Mindfields by Trevor Plumbly
With all the advantages of modern scientific thought, it’s astonishing that nobody’s come up with a safe, quick cure for the common need to escape reality: I can hear the cries of ‘moderation in all things!’ even as I’ve written that, let alone the following. I guess reality is a bit hard to pin down, since we’ve all got a personal version of it rattling inside and around us to cope with, along with finding ways to put it to one side when the harsher facts of life don’t suit us. The most obvious method for dodging reality is cultural entertainment; it’s also the safest: nobody really suffers from an overdose of literature, theatre or music. Although as I was once forced to sit through three hours of Wagner as part of the cost of dating a ‘posh bird’, I reckon there could be the odd exception. But books can be laid to one side, plays have last acts and even ‘The Ring Cycle’ ends eventually. But despite all that, culture needs a lot of personal work to function as an efficient escape, and work, as we all know, is just another form of reality.
Sport is a popular way to put reality on hold. You all know my stance on sport, but for any new readers, suffice to say that, as far as I’m concerned, anyone willing to run around a field scrapping over possession of a ball deserves all the cruelty that reality can inflict. Others, though, have loftier thoughts and treat reality as a spiritual foe and spend a lot of time either steering us away from it or making a serious attempt to reshape it to suit their own ends. Someone notable for the latter was Aleister Crowley, AKA as ‘The Beast 666’. Under the stricture, ‘Do what thou will shall be the whole of the law,’ this early 20th Century self-proclaimed prophet and high priest of the occult formed a libertine society which practised black magic and sexually based ceremonies, but other than offending the sensitivities of polite British society, it seems he did very little physical or lasting harm, which I guess, apart from a few notable exceptions, applies to most of those committed to guiding our frustrations and stress to a higher plane for release. As an afterthought, reality eventually did catch up with Crowley in 1947 (He died).
Drugs never really did it for me, though I must admit, as a child of the 50s, I wasn’t exposed to the same array of mind benders that today’s kids face. From the cheap route of sniffing god knows what to bathtub methamphetamine, it’s out there cheap and available, and don’t let’s kid ourselves, it’s not a class thing: privileged kids can get addicted just as easily. These days I reckon we tend to bestow more adulthood on our kids than a lot of them can really cope with. Put simply, we don’t leave much leeway for the basic teenage stupidity that goes with that particular part of life. Now it seems that a few clowns want to stick another hurdle on the course by legalising marijuana. If they, and their fellow ‘believers’ want to tonk around in a mental fog . . . great, but don’t stick it in front of kids who have got enough tricky stuff to get through anyway. We’re spending trillions cleaning up the damage that drugs, including alcohol and tobacco create through common misuse, so why put another one on the shelves? Even in the 60s I never really got past fags and booze, these days it’s just beer between me and reality. I’ve come to the conclusion that reality can be a problem, but then we’ve all got problems: they’re called . . . ‘life’.