Political Commitment

Steranko is one of the characters that inhabit Geoff Dyer’s 1980’s Brixton in The Colour of Memory. Dyer depicts him as a slightly cooler version of himself. At one point Steranko’s political commitment is his challenged. I enjoyed but was prickled by his response:

‘Listen, I’ll tell you how I’m involved in politics: I never eat at McDonald’s, I never play electronic games, I’ve never seen five minutes of soap opera on television or any of the other shit they put out. I try not to listen to pop music, I never listen to Radio 1; I don’t read the review pages of Sunday papers. I don’t buy any South African goods, I don’t own a car and generally I don’t spend any money on the kind of crap shops are full of. I’ve no interest in getting a proper job and I don’t care if I never own my own house – when people talk about house prices I don’t listen. I don’t know any bankers or any people who work in advertising – I’ve only been to the City once. If someone is reading a tabloid newspaper I try to make sure I don’t see it. OK? Now we come to the really important things: I spend quite a lot of time painting and thinking about art. In other words I try not to go blind. I don’t read shit books and I never go to shit films. I play as much sport as I can and I listen to Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Lester Bowie, Beethoven and Shostakovitch – in other words I try not to let myself go deaf. You get the picture? I’m engaged in some of the most important political battles of our time.’

My sentiment in the mid-’80’s was similar (and broadly remains so today) though my musical tastes differed. I am satisfied that I left behind anarchist sympathies but less pleased with the disengaged, liberal blandness that has crept in to take their place.

When my paths diverged I took the well-used one towards career. To the person I left behind, by the late ’80’s I had ‘sold out’. Twenty ‘successful’ years of corporate life has left me looking back, sympathetic but bewildered. Literature and music keeps me inspired and balanced.

2 thoughts on “Political Commitment

  1. >I tried to comment on the comment you left on my blog. I loved what you posted! I am scared to try Thomas Mann, which means I should probably move forward and read it anyway, as that is what Extreme Reading is all about.Please stay in touch via my blog and let me know how your Extreme Reading endevours are.

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