This poet is magnificent.
WOW! No words to do this piece of prose/poetry justice. Just stunning.
Paper dolls and mannequins. Smiles sliding down molten plastic.
There is an art to being hollow. I do it better than most.
For ritual, there must be sequence. An order, a series of events.
So listen, and listen carefully. Like all art, the process is simple, but a single misstep can kill you.
Don’t rush, child: first, you must prepare yourself for the call. The songs of the sirens are sweet but deadly; they’ll cut through rope and twine and strike only at the heart.
The heart, you see, is a deceitful thing. Its blood will choke you as fast as it gushes with life. In the end, it’s your heart that will guide the knife to your own throat.
So remove the glass from the paintings that hang on the walls, plaster your windows with film. Shatter the vase of those flowers in your room; throw the shards where…
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As I once again enter the depression cycle I take a moment to reflect on why I am unable to sustain feelings of optimism and hope. I only write this because I think it may be helpful to others like me who struggle to maintain a sense of purpose and equilibrium in a world that only rewards the rich and successful and recognised and dare I say, conventional.
The world is mad.
The world is mad. Wealth is so lionised that people have forgotten their moral and empathic nature in its pursuit. True enough, money does offer choices and begets opportunities but for those of you who have plenty of it spare a thought for the ones whose worth is greater than your money and for whom the constant grinding struggle to shine and have a shot at life abrades all sense of hope and faith.
Faith as most people see it is a religious principle and gets topped up on weekends in prayer, chant or mantra. It’s not springing fresh from an inner well of certainty in this superimposed hypnotic repetition of empty cants. It is a drug and drugs only alter the mind for a brief space of time. They are a waste of resources and time. Drugs don’t work.
So, to find the kind of hope that sustains we must look elsewhere and be clear-eyed about it. I have been rich and I have been poor and my feelings of hope were not in direct correlation with my bank account or lifestyle. My sense of self-worth was balanced on my ability to push through my own barriers and achieve excellence in my chosen field: the Arts in the form of literature, composition and lyrics. In the past whenever I have written something I have been thrilled with, I’ve been filled with a sense of wellbeing and a connectedness to a grander ordinance of being that can only be intuited as Divine. The emptiness that preludes despair and depression is temporarily filled with a sense of harmonic infrastructure. I really don’t know how else to describe the sense that what I am creating is somehow building pathways into the future. For a few wonderful days or hours I know I will one day make a difference. But then despair as human reality sets in and I am faced with an inbox full of rejections and cynical bids to extract money from me. If I want my work to reach a wider audience it’s going to cost me, I am told. In short I not only have to create superior work, I also have to pay for the privilege of sharing it with the world. The message I receive loud and clear is that my magnificent hard-won offerings in the form of books, lyrics, librettos and occasionally, music, are worth nothing, which means I am worth nothing.
I have no value.
I am not the first artist who has felt this way and unless the world wakes up SOON I won’t be the last. But the world needs to ask itself if the cost of discouraging people who are forging connective pathways between heaven and earth for others to use is worth the price. Think about it for a moment. How many other people out there are struggling with feelings of futility, hopelessness and loss? How many people are finding religion empty and politics corrupt and the imbalance of wealth, opportunity and assets so overwhelming that a permanent grip of despair takes hold and suffocates what remains of their hope?
Refine your dream for a moment. Is success measured in dollars and cents? Or is it measured by excellence and the difference you can make?
If it isn’t the latter then rethink.
You are here on earth to achieve EXCELLENCE and make a difference to one, some or many. EXCELLENCE is the first cause and driving principle of life. The side effect of your achieving excellence is inspiring others who are watching and wondering if this path of yours is THE WAY. It is the WAY. It’s the only way. But here’s the rub. Everybody wants to make money and too many honour that drive to the exclusion of all else. Money cannot be the end of Art but too many theatres, publishing houses, Art galleries, dance companies, music makers and architects etc are fostering second-rate inauthentic faddish people over genius and it’s destroying not only the arts, but also FAITH. Yes, it is that big and that important. If Art dies so too does the spirit. Religion can never replace Art as a conduit to heaven. It’s done very well escorting people to hell but heaven is full of team players, healers, mystics, visionaries, artists, saviours and creatives not paedophiles and terrorists.
Now, I realise that people and artistic institutions need to make money. So, here’s my suggestion: use the commercial money-making pap to support a sliver of programmed genius. Consider it your duty to posterity to allow genius a voice before the masses realise its worth. But having said that don’t under-estimate the public. It many cases it was the public who recognised genius long before the corporate bean counters. To cite but a few it was in the Beer Houses that Mozart won moderate acclaim. It was the public who decided they adored Van Gogh. Pity they didn’t do it in his lifetime and it’s the public who maintain the sales and veracity of classical genius in all its forms today.
The onus is on the institutions currently refusing to take risks on unknown genius for fear of losing money to raise the bar, pre-empt future recognition and facilitate enlightenment.
But genius is frightening and beyond the reach of most people. OR IS IT?
The religious principles set out by Jesus are beyond the reach of everyone – turn the other cheek, forgive your enemies, let he who is without sin cast the first stone, the love of money is the root of all evil. Nobody I know follows these principles but many people I know claim to be Christians. They’re not. They just go to Church looking for a top-up of their faith. But that doesn’t alter the fact that Jesus was a genius whose teachings are solid and helpful. It’s just the corporate money-grubbing religion that grew out of his teachings that is unhelpful and dangerously inhibiting.
So, let’s imagine we’ve banished religion and politics and stripped the rich of their surplus wealth. Now on this level playing field let’s try an experiment. Let every human being decide how best to serve their soul. If they could do anything at all barring murder, rape and theft and any other anti-social behaviour, let’s provide the training and the means to follow their dream. The end reward is not money but EXCELLENCE. To whom do people look for guidance in the pursuit of personal excellence? To the ones who have built those bridges between heaven and earth and shown the way, to the geniuses who have demonstrated commitment to their calling. And let’s assume there is no other path available now but your own chosen path. I guarantee that every step taken will fill you with a sense of self-worth and joy. Some may never reach genius but most will.
Most will and therein lies an end to emptiness and despair. For this is where heaven meets earth.
What a change we would see if people were supported to be the best they could be without the stigma of poverty and rejection imposed on them by a world that has truly lost its WAY.
via Money as God.
For years I have worked for people whose sole concern was making themselves richer than they already were. Being a writer, I was mainly working for restaurant-owners and serving their greed by fawning on customers and toadying for upsells. “Oh do try the New Zealand Chardonnay, sir. I realise it’s three times the price of the local brew but it’s worth every cent. It has a delicate peppery essence underscored by a lemony brightness…bullshit, bullshit, bullshit.” And this mind-numbing crap usually, sadly, worked. I’d talk some poor sod into paying $144 for a bottle of Chards that was frankly inferior to the locally-produced wine that cost $32 a bottle. More than I would pay even so but at least it wasn’t daylight robbery.
To maintain what remained of my fraying soul I would practice yoga and meditation in the mornings before my insincere day began. The hoped-for reconnection with my Higher Self never quite took root. Even meditating I was tensing up in anticipation of the thoroughly dysfunctional day ahead. Added to the misery of ripping off decent clientele was the neediness of the various rich owners for “friends” and constant après-work celebratory drinks where the sole topic of conversation was gloating over how much filthy lucre they’d managed to leech out of the public that day.
One particular owner was a lady who claimed to be spiritual, not just I-meditate-spiritual but I-have-a-calling spiritual. Her ramblings of an apogeic nature were reserved largely for me, because, as she explained, I was a talented writer, and one day, I may want to write her story. I cannot tell you how many people have crossed my path convinced that I, a writer of fiction, would abandon my process and interview them in tedious, meandering sessions of self-revelation in order to ghost-write their memoirs.
So, there we were, this self-absorbed lady and I, sitting on the verandah of her multi-million dollar establishment getting tanked on the most expensive imported red and speculating about her calling. Even now, with the benefit of ten years’ distance I am at a loss to see why God should concern Himself with the feathering of her already gilded nest. Of course the truth inevitably emerges when people are allowed to blather on long enough to actually hear themselves and in the absence of any comments from me she ultimately revealed that she was a lonely train wreck – marriage on the rocks, a son who barely spoke to her, no real friends and no discernible passion left in her. What was she living for, she asked me blearily. I was too tanked at that point to be of much use but I suggested she try being kind to others for a change instead of seeing everyone as a dollar sign. It was the best I could do at 2am.
The next day, a Sunday, was packed with lunchtime customers and she asked me to set a special table for twelve people at the more spectacular end of the balcony, the end that had views over the valley and glimpses of the sea beyond. The staff called it “millionaires’ corner”. At 1pm a helicopter landed on the cleared field below and the Sunday clientele were treated to the arrival of a famous rock band, the lead singer of which, had been to school with the owner’s son. She hoped her son would accept the invitation to lunch to catch up with his now-famous ex-school mate. No expense was spared in the wooing of this celebrity and his band and their possie of sycophantic hangers-on who drifted in from the bar as soon as Mr. Studs and his latest leggy blonde girlfriend were seated. The members of his band were arranged like radiating petals around him except for one seat next to him that remained poignantly empty throughout lunch. The hoped-for son was a no-show. The spiritually-bereft owner sat opposite the rock god and smiled vacantly as he told endless stories about himself. An hour after dessert, as the afternoon was staling and the monologue was stalling, I looked across and caught our lady’s eye and in it I saw the look of a caged bird.
Later that evening, after the glitterati had flown off and the remains of the feast had been cleared away, she sat at a table alone looking wistfully over her acres of unspoiled rain forest which harboured discreetly-placed cabins that rented out at $5,000 a week. She nursed a half-empty glass of our most expensive Shiraz.
‘Anything you need before I go home?’ I asked.
She looked at me blearily, ‘Joel didn’t even call to say he wasn’t coming.’ She drained the glass. ‘He doesn’t know what being poor is like. My parents had nothing and I was so ashamed of them.’ She refilled her glass. ‘I didn’t want him to be ashamed of me.’
I sat down. ‘Are they still alive? Your parents?’
‘They’d love to hear from you, I’m sure.’
She didn’t get it, of course, the correlation between her neglect of her elderly parents and her son’s neglect of her but if yoga and meditation had taught me one thing it’s that everything is connected on some level. She always carried her mobile with her and now she scrolled through her contacts hunting for a number she hadn’t dialled in years.
‘Joel sees them every Christmas but of course, I can’t. It’s my busiest day of the year. I make more money on Christmas day than any other day of the year.’
‘God, you’re bossy,’ she said, finding the number and staring at it. ‘My son sees my parents but can’t be bothered turning up for a celebrity lunch here.’
‘Call them and invite them to lunch here next Sunday. Tell them to bring Joel. We’ll set up the rock god’s table overlooking the valley and treat them to the best we have … on the house. Pick ’em up in a helicopter.’
She stared at me for a long while and then dialled the number and waited. It was late but not ridiculously so, about 10pm. Finally, someone answered.
‘Mum?’ She bowed her head and I took my leave.
The following Sunday a helicopter landed on the field below millionaires’ corner and three people alighted. Our lady was on the ground to meet them and escort them up the steps to their table. The special guests didn’t intrigue the clientele, but for us, the staff, it was a joy to see her genuinely happy and laughing and not getting plastered. When we all left that evening she and her family were still sitting at that table talking and laughing and reviving connections.
This morning I did my Asanas and meditated. I am now a full-time writer and the air I breathe is purified by a sense of purpose as opposed to rarefied by a sense of privilege. Money can never replace family, whether they be biological or like-minded others. These are the people whose love is worth having and whose good opinion is worth earning. Rock gods and money are transitory amusements and soon spent .
Snow comes sifting down, layer after layer
To the bower of this reedy pond.
Overhead, the umbrella of winter
A chastely figure, augured in white lines,
Covers the clapboard grasses.
The wind stiffens into place over ice,
How its voice howls, how it blots up
The bones of water, shadows of fish;
Its black bunched fingers tug at me-
For a warmth, I seek the frog-mouth liquor.
I become a blunt, clumsy stumbler,
So slow against all that numbing;
I sink into a caul of forgetfulness,
Drowsy in a cold womb,
Slow effacement at the snow’s hand.
Winter’s mid-wife slaps my footsoles,
My nakedness is mirrored on frozen pond,
I wake to listen: Spring whispers in my ear-
I am a new statue in thawing air; the window
Square of warmth brightens, swallows the cold.
Spectacular performances in a somewhat dated show.
Venue: Eternity Playhouse (Darlinghurst NSW), Feb 1 – 24, 2018
Playwright: Jim Cartwright
Director: Shaun Rennie
Cast: Kip Chapman, Joseph Del Re, Geraldine Hakewill, Caroline O’Connor, Bishanyia Vincent, Charles Wu
Images by Robert Catto
Little Voice is the name of a young woman who spends her days and nights cooped up in a bedroom, listening to old records left behind by a father who had gone too soon. Her mother Mari too, has been unable to get over that death, hitting the bottle hard, and neglecting her all her responsibilities at home and in life. When it is discovered that Little Voice has an extraordinary ability to mimic the torch singers whom she obsesses over, we wonder if commercial success can finally lift the women out of their perpetual state of mourning.
In Jim Cartwright’s The Rise & Fall Of Little Voice, colourful personalities deliver an amusing…
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