Thursday, August 21, 2014
Some days I can say with absolute faith that life is good, however it’s hard to quantify the word good and the word itself has to be enough, for to attempt to qualify or quantify the notion of good is like clutching at air. I knew prior to writing this that my thoughts would descend into something other than good for the past few weeks have been most challenging on the world stage. I gave up watching the news when I saw a child who had been blinded and maimed by shrapnel from an exploded bomb and he smiled in gratitude when his tiny face was touched, when the nurse placed drops in his eyes to soothe the pain and when he was fed. I swore out loud, ‘Fuck, Fuck, what a terrible world we live in’ and I began to cry until I noticed my heart beating too fast and I heard an inner voice say ‘don’t get upset’. I don’t know about others but I think that with all the fighting that’s been going on in the world, the displacement of people, the poverty and hunger, the suffering of children, those who lay dead or dying from the now rampant Ebola virus, and more recently the beheading of an American journalist, that we may all be putting our heads in the sand, or, if not that then going into shut down mode (please excuse the computer metaphor) to protect our psyches. I find myself in a half way zone between having a desire to know what’s going on and not wanting to know at all because it’s just all to horrible to contemplate. There was a temptation today to view the video image of the beheading, for a journalist had been quoted on the television news, (probably as a way of allaying the request from the parent’s of the dead man, not to watch or share the footage), as saying that censorship was not the way and instead we should be exposed to the terrors of such an ordeal so that we can know what ‘we’ are up against. I entered a Google search for ‘beheaded journalist’ and discovered to my horror that rather than being a unique event, beheading was commonplace in some cultures. I stopped short of viewing what was described as the gruesome video because once seeing such a thing one can never unsee it. Better I think to protect the psyche. I wondered if I was just a coward, many I’m sure would have braced themselves in front of a computer screen and watched with utter amazement, disassociating themselves from the fact that the video was an accurate depiction of a hideous reality, or because they were consciously aware that this was a reality like no other. I’ve attempted to analyze exactly why I thought of viewing the tape and it was not about seeing the man’s throat cut or the manner in which his head was severed from his body. What I wanted to see or understand was his level of bravery, how he behaved in the face of his impending death; whether or not he struggled or cried out. I suppose we see ourselves in another’s struggle and we have the opportunity to ask ourselves what we would be like in that same situation. This morning I went to see 20,000 days on Earth, the documentary film about Nick Cave’s writing and singing career and there was a small section in it in which he recalled his father reading to him from Lolita. Cave remarked that he noticed his father became someone else in the reading of this book to his young son and further said that he believe that most people wanted to be someone else. I think that Cave believed that he became someone else when he performed in front of an audience. I disagree that everyone wants to be someone else, but I do think that we sometimes wish to allow aspects of our self to emerge that may remain for long periods of time as inaccessible to ourselves and to others. My not so dark side emerged victorious today, but it certainly had a battle with the darker side of my psyche, which has a desire to understand what we commonly call evil. I refuse to watch the news at the moment, I have become like many others, and I just don’t want to know. I remember doing this before two decades ago and it was for the very same reason, I kept crying for women and children and innocents who are persistently called ‘collateral damage’ and not considered at all as human beings.