Harold Bishop has a posse

The Rae St Institute > Blog archive > Gentrification, Degentrification, and the Hedonistic Imperative

What, exactly, is the catalyst behind that moment of truth where you cross the line and whatever you *had* to do isn't going to happen? Why do we throw important things away for a few hours of escapism?

Or, specifically, what propels 'one' to decide, late on Saturday night, that the original plan to go see a band in Smith Street and catch up with a couple of people, then go home ultra-early for a serious session of work on a thesis 'one' is supposed to be handing in the next draft of on Wednesday was unimportant and instead (after an incoherent SMS from a friend) was better substituted for a two stage plan involving a cab ride to St Kilda, to a party hosted for/by persons unknown, stage two involving getting so utterly trashed that by the time 'one' rolled out of a taxi well after daylight on Sunday, 'one' had only the vaguest recollection of what one's name was, let alone where to find err.. one's abode; the unscripted but inevitable stage three involving a full day and a bit of pain/recovery/complete immobility on the couch/bed trying to reassemble brain tissue..

Long enough question? Err, not that I'm talking about me... Yes you are, you evasive fuck.

While the above mini-narrative may or may not be about me, (ahem), I can vouch for a couple of days of full-blown recovery, derailing the early stages of a fully-blown level-5 health kick. Which brings me to another question - while there's the old chestnut of the gentrification of suburbs by people - The Punters Club being replaced with "Bullshit Bimbo Deluxe", people moving in next door to pubs then complaining about the noise (resulting in the death of live music), endless square box masonry townhouses all over the shop - what about the inverse? Does the gentrification of a suburb gentrify its inhabitants?

Since The Rae Street Institute was founded in 1964 I moved to Fitzroy a year ago, I'm:
  • Drinking less
  • Working more
  • Eating healthy
  • And now I've joined a fucking gym
Right now I'm living in a run-down terrace house - not living in a McMansion or a Kentucky Fried Townhouse (though the urge to move into the latter is currently on the rise), but I'm living a lot differently to how I was when I was out in the burbs. What is it? Is it the fact that I'm earning more than ever? (My expenses were less last year though) Is it the fact that I'm feeling run down because of so many commitments? Or is it the area? Is it some kind of all-pervasive need to live some ideal healthy lifestyle, brought about by complex psychoactive chemicals emitted by a yuppie foundry hidden somewhere under Princes Park?

On the other hand, to know that I've still got the madness in me is a somewhat comforting thought (if painful to deal with the aftermath). What's the opposite of gentrification? Degentrification? Boganization? I think I prefer the latter.

Though 'comforting' doesn't describe dealing (sober) with the aftermath of spewing a couple of dozen incoherent SMSes into my phone at unsuspecting innocent parties (no ex-girlfriends involved though, thank god).

Speaking of which..

Arnold Toynbee (1889-1975) wrote of circular history; that civilisations rise, flower and fall - not in a deterministic sense; not in the sense that we are all doomed to failure and destruction (well, we all have an end-point, but this is meta-history, not personal history..) but that the destruction is brought about by the civilsation itself; by failing to respond to the demands of its surrounds.

Maybe his idea of cyclical history has something to do with the fact that six years before his death, his uncle, also called Arnold Toynbee, died - and was also during his life an historian.

But maybe I'm just being stupid.

The point of bringing up long-dead-english-dudes is that very notion of cyclical events.. living in the future/past/future-past/past-future; repeating past behaviours despite knowing better, doing things you know you shouldn't do, doing things you've done before and thought you'd moved on from.

For me this is a notion that relates to a lot of behaviours (including importantly the weekend a 'certain individual' had) - but tangentially to relationships.. the phenomenon of going back. Ages ago on this blog I mentioned Time Travel and promised to explain it in future; it's the old conundrum of 'returning' to an ex. Conjugal visits to prison-yard caravans you've both (probably mutually) figured out are strictly verboten territory. Maybe searching for something you might have missed, maybe feeling lost, maybe feeling nostalgic for something you're forgetting the bad parts about -- or maybe you just ran into them, got hammered, and biology plus smashing a table over your conscience's head took care of the rest. Half-whacked late night cab-rides back to yours with your conscience tied up somewhere in the corner of your brain, screaming at you through duck tape to stop the taxi, get out, walk to somewhere serene and gather your thoughts. Alone.

Now this is something I'd have to own up to doing as an all-too-oft-visited past transgression of my own strict never-go-back rule.. but then there are complicating factors. See in the past week and a bit someone's appeared into my sparse little world who, well, not just 'reminds' me of someone I was briefly involved with three years ago, but looks pretty much exactly the same, has the same name, is studying a similar thing (but at a different uni), and has some similar little behaviours (but enough difference to be sure it's not the same person deliberately trying to fuck with me) - does getting involved with someone who rolled out of the same factory as an ex qualify as going back?
Mind you, she also told me the other night that I seem oddly familiar too;
but on the other hand that she seems to remind people of other people all too regularly.
Apparently also, on a tangent, I have an exact clone who goes to Glen Waverley Centrelink.
A couple of weeks back a similar incident.. seeing a band at the Rob Roy with a few people.. a girl there was distractingly cool in a really out-there, quirky kinda way, yet strangely familiar... then later on I realised what it was, and why I was so comfortable around her; another clone - exactly like an ex from not-too-long ago; just a couple of years younger and a little shorter, and maybe a little bit crazier. When a girl nearby who'd only met all of us a couple of hours previous had the front to walk up and tell me "You should have kissed that girl" I knew something odd was going on.

But you know what?

Fuck you, Toynbee. People move on.
Actually, you'll find my nephew wasn't really talking about the context you're trying to apply it to - in fact he was more --
You shut up too, Toynbee (the elder). Don't contradict me. Not today.

4 Comments - [post a comment]

the agony bilby, Wednesday, August 31, 2005, 11:32 PM
sometimes, you cynical little black hearted man, things just happen for a reason.

sometimes, things (or a being) remind you of a flowery and momentous time and fail to incorporate the blackness and solitude that also were part of such history.

sometimes, you need to swollow your own contempt for fellow man and stop hiding behind your preposterous ego and just revel in the fact that sometimes nice things do happen without a catch.

you are allowed to be happy. give yourself a break, for fucks sake.

Dr Henrik Ziegler, Wednesday, August 31, 2005, 11:45 PM
Ah, but I never said nice, catch-free things don't happen... it's just when the going gets weird it's so much more INTERESTING.

Cynical, yes, black hearted, yes.. but it was almost Tuesday at the time, and, well, you know what 'they' say about Tuesdays. Whoever 'they' are.

It's just I've long had a problem with the idea of things going in circles.. I don't quite know what it is -- well, ok, maybe I do, but I'm not going to get into some solipsistic wank-fest in comments here. Fuck knows I did enough of that above.

See it's Thursday now, and I'm full of Endorphins. Or Soma. Or Shit. Or something.
agony bilby, Thursday, September 1, 2005, 12:03 AM
cycles, yes. theyre about as avoidable as john cusack and the midday movie.

but look on the bright side, it could be worse. two words. keanu reeves.
colonel, Friday, September 2, 2005, 1:25 AM
I've completed a few circular patterns in my time, both mentally and physically (refer Karma Sutra page 124.)

It can be quite a cathartic experience...although I have never joined a gym.