I look after my father who has cancer, amongst various other things. His physical ailments are one thing, him losing his mind is another. My life has officially become a tough gig. I wondered if this madness might not be a metaphor? The speed of his descent into incoherency has been something to behold. Same-same, the world. Or is that too simplistic? And really, the world was always thus. Even the 'good war' was bullshit. Certainly every war he ever fought in was - white people v coloured people, hip hip hooray. But then I wonder, with my eyes adjusted to the glare of new stark relief, if he wasn't always mad then too.
Perhaps his madness isn't a metaphor so much as simple cause and effect. As we sit and watch the SBS news (the only thing we watch on the TV that isn't sport, sport, and more sport) and I explain the enormity of the endless lies we're told, everything he took as certainty crumbles beneath him. All of it, everything, even Pearl Harbour was bullshit for chrissakes. If everything you knew was false, why not abandon reason and behave like an infant? Mad in a sane world, or sane in a mad world. Who can tell the difference?
Or perhaps this smashing of understandings has nothing to do with anything. His mad watching of Fox Sport's fifteen minute recycles forty times a day is only a small step from his previous never-miss-a-game. It's just that back then he knew what he was watching. He now longer knows now. I've ceased asking him who's playing or what the score is. He has no idea. And I'm now given to thinking that the sneaky wilfulness in what he does, and doesn't do, remembers, and doesn't remember, is just a red herring. Alzheimers does that.
But courses are being plotted here and the curves match too well for me to ignore them. Parabolic accelerations match and multiple end-points are all nearing simultaneous arrival. The timing is spooky. I know what the end point of Alzheimers is. My maternal grandmother had it. She ended up a gibbering vegetable who would spit out anything that wasn't chocolate custard. My father is nearing this point and then he'll die. I won't describe the world-as-we-know-it doing similar things. You all get it, I'm sure.
But then there's us too. We the sane in the mad world, the mad in the sane, whatever. Our arc is accelerating too and as the madness and lies reach new dizzying heights, the clearer we become. And then what? We all die? What sort of crummy metaphor is that?
I admit I'm muddying things here, but how about this - We've been travelling through a mad labyrinth, with every step taking us further into absurdity. It's been dream-like hasn't it? Our disillusion (I use this word with great care) has brought us lucidity, but not to the point where we can control anything. All it's done is made the absurdity clearer. And whilst the endpoint is sharpening it's still fuzzy. But the end of the tunnel is in sight. Forget Tricky Dick's bullshit analogy. There was no light then, and there's no light now. What we see is the darkness at the end of the tunnel. And how we all fear this thing! The nightmare isn't over - just its prelude. God help us all.
Going sideways momentarily, did anyone see a piece linked by WRH that pivoted on a poker game metaphor? It caught my eye because I briefly mentioned poker myself in the last piece. The writer compared poker to capitalism. A poker game can only continue whilst some of the players still have chips. But if one of the players takes all the chips, the game is over. He asked, how will capitalism continue? Ha ha ha ha. Is this a difficult question? I thought the answer was obvious - it won't continue. The poker game was not the end in itself, merely the means to it. The end was to render everyone penniless, put them in debt, and make them slaves. The guy whose game it was, will own them. He no longer needs the game. Medieval slavery is way more fun than capitalism poker.
Now the losers need merely stagger out of the smoke-filled room, and into the alley filled with garbage and the stink of urine. Where did the hookers go? And the free drinks? Iggy Pop's I want to be your dog kicks in as the penniless losers crash through the door and vomit. And as they're doubled up, a pitiless thug tells them their future, 'We own you.'
And so we will all arrive. And me. And my father. Arrival, Departure, it's hard to tell the difference. Same helvetica signage, same blue/green decor, same announcements over the loudspeakers, 'Attention. Passengers. Departing. Arriving. Please. Proceed.' Either way, we'll all leave where we are and be somewhere else.
That's that darkness at the end of the tunnel. I don't know that struggling to stay in the labyrinth will serve any purpose. Like the writer above who sounded like he was going to miss the poker he'd spent his whole life playing. Boo hoo. Sure, we don't know precisely what the darkness is. Conrad's horror, maybe? But let's not be so clever. Let's be simpletons. The darkness is the night. Shifting cloud cover aside, the stars are still in the firmament, as beautiful as ever. Certainly the self-proclaimed gods would have this moonless dark last forever. They are without doubt creatures of the night. Perversity's natural element was always darkness. But this eternity they dream of is a fool's errand. The only certainty is change. No night lasts forever. Paraphrasing Hemingway, the sun always rises.
Me, I am prepared. I have shed nearly everything. I quit whatever this bullshit game was years ago. The only thing I have not shed is my father. Buddha left his wife and kids you know. Happily they were in a palace, so no biggie. But what if Siddhartha Gautama and his family had been living on the footpath with him as their only hope? Would he have gone on to become Buddha? Who knows? He didn't have to answer this question. Nor do I need to. And I ain't Buddha, ha ha. But me as Buddha wannabe aside, my father will die soon enough. His deterioration is quite rapid now.
When this happens my last tether will be gone. I will become a 'slippery little sucker'. It's alright for me, sure. Many of you reading this have children. Me, I have no kids. This breaks my heart, sure, but it's a blessing too. But then again, having kids is both of these things as well. Kids was the first objection I heard against my plans of having my friends and I quit the city and make a collective farm. The precise words were - 'We have kids in school'. Sure. I still think pulling them out and taking them to the country was a good idea. Kids are tougher than you think. Some of these kids are my nieces and nephews. Not literally, but I love them just the same and they break my heart regardless. But I'm not their parent, and far be it from me to say what's best for them. All I can do is speak for myself.
And me, I'm going to step into the dark, into that fresh unknown. I already barely exist in this labyrinth. The only piece of paper with my name on it is my passport. In this bullshit white man's world I'm an impossibility. I'm only here for, and because of, my father. His name is on lots of pieces of paper and he enables me to live in this fashion. (For the record, I qualify for a carer's pension. God knows how many people have told me I should take it. I tell them that I don't need it. There's nothing I want to buy and I don't wish to jump through government hoops or otherwise be controlled. This is a bit of a conversation stopper.) Anyway I wondered if having my food and shelter provided by my father was parasitic of me. But this was driven by me wondering what I would do without it. Sure enough, if I want to live in this white man's land, not being ensnared in the web of money, bills, taxes, debt, and enslavement is impossible. Living under a bridge and trawling the garbage is your only option.
This was the darkness at the end of my particular tunnel. Or so I imagined. But lately an answer has presented itself. And it's so fucking obvious. The answer is to quit the white man's world. I shall step out of the labyrinth into a place of my own choosing. To the north of me here, not far away, are 25,000 islands. I have friends who've lived there and plan to go back. They tell me it's do-able and I'm the man to do it. They tell me it's possible to live there for pennies. It's not dangerous, or scary, or any other thing the bullshit media would have us believe. In these places, the end of the world will be met with a shrug. The rain will still fall. The fruit will still grow. And the kids will still run around laughing their heads off. Anyone untethered can do this.
And yeah, I get the double meaning. Yoroshiku.