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Exactly what it looks like

It’s exactly what it looks like—it always is. You can tell whether you like someone within three seconds of meeting them—so the date, the job interview, and so on are mostly just agreeing about what has already been decided. It’s the same here—and I say that as a skinhead (an emergent skinhead, I didn’t plan it this way—to create a certain impression); by which I mean, I’m a skinhead and I have what most people would call far-right views (the stereotype was correct, more or less).

Boomers will tell you not to “generalise”—“That’s a bit of a generalisation you’ve made there,” my male Boomer relatives say to me, with disapproval. They say that because they grew up on the cosy indoctrination you see in this film. Isn’t the announcer, the narrator, so warm and authoritative—just like gently warmed buttermilk, or like a smooth whisky (it makes your heart glow—with moral righteousness)? We’re in the nursery here, the nursery for adults—and we’re here to learn not to judge people by appearances.

“Don’t judge a book by its cover”—surely that’s old advice, we can trust that. Actually, it only goes back to The Mill on the Floss (1860) by George Eliot; and it was popularised in its current form in the 1940s. Who said “don’t judge a book by its cover”? A woman—and it’s a very feminine sentiment, for women resent above all to be “judged by their covers” (though they like it when you do it anyway). Not to judge a book by its cover is essential for sisterly equality.

So it’s safe to say that you should judge a book by its cover. “Well, he is a skinhead but I wouldn’t necessarily say he thinks eugenics is real and goes on and on about ‘Aryanism’ all the time.” Oh? And yet the Boomers have been indoctrinated—by that rich, reassuring voice from “the Greatest Generation”, by “granpaw” effectively—into the view that there are many perspectives and that things are “not always what they seem” (like quantum physics, right?—yes, that was another thing the Boomers grew up with, The Tao of Physics; everything’s relative, perspectival—and Nietzsche had permeated primary school by then).

So they can’t help themselves—at a time when TV was total, limited to a few channels, the Boomers were inculcated with atomistic individualism. “I just see individuals, I don’t see races—mustn’t generalise.” I don’t think they really believe this is so or act like it—but they’ll definitely say it, they think it’s normative (never to see “types”, of any kind—“I don’t stereotype”). After all, that hypnotic nursery voice reassured them…don’t leap to conclusions, don’t be instinctive and intuitive (like the Nazis)—try to understand, take in other perspectives, use critical thinking (remember the parallax view—hit film at the time, with a liberal twist).

It’s the opposite, of course—it’s always exactly what it looks like. The struggle is actually to retain what you thought in the first 3 seconds—it is too easily overwritten by the internal monologue, rationalisations, and by defence mechanisms. If you like someone, you like them in the first three seconds and you basically like them forever—except people get lost in the subsequent rationalisation and when they “fall out” it’s usually due to a mutually created illusion.

Genius is about loyalty to the “3-second view”. “Why did he steal the old gentleman’s attaché case?” “Because he’s a skinhead from the early 1980s who listens to Oi! music, wears bovver boots, and likes to put a brick through the Patels’ window (Paki-bashing).” “Oh. Yes. It makes sense now you say it.”

Genius is not about novelty, it’s about the ability to see what is obviously there but is occluded by the social dance and “reason”—science is similar, and it’s similar because it depersonalises things and then only watches their behaviour without the “fuzz” of commentary; and the answer then always seems “so simple, when you say it”—and yet it is always so hard to see. The video above is pure commentary, both in its spoken narrative and in its visual construction.


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