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10 Jun

Victorian naughty bits

Curse the cold wall around the Holy Scintilla within. C’est puissant. The red plague rid me of this frosty facade.

Bless those eyes, are they impossible to draw?

Curses, I feel what you feel; it’s just I can’t say… out loud. Shhhh. I’m afraid of what happens when dams burst.

Bless your tiny feet as they walk on the moist Earth. And wherever you go – dig it: Fly!

Curses on the Shadow-Men that’d force infantry on drummers everywhere, ridding the land of laughter.

Blessings on those rare souls still connected to a hundred-thousand anonymous troubadours.

A million curses on profiteerings; the bones of future generations. How can you look at your children and not regret the famine you have thrust upon them?

A billion blessings on the Guardian Angel at the Gates of Paradise; she is the bearer of the beacon. The way, the truth and the light.

That is all.



5 Jun

The guilty undertaker sighs
The lonesome organ grinder cries

The silver saxophones say I should refuse you


The cracked bells and washed-out horns
Blow into my face with scorn
But it’s not that way

I wasn’t born to lose you


31 May

Devil Tarot

I’m plagued by the memories of situations tangled in complexities underpinned by unknown factors and awash with a passion that’ll tear the chain outta the wall any minute now. If I cut myself some slack I’d raise a glass for the true pursuit of the cardinal virtues: wisdom, temperance, justice and courage. But I don’t and I know I have failed them, all four. I am a stupid, reckless, selfish coward.

We are, all of us, all of those things, and their opposite all the time. It ain’t easy. What court presides over the fluxus of daily interpersonal conduct? Only our own self-interested and distorted recollection. The fluctuating narratives of the he said/she said fandango. And the memory hole lurking in the dark gap between what is said and what is done amidst a storm of confusion created by the glaring corruption of our spiritual institution. Facing the brunt of a storm I have only the obsolete words of a near-lost ritual, rarified to the point of meaninglessness, yet earnest: Mother in Heaven, I have sinned, hear my confession.

What a battered saga lays twixt me and my last awkward confession to some bloodless, badly-shaven, cold-eyed man in a high black collar with a white tab signifying some s’posed wisdom on the other side of an archaic bit of woodwork designed to allow the clear transfer of whispered, shameful and shaming voices while obfuscating eye contact, making touch impossible.

How many awkward, wild, tender and nightmare-scary moments have passed on mattresses in sundry condition in so many cities and towns. In tents, on a field, near a tree. On a rock in the mountains. Surrounded by four walls that close in a little each night. How many times has it been an immortal choreography? How many times a disappointment? How many a refuge? How many will be sometime, sublime death-bed memories?

And how I long for that again and how it lurks and darts in front of me but always out of reach. Again and again a facsimile of what I seek but false. Or true perhaps, obscured by the fear of impostors. A filibuster straight from Desire with nothing of love in it. It feels like (yet another) test. And the journey has already been so long. It’s all around me, I have eyes. But they see too far, they see around the corner to the myriad of consequences. The knowledge that you can hop on a bus and end up travelling just as far in the wrong direction…

It’s another beautiful day in Melbourne. But it’s the goddamn Anglo-Saxon jive man. Snatching misery from the jaws of euphoria. I’ve got women on my mind. Desire is a knife-edged psychopath. Watch out for it. S/he’s not interested in your happiness one little bit. Enough! let’s have some whinging white-boy crap on the jukebox ‘ey.


23 May


“Genoveva in der Waldeinsamkeit”, 1841
Adrian Ludwig Richter (1803-1884)

I can see it but I can’t explain it, I am exhilirated by my setbacks and failures. Made mistakes, broke, come up’s a bitch – so what? I am immune to the sky’s slings and arrows. Blow ye hurricanos blow, I don’t give a fuck. I am bursting wit and love, half in love with a girl I’ll never see again. But still I feel glad. There’s whiskey in the jar and I’ll drink to her health. The world is an even more beautiful place because of her.

I can explain but I cannot plan. I know what is happening to me. Some of it. Some I pretend not to know, it’s the only way. My memory has reached a certain place on the highway. It is a downhill slope from here. I must set to and fire off some neurons into history before time to shuffle off.

I can plan but I cannot determine the outcome. There are things in your control and there are things not. The things in your control are certain aspects of your body, your mind if you can be bothered, and whatever tools you’re thus able to operate. Your soul (if you know it’s there)… well that controls you. Or rather it is you. Your heart? You cannot control your heart. Your heart and everything else – forget it.

I have convictions. I am free at last. And tonight I am a raving egotist. No apologies. I, me, mine: Transmitting….

Back into the noöspherical webtronic surveillance system and brainfart confabulator. I have come from my season in Hell. I have seen the kings of the earth there, I have seen the servants and the women of the street. I have heard the minstrels and taken ale with them on a sometime sunny afternoon. I have spoken with the new generation and understand a little more how they are different; how they are the same. I am calling out to the few who listen for this final instalment: StillChaos. My first e-Book.

And tomorrow perhaps I’ll write something that ain’t masturbation.


30 Mar

It seems to me the snake was telling the truth; God was lying. The woman says to the snake: we may eat of the fruit of any tree in the garden but that one. The one that lies in the centre of the garden. God tells us it’s bad for us, that it will kill us.

“Adam and Eve”, 1528
Lucas Cranach the Elder (1472-1553)

And the snake says, “Oh sister, that’s horseshit. You eat the fruit from that tree and you’ll know things. You’ll be able to understand stuff. You’ll know the difference between right and wrong. That’s why the Old Bastard tells you not to eat it. He knows, you eat that and you’ll be like Him.

And so she eats it. And she gives it to the man and he eats it. He always does what she wants him to.

And they begin to understand. And what do they understand of themselves, man and woman? What do they do? They see each other naked and are ashamed of that. Of the poo and the goo and the in-out squishing noises; the feasting on each other’s flesh that never troubled them before. More than that she realizes she’s always spreading her legs even tho’ it doesn’t seem to feel half as good for as it does for him. They didn’t understand before, they just did it. And now the man understands he’s always doing what she wants and now she’s really gone and done it! How he longs to get back to his nice comfortable rut when he was happy and stupid. Well no more of this obedience shite, now he has to face brutal existential reality. From now on he’ll be picking much more the fruit of the hemp tree. And he better invent beer.

And now they have to work. (Or did they really always have to work they just didn’t understand what that means?) Now they feel pain (or did they always feel pain?) Now they understand: death is waiting for them.

Did God lie? Sure. Don’t we tell our children hyperbolous stories in order to prevent them from doing stupid stuff? How useful to how many parents over the aeons has the Boogie Man been? And sure the snake was telling the truth. I’m sure there are pedophiles skilled in the art of appraising children of the truth of parents’ white fibs in order to win their trust and lure them toward perdition.

In an older version of the story Eve is given a choice between the tree of life and the tree of knowledge. One brings immortality, the other understanding. She chooses, feminists like to say, because her man cannot. Did she make the right choice? Would she? Had she known she would be ashamed. And shamed?

It’s a story.

I’m amused and moved almost to pity when I see people fight for the literal interpretation of scripture. I understand. It makes things nice and simple, clear and easy to understand. How many times has the law fallen to disrepair because of the excessive deployment of interpretive metaphor?

It can be made to say anything! Thus cries the priest in Jesus of Montreal when confronted by a Passion play that deploys the actual facts (and lack thereof) concerning the actual life and death of one Joshua from the Sticks. That this Passion also expresses most beautifully the gift that Jesus bore is immaterial to the priest. It contravenes doctrine and therefore his cushy job in the Cathedral is threatened.

It’s a story. The truth is not the story, the truth is in the story. The story is simply a vessel for it. And like a child that’s been taught not to go wandering in the bushes for fear of the Boogie Man the story will morph and elaborate as s/he grows and ages. S/he’ll know that it was a lie yes, but one that fundamentally told the truth. Does that not make sense? What truth now in the Book of Genesis, second episode.

Modern people reading it will know better, if they wish. We have always known that the human female, unlike other animals, feels excruciating pain and is in actual mortal danger during child-birth. But we now know (if we wish) that this is the dual result of our relatively recent evolution to a bipedal mammal and the subsequent increase in brain size requiring of course larger skulls. Because of our large brains women suffer pain. The little brats, their heads are too big! It’s another story but it says the same thing: the pain in childbirth is consequence of our capacity for understanding. Different story, same basic truth.

Still the stories are different. They are composed in different times and told in different ways. In these differences there is also a truth, perhaps one that sits on a larger scale of existence.

What is the difference?

Well obviously we can forget all that palava about ‘shame’ (can we? should we?). Sex is natural, necessary and should be fun. We have thousands of years of contemplation of the subject (mostly by males). We have thousands of books, documentaries, internet soundbytes, magazine articles, newspaper items coming out every year (mostly by females). We have understanding. What we don’t have are the rituals and beliefs that create from all that a new idea of ‘the good life’ in this brave new world.

In the old stories the woman chooses, from willful wickedness or courageous determination (mostly willful wickedness). She knows not the consequences but more than anything she wants to know. It’s the artifact of a culture asserting the political rule of men, no more soap operas. It is the artifact of a culture that radically chooses to assert the primacy of monogamy and sobriety in sexual matters. No more bouncing from girl to girl. But the woman chooses. Within the old story an older story leaves an essential, now submerged, thread.

The story of the Fall of Man was originally a rebellion. Rebellion against the then dominant culture with its god-kings, its bedazzling religious spectacles, its rituals of blood and sex. In these scary creeds there is also an Original Couple. But they are gods. Human were not then worth remembering except if they were great kings who won a war. The Book of Genesis was a Book of Revolution. It declared that we were cosmically important. That our… what we moderns would call – ‘sexuality’, is not a giant force that drives us writhing into the maelstrom but the site of a virtue that the One True God commands.

Naturally we know that the pagan tale corresponds more with the facts as ascertained by science. But we are modern people, three thousand years after Moses, and we no longer feel the need for human sacrifice or blood soaked ritualistic orgies. Perchance our war with sex, waged over millennia has something to do with this? We understand. And understanding has cultivated our hearts, some of us. What is the literary difference between the Book of Genesis and the Theory of Evolution? In the old story the woman chose and we blame her: Eve the temptress! scowls St Augustine, Woman is defective and misbegotten shouts! St Acquinas. Let them die in childbirth! scoffs Martin Luther.

Is this perhaps more, perhaps a denial by the male animal in furtherance of controlling the sex instinct so wild in humanity? His sex instinct. For who is it that thinks most of the consequences on the brink of coitus? Who’s the one more likely to ask: is this a good idea? Defective? Misbegotten?

“Three Graces”, 1817
Antonio Canova (1757-1822)

Methinks they speak in denial. The early Christian women tried hard to accommodate the image. They dressed in bags and rags and had to mutilate themselves because sometimes the drab threads didn’t do much good. In CE 585 the bishops at the Council of Mâcon decided that , yes, women do have souls after all. The motion was carried by one vote.

What difference between the stories? We now know we did not choose. We know that that doesn’t matter – things are as they are regardless. We know we can’t blame women, that blaming women is surfeit of the bully instinct in the human animal, the result of the prime bleak fact of violence, and consequence finally of the male tendency to use their penises for thinking with. All this is to modern people banal, matter-of-fact. We know that that’s the way of it and what can you do? And we know, if we can face it, that we don’t know. We are like children who have grown up.

What has our tough adolescence made of us?


Sarah Lucas, b. 1962
“Self-portrait With Fried Eggs”, 1996


8 Feb


This is Sigimundo de Malesta. He was Lord of Rimini, a small town up north of Rome on the eastern Italian coastline. Rimini’s current claim to fame is that it’s the place where Federico Fellini grew up. Sigismundo was born four-hundred and twenty-two years before Fellini. He wasn’t nice. They called him the Wolf of Rimini

He got that name much as the Mafiosi gets their handles. At the time he was what we would call a mercenary. The Italian sounds much nicer, as it would. Amongst his other exploits he’s said to’ve raped a 15 year-old boy in the view of those he commanded in battle. They cheered. The boy in question was a bishop and I s’pose this atrocity had something to do with Vatican intrigues. The Wolf was not, at first, part of the landed gentry, he was a professional soldier. And the Church was his main client. They called him The Wolf because he was good at what he did.

In Pulp Fiction there’s also a wolf: he solves problems. He doesn’t lose his temper, he’s considerate and urbane. He has character. He also knows how to cover up a corpse so that it’s undetected and never avenged. He’s not the only wolf. Little Red Riding Hood is eaten by a wolf. A wolf will blow your house down.

We apes have converted wolves into dogs and’ve almost wiped the original out. We can view them in zoos. We live our lives mostly never experiencing the instantaneous, irrepressable fear that comes of coming within the sweep of those yellow laser eyes. But should it happen to you one night, say, camping in some northern forest, you might not know right away why, but your body will remember its millions of years of evolution. Your heart will turn into an engine ready to do zero to whatever in about five seconds. And you will be lucky to get away without some technology to save you.

Of course the wolves have learned also in their bodies the consequences of our own deadly ways: this technology. They stay out of our way. But only now, two-hundred thousand years at least, after the first members of our species passed away, is the shadow the wolf casts upon our souls fading. Wolves are another word for evil.


Boy-wolves don’t run out on their girls when they knock ’em up. They mate for life. They respect their elders, they love their kids. Within the pack they are true Christians. They almost never kill unless to survive. And then quickly, they are ruthless and thereby merciful killers. All without the need for what we call Culture.

We have feared wolves, but we have learned much from them. We have made them into our best friends and from thence into a myriad of noble and ridiculous forms. And we, after the 20th century, have learned disquieting things about our own natures; also about the natures of wolves and of chimpanzees and gorillas. We’ve discovered the bonobos, our closest relatives. (Sex maniacs!) We have observed and recorded and learned much. We have conducted experiments on them and on ourselves with the cruelest dispassion and our knowledge has expanded a million fold.

And of the private lives of wolves, to which we only recently gained access, we have discovered an exemplary idyll towards which we apes still struggle.



7 Feb


I Vitelloni is a movie about life in a small Italian town in the early to mid 50s based on Rimini, the place from which its director Federico Fellini came to Rome. We start with the town’s prettiest girl competing in a beauty pageant. It’s a media event. the sophistos from Rome are scouting for modelling talent. She wins but, far from delight, she literally falls to despair.

In the audience, a handsome young man looks on and knows that he is the reason. She’s pregnant, you see. This is all told with body language, not dialogue. The contest only serves to enhance her pain, add to the trouble she’s been trying to face. Winning makes it worse, now she knows will never go… anywhere.

She’ll never be a model, a star, a face. Never be a part of the semi-legendary Rome of the late 50s and 60s. She’ll never hang with the glamorous hollow people living the sweet life of parties in castles and dawns on the beach. She’s to stay here and live the life of her countless maternal ancestors. The beauty pageant tells her she could’ve had that stuff. She could’ve gotten out and who knows how far up. But now she never will.

The superman, so Nietzsche thought, would be one who was entirely a product of reason and will. A self-made creature. He didn’t consider the possibility, suggested by a trend evident in genetic history, that this creature would be female.

But that was the way of it. For centuries the deal allowed a few men freedom and women almost none. They were tied to their bodies. They were the givers of life and could never be free. Those women who’ve made it into the minor annals of history because they accomplished something other than motherhood and marriage are exceptions. Many girls dreamed of being exceptions or at least marrying a man better than the ones they saw about them.

So the beauty queen wins and faints. The boy, seeing this, understands right away. What does he feel when he sees this? What does he do? He tries to run away. He makes to flee the town but his father catches him, beats the shit out of him and makes him marry her. The community has an understanding about the consequences of such matters. There are stern penalties for being an unwed mother so, if there are people who care, there is harsh treatment for any man who absconds his responsibilities to her. Indeed, entire families can lose the respect and companionship of a town because of things like this.

But Fellini did get out. Out of the small coastal town of Rimini. All the way to Rome and to Hollywood where he received many a Best Foreign Film Oscar. A few years after I Vitelloni, he made La Dolce Vita, (The Sweet Life). At the centre of this endless parade of a movie stands our existential hero Marcello, a showbiz/gossip journalist with aspirations to being a serious writer. His life is packed with movie stars and models and the flotsam of a fading aristocracy. He cheats on his wife with lovers who cheat on him. His father comes to town but doesn’t chastise him for it. He joins in, eagerly conforming to the milieu’s ethos of perpetual adolescence.

This is the life that our small town beauty in Rimini has missed out on. The sparkling possibilities of contraception and liberalized marriage laws, the choices that democracy and capitalism make available. She stands on the brink of all that but her body bids her stay in the Middle Ages. She has missed out on the Freedom. And what do we make of it? La Dolce Vita answers this by showing life as an endless party for which we trade merely our integrity and even our soul without missing either.

Marcello aspires to be a serious writer and in this he has the support of an enlightened and successful intellectual. But then, right out of the clear blue sky, this Enlightenment Mentor goes and slaughters his children then himself. This type event has the banal familiarity of small articles printed on page 9 of the newspapers every so often. And in the movie this is what it turns out to be – infotainment. It is Marcello’s photographer that gave a name to a nefarious species of professional voyeurs. La Dolce Vita was released in 1960, I Vitelloni – 1953. How far Fellini saw in only a few short years. What we were losing; where we were headed.

The man who somehow has the keys to the meaning of life and hence to Marcello’s own personal journey thru it, self-annihilates. This destroys Marcello. At the end of the film we find him in the early morning light of yet another vulgar party telling actors how much they have to pay if they want hyperbolous praise of their talents in print. Is it a joke? We don’t know and neither does he. He’s finished and finishes kneeling in the sand of a beach. A beautiful young girl calls to him. An innocent from a small town much like our I Vitelloni beauty queen only a bit younger.

He can’t hear her.