Saturday, September 26, 2009

Grim IV

Jason McGathry is a fuckwit, but he’s a fuckwit with a pool table so they all seem to let him hang around. Personally, I like going to dark pubs if I’m to play pool. It’s not often that I get the desire, but when I do it feels more right to do it in a huge room that smells of beer and cheap women than in a place that is vacuumed twice a week and has a lampshade in the shape of a Hawaiian dancer. We make it out into the parking lot, where there is no big fight with Sam, and all pile into different cars. Jan and Francis are catching a lift with us and unconsciously reserve the front seat for Samantha as we wait for her to stop negotiating with the others over who will pick up what from where. I realize that as I look over them I wouldn’t recognize their names even if Samantha had told them to me.

“Are we off?” I ask as Sam approaches. I know she hates obvious silence breaking questions, but I figure that she owes me.


We all piled into the car and made our way across town. Melbourne is pretty, all in all, but it's like civilisation was dropped from a great height upon the Yarra. With a mighty, but well contained culture splash the CBD sprung up like priest's erection in church. It's national significance may be under debate but it certainly is frequented by a trendy swath of our residents. They live in refurbished office apartments that have been hollowed out and redecorated to allow them to feel like new yorkers. The splash came down hard in areas like Brunswick and St Kilda covering these inner suburbs with a combination of trendy and derelict. The splash died early on the flatlands to the west and rolled south to the sea, dribbling along the Great Ocean Road. But as the ever widening circle of immigrant clusters slowly jumped its way eastward from suburb to suburb towards the rural dream that they heard of in their home countries, one ethnic group vacating an area only to be replaced by the next in line, the resulting waves rippled outwards getting softer and softer. Jazz clubs turn into pubs which turn into sports bars which turn into pokies venues. At the very edge of what you could reasonably call Melbourne where only the very young home owners or the very old farmers live there is a void. I'm not too sure what it's devoid of but I know that I sense it whenever I wander the shake-and-bake housing complexes of Carolyn Springs or the dirges of Frankston.

We made our way through the city on a road that circumsected the city like a virtual arterial. We could drive from the heart of Melbourne to Sydney without using an indicator. But we're only going to be on this road for a while eventually we would have turned off into a seemingly random suburb and park in a seemingly random driveway. The others were chatting about a new book that was advertised on Oprah - goliath of a woman. Some people seem to begat industries and she is such a woman.

I’m not sure at which point in the argument about whether the Oprah was smarter when she was fat or now that she’s thin the shit brown 1996 corolla smashed into the side of our car and caused us to spin out of control across the three lane highway, but what I can say is that Jan continued to talk right up to the moment of impact. The crash caused all the windows on that side of the car to smash instantly and in unison. We were all thrown around our seats like rag dolls tied to a centrifuge as the car hit the median strip and began to topple over and over onto the opposite side of the highway. The entire event happened as if in slow motion yet I was strangely calm about the whole matter. In fact I distinctly remember being upside down at one point looking over into Sam’s rolling fearful eyes and thinking that this would mean we’d be the last to choose from the good pool cues. We smashed up against the other side of the highway, the sounds of crunching glass, metal and microfibre replaced by the sounds of squealing brakes and women.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Making Dynamic Love with a Carving Knife

Love is a strange thing.

It's especially strange when you're the kind of person who cuts preferentially away from the soul using Ockham's Razor. Once you're done slicing a person up into a pile of least assumptions, all that you're left with is the physical body and the mind that is fired off within it. Even the mind can be cut away, and rightfully should be, but in the context of this argument it makes more sense to leave it whole for a while. This is because love is a verb: you love someone, you love their body, you love their mind, you might even love their soul if you believed that it existed.

Imagine that a person who has cut down to the mind and body loved someone so much that they lived with them, that they identified with them, and then one day after some kind of toxic shock, stroke, or other mental trauma their partner's personality entirely changed. Their partner was no longer the same person in all observable aspects other than their body. The mind is different, but the body is the same. Would this person still identify with their partner, would they still live with them? In the case that they did continue to live and love their partner, it seems that you could reasonably say that their relationship was rather superficial, after all it seems obvious that what our person loved wasn't their partners personality as they continued to love unabated after the mind that they were familiar with disappeared. At the same time, the moral of the story resists the nobility of leaving ones partner in a time of stress. That said, we're quite happy with the idea that someone may leave their partner if "they're not the person that they married", and conversely again we resist the idea that we'd leave someone because they became disfigured in an accident. These moral considerations of the loss of mind or body are causing a degree of havoc for those who make love with a carving knife.

Maybe the problem lies in that we haven't carved finely enough. We've allowed the mind to stick around as a separate entity too long – after all isn't the mind is a function of body? But even this doesn't solve the problem acceptably, because if our protagonist really identified with his partner and fell in love with that body, mind and soul as a single sleek object then any significant change in any of these functions would cause our subject to view their partner with a degree of criticism and loss.

All these thoughts have lead me to sleepless nights as I've stood over my sleeping partner with Ockham's carving knife in my hand observing that more that I make judgements like "a body with an eternal soul that we can not detect, measure or identify has riskier assumptions than a body without a soul that ends upon death" or "a mind being the result of the body and it's experiences is less philosophically daring than a mind being the result of itself with its own ability to generate original thoughts" the more I find myself cutting into her, watching her degrade before my eyes from a complicated holistically loved person to a pile of least assumptions each with it's own risk of change and loss. I then realised that I've got one more cut to make. "A love that is static and materially idealises a person, regardless of how many pieces they are chopped into, requires many more prepositions and complications than a love that is dynamic and is as much about being loved back than it is about loving."

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Grim III

The Last Event was still a couple of hours away so I went to the bar to buy another round of drinks. I had to push my way through the room, most people gave way but a few had to be maneuvered around. As I walked I wondered what it’d be like to just flip out and punch someone. I’m a great daydreamer - if I’m bored, sitting in a doctors surgery or waiting on the train I find myself entering an argument with an absent friend or imagining what it’d be like if I randomly punched someone in the crowd. The thing is that some of the time, I’m not the hero of my imaginings. If I had smacked a poor drunken loser who was too busy gesticulating to see that I was trying to make my way through then he’d most likely fall broken and bloody on the floor. But his mates would rush me - one would collide into my chest and push me back into the crowd while the other would run around looking for an opportunity to get a good one in. I’d be down on the ground trying to defend my face as the crowd would part and circle around like seagulls on a small boy holding sauce blooded chips. They’d squawk and chant as his second friend would back away to let it be a fair fight, besides it looked like I was getting the worst of it anyway. Perhaps I’d see Sam’s excited but disappointed eyes as the huge lad sat on my chest and pummeled me. Perhaps she’d dump me, perhaps I’d be able to get out of here.

I loaded the drinks onto a tray and carried them over to the table, carefully navigating past a gorilla in a fifty dollar suit flinging his arms about as he explained why Donnie Darko was the best movie ever made. I nearly turned back to fulfill my pummeling fantasy but then cowardice got the better of me and I continued on to our table. Sam smiled up at me as I put down the jug, and handed out Lemon, Lime and Bitters to those whom I knew weren’t drinking. She liked it when I played the big man and bought everyone drinks but I hate it because I felt like was buying into a dying image. I sat next to her but her attention was back on the track. In my absence she’d somehow managed to place another large bet on a trifecta. I put the remains of our winnings on the table, and wondered what it’d be like if she dumped me after a huge screaming match in the parking lot.

“You’re fucking insane, it’s just a fucking movie!”

“Hey, you always fantasize about those trade-y wife-beater assholes and now that I finally act like one you go all crazy”

“Oh don’t you fucking turn this on me, this isn’t what I wanted. You’re so anally fucking repressed it’s surprising you didn’t crack years ago!”

“Crack! I haven’t cracked, I’m just obeying the idiotic trans-fucking-dimensional representation of a psychotic bunny!”

“Fuck you, just… fuck you.”

“God, I hate that movie.”

After going to the hospital to have myself checked out, I’d go back to my apartment and wonder at how easy it was to separate her from my life. It’s strange that after four years of dating we never even moved in together. I’d look around my three room unit and mentally count the number of things that she left in my apartment. A toothbrush, a single lost sock and the Director’s Cut of Saving Private Ryan.

“You okay?” Samantha was tearing up a betting slip.

I grunted in a smiling way and put my hand on her leg.

“I don’t like it when you get that look on your face.”

“What look?”

“That one, the one like you’re arguing with yourself. All of your terrible ideas come from that look.” Her friends laugh and the conversation moves on. We’re running low on money, so they all suggest that we head back to Jason’s house to play pool. They all stand up to leave and I glance over to the untouched jug of beer. It looks like I’m going to miss the Last Event this time, but at this stage in the proceedings I’m too far gone to care.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Demonic Paradise

I've always liked many facets of the Hindu religious subculture, I just wish I didn't sound so incredibly like a demon to them. Even their idea of punishment of being thrown into the ocean of material existance to attain repeated birth among the species of demonic life doesn't sound so bad to me.

With only a few expections, I've seriously never read a broadscale summary of my thoughts written so well as below.

"Those who are demoniac do not know what is to be done and what is not to be done. Neither cleanliness nor proper behavior nor truth is found in them.

They say that this world is unreal, with no foundation, no God in control. They say it is produced of sex desire and has no cause other than lust. Following such conclusions, the demoniac, who are lost to themselves and who have no intelligence, engage in unbeneficial, horrible works meant to destroy the world. Taking shelter of insatiable lust and absorbed in the conceit of pride and false prestige, the demoniac, thus illusioned, are always sworn to unclean work, attracted by the impermanent.

They believe that to gratify the senses is the prime necessity of human civilization. Thus until the end of life their anxiety is immeasurable. Bound by a network of hundreds of thousands of desires and absorbed in lust and anger, they secure money by illegal means for sense gratification. The demoniac person thinks: "So much wealth do I have today, and I will gain more according to my schemes. So much is mine now, and it will increase in the future, more and more. He is my enemy, and I have killed him, and my other enemies will also be killed. I am the lord of everything. I am the enjoyer. I am perfect, powerful and happy. I am the richest man, surrounded by aristocratic relatives. There is none so powerful and happy as I am. I shall perform sacrifices, I shall give some charity, and thus I shall rejoice."

In this way, such persons are deluded by ignorance. Thus perplexed by various anxieties and bound by a network of illusions, they become too strongly attached to sense enjoyment and fall down into hell. Self-complacent and always impudent, deluded by wealth and false prestige, they sometimes proudly perform sacrifices in name only, without following any rules or regulations.

Bewildered by false ego, strength, pride, lust and anger, the demons become envious of the Supreme Personality of Godhead, who is situated in their own bodies and in the bodies of others, and blaspheme against the real religion. Those who are envious and mischievous, who are the lowest among men, I perpetually cast into the ocean of material existence, into various demoniac species of life. Attaining repeated birth amongst the species of demoniac life, O son of Kunti, such persons can never approach Me.

Gradually they sink down to the most abominable type of existence. There are three gates leading to this hell-lust, anger and greed. Every sane man should give these up, for they lead to the degradation of the soul. The man who has escaped these three gates of hell, O son of Kunti, performs acts conducive to self-realization and thus gradually attains the supreme destination. He who discards scriptural injunctions and acts according to his own whims attains neither perfection, nor happiness, nor the supreme destination. One should therefore understand what is duty and what is not duty by the regulations of the scriptures. Knowing such rules and regulations, one should act so that he may gradually be elevated."

Bhagavadgita Ch16.1-22

Monday, August 10, 2009


Let's talk about happy things for a while. I always seem to tetter on the manically depressive when I write, which might be viewed as strange because that's not how I see myself at all. I've always been rather proud of my optimism, as if it's an achievement to be touted. I always endeavour to see the best in people, and I strongly oppose the IT driven philosophy that everyone in the world is stupid, present company always excepted of course. I believe that Global Warming will not be our end, and that everyone has the capacity for love. I have seen beauty in simple things and laughed along with anyone who will join me. Yet if I actually try to put any of my thoughts to paper and I'll come up with something like:

The life of us is limited to our smile
But suddenly a great pause
Settles over our lives
As if we've run into a dark room

Where yellow bubbles are floating to their brains
Y-shaped glasses and X-shaped women
Discuss their work, their children and their books

But the phone rings once and it's gone

The glasses are dropped and the women grow fat
The sounds of traffic and music are stopped
We fall in its softness and be alone

While freshly cut tears are taped to power poles
And the skid marks are washed away in the rain

So I hereby make a pledge: With the exception of the Grim short story that I'm posting (which is already far by gone pretty depressing), I shall put enough effort into my posts so as to shine an optimistic light. It shouldn't be too difficult, should it?
I think I'll start in my next post. Well, maybe the post after next.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

I've stopped reading so much as late and I think that might be why I'm writing a lot less. I used to want to be a poet, or a writer. I used to want to be Bukowski. I've found myself thinking less and less nowadays.

I've found myself settling into the day to day effort of waking up in the morning, going to work and trying to win fictional prizes then going home. I'm going to Singapore in September where there will be five days of training, marketing advice, presentations (including a couple that I will have to run) and product releases. The brand in question has a sales target of around half a million dollars every year, and that is just one of my smaller brands. Every day, I struggle to push these products into the mindset of our sales team so they sell my products as well as the three hundred thousand other products that they've got available to them. Last year, I only hit 91% of my sales target. This year, I'm already 40% behind where I should be.

When I first arrived in my customer service role, three years ago, I wrote a poem about my co-workers, the first stanza says:

The grey single silent seconds
Has glazed the eyes of the worker many
They measure their successes by their heartbeat
If it stops, they lose

I've found that I've become so wrapped up in my fictional prizes of sales targets, inventory targets and potential wage increases that I've literally become what I hated. This is an idea that scares me.

There is a concept that I like to think about when people talk about feminism. I see the great success of feminism was that it broke women from their traditional gender roles. Women were to be born pretty, marry young and bare many children for the rest of their lives. When women broke away from this role they were able to fight for more equitable rights. I see that by doing so, they also aided men in breaking away from their own gender roles. Men were to be born strong, get a good job, and provide for the family for the rest of their lives. This has led to a stereotype-full of men living miserably - stuck in dead end jobs with dead end conclusions.

Every time I think about my new fictional prizes, every time I think about how I'm writing less, that I'm reading less, that I'm thinking less, I can't help but feel that I've got my fingers on my wrist measuring my heartbeat as I fulfil some kind of traditional gender role.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Grim II

Samantha is a marvelous person really and most of the time we get along brilliantly. She's the only person I've ever dated that I don't feel that I have to chatter at constantly, perhaps trying to fill the silence so that I never have to know that we have nothing to talk about. Sam and I have never needed anything to talk about. We met through some friends at a party I can't remember why I was there as I don't particularly like them. Now, years later, they've been long since relegated to "her friends" rather than "our friends". Regardless I did find myself, that many years ago, leaning up against the weatherboard lined banister of a backyard porch nursing a warm beer that had only managed to kiss the ice in the bath tub before it was removed and passed out to the surge of newcomers. It was a housewarming, or a going away party, even then I wasn't sure. There were large groups of people that were coagulating in popular gathering areas like the kitchen, or in the middle of the hallway, leaving the living room relatively empty. I was wondering why people tend to gather in such places and what it was about those places what made them so "gatherable" when I was awoke from my revere by a scream and laughter. Sam was down on the lawn play fighting with a couple of the other guys, it seemed so reckless and stupid to me at the time. I couldn't admit how much watching her pin some guy turned me on because I was vitally aware of how vitally aware she was of every single guy watching her. I was disgusted and walked away.

No, I didn’t particularly like her when I first met Sam and I liked her friends even less. They were the social types - they went to gatherings and organized theme nights. They dressed up and talked about football, they discussed politics but religion was an unspoken taboo. They were bright eyed and intellectual but they were dull mouthed and went to great lengths to ensure that they never said anything that was in any way controversial. They were beautiful cowards.

I found myself at the front of the line and the lady behind the glass was looking at me expectantly, I gave her my winning ticket. For some reason at that moment I almost expecting her to curse my luck, as if it were her money personally, but she barely registered my existence as she gathered the thirty dollars winnings and handed it over. She didn’t call for the next person, she didn’t ask if there was anything else she could help me with - she simply starred at me with sardonic eyes waiting for me to step sideways.