On ‘Potential’

That scene at the end of ‘Withnail and I’ where he performs the perfect Shakespearean soliloquy to a pack of wolves, and you think what a waste, what a fucking waste. And that, that is our entire generation completely utterly depicted there, in him. And I’m so fucking angry that so many of my friends, with their strong minds, their beautiful minds, are pissing away their lives because, what else is there? Half the jobs are just bullshit thinly disguised as otherwise, where if you’re lucky you lose all sense of yourself. Or if you’re unlucky you forget you ever even had a sense of self. And the creative ones, where you try and monetise your soul and to your disappointment find out it’s barely worth an unpaid internship in arts administration. Or you do your day job and say you’ll do your creative stuff in the evenings and at the weekends but sometimes you’re just too tired from the day job and the day job makes structures in your mind where there were none and increasingly, you – who you really are – is whittled down to near extinction.

And the piercing irony of it all is that we … we come from Blair’s ‘education, education, education’ era. Yet what Blair never understood is if everyone has something, no-one does. And so we all do a masters now in something we’re vaguely interested in, and we probably do it part-time so we can string out more time before actually having to accept the fact that there’s nothing there anymore. Our parents who strolled in to not jobs, not careers, but lives. They don’t understand and even the socialists use the Tory line of ‘just work harder’ now. Of course, the ennui should have left us in our early twenties but still slouches around our veins like a never ending hangover. And people tell us about our ‘potential’. That’s the worst one. Always vaguely saying we have some potential, something… different, but for what, and how to be utilised, is never really specified.

And the clever ones of us became teachers because we know teachers are respected. Teachers can countersign your fucking passport application. But what for those that don’t want to teach? Or at least, not yet. That want to create something that will last longer than they will. Well I guess we all know deep down we can’t do this anyway; the Internet took away any notion of our own legacies. It was this massive gift, this Trojan horse gift, to our generation. The amount of Internet traffic generated in a millisecond shows we won’t be remembered. We will fall in to the abyss of macro history. Oblivion: take it, it’s yours.

It was almost like the perfect peaceful 90s was this sweetener for what was to come. We must now work in an office where we sit in a row, administration by any other name, tap tap typing away the best years of our lives with bureaucratic language and inauthentic tones. And kind regards and best wishes and moving forward and where were we with this one and have a good weekend and add this to the agenda and diarise that and can you conditional format this excel document and print 50 copies double sided in colour and 8 slides to a page and ANY WORDS APART FROM THOSE THAT SAY ANYTHING FUCKING REAL.

And I wonder … how many, how many of our generation are screaming soliloquies to wolves?

Well the discerning of us did science. And I guess they were happy in that but I remember the pathologist who sighed heavily one night; ‘I would have loved to be a stand up comedian’, her brow furrowed from her anxious push pushing parents legacy. And I guess you could work in health care or helping people in society for barely minimum wage and long hours and then the government cuts funding because what hedge fund manager is interested in actual people and you get made redundant and then you really wonder what it was all about. So you take the safe choice and work 9 to 5 and you tell yourself you just wanted the easy life when really you know it’s the harder life, and you ignore the ever growing voice in your mind which is ambitious but not in the conventional way, and it gets louder and louder as it shouts ‘but… I want more‘. And I wonder how long you can ignore that voice. Maybe until you die. Because, you know, you really, really, know, there is nothing more. Than this.