Discover more from The Pessoptimist
when 2021 is over, is it really over?
Vol. 2 | Issue 7 | Dec 2021
Thoughts, or something like it
Thoughts, or something like it
I recall how I was given a chance to head up a department despite having nowhere near the management experience required. What mattered, in the eyes of the hiring committee, was the potential. Everything else can be nurtured through support, if it is provided (and it should be). Almost two years later, I do not think they were wrong in their decision.
Giving people with potential a chance, I believe, is the case not only in who you choose to hire but in relationships (I refer to all types not simply romantic). Our obsession with instant gratification means we begin to apply it to everything. In romantic relationships, we discard that we need admiration, mutual attraction, commitment, and compatibility for something to genuinely work. We expect to have established all four elements within the first 60 seconds of meeting (that instant spark), and we discard people if we don’t have immediate results on all elements. We do not give people the chance to get to know who they are and what they can do – or we expect that if we do give them a chance, they put in all the work and we sit back. I believe in potential, and in this world of instant everything, I hope we can all begin to consider our attitude towards giving a chance.
Since I returned from the Canary Islands, the sun has not come out. I’ve also been (mostly) home due to tendonitis in the ankle. I was in agony on my last day in sunny Gran Canaria, and while I do not believe in private healthcare, I went ahead and paid for it in Spain because I knew what would happen upon arrival to Omicron city. The NHS is great and all (but people's veneration of it is kinda weird), but the moment Covid hit, it was impossible to see the GP in person. “Send us a picture”. Some things cannot and should not be sent to a receptionist filtering through the emails. I called the GP, who referred me to a physiotherapist. When I called the physio, they offered a telephone consultation ... on the 4th of February. Those that know me are aware that I am like a monkey: I see any table, radiator, or chair as something to climb. I plan on actively being able to walk at my former pace, dance like this gif below, and climb the stairs properly by then. If I’m lucky even playing a game of football.
Being home means I am attempting to be bored (I was reading K-Punk during my holiday and thinking about “No one is bored, everything is boring”), but this has not worked. I am bored but filling the time with random things and thinking about work and trying not to think about work. Because I am currently operating at low mobility, I have been thinking about how we live, specifically community based living. Ever since I stumbled on the Isokon flats when I moved to North London – which attempted to combine minimalist living with a social hub for creatives (I’m mindful of the modernist soft middle class dream connotations) – living through two years of a pandemic, and with rising living costs, I am reminded me of how wasteful and non-functional the types of households we reside in are. Blocks of flats that each pay a different energy provider, internet, water, TV licence, etc., a hallway where you pick up mail and to get in and out of your flat (not to socialise), we probably each own sets of tools you'll use a handful of times rather than having a borrowing library for the block. What happens if you live alone and you fall and you can't reach the phone? I do not know my neighbours – only brief hellos (some of them dislike even that!). At times, it feels as though I am the only person in the building. The social spaces – if they exist – are rented out for a fee. I used to live in a block of flats in Toronto with a party room on the top floor with views of the city, but you needed $200 or more to rent it. They aren't spaces where you could just hang out with other tenants, grab a drink, or food. What would happen if apartment blocks had a restaurant/bar/community space within them? Or integrated a materials library?
Quoting the late great bell hooks in All About Love:
Although we live in close contact with neighbors, masses of people in our society feel alienated, cut off, alone. Isolation and loneliness are central causes of depression and despair. Yet they are the outcome of life in a culture where things matter more than people. Materialism creates a world of narcissism in which the focus of life is solely on acquisition and consumption. A culture of narcissism is not a place where love can flourish.
Everything is about making a profit. Communal aspects such as publicly-owned heating reduces carbon emissions and has many economic, environmental and social benefits (including the ability to keep everyone warm). It is not uncommon in some countries for most homes to be heated via a communal system, but in the UK this is something as low as 2%!
Anyway, a newsletter is not the space for me to expand on this so I will conclude with two things. The first is to apologise for my lack of responsiveness to emails. Too many things require my attention and I have to prioritise. This means I have to ignore things in order to do my work properly. And sometimes, I get queries about my work that I've already answered in pieces I've written. My goal is to make my work as clear as possible, and to provide enough tools for people to begin to apply these ideas without me setting up an exact blueprint on how this would go because everything is based on context. The second is writing retreats. If anyone knows of any that are worth while, or planning on organising one, hit me up. Preferably near a beach somewhere warm where the sun comes out.
I stumbled on this quote the other day by Italo Svevo: "Life is neither ugly nor beautiful, but it's original." As this horrible year comes to a close, I am still trying to figure out if I believe it. But maybe this is what I need to take in for 2022.
My discussion with Haytham Nawar "The Future of Education" (chaired by Mikey Muhanna) is live – watch it here
On the 1st of February, Sarona Abuaker and I will be speaking about our process in developing Countless Palestinian Futures at the SOAS Centre for Palestine Studies series. Will post details of the online event once they are live.
I’ve been listening to a lot of NTS and discovering some great music. I’m thoroughly enjoying the UX/UI of their site. Easily searchable (unlike Tidal) and categorised well. This is a banging mix, reminding you that there was some good hip hop in the early noughties (it ain’t all 90s). Listen on NTS.
Alex V Green on the new Zionists trying to spin Zionist narratives as a form of decolonisation and social justice. I am not making this up. Read it on Gawker.
A great article on technofutures lack of imagination around social relations (tied here to some of the ideas discussed by Fisher in “No one is bored, everything is boring”). Read it on Real Life Mag.
The 5th and final season of F is for Family came out and did not disappoint. My favourite characters are Bob Pogo and Anthony Bonfiglio.
Happy New Year and be well.