Thursday, 30 June 2016

Writing - Three men that shaped our world

In these days of social media when things are out there in the world almost as they are happening we are still seriously influenced by three white males.

Image result for Marx. Freud and Nietzsche
Freud, Nietzsche and Marx

We might not realise it, but we all live with a 19th-century male philosopher in our lives. Karl Marx, Friedrich Nietzsche and Sigmund Freud are towering thinkers, men with the wit and the will to question the status quo.

Their ideas shaped the lives of millions in the 20th century and in the 21st they still have exponential influence. From pop songs to global economics to our attitudes to sex, the theories and aphorisms of these three dead, white males underpin everyday experiences.
‘What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,’ opined Nietzsche; ‘the pleasure-principle’, ‘wish-fulfilment’ and ‘anally retentive’ are all Freud’s coinages, while Marx’s condemnation of religion as the ‘opium of the people’ is trotted out to condemn everything from arranging church flowers to ISIS attacks.

Terrifying when you consider how people fight against stereotypes. Social media gets things 'out there' so rapidly but perhaps in that fact lies the problem.

Image result for tortoise and the hare

In fact it is rather like the tortoise and the hare. Our three philosophers have been dead for tens of years and yet their thoughts, attitudes and ideas are way ahead of modern thinking. My own personal view is that it is the very speed of life and education that get in the way of considered studying of our lives.

The three worthies above had time to consider how we live and relate to each other. Freud was an experimental psychologist and had time to work through his theories, searching for evidence to support those ideas. Nowadays, people seem to have moved on to something else before ideas have been thought through or tested. That is why these three still have so much influence years after their demise.

Even in the late 60s and 70s there were others, Jung and Pavlov for example, whose contributions have been considered. In the realms of education Piaget was in favour when I was being educated to educate. No longer apparently.

Image result for animal farm

Writers, such as George Orwell, who produce works that are principally commentaries on life, are signposting how we are engineering our own demise. That was one of the reasons why I broke off from writing Steele novels to produce the dystopian novel Cessation

The story is a speculative journey into a possible future that may lie ahead of us all. There is evidence that such a future may not be impossible. We have been warned that unless we increase the ability to produce electricity there could be power cuts in the next ten years. Our modern day lives are permeated through with the need for electricity and its production. 
Although Cessation could be categorised as a dystopian story I find that rather a negative word and the purpose of writing the tale is to allow elements of hope in a seemingly desperate situation. 
The story begins in 2023 a couple of years after the lights go out for the last time. Our group of survivors are thrown together on a farm in the low Pennines north of the M62 motorway and within striking distance of a number of northern towns which could prove useful for supplies. Initially the group is small and live on a farm called Serendipity but as time passes the size of the group waxes and wanes for a variety of reasons.

I'm not pretending that this book is a great philosophical work but it is a commentary on aspects of our modern lives, and in part a warning.

God Bless