Because the world needs more overwrought candour.

Wednesday, June 23, 2004

my gran is visiting from perth; sometimes i suspect she uses her poor hearing as a filter for sentences and words she doesn't feel like interacting with.


i think marriages often polarize the personalities of otherwise perfectly normal people. you agree to live together and love together and you bind the two of you into one unit and yet you are two and your differences come out in every conversation and every discussion and as the most significant other you can ever know, your talk feeds off and combats the other and your opinions and selfness become - at least in part - rejections of the other, individualisms, stubbornesses in the face of the unit of marriage. i see this in my parents, in other people; they are now more themselves than they were (more stubborn - more religious - more time concious - more vague) before marriage, before they ever encountered the other in such a significant and lasting engagement of forces.

the fields of bodies have grown since i was last here, the older mounds slumping into the earth in the quiet, final giving up to gravity and other forces, the slow folding that is universal (rotting trees, abandoned buildings), marked by plastic bouquets tipped with dew. the newer griefs are marching down the field now, in their ones and twos, followed by fresh flowers and raw tatters of soil. melbourne is hooded by grey cloud, a sombre prelude to the joy of rain.

i can't believe he's dead, the same way i can't believe in god or in the existence of sudan. i know he lies beneath my feet, i know this, but i do not know it, and i will not know it until it is my turn.

it seems like right now is a time of death; a number of my friends have recently lost someone dear, someone known and constant and loved. their griefs are fresh and raw. i can see it written in lines on their faces, in the way they look stretched.

my grief is older and calmer, more sedate. i never felt i grieved properly, kept longing to live in a place where ripping of clothing and smearing of mud on faces were methods of grieving, this baring, this rawness and exposing of our hidden true selves to the world. i wanted to keen in a pack, a group of we animals, one of those long, terrifying ululations you only hear in horror movies, a raising of voices in the eternal song of loss and refusal to submit. we did not keen. our clothes remained intact (sensible in times of adversity). we were civilised. we set the table for five for weeks until the strangeness of four settled in. we venerated his room. we shrank into ourselves. we cried sporadically and often alone and i did not cry at all (i tried), we were surrounded by friends who allowed us space and time and gave us warmth and casseroles and civility and civilisation and civilisation. we are healed now, i suppose. most (8/10? 9/10?) marriages splinter after the death of a child; my parents remains strong, but we are lessened. we are all lessened.

i wonder if we had done it another way, if we had held ourselves to the void and peered in and rejected it utterly, if we would be more than survivors.

Monday, June 14, 2004

i turned 23 on friday. twenty-fucking-three. that's mid-twenties, i think, or at least teetering on the edge of them. i don't feel 23. i don't feel the weight of experience i imagined would weigh me down and inform my decisions when i thought about it as an 18 year old.


jock and i went and saw the Aampirellas last night; he's a fan of their girl-driven rock, whereas they are definitely Not My Music. they're skilled at what they do, but i found myself watching the small crowd in distanced interest. the greyhound, st kilda is a pub in the old sense of the word. the bar is manned not by backpackers with killer hair and sass but by a forty year old woman with a worldly smile, with eyes that follow potential drunken problems as they stagger around her bar; she's a publican (i'm guessing), the owner-occupier-manager-beer pourer. her patrons ebb and flow, drinking under the disinterested gaze of the perennially bored security guard, a man whose expression has settled into a horrific mundanity. the patrons are nearly all regulars; a saturday night, a band from brisbane backed up by some new zealand stoners, and the small space gives off the illusion of fullness perhaps three times that night, the crowd surging and dying, old bikers mixing with young tradies, sad-eyed drunkards tottering towards the safety of the bathroom past horny thirty+ women looking to score. i watched the quickest seduction i've ever seen: woman, near bar, appearing to watch the band until a sharp-nosed, prematurely greying man drifts into her field of vision, provoking a quick burst of dancing (the female ruffles her plumage to impress), the male homing in after an initial appraisal. they dance quietly (a courting ritual) before he leans in to whisper a nothing and her arms rise up to enfold him and they dance and swivel and grind a little and prepare their bodies for the task ahead and i look away - a minute, perhaps less.

the band are underwhelmed by their crowd; the bar offers no stage, no dais from which to request attention. they play from the carpet, amidst the small crowd, drunks brushing past the guitarist on their pilgrimage to the urinals. the lead guitarist deserves his own note: a tiny feral with a red guitar nearly half his size, he delivers self-deprecating lines throughout the show, making his unhappiness with the size of the crowd clear; plenty of triple j airplay, the revival of rock, full-size promo posters scattered around melbourne, and perhaps thirty people in a dingy bar on a saturday night, from which only the support act and jock could be called true fans.

the guitarist breaks a string and the show stops; the singer/bassist, who delivers a knowing brand of feminism/independence breaks the pause by offering a joke. "what do you call a woman with no arms and legs?" she asks. "a damn fine fuck" - offered by a disgusting man in the audience, who snickers before retreating into his friends. she (blonde, youthful, beautiful) tries to defuse this with sideglances and nonspeak, deciding (desperation?) to offer the mike to the audience for other jokes.

men step up, some awkwardly, approaching from an angle before swerving in, one, a biker with a fine, full beard who mutters an unintelligible joke and hops away, embarrassed and pleased, a little boy. the jokes range from crude to clever, and nothing more is heard from the disgusting man in the shadows.

- the second guitarist is jesus on his second time round, reborn as a rock-messiah, rangy, shapeless, too thin, a profusion of facial hair which he uses to mask his remnant embarrassment as he cavorts and capers, leaps up on the pool table, savages his guitar in a violent, near-coital frenzy, lets his hair cover his antics and cloak his small shame which is hidden by the bursts of pleasure. he seems to be going through a protracted painful orgasm.

- jock goes up after the gig and reveals himself as the one-true-fan; the lead singer showers him in thanks and gratitude and a free tshirt and he comes away grinning and she leaves grinning and i feel almost ashamed that i did not watch much of their show, that i found them and the bar and the patrons interesting from afar, a trainee anthropologist

the image of life i keep coming back to is a bleak one; here we are, walking together down a one-way path; when one of us stumbles, another of us assists them to their feet and we continue on, negotiating hurdles, dawdling in comfortable hollows, but all the while, all the time walking towards certain oblivion. why try? why bother with the in-between?

i think the reason postmodernism/new agery/existentialism and most of their pop variants shit me is that they try and paper over the void beneath, cover up their their nihilistic origins with sophistry and word tricks, a new angle on an age-old despair, fresh paint on a ruin. these are the philosophies of our time, these are the fruits of ten thousand years of thought, these are the toys we use to give us narrative strength, life positionings.

i'm no longer catholic or christian by any measure, so i've been trying to find a new framework, one that doesn't require such a weight of belief, because i feel comfortable in frameworks, because life is understandable within frameworks, even invisible ones. but the bleakness, the nothingness, this is all that offers itself as alternative. i am familiar with death, i have seen its simplicity and complexity and horror and it is the void, it is the end of all things, it is the end of self, ego, id, i, i, i.

the newly bereaved often embrace life affirming behaviours - a quote from somewhere that found me a year afterwards, an explanation of much of me since then. i want to be intensely nownownow, to stave off thinking of the commonest horror, the greatest unseen, the mundanest of all things.

so far, lovemaking is the best solace; drugs sometimes for selfishness, a dose of chemical mayhem, but people are my real sustenance, the people i love are why i live.

Thursday, June 03, 2004

Vegetarianism: rendering horrific the ordinary

I'm well on my way to becoming vegetarian for a) economic (damn, but meat is expensive) and b) squeamish reasons. It's embarassing, but I've survived 22 years without ever really dealing with raw flesh. I remember not being able to handle the killing of a fish I'd just caught; it was up to my dad to insert his fingers into its gills and snap its neck with a quick wrench and twist; even he looked away as he did it though. I can't stand the texture, the veins, the sheer meatness of the stuff.