Intro to the Momo Memo, April 4 2020 – Unsee The Future EP29: Experience, part 1

 

We’re only at the beginning.

Possibly of this particular pandemic, but certainly of its implications. To, y’know… possibly everything.

How are you feeling about it? There is a lot to make sense of ahead, and many more qualified minds than mine will be continuing to explore the possibilities, but having been chewing my pencil end in finishing this episode of Unsee The Future, now seemed the context to finally publish it in. And given the stakes we’re all facing, it’s surprisingly daft – but I think an interesting angle on the experience we’re now sharing, and a good set up to EP30’s forthcoming Hopey Changey Bit. Yes, there will manage to be one.

But those stakes are high. SARS CoV2’s winning attribute seems to be how resilliently it spreads – but it’s a virus, not a bacteria. It’s a sticky disease mine, essentially, clinging inertly to our globalised movements until we inevitably wipe it into our nose, our eyes, when its payload disease is triggered by your nice, warm, encouragingly organic system. As I’ve read elsewhere, the real bugger with a virus is its vector – how it grows its reach. Because it only does that through you and stoopid me.

“Viral control is about psychology more than it’s about medicine and that’s what’s scary about it” as virologist Jane Raison put it beautifully on a post doing the rounds. ” In this case the vector is humans, bloody stupid, arsehole humans like Chantelle, Bob and Steve. Giving everyone a pill is easy, getting everyone to listen and change their behaviour is a fucking nightmare.”

 

You can say cooly that it doesn’t appear to be a true population thinner – I’d repeat soberly the widely reported statistical observation that an average immune system seems to make effective work of seeing it off initially. But even before it potentially returns or becomes something else, COVID19 doesn’t have to be a flesh eater to be a system breaker.

And that I am finding as deeply troubling as… sort of uncomfortably exciting, around the initial dread of what this might mean. I couldn’t help feeling both at once, at the beginning.

On the one hand, this is potentially gigantic planetary change, after saying for so long that we need new ways of seeing everything – now nothing looks the same after COVID19, even at the beginning of this story. The potential for human system improvements is dynamic and mind boggling, the more you consider different implications. It’s like mother Earth just pulled a sucker punch on the robot world and floored it in the last round.

On the other, the clock is still ticking. It’s becoming harrowing for those managing the sick in such relatively sudden numbers and loved ones are leaving their lives prematurely in machine-supported isolation all over the world at once. And for the majority of us not experiencing the extreme biological effects of this new SARS disease, we are all attempting to manage our emotional and financial resources in the face of near-total, fundamental uncertainty. The potential for deep destablisation of societies globally is opening up images of trauma beyond what we’ve known yet. Partly because we’ve not collectively realised how much our world system’s cultural behaviours have been traumatising us so deeply already. At all levels of human life in the early twenty first century, COVID19 is really just highlighting our deep, connected problems.

How do we balance our view of this, between embracing its seriousness while questioning hype? Cold statistics sound less dramatic than front line medical experiences. I don’t know quite what to do with my feelings, when I consider it.

I’ve been saying all through the Unsee The Future years: “Our current system, industrialised capitalism powered by oil, gave us more wealth, knowledge and opportunity than any before it in human planet history. But at what cost?” Well, the same question may be levelled at an event like this .

COVD19’s near simultaneous impact on health systems around the world, like a DNS attack on a website, has shut down normal living so fast it’s already shown us what life might look like outside our world-destroyingly unsustainable systemic habits – cleaner, quieter, slower, more community minded. But at what cost might it gift us real system change? How much suffering, from how massive an economic instability wave?

 

I confess, I have no idea what shape Momo’s meagre business will be in by the end of the summer, or if I’ll be stacking shelves somewhere, or actually quite happily cleaning a hospital corridor more usefully. It’s been scary to lose developing opportunities and watch so many friends face the same collapse in creative and live event work. But the threat to the stability of having functioning global economies is the real game-changer looming over us all.

The orbit of our modernist economics is decaying, but to land back on Earth we can’t afford to come in hot, we’ve got to feather the fall.

 

COVID19 could be Earth’s great intervention to save us. It might also be a moth landing on the domino world record attempt the night before, triggering an early collapse of… who knows how much.

To be honest, I’m feeling like I just want to sleep for a week, with it all. The demand to pivot, pounce, provide new usefulness is exhausting just thinking about it. I’d rather go down to the Royal Bournemouth and strap myself into some Marigolds and a bin bag. Say goodbye to ever finishing another LP, or making something of my funny little creative lifestyle life.

But. I suspect the space between art, planet and futurism that I’ve found myself exploring is one to do so with even more urgent intent – if the story we thought we were in has changed, how do we write new stories of us? And how do we make sense of what was unsustainable about the old ways of seeing that led us to here, if not by trying to piece together their symptom crises? I mean, it was always that important, but yes, like everything, COVID19 has simply shown more of us this with sudden clarity.

How are you reacting to, planning, feeling, seeing things around you? Write me back, I’d love to know.

HEAR OR READ THE BRAND NEW EPISODE RIGHT HERE – UNSEE THE FUTURE, EP29: EXPERIENCE, part 1 >

 

 

Header photo by Tess on Unsplash

Creative plans? The lowdown on Momo’s own lockdown intentions.

I will say carefully, that in my attempts to be some kind of sense making and encouraging small voice in the big weirdness, I’m hoping to share a few new things in coming weeks, to see if we can all find new ways to see the world around us, and understand this table-flipping crisis in the context of all the others we’ve been trying to piece together in our minds. And a couple of the creative projects I’m part of or working up at the moment are potentially fascinating for right now, feeding into my research, with insightful folk on the teams. But, such as they are, these plans of mine are laid at the feet of global and personal fate. Are they worth much?

Trying to look beyond this present fear feels pressing to me, and the space I find my imagination in already – wondering how art-, planet- and futurism-thinking can combine to help bounce us out of our robot habits – seems more relevant than ever.

I’d been making plans to take Unsee The Future onto YouTube anyway, writing some rather fun but maybe even useful 200sec primers to the full research audio episodes – 2020s Unsights. But also by planning out a series of theme-exploring one-to-one 30min interviews – Hopey-Chatty Bits. There are so many folk who’s insights and testimony I’d love to get at and share, in a bid to help us all piece together the human planet now.

Meanwhile, concurrently, the lovely first lady of Momo has been developing a fascinating response to the personal challenge of responding to sustainability, and as part of beginning to share this campaign though the agency end of my creative work, Momo:zo, we’re pondering some little podcasts around it. She is brilliant, as is her plan, and the two of us chatting you might find oddly engaging. I mean, I’ve been chatting to her for nearly thirty years and I’m far from bored. Don’t feel you must ask her the same thing, of course.

Pooling this and all I do, I’ve long had the intent of mustering the regularity of making the Momo Memos an every other week little publication – out at one minute to midnight every almost-Friday fortnight. It’s only worth it if they’re useful, interesting, encouraging to us both. But I am attempting it, with the next Unsee episode due out the Friday after next as I write.

Interestingly, Unsee The Future itself, the core research cast audio episodes, I think will best become occasional now. That said, I have a number of topics on the drawing board already, including a special episode, no 31, that I feel might even be the Hopey-Changey Bit topic that all my work has lead to. But more of that in  a few weeks.

But, also of course, a central part of Momo’s plan for 2020 was putting out the far-too-long-awaited new Momo:tempo LP, The Shape of Things To Hum. I can say unsurprisingly that the pandemic has shone a new light on its story and I am responding. And I’ve also been working on various bits of its componentry, including spending a day with Andy Robinson retooling the script to The Martian Artist in light of all that we learned almost two years ago now, unbelievably, with the test show Five Songs To Help Us Unsee The Future – a souvenir edit of which I have also belatedly almost finished. Our synergy in re-seeing it was exciting, and I am in the process of shaking up the original pitch document to see if an even more relevant live experience can find support out of this. It feels urgently good. But, as ever, I have no idea how I’ll find sufficient audience for it to produce it with justice.

My plans for things like a new single are awaiting the ability to get into a live studio for a couple of sessions with musicians, of course, to say nothing of my ambition to roll out the development of the general live show with the band again. I am trusting that this will come. Seeing the principle of how Momo:zo talks can learn from Momo:tempo shows – and vice versa – is just energising. So much we could do, once we’re allowed on stages again. I miss the stage horribly, and having new music to share. This personal furlough has simply felt like trying to get things in alignment, while turning the direction… well, of my life and it’s work. It’s all terribly modest, but it’s me.

All in the ongoing exploration of the space between Art, Planet and Futurism. I will, while I still have energies, continue to try to apply my brain and heart and unglamourous experiences to helping us hear and see some life-changing new stories of us. Perhaps in this, COVID19 will turn out to be a sobering gift.

Momo helps A Fish Out Of Water

Light puppet theatre project Banana Moon brings a delightful vignette story to Light Up Poole 2020, exploring a sense of flow in mental health – with a little musical storytelling support from Momo:tempo.

 

Have you ever felt that you just don’t fit in? This is the question posed by Banana Moon Puppets‘ story A Fish Out Of Water. The tale of a boy and a fish finding each other, it’s a graphic silent movie in gentle technicolour, some of which is musical, thanks to an invitation to the bloke from Momo to help create the experience.

“When Anna first contacted me with the idea, I was really intrigued about the process,” says Timo Peach. “It’s such delicate craft of a truly ancient seeming kind and as I sat with this tiny narrative I felt moved to be part of it.

Artist Anna Shiels has been developing her light puppetry style for some years, often using it in schools performances. But it can be an instincutal process as much as a planned one.

“I have little ideas for things but often find a style, a shape, is the starting point to physically play with and see how the characters want to behave. It’s a quite flowing process and it can surprise me how a story turns out.”

The effect is gently magical, and seems to Timo suspended somewhere between ancient and modern storytelling.

“It’s such a tiny experience,” he says, “but it’s oddly moving. It’s interesting that the tone of the music that fell out of this for me is very slightly sort of far-Asian. There’s obviously something of a very old perhaps Japanese tradition in the craft, but there’s also something very 21st century about the theme of lostness and yearning for flow. I didn’t try to tap into any culture with the sound, just follow the starting point of loose rhythm and organic sound that Anna and I discussed, but she was very open to work with and there is a hint of both old and new Tokyo about the complete end result. I quietly love it.”

“It strikes a significant chord with ideas of mental health and emotional wellness” he says.

Light Up Poole is a public art festival of light design, with performances of A Fish Out Of Water taking place in Scaplans Court in old Poole high street regularly across the evenings of 20th, 21st and 22nd of February 2020.

With thanks to Manuela Boeckle for photography.

Listen to the complete pocket score to A Fish Out Of Water on Soundcloud right here:

 

Blame

 

Obviously it affects work. Most especially if you’re an MP. But also if you’re a political coms person trying to get your facts straight about Proroguement. And how to spell it.

 

The outworking of democracy affects everything somewhere down the line, but most swiftly perhaps your feelings. Because Prime Minister Johnson’s populist leap away from Parliamentary room to defeat him on a potential No Deal Brexit will either sound like sweet music to your deadlocked ears, or like the sound of a death knell.

Is Johnson a national hero or a stoodge for mega business resenting democracy? Those engaging with the issue seem more polarised than ever by this move.

Here I share an impromptu Unsee The Future Tropey-Rangey Bit, leading to one Peachy question I think we should have been asking ourselves more honestly way before the last three and a half years.

 

Let’s see.

Hot-damn. Well, I guess this is what the UK really voted for. And voting is what counts.

 

The passion with which some of us defend characters like Farage and hate perceptions like identity politics and mistrust inherantly lefty sounding concepts such as climate crisis – Boris is the antidote to all this. Amusingly British and disarming and says he knows what he stands for. And his cabinet is really what Brext implied – “no deal”. That’s Leaving. And, really, our whole economics implied this take-over of government. It’s a right-wing thing. It always was, when you stop the suffocating moderate language. No point in squirming at that label, we believe what we believe, right? Freedom. Democracy. Individualism. Not being dictated to. Markets auto-adjusting as the best tool we have to make sense of what we value – it’ll all come out in the wash, right? If people don’t buy it, it ain’t worth much. Sounds fair. Fair. Don’t impose on me. We don’t need to be imposed upon, we’re sensible. We’re British, and we can do anything we set our minds to. On our own. Standing as equals. Women and Asians in the cabinet without needing to preach about it. Get on with it, BJ!

This new government, and the clarity with which it will stand at the undoubtedly upcoming general election, is calling us out. What do we really believe? Who are we really? As Brits.

Sure, a handful of people comapratively voted for Boris as PM. Most of the millions of us didn’t get a chance in our current democractic set up. But we’ll get the chance to. And sure, he’s another Etonian but the class system is profoundly British, we feel safe with it. He’s been bred for this role, really. And he’ll make us laugh – what’s more sacred than that to Us Brits? And sure, more than half of us didn’t vote for Brexit and detest it’s toxicity with passion. But They’re just Intollerant Remoaners and don’t count, or They’re just too disaffected to bother voting. They don’t count either.

I guess we’ll have to let this group of people in government show us the fruit of their values. The fruit of what they think counts. To us. Who. See who will benefit from the real implications of a Conservative view of the world, which this cabinet arguably is. Let’s see how business picks up. Let’s see how many people move out of poverty. Let’s see how represented different communites of us are in the decision making; let’s see how much we think this matters. Let’s see how much good ol’ colonial Raj thinking is really a problem. Let’s see how much better off we all are as this more extremely right wing government gets what it wants. Let’s see how much President Trump praises Borris. Let’s see what happens to the NHS. Let’s see who really benefits. Maybe we’ll all be reclining in hot tubs as an independent island of entrepreneurs in the new roaring twenties.

Oh, and while we’re seeing all this, let’s see who of us feel horrified at the temperature in our political hot tub begining to get a lot hotter. Let’s see who of us decide to exercise the British right to be bloody minded and democratically free to challenge this right-wing view of the world. Let’s see how many of us can articulate an alternative view of the world and how much it catches on. Let’s see how many of us stand in front of motorcades not for ourselves but for generations of children unborn yet. Let’s see who of us fact-checks the voting records and interest links of people supposedly standing for us. Let’s see who roots out the connections and speaks up about the power dynamics. Let’s see how creative and bloody minded and witty and determined we really are, in challenging the status quo. Which this new government is. Just, with the mask slipping.

Let’s see how interesting we really are. How inspiring to the world. How important. Now we can finally Get On With It.

Let’s see. The fruit of who “we” really are. Let’s see who really counts. And what we really believe. Let’s see how much we care about a politician’s word or his values. Let’s see if we get the politicans we finally really deserve – the ones who reflect us. Let’s see how Britian really forges itself in the fires of a challenge.

And let’s see how long today’s hottest day on record stands.