If I were a fly, I would crawl up billboards and over the faces of celebrities advertising shampoo. If I got peckish I’d fly to my nearest bakery and alight on an almond bun. I’d avoid flying on my own on dull days in case I got trapped in a spider’s web that’s only visible in the sun.
I’m not a fly though and so I’m forced to navigate the world conventionally. I have to get a job to buy an almond bun. I need to battle against the forces of economic psychology to buy cheap supermarket own-brand shampoo with no promises of instant glamour and folical success. And I can crush a spider’s deathtrap with my fist.
I just finished ‘reading’ (three of the seven essays consist of a series of images with no words) John Berger’s Ways of Seeing and though there was a lot I read too superficially to grasp, the last essay, which focusses on publicity and consumerism, got me thinking about the place where I drank a whiskey and lemonade last Saturday night.
It was the basement of a nightclub on the quays called ‘Gypsy Rose’. The walls, table-tops and tshirts of the band were decorated by gothic-style roses and a backdrop of despondent-looking skulls with over-sized teeth biting into shotguns. The lighting was dim, the band playing exceptionally loud and the decor scarlet and deep purple. My flowery green dress, polo neck and snow boots flouted the dress code.
Nearly everyone there had multiple tattoos. My friend told me that it’s a familiar haunt of the ‘tattoo society’. I thought he meant to break it to me that I’d walked in on some political social, but actually he just meant that it’s full of people with tonnes of tattoos, which I could see for myself.
If they weren’t musuclar skinheads wearing band tshirts, they were charmingly nerdish-looking and in leather trenchcoats. The girls had edgy jet black hairstyles and facial piercings and next to them I looked like a ridiculous daisy sprouting from a graveyard patch of bleeding roses.
The whiskey was good and in spite of its unreasonable volume, so was the band. And yet, there I was with my eyes convincing me that I shouldn’t be there.
No biggy; just not my kinda place, I mused on the luas home. I just like it more mellow, with pots of tea and shisha and perhaps an acoustic guitar in the background. “Damn hippy indie chick” somebody probably sighed as I took out my book.
I think I find comfort and shame in equal measure in the personalised telescope through which I view the world. I’m comforted because by knowing through sight what I am not I can guess what I might be instead. I am ashamed because I never look through the lens for long enough to understand fully what it is that I am not.
PS – I would love to capture, spookily, the Zeitgeist in a piece of prose. I can’t, because I am much too busy lounging in my own world view. If I were a fly,I might get trapped in a web of images, but at least I’d have had the privilege of a bird’s eye view of the world.