Your friendly blogger has mentioned before his religion (or anti-religion) of Zen Nihilism, and mused on the possible ceremonies and liturgies that might mark rites of passage and all that sort of rot.
And at this time of year, when so much bullshit flies around about what to call the season (Nadolig Llawen, by the way) and the fake ‘war on Christmas’, it seems obvious to consider the nihilist view of that too.
His hilarious and still available collection of silly verse, Parodies Lost even contains a wee riff on the matter …
It is’nae correct, in ‘political’ terms
To say ‘Merry Christmas’ these days;
To avoid gie’in offence (if that mak’s ony sense)
We reword it in mealy-mouthed ways
‘Happy Holidays!’, ‘Guid Solstice!’, ‘Seasonal Cheer!’ —
Just as lang as ye doan’t NAME the Season —
Just spend a’ yer cash on o’erpriced trash,
And forget the original reason.
Ah’m no’ a believer, ah freely admit,
But I hate to see Noël get neutered.
Och, let it be still a time o’ guidwill —
And a damn fine excuse tae get blootered!!
However pointless we might consider our existence to be (and though some find that a cynical or miserablist view, your bloggist finds it very much the opposite, and, while you’re here, a Joyful Hannukah to you), it does seem part of human nature to want to join with other members of this fundamentally gregarious species, if only to get smashed and have fights.
It is important to realise that the present author’s standing as professional miserable git and lonely loser has nowt to do with this nihilism stuff. Zen Nihilism is not saying that life is shit, moan, moan, chiz. In fact it sees life as inexhausibly, if ephemerally and pointlessly, wonderful, as in endlessly inspiring wonder, if only in the sense of I wonder where that fucking microSD card with all my mp3s I had in my hand a few days ago got to. And the fact that it accepts the cold, scientific view that wonder is itself an evolved trait with survival value does not detract from that awesomeness one iota. If anything, the very fact that we evolved that way brings feelings of wonder in its own right. What beautiful circularity that we can find it wonderful that we evolved to find things like that wonderful. You can’t? Poor you.
So nicht dieser Töne, let joy prevail, happy lohri di lakh lakh vadhaiyan &c, as the days start to get longer and the low afternoon light in the west of these Scottish skies blinds us and makes crossing the icy roads doubly dangerous. Let us come together in what may have its origins in and is still enjoyed by ‘pagans’ as a Solstice celebration, and wish each other well and a jolly Makar Sankranti, and all that crap, whether we mean it or no (and we bally well should mean it).
But what to call it? Well, after much thought (all of ten minutes worth), the best answer your worldweary chum could come up with was Yearturn. Unspectacular, granted, but it would hardly be Zen or nihilistic to go for anything too flashy, would it? A little online research proves it’s neither well-known nor strictly original (but then neither is the term Zen Nihilism). It’ll do. Who cares anyway?
And rituals? Make your own up. Without a huge marketing budget like that which gave us Coca Cola’s Santa Claus or a huge literary following (a writist can dream, but …) like that which gave us the Dickensian Crimbo, traditions can’t be manufactured, they have to grow organically.
Yours Truly, who celebrates the birthdays of Jane Austen and Ludwig van Beethoven (16th Dec, see blog entry before last) likes to use the word Yule, even if his regular greeting of Cool Yule, Y’All is rather naff. Saturnalia also has some appeal, but these do all have strong connections to earlier societies and beliefs, and Yearturn has a pleasing neutrality. And no set beginningn or end. A fortnight should do it, especially if we can scrap all the standard songs that start playing incessantly in the shops from September on (not that they don’t include some gems, but all the bloody time?) and all themerchandising that surrounds it.
So there you have it. Happy Yearturn. What presents did imaginary old men bring you this year? Yes, we should give Yearturn gifts, encourage the idea behind St Nick, of giving without expecting (though this may be a losing battle: a young mother once told your blogger she was not telling her kids there was a Santa because she wanted them to know who had bought their gifts and at what expense, so they’d appreciate her love more!), maybe we even need a Krispy Kringle karakter of our own. But not only that. Many Randian neo-bastard economists deprecate the giving of gifts, because it distorts the correct working of their Great God, the Market (by demanding production of goods and services that are not actually wanted and, even worse, disguising the actual monetary value each person represents to another – so gifts in themselves are not bad, but they ‘should’ be solely monetary or similar trading tokens, and yes, your blogger will accept BitCoins). Anything that can fuck up that cruel, divisive, poverty-creating monster – even buying that ‘hideous tie, so kindly meant’ – has to be worth the effort and expense. ‘Exchangeis the most pernicious of evils’ (that’s anarchism, not nihilism, but they do make smashing bedfellows).
The final episode of the Moffat/Capaldi Dr Who referenced good ol’ Bertie Russell’s line that ‘love is wise and hate is foolish’. This strikes me as a bit off the mark. Unless it means that to love is wise, in which case he should have said so. Love itself strikes me as invariably foolish (but all the more glorious for being so), whereas hate is just downright fucking stupid (and always counterproductive to boot). But, in the words of St Quentin (the person born on Dec 25 from whom we can take inspiration), love is important to you because you give it; to expect to get anything back, to demand that it be requited, is like giving a present merely because one hoped to get another in return, and ‘simply will not do’. ‘Understand that’, he said, ‘and the very idea of your heart being broken will disappear’.
Your hopeless correspondent tells himself this a lot at this time of year, when the absence of the increasingly distant belovéd proves that there are forms of loneliness where the crowded avenue is indeed empty and the presence of well-meaning friends only serves to emphasise the all-important absence. Fortunately, jollity is his middle name and the remote company of an oriental motivator has made this the first Yearturn in over a decade which hasn’t been marked by sobbing under a duvet and/or weeping on the brow of a (Corstorphine, pictured) hill. It would have been nice to cycle up to Rest and Bethankit anyway, but the weather outside was shiteful: maybe he can get up there on New Year’s Day. If you’re coming too, do bring drinks. Party like it’s Twenty-Eighteen, dudes.
And either way, a happy Yearturn and a spiffing 2018 to both my readers, whether happy, sad, lonely or surrounded by love. May your lives get no worse than they already are, in the coming circuit round the Sun.