I was recently gawking from my balcony at the passers-by on the street, surveying my goober domain and I noticed a large, hastily scrawled piece of graffiti on the nearby clothing factory. “Breaking the law is the only way to break law” it read in bright red spray.
To each of us the art of contemplating the interconnecting strands of thought and action the world contains is an occupation. For some dormant, for others a way of life, this kind of pursuit leaves many devastated and others empowered. But such an empowerment always comes from committing actions which are designed to bring about a sense of order.
Pattern recognition, it would seem, gives way to pattern establishment. Those who seek to profit from their worldly pursuits feel a sense of control over the perceived discord. The money in their bank accounts appeases the inner instability and unease which comes from a lack of understanding of the facets of the world and how each of its many components operates. Money is the measure of power created by those who seek such power by form of official representation. The possession of money, therefore, is the possession of order: the establishment of a pattern.
Those who seek a more creative outlet in their lives look to a different angle. The graffiti ‘artist’ who genuinely believes that breaking law itself is an end fosters such a stance out of that same desire for control. For this person, freedom is a concept only and an act of exhibiting ones freedom (to break laws) is a substitute for money. The literal and physical proof that they have been able to circumvent an established ‘law’ at will has exhonerated them of the need to adhere to rules laid out by others. The freedom they have attained by expressing that they already possess such freedom frees them.
To many of us, control over day-to-day life is the exemplar of understanding. The battle to support ones loved ones and the ever-present and ever-defeated threat of financial and social crumbling keeps us going. Each day that we are able to keep our heads above water is a day we can swiftly proclaim ourselves a victor and our outside threats (that being the ever-confusing world at large) are kept at bay one day longer.
The party, pretending itself to be an organiser of social norms, at its extreme is an attempt to explicitly flaunt our lack of understanding of the drives and motives of the world. The bard, cataloguing the feelings of those around them and distilling them into a form of beauty attempts to exhibit a form of control not that different than those who wish it by financial gain. The combination of the two (the bard and the party) gives birth to the rock star. Blessed by the virtue of audience, the rock stars aim to distinguish themselves by representing the dicombobulation they see all around and remain terrified of. What better way to demonstrate the angst most people feel than in a way which generates harmony amongst fans, spawning and playing host to the same parties the rock stars attempt to control.
This dynamism of control eeking its sense of underlying purpose out of all of us is utterly astounding at times. The most chaotic and confounded of public figures who yearn to demonstrate their insecurities (in order to find kindred spirits in their fans) are not revelling in the confusion they purport to embody are merely playing their part in establishing a scene of order through which they can channel their own desire for calm.
The artist attempts to communicate with others through symbols, forms and movements, blessing them with the certainty that their feelings are held by others and that they too suffer the indignity of humanity. The banker through interacting with an ethereal ‘market’ which responds and reacts to them as a partner might, always questing to have that subtle degree more insight than their peers to exhibit that much more control.
Online we see the numbers game being played. Tweets, comments, likes and diggs feed our desire for a measurable life to such an extent that we have the capacity to hide from the unpredictable ‘real’ world in order to indulge in a life of safety in numbers.
The seeking out of a shift in the human condition by the artist is an attempt to predict a coming change, thus reducing anxiety. The seeking of a market trend is the same for the banker. The seeking of re-tweeting gives us solidarity and confirmation which the confounded nod of a nearby bar patron can never bring.
And yet, with all this going on the graffiti artist still yearns to be able to establish a solidarity and continue the aeon-long tradition of communication as a form of control, through their simple tag on the street.
By and large the love, hate, tension, progress, malaise and contempt we all share are bound together by one dominating factor: reassurance. Money is reassurance. As are Facebook friends, Twitter followers, Digg subscribers, YouTube channel views, the permanence of a statue, the ephemeral blobs of paint on the wall of a building, the fans at your concert, the expression on the face of a neighbour enjoying a meal you’ve prepared, the immortalising of one’s words in print, the harbouring of a goal (religious, political or otherwise), the searching in earnest to recreate again and again and again that enjoyable night out with friends that the good feelings might never die, the manipulation of the physical world to create an original invention or even the reciprocated nod of the head to a stranger in the pub.
Regardless of whether or not one seeks to ‘break law’ in and of itself, that act of communicating your fears to a series of total strangers while demonstrating your power to do so is designed with the same goal in mind which law has always had: alleviating fear.
We are all afraid that we will not be heard, be understood, be recognised or be treated equitably. We need reassurances that we’re not crazy. What better way than to communicate our whimsical notions to one another and hear them bounced around the echo chamber and tacitly accepted as part of some other nascent energy to which we can provably belong? It carries with us right through to the grave, that final headstone itself being our last ditch effort to communicate with those we leave behind.
The fear will not abate. The fear is just as intrinsic and fundamental to the human condition as the drive to move one’s own body.
Perhaps the best we can do is continue to make our voices louder than our neighbours. And yet, no celebrity is ever famous enough. The fear will not abate.