“In America camping is considered a healthy sport for Boy Scouts but a crime for mature men who have made it their vocation. — Poverty is considered a virtue among the monks of civilised nations -- in America you spend a night in the calaboose if youre caught short without your vagrancy change.”
‘The Vanishing American Hobo’ from Lonesome Traveler
Such are the themes discussed in my book in progress, a study made all the more pertinant by my recent decision to downsize my own lifestyle and devote more time to writing. Coincidently, my wife Angela is also addressing these themes in her current book in progress, Windows, an autobiographical tale of obsession and surveillance. Bettie passes Angela’s writing window most days but we also frequently encounter her tramping around the neighbourhood. We don’t know if she has a home to return to, as although we talk to her, she has few words of English, neither do we know if she tramps out of choice or necessity.
Homelessness, joblessness, poverty, isolation, vagabondage, etc., can be both cause and effect of the subject under discussion. And if it’s tough these days for those who choose poverty as a lifestyle, how much tougher for those who have poverty thrust upon them—those who, like Yosser Hughes in my last post, attempt to end their life rather than face a life without work, partner, kids, home, and ultimately one’s own identity. For the millions of people today facing the personal catastrophe of joblessness, homelessness and loss of self—all because of the personal greed of those who already had more than is dignified—society itself must change.
|'No direction home'|
The diminishing number of those who reject society for a more ‘real’ experience (the tramp), are lately having their ranks swelled by those who reject society for political and ideological reasons (pitching their tents outside St Paul’s, the New York Stock Exchange and other public and private spaces), and increasingly, those rejected by Governments in their belief that sacking thousands from their jobs will help to fix — what? The economy stupid! The more society attempts to force it’s citizens to conform and fit in with its bankrupt rules and prohibitions, particularly when it demonstrates that rules of acceptable behaviour do not apply to those in power themselves, the more likely it is that many of those citizens will start to find ways of occupying their own space, in the edges or even outside the margins of society altogether.