Category Archives: Life

Dilemmas…

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For over Two-Thousand years

Fine minds have

Pondered the problem

Of philosophical dualism.

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The living soul

A quickening spirit.

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This dilemma, perhaps, can

Best be approached by

Considering three questions.

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Why,

Clean the house

Before a birth?

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Why,

Tidy the house

Before a guest?

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And what must have

occurred before one

Is able to

Do these things?

– Count Jack Black

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The Prisoner…

 

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Beauty dived into the bushes led by Prince then gasped as one of the thorns from the brambles traced the delicate skin of her inner arm.

The blood came in spurts and rivulets.

“No wait,” she cried, pausing to peer back through the leaves.

The first yelps of the Bull Mastiffs could be heard on the breeze and soon Hog-Headed guards would swarm the grounds.

“Strange…” She mused, “how even the most well appointed buildings can be used as a prison.”

Prince smiled, turned, and moved off, deeper into the wood…

Behind him fell a glistening trail of crimson.

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Walking with Grief…

 

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‘I cried like some grandmother, I wanted to tear my teeth out, I didn’t know what I wanted to do.’ – Walter E.Kurtz, Apocalypse Now.

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The ‘Good Colonel’ is here reacting to a particularly distressing, and at first sight vicious and meaningless, act of war.

However, a culture which can organise the systematic removal of the inoculated arms of its children must have a pretty clear conception of where it is at, of precisely what it means to be there, and also of just how to remain in that place.

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‘Good Grief, Charlie Brown…’ – Lucy, Peanuts.

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Can grief ever be good?

Charles M. Schulz clearly thought so.

The phrase runs like a litany through Charlie Brown’s debut T. V. outing casting noble failure on all his best efforts, and simultaneously highlighting the noble failure of all life to make any kind of a lasting impression.

Sometimes Schulz talks like a prophet and at other times like a lost soul.

With this particular ‘bon mot‘ he talks like both at the same time.

The meta-gag of this same episode is Charlie’s dream of sending the football soaring through the sky.

It never happens.

Lucy always removes the ball at the last.

It is Charlie who soars… to end… lying flat on his back, gazing up at the sky.

A living cadaver capable of pondering its own plight, and ours.

We have the terms ‘a proper Charlie’ and ‘a right Charlie’ for those unfortunates who end up looking like chumps in life’s Divine Comedy.

Are these phrases ‘Chaplin derived’ or much earlier?

King Charles I of England lost his head, and his life, for clinging on to an outmoded principle.

Scotland’s Bonnie Prince ended his life in ignominy and exile but even before that he was a Charlie.

A clown’s name for a clown’s game?

Perhaps.

That principle?

The Divine Right of Kings.

To do what?

To rule…

To rue the almighty hash the politicians have made of it?

No, not that, simply to rule.

To run the measure over the populace and let ‘the Gods’ or ‘the Fates’ decide, which they do anyway, ultimately…

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‘Death’s at the bottom of everything…’ – Major Calloway, The Third Man.

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The Drums of Affliction…

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When Nan died she
became a mountain,
I don’t know why and
it seems churlish to ask.

She suffers terribly,
forcing her craggy cave
of a mouth into the shapes
that form words…

It took Gramps a year and a bit to die.

Not one to do things by half he died three times:
the first time he said, “You know I didn’t feel a thing,
it was just like I was floating.”

Somebody at the hospital brought him round;
the second time his eyes turned into the top of his head,
Mum went hysterical, and the ambulance men
asked her why Gramps was so grey…

He had started that grey thing the summer previous.

Mountain Ana made his left hand to swell,
so that he could no longer grip, and when holding
with his right, the cup, on his saucer, shook.

Nan’s way of saying, ‘Hello, I’m missing you,’ perhaps,
was to try and turn Gramps into a mountain too.

When Great Uncle Tom started shaking cups…
he lasted a month.
But for Gramps such mortality was an affront. “It’s come
on me in a week, all this,” he said with angry eyes.

And in time the swelling eased, his grip returned
and the tremors no longer troubled him.

“It’s the pain that turns you grey,” said Dad…

His face flush again and sitting up in bed Gramps
said, “The doctor wants to know why I’m in here.”
Mum thought she was going mad:
“Do people think I’m trying to kill him?”

That third time the morphine proved fatal.

“They’re going to give you something Dad, to rest you?”

A nod of the head.

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When Gramps died,
the knot in Mum’s stomach dissolved,
and the weight fell off her.

She grew old in one day.

Now, she looks like Nan.

When she is offended she speaks like Gramps:
she raises her right hand,
and projects her voice above it,
directing her gaze upwards and beyond.

Her fingertips tremble in the air.

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When Gramps died,
the crying god laughed.

He laughed from the top,
left-hand corner of the chapel of repose,
where he crouched on the upright coffin-lid.

His laugh gave me an inkling:
the divine comedy is real life,
and the world is a womb.

Hysteria.

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How small we are without
the animating principle
to make us big.

How dull and cold,
like overworked wax.

To look on the dead is to confirm,
that things could not have been
any other way…

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In olden days it was the family’s place
to dress the dead for their curtain call.
Would we have turned Gramps out like
this – his ‘tash and ‘brows unthinned?

“He looks better,” says Uncle Jim’s Maeve.
I keep expecting his wink.

Too frail for our duties we can only complain:
“Did it look like him?” asks cousin Fran.

The strangled shake of a head,
“He isn’t there any more, is he?”

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Here comes the coffin.

The lid is down but I back away as it wheels passed.

The crying god is in there just as surely as Gramps is not,
and if he starts to laugh again the congregation will panic:
our unreality manifest, the performance will have nowhere left to go…

From now until the wooden box enters the earth we follow the dead.

There is no laughter but Mum stands on the wrong side of the hall, and when the music starts up, over loud, I wish there was.

“What tunes did he like? Not these.”

The vicar’s summing up is formal and unfamiliar but we cry anyway.
The sense of futility feels immense yet not quite true.
“At least he got our names right,” says Uncle Jeff.

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The young and the old handle things best.

Great Aunt Evelyne talks in the hearse like she is out to shop…
‘Show some respect,’ I shout in my head but say nothing.

Little Becky thinks the ceremony
a part of our Nathaniel’s birthday.

At last, the Cemetery makes sense:
a place where the dead are not.

My clutch of sand
bangs on the coffin lid.

An answer to the fear of laughter.

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Three nights later,
and Gramps is standing
in a field full of light.

Mum is with him.
He seems quite calm but the rings under his eyes have darkened, “Not long now,” he says, as Mum tidies his clothes,
and touches his hair as if expecting company.

The beating of wings overhead dwarfs us all…

Mountain Ana is pleased:
her cavern mouth,
become a golden flower,
breathes out clouds of pollen.

Infinite Regress…

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THE INFINITE HIGHWAY

If one always returns to where one came from,

then one’s destination is halfway between where

one came from and where one is going to.

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HALFWAY TO INFINITY

Every step along the infinite highway is simultaneously

an equal distance between an infinite future

and an infinite past, that is, it is halfway to and from infinity.

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EQUAL PARTS OF INFINITY

To find the halfway point of any distance,

one first splits the distance into equal parts then,

when the number of equal parts remaining is equal

to those that have passed one has one’s halfway point.

The equal parts of infinity, however, are all infinite.

Infinity is the only thing that can be split into… infinities.

This is known as counting the for evers of forever.

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FOREVER YOURS

Reflecting upon all this it appears…

‘The Ancient of Days’

Is a good poetic name for infinity.

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THE INFINITE HOTEL

A Traveller approaches the Infinite Hotel and asks The Ancient of Days for a room.

Now, there are an infinite number of rooms in the Infinite Hotel, however, the Traveller is informed by the Ancient of Days that all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel are taken.

Q: How does the Traveller get a room in the Infinite Hotel ?

A: The Ancient of Days asks the occupants of Room 1 to move into Room 2 and the occupants of Room 2 to move into Room 3…and so on… and on… Infinitely, thus making room for the Traveller.

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INFINITE EXPANSE

At any one time in the Infinite Hotel then, there will be any number of people on the corridors moving from one room to the next, and this number will be dependent on how many Travellers are seeking a room in the Infinite Hotel…

Consider this…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the rooms in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the rooms in the Infinite Hotel is ‘After-Life’.

Consider this…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have a name…

All the corridors in the Infinite Hotel have the same name…

The name of all the corridors in the Infinite Hotel is ‘Life’.

By extension…

The occupants of each room in the Infinite Hotel have names…

The occupants in the room before yours are called ‘Parents’

The occupants in the room after yours are called ‘Children.’

The act of moving from room to corridor is called ‘Birth’.

The act of moving from corridor to room is called ‘Death’.

‘Life Duration’ in the Infinite Hotel can be defined as,

the amount of time spent in the corridor

 before moving into the next room…

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IN FIN…

Once one

Never none

Forever one.

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