I was never particularly enamoured of John Lennon’s Imagine. Even when I was still a trainee human it got on my nerves in an unspecific way. Now I am further along the road to humanness I can define what I don’t like about it a little bit more. I think it’s the smug, superior way he sings Philosophy-for-Toddlers as if he is saying something truly revolutionary. Yeah, I know he’s dead and all so I should be using the past tense and not speaking ill of him, but I’m used to writing literature essays, so bear with me. (bear… is that right? It can’t be bare, surely. That would just be odd. Is there another type of bear?)
“Imagine there’s no heaven,” he croons. “It’s easy if you try”.
Go on, simpletons. Just IMAGINE this incredible idea! I know it’s hard for your teeny weeny craniums to process such an outlandish thought, but if you squash your eyes shut REALLY hard and clench your fists, you might be able to squeeze out one TINY imagine. For one fleeting nanosecond you might be able to comprehend my phenomenal, never-before-considered uniquely personal idea that there might NOT be an invisible golden land in the sky where invisible beings sit on thrones or fly about with invisible harps giving a shit about what happens on earth. If you try REALLY hard you may, for a moment, be able to consider the freakish possibility that there isn’t a holy bearded man standing up there by a bejewelled gate perusing a list of dead people’s names on a scroll and deciding whether to consign them to perpetual sparkly cloud dwelling or eternal smouldering damnation depending on how many times they nicked money from their mum’s purse or fancied passers-by out of wedlock.
As insane as it may seem, give it a try.
And also – his idea of a perfect world: “Imagine”, he says, “… all the people living for today”. What does that actually mean? And what’s so good about living for today? Isn’t that what badgers and earwigs do?
If we all lived only for today, would those science types have proved the Higgs Boson probably exists? Nah, they’d have sat around eating cake and playing Call of Duty. Nothing would get done at all. We would all just loll around hoping someone will deliver us something to eat in a minute. In fact, I would go so far as to say that the reason I am not a particularly successful human being by any measure of success is because of an overarching tendency in my formative years of living for today. But don’t get me started on that one again.
And the next verse. It reminds me of the cover of an Awake Magazine.
“Imagine all the people living life in peace”, he says. With no countries, etc. This sounds like a lovely idea. We could turn our swords into ploughshares (whatever they are), and lions would lie down with lambs. We could all listen to Dolly Parton’s Peace Train and think, “You were right, Dolly. And now we are all aboard.”
On the front of one Awake magazine, I’m fairly sure I remember some shiny clean multicultural people cuddling lions on a hillside reminiscent of the one Julie Andrews spun around on in The Sound of Music; only there was a factory in the background and someone was driving a tractor. I wasn’t too sure who would be working in the factory in paradise on earth, but I thought it best not to ask.
Presumably, only people whose life’s ambition it is to work in a factory or drive a tractor will have to produce food for everyone else in the Imagine Idyll, because everybody would be living for today. But of course, in Lennon’s idyll there wouldn’t be factories at all: everyone would grow their own food. Except, if they’re living for today and they hate gardening, then… Erm. Well, I suppose people whose life’s ambition is to grow carrots for stoned hippies would do it for them. That’s how it would work. Good. Glad we got that sorted.
No countries is a problematic one as well. I’m not entirely certain that having no countries WOULD inevitably result in peace. If I lived somewhere ravaged and devastated by drought or earthquakes or floods or whatever, and there was nothing stopping me, I would immediately move somewhere where it would be possible to sit out in some moderate sunshine and grow potatoes without them getting annihilated by a cyclone or a plague of locusts. So logically, and understandably, anyone with a few environmental impediments to their existence would shuffle off somewhere more conducive to having a nice time. Only, what would happen in the places where a nice time could be had? Who would grow the carrots for all those new people? And where would they all live? I don’t think that is the magic recipe for boarding Dolly’s Peace Train.
AND neither Dolly nor John have taken twats into account. But twats ruining idylls is a whole other blog post. And as for NO POSSESSIONS. We’ve already mentioned Jamie Bottono nicking my roller skates, and I am definitely not sharing my camera or my crunchy peanut butter with anyone.
And as for “I hope some day you’ll join us”. It makes me imagine a white-robed, round-spectacled, smily-mouthed, blank-eyed scary person speaking in a robot voice. Join us. Try some of this. It will make you dream. And why not remove your clothes while you’re at it, so I can peacefully shaft you for a Brave New World.
I’m not sure why that turned into an anti-John rant. It began when I went into the loo (too much information, yes, I know), caught sight of myself in the mirror and thought, ‘oh, my hair is a large frizzy triangle like Crystal Tips’s, only less purple.’
Anyway, I thought, ‘Oh. Is that what I actually look like? And there was me imagining myself as some sort of sultry brunette seductress.’ And this led me to consider what it would be like to live in a world without mirrors.
Apart from the wing mirrors of buses and trucks which were strictly used for looking behind buses and trucks, I had no mirrors in my life whatsoever between the ages of 19 and 26 approx. I had very little idea what I looked like at all. This meant that when I woke up in the morning/afternoon, I didn’t have to think about make up or whether my tights matched my jacket. I just got up, got dressed and went and did things. Like boys do. Looking back, my life may have been predominantly a bit shit, but that bit was dead liberating. I NEVER thought about what I looked like, how fat I was, whether my make up was smudged, or anything. I just lived. In the world. How other people viewed me was not even in my consciousness. I didn’t go to public places (mainly because I wasn’t allowed in them) where there were mirrors. I was like some sort of wild human.
Now I live in a house with a mirror in every room. I am painfully conscious of my triangular hair, my new wrinkles, the extra bit that shouldn’t be there around the midriff. And all that stuff. I’m perpetually looking at myself from the outside rather than focusing outwards from myself. I’m sure that’s not wholesome.
So: Imagine there’s no mirrors. That’s my answer to peace in our time.