An Exorcism of the Mind

It has been three months since I last wrote. Aside from a lengthy and very  personal confession I put down to paper while I was sitting in an empty dorm in the twilight of Kampala. The call to prayer from the Colonel Qaddafi National Mosque was sonorous in its rhythmic solemnity and crystalline beauty; individuals and communities suppressing their quarrels and renouncing their differences to join together in a deeply personal and sacred intimacy that has no parallel in Christendom. When the hypnotic wails of the muezzin rang out from minaret at 7pm and again at midnight I would immediately shut off my music, and just lie there, in silence, listening to that precious ode to unity, love, veneration, peace and harmony. It is probably one of the few moments in all organised religion that is still pure in its innocence and sincerity. I was always driven to profound introspection when I heard Il dolce suono of the adhān, for the very reasons I elucidate above. I am always impelled to think deeply, and write candidly and passionately when moments of beauty touch my soul. If beauty be not the stirrer of the immortal soul then what is? It was the call to prayer that was the impetus behind my aforementioned ‘confession’ which I dare not publish. I intended to do so, but – contrary to the belief of those who know me – I am far too fragile to make myself so vulnerable. Its only natural for humanity – especially the male half – to wish to erect a degree of pretense to insulate them from the hypocritical judgements of others and help us survive the lies we live and live around. By now it must be a clear I had a slight existential episode while in that chaotic city in Uganda. But it is the one I am enduring right now which has provoked me to pour my current state of mind on paper and recall my edifying experience in the Masindi dormitory of the Tuhende Safari Lodge, which has become kind of a watershed moment in my life. It was more cathartic than any symphony or Shakespeare tragedy. What I am…suffering is not the right word but it is the first one that comes to mind – now hasn’t yet reached its apogee but I am hoping it will become equally enlightening.

I have become disillusioned with my university education and with the conventional route from graduation to graduate programme and full-time employ and so forth. I have recently submitted my first assignment of my final year and it is by far the worst piece of trash I have written, completed with the least amount of effort and the most minimal of engagement with the topic and themes I must clumsy attempts to explore. In part this is because the seminar tutor is the worst imagineable, offering zero support, no encouragement and perfectly content to run a weekly 2 hour seminar that is  intellectually barren and devoid of enthusiasm which serves only to let the minds of the promising students who attend the seminar stagnate. But it is also due to the fact that I am sick of jumping through fucking hoops for nothing more than a piece of paper that guarantees me nothing. All this box ticking and mechanical need to pass empty, vacuous tests leaves one unfulfilled and forever a negligible entity. I am frustrated. I want to do something of substance with a perceptible end product and worldly impact. I don’t want to be an automaton who, like many of us, goes through life by the book, step by step from birth to education to an inconsequential 45+ years of merely earning a living and then decaying in the ground with only a stone to testify to my existence. This is a common anxiety for most I guess but it always feels more acute when you yourself are experiencing it. The hoops and box ticking do not end with the dissertation at university. The graduate opportunity you secure, if you’re lucky enough, involves an even more extensive array of stages to be completed within strict parameters, and then your working life continues forward in a stringent regimen where ascendancy requires more hoops to be jumped through and more boxes ticked. Restricted is an outlet for self expression, or the opportunity to make a mark, to put your own unique stamp on the world. We are constrained. Only a privileged few have the opportunity to give their lives meaning and purpose. The rest of us are cogs in a machine that only upholds the status quo; we exist to satisfy and please others,not ourselves. We remain unfulfilled and carry around a huge void inside. How can anyone be satisfied with 86 years of that for a life? It may all be a different story if it wasn’t for the chicanery of the ruling powers and the mass media in keeping us distracted from the real issues and deadening our minds with the nefarious tools of television, advertising ad hoc genus, which further detaches us from our true selves and stifles introspection and critical thinking. But I don’t want to get all Chomsky here; broadsides against the insidious effects of the maintenance of power relations and manipulation by the media are ubiquitous. But now I am growing tired of passive acceptance of what seemed to be the inevitable. An exorcism of my mind has be fomented once again by my rediscovery of the mindlessness and lack of human mission in how the world works at present. I do not wish to be forced to scale the same route that is set for everybody else. I do not see the merit in having to be disingenuous and untrue to myself in order to satisfy the arbitrary mores and standards of the powers that be, just so I can be ‘rewarded’ with a job I hate, working for interests, wealth and dysfunctional world of an elite clique who are representatives of blood-stained, squalid, iniquitous nothing. I want a kind of freedom that, as yet, none of us are granted.

As with the ‘confession’ I did not wish to leave myself and my humanity completely exposed to a virtual public. I am a man after all and we have inhibitors built into us so that we do not reveal ourselves entirely; it precludes us from being vulnerable. I believe there are things you should keep for only God’s ears. It could be the difference between salvation and damnation. Your soul is something the devil (and I use the term as a metaphor) cannot touch unless you allow it. Therefore, my candour has only gone as far as I wished it; it is this exercise of illusory control that helps me to confirm my self-autonomy, I guess. To give me the false impression that I possess any discernible power over my present, future or even past. Even the lives we have lived so far are not ours. My 27 years on this earth are nothing more than a vapour, an ephemeral mist that belongs to no-one, it is a litany of the abstract, of memory, lost forever.

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About johnny3wishbone

University of Bristol alum Follow me on Twitter @DanielAdshead25 A few of my favourite things: International development, human rights, justice, wildlife conservation, primates, politics, literature, music, catharsis, theatre, my fiance, history, environment, current events, writing, reading, running, fundraising, campaigning, activism, travel, Prague, Bristol, Mexican food
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