‘Jack, you’re a bright boy. Stop this.’

A Pedder Poem

Originally published 23 August 2016 on Facebook

I wake up and delete yesterday’s Facebook post. Lorries go by my window.

I should probably delete some old Facebook posts, I think, looking at a weird brown splodge on my bedsheet.

I remember posting ‘nothing’s gonna change my world’, the Beatles refrain, which I find very embarrassing.

Just: ‘nothing’s gonna change my world’ alone like that. How ugly and embarrassing.

Also stuff like ‘Lolololol David Bowie’s son is directing the World of Warcraft movie. OMFG! Trolololol’

The world could do without that.

The world could do without most things – but that post especially.

I remember posting a bunch of suicide statistics on New Years Eve one year and Matt Goodwin saying ‘Jack, you’re a bright boy. Stop this.’ Which upset me.

That one was actually upsetting. Like genuinely hard to read. I think I deleted it.

I remember having an attention seeking conversation with myself in the comments section of my own post – the post was ‘rope’ – then being called out on it by Naomi Chambers.

It’s hard to comprehend how shallow and drab everyone’s personality is as a teenager. Especially when you’re gunning for the ‘you’re a weirdo but I like you’ social standing.

Maybe I shouldn’t work with teenagers if they are likely to vote and depress me, I think, getting up to the bathroom.

I hear the Clash’s Career Opportunities in my head while I shit, which I find hilarious.

What a hilarious song to associate with shitting.

I think about the reasons I deleted yesterday’s Facebook post. I think about the last scene of House of Cards season four, and Noam Chomsky saying: ‘Everyone’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s really an easy way: Stop participating in it.’

I am overwhelmed by the desire to listen to to Cheap Trick’s Surrender.

I listen to this live version https: //m.youtube.com/watch?v=NFjOpqtKRq4, which has crappy sound quality but frequently hilarious visuals, especially regarding close ups of the guitarist in the hat.

The guitarist in the hat doesn’t seem to know he’s in Cheap Trick.

He seems hideously under qualified to sing the lyric ‘we’re all alright!’

I open Finnegan’s Wake at random and read ‘he scrabbled and scratched and scriobbled and skrevened nameless shamelessness about everybody he ever met…’

I read it aloud several times.

I open the Bible at random and read ‘Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like a precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard…’

I open Montaigne’s essays at random and read ‘This is what has given value to many worthless things, what has brought into credit many writings and loaded them with any kind of matter that was wanted; one single thing receiving thousands of different interpretations and points of view, and indeed as many as we please.’

I open Shakespeare at random and read ‘K.Hen. How now! what news? why com’st thou in such haste?’ Which I contrive thousands of different interpretations and points of view about.

I open Russell’s The Problems of Philosophy at random and read ‘When Swift invites us to consider the race of Struldbrugs who never die, we are able to acquiesce in imagination. But a world where two and two make five seems quite on a different level. We feel that such a world, if there were one, would upset the whole fabric of our knowledge and reduce us to utter doubt.’

Russell’s ability to write ‘if’ sets him above the entire New Atheist movement that scrambles at his coat tails.

Why is 2+2=4 everyone’s go-to a priori statement?

There’s Orwell, obviously, but then lots of places you don’t expect, like Thomas Aquinas and Lu Xun and Balzac.

I take this Ayn Rand quote from wikipedia: ‘the noblest act you have ever performed is the act of your mind in the process of grasping that two and two make four’ – Ayn Rand reminds me of a thinking man’s Katie Hopkins here, for some reason.

‘Ayn Rand is the thinking man’s Katie Hopkins.’ – Jack Pedder 2016.

They should put that quote on the next edition of Atlas Shrugged.

I love Basarov, in Turgenev’s Father’s and Sons: ‘What matters is that 2+2=4, the rest is nonsense.’
‘What about 4-2=2?’
‘Nonsense!’ Basarov replies.

I love Basarov, with his frogs. What a delightful shit! I wish I had the opportunity of bringing a friend back home from uni like Basarov, who had corrupted me with their nihilist ideas.

Turgenev considered calling Father’s and Son’s ‘2+2=4’, a book title so beautifully terrible I would probably enjoy the book more.

I wish a knew a card carrying Nihilist like Basarov. I wish Basarov was my friend.

I open Mao Tze Tung’s poems at random and read ‘Remorse fills me at the thought of my misspent life,’

I am sad when it turns out not to be one of Mao’s poems. I relish the thought of Chairman Mao in remorse over his misspent life.

It’s hard to misspend a life as hard as Chairman Mao did.

I open a birdwatching book at random. ‘Song is short and sharp, and rather cheerful. A shy bird…’

I go downstairs and make an instant coffee and toast some tiger bread and baffle, at my keyboard, over the simplicity of the chords in Career Opportunities, by the Clash.

Why does it sound good with such dumb chords? I think.

I eat jam on toasted tiger bread and drink instant coffee.

I think back a few years – half a decade maybe – about the time a white man in dreadlocks came to teach poetry to the students of Wetherby High School.

He performed a poem about men’s fashion with the line ‘6 foot tranny’ in it.

When asked, the next day, what the poet had spoken about, the class answered ‘a 6 foot tranny’

Our generation is doomed.

There was no court of appeal in high school. There was no wiggle room for common sense or decency.

Everyone was either evil, bonkers, or constantly mortified.

I cast my mind over those lessons that dissolved in power politics, that just dwindled in their own utter worthlessness as experiences. A crap teacher would sit in silence at the head of the room, with a ‘serious’, disapproving expression, watching the class do whatever they wanted – which was nothing. It is always nothing. All teenagers are practical nihilists

‘All Christians are practical Nihilists.’ – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Both Nietzsche and I are wrong.

I feel like all those accumulated hours were stolen from me. I feel like I could learn more from a single YouTube video than I could from the entire ‘lesson’ of, music (to take an easy target) years 7-9.

Months and months of my life were spent watching hapless Baby Boomers and Generation Xers fail to control rooms full of chronically (and rightly) disinterested millennials.

So many of my teachers were just boring people, as bored of the world as the world was of them.

No one with a life as uninspiring as a these teachers should have been allowed to teach.

I had a lot of good teachers – some genuinely great teachers – but I sort of feel taking them for granted is the right way of doing things. Of course you should be good at teaching: you’re a teacher.

Can you imagine millennials teaching your children?

Because that’s what we’re going  to do.

The sociological test Guinea pigs of the 21st century, the first generation to have unlimited porn, unlimited distraction, unlimited (and thus irrelevant) knowledge: we’re going to tell your children how to live.

Does every generation feel such an inadequacy in filling its parents’ boots, or is that a new thing?

Imagine filling the boots of a generation that fought in the war. That’s probably where the 60s came from.

I have mixed feelings about the 60s.

I take my birth certificate out of an envelope and read this:

FATHER
Name and surname: Neil SMITH
Place of birth: Doncaster, South Yorkshire
Occupation: Teacher

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