Friday, June 03, 2005

The Vale of the Shallow

In case you ahdn't noticed, I have a bit off a problem wiht ivoluntary spoonerisms.

My hysterical self is convinced this is a sign of major neurophysiological decline but It's probably standard slobby hypochondria. I'm a crap typist. sorry

I alos reckon (check this for gratuitous self aggrandising sophism) that typing shoud be gestural - and typos give a pienc eof dry CRT text a kind of inflextive wuality. Readers can tell how passionate, rushed underslept or manic I am by the quantities of typos. Hell there's gotta be more than *this is impoortant* and THIS IS IMPORTANT styles of inflexive asciii (vintage reference eh?)

I reckon Artaud would have had lots atypos in his emails

I reckon proust - oh fuck -
silence while mind boggles........
still dunno.

I can READ my accent when I type in french. Je suis anglophone, je suis un plouc veritable, et parfois tres con. Je suis sale.

can't you? probably coz I don't use any of the french typologised accents.........

anwya back to the point. the vale of the shallow, the shade of the valley, the dale of the shalley of veth.
errr, trying to make lite of heavy shit.

today is the one year anniversary of Pred's death at 2am.

I've still got Stacy's text message from june 1st on my phone "Thx heaps! more stuff is fucking up but got ng tube in so he's feeling more positive" I hold onto it - coz it reminds me of the excruciating closeness of emotions around dying, mad desperate hope are mixed with despair. fuck, he died slowly painfully horribly and monstrously. Getting an ng tube in was about the highlight of his 34th year ........ should I write about this even?

Fuck I hate hospitals - and they are full of people dying or people visiting people dying - huge edifices of agony and hell. And they are either berrima greeen pastel or bloody beige.

Pred's blog described his death (and life) far better than I could.

And the indymedia site was a really lovely community space for so many eulogies and tributes. I fell in love wiht the net at that point.

so it seems a bit silly for me to try to give any sort of definitive post mortem on what his death meant.

Lots of people were really upset by it and lots of people really miss him still - he seeme dlike someone who was so increadibly alive that it made no sense that he died.

I don't think death makes any sense to anyone - at least not here in skippy land (post industrial white skinned ex-eurotrash like me).

I'm trying to see if I am able to form words about my own families grief. Mum and I had a teary phone call last night.

for those of you who don't know my borther collapsed in one of those "accidental suicides" that offer athsmatics an easy way out of the mortal shackles..........

(I nearly followed him tonight -when I unwittingly scoffed some almond laced cake on the graduation lawn and then realised I'd lost my ventolin.........decided that hanging out in the postgrad centre under air conditioning for a few hours would be the best thing)

for me - My brother Rod's death changed my life forever and completely. I have a photo of me taken on the day before I found out he'd died and I really feel like (appalling cliche) it is of a different person - the old mayhem, who vanished when Rod died.

I wonder if other siblings feel this intensely when they lose a brother or a sister. I'm still amazed by the depth of pain I felt and still feel. It's a deep visceral pain now, that throbs occasionally. I get tears in my eyes and a hollow stomach and horrible prickly feelings along my arms. My mum says that after her sister died she cried herself to sleep every single night - until the night I was born (ahhhhhhh!) when she got extreme sports post natal depression!

People don't really talk about death. I'm really into talking cures; I've done coming out workshops, CR workshops, lots and lots of self help workshops and I also had weekly therapy for 4 years - but I'm yet to find a space where death and grieving can be talked about so freely as - sexuality, (OK fair enough), illness, addiction or even childhood sexual abuse. I could toss off at this point about Baudrillard's ideas of Death being the great and only unexchangeable thing under contemporary capitalism. It is taboo because it cannot be exchanged - and so cannot be rationalised or even conceived. The process of describing something is invariably the first point at which it can be appropriated and modified into a unit of cultural or social exchange....... (can you imagine the next identity politics based on the grievers!!! the last untapped market for fashion! the black dollar could be bigger than the pink dollar!!!!). Death and grieving have been commodified certainly (hohoh remember Waughs the loved one - and think of the catholic church - its an entire religious emire built on the explicit fetishizing of death)

bud sad ai't sexy - well not yet anyway.

Speaking of cahtolicism, I have a terrible confession.

I am responsible for Pred's death.

Firslty lets get this straight. Bertrand Russle and Jean Paul Sartre got it wrong, John Donne got it right. God is a humourless vengeful arsehole who has made George Pell, pope arsehole and Peter Jensen in his own image. We are all fucked. Heaven is full of Christians, and the best we can hope for is eternal damnation so we can avoid all the smug arseholes in heaven. dante is preparing me for the inevitable. Sor are sydney summers.

the second factor is that Fuji had his 33rd birthday party in late november 2002. It was the first 33rd birthday party of my cohort of friends and in filipino tradition, poeple dress themselves up as a crucified christ at easter.

fuji picked a Jesus theme for his birthday.

I was going through a big virgin mary obsession - coz I reckon she is the patron saint of lesbian pregnancies and I love that colour of her veil in most churches. so I begged pred to dress up as jesus on the cross and I dressed up as the virgin mary. I'd just finished my thesis and anna was overseas and I wanted to get really drunk.

so I persuaded Pred to walk donw king street and mos tof Camden street wearing a crucifix and aloin cloth a while carrying a long neck of guinness. he loked great. The party was really fun.

I'm afraid god was not amused. Pred found his tumour a week later. the rest is history.

do I really believe this? I dunno.

Preds funeral service made me hate the catholic church with a really fierce passion. the cats bum kitch small minded patronising smugness was out in full force at oatley. It was so different to Pauls service which was open, warm, tender honest and funny. At pred's funeral I saw the church treating hist deaht as a shallow excuse to prolsetyse and claim his death as a victory for their rahter abhorent view of jesus. I wanted to scream! the funeral didn't even allow space for tears!

this brought back another painful part of my own experience of tykedom - whihc is the ban on crying. Ym mum dind't want me to cry at my brother's funeral. Most country poeple don't cry at funerals - you're meant to hold yourself still and dignified. We are allowed to laugh, this is the purpose of the wake. It is the sanctioned space to get drunk and make jokes about the deceased and laugh out all the screaming sobs that are bottled up inside. Being me - i insiste don the right to silently let tears stream donw my cheeks dring the mass - but smy school friends still said later I was doing the perfect jane austen act and it was painful to watch.

what is the perfect jane austen act? this is the point where I reveal that I have a different persona when I go to chez familia. People know I'm gay, so I'm not in the closet but. I wear diffeerent clothes, like skirts and pants (because jeans are for sluts) and usually one of those broad brimmed chemist shop hats, and a nice blouse, and maybe even a scarf. the perfect Jane Austen act involves serving cups of tea and being really polite and pleasant and having a high voice and no opinions and spending most of the time in the kitchen, washing up. Most of my family are scarey national party voters so I don't know how to talk to them and would prefer them to think that I'm such shy retiring type........... now pick your jaws up from the floor and continue reading.

there's all types of codes adhered to in the country, the dress is one. the lack of PDA (public dipslays of affection) is another. It took ages for anna to understand that at "home" we were NEVER to hold hands or kiss in public (for fear of having bullets shot through mums house later on) not having a car is pretty sus, but I get away with it. so being gay - means that everyone knows who I am and that I ahve a french female partner, but that we never act as a couple in public - boht of us act as pathetic nameless sexless servants - ie standard women. anywya - the priest at my brother's funeral was known in parlance as a former/closet celibate homosexual. he was really really lovely in the service - and despite the copper art decor of the Nambucca brinck veneer church - made me glad that the catholic church existed for one reason at least. I was also really glad to be able to go "home" and walk donw the street and bump inot people like my fmailies GP, or former classmates - who would know what I was going through and stop and give me a hug. As supportive as my friends were in sydney - the pace of sydney summer is hedonistic and allows little space for someone who is just ..... sad. Sad is an insult even! Most poeple cathc up at parties or spaces of celebration and "uppity" activity, everyone is realy busy - and so as supuportive as people want to be - ultimately it sint' easy - with someone who can't bear to go to parties, and is just as likely to aancel any arrangement like dinner, movies or a walk.

anyway - the nice part about sydney is that I never feel the need to "behave" or make up a host of respectable lies. the country also has this nasty side to the community concern. In relation to Rod, the questions in the country usually went "yeah, sad about roddy, how's ya Mum?" "How are You?" then "what did he really die of? was it an athsma attack or was he on drugs?". the subtextof this is - invovles a numberof unsaid questions, from the most obious "does he deserve my syumpathy or was he a scumbag junkie". this is not only a statement of prejudice - but also a test of alliances (Is he a member of my community?). the other aspect is directed at me "Are you going to tell me what I want to hear or are you going to say what I should hear? Drugs, depressions and sex all belong in the category of the unseen and unspoken. If I wish to identify myself as part of that community then I am obliged to retain this taboo and not mention drugs either, bt find some nice generalised euphemism. so that's what I do.

here is not that space so I can speak my truth. My brother never injected. He only smoked. the results of the toxicology report which we recieved at christmas found enormous amounts of alcohol and smaller but significant amounts of opiate derivatives in his system. We had no idea he was using anything, and I'd never known him to be that plastered on alchohol. It was an enormous shock. I still can't actually comprehend what happened, how an ambulance was called and didn't see that he'd collapsed, why he was alone, what time of day it was, etc. etc. I still can't comprehend why people die. when I saw his corpse - I refused to believ it was him, I couldn't believe it. I found it the most revoltingly abjec thting I'd ever seen. I guess a corpse is pure abjection - somehting derived from related to and yet profoundly, hideously other than a person. when after screaming, I studied the scars on his face wher eI'd scratched him as a feral toddler - I kind of understood - that his body was lying in front of me - and that he wasn't in it. But death? disappearance? Still don't compute. And so where is a person and what is a person. I kept some of his clothes - whihc I wear sometimes. I kept a sheet unwashed coz it has his smell on it - still after 5 years when he doens't exist! and i see his features in my hands, head and face, legs - and have decided not to change my surname..........

But I still grieve, and will probably continue to grieve for the rest of my life. Intellectually, philosophically, spiritally even I can justify this - it makes snese that life is formed out of death, that the immanence of death is what impells us - me to act and be in the world, but affectively - it just feels like pain and confusion. the nice thing, is that Rod's death taught me that I did love him, and that this sort of terrible overwhelmed state is what love actually is. I was pretty irritated by my brother for most of his life, so it has been a relief to realise that I did and do love him. this probably sounds pretty banal and it is actually. there ain't any cutting social commentary or intellectual critique here - largely because there isn't much space where this ever gets discusssed. also the witty intellectual engagement depends on a certain amount of affective distancing (at least in anglo traditions) but I wonder how many people reading this, how many epople who I know as firends, colleagues, students, activists, artists or whatever have been through grief? I know the sexual orientation and political affiliations of most peope I know - but not this part...... it's kind of interesting.

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