dark habits

Dark Habits, published by HOME, 2017



I’m starting a new moral universe. I decided. This morning. After difficult dreams; before my day began its dull duty. Today, I vowed, I must start a new moral universe.



And here I am.



Here we are. At the foothills of a more moral universe, whose path, I should warn you, is steep and likely hellish in parts, TBH.



And yet, gulping the sweet coffee that is more like a chemical poem, tingling with this remarkable and fierce fury, the kind that accompanies deliverance, not mere duty, I said to myself, (((but not out loud))), that the time has come for a new moral universe. Free of novelty mugs.



Because YOLO.



I left the chain coffee shop, whose mermaid logo I am considering as a tramp stamp, and set off to the horizon of the future where a new moral universe is impatiently awaiting. (Kickstart campaign pending. (The pitch video is awesome)).



To the skeptical I say let us choose our battles. To the haters, I say let us arm ourselves with truth. To the basket of deplorables, I swear, let us not fall prey to the false gods of universalism.



I’m starting a new fucking moral universe AND there will be no Kenyan Keynsian economics, no state-capitalist discos, and no sweatpants outside of the gym. Dress code: strictly Uptight Anna Wintour.



I meditated a new moral universe. Peace. Shalom. Shanti.



I have yet to define where morality comes from. Me? You? Us? Him? Her? Them? There’s a song I stream – ‘Morality is Vanity’ by Momus – and the lyrics start out like this:


Nobody is evil, nobody is good
All the guilty people have misunderstood
It’s really nothing personal
You shouldn’t blame yourself
The crimes are irreversible
The life sentence is death


But I can’t dance to it. Downer.



I’m starting a new moral universe and I need an acronym because people don’t read anymore, they just ‘thumbs up’ 👍 or ‘down’ 👎.



Although these are just notes, they do contain encrypted secrets.



In my new moral universe – FYI! – we will be commissioning a lengthy report on the disruptive potential of morality. It will be full of cute GIFs and big, big data. It will make Mr Robot look like Peppa Pig.



[Enter sponsors logo here. And here.]



Before dinner tonight I will have installed a transition team for my new moral universe. They will bear uncanny resemblances to all the great thinkers – Noam, Lindsay, Michel, Hito, Sophia – but their thoughts will have been unthinkable even a year ago. Thinking that comes from the deserts, from deep past and deep future, desert language, prophets… absolutely nothing perfunctory. I promise you with my cold dead hands.



Jeff Buckley died too young. He would have been one of the most important twenty-first century feminists ever. I saw him play in a tiny club in Glasgow. It was 1995. He covered a Cocteau Twins song. He was in a relationship with Elizabeth Fraser, the lead singer from Cocteau Twins. Love letters come in many forms. In my new moral universe, where cryogenics will be immorality-free, I’m bringing Jeff Buckley back to pen the anthem and teach young boys gender grace, not through fear, but love.



I’m starting this NMU and I will look into:

  • statutory rights for robots
  • free Ashtanga for every citizen
  • the end of money money money
  • the definitive ‘season end’ of celebrity
  • fascism detection classes
  • an algorithmic poet laureate
  • energy produced every time an emoji is used
  • 7 billion social contracts
  • and I’m crowdsourcing the rest from you. Rest assured.



We don’t know whether to think or feel. If we think too much, those who feel more than us seem to win. If we feel too much, those who think more than us win.



I took some pills to slow my mind, to go to sleep. I hope I wake in time for my new moral universe. If I don’t, then, you’re in charge.



Commissioned by Sarah Perks for Dark Habits, a companion piece to the La Movida exhibition, which took place at HOME in Manchester in 2017. “The book is also self-consciously aware of its namesake, the title and content of Pedro Almodovar’s third film Dark Habits (1983), a key figure and film associated with that time.”