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Pale Blue Eyes

Sometimes I feel so happy, sometimes I feel so sad… but mostly, you just make me mad, baby, you just make me mad

THE OPENING LINES TO PALE BLUE 💙 EYES, written by Lou Reed and recorded by the Velvet Underground has become a personal and abstract expression for a feeling I have been experiencing lately. To be specific, the feeling happens when walking in my neighbourhood, city and in nature. The sadness doesn’t come from lost love as Lou himself explains, it comes from the frequency I see disposable face coverings discarded as litter — I did say it was abstract — It’s an epidemic of sorts, I am unable to verify if it’s at pandemic levels because England is currently in a government lock-down due to Covid–19 slash Sars–Cov–2 slash Coronovirus. The situation is terrible in Norwich and every time I venture out I see more and more tiny Pale Blue patches strewn on the pavement, some even appear in trees hung like Christmas decorations. This makes me sad. It’s a disturbing trend for 2 reasons, firstly because I love the colour blue, especially this tone! Who doesn’t? Seeing the colour sometimes makes me happy, I can‘t help it. Just like I can’t help taking pictures. I am all too aware taking pictures of face masks is a strange thing to do even by my standards! Observation (of weird things) was something I learned at Art School. Sent out with a camera (PENTAX 35MM) with a loose objective slash aim: Observe what you see and once attracted to a subject: Repeat the experiment as many times as possible. Taxonomies of attraction. Typologies of obsession. Sometimes a subject of interest is intermittent and sometimes they are ongoing and last years. I digress sorry, with good intentions… it’s not the first time I have spoken about rubbish and how street photography cemented my realisation: there is a lot more litter in our cities and countryside, compared to even 20 years ago.

The second disturbing reason is quite simple, some might say the conditions needed to require a surgical grade (SINGLE USE) disposable face mask also require its careful and conscientious disposal. The medical profession disposes of these things carefully for a reason. I can’t help worry about the materials used, the production and distribution carbon footprint when I think about something that ends up as rubbish. The blue variety are made from Polypropylene and it’s estimated 194 Billion disposable (it can take 450 years to fully degrade in nature) face masks and gloves are being used a month and the WWF suggests, even if a small percentage make its way into nature, rivers or seas it could still be upward of 10,000,000 (10 million) pieces of plastic (A MONTH) that didn’t exist in these quantities back in 2019 and now they are floating around as litter – this makes me mad. Please stop littering your face masks!

IN PICTURES All images shot in Norwich, Norfolk, England.

Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish
Disposable Mask Rubbish

AFTERWORD

Litter. Lots and lots of litter. Many of us have become blind to it, desensitised over time. But once you notice it and look for it, you see it everywhere.’

Jason Alexander – founder of Rubbish Walks

 

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Art and Photograhy: GRRR

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in the UK (Norfolk) 2020–2021.
Shot on iPhone SE.

 

Rubbish Walks
Surfers Against Sewage

WWF

Disposable Mask Rubbish
freddiemeup

We talk with Fredrik Öst founder of the world renowned Snask about turning up the volume, conservatism, fuckups, saying yes to life, love and getting back to nature

LIFE IS WITHOUT DOUBT LIVID 💖 PINK IN the world of Fredrik Öst – self-proclaimed Dr of disturbance, disruption and disobedience and founder of Snask – who really know how to challenge the outdated idea of what a design studio could be in an unrelenting passion for making, craft and mischief. As well as working for clients like Spotify, they have their own beer, record label, signature pink bicycle, they put on rock shows rather than stale lectures, in 72 hours wrote an honest and amazing book Make Enemies & Gain Fans and have new a line of Merchandise anyone would die for! The new world order really is Snask.

We met Freddie at Art School, Rebecca was a student and I was a tutor teaching the course Freddie was attending. Our collision happened in the weirdest of locations (CARLISLE) a place that was alien to Freddie and us. It was in this time that Snask and GRRR came to life; what else would they be but a shadow of the darkly–lit tragic comedy musical, with its bizarre ancient rituals and hilltop campus of the CIA. We caught up with Freddie to talk about life, creativity, conservatism, fuckups, love and death, and all things Pink.

INTERVIEWTranscribed from an email conversation. There is a full list of links at the foot of the page in the Notes.

Snask IDN

Glen: I feel lucky to be able to say that I have known you for some time, Freddie, we met in the city of Carlisle (a place described in the opening chapter of Make Enemies & Gain Fans as England’s arsehole) which, to be fair, is accurate. Like Snask, GRRR passed through the bowels of Carlisle and in some ways the underlying energy of not giving a fuck about what people might think has been a provocative catalyst for me. I’m going to be honest, at the time I was a newbie tutor and your influence (tbh all the Swedish students) provided a much-needed kick in the balls and has made me the tutor I am today.

I am keen to start in Carlisle because origin stories are important, I can’t believe it was 15 years ago - FUCK 🤯

Freddie: It warms my heart to read this start of our conversation. It makes me blush to get such fine words from a person I deeply respect and admire. You were my tutor and an inspiration during my student years. You were part of helping us lay those first bricks to what would become the foundation of the madhouse that is Snask.

We have indeed known each other for a great number of years and it feels cleansing to have travelled through the bowels of Carlisle together. It might seem that we resent that city but it’s not true at all. We love the people (not all, in fact far from all) living in it, walking in it and dwelling in it. But truth be told it’s not the most picturesque city on the British islands and the harsh climate (not the weather) made Snask what it is. If Carlisle hadn’t been this way during our years there, we wouldn’t have experienced the real England and we have drawn a lot of inspiration in the deepest soul of Snask from that world. 15 years ago. Fuck indeed.

Glen: I agree, Carlisle is filled with wonderful memories that remind us it’s who you’re with that makes life happen. I couldn’t wait to leave. I remember at Midsommar you, Jonas and Joanna asking me not to leave 🤩 some things are meant to be. With hindsight, I am aware I had a serious quantity of facial hair (see egg evidence) but I am still not sure being regularly taunted by kid-chavs for walking down the street minding my own business is acceptable conduct 😭.

Freddie: Chavs. They are a species only existing on the British islands. Like Koalas in Australia but with farr more yapp and aggressiveness.

Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University
Egg Flinging at Cumbria University

Annual Egg Flinging Project Crit – Cumbria Insitute of the Arts, Carlisle.

Midsommar
Midsommarstång

Midsommar 2005 – LC-A Lomograph

Glen: One of my favourite stories (analogue evidence provided) is being invited to Midsommar by Anders and discovering how many connections there are between our cultures (I am from Suffolk, a regular landing place for visitors). Seeing my first midsommarstång and små grodorna sort of awakened a memory (I have written an unpublished novel about it now) and ever since GRRR regularly celebrate festivals like the Summer Solstice with greater intention. What does Midsommar mean to you and how did you celebrate it this year?

Also, back then did you have a pair of lucky pants (underpants) and socks, and what did they look like? (Drawings are an acceptable answer.)

Freddie: Midsommar to me means to get together with the closest of friends and celebrate summer. I don’t really care about the hedonistic and pagan history of it all. It’s for sure fun and beautiful to build the midsommarstång and dance around it. But I don’t see it as putting my seed (nor others please) in the ground to fertilize. In the same way I don’t think about Jesus being born on Christmas, I was first blinded by all the gifts and now I’m blinded by the blissful enjoyment of spending time with close ones. I do think of Jesus dying and resurrecting on Easter. Not because I feel sorry for him, more because I either choose not to believe in the story, or I choose to believe that zombies are real.

For sure I must have had lucky underpants and socks but I can’t really remember them. They tend to wear out, understandingly. But since I was a student back then I didn’t wear Prada or Maserati briefs. So it was probably Topman or Debenhams slightly washed out and in a spectacular color combination. I was experimenting a lot with clothes back then and hadn’t really found out that less can be more. When it comes to socks I’ve been mostly wearing black socks during my entire adult life.

So happy to have started this and I would like to ask you a question as well. What was your honest opinion or view on me, Petter and Magnus? I’ve heard from Tony Peart (one of our other tutors) that we were mischiefs and that there was a love and hate relationship with us from his side. That we were talented but spent more time organising club nights and concerts than schoolwork! Hahaha!

Sally Antics Poster
Snask Aim
Lost Systems

Glen: I only have positive things to say – I was sad for Magnus and his dispute with the course leader, Rebecca remembers sitting outside at Brampton Road consoling him. I thought Magnus was a committed disciple of normcore fashion and probably a pioneer in this regard. His Manatee music packaging for Motive Sounds was an amazing piece of print and design. Petter was a genius and two things stick in my mind; those marble wash skinny jeans and the time he ripped someone to shreds in a group crit (in the small room next to the office) because of their lack of ethics. Nikes were mentioned. Petter’s project was about the artist Niki de Saint Phalle. Petter was imaginative and I loved his illustrations. Freddie, I remember white skinny jeans probably with studded belts and how you always had the ability to slip a fuck or fucking into most sentences or projects, the editorial about Handlebar Moustache’s pull quote ‘Fuck you you fucking fuck’ for example. Lost Systems was another lovely piece of print for Motive Sounds, that collaboration always produced great design work.

Freddie: Hahaha amazing. I love the idea that Magnus was an early instigator to normcore fashion. Yepp, that’s Petter for sure, still today. WHAT haha, did I wear white jeans? How the hell did I pull that off? I probably didn’t, I don’t remember. Denial, it’s a beautiful thing. Yeah, fuck for some reason was just a way for me to put emphasis on something. I realised later that I must have come across as a teenage dirtbag.

Yellow Dot
Snask Monki Please-yoself
Hon by Niki de saint Phalle

HON, 1966 – Niki de saint Phalle

Caravan Project

The Caravan Project – Peter Johanson

Glen: I think we can quote Prince here: ‘If you didn’t come to party don’t bother knocking on my door’ if you’re not organising parties, especially when a student, or for that matter going to parties, then there is something really wrong. We have (in the past mostly) had some epic house parties and I bet you did too. Sally (poster above) was a practice run and I don’t see it as not studying – that would imply it was easy to organise a club night (in Carlisle), or help rebuild a caravan and drive it around Sweden! Be honest, what was the work slash party spilt? I think while I was at art college it was 50/50 but always in favour of party.

Freddie: Work vs Party, hmmm. I think it was around 50/50 yeah. But when do you have time to have fun and be free if not in your student years eh? I can miss times when things weren’t that serious (only setting the foundation of your own career for the rest of your life probably).

Glen: Ultimately we get what we put into any situation. I personally love it when students make it happen for themselves (combine creativity and passion) to scare people with their sheer beauty. For me the education you gained in Carlisle was partly learning about design and part happening, do you think it’s the side of your brain where ideas come from?

Double Black Heart
Snask Hedveg

Freddie: Perhaps, I strongly think that education, at least how it’s built up today, is only a part of your profession. So much has to do with social skills, pedagogy, rhetoric, empathy, teamwork, etc. Very few individualists ever make it in our industry.

Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012

Glen: Freddie I have a very visual memory and can picture the time you shocked year 1 students (as year 2 students) with your choreographed welcome address — which means I have the mental image of your pelvic thrust – how long did that routine take to perfect? Your ability to make life more performance was joyful. Do you think people like Sagmeister paved the way for the kind of hybrid design thinking Snask plays with today (where you become an actor and play a part in the design outcome) or does it have Swedish origins? When you started making films it made complete sense – I watch OFFF Lille quite often! What’s your role in the creative process?

Freddie: My God. I didn’t know you had such a good memory, Glen. I kind of regret this now haha. I guess I had been practising those moves during my 13 weeks on the Greek island Cos. Nothing from that trip ever makes it into my CV for some reason. Sagmeister might have paved the way in some sense and I do think that the designers before us that put 110% of themselves and their own engagement into their work have influenced us a lot. It definitely has nothing to do with Sweden, that’s for certain.

Amazing, I love the OFFF Lille film. We had so many ideas that we didn’t know what to do. In the end, we found an amazing location and let it put the framework for the entire story. I’m more strategic and in the idea and concept phase. I see myself less and less in the execution phase. Probably a consequence of running your own company.

Yellow Dot
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Offf Lile 2012
Snask Cosy as Kittens

Glen: Happy Friday 🥳 Freddie. My year 3 students had an assessment deadline today (on Friday the 13th). Do you have any wise 🧙 words for them you can share?

Freddie: Nice! Friday the 13th, big day for sure. Well, since they are graduating in the worst times ever and we’re in a very depressing time of the year (when everything dies and it’s just getting darker, colder and more and more “upside-down-world”. Wise words would be, work on your portfolio. You won’t have time as soon as you get a job. You will be happy at first getting a salary and start of your career, but you will soon realise that you very seldom produce things you want to put in your portfolio. You will wake up 10 years later, dependent on a salary, and with a portfolio that you either don’t want to show or that your boss won’t allow you to show. I know so many designers that wish they had worked on their portfolio before their first big career move. You will have, pardon my French, “all the time in the world”, to do this since the job market looks pretty harsh right now. So in order to see your glass as half-full instead of half-empty, you should see this as a chance to do self-initiated projects where you are your own client, and that way have total creative freedom and push your portfolio. This way you might not have to take the career stairs once you get your first job but rather take the elevator because your portfolio is much better.

 

Snask Cosy as Kittens
chavs

Glen: I like the Batman reference in the Chapter Make Enemies, It’s Great, I also think the villains are so much more tangible. I saw a clip of Affleck saying his superpower was being rich. I think even Ben wanted a villain to slap him with a wet fish at that point. Enemies give us purpose but it’s important they don’t overpower our true nature. I’m not talking about forgiveness. Fuck that. I am keeping count though. Ben Affleck, not Batman (that has to be stressed). We’ve made enemies of the chav, but you’ve dealt them a blow with the As Cozy as Kitten's film which flips their bulldog image on its tail. I loved that film being a cat person (there are talking cats in my book). We’ve also called out the son of god and Sagmeister.

Freddie: Ben haha, my lord. Yepp, I agree. There are very few worse Batmans. Yeah, it’s true. You should never let the enemies overpower you or let hate take you over. Enemies will help you project yourself towards the opposite, and finding that opposite of your enemy will be your vision and goal. It will take you as far away as your arch enemy’s value as possible.

Snask Cosy as Kittens
Snask Cosy as Kittens
Snask Cosy as Kittens

Glen: I also enjoyed watching your lecture when you talked about making enemies. Are you still making enemies or have you mellowed? and are there people you wouldn’t let Snask work with or for, following the G incident? Next time you will kick them out when it happens but it’s worth realising you evolved just like with the chavs (a grown man should never ever, ever ride a child’s bike in Carlisle).

Freddie: We are still making enemies. We still hate conservatism and we strongly believe that change isn’t optional anymore, but a constant you need to get used to. We fight conservatism in every meeting and every situation. We think it’s fucked up that there hasn’t been a #meetoo in our industry when all we hear from conferences is that so many old men that are called “genius” and “design gurus” openly demand “new girls in my room every day”. Some conferences choose then to never book them, and it makes us wonder what the conferences that do book them promise them. We know that parts of our industry is very hierarchical, and in those hierarchies, it’s mostly men that are called “creative geniuses” and women become their assistants. There must be so many #meetoo’s out there and I wish that one day we will be able to open that door and call out and throw out everything that’s rotten.

Black Dot
Pink Dot

Glen: It upsets me greatly to hear about design gurus requesting “new girls in my room every day” and it sounds like a #metoo moment is on the horizon. History has seen many artists and designers who are women being marginalised in the story of our subject. A great example is surrealism which is dominated by the likes of Salvador Dali (creator of the Chupa Chup Brand), but female surrealist artists like Dorothea Tanning have a greater depth and soul. Search surrealism and you will nearly always see male artists work on blog posts — a change is necessary in all ways. It’s part of our GRRR. I try really hard to see both sides but men tend to fuck it up and not in a good way and sometimes it seems intentional and sometimes not. Going full circle on my mention of Sagmeister, which was an innocent question, is exactly the fuck up I am speaking of. Fuck! 😭

When you talk about conservatism what do you mean?

I come from a pretty conservative country and time. I wasn’t allowed to wear earrings and then only in certain ears and not both. Rules! Being eighties I had a blue teddy bear earring that my school teacher demanded I remove. If we are talking about it in the design industry old standards like not paying interns is still an area that needs constant vigilance. Or working late or not sleeping until you bleed type for the client. I have experienced this side of the industry and don’t recommend it. Now I am more likely to suggest Gremlins as essential graphic design research than an all-nighter. 

Snask Monki Be A Drama Queen

Freddie: Yes, there is still so much rot we need to get rid of in this world. Unbelievable really. Lack of empathy being one. Men calling out women for being drama queens because they have “too much emotions” while men incapable of showing or communicating emotions are probably one of the biggest threats to our society and planet.

Conservatism in regards to everything that refuses change for the sake of it. If you want to keep something “the way it’s always been” I think you need to choose a date in history. Without a precise date and year, it’s hard to know what anyone means with that statement of conservatism. Should we decide that everyone who came to the British Islands before the 1200th century is full-on British? Or should we say before christ was born? Is “American” also the history of the native Indians living there before the Europeans crossed the ocean? Or is America what the Europeans decided? Or is America what it is today at this very second this sentence is read? Can you really say that one moment in history was so good that we need to conserve the way it was when all we see is that change is constant and development is a result of change.

When it comes to our industry I hate everything conservative. We need to stay on top of change and understand that it’s not optional. Overtime and working late is conservative. One of the biggest regrets of people laying on their deathbed is having worked too much and not having spent enough time with loved ones. This is not something new and thus having a rich private life full of friends and loved ones and giving them your full presence should not even be considered as “new”. It’s natural.

Pink Heart

Glen: Art schools are required to measure success in narrow margins like the number of zeroes on a pay-check. I have raised thoughts that success might be measured with new metrics that the graduates decide (it’s their life) – support for ideas like this are sometimes stifled. You talk about redefining what success might be in the chapter When you die: Deathbed should be fun. How would you measure success as Dr. Öst?

Hierarchy, it’s all I talk about some weeks, I mean type hierarchy but you’re right we really shouldn’t go there. I do get to indulge that urge as a tutor which is funny because I can’t stand hierarchy in life and I really hope my students see that!

Freddie: Yeah, success is completely subjective. And it can also change with you as you develop through life. But it’s almost never any of these three: money, power and titles. Those three are toxic and will only make your judgement cloudy until you go blind and turn into a monster. Follow your heart is probably the easiest but also most true advice you can give yourself.

Snask Klarna Smooth Scenarios

Freddie: Tell me about what you think of our book. Are there more parts than the chapter about Carlisle that you recognize from our student years?

Snask Klarna Smooth Scenarios
Gold Pink Gold Heart

Glen: Freddie, I can see you saying yes to fun rather than no as a student more than Magnus. I don’t doubt Mr. Crayon instigated and was a bad arse. Do you still practice the principle of saying yes today and does everyone at Snask? I have noticed you tattoo interns and have a ‘V’ society, are you allowed to explain?

Freddie: Haha yes that was probably the case, at least when we started out. Yes was a big thing for me, but it was also a way for me to get affirmation and acknowledgement. To be there for others and jump on every opportunity. It has for sure been valuable for me. But the problem was that I’ve always had a hard time asking others for help. So while I was always being available for others, feeling needed, I never asked others for help which deprived them of feeling needed by me. I learned this too late, unfortunately. But when it comes to saying yes to everyday situations, or tattoos, I’m all for it. And I think everyone at Snask feels the same, even though we all have our own boundaries. Yes, we tattoo interns haha. It’s a very fun tradition. When it comes to the V-society we were a bunch of nice people hanging out in Australia for a week. We really got to know each other and at the end of the week, we decided that we would all five get the same tattoo, a V for Five (we became six in the end but who cares).

Yellow Dot

Glen: One of the people that changed my life was half Swedish, probably Swenglish, he called out one of England’s other arseholes ‘Lowestoft’ for what it was and I escaped its grip by saying yes to something I would have said no to, probably. What was the last thing you said yes to that hit the spot like a dream and the last time it was a total fuck up? For me saying yes led to a total fuck up and that fuck up eventually led me to Rebecca. Now we are GRRR 🌈

Freddie: Last time I said yes to something that was like a dream was to move to Gnesta, which is a tiny village 35-60 min out from Stockholm (sounds crazy to Londoners but it’s far for us Swede’s). It’s in the countryside and at the end of the train line. My girlfriend grew up here and she wanted to move back. At first, I was very hesitant. Gnesta isn’t even considered a suburb of Stockholm. This is something I’ve come to realise is part of its charm. Most suburbs become dead because no one stays there to wine, dine and socialise. They all go into the city instead, leaving the suburban centre dead. Gnesta is far enough so people stay here, meaning that you run into people all the time and you quickly get to know everyone and become part of the community. But, I had gotten used to preaching that I wanted to live in the neon lights of a city where everything happens all the time. So it took me some time to realise that it made me stressed and what I actually needed was a place where nothing happened and that I could choose to go where things happen if I need to. But my home is in the nothingness and close to nature. So my friends ask me, “Gnesta? WTF happens in Gnesta?”. And the answer is nothing, and that’s what’s brilliant.

When it comes to the last time I said yes and it went to hell is every time I say yes to that last beer when you already decided to go home. It’s so fucking stupid and it won’t help at all the next day and it’s not even enjoyable. We all know that the first beer is the best and the last should never be had.

NICE! Yes, fuckups lead to good things. A life that is perfect and goes according to plan is a boring life that no one would want to hear a story about. Life is full of mistakes, fuckups and breakups. And it’s called life. Life’s twists and turns are what make it everything else than a boring story. Who wants to read a book about a person’s life when everything went great all the time? Fuckups are essential.

Glen: I think it’s funny that we haven’t talked about graphic design. I wonder what the prestigious design journals of the world would think, I can’t imagine them wanting to publish it. Not that it’s my goal but if you hear of a mega-rich brand (preferably vegan) that wants to take out a back page ad in our magazine that features you, I hope they say yes.

Freddie: Graphic Design, it doesn’t have to be central I think. Talking about typography, colors, composition, etc has never made me hot. There are so many other things to speak about with another human being that is far more interesting. Imagine comparing two conversations over a beer. One is about Helvetica, the other about someone’s mistake or recent fuckup. One is so fucking boring that you would go and check the branches if they were thick enough for your weight with a rope in your hand, the other sparks joy and energy.

Glen: Snask seems to have a different way of thinking about work-life balance, was this a painful lesson and what advice do you have?

Freddie: It wasn’t painful for us to realise this. But we started when we were young and single and had no one else to think about than ourselves. And we worked for ourselves so we didn’t have a boss. Which made it easier to work some evenings. But life soon hit us and we understood that life isn’t to work or have an agency. Life is life, just like Opus said it. Keep it simple stupid.

Glen: You have a strong group of people at the moment. People cross borders to work with you and Erik – I remember reading you were voted number 1 destination for interns and you have a 2-year waiting list. What do you think sits at the heart of this love for you?

Freddie: Yes I love our people. They are the ones that make everything happen here. The reason why people would love to work for us is partly because we have a decent portfolio, without it, people would only see us as clowns. But because of it, we can then have a very playful brand and company culture that resonates with people. We also voice our opinions loudly and we hate the conservative world. Most agencies don’t even dare to speak up for Black Lives Matter or the environment. That means they are afraid and spineless and believe that if they stood up for something in their life people would dislike them or their company and it would be bad for business. As you can read it’s all BS and this is why they will be left behind as long as they don’t realise that change isn’t optional but inevitable.

Snask Badminton
Snask Make Enemies Jumper

Glen: Is Snask merch and products about creative autonomy? Or is it your way of painting the world pink, like a planetary take over?

Snask Make Enemies Jumper

Freddie: Snask merch is our way to express ourselves and have fun, just like all the rest of our self-initiated projects. We get something fun out of it. But also we of course want to spread our message around the globe!

 

We are SNASK and we are your future romance. A creative agency of misfit geniuses conquering the world through fine lookin’ design and real emotions. To worry about what people think of us is a waste of time. As long as we stay true to ourselves, we are living our dream. We see love as the only way forward, and we will never sell out or abandon our values. Standing up for our opinions and beliefs is the only way we know. We walk with our backs straight on the path to pursuing our truth. With one foot in front of the other, we seek to challenge conservative frameworks. We are doctors of disturbance, wizards of disruptions and spokesmen of disobedience. We assume the responsibility to stay engaged, give a damn, and strive for empathy. There is a short word for this assumption of responsibility: love.

 

Snask Stay Pink Tiger Tote
Snask Stay Pink Tote
Snask Pink Lies Jumper
Yellow Dot

Glen: What does Pink mean to you?

Freddie: Pink for us means a lot. But mostly it means to be free. To Stay Pink means to us to stay the way you are and the right to be whoever you are, truly inside yourself. Your right to stand up for yourself and show the world exactly who you are. That’s probably our strongest meaning of Pink.

Snask Monkey Jumper

Glen: I like Pink as meaning freedom from something bland. When I look at your work I fall in love with the colours and the attitude is unreal in the way I wish life was every day. There is coherence and flamboyance. What can you say about colour – what is the magic secret?

Freddie: The magic secret about colour is to keep it simple. Simply create what you think looks fantastic. Because colour theory is in my view bullshit. At least when it comes to branding. The only thing to consider is to not choose a colour of a competitor and also to own the colour you choose in the end. The rest is just mumbo jumbo. Like red, being a warning color by nature and thus it’s dangerous. If it was actually true people wouldn’t drink coca-cola from a red can or fly with Virgin’s red airplanes. Also red means blood, love, anger, passion, royal, etc. It’s simply very subjective and also heavily bound to a situation. Blue means the sky, cold, water, right-wing politics in Sweden, left-wing politics in USA, being depressed, death in China and so forth. And this is the magic secret, there is no complex theory or method, simply use your eyes you were born with and choose colors you think look aesthetically pleasing, and if the client hates it, swallow your pride and choice of colour (it’s subjective anyway) and change to a new one.

Pink Dot
Yellow Dot

Glen: The idea of Pink Lies, Better than White Ones is something that you definitely had as a student. I might have to contact George to see if he can introduce me to some important people! Has he been up to any mischief lately? I was 11 when Wham blew up and obviously instantly loved George (everyone did) – he has shown us the dark side of conservatism and rapped against the system way back in 1983 with Wham Rap. In fact, reading the lyrics there is a cross-over with Snask philosophy?! Care to explain?

Freddie: George sadly passed to the aftermath as we know. But he continues his work and duty for us. He’s for sure up to no good most of the times. Rumour has it he’s drinking gin n juice. Regarding the cross-over between him and Snask philosophy, it’s mere chance. We never saw him as a hero nor the person standing on the barricades against conservatism, we learned that much later. So any cross-overs are just luck! About pink lies it’s now so accepted that this woman wrote a book about it from the same meaning as we created back in the days: Pink-Lies-Haley-Todd-Kitts-ebook It warms our hearts that these books exist (there’s a sequel) and we own a copy of each.

Snask Slanted Magazine

Glen: You are right that conservatism must be thrown out, especially conservatism at work (bureaucrazy) and working too hard or too many hours is one of its filthy tricks. There is also another bad meme that is (less) common – we must all use creativity for dirty work to pay the bills (maybe it’s wet work – I am not sure how to describe being creative for McDonald's) and then they say this work (that destroys the planet we live on) makes it possible for a studio to take on fun work or projects that make a difference – new designers are often told this story. I get the feeling Snask wouldn’t think like this – what would you say to designers in education about this?

Freddie: I think we actually used to think like that. That dirty work or paid boring work would pay for fun work or projects. Now we’re more mature and secure in ourselves and of course, also have the opportunity to say no to clients. I think it’s important to understand the responsibility a graphic designer has. We are the filter and if shit comes through it’s also stuck on us.

Leopard Shirt Freddie

Glen: I have noticed you have a thing about hats, they suit you - is this George again (see evidence below). How many do you have and when did this start?

Freddie: Haha I love hats. I have at least 5 now. It’s crazy, don’t start. Hats are like shoes, once you start caring about it they suddenly empty your wallet faster than you can say, cowboy. I think it started 2 years ago. I didn’t want to become that “hat guy” but here I am, dirty, ashamed and fucking brilliant.

George Micheal

Photo by Michael Putland

Pink Dot

Glen: Freddie it sounds you are in love (moving to the wilderness), what is the story?

Freddie: Yes, I love the calmness. Where nothing happens. I’m moving away from having work as a big meaning of my life into having life as the big meaning. Basically, I don’t want to live to work, I want to work to live. When I die I don’t want to regret not having said I love you to enough people, or that I worked too much, or that I didn’t spend enough time with close and loved ones. And putting work or career ego in front of life will most likely result in me having those anxieties. Moving out from the neon and into the nothingness and nature truly helps me to stay grounded as well as present. I strongly see that I wasn’t really present for a lot of years. My focus was on my ego, my narcissism, my career, my work basically everything that boosted my ego and gave me fast kicks. I’m now moving away from that into longterm sanity and in that sane world neon lights (in the metaphors of big city life) won’t make the cut. I need the calmness to be a better person for a lot of reasons and people but first and foremost for myself. Does that mean I’m back to ego haha? Perhaps, but most probably a more sane ego that understands its fails and cracks.

Yellow Dot

Glen: I liked the quote from Leif GW Persson “Everyone takes risks, tries bad stuff and does stupid things when they are young, those who don’t, have a serious problem.” I’m really keen to know how you found design, what was young Freddie’s inspiration to be bold and create?

Freddie: I’m not really sure where I found my creativity. I think it was always there, a wild fantasy. But then again we are all born with creativity, society then strangles us to be “grown-up” meaning that we shouldn’t dream, fantasize and play. I hate that. When it comes to authority I always had a problem with it. It culminated when I did my military service that is built on hierarchy and authority figures. I revolted against it in there but it only made me rise in the ranks or gave me more responsibility. I think that’s where I put down my foot to go against everything that is conservative. Because in my opinion, nothing conservative can be good. Every progression (that doesn’t go against human rights) is good and needed and has always been needed for the development of humanity. Perhaps we’re on the brink of self-extinction, yes, but I wouldn’t say that conservatism wouldn’t have taken us here as well.

Glen: It’s good to hear you have made it back to nature, it’s an area of understanding that is desperately lacking - education and reverence for nature is our only way forward. Have you taken part in any protests for climate change? My cardboard placard simply reads Emergency Planet Earth.

Freddie: Yeah, nature is for sure something that simply can’t be overlooked. Just walking into a forest makes it so much easier to stay present, something that most other things in our digital life work against. Yes, we have marched in the Greta Thunberg protests with hand-painted signs for example. It’s very interesting that people care a lot about climate change yet vote with their wallet in mind, not the environment. I think that’s kind of crazy. For sure some environmental parties have failed in their communications etc, but there are so many efforts going on about this and still, people go and vote for a system that benefits them financially rather than voting for a healthy world for their kids and grandkids to grow up and live in.

Gold Pink Gold Heart

Glen: By the way, I agree with you on colour theory, like a lot of theories they can easily fall apart when reason and common sense are applied. Colour is always going to mean different things to different people and cultures, and that’s without even talking about people who see (or taste or feel) colour differently. I would say learning how to mix colour with inks or paint is a more productive use of time, if anyone wants to develop a deeper understanding. Because colour is essentially energy, it is possible for colours to have different energetic qualities. Have you heard about the Drunk Tank Pink theory? It would seem in this theory pink would weaken, but for Snask it seems to strengthen. Sorry to bring you back to shop talk!

Freddie: Wow, more colour theory. My favourite topic to bash! Here it goes and sorry for ranting:

Yes haha, I’ve heard about the Drunk Tank Pink-theory. But I think it doesn’t really add up. I don’t oppose his results even though I’m not certain about the scientific level of his methods. But what I react to is the parameters he uses. Like how men could even “lose their strength” when being in a pink confined space. What does that mean? I guess he only means muscle strength, strength that isn’t strong in itself until someone uses it in a way that is truly strong. Because what is strong, that’s the question we need to ask ourselves. To me, to you and to the world as well as what should strong mean? Should it be about the size of muscles? Then women will mostly be weaker than men? And men that are not going to the gym will be weaker. Or is it about the effectiveness of the muscles? Like a pro athlete that doesn’t have big muscles but extremely useful muscles, like comparing a bodybuilder to a cross-country ski athlete. Or should strong actually have nothing to do with bodies at all? And instead, we should ask ourselves, if Pink as a color, in confined spaces, actually made men stronger in the sense that they could easier control their impulsive aggressiveness and temper and gain more self-control and patience? If someone becomes more empathic and loving in a pink room and can see and feel other people’s emotions much clearer and also open up and give more to others, I think most people would say that that person became stronger. In this way, the parameters and the values that the person creating the experiment inherit will affect the results. It’s the same way AI works. If a person creating an AI that is going to target criminals through cameras on drones the AI needs to know what criminals look like. And the person creating it will then put in traits that for certain will be racist and stereotypical (actually happened in Germany during the world cup 2006).

Snask Klarna Smooth Scenarios
Snask Klarna Smooth Scenarios

Freddie: Colour is also heavily influenced by the culture and the times we live in. Pink used to be seen as a male colour because it is related to red. Red is sangre, blood, and blood is royal and only powerful men were allowed to wear red and tints of red. It’s not like people would have called Jesus gay if he wore a pink robe. And it’s not like blue has always been seen as a male colour. It’s just western mumbo jumbo that was invented some hundred years ago when brands started to sell clothes and accessories to babies and children. Pink is a colour that society made up that men can’t wear because then their sexual orientation is not hetro. But then suddenly men were allowed to wear them as smart shirts and be seen as trendy like Beckham but God forbid if they wore pink pants instead of shirts. Unless you’re a golf pro, then you can play golf with pink pants and still be heterosexual. But NOT if you would wear pink on your woolly hat or your sneakers, then you’re gay again. This only shows how fragile and irrelevant the theory of colour is and how easily manipulated we are from norms that society creates around colours.

Phew! That was long. But it’s a hot topic that I love to talk about because to me it doesn’t make sense. The same way that ghosts don’t make sense. It’s always an old man or lady or a child walking around in nightgowns from the early 1900 or late 1800s. You never see a hot, young person walking through your room half naked or in a cool outfit from the ’60s, ’70s, ’80s, ’90s etc. And ghosts are always angry, never happy or friendly. It’s because they died in such agony and that’s why they became ghosts. Well, then Omaha beach would be drowned in ghosts whose lives were taken drastically, violently etc. Then dogs and cats can be ghosts, but not cows unless you’re in India. Also, there are no Neanderthals running around. And ghosts tend to stick in houses, but what happens when a house is torn down? Does the ghost “fall down” on the ground and run around freely or is it stuck in a now invisible house 3 meters up in the air? I can go on forever but yes, it’s another topic that to me most of the time doesn’t make sense. If people talk about energies in a room or similar I can buy it, but not if a child or an old man walks in a hallway screaming at night.

Glen: I love your answers! You are right we have our ideas of strength all wrong, the tough guy of American movies has to be discarded for a more engaged attitude for masculinity. My hero in this regard is the musician Prince. My dad was a tough guy and even as a boy, I found this unappealing. Strength comes from collaboration, sharing and giving.

Freddie: I couldn’t agree more! There are many heroes like Prince when it comes to showing another side than the toxic masculinity we’ve been brought up to live with. David Bowie is another one! Both most probably had other issues but they were definitely role models in terms of going against the norm.

Prince
Freddie & Erik

Glen: It seems, Freddie! you and Erik are dreamers, I liked how you said your creativity is “a wild fantasy” and that play and dreaming should be at the centre of any creative ambition (I totally agree). It seems you have found a partner with equal audacity in Erik – do you have a strong connection?

Freddie: Yes we are dreamers haha. Yes me and Erik have now been running Snask for over 10 years, with the same idea of dreams and fantasy being the leading inspiration for what we create. I think that directs us much more than trends and I think it’s hugely important to Snask.

Freddie & Erik
Gold Pink Gold Heart

Glen: Looking back over the past 13 years which projects are you most proud of?

Freddie: I still love the Malmö Festival 2014 when we turned an identity and festival poster into a 13m long and 8m wide installation that we photographed 30 meters up in the air. I also really love the project we did for Monki where we created the Monkifesto, a feministic manifesto that challenged the norms.

Malmo Festivalen 2014
Snask Monki Monkifesto Fallen

Glen: Freddie do you have a special skill slash superpower?

Freddie: Hahaha what does special skill slash superpower mean?

Black Dot

Glen: A special skill or superpower is your secret weapon, Erik’s was daydreaming (something I can relate to) and Camilla was reading people (very helpful in her role).

Freddie: Hmmm superpower. I think I have a talent for coming up with ideas in a client meeting in order to make them want to work with us. Also, I’m good at pushing the client in terms of boldness, making them realize that they need to turn up the volume, or otherwise they could have worked with any other agency than Snask. Last year my superpower has been to develop myself privately by looking inwards and dealing and processing my own personal shit, thus realizing that processed shit is the best fertilizer.

Snask Klarna Long Haired Horse

Glen: That’s a great set of superpowers. I agree what would be the point of working with Snask if you didn’t plan to turn the amp to 11, it certainly seems to be working in your favour but working on yourself and dealing with demons and bad habits is essential self-maintenance that most people either ignore or undervalue - like spending time alone breathing and being quiet is a very powerful tool to use for getting control of a racing mind. What are your self-maintenance goto strategies for positive mental health?

Freddie: I think meditation is one major thing that I have to learn how to master and get a routine in doing it every day. Another strategy is to try and do things that help you stay present. In our world and society and in relationships, being absent on your phone or with other things will most likely break your relationship, friendship, etc. And it can in the worst cases lead to mental illness. So a great strategy is to do everything that helps you stay present. If that is to leave your phone at home when you take a walk or put in a rule that you shouldn’t check your phone for the first and last hour you’re awake, doesn’t matter. It’s all what works best for yourself.

Double Black Heart

Glen: Everyone (kind of) said Snask operates like one big collaboration of ideas and the culture at work shapes so much of our attitude, what do you get up to as a team to foster creativity? Can you share some pics of the studio environment to give us an idea of your working and social spaces? I would love to see behind the curtains into your creative habitat!

Freddie: As a team to foster creativity I think we simply try to make everyone feel as good as possible at work and support each other. Also bringing in joy and laughter is very important. Sure, see attached for some photos!

Pink Dot
Snask Studio
Snask Studio
Snask Studio

Glen: The studio looks awesome, really fun and engaging and massive! Does space inspire you to think big?

Freddie: Not sure if the space inspires big ideas. But it surely feels different than a regular studio space. But as with anything else, it becomes your everyday life and after some months you don’t think about it as anything different until you step into clients' offices and you realize that our own office is incredibly inspiring compared to theirs.

Snask Studio
Black Gold Pink Heart

Glen: I noticed you have avoided my questions about death, I am intrigued to know your thoughts, Freddie! (Original Question: I am really sad to say that I have experienced three deaths in quite a quick succession. It has been heartbreaking and difficult, and my community was everything (caring, supportive) you want it to be in these moments. At GRRR we talk about death (often) but we know most people find it hard. Do you think about death? – Alan Watts says “Dying should be one of the great events of life.” I am intrigued to know what Snask’s vision for a wake and/or gravestone would be – do you think it is a brief you would take – any ideas come to mind?

Freddie: About dying, I totally missed that part. I had to go back to your former email and saw that the little “-” made me think the email ended and that the rest was something else, that translates into me being a bit stressed atm, sorry for that! Here’s my take: I am really sad to hear… I surely think about death, I think you need to. When it comes to Snask’s view on death and gravestones we have the attitude that you shouldn’t regret anything when you die, or rather regret that you did too much than too little. Say “I love you” more times than needed, you’ll be happy on your deathbed that you didn’t say “I love you” too few times to the ones you care about. You need to live, not work. You don’t want to find yourself on the deathbed feeling you worked too much instead of living life and spending time with the people that actually mean something. Furthermore, you want to follow your dreams, nothing scares us more than laying on the deathbed feeling that we didn’t try the things we wanted. We’d much rather lie there feeling that we tried and failed than that we never even tried. Similarly, we want to lay there and regret that we did a stupid thing rather than laying there and regretting we never did anything that was the least risky because we wouldn’t really have lived then.

I’m not sure what it should say on Snask’s tombstone. Maybe that we stood up for our own beliefs until we became gardeners instead of designers. My personal tombstone should say the 4 words: Brave, Fun, Genuine and Loving. That’s the direction I’m slowly and windingly walking towards.

Haha well, that sounds very morbid indeed. I think that celebrating someone’s death can be beautiful. For sure there will be mourning but having a celebration of a person's life and remembering the great parts can be very soothing. In Mexico, on the day of the dead (dia de muertes) people gather on graveyards and celebrate the dead. They cook the favourite meals and place them on the graves, they bring their favourite cocktail and drink with the dead. They play the music they like etc. And it’s actually more celebrating and spending time with the dead instead of only mourning them.

GRRR Skull

Herbert – GRRR

Pink Dot
Black Dot
GRRR Seven Days of Death

The Seven – GRRR

Glen: My tutor introduced me to Mexican culture back in 1989 (oh shit) and I have been obsessed ever since and day of the dead is such a brilliant way to celebrate the life of your family, everything about the festival is inspiring. We regularly run skull making workshops in Oct/Nov to try and open people to the idea of having fun or a picnic and singing songs, rather than being sad when visiting a loved one’s graveside. What songs would you like to be sung to you? Spotify playlist would work here!

Sugar Skulls

Dead Nice Exhibition – GRRR

Freddie: That sounds amazing, I should steal your skull workshop and do it in Gnesta! I actually made a playlist that I would really love to have played at my funeral. It’s a mix of revolt and power: Send the Pope to Redemption. This was my contribution to one of many Snask playlists that we have. If I would choose an album right now it would probably be Orville Peck - Pony. Amazing artist that is openly gay, sings country and wears a mask (so no one knows his true identity).

Yellow Dot
GRRR Skull Fragment

Labyrinth Tattoo Skull Fragment – GRRR

Glen: Your take on death (life really) is fabulous and I couldn’t agree more that you don’t want to regret something, personally I try not to overthink past events that do not serve me in the present and I don’t play well with the ideas of shame or guilt. I particularly resent it when people say things like ‘it’s a shame you...’ normally followed with a negative, I do not accept shame. If we look at the Dictionary definition (a painful feeling of humiliation or distress caused by the consciousness of wrong or foolish behaviour) then that pretty much describes my outlook: Conscious foolish behaviour, which is why we often describe ourselves as being mischievously led.

Black Dot

Freddie: Yes, shame is something that we all have naturally from different happenings and traumas. So it’s definitely nothing that we need help growing, rather the opposite. We need to speak about this in order for guilt and shame to transform from monsters into less scary things.

Snask Klarna Culture Calendar

Glen: I know you’ve probably done some truly mischievous things but can you describe the top 3?

Freddie: My top 3 mischievous things must be:

1. When being a student (6 years) I learned a lot of surviving tactics in taking trains for free. So two of these must be train tactics. Might not work in the UK but they work in Sweden! I would jump on a train and figure out where they changed the ticket controller. I started out finding the wagon with “cinema feature” in it. Which basically meant there were screens on the seats and the lights were off and there were signs saying you had to be silent. I would sit down and put a jacket over my head and pretend to sleep. The ticket controller would be more hesitant to check people's tickets in that wagon and risk bothering people twice. I never got checked in this wagon. If the train didn’t have a cinema wagon I would either sit in the smoke part (yes they had that for a long while on Swedish trains) and smoke a cigarette, the controller would normally skip this part since it was filled with people who had seats but had gone to take a smoke break in this section. Another tactic was to go to the bathroom but not lock the door. This way the red lamp outside wouldn’t light up and the ticket controller would assume no one was in there. After having made the stops until they changed the controller, I simply went out and grabbed a normal seat and the new ticket controller would fake that he/she knew every face but would never check anyone who didn’t say they were new passengers. There were more tactics like this. I once had a meal in the dinner wagon and got to befriend a couple of sisters and when the controller came to check I lied and said I stayed in their compartment and they insisted that I was telling the truth. Another time I found a family of three sitting in a compartment for 6. I noticed that the daughter had the same brand of hoodie as me so I asked the dad if the middle seat next to him was available and he said yes. So I sat down awkwardly in the middle seat and asked if I could borrow one of his magazines and he said yes. So when the ticket controller came I leaned in and sat a bit too close to the father for a few seconds. The controller looked a bit skeptic but there she was having the choice of asking me for a ticket, a Korean adopted guy with the same brand of sweater as the white daughter, risking being blamed for racism for asking the non-white family member for a ticket. Drastic economy (student life) needs drastic strategies. The family went off at the same station as me so I had to let them go off quietly before I ran up and jumped off before the train went off. I did this because I didn’t want the poor family to think that I would come after them and psycho kill them or something similar.

2. Phew! Long one. This is shorter but is also trains. Me and Magnus were on our way down to Malmö (a long train ride) and we had taken the midnight train and slept in a compartment. We weren’t students anymore but had just started up Snask and was not taking out normal wages. In the morning when we arrived in Malmö they announced in the loudspeakers that if it said “Breakfast” on your ticket you were to go to Clarion Hotel and you would get your breakfast in there. I looked at our tickets and it didn’t say breakfast. So I took a ball-point pen, pretended in my head that I was a controller dealing with passengers that paid for breakfast but mistakenly got tickets without that word printed on it. I then wrote “breakfast” and circled it and then put two initials as well. We then headed to Clarion Hotel and showed the tickets to the receptionist. He looked at the tickets, looked at us and you could see that he was thinking about the handwritten word. Then he probably thought “what do I care if someone eats a few more bacon and eggs” and welcomed us. That was a sweet breakfast for sure! 😀

3. Once me and some friends were working at a festival (Hultsfred) in Sweden and the only pay for working was a free ticket. When we were backstage I met some people with plates of food and I asked them where they got it. They replied that they worked for Halebop (a Swedish phone company) and that they were allowed to get free meals of food and that they had a special wrist band for that. I thanked them and then walked up to the restaurant and asked to get 4 plates of food for me and my friends, standing behind me. The lady at the register asked to see our wristbands. I told her we worked for Halebop but that we never received our wristband because they were temporarily out of them when we arrived. She told me we couldn’t get food if we didn’t have them. I then just told her that we were working for free and just got tickets and meals as payment and that her boss would know about that we didn’t receive wristbands. She smirked and said she was gonna call her boss and I encouraged her. Said and done she took up her phone, called her boss and “Hey, it’s Ella from festival meals, yeah, I have 4 guys here who say they never received wristbands but now they want their food”. I never heard what her boss said but it was clear that she/he didn’t care and just told Ella to serve us. She hung up, put up 4 plates of food and we then ate for free for the rest of the festival.

Snask Monki Let Love Loose
Pink Dot
Yellow Dot

Glen: Showing appreciation seems to be at the heart of your personal philosophy. The world needs more of this attitude whether it was saying I love you or complimenting someone’s garden when I walk past, or smiling and saying hello rather than miserably trudging along. I worry for my country as we head into our third lockdown and more and more people hide behind face masks - I personally haven’t worn one yet and people often stare and look confused and are confrontational (I have a medically supported exception) and this lack of tolerance, active discrimination and prejudice are really quite scary. And when I smile at people it feels like an act of defiance right now, against the harbingers. Aside from not fulfilling your dreams as you have said, do you acknowledge fear in your life (now you are on a new path) or is it an area you are still working on?

Freddie: Yes, I think people need to be social and when we’re prevented from this we tend to grow more distant and cold. That’s very sad because it’s a negative spiral. Yes, I do acknowledge fear. I think fear is a result of caring and engagement. Fear can often be the reason why some people fail in relationships, by simply fearing to give too much of themselves and thus risking getting hurt. But it’s counterproductive since investing in trust, engagement and vulnerability are some of the key factors to deepen a relationship. But I am very much working on it. I can be very relaxed about risks, but that’s also probably because I don’t let my guard down enough in every situation. I still wear a mask or armor that I built as a defense sometime in my life to avoid getting hurt. I think the most obvious situation when my defense comes up is when I spend a lot of time with my family. A tiny comment can activate a defense mechanism and I can be thrown into roles I had when I grew up, also I noticed that situations tend to escalate more quickly when it’s family. Probably this is similar in most families since that’s where the trust and unconditional love should be and thus also the most vulnerable, also some of the biggest traumas happened during a time when you lived with your family so triggers are very likely to appear at family dinners and gatherings :D.

Gold Pink Gold Heart

Glen: By the way, I love the pictures of you and Erik (the one where Erik is wearing a pink babygrow), where did the desire to dress up and act come from, how big is your dressing up box and what is the weirdest thing in it?

Freddie: Hahaha yes we kind of love to dress up. I have no idea why. We should probably bring in Freud here. I think we are allergic to normal, casual office photos. To us, they don’t feel down-to-earth, just lazy. So I think that’s why we want to have concepts when we take photos of our team. We have many dressing up boxes so it’s kind of a fun process to go through them all. The weirdest thing might be the grown-up baby suit or a collection of 5 different swords from different cultures and eras.

Yellow Dot
Freddie & Erik
Snask Klarna Smooth Scenarios

Glen: Diving into the last part of our interview I would like to go back to nearly the beginning and talk about The Dog Years. After everything we have talked about how do you feel now, reading that you wanted to set-up Snask in a heaving metropolis and it was Magnus that convinced you to think again?

Freddie: I feel that it was a very wise call of Magnus to convince me to start up Snask in Sweden. It is our home and it's been a very good base to come back to after projects abroad or going to conferences far and far away. We'd rather be Swedes coming into New York or London in projects rather than being there permanently. We love these cities and there's always the possibility to go for a week or two (well not with Corona but before that).

Pink Heart

Glen: Your story of those early years sounds like it was tough at times, what do you think you would tell younger Freddie if you could transport yourself back in time like Lister in Red Dwarf (Lister just calls his old-self a crypto-fascist)?

Freddie: The dog years was indeed tough for many reasons. Lack of money. Lack of professionalism. Lack of structure. A naive and confused young mind and ego etc. If I could travel back in time and talk to my younger self I would probably just tell him “Everything is as it should, the universe doesn’t make any mistakes” (quote from Swedish ex-monk Björn Natthiko). It means that you should trust and feel calm wherever you are and in any situation, that the universe has a plan and you just need to follow it. It sounds vague, but it’s something very soothing about it and if it can take away some of the fear of the unknown, I think it's brilliant.

Pink Dot
Snask Studio
Snask The Washington Post Magazine

Glen: What advice do you have for young designers wishing to start out and make art and design they believe in?

Gold Pink Gold Heart

Freddie: For every young designer out there I would just like to say, go for it. Don’t let anything hold you back. Fuck norms and structures. Don’t play by the rules. No one will thank you for being a silent little lamb. Own your own thoughts and life and voice your opinions loudly.

Yellow Dot

Glen: I would really like to know one of the 99 other stories too?

Freddie: 2 out of 99 stories: Once we sent a magazine to print 45,000 prints but mistakenly sent the wrong pdf to print. It was costly. But also a human mistake and those things happen.

Black Gold Pink Heart

Glen: You also talk about the beginnings of your manifesto, I still like your early ideas “if you are fat and want to become thin, then don’t eat crisps with garlic mayo every day” and “if you don’t love your work, quit” they have the venom of your youth. I love the final manifesto in Make Enemies and Gain Fans and what you believe in, have any of them been tricky in 2020 to maintain, are you focusing on any in 2021?

Freddie: Hahaha for sure venom of our youth. But also some toxic ideas in there. There are of course more complex than simply stopping to eat unhealthy food. Also, some people don’t have the possibility to just quit their job, they might have little mouths to feed, etc. So I think those were fun but also privileged, naive and a bit cynical ideas that we had early on haha. Of our current manifesto, the point that has been more challenging has been “If you love someone – let it show”. It sounds easy but is much harder than you think at first. You can think that you're nice if you avoid conflicts and don't put down boundaries. But it's actually not a nice thing to do. Communicating from a vulnerable place is both more genuine, honest as well as nicer. And if you do that there will be conflicts but you will solve them and get closer. So showing someone that you love them also means having expectations of them and telling them if you feel lonely or betrayed etc.

Shut! The Snask Up
Make Enemies & Gain Fans

Glen: Will the manifesto be revised for the next edition of Make Enemies and Gain Fans?

Freddie: We’re planning a 3rd edition of the book but for now we don’t plan to add to the manifesto, but perhaps in a year. We're signing a contract for a new book that is planned to come out next spring. That will for sure make bigger changes within so probably we will revise some parts for that one.

Black Dot
Double Black Heart

Glen: I have always loved the opening statement on your website We are your Future Romance and the energy it creates, on the topic of love (we have covered life and death already), can you tell us what your past romance of 2020 was, and what you are looking to fall head over heels in love with, in 2021?

Freddie: Romance of 2020 was for sure moving out to the countryside like we’ve covered, but also moving into a house with friends of ours and their little daughter Maya. We’ve decided to not have kids of our own so Maya acts like our bonus child and we can play parents sometimes which is fun. A child really brings out the playfulness inside you and it’s very rewarding. For 2021 I hope to fall head over heels in love with the outdoors even more. Everything from skiing and ice-skating to walking in the forest or swimming. I also want to be able to travel again but that can’t be something I take for granted anymore so I’ll leave it out for now.

Snask Off
Gold Pink Gold Heart

Glen: Thank you Freddie ❤️ it’s been a fun journey to talk to you 🌈 I am glad we bumped into each other all those years ago, in that forsaken place 😆.

AFTERWORD

‘Pee on yourself, it will set you free.’

END NOTES

Words: Fredrik Öst & Glen Robinson
Art: GRRR and Photography by Bild Gates from Snask merch, gotta wear ’em all!

You can find detailed case studies on all the Snask work featured in this interview online at Snask. and you can get your hands on the merch at the Snask Shop

The specific Snask projects we have featured in order of appearance are:

IDN - Heal the World
AIM by Mia
Monkifesto
Hedveg – Nice Insurance for Nice people
OFFF Lille 2012
Cozy as Kittens film for Sneakernstuff+adidas
Klarna – Smooth Scenarios
Badminton another epic collaboration this time with Bild Gates and Darwood Music
Extremely Right? for Slanted Magazine
Malmö Festival, 2013
Klarna – Smooth Scenarios
Studio Images and Portraits of Freddie and Erik by Per Björklund
Malmö Festival 2014
Smooth Scenario this time a Long Haired Horse
Klarna – Culture Calendar
Washington Post Magazine

Freddie Öst
3 ideas for discovering fearless creativity and making art and design you believe in

3 ideas for discovering fearless creativity and making art and design you believe in

ARE YOU FRUSTRATED OF FEELING LIKE YOU have to please your audience, bank balance, followers, your tutor or teacher and pretty much anyone else before you are happy with your art or design work? I am a tutor and it’s common for people learning to think variations of this. Knowing who your audience is, is important but not essential for making art and design you believe in. Being creative is a confluence of your experience and interests. That’s why this story is about discovering your own creativity. Not someone else’s but your own innate ability to connect to the soul of the universe. When you are out in nature you can’t help but marvel at the abundance of creativity. Have you ever asked yourself how does nature keep doing it, time and time again. Replicating itself with mathematical precision and uninhibited variety.

I have mentored artists and designers for 18 years, and have been lucky to work with individuals from different backgrounds and countries. Through this have learned how to help people find their creativity and this is my first lesson.

IT HAS 3 IDEAS FOR MAKING GREAT ART AND DESIGN

NUMBER ONE IS BE YOURSELF.

The first step seems obvious but you would be surprised how many people have been misdirected outside of themselves. Be yourself, be the individual you were born as. No-one else shares your unique experiences, your ancestry and you must tap into what’s inside.

This is a moment of fearless self–discovery.

Never try to be anyone other than you and if anyone suggests that you do something like someone else or compares you to someone else – Don’t listen. Never prioritise an outside opinion of your creativity over your own. Many creative people have fallen into a trap that was set for them a long time ago. Probably at school or even at home. It may have been a passing comment about your creativity that made you think you need to please them and it probably made you think their opinion was more relevant than how you feel about what you are creating.

Be the individual you have always been

No flower is the same, not even the same species of flower are alike. Every petal is an expression of the creative power we can all find inside our own nature. Alan Watts, the spiritual entertainer says, ‘We do not “come into” this world; we come out of it, as leaves from a tree. As the ocean “waves,” the universe “peoples”. Every individual is an expression of the whole realm of nature, a unique action of the total universe.’

We are nature expressing itself subjectively, find your nature.

NUMBER TWO IS BE CURIOUS ABOUT EVERYTHING.

Don't look, SEE. Seeing is very different to looking. Seeing is not passive it is intentional observation. The answers are already out there to all your questions (as well as inside you) remember you are nature. If you are curious and record your observations in your imagination you will never have another creative block. And if you do have a creative block, you know all you need to do is turn on your natural curiosity for life.

What this means is, if you train yourself to SEE the world, to consume every shadow, texture, composition you will always encourage your creative mind to think of ideas. If you ask an artist or designer where do their ideas come from, they will often say ideas come from observation.

SEE the world.

When you start this, you will notice lots of people rush around preoccupied with their phone (looking down). This is how life passes you by and you miss all the accidental clues and random happenings.

Guy Debord founder of the Situationist International wrote an essay for movement without purpose called the Theory of Dérive. In it, he goes as far to suggest that from time to time we should stop all reasons for activity in favour of exploration and movement. He called it a playfully constructed behaviour.

Playfully constructed behaviour is a great methodology for encouraging curiosity and we all know what the truth really is – curiosity killed no cat – they (Cats) have many strategies for playful behaviour there is a lot we could learn from the cats grift. When you see the world you will know all nature is playful at heart.

NUMBER THREE IS COLLABORATE.

Collaboration is how creativity works best. The flower is pollinated by insects by giving nectar freely, the flower created the nectar because of the sunshine, rain and earth working together. Everything is an exchange of energy. Nature knows this and all you need to do is remember you are nature.

Whenever I share knowledge as a teacher I am always learning, in learning theory it is called elision: defined as the process of joining together or merging things and ideas. Combining teaching and learning means they become one and the same thing. The integration of teaching with my own art is an exciting prospect. It makes it possible to create knowledge collaboratively with students. The historical role of the master is forgotten and co-creation comes to the foreground. In this instance the goals of the tutor and student are entwined within an activity and we learn together. The exchange of energy is seamless like the sun to the flower to the butterfly and honey bee.

An environment where you can form a creative community is essential for learning. Remember to always respect each other and be prepared to GIVE your knowledge and you will RECEIVE the knowledge of others. Some people think ‘isn’t this cheating?’ In fact, one student said to me years after they graduated, I always thought working with someone else was cheating because I didn’t create everything. Now they run their own company and collaboration is at the heart of everything. When we met up for tea, they admitted to me they now understood. No-one is an island.

Collaborate and you will be more creative.

LAST WORD

HERE’S A QUICK RECAP… 

If you make these three simple principles part of your creative life and commit, you will never have a (really bad) creative block again and your creativity will bloom in beautiful abundance. Just like nature.

NUMBER ONE: Be yourself and find your own nature.
NUMBER TWO: Stay Curious and SEE the world.
NUMBER THREE: Learn to collaborate with others.

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Art: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

 

Ink Circle
Death is your gift

What if, when you die here, you really die?

DEATH IS YOUR GIFT — THE PROPHECY BESTOWED on Buffy by the first Slayer. She wasn’t wrong, for Buffy or for any one of us for that matter. It’s the only constant, for sure; not thinking about it seems like a high–risk strategy for life (especially with hindsight) don’t you think? We know what you’re thinking, that was an abrupt segue from Battlestar Galactica to Buffy the Vampire Slayer (SPACE OPERA TO VAMPIRE ROMANTICS) in one story… We can’t really talk about Kara Thrace (call–sign Starbuck) and Buffy Anne Summers, without talking about facing our own fear of mortality like a wild woman: ‘It’s your chance to find out if you’re really god or just a bunch of circuits with a bad haircut.’

NUMBER ONE: We are all going to die (even Buffy has died twice technically).

It’s not wrong, it’s a fact and inevitable. We know this from the first time we scream in hunger. Somehow we manage to pretend we’re not and ignore this basic fact of life. I am going to die and so is everyone else. It’s what defines us as living after all.

NUMBER TWO: When we die we go home.

We don’t want you to think this is lacking in positivity. Do you think we came from nowhere? The Atlantic Salmon knows exactly where home is. Whatever you feel should happen will probably happen when you dieWe appeared out of nothing and plan to return to the same and in between we have a life that is probably the most alien experience possible.

NUMBER THREE: Facing the reality of your own death and that of your loved ones.

It is the only way to deal with fear of the forgotten state beyond life. Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche says it best “Someone asked me recently if I am afraid to die. Truthfully, I am more afraid of not living my life fully — of living a life dedicated to cherishing and protecting myself. This fear–driven approach to life is like covering your couch in plastic so it won’t get worn. It robs you of the ability to enjoy and appreciate your life. It takes courage to accept life fully, to say yes to our life, yes to our karma, yes to our mind, emotions and whatever else unfolds. This is the beginning of courage. Courage is the fundamental openness to face even the hardest truths. It makes room for all the pain, joy, irony, and mystery that life provides.” In this crazy (CRAZY) time we must find our strength and courage to live our lives and reject the media (MATRIX) and it’s programme of cognitive dissonance around dying being wrong. When at the same time they promote unhealthy lifestyles and food that kills. As Ralf says “but you don’t hear me, right!’

We can learn a lot from our fictional characters (we are aware of the article about Switching off Television) the non–binary Starbuck never held back in life, not for anyone and they turned out to be the harbinger of death. Nor did Buffy (oh dear the grave we are digging is getting deeper). Focus on that great quote by Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche that our good friend Carol shared with us.

The photographs (and drawing) are all from one of our favourite places to sit, think and meditate; Barnoon Cemetery in St Ives, Cornwall — home to Alfred Wallace’s beautiful ceramic tiled tomb. It faces the wild turquoise of the Atlantic Ocean and is lashed with sea spray and mist. It’s a wonderful place to contemplate life and death with the endless sound of the waves crashing below on Porthmeor Beach and Jackdaws ‘tchack–tchacking’ as they make their way through the tall grass, hopping from cross to angel to anchor

 

IN PICTURES—Gravestones in St Ives, Cornwall.

St Ives Barnoon Cemetry
Gravestone Martha
END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography and Drawing: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in the UK (Cornwall) in September 2016 and 2018. Shot on Olympus OMD.

Gravestone Broken Cross
I believe in your. So that makes two of us

Positive affirmations and street art tribute–acts perform against a psychedelic explosion of colour

STUMBLING OUT THE DARK CAVE OF LIVERPOOL Street Station on to a bright sunny Bishopgate we head east for Commercial Road and immediately run into Minty, a SKELETOR hopelessly in love with his closest friend: Frida. She is suffering from bad dreams of Brexit and family disagreements about the socialist agenda. The walls call out our soon to be real foolishness. Quaker street yells her prediction ‘YOU‘RE FUCKED’ with a vibrant green over-scrawl... It isn’t long before a full blown row has broken out on the bisecting paths across Brick Lane. On Grimsby Street a blue lipped Pete Doherty land-lubber pouts his disdain, calling out to the pink lipped King of Cheshire Street. Their shouts ‘THE KEY IS NOT A KEY’ gather the boundless forces of love and colour, to strike at the heart of the red white and blue monster stalking the streets. Strangers whisper to passers by words of encouragement ‘LOOK AFTER YOURSELF’ and pull back the curtain on the Panto spirit of the media circus I’M AN IDIOT. WHAT’S YOUR EXCUSE. The colours and patterns spiral out of control and we pass in and out of crowds in a crescendo of self–replicating Jeans. Displaying a kind of sorcery like Sci-Fi level mastery (the only plausible reason for his crackling energy and multitude of sizes). He photocopied at a incalculable rate close to that of his fellow space traveller Grace, who floats around in a magenta bubble with a puff on her cigarette. Michel sniffs the passive cigarette smoke and their third eyes glitch. A right pair of likely neon savages blink, blinking their eyelashes of truth in waves of friendly goodbyes.

IN PICTURESStreet Art narratives found around Brick Lane in London.

Love
Bad dreams never change
Brexit causes family arguments.
Brexit
You're Fucked
Pete Doherty
20 ER II
SenzArt 911
I'm walking here…
I'm and idiot, what's your excuse?
Look after yourself
Brexshit. Panto sums up what it is to be British… Oh yes it does!
About time you played
Make sure you don't start seeing yourself through the eyes of those who don't value you. Know your worth even if they don't
Life is a fucking Unicorn shitting rainbows of candy
The Reves One
I'm not a real person. I'm a legend
END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography:
Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in July 2019.
Shot on iPhone SE.

BIG Shout Out to all the Writers of these walls.

Look after yourself
Beam me up Bridget

Paintings of purring lines, zips and tongues cavort and play on an epic scale

ON A COLD AND SOGGY WINTER DAY we set out for London to visit the major retrospective of artist Bridget Riley. She is one of those painters that has to be seen in person. There is definitely a sense of being transformed by or through the colour relationships she explores in her paintings. The result is they create a deep and lasting positive feeling, like being beamed up into the purring lines and out the other side (in the process) a kind of re-materialisation happens. Bridget Riley experiments with an obvious love for nature and careful consideration of forms that enable repetiton and complexity of moving parts and associations — emitting and colliding across the canvas in lines, vortexes, spots, triangles, zips and tongues of colourful rhyme. The horizontal and vertical wave paintings (apart from being impossible to photograph) have an energetic field and absorb time with a universal hum; a bit like hearing a tree full of bees and smelling blossom for the first time. We were lucky to be left alone long enough for the marks on the canvas to somehow take over, there is nothing illusory about the experience either, it is very physical and months later still brings a sense of visual ecstasy. Art was definitely the reset our mind needed and the affect of spending time with Bridget Riley paintings has been lasting 

IN PICTURESBridget Riley at the Hayward Gallery in London.

Towards ‘Lagoon’ 1992 (Above) 

Bridget Riley

Painting with Verticals 3 2006

Bridget Riley

Elapse 1982 (detail)

Bridget Riley

Cataract 3 1967 (detail)

Bridget Riley

Pause 1964 (detail)

Bridget Riley

Current 1964 (detail)

Drift 2 Bridget Riley

Drift 2 1966

Bridget Riley

Ra 1981 (detail)

Bridget Riley

From Here 1994 (detail)

Bridget Riley

Burn 1964 (left) Pink Landscape 1960 (right)

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Post Art: GRRR

Artworks: Bridget Riley 

All photographs taken in January 2020.
Shot on iPhone SE.

Bridget Riley at the Hayward Gallery, Southbank Centre in London.

Bridget Riley
Oil & Water Series

Pavements gleam with a kaleidoscope of colourful pollution

WHY ARE THESE IMAGES INTOXICATING TO LOOK at — is it because there are both beauty and destruction all in one spectacle? The blends found in these expanses of colour are fascinating to stare into, the way they twist and wave into a glowing pattern is like a tractor beam of sorts. The transformation is made when engine oil ends up falling onto wet roads, it refracts and produces a weird rainbow of colours. The surface texture plays an endless game with our eyes, tripping us up, as we skip over puddles searching for portals of other–worldly light — sunlight from 150.92 million km away passing through different thicknesses of a once living organism that was buried and years later pulled out of the earth, refined, transported from somewhere on the other side of the planet to end up spilled on the pavement right in front of us. In its new form the metallic pools open an entrance to magical doorways and you can feel yourself reflected back (SOMETIMES OVER AND OVER AGAIN) from other dimensions; other worlds pulling you in to their sumptuous colourful landscapes.

IN PICTURESPollution on the Streets of England.

Oil & Water Series
Oil & Water
Oil & Water Series
Oil & Water Series
Oil & Water
END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in July 2018-2020.
Shot on iPhone SE.


Oil & Water Series

Wildlife has plummeted by an average of 60% since 1970

THERE IS NOTHING BETTER THAN SPENDING TIME exploring a hedgerow or wild field or woodland. Butterflies, hoverflies, beetles and even the odd frog will show itself. Spending time in nature is vital for health and well-being. Find your nearest nature reserve, park or botanical garden head for whatever is flowering and take your time. It’s good for your mental and physical health to get outside and nature provides a wonderful distraction. Making a one hour walk part of your daily schedule (even on the way to work) will always leave you feeling positive. Think about the time of day to maximise your favourites, early will be full of song birds, mid–day will bring butterflies and other insects, and bats in the evening dusk.

Do everything you can to bring nature into your garden and street and plan your gardening around the rhythms of the seasons. Learning about plants and wildlife and how it relates to farming and the seasons was part of our (old-school) primary school education and protection was a vital factor, we need to find our collective RESPECT toward our ancestral lands and what lives with us. It is worrying to note that in some parts of Europe insect life has fallen up to 70% and the estimated value of services provided by insects is enormous and cannot be easily replaced. We need nature and we really need to love the pollinating insects. A radical rethinking of our food systems and consumption–led lifestyle must happen to help bring about a blooming abundance. It starts with respecting life and re–wilding (as George Monbiot says) space used to feed animals we don’t need to be eating. We have all the information and each need to make informed and conscious choices.  The personal and community benefits are worthy of our effort. Read more in the Living Planet Report on the WWF website

 

IN PICTURESDragonflies, bee's, hoverflies and beautiful butterflies.

Bee
Speckled Wood Butterfly
Hooverfly
Bee
Silver Washed Fritillary Butterfly
Hooverfly
Silver Studded Blue Butterfly
Red Admiral Butterfly
Grasshopper
Southern Hawker Dragonfly
Southern Hawker Dragonfly
Peacock Butterfly
END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in the UK (Norfolk and Costwolds) in July and August 2019. Shot on Olympus OMD with 60mm f2.8 Macro.

Silver Studded Blue Butterfly
Television

Switching the television off might just save you!

IF WE TOLD YOU IT WAS possible to improve your physical and mental health with a simple life hack would you consider it? If we told you it only required a single act, in fact it was so straight forward all it required was pressing a button (or more accurately to stop pressing a button). For the purpose of the skit let’s just say television is short–hand for any type of passive (SCREENTIME) consumption slash watching of moving images and sound, especially linear programmed but not withstanding on demand.

Before we get into the reasons to turn off, we should talk about what is amazing about moving images with sound. It’s often beautiful, expansive and as CURIOUS people we are aroused by sensory stimulus, you might say it’s how we think. Epic photography, unbelievable visual effects, breathtaking landscapes and telling people’s stories lie at the heart of what we love about television. It can be beyond our imagination and capture moments of life that are essential experiences (somewhat removed) and are often beyond our personal limitations. Nothing bad there then! At its very, very best it educates and entertains in equal measure and doesn’t underestimate the audience.

On the flip–side. Imagine life without screens dominating your decisions for a moment, it might be a television, phone or computer. We can hear what the flat–screen television people are saying, what does all your furniture point at? The answer is we moved it into another room. We still have a television and do watch it (sometimes) but a while back we stopped paying the nearly £160 license fee to watch live television (we’ve already saving ourselves £2,000). This is an important step. This broke our relationship with repetition and programming – the clue is in the names given (all words are spells when spoken). Having your time programmed with unique and new content is alright, to a point. But how do you feel about having your time programmed with repeats or reruns; or worse News, 24 hour FEARMONGERING. Television is such an aggressively indoctrinating activity, that when given the option (with On Demand) we CHOOSE to watch the same shows again, back to back as passive voyeurs of our past time slash lives — taken from us all over again. There are eighteen days and nearly seven hundred episodes of Doctor Who. What could you learn in that time? Television networks measure our attraction, and the value of your time is reflected back by the advertising. Don’t worry, if you fast forward the adverts, you have not succeeded in avoiding their influence. Corporations control the programming and content indirectly and the advertising reinforces BAD life choices. The programming also provides a high dose of cognitive dissonance; and shows depict all kinds of false ideas, corruption being disbanded (by the good guys), idyllic lifestyles, death and murder, food that kills and the news manufactures distrust of all and everyone.

The television itself, the thing causes approximately 10,000 accidents a year in America and sadly result in the deaths of mostly children, too often. Combined with the rapid nature of consumption capitalism, discarded televisions containing lead and mercury which can lead to occupational health concerns. Watching three hours or longer a day decreases your mobility (obviously) and makes us sedentary or inactive throughout large parts of our day and life. This is not good for our long–term health. In extreme cases, people can experienced opiate-withdrawal like symptoms if they stop watching for a prolonged period of time. We have personally seen similar withdrawal happen from the anxiety which can form when access to social media is interrupted. 

WHAT NEXT? Set goals, be selective, watch less each day and unsubscribe. Does it raise your consciousness? Read what you could watch; reading makes us feel more positive and improves our memory. Double down and read about the effects of television and media consumption and how it lowers your cognitive abilities.

Risk of death, (drug like) habit–forming that leads to early death. Our television just left the building. We have (SLOWLY) realised that it is essential to DO SOMETHING you will thank yourself for tomorrow, next week, next year. Oh and in case you’re not convinced here is Terrence McKenna’s take ‘Television is by nature the dominator drug par excellence’. Release your mind from its control; control over the content, uniformity of content and repeatability of content are clear signals it is a powerful tool of coercion, brainwashing, and mass manipulation…

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Post Art: GRRR

Switching The Television Off Might Just Save You
????

The Revolutionary Pleasure of Thinking for Yourself

DO YOU FEEL UPSIDE DOWN? WITH A nagging feeling that the world is far from ideal and free thinking for yourself is considered over–rated in an ever expanding media induced 21st Century haze. If you are feeling upside down it’s time to switch off and tune into yourself. Pause for a moment and think, don’t take someone else’s word for it. Banish conventional modes of thought to seek out your own answers to life’s complex questions; who? what? how? why?

Your role, community, state, country, parish, faith, marketing demographic, job or career don’t make you an individual they make you part of a wider existence, which we all share with one another. Individual journeys converge leading to the formation of emergent group endorsed reality; this idea (OR PROGRAMME) is being created and steered with almost complete cooperation of everyone. What is your conclusion or explanation? Can it be, that the brutal, beautiful, fear reeked culture we have carved out for ourselves on this rock is of our making.

I am you and you are me.

Luckily what this means is we can change it together and it can be for everyone. A simple choice between Love and Fear. If you want to make the world a better place it is time for reflection and to educate yourself, so you are able.

The following essay has been written and re-written by multiple anonymous authors over time. It has been published under the names “Self-Theory: the pleasure of thinking for yourself” and “Revolutionary self-help: a beginner's manual” it appears in 1975 then again in 1985, 1989 and 1992. One edition begins with: This booklet is for people who are dissatisfied with their lives. If you are happy with your present existence, we have no argument with you. However, if you are tired of waiting for your life to change…

We discovered the version below in zine form at the Freedom Press Bookshop in Angel Alley 84b Whitechapel High Street, London in 2004 (the infamous year Facebook began). Due to the age of the essay, online culture is not explored. The examination of what the impact digital media has had on society and how social media and instant access to information is ongoing and well represented (IRONICALLY) through the platforms they oppose. The world being online has created new opportunities and the old familiar challenges of lies as facts and reality potrayed as false. In the Meme slash Data War, thinking for yourself can sometimes feel the opposite of pleasure but thinking for yourself is the survival skill and knowledge we all need to develop to navigate our digital reality. This pamphlet is for people who question the uncomfortable ideologies of our time and wish to transform their life through an authentic revolution of being. A manual that will challenge the collective psyche to avoid following the limited predetermined outcomes set forth and provide a foundation for critical self-theory.

 

ANONYMOUS AUTHORS

The Revolutionary Pleasure Of Thinking For Yourself

1.

Those who assume (often unconsciously) that it is impossible to achieve their life's desires-and, thus, that it is futile to fight for themselves—usually end up fighting for an ideal or cause instead. They may appear to engage in self-directed activity, but in reality, they have accepted alienation from their desires as a way of life. All subjugation of personal desires to the dictates of a cause or ideology is reactionary no matter how "revolutionary" the actions arising from such subjugation may appear.

Yet, one of the great secrets of our miserable, yet potentially marvellous time, is that thinking can be a pleasure. Despite the suffocating effect of the dominant religious and political ideologies, many individuals do learn to think for themselves; and by doing so—by actively, critically thinking for themselves, rather than by passively accepting pre-digested opinions—they reclaim their minds as their own.

This is a manual for those who wish to think for themselves, a manual for creation of a personally (rather than ideologically) constructed body of critical thought for your own use, a body of thought which will help you to understand why your life is the way it is and why the world is the way it is. More importantly, as you construct your own theory, you will also develop a practice: a method to get what you want for your own life. Theory, then, must be either practical—a guide to action—or it will be nothing, nothing but an aquarium of ideas, a contemplative interpretation of the world. The realm of ideas divorced from actions is the eternal waiting room of unrealized desires. Forming your own practical theory, what could be called "self-theory," is intimately connected to achieving the realization of your desires.

Therefore, constructing your self-theory is a revolutionary pleasure. It is both a destructive and constructive pleasure, because you are creating a practical theory—one tied to action—for the destruction and reconstruction of this society. It is a theory of adventure because it is based on what you want from life and on devising the means necessary to achieve it. It is as erotic and humorous as an authentic revolution.

2.

Any system of ideas with an abstraction at its centre—an abstraction which assigns you a role or duties—is an ideology. An ideology provides those who accept it with a false consciousness, a necessary component of which is other-directedness. This leads those who accept the ideology to behave as "objects" rather than "subjects," to allow themselves to be used rather than to act to attain their own desires. The various ideologies are all structured around different abstractions, yet all serve the interests of a dominant (or aspiring dominant) class by giving individuals (though the term hardly seems appropriate—"members of the herd" is perhaps more accurate) a sense of purpose in sacrifice, suffering, and submission.

Religious ideology is the oldest example: the fantastic projection called "God" is the Supreme Subject of the cosmos, acting on every human being as "His" object. In the "scientific" and "democratic" ideologies of "free enterprise," capital investment is the "productive" subject directing world history—the "invisible hand" guiding human development. In order to prosper, the early capitalists had to attack and weaken the power that religious ideology once held. They exposed the mystification of the religious world and replaced it with the mystification of technology and commodity capitalism, wherein Profit becomes the Supreme Subject of the cosmos.

The 57 varieties of Leninism are "revolutionary" ideologies in which the Party is the rightful subject entitled to dictate world history by leading its object—you, the proletariat—to the promised land through replacement of the corporate-capitalist "free enterprise" apparatus with a state-capitalist Leninist apparatus.

The many other varieties of dominant ideologies can be seen daily. The new forms of religious mysticism help to preserve the status quo in a roundabout way. They provide a cheap and tidy way to obscure the vacuousness of daily life and, like drugs, make it easier to live, or rather exist, with this emptiness—and so prevent us from recognizing our real roles in the functioning of the socio-economic system.

All of these ideologies differ in the specific sacrifices they demand of you, the object, but all are structured in the same way. All demand an inversion of subject and object; things, abstractions, take on the human attributes of power and will, while human beings become things, tools to be used in the service of these abstractions (God, the dictatorship of the proletariat, the fatherland, etc., etc.). Ideology is upside down self-theory. It fosters acceptance of the separation of our narrow, daily lives from a world that appears totally beyond our control. Ideology offers us only a voyeur's relationship with the life of the world.

All abstraction-based ideologies demand duty, sacrifice for the cause; and every such ideology serves to protect the dominant social order. Authorities whose power depends upon docility must deny us our subjectivity, our conscious will to act for our own desires. Such denial comes in the form of demands for sacrifices for "the common good," "the national interest," "the war effort," "the revolution,"….

3.

We rid ourselves of the blinders of ideology by constantly asking ourselves: How do I feel? How's my life? What do I want? Am I getting what I want? If not, why not? This is being conscious of the commonplace, being aware of your everyday routine. That real-life exists—life in which you are active, a subject acting to achieve your desires—is a public secret that becomes less secret every day, as the breakdown of daily life constructed around abstraction-based ideologies becomes more and more obvious.

4.

The creation of self-theory is based on thinking for yourself, on being fully conscious of your desires and of their validity. Authentic "consciousness-raising" can only be the "raising" of people's thinking to the level of positive (non-guilty) self-consciousness, free of imposed morality in all its forms. This type of consciousness can be termed "radical subjectivity."

Conversely, what many leftists, therapy mongers, racism awareness trainers, and sisterizers term "consciousness-raising" is the practice of beating people into unconsciousness with guilt-inducing, ideological billy clubs.

The path from self-negation to self-affirmation passes through point zero, the capital city of nihilism. This is the windswept still point in social space and time, the social limbo in which one recognizes that there is no real life in one's daily existence. A nihilist knows the difference between surviving and living.

Nihilists reverse their perspectives on their lives and the world. Nothing is true for them but their desires, their will to be. They reject all ideology in their hatred for the miserable social relations in modern society. From this reversed perspective they clearly see the upside-down world of commodity capitalism in which subject and object are inverted, and people and abstract concepts are converted into things, commodities to be sold. They see daily life as a theatrical landscape in which "everyone has their price," God (via televangelism) and happiness (smile buttons) become commodities, radio stations say they love you, and detergents have compassion for your hands.

Daily conversation offers sedatives such as, "You can't always get what you want," "Life has its ups and downs," and other cliches of the secular religion of survival. "Common sense" is just the non-sense of common alienation. Every day people are denied (and deny themselves) an authentic life and are sold back its representation. Nihilists constantly feel the urge to destroy the system which destroys them. They cannot go on living as they are. Soon, most realize that they must devise a coherent set of tactics in order to transform the world. But if a nihilist does not recognize the possibility for the transformation of the world, his or her subjective rage will ossify into a role: the suicide, the solitary murderer, the street hoodlum-vandal, the neo-dadaist, the professional mental patient… all seeking compensation for a life of dead time.

In the West, the surplus value, or the value produced over and above the value of the workers' wages, is the property of the corporate management and stockholders, who keep up a show of domestic competition. In the East, the surplus value is the property of the state bureaucracy, which does not permit domestic competition. Big difference.

Like the false issues and false conflicts cited above, false questions are used to distract us from living in the present, from seeing the totality of existence. One example is the stupid conversational question, "What's your philosophy of life?" It poses an abstract concept of "life" that has nothing to do with real-life because it ignores the fact that "living" is exactly what we are doing at the present moment, and our "philosophy of life" is clearly revealed by our actions.

False identities are perhaps an even more potent form of mystification. In the absence of real community, people cling to all kinds of phoney social identities—they contemplate and attempt to emulate a huge variety of roles presented to them in school, church, and, especially, the "entertainment" media. These social identities can be ethnic ("Italian- American"), residential ("New Yorker"), nationalistic ("patriot"), sexual ("gay"), cultural ("Giants fan"), and so on; but all are rooted in a common desire for affiliation, for belonging.

Obviously being "black" is a much more real identification than being a "Giants fan," but beyond a certain point, such an identification only serves to mask one's real position in society; and in order to recognize that real position, you have to reject the false identities, false conflicts, and false dichotomies, and begin with yourself as the centre. From there you can examine the material basis of your life, stripped of mystification.

An example: Suppose that you want a cup of coffee from the vending machine at work. First, there is the cup of coffee itself: that involves the workers on the coffee plantation, the ones on the sugar plantation and in the refineries, the ones in the paper mill, and so on. Then you have the workers who made the different parts of the vending machine and the ones who assembled it. Then the ones who extracted the iron ore and bauxite, smelted the steel, and work for the electric utility which supplies power to the machine. Then all the workers who transported the coffee, cups, and machine. Then the clerks, typists, and communication workers who coordinated the production and transportation. Finally, you have all the workers who produced all the other things necessary for the other ones to survive. That gives you a direct material relationship to several million people, in fact, to the immense majority of the world's population. They produce your life, and you help to produce theirs. In this light, all artificial group identities and special group interests fade into insignificance. Imagine the potential enrichment of your life that at present is locked up in the frustrated creativity of these millions of workers, held back by obsolete and exhausting methods of production, strangled by lack of control over their own productivity, warped by the insane rationale of capital-accumulation which pits one against all and makes life a mad scramble for economic survival. Here we begin to discover a real social identity—in people all over the world who are fighting to win control over their own lives we find ourselves.

Those who have a vested interested in the political and economic status quo continually present us with false choices, that is, with choices which preserve their power ("Vote Democratic!"/"Vote Republican! "—"But Vote!"). We are constantly being asked to choose sides in false conflicts. Governments, corporations, political parties, and propagandists of all kinds constantly present us with "choices" that are no choice at all. We are given the illusion of choice, but as long as those in power control what our "choices" will be ("choices" which we perceive as the only alternatives available to us), they will also control the outcome of our "decisions."

In the West, the surplus value, or the value produced over and above the value of the workers' wages, is the property of the corporate management and stockholders, who keep up a show of domestic competition. In the East, the surplus value is the property of the state bureaucracy, which does not permit domestic competition. Big difference.

Like the false issues and false conflicts cited above, false questions are used to distract us from living in the present, from seeing the totality of existence. One example is the stupid conversational question, "What's your philosophy of life?" It poses an abstract concept of "life" that has nothing to do with real-life because it ignores the fact that "living" is exactly what we are doing at the present moment, and our "philosophy of life" is clearly revealed by our actions.

False identities are perhaps an even more potent form of mystification. In the absence of real community, people cling to all kinds of phoney social identities—they contemplate and attempt to emulate a huge variety of roles presented to them in school, church, and, especially, the "entertainment" media. These social identities can be ethnic ("Italian- American"), residential ("New Yorker"), nationalistic ("patriot"), sexual ("gay"), cultural ("Giants fan"), and so on; but all are rooted in a common desire for affiliation, for belonging.

Obviously being "black" is a much more real identification than being a "Giants fan," but beyond a certain point, such an identification only serves to mask one's real position in society; and in order to recognize that real position, you have to reject the false identities, false conflicts, and false dichotomies, and begin with yourself as the centre. From there you can examine the material basis of your life, stripped of mystification.

An example: Suppose that you want a cup of coffee from the vending machine at work. First, there is the cup of coffee itself: that involves the workers on the coffee plantation, the ones on the sugar plantation and in the refineries, the ones in the paper mill, and so on. Then you have the workers who made the different parts of the vending machine and the ones who assembled it. Then the ones who extracted the iron ore and bauxite, smelted the steel, and work for the electric utility which supplies power to the machine. Then all the workers who transported the coffee, cups, and machine. Then the clerks, typists, and communication workers who coordinated the production and transportation. Finally, you have all the workers who produced all the other things necessary for the other ones to survive. That gives you a direct material relationship to several million people, in fact, to the immense majority of the world's population. They produce your life, and you help to produce theirs. In this light, all artificial group identities and special group interests fade into insignificance. Imagine the potential enrichment of your life that at present is locked up in the frustrated creativity of these millions of workers, held back by obsolete and exhausting methods of production, strangled by lack of control over their own productivity, warped by the insane rationale of capital-accumulation which pits one against all and makes life a mad scramble for economic survival. Here we begin to discover a real social identity—in people all over the world who are fighting to win control over their own lives we find ourselves.

Those who have a vested interested in the political and economic status quo continually present us with false choices, that is, with choices which preserve their power ("Vote Democratic!"/"Vote Republican! "—"But Vote!"). We are constantly being asked to choose sides in false conflicts. Governments, corporations, political parties, and propagandists of all kinds constantly present us with "choices" that are no choice at all. We are given the illusion of choice, but as long as those in power control what our "choices" will be ("choices" which we perceive as the only alternatives available to us), they will also control the outcome of our "decisions."

The new moralists love to tell those of us in the rich West how we will "have to make sacrifices," how we "exploit the starving children of the Third World." The choice we are given is between sacrificial altruism or narrow individualism. (Charities cash in on the resulting guilt.) Yes, by living in the rich, wasteful West we do exploit the poor of the Third World—but not personally, not deliberately. We can make some changes in our lives, boycott, make sacrifices, but the effects are marginal. We become aware of the false conflict with which we've been presented when we realize that under the global socio-economic system we, as individuals, are locked into our roles as "exploiters" just as others are locked into their global roles as the exploited. We have a role, but little power to change it—at least individually. Therefore, we reject the false choice of "sacrifice or selfishness" by calling for the destruction of the global social system whose existence forces that decision upon us. Tinkering with the system, or offering token sacrifices, or calling for "a little less selfishness," simply won't do. Charities and reformers never go beyond such false choices as "sacrifice" or "selfishness"—but if any true social progress is to be made, the rest of us must do so.

Those in power continually use such falsifications to divert and disempower us. By spreading myths like, "If we shared it all there wouldn't be enough to go around," they attempt to deny the existence of any real choices and to hide from us the fact that the material preconditions for social revolution already exist.

7.

Any journey toward self-demystification must avoid the twin quagmires of absolutism and cynicism. Absolutism is the total acceptance or rejection of all components of particular ideologies, or indeed, of any set of ideas or concepts. An absolutist cannot see any choice other than complete acceptance or complete rejection; s/he sees things purely as good or bad, black or white. The absolutist wanders along the shelves of the ideological supermarket looking for the ideal commodity, and then buys it lock, stock and barrel. But the ideological supermarket—like any supermarket—is fit only for looting. It is of more practical use to us to move along the shelves, rip open the packets, take out what looks authentic and useful, and dump the rest. Cynicism is a reaction to a world dominated by ideology and "morality." Faced with conflicting ideologies, the cynic says, "A plague on both your houses." The cynic is as much a consumer as the absolutist, but one who has given up hope of finding the ideal commodity.

8.

The process of constructive thinking is a process of continually adding to and modifying one's current body of self-theory as well as resolving contradictions between one's new thoughts and perceptions and one's previous beliefs. The resulting synthesis is thus more than the sum of its parts.

This synthetic method of constructing a theory is counter to the eclectic method in which one collects a ragbag of favourite bits from favourite ideologies without ever confronting the resulting contradictions. Modern examples include "anarcho-capitalism," "Christian marxism," and liberalism in general.

If we are continually conscious of how we want to live, we can critically appropriate from anything: ideologies, culture critics, technocratic experts, sociological studies, even mystics (though the pickings will probably be slim). All the rubbish of the old world can be scavenged for useful material by those who want to reconstruct it.

9.

The nature of modern society, unified globally through its capitalist economic system, makes necessary a self-theory which criticizes all areas in which socio-economic domination exists (i.e., both the corporate capitalism of the "free" world and the state capitalism of the "communist" world) as well as all forms of alienation (sexual poverty, enforced participation in the rat race for survival, etc.). In other words, we need a critique of the totality of daily existence from the perspective of the totality of our desires.

Opposed to this project are all the politicians and bureaucrats, preachers and gurus, city planners and policemen, reformers and Leninists, central committees and censors, corporate managers and union honchos, male supremacists and feminist ideologues, landlords and eco-capitalists who work to subordinate individual desires to that hideous abstraction, "the common good," of which they are the supposed guardians. They are all forces of the old world-bosses, priests, and other creeps who have something to lose if people extend the game of seizing back their minds into seizing back their lives.

Revolutionary theory and abstraction-based ideologies are enemies, and every politically conscious person knows it.

10.

By now it should be obvious that self-demystification and the creation of our own revolutionary theory do not eradicate our alienation; “the world,” with its capitalist economic relations permeating every aspect of life, goes on and is reproduced every day with the acquiescence and assistance of billions of people.

Although this text has the creation of self-theory as its focus, we do not mean to imply that revolutionary theory can exist separately from revolutionary practice. In order to be consequential, to effectively reconstruct the world, practice must be based in theory, and theory must be realized in practice. The revolutionary project of ending alienation and transforming social relations requires that one's theory be nothing other than a theory of practice, realized in what we do and how we live. Otherwise, theory will degenerate into an impotent contemplation of the world, and ultimately into a survival mechanism—an intellectual armour that acts as a buffer between the daily world and oneself. And if revolutionary practice is not the practice of revolutionary theory, it degenerates into, at best, altruistic militantism—"revolutionary" activity as one's social duty or role. At worst, it degenerates into pure gangsterism.

We don't strive for a coherent theory purely as an end in itself. For us, the value of coherency is that it makes it easier to think critically and effectively. For example, it's easier to understand future developments in social control if you have a coherent understanding of present-day social control ideologies and techniques. Having a coherent theory makes it easier to put into practice your strategy for realizing your desires.

11.

In the process of constructing self-theory, the last theories that must be dealt with (one hesitates to call them "ideologies," as they are not based in abstractions with their accompanying "shoulds" and "duties") are the ones that have the most resemblance to revolutionary self-theory. These are situationism and syndicalism.

The Situationist International (1958-1971) was an organization of theoretically oriented, ultra-left, European (especially French) Marxists. Many believe, as did the original author(s) of this essay, that the situationists "made an immense contribution to revolutionary theory." That evaluation is, however, overly generous. Virtually all of the key insights attributed to situationist writers can be found in the works of earlier anarchists, social democrats, and philosophers such as Alexander Berkman, Emma Goldman, Oscar Wilde, George Bernard Shaw, Wilhelm Reich and Friedrich Nietzsche (though the insights in question were scattered and often were not developed with the rigour found in the better situationist texts). The primary reason that this is not widely recognized is that most of the early situationists and their followers came from Marxist backgrounds and were simply not familiar with the vast body of non-Marxist progressive writings produced in prior decades; and the younger situationist followers often have had very little in the way of political experience and are as unfamiliar with early progressive literature as were their Marxist predecessors.

A secondary reason for the overestimation of the importance of the situationists is that situationism is a French ideology utilizing an arcane Marxist-derived jargon ('poverty of…,' 'society of the spectacle,' 'reification,' 'dialectical,' etc., etc.); as well, virtually all situationist texts are written in a very difficult to follow, jargon-ridden, muddy style—which makes them inaccessible to most people. Thus, situationism has a great deal of snob appeal for those with intellectual pretensions. Once you've mastered the jargon and read (or claim to have read) the key (one is tempted to say "sacred") texts, you certainly at least appear to be an intellectual. Thus it's not surprising that "situationist" poseurs, 1atched as they are to their "situationist" roles and "intellectual" pretensions, often have little regard for truth and regard decent human behaviour as "bourgeois"; it follows, then, that in political controversies they often resort to deliberate distortions, fabrications, and ad hominem attacks upon those who have the temerity to criticize their ideas. (Some, incredibly, have even used the slogan, 'the personal is political,' as an excuse for scurrilous personal attacks.) The destructive-and ultimately self~defeating~effects of these vicious tactics are so obvious as to need no further comment.

But perhaps the most critical~weakness of situationism is that it offers no coherent method for "getting from here to there," that is, from "the society of the spectacle" to the free society.

Having said this, it should be added that the great virtue of the situationist writers was that they presented their insights in a more or less coherent manner and expounded upon them at length. (The qualifier "more or less" is used due to the very low quality, stylistically, of almost all situationist texts.) At its best, situationist theory offered a critique of "spectacular" society, that is, society in which people are reduced to the level of passive observers and consumers rather than active participants. It made an extensive critique of how both ideology and commodification turn people into passive, alienated observers of their own lives. Thus, situationist theory is a body of critical thought which can be incorporated into one's own self-theory—but nothing more. Anything more—the unquestioning acceptance of situationist theories and the identification of oneself with those theories—is the ideological misappropriation known as situationism. Situationism can be quite the complete survival ideology, a defence against the wear and tear of daily life. And included in the ideology is the spectacular role of being a "situationist," that is, a radical jade and ardent esoteric.

The other body of ideas which bears a great deal of resemblance to revolutionary self-theory is, to use the term broadly, syndicalism. Variants include anarcho-syndicalism, revolutionary syndicalism, and council communism, with anarcho-syndicalism being the most important of the three.

Real self-management is the direct management (without any separate leadership) of social production, distribution, and communication by workers and their communities. The movement for self-management has appeared again and again all over the world in the course of social revolution: Russia in 1905 and 1917-1921; Spain in 1936-1939; Hungary in 1956; Algeria in 1960; Chile in 1972; and Portugal in 1975. The form of organization most often created in the practice of self-management has been workers' councils: sovereign assemblies of producers and neighbours that elect delegates to coordinate their activities. The delegates are not representatives, but carry out decisions already made by their assemblies. Delegates can be recalled at any time should the general assembly feel that its decisions are not being rigorously carried out. Partisans of all of the above-mentioned forms of syndicalism advocate such practices.

The great virtues of syndicalism are, first, that it seeks to destroy all coercive authority as well as the commodity (i.e., capitalist) economy. Second, it does provide a practical means of "getting from here to there." And third, it recognizes that the one essential function of social organization is to provide the economic base-production and distribution of goods and services upon which all else rests. Syndicalism recognizes that this is the one area in which extensive organization (of the libertarian type described above) is needed and that it's best to leave all other areas of life as free as possible from organizational influence. Virtually all critics of syndicalism, including the original author(s) of this pamphlet, miss this essential point. (It's certainly true that a thorough critique of all types of domination and mystification is necessary to social transformation, but one need only glance at the better syndicalist publications to see that at least some syndicalists are making such a critique.) Given the destruction of coercive authority (one of syndicalism's central goals) and adequate advance preparation (i.e., demystification), it would be absurd not to expect an explosion of creativity in all areas of life— art, music, writing, architecture, family relations, sexual relations, community structure, etc., etc.

There are, however, two great dangers in syndicalism. The first is that many syndicalists develop tunnel vision: they become so obsessed with labour struggles and self-managed economic schemes that they not only fail to analyze non-workplace-related forms of domination and mystification, but they often act as if such problems do not even exist. Thus, if this syndicalist tendency would succeed in its aims, it could well help to produce a self-managed society in which other-than-economic forms of domination and mystification still exert their baleful influences—for example, it's easy to envisage a worker-controlled economic system which coexists with religious mystification, homophobia, and sexism. This would be contrary to anarchist principles, but many syndicalists are syndicalists first and anarchists (or "antiauthoritarians") second, which is more than a bit like the tail wagging the dog.

The second danger is related to the first: syndicalists sometimes forget that syndicalist organizations are just a means to an end. They sometimes develop a bad case of organizational fetishism; this can be termed "organizationitis"—an intellectual hallucination in which means and ends are reversed, in which the syndicalist organization is perceived as an end in itself, as being more important than its goal (the free society). Sadly, in some cases, that goal seems to be entirely forgotten. And, even more sadly, "organizationitis" sometimes—but not inevitably— leads to an even worse disease, bureaucratization.

But these are not condemnations of syndicalist theory; they simply show that even the best theory is, in itself, no guarantee that its holders will always act in accord with its principles or will develop insights which go beyond those contained in the theory. This isn't terribly surprising. We all live in the world of commodity capitalism, and it would be shocking if we weren't burdened to a greater or lesser degree with the character traits such a life engenders; and it would be equally shocking if these character traits didn't cause problems in syndicalist organizations —indeed, in organizations of any type, including the most informal.

Still, the situation is far from hopeless. A high degree of personal awareness among participants can reduce the dangers of organizationitis and bureaucratization. As well, there are many procedural devices which are very effective at reducing such problems; these include decentralization, mandatory rotation of offices, term limitations, strict delimitation of responsibilities, and immediate recall. With such safeguards, participation in common projects of self-liberation is more than feasible; it's desirable.

The world can only be turned right side up by the conscious collective activity of those who construct a theory of why it is upside down. Spontaneous rebellion alone is not sufficient. Without adequate advance preparation, the old world will simply reappear after any rebellion, embedded as it is in the psyches of the fabled “people.” An authentic revolution can only occur if there is a coherent and practical mass movement of self-conscious individuals in which all of the mystifications of the past are being consciously swept away.

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Post Art: GRRR

As the previous authors/editors of this pamphlet have chosen to remain anonymous (or pseudonymous), the editor of this edition shall likewise remain so. This text is not copyrighted. Please feel free to reproduce it.

False Conflicts
UK March Lockdown

Stay-at-home order arrives with a clean sharpened hue of blue and 1970s yellow ochre tones

FOR THE FIRST TIME IN LIVING MEMORY, (AT LEAST OURS) the people of the UK gathered around a simple set of collective principles to make change happen “Stay home, Protect the NHS, Save Lives”. The lockdown of the UK was announced on 23 March 2020 by the Prime Minister with measures to mitigate the spread of a virus and to protect the community. It included wide-ranging restrictions on freedom of movement, enforceable in law, under a stay-at-home order which was said would last for at least twelve weeks (we did warn anyone who would listen, how silly it would be for people to believe them). The mood was strangely tinged with a late twentieth century analogue feeling. The absence of people, cars and movement was  just what you might imagine waking up in a dystopia horror novel might feel and look like. The lack of people in the photographs is the most shocking memory and to see (or not see) such a high level of panic and acquiescence was astonishing and scary in equal measure. We had underestimated, really naively the sheer level of fear around death and dying the collective psyche had been sheltering from the light of their thoughts. Some are calling it the Great Awakening. Let’s hope so.

IN PICTURESThe streets of Norwich on the first day of the UK Lockdown.

UK March Lockdown
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END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Photography: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson

Part of an ongoing anthropological study of layered narratives found in naturally occurring intersections between the metaphysical and terrestrial worlds. We examine and document the fabric of our journey through the continuous production of an interconnected body of knowledge and data gathering.

All photographs taken in the UK (Norfolk) March 2020.
Shot on iPhone SE.

UK March Lockdown
Forgetting McKenna Terrace

An ancestral ember awakens Hurbalin Wolf to a life forgotten

IN THE OPENING SCENE WE ARE THROWN into the dark and vaguely familiar world of our protagonist Hurbalin Wolf — he is teetering on the edges of life and death (BY MATRIX) when a profound encounter with a mystery fish from the future sends him on a journey of destruction and self–discovery. A funny and stupid story of political posters, plant medicine, talking cats, fancy dress parties, performance art and trying to remember — Forgetting McKenna Terrace is a strange and familiar dystopian fantasy set in the recent past where a spate of scarcity panics have taken hold and enslaved society in a vicious pattern of spectatorship and self–absorption. 

BY
G.R. SEAGO

FORGETTING MCKENNA TERRACE
Bit By Byte Into Oblivion

 

IT WAS A COLD SUNNY AFTERNOON AND time ceased to exist in any meaningful way since it had begun.
    The wind hustled and hassled a tumbling spiral of leaves. Hurbalin Wolf stepped into the twisting chaos eager to learn from the vortex of ogham debris. For the briefest moment, he was frozen by the elemental forces visualising decay into oblivion when she dissolved before his eyes.
    The wind’s cry blew to indigo.
    After a day spent indoors his being yearned for oneness with nature’s rhythmic cycle. The office, where he spent ten hours of precious time, five days a week was starved of all–natural light. The air controlled atmosphere sanitized the environment and its inhabitants into robotic numbness.
    Severed from lights gift.
    Hurbalin continued his walk home with the colour of death everywhere he looked. A row of scarlet oak burned from the top down with vivid red to green. He loved the sound and smell of Autumn and despite its regularity enjoyed every Samhain like it was for the very first time. As soon as the earliest yellow hit the ground, Hurbalin wandered without purpose everywhere he went; he was deep in thought and on a deadline to shed his own dying pattern. He often cleansed his thoughts with the changing of the season and today he silently lingered by the weir pool watching, willing, waiting for the returning Atlantic salmon; arrows of Sagittarius shot from beneath the white water. He admired the salmons quantum memory to return to their origin and their drive to defy obstacles; obstacles placed in their way that were designed by humans to control nature.
    Akin to the salmon, obstacles had been placed in Hurbalin’s way by low–vibrating bosses and other fascists who set up hoops for him to jump through, or goal–posts which moved and other banal metaphors for what can be simply seen as control; control of another human’s life endeavour. The words of Bernard Black came to him in the unexpected form of nose twitching and cottontail semaphore. The troupe of theatrical rabbits orchestrated their message from the opposing riverbank:
This is life! We suffer and slave and expire. That’s it.
    Despair tinged the corner of his thoughts.
    Maybe it applied to all living things, even animals. After all, salmon spend most of their early life avoiding predators, finally taking to the sea, where more predators hunt them, only to return home, spawn and die from the exhaustion.
    Blue Beard lurked on every street corner.
    Hurbalin was tired from a career (if you can call it that) of moving swiftly and in an uncontrolled way in a specified direction. The burning fatigue was making him sick, and he had become increasingly lost to an aggressively patented, highly profitable pharmaceutical haze. He was in desperate need of a clue from his surroundings when a fish broke the surface. Time slowed in rhythm to his drugged arteries, stoned to the corporate beat, beat, beat of beta–blocking ace inhibitors. At that moment, Hurbalin could feel the ‘boem boem’ of a familiar heartbeat, and he focused his intention upon nature overcoming her man–made confines. The salmon rocketed skywards. He sang the beat aloud ‘boem boem–boem boem’ and with all his mind Hurbalin willed, waited, watched the silvery fish gracefully defy the downstream weir pool prison, performing an athletic leap into the unknown like a bandy high jumper at the Olympics. Its flank glinted with the blue–yellow warmth of the sunset and the fish gaze demanded in no uncertain terms he needed to stop taking his medicine. It was the opposite of what his Doctor wanted, he wanted Hurbalin to up his dose.
    Nature was clearly acquainted with her own trial and without complaint deftly avoided the nape, landing above the crest of the ferocious oncoming wall of water. Without hesitating the salmon thrashed her powerful tail to freedom. A deep feeling of optimism crept over Hurbalin. The salmon’s act of liberty imbued him with a lightness of being and feeling of relief from the desultory worries the world imprinted upon him. The feeling cast aside any lasting blackness in his energy field.
    ‘Death is the beginning.’
    He searched his pockets and produced a handful of battered Rizla. Hurbalin wrote a promise to himself and cast the words into the river. The slip of paper containing his spell washed out into the main flow and vanished binding his will to nature. Satisfied Hurbalin turned his back on the biting northerly bluster and headed home.
    In the warmth of McKenna Terrace, a wren darted into the brambles sounding the alarm with a loud ‘teck–teck, teck–teck–teck’. The tiny bird fluttered back onto the fence outside his newly painted green and purple stripy front door and broke into song like it was announcing Hurbalin’s arrival home.
    NO.7 was at the dead–end of a row of Victorian houses, sitting snugly on the north–western edge of a feral bowling green; now a patch of semi–cultivated scrub. The rectangle of faded green was surrounded by a protective vigil of horse chestnuts and sycamore trees. He’d been searching for a home that knew him and was drawn to the river’s eternal babbling. On the first night, the sound of the nearby weir pounded with heavy rain like a charver’s base–bin. It reminded him of the sea he was born from; waves falling onto the mountains that loomed off in the distance. He looked at the horizon and contemplated the water’s journey past his home and eventually into the sea in its continuous ritual of renewal.    
    Taking him bit by byte into oblivion.
    Hurbalin had successfully taken ownership of all five derelict and unoccupied houses in McKenna Terrace. His seclusion offered privacy that the failed modernist image of living did not. Most people didn’t care or notice they were living in a crisis of cut and paste flat–pack properties, crammed together like carpark spaces at the supermarket. He had no clue why they were favoured by almost everybody else, and Hurbalin had no desire to be seen by the pigeons which roamed communal and public areas. The façades of the houses in McKenna Terrace were painted in a jumble of bright colours like a Photoshop fairy tale: fruit salads, all sorts, flying saucers, drumsticks, violets, blackjacks and chocolate limes. Hurbalin’s house looked just like a giant rhubarb and custard, the walls custard and the windows were vivid Bengal rose. He lived with his wife and partner Amelia Boom and their two cats Jack and Manali. The second–floor bay window poked out precariously and was topped with a gold tiled roof. It looked more like something you might find on a Buddhist temple than a two up two down in the north of England. Above the top window, a small mosaic–rainbow warned of possible showers and sunshine. Mr Fabulous lived next door at NO.5b, his house was a minimal Mediterranean whitewash, sprinkled with multi–coloured climbing grips.
    Hundreds and thousands on top a snowie.
    To outside observers McKenna Terrace probably seemed more like a fairground ride, in comparison to the clinical blandness which was found almost everywhere else. Not that many people gained access to the path in front or behind the houses. Barb made signs with a pictogram of a pizza delivery boy being attacked by a pack of dogs. Its international system of typographic picture education owner joined in the fun with his walking stick. Underneath the drawing, she had scrawled.
Boy I just felt the world get lighter – we lost a moron. Put on the Hammer album, I’m ready to dance! Barb lived with Puff (her addiction) at NO.1 (inevitably), she made Puff paint their house like a Blackjack wrapper, with bright red windows and inching from the roof in their familiar formation were mosaic glow–in–the–dark space invaders. Malt and Lorelei were sandwiched in the middle of the row. Malt’s house was striped in horizontal slabs of colour: green, ochre and orange, and Lorelei’s, who lived next door had acrid yellow walls with black windows upstairs, and on the ground level rich viridian double doors, surrounded by Cornish sea turquoise frames. A mutual love of excessive colour had brought them together, but it was green that lay indelibly at the heart of their rainbow.
    McKenna Terrace stank of Durban Poison. It was taking ages to dry because of the dense buds, and it left a pungent smell in the air which rivalled the nearby biscuit factory. Lorelei was an excellent gardener, and it was in this way that everyone contributed. By working together Barb, Lorelei, Malt, Amelia, Hurbalin, Mr Fabulous and Puff had almost dropped off the grid altogether. Self–imposed enslavement had led many towards debt and insecurity as an individual in a society of empty promises and alienated communities. This bunch of oddities had taken control of their existence through the revolutionary pleasure of thinking for yourself and had begun to elevate themselves from the scrutiny of the Systm and its corporate harbingers. Hurbalin threw down his keys and switched on the television. It was an instinctual act, and for some unknown reason, he automatically reached for the remote whenever he entered the room. The broadcast was flashing red on the screen, detailing the latest economic despair. Needles filled with money symbols were being injected into the arms of the poor. The metaphor of class–A drug–taking created a surreal yet appropriate visual for the final phase of a social mind–control experiment. Money was the preferred drug of the masses and had become highly addictive with rehab clinics and pharmaceutical treatment for those who had uncontrollable determination to spend, spend, spend and brand themselves with a guru.   
    He chuckled to himself, ‘Money that didn’t exist anyway’.
    Technology and instant media exchanges were extracting the innermost desires of everyone and the control of its side effects had been turned into a complex business monopoly. Everyone knew they were being manipulated by the invisible hand and yet most citizens chose a brand and became their plaything. The plutocracy knew exactly how to harvest civilization and in return they provided a matrix of products, celebrity, medicine, news, war, publications, education and even advertising. The walls of the church were adorned with images of children spouting scripture: ‘Mum look 3for2 and Mum, Mum Bogoff.’ Our lives had been cultivated, liquidised and tamed and we became the instruments by which new products were launched and marketed. They replaced need with want and most people didn’t even notice the difference.
    Leaving the pressure–laden work–til–you–drop south, in favour of the extreme north was a decision made against all advice; advice given by people who were locked into the Systm. Hurbalin realised quite quickly that they were right about it being a lost city, and chavers did make up the majority of the population, but their ideology of not cowing dominion to authority was a provocative inspiration and from its conviction, McKenna Terrace was born.
    Minus the tracksuits.
    Not yet anyway.
    The impending choc–apocalypse the country faced was the same–old disastrous headlines of crisis, cuts, bailouts, rising debt, food poverty, infections, austerity measures, the exorbitant cost of living and incumbent lowering of standards (since records began). It was a recurring bad dream that every generation witnessed only to be woken the next morning with their memory wiped clean with a collective amnesia haze.
    The precession was spinning out of control.
    Entropy beckoned west.
    TheParty had maintained they could never have known allowing such unrestricted freedom to the financial market, medical services, education (basically everything) would create a new more virulent strain of viral–flu. Projecting their own guilt onto the paper wealth Systm seemed to be working until the Nws opened a filing cabinet of high ranking ministers expenses claim forms, and TheParty was over. Gone with a little pop, like a half–deflated balloon being nudged by a kitten’s paw. The debacle was only the decoy for the shadows to presume control over democracy by offering a solution and the solution was MYparty. The rebranding project had replaced the italicised ‘the’ with an uppercase ‘MY’ and removed the space between the words. The design had been created by the same agency which worked on the previous ‘opposition’ party brand. Conceptually it represented the act of change, symbolising the myparty manifesto to work harder for the common good and to empower the people. The ‘MY’ suggested the end of change, the favoured illusory policy which democracy upheld.  
    Nws scrolled along the television screen.
    The rescue plan was already looking uncertain, and a repeated cascade of abusive sound–bites about the previous ministers filled the airwaves. Hurbalin muted the television and switched on subtitles; subtitles that were typed live as the programme was broadcast. The chancellor (or was it the typist) had put the decimal point inadvertently in the wrong place, triggering the sale of all the countries gold and property to sure up the economy of zero growth and within days the paper wealth Systm was worthless. MYparty response was simple: rally the country by asking it to spend its way out of a doomsday depression. The result was another generation overcome by the cycle of an ever–expanding empire strategy.
    Nws provided the delusion that citizens had some kind of control over TheParty slash MYparty. Convincing everyone they were forever fighting their corner for democracy and freedom, while at the same time creating the Systm by which the plutocracy maintained control. Most of the people Hurbalin knew believed the Nws were guarding the sovereignty of the people during TheParty downfall and brief flirtation with the freedom which followed. Building and then breaking TheParty in the public’s eye was wholesome family entertainment. The movie played out continuously through the television and finally gave birth to the New World Order. The problem seemed to be politicians could no longer be the trusted custodian of democracy. The public’s reaction (according to the Nws) was democracy must be rescued from corruption.
    The solution?
    Absolute power to the shadows.

 

Forgetting McKenna Terrace

FULL NOVEL COMING SOON

A FUNNY AND STUPID STORY OF POLITICAL posters, plant medicine, talking cats, fancy dress parties, performance art and trying to remember — Forgetting McKenna Terrace is a strange and familiar dystopian fantasy set in the recent past where a spate of scarcity panics have taken hold and enslaved society in a vicious pattern of spectatorship and self–absorption. 

G.R. Seago started this debut novel in 2005 and it was completed during the (LAST) end of the world in 2013. His writing has a tendency to play with authorship, ownership and appropriation, some might say the story revels in a hyper–connectivity with mass media and western culture, with folklore and ancestral memories, with drugs and technology, with ourselves and our imagination, with music and nature This is planet earth you’re looking at planet earth. Bop bop bop bop bop bop bop bop this is planet earth.’ Many of the reference points are skewed in favour of an overtly nostalgic generation on the cusp of a burgeoning digitopolism; a digitopolism that would run amok. Others reach back into the Holocene memory, way—way back before the tipping point — Just before we lost our innocence irrevocably when the TV EYE brought the horror of our lives into our homes for all to see.’

END NOTES

The first story created By GRRR.
Written by G.R. Seago

Copyright © 2020
Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson.
All rights reserved.

(Concept Edition) 2020 — Published by GRRR.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are the product of the authors imagination or are fictitious and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, fictional or real, business establishments, events or locations is entirely coincidental.

Mckenna Terrace
Don’t Follow

Don’t Believe, Don’t Follow, Don’t Consume, Don’t Watch

A PROVOCATIVE RESPONSE TO THE SIMPLE QUESTION What is to be done? from way–way back (1988) DON’T — ‘I think the answer to this is not only nothing but considerably less, than nothing … and what I mean by that is that the real solutions to our problems lie in a series of negatives.’ TERRENCE MCKENNA (apart from being an amazing entertainer) was an American ethnobotanist, mystic, psychonaut, lecturer, author, and an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants. He spoke and wrote about a variety of subjects, including psychedelic drugs, plant-based entheogens, shamanism, metaphysics, alchemy, language, philosophy, culture, technology, environmentalism, and the theoretical origins of human consciousness. In this short extract from a lecture, he eloquently argues for a complete dissolution of meaningless boundaries and release from phony beliefs systems. These Systems are often malevolent forces that we impose on ourselves, and in extreme cases try to impose on, some might say, innocent passers by. Lock–down, Prohibition and the War on Drugs are historical examples of one group trying to impose a view on another with disastrous effects.

In our SMART world don’t follow and don’t watch strike at the fundamental and powerfully addictive set of ideologies built into most devices. They are often a by–product of ownership and technology has gone way beyond the function of a ‘phone’. Back in the day of physical wires connecting people, we used to get crossed–wires, random events when more than two people end up talking on the phone. Now we make a call and the whole world picks up. Social media promotes continuous attention and consumes us through our consumption with a reward system of following (BELIEVING) and followers (WATCHING). What on earth would Terrence make of the terrifying spectacle of self–absorption and psychological crisis playing out online, and subsequently in our homes. We (as a society emerging) need to up our game, and continue to support the creation of meaningful conversations that don’t rely on side–eyes and false conflicts. We need people that hold multiple (sometimes opposing) ideas simultaneously and are able to express them with clarity and style. People like Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Russel Brand, Brian Rose Lindsay Mack, Joe Rogan and Zack Bush MD are great examples of the modern phenomenon that follow (ERR DOUBLETHINK) in the rainbow of Terrence McKenna’s genius, poetic and mind altering thoughts. 

TERRENCE McKENNA

TWENTY MINUTES FROM:
Vertigo At History’s Edge.

If we end up a smear through the shale and nature concludes that intelligence is something never again to put into the hopper, then it will be an enormous tragedy because we didn’t go down without a struggle. We have the technologies, the ideology, the ahh, compassion for each other, and caring world. We are not a lost cause—yet. But we may end up a lost cause. And people then say, “Well, what should be done?” You know? The Tolstoyan question: what, then, should be done?

Well, I came up through the whole Berkeley-thing in the 1960s and all that, and I’m very weary of hortatory political prescriptions for what should be done. I mean, we saw that the best impulses in Marxism turn into the most horrifyingly regimented and totalitarian societies. Goodwill is not enough. So what is to be done? I think the answer to this is not only “nothing,” but considerably less than “nothing.” And what I mean by that is that the real solutions to our problems lie in a series of negatives.

Do not believe. Ideology has poisoned this planet. Ideology is bankrupt. It’s a skin-game. It’s a shell-game. It’s only for Marx—and Marks—it’s beneath your dignity as a body to get mixed up in ideology. I mean, after all, where is it writ large that talking monkeys should understand the nature of being anyway? So belief is an incredible cop-out on intellectual err, truth-seeking because belief precludes believing in its opposite. And so this is a self-limitation. You become your own cop. And the ideologies of the 20th century are so shoddy and hobbled together or toxic to human values, they’re not worth believing in anyway.

So: deconditioning ourselves from belief. Some people call it err, cynicism. I call it good sense. I’m not a cynical person, but I know shit from Shinola. And I don’t expect people who don’t to get a lot of respect from the rest of us. I mean, what does it mean if you’re an optimist and that means you can’t proclaim the difference between boot polish and excreta. It’s ridiculous.

Okay. DON’T BELIEVE.

The next thing which comes out of that and is an even stronger prohibition: don’t follow. Following is a tasteless position to find yourself in. Pets follow, vice presidents follow, and bad acts follow! So why follow? All of these gurus, geishas, roshis, and rishis are simply flim-flam artists. They’ve had thousands of years to get these cons together and run them on you. Believe me, I know—I’m a recovering Catholic! You have to fight your way free of the lead and then do not follow. Do. Not. Follow. It’s an obsolete, tasteless thing and there’s no human dignity in it whatsoever.

Then a harder one, a more radical one, the one that might get me shot: do not—in some profoundly metaphysical sense—consume. Do not consume! For obvious reasons, and then not-so-obvious reasons. The obvious reasons are that the fetish for objects made of matter is wrecking the planet. If everybody on earth had what the people in the front row here have, there wouldn’t be enough metal, glass, plastic, and petroleum in the planet to provide that kind of lifestyle to the billions of people who now aspire it. None of this stuff brings happiness, anyway.

I recently had the experience of having my 1975 Ford Granada blow up on me in the middle of the night, and so I had to buy a new car. So I went down a year and up a brand, and I got a 1974 BMW. And it cost me two grand. And I guarantee you, once you have the little thing on the steering wheel—the quaternity sign—you don’t need the $90,000 model.

What we should all do is buy antiques. Don’t consume anything which hasn’t already been made. There’s a lot of shit that’s been made; it’s all over the place. I see it in Manhattan going for a bundle! If we—what we need to do, you see, is retool our values so that what is new is odious, tasteless, déclassé, err, embarrassing, and not to be found in the better homes. The older things are, the better they are. Here’s a fifty-year-old chair, fine. Here’s a five-hundred-year-old chair, how much better! We need to cease to consume. And I’m somewhat facetious in suggesting that we all become aficionados of Chippendale furniture and that sort of thing. That isn’t the plan, either. But the endless fetishism for consumer objects is wrecking the planet.

And then, finally. Erm, well, no, not finally. There’s one after this. But another negative—and this is slightly more difficult to follow, requires a little cogitation; it’s insidious—we shouldn’t watch. We shouldn’t watch. Watching is some kind of voyeuristic, sadomasochistic peculiarity that we are permitting ourselves because we think there are too many of us to do. But I don’t think this is true. I think watching is an incredibly disempowering thing. Err. Millions of people live half-awake larval lives watching 6.5 hours of TV a day. And as long as they stay in their homes—you know, shopping by phone and fax—everybody is happy. But they participate not at all in the society. They’re the Marks, and they consume. They consume the media, the entertainment, the clothes, the styles, the brands. They are the morons who are keeping this system running. And I assume, largely, that the people here tonight are not. We’re the people who grind out all this stuff.

I mean, I feel like I do this. I write books, I produce ideas. They are grist for the marketplace. Harper and Bantam don’t care what I’m saying, what they care about is how the books are selling. You know? Product number 3245AF: how is it doing in the marketplace?

Do not watch. Because when you’re watching you’re not at the center of things. Largely, what I’m talking about here is reclaiming experience. Reclaiming experience. This is what’s been taken from us. This is why the new music and dance culture is so important. This is why drug culture is so important. This is why the celebration of sexual minorities is so important. This is all about coming to grips with who you really are, and how you really feel—and then experiencing it.

You know, you are not owned. It is not he or she or them or it that you belong to. And we have been told that we have to fit in, that we have to make sense. This. Is. Not. True. We are creating a world that celebrates diversity, that celebrates the uniqueness of every person. The complexification of our species is a process directly dependent on the complexity that we each bring to the process. The diversity that is spreading through society is concomitant to the boundary-dissolution. And I really believe that science’s inability to make sense of human beings in the world as part of nature—to make sense of art, love, hate, aspiration, fear—the failure to make sense of this is the failure to come to terms with the transcendental aspect of reality. We are the best evidence there is that something extraordinarily unusual is happening on this planet, and that it’s not something which will go on for millions of years.

It began about 20,000 years ago. It’s a self-advancing, self-expanding, self-defining process. And it takes no prisoners. You know? There is no going back. There is no going back from the momentum that history has imparted to the human imagination. There is only a going forward into what is called a forward escape: through art, through design, through management and integration, that we have to push the art-pedal to the floor. We have never designed our societies. We have never managed our societies, or our lives. We have never tried to make what we were serve an aesthetic agenda, and that’s why we’ve created a mess. In the absence of an aesthetic agenda, what we’ve created is Animal House on a global scale. So now it’s time to pay the piper.

And (just in closing) the catalyst, now, is a combination of technologies—solid-state technologies—and pharmacology. The world that we are leaving behind, the world that failed us, was a world of ideologies and mechanical technologies. And the ideologies, one by one, are going down the tubes. Marxism. Freudianism. Fascism. They, one by one, will be discredited. They cannot sustain. And the mechanical technologies cannot be sustained. They pollute, they dehumanize, they wreck the planet. What is coming into place is a world where drugs replace ideology. That’s why drugs are so terrifying to those who oppose them. That’s why they say “You want to escape.” “You want to take drugs to escape.” That’s right! You want to escape! You want to escape fascism, communism, socialism, existentialism, phenomenology, positivism, all of this stuff. You want to escape ideology into the felt presence of the body. Which means drugs, and sex, and syncopated music!

And parallel to this development, and happening in different sectors of society, is the hard-wiring of our imagination. The building of databases that we can access instantaneously that make the human past co-present with the now. The boundary-dissolution that I’m talking about includes the division between past, present, and future. This is what it means to end Newtonian time. It means that the past, the present, and the future become a co-extensive domain where everyone, then, awakens to the fact—which was always there to be observed—that there is not simply one past. There is nothing called “the past.” I have a past, you have a past. It’s not the same past. Consequently, the futures we are going to are different. We create our own realities as a species and as an individual. And so what we’re passing through here—in the now, in this lecture in the 20th century—is a moment of community. A gam, as Melville would say. A gam is where two sailing ships, two whaling ships, meet at sea. That’s what we have here: a gam; a moment of dialogue. And then we will each go back to our own private Idahos.

But the thing to take back to those private Idahos is the awareness that human history secures the central importance of human beings. We are part of a universal adventure. What happens to us decrees the fate of a vast set of universal processes and circumstances. We are not ephemeral, irrelevant—to each other or to the greater whole. This is the truth of psychedelics that aboriginal societies have always known, and it’s the truth that we had to sacrifice in order to make the prodigal journey into matter. But the prodigal journey into matter has now been concluded. We found the top quark, we shut down the supercollider. Now we need to go back to the problems of the human soul. And there isn’t much time. But the tools that have been put into our hands are the most powerful tools there have ever been. The Gaian connection into the vegetable mind of the planet that we are trying to mirror and hardwire on a human scale. Nature is full of interest and affection for humanity. It’s up to us to discover that humanity in ourselves—because we have gone so sour along the rational path—and connect it up with the rest of nature. This is a process which is happening. But it’s a birth. It can go with ease because we help it from this side, or it can be traumatic because we resist and, as McLuhan said, insist on driving the automobile of history using only the rear-view mirror. That’s no way to proceed. We need to wake up, smell the coffee, turn on the lights, get loaded, and direct the human future toward a mirroring of aspirations such that we are pleased, then, to turn the enterprise over to those who follow us.

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Post Art: GRRR

An extract from ‘Vertigo At History’s Edge’ — a lecture held at the Open Center in New York City (in April 1994) with the subtitle “Nothing comes unannounced.” It is reproduced without permission and published as a matter of public interest.

Oil & Water Series
Mix-tape 1980-89

I heard you making patterns rhyme like some new romantic looking for the TV sound

WE WERE SEVEN YEARS OLD WHEN 1980 arrived. The currency of music in the playground was without doubt the compact cassette tape and the beloved mix-tape. We spent hours sitting next to the radio trying to time the perfect recording of 1999 and hustling friends for their uninterrupted version of Take on Me or Mirror Man. We did have vinyl records too (mostly seven inch singles) and we purchased collectively to avoid overlap, with limited funds we would do anything to expand the music available. High fidelity technology (DON’T LAUGH) was pretty new to our generation and to an extent we have been culturally defined though the cassette and Sony Walkman (we had lesser brands). By the time the ominous year 1984 came along we were riding around on a BMX (probably a Raleigh Burner) in small tight–knit friendship gangs with portable cassette tape players listening to I Feel For You and Sweet Dreams recorded from the Top 40. It’s no surprise the first Now Music compilation was released in 1983, it tapped into the strange beauty of the mix-tape, how the songs can all mean something or link together in just the way you remember. The songs and artists for our 1980s house party are chosen for their familiarity, from or around the time of release and our seemingly never ending love of each (misguided or not).

You can listen to our 80s PARTY MIXTAPE on Spotify.

Song

Artist

Year of Release

Chart Pos

Upside Down

Dianna Ross

1980

2

Atomic

Blondie      

1980

1

Just Can't Get Enough

Depeche Mode      

1981

8

You Make My Dreams (Come True)

Daryl Hall & John Oates

1981

5

Planet Earth

Duran Duran      

1981

12

Rapture

Blondie      

1981

5

Don't You Want Me

The Human League

1981

1

Tainted Love

Soft Cell      

1981

1

Hungry Like the Wolf

Duran Duran      

1982

5

White Wedding

Billy Idol      

1982

6

Billie Jean

Michael Jackson      

1982

1

Only You

Yazoo      

1982

2

Mirror Man

The Human League      

1982

2

Don't Go

Yazoo

1982

3

Rio

Duran Duran

1982

9

The Message

Grandmaster Flash &
The Furious Five

1982

8

Really Saying Something

Bananarama

1982

5

Karma Chameleon

Culture Club

1983

1

Beat It

Michael Jackson     

1983

3

Ain't Nobody

Chaka Khan

1983

1

Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)

Eurythmics     

1983

2

Blue Monday

New Order      

1983

9

Fascination

The Human League      

1983

2

Rebel Yell

Billy Idol     

1983

6

I.O.U.

Freeez

1983

2

Borderline

Madonna

1984

2

Relax

Frankie Goes To Hollywood

1984

1

Relax

Song

Artist

Year of Release

Chart Pos

I Would Die 4 U

Prince

1984

8

Smalltown Boy 

Bronski Beat

1984

3

Together In Electric Dreams

Philip Oakey & Giorgio Moroder

1984

3

I Feel for You

Chaka Khan      

1984

1

Down on the Street

Shakatak      

1984

9

Here Comes the Rain Again

Eurythmics    

1984

8

Lucky Star

Madonna

1984

14

Lucky Star

Song

Artist

Year of Release

Chart Pos

Sexcrime (Nineteen Eighty-Four)

Eurythmics      

1984

4

Smooth Operator

Sade      

1984

19

99 Red Balloons

Nena

1984

1

New Moon on Monday

Duran Duran

1984

9

I Want To Break Free

Queen      

1984

3

Dr. Beat

Miami Sound Machine     

1984

6

Take on Me 

a-ha 

1985

2

Running Up That Hill (A Deal With God)

Kate Bush

1985

3

Sisters Are Doin' It for Themselves

Eurythmics, Aretha Franklin      

1985

9

The Power Of Love

Huey Lewis & The News

1985

9

System Addict

Five Star      

1985

3

We Close Our Eyes

Go West

1985

5

Boys Don't Cry

The Cure      

1985

22

Would I Lie to You?

Eurythmics

1985

17

Raspberry Beret

Prince

1985

25

You Are My World

The Communards

1985

30

1999

Prince      

1985

2

1999

Song

Artist

Year of Release

Chart Pos

I'm Your Man

Wham!      

1985

1

Who Needs Love Like That

Erasure      

1985

55

We Built This City

Starship 

1985

12

West End Girls

Pet Shop Boys      

1985

1

Everybody Wants To Rule The World

Tears For Fears      

1985

2

You Spin Me Round (Like a Record)

Dead Or Alive      

1985

2

Kiss 

Prince

1986

6

Don't Leave Me This Way

The Communards

1986

1

Walk This Way

Run–D.M.C., Aerosmith

1986

1

Addicted To Love

Robert Palmer 

1986

5

Big Fun

The Gap Band      

1986

4

You Keep Me Hangin On

Kim Wilde      

1986

2

Ain't Nothin' Goin' On But The Rent

Gwen Guthrie      

1986

5

Walk Like an Egyptian

The Bangles

1986

3

Nasty

Janet Jackson      

1986

19

Pull Up To The Bumper

Grace Jones

1986

12

Wishing Well

Terence Trent D'Arby      

1987

4

I Wanna Dance with Somebody (Who Loves Me)

Whitney Houston      

1987

1

Everywhere

Fleetwood Mac

1987

4

Sign Your Name

Terence Trent D'Arby

1987

2

Walk The Dinosaur

Was (Not Was)      

1987

10

U Got the Look

Prince      

1987

11

Faith

George Michael      

1987

2

I Knew You Were Waiting (For Me)

George Michael, Aretha Franklin      

1987

1

Push It

Salt-N-Pepa      

1988

2

My One Temptation

Mica Paris      

1988

7

A Little Respect

Erasure      

1988

4

Good Life

Inner City

1988

4

Theme from S-Express

S’Express

1988

1

She Drives Me Crazy

Fine Young Cannabals

1989

5

Like A Prayer

Madonna

1989

1

Back To Life

Soul II Soul

1989

1

END NOTES

Words: Glen Robinson & Rebecca Robinson
Post Art: GRRR

Relax — Cover art by Yvonne Gilbert

Lucky Star - Cover art (designer unknown) of the German 7" vinyl pressing, distributed in Europe, and also used for 1984 UK reissue.

1999 — Cover art by Prince

1999 7inch Single