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The motorcycle diaries


Just been to see The Motorcycle Diaries with Joshua and Richard. It’s a pretty thin film – beautiful scenery but a over simple linear narrative that repeats itself in cliches and heart-tweaking “moments”. It feels like a film from a much older age – where those simple virtues of camaraderie, generosity, idealism, political fire could exist without all the contemporary layers of irony, cynicism, mindful questioning. Which is of course the moment in history it sprang from: Ernesto Guevera’s political awakening. Before the Cold War, before the truths of Stalinism came to light, before Cuba became sclerotic.

But are those simple pure idealisms and virtues really naïve and oversimplistic like this film? Or are they still valid – yet our over-critical mediasphere has conveniently allowed us to brush them aside as foolish and childish distractions from the real business of making money and pleasing ourselves? Are we so mired in fatalistic “realism” that we ignore the simple fact that: helping other people is the royal route out of self-obsessed misery. It’s right and natural to support one another. The neo-liberal creed of greed is good is a recent fallacy that has simply be repeated so often (as Goebbels recognised) that it has become a truism. The fact is that it’s a lie: Greed gives us a headache, it makes us grasping, fearful we’re going to lose stuff and it breeds an atmosphere of ill-will and mutual suspicion.

I’m aware of this as I come to the end of a long period of work where I’ve been working in a team (which is good) but for a largely meaningless enterprise (which is questionable). Now the urge is to go and do stuff “that I want to do”, chase after sun, sand, sex and sangria. But as Sucitto says: we live in a membrane of self, banging our drum, blowing our trumpet and that’s SO BORING.

So when I was slouched in the cinema watching the adorable Gael Garcia Bernal as Ernesto helping lepers and giving his precious dollars to penniless migrant miners I didn’t feel unduely manipulated by the film – I remembered that doing something for other people is actually a real relief and I should be doing more of it. Life is messy and there are millions of people who are really in the shit on the planet. Cocooning in ever-refined searches for pleasure isn’t going to cut it. Perhaps a bit of aspiration wouldn’t go amiss…

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