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Friday, 24 February 2017

Hamilton, And The Return Of The Capitalist

Hamilton, And The Return Of The Capitalist

By
Alexander Gordon Jahans


I feel like that title needs an oxford comma or it risks sounding like bad fanfic or rightwing bashing.

I am not a nice guy. I am not a white knight. I am not important and I have so little to lose. I have spent the past two years, staring into the abyss, staring down the barrel of a gun knowing that at any moment it could fire and my life would be over. I am a greedy sadistic capitalist with an anger problem I am terrified of.

I try to be good, try to pass amongst society and for the most part I succeed but my greed is a mighty force. I hunger and I crave, willing to put myself through grave hardship for a little extra capital. It’s how I survived school for so long, saving up my dinner money, because what’s a little flambeed hair when there’s £20 on the line. It’s why I have never in my darkest moments been able to step away from youtube. Why I can write 50,000 words on a piece of shit story I then abandon halfway through.

When Andrew Ryan gave his speech about the great chains of industry in the greatest strawman of capitalism ever devised I incorporated into my own vision and faith of capitalism. Even the seemingly ludicrous idea of little girls being exploited to create the magic science of Rapture doesn’t seem so insane when you consider the pittance children are paid oversees to make our clothes and computers. How much more expensive would a smartphone be if everyone at every stage of propduction and distribution were paid a living wage?

It is horrible and evil but it works. Millions, billions are ground to dust between the gears of capitalism but still the great chains of industry are pulled, bringing down capitalism with them. Machines built by underpaid workers are replacing the jobs of our unskilled service class. The masses grow restless seeing their jobs disappear and they elect racists out of fear for the jobs technology is removing and the welfare state greedy politicians and corporations have been undermining.

I stopped being a capitalist because I honestly don’t think capitalism can be saved. The people will riot when they realise racial and cultural purity has failed to save their jobs and the welfare state. The people will demand change, demand socialism. The very selfishness that bought capitalism to its knees will bring about post-scarcity communism as politicians fearing for their own necks implement machine derived welfare programs and utilities. We will hand over the last vestiges of our privacy and get access to an automated pseudo-utopia while those who still have capital on enough scale to worry about scarcity try to crisis manage around an increasingly large, well connected and well educated populace with the ability to fight a large scale terrorist insurgency on all they held dear if sufficiently motivated. Of course there will always be those with the desire to motivate chaos for the establishment no matter the system but for now the masses are against them will side with measures to stop them.

Capitalism falls and privilege falls with it. I am among the last of a breed of men born with a hunger to create, control and and dominate capital. That’s part of my malaise. I lost my faith, lost my hunger. I stopped trying because my ideology is no longer something I can champion. It has created demons which plague us. Demons which herald its end. The very fact that I continue to live despite failing to achieve what capitalism says I must in order to survive feels like an insult to all I hold dear.

I should be dead because I can’t get a job, because I’m too healthy and able for disability welfare and too disabled to deal with the bullshit of job seekers pay. I should be dead. I should be. Yet I live. So I fantasize about worlds where maybe my sadism and greed can go hand in hand with my moral code. Then feminists remind me that as a white man creating fiction about submissive women I am going to be among those against the wall when the revolution comes.

How can you fight when everything you believe in is coming to an end? When everything you believe in threatens to bring about your end? Because I am a sick twist sadistic greedy capitalist and, feminists forgive me, I love it.

Today I worked. I made myself a timetable. Gave myself a 9-5 day. Well a 9-5 work day that can work regardless of how fucked up my sleeping pattern is. It was hard and it was tough. It was slow and I felt such a fool. I am an autistic slob who has only ever used email to organise my life before, even beginning to get organised feels like swimming through treacle. Setting up folder architecture, compiling a list of tasks to be worked on, sorting out a timetable that can adapt to how fucked up I am. It all had to be done before I could even begin to set up the extra youtube channels I need to start taking this work seriously.

Two thousand nazis hate watch me and their viewership makes me a decent enough income that working towards building an online brand does not feel like the stupidest idea. A channel to host videos for patreon donors. A channel to host audiobook adaptations of my oh so depraved fiction. A channel for news punditry. A wordpress account to allow me to manage these different brands by providing a one stop shop for all of them.

I don’t deserve success. I don’t deserve to live. I probably don’t even deserve to be happy. So what if I restrain myself with my morality, my fiction speaks to my sadism and brutality. The fact I can never quite quit fighting my haters speaks to how much I relish conflict. I shouldn’t have got this far and I shouldn’t be able to get much farther. I don’t need to distance myself from politics and youtube, I need to rush head long into them because while I yet live I will do what gives me meaning and purpose, I will be a capitalist.

So why does Hamilton top the bill? Why, if I am feeling the duty again, am I even bothering to mention a musical? There are 4 media forms I have no part in. Musicals, comics, anime and romcoms. Why Hamilton? Why now? Why in this blog? Because I could not sleep for its awesomeness.

I heard about Hamilton 6 months or more ago. An all black musical take on the founding of America. How progressive, excuse me while I vomit. Oh don’t look at me like that. Liberals do this. I’ve done it. You write a piece of mediocre fiction but make it friendly to a poor downtrodden demographic and pat yourself on the back. I mean yes black men are still getting gunned down on suspicion of stealing chocolate bars while white men are incredibly unlucky if they get even 3 months community service for raping a woman then sharing the recording on social media to boast. But hey black girls in America get to watch a princess they can aspire to in a musical about the evils of the monarchy. It’s sickening. Or that’s what I thought.

Then I listened to School of Movies near 4 hour long review of Hamilton as I had a lengthy walk to and from the shops recently. The review was not a great advert. Some School of Movies Reviews are in depth breakdowns with analyses of the psyches of characters. Some are just geek outs. Which is fine. I like a good geek out. It’s just that their reviews of the Sarah Connor Chronicles, Pacific Rim, and the Batman films and games are so meaty with analysis that a geek out by comparison makes the material covered feel lightweight and dull.

It did not help that I had to make the walk twice because I left my wallet at home the first time so I was annoyed. On top of that my brain struggled to process the music. Music is my white noise. I listen to it to keep my otherwise wondering mind focused on thinking and not getting distracted because the spare processing power is taken up with the music. When I walk, I listen to music so I can focus on going through ideas for my fiction. When I write, I listen to music. I am listening to Coldplay as I write this. By this point I have conditioned myself to associate music in my headphones with the flow state unless it is accompanied by visuals. And musicals give no fucks for the consumer who prefers to enjoy their entertainment at home.

So I came out of the podcast hating Hamilton. Overhyped cringey crap. My mind just couldn’t process the music, it jarred and itched in my mind. I wanted to slap the people singing and either get them to act normally like in tv or film, or to sing properly. What the fuck is this ridiculous sing talking nonsense? It’s so annoying.

Annoying like Captain Jack Harkness, Dean Winchester and the tenth Doctor to a young bisexual me in deep denial about being in the closet. The rage at the thing that is tearing you apart inside and making you feel so confused. How can I like that when I don’t consider myself someone who likes that? Yet it stuck it my head and wormed its way deeper and deeper.

I found myself singing the opening song of Alexander Hamilton. I looked it up on youtube and listened to a playlist of songs. Like warming a frog up to the boil I found myself wading ever deeper into the musical. Song after song my brain adjusted to the format. I started liking and loving songs. My interest was piqued enough that I bought it on Amazon. If nothing else this was a potential bridge to my mother with whom a young nerd otherwise has so little that could even get in the vicinity of being something in common with her.

Then today as I walked to the shops for snacks and a new keyboard at the end of my first work day I decided to listen to Hamilton. I finished it just before bed and I have fallen hopelessly in love with it.

Don’t get me wrong as a history of the American Revolution, Mike Duncan’s Revolutions Podcast is still better, might have to give that a relisten actually. As a narrative that focuses on telling a personal journey through the American Revolution, I actually think Assassin’s Creed 3 is better.

Hamilton is not rich in detail and nuance. There is no meat on its bones. Oh there is meat to be found in the American Revolution, in the childhood of Alexander Hamilton and the consequences his life has on other people. This musical however does not offer up that meat and I kind of hunger for a grim and gritty HBO series that can go into the depth of the American Revolution and Hamilton’s life. But these were real people and this is a musical. It’s not about the meat. It’s about the emotion. And it utterly excels at that. I have not been able to sleep for thinking about Hamilton, or to be precise, listening to it play endlessly all at once in my head.

As an autistic person that is not usually a pleasant experience. To an Autistic person gatherings of people are anxiety inducing because we are so empathetic, our senses are so sharp and if we can socialise at all our minds are racing so far ahead just to figure out the appropriate thing to say that a crowd is a cacophony. There’s a great bit in the history of the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy where 2 million robots are supposed to sing comedy lyrics a flattened fifth out of key and the producer says. “Douglas you’re going to have to pick one of these jokes to cut because we can’t make them all audible at once.” I’m paraphrasing obviously but that’s what even a small, crowd is like to an autistic person. A tremendous boiling cacophony that wrecks comprehension and makes you want to scream, hit something or run away, possibly all 3 in that order.

There are points in Hamilton where it uses that autistic sensation of overload to create melodic discord. With numerous lyrical riffs happening at once in  a maddening soundscape of chaos. As an autistic person that is very unpleasant. I shouldn’t imagine it’s especially fun for a neurotypical person either. Though probably less “If this doesn’t end I’m going to lose it” and more “I am invested in the characters and hope this conflict is resolved soon.”

Next to Hamilton anything I dream up to help pass the night feels cheap and shallow. With Hamilton blaring in my ears on a loop I have to try so much harder to focus on my dreams to keep the nightmares at bay and am consequently unable to get to sleep. I do hope this blog will serve as sufficient exorcism and allow me to rest.

Hamilton. Songs so good your subconscious will use them to torture you. My brain is currently madlibbing Hamilton lyrics as the chaos clatters in my head and it struggles to recall the words mid song.

I suppose I truly am a capitalist addicted to plate spinning because my brain is trying to play so many Hamilton songs at once. Anyway I should probably try to get some rest.