Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Property is theft. Theft is illegal. Break the law, you go to goal.

The good news from Pittsburgh is that is all changes against the Tortuga Twitter Two--good friends of Steampunk Magazine and freedom lovers everywhere--have been dropped.  Just a little bit of pressure, and the government drop the case quicker than a flaming, radioactive, Arab-looking potato.  I guess they wanted to make a statement and weren’t prepared for any sort of fighting back.

The bad news is that, not only are they not going to have their possessions returned in the near future, but the feds have been given the go-ahead to rummage through everything to see if there’s anything which takes their fancy.  They can make copies of any electronic data before returning their laptops, memory cards and other electronic gumpth.

The property was seized under a Grand Jury investigation, the purpose of which remains a mystery.  Of course, if they find evidence of other crimes during the searches, I’m sure they’ll be sure to prosecute. 

So it turns out that, if you live in the US and you do something the government don’t like, they can harass, bully and try to intimidate you, steal your possessions, invade your privacy, and search every aspect of your life to see if they can find a crime you’ve committed.  Whose freedoms are being protected here?

The idea that governments exist to protect freedom or protect people is of course a mis-conception.  Like any body with power, governments exist to protect their own power.  I guess it’s just kind of scary to see it so naked.  I guess it’s also scary because, although I believe in what the Professor was doing and I believe in the cause he’s fighting for, and although I’m in another country with another government… I’m scared that it might be me one day.  One day, I’ll be trying to do what I think is right, and it’ll be me sitting where he is.

If one good thing can come of this, it’s that they seized copies of Steampunk Magazine and a few more people out there might enjoy Of Mice and Journeymen.  Hey, if I can’t be selfish and glib, what have I got left?

Sunday, 8 November 2009

In which Foxie discards a word

Things have been a bit tough lately.  The UK Steampunk Network--which I still think is a great idea--is pushing me in all my uncomfortable areas and, although they need to be banished, it ain't easy.  And then there's the trouble I'm in at work.  I may lose my job on Tuesday and for nothing more than some manager's ego trip. 

Anyway, I was at work the other day and I just needed to escape.  You know, get out of that headspace.  So, I put my expensive headphones and listened to Free's Fire and Water.  That album is one of my happy places.

So there I am, listening, eyes closed, world screened out.  Up pops Anne and I tell her I just needed some escapism. 

“Why are the good things in life 'escapism', and all the bad things, 'real'?” she asks.

Why is a good movie, a beautiful song or breath-taking work of fiction 'escapism'?  The implication is that we're escaping from something, and the usual assumption is that we're escaping from life.  That would assume all these wonderful things somehow exist outside of life.  That's clearly not true, because they are part of life.  They exist in the real world, were created by real people and are accessible by real people without any special preparation.  They exist within the real world, therefore within life.

How are they any less real than my disciplinary?  Or my psychological hang-ups?  They all exist in the same fabric of life.

So yeah, why are all the good things 'escapism' and the bad things 'real'?  Why do I 'escape' into a song that reminds me how beautiful life can be, and 'come back to reality' for a piece of paper which reminds me how shitty people--and the world--can be?

I've not found an alternative phraseology yet, but I'm not going to use 'escapism' any more.  It's just reinforcing the human propensity to focus on the negative and discount the positive.  The 'escapism' is just as much a valid part of life as anything else.  You're not 'escaping'.  You're just changing the glasses you use to look at reality through.