Learning Desire

People like to claim that you learn something new every day. The word ‘new’ in that aphorism is pretty redundant; if it wasn’t ‘new’ you wouldn’t be learning, you’d be remembering. You’d have more flashbacks than an episode of Lost. See, that’s you remembering Lost. Boring isn’t it? How about: “You’d have more flashbacks than a subject of MKUltra”. Look that up, and you’re learning. It’s very tempting to revisit comfortable ideas, and familiar entertainment, like watching an episode of a TV show you’ve seen dozens of time before or listening to your favourite song. One area in which I reliably seek out something new is if I’m watching porn, and even then I occasionally return to some old standards, like an ageing pop star wheeling out lacklustre ditties from their latest album in concert, only to settle back into their hits moments later, allowing the audience to relax and possibly orgasm.

Even movie studios know that people don’t like change or surprise. The logical next step from incessantly sequelising movies was to create shared universes, taking their cues from comic books, and the Casualty/Holby City crossovers of yesteryear. This way, we have an established identity and style, but for different characters, each with a wealth of adaptable stories behind them. So if you see a Marvel Studios ident before a movie, you can expect colourful action, humour and predictably satisfying plots without having to know anything about the main character. And likewise, if you see a DC Comics logo before a movie, you can expect at least two hours of slow motion drudgery, muted colours, and confusing story, unless you were lucky enough to see the one about the woman, which only just came out this year because, as we know, making a movie about a woman is much too risky. It is at least, uncommon, and therefore closer to an unknown quantity, hence fearful studios taking too long to normalise female-led stories. I understand it. Familiar is comfortable. I’m writing this in one of only three places that I write anything, because I’m used to it. Although my precedence for comfort is not to the detriment of women. Unless this blog really takes off and becomes a recitation of supposed female failings, from Eve biting the apple all the way to that time Paula Radcliffe shat herself during the marathon.

My current attempt to convince myself that I’m unique and interesting, is to once again try to learn some French. Partly because learning a language is good for the brain, and promotes creative thinking (I’m guessing that bit, but that’s a pretty creative guess wouldn’t you say?), and partly because I literally have no idea what women want, but this can’t hurt. Word of warning though – if you’re learning French too, and decide to delve into some old Tintin comics, avoid Tintin in the Congo. You can be as fluent in a romantic language as you want, but sitting in the break room at work staring at images of black people depicted as monkeys is not a good way to appear cultured. The best I could manage was to shake my head in consternation, and repeat the pre-Googled phrase: ‘Non non non. C’est dommage.’ That’s right, speaks French, and thinks racism’s bad. They really broke the mould with me ladies. Realistically though, unless I go to France it won’t be much use, unless I want to read untranslated Camus, or eavesdrop on French conversations. And unless they’re talking about Tintin I’ll have very little to offer.

But learning a new skill takes patience. Something which we’re constantly being told is in short supply in our current age of instantaneous communication and information, thanks to video games and Netflix and electricity. People don’t have the patience to invest in a long-drawn out game like Grand Theft Auto 5, ignoring the fact that it’s one of the most-played games of this year so far, despite being released four years ago. Certainly time-intensive RPGs must be a thing of the past, hence why games like Fallout 4, Mass Effect: Andromeda, Skyrim, The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild or Final Fantasy 15 literally don’t exist and have never been bought. Similarly, thanks to Netflix, a network like HBO could never make a success out of a slow-paced, weekly fantasy series. And even if they could, there’s no way it would inspire people to go back and read the original source material; several dense tomes as thick as a Victoria Sponge. No, there’s no patience anymore. This whole time I thought I was learning French but apparently that’s now impossible. I was probably just commenting on YouTube tutorials of Goat Simulator and binge-watching every episode of House of Cards in a single day.

C’est dommage. Whatever that means.



Next time on the bandwagon – Mirrors. A fad? Or are they here to stay?