Dissonant Websites
Home - ==- -Blog ==- - Reviews - ==- - Feedback - - ==- About




POETRY

poems of the month

fish

vagabondage

measuring my face

ostracism

old clothes

modern iranian poems

my hero

face at the bottom of the world

perhaps (maybe)

the diogenes sequence

where to store furs

i am and am not:
      fragments of rumi

destiny and destination

the zen of no-enlightenment

the iraqi monologues

already backwards

a light in ruins

separate amputations

the sexy jihad

awaiting the barbarians

the smell of possibilities

ultimate leaves

rejoice in the dog

post-millennium maggot

the book of nothing

dispatches from the war against the world

albanian poems

french poems in honour of jean genet

the hells going on

the joy of suicide

book disease

foreground trouble

the transcendental hotel

cinema of the blind

lament of the earth mother

uranian poems

haikai by okami

haikai on the edge

black hole of your heart

jung's motel

leda and the swan

confession from belgrade

gloss on rilke's
ninth duino elegy

jewels and shit:
poems by rimbaud

villon's dialogue with his heart

vasko popa:
a shepherd of wolves ?

the rubáiyát of omar khayyám

genrikh sapgir:
an ironic mystic

imagepoem

 

BETWEEN POETRY AND PROSE

good riddance to mankind

the maxims of michel de montaigne

400 revolutionary maxims

nice men and
  suicide of an alien

anti-fairy tales

the most terrible event in history

the rich man and the leper

disgusting

art, truth and bafflement

 

SHORT STORIES

godpieces

the three bears

three albanian tales

odorous underwear

a little creation story

 

PROSE

after a first cataract operation

helen's tower

extortion through e-bay

schopenhauer for muthafuckas

are doctors autistic ?

single track in the snow

never a pygmy

against money

did franco die ?

'original sin' followed by
crippled consciousness

a gay man's guide to soft-willy sex

the holosensual alternative

tiger wine

the death of poetry

the absinthe drinker

with mrs dalloway in ukraine

love  and  hell

running on emptiness

a holocaust near you

a note on the cathars

happiness

londons of the mind
& dealing death to the caspian

genocide

a muezzin from the tower of darkness

kegan and kagan

being or television

satan in the groin

womb of half-fogged mirrors

tourism and terrorism

the dog from sinope

shoplifting
in britain & america

this sorry scheme of things

the bektashi dervishes

a holy dog
& a dog-headed saint

fools for nothingness

death of a bestseller

vacuum of desire: a homo-erotic correspondence

a note on beards

translation and the oulipo

the visit

 

PHOTOGRAPHS

prelude

metamorphotos NEW LINK

 

MUSIC

tombeau de kurt schwitters

three movements of melting ice

 

MY PAINTINGS


 


Nuadú, God of War

field guide to megalithic ireland

houses for the dead

ireland & the phallic continuum

the sheela-na-gig conundrum

french megaliths

a small town in france

 

 

 

 

 

"Little by little I discover in myself the pain of finding nothing."

Fernando Pessoa


CANNIBALISM
FOR VEGETARIANS

 

part two

<< part one


9th August

Dogs are bored silly by the restricted lives we offer them.

Hearing, we do not listen; listening, we do not hear.
Seeing, we do not notice; noticing we do not see...

...that to be human is to be insane.

Pascal ironically wrote that the main cause of Man's unhappiness is that he cannot stay quietly in his room. I would counter this by saying that the root of human folly (and the present world's destruction) is the insanity of optimism.

10th August

And, of course, all cultures are insane. Our European culture is founded on redemption based on suffering, and hence on the justification of suffering, whether for the sake of each individual 'soul' or for the sake of 'art' or 'progress'. But we are the most soulless of animals. The greatest art offers no hope, and 'progress' is just the trashing of the planet.

Only the happy (such as Oscar) have sanity, and some have said that the only happy humans are the dead.

'Intelligence' is merely the stupidity of constantly setting goals to achieve and puzzles to solve.

The poor dead moon, hopelessly in thrall to dying Earth.

11th August

Just as our despoliation and the world and each other moved into the second-highest gear, Billy Graham was sent to us from W. Randolph Hearst, and chlorophyll appeared in toothpaste, and "In God We Trust" unconstitutionally was printed close to the Masonic Eye of God on United States banknotes.

Christian evangelism always dealt in numbers, and thus informed capitalism, which has bred the pathetic, despicable, phallic culture of self-importance. Terrorism is much less terrible.

Only counting counts.

As I said earlier, for some of us, surviving the tragedy of waking up is the biggest triumph we can reasonably expect.

I feel like a spade or a blade which has never been sharpened, like the edge of a cliff which falls not down to the ocean but into the trash of a landfill. I am a nothing nearly as noisy as the sound of success, as unheard as the silence of shame.

After the death of God - the death of Nature.

Why did life evolve as and then through struggle ? Is there no other possible way ?

12th August

I feel (hypochondriacally ?) that I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. I have been in a melancholic, wispy fog for some time. With Malcolm I watched a fine Swedish film in the Bergman tradition which he said we had watched before (and produced his diary to prove it), and not one frame of it was familiar to me. Last night I left the back door open for the fourth night in a row, and the scullery was full of rain. Last night I yet again forgot to wash the pan I cooked my dinner in. This morning for the first time in my life I took down the coffee-pot and found the grounds of yesterday's coffee at the bottom. And what I am writing is just a chunk of defective, almost spastic prose, humourless black humour, an artless gobbet of anecdote, introspective fiction that I think is true...

My age is somewhere between nineteen and dead.

In her eighties, at the end of her life, my mother, through dementia or (more likely) pressure hydrocephalus, lost every single one of her friends, all golf- or bridge-partners. Already in my early sixties I have lost all my friends. I can no longer see any merit in having friends just for the sake of it, just to keep up appearances. I have nothing in common with anyone. Soon there will be only me and Oscar. The body bags are under my bed.

There is no pain on Mars. Not yet.

Does it matter if the universe (ekpyrotic or otherwise)
is multiple or limited or infinite ?
Certainly not to Oscar the sufficiently-knowing, the sufficiently-aware.

Oscar Poems ->

Oscar is the only person with whom I do not feel disjunctive and dissonant.

13th-21st August

Other work inprogress

22nd August

A very strange thing happened yesterday. I was crossing a busy street in Downpatrick when the driver of a passing car waved at me, then indicated he wanted to talk to me. I reached the opposite pavement and he drew aside from the stream of traffic, causing yet another minor obstacle.
- Are you an artist ? he asked. My beard and general demeanour would indicate some such occupation. "Well - er - yes, sort of," I replied.
- Would you sell me one ?
- Well, yes, maybe. But I don't actually sell my work.
- Do you paint landscapes ?
- Er, yes, a few.
- Can I come and see them? The boy here is very keen on pictures and I want to buy him one. A small one - not too expensive, something around £700-£800.
The boy - about 12 - said nothing.
I said: "My prices are lower than that. I'm not interested in money."
He just looked at me.
I said: "I'm on my way somewhere else and I'll be there all evening."
- Give me your phone number.
I gave him my phone number.
I also wrote my address, but I could see that he couldn't read it.
- I'll be back home tomorrow morning, I said.
- What time ?
- After 11.
- I'll phone you.

It turned out he was staying on the other side of the fjord. I continued on my way to Malcolm's.
Next morning I drove home with two quite saleable pictures from Malcolm's to add to the dozens here..
No phone-call.
Two o'clock came.
At half past two I heard a voice at the door (which as usual was open) - and it was the man himself with his County Clare-registered car. I wondered how he had found his way to my house without any directions from me.
I made a few pleasant remarks about county Clare, but he made no reply.

- Lovely house you have here.
- (!!!!!)
- Have you shown in Dublin ?
- No. Once in Belfast, once in Berlin and a couple of times in Downpatrick. I sold nothing.
He then proceeded to look at most of the pictures in the house, including the male nudes.
- Did you know Gerard Dillon ? (GD is probably the only painter of serious merit that Northern Ireland ever produced - a tortured closet queer who committed suicide in the 1960s.) Ireland's only genuine Expressionist. I had never met him.
(Pause)
- Have you shown in London ?
- Have you shown in Paris ?
- No. I told you I'm not interested in shows and galleries and commerce.
- Oh.
(Pause)
- Have you been to America.

The silent boy indicated one that he liked - one of the landscapes I had brought from Malcolm's. A rather good landscape (photo attached) recalling the "basket of eggs" landscape of county Down, with fields forming segments of the circular hillocks known as drumlins. The boy obviously had a good eye.
- How much do you want for it ?
- £500, I said.
- £350, said he.
- £400, I said.
Done.
Pause.

- Who painted that one there ? He indicated one I have by my kitchen cooker, featuring hide boats (curraghs) in the west of Ireland painted by a 'holiday painter'. I had bought this for £25 a few years ago because I liked its distortion of landscape.
- Someone called R. Browne.
- Don't know of him. Bryan.
- No, Browne. I wrote down the name - but realised of course that he couldn't read.
- Is he well-known ?
- No - he's a holiday painter. Probably dead. I'll look him up on the internet.
(No R. Browne Northern Irish painter appeared on Google)
- Would you throw that one in ?
- Well, no. You can have it for £100 . I explained that I had bought it in a junk-shop some years ago.
- OK. He shook my hand. I'll just take it with me and come back tomorrow for the other one with the money.
- Well, no. I want to photograph them both before I part with them.

- Ah. (Pause.) OK. I'll phone you tomorrow before I come over on the ferry.
No phone-call ever came. I think the guy had hoped to make off with one picture for free. But surely he wouldn't have thought that even I would be so dumb ?
The silent boy was a mystery. Was he rendered quasi-autistic by his voluble father - who was obviously (or had been) a Traveller (formerly known in Ireland, the only country in Europe where Gypsies never came, as Itinerants), since he couldn't read.
His refusal to talk about county Clare indicated that his Clare-registered car was second-hand. It looked expensive, but had extremely worn front tyres. Since he couldn't read, he couldn't read the CE (for Clare, as KE stands for Kildare and KY for Kerry) in the middle of the Irish registration plate.
It was a very strange thing altogether. Maybe he'll come back in some days' time and remove all the pictures from my walls when I'm at Malcolm's....
There's nothing I could do to prevent that: locking the house would be no hindrance when it is completely out of sight. This is a second reason why I never lock it...

I couldn't live somewhere I had to lock. Our house was never locked when I was a child. I rarely lock my car (and never the boot). When I stay in other people's houses, I go through the distasteful procedure of locking with...distaste!
[Some years later an almost valueless but cherished VW Polo was stolen one night from outside my house, up a muddy lane, 3 miles from the nearest village - so obviously not a crime of opportunity. I hardly think it was this fellow, more likely someone put up to it by my landlord's horrible son. It was never found, and is probably rusting in an old shed somewhere, along with my camera, my driving-licence, and many items in the boot.]

23rd August

Consciousness is just a wound.

24th August

History is so disappointing.

I am swamped by the hundreds of narratives of our narrative civilisation, which, incrementally, rob me of my own narrative. As the energy of Americans might be sucked from folk like me.

(The news is what no-one knows how to turn off.)

Does the needle hurt the cloth ?

Life is very long, but still too short to waste on washing.

In 1930s Russia there were personal hygiene posters urging the populace: 'WASH YOUR FACE AND HANDS DAILY, YOUR BODY AT LEAST ONCE EVERY TEN DAYS AND YOUR HAIR AT LEAST ONCE A MONTH'. This is my régime - except that, being close-cropped where I am not bald, I don't wash my hair. And once a month is enough for my body.

Perhaps the best things about the Tuareg are that they can live their whole lives without washing, and have no word for 'virginity'. Their poets are always women.

Because I have never acknowledged status, I have refused all my life to compete. I have thus been unemployable.

I am not a member of any community. Just one who hides among the Lower Orders.

I know so well what is wrong - but to know what is right is impossible.

Humans talk of pure and true because their souls are dirt and lies. (O pessimistic intellect, O nihilistic will! - or the other way round.)

The present is too terrible to talk about. I salvage what integrity I can by refusing to participate in it.

I wonder if my dislike of (boredom with) the poetic conventions of simile and metaphor (which are so rarely mind-altering) is connected with my habit of seeing words as they are spoken. (Thus I have almost no problems with spelling.) This strange synesthesia has given me problems in French, which is such a homophonic language that whole sentences can pass me by as I try to visualise a word which might have five different spellings and meanings. Saint, sain, sein, ceins and ceint are all pronounced alike, and not so differently (especially in the South) from cent and sans. Such a pity that the langue d'oc did not become ths standard language. It sounds much more beautiful that the grotesque Northern nasalisations and uvular constrictions of modern standard French!

27th August

For a man who doesn't eat meat or fish or lunch, the best things in life are breakfast and dinner and bed - and dogs. (Sex is either infantile heaven or hell.) Trying to share the best things in life is as difficult as sharing a good onanistic experience.

People have no Way of Life anymore. They only have 'life-style'. And the word 'wholesome' has dropped out of the language.

The language eaten from within by warble-fly.

And the living dead shall be reincarnated dead.

28th August

Why do they think that doing is good, and that 'mere' being is idleness ?

The saddest of madnesses is excess of sanity. (This should be added to my Maxims.)

30th August

Belief is jumped-up desire.

31st August

The greatest blasphemy is the pretence that we are redeemable.
(On reading Orhan Pamuk's Snow.)

2nd September

Yesterday I freaked out in a bank. Door-buzzers, Queue Here, six surveillance cameras, fluorescent lighting, robotic cashiers, robotic 'customers' - I felt that I was in the false-ceilinged ante-room to an abattoir. I made a scene, I threw the pen and its stand at the female robot cashier. The entrance door was locked. The police were not called. Why do 'terrorists' not direct their attentions to every capitalist bank in the world ? Answer: every capitalist bank in the world keeps them going by financing the arms trade.

6th September

My faithful if intermittent correspondent 'Gerald90' writes:

"Dear Anthony,
Yes I understand perfectly well your impromptu rage-fest at your local bank. They are repulsive, deathly places, the true churches, temples, of our world. Concrete symbols of what we hold most dear. That such institutions exist and thrive point to the premature death of humanity. As I recall Jesus had a similar "moment" when confronted by the usurers.....

atb

Gerald."

Does anyone like anyone or is everything veneer and pretence ? Oscar does not like me: I belong to him in an understated way. But I do really like him.

I am in the early stages of Alzheimer's Disease. What I am writing is just a chunk of defective, almost spastic prose, humourless black humour, an artless gobbet of anecdote, introspective fiction that I think is true...

It is time to stop.

DARE YOU SEE THESE PICTURES ?

13th September

When I was travelling around rural France with my mother in the nineteen-seventies and eighties, looking for exhibitionists and related subjects on 12th century churches, and admiring what megaliths we could find, there were family hotels offering nice old-fashioned accommodation and simple meals. Soup might be offered in the family tureen and left on the table, so one could help oneself to as much or as little as one wanted. Greater wealth (with its accompanying meanness and greed) has changed that. Soups are no longer drunk in France, it seems! No standby and often excellent Bonne Femme. The concept of wholesomeness tempering the French tendency to the public grande bouffe has vanished even in la France Profonde on the borders of Quercy, Rouergue and the Albigeois. Most of hose family hotels that remain have gone seriously up-market, with showers (horrible things!) and WCs - but rarely bidets which I like and sometimes need.

In the 1980s my mother and I enjoyed an old-fashioned Hôtel du Commerce in the village of Angles-sur-l'Anglin - which did not have running hot water, but jugs carried up by the patron. So untrumpery was his establishment that we stayed there over a week. His dinners - cooked just for us since we were the only customers - were simple and good.

But dinner menus are now sheer pornography. Today on my birthday (when I summoned the chef-de-cuisine and ordered a nice platter of delicious but unimaginatively treated and combined vegetables) I have composed a menu for the Restaurant des Cannibales - a menu which will be far less shocking to the meat-obsessed French than to squeamish, prudish Anglophones. It includes such items as:

Sautéed Vulva of Nubile Ethiopian in its Nest of Pubic Hair

Penis of Young Pygmy still enrobed, and bathed in a coulis of His Sperm

Breast of Bihari Bride Bathed in her Milk (supplement 10 euros)

Buttock of Bushman en Brochette

Foetus of Filipina en Papillote

Braised Heart of Hutu stuffed with Foie Gras of Tutsi
on a Bed of Bosnian Tongues en galantine

Sabayon Samoyed Spermatique au Chocolat

Sorbet of Smiling Irish Eyes

- and so on ad nauseam.

We eat out only when we're on the long road from Cherbourg to the rustic gîte with its two-metre wide chimney and lovely old floors of flags, tomettes and wide planks: mostly we eat and sometimes invent delicious, wholesome, unpretentious vegetarian dishes made from local produce. Wild figs puréed with a third of their volume of raspberries, and a few centilitres of marc added, served chilled with properly soured cream and not the tartaric travesty known as crème fraîche...

15th September

It is not widely known that the Russians are to blame for a crime against nature even worse than those of Lenin and Stalin. It was they who introduced to France meals in separate courses at the end of the 18th century. Before that, the rich ate as the rich ate in the Ottoman Empire, and indeed in the Roman Empire: many dishes spread out so that the diner could choose which and in which order to eat. In the Ottoman-Muslim world, mezze were spread out on low tables and one sat on the floor. In Europe the European high tables were used and the diners walked as they ate their buffet. The meal of courses is part of the totalitarian-infantile trend of Western culture: get people sitting down at separate tables and serve them like children. In music, too, there is a similar trend: the totalitarian orchestra playing what they are told to people imprisoned in seats in a concert-hall - as opposed to lying on cushions sipping wine or eating hashish while a couple of geniuses interpret and elaborate a raag.

17th September

In similar vein to the the chef's immodest proposals above I, having enjoyed an excellent (fairly) local Gaillac Perlé with Malcolm compose the following poem in front of the apple-wood fire:

A la Merde

Ca-canin
Ca-canard
Cac- à-dos
Ca-calin
Ca-caresse
Ca-capote
Caca-eau
Caca-strophe!

29th September

Changing evil to edible: Every army is edible is the slogan on the back of my car. Les armées sont comestibles: entartez-les toutes. Le club des cannibales végétariens. The Society of Misanthropes. My wine-grower friend thought these remarks amusing. We watched the carbonic maceration of his grapes.

I have returned from France, where I kept mislaying things, finding them only after I got back. But I didn't find my wallet, containing credit-card and hundreds of euros, which I lost in a field, or dropped on the side of a country road. I could not be bothered reporting the loss to anyone. I was more worried about the temperamental starter-motor on the 11-year-old car, which already had to be bashed a bit to get it to work.

The Irish Police asked me on my return how I, having answered their impertinent questions truthfully, could afford to go to France if I was unemployed. The lovely sniffer-dog found nothing among the bottles of wine and packets of cheese, remains of picnic and smells of Oscar, who vacationed in Dublin while we were away. There was, of course, nothing to find. The bonnet (hood) was not opened (roomfor many kilos of cocaine there) nor was the spare wheel (room for two or three kilos of cocaine there). We were stopped because my Renault 19 is old and has slogans on the back and because we are bearded and look marginal. While we were being frivolously fake-searched, various sharp people in fashionable, ugly, casual wear brought many kilos of cocaine into the squalid shamrock-isle by BMW. Some were from Lithuania.

The car was laden with bottles of Armagnac which I love, Gaillac Perlé sold to us by the charming, poised and beautiful patronne of Château Bouscaillous at Noailles near Cordes-sur-Ciel, and the superb Gris Fumé of the genial Monsieur Morgat at the Domaine du Breuil in Beaulieu-sur-Layon (which also has a repaired dolmen).

I was often in ecstasy in the Noble-Val d'Aveyron, where I have been many times and keep returning to. In much of rural France you have to drive 20 kilometres to find something ugly. In rural Ireland you have to drive 20 kilometres to find something beautiful and unbesmirched.

30th September

Dozens of times, while planting or driving or trying to sleep, I have thought of Great Lines, and my thoughts have moved on, and the great lines never got noted, and were forthwith forgotten.

4th October

My doctor was amused when I asked about my incipient Alzheimer's. He told me of a 25-year old who came to him worrying about Dementia after losing his JCB digger for three days. The only way Alzheimer's can be diagnosed is by psychiatric examination, so I guess we'll pass on that - since (especially having recently read dog-loving Jeffrey Moussaieff Masson's Against Therapy) I rate psychiatrists well below abattoir workers, soldiers and concentration-camp guards. When I told him of my sudden feelings of rage, however, he gave me a chit for blood tests which might reveal conditions other than Alzheimer's. But I could see that he did not take me seriously. Doctors are just showmen.

My big loving hairy lover Paul has promised to visit this evening - and to stay overnight ! This will be just the second time ever. The Renaudin champagne is in the fridge. A tape of the Sabri Brothers is ready to accompany the unpenetrative ecstasy of loving cuddles. I shall make a beautiful meal for him (as usual) and (as usual) include something he has never eaten before. On his last visit I made a caviar coleslaw from red Beluga caviar brought as a disapproved-of gift by my Russian friends, red cabbage, capers, yogurt and mustard. This invention was a first for me, too. Tonight it will be a smooth seasonal compote of apples and late elderberries, served with cinnamon and sour cream - and perhaps a glass of venerable Château Coutet-à-Barsac, if it doesn't seem like painting the lily.

The apéritif will be a glass of Suze, a gentian-based bittersweet concoction still widely drunk in France as the unrelated Dubonnet, Byrrh and St-Raphaël are not.

I love receiving this man. I feel so enhanced in his presence. I feel that life is perhaps worth living after all. I want to share my enthusiasms with him - landscapes, old stones, food, wine, plants (all of which he loves) - my life with him - or at least a little pied-à-terre with a garden in or near Saint-Antonin-Noble-Val.

I discovered on his last visit that his mother was 13 and his father 12 when he was born. He was brought up by his father's parents who live just 5 miles away. His father (a shy hermit) lives just a little further away in the opposite direction, but he and Paul never meet. Paul's mother went on to have relationships with a series of exotic and violent men. Paul lived with them for periods - on la Réunion, in Bordeaux, in Algeciras. I wonder if this has any bearing on the unbelievable number of jobs Paul has had, many of them lasting no longer than a week. Mostly this is because employers tell him to cut his (very bushy, very dense and very neat, attractive) beard, which he quite rightly refuses to do. People with beards are disapproved of as much as any religious minority. Indeed more so when they do not wear beards to declare an official (i.e. hypocritical) religion. But for Paul and myself, beard-love (especially our own mutual beard-love) is very much a religious commitment.

5th October

Paul didn't show up. He sent a text-message to tell me that his ex-lover (who hates beards and never has a good word to say about him or indeed anyone) staged yet another fake suicide. Paul claimed that he had made the mistake of having himself listed as Next-of-Kin. and so (if the text-message told the truth) at the drop of a few pills (quickly followed by a phonecall to the ambulance service) he can be summoned to The Bedside of The Black Hole who is a drink problem called Martin - and - quite stupidly, predictably, obediently, cravenly, goes - where he surely is despised by the manipulator. Having allegedly listened in to a phone conversation, Martin knew of Paul's intention to visit me and decided to prevent it by taking further advantage of free emergency services and hospital treatment. He has also, apparently, had by-pass surgery because of his thralldom to alcohol and fried fat.

Failed suicide is true failure indeed.

I took the champagne out of the refrigerator. I wept dry tears of ironic self-pity as I cooked an altogether humbler meal than I intended, with no alcohol - which should, of course, only be taken to celebrate with or to uplift, never to accompany sadness or drown miserable disappointment.

My beard's attempted suicide left it 4 centimetres shorter. I lacked the conviction to shave it off: for me a more drastic act than mere suicide.

Malcolm commiserated gently, with no Schadenfreude.

I masturbated furiously. I had my October bath, and clean pyjamas, and laid out clean clothes for the morrow. A lonely, minimalist celebration-compensation.

I burned my painting entitled "Love is the only reason for living" which I had taken off a wall to give Paul. 'Love' ? Don't make me laugh!

I can see how easily love (or the illusion of love) could turn to hate and also to self-contempt, for I despise myself for wallowing in the hope of a few hours' happiness with Paul , who has often failed to show up - because the "love" for me which he spoke so eloquently in our snuggles is low in his list of priorities. Sometime he failed to turn up, I guess, because of Black-Hole-Martin. It is hard to harden my heart - but I shall have to, since he can't harden his vis-à-vis the Black Hole.

I love real roller-coasters - but how I hate emotional ones!

He came to visit just three times in 2003, and four times this year. I am low on his list of priorities. I have never been invited to his house for love and cuddles because of his strait-laced, drink-addled great-uncle who shares it with him. Martin has probably been a frequent visitor, offering no love or cuddles, just whines and clutchings.

I almost despise myself for joyfully taking cuttings and potting up plants for the plant-loving Paul, and setting aside little presents for him, including a portrait in oils of myself and Oscar among the flowering shrubs on Malcolm's patio, painted by Artyom Kotyenko - which he later threw in a bin.

It is very galling when you pride yourself on your rigorous judgement of character (rejecting most people as either fools or knaves) only to find that you are no judge of character at all. Perhaps 'the simple truth' is that every human being is a shit. Perhaps Paul is just another lying, loony gay and is as worthless as Martin. As deeply worthless as any human. We could never go to France together, because Martin would, allegedly, stage another drama, and the gutless, dishonest but wonderful-to-be-with Paul would, yet again, choose Martin because "Martin needs me". And I, the "strong one who needs nobody", would weep dry tears and rage with stiff upper lip and hope to die. If I had 'needed' Paul, II'd be dead by now and in the blessed state of no-pain.

I have always longed to share by enthusiasm for beauty and landcape and beautiful things like ceramics with a lover. Malcolm, though sweet and true unlike the rest of humanity, is half-numb like most people. I don't have much time left. Paul seemed to be "my last chance". A few years ago he was half my age. No - not so much my last chance as the only man with whom I felt enhanced by and completely at one with - correction: has the illusion that I felt completely at one with. If he ever phones me (which is likely to be months from now) I will ask him to choose between Martin and me, because he can't have paraplegic relationships with both. He will choose Martin, because "Martin needs me", and he will have forty years of Martin's Black Hole, and I will rage and hope to die. I am tending Brocks' Acre where my grave will be, and have new trees and shrubs to plant there in November. There I will lie surrounded by my beech-trees and bore-trees (elders), oaks, hazels, hollies, plums, wild roses and flowering exotics. I would hope to be dug up and eaten by the beautiful badgers, whom I treasure also around my house some 20 kilometres away [and were to be the End of Oscar].

I think that we lie to ourselves about people we attach ourselves to - then we deny that lie. Then we get angry and start to reject the person involved because they do not fit the lie, the expectation, the image. Mostly - and most unusually - I see people as they really are, and reject them. But with Paul I saw and felt something beautiful. A mirage.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: In the end, inevitably, Martin succeeded in killing himself. Out of his large family, only the guilt-ridden Paul and one of Martin's many brothers were at the graveside.
It may be, of course, that Paul, never having been loved or thought physically beautiful before, simply cannot cope with being so passionately loved and thought beautiful by me. Having reached a weight way beyond 100 kg he latterly has had to visit a dietician ever week to help him lose weight.
On the other hand, it could be that, because of the joyless Martin, he associates 'love' with misery rather than fun. A mixture of both sad ingredients is also possible.

LATER (2009) Malcolm reports that Paul told him last year that Martin was alive and well and working with Alcoholics Anonymous. Has the dope totally addled his brain to turn him into a compulsive liar ? Which story should we believe ?]

a strange correspondence >

6th October

When you think people are laughing, often they are weeping.
When you think people are weeping, the worst of them are laughing.

There is nothing like hurt and anger to clear the geriatric fog in the head.

Weeping is better than words.

Shakespeare, whom I said was over-rated at the beginning of this meandering monologue, almost never investigated marriage in his plays. There is plenty of passionate, impossible romantic love (the women were played by boys, of course) - but the only marriages to be analysed (insofar as Shakespeare could be said to analyse anything) in all his plays are those of Gertrude and Claudius in Hamlet, and the really intimate marriage of the Macbeths. Shakespeare himself abandoned his illiterate wife and children (his son died at the age of 11), while he entered the wonderful world of Christopher Marlowe, boy-loving aristocrats - and Italian sonnets which he adapted to his own, less subtle 'Shakespearean' form.

How many other people prefer the plays of Sophocles, Euripides, Chekhov and Eugene O'Neill (not to mention Racine, Strindberg and even Tom Stoppard) to those of the Bard of Avon ? Of course, Shakespeare is even worse on the radio than he is on stage (except, perhaps, for King Lear and Macbeth), whereas the other above-mentioned, like all the best dramas, are better without the distracting visual mechanics.

I like to imagine impossible but serious societies - such as the Society for Drama in the Dark - in the same vein as my Society of Vegetarian Cannibals which inspired the final title of this web-page, and my

want to see ?

Today's inspiration is:

The Society for the Criminalisation of Humanity.

7th October

Today is British National Poetry Day. Which is to say: decreed meaningless. Poetry in English is a dried-up thing, contrived and controlled, all words and no passion - the triumph of presentation over content. It is all curb and snaffle - for the bloody horse died some time around 1936. The British (and to a lesser extent the Irish and the Americans) are terrified of the meanings of words, which is why they make such a unique and quaint-if-it-weren't-so-pathetic fuss about fuck and shit and cunt and nigger and queer and worthless as applied to people. Cock as a male bird is taboo in America, where arse (and cunt) became ass - and ass became donkey (which used to rhyme with monkey)... Shit! has become shoot! in North America, and bugger has become booger (and thus is closer to the French bougre). To call a cock a rooster is as pathetically coy as Victorians calling a redbreast a robin or a white-arse a wheatear. Yet, impenetrably, shag is now perfectly acceptable - even on the BBC - when unpleasantly used as a verb rather than naming a bird.

Kill is a perfectly acceptable word, but fuck is not. This says almost all you need to know about our values.

You are allowed to kill your children's minds and hearts and sensibilities through stultifying 'education' - but not to expose them on an Adoption Rock (as in ancient Athens).

English is a good language for describing things - especially metallic things like motor-engines and guns, and a bad language for describing subtle emotions, ambiguity and resonances. These un-Anglo-Saxon non-things tend to rely on French and German vocabulary. Similarly, ideas and emotions in English are expressed in ("down-to-earth". terre-à-terre prose - often in novels, the quintessential (and endlessly reproducing) English art-form. The English translate French poetry (which is something of a tilting at windmills) but are reluctant to translate French novels.

Because of the fear of the meanings of words, poetry so-called in English is beautifully castrated: the scars are very well-heeled. Commercial, entertainment-industry pap, it receives prizes when it is so clipped and false as to be mere verbal topiary produced by people who, mere machines of conformity, have decided to advance into being machines of poetry, writing like therapists describing their patients...

Yeats' words of warning may have been right at the time, but now the situation is quite opposite, for the worst (i.e. the published) lack all conviction, while the best (writing in languages other than English) are full of passionate intensity.

In the very unlikely event that I would be invited to give a poetry reading, I would refuse - not least because I cannot abide the banality of applause. This is why I hate the theatre and concerts, relying for drama and music on the wireless and sound reproduction systems in the quiet and comfort of my own deeply rustic and unmodern home, where I can lie on the floor and listen in the dark - or darn my socks... I live most of my life in silence and (apart from Oscar) solitude - which, Orhan Pamuk observed, is essentially a matter of pride: you live immersed in your own scent.

I have, however, enjoyed a few recitals in the past - the Beaux Arts trio playing Brahms and Schubert in Belfast's only congenial venue, the 19th century wedding-cake-Venetian Elmwood Hall, where seats were unnumbered. Thus I went early and had a front row seat right beside the marvellous Menachem Pressler and could easily imagine that I was alone with the trio in this lovely space. On another occasion I went to a Georgian mansion not far from Dublin one June evening, so warm that, after a fine performance of Schubert's B-flat Trio by (I think) the Torteliers, the French doors were thrown open and we listened to Beethoven's Archduke Trio while lying on the grass just outside. On another occasion, the environment of a dreary meeting-hall in Belfast was transformed by being able to lie on cushions at the back, listening to an Indian master playing the sarod.

This year the forthcoming Belfast university festival promises a World Première of a new work by John Tavener, a composer I admire greatly (but not for his religiosity). It will be held, however, in the hideous Waterfront Hall, a cheapskate concrete drum as depressingly ugly on the outside as it is soullessly airport-terminal inside, so I will not be present - even if I were to get a free ticket and not just a £6 reduction for being an old person. However, Malcolm and I shall attend the performance of a recent Tavener work and one of Brahms' glorious Piano Quartets in the lovely Elmwood Hall - at the congenial hour of eleven in the morning. It is for me a great pity that so much cultural performance takes place in the evening, at a time when I like to enjoy my dinner, and then sit by the fire reading or listening to the wireless. I have never understood the attraction of going out at night after an early or a bolted evening meal, nor indeed the evening attraction of bars and pubs. People who go to them must be very lonely, or hate their homes.

8th October

In a side-ward of the sordid, Victorian hospital, my ninety-four-year old aunt lies dying, slowly, slowly, an adjunct to technology, in a web of catheters and drips. "Why ? Why ? Why are they doing this to me ?" she moans." I want away." She looks exactly like a Belsen victim. They are doing this to her because the same culture which insults suffering produced Dr Mengele, whose ghost haunts every hospital.

That was a passage from my diary of 1996, which I burned to-day. My decision to wrest control of my aunt, and, later my mother, from the things and insults of convention, led me to organise their funerals and coffins myself, without the insulting services of the Funeral Industry. We have no power against the Medical Mafia (except through serious and successful suicide), but it is still possible to escape the undertakers.

'God' is in each of us, armpit and arsehole, foreskin and vulva, cancer and pustule, dandruff and faeces...
'The Devil' is in words and theses.

Animals are truly themselves and use almost the full capacity of their brains. Humans, however, can be defined by their unique quality of not being themsleves and of refusing to use their brains to more than half their capacity. This is another definition of Original Sin, and why we are irredeemable.

I am globally sad, locally miserable. But a streak of hope is painted on the horizon for next Monday, the eleventh of October - for I have been summoned to appear at my doctor's surgery to be told the results of blood tests. Unless it turns out to be (like so much for so long) informational illusion.

9th October

Unless it offers short- or medium-term gain, the last thing humans want to listen to is reason.

Further feedback from 'Gerald90':

How whimsical that Romanticism has not deserted you in your dotage. Chapeau (I take my hat off to you) I got rid of that guff long ago. Still, we shall always pretend what we are not. No misanthrope you, Anthony...I think you should stop loving people so much...in the end it's all self-love. Is it not?

a.t.b.

Gerald

10th October

Tonight's cultural treat on the wireless (BBC Radio 3) a performance of an adaptation of Brecht's Mr Puntila and his Man Matti. Nearly forty years ago (in Tide and Undertow, Belfast 1976) I translated one of the superb songs from this play (set brilliantly to music by Paul Dessau), which I have never heard until now:

THE BALLAD OF THE LADY AND THE FORESTER

There once lived a Lady in Sweden's cold land
and fair and lovely was she.
"O Forester mine, my garter's undone,
is undone, is undone -
Forester, bend down and tie it for me!"

"O Lady, O Lady, don't look at me so:
I serve you to bind soul to breath.
Your breasts they are white, but my hatchet is cold,
it is cold, it is cold -
Love is a sweet thing but bitter is death."

The Forester fled that very same night
and rode to the edge of the sea.
"O Captain, O Captain, take me in your boat,
in your boat, in your boat -
Captain, I have to cross over the sea."

A vixen she once fell in love with a cock:
"O Golden Bird, don't you love me ?"
And glory was evening, but when came the dawn,
came the dawn, came the dawn,
all the cock's feathers swirled under the tree.


Before discovering Brecht in Denmark, I discovered Georges Brassens. At the time that I was madly in love with a Danish woman (when I was 21), I lived for a while off and on the Baltic islet of Christiansø with the island's teacher who was mad on Brecht, and went every year to East Berlin to attend performances of the Berliner Ensemble. The island's doctor was a very comfortably-bourgeois Marxist called Tage Voss, who was well-known as a writer in Denmark. (Of course, he wasn't a patch on his Norwegian contemporary, Tarjei Vesaas, one of the deepsimplest writers ever.) Until now I haven't really appreciated Brecht very much (apart from the wonderful Weill-collaboration Mahagonny), preferring the Greeks and Chekhov, O'Neill, Williams, Racine and the chap who wrote Penthisilea. But now that I am becoming, despite myself, a neo-Marxian, I can appreciate the didactic Brecht a little better.

11th October

'Gerald90' is obviously fed up with all this:

All writers painters, poets are Romantics. ie: superior beings aloft upon their clouds of peculiar enlightement. My 48 yrs mingling with the human race have convinced me otherwise. The shelf-filler at Tesco's [supermarket], the refuge [sic] collector: they are the true artists of our time. The rest: just pretentious bores.

My new-found doctor told me this morning that I have Vitamin B-12 deficiency, a condition which is very common - and very commonly undiagnosed. I am unusual, however, in not having anæmia: my hæmoglobin is very healthy. Lack of B-12 is a major factor in both dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Going gaga
I spent the morning in frustration
looking for the lid of the coffee jar,
then by mistake I e-mailed the foregoing
to an almost total stranger.

Since it is the only abnormality found, it is likely to be a result of my vegetarian diet - so no: I simply swallow the free vitamin B-12 tablets which I have been prescribed.

14th October

Oscar has been appointed President-for-Life of the Animals' Society for the Prevention of Humans.

We mirror each other, Oscar and I, in that he is more interested in humans (food-providers) than in other dogs; and I am more attracted by dogs than by humans. Indeed, I no longer understand why humans are so interested in each other.

Which is more insane: the process of evolution or our admiration of it ? Evolution of the brain should have stopped at "Good Enough" - chimpanzees, gorillas and orang-utans. But it went on robotically to produce us who are like a one-off virus that kills itself with its only host. The motto of the human species can only be:

Après moi le déluge.

I have this week discovered a writer every bit as good - and funnier - than Margaret Atwood. She is Barbara Trapido, and in her Frankie and Stankie she performs the miracle of giving the reader a potted history of South Africa while beautifully describing the growing-up (and eventual emigration to more-tolerantly racist Britain) of a naïve young girl of German parentage as the mad, fascist, apartheid state was instituted and increased its racist grip.

15th October

Talking of books and writers - I cannot understand why Stephen King is a best-selling author. I have read only two of his books. The first one was excellent, gripping...(can't remember the title)...and the one I am reading at the moment, Bag of Bones, is a very absorbing, complicated and quite challenging read. This is not airport-bookstall writing with cardboard characters having sickly romances or involved in violent adventures. The prose is as angular and uncompromising as the ideas expressed. Yet he sells by the million in airport bookshops. Why doesn't Barbara Trapido ? Is it all down to marketing and agents, or who has bought the film rights ?

18th October

All groups are gangs - especially families.

19th October

Another day awakening to terrible dismay in glorious weather.

20th October

In Brazil a colloquial expression for dying is taking a space-taxi.

21st October

Human knowledge is no more than the maps of human ignorance.

Property is the opposite of morality (?)

23rd October

In death is safety. When we're all dead, we'll all be safe. It is another glorious day.
I shall take Oscar down the field to pick some of the lush watercress.

'gerald90' writes again:-

Ouspensky: One thing is certain, that not one of the ways out offered to humanity by its friends and benefactors is a way out in any sense. Life becomes only more entangled and more complicated, but even in this entanglement and these complications it does not take any new forms but endlessly repeats the same infinitely old forms.

PS. You have to be a bonehead to read Stephen King......and yes.....that's why he sells millions.

[My reply: Stephen King might be trash compared with Zola, Balzac, Dostoyevski, Genet, etc. - but he is certainly as good as the revered Dickens. His powers of description are superb, and he conjures up convincingly the stifling parochialism and latent menace in small-town America which is not so different from the bad vibrations that haunt rural Ireland. I don't understand, however, how a library service with some fifty branches serving nearly half a million people has over fifty copies of  'Bag of Bones' - and just one very used copy of  'The Gruffalo', a superb book for young children which should have at least one copy in every branch, if the library service is serious in attracting custom and promoting literacy in the young.]

In any case, trashy books can have good things in them. I was once urged to read a New Age book called (I think)The Celestine Prophecy. It may have been for boneheads, but within it was the great observation that more and more people go about sucking out the goodness and energy of others, especially their children. Indeed the whole system is built around this vampiric disempowerment.

From another New Age publication, a psycho-manual called The Tao of Chaos, I got the 'insight' that words and the concepts they create are the mesh of the sieve I must pass through.

For the past 18 years my brain has told me that I have been feeling bad - dismay at being trapped-in-shame-as-human, or Vitamin B-12 malabsorption ? Or is is a kind of Progressive Autism as I withdraw more and more from people and their pathetic, terrifying Normality. But I think I have felt fine - if often fatigued - in my body most of that time. After all, I have - living in a beautiful, secluded place with a beautiful little garden full of remarkable shrubs - been free of neighbours, employers, debt and the octopus of family. It is such a pity that my feeling (feeling-bad) brain so overrides my feeling-good and polysensual body. If only I could turn it off and be like Oscar.

Because of my feeling-bad brain (feeling bad about being yet another malignant human) I walk from emptiness through anger to decrepitude.

24th October

Dear Belinda,

Many thanks for taking the trouble to hand-write a letter to me. I appreciate it.

I could not bring myself to open your letter, so I gave it to Malcolm, and he summarised it briefly for me. I wonder why you are trying to keep in contact with a misanthropic old curmudgeon ? What's in it for either of us ? We are completely opposed on most social and philosophical subjects, and I devote my life to enquiry and transparency, whereas you (like most people apart from Malcolm) are inscrutable, opaque.

Everyone I have ever met has been disappointing - as I was a disappointment to my mother and her sister and mother who raised me.

I have become extremely reclusive, because I find our culture and society increasingly obscene and offensive. Everyone in the world is confronted with the problem of how to cope with the effects of greed-driven turbo-capitalism and the low-level liberalism which feeds it. It is not just affronted Muslim societies who constantly have constantly-shifting and hypocritical 'Western Values' shoved up their noses, and into their eyes through television, but the people of Europe as well - people who, themselves, like the North Americans, are getting richer on the wealth bled out of Africa and South America. We are all invaded and threatened by greed-consumerism. The liberalism/libertarianism (these words seem to have opposite meanings in the US) that it promotes is of the lowest kind, and deliberately designed to appeal to envy, lust and greed.

The problem with libertarianism as a philosophy is that it was devised by and for serious, philosophical, frugal people. But once it becomes inextricably enmeshed in the culture, it simply becomes the virus or instrument of invasive capitalism which seeks to take over our lives by infecting every aspect of our lives with envy, greed and unmitigated desire. It constantly, stridently diminishes and ridicules asceticism, the only philosophical brake to its 'progress'.)

Everything human is deeply superficial - except in its effect upon the planet. Increasingly I find human beings unattractive. I warm to dogs, cats, centipedes and spiders - but regard humans more like slugs and sheep. Slugs individually, sheep collectively. In groups humans are gangs - from families and New Year's Eve parties to Amnesty International and Islamic Jihad. I am human myself, and, confronted by Oscar's beauty of form and spirit, feel pretty unworthy of him.

I cannot understand why you wish to 'flog a dead horse'. Ever since the beginning, our friendship has been edgy, and getting edgier. (In any case, 'friendship' is a myth, a fabrication like 'love' . Unlike loyalty which is entirely different, it is nothing but morning mist. In the end we are utterly alone, because human relationships are pathologically dishonest.) You and I have almost nothing in common; I have had bad experiences in your milieu - your boorish husband, your 'friends', and those awful New Year's Eve parties, to which I foolishly went in the vague hope of meeting someone exciting, or just someone I could relate to. It seems to me obstinate masochism to pursue 'friendship' that was always faltering.

I really cannot cope with 'normal' people. In my (irreversible ?) state of incipient dementia, I see no point in and get no pleasure from brief socialising; it is about as meaningful as a TV chat show. The one person I would like to be with is unavailable, and shrouded in cannabis smoke.

But thanks for writing.

Yours sincerely,

Anthony

25th October

I should get out more and socialise! But with whom...in Northern Ireland, the most antisocial place on the planet ?

What newspapers I read come to me weeks later, second-hand. This is from the London "Sunday Telegraph", 26th September 2004 (Review, page 2):

In his final column for this newspaper, in May 2002, Nigel [Nicolson] character-istically wrote: "Virginia Woolf once said to me as a child: 'Nothing has really happened until it has been described.'"

On the contrary: description turns 'reality' to fiction.

I made six or seven kilos of quince jam...delicious!...and will improve over the years.

26th October

For the first time in my life I have composed a joke: What is an 'axis of evil' ? Answer: The shortest distance between two banks.
(Or, if you prefer the less neat but more radical reply: The connection between any two seats of government.)

27th October

Instead of being dominated and oppressed by my thoughts, I should learn to 'inhabit and increase the space between them'. Easier said than done.

Most cultures, especially this one, are obsessed by the cause-and-effect pattern. This has taken over our minds, and has produced Recorded History and its repetitive awfulness. The enormity of cause-and-effect produces my sense of helplessness, my perception of the chaos which is the result of Man's totalitarian attempt to master cause-and-effect.

'Machine-operatives' whose hair or sleeves got caught by ineluctable machines were whirled to death in their thousands.

Dogs in their blessedness have little sense of cause and effect, and inhabit the wide space of acceptance and indifference.

The French Romantic poet Lamartine (whose poems I loved at school) 'loved nobody but his dogs', his wife complained.

28th October

If I were megalithomaniac enough to be a preacher or a prophet, or mad enough to found a new religion, I would preach Bestialism: that man should serve animals and nature, and not the other way round. My poor followers would be obliged to remove fences and liberate horses and chickens and pigs, and each take a few cows home to look after (as in India)...except that they wouldn't, for they would compromise with Cæsar (as did the Christians) even before I was martyred as a terrorist.

29th October

Eating my delicious dinner, and listening to Sibelius' enthralling and always-fresh violin concerto (of which I never tire) I thought: Most celebrities are worthless because our culture celebrates celebrity.

A woman can get an abortion almost on demand, but I cannot get a lobotomy. It was only by the merest good luck that I managed to get a vasectomy on demand over thirty years ago.

The nearest that we get to rationality is suicide.

30th October

Having given up on the stultifying world and mountainous prose of Marcel Proust, I am continuing my research into narrative and its tricksy power by reading another American millionaire best-seller, John Grisham. Published in 2000, The Brethren is an astonishing description of modern America. Although he makes the CIA (rather than the NewCon-spiracy) instal a new President by vicious hook and by even nastier crook, his novelistic insight into the appalling milieu of geo-political shenanigans is largely corroborated by Adam Curtis' superb documentary, The Power of Nightmares, a sequel to his magnificent Century of the Self (about Edward Bernays the father of turbo-capitalist consumerism, and godfather of the Cold War) currently being shown on BBC television.

One tragedy of the USA is that its people do not believe in Fate (Mektoub) - only in The Future.

Sex assumes far too great an importance in the worlds of the Abrahamic religions, because those religions prevent people from according sex the respect it deserves, its importance in the scheme of things.

31st October

A nice phrase in Grisham's book: the Juggernaut of Family Values. How can a man who produces such a neat and radical remark sell millions of copies around the world, some no doubt even to the Scotch-Irish/Ulster-Scots religious rednecks and rapists who clamour so frighteningly about Family Values ?

Tonight is the night of Hallow-E'en fires: flames to keep the spirits of the dead away on the night when the veil between the natural and the supernatural can easily be rent. At this time the rising sun illuminates - through the iron grille - the back of the neolithic passage-tomb popularly known as 'The Mound of the Hostages' at Tara. And American websites carry the banal banner "Happy Halloween" as if Halloween had anything to do with mere happiness! [Maxim 378: Happiness is blind, which is why, Dear Rilke, happiness falls.]

1st November

Narrative is our endlessly-repetitive way of escaping from the pangs and guilt of consciousness. We keep wanting re-runs because we never actually escape. Stories (including, of course, descriptions of 'reality' in literature or in science) are like recurring dreams. We are stuck in the groove of narrative and can only escape by side-lining language, searching for nests between words.
If we are such superior animals, why are we constantly demanding, seeking, wanting ?

Dogs are wonderfully undemanding. "Humans are gods from outer space," Oscar "Legs" Tail might say.

The most enduring Terrorism is 'Normality'.

2nd November

All the world knows that today is the day of the American Presidential and Congressional Election. Such is 'news'. But it is an election between Tweedledum and Tweedledee. The problem for the world is not the US President but the United States themelves. How can a two-party state (only twice as good as a one-party state) without Proportional Representation call itself a democracy ? (I am not anti-American - but I would be, if I were a U.S. citizen like three of the few men whom I admire:
Walt Whitman, Alfred Kinsey and Blind Willie Johnson.)

The media obsesses over non-news like this because those who control it do not want us to know anything about real news. We heard almost nothing about Rwanda. We are hearing nothing about Chechenya. The wars and pogroms in Sudan and Congo are only reported on a 'slow news day'. We were never told about a dozen dictatorships in Africa mostly financed by the United States, Britain and France, who did or are doing outrageous things. Hastings Banda in Malawi and Mobutu Sese Seko in Congo (who were much worse than Franco or Mussolini) were ignored by the media and the consumers of the media , the 'ordinary, good' people of the literate world. The Central African Republic's Bokassa only became 'newsworthy' when he modelled his own coronation as Emperor on that of Napoleon I. Idi Amin was wilfully regarded as a buffoon and not a psychopath. Zimbabwe's equally- and recently-psychopathic dictator only hits the news very occasionally and briefly when white farmers are involved. Who knows (or cares) what is happening in the Caribbean, Egypt, South America, South-east Asia ? 'The News' chooses not to know, or at least not to tell us. It faded from news bulletins within hours that 100,000 Iraqis (mostly women and children) have died since their 'liberation' from Saddam, and that the country is spiralling downwards to the hugely-expensive mayhem of a failed state.

John Pilger is a lone voice in the wilderness of 'news'.

We know and care nothing about the sufferings of bombed dogs and other animals in 'liberated' Iraq.

I have always loved stone and stones. And I make wonderful self-love when I'm stoned.

The lies we're always telling others are just crude versions of the lies we can't stop inventing for ourselves.

One of the greatest lies we live by is the lie that human beings are basically 'good' and so we should like people and socialise. In spite of the history of the 20th century alone - Stalin, Hitler and Franco, Cambodia, Rwanda, Turkey, South Africa, Chile, Argentina, East Timor, Diego Garcia, etc.) we convince ourselves that we (including the populations who supported and support tyranny all over the globe) are good and likeable, and that it is outrageous and inhuman to say that humans are nature's hubris and nemesis. But we know how horrible we are - we cannot not-know it. We simply ignore it. We are the only species which rejects the reason of which we are capable and which rejects the evidence of our eyes and ears and noses in favour of the propaganda of our weak and lying brains.

And so millions congratulate themselves and each other on a sham (and, in fact, shameful) 'democracy' which elects Tweedledum or Tweedledee to wreck the world. We know it doesn't matter who seems to be in charge - the exploitation and destruction which are the core of capitalism (if not the core of 'humanity') will continue unabated.

In World War II, the boots of lower-ranking Germans smelled of fish-oil. And German officers painted views of the Seine on Sundays.

3rd November

'Gerald90' reproves me again:

The silent stones that you have so diligently catalogued contain reservoirs of wisdom
on which you have sullenly turned your back in order to beat your breast and wring your hands.
. Turn your face towards the dark mystery - you may be pleasantly surprised!

By the dark mystery, does he mean death, my long-lost brother ?

Go to another dark mystery composed today >

7th November

I tried to sell 'part or parts of the frontal lobes of my brain' on horrible E-Bay, explaining in the description that I was just selling the opportunity to perform a lobotomy for just $20 and that I would pay the surgeon the going rate for a lobotomy operation. Needless to say, although the advertisement went through the system, and I was congratulated on successfully placing my advertisement, it was quietly and quickly suppressed and no fee was charged. The web can erase behaviour such as mine without a trace.

8th November

I feel like the edge of a cliff which falls - not into the immeasurable sea, but - into the trash of a land-fill waste disposal site.

9th November

As a child I got relief from tension and from thinking by turning on to my belly in bed, placing my hands upon the pillow, and banging my head against them while singing a monotonous tune repeatedly - an Ur-tune that is the basis of many melodies and variations in European classical (and, for that matter, popular) music, especially the hymn-like tunes and chorales beloved of Brahms.

When all else fails - philosophise!

10th November

Pope John Paul II said that the only point of freedom is to seek the truth. He of course believes in a single revealed truth, so the only point of freedom is freedom to become a good Roman Catholic. Thus the man who worked hard for 'liberation' of the Poles from 'communism' was working for one (long-successful) moral and social totalitarianism against another, merely-social, totalitarianism which quickly failed.

Liberal secularism is, of course, also totalitarian. It talks of 'universal human rights' and other such noble-sounding inventions of the European Enlightenment and later. But all that liberal secularism has done is to whip up and unleash human greed upon the stricken planet, in the very non-Enlightenment name of Progress. This would never have happened otherwise.

Liberal secularism is, of course, also a religion - though one denying that it is a religion. And religions are manifestations of jealousy. The original Hebrew of the First Mosaic Commandment states: "For I am your Lord, and my name is Jealousy".

With the Enlightenment (and Descartes' notorious conclusion that animals were mere machines, had no souls and could not feel pain) came the greatest evil ever to have befallen the planet - more malign than any religion - the Industrial Revolution which first laid waste to Britain, then the mindlessly-imitating world.

Perhaps the only good thing about any religion is its ascetisicm.

12th November

Emissions from concrete, from reservoirs, from the swimming-pools of the rich, from the multi-million methane farts of cattle and pigs are also poisoning the atmosphere. These are the real agents of doom and destruction - and ordinary 'harmless' consumers are terrorists almost as much as the capitalist greedy who feed their ever-increasing greed by feeding the ever-increasing greed of consumers like you and me, each of us drowning in his/her own ego and throttling, trampling to dust the planet by sheer weight of numbers.

The spider, with a network of one, seems 'successful'.

13th November

'Satan' is the sum of all the humans who have ever lived.

And money is the devil's seed.

It is not so long ago that heretics were burned alive and roads were impassable for half of the year and famines were frequent and a healthy human was hard to find.

14th November

I wish the worst for Man: for what is 'good for' Man is very 'bad for' Earth.

15th November

I was surprised and pleased today to learn that my dislike of Michelangelo was shared by Mark Rothko (a painter I fully admire) and is shared by his son Christopher.

16th November

How many Buddhists care how many boys were buggered in Tibet ?

17th November

At the end of a news-bulletin this morning was the prediction that one in four mammal species and one in eight bird species would 'soon be extinct'.

(I wish the worst for Man: for what is 'good for' Man is very 'bad for' Earth.)

18th November

There is a very neat (but not very honest) Cistercian tag or motto:

Beata solitudo
Sola beatitudo

19th November

I think that probably my life has been determined and governed by my horror of control: of being controlled (hence my loathing of hierarchies, teams, gangs and organisations) and of controlling others (hence my "non-anomic" solitude). This has led me to put myself outside the narratives of family, ambition and rôle.

20th November

Note on global warming: snowdrops are already peeping through the grass in my garden, while nasturtiums are still in flower.

21st November

Last night I found myself falling into a foamy whirlpool of oscillating cello triplets: the exciting and warm jacuzzi of Debussy's string quartet. What is narrative and what is reality ?

22nd November

Capitalism is (amongst all the other bad things) the systematic trivialisation of luxury.

23rd November

Mad, driven people in our mad, driven and driving culture are praised and fêted for spending money, people, back-up and equipment on walking around Greenland or around the world, rowing without legs across the Atlantic or the Pacific, and other banal and novelistic acts of derring-do. So driven are some by their own narrative that they even do such things without back-up or money - though rarely without publicity, for publicity gives credence to the narrative.

To choose no narrative is impossibly beyond enlightenment, because enlightenment is narrative - as, indeed, is God - and each of us has to live a moral life, and morality is narrative. So beata solitudo has to incorporate the Diogenean compromise: the narrative of contempt. This is probably the least-bad narrative to live by: contempt for humans and reverence for the non-human.

Our culture worships the extraordinary in deed, while (out of sheer terror of thinking) it suppresses, misrepresents or cheapens the extraordinary in thought.

I choose the opposite, Asiatic/Diogenean kind of individualism: eschewing the very notion of achievement, from the merely dynastic-testosteronal to the dizzyingly successful in tabloid or historical terms, to have as little impact upon the planet as I am able to - to have as little narrative (and property which itself is narrative) as possible. I admire ruins and love spiders. To deny achievement is, of course, also to deny redemption and its secular offspring, progress, and this is unthinkable anathema to the European mind. But I feel I need to reduce the narratives from many and complex to few and simple. What is narrative and what is reality ?

The admirable Oscar has memory but not aspiration. Thus his life is not lived in, through or by narrative, but honestly. And so it is invisible to most human beings.

Most people even think that television is a transparent medium. The thought that language might not be transparent would never cross their minds.

24th November

All thinking is muddled. We lurch between false clarity and false apprehensions of chaos. We have abandoned philosophy and poetry for the novel - and worse: the film and crippled narratives of television.

25th November

Money is, as I said, a bit like pornography. Some love it, others don't, but the world is ruled by it one way or another. The pornography of greed.

26th November

A reponse to Professor Laurie Taylor, superb broadcaster on BBC's radio 4, who in his regular, thoughtful sociology programme called Thinking Allowed asked listeners to answer the question "When did you last see your uncle".

Of my only two uncles, now long-dead, one was a hostile doctor who treated me as a despicable 'pansy' (shibby was the word he actually used), and the other was a hen-pecked craftsman who thought me stuck-up because I was handless and fled from Meccano sets and football-teams to books. The only fathers I would like to have had are two handsome friends, one of whom is almost young enough to be my grandson. He is a terrible father.

So I'm glad that, a rape-child, I know absolutely nothing about my father. Perhaps my greatest privilege is to be fatherless. As for my mother's family I liked few of them, especially the males mentioned above. But I liked old ladies, friends of my grandmother, who were 'safe' and gave me buttered toast, let me read books in front of the fire and hide under tables draped with thick chenille cloths. So I never subscribed to the narrative of Family, just as I never subscribed to (or do I mean that I have never understood ?) the narratives of hierarchy, authority or rôle. I have always had a horror of being controlled and of controlling anything or anyone. The terrorism of Normality. Dogs adore me. I love spiders, and being bald.

Having coffined and buried my mother, and coffined and burned (as filmed for BBC2) her sister in my own fashion, according to my own sense of reverence considered eccentric or even outrageous, I am very glad to say that I have no family. I live alone in deeply-rural frugality, without "the deep demoralisation of the microwave" or the more-deeply demoralising television. I am definitely not a family man. I have never locked my door in 20 years. I rarely take a bath or shower. My largely-vegetarian dog is happy and healthy and, being an object of respect rather than just an object or a piece of living furniture, almost never on a leash. He is free to come and go. He rounds up sheep very beautifully.

Thus the obscene time of year which is Christmas I don't allow to touch me. It is a time when I get less mail and spend even less money than usual.

For the desert saints and sadhus, the old men on top of Chinese mountains who have never heard of Mao Tse-Tung (as he used to be called), human society is the wilderness and the desert has integrity. For the narrative of human structures is totalitarian.

Unless I suffer some accident like a stroke and have my old age medicalised and institutionalised beyond my control, I shall, at an appropriate time, enclose myself quietly in a plastic bag. My estate goes to a Donkey Sanctuary - one of the less harmful charities. I shall be buried in an acre of badger-blessed thicket for which permission has been granted for my interment in a permanently-interrupted state of Diogenean anomie. All nice and tidy without the sordid seepiness of family and false sentiment.

Yours sincerely...

27th November

Perhaps the obscene and never-stated capitalist view of reality is the truest philosophy: there is only gain and loss - all else is narrative padding. Thus money is the supreme invention, both abstract and cataclysmic - and people are (indeed everything in the world is) only its tools.

28th November

Why can't we face up to the fact that life is just appalling, and we make it more so ? We cling to the memory and the expectation of the few good moments, and magnify them grotesquely.

We think of 'old age' in terms of incapacity rather than the abyss of the burden of sadness. Alzheimer's 'sufferers' have no recent past and no expectation. They live in the moment. They are how we should be. (For other species' good, at any rate!)

WHAT IS NOT SUFFERING IS DENIAL OF SUFFERING.

Religion is the politics of superstition.
Religions are just mad Theories of Everything, as totalitarian and utilitarian as cookbooks. They deny the obvious: that blessings are (if not imaginary) only temporary. Because we invented reason, we need reasons to keep on living. So we have hope, and we invented religion. But as I said earlier, perhaps the only good thing about any religion is its ascetisicm.

I have made a grave error about the internet, alias the world-wide web: I thought it was ideal for the dissemination of thought, but, because of the visual element, simply because of the screen, it is banal, like television or pop music or self-referential modern jazz. I don't understand why a book can receive serious attention while a screen cannot. An internet screen is not a Talking Book, but, if not a kind of comic-strip, then a kind of newspaper page, hideously designed and utterly uninformative.

I think the printing press was (like most inventions) unfortunate.

We ever more insanely choke our hearts with information. Yet our whole culture is designed to prevent most people from understanding how 'the system' works (in constant favour of the powerful and against emotional and economic, social self-sufficiency). Paradoxically, our culture is a culture of ignorance - of everything except the trivial.

Time to junk the trivia of 'importance'. Time to empty my mind. Dive beneath the thoughts into merciful, eternal blackness.

So the lone voice continues wolfily in the wilderness - the only place to have any kind of integrity. (Do not try to absorb this page on the screen, but print out and read at an appropriate time in an appropriate place.)

OSCAR  & MALCOLM click for another photo

29th November

We have lost our Guide (bestowed upon us miraculously by 'Guide Dogs for the Over-conscious'). Our calm and jaunty psychopomp has disappeared without a trace but our tears, which also disappear, as we will deliquesce and melt into the earth where Oscar sometimes was - our tangly badger-thicket which I named Brocks' Acre, some 15 kilometres from where I live and where he disappeared.

He ran up towards a single badger-sett about 100 metres from my house (where he was wont to have a ritual howl and bark) and had already been, as usual, briefly, before breakfast. We hadn't gone for our morning walk in the woods. I was raking out the ashes of the fire when he went off, and a quarter of an hour later I called him, then whistled him, and went to the gorse-patch where he usually howled, but there was no sign or sound. He has simply disappeared. Could he have gone to the country road about 500 metres away and been picked up by a passing dog-lover or devil ? It seems incredible. But all possibilities seem incredible.

Among vast galaxies of flaming suns

one small...great...god is dead

and we are falling though the terrifying emptiness of Space

of loss

which is the only poetry.

Poetry is Nothing.

30th November

Planning a double suicide, a suicide pact, is both cheering, for it is the only true human love, and challenging.

Joy is shallow,
Sadness is profound
And love a tiny hollow
In the trampled ground.

Lacking even the ability (and youth) to go and help at a bonobo refuge or dog shelter, or at IntiWaraYassi, I am a failure as a member of a species which is an unmitigated scourge upon the Earth.

Joy is a splash above the depths of sadness.

Oscar was the most admirable being I have ever known. He was my saving grace. If he is dead, was his death worse than if we had left him to die from neglect (malnutrition and hypothermia), six years ago, tied up on the farm, desperately trying to avoid stepping in his own shit six years ago ? If his present state is as unpleasant as it would have been six years ago (his brother was simply - and typically for rural Ireland - thrown on the rubbish heap after dying of exposure) our 'act of mercy' was no act of mercy, but another trick of the human Quantity Game. He lived six years longer, but that is just quantity, just a statistic. Life is only desire and consumption, not a quality. It is crap, washed away by the rain.

And his present suffering may be worse than what we saved him from. I learned today that collie-lurchers like Oscar are often kidnapped and sold as hunting dogs - even to England and France. Oscar looked like he was a good hunter, but he was usually looking in the wrong direction and never caught anything. So he may be tried as a hunting dog and then dumped somewhere. The microchip which Oscar has embedded in his neck can be read by machines which the police and dog-shelters have. If he has been taken as a hunting dog and then dumped, he could be traced to us with the microchip. But it is not very likely...especially since he had been castrated and thus 'useless' to rabbit-hunters, badger-baiters etc.

He is probably suffering much worse than we are, trapped between our grief, our contempt for self-pity and our contempt for everything human.

One of the 20th century's great French writers, Raymond Queneau (whose surname means little dog), refused a literary prize because his dog, Dino, had just died.

The beauty of the amazing weather only makes it worse.

The first time Oscar was invited indoors (Malcolm was renting an annexe, built as a Granny-flat, on a depressing concrete slum of a milk-and-potato farm) he ran up the stairs and lay against the hot press, where he curled up into a tiny ball and stayed there overnight, much to the outrage of the unbendingly Christian, animal-hating farmers next door. Who used to go into Malcolm's minute kitchen and cook meat in his oven when he was away from the house, for they had only a microwave in their own vast, sterile kitchen.

The first time he was taken in a car, he retched and he shat and he quivered. We took him to a forest. He quaked and trembled when he saw trees for the first time. He quaked and trembled all the way back home. But the next time we put him in the car he smiled, and did not retch or shit, and jumped out and ran into the trees and was happy. And respected. As he has been ever since, with us. Until now. (Oh, I have lapsed into narrative again!)

Malcolm mercifully found another house (a clapboard lodge among trees) and took Oscar with him when he moved. Oscar was kidnapped. Yet not exactly - for I had registered him with the local authority, and I was his official (if not exactly legal) owner. The farmer would not have dreamed of registering him (as required by law) - and they made no attempt to reclaim him. We heard that they simply got another pup to neglect. Neglect and abuse of the vulnerable is the human way of life - and not just for the religious.

1st December

Oscar was a bandage on the wound of my awareness, my local abatement of chaos.

In a few days there will be pictures of Malcolm and Oscar in one paper, and a very visible boxed advertisement in two others. Pictures of Oscar have been posted in the public library and in supermarkets.

Love is more terrible even than sex. It is hate which 'makes the world go round'.

The greatest lie we're told and tell ourselves is that life is good - when it is only animated junk.

2nd December

'Gerald90' writes: "We prey upon ourselves - because there are so few animals left to prey upon. What a sublime fate befitting the arch-predator!"

3rd December

Oh, the banality of 'A Love Supreme'!

How fed up I am with consuming. Just consuming.

Survivors are the hard of heart, the living dead. I refuse to harden my heart. Better to die by my own hand, honestly, and move on from the banality of suffering to the dark magnificence of death.

In rural France - probably even in beloved Rouergue - dogs are stolen and sold to laboratories for vivisection and testing drugs.

What separates us from Nature - the definition of Humanity - is malice aforethought. Malice is our madness.

When people say that they are devastated, do they mean that, like me, they wake up weeping in the small hours of the morning ?
I certainly now realise the appropriateness of the colloquial term gutted.
Every day is worse. (Entropy and the second law of thermodynamics.)

I find myself driven to clean things, and keeping the radio on. Do people who clean their houses all the time and have the radio on all the time suffer from permanent grief and misery ?

Darning my socks, I reflect that my life has been largely without ambition and without goal this side of integrity. An icicle formed out of flame ?

O that the days and the nights would cease.
Life is stupidity starving and striving;
death is the infinite wisdom of peace.

Oscar was our teacher precisely because a perfect being who was not a teacher - for all teachers and teachings are likely to be false, no matter with how many truths they bedeck themselves.

Sanskrit has 40 words for dog.
English has just one for love.

4th December

The revelation of the world is wildness.

The task I set myself (why ?) was (consumingly) to express the inexpressible, explain and understand the nonsensical, even simply to deal with the outrageous (or my own outrage).

But to try and tell big truth (as opposed to lots of little discrete ones) without threading and shrouding it with lies is pointless. Nobody wants to hear or read what leads only to sanity, an intolerable condition. Words speak me more than I speak words. What I have written is unreadable. All that has resulted is the gurgling of despair down the sink of my heart.

It is time to stop.

 

<part one

 

vacuum of desire:
a doomed gay correspondence
>

 

It is Sunday, May 29th: six months since Oscar's disappearance. The bereavement does not diminish. This week I wept several times a day, partly in self-pity of course, but mainly in sympathy for whatever fate he suffered, and in commiseration with all lost and unhappy dogs.

When I hear Fauré's piano piece 'Dolly', the tears pour down, because that piece of music sums up Oscar's openness and jauntiness - and his depth as well. So I treasure it, but can rarely play it - more able to deal with the less canine arrangement by John Williams and Julian Bream for two guitars - which they recorded Together with the wonderful second movement of one of my (many) favourite pieces of chamber music: Brahms' first string sextet.

When Oscar was down a badger-hole, with only his tail sticking out, he could not hear anything. How he actually died, filtered slowly - very slowly - through some kind of incredulity-barrier in my head.

My horrible, bloated, wife-beating, Christian landlord, who hates me but cannot evict me,
saw Oscar one morning go on his regular morning howl down the badger-sett
just 100 metres from my old, unrenovated farmhouse - The House of the Four M's:
mildew, mould, mice and moths.
Unfortunately that morning, I delayed
our departure for a romp through the woods, and Oscar trotted off for another howl.
Stockdale & son had taken note that Oscar was virtually blind and deaf while barking down a hole,
so all thye had to do was pull him out by the tail and pound him to death
with the sledge-hammer they were using to bash in new fence-posts nearby.


How to get hold of Veterinary Nembutal (Sodium Pentobarbital) the drug of ease that is used to slide dogs into eternal rest ?

Weeping is better than talking.
Grief is also celebration.

_______________


Even if I had a soul
why would I think it worth saving ?

Silence,
no mirrors.

________________


They reduce the 'most important philosophical question' (the question of suicide) to an act of desperation, or - worse - a cry for help - in order to diminish and demean it. They are quick to sympathise with friends and family, who are 'devastated'. Thus, in a few trite phrases, they turn a selfless into a selfish act - for selflessness cannot exist on its own transcendental terms: it must be life-enhancing, and life must on no account be considered an aberration or disease best cured by death.

Many months later

Amazingly, and buoyed by the uplifting drug Duloxetine which I finally discovered after considerable web-research, I eventually managed to buy a house in Saint-Antonin in the 'Noble Val', the only place where I feel authentic - at least for a while. I couldn't resist this little old town-house (four vaguely-triangular rooms on top of one another) with its bowery stoop. Diverse forms of 'nature' (from wooded riverbank to causse-maquis (scrub-oak, juniper, box etc. on limestone karst) are two to four minutes' walk away in six directions. It would have been no good for Oscar, not least because of the horrible mobylettes that he would have chased.

I was very lucky to get this unusual, quirky house - already rather well renovated. I was greatly helped by Dutch estate-agents with whom I became friendly while I was looking for somewhere to live. They knew exactly the sort of place I wanted - and could afford. In the end, they waived their commission. I now translate the descriptions of their houses into good English as a thankyou.

As global warming becomes more and more evident, air fares get less and less, so I can fly from SW France to Dublin for £20; or I can take a train to Paris for £25, stay overnight there and catch a plane to Belfast for £25. So I can shuttle back and forth to the Ulster Nomansland in the sordid and increasingly-totalitarian UK for economic reasons - and to be with Malcolm. The house is 16th and 17th century, four-storey, stone and half-timbering, not a right angle to be seen - and beautifully restored. Malcolm also uses the cheap air-fares to visit. Oscar was never in Quercy, Rouergue or the Albigeois, so the landscape there is not imbued for us with his spirit - for which I still leave a water-bowl at the back door of my unrestored and damp house here in Ireland. Sometimes a fox or a badger will drink there.

Forgiveness: who cares whether I forgive (for example, my murderous landlord) or not ? But for the record, I don't forgive human history, nor my faceless father and his despoiling sperm.

It may seem 'bad' that people die. Much worse is that we get born.

The boys with Asperger's are the lucky ones. I wasted sixty years trying to work people out and relate to them, but now I've worked out that it's better with Asperger's...so now I don't have very much to do with people apart from the mouthing and smiling. There is certainly a touch of autism in my brain.
Now I shall start to discard my memory as I discarded friends - or let memory drop me as friends did, and just read, and listen to music and write poems that nobody reads (not even I) and make music programmes for Malcolm.
I have painted some new and good pictures.

Northern Ireland no longer feels so bad - now that I am not trapped there. In fact the arrival of East Europeans and Middle Easterners has improved the atmosphere. The religious bigotry has shrunk to a few ghettoes. Police are rarely to be seen. The British Army has left and the the whole of Ireland is rich and raging with obscene consumerism.

"ΑΠΟΘΑΝΕΙΝ ΘΕΛΩ" - The Cumæan Sybil

top of page