road rage

So this book by Henry Miller, the Colossus of Maroussi, absolutely exalts middle-class intellectual greeks just at the break of WWII. He’s the same man who was positively disgusted by the parisians in a previous book and yet the positivist outlook towards greeks seems somewhat adolescent in comparison – it’s almost a bit patronising, but in an involved and compassionate sense. As a descendant of the greece Miller describes, I recognise the charisma, passion and vulnerable intellect in the class-chaotic greece has been during modern history.

So I watch and try to gather some insight into what happened to the ancient philosophers, illuminated by the abundance of sun and the poets, drinking wine and eating food that effortlessly grows, with hearts filled with courage for every little war fate and patriarchy brought at their doorstep again. What seems to have happened is that they are now in the full-time business of raising kids, in Athens, a city specifically designed for adult audiences. Since the market has died and is now a ghost, haunting us and reminding us of our mistakes, parents with little to do, other than sit in an office of some dysfunctional corrupted public sector agency for a few hours daily or a bank, are today’s philosophers, the descendants of those people Miller adored. They, contrary to their ancestors, feel great resentment towards everything and everyone, as there seems to be no light in the end of this tunnel. And yet everything is illuminated by a very bright version of the sun.

The kids, the hope, the symbol of the light at the end of the tunnel, which fills everyone with a resentful kind of hope are not only in the eye of the storm, but also the center of criticism and often perversion. Because the system is saying “I shall not make sense for no one” and so the state has become a merciless god and parent to us all, stretching our minds to their limits and feeding off our struggle to survive on a ground now pretty much paved with the bodies of “the weak”. Well the weak are just people who cracked or where a bit unlucky. But still they fell and to those who do not know them this means less people to compete against.

You may ask me at this point, why am I discriminating against childless people, but of course because the childless people are the ones who have adapted and are not even interested in the light, supposingly somewhere at the end of this tunnel – they are underground life-forms, mutants and freaks who have accepted a parasitic form of life and produce their creative output in oblivion of their natural biological or economic foundation. The rest, the ones who strive to preserve a sense of respectful existence, in the old sense and still trust that their hard work will be pioneering for the much-awaited tunnel exit, are the ones who still feel, hurt and love with passion – but their sense of a future and the collective is overshadowed by the impossible system and simultaneously boldly illuminated by the abundance of light.

So in my far-fetched exclusion of the childless (with a little prejudice, due to my disappointment at watching my generation go through its reproductive years worshiping death, destruction and pets like some kind of perpetual post-puberty emo crew) I find that between socially distinguished, but mostly anonymous people of Greece, there is one thing that stays the same – the heap of light on our fear of death. Where there is more light, the darkness also seems more overwhelming and under all this light, making fruit delicious and sweet, it becomes fairly obvious that the empty darkness of death is in direct and sharp opposition.

The fear of death makes everything more intense and passionate and the light illuminates this intensity further and so the parents drive through roads of traffic in the heat to get their kids to extracurricular activities, making up for the inadequacy of the failed state, which still pushes mercilessly for more conservatism and strictness and the kids scream and pull strips of hairs from their heads and kick balls and try to escape the inescapable fear of death in the tunnel the state and their parents force them to live in and the parents scream for them to hang on and try harder for the light will soon appear and their bodies have to be in the best shape so they can run towards it and not get lost or suffocated and the state and banks see more opportunity for profit there, basically draining the only source left, the greek sun and the parents make food and fuel and who-knows-what-else from only sun now and proudly they still survive and raise kids, but if the sun ever fails to rise then doom will prevail. Yeah, I mean if it was the arctic circle, darkness and the relatedness to death would be something people could cope with – but here… oh god here, just bright summer sun illuminating what has become an abundantly illuminated lost cause.

Sometimes, whilst sitting in traffic in the summer heat I’m thinking “go crazy dude! it’s the only sane thing to do” and then a moment later I’m thinking “you’re a terrible mother! as long as the sun shines, you should try harder!” and what comes out of my fucken mouth is “kid, you’ve got to try harder”. Oh bullshit!

on parent-child equality

When I was 22 I got pregnant. Amazingly enough I already had an MSc, had had a number of lovers, had partied hard, had studied hard and was in stable loving relationship with a guy 2 years older who was delighted to have a kid. Sadly no one thought it was possible, which caused it to become impossible, so after ridiculous pressures and obscene points of views from family members and friends we succumbed to spite and ridiculousness and broke up.

Everyone who saw me playing with a toddler thought I was a babysitter or an older sister. When I told them I was the mum, people would pat me, or grow silent, or console me. I looked really young (and angry when faced with condescending assholes). When my fellow co-parent (boyfriend at the time) told them he was the dad, people broke in smiles or laughter or excitement. He also looked really young and scandinavian. I guess the involved dad is an unprecedented joy for humanity at any age but a mum is simply doing her duty.

Initially people assumed I was not ready or mature enough and would mess it up. When I didn’t, everyone assumed I had screwed up my life and was completely fucked over by the mother role. When I told them to go fuck themselves they got pretty defensive and looked at me as though I had caused a crack in the time-space continuum and I knew I had. I gradually came to realise that parenting was not about intimacy and having fun with people you’ve created or the nihilistic idea of existing for passing on your genes, it was about social norms and creating a circle of fellow parents to hang out with and maintain some kind of enjoyable normality.

Bold dudes with big bellies and old chicks who had had IV to get pregnant in their 40s were suddenly giving me advice. We always had to explain that we’re both biologists and actually consider it a good idea to have kids at the age we did and that the kid was not entirely planned, but not an accident either. We had to explain ourselves constantly until the freaking point where everyone knew and appreciated that we weren’t lying or more realistically to the point where we didn’t look that young anymore – up to the point when we had internalised prejudice and woke up to find we didn’t really mess up at all, in fact we did pretty ok considering.

And even though that prejudice absolutely wrecked us as a couple, we never blamed it on anyone. We just told everyone to go fuck themselves and carried on to find ourselves 12 years later smiling warmly at our past, wishing some things had never happened, but also appreciating every precious moment of wear and tear.

Funnily enough until this day and considering my age people presume my entire existence is defined by motherhood, even though a million things have happened to me, which were completely unrelated. It just seems too nihilistic to have a kid or pass time with it – there’s no point or clear benefit. In fact for a young intelligent person, having loads of success and partying ahead of them, it just seems like a huge mistake to miss out on all the additional fun – it never occurs to anyone you might want to try something else. It never even crosses anyone’s mind that you might be a dadaist, who might relish the joy of having a small ridiculous person around, or even that there might be two of you and that unless you’re dysfunctional, all that is wrong with you is that you’re too weird. I would even extend my obscene claims, by saying that you can party whilst being a parent or even with your kid, cause they sometimes like music and dancing.

Everyone in the christian western paradigm assumes that parenthood is about altruism and reaching the peak of your conservative streak and everyone assumes that you always have to put your kid first. That is utter pretentious bullshit. In fact according to modern psychology and moreover common evolutionary sense, you should make an effort to refrain from putting your kid first all of the time and make a case out of also putting yourself first when it’s important. It’s a bit like any other human relationship, only that humans no longer have human unsolicited relationships.

A friend I love a lot is struggling with addiction at the moment and I was chatting to his mum. She asked me “what would you do?” and without thinking I answered “oh my god, if I was his mum I would go crazy, I would do anything and everything, I would kill myself thinking of a very elaborate solution, I would tie him up, I don’t know what I’d do… it would probably depend on what I’d done up to that point”. That’s the whole point of any intimate relationship, being a piece of avant-garde art every fucken day – stretching your mind to its creative limits, not having a group of manic compulsive psychoanalysts telling you what to do (you could gain some perspective, but no real meaningful advice on how to be you). By the point your kids are in trouble, you should have shown yourself to them and given them an opportunity to grow with you, so they don’t get shocked when they actually have to give birth to you, a mature conservative grown-up, who had been in a kind of emotional infantry throughout their upbringing.