Monday, 2 November 2015

Presence then absence: the private/public dilemma

London, November 2015

Tonight's post comes in two parts: first an update on where I've been and where I'm now. And secondly, a musing on being present or absent in the online and physical world in 2015.

Greetings in Daylight Saving Time and the month of November. 

Where have I been in the last two or three months? Mentally, in a state of disarray; but physically, mostly buzzing around the various campus buildings attached to the University of the Arts London. In September I started a Masters degree called MA Fashion Cultures. This slightly ambiguous title is a vehicle to write about great clothes, bad women, sex, and really messy nights out within an academic framework. To the academics amongst you, I'll clarify that within the Masters, I am focusing on queer theory, gender and sexuality studies, and subcultural groups. And hopefully I'll get some gender-bending films, theatre and performance art into the discussion too.

The Masters is pretty demanding but incredibly stimulating, and it's great to have a viable, positive space to channel my questioning, restless mind. Lectures have led to many more thoughts, and providing I get back on schedule with this blog, should lead to more content here too.

It's become very clear to me the reason why I have never been a successful blogger: my lack of regular posting. In my defence, I think that success in anything requires consistency, which demands stability; and my life in the past 5 years has lacked all of these things. This seems to have made me more likely to give up on things than I would have been a decade ago. After a raucous Friday night out celebrating terror and lost souls with some good friends, my pal Kate said to me quite simply, 'You should just write it again.' And so I am. 

This leads me nicely onto the second subject of this post, which I will only touch upon here as it's a massive topic, capable of generating much more thought and discussion. Being absent in a world of communication is not only difficult, but I believe is actually becoming subversive. I was recently speaking to another dear friend Akeela on the topic of disappearing, and how it's near impossible to do this today. Your phone has automatic GPS built into it; contactless payment is the norm for public transport in London (in fact the only option for buses); payments are made directly into bank accounts. But not only is it supremely easy to be monitored and found by outside forces; we do our own internal monitoring, of ourselves and of others. The tell-all sources of Facebook and blogs have been near-eclipsed by the show-all forum of Instagram, where displaying the private publicly is clearer and less ambiguous than ever. And we want to be seen: merit is placed on neo-celebrities who are famous for being famous, liked for being liked.

Recently, I was informed that David Bowie doesn't have an Instagram or a Twitter. The closest you can get to him in private is via his partner's Twitter account (where she sometimes shows photos of their dinner). Could his choice, as a celebrity [who is actually famous for talent], to continue to keep an invisible inner life be something radical today? Are the most subversive people the ones we've never heard of, doing things we'd never think to follow?

I'd love to hear what you think.

And I'd love to hear what you think I should write about next!

Bis bald,


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