There’s a tunnel in Waterloo dedicated to graffiti. Leake Street Tunnel. The part of me that knew the 1980’s still finds that hard to credit. Graffiti sanctioned by the council? It smacks of the Judas goat. “Here, angry young person. Expel your rage here. Occasionally we will make one of you into a celebrated artist. Then the rest of you will have something to aspire to.” And bang goes another mode of protest. “Ah look at that. Someone has sprayed ‘Every single one of you is a self serving liar!’ on the Palace of Westminster. Well, it’s hardly Banksy now, is it?”
A little north of Leake Street is another tunnel, and this one has been dedicated to William Blake. Blake, the great artist mystic, ahead of his time, thinking mad forward thoughts, finding the connections, making incredible prescient art. And apparently he wrote a poem about a tiger too.
I end up walking through this tunnel, full of murals of his work, enjoying them until I get to this:
The swastika. The north pole. The sun. Used knowingly, an ancient symbol of peace. But appropriated by the aryan supremacist regime in 1930’s Germany as an instantly recognisable and potent symbol of division. It’s just a few lines, but it says “I’m so scared of people who don’t look like me that I’m willing to contemplate genocide.” And some imbecile has sprayed it on a Blake mural.
It’s not an easy time right now. The leader of the free world is a moronic babbling wreck. Our leader here is out of her depth and completely snowed under with an impossible task, surrounded by self serving liars who will sacrifice the country on the altar of their ambition. There’s a Tsar in Russia again and he’s a monster. An overweight idiot child juggles nukes in Korea. Buddhists are committing genocide in Burma. Buddhists?! And then there’s the middle east so because of our need for oil, artificial wars are pushing streams of refugees out of the frying pan and into our countries…
But I can’t throw all my half understood sentiments about all of that into a blog. I’m not qualified to have a strong opinion because I don’t work on the floor at the U.N. I saw a badge the other day saying “Make Hatred Wrong Again!” in the same font as the MAGA stuff. And I liked it. That’s about as nuanced as I get. I’m not about to shoot and stab anyone until I get my facts straight. I’m an actor, not an aid worker.
But a swastika on a Blake mural? I’m all for free expression but there’s a lack of perspective at play here. Of course there is. It takes work and time to be able to see past your own shit. Trump can’t. May can’t. And the health of the head affects the health of the body. How do we stop giving permission for this shit? Maybe we can’t when people with no kindness are technically in charge. But there are wise people in the world in legions. Kind people in droves. And time and again its cruel and selfish entitled morons holding the reins. Gah.
I’ve been reading about old kings in some parts of southern India, with glorious territory, many years ago. After 12 years they would sacrifice themselves ritually to the people. By now Putin would’ve cut off his own nose, lips, ears and members, and then as much of himself as he could cut before he started to faint, at which time he’d have cut his throat. 6 years ago. Because “holdfast” is a tyrant. And if death is the inevitable price for leadership, but precedent for immortal love by the people is set, you will find leaders driven by the need to make things better, instead of lining their own pockets and making broke people hate other broke people in doing so.