07 February 2011


2011 and is proving to be a Bipolar year so far (more on this later). Just this morning, one young person told me, 'I really appreciate what you've done and I get a good vibe from you and then within five minutes someone else announced, 'You're a fucking asshole who has done nothing to help me.' while they desperately tried to break the glass window that separated us. One day, I'm surfing with the Sultan of Stoke, the next I'm at war with a man who must have this last wave, on this last day before the world ends.

Meanwhile, I try and keep even keel with it all and not let myself cling to ecstasy or wallow in the muck, as I may have done in times past. We all see individuals who are experiencing such dramatic swings between highs and lows within themselves, and those that are so heavily medicated in order to find their own functioning even-keel, they resemble ghosts of their former selves.

The increase of Bipolar Diagnosis and Mental Health in general in young people has gone through the roof in the last decade. There are a number of explanations for this, from different approaches to diagnosis, pressure from the pharmaceutical industry to the general social malaise of our times to increasing isolation from nature to the effects and pressures of technology and social media. No doubt the truth is a complex combination of all of the above.

Perhaps, the highs and lows are symptomatic of the human condition and as long as we occupy these physical vessels, we'll never escape them, but I fear current cultural conditioning, is not allowing us to see them what for what they really are; fleeting and impermanent. 

In, "The Coming Insurrection" by The Invisible Committee a group of intellectual anti-authoritarians argued that "The maintenance of the self in a permanent state of deterioration, in a chronic state of near collapse, is the best kept secret of the present order of things."

In other words we are pressured towards the realization of this perfect ‘self’ while both our individual selves and the world around us are ever changing. Naturally, we as humans along with the planet as a giant organism, are ever-changing, growing, decaying and dieing. Add to this ‘given’ fact of life, a confusing catalyst of fears of environmental destruction, war and other disasters, the erosion of our relationship with nature and modern consumer pressures in a culture that equates well-being with monetary wealth; it is surprising the modern individual can hold their shit together at all.

Ben Okri wrote, ‘There can be no poetry without the tension between heaven and hell.’ The eventual goal is to write a poem about perfect silence, a poem that snuffles out the distracting chatter and sits in a perfect present.  Until that point, ups and downs are to be expected, but we need to learn how to see beyond them and for what they really are. If we are strong we’ll use them to come away from the ride with a much keener awareness of ‘reality.’

Perhaps, Bipolar Disorder is largely a fabricated ‘illness’ created by a sick culture desperately clinging to an insane socio-economic arrangement so that its participants aren’t really given the option of participating in a viable alternative.