by Kara-Leah Grant
If you prefer video over reading, click here to jump to the end and watch my video review of Revolution. The article doesn’t review the book so much as give relevant background.
Russell Brand first entered my consciousness when I saw a clip of him via Facebook being interview on MSNBC (below).
In the eight minute interview, he reduced one female interviewer to a quivering heap of hormones with his mere presence while stepping outside the proscribed boundaries of a celebrity interview and pointing out the objectification of his being contrasted with the states of the mass media in the 21st century, obsessed as it is with superficial distractions while Rome burns, as it were.
It was an astounding performance.
Not least because he was bang on with his observations, yet managed to maintain a sense of decorum and, most of all, humour, while the hosts acted like total prats.
I was enthralled.
There’s something about celebrities ‘breaking the reality wall’ live on camera that excites me. That the celebrity in question is a charming, funny, intelligent, wordy and cocky man my own age made it all the more exciting.
I began to click on any Russell Brand interview that appeared in my feed. And I wasn’t disappointed.
There he was with Jeremy Paxman discussing the nature of fame and standing before a Parliamentary Select Committee sharing his personal experience of drug addiction while advocating for the change of drug laws.
Here was a man saying in a public forum all the things I felt to be true, and getting away with it. And it seemed that along the way, after he kicked that drug addiction, he’d also developed a serious yoga and meditation practice.
Who the hell was this guy?
I knew vaguely that he’d been married to Katy Perry, but I wasn’t really sure who she was either. Such is the nature of living a life with no TV or newspapers and relying solely on my Facebook feed to keep me informed.
Now, after reading two of his books, and watching screeds of his interviews and episodes of Trews News, I have a very clear idea of who this guy is.
Russell Brand is a man who found life excruciatingly painful as he was growing up, and so sought to escape and medicate himself any way he could.
He used food. He used drugs. He used woman (and oh how many women). He found fame and fortune and love. And along the way he discovered that none of these substances or experiences could shift the underlying angst and suffering he experienced as a human being.
Then he found meditation and yoga – Transcendental meditation and Kundalini Yoga to be exact. And, just like he has with food, drugs, women and fame, he immersed himself whole-heartedly and gorged on the experience. The only difference this time is being addicted to meditation and yoga does funny things to your consciousness and paradoxically becomes the addiction to end all addictions.
In this addiction, you realise that everything is temporary, you are not who you thought you were, and reality is not what you thought it was.
Russell has had these realisations.
And now he’s taken them – those realisations of oneness and unity and consciousness shifting – and stirred them into a book about the bollocks of our current political and social system while outlining other ways that we could collectively organise ourselves so we could all have a jolly good time on this planet. Rather than fucking it up completely and making ourselves extinct within the next 100 years or so that is.
Even better, the entire book, Revolution, is a direct response to an interview with Jeremy Paxman about a year ago when Russell was calling bollocks on the entire system, proudly stating he doesn’t vote because there isn’t anyone worth voting for because they’re all propping up the same Corporate Hegemony and calling for a revolution. (Earlier interviews show Russell calling for a sexual revolution, at the height of his sexual addiction. Now he’s progressed into consciousness and politics).
Paxman was not impressed.
You don’t vote! While saying the system sucks! That’s inconsistent old boy, if you’re not going to vote, how dare you have any political opinion! And if you’re going to say the current system sucks, well then what would you suggest instead? How should we do things?
I’m paraphrasing of course, and letting my class system bias hang out everywhere as I write that in a faux toffy accent.
But that was the gist of the interview, and Russell, bless him, must have thought:
Sod it then, I’ll write a bloody book and tell you how we could do things!
Of course, as Russell points out, there are far more brilliant minds than his that have been contemplating the organising of society for years and coming up with all kinds of alternative systems.
Problem is, the old system is so entrenched and works so damn well for those at the time controlling it, that those new ones – which could likely work a whole lot better if you care about things like loving the environment, sharing wealth more equally, looking after societies most vulnerable members and housing, healthing and schooling everyone – often don’t get a look in.
And this is where Russell comes in.
He’s brilliant at catching and holding people’s attention, so he’s using that talent and taking the attention he’s caught and held and saying.
‘Go one, have a look at this then.’
He helps that he’s got some half-decent connections after being famous for the last twenty years or so. Noam Chomksy shows up, as does John Rodgers and Naomi Klein and David Graeber.
But beyond the exploration of alternative ways of organising society, Russell does something sneaky. And this is why I love the man and what he’s up to.
He weaves in poetic descriptions of the nature of reality and suggests that yes, we better take concrete action out there in the world to make a better world. But raising our consciousness and coming from a place of love, kindness and compassion is just as important. He almost suggest that waking up will save us… while we’re also taking direct action as well of course.
This is what I find fascinating.
No other thinker on modern problems dares weave into the nature of reality and a shift of consciousness in such a bold and matter of fact manner. For example, something I used to point out when this song was number one for a stupid number of weeks in the early ’90s, here’s an observation about the nature of reality that yoga and Buddhism both explore.
We’re all doing the same thing, dreaming the same dream, in the words of Belinda Carlise, who also said. ‘Heaven is a place on earth’, by which she might’ve meant that the concept of a divine realm is not in the hereafter but present now as a realm of being, achieved when we look beyond our material parameters and individualistic desires….
The only meaningful interpretation of any religious teaching is to honour the divine within ourselves and love the divine in one another.
To disavow the individualistic, materialistic evangelism of our age and serve that which transcends these lowly impulses. – Russell Brand ‘Revolution’.
Russell has no qualms about serving up those kind of bold proclamations. And the fact that he, a long-time famous, funny man with numerous addictions and personality flaws, is now ‘waking up’ to the inherent nature of reality, and doing his best to be a better man… well if he can, surely everyone can?
At least that’s how I feel.