Sunday, November 13, 2016

The canary falls silent.

"Artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive.

They are super sensitive.

They keel over like canaries in coal mines filled with poison gas, long before any robust types realize that any danger is there. "

Kurt Vonnegut (1974)

I am writing this two days after Leonard Cohen went and snuffed it.

Cup your hand to ear and listen.

Can you hear anything?


Me neither. 


Your first line of defence has just fallen off its perch, it's kicked the bucket, it's an ex-canary, dead, dead as the stuffed fucking Norwegian Blue. 

Ha ha ha ha.

Fucking comic ain't it?

Don't you just love those wacky Oxbridge guys?

Now for something completely different.

This time we are not joking.

This time it is deadly serious.

If we are fucking lucky, the canary is just faking it, waiting for us to take action, before it is too late.

You think I am joking?

I had a short conversation with a French friend of mine who has two young adopted Ethiopian kids, one of the young kids was worried about Trump being elected.

Pfff, shouldn't worry the kids about the bogey man, Trump's in the US.  

She has good reason for fear. 

Hate crimes are on the increase.

Systemic racism is not a tall tale you tell to kids...

Down the mine.

I went to see "I Daniel Blake" of Ken Loach 

The situation depicted in the film is not a tall tale.

Close family members - mine -  live in fear of having their benefits cut, of being told that they have to go back to work. 

Sit, shut the fuck up and listen.

It's difficult to imagine a gnawing chronic stress that eats away at your being.

It's all so distant from a privileged existence.

"They can't ask someone mentally ill to go back to work, can they?" I think.

Daniel Blake keels over. 

Others are rotting in the streets.

"Nasty, nasty, depressing stuff, stop spoiling the party." I hear some say.

"We need to be positive (and do fuck all)."

They kill the fucking canary (mocking bird) don't they?

Close family members (mine) fear for their well-being walking down the street in the evening.

You or I walk down the street, we whistle free as a bird, no risk for us.

Close family members try to shrug off abuse, violent attack, assault and battery.

They don't want to worry us.

They fall silent.

How can we understand their suffering?

Jesse Stommel speaks for those in my family who lie low.

I thank him.

I think of kids - mine. (this is not a fucking rhetorical device).

"Nasty, nasty depressing stuff, oh stop spoiling the party." I hear some say.

"We need to be positive (and do fuck all)."

Listen to the bloody canary before it falls silent.

The canary falls silent.

I read a post of Sean Michael Morris entitled "Nothing to Say."

"The truth is, I have nothing to say. It’s not that I don’t have words, or that my thoughts do not fly up. It’s that the angry stare with which I must now consider you—an unknown stranger who may have used your vote as a hate crime—is too firm to let out anything but vitriol. And there cannot be more vitriol. The air cannot bear it. Nor do I know if anyone deserves the thoughts I am thinking."

Sean Michael Morris

I thank him for his silence.

You may shrug your shoulders and think:

"I am not a canary, I am not a miner, I don't need a canary, I am safe [add place where you feel safe/home/countryside/ivory tower/in my whiteness/in my privilege etc etc]."

If you were to do so, you would be unwise my friend.

The Sentinel.

There are those in our world who are our sentinels.

Sentinel species are organisms, often animals, used to detect risks to humans by providing advance warning of a danger. The terms primarily apply in the context of environmental hazards rather than those from other sources. Some animals can act as sentinels because they may be more susceptible or have greater exposure to a particular hazard than humans in the same environment.[1] People have long observed animals for signs of impending hazards or evidence of environmental threats. Plants and other living organisms have also been used for these purposes.

The sentinels, our sentinels, far from being strong and mighty, are vulnerable.

Their voices are drowned out.

And yet.

And yet.

We depend on them for our survival.

Some, we have put in little cages of our own making.

There are those in our world who would put them to sleep.

There are those in our world who would have you sleep.

They will say: "Look we don't live in a mine, we have no need for canaries."

They will say: "There is no risk of toxic gas, up here above the shaft."

Don't listen to them, the gas is not only toxic, it is omnipresent.

Don't take my word for it?

Take a look at the fiercesomely named Thylacine, Tasmanian Wolf, Tasmanian Tiger.

You wouldn't fancy your chances if you came face to face with it.

Difficult to categorise that poor beast really, they named it a "canivorous marsupial".

Wow fancy!

Beautiful ain't it?

Dead now, dead, dead dead like the proverbial dodo.

It ain't faking it...unless it's bloody good at hiding.

No risk to any beast now.

Data control and look outs.

Of course you may not recognise the need to take care of canaries.

You may feel you have a great system of warning.

You may want to close yourself up in the comfort of your room/privilege.

You may want to rely on any of the following, as forewarning for danger:

Your Facebook feeds
Your Intellectual Idiot Facebook friends
The liberal media
[Add to list]

"Digital Redlining  After Trump: Real news and fake news on Facebook"

"The Intellectual Yet Idiot."

"Dangerous idiots: how the liberal media elite failed working class Americans."

The fucking boat sinks

Let's take our minds off things and watch a movie.

"Where's the popcorn?"

At this very moment, I kid you not, there's Celine Dion blaring out from my TV.

Sorry, you hate the song?

You didn't have to click the bait.

Haven't seen the movie?

You wanna know the story?

Here's a spoiler:

The fat cats think their vessel is insubmersible.

The fucking boat sinks.

Leonardo diCaprio, him of the golden locks and flamboyant name, dies.



Ha! Ha!

Leonardo diCaprio, him of the golden locks, and flamboyant name, sings like a canary too.


Boo, hiss, cheer, weep, our hearts will go on.

Some of the bad guys get away - it makes for a good story - you get to boo.

Some of the bad guys get drowned - it makes for a good story - you get to cheer.

The old lady gets to twinkle her eyes - you get to weep.


This is not fucking Hollywood we are talking about here.

People are already fucking drowning on the lower decks of our fucking boat.

We, the spectators are ignoring their cries.

We are locking the fucking barred doors.

We are shooting the ones who are threatening to get out.

On the upper decks.

Think this is cinema?

Still not concerned for your own safety?

Still ignoring the sentinels' cries?

Pretending to be deaf are you?

Let me tell you a story.

I went to Poland and visited Jagiellonian University in Krakow.

I learned the story of what happens when a fascist force confronts academics.

On the arrival of the Nazi occupation force, the academics attempted to carry on as before.

This interim period lasted a few weeks.

Then the academics got moved to new premises.

The Nazis had a plan, they called it "Sonderaktion Krakau"

"Visiting professor explains nazi persecution of academics"

You think such times are past us?

Look at Turkey.

"Turkey's purge of academics leads to record asylum requests."

You think it only happens elsewhere?

Think what you will.

Care for canaries, heed their cries.

Care for canaries, our sentinel species!

You don't need to go on Facebook or Twitter, or go to Poland.

You don't need to listen to Celine Dion or watch the Titanic on TV...again.

You MUST NOT take my word for it.

You MUST look for them around you.

They may be shy, fearful creatures.

They may not make a sound.

They may feign death.

You may, at first, not understand their cries.

Take time to try to make out what they are saying.

Take that time.

Take your time.

You depend on them for your well-being.

Cherish them.

Don't let them fall silent.

Heed their warnings.

Act accordingly.

We are living in toxic times.

Want to ignore this call?

Another canary drops off its perch.

No comments:

Post a Comment