Tuesday, April 13, 2010

On gathering moss

Moss by Pants

Every day I scan the international newspapers online for something substantial to read. They're always full of end-of-news-cycle domestic politics pieces and opinions on how women can and should alter their appearance, constantly and obsessively. The current fascination with body hair never fails to put me off my breakfast. Have I just invented a new diet? Huzzah! I'll have to get a Lose weight. Ask me NOW! badge and parade up and down the streets of Larrikin's End, although judging by the general state of people, I don't imagine it'll lead to many conversations.

I've never been particularly hirsute and I'm even less so now that I've reached the afternoon tea phase of life. Hair just seems to stop growing if you show little interest in it. These days I'm into dilapidation rather than depilation. Whether this is primarily a state of mind or a question of need or a combination of both, I can't say. I either don't grow hair as a bridge over my nose anymore or my eyesight is too poor to detect it. In any case the eyesight of everyone else I know is similarly compromised. Tertium quid.

I've just finished reading A Passionate Life, the autobiography of anti-nuclear campaigner Dr Helen Caldicott so I should be telling you that my lack of interest in preening is due to there being more important things to worry about but actually, I just find articles about heels and potions dull. Ditto micro-politics. I do admire Dr Caldicott very much. She was wrong about a lot of things but she was less wrong than most people and wrong in a really helpful way, like Darwin for example or Marx.

Sadly, even the big global 'issues' are only engaging in principle now unless you've had the foresight to secure yourself a job at the Brookings Institution. By the time the basic elements have filtered down to the newspapers you just get the same self-interested statements endlessly recycled. You might as well be reading ads. Well, actually, you probably are.

I did find a really good long piece the other day in the New York Times Magazine about the economics of climate change by Paul Krugman. I found myself following an actual progressive argument. It made a pleasant change. I felt like I'd just had a free taxi ride out of Square One. Krugman makes the interesting point that if 'the market' is so smart, how come no one thinks it's smart enough to come up with a way to profit from turning around climate change?

Even in the best magazines, articles of this length and articulacy are rare. I don't like it that I have to spend more time looking for content of this quality than actually reading it. I keep hearing that the rates of mental illnesses including the various types of dementia are rising fast. Frankly I'm not surprised. The brain needs food too. I have a very low tolerance for idiocy. It took me a good six months to shake all the bollocks out of my head after a year at 'college' and I'm still smarting about that. It's not that difficult to think if you put your, er, mind to it. Keep telling yourself over and over and it eventually works.

As usual, I've Panted myself into a corner. I started this post not knowing where I was going. The good news is I've arrived. It's like that great joke where the English tourists are lost on a country road in Dyfed and they stop to ask a Welsh farmer for directions to Aberystwyth and the farmer scratches his head and says,

'If I was you I wouldn't start from here.'