November 24, 2014

In defence of nothing

So the bird’s in the hand
and now what?
The penny shiny
in the dark belly of mr. piggy.
The day dawns and dawns
and may be in trouble
of actually going anywhere.
Trees migrate secretly up-
ward. They might be saying
all we need to be here
if we would only stop
talking and listen up.
I love you, said the wood.
One sonic color into
the egregious public air.
Start from nothing and be-
long to it. The signal
and its noise -itsy,
-ancy, -oid.
So many strangers
alive in a larynx.
So much depends on X
so much more
on the book in your hand.
Start from nothing
and let the sound reach you.

from “The Outernationale”

It’s the funniest scene in Monty Python’s Life of Brian. A parable-seeking mob gathers outside Brian’s home. They think he’s the messiah and will dispense some wisdom they might live their lives by. Instead he tells them to think for themselves, because ‘You are all individuals’. ‘We are all individuals,’ the mob intones, robotically. ‘I’m not,’ pipes up a lone, individualist voice, only to be shushed by the unthinking crowd.


Self-importance and the lengths we will go to, to defend our beliefs, no matter how little they are based on, is a confounding problem I am facing today. This is normal, as my racing season is now over. Every year, the Coronation Double Century presents itself as an incredible challenge because we are aiming to finish as a complete unit across a series of obstacles and challenges.

For those new to the concept, its a 12-man time trial over 202km, without a support car. You have to take 6 people to the line, as the 6th time is the official time. For years, I have tried to put together the best team possible to get all 12 men across the line as fast as possible as our primary goal. It’s the ultimate teamwork experience and we all suffer together. We work together through thick and thin and you think as a team, all day. You bring each other water, close each others’ gaps, talk to each other, monitor each other, help each other, motivate each other, push others when they are tired and together, we hope to get more out of the experience than just “a fast time”.

After years of trying, we got it right this weekend and the euphoria was incredible. A real sense of community existed between us.


And today, back in the office, I am reminded that its a world of individuals out there.

“I need this”

“I won’t come because Person X is attending – he/she is a tool”


It is year-end, and people are tired, but it’s eye-opening to see how judgemental we are about things that really do not matter.

Which brings me to the title of this post. In defence of nothing. More and more, I am seeing the justification of own personal judgements as the norm. Purely based on your own judgements, you blanket an entire genre, style, person or concept with it.

Let the vegans spare some bacon for us.

Let the dopers consume the EPO and enjoy your own riding.

Let the person who used the system to gain for themselves enjoy your victories.

Honestly, with the reality of life at your doorstep, how are you sweating how many likes you got on an Instagram post if its not a primary source of income for you?

Sure, it’s end of the year and I am a little jaded too, but its astounding how much people go in defence of nothing at all. How much they miss in the real world as they hunt fake moments, Facebook likes or similar things.

We are taught to feel guilty for everything, jealous of what we don’t have and to never feel complete. So is it any wonder we go in defence of nothing.


It’s getting dark
indigo setting on the glass
just sitting there. Reminding us
days gallop into grass rushing wind
into miles of cable.
When the pistons call,
when I was a wedge of sun
over steel mills,
when I asked what happened,
I meant, what happened to us?

—from “The Outernationale”


The truth is that the risk-taking, self-reliant, self-asserting individual that was once the celebrated centrepiece of the free world is only notable by his absence today. If true individualism means being self-willed, autonomous, maintaining some resistance to the groupthink of the times one finds oneself in, then it’s pretty clear we’re experiencing a -crisis.

Far from bowing and scraping before the individual, modern society constantly tames him, wrapping him in red tape and gagging his more eccentric thoughts. A massive amount of political energy is now devoted to circumventing the exercise of autonomy and cultivating a craven dependence of the individual upon the state.

Read more here.

This idea of everything being shot down and controlled is also contributing to my emotions on this subject today and it is with this article, that you should read, that I am closing this piece today.

My parting thought is that there are two things I value most in every friendship I have. These are the two things I grant those around me with reckless freedom because I know they create a beautiful world around me.


This doesn’t mean I love unconditionally, for I am human.

This doesn’t mean I respect every opinion you have, because sometimes, it’s you who is the tool. Granted, I can be a tool too. Pass the bacon.

But I will do my best to give you those two things at all times.

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