Hansonism Mk II

We are in danger of being swamped by Asians, is the gist of what I remember from Hansonism’s maiden voyage into the Australian consciousness.  This was the ‘90s, when my focus was more on adolescent existentialism.  But now we’re nearing the end of the first quarter of the 21st century, and history, as it does, is repeating itself.  Now it’s a Muslim swamp we need worry about, apparently, which is not the least of the, nor the sole, irony, considering Islam sprung from the desert.  What is a swamp, really?  I see it as a stagnant body of water in which exist somewhat base creatures such as bacteria and fungi and frogs and birdlife.  So was she saying Asians were bringing the swamp with them, way back when, or that our home was a swamp and they were going to en masse join us in the fetid pool?  And surely she’s not saying Muslims are bringing the swamp, unless from certain parts of Indonesia or perhaps Malaysia outside of urban centres.  So in this case ours must be the swamp?  Or our home becomes a swamp upon letting them through the door?  Or Asian and more recently Muslim culture is swamplike?  Is she even capable of effective analogies?

Let’s leave the waste of consideration right there – is something I’d not normally say about anything.  Because there is absolutely zero point in giving serious consideration to anything this crazy bitch and her political movement has to say about Australia or the outside world.  Hanson is to a true reflection on this country what shaving is to using a broken, mouldy, rusted mirror: ineffective, distorted, and bloody.  Now, forgive me for using the B word, but I’ve long been of the mind that if a man is a bastard or a woman is a bitch – especially those with baffling relevance and influence – they should be labelled as such.  I guess a unisex term for the two could be: arseholes.  But I’ll leave that up to you.  There’s a reason why Hansonism, at least and almost exclusively (Cory Bernardi aside), deserves only some attention and zero consideration.  It’s quite clear what her movement really is.  Even clearer, now, than it used to be – as her policies and their appeals have not just expanded but also strengthened.  Sometimes, this has occurred very recently, and on the run, such as in regard to vaccination.  And obviously others are longstanding, and quite crystalised policies of hers.

Hanson is exploiting bigots and dullards’ ignorance and prejudices through her own intelligence and bigotry, which are just strong and restrained, respectively, enough to at all effectively do so.  This is Hansonism II, and hopefully it goes the way of the first.  I prefer not to believe that after this pimple of hatred whiteheads, pops, and heals, this country can’t learn from its two former mistakes and keep its damn face clean.  I refuse to believe that Hansonism turns normally intelligent, tolerant people into stupid bigots, and that she simply empowers those who incurably are already.  And I am absolutely convinced that the particular brand of hatred and ignorance she represents and propagates will be increasingly, if not ever totally, rejected by Australians in the future.  It could get worse before it gets better.  But if it were ever to become so strong it were considered mainstream, the tragic irony for me would be too much to bear.  And if I at the time had children, I would fear for their future; and if I did not yet have children, I would never have children, to spare them the crushing dystopia their potential country had become.

The human race is at or approaching many of its to date most consequential crossroads – Hansonism and Trumpism and Putinism and Kimism and the like, being not the least of them.  We must reject hatred and bigotry and exploitation and oppression and inequality wherever we can.  Because if we don’t, or not enough of us do, or not enough of us do often enough, we may all be fucked.

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Pub Passout.

There were concerned, freaked out even, people gathered above me. All recollection of a vivid, pleasant dream, immediately gone. I’d felt dizzy. Stood up to try and shake it. Couldn’t. Sat back down. Gone. Bruised skull and ego, but glad I’d been sitting down. The bar staff gave me a lemonade, then I went outside to be picked up by my used to the madness but not this particular type girlfriend. We fell asleep at my place to my mutterings about too many cigarettes and weird conversations and how much I enjoyed running into my grandparents earlier in the Friday I had off due to Deb the Bogan Cyclone.

My brother and I are making a habit of frequenting this particular southern Gold Coast tavern on Friday afternoons after work. It’s an enjoyable weekend beginning ritual, from which he departs my company after one mid- strength and two-light beers – on account of him working Saturdays. I tend to hang around afterward, if not seeing my girlfriend or someone else or having something else more constructive to do other than drink and smoke and talk with local characters and play the pokies – the latter of which I’d quit due to inadequate returns on my many, but modest investments.

It was the smoking and talking, together, that did it, I reckon. I’m normally a smoker, for hopefully not too much longer. And especially while boozing. I’m not normally a conversationalist, but can become so while drinking and smoking and being in the right state-of-mind. Which I was last night. Plus there was a band playing, with saxophone and errthang, so I guess I can blame over-stimulation, too. Not that I didn’t enjoy it at the time. So my brother had left. And I’d wolfed down a kebab from the shop next door. And returned to the bar. Then to the smoking area, where I was to later embarrass myself.

There was a brunette girl, covered in tattoos and cheap gold jewellery, of 27 there the entire night. Up until I passed out, when she was the only other person present and the most freaked by my loss of consciousness. More on her later. The first person I began talking to was a portly teacher with a unique laugh; a regular feature of the pub, with a penchant for Long Island iced-teas who I’d become acquainted with in my semi-regularity. Conversation was struck with him when I joined in poking fun at him for the shorts he was wearing, which I referred to as “yachting boardshorts” due to their horizontal white stripes over navy blue. But he has fascist-tending opinions – he’s a Trump supporter, which puts him massively in the minority in Australia, if possibly not the Gold Coast, for one – so we grew weary of each other’s irreconcilable yet eloquent differences soon enough, upon which time I began speaking with the second of this episode’s characters: a 27-year-old from Tamworth named, of course, Dustin.

Dustin was a jittery bastard. Like something was busting to get out of him. Or he just didn’t feel entirely relaxed or comfortable. Before we even started talking I overheard him saying he’d had his last beer. Then, a few hours and four or five or six pints later, he finally had his last beer and we parted ways with a fist bump. Ended up liking him. He didn’t like country music. Or once had, but had heard it to death growing up in Tamworth. His mum used to rent out his room during annual Country Music Festivals, but he didn’t mind because he spent most days of most weeks surfing mates’ couches, anyway. He’d moved around a lot since leaving north-central NSW probably about 10 years ago. Even done jail, possibly juvie, time, for reasons I couldn’t get out of him. Now he was camped out at one of the Mould Coast’s many corporate-owned bar/pokie/bistro wallet emptiers, with the likes of me. And this girl. Whose name escapes me. Think it started with a D, too.

At first she was just sitting in the corner for the first hour or two, on the phone, engaged in some vague drama with what seemed to be various family members. As is the way with taverns, she got talking to us – mainly me and Dustin. Turned out her mother had brain cancer and her brother was a junkie (So badly a junkie, it seemed, his life was as or not much less than imminently over as his mother’s.) Her dad had been kept from her for most of her life so far, under the false pretence, perpetuated by her mother, that her father didn’t want to see her. And that she didn’t want to see him. One of the last things I can remember is her crying. I asked her if she was ok and she responded, “Yes”, in such a way that I knew it was a polite lie to a sympathetic stranger. We talked for a few minutes more, until I started to feel dizzy.

It might have been too many cigarettes. Was less likely many, but no more than often for me on a Friday night, drinks. I think I was overwhelmed by the sheer, not entirely humorless but certainly tragic humanity of the experience.

Art of the Floating Crap

The poor bastard.  I get it now.  He’s in over his head.  He realised not all that long ago he was nothing but a brand.  Otherwise useless to anyone but himself.  So he ran with it.  He put his name on everything he could.  And in the superficial morass the late-capitalistic USA has become, it served him well.  Money fell out of people’s pockets and, seemingly, the sky.  Of course whenever he tried to do something entirely unfeasible, his brand failed.  Brand power can only twist reality, not outright destroy it.  But he held true to the brand because he knew he was on to a long-term winner that would serve him well until his death.  Not that it would do his reputation, among from his closest friends and family to the most distant cave-dweller remotely aware of him, much good.  But it was never about reputation.  It was about money.  And power.  And both.  And he was and is and always will be insatiable.

Now, he’s the President of the United States of America.  This was not intended.  He figured he’d run in the primaries.  It would improve his brand.  He won the primaries.  It was unexpected.  Hell, he thought, I guess I might as well go up against Hillary.  It would improve his brand.  He won.  Totally unexpected.  Somewhere in his tiny, simian brain he had earlier thought “Surely they won’t actually be stupid enough to vote in a man who has no political experience and heads a business empire that would be a spectacular failure if it weren’t propped up by little but his gargantuan ego and baffling celebrity and the couple of actually competent people who’d managed to slip into his staff”.  But they did.  And here we all are watching one man basically tell the rest of the fucking world “You’re fired!”  (Or more crudely: “Fuck off!”)  Except they’re not accepting his dismissal.  And the frustration this causes him is hilariously agonising, or agonisingly hilarious, to watch.

So I guess I can sympathise if not empathise with him.  I have my own weaknesses and character flaws, as do we all.  The difference is I and many others who are not paranoid, delusional, megalomaniac narcissists, are discrete with our weaknesses and character flaws.  We admit them where necessary.  Deal with them.  Manage them.  Play instead to our strengths.  Whereas he plays to his weaknesses so relentlessly – and only in America could relentless indulgence of weakness prove so fruitful – that if the man has strengths, I have no goddamned idea what they are.  He might not know either, because in the upside down and inside out reality of the existence he’s crafted for and around himself, he actually seems to see his flaws and weaknesses as strengths.  I mean, it’s fucking sad – to use a word he enjoys abusing in his unappreciated, ironically Orwellian Tweeting.

So where to from here?  It’s hard to see for Trump.  (Plus to be honest, I don’t really care.)  If he’s not assassinated or impeached – the former being unlikely because all the assassinatey types are his supporters, and the latter because if he was under threat of being impeached he’d probably find a way to change the law so impeachment is impossible – I guess he’ll just get back to cashing in his dignity for more money and power.  Only he might not have any dignity left that he doesn’t manufacture in his own damaged mind after what will surely continue to be an entertainingly sad – there’s that word again – up to but hopefully not including four years (eight!?) in power.  And to repeat, to be honest, I don’t really care.  For the world?  Well hopefully we’ll all take a collective sigh of relief as Marine One takes him from the White House for the last time (or as he’s dragged through the streets and pelted with rotten tomatoes, then tarred and feathered and placed in a stockade for more tomato target practise for a while).

And ensure that an IGNORANT, EGOMANIACAL, NARCISSISTIC, HATEFUL, LYING, BIGOTED PSYCHOPATH IS NEVER AGAIN GIVEN THE POWER, THROUGH SUPPOSED DEMOCRACY, TO LITERALLY DESTROY THE HUMAN RACE!  Ahem.  I guess I’m reassured by the fact that his rise to power has emboldened his like-minded (magnanimous of me to refer to them as “minded” at all, no?).  Why?  Because if the world or at least the US, for starters, decides to vote into power men or women who actually wish to lead the human race to a better place – instead of divide us into easily controllable and perhaps crushable groups based on superficial barely recognisable differences – I know that their like-minded becoming emboldened will revolutionise the universe.  If Trump doesn’t get us all nuked in the meantime. . . .

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My Father, Currently

(For background to this blog post: https://wordjourneyer.wordpress.com/2013/02/24/every-disease-is-a-heart-disease/)

On my way to visit Dad I heard over the radio the axiom: if you can’t find the bright side of life, polish the dull side.  I resolved to share with him this newly learned wisdom, as soon as I had arrived at the aged care facility he had moved into not long after his 65th birthday.  His reaction: “Bullshit.”  For better or worse, a dry, stubborn sense of humour had been one of Dad’s genetic gifts to me.   Fortunately, for my older half-brother and sister, younger brother, and me, his Parkinson’s disease had (at time of writing) not been and I hope won’t be.  When I visited him a few weeks or months earlier, on a hot day, one of the nurses had given him a glass of water.  When she went to take it back from him, he played with her; withdrawing the empty glass repeatedly from her outstretched hand until finally releasing it to her.  He can tell me he’s sick or dying (neither which is exactly true in any conventional sense) until he’s blue in the face, but if he tried to suggest he didn’t still have a sense-of-humour I’d laugh, then quickly stop laughing, then reply, simply: “No.”

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I don’t remember when he was diagnosed.  All I remember is that he surely had it a few years before it was finally discovered.  And the years since – despite DBS (deep brain stimulation) and endless juggling of different medications – have proven little better and often much worse.  Within the context of his disease only, of course it’s the negatives that stand out.  Like the time he’d tried a new form of medication and started hallucinating; at one point in the early morning yelling out: “Hey Colin!  How do you piss out of a plane!?” while himself using the bathroom.  Or the time I’d heard a loud THUMP downstairs, ran down them, screamed “DAD!” upon seeing him lying motionless on the floor, then felt relief when he groaned and was ok despite the fall.  And when, after we’d moved to a single story house, he’d be suffering insomnia – the major symptom of his Parkinson’s (but not necessarily everyone’s) – and wandering into my room on a semi-regular basis.

Moving Dad into a nursing home had not been any easier, emotionally, than enduring his troubles more closely with him.  But, as his up until then primary carer, it was certainly easier on Mum – in practical but of course not emotional terms.  A principled as she is loving and caring (yet sometimes stern) woman, she early on determined to stick with him for better or worse, for richer or poorer.  But during early 2015 he had surgery in Brisbane to relieve stomach and chest pains.  As a consequence of the (otherwise successful) operation, he began suffering delirium, languished in hospital for a couple more months, and on discharge was admitted straight into a pleasant, modern yet naturally solemn Gold Coast nursing home.  He now spends his time surrounded by generally much older and more infirm people, which does nothing to improve his state-of-mind.

Fortunately, all of Dad’s family, besides his sister in Victoria, and daughter about an hour north-west of Brisbane, live close enough to visit him at least once a week.  He smiles sometimes, usually if one takes the opportunity to stir pleasing memories from his past.  Or make light of them in a not disrespectful manner.  I discovered, or had forgotten, on a recent visit with Mum that Dad during his professional footballing days had been nicknamed Magic.  I cracked: “Was that what the ladies called you, Dad?”  He grinned, and Mum playfully reprimanded him.  We all had lunch with him on his 66th birthday in the BBQ gazebo outside his new and we still hope not permanent home.  And again had an early Christmas lunch there two weeks before my older sister and brother had to leave for engagements with their partners’ families on the 25th.

Dad didn’t make it home for Christmas Day, 2015.  Probably for the first time, now I think of it.  My brother and his girlfriend drove me to visit him in the morning.  I went in first.  Dad has trouble handling too many visitors at once.  Mum had spent an hour or so with him earlier in the morning.  He complained of being sick.  Then he said something that, suffice to say, was depressing to hear from one’s father.  He also told me to tell my brother not to come in (which I did, but added that he should go in anyway).  I wished him a Merry Christmas (it’s unlikely dad had any enduring idea what day it was), and left.  This is it now, when it comes to Dad.  I tell him I love him a lot more these days.  Not because I’m worried he’ll be dead soon, but because I’m sure he’ll be gone soon, besides.  A man who appeared godlike when I was a child, a stern bore when I was a teenager, a fountain of wisdom during my 20s; now, a memorial combination of all three encased in a body controlled by a brain that is swiftly failing him.

Dad was a professional Australian Rules footballer back in his heyday.  The past, in a wonderful way, is catching up with him.  Mum’s been receiving video testimonials by players from the Geelong West (Roosters) Football Club’s arguable, as far as I know, peak during the late-‘70s/early-‘80s.  It’s not important what exactly what they say in the videos, about their playing days or the club or dad.  What’s important, humbly, is what I observed after watching them with my mum, her parents, my younger brother, his girlfriend, older brother, his wife and two children (during Good Friday 2016): “Dad, what we’ve just finished watching is people we don’t even really know telling us things about you that we already know.”  To which he responded to the effect that that was a wonderful thing to say.  I responded: “Well it’s just the truth, isn’t it?”  And it was.  I said nothing special, but I said it (because someone had to) plainly truthfully about a man who is special to more people than he still probably realises.

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We’re planning on videoing Dad, mainly for his own benefit if he’s up to it but also for the blokes down south who’ve without exception spoken so highly of their memories of him.  And also for us, too.  For posterity.  Dad is still Dad.  He’s not well.  But he’s also not a vegetable, and nor is he dead.  If we can capture him recalling what was one of the (if not the) highlights of his life, we can pass those memories along the outgoing branches of our family tree, forever.  Dad’s father was an abusive alcoholic, and died when I was very young.  (In fact one of my earliest memories was of dad’s dad lying in a hospital bed, dying of (from memory) prostate cancer, and dad standing nearby – both ashen faced – and then the door closing.)  Mum’s father died after being kicked by a horse, when she was seven.  I’ve never known a blood-related grandfather.  And nor might my children.  So my hope is that if we can take dad back to a happy past, however momentarily, and capture it, it might help my children, and their children have happy futures.  I hope they’ll learn that the past, though sometimes sad, was also joyous, rich, bright; happy – and so too can be their futures.

Phil Collins – Part Two of Two

A revelation about that Adele chick’s music came to me recently.  It couldn’t have if I wasn’t in the frame of mind I am now.  See, without providing any specific examples to support the argument, Collins’ music to my mind taps in and relates to people’s emotions.  Adele’s, on the other hand, manipulates and exploits them.  Again, I’m not going to provide evidence.  It’s just the way it is, or at least the way I see and hear it.  And I’m seeing (and hearing/tasting/smelling/feeling) things pretty bloody clearly these days, finally.  It seems to me that an artist of any persuasion should be very careful to relate to instead of exploit people and their emotions.  I can’t blame Adele for doing so.  She does have a wonderful voice.  And she’s also at once the product of a relentlessly capitalistic culture and commercial music machine.  Collins, too, is a part of and a product of that culture and machine.  Yet he I’m sure chose long ago to stick to the path of creative purity and it paid off for him through not creatively bankrupting himself or emotionally cheating his fans or his connection with them.  I, and we all whether we’re creative (in the ironically strict sense of the word) or not are capable of that choice, too.  My choice is to be true to myself, to the people around me, and to the things that I do, creative or otherwise.  And now it’s a deliberate, instead of just instinctive, decision.

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Me, camped by the Squamish River, British Colombia, Canada, late 2012

I did end up reading a Wikipedia article about Collins.  (Still not sure if he has a book or books.)  And, incredibly, it contains information which fits almost eerily perfectly with my comparison of him and Adele.  Apparently, in 2014 “Collins announced in an interview with Inside South Florida that he was writing new compositions with the English musician Adele.  Collins said he had no idea who Adele was when he learned she wanted to collaborate with him.  He said ‘I wasn’t actually too aware [of her].  I live in a cave.’  Collins agreed to join her in the studio after hearing her voice.  He said, ‘[She] achieved an incredible (indeed) amount.  I really love her voice (doesn’t everyone).  I love some of the stuff she’s done, too (funny how derivation expertly masquerading as originality can, at first, avoid appearing to even the most savvy sensibilities).’  However, in September 2014, Collins revealed that the collaboration had ended and he said it had been ‘a bit of a non-starter.’” (http://bit.ly/1FMxC7h).  I was surprised to find this, but I was not surprised by what I read.  The link to my situation is obvious: not only had I come to finally realise the truth about myself, I had also come to realise (perceivable, based on my limited sensory experiences) truths about the world around me to the point in which I had inadvertently made a coincidentally-timed observation about one musical artist and his dawning distaste for another.  To wit: my interpretation of the above Wikipedia excerpt is that eventually Collins discovered he had creative conflicts with and differences from Adele.  Of course, those who are fans of the latter, but not the former, might infer differently.

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Sunset, Venice Beach, Los Angeles, California, New Year’s Eve 2012

The future is bright.  I’m now capable of more consciously effectively operating in reality.  I understand the world better than I ever have, even if I still have many, many problems with it.  And I understand my place in that world better; indeed all but completely accurately.  Though that’s not to say I think I have some special place in the world beyond that which I might make, with others’ help.  Why is the future bright?  Firstly because it always has been, or had the potential to be.  And secondly because I’m now better able to realise why it is, or certainly can be if I play my proverbial cards right.  I’m free.  Not free in the sense that I can do whatever I want.  Not free in the sense that I’m capable of anything.  Free in the sense that I’m capable of what I want to do, as long as I’m conscious of those things – some of which might also be things I want to do, albeit with lesser priority – I must sacrifice in order to do what I want to do.  I certainly want to write, as evidenced by the fact that I am right now and have many times previously.  I certainly want to love, as evidenced by the fact that I am truly in love with the most wonderful woman I’ve ever met (again, besides my mother).  And I want to live.  And I will live not haunted.  Not scared.  Missing nothing.  I am, alive.

Phil Collins – Part One of Two

All my life, I’ve been haunted.  Or scared.  Or missing something I could never quite comprehend, much less expect to discover.  With the sometimes benevolent and other times malevolent benefit/detriment of hindsight, I’ve wondered if it’s been because I was born 10 weeks premature.  Or because I was never truly born, but instead surgically removed from my mother (via caesarean section).  Or because as a result of my prematurity, my first few days and weeks were spent in a humidity crib, when they otherwise would have been spent bonding with the most important woman, at least by virtue of creation, I’d share my (but not all of her) life with. Maybe.  But I’ve since realised it almost certainly (albeit not actually certainly) had nothing to do with missing something I’d had trouble finding.  Or holding on to a never productive pain I probably just imagined from an immediately but progressively (but not always quickly enough) less painful childhood.  It really was about imagination.  Or more particularly paranoia.  But that’s all.  I’d imagined certain horrifying realities about my life and ignored or repressed actual, more pleasant ones.  I could never be as free as I deserved until I accepted that some pains are normal; and others are the product of fantasy and fear and paranoia and, simply, poor influence or advice or treatment.  No more.  No more.  No more.

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Me, Melbourne to Adelaide and across the Eyre Peninsula to Cactus, south of Penong, and back to Adelaide surf trip, 2011 – photo Ross Dudgeon

Phil Collins has always been an artist I’ve admired and enjoyed, albeit not known a lot about or patronised to any serious degree (I’ve never bought any of his music.  I plan on doing (or downloading) so.  And at least reading a Wikipedia article about him.  I wonder if he has a biography/autobiography?).  An ex-girlfriend of mine used to listen to his music in order to get pumped up for our first few dates.  It worked (arguably to ill-effect, eventually).  I for one, like I said, have always enjoyed his music but, and this relates to the point of this piece, whenever I’ve heard it I’ve had frustrating difficulty figuring out what his name was.  It was always on the tip of my tongue or brain.  And even with time it would never pop into my head.  (Apparently when we experience such “tip of the tongue” moments, our conscious mind might give up but our subconscious usually continues working on the problem and offers the revelation later on.)  I’d just hear his music again at some point later, and experience the same frustration at not being able to figure out who it was by.  Over and over again, kind of like how life feels when you’re not enjoying it.  Or avoiding enjoying it.

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Sunrise over San Francisco Bay Bridge

Again, no more.  It fits perfectly with the enormous corner my life has turned, and the not so horrifying or debilitating truth about who I am and my current and potential place in the world.  I used to struggle to bring Collins’ name to my mind and/or lips (perhaps it’s no coincidence that my first name is “Colin”), just as I used to struggle to be honest with myself and avoid engaging in paranoid fear about the almost completely self-invented lies I for some reason perceived as terrifyingly true.  Not long ago, after I turned the corner (unashamedly aided by psychoanalysis and depression/anxiety medication) in my life I was listening to the radio and one of Collins’ songs came on, and I was able to summon his name.  Pretty well straight away.  Finally!  It felt so good.  So symbolic of what I’d been struggling for.  Struggling to be honest with myself.  To love myself, non-narcissistically.  To be unafraid.  And my reward, or one of many, was the ability to put a name to some wonderful music which, it’s now obvious, so tellingly and symbolically happened to be by someone who shared my name (albeit switched with his surname, and an extra L added.  It’s always annoyed me when people add an extra L to my first name).  Fear is useful, sometimes.  But even if I still had rational fear, I had forever, I hope, lost the fear to rationally realise.  I was free, of that.