My friends have just gone out running. Every spring this seems to happen – as the sap rises so does the insufferably pious optimism of those who think they’re going to lose weight. It’s not that I resent their losing weight, nor their rituals, but it is that tendency to want me to join in. Come on, they say, with that bright and annoying brash tone, we can do this TOGETHER.
Oh God, which foul devil invented that word, together. If there’s one thing I hate about spring it is the return of the public sphere. People like to ‘get out in it’, to ‘get some fresh air’, or to ‘take a Sunday stroll’. It’s like fucking Stepford wives sometimes.
I don’t know if it’s my Englishness, or my personality that brings with spring an almost palpable sense of deep alienation from my fellow man. I think it is in the demise of the public sphere, what Paolo Virno has called that ‘publicness without a public sphere’ of the late modern, that my alienation is to be explained. The inexorable decline in the imagination of the common, and the intense privatisation of the public sphere, leaves us without the tools to engage the public, even where it seems to throw itself at us, screaming ‘JOIN IN’. How am I to respond to this ubiquitous call to join my fellow man, the interpolation of spring in the sexual, political and aesthetic discourses of the public sphere, to enter its terrain?
Well I’m not going out, I can tell you that!