Laughter is the Best Medicine

We’re living in pretty woeful times at the moment. Peeling back the pages of the papers is enough to make even the most hardened of cynics climb back between the sheets and write off the day. 

On Thursday last week we were supposed to go and vote “democratically” in an election that was entirely manipulated by the lies and misdirection printed in newspapers owned by 4 billionaires, and as a result have ended up yet again lauded over by a sociopathic megalomaniac who wants to nosh off McDonald Trump at first opportunity. 

Then, a decade from now, when the environment is irrevocably totalled beyond the point of no return (yep, that soon!), they’ll resign, say they tried their hardest to meet goals, shrug their shoulders, and waft off into the night to leave the rest of us to pick up the pieces of their dismal legacy. 

“Blimey, this is a bit heavy Charles!” I hear you say. “Isn’t this Noise Piece supposed to be about laughter…?”

Well yes, but please do not mistake my rant for the musings of a down and out defeatist with one foot in a rut, which is of course just a grave with the ends kicked out. Oh no! I am actually full of the joys of Spring, despite the approaching Winter Solstice.

Once you realise that mainstream media incessantly reports on all the terrible things that are happening in the world – see politics, global conflicts, acts of abuse and human rights violations – you can decide whether or not you want to let its bias get you down. Because ultimately that is its goal, to disempower you by grinding down away at your positivity till there’s nothing left but an empty, incapacitated shell. 

I’m not suggesting you stick your head under a rock and disengage entirely; you may miss the forewarning of a Russian Airstrike, or an impending Tsunami encroaching across the North Sea to the Norfolk Wash. But what might be prudent, would be to carry a large pinch of salt around with you wherever you go. 

“British humour is some of the best in the World”, a statement I have heard in far flung corners of the globe from the mouths of non-British nationals, who voraciously digest our film, television and literature. One encounter I recall was with a 70 something year old beekeeper named Goran Tyrvic on a sleepy island off the Croatian Coast, whilst on a bicycle trip for my Dad’s 60th birthday several years ago. 

The only thing which surpassed his passion for pollen was his love of ‘Only Fools & Horses’, and so we bonded over Del Boy and Rodders as he brought out a mountain of memorabilia, including a number of dolls and figurines, and the centerpiece, a scaled down Robin Reliant emblazoned with the slogan “Trotters Independent Trading Co. New York, Paris, Peckham”. We left with lots of honey, presumably made from knock of Golden Syrup and cheap sugar. 

Our humour is self-deprecating, wry, and at times depressive, yet like Del and Rodney, it’s generally accompanied by an undercurrent of resilience and, I would go so far to say, positivity. Even if it is shrouded by the weight of our domestic current affairs and global environmental crisis. 

So what point am I making? I’ve been wondering the same thing actually, I’ll get to it later on. 

In recent years the second psychedelic revolution of the modern age has been gaining pace.

The first one in the 60’s exploded and recoiled within a matter of years, most likely due to figureheads such as Timothy Leary “coming on a bit strong” for the establishment. (See the Reagan Administration’s ‘War on Drugs’ which lead many of my parent’s generation assuming that to take LSD meant you would 100% jump out of a window thinking you could fly, and short of that would certainly be committed).

In contrast, the present day iteration of this revolution is a far more considered beast. Crucially, it’s also now being backed up by science. 

So it is we see King’s College London working with some of the World’s top doctors and scientists into the potential of Psilocybin to treat depression, with astonishing results. Then closer to home our Noisily collaborators The Psychedelic Society have been campaigning for the decriminalisation of the compound, so that it might help the 264 million people who have been diagnosed with depression globally. 

Alongside these medical advancements, the growth of widespread spirituality has exploded in recent years, with people turning to meditation, yoga, breathwork, ceremony, the practices of gratitude and mindfulness, and of course the widespread use of plant medicines. 

I’ve no doubt that the internet and specifically social media has played a great part in turning what in the 60’s was an exciting if somewhat erratic counterculture, into what is now a global movement where schools of thought and modalities of healing are fusing together, presenting others with an alternate way of living which doesn’t necessarily fall within the classic constructs of our emotionally constipated society. 

The fact the ancient mystics who seeded such theory, and were chastised and belittled for doing so when the industrial revolution came about, are now being legitimised by quantum physics and spurred on by the shortcomings of the powers that be, is not just telling, but fuel to the revolution. 

Yet as the growth of spirituality has been catalysed by social media – a relationship in juxtaposition with itself given the undeniable potential for such channels to be rife with vacuity – it has prompted a generation of spiritual bypassers to broadcast their feelings, or indeed the life lessons that have just smacked them head on in the face whilst doing their morning meditation on a permaculture farm in Portugal, to anyone with a screen. 

Worse, is that when they do so they employ a lexicon of buzzwords that seem to be strung together in avoidance of actually writing a coherent sentence. 

What they say: “I woke this morning filled with gratitude for the transformational experience that is this life, as I journey through alone, yet together, in pieces, complete, surrounded by love, by spirit, holding space, trusting the process, belonging in the unknown, manifesting my reality, looking to Gaia for inspiration, for grounding. She guides me on my quest and reminds me that we are one.”

What they mean:  “I woke up this morning after a really great sleep, and thought to myself, isn’t life great. Of course it has its ups and downs, and there have been a fair few recently, but I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by people who love me, and I trust them to be there to support me when I’m feeling down, and also in their discretion to keep these private matters to themselves. 

Nature helps too, and I find it very relaxing to be around, and I’m grateful to have this opportunity to be here in Portugal and learn about how to create flourishing ecosystems on a local scale.” 

Who they told: Their “Followers”. 

Who they should have told: Their best friends and family; the people with whom they have a bond that has formed over their entire lives, from genuine three dimensional human connection. 

So what is my point? Don’t worry, I’m getting closer to it…

It is so important to share one’s emotions and feelings, in fact it may well be the most important responsibility as a human to normalise this practice, and most difficult, which is why so many find it far easier to wage war, both figuratively and literally, than stand in their authenticity and share. 

But there is a time (WHENEVER you need emotional support) and a place, and here I must make it absolutely clear that whilst social media and the internet has the potential to do great things, the way the algorithms are currently designed are breeding an unhealthy obsession with presenting an alternate life for those “followers” to see. 

To a not insignificant extent it has also hijacked the spiritual and psychedelic revolution, and ironically begun to turn a welcoming community into an alienating one. (It has also done far worse in providing a platform for racism, sexism, homophobia, terrorism and much more, and this recent speech by Sasha Baron Cohen explains that far better than I could hope to). 

To explain this, I’ll share the experience of a friend who had begun to grow out of his conditioning, and look toward a more holistic lifestyle that would complement his “normal life”. Yet the people he came across on social media, fell into the bypassing bracket, and so he felt unable to assimilate what he was seeing and apply it effectively to his life for fear of it feeling contrived. 

Of course it isn’t all like this, not by a long shot, and I am happy to report that there are plenty of people who, like me, are spiritually inclined, yet in a pragmatic way, and benefit from engaging with such information without having a spiritual orgasm and hitting the broadcast button. 

It’s also never one size fits all, as with anything, and if someone finds comfort or genuine meaning in a way of living, being and communicating, then all power to them. We must however be aware of people who think they have the answer, finding people who are desperately looking for one, and inducting them into an unhealthy school of thought as it were. 

So here’s my point, finally…

In the light of all the very serious things going on in the world at the moment; the dia current affairs and the impending environmental catastrophe (which of course should be taken seriously), remember to make room for humour and laughs. 

This is exactly why, at Noisily, that whilst we write very seriously about topics such as gender equality in electronic music, the environment, and race in festival culture, we also make room for lighter hearted pieces that mock the absurdity of these situations. They DO NOT mock the situations themselves, and that is the common misunderstanding of satire. 

In the past year, amongst others, we’ve published Noise Pieces detailing our imminent shut down due to a hostile takeover of the yoghurt industry by the Chinese, because our generators run on bio-yoghurt… 

A Mind Body Soul super attraction that involved being hog tied and dunked into a hot tub filled with stewing Iboga root… 

An intention to make the festival entirely beat free by 2021, with the Treehouse Stage (home to Bass Music) made into a spoken word venue hosted by Sandy Totsvig and Esther Ransen…

AND, a Psyber Monday Deal wherein you could purchase your festival ticket for 10% MORE than other ticket buyers just to make sure you got your money’s worth. 3 people did so…

So if you do stumble across one of these articles en route to Noisily next July, remember that pinch of salt you’re carrying, and that laughter really is the best medicine.

Charles, co-founder at Noisily Festival

P.S. In the New Year we will be telling you more about our plans for our new Noise Makers Network for 2020 and beyond. The idea is to take the discussions about the more serious challenges facing our planet and society beyond the woods, and inspire positive change through peaceful protest and affirmative action. 

P.P.S. From everyone at Noisily we wish you a Merry Christmas, and we’ll be running a competition on Christmas Day for some festive yuletide prizes. Stay tuned!