In Kyiv flowers are under every subway and on every street corner. Lovely you might think, but really what’s it actually about?
Is romance, at least between men and women in particular, often nothing more than a compensation for gender inequality?
Is much of what is considered romantic actually nothing more than men subconsciously feeling guilty about their fortuitous birthright of social and economic superiority and privilege over women?
Is there are an intrinsic link between the amount of flowers a man buys for his lady friend and how chauvinistic he is and how “traditional” their relationship is?
Many women on the other hand are socially and culturally conditioned to accept this in an unquestioning way. Feminists might argue this is obvious and factual and we should have moved beyond debate. Why not buy flowers for your male friend? Or hold a door open for a businessman? But anyway.
What do you think?
Pythagoras Emerging from the Underworld by Salvator Rosa
Have you ever met your dead ancestors and how did it change your life?
“I was gripped by the misery of life as Buddha was in his youth when he saw sickness, old age, pain and death … This world could not have been the work of an all-loving being, but that of a devil, who had brought creatures into existence in order to delight in the sight of their sufferings.” Arthur Schopenhauer
A couple of years ago I met a man who thought he was an angel called Lucifer. His neighbours thought he was evil and possessed with the devil. But I was intrigued to find out more. I started a photo project about him and at the same time began to ask – what is evil?
Two years later, and a year after Lucifer was murdered, I’m working hard editing my photo project and I’m starting to reach some early conclusions about what evil is. It is a very loaded word and, like some other words, it is overused and misused.
But evil certainly wasn’t this persecuted and misunderstood man who I photographed. He could behave strangely and unpredictably and he was certainly deranged but there wasn’t an ounce of evil in him.
Evil should be a word used very very rarely if at all; and only about the most premeditated forms of harm and destruction.
Evil is neither also found in the horny, winged demons of Catholic art from medieval times onwards. Evil hides under our noses and eyelids, not in fantasy film or fiction. Evil are the forces that brought on Lucifer’s isolation, ridicule and eventual death. Evil are the same forces that are right now suffocating our Mother Earth to death.
So where does evil come from and has it actually created a global condition of mass psychosis so pernicious we can barely recognise it?
It seems to me, that Capitalism, Nationalism and Monotheism (Abrahamic religion) are the root of all our problems and together they make a deadly cocktail.
But Capitalism is by far the biggest culprit. No amount of green policies or technology can come close to solving the problems caused by capitalism.
Capitalism is the single overwhelming reason for the atrocious environmental and mental health problems in the world. It is the only reason why mass extinction and runaway Global Heating began. It is the reason why we have such an enormous and growing disparity of wealth.
To make matters worse we have our heads in the sand. We can see the devastating effects of capitalism everywhere and yet instead of grappling with the problem we expend our energy looking the other way. Watching and arguing about Game of Thrones, sharing video clips of cute pets, saving money for and watching reviews about expensive gadgets we simply don’t need. And so on. We do anything but face reality because it so so bleak. We are tinkering around as the world falls down.
We have a global state of emergency that no amount of recycling, renewable energy or electric powered transport will come close to addressing. Capitalism is the giant hulking elephant in the room of our most existential problems.
And yet we stagger and stumble on like alcoholics who won’t admit their addiction.
But its not our fault.
We’ve been conned and brainwashed for so long. A tiny clique of people now own and control the global economy. Even though the collapse of Earth’s life support systems is indisputable and possibly too late to stop, they will do anything to keep power. But it is coming to an end, sooner or later. And surely in our lifetime.
We are slaves to capitalism whether we like it or not. Slaves to generate the capital horded by the 1%. But we will not remain in ignorance forever. Sooner or later people the revolt will begin and the low-paid workers in factories and offices will rise up. That, or the system will collapse in on itself like it very nearly did a decade ago with the Banking crisis of 2008.
We were a whisker away from Capitalism’s end. It was a harbinger of what is to come. Late stage capitalism is almost out of road. When it ends the Capitalists will be dispossessed of the show homes and status symbols they craved and fetishised. We will pity them for their vanity and greed but in the brave new world they will have a chance to educate themselves and try to compensate for their destructive selfishness.
Capitalism is a crime scene and proponents of this system know it. Which is why when they are not rewarding themselves ludicrously big bonuses, massively underpaying employees and avoiding taxes through complex offshore schemes, they throw money at charitable causes, greenwashing and parade in electric cars like Teslas. People are also starting to see through this lip-service to the terrible catastrophes caused by their capitalist greed and their insulting fig-leaf philanthropy.
It’s a charade that must be exposed at every turn from now on. The plundering of Mother Earth’s wealth must end now, along with the system causing it.
Nothing less than the overthrow of capitalism will save our planet.
We must replace capitalism with an economy and culture which is not based on perpetual growth but on the mental and physical health of all humans on a planet where other sentient and non-sentient creatures can thrive instead of being incarcerated, industrially farmed, modified, inbred, slaughtered, eaten or otherwhise destroyed or manipuated. Yes, that means we must stop eating other sentient creatures and move to a plant-based diet.
I’m not advocating communism or even socialism but an economic model which relies on and rewards entrepreneurialism while also guaranteeing a universal living wage and the provision of basic fundamental rights for all humans everywhere: food, water and shelter.
Science and technology, despite being quintessentially Gnostic, cannot replace religion or spirituality. However good our iphones and apps are and however much we are obsessed with computer games, sport, ‘light’ entertainment and low forms of culture, we cannot forever escape the crushing realities of this momentous time.
Our hopeless addictions, constant need for instant gratification and materialism are part of the reason why capitalism has thrived for so long. It has made us lose sight of who we are and prevented us from asking deep questions about the meaning of life and our place within it. Capitalism has partly replaced monotheistic religion while also working alongside it to nullify the threat of revolt. The best example of this today is the Russian Orthodox Church and the Kremlin. Evil working with evil.
Overthrowing capitalism is vital but we also need to reduce the influence of monotheism. If we must have religion we need to do away with the patriarchal monotheistic institutions which demand money and obedience in return for access to their God.
We must fiercely reject the idea that spirituality can only be obtained through authoritarian patriarchies and instead return to earth-loving paganism and polytheism (a spiritual pantheon of gods and goddesses representing the forces of nature, love and the great cosmos) or perhaps Scientific Pantheism.
Perhaps a major revival of these ancient traditions and practices might be able to help us save ourselves so humanity can once again be wedded in harmony to Mother Earth – instead of the delusion of Capitalism and Monotheism – that says we can transcend it all on a wing and a prayer
Dear reader. My photo project about ecocide and mass psychosis is well underway, with book dummies being produced this Autumn. But it is mainly self-funded and my limited resources only go so far. So if you like my work please consider becoming my patron for as little as 3$ per month. For more info, jump here: https://www.patreon.com/vincentmundy
St. Anthony Beaten by Devils. Painting by Stefano di Giovanni
Anthony is known as a patron saint for the recovery of lost items and is credited with many miracles involving lost people, lost things and even lost spiritual goods
Saklas by Helel
I’m handing over to Helel Bones for a new project. I grew Helel from my ribs and he’s now taken semi-human form. Helel is a vehicle for new and experimental work, not constrained or limited by the conventions of the traditional documentary photography I have previously adhered to; along with the journalistic principles and self-censorship that goes along with it. He doesn’t have to look at his subjects as objectively as possible. He is both the eye and the space around him. He’s a shape-shifting creature that is as happy shooting others as he is stepping into the light himself and interacting with other creatures within his frames. I’m sticking around for straight news and traditional documentary, but for everything else and for Lucifer & Lybid – Helel is now in charge…..
Thanks my dear Vincent, and hello everyone! I will be taking charge here for a while. I’m producing this new project called Lucifer & Lybid – a project Vincenzo simply couldn’t do without breaking his heart, his ego and his fancy principles and , so… thanks Vincent for this opportunity, but please remember, you can’t control me anymore.. I’ve got to put on my wings now and go to the graveyard, but I’ll update you with more details about Lucifer & Lybid real soon. H
Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.
As long as man continues to be the ruthless destroyer of lower living beings he will never know health or peace. For as long as men massacre animals, they will kill each other. Indeed, he who sows the seed of murder and pain cannot reap joy and love.
Yesterday I visited Podolsky Church of the Intercession, one of my favourite churches in Kyiv. Completed in 1772 the church is a wonderful example of Ukrainian Baroque. But yesterday I was most struck by this fresco near the rear entrance of children being lapped by flames about to consume them; presumably because of their sinful ways? How can children possibly deserve such a punishment? I don’t know when this was painted, it looks much more modern than the building, but the image is rather amusing and a little disturbing also
The Lybid River has many secrets. And it is a secret refuge for people who live along its concrete banks. And they all have their own stories to tell. This August Maria, her partner and children sleep here. This Roma family are relatively safe here. Every evening after scratching a living near the train station they return here, shrouded from view by the rubbish-strewn trees and hot water pipes that line the concrete channels of this resilient little river
The other day I was shocked to discover that the man I was photographing for a book project had been murdered in his own home. Vyacheslav Geraskin’s throat was allegedly slit while he was sleeping. I’m currently trying to find out more details and visit his grave.
R.IP. Vyacheslav Geraskin
Late adopter. Early giver-upper.
That’s the motto of one of my more recent heroes, the Guardian & Observer journalist Carole Cadwalladr.
I share Cadwalladr’s sentiment with regard to Facebook. I was late to FB. I joined in late 2015, after years of stubbornly refusing to join the bandwagon. I refused because I thought it was a vain and conceited place that fed status anxiety. But eventually I decided I couldn’t be such a vociferous critic of FB without being a user and getting to know all the pros and cons of this social media monopoly. Over two years later I’m now finished with my FB experiment; and oh boy am I glad I was a late adopter and gee whizz I’m even more glad that I have thrown my FB profile in the trash can.
We humans are social animals so I understood the pros of FB. It’s nice to make friends and maintain relationships on one easy online platform. I met some nice new people there who are still friends and enjoyed reading some of my new and old friends’ posts; the best of which featured either interesting photos, witty commentaries or links to interesting news or events. I also enjoyed watching videos of cute pets doing funny things. But eventually I realised that, for me, the pitfalls far outweighed any benefits.
In a nutshell Facebook made me feel almost as vain as an adolescent Vincent. I wasted far too much time posting superficial snapshots instead of producing thoughtful bodies of work. I became another zombie in the system; posting banal, egoistic or attention-seeking content. I also saw how, over and over again, FB negatively affected personal relations; with likes becoming evidence of ‘micro-cheating’ for example.
More perniciously, FB is a social platform which reinforces gender inequality; for example FB continues to deploy its resources and manpower to police billions of FB posts to ensure female nipples are censured. Men’s tits? No probs. As a feminist and humanist I found this staggeringly primitive, juvenile and deeply offensive. So I had ample personal and ethical reasons to leave FB and I was on the verge of doing so anyway. But then another compelling reason suddenly reared its head.
The exposé by Guardian reporter Carole Cadwalladr of FB data theft was the final nail in the coffin for me. Her work proved that FB lied to, manipulated and cheated on its users in the most profound of ways. In its selfish pursuit of profit from advertising revenues, FB allowed Russia and other dictatorships, as well as non-state actors all-over the world to use FB as a data mine and trojan horse for regime change. As a result, the now infamous political advertising firm Cambridge Analytica used the stolen data to help enable Moscow and right-wing forces in the UK and the US to spread fake news and produce targeted ads to subvert democracy. The ramifications have thus far been utterly calamitous: Trump and Brexit.
A month on since I deleted FB I have no regrets. I only wish I had done it a bit sooner. I have a more interesting social life and quite a bit more time for reading, strolling and pursuing various personal projects. I’m glad I experimented with FB. I learned quite a bit. But I’m very relieved the experiment is over.
Fallen angels all around
I was and remain so incredibly impressed, inspired and deeply moved by the tremendous courage of all the people who fought and died during this battle to defeat the Kremlin-backed Yanukovych regime. Such a terrible pity the new government has so far not realised the dreams of these freedom fighters to establish a more egalitarian society.
Sifting through my Ukraine Revolution archive in recent days, I found lots of material I never knew I had. This video was from Hrushevskyi Street on January 19th. I remember this day very well because this is when things really started getting very serious indeed.
Today for Valentine’s Day I offer you my reading of Aldous Huxley’s poem Darkness
Capitalism and the wage system must be abolished; they are twin monsters which are eating up the life of the world. In place of them we need a system which will hold in cheek men’s predatory impulses, and will diminish the economic injustice that allows some to be rich in idleness while others are poor in spite of unremitting labor; but above all we need a system which will destroy the tyranny of the employer
Excerpt from Political Ideals by Bertrand Russell (1917)