Bandwidth, Gnomes, Money and Fame

I was going to put up the new Oneiropolis Compendium entry today, but the bandwidth on our mobile internet stick has run out and it has now switched to slow-as-a-drunk-donkey mode. Very convenient, especially for uploading Traitor. Ah well. Didn’t get much done today anyway, but sometimes you’ve got to take the time to be there for people when they need you, so I don’t regret it.

Since I do want to post something interesting, however, I thought I’d give you a link to this interview with the Gnome of Gnome’s Lair, and point out the following bit:

Actually, this might come as a shock to you, but I’d love to not have to dabble in anything political. I’d rather be creative, serene, content and not think about distressing matters, but sadly this cannot be. Nobody is allowed -or has the luxury- to ignore the simple fact that mankind is poor, starving, dying and going downhill. We sadly don’t have the choice of ignoring everyone else and that’s why I too feel obliged to engage in politics; to engage, that is, in the affairs of humanity, for I truly believe we will either create a better world together or become cannon fodder.

This is something that is also true about myself, and I really can’t stress that enough. I’m not interested in politics per se; I am only interested in politics to help create a world where we don’t have to worry about politics. Or at least politics in the modern sense; I do believe that everyone should be interested in the affairs of the polis, the community we are all inevitably part of, and I strongly believe that artists must not lose touch with that. But I don’t give a rat’s arse about politicians, parties, slogans, the “excitement” of demonstrations or any of that crap. I’m not opposed to the system as a lifestyle choice, I have no desire to glorify outsiderdom. Neither am I looking for Utopia. I just think it’s entirely obvious that the system we’ve got is irrational and destructive, because it’s fucking up the world and the people in it, and a much better system is far from impossible to create.

I just want to tell stories. I don’t want to be rich or powerful or even famous. If I could live a comfortable, simple life in a place I love (i.e. somewhere near the sea, preferably in Chalkidiki), doing the things I love, with the people I love, I would want for nothing. That may seem like an obvious statement, but it’s not; that’s not the life that the ultra-rich have, the supposed best the system has to offer. I don’t need twenty villas, I just need a small house with a view of the sea. I don’t need a billion dollars, I just need enough to buy good food and the occasional book/game/movie. And fame? I want my work to be famous, yes, but if the condition for living in a better world was that all art be published anonymously, I’d go for it. Fame and money, to the degree that I do pursue them (and there’s no denying that I am, in some sense, trying to achieve those), are necessary to me only in the current system, because they are the only way for me to be able to work on bigger projects, to have enough money to be able to do things my way.

But if we lived in a different system – one, say, where the means of production were owned by workers, and a basic quality of life was provided for all, where no-one was ultra-rich but no-one was starving, where profit (i.e. greed) was not the basis of the economy? I would have no need for any of this. There’s nothing more wonderful for an artist than not having to worry, not having to compromise. I can imagine nothing more awesome than sitting on the beach and working, writing a novel a year, making games unlike anything you’ve seen before, and just putting them out there for people to enjoy.

I take great pleasure in seeing people enjoy my work: a comment like “this game is amazing!” makes my day. But when people tell me “you have an amazing mind” or “you are so great”… well, I know it’s kindly meant, and I appreciate it, but the truth is I’m just a dude. I go to the toilet, I drool in my sleep, I fart, I make silly faces, I do petty things, I get scared of the world. I like to believe that I’m good at what I do, and I’m happy when people think so, but the real joy of having created something is not when it boosts one’s ego, it’s when people love the creation itself.

We can never create a perfect world. Sadness, disappointment and frustration will always be with us. Even in the best system, people will hurt each other, do stupid things. Artists will fail to create the great work they wanted to make. Accidents will happen, lives will be lost. Tragedy is part of existence. But this bullshit we’re currently experiencing? A tiny percentage of the world’s population owning almost everything, with a political system designed only to defend these absurd property relations with increasing amounts of violence, and an economic system that is a thinly-disguised casino with rules that have no relation to reality and which cannot but eventually implode? Unending wars to make the rich richer, to keep everything under the control of an oligarchic few? We don’t need that shit, and we shouldn’t tolerate it.

Thus the politics. But if I never had to worry about this crap again, I’d be a happy man.

Leave a comment

5 Comments

  1. Robb

     /  November 29, 2011

    Those words make me happy. I often think and become depressed over the same thing, but I am clueless in what I can do to change the big picture for the better. I usually (regrettably) settle for attempting to right my own or someone close to me’s personal situation, which itself is but a symptom.

  2. Τα μεγάλα πνεύματα αγαπητέ, τα μεγάλα πνεύματα…

  3. James Patton

     /  November 29, 2011

    I agree. Why does a CEO of a company own twenty times more than the guy working on the factory floor? What could you possibly *do* with all that money?! All someone needs to be happy (monetarily speaking, anyway,) is a medium-sized house and enough money to support you and your family indefinitely, to the extent that you can buy things like books or movies without worrying about finances. I simply don’t understand why anyone would *want* to earn £300,000 a year. Yes you can buy a flashy car and a mansion, but that seems woefully self-centred.

  4. Jason

     /  December 12, 2011

    I’m a “worker”, and I’m a little put off by the notion that if we controlled the economy that you should get to sit on a beach writing novels and I am my fellows should be growing the food, building the roads and buildings, and transporting the goods while you do so. You would still have to produce something that we value, meaning there are constraints and expectations on your work. If not, then why should you be allowed to do nothing that contributes, while we work hard to provide your basic necessities?

  5. I’m a “worker”, and I’m a little put off by the notion that if we controlled the economy that you should get to sit on a beach writing novels and I am my fellows should be growing the food, building the roads and buildings, and transporting the goods while you do so.

    That rather sounds like you’re assuming that a) in such a system, people would still have to work to the same degree and under the same conditions as now and b) that it is necessary for people to “qualify” for certain basic rights and freedoms. Furthermore, it sounds a bit like you’re assuming that “sitting on a beach somewhere” means living in luxury on some tropical island, penning poems while sipping daiquiris. But all I really imagine is going to the (not particularly rich) place where I grew up and having the time to do my work. Work which, while not physically demanding, is still both challenging and productive – unless we’re talking about a society which no longer has any interest in culture and thus considers things like literature to be useless (a rather capitalist approach, really).

    I am in no way interested or in support of a system where people get divided into “workers” and “non-workers” – i.e. where someone gets to judge the worthiness of human beings to have a basic quality of life. I believe certain things should be available to everyone, regardless of what they do. Yes, that means there will be some people who do nothing useful at all, some “parasites” as people like to say, but such people exist in every system, and I don’t buy the notion that people only work out of fear of hunger or violence. (That is the only way to overwork people, but that’s not the same.)

    Besides, if we create a system that allows people to contribute that which they are good at, why should writers not be allowed to contribute writing? It’s not like I’m saying that writing should be rewarded more highly than physical labour. Quite the opposite.