Lee Hawthorn

Being Human 2016: Refusing to be Realistic Preview

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According to the Being Human festival programme, ‘desire is one of the things that make us human.’ Advertisers attempt to appease desire with commodity solutions but humans have always sought to achieve and accumulate more. Back in 1516 this was named ‘utopia’ by Thomas More. Utopian desire invites us to demand what others might consider impossible. Is it, therefore, always hopelessly human to be unrealistic?

Professor John Storey, an Emeritus Professor at the University of Sunderland, will explore the concept of utopia and the practice of utopianism. You can find out more by attending the ‘Refusing To Be Realistic’ event lead by Professor John Storey in St. Andrews Church, Tuesday 22nd November 2016. The event will include an exploration of how we might distinguish between reality and the real, lead by Professor Storey, a leading researcher, writer and lecturer in his field of cultural theory and popular culture.

There is a world of people with different forms of desire. Right here in Sunderland, some may dream of playing football in the Stadium of Light, others may have the goal of graduating from the University of Sunderland. Whatever your dreams, goals or desires may be, doesn’t it sound interesting to understand the psychology behind them?

Personally, I hear the concept of utopian desire constantly. As a hip-hop obsessive I’ve noted that rap music generally follows a rags-to-riches story. Most MCs pick up the mic with the dream of ‘blowing up’ and being able to live a better quality of life than they’re used to. Stormzy tackles this concept almost directly in his breakthrough EP ‘Dreamers Disease.’ From the ostentatiously optimistic ‘Intro’ to the introspective title track, the South London artist spits bars about how much it meant to have Skepta tweeting his music, but how with his background that only means its time to work harder to be able to get to the point where he can buy a plane with a ‘why not’ mentality.

Its not just internationally renowned MCs like Stormzy who have put their utopian desires into their music. Sunderland super group New North East have also featured the concept of dreams and aspirations at the forefront of their musical releases. The intro track of Raza’s ‘Frame By Frame’ EP sees the Mackem MC dream of “trying to buy me mam a house, yeah, and me Da a new car” over an iconic Jamie XX instrumental. Raza’s bar is just one of many hope filled lyrics throughout not only the ‘Frame By Frame’ project, but the entire New North East discography.

Is hip-hop hopelessly unrealistic? I don’t think so. There are thousands of success stories surrounding people who have used hip-hop as a platfrom to achieve bigger things. From Jay Z and Dr Dre becoming multi-millionaires to Skepta and Dizzee Rascal being able to tour Grime around the world. The hopes of MCs may be perceived as unrealistic initially but there are too many examples that prove otherwise to deem hip-hop aspirations impossible.

What are your obsessions and subsequent utopian desires? Discover the psychology behind your aspirations. Explore what it means to ‘be human’ and refusing to be realistic. Register to attend the Professor John Storey lead ‘Refusing To Be Realistic’ event at St. Andrews Church on Tuesday 22nd November for free here.

 

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