Four Wall Philosophy
It’s foggy outside today. The weather is something I try (and fail) not to comment on regularly ever since I heard the quote by Oscar Wilde:
Conversation about the weather is the last refuge of the unimaginative.
I realise taking all my life advice from Oscar Wilde would be at best unadvisable and at worst an attempt to literally split my brain into two seperate but equal halves that disagree with each other on everything. But for some reason this one felt particularly poignant. As a nation the British are renowned for many things: a fascination with tea, impeccable politeness and queuing are among the more endearing traits. Self deprecation, imperialism and our constant droning on about the weather are among the slightly more dubious ones. I try to stay away from the binary opposites of good and bad. It’s not our fault we’re born with an in-built need to stand in lines of people for at least five minutes before someone plucks up the courage to say ‘Oh sorry, is this the queue?’. ‘Sorry’, ha, don’t get me started on that…
I’ve been spending a lot of time inside lately, not as a result of the weather in anyway, just because I have been. I’m not a recluse though, I’ve just moved to London, and that sometimes can feel like the same thing. I’d read about it before I moved here but London really does have an ability to make you feel connected to everything and yet removed from everyone at the same time. There’s always something going on, but you don’t always have someone to go with. That’s fine, it is possible to go outside without anyone, but that thought doesn’t do much to sway the fear in our minds that someone might see us outside doing something by ourselves, with no one else — alone. It may be Halloween soon but that thought is too terrifying to entertain.
So as a result I’ve found myself staring at the same four beige walls in my light deprived room for a while now. Not all bad though, because it was as I was staring at these four walls thinking about the traits that define the British people, and about all the injustices in the world: poverty, famine, Trump —
*cough* Brexit *cough*
‘WHO SAID THAT?! We won fair and square, stop whining about it you lefty snowflakes!
^ That’s not me above by the way, that’s the 52% majority that somehow possess the ability to be everywhere and nowhere at the same time.
— that I realised all these problems were caused by lines in one way or another. The lines that are drawn all over the world separating nations and classes. Barriers to entry. Walls. Exclusive areas. Restrictions. Camps.
‘No, you’re not good enough to cross this line, you have to sit on that side. Oh, who says so you ask? Well I say so, I’m on this side of the line after all’.
Now I do realise that it is easy to put the world to rights when you’re in absolutely no position of power or influence. God knows everyone who has spent any time working in a pub has listened to customers who have discovered the solution to every problem facing the world today. They often start in one of three ways:
‘You see, the thing about ______ is…’
‘I’ll tell you what needs to be done about ______’
(On another note I heard if you say Brexit three times into a mirror then Theresa May appears and tells you what it really means)
Partaking in what I have coined, in all its pretentious glory, as Four Wall Philosophy is something that I think we’ve all been guilty of from time to time, but when I was thinking about lines, it was actually a thought worth pursuing.
Lines are all around us. Just looking at a tube map you can see the lines necessary to take you from A to B, then the yellow line you have to stand behind, the line you wait in to get your tickets/food/coffee. Then there are the more serious ones: the walls, the borders, the horizon. When people speak of being a ‘global citizen’ I can’t help but wince slightly. It’s an admirable aim but I feel like its ability to be achieved isn’t aided by claiming you already are one. In fact, its not that you’ve chosen to cast off the lines that bind you, you’ve just chosen to be ignorant about them. Whether real change can happen by stepping over the divide and helping people regardless of nationality or race, I don’t know, but it seems like a good place to start.
I’ve long held an idea that the greatest thing I would ever write would be a piece of work deconstructing the world, national divides, the lines that govern us and solutions to all the problems we face as a species. On the back, there would be the normal quotes: ‘Astonishing’, ‘Remarkable’, ‘This book will change the world’. Then there would be my favourite simply saying:
He’s gone and bloody done it. — God
It would be titled, get ready for it… ‘The Arbitrariness of Lines’. Good, eh?
Maybe one day I’ll actually write it. In the meantime I’m attending the latest Brexit talks down at The Red Lion.