Posts Tagged 'death'

beat, oh my dessicated heart

Continue reading ‘beat, oh my dessicated heart’


words, more words, and feeling…

I only found out  a couple of months ago, well after the fact, that one of my intellectual/literary heroes died, relatively young, by suicide as a result of depression, six months after I finished my second reading of his celebrated book Infinite Jest. An acquaintance told me the news, and of how reading of it inspired him to gather as much of David Foster Wallace’s writing as he could.

Since hearing the news and of my acquaintance’s new found enthusiasms, I’ve in turn been inspired to re-read and discover some more of DFW’s brilliance, and of course try to gain some insight into how such a person could end their life.

This week I’ve been listening to an audiobook of DFW reading selected essays from Consider The Lobster and a podcast of him reading part of his 9/11 essay for an audience. And today, a recording of a session not long after his death of a writers group holding a remembering DFW event. The personal accounts of DFW the man were so much more illuminating than any amount of obituaries.

It kind of tore my heart out.

I already felt so bereft that the world had lost a keen mind unafraid to complexly confront our fears and insecurities, our nature,  and to do so with such thorough delight and zest for the breadth of life.

Listening to these recordings though has deepened another unease: a conflict between a feeling of great inspiration about what it is to be human and live a meaningful empathetic life, and the gnawing sadness that not even a great like DFW could think his way out of the darkness, with a corresponding sorrow (like a half remembered nightmare) that it seems even he got it wrong.

His often quoted 2005 commencement speech at Kenyon College, includes the passage true freedom “means being conscious and aware enough to choose what you pay attention to and to choose how you construct meaning from experience. Because if you cannot exercise this kind of choice in adult life, you will be totally hosed.”

It’s such a seductive idea – discipline, control, awareness, empathy, growth, value.

What’s bothering me now is the most likely reality is there’s truly some things we just don’t get to choose, we’re hosed whether we like it or not. Some things we just have to feel, and get through and put up with, and hope we make it out the other side not having lost some important part of ourselves, if we make it out the other side at all. An infinite jest. Whether it be the lost potential of thwarted passion, small petty supermarket queue frustrations, or the biggies such as DFW endured which we so dearly wish weren’t the human condition but so patently, and eternally, are.

For now I’m going to keep on holding on to the exuberance and optimism that wicks through DFW’s writing like liquid gold and maintain trust in the hope we can transcend our condition, at least for long enough to make a coffee and pull ourselves together for the next challenge. And fervently hope not too many more of David’s calibre come to find the unendurable unendurable.

Australian Grand Prix 2009 in Melbourne

the trackPetrol and grease, $80,000 pit stop part changes, big wheels, silly sticky outy bits that fall off seemingly with the lightest touch, speed, too much sound for such small packages, likewise from the even classier defence force jet that screamed past our apartment building vantage point. And what’s it all for? Tiny blurs of light with fragile inhabitants who seem to always walk away from the wreckage unscathed. Billion dollar miracles.

bernie clifford - all round legend watcher1 racing flag

watcher2 formation planes chris

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Continue reading ‘Australian Grand Prix 2009 in Melbourne’

the tower…

Finally tackled the last major London icon on my list – the Tower of London. Strolled over Tower Bridge on the way to get the bus at London Bridge too.

The ToL was more odd in experiential stakes than I’d anticipated. The prime attraction of course was the Crown Jewels, deservedly with capital first letters. After braving the fire hazard of 4 rooms of queuing you can finally get up close. Quickly it’s apparent the royal family are obscenely wealthy and you’re looking at the iconic representations of that wealth within a place where thousands have been incarcerated and murdered solely in order to continue their lineage and power. All at £16.50 per adult tourist. And why do they still need tax funded allowances? Hmm? OK OK the place is run by an independent charity blah blah blah. Still.

A nice man in a cute uniform (not in a sexy way) explained how every 15 years the velvet in the crowns is replaced – at £440 per square meter. And the ermine lining the lower edges is replaced regularly too. The little brown or black dots amidst the white fur (about 20 per crown) is taken from just one place on the animal – the tip of the tail. That’s quite a few departed souls for the Queen’s head to be a little more comfortable once each November…

Rant over. Here’s some photos I liked. And some carvings by prisoners that hit home are further down too.

Continue reading ‘the tower…’


not such an nice Sunday today. i took a walk to Brockwell Park, one of the best parts of living in Brixton. it’s elevated, large, green, has ponds, tall trees, a cafe, a view over London and is an effective escape from the less savoury side of living in Brixton. until today. i took a walk there to finish reading my book “A Million Little Pieces” about James Frey’s experiences recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. fairly heavy going (whilst not particularly factual), but reading that firmly puts you back thinking about the good things of life. a spot by the pond, grass, sunshine. after about an hour a man attracted my attention and asked if i knew what was going on up by the tennis courts. i said i had no idea. looking over, there was a policewoman keeping watch over a cordoned off area (just a strip of tape) and a large object near the hedge covered with something bright red. with dread i realised i could have been relaxing for over an hour with a dead person just up the hill. unable to not know, i walked up and asked, and yes, the object under the blanket was a dead man. he’d been lying there all day in the sun under the blanket, while forensics got themselves together to check it out this ‘suspicious death’. all day.

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