I am writing this in one of the most foul moods I’ve ever experienced to date whilst trying to complete a PhD after so many interruptions and lifes challenges.
I have to trust that the people who have encouraged me to be more than a fat, unhappy and disconnected geek know more than I do of my own fate.
Trust that despite this boiling rage I feel inside me, this black anger and abject hopelessness, this psychosis of flailing mind, that despite what is now my current mental state, that it will all pass and that the thesis will be one day complete.
To unconditionally trust that writing, reading and analysing data to make sense of almost a decade of world wide inquiry, writing till eyes and brain fail late into the night, for years till a document that no more than a hundred people will read in a lifetime. A thesis that on review, within years, redundant in the minds eye of the writer often never read again, mute, viewed with contempt and rejection.
Long days and nights pouring over an abstract digital soup, answering children with an absent groan, grunting at his partner, terrified of the mounting bills, borrowing and bullshitting essential services to extend payment plans.
What drives a technology enamoured, complacent and socially awkward male to abandon a dream of big houses, five cars and a settled down life as director of a tech company, high paid consultant? What could drive a man a decade later to punch a vehicle door so hard he breaks his knuckle in two places, breaks five tonne of concrete by hand with a sledgehammer till blood pours from the callouses on his hands?
What cathartic, cataclysmic and life changing events could possibly drive a mature man to contemplate suicide, scream till his voice box collapses with strain at his own Father so vehement, so toxic and so determined that it scares his own nine year old son to collapse weeping with confrontation?
Grind his teeth in his sleep till they shatter? Write a life story of sexual abuse, violence and crime then publish it publicly via the internet?
Lie awake till he hears the first chirps of dawn herald another apocalyptic day filled with yet more things to do, to be, to achieve, to fail at.
I was told completing a PhD was a process, not a product. I was promised it would change my life forever and that process would provide a basis to live a life worth living.
I wasn't told of the countless attempts that people have made only to find that life goes on around them anyway and is always in the way of finishing neatly. I wasn't informed that many end up with physical and mental health issues, financially in trouble, socially isolated and very often divorced, alone, shattered emotionally.
Suffice to say, these are a small portion of things I have experienced, have endured and now share as an attempt to pull myself out of the nihilism, the self pityingly rancid quagmire.
That process of the PhD without scholarship, as a mature aged student with five children, living in a hand built cabin some say is no bigger than a bedsit for one. That process of enduring seven and eight out of ten points of continuous pain from a chronic rheumatological medical condition rendering me blind from acute iritis, almost dead from heart failure due to acute pericarditis, rendering my neck stiffer than a whiplashed car victim.
This process is killing me slowly or.....if I trust in what others say will win out, a rod with which to support my back not whip myself with it as it is at present.
What drives a man to scream into his own mirrored reflection only to find an exhausted version of his former self?
Terrified I write not knowing what this is about, where this will take me, despondent of the cost on all accounts that this process has had, is having.
What happened to those who cookie cut their childless way through scholarships, through cocktail parties, high society affairs of the flesh and moral servitude? I suspect the process I've experienced won't be known by flaccid quant jocks, squeaky clean viperous bitches that suck cock for grade.
I don't for a minute expect my findings to be understood by apathetic, upgrades, singular self, cyborg automatons nor am I seeking a ticket to speak on lecterns made from the bones of the communities those 24 hour driverless dump trucks suffocated.
Who the fuck am I to speak of the social impact of technology having Xboxed my street kid students out of juvenile hall? Built a world within a world of Secondlife only to find my own son crying at my office door having missed the candles being blown out on his own birthday cake.
What the hell would I know about the generational gap between Father and daughters as I ignored them for SMS messages, Tweets, Facebook pokes, Skype pings and Snapchat notifications? What was I to reply to "....Dad put that FUCKING PHONE away and actually communicate with ME" ?
Have I anything to contribute to society who can't find its own way from their capitalist castle to the mall without a corporation telling them which way to turn, street by street, one geo-pinned brainless u-turn after another? Have I anything to say of over fifty interviews of Google IO junkies sucking down the kool aid and attesting to how high resolution photos of their pre teens hairless vaginas in high resolution captured from their head worn computer goes live, daily, poolside from their head worn computer?
Is there anything I could possibly bring to bear on my watch as children as young as 12 and 13 are locked inside refrigerated cells no bigger than a cupboard, on remand, force fed their own faeces, tasered, gagged, tagged, digitally surveilled and water boarded to within a breath of their own First Nation selves?
What of the countless nights hand transcribing hour long interviews of leading figures in the engineering, science fiction and dystopian junctures in-between-worlds that these vultures inhabit leeching of their myopic merchandise mad mass?
Has this mad man, this pushed to the end of his limits and beyond candidate got anything worth saying as we careen towards a certain environmental disaster, an anthropocene so impressively inept to see demise in a microchipped child, a geofenced recidivist only needing love and social inclusion ? What have I to offer a world whose own memory of the social impacts of technology, loss of connection with each other in a world of trillions of always on internet of things, bits.
What are the socio-ethical implications of head worn cameras, devices, masks that shut us off from seeing, only looking?
What of instinct, what of that basis for living that grounds us in country, in place far from any convenience?
Where does that anger as a candidate derive from? To point at peril?
I trust that the process is worth every cent, every last breath even to visit a deathbed, every awkward rebuttal, every exclusion if it means that even one, just one person wakes up out of their Singularity, smells the roses and realises that it's not an upgrade, that they are actually experiencing an opportunity to connect with their soul, not triple whipped choc sundaes upsized with fries to go.