“People who talk about revolution and class struggle without referring explicitly to everyday life, without understanding what is subversive about love and what is positive in the refusal of constraints, such people have a corpse in their mouth.”
Raoul Vaneigem – The Revolution of Everyday Life
“Meaningful action, for revolutionaries, is whatever increases the confidence, the autonomy, the initiative, the participation, the solidarity, the equalitarian tendencies and the self-activity of the masses and whatever assists in their demystification. Sterile and harmful action is whatever reinforces the passivity of the masses, their apathy, their cynicism, their differentiation through hierarchy, their alienation, their reliance on others to do things for them and the degree to which they can therefore be manipulated by others – even by those allegedly acting on their behalf.”
Solidarity – As We See It
“It was s’posed to be so eeeeasy.”
Late as ever, I didn’t hear A Grand Don’t Come For Free until 2005 – thanks to my sister getting it me for Christmas. (This isn’t bad when you consider that I didn’t hear Black Cherry until Autumn 2004…)
I love it, probably for all the reasons Mark K-Punk hates it. Not being a reader of Loaded, or someone who fraternises with whining “indie-windies” I’ll have to confine myself to why I like the album, and not worry about who else does. (How very mature of me.)
Mark, with all his political denunciations of emotion, ends up being a bit confused when the theme deviates from his usual dead-pan pop-robotics. He thinks Skinner is glorifying what he sees as “laddish”, whereas to me he the whole point of the album is the transition between passivity and taking some responsibility for your life – the corner being turned during the rewind on the last track. I’ve never seen myself as “a lad” but I’ve fallen for some of the same traps described so well here…
For most of the album things happen to Mike – he is a “victim” of circumstance. His only victories being:
a) His total inertia preventing him even from leaving the flat to put on a doomed bet.
b) Getting the girl – which is a glimpse of the endgame, not in the sense of happily ever after – but in that getting off your arse and striking it lucky is a way of crawling out of a lethargic swamp.
It comes down to your interpretation, but it seems to me that the obsessions with weed AND with sitting on the sofa watching telly are actually presented as being the wholly negative dead ends (rather than means to ends, when used sparingly) which they can be – and have been, for me.
Similarly, the use of cliché is not, for me, evidence for the prosecution but an example of how we all try to get through the hard times – platitudes don’t actually do anything productive but are a way of temporarily escaping from the pain of being chucked or whatever. It doesn’t mean they are “real”, or desirable, or even useful in the healing process, but it is a hole which people retreat into. It’s those little observations about life (in all its messiness) along with phones going wrong, mumbling to yourself, being a drunken dick, etc which make it for me.
“It’s the end of something I did not want to end – the beginning of hard times to come.”
With tongue firmly wedged in cheek, I will argue that A Grand Don’t Come For Free is profoundly Nietzschean.
Zarathustra/Skinner has descended from his cave in the mountains after ten years of roaching spliffs in front of the TV. He wants to tell us about the overman, about overcoming. About joy, about having the strength of will to take responsibility for every moment in your life and to wish nothing more than for each moment to be repeated.