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  • Writer's pictureBen Ponton

The Archipelago of the Microspheres | Michael Begg - 1: A confession

Updated: Aug 11, 2020

In the first of six micro-essays, Call Centre correspondent Michael Begg reveals a levelling in the lockdown.

The garden after midnight | photo: Michael Begg

First, a confession.

I am one of the few for whom the lockdown has been almost entirely agreeable. With that comes a degree of guilt, but this new guilt arises mostly at the expense of an older guilt, now temporarily redundant.

As a freelance worker in the fringe territories of sound, every day has been an act of faith, of resistance, and an enforcing of the idea that the feasibility of the enterprise will win out against the overriding evidence that this course is economically unsound, critically ambivalent and socially of only microscopic value.

There is a particular frequency of anxiety at which I resonate, and sometimes it’s fine. It works for me. And my work is broadly built on anxiety. But in many social situations, the anxiety would grow until there was a real risk that the body would shake itself loose, and I’d fall to pieces. Kind of like putting a brick into a washing machine on spin cycle.

Everyone’s life seemed to have an obvious purpose, a trajectory, a sense of growth and advancement. I sensed, always, an illusory ‘them’ who would gaze down upon my poverty, my comparative lack of means, my anonymity. Whilst I, in turn, would console myself in a sullen judgement on their poverty of spirit.

When the lockdown fell, the familiar rhythms and patterns of life fell apart. So many people found themselves in the midst of a fractured catastrophe of isolation and insecurity, situated in the pressure cooker of the home, delineated by the chasms of time that seemed to be opening to swallow them. Welcome, I quietly observed, to the life I have already been in training for through most of my adult life.

This was the first revelation. It was suddenly apparent that this unhelpful self-consciousness and anxiety about my overall progress in general society plagued my every working moment. And I only recognised it because overnight, as the world came down to my level, the anxiety vanished.

How curious that only now should I find that I am able to work without guilt.


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