October 14, 2012
If I were to choose a picture which personified me, it would be this one. I took it on a bright day during the Spring months, when the sun was mistaken for its Summer sibling. It was a day when I felt well enough to venture out and sit on my own for a while.
The stick is further out than you'd expect; the camera I used was at full zoom and it took me several attempts to frame the shot I wanted. It's a marker, the stick. It guides boats moving up and down the river, pointing out where the deep starts and the mud ends. Boats still end up stranded on the flats, regardless.
It's a thin thing, easy to ignore, though it has a lot to say. It's out there in all weathers, even now as I type, bent over and bearing the weight of the tide as it pushes up the estuary to join the Thames. Beneath the mud, the stick hides metres of itself from the world. It has a good anchor and needs to have one if it's going to remain upright.
Birds don't land on it.
You might think that it's just a stick in the mud and it doesn't mean anything. Nothing happens, nothing changes and even though the stick is there, it has no genuine impact on the world as it comes and goes. People in their boats ignore it, after all.
But it watches. The river smoothes every inch it can touch, washes it in silt and chill. Fish pick at algae that forms on the wet sunlight when the river has finished caressing it. Winds are sliced by it, and the mud shifts all about with each tide, providing new landscapes for it to guard in the night.
Beneath the surface, other creatures rely on it for the water and food it secretly funnels down the sides of its shaft.
The stick doesn't need to be near the shore. It isn't meant to be. Out of reach, the stick is in a world that doesn't exist for anyone else and it is happy there. Speed boats, jet skis, flocks of Oyster Catchers and gulls – these things just happen. Their presence, their meaning, holds nothing for the stick in the mud.
A boat could ram the stick and snap it, it's true. The river will eventually rot the shaft and it will fall one day, it's true.
Until then, most keep their distance because the stick says things, quiet things, about the world that it lives in and the world that it doesn't.
It'd stay there for ever, crooked and surrounded by salt and sky, if given the choice between that or coming inland. Who would want to come inland when home is out there?
To live slow and quiet. To give warning, to feel the movement of the moon in the water, to give eveything to things unseen; to watch the world go by. To one day disappear and be forgotten. To be simple. To be a stick in the mud.
April 16, 2010
I’ve been thinking over the past few days about anonymity. Very few people are able to exercise this remarkable feat, even if they’re dead.
You could be one of the most unacknowledged people on the planet, and there would still be something on you, somewhere. For example: the never-contacted-before Envira Indians existing near the Peru border in Brazil who were photographed in May 2008. Never heard of them. Never knew they existed. But now there’s something on them.
I often look over the blogs I keep, my email, twitter, Facebook and think: why the hell am I exposing myself like this? I’ve no real desire for recognition, nor do I hold social networking particularly high in regard, but I often have something to say and that’s probably the only reason why I haven’t erased my identity from the internet. As far as is possible to erase.
Note: I wonder what will happen to all of these efforts when I’m dead…
I’ve got a fair bit to say sometimes but I’m aware that not many people take the time to listen and I don’t especially care. It only takes one person to listen and then it’s up to them to decide what to do with the things I’ve said.
I more or less have reasonable control of my presentation and representation in the material I directly publish about myself on the internet but I have virtually no control when having to relinquish my personal details to say, Amazon or my general practitioner.
Amazon pays attention to my browsing history and tempts me with similar items whilst the doctors don’t do much of anything except sit quietly with my details until another body contacts them and requests information. With my consent of course.
And this is where it begins to bug me.
Does consent even mean anything?
I have to fill in a CRB disclosure form, like most people, in order to breathe. I also need to apply for a passport to prove my identity beyond a shadow of a doubt. And it’s not even that now, is it? Not after recent events where it was shown that passports can be successfully made on a fraudulent and sophisticated basis.
I was under the impression that passports were to enable travel and free movement. Now they’re a fallible form of identity.
I have no choice but to give my consent for private information about me to be passed from one party to another. Sure, I can deny this consent but then that suspends my rights.
Perhaps I’m being far too cynical here but I can clearly see that by not disclosing my mental health to a potential employer, the said employer can, if they so wished, release me from my position with relative ease and no obligation to help or support me if I suddenly go off the deep end. I have to tell but I don’t really want to. Why?
Because sometimes, it’s nobody’s damned business.
This is the crux of my irritation. Why do so few have the right to know so much about my private life but I have no right to protect myself from them? Not without sacrificing my civil rights at the same time.
Disclosure isn’t for my own protection. It’s for interested parties to keep tabs on and exploit.