Choose Life (Extract from Trainspotting by Irvine Welsh)

Ah despised masel and the world because ah failed tae face up tae ma ain, and life’s, limitations. The acceptance ay self-defeating limitations seemed then tae constitute mental health, or non-deviant behaviour.

Success and failure simply mean the satisfaction and frustration ay desire. Desire can either be predominantly intrinsic, based oan oor individual drives, or extrinsic, primarily stimulated by advertising, or societal role models as presented through the media and popular culture. Tom feels that ma concept ay success and failure only operates on an individual rather than an individual and societal level. Due tae this failure tae recognize societal reward, success (and failure) can only ever be fleeting experiences for me, as that experience cannae be sustained by the socially-supported condoning of wealth, power, status, etc., nor, in the case ay failure, by stigma or reproach. So, according tae Tom, it’s nae good telling us that ah’ve done well in ma exams, or got a good job, or got off wi a nice burd; that kind ay acclaim means nowt tae us. Of course, ah enjoy these things at the time, or for themselves, but their value cannae be sustained because there’s nae recognition ay the society which values them. What Tom’s trying tae say, ah suppose, is that ah dinnae gie a fuck. Why? So it goes back tae ma alienation from society. The problem is that Tom refuses tae accept ma view that society cannae be changed tae make it significantly better, or that ah cannae change tae accommodate it. Such a state ay affairs induces depression on ma part, aw the anger gets turned in. That’s what depression is, they say. However, depression also results in demotivation. A void grows within ye. Junk fills the void, and also helps us tae satisfy ma need tae destroy masel, the anger turned in bit again.

So basically ah agree wi Tom here. Whair we depart is that he refuses tae see this picture in its total bleakness. He believes that ah’m suffering fae low self-esteem, and that ah’m refusing tae acknowledge that by projecting the blame oantae society. He feels that ma means ay emasculating the rewards and praise (and conversely condemnation) available tae me by society is not a rejection ay these values per se, but an indication that ah dinnae feel good enough (or bad enough) aboot masel tae accept them. Rather than come oot and say: Ah don’t think ah have these qualities (or ah think ah’m better than that), Ah say: It’s a loaday fucking shite anywey. Hazel said tae us, jist before she telt us that she didnae wantae see us again, whin ah started using for the umpteenth time: – You just want tae fuck up on drugs so that everyone’ll think how deep and fucking complex you are. It’s pathetic, and fucking boring. In a sense ah prefer Hazel’s view. Thir is an element ay ego in it. Why should ah reject the world, see masel as better than it? Because ah do, that’s why. Because ah fucking am, and that’s that.

The upshot ay this attitude is that ah was sent tae this therapy/counselling shite. Ah didnae want aw this. This shite muddies the waters for us; confuses rather than clarifies issues. Basically, aw ah ask is that cunts mind their ain business and ah’ll dae the same. Why is that because ye use hard drugs every cunt feels that they have a right tae dissect and analyse ye?

Once ye accept that they huv that right, ye’ll join them in the search fir this holy grail, this thing that makes ye tick. Ye’ll then defer tae them, allowin yersel tae be conned intae believin any biscuit-ersed theory ay behaviour they choose tae attach tae ye. Then yir theirs, no yir ain; the dependency shifts from the drug to them.

Society invents a spurious convoluted logic tae absorb and change people whae’s behaviour is outside its mainstream. Suppose that ah ken aw the pros and cons, know that ah’m gaunnae huv a short life, am ay sound mind etcetera, etcetera, but still want tae use smack? They won’t let ye dae it. They won’t let ye dae it, because it’s seen as a failure ay thir am failure. The fact that ye jist simply choose tae reject whit they huv tae offer. Choose us. Choose life. Choose mortgage payments; choose washing machines; choose cars; choose sitting oan a couch watching mind-numbing and spirit-crushing game shows, stuffing fuckin junk food intae yir mooth. Choose rotting away, pishing and shiteing yersel in a home, a total fuckin embarassment tae the selfish, fucked-up brats ye’ve produced. Choose life.

Well, ah choose no tae choose life.

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