A combination of words and pictures and it feels like I am back to the drawing board. It began with discovering that Bernard-Henri Lévy is still being taken seriously by some elite somewhere on this planet (that was over at the Tomb) and was compounded by the endless newsletters I receive on Angola every morning. This morning I read a piece by the respected Angolan novelist, Pepetela (I’m currently reading his o quasi fim do mundo), in which he seems to be saying that in order for the country to have free, fair and safe elections everyone must accept very very tight control. I wonder what he means, precisely. And why? Does democracy really matter anyway? Fundamentally? And then I had a conversation with a very bright and interesting woman who works in what you might call the consultancy sector, advising big business about people and telling big business why, for example, local people living next to their oil explorations matter. Cynicism is my only response. Since when has big business wanted to do anything for people, really, seriously? Is this not simply about anthropologists adapting to capital?
I’m no closer to understanding the tension between ideology and fact: this is the essence of the problem. I know what I believe in, and I know the ideas and theories in which I believe, but they collapse almost entirely beneath what I have seen and what I’ve experienced. This is where the confusion between fact and fiction emerges in all of my work. And because my learning has emerged from engaging in one way or another with politics in London and bits of southern Africa, the essence of my time is taken up with trying to understand liberation, freedom, justice, socialism, and I suppose nationalism, alongside what I see and experience. And always this desire to be part of a club, a group. The yearning to be able to be part of a movement, but forever remaining on the periphery. Always the fact jarring and defeating the theory. Experience always overriding ideas. Like that rubbish up there, the foundations upon which many houses are built. That rubbish up there.
And still clever people tell me ‘what the fucking people say is irrelevant…’ And still clever people tell me that ‘the fucking people don’t know about geopolitics…’ This being an argument in favour of the theory. But the thing is, whenever I speak to ‘the fucking people’ I am struck by the fact that they do know what they are talking about, and what they complain about tends to come true and tends to become the essence of the problem. Which is why I gaze at the rubbish up there everyday, because I fear that if I don’t, I might become lazy and allow the theory to overwhelm the fact. Though it would make my life so much easier if I let it.