At the End of the Day

There is something about our species that can’t help turning every last tool into a weapon. In the Old Testament, Cain popped off his brother Abel with the jawbone of an ass, which showed imagination if nothing else. I once tried to write a silly piece about a bloke who killed people with the assbone of a jaw, but I could never make it work. After all, choosing the gob-skeleton of a donkey is surreal enough in itself.

We have this thing, we Homo sapiens, with re-inventing every available object in order to make it a homicidal exhibit. In the Courtroom, a flunkey passes a bicycle pump to the judge, as the prosecuting counsel explains to M’lud how Agnes Spleen thwacked her lover to death with it on account of his preference for a girl with drop-handlebars.

In the present era, this has become an art form. We used to have proper wars involving guns, cannons, tanks, bayonets and grenades. But with the coming of atomic weapons, we have been forced to endow formerly benign objects with the ability to defeat our enemies. Suddenly, there are dozens of new types of war: cyber, propaganda, energy, currency, surveillance, water….the list is very long indeed. There seems no end to the implements both concrete and abstract we will adapt in order to subdue others. All this has set me thinking.

Employing eccentric weapons is nothing new. The women of Troy waged sex war against their husbands in order to stop them going to war. (They succeeded commendably). For decades, British trade unions engaged in class war to bring the Toffs to heel. (They failed miserably). In the 1960s, the big fear was biological warfare. Employing bacteria as a form of mercenary may well have been the ultimate in human oddity. But there are many options still left.

Take rap for example. Somebody setting out to drive me away from a given territory would only have to bombard my domicile with rap music to have me high-tailing it to anywhere far, far away. Similarly, there  is no way I could cope with a steady stream of Jehovah’s Witnesses coming to my door: twice a year is fine, but twice a day would have me open to any suggestion within a week.

Technology manuals are perhaps the ultimate weapon. You would only have to issue an enemy with geek-written TV, DVD, pressure cooker or car instruction booklets to reduce them rapidly to a rabble unable to distinguish between CDs as a means of transport, or headlights as a form of cooking aid.

Future wars may well not involve anyone fighting and dying about territory: they may indeed consist of nothing more sadistic than pictures of a grinning Simon Cowell being waved above trenches. The thing is, such wars will be about individual surrender rather than death. Beijing’s troops will play Chinese opera to Russians, and the British will bombard the French with radio commentaries on cricket.

But whatever happens, the participants will discover this: there is a finite size to the pack with which one can identify. That size is limited to cultural media references pack members can easily recognise, and use as bonding glue. Ultimately, we will never put an end to war until the definition of culture grows beyond tribalism – and it shows no signs of doing that. A love of football cannot defeat the tribal support of a team. A love of music will never make Tchaikovsky fans like Bayernische oom-pah-pah. And a solid Old Labour trade unionist is never going to rub along with a liberal Californian ecology fan.

Noel Coward turned wit into a weapon. W C Fields did the same with sarcasm. Private Eye has waged war on the Establishment for fifty years with ironic satire. And Murdoch has worked tirelessly to bring British culture to its knees with vicious tabloid invention. I continue to feel that, as a species, we are an evolutionary mistake: in oxygenating our heads to facilitate escape from predators, natural selection eventually produced a born thug with a big brain. That perverted cerebrum has harnessed every means imaginable to attack its fellow human beings – from psychological torture to germs. It has invented, among many other horrors, death camps, ethnic cleansing, religious persecution, slavery, totalitarianism, and chicklit.

But it has also been responsible for great art, magnificent architecture, timeless classical music, saints, genuine prophets, inspiring literature, hysterical comedy, and Bauhaus furniture.

Last year in France, I saw some exhibits by a sculptor who turned gun barrels, tin helmets, pistols and shell cases into beautiful ornaments. But he clearly didn’t belong in mainstream society…any more than Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, St Francis of Assisi, Tony Hancock or William Shakespeare did.

The human brain is capable of producing great wonders. It is, in fact, our best tool. It is also our most murderously dangerous weapon.

26 thoughts on “At the End of the Day

  1. But he clearly didn’t belong in mainstream society…any more than Vincent Van Gogh, Oscar Wilde, St Francis of Assisi, Tony Hancock or William Shakespeare did.

    these people may not belong in “mainstream society” – but in their vision, they can lead it to better things.

    There is no conceivable need for killing another human being. In every case, it is the outcome of selfishness or some other short-coming in an individual. I short, we have the choice, each and every one of us to look to ourselves before doing violence (or any other mis-deed) to another.

    Those who cannot see their own faults, selfishness or whatever, and carry on with negative actions of any kind, make themselves the unhappier for it. Dicken’s picturing of Marley in chains is what in reality lies in the heart of those who seek only the material values that such transaction can bring. Sure, we all need it to live by – in our society at least – but you of all people will know its roots. That is if you read that article I sent you recently, John.


  2. When I think back to my time in National Service! I was trained to Kill,with sheets of paper,Lead pencils,Hair Clips,etc. But I was in the Technical Branch.They did not teach me how to throw a Screwdriver,or how to strangle the Enemy with a Fan Belt.We played Darts at the end of the Runway,A well aimed “Arrow”,in the” Eye of the Enemy,would also serve “H.M” .Oh, they also had Guns,but we were not often allowed to play with them.(How do you scroll this Back?)


  3. “…nothing more sadistic than pictures of a grinning Simon Cowell…”

    That’s pretty bloody sadistic to the poor sods who would have to look at it.


  4. You need to brush up on your Bible, John! Genesis 4:8 does not say how Cain killed Abel, only that he “rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him.” (KJV)
    You may be thinking of Samson, who “found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.” (Judges 15:15)


  5. At the end of a (very good) day….
    This is one of my postings to the Slog a few weeks ago:-
    did you listen to the “evidence” given to Leveson by the Met’s Dick Fedorcio today? If you haven’t, you really must look at the transcript.
    It was really hard for me to listen to the answers he gave when questioned… his replies even made ME squirm with embarrassment.
    When he was asked about the various “favours” involving his chums “Honest” John Yates and Neil Wallis, I thought the QC was about to tell Fedorcio to take a 10-minute break and come back with at least an attempt to lie convincingly.
    Fedo is on “extended leave” at the moment. I can’t see him returning to work any time soon….unless he gets a job load-testing ropes under Blackfriars Bridge.”””””

    And this is today’s story:-
    Met’s PR chief Dick Fedorcio resigns after force begins disciplinary action
    IPCC inquiry found Dick Fedorcio should face gross misconduct charge for awarding contract to former NoW executive Neil Wallis

    Maybe there is a God after all……………


  6. “Met’s PR chief Dick Fedorcio resigns after force begins disciplinary action”.

    Presumably thats is the end of any disciplinary action as is usually the case with bent (proper) coppers.

    Fedorcio is going to escape scott free.


  7. Man discovers a tool ( not in this case an asses jaw bone ) & before you know it, he his hitting somebody on the head with it. Art seems to have taken millions of years longer to develop, an abstract pattern of saw marks on a much later bone.


  8. Whilst not a stranger to the Trenchard Lines, our training was different yet aimed for the same end result.

    TO JOHN.
    I admire your investigative skills, but please desist in these end of the day scenarios where you unmask yourself as just like us and possible like us – and just like us to our facebook friends, sometimes at the end of our days, we find ourselves under the influence.

    Tell us all some more about coco please – your dogs have somehow covertely become our dogs… :o)

    You just want to understand the truth as best as you are able to find it. We understand and recognise that John, but by publishing your email details online and inviting everyone and anyone to tell you of their “hushed” up just scandal opens you up to the global ministries of misinformation that you spend so much of your time tryng to expose.

    The more you present as personal, not factual, they more they will use that against you. Now John, how is Coco these days?????


  9. You forgot to acknowledge the wee cooper who lived in fife.

    Which fiction do you represent Christiaan De Wet? Why should anyone believe you and how is this relevent to anything that John the Truth Sayer might sanction and why should you get your absolution before me when everyone knows how your wife’s last husband actually met his end???

    01 of 1001 of “Why end of the day is unlikely to deliver the truth”.


  10. I agree with yr comment on rap music and note the opposite also works and some councils have actually taken to playing classical music at areas where undesirables have taken to congregating. Results show this is effective in clearing areas such as parts of town centres, public toilets etc.
    Sound as a weapon also works for different frequencies. Mobile phones are good at emitting high pitched mosquito like whining noises that only youthful ears can hear. The youth gets sub conciously irritated and leave the area leaving the adult ears untouched as with age our frequency range deteriorates at the high end of the scale. I have seen this work with my own ‘ears’


  11. Look it up if you don’t believe me…and reflect on the decline of English civilization as they increasingly desert that Cornerstone…heathen aliens rioting unopposed through the capital, anyone?


  12. The optimum size of a community is interesting. If we all felt we belonged to society at a personal level a few more of us might participate and assist each other. Also it’s interesting that while the EU is trying to build a superstate more than a few countries would like independence; Scotland, Wales, Basque (and how long before e.g . Catalunya?)
    On the most serious point it’s hard to see how world peace can be achieved without everyone acknowledging the animal within them and taming it. Self-reflective practices can achieve that but how many of us spare even 5 minutes a day to know ourselves?


  13. Well, what a great end to the day. Mr Murdoch declares war on the “toffs”. I said in a post to you last year that there was a “War within the Empire” and that Murdoch was the outcast. It looks like ol’ Rupe is not only fighting back, he has openly declared it. Roll on the exposes of the croooked politicos!
    And what a great start to a new day. George Galloway wins a seat at Bradford West and is now back in parliament. Galloway polled 18,341 to take the seat, trouncing Labour’s candiate Imran Hussein by around 10,000 votes.

    John, I thought you said that alternative candidates were wasting their time in battling the big political combos????



  14. @Stevie

    art was there too – only they used watercolours and it was washed off in the rain. Plus the paper they made didn’t last very long ;-) ;-) ;-)


  15. “…some councils have actually taken to playing classical music at areas where undesirables have taken to congregating”

    Would that be Wagner perhaps?


  16. KB

    Yes, and interesting that our George said/implied that the Labour party had been treating its voters as fodder for too long. George is a maverick so lets see what upset to the status quo he may bring. I didn’t like his eulogising of Gadhaffi through.


  17. John,

    Spot on on rap music. Truly dreadful. Ironically, it seems to have been popularised circa 1977 by The Sugarhill Gang with their Rappers Delight set to the tune of Good Times by Shik(?). Its a great song/tune and quite funny. But the irony is that it was a piss take! The Sugarhill Gang were three New York DJ’s who set up the band to—take the piss out of the emerging genre.

    And I was a professional DJ at the time (good money it was too—and the girls! Oooo the girls)……….Must stop now—getting all soggy with nostalgia.


  18. The geek written tech manuals run neck and neck with the loud cacophonous scratchy anti-music nearing the finish line, while chick-lit (a near perfect touch, John) nips at their heels to show.
    Gross under-manning is run of the mill gunnery.
    The dream is small potatoes.
    By the same doctrine it strikes us that free economics is hovering. Escalation will be strictly strategic.
    The bacterium is open.
    The public has no right to know.


  19. “The human brain is capable of producing great wonders. It is, in fact, our best tool. It is also our most murderously dangerous weapon.”

    It’s the p word again. Life, and everything in it, is essentially a paradox. As a convicted buddhist of 40 years or so standing (with a brief interlude of TM during the 70’s), that is the sum total of my knowledge. The extent to which we learn to accept that existence embraces total opposites is the extent to which we can find harmony. The rest is, well.. bollocks.

    Having earned good (ok, not so good really – more paradox) money for performing the music of Count Basie et al, my heart sinks when I hear rap musicnot. It’s the sort of nihilistic expression that you get when you strip ever more value out of people’s lives and force them to live in a way which degrades them.


  20. Pingback: At the End of the Day | The Slog

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