Sunday, August 1, 2010

cold clinical institutions Vs Billy Bragg, music, class and humanity - (old post, originally from 15-04-2007)

I sit here and ponder the art of blogging. I should be writing up a lab report on something i have no interest in, yet it will contribute significantly towards my grade on a subject at uni, which in turn will go towards a  final grade, with which people will view my academic ability by, for years to come.
Its sad, so cold- so clinical. So inaccurate of actual ability and more reflective of a person's ability or inability to engage with a topic, or content or teaching method... where is the warmth and tenderness of the human heart?.. the human spirit? where is intuition and emotional understanding? We need the milkman of human kindness to leave an extra pint (lyric by Billy Bragg).
I need to clear my head and go for a walk. I grab my discman and the CD/LP 'Workers Playtime' by Billy Bragg. An LP that is tender, warm and humanely honest. It is a persons journey through relationships and life. Exploring aspects of himself from within and from the perspective of the other gender. I love this LP. I have listened to it so many times. A friend gave me a copy of it on cassette. I loved it so much I then went on to buy it on CD. I have raved about it on air , when i was presenting on community Radio, and often to my friends. I am still raving about it right now. Not only have i connected to it, but many others have, and on many levels. I have had people who know of my love and passion for music, come up to me to tell me about an amazing new LP they have discovered.. Billy Bragg's 'Workers Playtime'. I smile knowingly as we both reach an understanding without saying another word.
Music is a refuge in which we can explore life, dreams, hopes, feelings, in which we can cry, laugh, love, remember, reflect, live, dare and find solace and understanding in. It has the power to unite and connect us on many levels. 
How do we bridge the gap between cold clinical institutions and the warmth of human emotions... through music?.. do we simply utilise music as a tool or means to get us through? Or do we dare to go further and learn from the connection people make with music and somehow transfer that into the realm of the institution and especially that of education? Is it about remembering how to connect again to our emotions and spirit? How do we bring a sense of our humanity to the clinical realm and allow people to engage deeply and emotionally,  instead of only on a superficial mental level?  Can we? Will the powers that be allow us? Or does It threaten their expertise? 
The milkman of human kindness is a blue collar worker who understands emotional need. Who would slip you an extra pint if you needed it. Institutions are run by white collar people who often loose sight of the human condition in their endeavors to increase share price and profit margins, boost productivity while miminising FTE. In this time of globalisation and Post or High modernity ( depending on your belief), class seems to be forgotten, as does the fact,  that at the end of the day, we are all people who feel, bleed, breathe, live and need to feel loved, accepted and understood. Do we need to reacknowledge the ignored class distinctions and lines that still exist, before we can learn from each other? I don't know... I do know that either way,  if you feel poorly, it won't stop the milkman of human kindness from understanding, reaching out and leaving an extra pint ( lyric by Billy Bragg)
p.s. The song: "The milkman of human kindness" is not on the 'Workers Playtime' LP. I discovered it on the brillant compilation of Billy Bragg early ep's "Back to Basics"
I must thank my good friend and comrade Dr Classic for introducing me to Billy Bragg's music and talking me to see him on several occasions when he was here playing live.


  1. Matthew, you write of blogging thus:
    "Its sad, so cold- so clinical. So inaccurate of actual ability and more reflective of a person's ability or inability to engage with a topic, or content or teaching method... where is the warmth and tenderness of the human heart?.. . . . . ."

    Blogging and use of the internet can be of sharing and bringing joy of your experiences to others. It's exhilarating to have your work published and others to write back and tell you how much they enjoyed it.

    This reminds me of something I found in my mother's old jottings:
    "Two prisoners stand behind bars; one saw mud and the other saw stars"

    Michael in Sydney

  2. Thanks Big M, but the comments on cold, clinical etc.. refer to a lab report I should be writing instead of pondering blogging. I speak of my disillusionment with writing for the academic realm in general and how you are expected to write something that you might not be engaged with or interested in, and the grade you receive on this effects your future... Looking back, I can see how i could have perhaps made this clearer :-)

  3. not sure that postmodernity erases the examination of class (or other) distinctions...but i do think that institutions can become rather clinical places - where the tail wags the dog...what would I do...?...negotiate those assignments...find a space within the institution/course to do what you want to do...Michael...