This week was the beginning of the next stage in my new life, la vita nuova as an independent author. It was the first week that I have followed a new schedule of habits and systems focussed on my content creation. It was the first week that I committed to this new way of life, after a period of rest and reflection and experiment after taking my redundancy package from the government service last year. After a ritual week on the liminal beauty of the Bay of Lorne in South-Eastern Australia, I transformed from a government official, wounded and now retired, to become an independent author.
It has been a productive and exploratory week, in which I have worked my way through emotions of feeling disrespected, inferior and isolated. These emotions have been the dominant colours of so much of my career as a government official, as I watched the culture of the institution decay and stray from the teaching of the masters. But by the end of the week I was feeling powerful, creative, interested, inquisitive and even optimistic and inspired. It has been a long journey through the underworld to find the spring above.
I have produced a lot of content – videos/podcasts, drafting a new book, editing my collection of essays on politics and governing, trying to get noticed on twitter, and this morning writing a poem.
On the Burning Archive YouTube channel and podcast I released three videos this week, and completed production of my series reviewing the Russia-Ukraine-NATO War. The last video/episode in this series is coming out on Monday. I released:
The final episode in the series will be released on Monday, and it looks at five more stories of the Russia-Ukraine War and how we can think more broadly about this conflict to avoid getting locked into the doctrinaire thinking that appears to be driving a disaster for Ukraine and a debacle for the West. I am quite proud of this series and my earleir podcasts covering the Russia-Ukraine-NATO war and the Black Legend of Russian History.
Events are showing my perspective on the war, even though shunned by most people, leadership circles and the mainstream media has proved right. More commentators are coming out and saying so, including notably during the week French historian, Emmanuel Todd. I discovered on YouTube an in-depth discussion with Todd on the war, and some of his own assessments of the risks of speaking out in the way that he has, something he deliberately chose not to do until now because of the climate of public ‘discussion’ of this war in the West months.
I have also been loading these videos as video podcasts on Spotify. I may yet return to audio-only longer podcasts because the video-editing time is a lot, but I will see how they go. I find also that there is a different kind of creative work that you do when you rely only on your vocie to carry the story of a podcast. I am still exploring what works best both for my content and for my audience. Let me know what you think.
I began drafting my next book, which is a non-fiction work that I have tentatively titled ‘Life After Democracy’. It will develop my reflections on the blog and the podcast on the growing political disorder of our times, the decay of governing institutions, and the decrepitude of liberal democracy evident in the West today.
I also dug into editing my second collection of essays from this blog that I have combined with a few papers that I wrote in my time as a government official. This book should come out mid-year, and will be titled, Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Bureaucrat. The section I worked on was a long essay I wrote in 2013/4 on ‘Why is Alcohol Policy Difficult?’ I presented this paper to an academic conference but did not follow up the offer to have it published – I was then still internally conflicted about whether to pursue a career as a writer, academic or bureaucrat. Fate and events have settled that decision for me.
One passage from the essay struck me as especially relevant to some of the debates of today, especially the hubris of experts, epidemiological models and American geostrategists. I made a Twitter thread of this excerpt
I also promoted my book of poems on Twitter, with the very kind review someone wrote on Amazon.
And of course you can buy my latest book, From the Burning Archive here.
Over the next week I will be doing some more BookTube videos on history books, going deeper into my own books, and getting started on my online courses.
I am also finding a kind of peace and acceptance – based in the Japanese literature of reclusion, Basho, and otehr sources. The world we know will pass and there will be much disorder and suffering over the next decade as the multipolar world is born. And that multipolar world will also not be without strife and suffering. I find acceptance in this reality, as I become more aware of liberal democratic illusions, and I follow my own path of shukke, and of awareness and detachment.
This morning I picked up the Mahabharata, and Krishna’s words from the Bhagavadgita are in my head. Perform the action that aligns with your dharma, without regard to the fruit of your action.
Until next week, remember, what thou lovest well, will not be reft from thee (Pound, Canto LXXXI).