Monday, September 06, 2004

Dear Bill

I don't think it's embarassing at all that you made your drawings in a mental hospital. I'll tell you what, there's probably a large percentage of artists and writers who would love to be able to admit that they had spent time in a mental hospital. It's a well-known fact that much of the world's powerful, visionary, and timeless art was made by people who had mental problems. And even you have written yourself that mental illness can give a man a rich world of visions and ideas to write down, or draw. Did you write something like that or did I imagine it? Either way, it's true. Anyway, I've always admired people who have written or drawn or made things as a way to ease the torment in their heads. It's like a pressure valve. Creating in this way is not only good because it brings interesting art into the world, it's also beneficial for the man with his 'madness'. I understand this not from some removed point of view, but from my own experience in this respect. The world of art (mostly writing, for me) is perhaps the greatest comfort in those times of deepest torment; those dark nights of the soul. That's also why the best art comes from pain and torment, and not joy and a comfortable life, with a stable, well-behaved brain.

Thursday, September 02, 2004

Personal Book II

Posted by Hello
On these pages are some Australian stamps; some information about the Durham Cathedral 'Sanctuary Knocker' (the knocker was probably used by those seeking sanctuary. These fugitives from the law were allowed to take sanctuary and confess their crimes. They were then allowed to travel to a port and leave the country without fear of arrest); there's an address for a zine called 'Spaghetti Dinner and Dancing' which I liked the name of but never got around to writing to; some drawings by comics artists Ricko and David Miller; movie tickets for X-Men 2, Phone Booth and The Core; a diary entry where I went and bought a copy of the Good News Bible and noticed a sales chart of the 1oo Best Selling Books and noted that the Bible was #9 (Harry Potter was #1); a news clipping about a 57-year-old man whose house was searched and they found 2000 photos of dead people. The photos were believed to have been taken in a London hospital mortuary where the same year the family of a Muslim woman found her body covered with slices of bacon - an affront to Islamic culture. There is also a Ren (from Ren & Stimpy) tattoo and a Manga-style picture I cut from a free street magazine. There is also a note I made that I had just heard on the radio (11:15am 25 May 2003) that a woman was found "wrapped in plastic" somewhere in South Australia.

Personal Book I

Personal Book Posted by Hello
I found out how to post pictures! You may laugh, but for me it's exciting and new. So anyway, this is a picture of some pages from my personal book that I have been working on for three or four years now. You can see pictures of Martin Landau, Roy Orbison, an ad for Ghost World, a Thomas Pynchon article (which I clipped because it revealed that Pynchon has done no interviews and allowed no current pictures and that almost nothing is known about his life after 1959), and a description of a museum exhibition of music - this part is about "The Darkside". e.g."While entering the Romantic exhibition would be uplifting, the Darkside would present a feeling of going down." It is a mystery how this information came to me. Well, on these pages are also transcriptions of a couple of dreams I had, along with a quote from Automated Unit 3947 from Voyager: "According to my observations, there is now sufficient reason for greater optimism." Which I thought was amusing, since most of the time - as far as I'm concerned - the opposite appears to be the case.

Thursday, July 29, 2004

I'm Back Again

I'm back again. I'll probably write in here for a week then disappear again. That's OK. But this time I'll try not to alienate any of my friends. Wait. I guess there's no danger of that because I don't have any anymore. Well I have one, but he got a new girlfriend, so I probably won't see him again. Oh well. I'll try to find some interesting things to write about, which won't be easy because my life is uneventful these days. I'm kind of in a rut. (Kind of?) I do the same things all the time. Well, not exactly the same things. But mostly. Anyway, we'll see what happens.

Tuesday, July 27, 2004

Night With Theresa

I had quite a mad night, an eventful night last Friday night. Anders had invited me over so I took my bicycle to work and rode over there at the end of the workday. He's staying at his boss's place in Redfern again. He used to live in the swimming pool there a while back. He's not in the swimming pool anymore, but sort of building a little room out the back of the house (it's quite a mad, strange house..) So I went out there and we played some CDs and had some ciders, and played the drums (he recently bought a drumkit. It's great, I've always wanted to play drums. I'm getting pretty good at it.) We were slowly getting happier and sillier. Then he asked me if I didn't mind his girl friend (Cheryl) coming over, I said, "Hell no, that's alright." She's Aboriginal - a big, Gothic-looking Aboriginal woman. She's a social worker and lives down in Nowra but regularly comes into the city to visit friends/family in Redfern I think. So she was OK, and interesting to talk to, for the most part. Then Theresa came over. I'd met her once before there. Theresa is, uh, it's probably too simple to cal her mad, although she kind of is. It's also hard to follow what she's talking about, but I found her fascinating. Actually, I really fell under her spell. Anders and Cheryl were in another part of the house, and all of a sudden Theresa and I were hugging each other. I told her I wanted to kiss her. I must have been quite drunk by that time. I guess she didn't want to get into the kissing stuff, but that was OK. I just remember thinking, "Well, she's holding me and can feel my body, I'm probably not as big and muscular as she had hoped." Or something like that. We sat down, then got up and hugged some more. It was very strange. Soon after that Anders and Cheryl returned and everything went back to normal. It was about 4.30am by that time so I decided I had better get going home, so I announced to everybody that I was going. In fact, Theresa left at that time too, and got in her car ready to drive away. I pedalled off on my bicycle, all over the street. I kept looking back to see if Theresa was driving up, and I was kind of glad I made it to the end of the street before she drove up that far. I turned the corner and pedalled homewards, having to close one eye, I was really seeing double. I swear I almost hit half a dozen poles on the way home. I had to slow right down a few times, that's how drunk I was. It was cold too, but I was more worried about hitting something. Well, I got home safely and went straight to bed and fell asleep immediately.

Monday, April 12, 2004

Easter Story

Since it's Easter, and tonight I read this wonderful Easter story by Chekhov, I wanted to share it.

The Student by Anton Chekhov

AT first the weather was fine and still. The thrushes were calling, and in the swamps close by something alive droned pitifully with a sound like blowing into an empty bottle. A snipe flew by, and the shot aimed at it rang out with a gay, resounding note in the spring air. But when it began to get dark in the forest a cold, penetrating wind blew inappropriately from the east, and everything sank into silence. Needles of ice stretched across the pools, and it felt cheerless, remote, and lonely in the forest. There was a whiff of winter.

Ivan Velikopolsky, the son of a sacristan, and a student of the clerical academy, returning home from shooting, walked all the time by the path in the water-side meadow. His fingers were numb and his face was burning with the wind. It seemed to him that the cold that had suddenly come on had destroyed the order and harmony of things, that nature itself felt ill at ease, and that was why the evening darkness was falling more rapidly than usual. All around it was deserted and peculiarly gloomy. The only light was one gleaming in the widows' gardens near the river; the village, over three miles away, and everything in the distance all round was plunged in the cold evening mist. The student remembered that, as he went out from the house, his mother was sitting barefoot on the floor in the entry, cleaning the samovar, while his father lay on the stove coughing; as it was Good Friday nothing had been cooked, and the student was terribly hungry. And now, shrinking from the cold, he thought that just such a wind had blown in the days of Rurik and in the time of Ivan the Terrible and Peter, and in their time there had been just the same desperate poverty and hunger, the same thatched roofs with holes in them, ignorance, misery, the same desolation around, the same darkness, the same feeling of oppression -- all these had existed, did exist, and would exist, and the lapse of a thousand years would make life no better. And he did not want to go home.

The gardens were called the widows' because they were kept by two widows, mother and daughter. A camp fire was burning brightly with a crackling sound, throwing out light far around on the ploughed earth. The widow Vasilisa, a tall, fat old woman in a man's coat, was standing by and looking thoughtfully into the fire; her daughter Lukerya, a little pock-marked woman with a stupid-looking face, was sitting on the ground, washing a caldron and spoons. Apparently they had just had supper. There was a sound of men's voices; it was the labourers watering their horses at the river.

"Here you have winter back again," said the student, going up to the camp fire. "Good evening."

Vasilisa started, but at once recognized him and smiled cordially.

"I did not know you; God bless you," she said.

"You'll be rich."

They talked. Vasilisa, a woman of experience, who had been in service with the gentry, first as a wet-nurse, afterwards as a children's nurse, expressed herself with refinement, and a soft, sedate smile never left her face; her daughter Lukerya, a village peasant woman, who had been beaten by her husband, simply screwed up her eyes at the student and said nothing, and she had a strange expression like that of a deaf mute.

"At just such a fire the Apostle Peter warmed himself," said the student, stretching out his hands to the fire, "so it must have been cold then, too. Ah, what a terrible night it must have been, granny! An utterly dismal long night!"

He looked round at the darkness, shook his head abruptly and asked:

"No doubt you have been at the reading of the Twelve Gospels?"

"Yes, I have," answered Vasilisa.

"If you remember at the Last Supper Peter said to Jesus, 'I am ready to go with Thee into darkness and unto death.' And our Lord answered him thus: 'I say unto thee, Peter, before the cock croweth thou wilt have denied Me thrice.' After the supper Jesus went through the agony of death in the garden and prayed, and poor Peter was weary in spirit and faint, his eyelids were heavy and he could not struggle against sleep. He fell asleep. Then you heard how Judas the same night kissed Jesus and betrayed Him to His tormentors. They took Him bound to the high priest and beat Him, while Peter, exhausted, worn out with misery and alarm, hardly awake, you know, feeling that something awful was just going to happen on earth, followed behind. . . . He loved Jesus passionately, intensely, and now he saw from far off how He was beaten. . ."

Lukerya left the spoons and fixed an immovable stare upon the student.

"They came to the high priest's," he went on; "they began to question Jesus, and meantime the labourers made a fire in the yard as it was cold, and warmed themselves. Peter, too, stood with them near the fire and warmed himself as I am doing. A woman, seeing him, said: 'He was with Jesus, too' -- that is as much as to say that he, too, should be taken to be questioned. And all the labourers that were standing near the fire must have looked sourly and suspiciously at him, because he was confused and said: 'I don't know Him.' A little while after again someone recognized him as one of Jesus' disciples and said: 'Thou, too, art one of them,' but again he denied it. And for the third time someone turned to him: 'Why, did I not see thee with Him in the garden to-day?' For the third time he denied it. And immediately after that time the cock crowed, and Peter, looking from afar off at Jesus, remembered the words He had said to him in the evening. . . . He remembered, he came to himself, went out of the yard and wept bitterly -- bitterly. In the Gospel it is written: 'He went out and wept bitterly.' I imagine it: the still, still, dark, dark garden, and in the stillness, faintly audible, smothered sobbing. . ."

T he student sighed and sank into thought. Still smiling, Vasilisa suddenly gave a gulp, big tears flowed freely down her cheeks, and she screened her face from the fire with her sleeve as though ashamed of her tears, and Lukerya, staring immovably at the student, flushed crimson, and her expression became strained and heavy like that of someone enduring intense pain.

The labourers came back from the river, and one of them riding a horse was quite near, and the light from the fire quivered upon him. The student said good-night to the widows and went on. And again the darkness was about him and his fingers began to be numb. A cruel wind was blowing, winter really had come back and it did not feel as though Easter would be the day after to-morrow.

Now the student was thinking about Vasilisa: since she had shed tears all that had happened to Peter the night before the Crucifixion must have some relation to her. . . .

He looked round. The solitary light was still gleaming in the darkness and no figures could be seen near it now. The student thought again that if Vasilisa had shed tears, and her daughter had been troubled, it was evident that what he had just been telling them about, which had happened nineteen centuries ago, had a relation to the present -- to both women, to the desolate village, to himself, to all people. The old woman had wept, not because he could tell the story touchingly, but because Peter was near to her, because her whole being was interested in what was passing in Peter's soul.

And joy suddenly stirred in his soul, and he even stopped for a minute to take breath. "The past," he thought, "is linked with the present by an unbroken chain of events flowing one out of another." And it seemed to him that he had just seen both ends of that chain; that when he touched one end the other quivered.

When he crossed the river by the ferry boat and afterwards, mounting the hill, looked at his village and towards the west where the cold crimson sunset lay a narrow streak of light, he thought that truth and beauty which had guided human life there in the garden and in the yard of the high priest had continued without interruption to this day, and had evidently always been the chief thing in human life and in all earthly life, indeed; and the feeling of youth, health, vigour -- he was only twenty-two -- and the inexpressible sweet expectation of happiness, of unknown mysterious happiness, took possession of him little by little, and life seemed to him enchanting, marvellous, and full of lofty meaning.

[Note 1: Where Vasilisa says "I did not know you; God Bless you. You'll be rich." - according to an old Russian superstition, a person not immediately recognised by face or voice is destined to become rich.]
[Note 2: Where Velikopolsky mentions the "Twelve Gospels" - A composite reading of twelve passages from the four Gospels describing the Crucifixion is part of the matins of Holy Friday, sometimes referred to simply as "the Twelve Gospels." The student gives his own summary of some of the readings in what follows.]