“. . . and this is why we will not survive.”

I was thinking of how to respond to the Geoffery Rush verdict yesterday that has caused such distress to both parties and their friends and family over what ought to have been a person to person discussion between the parties either at the time of the alleged incident, or arranged by another party familiar and trusted by both so as to resolve any issues as to whether there had been deliberate or accidental crossing of boundaries by Mr. Rush.

Then I remembered this post I put up a good while ago and I thought to review and perhaps up-date it and repost..but I don’t think I could improve the intention inferred in the article, where in my opinion what ought to have been a private consideration of the woman’s grievance was dragged into the cold, cruel light of the very public forum of legal confrontation..so I offer it up again as a response to yesterdays judgement.

Not world wars, neither disease or plague or natural disaster .. all these have gone before at times when humanity was still so vulnerable .. when we were still small tribes wandering from water-hole to hunting ground to shelter just to stay alive .. and we did .. and we did because of one central desire .. : a desire to be a part of other’s lives … a loved one, a special one within the tribe itself  perhaps.. within the shelter of the tribe as a whole .. that other one who shared our particular / idiosyncratic liking for a particular fruit or woven style of cloth or place of refuge over all others .. that someone special that would in times more conducive to individual preference develop into a love.

And regardless if it can be fulfilled in the interests of tribal custom or culture … these days call it ethnic group or class structure and creed … regardless if it is never consummated in a relationship, still the embryonic desire will develop in the imagination till it reaches a kind of fruition in the hidden senses and is held to one’s heart in secret conspiracy and there it is stored and adored.

There are moments many of us live through in our lives that can give such emotional pleasure and personal joy that they are held in deepest secrecy and must never be revealed except perhaps .. and that is a big “perhaps” .. at point of death. For to release such a secret of one’s deepest personality is equal to destroying the base belief in a personal future. The fate for those partners who seek or demand that such be revealed to them can be the unforeseen ruination of the current relationship.

I have experienced this as a revelation on the death bed moment .. of which I’ll say more later .. But consider this passage from James Joyce’s story : “The Dead” in his book “Dubliners” .. where the jealous “Gabriel” pushes for his wife : “Gretta” to tell him details of her past love for a young man : ”Michael Furey” … ;

“O, then, you are in love with him?” said Gabriel.
“I used to go out walking with him,” she said, “when I was in Galway.”
A thought flew across Gabriel’s mind.
“Perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that Ivors girl?” he said coldly.
She looked at him and asked in surprise:
“What for?”
Her eyes made Gabriel feel awkward. He shrugged his shoulders and said:
“How do I know? To see him, perhaps.”

She looked away from him along the shaft of light towards the window in silence.

“He is dead,” she said at length. “He died when he was only seventeen. Isn’t it a terrible thing to die so young as that?”
“What was he?” asked Gabriel, still ironically.
“He was in the gasworks,” she said.

Gabriel felt humiliated by the failure of his irony and by the evocation of this figure from the dead, a boy in the gasworks. While he had been full of memories of their secret life together, full of tenderness and joy and desire, she had been comparing him in her mind with another. A shameful consciousness of his own person assailed him. He saw himself as a ludicrous figure, acting as a pennyboy for his aunts, a nervous, well-meaning sentimentalist, orating to vulgarians and idealising his own clownish lusts, the pitiable fatuous fellow he had caught a glimpse of in the mirror. Instinctively he turned his back more to the light lest she might see the shame that burned upon his forehead.

He tried to keep up his tone of cold interrogation, but his voice when he spoke was humble and indifferent.

“I suppose you were in love with this Michael Furey, Gretta,” he said.
“I was great with him at that time,” she said.

Her voice was veiled and sad. Gabriel, feeling now how vain it would be to try to lead her whither he had purposed, caressed one of her hands and said, also sadly:

“And what did he die of so young, Gretta? Consumption, was it?”
“I think he died for me,” she answered.

A vague terror seized Gabriel at this answer, as if, at that hour when he had hoped to triumph, some impalpable and vindictive being was coming against him, gathering forces against him in its vague world. But he shook himself free of it with an effort of reason and continued to caress her hand. He did not question her again, for he felt that she would tell him of herself. Her hand was warm and moist: it did not respond to his touch, but he continued to caress it just as he had caressed her first letter to him that spring morning. . . . “ (The Dead .. : James Joyce : “Dubliners” )

In breaking the seal of trust that Gretta held in union with her fond memory of the dead ; “Michael Furey”, the character “Gabriel” had also broke the seal of affection between himself and his wife.

A similar bond can be held in the heart with an unpleasant memory .. In his book of recounting his surveying of an African plateau ; “Venture to the Interior” . the now disgraced Laurens Van Der Post recounts his method of dealing with troubling memories from being a prisoner of war .. He would lay still and imagine himself taking down a suitcase containing these memories from the top of a wardrobe. He would then imagine himself opening the case and taking out the memories one by one, going through them dispassionately until the feelings were gone, then repacking them into the case and returning it to the top of the imaginary wardrobe to remain in storage till the next time he became troubled by those thoughts. In such an exercise would he satisfy those ghosts of his personal secrets of a bad moment in his life which he was dis-inclined to share with others.

This holding close to the heart of a memorable event is a most human desire that it can reach right into our most personal hungers for company .. A (now aged like myself ) woman I knew in my younger , wilder years told me recently of why she was in a relationship with a man we both knew in those years .. :

“ He was a strange bloke, was B …. ” I remarked “How’d you get along with him?”

“Oh .. quite well, as a matter of fact .. and we only broke up because he went to work to the North West of WA. and I stayed here to finish my nursing training .. we wrote for a while but we were both young and we drifted apart .. ”

“How’d you get to know him?” I persisted.

“He was just a friend at first .. and we went out together a couple of times … He was an electrician .. and his flat was full of bits and pieces of electrical gadgets that he’d fix for friends … and clocks .. he liked making electric clocks .. He had a bench in the front room full of junk ..

I came to his flat from work one day all teary and upset as I’d just had my first patient die on me and he just held me and talked to me in his deep, slow voice while I wept … that’s all he did .. he just talked about his electrical stuff and what he was doing and he stroked my arms and back and just talked softly and slowly until I went to sleep in his arms .. He was such a comfort .. a lover-friend. “

And this is why we, as a species may not survive .. We have been hollowed out, gutted like a dead fish. We now are so untrusting, so protective of our sensitivities, so afraid that we will not allow another too close lest they seek to hurt us emotionally. Perhaps losing our collective confidence in ourselves to survive emotional trauma. Many young people do not enter into relationships anymore, choosing instead to conduct temporary “meetings” that demand no commitment, no deep emotional give and take where those “secrets” of heightened pleasure or pain are nurtured and ensconced within our psyche .. and we, as a species are getting weaker for It .. for if we cannot trust ourselves with holding that secret of emotional pleasure to carry as a talisman through rough life, then what trust will we allow others that we hold dear to have their own private “suitcase” with their own private desires .. and will we destroy our own relationships, as did the Joycean ; “Gabriel”, from a desire to destroy the entrusted confederacies of others?

That “death bed revelation” moment … well, it was a long-running chiack between my mother and myself, that the local GP. .. Doctor Short, who used to do house calls in those days and attended me when I was bedridden with bronchial-asthma at an age of around 6-8years old. He would attend to me while my mother fussed with the pillow or blankets … and my mother, being in her mid-twenties at that time and married to a much older man AND quite attractive .. must have caught the attention of the tall, deep-voiced Doctor, who I in memory recall was sometimes in close attendance as much to my mother as to myself … NOT that there was any encouragement on HER part .. but I used to tease her in her older years by saying on a regular basis ;

“That Doctor Short .. I reckon he was burning a candle for you .. ” … to which she’d pooh-pooh the whole thing away and say don’t be ridiculous! .. But the last time I saw her in the palliative care ward, dying from pulmonary fibrosis .. I again said in a teary attempt at jest .. :

“I still reckon that Doctor Short was burning a candle for you … ” to which to my surprise she looked straight into my eyes in the most meaningful manner, that I have to say threw me a little and whispered ;

“I believe you are right … ” … and I am not sure to this day if she didn’t give me a wink ..

And that was the last visit I had with her as she died a day later.

19 thoughts on ““. . . and this is why we will not survive.”

  1. An enjoyable reading, and with a lot of food for thoughts.
    I guess that the only way to not destroy ourselves inside is to become an observer, to use our inner voice as the observe and our mind as just a tenant inside our body. Observing, learning and do not pass judgment, let others going on their path without interfering.
    We can do that and at the same time take care and have compassion.
    Bugger that I am a slow learner and now at 72 just beginning to understand life…….

    Liked by 1 person

  2. What a precious moment between yourself and your Mum!

    I think we have been consigned to such a precarious existence for the sake of ‘industry’ that young people dare not form deep relationships. Who knows where work will take you, or where you will be living and working five years, two years of even one month into the future?

    Industry demands we are totally responsive, in time, talents and skills, remaking ourselves constantly so we can have the ‘flexibility, adaptability, problem-solving, life-long learning’ as the job descriptions demand.

    We do not even know WHO we will be next year, Constantly evaluated and told to improve ourselves, If you multi-task, you will need to learn to focus, If you are a task-focussed person you will need to learn how to do six things at once, if you are quiet and introspective and a thinker you will need to do a leadership or public speaking course to ‘open up’, if you are active and outgoing try a bit of ‘mindfullness’ so you can fit in tiwhtt he team.

    No matter what you are, ‘they’ will want something else, the elusive ‘better’.

    And if it all drives you nuts in the end, you will be kicked out of the workforce onto the dole (because getting DSP for mental health conditions is a fruitless trial through the bowels of hell).

    No matter, you will be replaced by the next human they try to turn into a machine to churn out profits for the 1%.

    Once upon a time you could go to university just to learn something, or prepare for a profession or just to get access to knowledge and feed your mind, or to do research which will improve society.

    Now they are expected to be churning out workers for industry. . Research is being limited to that funded by industry. now

    We are being ruled by the almighty dollar. That is why research for renewable energy is so flat in this country but we can find millions to chase the myth of clean coal.

    How can we commit deeply to another when everything is now superficial?

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Puffy..I think the reason why I have that close bond with my mother is because we were, in life, not that close..I went my way early in my young years and grew apart from my parents…but I think, looking back on it, it was a ;”seeing the forest for the trees” kind of thing…I would say that the bond between us grew AFTER she passed away…strange, I know..but when I came into her archives I started to see and feel a different person than the one I grew up with…and I am just beginning to suspect of the emotionally hidden life she lived..she is more interesting now..

    Liked by 1 person

  4. A very moving story, Joe. Thank you very much for giving me the link to it here:
    Your thoughts on what has survival value are most interesting!
    And thank you for introducing me to James Joyce. I never could bring myself to read him, thought he was boring. I don’t think that any more after reading this passage that you quoted.
    “The Dead” in his book “Dubliners” .. where the jealous “Gabriel” pushes for his wife : “Gretta” to tell him details of her past love for a young man : ”Michael Furey” … ;
    I think I once tried to read ‘Ulysses’, but did not get very far. I thought it was boring, boring boring!


    1. Ulysses is a handfull, I agree…there are many wearisome passages, but also many sublime parts…of Joyce’s stories, I most like “Ivy day in the committee room”…but you’d have to know a bit of Irish rebellion history to get the full picture…

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I forgot to say what my thoughts are on whether to reveal deepest secrecies. Maybe it is advisable to leave writings about deepest secrecies to some fictional writing! You say:
      “There are moments many of us live through in our lives that can give such emotional pleasure and personal joy that they are held in deepest secrecy and must never be revealed except perhaps .. and that is a big “perhaps” .. at point of death.”
      I think you’re right that you say “perhaps”. I mean, at point of death you received some kind of confirmation that what you had been able to observe as a little boy had probably been true. Nobody was hurt. Other death situations might be totally different. So there is a big “perhaps”.
      We are very fortunate in that we are able to study a lot about the lives of famous people that lived a long time before us, often including what their emotional pleasure and personal joy may have been. About not so famous people we usually do not know much. Do you think in the age of internet this might change? There is also the matter of truth. I mean a lot may be only speculation. Who knows what really the truth is? I reckon a lot of it may be intuition. All our stories that feel right, probably are mostly right, or we wish them to be right!


  5. When I was a young man of around 25 yrs, working in a club in Darwin, the manager of the bar, a married,childless woman of 35 yrs, took a shine to me and for a while there we had an intimate relationship..of course then I was not aware of the desires of a barren woman, searching for the possibility of a child with a man..any man..so as to assuage her frustration of not being able to conceive…and I know now that in effect, I was being “road-tested” for my virility…well..she didn’t have a child by me. though I do have a couple from my first wife, so I was ok…but toward the end, I do believe she was becoming quite attached to me…but she broke it off realising that I was too immature for a responsible realtionship…Of course, I laughed it off then, but when I look back on the closeness of the affair we had…there is some regret..some deep regret..
    I recently wrote a poem about her…Myself being 70yrs now, I would wonder if she still would remember me..

    She was older, hair as red as an autumn sunset,
    And I was a young and impetuous fool,
    Laughter was my first love, with a youth’s frivolity,
    Hers was one silent, sincere and true.
    I joked of our relationship, I wasn’t ready for wife,
    I wanted the freedom of the world..a voracious hunger for life!
    Now, every woman harbours secrets, hers I never knew,
    My thoughts to her were an open book..I was an impetuous fool.
    But in truth, what has a young man to offer, a woman so refined,
    Save that rush of physical strength, an energy so defined,
    THAT, she embraced more eagerly, than any goblet rich with wine!
    She was older, with hair flamed as an Autumn sunset,
    But I was a young and impetuous fool,
    And I remember I laughed when she bade goodbye,
    For the frivolity of youth has time and world on its side.
    But now, as old age whispers its dark, foreboding secret,
    And these last leaves of Autumn begin to fall,
    I yearn again for one last kiss.. just that one last kiss,
    From a love lost…most of all.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I often have the feeling, that my children do not know much about me. For instance they do not like to comment on anything I write. Sometimes I notice in conversation that they have seen one or the other of my posts. But that’s it. No discussion about it, ever! However, Peter did comment when he liked one of my posts!
    When Peter died, the children and grandchildren and even the great-grandchildren showed that they knew a lot about Peter and that he had played a significant part in their lives. They do acknowledge that I have been around all the time too. They also show me, that they love me the way they have always showed Peter that they loved him. But I am sure that Peter was always a closer part of their lives. Well, this is just the way it is. We all miss Peter, this is for sure. I am glad that he will always be remembered by the whole family as a very caring and loving person.
    I think the youngest daughter and her husband felt always the closest to Peter. On my last birthday they noticed that Peter’s ability to walk had suffered a lot. Out of the goodness of their hearts. they bought a rollator for him, a similar one to the one that I have. I think they could not believe that he would die very soon. But the cancer of the bone progressed vividly. I could sense it. But they could not see it. All their actions showed me, that they still could not fathom that the end of Peter’s life was near. I never said anything to that. I kept my feelings to myself. Many, many more things were bought for Peter’s palliative care at home. As though he would have many, many more months to live! When his pain got worse and worse despite all the medication, they still clung to the hope that he could survive a lot longer. Nobody wanted to talk to him about dying. But more and more Peter talked to me about his wish to die. He could feel that all his bones were at breaking point. When Peter started eating less and less, I think this was the turning point. But by then Peter was not able to say much anymore either. But I think he noticed right to the end me holding his hand. The last few nights I stayed in an easy chair next to him. When I was awake, I kept reciting the Rosary in my head, over and over again, and then the Glory be and some other prayers. It did give me comfort! Due to a lot of morphine and some relaxing medication dear Peter was able to die peacefully surrounded by all his family! He had said, he was not afraid of being dead. He claimed once he was dead, he would become what he was before he was conceived. And he thought that this was something to not be afraid of. This thought of what happens when we are dead, I just read about in the novel about Leibnitz and Sophie Charlotte.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Well, you are not alone in your writing being neglected by your childen…mine have never read any of my writings and do not seem interested in changing that state of affairs!…neither does my wife..or her children..save one occasion when I got so pissed off I wrote a satire about “The In-laws” and they demanded I take it down!….which I did for domestic peace sake….but I though it resonated quite well in a reading sense…heh heh!…
    My own children seem to have a closer attachment with their mother (my first wife) than with me…wether that is out of filial duty or otherwise, I do not know..because they have complained to me about her controlling attitude to me many times in the past…but hey..that’s how it is…children…who can work them out?
    I have read mmuch of Peter’s writing on his blog and I have read a lot also of yours..particularly the historical pieces and both your stories from the war years resonate similarily to me..a shared history of dramatic times…it is a pity this modern generation lacks a knowledge of history and their “corporate memory” is almost non-existant in this regard…
    I like your idea of a seperate page for experimenting with writing..I’d like to create one of those but I am not too sure of how to do it…how did you do it?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Joe, I think WordPress pointed out to me that I could have extra sites.
      To try to understanf the in-laws, or even your own children, you can try to see it how different people would see them. That would be the start of a novel. You only have to change the names and places and maybe invent certain circumstances. I am sure, different people see different things in us. A novelist might be able to describe how different characters behave towards each other and why certain characters fail to understand each other!


      It was time to face the difficult truth about my family who lived on stolen land.
      By Ellen Fanning

      Updated 6 Feb 2021, 10:10am
      Published 6 Feb 2021, 5:05am

      I reckon from this story about what Ellen Fanning found out regarding employment of indigenous people in her great-grandfather’s time makes for fascinating reading for someone who wants to find out the truth about conditions in those days. And these conditions still excisted until quite recently! In some people’s thinking probably similar attitudes still apply, like you’re not allowed to speak your own language, and you should forget that you did come from another culture!

      Ellen Fanning recently also talked about her family’s history in her DRUM program. Do you watch The DRUM, Joe?


  8. Joe, you say: ” . . . I wrote a satire about “The In-laws” and they demanded I take it down!”
    This made me thinking about what stories could be written about “In-laws”. I know for instance of some In-Laws I definitely would like to write stories about, but if they ever found out, they most certainly would demand I take it down. Isn’t the only solution to make it fictional?

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Uta…The satire I wrote did not mention any names or individuals…and I put it up on The AIMN..little did I know that “certain parties” were tracking me and what I posted…so it did not take long before I was contacted with the said demand…I have to say I was surprised at the attention I was drawing from those “certain parties”!!…

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Uta….I do not watch The Drum for more than a few minutes unless it is of an interesting subject…but I read of the Ellen Fanning situation on the ABC website…and I have written many times on the need for one’s cultural belongings to be treasured and respected..but we live in a Anglo-centric dominant society and those Anglos don’t like to give an inch of “territory”..even after they stole it all!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wonder, why on earth has such an attitude developed. Historically one must be able to find an explanation for all this! I always like to muse about it why people are a certain way. Usualle I find something likeable just about every culture or person. The fact is, we are all the same, but also different! I think no culture is totally wrong or totally right.
      Anyway, I wrote this today:
      Would you like to say anything to what I have written today? I think, it might help me . . . .
      I always like your comments! 🙂


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