing, writing, music, sport, film, coding, acting, dancing, or other, is so important in a system that simply doesn't reward any of these unless you are lucky enough to be the best of the best. If you’re not the best of the best, society will encourage you to slam the door on your own minds creativity forever at an early age. This is so wrong. Indulging in escapism has nothing to do with making money or being the best of the best.
It is to do with freeing your mind from its day to day controls and social boundaries. It's necessary for mental health. And exercising your minds creative parts is the best way to do this. And there are now so many mediums through which you can enjoy exercising your minds creativity. This can only be a positive thing, both for the individual indulging in it and for those that get a chance to experience, and maybe be inspired by, something that another mind has created or done. However, in the society we live in, as with zombie walks, expect more criticism for doing such self-motivated, non-profit, fun positive things, because it doesn't make you money, than for doing absolutely nothing at all.
Most people just indulge in others creativity, it's easier, say it ‘inspires them’ and just assume it improves their own creativity, without any further application or practice of any actual skill what so ever. Such as the avid reader, film, sports, or console game fan. I say fan, but all too often they are just critics. It’s easier. It’s easier to be an all-consuming arm chair critic, running everything else into the ground, except for a handful of elite examples of creativity that you like, that you feel in some way reflects your own creativity and that ‘inspires you’ (although to do what exactly is always a mystery). It’s easier to criticize a trier, brand them a loser, run someone down that’s having a go, than it is to participate in an activity and have a go yourself.
I think critical people feel comfortable in their negativity as it eases the deep-seated knowledge they hold of themselves, that they never dare try anything creative for fear of criticism or not being the best of the best at it themselves. The bottom line is, the trier they are criticising, who more than likely isn't the best of the best, but is always trying their best, has conquered a fear they cannot. This bothers them. This is the real great sadness and source of negativity. Often these type of people are far more afraid and concerned that you will succeed in something, rather than that you won't. They fail to see that the real success is always in the process. Whilst the critic is shielding their fragile mind in their dismissive negativity, the trier is setting their mind free and empowering it in their positivity.
Consuming someone else’s creativity is such a vastly different process to working on your own. It's an excellent thing to do, but it's amazing how many people assume enough creative knowledge to be an expert critic, without ever having applied any practical creative application to anything at all themselves. They never take the next step. But the next step offers so much more to the individual – even if no one else cares for it or it will never make any money. That is not the point. Even a simple little doodle can induce a surprising amount of mental pleasure.
Everyone remembers the last time they went to work. Most are trying to forget it. But when was the last time you wrote something, drew something, danced, sang, made some music, or just created anything using your own free mind? Now, when was the last time you criticized someone else that wrote something, drew something, danced, sang, made some music, or just created anything using their own free mind? Makes you think, doesn't it? Do something creative. Give it a go. Without rules or boundaries. Set your mind free on something. It’s liberating. Draw something, write something, make some music. For you, from you. Forget everyone else. Your brain will thank you for it, even if a world of angry dismissive negative arm chair critics wont. Forget about them.
Just like we can't all be rich, it’s true, we can’t all come up with the works of Leonardo Da Vinci, Charles Dickens, or Les Dawson … that’s not the point. We can all come up with something amazing that comes just from us.
And if it's the end result not being amazing to others that bothers you, how many times have you seen good looking people that have ugly kids and they still love them even though others grimace and smirk when they catch sight of them? And other times ugly parents can even somehow manage to produce an attractive kid that everyone else adores, even though their parents are really ugly. You may be ugly, doesn't matter, there's still someone somewhere that loves you ... maybe.
If that last paragraph came across as uncaring and heartlessly missing the point, it was because it was meant to. Many times, what people judge value on is merely relative to their own warped perspective. It's not actually where the value lies. Truth is, beauty is always in the eye of the beholder, and this beauty always trumps surface beauty every time. It's why we all genuinely love Sloth from the Goonies. He's wonderful. Wouldn't have him any other way. The same can be said of your creativity. It's your baby. Be proud of it. You created it. It came from your mind. It matters.
Take Van Gogh for instance. He was considered rubbish in his time, look at him now. Well, not now, he's dead. Died in poverty. Lost his marbles. Cut off his ear. Society crushed him. He ignored the cogs was his problem. Never ignore the cogs.
Forget Van Gogh, bad example, what I'm trying to say is, so much of your life you force your brain to carry out mundane tasks in an open prison just to make someone else rich, or to hold a position that ‘looks good’ in society, but in fact makes you miserable on a daily basis. People are so much more than their efforts of striving not to be crushed by the brutally unfair and uncaring man made cogs of society on a daily basis. Realise this, but ignore the cogs at your peril, they will crush you if you're not careful. Many times they'll crush you even if you are careful, but the point is we all need a mental escape from the cogs from time to time. And those mental escapes, and sharing them with others, can give us a better understanding and comfort of who we are when not being told we should be chasing money and possessions that we don't need at all costs. Your mental escape may seem weird or a waste of time to others, particularly the arm chair critics - but the truth is it's never either. It's always some form of brilliant. Even if only you can currently see it. And remember, it's only called an escape because we are forced into a system that doesn't necessarily reward creativity. Truth is, it's not really an escape. That's just a term. It's natural. It's natural to want to create. Why, in a world where the PS4, XBox One, or even better a PC, can render the highest quality fine detail realistic graphics you could ever dream of, do you think all kids flock to Minecraft on any system?
I guess what I'm trying to say is, by all means enjoy the work of your favourite few creatives as we all do, be a fan, be inspired, but don’t forget to let your own brain escape for a bit on its own terms once in a while and just see what happens. Set your mind loose actually doing something creative of your own once in a while, not just absorbing the creative works of others, and just see what comes of it. You won’t regret it. And don’t worry about the end result, or reason, or purpose, for doing it, or be ashamed or embarrassed of what comes out. Just see what comes out and see where it goes from there. Take a break from taking your life too seriously, and just enjoy the process of doing something creative. It's a great process. And who knows, it might even make you slightly less dismissive, and slightly more empathetic of others personal work and efforts as an arm chair critic. You never know.
No matter where in society you find yourself, whether you're getting crushed to death by the cog, whether you're stepping on someone's head to help yourself climb up the side of the cog, or whether you're the c*nt turning the cog, mentally separate yourself from the cog and do something creative purely for your own well-being from time to time. Don't be blind to the system and let yourself become a zombie to it. And it's not enough to just consume select creativity of others and assume that it's your own and that it gives you the right to criticize others work, actually try to create something of your own. See how hard it is, see how rewarding it is. It will make your world, and maybe even other peoples around you a better place for doing so - even if just for a moment. And the great thing about moments is ... they add up. And who knows, you may discover an empathetic and more understanding side to yourself that you didn't realise existed before.
Take this article for instance. It didn't need to exist. It's not for money. It's here simply because I wanted it to be and so set some time aside to do it. I didn't even know what 'it' would be exactly when I started it. I just wanted to write something. I saw something about a zombie march and it got me thinking. I sent my mind jogging to a random destination with this in mind. I gave it a creative work out for its continued good health. I enjoyed the process immensely and now that I have written it, I am very glad that I did. The whole process made me feel happy. Something created by my mind, unique from me, that no one else has ever done before. And that's a good feeling. It's a great feeling in fact. And if anyone else enjoys what I have written, and I hope that they will, well then that's just a great added bonus as well.
Now if you'll excuse me, I must get back to my zombified state in the so called free world, where I've been in the slow process of being crushed to death by society's cogs for some time now ...