ersatz wartime, part one

squed
7 min readDec 15, 2023

i.
the festive songs you feel no festivity for
the activism you exert no activity towards
the deaths you see but do not mourn
the love you have but remaining forlorn

i have been meaning to write for a long time. not for any sort of notion of people wanting and/or missing what i write (not to say this in a wanting self-deprecating way, more as a statement of intent), but because i think writing for my blog is a far more conducive realm of emotional catharsis than anything else, creative pursuit or otherwise, i undertake. paradoxically, reaching this mythologised catharsis is probably hardest through blog-writing. loving if slightly grating snark about whatever current trend online is pissing me off the most doesn’t feel tasteful nor appropriate. i am sure that, to an extent, it can be construed as appropriate (i am not tasteful and am contented in never particularly imbuing that quality in my writing).

ii.
the sense of bubbling contempt you have
the vague hatred in your heart you hold
the unencroachable sphere of being glad
the dignity you unwittingly sold

everything on the internet annoys me, but it has always been that way. what i usually enjoy about being online, aside from the copious amount of time it is able to waste, is that it occasionally makes me laugh, and makes me think from time to time. i recently deleted tiktok. i have said this many times, but i think it is important to reiterate: i am not doing this to be a better person, or go on a dopamine detox, or decrease my screen time, or whatever other people do that for. i will crib from resurrection of the daleks, in saying that “it’s stopped being fun.” at the bare minimum, tiktok was a perfunctory crutch for me: to while hours away for my brain, while keeping me vaguely engaged enough to keep scrolling. one day, a switch in my brain clicked, and i instead just ended up spending five minutes, looking at some comments, and getting irrationally angry. i straggled on with this for a few months, before, one day, deciding to give it up. i went back two days later, but the second time, i think it has stuck. i don’t feel like a noticeably better person (i read a bit more? but not particularly much more) but it doesn’t feel bad, either. it also allows me to tell people this whenever anything tangentially related comes up!

iii.
there is a war going on. there is always
a war going on. but this one feels…
different, somehow. compartmentalised,
but pumped into your eyes. you care.

from time to time, i develop a light obsession with one very specific piece of media. it is usually a song, but it is occasionally an image. i am sure one could ascribe this with a term such as a “hyperfixation” or whatever, but i am simply Deeply Mentally Healthy, and as such will refrain from medicalising the weird things i do. most recently it has been the wilco song, war on war. firstly, it is a great song. secondly, saying war on war in any accent is ludicrously fun. i highly recommend saying it in a slightly staccato fashion, as they do in the song. thirdly, the idea of there being a “war on war” is one which made a lot of sense back in 2001 (when the album was released), and one which makes a ludicrous amount of sense now. i am a wager of the war on war. the fighter of the reification of war. reification is an occult word, and if you look it up, you’ll have to combat with orthodox marxist beliefs on phenomenology, which is exceedingly boring to almost everyone in existence. not me, though! it is the concept of making a very abstract social attribute (which is what war is) into a personified being, and vice versa. but we do not need to care about the vice, or the versa. being able to make war a tangible, real thing to fight against is conducive to my conception of the world, weirdly. i am a staunch pacifist, but to be able to exercise a war on the concept of war is weirdly satisfying. a balm for the blister of creation, or something like that. the song is actually marvellous. the little glitches and clicks and clacks are soothing to my brain, and the american accent, absent in a lot of music (most accents are!), comes through in the little “you have to die…”. by saying it, you are rendered to sound breathless. you have to die, a mantra for the march on oblivion, with some nice music in the background to support your fight against the false class consciousness… or spiritual fight. i don’t fight anyone apart from my brothers, and this isn’t even on a pacifism level. i am simply a Big Sissy.

iv.
you care but you can’t care. but you do
and you wish, you wish, that maybe you
didn’t. but you don’t wish. you are a
believer of believing, be that as it may.

every letter is a love letter. first and foremost, if i ever release music (exceedingly unlikely for a myriad of reasons), my second album would one million percent be titled “every letter is a love letter.” it is the title of the second part of chris kraus’ novel, i love dick. it has been hailed as a lot of things, specifically as a Seminal piece of post-modernist/feminist literary fiction/criticism. i agree heartily with those labels, but it is a bit more than that. it is special. it occupies the very rare “literally so me” niche, which isn’t something i usually ascribe to media, a finger-countable amount. maybe on one hand, depending on how i feel. i am using how every letter is a love letter is composed as heavy inspiration for this (piece? article? secret third thing??), and for my own life. it feels like something that i would do, but not as well and not as in-depth. i have done it a little bit, but more in the realm of writing manifestos of love and devotion and other things like that. in this sense, this is a manifesto on feeling. i wouldn’t title it “Manifesto on Feeling” though. as i am writing this, i am close to calling it either christmas in wartime (but i don’t like the christmas connotations really) or ersatz wartime (bit more chic, but somehow more pretentious than my john lennon-esque previous title. maybe it can integer overflow into coming off as completely sincere and earnest and loving [which it probably is?}]). i am not titling this christmas in wartime. it removes all of the replayability of this. it doesn’t actually but caring about replayability in and of itself is a fool’s game. i shall refrain from gaming critique™ for the time being…

v.
sat in a cafe, watching people pass.
you fall in love with every single one,
just for a second, before they keep going.
an amalgamated keepsake of meetcutes.

i hate it when people say let people enjoy things. i also hate it when people proclaim that they hate it when people say let people enjoy things. this cycle of hatred tops out at about the sixth level (?) of general hatred and the such. it gets annoyingly recursive at some point, like this entire sentence. i think this stems from my three-tiered level conception of the earnest-hater dialectic: i am probably closest to being perceived as a loving hater, but not in the oxymoronic way. i like the new sort of ecclesiastical [note: means pertaining to a christian church. i am not sure if it makes sense here but it sounds nice, and it can hopefully be made sense of in the wider piece. {i am going with calling this a piece. that’s usually what i go with in these instances.}] vibe being a self-proclaimed hater has taken on. i used to identify with it very strongly, and in some levels still practise the doctrine of being a Hater. but what i have realised is that i am not a Hater. i am a lover of the abstract. [this is where that war on war bit comes back in. the lyric analysis was only 85% superfluous!!] my favourite seats on the bus are the ones directly facing the stairs, so i can have a quick look at whoever comes up the stairs, for this exact reason. when something is intangible, it is easier to fall in love with, in my opinion. in this sense, i am a lover. or a voyeur. beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

vi.
do you have work to do? it doesn’t matter
because, as you rationalise, you are
performing some emotional work. what
emotional work, you do not know, or care.

while sitting down to write this, i have been sidetracked by a lot of things, but two main things. firstly, after seeing a tweet deriding the implementation of teachfirst apprenticeships [which i didn’t fully understand why it was bad, but it seemed like a good point to make], i decided to seriously look into what becoming a teacher entails, specifically the teachfirst scheme. it seems a bit dystopian, but i am not here to discuss teacher recruitment critique (not here to discuss many critiques, to be honest!) it did solidly put me off being a teacher again. i go through phases of wanting to be a teacher/work in academia, liking it in the abstract, and thinking it could be fun. very obviously, reality causes this fantasy to crash down to earth, and start a never-ending fire. thinking about the future is weird, and i have written about that before, so i shall refrain from waxing more lyrical about it. the other thing i was majorly sidetracked by was the for sale sign out of my window. my next-door neighbour is selling his house. this isn’t a new thing to happen to me: i have had many neighbours over my life. but he moved in a while ago, and its weird to have the ability to fully understand the idea of new next-door neighbours (other neighbours have come and gone without much moral recourse.) moreover, i thought that this would be a prime time to start snooping. i then had to take 10 minutes to sit and contemplate existence, since i was looking at the price of the house. it was far more expensive than i thought, and i already thought that it would be ludicrously expensive! being able to see inside of my neighbour’s house lost all of its voyeuristic lustre after this. i then went back to a life of delusion and thought about the love of my life moving directly next door, but this didn’t comfort me either…

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