Stoicism and Hedonism

The city at night. The symbol of Capitalism – a built environment on a hitherto unimaginably vast scale – exciting sexy rampant brutal. Upwards thrusting brilliantly illuminated monumental. A wholly artificial electric alienated world whose spectacle reduces the humans that move though it to insignificance.

Inside the office on the 35th floor all is quiet, warm, surfaces are smooth lighting subtle machines hum, there is a faint buzz of neon and air conditioning, the clicking of fingers on keyboards, the occasional rattle and clatter of copiers and printers. All is text texting Email paper printed pushed presented points made politely, targets agendas set. At the meeting the boys slip into gear press their points feeling smooth motivating pushing through taking forward passing over any other business. Investment portfolios trading blue chip indexes excesses surpluses acquisitions credit limits substantial deposits assets stripped lucrative deals packages profitable revenue streams income credit charging equity partners top earners discreet and media savvy profits taken.

Outside suspended in space the earth curves away a thousand feet below. It is very cold, the wind is vicious as you fall, reaching maximum velocity you have the sensation of floating in the early morning light the horizon deep purple shading into pink, flecks of gold touching the sky to the west. Looking up through the clouds tinted orange by the sodium lights far below (- or is it the sun coming into view as the earth turns?) into the deep blue infinity the stars of the Milky Way glitter.

The Office. I am going to the office dear, I work in an office, everyone works in an office. The office the orifice the interior up yours. Inside the boys are up their arses beating us up giving it large, taunting flaunting it making it happen. Erecting their egos above the abyss. Monumental erections built of spondoolics shafting into the sky. The squillionnaires, the masters of the universe stacking it up pushing the envelope, creating spectacular monuments to banality. The glib and oleaginous righteous, ripe with greed their pots full stretched out in limos squeaky clean leather and bling. They soak it up knock it back pour it all away. Their fat arses squeezed in pinned to screens they click on it stick it in press return then flag it up with sweaty hands making sure their duplicitousness doesn’t leak

Meanwhile the workers cheat and chatter inanities spilling the beans, sycophantic blagging full of dread. Big brother antics last night groping, finger lickin burgers pay rise pending. They stall procrastinate forever failing falling down flights of fancy up in lifts neon lit potted plants. They tweak it and twist it and make it happen hoping to make it out of the box emailing blackmailing, getting positive feedback. All the nitting and picking and poking where does it get you? Up in the morning into the tube tracking time mourning the loss slamming the door in your face facing the end. The denouement’s no drama, the pay-off less than they thought what’s the point of no return.

Somewhere else far away in Tower Hamlets Iraq and Rio they watch TV and scrabble for work a roof respect whilst others in the shit crawl on broken glass and shrapnel rooting and picking over tips scrabbling for food and medicine while children play in the dirt with bottle tops and unknown and untold numbers, refugees and pilgrims retain their futile beliefs with dignity, stoical, united in the recognition of their fragility and shared humanity.