Eostre Rhizome

I love Easter with all its woozy edges: its fusion Christian-Paganism; the chocolate orgy; the Lamb, Lent and Liturgy. I love its elusive timing – the fact that it moves about – the first Sunday following the first full moon after the Spring Equinox – and I think this lunar timing should be extended to as many key events of the year as possible. I love the swirling chaos of symbolism: Christ and the Bunnies and the Hot Cross Buns, it’s all good.

If Easter has a sharp poignancy, a moment as we emerge out of Vitamin-D-deprived winter into still-cold Scottish Spring, it feels so much more so this year. The heightened sense of the NEED for light, hope, re-growth, re-birth, bird-song, SEX, renewal, touch, conviviality, warm sun on your face, is palpable.

As folk tumbled out into the parks last week, and the inevitable littering/outcry performance ensued, I wonder if anyone has done any thinking about how we re-emerge? I’m assuming the answer is no.

But the pent-up frustration and obedience, the mental-heath toll, the backlog of inertia isn’t going to dissipate without incident. I suspect many of us will struggle with re-socialising, I suspect the ‘release’ from lockdown may be much more messy and chaotic than we assume as people realise and share just how difficult this has been.

As we emerge fat and woolly, our hands and our lips coated with alcohol, concussed by domesticity, tamed but scared, angry but heavily sedated, collectivised but isolated, kidding-on we all want to get back to normal – let’s not assume the over-curated consensus that we all want to return to things as they were before.

How and what we re-construct, what we let die, what we celebrate and retain from lockdown needs discussed. Here’s ten things I want to keep (add yours):

  1. Clean air from no-flying – bring on the flygskam
  2. 15 Minute cities
  3. Working from home (not the same as living in work)
  4. The explosion of bikes, e-bikes, scooters, skateboards, cargo bikes
  5. Roads being cleared for pedestrians
  6. Protecting nature, appreciating nature – as restoration and defence against future pandemic
  7. Collective experience – discuss what matters
  8. Unlearn Consumerism
  9. Reduce emissions
  10. Unlearn popular culture

Almost all of this has been done very badly, only glimpsed at or is too early to appreciate, but the pause in endless/mindless consumption and the moment to re-think how we lay out cities has been very useful and needs to be carefully nurtured. The sense of a massive experimental collective experience is an invaluable one – as is the realisation that the people who are exploited need to resist and all of us need to awaken to the need for solidarity and transformative change and rupture.

If optimism is a wildly unachievable post-pandemic spirit to aspire to, maybe we can plant a seed of hope this Easter from these fragments? As we emerge we must nurse our wrath to keep it warm and remember not to direct it at each other,  but at the failed elite who have been exposed as never before. As we settle to worship Cadbury’s and our unlikely but wonderful resurrection lets plant and grow something much better this Springtime.


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Comments (28)

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  1. Axel P Kulit says:

    “About 2.5 percent of global human carbon emissions come from commercial flights.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_shame
    How does that compare with cars, trains and factories? How many of these flights were freight?

    I read that empty planes flew in lockdown in order to keep their airport slots, so pollution from aircraft may not have dropped much if at all, but pollution dropped rapidly. In Edinburgh stonework is turning from Black to light brown with spots of lighter brown.

    Flight shaming is in my opinion, basically fascism and the politics of envy

    Instead of flight shaming how about drive-shaming?

    1. It’s self-evident we need to fly less and drive less.

    2. SleepingDog says:

      @Axel P Kulit, another Bella contributor drew readers’ attention to the common practice of some Swedes flying to Southeast Asia to have sex with children, and when those frequent flyers are clogging up social media with their pro-flight plaints using kiddie-script sophistry (when trying to deny a problem, find a small number relating to it; move on to whataboutery, and finish by projecting your pathologies on fictitious anyones who might disagree with you), we can be sure they will not declare their interest. Personal responsibility only applies to others, eh. Sadly, although our airways have in many respects been the arteries of organised and international crime and justice evasion, many of these crimes are moving online these days.

  2. Robbie says:

    11, Get nuclear weapons out of Scotland, and Mike sex is for huddin tatties.

  3. Tom Ultuous says:

    12. End animal Auschwitz.

  4. Tam Dean Burn says:

    Great stuff Mike.
    My comrades at Radical Anthropology have taught me about the importance of lunar cycles that tap into our very being ( human ). Also that Tony Blair attempted to fix Easter dates but was seen off, thank goodness.
    Yes we must get in touch with nature. Quite literally and that’s why my New Year resolution was to touch trees every day. I’m getting out there now to do just that My other idea is that we all twin with a tree, treat it as a tree of liberty. Liberty trees, decorated with garlands to show solidarity with the French Revolution, spread across Scotland and we should show the same solidarity with the Paris Agreement as a starting point by all twinning with a Glasgow tree in the lead up to COP26 #twinwithatree

    1. Liberty Trees – I like it Tam

      1. Tam Dean Burn says:

        Aye, as Thomas Crawford writes of them in his study of Burns – “Thus during the Scottish Reform Movement of the 1790s the Tree of Liberty became almost as much a Scottish symbol as the kilt, the lion, the thistle or the holly.” David Vedder wrote a poem about the struggle around one – The Corse O’ Dundee which I read as part of Ruth Ewan’s wonderful A-Z of Dundonian Dissent which is here https://youtu.be/0tJVg5c_PJY

    2. Pub Bore says:

      Sorry, Tam. Weren’t liberty trees a show of solidarity with the American colonist in their resistance to Crown taxation? I think they preceded the Révolution française by several decades.

      1. Tam Dean Burn says:

        Nope, not the ones I and Crawford are referring to in the 1790s and the poem The Tree of Liberty which may have been written by Burns. Another quote- internationalism is seen as entailing complete and unreserved support for embattled France.
        If there were earlier Liberty trees in solidarity with the American Revolution that too could be valuable so please give any sources you have.

        1. Pub Bore says:

          Yes, the liberty tree was taken up by the French revolutionaries and their supporters, including those for whose enjoyment and approbation Burns penned that particular poem, but it has a much older provenance. Since the time of Henry VIII, as evidenced by the countless broadsides, pamphlets, ballads, inn signs, and allegorical engravings, the ‘heart of oak’ was the bulwark of liberty that stood between freeborn Englishmen and Popish colonisation. The freeborn Englishmen who colonised North America’s eastern seaboard carried this liberty tree with them; in sacralising and venerating the tree as a totem of liberty, they were echoing a long-standing politico-religious tradition that predates by a country mile the Révolution française.

          Try Alfred Young: Liberty Tree – Ordinary People and the American Revolution. (New York University Press, 2006), and David Fischer: Liberty and Freedom – A Visual History of America’s Founding Ideas (Oxford University Press, 2005).

  5. Wul says:

    Lockdown stuff I’d like to keep:

    * Long, uncut grass, flowers and weeds in our public parks and green spaces (employ the grass-cutter & weedkiller sprayer onto litter picking and fruit tree planting instead)

    * Shops being shut on a Sunday

    * Seeing dads and weans out walking

    *Pets’ ability to help our mental health recognised & celebrated

  6. J.Jones says:

    11. Street help groups and neighbours getting creative and organising. 12. Watch out for stigmatising practices if post Covid economic future hits hard. Read Imogen Tyler on this

    1. Good ideas Jane – got a reference for Imogen Tyler?

      1. jane says:

        Two great books – Revolting Subjects : Social Abjection and Resistance in Neoliberal Britain (2013) and her latest Stigma: The Machinery of Inequality ( 2020) both Zed books. Also has an animation of her stigma machine on her website at Lancaster Uni. Jane

  7. Paula Becker says:

    Mike Small desperately trying to put a positive spin on lockdowns.
    Worth remembering that last summer Mike was pushing for an extension of school closures!
    It was recently reported that 200,000 pupils in England will move from Primary to Secondary school without being able to read properly.
    Children’s Commisssioner, Dame Rachel de Souza, has said that 840 million days of in-person schooling has been lost since March 2020.

    1. Children not being able to read = Mike Small’s Fault : )

      1. Paula Becker says:

        Very strange position for a left wing journalist to take – wishing to deprive working class children of a State education!
        But then again it was a very bad year for leftie journalism all round. Peter Geohegan, Nafeez Ahmed, Peter Jukes, Paul Mason, even George Monbiot, got it all horribly wrong.
        I call youse lot THE DEBASERS.
        (one writer who did not debase himself last year was Dougald Hine – he of the regular reports from SWEDEN. Now why haven’t we heard from him for a while??)

        1. Dougald Hine has been outcast because he didn’t join our evil camapaign to deny everyone education because we hate them *

          * pst – he’ll be back soon {lols]

    2. Pub Bore says:

      I could read and write before I went to school. My mum and dad and my grandparents showed me how. That, and how to tie my shoelaces, spin wool, and count things. It was kinda expected that you started school with some rudimentary social skills already in place.

      I would’ve thought that the temporary freeing of parents from the compulsion to hand their children over to the state of socialisation from such a young age would have enabled them to spend more time skill-sharing and otherwise playing together.

    3. jane jones says:

      Don’t detect any desperation?

  8. Pub Bore says:

    13 – The development of hikikomori (‘pulling inwards’) as a creative practice. (Although this could be covered by your 8 and 10.)

      1. Pub Bore says:

        The term ‘hikikomori’, which translates as ‘pulling inward’, was coined in 1998 by the Japanese psychiatrist, Tamaki Saito, to denote the social phenomenon among young people who, feeling the extreme pressures to succeed in their school, work, and social lives, and fearing failure, decided to withdraw from society. For some, their ‘pulling inward’ lasted for only a few months; for others, it lasted for several years.

        At the time, it was estimated that around a million people were choosing to not leave their homes or interact with others. It’s now estimated that around 1.2% of Japan’s population are hikikomori.

        Hikikomori is often stigmatised by bourgeois society as a disorder, an illness to be cured. However, in recent years, there’s been a subtle shift in how people understand the phenomenon. This shift is manifested through increased awareness of the complexity of the hikikomori experience and of the social pressures that lead hikikomori to withdrawal/disengagement.

        Consequently, the refusal to conform to social norms (such as career progression, marriage, and parenthood) is no longer understood purely as a negative phenomenon, as a necessarily destructive symptom of mental ill-health; it can also be a creative act of inwardness and self-discovery, a ‘resetting’ of one’s experience of the contemporary matrices of power.

        Nito Souji became a hikikomori because he wanted to spend his time doing “only things that are worthwhile.” He spent ten years in isolation, developing his creative practice, and exploring the hikikomori experience. Souji’s work, when he eventually published it, appeared as a testament to the creative outcomes that can come from carving out a profound sense of ‘headspace’. “Having hope and making a little progress every day,” he explained. “That worked for me”. Choosing to withdraw from society helped Souji find time to ‘reset’ himself vis-à-vis society. His aim was – and always had been – to be able to re-enter society, but on his own terms rather than those of consumerism and colonisation by popular culture.

        The Japanese entrepreneur, Kazumi Ieiri, himself a former hikikomori, describes the experience as “a situation where the knot is untied between you and [the] society [that’s making you ill].” Again, the aim is to eventually re-enter society, but not, Ieiri continues, by simply retying the old dysfunctional social bonds that you so painfully untied through ‘pulling inward’; rather, you return by “tying small knots, little by little.”

        The opportunity to plunge headlong back into ‘normal life’ might not come soon enough for many of us, but ‘pulling inward’ could be a creative and powerful way to sublate the isolation of lockdown into a kind of liberation from the dysfunctionality of that ‘normal life’.

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