2016: Swan Song Of Truth
What a year it has been.
Header illustration by Niv Bavarsky.
I complained a lot in my time writing for Pilerats. In 2015 I complained about a few companies, a few terrible people, and some possible troubles of the future. In 2016 I began complaining about the population, celebrity, and ultimately ourselves. In mid 2016 I ceased writing these OpEd pieces in lieu of other pursuits.
I have sunken since then, however, apathy must be fought.
It all kicked off with David Bowie’s death. He recently churned out some great work. He left his mark on an Arcade Fire track and safely pushed the song from the good column to the great. Rest in peace Ziggy.
The office talk about Brexit and the EU in 2016 made me bite my tongue until I was tasting blood. It was only in mid 2015 that I was sitting in the old EU Commission auditorium in Brussels. There was struggle, but nothing like what it is now. Greece was the topic. Money was the topic. London was a pillar. There was talk that Great Britain wanted to leave, wanted more control and power, but it was not taken terribly seriously, or rather, not an immediate and impending issue. Certainly, few would have predicted 2016 being the beginning of 2016.
I was listening to ABC’s coverage of the US election while at work. A colleague told me that morning that Clinton was paying $1.50 to Trump’s $5. And, all rather quickly, it became cold, quiet, and empty. It became clear Clinton simply could not win enough seats. Trump was going to be the next president.
The reality sunk in, and we sunk lower.
I recall an OpEd piece I wrote following, or leading up to, the Australian election. I recall babbling about democracy. I opined that democracy does not work when the population is too stupid to tie their own shoes. A populous of zombies glued to TMZ on their iPhones.
My writing had shifted from pointing out fallacies in our society, to the fallacy of our society. The difference is immense, and I was crushed by it. I didn't have anything constructive to say.
But, in light of Carrie Fisher’s demise, I feel the resolute necessity to correct the widespread belief that 2016 is taking all of our beloved from the Earth.
2016 has been odd, horrible even, but not because old artists are checking out. 2016 has been horrible because we have not done ourselves justice. We have let irrationality win. The uneducated have had enough and have voted this year. Had our citizens been educated to a more reasonable standard, been more informed to make rational, considered decisions, things may be different. Our news is no longer vetted before it is spread. If we only looked to reputable sources, and we called out, collectively, the false ‘articles’ that litter social media, we may have actually voted for our own interests this year, instead of against them.
We’re allowed to be selfish when we vote. We’re allowed to look at the facts, and decide what is best for us, personally. Unfortunately, this year citizens have taken whatever the liar on the podium has told us and based our vote solely on this. We ignore history, we learn nothing, and we're blind to fact.
Mr Trump will be a President for the ultra-rich. He has appointed the most wealthy cabinet in the history of the US. They will work together with the puppets in the Republican Senate (who wish they were as rich as Trump’s friends) to deregulate the absolute shit out of all corners of the US. Trump will say one thing, and flat out do another. It is all he has done up to this point and will be all he will do going into the future. There is nothing to suggest otherwise.
I recall a 2016 television interview between the Australian media and Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad. His dodging on topics regarding the human rights atrocities committed under his rule aside, he said something incredibly truthful, and incredibly powerful: he was asked what he thinks of presidential nominees Clinton and Trump; he was asked if he has a preference in the then upcoming US election. I’ve never forget his response. He said:
"Actually no, we never bet on any American president, because usually what they say in the campaign is different from their practice after they become president, and Obama is an example, so we don’t [sic] have to wait. We have to wait and see what policy they’re going to adopt, whoever wins the elections."
What utter truth, and how refreshing, even if it does come from the mouth of a totalitarian. I feel very sorry for every single Trump voter who honestly believes that their lives will get better, that their desperation and disbelief in the system that has failed them, year after year, will somehow change once Trump takes the helm. Trump will use the next four years to benefit himself and his friends. Trump may, though, resolutely believe that he can help Americans, but Trump himself doesn’t understand that trickle down economics does not work. Or maybe he does. No one knows. The point is, there is not one ounce of understanding of the commoner’s mindset and struggles in Trump’s world.
2016. A year to forget. There is a widespread and incorrect belief that 2016 is taking all our beloved from the Earth. Time moves and the old die. The people who live fast die first. Why then do we all believe that 2016 is taking our best from us? Because we no longer produce real artists.
Our art has shifted. Today, our world produces nothing. Our music is stolen and repeated. Our movies are remakes. Our galleries are full of uninspired contemporary bull shit. Our entire culture puts nothing on a pedestal, and showers it as incredible. Our children are told they can be anything and then given a purple star for their essays instead of the grade they earned; a C for average. Everyone must get a participation trophy.
This zeitgeist is beyond damaging. We are all feeling the repercussions of our parent’s failures.
A true artist dies; David Bowie, and we morn. We have no one, and nothing, which could replace him. His music still is relevant. It is still fresh. It is still inspired. Nothing has come since to knock him off the throne he built.
This is the key problem, and this is why 2016 seems so bad. Our true heroes and artists, the ones we simply cannot stop listening to, watching, and loving; they are beginning to die. 2017 will be the same. More will go. They are at that age and it is inevitable. It is our fault that we cannot replace them.
We have bought, instead of made. We have consumed, instead of created. We have remembered, instead of found. And now, we watch every one of those dreamers die. The last of the last, the end of an era.
Steve Jobs knew that synergy created the allure, and bred innovation. Apple now have no headphone jack on an iPhone under a mantra that ‘it is the future’, yet months later they release their MacBook with a the old headphone jack as standard. What is their message? The sales team has conquered. Engineers have been shown the door. Steve is rolling around in the ground.
We all blame fate, bad luck, and ill fortune for the terrible events of 2016. We need to blame each and every one of us for letting it get this bad. We’ve let, or been a part of, the poor decisions be made. We’re worshiping nothing, and ignoring true art.
We’ve lost the ability to know what truth is, and this is the new norm. 'Truthlessness'. We’ll keep listening to and morning the legends of the past, from a time without auto-tune, and from a time of honesty.
I know what needs to be done, and so do you, I think. You need to look into yourself. You need to ask if what you are doing right now, in life, at work, in your free time, at night; ask yourself if it gives you true value. A simple life is a fulfilled life, despite what Mercedes Benz, Rolex, Coca-Cola, BMW, Red-Bull, Omega, Prada, Louis Vuitton, and Tom Ford tell you.
Time to go away and drink my own medicine. I think I’ll write a book.
Goodbye and good luck.
Thanks for everything Troy, Charles, James and Pilerats.