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Uninspiration #6

Ideology is for papering over uncertainty and ignorance.

The only true isms are prisms, jism and TISM.


The one perfect moment perfecting all leading to it and all flowing from it.

Not the world in a grain of sand but the universe as a gem.

Everything implies everything meaning only itself.

Here. Now.


Uninspiration #5

If you lack the ineffable your universe must lie within your language.
How impoverished.

Jennifer’s sky

It’s after 3am. I’m still half asleep. I can’t find the phone book. I don’t know what to do. Fuck it. I punch emergency. 0-0-0. Give my name and address. Describe the problem.

“An ambulance please. She needs medical oversight. Her name is Jennifer.”
“No, I don’t know what she’s taken today. I’m only a neighbour.”
“I know what psychosis is. Yes she probably is. No she isn’t dangerous. She’s a disabled middle-aged woman lying in the middle of the road reciting poetry. She’s in danger of being run over, that’s all. Police aren’t necessary. She’s scared of police.”

That’s an understatement. Over recent months I’d seen Jenny’s body bloat and her mind shatter under the dual assaults of multiple medications and an unrelenting torrent of harrowing media revelations of clerical sexual abuse. In our area it included a sub-narrative of a tenacious cop who tried for years to bring cases to court only to be persecuted by the combined forces of church and police. Jenny imagines a huge ongoing police conspiracy to protect pedophiles that’s out to get her because she, like the rogue cop, knows too much.

I continue my torchlit vigil beside her. Our street is quiet, no one has come by since I found her collapsed by the corner in the shadow of a tree. Across both lanes. She continues to stare into the clear night sky while reciting the same few stanzas of lilting poetry. It speaks of the face of an Alsatian against a starry backdrop, briefly reflected in a puddle before being scattered by ripples. Jenny had told me several times before about the beloved pet she’d left with family in Melbourne. Listening is hypnotic and I lose track of time.

The police are first to arrive. I hold the beam on Jennifer’s inert, murmuring form as they pull up nearby, pinning us both beneath headlights.

Why do so many police partnerships fit the ‘good cop, bad cop’ stereotype? Are they selected by police casting directors or do they train for the roles?

In this case it’s a mildly affable greying senior constable in a cotton jacket and a cocky, arrogant young highway patrolman in leather. Both have mustaches but only leatherman looks ready to audition for a Village People tribute band. He seems too young for it to be ironic. He briefly sizes me up then takes to striding back and forth past Jennifer’s head making inane comments as the other cop tries to question us.

Jennifer either doesn’t notice or doesn’t deign to acknowledge. Seems there’s more interesting things happening in her world. As I confess my ignorance to the interrogator – “No, I don’t know her surname. I don’t know what medications she’s on. I don’t know her caseworker’s name or number …” – the enforcer issues orders and threats to the body on the asphalt.

“I am Constable G- of Newcastle Police Area Command and I am requiring you to move along in accordance with my powers under the Law Enforcement (Powers and Responsibilities) Act.
“You are obstructing a public carriageway in contravention of the Road Transport (Safety and Traffic Management) Act and must move on immediately.”
“Listen Jennifer, if you don’t get up now there’s going to be trouble.”
“She’s refusing to comply with my lawful directions! Maybe I should tase her. Do ya reckon I should tase her?”

I shoot him a filthy look and am about to suggest an alternative holster for his taser.

“Chill mate. I’m only joking.”

Jennifer remains oblivious.

His gaze falls on the open door to Jennifer’s flat.

“Better do a search.”

“What do you think you’re searching for? ”

“I need to know her full name, what she’s been taking …”.

“I’m coming with you.”

With some you have to keep an eye on what they might slip into their pockets. With cops you also need to watch what they slip out of their pockets. I spot an envelope with Jennifer’s full name on it while the cop rummages through a stack of prescription bags. He doesn’t find anything that interests him.

By the time we get back the ambulance has arrived. Cops and ambos combine to shift Jennifer’s substantial frame from road to gurney. Soon the flashing lights depart and I’m uneasily alone with the new day. I lock Jennifer’s door and go back to bed. Only then does it occur to me I should have closed her windows too.

A few weeks later, at a more civilised hour, there’s a gentle knock at the front door. I exhale and leave the fan running for a few seconds before responding. It’s a cop. He smells the dope smoke and is quick to head off any misunderstanding.

“It’s alright. I just want to ask about the woman next door. Do you know where she is?”

Jennifer’s caseworker has reported her missing. I give the cop the name and phone number of the locked ward. My visiting requests have been rebuffed. I lack status as a visitor. I’m only a neighbour.

More than two months pass before I see Jenny again. She’s better groomed. She seems less frightened. I apologise for getting her locked up. I was scared she’d be run over. I didn’t know what she’d taken. I couldn’t think of anything else to do. Until later. I hope there’s not much weather damage from the open windows.

“Don’t worry. It had to happen. It’s in the past. Now I can get back to being happy and comfortable in my own home.” She got the eviction notice the next day.

Jennifer lives with her son’s family in Melbourne. The house is too small. Her daughter-in-law hates her. There’s talk of putting Jennifer in a home. She’s out of choices. She’s officially insane so her opinions don’t count. Jennifer lacks insight.


Postscript (20-Apr-2017): I guess I’m lucky I didn’t end up locked in the same ward as Jenny. In Canada it seems criticising police is grounds for forced psychiatric hospitalisation while criticising the government can get you shot.

Uninspiration #4

It’s not what you think you know. It’s what others think you know about them.” – me

Sweet home under white clouds (the house, part 3)

I could easily have been goth or emo and have the scars on my arms to prove it. I was always partial to that black eye makeup too. The sort that makes you look like you were crying all night as you clawed free from a grave.

I like morbid stuff. Things to do with death. Especially mine. Whether it’s a movie about war, zombies or sinister neighbours with poor parking skills you’ve probably got my attention. By age twelve I could quote extensively from Bela Lugosi.

And I’ve always loved black humour. I see it everywhere. Someone recently told me that the inspirational aphorism “Fall seven times. Stand up eight.” doesn’t imply death. Of course it does. Everything does. No, I’m exaggerating. Life does. Constantly. Until you finally stop standing up. It can take a little while to get the hint.

Yeah, I sort of liked early Cure. I was impressed by a performance I caught during my student days in Newcastle, and again by Robert Smith at a Siouxsie and the Banshees gig. So I bought their first two albums. Played ’em too. But even though they got the hairstyles right and made interesting pop music I never saw The Cure as a credible goth band like, say, Joy Division, The Gun Club or The Birthday Party. Bands that make you wanna stop playing with that razor and use it.

But there’s one hair and makeup goth band I’ve always loved.

When I was living in an early 80s communal household in Sydney three Irishmen, all recently arrived in Australia, moved in. Yes, this is the beginning of an extended Irish joke, but that’s not what I’m telling here. Not all of it.

When they noticed I was into music, the subject of Irish musicians inevitably arose. I knew better than to reach for my Stiff Little Fingers and Undertones albums. Seemingly trivial differences such as those between the Republic and Ulster can be a big deal to those who live nearby. But I had no hesitation cutting off their rhapsodising over U2 and Horslips with the haunting rhythms of my all time favourite Irish band.

“Umm, yeah, The Virgin Prunes. My brother went to see them once. Pretty wild he said. They perform in the nuddy. Covered in mud.”

My housemates’ musical patriotism had deserted under fire. That was OK. I could offer them a home away from home by giving the whole building the auditory ambience of a seedy Dublin venue. Again and again. Night after night. Surely they’d come to love The Virgin Prunes too.

I compulsively collected their records but never got the chance to see the Virgin Prunes live. It wasn’t until Youtube I learned they’re theatre as much as they are music. So I binged on them all over again.

The first casualty

I’m not one for conspiracy theories – except the ones I like – but something about the Idlib sarin attack smells bad to me.

Everyone seemed quick to pin the blame, though it’s hard to see what Assad could hope to gain from it. It’s not tactical advantage. There were no sarin hardened special forces ready to swarm into the area even if it had been a key position. It’s not strategic advantage. Sarin destroys people, not infrastructure, and it’s almost impossible to target precisely. No one seems to be suggesting it fell near a concentration of key rebel personnel. And it’s not like it’s going to do Assad’s image much good, either in Syria or overseas. He solemnly swore he’d ditched his chemical weapons and slaughtering his people may not be the best way to make them stop hating him.

Maybe being the dictator doesn’t mean he’s effectively in control of the military and those who made the decision don’t care about all the work Assad and the Russians had put into improving his negotiating position. Or maybe he figures there’s no point relinquishing his chemical weapons. It didn’t help Saddam.

Could he really be the demented psychopath our media makes him out to be? After all, it’s not as if Trump’s reprisal attack makes sense so why should Assad? Maybe both are driven by Byzantine political calculations beyond my ken. Maybe they’re both fucking maniacs. At least when Obama bombed Syrian government positions he had the grace to say it was an accident.

On the other hand, this couldn’t have come at a better time for the anti-Assad coalition. The US was facing some embarrassing questions about its own recent slaughter of civilians in Syria and Iraq. Far more innocents than Assad is accused of murdering. All that Western made hardware raining down on women and children in Yemen is a bad look too. And the media consuming public was looking in askance at those ‘friendly’ Syrian resistance groups who only kill people ‘moderately’ and aren’t at all chummy with ISIS or Al Nusra. The ones who want a NATO no-fly zone just like the ones that worked so well in Iraq and Libya and who bring our media almost all the news we hear from the warzone.

The enemy was becoming way too murky. Some clarification was needed.

And why not steal some wind from those who say Trump is Moscow’s Manchurian candidate?

But the media is carefully dancing around the elephants in the room as it interviews ‘experts’ who assure us that the Russian story of bombs hitting a rebel chemical weapons dump must be a lie because bombs destroy sarin. Maybe they do, with a direct hit. But a collapsed warehouse full of damaged sarin canisters still sounds scary to me.

Dropped from planes? Escaped from ammo dumps? Released under a false flag? I’ve still got some questions. But instead of answers we’re offered missiles and circuses.


Postscript (26 June 2017).

Having been denied space in the US and British media, veteran journalist Seymour Hersh has just published this article in the German newspaper Die Welt. In it he relies on his usually impeccable US diplomatic and intelligence sources to thoroughly debunk claims that Syrian jets carried out a chemical attack on the Idlib town of Khan Sheikhoun on April 4.

According to Hersh the air strike employed a single Russian-supplied high explosive guided bomb against a rebel headquarters above a warehouse containing chlorine and organophosphate based pesticides. It was the rapid combustion and release of those chemicals that caused the horrific civilian casualties.

There are many other fascinating revelations in Hersh’s article and it’s well worth a read, but the most intriguing thing about it is  that such an important and well researched piece by perhaps the world’s most respected investigative war journalist is unpublishable in the Anglosphere.

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