When i was looking for something else i had written online the other day, i came across this essay i wrote for if:book Australia, which i had almost forgotten about.
Called “You’re the Voice”, it is perhaps the only essay in existence which quotes, in full, the lyrics of John Farnham’s classic hit. It was later included in one of if:book’s eBooks, Hand Made High Tech.
I wrote this at a time when i was writing a blog called Socratic Ignorance is Bliss, which started out as an experiment in 2009, and became a poor excuse for me to express my vitriol about all i thought was wrong about publishing. I was very fond of my career back then. It was the first time i had been really respected for my intellect, and i was even paid good money for this commission.
I was also quite worried about the way the internet was going—or, rather, the way we were allowing it to go, because the internet does not have free will. Here’s an excerpt that gets at the heart of the essay’s somewhat-buried thesis:
The moment we think we’re off the hook because some clever bugger has come up with a harebrained doovalacky that cures cultural elitism is the moment we roll over and take it, the moment we accept our governments bombing the shit out of third-world countries in the name of … yep, there’s that word again: democracy. The moment we defer responsibility for our literary culture to a machine we’re all fucked, because literature helps us to understand how to live well in the world – how to stop fighting and start loving.
Basically, i had read some article in the Guardian about how social media was challenging ‘cultural elitism’, and i looked around me and realised how much of an absolute joke that idea is—no amount of Facebook campaigns or retweets are going to end the dominance of the one per cent.
For that we need to go inside and understand how we can begin to extricate ourselves from the system by undermining our own attachment to desire. But that’s a whole other essay, of course.