Thursday, 7 March 2013


When I was a little girl growing up in Milan I lived on one of the busiest roads in the city. Popular brand stores lined my vision up and down it, and during the day fashionable Italians flocked steadily through their doors, jostling each other with their glossy carrier bags. At night bored, middle aged consumers would traipse along in diamanté sandals, eating ice cream and settling for a time at one of the bars' outside table for some drinks before raucously packing themselves away into taxis and growling away.
This street was always noisy, industrially glamerous, a loaded consumer paradise...
Apart from around 4 to 6 in the evening, when a hush would descend over the evening, broken only by the occasional passage of a car or drunken brawl, or the hasty clacking of a young girl who had been separated from her group and like a young herbivore in the wild was trying to reach the safety of indoors before being descended upon by urban predators. 
At these hours the bin men would make their nightly rounds, silently clearing up the refuse of the day and piling into their enormous green truck with ironic images of leaves and nature plastered across the side. They wore fluorescent green vests and swept the streets with fluorescent green brooms. They rarely said a word to eachother, they would keep their eyes o the garbage and their backs hunched, the silent goblin gleeners of the night.
My mother was renting a large, airy flat on one of the street corners and I regularly would watch this early morning scene as a young teenager from my window as I struggled with my insomnia and often depression.
Running adjacent to Corso Buenos Aires was Corso ______, and along this less visited street beaten whores would sit huddled on doorsteps, bulging in uncomfortably taught looking clothes. They'd be murmuring sullenly to eachother, straightening up when a male would walk by, frequently to be verbally abused and then paid a visit to on the shush later. Some of these girls were my age at the time, 13, others could have been as old as 60.
And a little further along Corso _____ was a parking lot, but every Saturday the cars would vacate that large concrete rectangle and locals would erect stalls and set up their market place called la Fiera Obei-Obei. I remember buying my hamster there for five euro from the man who sold them out the back of his truck, along with little birds, pigeons and occasionally rabbits. When the sun began to set over the city and la Fiera had packed up, my mom would point out the usually elderly person or two who would slowly pick their way from one corner of the empty parking lot to the next, gleaning the less rotten fruits and vegetables.
Further along Corso ____ was a cluster of trees and benches lining two walkways. These benches were beds to the foul smelling, oily-bellied piles of boots and sleeves that were some of Milan's homeless, often trouserless, rarely conscious. In order to get to a little playground with a wooden boat structure in it, where I would go in the evenings to smoke my joints and feel melancholy, I would walk down this isle, dodging bleary catcalls and errant pigeons, avoiding the dog-walking perverts who would whisper hungrily.
Many evenings I reached the park embarrassed, in twilight. I climbed the rope web that led up to the 'deck', and i'd sit around and listen to music and feel desperate. My feelings confused me, and then I was confused by my confusion, and despite or maybe because of the ample attention I got from the slack jawed male population of Milan I felt ugly, despite my large bedroom with the high ceilings and comfy bed I felt hard done by in some unsettling way. 
I wasn't tuned in to my constant state of morphogenesis in my environment; in retrospect I understand how developing in an unequal culture breeds instability and an unsound mental state. Growing and becoming acquainted with life is challenging, and doing so in a hub of structural-systemic prejudices and double standards is often traumatic. What's it like for a flowering young mind to be bombarded with material glitz and poverty, to gradually make that understanding somewhere that the maintaining of one's abhorrent, consumerist lifestyle is causal to the the suffering of others'? How is one to become a well adjusted adult when one is born into this perverse civilisation, the foundations and manifestations of which appear to be so concrete and unshakeable, imprisoning our imaginations? 
I guess a lot of us feel like we have no choice but to allow ourselves to become institutionalised, rather than face the fact that we do not live morally complete lives, and that the competition-infused rhetoric that has been woven into our understanding of the world is destructive and dysfunctional. 
The option we often do not realise we have is to lay down our vanities and to begin relinquishing the liberties we have been taking at the expense of our global community. 
But with our imaginations held captive by trauma, it isn't easy to envision the possibilities of a cooperation-based society in which gainful employ can be found outside of a monetary framework of reference. As the Joker said in The Dark Knight; "Nobody panics when things go 'according to plan.' Even if the plan is horrifying!"
In my understanding of reality, the moment calls for inspiration, through empathy. I have been fortified enough through my empathetic experiences to embrace new tools with which to interact with reality, and this has revolutionised and improved the quality of my life.
I hold that a real revolution is when foundations are toppled and new systems are built from scratch, not when one spokesperson for apologists for greed and fear gets executed so that a new one to take their place. The value system remains, only to manifest itself through a slightly altered mass psychosis, and there is no revolution, just a bunch of scrabbling at gates and head rolling.
Everybody I have met can recount some traumatic childhood experience, usually several. Nobody has ever said to me, "Yeah, I had a really great childhood, no form of abuse or neglect or playground violence" and not been in denial. If we can't stop traumatising eachother from birth how can we relax enough to interact with are friends and lovers in a meaningful way, to empathise?
I feel our culture needs to update and upgrade its understanding of communication, agriculture, economics; we as a  race have the need to evolve past the draconian perimeters syphilis-addled megalomaniacs established in the early 1900s, and pull ourselves out of the dark ages. 

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