…for example, motivational phrases on a health club wall:

Other examples included ‘One Last Push’, ‘Be better than you were yesterday’, ‘You’ve Got This’, ‘Make it Count’, ‘Don’t Sweat it’, ‘Sweat, Smile, Repeat’, etc. Apart from the slightly suspect other elements appearing with the text, they are basically lame motivational texts.

It’s easy to draw a comparison between elements around us which are designed to instill a sense of imperative productiveness. The deeper narrative of commands, constantly urging a kind of superficial positivity, to produce, flips it from a trite motivational message onto a kind of propaganda. Implicitly you’re not good enough as you are, then, and never will be, but ‘One Last Push’ to keep you moving along to a goal you can never achieve. ‘Make It Count’ – an order not to ‘waste’ time, constant productivity. Some of the texts are contradictory, confusing, and consequently indecisive – a microcosm of the neo-liberal condition, control, and propaganda.

Just down the road is a different kind of text:

Put side by side with the fake-positive motivation, a starker reality of failure, and another thing that is all around us. The fake emotion in the smilies, superlatives, and pathetic execution of it on cheap neon paper, the two seem to have something to say about each other – the urge to keep on, to keep producing, a kind of post modern cliche (I can hear it in Patrick Batemans voice) in the relatively fake environment of the gym (where people go to get away from all this in it’s sterile positivity) versus the demonstrable breakdown in the real world.

They seem to have an uneasy relationship with each other that everyone knows is happening but everyone ignores, an elephant in the room which seems to describe a kind of collective weariness but the Macbeth-like heroism to carry on, even with little hope currently on the table. It’s not easy to know how to feel about that.