Russell Brand

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Brand at the premiere for Arthur in 2011.

Russell Edward Brand (born June 4, 1975 in Grays, England) is an English stand-up comedian, radio DJ, television presenter, newspaper columnist, and sometime actor.

Quotes[edit]

RE:Brand (2002)[edit]

  • You know, the relationships we 'ave, everything sort of bubbles under the surface. No one ever says what they actually mean, do they? It's all a bit pappy and rubbish.
    • Episode 1 - Dad Fight
  • BNP Member: Listen, you told us that you wanted to come up here to make a politically neutral documentary.
    Russell Brand: No, I can't be neutral mate it's too important, I'm not going to let you destroy my fucking planet!
  • BNP Member: I am proud to be white, and I am proud to be British.
    Brand: But you should find other things to be proud of mate.
    • Episode 2 - Nazi Boy

6 Music Show[edit]

  • When my dad left, you know, I'd give my mum hell sometimes, but really she's the one that stayed, isn't she? Poor cow, she didn't need that kind of aggravation.
  • I've looked right through the Bible, start to finish, looking for the bit saying 'Jesus was the mind behind Ikea', then there's no evidence to suggest this at all.
  • I saw a picture of Prince William, HRH William, in the paper today. He's going bald. I reckon by the end of next year he will be bald and I'm glad about that. Because of his playboy prince status and that, it makes me feel insecure about my own looks.
  • Karl Pilkington: And I was high up.
    Russell Brand: I'm picturing you as a sort of vigilante Batman figure, looking down over Salford, to see if there's any crimes.
    Karl Pilkington: And I was in my pants.
    Rusell Brand: Again, like a vigilante Batman figure.
  • The first time Tim Westwood did that chestbump to me, I ended up sort of cuddling his arm.
  • I don't like the idea of fruit being all turned on because of cream being poured on it. How then can you eat that fruit?
  • I like pressing that emergency button on bus doors to escape.
  • Russell Brand: What did you say?
    Trevor Lock: I just said 'ow'
    Russell Brand: Oh yeah, that cleared it up. He probably sank to his knees at that point and screamed 'There is no God!' You probably made him renounce the clergy. He probably went straight off after that and had it off with someone...
  • Matt Morgan: [To Russell] How have you developed pectoral muscles when you barely do anything for yourself?
    • BBC 6 Music Show - 27th August 2006

Big Brother's Big Mouth (2004-2007)[edit]

  • Charles Ingram's views are so pugnacious that when I heard them, I went back to ancient Arabia, sauntered into Aladdin’s cave, said "Open, sesame," perused all the treasures and trinkets until I got Aladdin's attention, pulled down my trousers and panties and forced a genie into my dinkle's peep hole and shouted, "Aladdin, rub the lamp! You'll get more than three wishes!" He said he wished I'd leave his cave.
  • Spiral's views are so enchanting that when I heard them, I cleared off to Australia, strolled up Ayres Rock to the meditating Aborigines, pulled down my trousers and pants, polished my dinkle 'til it was as stiff as a pipe, prised its end open and shouted, "Lads, who wants a blow of my didgeridoo?!" They said they faced this ignorance from the white man on an almost daily basis.

Shame [Live DVD] (2006)[edit]

  • [On a fabricated tabloid story]
    The Neptunian underworld king unleashed a barrage of eels from his abdomen and each of the eels was carrying a zippo lighter and as they flew by they spelt across the sky in fire 'Tara can a borrow your eyeliner please?' If you're gonna make stuff up go mental!
  • It's not really over. There's a little part of my brain that is:
'Russell, where are the opiates?'
- 'I'm afraid we can't have any more opiates..'
'Why?'
- 'You nearly killed me, didn't you?'

'Oh, that was just a joke!'

  • Hmm, wa'er! If, right, your body is 90% water what have you got to drink water all the time for? Why can't you just have some crisps?
  • [On chat-up lines]
    Well, stick around love, cos I've got worse. The worst being, simply, "Get in the van."

Friday Night with Jonathan Ross (2006)[edit]

  • It's like Kilroy only talking about Big Brother and there's no racism allowed.
    • Describing Big Brother's Big Mouth
  • Blimey! Thank God my jeans are this tight- you could wear me like a puppet!

Big Fat Quiz of the Year (2006)[edit]

  • Let's look beyond the divisions of football teams and look at the unifying force within our souls... SEX!
  • October... Is that when there's conkers?
  • The whole thing stinks, Carr!
  • Where's Guy?!
  • (after Noel Fielding has written "peep scarf" to describe a piece of muslim apparel) That's its proper name!

Big Fat Quiz of the Year (2007)[edit]

  • Should we stick with the Goth Detectives from when we won last year? Where's our trophy?

Doing Life [Live DVD] (2007)[edit]

  • I kat you?
  • So by being offended you've sorta acknowledged that you are thick, and none of us are, so we're all back on speaking terms!
  • You'd think, if you was me, you would think this and I am me, so I'm in a perfect position to offer conclusive evidence on that... innit like when you go away on holiday, you think 'oh yeah, I'd better go away on holiday, cheer myself up, get away from it all" but when you go on holiday, you're there, so it's shit!
  • so when I was staying with him, he went 'alright, okay, so what time do you go to bed then?' and I thought 'fucking hell! he doesn't know what he's doing!! SHIIIIIIT!!' I went 'oooh, about, 10 oclock?', 'ah yeah, alright then'. YEEEES!! it's like the same feeling that as an adult I would get walking through customs with heroin in my bottom. 'I'm getting away with iiiiit!

Radio One Interview, July 5th 2007[edit]

  • If you're going to use 'theatrical' and 'bent' in such close proximity, you're going to give people the wrong impression.
  • In an infinite universe; eternal time, why just do what people tell you? 'ave a laugh; do what you want.
  • If that's a euphemism - an egg and spoon race, - I'm probably gold medal class.
  • "Could you imagine a wand that was not camp? Could you imagine, for example, Ray Winstone, with a wand? (Impersonating him) 'RIGHT OK. IT'S A KIND OF MAGIC, SIT DOWN.' "
  • When asked what he puts on his hair: "Mostly orphans' tears, old clock parts, lizard's tails, spit, the concept of freedom; all up there, all shooshed up right nice and tight, like a bonfire that's never actually burned... it mutters follicular oddities into my mind."
  • "I emerged from the womb, right, I was wearing a top hat and I had a cane and said: 'Mother, that was an awkward and embarrassing birth. You should be ashamed of yourself dear. Now pull your nightie down; that doctor looks salacious.' Then I trotted off outside, met up with Kenneth Williams and we both had tea, and we looked down at our dinkles with disgust."

Brit Awards (2007)[edit]

  • Let's send actual love to Robbie Williams. Get well England's Rose. One day at a time old bean. Ooh, those bloody drugs!
  • What about the rumours David Cameron smoked drugs as a schoolboy? What worries me most is that he dressed up as a schoolboy to do it, the pervert. Though perhaps, let’s not condemn him regardless. Who among us didn’t smoke just a little bit of weed at school, just to take the edge off those irksome crack come-downs? Actually, as it turns out, it’s about as good an anti-drugs campaign as you’re going to get, don’t take drugs you might end up leader of the Tories with a face like a little painted egg.

Radio 2 Show (2007-2008)[edit]

  • I'm waiting for something worth waiting for.
  • Pin, pin!
  • Is it Paul Mccartney? Is it Jimmy Page? No, it's Noel Gallagher, they look the same age!
  • Noel Fielding's not in, Noel Gallagher's not in, I think the message is don't trust Noels! Noel Edmunds, deal or no deal? No deal Noel!
  • After the revolution we will be broadcasting constant messages into a microchip inside your brains. It's gonna be great!
  • I've got a migraine.
  • Noel Gallagher looks like a mum's mate.
  • I'll riverdance while that's happening, 'cause it seems to be what I naturally do anyway.
  • That diamond encrusted goat's skull is the height of good taste!
  • I'm genuinely and actually a bit like Jesus.
  • This is Hollywood, mate. People bring chihuahuas round!
  • Oh no, my brain is broken.
  • That's what keeps me alive, perversion and star quality.
  • I believe Finland's economy is based on Moomin juice.
  • Cilla Black: What are you like?
    Russell: A bit like Jesus but with an electric willy.
  • That's right middle America, I loves Jemus!
  • Matt Morgan: Have you been thinking about your religion/new order?
    Russell Brand: Yes I have actually Matt, and I've got a few more theories for it to make it absolutely watertight. We'll all be living on a nice island, vegetarians doing yoga and that. We'll get rid of ideas such as the nuclear family and like in African tribes the word 'mother' will mean all female members of the tribe and the word 'father' will mean all male members. There will be a lot of [wolf whistles] … and also we're not going to have no more currency, stuff like that, no brain-bending or mind-washing and we'll all be free to explore ourselves although there will be an age of consent and it'll be the same as usual so as people don't go 'Oh no...'.
    Matt Morgan: Pretty watertight, isn't it?
    Russell Brand: Pretty watertight so far Matt, I'd like to see a political theorist drive a bus through that. If so where did he get his licence? As we're in charge of issuing bus licences and they're not issued to possible dissenters, who are immediately killed on traitor's cove; one of the nicest parts of our island, decorated with all lovely corpses.
    • Radio 2 Show - 13th January 2007
  • I love the BBC, it's a gorgeous organisation and it's just 'cos it's got vaguely socialist state-run tendencies that people like bloody old Rupert Murdoch coat it off in the Sun, and it's gotta stop!
  • It's difficult to believe in yourself because the idea of self is an artificial construction. You are, in fact, part of the glorious oneness of the universe. Everything beautiful in the world is within you. No-one really feels self-confident deep down because it's an artificial idea. Really, people aren't that worried about what you're doing or what you're saying, so you can drift around the world relatively anonymously. You must not feel persecuted and examined. Liberate yourself from that idea that people are watching you.
  • I keep hearing in my head "you are the Messiah, you are the Messiah". I think there's something wrong with my headphones.
    • Radio 2 Show - 30th June 2007
  • New York is basically a new version of York. But York just got a cathedral...

Russell Brand - On The Road (2007)[edit]

  • I don't like doing anything that makes you sweat if you don't come at the end of it.

Russell Brand - Oxford[edit]

  • There's no shame in being second to Stephen Fry. Unless it's in a straight nose competition.

MTV Video Music Awards (2008)[edit]

  • Some people, I think they're called racists, say America is not ready for a black president. But, I know America to be a forward-thinking country, right, because otherwise, you know, would you have let that retarded cowboy fella be president for eight years? We were very impressed. We thought it was nice of you to let him have a go, because, in England, he wouldn't be trusted with a pair of scissors.
  • One minute, he's just a teenage lad in Alaska having joyful unprotected sex, the next minute: 'Get to the Republican Convention!' I think that is the best safe sex message of all time: 'Use a condom, or become Republican!'

Russell Brand - The Guardian (2013)[edit]

Russell Brand: my life without drugs

  • I see that dereliction can survive in opulence; the abundantly wealthy with destitution in their stare.

Russell Brand: what I made of Morning Joe and Question Time

  • More from acute awareness of Instant Karma's immediate sting than morality, I have learned to treat people apparently lacking power with cordiality.
  • It's the unreal, sustained glitch in naturalism that makes this genre of TV disturbing to either watch or be on. The Lynchian subjugation of our humanity; warmth and humour, usurped by a sterile, pastel-coloured steel blade benignly thrust again and again into a grey brain.
  • I wind up chatting to Melanie Phillips. Melanie is a columnist for the Daily Mail and is mostly known for her knee-jerk, right-wing, hang-em-high vitriol. In person, inconveniently, she is beautiful. Deep brown, soulful eyes, elegant features and a truthful, caring sincerity in her tone. It is surprising and bizarre, then, to see her contort on air into a taut, jabbing Gollum figure, untutored index finger fucking the audience in the face when they pipe up about Syria or whatever. Oddly, I still like her, regarding her opinions as an arbitrary appurtenance that she pops on in public, like a daft hat that says "Immigrants Out" on the brim. When the audience – who, incidentally, make all the best points – boo her, I think it a shame. The wall of condemnation is an audible confirmation that the world is a fearful and unloving place. Like most of us, Melanie just needs a cuddle.
  • Only Boris concerns me. When I used to watch Have I Got News For You, which as a kid I was proud to watch, full stop, I loved it when Boris Johnson came on. I didn't know who he was or what he did, I didn't think about it, I just liked him. I liked his voice, his manner, his name, his vocabulary, his self-effacing charm, humour and, of course, his hair. He has catwalk hair. Vogue cover hair, Rumplestiltskin spun it out of straw, straight-out-of-bed, drop-dead, gold-thread hair. He was always at ease with Deayton, Merton and Hislop, equal to their wit and always gave a great account of himself. "This bloke is cool," I thought. As I grew up I found out that he was an old Etonian, bully-boy, Spectator-editing Tory.
"That's weird," I thought. While I was busy becoming a world-class junkie, the man from HIGNFY became mayor. People like Boris Johnson; I like the HIGNFY Boris. He is the most popular politician in the country. Well, not in the country, on the television. There is a difference. Most people, of course, haven't met him, they've seen him on the telly. When I met Boris in his office, the nucleus of his dominion, I glanced at his library. Among the Wodehouses and the Euripides there were, of course, fierce economic tomes, capitalist manuals, bibles of domination. Eye-to-eye, the bumbling bonhomie appeared to be a lacquer of likability over a living obelisk of corporate power.
  • Boris Johnson is the most dangerous politician in Britain, precisely because of his charm. The politicians who want to move the party and our country further to the right want Boris. And well they might: he is the consummate televisual politician. Funny and likable, even when he errs it's cute, like a shaved Winnie the Pooh accidentally eating all the honey.
In this age where politics is presented as entertainment, it's the most entertaining politicians who ascend Russell Brand and the GQ awards: 'It's amazing how absurd it seems'
  • I could see the room dividing as I spoke. I could hear the laughter of some and louder still silence of others. I realised that for some people this was regarded as an event with import. The magazine, the sponsors and some of those in attendance saw it as a kind of ceremony that warranted respect. In effect, it is a corporate ritual, an alliance between a media organisation, GQ, and a commercial entity, Hugo Boss. What dawned on me as the night went on is that even in apparently frivolous conditions the establishment asserts control, and won't tolerate having that assertion challenged, even flippantly, by that most beautifully adept tool: comedy.
  • There is a relationship between government, media and industry that is evident even at this most spurious and superficial level. These three institutions support one another. We know that however cool a media outlet may purport to be, their primary loyalty is to their corporate backers. We know also that you cannot criticise the corporate backers openly without censorship and subsequent manipulation of this information.
  • We all know it, we already know all the important stuff, like: don't trust politicians, don't trust big business and don't trust the media. Trust your own heart and each other. When you take a breath and look away from the spectacle it's amazing how absurd it seems when you look back.

Revolution (2014)[edit]

  • “God, please make me a channel of your peace.” The first line of the St. Francis prayer, popularized by Mother Teresa, bastardized by Margaret Thatcher, and cherished by those of us who have fallen through the cracks and floated ourselves back up with crack.
I just want to be a channel of the peace. The peace exists; I don’t need, thank God, to create the peace. All I have to do is become open and the peace will come, the peace is already there. Mother Teresa, one could argue, is a testimony to the principles outlined in this prayer; through service she conquered the lower, selfish drives that serve survival and the ego, and become a tool of a Higher Purpose, or God.
  • What I believe is that we’re only just beginning to understand the incredible capacity of human beings, that we can become something unrecognizable, that we can have true freedom, not some tantalizing emblem forever out of reach. Not weary compromise and nagging fear.
  • Aren’t we all, in one way or another, trying to find a solution to the problem of reality? If I get this job, this girl, this guy, these shoes. If I pass this exam, eat this pizza, drink this booze, go on this holiday. Learn karate, learn yoga. If West Ham stay up, if my dick stays up, if I get more likes on Facebook, more fancy cookbooks, a better kitchen, cure this itchin’, if she stops bitching. Isn’t there always some kind of condition to contentment? Isn’t it always placed in the future, wrapped up in some object, either physical or ideological? I know for me it is, and as an addict that always leads me to excess and then to trouble. Do you feel like that? Are you looking for something? It’s not just me, is it? Do you sometimes feel afraid, self-conscious, lonely, not good enough? I mean, you’re reading this, so you must want to change something. Don’t leave me out on a limb, all vulnerable and exposed. Are you reading this on a yacht, through your Ray-Bans with, I dunno, a pair of glistening Russian sisters and a gob oozing with lobster juice as the sun shines down on you and the sisters smile up at you? And even if you are, especially if you are, is it working, behind the salty tang and priapic pang, is it real, is it real, is it like God is holding your hand?
  • The idea that voting is pointless, democracy a façade, and that no one is representing ordinary people is more resonant than ever as I leave my ordinary town behind. Amidst the guilt and anger I feel in the back of the Führer-mobile, there is hope. Whilst it’s clear that on an individual, communal, and global level that radical change is necessary, I feel a powerful, transcendent optimism. I know change is possible, I know there is an alternative, because I live a completely different life to the one I was born with. I also know that the solution is not fame or money or any transient adornment of the individual. The only Revolution that can really change the world is the one in your own consciousness, and mine has already begun.
  • Coming to believe that my life could be different, that I could be restored to sanity, was an integral step in my recovery from addiction. I believe it is vital too on a social scale.
  • The reason I keep mentioning God is because I believe in God. A lot of people are surprised by that, what with it being 2014 and this being a technologically advanced secular culture. God is primarily regarded as the preserve of thick white people and angry brown people. Since Friedrich Nietzsche (deceased) declared, “God is dead,” we’ve been exploring the observation of British writer G. K. Chesterton, who said, “The death of God doesn’t mean man will believe in nothing but that he will believe in anything.” I’m a good example of that: at thirteen a believer in Lakeside, at eight a believer in biscuits, at seventeen a devoted wanker, at nineteen a fanatical drug user, before winding up in the monastery of celebrity.
  • Have you ever tried to argue with someone who doesn’t want anything from you? It’s hard. Have you ever noticed in a row with someone that no longer loves you that you have no recourse?' No tools with which to bargain.
When people are content, they are difficult to maneuver. We are perennially discontent and offered placebos as remedies. My intention in writing this book is to make you feel better, to offer you a solution to the way you feel. I am confident that this is necessary. When do you ever meet people that are happy? Genuinely happy? Only children, the mentally ill, and daytime television presenters. My belief is that it is possible to feel happier, because I feel better than I used to. I am beginning to understand where the solution lies, primarily because of an exhausting process of trial and mostly error. My qualification to write a book on how to change yourself and change the world is not that I’m better than you, it’s that I’m worse. Not that I’m smarter, but that I’m dumber: I bought the lie hook, line, and sinker. My only quality has been an unwitting momentum, a willingness to wade through the static dissatisfaction that has been piped into my mind from the moment I learned language. What if that feeling of inadequacy, isolation, and anxiety isn’t just me? What if it isn’t internally engineered but the result of concerted effort, the product of a transmission? An ongoing broadcast from the powerful that has colonized my mind? Who is it in here, inside your mind, reading these words, feeling that fear? Is there an awareness, an exempt presence, gleaming behind the waterfall of words that commentate on every event, label every object, judge everyone you come into contact with? And is there another way to feel? Is it possible to be in this world and feel another way? Can you conceive, even for a moment, of a species similar to us but a little more evolved, that have transcended the idea that solutions to the way we feel can be externally acquired? What would that look like? How would that feel—to be liberated from the bureaucracy of managing your recalcitrant mind. Is it possible that there is a conspiracy to make us feel this way?
  • Making enough money to become an effective consumer takes time, dedication, devotion. The wait is miserable. It never occurred that the objective was flawed and the rules were skewed.
  • In secondary immigration, as I await processing, I sit with people for whom I imagine the experience is less of a novelty. To be blunt, non-white people. Mexican and Arabian people, mostly—I assume, I don’t look at their passports; they don’t have them, they’re behind the desks with the border police, equally trapped and obese, behind the counter, often the same color as the people they’re casually harassing. “Who does this notion of nation most suit,” I wonder as I sit there, unable to use my phone. Proper rich people don’t encounter these rooms, these borders, these problems. For them the world is as it is when seen from space, without boundary, without limitation, full of fluid possibility and whispering wonder.
I’m aware that now, due to my good fortune, I am a member of the 1 percent. That now I am a tourist in poverty, when on occasion I’ve found myself in cuffs or in cells or cowed by authority, I know I can afford lawyers, I know I am privileged now. I know too with each word I type I am building a bridge of words that leads me back to the poverty I’ve come from, that by decrying this inequality, I will have to relinquish the benefits that this system has given me. I’d be lying if I said that didn’t frighten me.
Anyone who’s been poor and gets rich is stalked by guilt and fear. Guilt because you know it isn’t fair, that life hasn’t changed for everyone, and fear because you feel like a fraud, that one day there’ll be a knock on the door or a tap on the shoulder or a smack in the mouth and they’ll take it back. It’s not like I’m gonna pay voluntary tax to our corrupt government, as suggested by that honey-glazed chump Boris Johnson; donations aren’t the answer, especially not to that cartel of Etonian skanks. Systemic change on a global scale is what’s required, and because I know that is happening, that it is inevitable, that we are awakening, I will, when I know how, sever the gilded chains. “Oh, yeah, mate? When?” you could crow with legitimate suspicion. Well, I suppose, like every aspect of this project, we’ll work that out together.
  • There are definitely flaws in my nature and mistakes have been made, but I have observed that the more I have engaged with the transcendent, the more I have explored practices that are designed to alleviate the burden of materialism and individualism, the greater access I have to a feeling of serenity and freedom, the more I enjoy my work, the more I feel free. I think those techniques will work for anyone. I believe the techniques I have been taught to live drug-free, the methods I have used to improve my work and relationships, will work for anyone who uses them and will release anyone from any behavior or pattern that impedes happiness—not just obvious stuff like drug addiction, but less-obvious stuff like food addiction, spending addiction, or caring-too-much-what-other-people-think-of-you addiction. The stuff I learned in order to make me better at my job has taught me that my job doesn’t matter, that no individual job matters when compared to our common good. When we as individuals collectively access this frequency, we will realize that we have a shared destiny and that we can design a fair and rational system that does what it’s supposed to do: enhances the whole and respects the individual.
  • The women sway and jump and shriek. Whilst this is all almost entirely foreign, there is something familiar, like a place in your mouth where food always gets caught. Something I recognize. It is orgiastic. This Christianity with a voodoo twist is on the brink of Dionysian breakdown. Through this ritual, I see the root of ritual. The exorcising of the primal, the men engorged, enraged, the women serpentine and lithe. Only the child excluded. I get on my knees, which a few other people are doing, out of respect but also because I’m beginning to sense that it’s only a matter of time before I’m ushered to the front. I’ve not been taught how to be religious. Religious studies at school doesn’t even begin to cover it. There the world’s greatest faiths and the universe’s swirling mysteries are recited like bus timetables. No teacher of RE ever said to me: “Beyond the limited realm of the senses, the shallow pool of the known, is a great untamable ocean, and we don’t have a fucking clue what goes on in there.” What we receive through sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch is all we know. We have tools that can enhance that information, we have theories for things that we suspect lie beyond that information, filtered through an apparatus limited once more to those senses. Those senses are limited; the light range we detect is within a narrow spectrum, between infrared light and ultraviolet light; other species see light that we can’t see. In the auditory realm, we hear but a fraction of the sound vibrations; we don’t hear high-pitched frequencies, like dog whistles, and we don’t hear low frequencies like whale song. The world is awash with colors unseen and abuzz with unheard frequencies. Undetected and disregarded. The wise have always known that these inaccessible realms, these dimensions that cannot be breached by our beautifully blunt senses, hold the very codes to our existence, the invisible, electromagnetic foundations upon which our gross reality clumsily rests. Expressible only through symbol and story, as it can never be known by the innocent mind. The stories are formulas, poems, tools for reflection through which we may access the realm behind the thinking mind, the consciousness beyond knowing and known, the awareness that is not connected to the haphazard data of biography. The awareness that is not prickled and tugged by capricious emotion. The awareness that is aware that it is aware. In meditation I access it; in yoga I feel it; on drugs it hit me like a hammer—at sixteen, staring into a bathroom mirror on LSD, contrary to instruction (“Don’t look in the mirror, Russ, it’ll fuck your head up.” Mental note: “Look in mirror.”). I saw that my face wasn’t my face at all but a face that I lived behind and was welded to by a billion nerves. I looked into my eyes and saw that there was something looking back at me that was not me, not what I’d taken to be me. The unrefined ocean beyond the shallow pool was cascading through the mirror back at me. Nature looking at nature. Not me, little ol’ Russ, tossed about on turbulent seas; these distinctions were engineered. On acid, these realizations are absolute. The disobedient brain is whipped into its basket like a yapping hound cowed by Cesar Millan.
  • There is always something for it to think, always something for it to solve, so whenever I first start to meditate, the mantra is a tiny clear droplet lost in a deluge of sludge. I’m not a person who finds meditation a doddle or to whom yoga comes naturally. To tell you the truth, I find the whole business a bit poncey and contrary to the way I used to see myself. It’s only the fact that I decimated my life by aggressively pursuing the models of living that were most immediately available—eating, wanking, drinking, consuming, getting famous—that I was forced to look at alternatives.
  • "I don’t see myself as a yoga person or a man who meditates and prays and eats well and says “Namaste” or “God bless you.” I became that because I exhausted all other options. There was a point, I’ll admit, when I flung myself full force into an L.A. New Age lifestyle. I’d just got divorced, and a movie I wanted to do well didn’t meet my expectations. My response to this was to stop shaving and start wearing pajamas outdoors. That is relatively typical behavior for any lunatic; we see them everywhere—twitching, twisting, hollering at their imagined foes. The difference is I was doing it in Hollywood and my pajamas looked suitably ethnic, so I think I got away with it. Although my mates have subsequently told me they were worried and, thinking about it, they did drop hints like “Trim your beard, you look like a shoe bomber” and “Stop wearing them gap-year trousers, you fuckin’ nut,” but I was immune. A friend of mine, himself no stranger to mental illness, and that’s putting it lightly—he’s a right fucking fruitcake, living at his mum’s on disability benefits—said to me, “In India if you have a mental breakdown, they don’t build you back up again; they leave you in communion with God.” He then looked up, mimicking, I supposed, an Indian yogi, and raised his hands and eyes skywards as if he were playing a tiny accordion just in front of his hairline. “They say, ‘Ah, he’s in conversation with Brahman now,’ and they revere you. In this country they just give you a bus pass.”
In a way I suppose what he meant was that when you redact the conventional behaviors and beliefs of your culture, you’re regarded as a nutter. But who are you, stripped of those things that tell you who you are? Your job, your car, your husband, your kids, your favorite TV show, that pasta dish you do that’s just so mmm? All these things that will one day go with death if not before. With death if not before. Good to find out who you are with nothing, because nothing is really what we have. During this pajama time I was doing a lot of meditation and a lot of yoga, kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga is the crack cocaine of yoga. If hatha is a mild weed high, iyengar is a deep hash glow, and ashtanga is amphetamine, kundalini blows the fucking doors off. Technically it is distinctive because of its use of “breath of fire”—this is a rapid, rhythmic, usually nasal inhalation/exhalation that you motivate from the abdomen. This is accompanied by mantras and movements and definitely changes the way you feel. A cynical person might call this change wooziness brought on by hyperventilation, but I think that’s reductive. What is the alteration in consciousness that occurs during inadvertent hyperventilation? There are several yoga positions that induce in me (In me? Is there a me?) a state of awareness that is cracked open with sudden abundance. Like the filters and commentary are suddenly flipped off. I don’t in these scarce and beautiful moments have a conventional sense of self, I don’t know my name, I don’t know what I want or what I’m afraid of—all that data is wiped. And I fucking like it.
Kundalini in my view is more boldly transcendent, more euphoric, than other yoga that I’ve done, so I obviously got totally addicted to it and started doing it all the time. The experience wasn’t entirely free from ego either as I was quite prolific in my physical engagement with female members of the class and eventually nominated myself as leader and took over the entire shebang, like Hitler in a sari.
  • On the short walk to the front past the others, either bowing or kneeling or whirling or howling, I feel glad that my life is this way; so full of jarring experience. Sometimes you feel that life is full and beautiful, all these worlds, all these people, all these experiences, all this wonder. You never know when you will encounter magic. Some solitary moment in a park can suddenly burst open with a spray of preschool children in high-vis vests, hand in hand; maybe the teacher will ask you for directions, and the children will look at you, curious and open, and you’ll see that they are perfect. In the half-morning half-gray glint, the cobwebs on bushes are gleaming with such radiant insistence, you can feel the playful unknown beckoning. Behind impassive stares in booths, behind the indifferent gum chew, behind the car horns, there is connection.
  • Now I’m up at the front and Tall Bloke, Long Suit, is still Sieg-Heiling; women are still jiggling and beseeching. There is an unspoken acknowledgment that I am an interloper, that I am unlike everybody else there, neither Eritreanh or Ethiopian, and that there is a risk, therefore, that I am there to mock or judge or disrupt, and I’m capable of all those things.
Bellamy has clearly overcome any doubt he has in his self, if not in me, as he is now insistently inquiring, “Do you accept Jesus Christ?” He says it in English, so he definitely knows I’m not Eritrean; the jig is up. “Do you accept Jesus Christ?” he says again, like Jesus is a credit card and I’m an unhelpful waiter. The conditions of the inquiry do not suggest that there is time for me to go into my honest answer: “Yes, but there are caveats.” Jesus Christ, the Son of God, sent to earth to redeem us all. Jesus Christ, the Jewish nationalist radical. Jesus Christ, the metaphor for the divine within the corporeal. Jesus Christ, the human being superimposed, literally, placed on the cross: the pagan geometric emblem that represents on the vertical plane the relationship between the earthly and the divine and on the other, horizontal plane the lateral relationships between individual humans. Christ as the end of paganism, the beginning of individualism, of idolatry. Of the acceptance that some humans are more equal than others. Christ as a reminder that we must all constantly die and be born again, moment to moment, to live forever in the now, if as Wittgenstein says, “eternity is taken not to be an infinite temporal duration but the quality of timelessness, then are we not all eternal if we live in the present.” Christ as the symbol that the flesh is human, that the carnal human ape has expired, and that we can achieve no more until we transcend, until we ascend, into new conscious realms and manifest the divine. “On earth as it is in heaven”? “Do you accept Jesus Christ?” he says again, and this time gives me a bit of a prod, which he tries to pass off as shamanic but I think is actually frustration. The answer, as I have outlined above, is conditionally “yes,” but the most expedient answer is a totally unconditional “yes,” so that is the answer I give. “Yes.”
As I leave, I feel the value of shared ritual, community, common unity, and a forum in which to express energy and sensations that don’t have any safe context in secular society. We are paying a price for that. Where do we see this sense of abandon? Where do we participate in mass rituals of unity and transcendence? Where is it safe to put aside ego and self-consciousness?
WHEN I STILL USED, I WAS ONCE WORKING IN IBIZA, HEDONISM capital of the nineties and the turn of the millennium. People swayed in sweaty swathes and stayed, pilled-up for days. I couldn’t participate, because I was too shy or broken, caught on some taut barbed wire in my mind. Me and my mate Matt, high one night, lost ourselves, found ourselves in a wood and pretended to be animals. It was just us, and we prowled and circled around. We locked eyes and growled and danced. “Let’s pretend we’re animals” was forgotten, and we were animals. We are animals. We are free animals with a divine spark, we’re not in a farm or a zoo or a theme park, we’re free. We’ve forgotten that we’re free.
  • Science requires faith, the way religion does. Science requires acceptance of metaphor, just the way religion does. “Does science cause wars, the way religion does?” you might ask. I would say those conflicts are actually about territory, either ideological or physical, and that those ideas are materialistic in the same way science is—and the weapons with which those wars are fought, who creates those?
  • We receive data through five portals, five windows; the house of human consciousness has but five windows. Do you imagine that we will ever perceive all through these five windows? Do you imagine that that which is most important can ever be seen? How do you describe the most important things that have ever happened to you? The moment you knew you loved her: Can you reassemble that magnetic pull with the Lego of light and language? The moment you heard he’d died—can you define it, calcify it, crystallize it, make it live again, or is it at best a kind of taxidermy that language can provide? A stuffed dead effigy with cold unseeing eyes. And Jupiter revolves. And the moon watches, the moon you saw as a child, the moon that hung in the sky when Christ was crucified, the crescent moon, like a tear in heaven as the Prophet heard Allah.
  • The only meaningful interpretation of any religious teaching is to honor the divine within ourselves and love the divine in one another.
  • When I was an atheist it was because I rejected authority, and why not reject the supreme authority of God, particularly that boring fucker on Songs of Praise. I could reject him with the unsentimental dispatch of a clipped toenail. When I got clean from drugs and alcohol, I saw that the way I’d always seen the world was limited. It will always be limited. By yielding authority to a benign power, I found a key to transcend previous limitations. Modest limitations, like being unable to survive without the use of drugs and alcohol. Until the time when I got clean, I’d had little experience of loving, powerful authority. Authority had only been corrupt or inefficient in my experience.
  • How did it feel in there to you when you were a child, in the aquarium of your head? I was lonely in mine as the world swam by in immaculately choreographed schools, like an inaccessible gang of Nemos. I was only really at ease with my mum and animals, and I treated them pretty badly. If you feel how I felt, I have been taught a few techniques that might help you. Here’s one for a kick-off: You have to forgive everyone for everything. You can’t cling on to any blame that you may be using to make sense of the story of your life. Even me with my story of one nan that I love and another that I don’t—that story is being used to maintain a certain perspective of mine, a perspective that justifies the way I am, and by justifying the way I am I ensure that I stay the same. I’m no longer interested in staying the same; I’m interested in Revolution, that means I have to go back and change the story of my childhood.
  • I recently researched my family tree, and quite quickly labels of class are smudged into nonsense. For a couple of generations back, it’s all very proletariat in every direction—Bethnal Green bottle-makers and jobs that belong in Dickens. But with the generational doubling that occurs, before too long it’s a muddle of all manner of colliding types: scullery maids and sculptors, officers and gentlemen.
  • “I believe in God,” says my nan, in a way that makes the idea of an omnipotent, unifying frequency of energy manifesting matter from pure consciousness sound like a chore. An unnecessary chore at that, like cleaning under the fridge. I tell her, plucky little seven-year-old that I was, that I don’t. This pisses her off. Her faith in God is not robust enough to withstand the casual blasphemy of an agnostic tot. “Who do you think made the world, then?” I remember her demanding as fiercely as Jeremy Paxman would later insist I provide an instant global infrastructure for a post-revolutionary utopia. “Builders,” I said, thinking on my feet. This flummoxed her and put her in a bad mood for the rest of the walk. If she’d hit back with “What about construction at a planetary or galactic level?” she’d’ve had me on the ropes. At that age I wouldn’t’ve been able to riposte with “an advanced species of extraterrestrials who we have been mistakenly ascribing divine attributes to due to our own technological limitations” or “a spontaneous cosmic combustion that contained at its genesis the code for all subsequent astronomical, chemical, and biological evolution.” I probably would’ve just cried. Anyway, I’m supposed to be explaining the power of forgiveness, not gloating about a conflict in the early eighties in which I fared well against an old lady. Since getting clean from drugs and alcohol I have been taught that I played a part in the manufacture of all the negative beliefs and experiences from my past and I certainly play a part in their maintenance. I now look at my nan in another way. As a human being just like me, trying to cope with her own flaws and challenges. Fearful of what would become of her sick daughter, confused by the grandchild born of a match that she was averse to. Alone and approaching the end of her life, with regret and lacking a functioning system of guidance and comfort. Trying her best. Taking on the responsibility of an unusual little boy with glib, atheistic tendencies, she still behaved dutifully. Perhaps this very conversation sparked in me the spirit of metaphysical inquiry that has led to the faith in God I now have.
  • It’s six months since I did the interview with Jeremy Paxman that inspired this book, and British media today is awash with halfhearted condemnations of my observation that voting is pointless and my admission that I have never voted. My assertion that other people oughtn’t vote either was born of the same instinctive rejection of the mantle of appointed social prefect that prevents me from telling teenagers to “Just Say No” to drugs. I cannot confine my patronage to the circuitry of their minuscule wisdom. “People died so you’d have the right to vote.” No, they did not; they died for freedom. In the case where freedom was explicitly attached to the symbol of democratic rights, like female suffrage, I don’t imagine they’d’ve been so willing if they’d known how tokenistic voting was to become. Note too these martyrs did not achieve their ends by participating in a hollow, predefined ritual, the infertile dry hump of gestural democracy; they did it by direct action. Emily Davison, the hero of women’s suffrage, hurled herself in front of the king’s horses; she defied the tyranny that oppressed her and broke the boundaries that contained her. I imagine too that this woman would have had the rebellious perspicacity to understand that the system she was opposing would adjust to incorporate the female vote and deftly render it irrelevant. This woman, who left her job as a teacher to dedicate her life to activism, was imprisoned nine times. She used methods as severe and diverse as arson and hunger-striking to protest and at the time of her death would have been regarded as a terrorist.
  • For me, it’s standard. I don’t feel irresponsible for telling kids not to vote; I feel like I deserve a Blue Peter badge for not telling them to riot. For not telling them that they are entitled to destroy the cathedrals of tyranny erected to mock them in the heart of their community. That they should rise up and destroy the system that imprisons them, ignores them, condemns and maligns them. By any means necessary.' I might also note that I think it unlikely that people aren’t voting because I told them not to; it is more likely that they’re not voting because they are subject to the same conditions that led me not to vote.
  • It was a bizarre experience visiting him in there. Not least because I, as was the custom at the time, went to the powwow armed with a yoga teacher. I was hanging out with her a lot. I took her along to the MTV Movie Awards, which I was hosting, where at one point—perhaps the summit of my own personal Everest of Hollywood kookiness—she vetoed a joke from my opening monologue. It wasn’t unspiritual or mean; I think it was about Jennifer Aniston. It was cut “for time,” like the monologue was saggy. I don’t know if that makes it less weird. Tej, her name was, and she was a bloody good kundalini yoga teacher, and the lessons and techniques definitely induced interesting states of mind. Most people would’ve left it at that, but with my tendency for extremism, I first became teacher’s pet and then, in a macabre switcheroo, made the teacher into my pet. I’ve already told you I’m a sucker for a mystic costume. I’m like a wartime gal with a thing for uniforms, swooning at a G.I., and Tej’s get-up was world-class. Kundalini practitioners dress entirely in white—why not? They also wear a turban as the yogic practice they follow is derived from the Sikh faith. Tej was a lovely woman and we became good friends; I learned a lot and had a good laugh. A fair amount of that fun may have been derived, I realize in retrospect, from the novel thrill of turning up at unexpected places with a yogi. Like the MTV Movie Awards or the Ecuadorian embassy. During the production of my let’s call it experimental—with the emphasis on the “mental”—TV show Brand X (surely the last punning derivation my surname can provide), the whole of Tej’s yoga class, which consisted of about one hundred people, was uprooted and placed each morning at the studio where the show was recorded. That’s pretty mad, isn’t it? We left the comfort, tranquillity, sweet smells, and fine foods of the purpose-built yoga center to practice yoga in the functioning canteen of a TV production facility. Sometimes when you’re famous you can get away with being a lunatic. Especially if you’re like me and think the system is corrupt and rules have to be broken and conformity challenged. Before too long, you have a scenario where the teamsters who do all the heavy lifting on a TV show are confronted with the daily spectacle of a hundred yoga devotees descending on their canteen.
  • It was ridiculous—he was soaking. I had to get a towel and offer him clothes that he wouldn’t take. I knew immediately that I’d like him; he just had one of those faces. I could see what he’d been like as a boy, probably always fenced off in the electronic penitentiary of a too-fast mind.
  • I’ve just typed myself into a revolutionary fervor again. Every so often the fury at injustice rises up in me and makes me want to smash something or burn something, but nothing in my immediate environment belongs to me so I have to refrain.
  • Folk codes of pride and togetherness, pride in both senses, honor, and togetherness. Ring-fenced emotion permitted only at three o’clock for ninety minutes in the sanctuary of the stadium. Can we march that pride out of the gates and into the streets? Can we harness it? Direct it? Use it for something less stymied by white lines and whistles, that could pour from the terraces and into the oak-and-leather chambers, the steel-and-glass towers?
  • Diablo and I fashioned my beard together in my trailer, together, as cautiously as you’d sculpt a peace treaty between two nations that prefer war to peace. The reality was that my identity outside of filmmaking had become more important to me. I was doing hours of yoga and meditation each day, I was going through a divorce, and the result was a kind of hirsute intransigence. I looked like the cliché of a terrorist and I behaved like one. Except the beard wasn’t the symbol, it was the cause. I feel some guilt about my lack of enthusiasm for acting, like it’s a bit ungrateful. Like I’ve let my teenage self down. Mind you, he let himself down a fair bit, the dirty little pervert. The dreams of my adolescent self were entangled with silvery screens and limousines, and I still feel that I need to offer up superficial sacrifices to his misguided altar. The fact is, though, I find filmmaking a boring process and its ends dubious. This could, of course, be due to the quality of the stuff I’ve done so far, as opposed to an essential rejection of an art form. Maybe if I’d been “R. P. McMurphy” or “The Elephant Man” or “Brian,” I’d feel different. It just wasn’t what I thought it would be. It’s not just the entertainment industry that has seemed like a mirage on arrival. What about clubs and parties? When I’m there I think, “Is this it? Is this all there is? Is this what all the fuss is about?” This feeling of disillusionment perhaps climaxed around the time of my divorce and the making of this subsequent film.
  • This may be one of the many points in this book where you are shouting the word “hypocrite” as you read. Don’t think I’m unaware of the inevitability of such a charge. I know. I know. I’m rich, I’m famous, I have money, I’m being paid money for this book, I have had private security on and off for years. There is no doubt that I as much as anyone have to change. The only thing I can offer you in the face of this legitimate accusation is that change is something I’m good at. I know that change is a necessity. I have had to change to survive. I’d also like to add, by way of mitigation, that I could’ve just written Booky Wook 3, not mentioned global inequality, ecological meltdown, or the complicity of the entertainment industry in holding together a capitalist machine that exploits the vast majority of people, and collected my check. When I was poor and complained about inequality they said I was bitter; now that I’m rich and I complain about inequality they say I’m a hypocrite. I’m beginning to think they just don’t want to talk about inequality. Revolution is change. I believe in change, personal change most of all; at this time, however, we must coordinate a massive change, so, please, shout “hypocrite” at an inanimate object if you must, but please don’t dismiss the ideas in this book. Know, too, that I am prepared for change, that I have seen what fame and fortune have to offer and I know it’s not the answer. That doesn’t diminish these arguments, it enhances them. Of course I have to change as an individual, and part of that will be sharing wealth, though without systemic change will be a sweet, futile gesture.
  • I should also point out that empathy, sympathy, and love are limitless resources, energies that never deplete, and at this time of dwindling fuels we should cherish and explore these inexhaustible inner resources more than ever
  • I suppose that corruption by definition is a deviation, a perversion from the intended path.
  • When the physicist speaks of the expanding universe with atheistic wonder, he is feeling the same transcendent pull that Rumi describes: Do you know what you are? You are a manuscript of a divine letter. You are a mirror reflecting a noble face. This universe is not outside of you. Look inside yourself; everything that you want, you are already that.
  • “You’ll find God among the poor,” they say. Is that true anymore? Is the connection between poverty and divinity simply a panacea for the world’s destitute, an assurance that they’ll be rewarded in the hereafter? Or does a material deficit provide space for God? My love of God elevates the intention of this book beyond the dry and admirable establishment of collectivized communities. I am enraptured by the magnetic pull of evolution: What is this energy that heals the body and escalates one cell to two, that repairs and creates and calculates in harmony with environment, outside of time? Where is evolution trying to go? Evolutionary psychologists would likely say the imposition of an anthropocentric concept like “trying” or “intending” is naïve, but I’m not going to ask one, they get enough airtime, the killjoys. I remain uncharmed by the incessant rationalization that requires the spirit’s capitulation. The infusion of the scientific with the philosophical is materialism. The manifesto for our salvation is not in this sparse itinerary.
  • My experiences of meditation began before bearded pajama time, which a friend of mine is encouraging me to describe as a mental breakdown. I don’t think it was, as I would say that despair is a necessary ingredient of a breakdown. What did happen at the time of my divorce was that a lot of my beliefs and their outward manifestations fell away.
  • When I meet a new person, I like to take them in, give them a damn good staring at, and check my files for references.
  • “Travel in the old ruts,” quotes my friend Meredith; some ancient Chinese maxim. The way lain down by elders. Pathways through the world, pathways through the mind—it’s a shame that these days we so seldom have a guide. That our atomized worldview, mimicking scientific doctrine, sees us as separate, distinct, alone, orbiting in space, touching only an infinite void.
  • I have recently begun to look for people’s “vicar” nature. It is a technique I happened upon quite by chance, but I think it has a precedent in eastern mysticism. In Buddhism they talk of each of us having a “Buddha nature,” a divine self, the aspect of our total persona that is beyond our materialism and individualism. Well, that’s all well and good. What I’m into is people’s “vicar nature”—what a person would be like if they were a vicar. You can do it on anyone; it doesn’t have to be a vicar either if that isn’t your bag, it could be a rabbi or an imam or whatever. Simply think of someone you know, like, I dunno, Hulk Hogan, and imagine them as a devotional being. When I do, it helps me to see where their material persona intersects with a well-meaning spiritual aspect. Reverend Hogan would be, I suspect, a real fire-and-brimstone guy, spasming and retching in the pulpit but easily moved to tears, perhaps by the plight of a childless couple in his parish. Anyway, let’s not get carried away, it’s just a tool to help me see where a person’s essential self might dwell. Oddly, it’s really easy to do with atheists. I can imagine Richard Dawkins as a vicar in an instant, Calvinist and insistent. Dogmatic and determined, having a stern hearthside chat with a seventeen-year-old boy on the cusp of coming out. My point is that in spite of the lack of any theological title, Bobby Roth is like a priest.
  • An unexpected benefit of this process is an increased compassion for others, a dawning recognition of the connection between us all. Since meditating I feel that the intuitive connection to others that I’ve always felt has been somehow enhanced. I’m lucky in that I have a mother who is pathologically loving and gentle. Who unfussily loves animals and children and tries to see the good in everyone—thank God, because in my case it was pretty well hidden. This perhaps-inherited positive trait, though, was redundant and unexpressed for much of my life as I was entangled in the sparkles and the spangles, mangled in the crackling drudge, addicted to attention and drugs.
  • Consciousness, thoughts, are traveling through space in your head; we are traveling through space on this beautiful biosphere, Earth. If consciousness can traverse inner space, then perhaps it can traverse outer space. Perhaps we are as connected by consciousness as we are by the air that we all breathe. The air we inhale through the holes in our faces which tumbles into our lungs and blood, which travels through our hearts, which forms the words we speak, the air which we exhale, which is connected to all air, an unbroken entity, like all the water in all the rivers in the world, leading to the sea, touching one another.
  • I suppose we must each ask of ourselves—or each other, have fun with it, it could be a quiz—two fundamental questions: 1. Are you happy with things the way they are? And 2. Do you believe that things could be better?
I think a significant number of people are not happy with the way things are; I’m not, and I’ve done alright out of this system—I’ve got a big house, a nice cat, and when I write books, they’re immediately put on the school curriculum. So this system has not been bad to me. I’ve been given everything that I wanted. The problem is, I didn’t really want it, that desire was put there. Who put it there? And why?
Under what circumstances is continuing to live like this the best option? Only if you have no belief that any alternative is possible. Only then. The celebrities feel better for taking part. The callers feel better for donating. The Haitians get a bit of aid that they should rightly have been given under the covenant of brotherhood that exists between us all, and we all just smile and pretend there’s no alternative. There is another way. There is the way. To live in accordance with truth, to accept we are on a planet that has resources and people on it. We have to respect the planet so we can use the resources to nourish the people. Somehow this simple equation has been allowed to become extremely confusing.
  • If I, so close to the peak, could glean no joy from that rarefied air, the air I was told, as soon as I’d acquired language, would absolve me, if in fact all I gleaned was the view from that peak, the vista true, that the whole climb had been a spellbound clamber up an edifice of foolishness, then what possible salvation can there be for those at the foothills or dying on the slopes or those for whom the climb is not even an option? What is their solution? Well, it’s the same solution that’s available to me, the only solution that will make any of us free. To detach the harness and fall within. Now that’s what I call an extended metaphor. In Fairfield, Iowa, then, there could be the solution. But none of us want a boring solution. The Revolution cannot be boring.
  • Serenity is the first thing people with addiction issues are instructed to request: God, grant me the serenity To accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And the wisdom to know the difference.
  • The first thing is serenity. The agitation has to end. The itchy irritability, the restlessness, the wanting. So do the lows, the self-loathing, wretched, heavy-hearted, lead-gutted, teary-eyed, dry-mouthed misery. The pain. So do the highs. The wide-eyed, bilious highs, the cheek-chewing, trouble-brewing highs, the never-stopping-till-I-touch-the-sky highs, the up-at-dawn hitting-the-pipe highs, chasing, defacing, heart-racing highs, gagging, shagging, blagging highs. All the things we do to change the way we feel, the way the world looks and tastes: It’s all got to go. So courage is necessary. Courage to change yourself, the one thing you can change. Your attitude and actions. Neither the serenity nor the courage are available to you on your own; if they were, you would’ve found them by now—you’ve been pretty fastidious in your research. God, however you conceptualize him, will have to grant them to you. And whatever you conceptualize God as, with your human mind, your individual brain, made up of instinctive responses, training, and memories, however you conceptualize a power that’s beyond you and the decisions you’ve made so far, your conception will be extremely limited. Likely as limited as my cat’s conception of the Internet. The invisible network of interconnected portals that communicate data are beyond my cat’s comprehension. My cat’s inability to comprehend does not impede the Internet. The World Wide Web (which is incidentally quicker to say than “double-you, double-you, double-you-dot”) will continue to exist, regardless of my cat’s awareness. Pray, then, for wisdom, wisdom to know the difference between things we can change and things we can’t. Likely this will be a lifetime’s work, undertaken one day at a time. Which, for humans, is the way time happens. I don’t have to live the 25th of May 2022 yet. I might never have to. I only have to live in this moment. That’s why meditation comes in handy, and practicing it as a community has benefits too. How are we to achieve real change, conditions in which practices that lead to a different type of consciousness can plausibly be pursued?
  • I believe natural instincts “go awry”; what was I really seeking when scoring and using heroin? Heroin is an opiate; opiates are painkillers. I was in spiritual pain. I have come to believe that the reason I was using drugs was to treat a spiritual malady. A flailing, disconnected tendril searching for connection and, failing to find it, I had to be sedated. When I began my life in abstinence-based recovery, living one day at a time without the use of drugs and alcohol, the impulse that drove me to seek out oblivion remained. I believe it is the impulse for union that is denied by our atomized and secular culture.
  • This business of seeing divine interconnected beauty in people has been happening more and more lately, and I put it down to meditating too much.
  • He came round my house the other day, Thomas Piketty, French as kissing, with eyes that twinkled like petrol in a puddle. He had, though, the demeanor I know well, that of a man besieged by diagonal stabs of insidious judgment.
  • My whole life, I have sought comfort in individualism. I escaped the banality of my background with the flamboyance of my haircut, the low expectations of my class with the grandiosity of my parlance, and the fear of being ordinary by becoming a professional weirdo. In a way, my success in show business represents little more than the harvesting of my psychosis. I made my idiosyncrasies and flaws beneficial by exaggerating them.
  • My indulgent mum, a single mum of an only son, would let me skip games, pandering to my teary complaints as a former fat child herself. This, I suppose, is where a father figure would come in handy, a loving, authoritative strong male to affectionately shove you into adversity. As it was, notes were written and physical activity strenuously avoided, until I discovered that some exercise had an orgasm at the end of it. This syndrome of “fatherless” boys is a much-cited problem that military organizations effectively resolve: Personal identity put aside, a male ideal upon which to focus is provided and pursued.
  • With each tentative tiptoe and stumble, I had to inwardly assure myself that I was a good comedian and that my life was not pointless. “I am addicted to comfort,” I thought as I tumbled into the wood chips. I have become divorced from nature; I don’t know what the names of the trees and birds are. I don’t know what berries to eat or which stars will guide me home. I don’t know how to sleep outside in a wood or skin a rabbit. We have become like living cutlets, sanitized into cellular ineptitude. They say that supermarkets have three days’ worth of food. That if there was a power cut, in three days the food would spoil. That if cash machines stopped working, if cars couldn’t be filled with fuel, if homes were denied warmth, within three days we’d be roaming the streets like pampered savages, like urban zebras with nowhere to graze. The comfort has become a prison; we’ve allowed them to turn us into waddling pipkins. What is civilization but dependency? Now, I’m not suggesting we need to become supermen; that solution has been averred before and did not end well. Prisoners of comfort, we dread the Apocalypse. What will we do without our pre-packed meals and cozy jails and soporific glowing screens rocking us comatose? The Apocalypse may not arrive in a bright white instant; it may creep into the present like a fog. All about us we may see the shipwrecked harbingers foraging in the midsts of our excess. What have we become that we can tolerate adjacent destitution? That we can amble by ragged despair at every corner? We have allowed them to sever us from God, and until we take our brothers by the hand we will find no peace.
  • It felt like the end of the world. I get prophetic flashes. There, I’ve said it. There are times when I see reality unfurl—not like the future is revealed, more like the past, or the present, like I can see the projector from which the spectacle is emitted. In the moment I feel dread. I watched them—maybe it’s my own cultural indoctrination, I’ve watched a lot of films and gone on a lot of conspiratorial websites, so my mind too has been narrativized; I’m not free from tales and agendas. I saw the earth crack open and yawn belligerent fire and the sea take back her bounty. The animals in nightmarish calm know the end is nigh and move to high lands. The unduly unfurled flags are lashed by rain and untethered from their masts by lightning. All nature converges; the purple sky bears down on the cleaved soil as Earth roars. The furious ocean envelops her lover, as long-somnolent beasts rise up from the deep. Things don’t fall apart; they move suddenly inward, in vengeful implosion.
  • I truly felt, ultimate objective aside, that the Marines had something beautiful about them. Fraternity, initiation, mentoring, honor, valor, duty—beautiful male attributes in a society in which masculinity is maligned. I can get a bit like that, a bit D. H. Lawrence, a bit jazzed on unexamined humanity. When I chatted on camera to a pair of perfectly assembled teen Marines who sat handsomely in their fatigues, rifles pristine and bolt upright at their sides, I was overwhelmed by the salvation that the military offers to boys that may otherwise have fallen through the cracks.
  • Jesus as protagonist in the Gospels is good because, like Superman, he’s been sent from another dimension; like Superman, he’s decided to dedicate himself to saving humanity; and, like Superman, he’s got special powers: heal the sick, walk on water, food multiplication. His vulnerability is that he is part man and as such can be speared, mocked, nailed up, and, at least carnally, sacrificed.
  • All prophecies stripped of acculturation and geographic ornamentation seem only to be saying, “Journey within; look behind your feelings, beyond your pain; fashion your world from what you find there.”
  • All anyone’s got is theories, usually distorted by what they’ve been through or what they want. This book, for example, was written by someone from a suburban, broken home, raised in Thatcher’s Britain, where inclusive ideas and family values were dismantled. A culture in which fame and celebrity became deified and drug use among the young extremely prevalent. Where modern manifestations of tribal identity like trade unions or guilds became redundant, manufacturing industries disappeared, neoliberalism emerged, and the welfare state was all but abolished. You could probably predict the contents of this book by looking at my weekly shopping receipt from Tesco’s. Alright, Waitrose. I’m dying to paint myself as a lowborn, Wat Tyler, Essex messiah; fortunately, I’m not quite that mad. I know that that heroic myth is part of my programming. That I’m quite a funny, normal bloke, that there’s a bit of bad in the best of us and a bit of good in the worst of us, that any centralized power structure with an egocentric figure at its helm will become corrupt.
  • It could be that our longing for Revolution is like our longing for perfect love, the impulse we all have for union that was for so long met by religion. However we assign these yearnings, it is difficult to ignore the obvious need for change. Some of us will ascribe it to romantic love, some to consumerism, some to utopianism. It doesn’t really matter. What is important is that for the first time in history we have the means to implement a truly representative system, the means to globally communicate it, and the conditions that require it.
  • My dad, Ron Brand, was an entrepreneurial Essex man, Del Boy’d up to the hilt on Thatcher’s creed. He was a self-made and self-destructive man and intermittently tumbled either side of the line. The prevailing mentality of the time, the eighties, was “every man for himself.” Unions were crushed, state interests were carved up and flogged, and council houses were sold back to the people whose efforts had built them. One of the great venture-capitalist heroes of this time, who epitomized this buccaneering spirit, was Sir James Goldsmith, Tory hero, Thatcher crush, scourge of Private Eye, and demon of the left. My dad and a lot of people from modest backgrounds admired him; there was something appealingly antiestablishment and daring in the aggressive and ingenious ways that James Goldsmith exploited the system.
  • Usually, when I’ve met the people who are meant to be in a position of power, I’ve always made sure to give them a damn good soul stare—y’know, look right in their eyes, through the blackness of the pupils and into whatever conscious field exists within. Then lock the eyes on, but let them gently defocus so that the defined parameters of the visual physical go blurry and you can feel the energy behind it, the unseeable energy that isn’t made of photons. Then, if your mind is quiet, you will be informed of the quality of their essence, or at least of the manifest persona that they believe themselves to be.
  • Who does a baby think he is before he can recognize his face in a mirror, before he’s taught his name, before he’s drummed into stagnant separation, cordoned off from the infinite oneness? Love is innate. We must be taught to hate, and now we must unlearn it, as the Buddhists say; let it burn, that which needs to burn, let it burn. The class system isn’t fair on them either, poor little sods—packed off to school, weaned on privatized maternity shopped in from a northern spinster. Trying to find love in the tangle of dismantled family. No one can be happy imbibing a poisoned brew. It’s poisonous for us all. They’ll gratefully sigh when we unlock them from their opulent penitentiaries, they’ll be grateful when their fallow lords and empty chambers feed the hungry and house the poor. They know contentment cannot be enjoyed when stolen. They need the Revolution as much as we do. The whole of human history is nothing new, the whole of your personal story is nothing true, you can do with it whatever you want to do—flick a switch, scratch the record off, look behind the veil. Anything you don’t want, discard; anything that hurts, let go. None of it’s real, you know—all that pain, all that regret, all that doubt, not thin enough, not a good enough mum, not a good enough son, not a good enough bum. You are enough; you’re enough; there’s nothing you can buy or try on that’s going to make you any better, because you couldn’t be any better than you are. Drag your past around if you like, an old dead decaying ox of what you think they might’ve thought or what might’ve been if you’d done what you ought. That which needs to burn, let it burn. If the idea doesn’t serve you, let it go. If it separates you from the moment, from others, from yourself, let it go.
  • Or as Flight of the Conchords put it: “They’re turning kids into slaves just to make cheaper sneakers. But what’s the real cost? ’Cause the sneakers don’t seem that much cheaper. Why are we still paying so much for sneakers when you got them made by little slave kids? What are your overheads?”
  • Since industrialization, we have moved rapidly out of synchronicity with nature and our own nature.
  • All the good things about America either came from the counterculture or were there already when the white people arrived.
  • I really hate it when I think I’m on the precipice of saying something deep and empowering when it’s actually more or less a quote from Rocky IV (“If I can change and you can change, everybody can change”) or a lyric from an M People song (“search for the hero inside yourself”) but I’ve really got very little to add to these scattered and perennial pop cultural artifacts.
  • Any corporation selling us products on the basis of anything other than utility should be revoked and shut down. Any corporation that at this time of fast-diminishing resources designs products that have in-built doomsday devices, planned obsolescence, should be shut down. All this glamour and clamor and blagging and skanking has to end.
  • “This phone will connect you to people everywhere, except for where you are, and sever you from God forever. Apple.”
You’ve seen their logo—it’s an apple with a bite taken out of it. That bite is the symbol of the moment mankind broke their pact with God, transgressed their own innocent nature, and chewed into consuming and consumerism. We have externalized all wonder, materialized our inherent magic. There is an old river where I write; it’s grimy and dirty and ancient. From a distance it’s all very chocolate box: swans and cygnets, willows weeping and long grasses. When you stand on the bank, though, it’s brown and full of pungent gunk and natural funk and it’s cold, British cold. As I plunge in, my skin tightens and I stare; I reach for strangled breath. Forgotten capacities stir and a noise I’ve never heard emerges—a roar, an animal roar, unrefined and naked. Unexplored depths and vibrations, neglected and unstirred. We are nature; we are nature as we munch gum and check the phone; we are nature as we queasily regret our imperfection, turning the glossy page, turning our glossy stomachs; we are nature as we hear them witter inanely on the radio, desecrating the silence with the violence of their idiocy and dumb verdicts, chattering and grooming, picking through the ticks in their hair, marveling at new minutia. These boys that throw off Birmingham for Baghdad: What are they looking for there? What’s in that crimson desert that they can’t find in the bullring? Untangled from Spaghetti Junction and aspiring to spaghetti westerns, these loaded kids of Charlton Heston declaring their jihad. To end this hapless meander through a mapless expanse, a hopeful and myopic grope, a listless disconnected kiss smothered, like Magritte’s shrouded lovers, whose hand can guide us through this abyss, what cartographers of consciousness can we look to now? I’d take Gandhi over ISIS when it comes to making maps for new worlds. Gandhi is a bit of a placeholder hero for me, a kind of unthinking grab for an easily identifiable brand of hero. Einstein said of him: “Future generations will scarce believe one such as he ever existed.” My own love of him is founded upon early exposure to the film; in which scene after scene he challenges authority and stands up to corruption and bullying. Gandhi knew too that defiance had to come from somewhere other than rage. That you can’t build love from hate, that the world we live in is the manifestation of a sublime source. The most practical application of what a lot of people would regard as wishy-washy claptrap was his popularization of nonviolent protest.
  • That is why I do not vote; that is why I will never vote. Let’s instead participate in a system that is truly representative. In the next chapter we are going to look at some stuff that, if we don’t really concentrate and determinedly remain upbeat, could get all boring, and we hate that. The fact is, though, if we’re to shut up Paxman and the naysayers (good name for a band), we have to show our working out. Like in a boring maths GCSE, which I knew was pointless even as I was failing it.
  • We have a culture where principles mean nothing and personalities mean everything. And I can see why it caught on—I’ve done very well out of it. My personality allows me to get away with all sorts of rubbish: riding the wrong way up a one-way street on a stolen bicycle (I didn’t steal it though; I bought it off a dodgy bloke), winking at the police as I pass, years of trouble-free promiscuity, tables at restaurants. But without principles, I was freewheeling away from God.
  • So, many corporations will be “killed,” according to Adbusters’ excellent suggestion. Perhaps we should use the word “cull,” like people do when they want to kill something cute. “Are you killing that badger?” “No, sir, culling it.” “When you’ve finished ‘culling’ it, will it be dead?” “A bit, yes.” “So explain the difference between killing and culling?” “Well, it’s a ‘u’—and a sort of tuneful sense that the creature is being gently lulled to death rather than killed with a hammer.” “And what’s the hammer you’re holding for?” “Culling.” So maybe we should cull some corporations. Once we’ve culled them, their resources and materials can be returned to communities to run themselves. Outlined here is a suggestion for how a corporation could be structured more fairly.
  • Me, I don’t see immigration as a real issue; for me an immigrant is just someone who used to be somewhere else, and the sooner we unite and organize to dismantle the structures that prevent all of us being free, the better I’ll feel.
  • Generally speaking, when empowered as a community, or common mind, our common spirit, our common sense reaches conclusions that are beneficial for our community. Our common unity.
  • It’s early in the process for me, but my infatuation with fame is waning, my need for external approval and the control of other people’s opinions is expiring. Practically I’ve decided that profits from this book will go towards creating a place where recovering addicts like me can run a business based on the ideas in this book. A café and production company run to create community, not money, democratically managed by the workforce. No bosses. No profit. No bullshit. Selling food sourced ethically, grown locally, and served by people who have had a Revolution in their own lives and are now able to learn and give back. Supporting modest creative projects, building a community of people who want to be part of something other than the toxic hegemony. We will start small but we will grow quickly because we have a limitless resource and we are providing an alternative to a dying system. There are no limits to what we can achieve if we behave collectively, responsibly, and humanely.
  • The world is changing and we are awakening. These statistics give us a numerical glimpse at the visceral dissatisfaction that most of us feel. Now is the time to express it. These corrupt structures cannot be maintained without our compliance. You could vote against them, if there was anything to vote for, but there isn’t, or you could stop paying your mortgage, stop paying your taxes, stop buying stuff you don’t need. When we, the majority, unite and demonstrate our new intention, we will be invincible. If we, who are complicit by our silence, become active and disobedient. This is a pivotal time in the history of our species. We are transitioning from an ideology that places power and responsibility in the hands of the few to one where we all collectively have power. It is important that we clarify, in a manner accessible to all, which institutions and systems are beneficial and which ones have to go. It is important that we propose ideas and systems that will be advantageous, like the handful in this book, and ensure that they are presented properly. When they are inevitably disparaged by the fearful enemies of change, we must remain unified and insistent. At this climactic time, we have no choice but change. This book, written by a twerp, with minimal interaction with brilliant thinkers and uncorrupted minds, demonstrates that. Now, what are you going to do about it?

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