Wednesday, September 24, 2014

utterly vanished -- how strange it was

Moments being weighted and weighed is what I see then, when I look, and why do I see them, and what am I looking for: well. The load lost: “it was his sayings one remembered; his eyes, his pocket-knife, his smile, his grumpiness and, when millions of things had utterly vanished -- how strange it was! -- a few sayings like this about cabbages” (Virginia Woolf, Mrs Dalloway).

And then the madness of swagmen in Don Watson's book, The Bush: Travels in the Heart of Australia, the author proposing that the “jolly swagman” in Paterson's poem might have been jolly because he was not all there, mentally speaking, this schizophrenic fleeing persecution (the one down the road who screamed at me, “Police! Police!”), and yet sanity would do the same job, the security officers at one of the casinos having a man flee on them the other night when all they were going to do was trespass him, but he fled, they fled after him (and that moment's weight was felt electrically by the officer, he reported afterwards: he could feel a voice inside him telling him not to run, but instinct took over and he ran as a dog runs when you run away from it. Walk away next time! they told the man when they caught him. Walk calmly and we wouldn't have worried about you, but you ran), they felt suspicious now, they did a background check, and behold the man had warrants out for his arrest -- now in gaol. “For thy Self is the master of thyself, and thy Self is thy refuge. Train therefore thyself well, even as a merchant trains a fine horse”  (The Dhammapada, tr Juan Mascaró).

But my point was that we tend to forget the likely insanity of swagmen in spite of it being stated throughout the literature of the time, on and off, and Henry Lawson finishing his story with those words about the bush, “the nurse and tutor of eccentric minds.”

It is so unacknowledged that there is not even any denial of it.

The man in the casino was sane, and so I'm guessing was the one on Friday night who acted against a taunt by knocking one victim unconscious and beating the other one's face against the edge of a concrete box until the skin was off his forehead. I never expected to see another man's skull, remarked the security sergeant. The forehead-man was drunk when he came up with the taunt, and potentially delirious with the lightness of moments; say he felt instinctively that his moments had no consequences. “'Here shall I dwell in the season of rains, and here in winter and summer;' thus thinks the fool, but he does not think of death.”

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