THE LONG BLACK ROAD

OK, so I often talk about taking the less travelled road and also the scenic route in my posts. And for better or worse my life as I have lived it and where I find myself is as a result of this inclination to follow these paths. By most accounts I am a huge failure, having not amounted to what most people would consider much. I have no wealth and have received no accolades of any sort. I’m not the CEO of a corporation, I do not own my own business nor do I have a career. I work to pay bills, that’s about it and I hold no illusions about it. I have few friends, no family of my own, that is no wife nor have I ever had one, that is to say, no shared future with anyone. I believe this is because of my less travelled choices. I have lived a life that would be considered “not the norm” by most. And yet I have lived a life!

In one of my favourite movies of all time (definitely on my list of awesomeness), Blade Runner, the replicant Roy Batty played by Rutger Hauer, delivers the iconic tears in rain monologue. The dying Batty delivers the speech to Rick Deckard (Harrison Ford), moments after Batty has saved his life. This is despite Deckard having being sent to terminate him. Enveloped and shrouded in heavy rain, Batty reflects on his life experiences as Deckard witnesses his passing:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. Time to die.

I often imagine myself delivering those lines when I consider my own life; I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe despite living an almost isolated life. Perhaps that’s why I commit myself so utterly and obsessively to my art. Perhaps it is because I fear that all my moments down those less travelled paths will be lost, like tears in the rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And in a scenic route moment, here is something to wrap your mind around! The movie, made in 1982, was set in 2019! How freaky is that?!!! And now 2019 is almost upon us and I’m still in this factory TCB-ing (taking care of business, paying the bills). Wow, I remember seeing that movie as a teenager and thinking how far away that was…the future! 2019!

Anyway, 2018 has been on hell of a year! And I’m not saying that fondly! I welcomed it in with a ritual performance in a deserted factory space, tearing hair from my face with hot wax. Followed that by commencing an almost 10 month fast, which culminated in another ritual, but this time taking place in a gallery space before an audience. Between and around these 2 performances, January 1st and October 13th…tears in the rain.  I will give you an example of what I mean. On November 2nd at about 3.30 pm I headed back to Durban from Pretoria in a hired panel van loaded with 1.5 tons of salt and my performance installation. I know that have mentioned this in a previous post. What I have not mentioned is how unseasonably cold it was or how filled the roads were with large cargo trucks. The first a result of global warming, and the second a result of this country’s failing parastatals (in this case the railways) pillaged by the ruling political party, the ANC, and their cronies. And of course our rampant consumerism.

The sun was sinking as I left the environs of the Johannesburg metropole and its surrounding towns, and headed into the darkening vast farmlands one has to travel through to get to Durban. Stretching ahead of me as far as I could see, necklaces of taillights and trailerlights snaked and wound their way into the night. Despite my exhausted and aching body I was filled with a sense of well-being. I remembering thinking that in order to observe the beauty of the stars and the moon we need the dark and similarly it is the dark times that bring out the true wonders of life. Around me the music flowed and reverberated through the cavernous interior of the huge vehicle I was traveling in, my senses enveloped with the spices released by the crystal salt. Playing was a good old 80s band, the great Simple Minds. Made famous by their anthem for the movie The Breakfast Club, they are a lot better than that song, as memorable as it is. I was enjoying revisiting them on my trip home.

Above: the final moments of the movie as Don’t you (forget about me) starts playing.

I was making really good time despite all the trucks on the road. That is until just about the halfway mark. Did I mention that it was a Friday night? Well, in these farm areas it seems that for entertainment people tend to gather around the highway petrol stations and restaurants, like moths drawn to the light. These highway oases (yes, that is the plural of oasis) serve as the equivalent of the shopping malls of the suburbs, a place to hangout. And between these nodes the police setup massive roadblocks. And yes, you guessed it, I got pulled over…with my load of arcane accoutrements (magical ritual thingys). Now you must be wondering how did I explain to the police why I was transporting this huge amount of salt, as well as a very realistic looking AK47 and other military equipment. Believe me I don’t know. As I pulled over all I could imagine was how it must look (Durban drug trafficker hiding his merchandise in salt), and I could imagine them making me unload the approximately 50 bags so they could check them all. Even worse, I could imagine them discovering the AK, and me suddenly face-down on the wet, cold tarmac with 20 firearms pointed at me, a sniffer dog’s snout between my legs and somebody’s boot on my neck.

Fortunately I told the truth, entertaining those men and women in blue at the roadblock for at least 30 minutes, which is all I’m sure they’re looking for on a Friday night in the boondocks, some entertainment. So I explained why in my drivers’ licence I have this mass of hair and no longer do, and how the salt and the mirrored installation were tied to that. There was a moment when I opened a bag to show them the salt where it all could have really gone bad. Alongside the bag was a duffel bag containing my AK47 in it. One of the policemen began to feel it, testing to see what was in it. Fortunately I had wrapped the rifle in bubblewrap (let’s hear it for good artist practice) so he couldn’t guess at what it was and soon lost interest! My heart eventually crawled out of the pit of my stomach and back into my chest…but it took a while. Anyway, so after a few laughs I was sent on my way, my story being something they felt I really could not have made up. So an attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion moment, ammarite?

I recently came across the song, Long Black Road, and it made me think about my really tough…well, quest is probably about the best word for it, that I undertook this year, and especially the nocturnal journey/adventure I have just described. The song is a really obscure one by ELO of all people. And what an awesome song too, and totally not like what the band are known for. It definitely finds a place on swany’s list of awesomeness! Electric Light Orchestra (ELO) are probably best known for the Xanadu soundtrack (the Olivia Newton-John movie) so when you hear Long Black Road you’ll know what I mean! What a gem-of-a-find! One of my new favourite songs! Anyway so I’m going to end off with this last post of 2018 with the lyrics of the song. Merry Christmas, dear readers, and here’s hoping for a new year filled with making a difference and changing the world for the better. You gotta get up in the morning, take your heavy load and keep on going down that long black road!

Long Black Road – Electric Light Orchestra:

They used to tell me boy you ain’t goin’ nowhere

With your cheap guitar and your big long hair

You gotta realize all your responsibilities

You gotta get out to work and face reality

You gotta get up in the morning take your heavy load

And you gotta keep goin’ down the long black road

So I drifted for a while down the road to ruin

I couldn’t find my way I didn’t know what I was doin’

I saw a lot of people coming back the other way

So I kept on goin’ when I heard them say

“you gotta get up in the morning take your heavy load

And you gotta keep goin’ down the long black road”

I made a lot of money I was makin’ quite a mess

But they all told me money wouldn’t bring me happiness

“you gotta work like a man in a real man’s life

You’re gonna have to take all the trouble and strife”

You gotta get up in the morning take your heavy load

And you gotta keep goin’ down the long black road

Songwriter: Jeff Lynne

 

Strangely Introverted

Picture a circle of chairs on one side of a generic, multi-purpose space such as a school hall or a lecture room. On the other side of the room there is an announcement board on one wall with tattered, faded business cards, advertisements and posters pinned to it. There is also a table with paper cups, bottles of water and snacks on it near the door. An urn hisses and bubbles, muttering to itself like an old man in his garden. The door is closed but noises from corridor filter in.  In the chairs are seated a social micro-ism of people. The assortment includes the Breakfast Club stereotypes (oddly enough I was probably a combination of all of them – the jock, the nerd, the rebel, the emo, all except the Molly Ringwald character – the prom queen…I love that movie) but also includes the teacher and the janitor as well as a few others not appearing in the movie such as the housewife, the bum, the executive etc. So yes, a cross-section…and me.

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Looking like a hippy who makes my own yoghurt, in my torn jeans, Lynrd Skynrd t-shirt and long, silver Gandalf hair, I push back my chair, reluctantly getting to my feet, and address the confessional group:

“Hi. My name is Andrew and I am an introvert”.

“Hello, Andrew”, they sing in unison.

This in way of my imagined coming-out moment as introvert, strangely so; and one feels no less shamed or reluctant to own the condition then if one were a drug addict or alcoholic. And this due to societal norms.

So, yes, dear reader, I admit it: I am an introvert. But apparently so are over a third of all humans so I am not alone (well, alone but not… but you know what I mean). Unlike the rest of the world who gain energy from the outer world we introverts gain ours from the inner world. Other famous introverts include:

Einstein

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and Dali

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I can be pretty social though, I am just very particular about who and what I socialize with.This is because small talk is the hardest form of communication for introverts. We are giving energy in a social situation therefore the most rewarding scenario will be one with purpose. A purpose being one after which I feel as if I have learned or shared something substantial or worthwhile or at least made a real connection. But generally humans drain me, encounters and exchanges with them leave me exhausted. This would manifest itself in days off school, Varsity and work as a result of an undefinable/undiagnosable malaise. Our society is uneasy with regards introverts, imagining that we are up to all sorts of evilness and depravities when we remove ourselves from it/them. But all it really is is about us recharging our energy, energy that the rest of society drains from we introverts,

This whole energy-based personality profiling is part of Jungian theory and is really super interesting and a nice foil to Freud’s theories. Research has found that the Big Five personality traits are significantly related to Jungian Typology (e.g. the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator). In this MBT indicator I test as a INTJ type:

 

Introverted iNtuitive Thinking Judging

 

INTJs are very analytical individuals. They are more comfortable working alone than with other people, and are not usually as sociable as others, although they are prepared to take the lead if nobody else is up to the task, or they see a major weakness in the current leadership. They tend to be very pragmatic and logical individuals, often with an individualistic bent and a low tolerance for spin or rampant emotionalism. They are also commonly not susceptible to catchphrases and commonly do not recognize authority based on tradition, rank or title. Hallmark features of the INTJ personality type include independence of thought, strong individualism and creativity. Persons with this personality type work best given large amounts of autonomy and creative freedom. They harbour an innate desire to express themselves; that is to be creative by conceptualizing their own intellectual designs. Analyzing and formulating complex theories are among their greatest strengths. To test it’s validity I have taken the test a number of times over the past ten years with always the same result. So that’s me, an INTJ or social introvert.

There is an awesome cartoon on the net at the moment called Dr Carmella’s Guide to Understanding the Introverted. When I saw it I went , “No way! That is SO me!” So I thought I would share it with you, dear reader. Props to the creator! It really is wonderfully inventive, entertaining and also informative.

Read it and then proceed accordingly!

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