Why I don’t write

This is an attempt to explain a quandary; an apparent remiss; a failed expectation; a mental puzzle; a contradiction; an absence.

Why don’t I write? While I daily write shopping lists, memorandums to myself and occasionally others, emails, I text away with abandon and even write words for CD covers I don’t seem to write about anything informative or salient. I’m moderately intelligent, reasonably articulate (at least when discussing general science and some music styles), strongly opinionated at times, occasionally verbally vociferous, tendentious in my attitudes on certain topics and as intolerant of inane trivia as the next person, fond of expressing my own thoughts in conversation – but I don’t seem to have a compulsion to write any of this down for others to review, ponder, criticise, misinterpret or ignore.

The reasons why I should set pen to paper, fingers to keyboard, voice to Dragon Dictate, I suppose are many. I could try to ‘change the world for the better’ or join in the incessant conversation re-examining and dissecting various issues – politics, philosophy, economics, history, humanism, religion, the environment, science, sports and sexual regimes etc. Blog away, exposing others to the ruminations of my mind and the plagiarised ideas of other, much smarter people. Or I could write works of fiction full of hopefully interesting characters living improbable but fascinating lives in exotic locales, believing that these offerings would be entertaining for others to read.

I have to confess that I’m not a fan of fiction and my own reading tends to non-fiction – mostly popular science and the philosophical. So I wouldn’t know where to start with making up a story that might be of interest to others. Anything that I wrote would have to entertain ME first, and I don’t think that it would be safe to assume a correlation with that and general reader ‘consumptionworthyness’. And there are no non-fiction subjects that I would feel comfortable about discussing in print. Especially when compared to the sages that have already written great works discussing the few issues with which I am familiar with profundity, subtlety and eloquence. I surmise that anything I have to say would probably be seen as quite superficial after critical analysis. Certainly by me, anyway.

A short anecdote will illustrate my situation. Many years ago I visited a public lavatory and while I was availing myself of its facilities I was struck by a mischievous impulse to scribble on the toilet wall an original slogan that I believed at the time was both witty and profound. Well and good. However, some time later I revisited the same facility and noticed my previous message. I don’t remember the actual text but I was struck by my earlier self’s lack of insight, obtuseness, insensitivity to others. The only good thing is that I hadn’t signed the inscription.

And so I remain literarily silent. Possibly out of a consideration for others but certainly out of a need to relieve myself of the tedium of re-reading my previous thoughts and ideas. Or maybe I lack the need to try and change anybody else’s mind or opinion – an awesome responsibility when you fully consider it. Maybe I should consider it futile to even try. Or quite possibly the reason that I don’t write is due to a deep, profoundly ingrained sense of inertia, laziness, ennui?

Mmm, I’ll ponder on this further.


Report on Flying


It’s now difficult for me to remember exactly how it first happened. My mind must have been doing its usual daydreaming – wandering aimlessly, reminiscing on half remembered sights, sounds, smells, tastes, circumstances, senses of ‘place’.  A nostalgic, pleasant, poignant reverie. The aimless thinking that we all do. I don’t recall exactly  what else I was doing at the time. Maybe sorting through my CDs or books, nothing significant in my pleasant, dusty lounge room.

My mind went to a place. A new place, but somewhere right. A place that felt familiar, that I’d already vaguely known about but, in retrospect, hadn’t wanted to visit before. Like going into the sea for the first time. Or visiting Paris or New York. Novel but deliciously familiar. Some perfectly ordinary new way of seeing the world. Just a tiny shift in perception. But once gained it is always present. Like clicking a switch that can’t be turned off.  And then I ‘knew’. A deep organic realisation. Not rational and therefore not communicateable.  Not really a method. There it just was. A new but totally familiar me.

I thought in that new way, very gently. I knew what would happen. Part of me was astounded. But a deeper part of my mind already was fully aware, accepting. I drifted slowly, gracefully off the green carpet, guided only by my mind. In a gentle arc I avoided a Balinese angel ornament hanging from a light fixture, tilted somewhat sideways, paused about 30 cm parallel to the ceiling, noted the build up of dust on top of my bookcases and slowly returned to the floor, landing close to where I had been standing. I felt good. Released, another part of my growing up accomplished (at nearly 50!). More complete, aware. Also very stunned, weak-kneed, sweating and pleasantly alarmed. What?! I did another flight, effortlessly circumnavigating my small lounge room in about 3 seconds, the wind of my flight sending magazine covers flapping, papers flying. The power of it amazed me, elated me.

Steady boy! Take it easy. I wanted to try it out. Go outside. Do the shopping sans car. Visit friends, cafes. Save on petrol, air flights. Practical considerations began to surface. It’d be cold a few hundred meters up. I’d need some kind of warm suit (an image of Rocket Man in leathers made me cringe). Also altitude/breathing problems would be best avoided. And I might need a protective helmet and padding. Well, what if I ran into a bird? And staying well away from aircraft and electricity power lines seemed a good idea. And how would I ‘handle’ in bad weather, strong winds? Flying about in the rain would not be much fun, either.

And how would other people react? Best to be cautious. I imagined telling my friends. Watching their faces change from affectionate concern for my metal state to amazement and alarm as I start drift off the floor or the furniture. No, not kind. And could they keep silent about this secret of mine? It’d be too much to expect of them.

Anyhow, later that night (around 2am), I tried out my new ability in the dead end street where I live. No one else was around. I drifted slowly up from the road, carefully avoiding electric power cables and tree branches. At 10 metres a night-flying bird whizzed by squawking with alarm, or maybe just welcoming me to the ‘club’. I felt like giving chase, playfully. I knew that I could – easily match it’s speed and manoeuvrability. In fact much faster. I resisted the temptation to blaze into the night. I continued drifting up, over my block of flats, avoiding lighted windows in case some one saw me.

It was a warm summer night but as I drifted slowly upwards I felt a sudden drop in air temperature, at about 300- 400 metres. My suburb was spread beneath me – isolated lights and the darkened shapes of buildings.  Some bats passed close by, silently, avoiding in me in graceful curves. The rustle of their passage sounded so close, so new. I wanted to stay where I was. Effortlessly suspended in mid air. Fall asleep – would I remain aloft if I wasn’t awake?

Then I thought it through a bit more. People would see. The police would be called. The army, air force, fire brigade, officialdom. I would become an object of national interest, concern. Was I a terrorist? Did I have military potential? Could I be exploited to make some one else rich? I’d become a news/infotainment topic for the ruthless media. My anonymity would be gone forever. Probably some secret government security agency would capture me, try to learn my secret. What could I tell them? Would it show up on electronic instruments, brain scans? I knew nothing, except how I feel. And there were no words for that. I could provide no possible explanation. I was sure that it was a physical process, some overlooked or as yet undiscovered branch of physics and physiology – I have no patience with magical explanations of unexplained phenomena. They’d keep me permanently incarcerated, studying, probing, effectively torturing, even if unintentionally.

Therefore hiding my flying ability, and preserving my anonymity, was paramount. The realisation became stronger. I really could not afford to fly about very often. Certainly not in public or where anyone could possibly observe me. This actually came as a relief. I didn’t have to solve this problem. I’d just have this ability and not use it very much.

That was about a decade ago. No one else knows about this ‘gift’. In the intervening years I’ve occasionally indulged myself by going to isolated locations and flying about with speed and abandon. After a few hours I’ll have had enough and I’ll drive back to civilisation and to my normal life. I think an occasional bushwalker may have spotted me flying in the distance but no harm seems to have been done.

I no longer have any fear of heights (of course). But paradoxically I fear for other people potentially falling from heights when I’m around. Because then my first instinct would be to try and save them and so I’d loose my anonymity. Once when I was bush walking with a friend in the mountains I was able to prevent him from being injured when he fell off a cliff. He stumbled (possibly fainted) and fell side ways off the trail into a gorge. I was easily able to overtake his falling body and ease him down to the ground at the base of the cliff. He recovered his senses and and dazedly accepted my improvised explanation. Nothing else made sense, anyway. He has mentioned this incident several times since, probing for more details. I finally said that I flew down and saved him. The silliness of this made him laugh, although his curiosity remains.

I’ve redecorated my flat, with no concern for the height of objects. I fact I’d love to own an apartment with 10m ceilings and shelves all the way up. I’ve also found that sometimes I float when I’m asleep and have woken up gently bumping into the ceiling. Once when I was staying in a foreign hotel a restless night caused me to drift out the 14h floor balcony window while I was still asleep. I awoke at about 5am at sunrise, floating about 4 metres out from the hotel. Luckily no one saw me, except for a small child about 2 floors down on a hotel balcony. She was looking up at me with wondering expression. I quickly flew back to my to my room. Later that day I shared an elevator with the child and her parents. She stared intently at me, but said nothing. I smiled politely back.

I find that I am able to lift quite heavy weights, more than I could by muscular strength alone. As long as my skeletal frame can stand the strain this ‘levitation force’ seems to have no limitations. It really is an interesting phenomenon, although one that feels quite natural. I wonder-  is this ability genetically inherited? Have I gained the capacity to fly from some equally nonplussed, elevating ancestor? Could either of my parents do this? They’re both gone now, so I’ll never know. I couldn’t broach this with my surviving siblings, I’m not close and they might worry that I was loosing my mind.

So this is my brief report. Possibly others who also share this ability to fly will take heart from this account – I don’t imagine that I’m the only person who can do this. But I have no interest in meeting with others who share this capacity. Well, would you want to socialise with other people just because they could also walk, breath, see? I imagine that there lots of other people with a diverse range of abilities that would be considered strange to the world at large, all living anonymously and anxious to stay out of sight of the generally xenophobic population. I understand this now.

Interview with Glands, 2012


Margery  Harridan, New York Times

After a lengthy process of inquiry and many false leads and disappointments I finally managed to track Glands down to one of his favourite haunts. The initial investigation to locate this paragon of the ‘other’ was somewhat complicated – involving midnight telephone calls in swahili, rituals involving small numbered pieces of green paper, submitting photographs of pangolins and huntsman spiders, memorising the scripts of several Woody Allen films, supplying a list of my three favourite brands of plasticine and a sample of my dentist’s DNA – just to list a few of the tasks involved. Eventually a purple envelope was delivered, embossed with the ‘Glz’ crest and containing a DVD featuring one of Glands’ (nude) secretaries, who confirmed my right to an interview if I was able to track Glands down to an unspecified location in Eastern Australia. The shivering young woman further indicated the specific modes of dress, speech, abasement and flattery that I should use during the interview if I expected to be received with anything more than a surly grunt.

After searching in eastern Australia for several months without success I eventually called into a cafe in Merimbula ( a NSW south coastal town) for refreshment. After a while I noticed that another customer was reverently addressed by the staff as ‘Glands’ or ‘Glandzy’, and realised that serendipity had directed me to my quarry.  I also appreciated the reason for my previous difficulty in locating him, as in no way did this person resemble the popular image of Glands as broadcast by his publicity department. Whereas I had been looking for a handsome, powerfully built man in his early thirties with a commanding presence and a luxurious head of hair, I was hardly prepared for the stark reality of the Glands visage and demeanour, which I won’t attempt to describe here. Suffice to say that the Glands’ appeal and charm resides mostly in the graceful mannerisms of his index fingers and in the sonorous sound of his breathing.

Remembering his secretary’s advice, I adopted a pose of breathless admiration and approached Glands with a suggestive jiggling of the knees and other prescribed mannerisms. Glands welcomed my advances and flattery and soon agreed to an interview, on condition that he could edit all adverbs used in the article before it was published.

My first question to Glands concerned his views on the current international crisis. Glands: “Well, mmm,…umph” he pondered, sucking froth from his latte, “I believe that resolution of the current situation will only occur when the various parties involved have finally reached mutual agreement” he stated. “Furthermore”, he continued, ears wiggling didactically, ” the potentially dire consequences to the world of an erroneous decision must be kept from the general public. And I don’t believe that teaching burramys possums to squeak the ‘Ding Dong’ song in Db will have anything more than a passing effect on the transatlantic alignment of beach polychaetes.” He leaned back, looking at me smugly, with a slight tick of his right eyebrow.

Realising that Glands was discoursing on a different topic than the one I had raised, I rephrased my question, making particular reference to the international state of the arms/trade/financial/ethnic/talk show dilemma. Glands was surprised at this and expressed ignorance of these issues, considering them to be beneath his attention. When I urged him to further expand on the subject that he been discussing he refused, stating, with an air of mystery, that thinking about reality forced his toenails to grow inwards.

Somewhat discouraged by this fracas, I smoothly segued to a discussion of Glands’ famous unreleased hit music recordings. “They are rather good, aren’t they?” said Glands). I replied that as I, and nearly everyone else, had never heard these proported masterpieces I could offer no opinion. “But look at how well they’ve done on the charts – why, ten no.1s in a row, with bullets!” I acknowledged Glands’ fantastic success and he on went to state ” that one doesn’t need to experience a work of art to know its true value, only to be cognisant of its economic and popular success to gauge an accurate index of its profundity and relevance”. I tactfully agreed with this concept of course, being fully aware of the phenomenal success of Glands’ musical compositions, not even the titles of which are known to more than handful of the Glands cognoscenti. Upon my asking if there were to be any further unknown unreleased hit recordings he said “no comment”, smiling fatuously. And, although I pressed him, Glands also refused to comment on the rumours circulating about his latest film, said to be an 18 hour long silent documentary filmed in utter dark and based on the significant events of his life, so far.

About this time Glands produced a coffee table book displaying thousands of views of the internal walls of his fabulous apartment. This National Treasure is well known and studied of course and has been the subject of many learned dissertations and doctorates across the disciplines of art history, aesthetics, post pre-post synergistic modernism, arachnology and sanitary acrobatics. He then preceded to play on his iPad Sir David Attenborough’s award-winning wildlife documentary on the ecological community living in Glands’ apartment, featuring the Green Scorpions That Live Under The Sink. Having been immersed in this subject ad nauseam for a number of years (my ex-husband’s professorship was based on his authoritative knowledge of the ‘Glands Flat Phenomenon’) I was startled out of a bored reverie by enthusiastic applause from the cafe staff and patrons at the program’s conclusion. Glands returned sometime later, having taken the opportunity to do some fishing and assassinate a loquacious relative.

I now used this opportunity to ask Glands to describe his famously reported meeting with ‘X’ (well-known international personality) in 1989, an event which some claim to have dramatically altered the course of world events. Glands was at first reticent to discuss ‘X’, being more interested in dwelling on his own achievements, but, after being reassured that I would offer numerous sycophantic expletives during his discourse, agreed to describe this momentous event.

‘X’, as Glands described him, at the time of their meeting was basking in the glory of his recent simultaneous Nobel Prizes for Peace and Economics, as well as his triumph at the Oscars the year before (awards in 42 categories). In Glands’ words: “The poor fellow, I took pity on him and tried to relax him as much as possible. You see, much like yourself, he was so overwhelmed at meeting me that his hands were trembling and he could hardly even utter a word. Even so, after I’d turned my irresistible charm on him, he quickly relaxed and even became quite garrulous for a while, punctuating my monologue with small chirrups of gratitude and pleasure, before eventually falling asleep in his chair. Anyway, to condense our two minute conversation, I advised him about where to buy socks, lectured to him on the most rewarding ways of thinking about trees and further urged ‘X’ to adopt  feng shui techniques with his current mistress”.

“Yes, yes” said Glands, noticing my journalistic expression, “we also discussed the international situation, during which I advised ‘X’ to manoeuvre Ireland into declaring war on New Zealand as an adroit means of tricking China into relinquishing its stranglehold on the world supply  of television remote controllers, a dire situation that at that time that was threatening to destabilise western civilisation. A serious situation, indeed” Glands continued portentously,” “but after ‘X’ scrupulously followed my advice, the possibility of World War VII was avoided. Unfortunately X failed to follow my other suggestions about ensuring that shoelaces were included in the UN’s shipment of bananas to Cuba, and so it is now inevitable that we’ll have to endure World Wars III – VI. But WW VII is definitely off. I’m not so sure about WW VIII, though”.

I then cautiously raised the often mentioned criticism that there is no official record of ‘X’ having actually met Glands, nor is there any mention of Glands in ‘X’s copious and frequently published memoirs. While I asked this question some papers inadvertently dropped out of my briefcase, including a photograph of ‘X’.  After glancing at the famous image of the African statesman (the one where he’s wrestling an aardvark), Glands declared it have been taken in 1925 and depicted Bootsmouth Flabberpick, an early US bluesman and originator of the Shimmy and Hucklebuck, in the act of tuning a wolverine bagpipe. Upon my advising Glands to the contrary, he laughed nasally and assured me that the Bootsmouth identity was one of ‘X’s more subtle disguises. Having met ‘X’, he could authoritatively describe him as resembling an unemployed Icelandic farm labourer living out the back of the Booroowa Hotel, New South Wales. Anyway, wolverines and aardvarks have a similar look in their eyes. Seeing that this topic was also becoming occluded in a characteristically Glands way, I moved on to my next question.

Gland’s lack of literary awards is famous and his latest book has received the usual critical attention.  “Sesquipedalian to a fault”; “Polysyllabic, yet unencumbered by relevance”; “An obdurate morass of confused inanity”; “A great log-jam of offensive inconsequentiality”; “My wife liked it” – these are typical reviews by the literary press, indicative of the artistic merit and intellectual achievement of Glands’ typically massive tome.

I asked Glands to describe the process he used to create such literature. “Well first you have to have lived, really lived. Down in the mire. And to have lost. Lost everything. And to have failed, utterly. To have been abandoned by everyone: friends, family, strangers, ticks and leeches, Mormons. To be completely ostracised by civilised society. Even dogs refuse to urinate on your leg. And then you must work, work, work, until the puss runs out of your ears. Only then can you really create. Or at least that’s what they say. For myself, I’ve only ever experienced bland unending happiness and ease. I’ve made it my lifetime’s work to pursue the superficial and trivial. But I’ve read quite a lot in newspapers and on Wikipedia about those who have suffered. So I know. I can talk with the authority of deep reflection”. I asked Glands to describe how he managed to forge such forgettable characters and tedious plots with a characteristic lack of insight. “Oh, mostly I just copy what some else has written and change it a bit. That’s the best way. Its what everyone else does, right?”

I noticed that Glands was now learing at me, and realised that what I had taken to be a small furry animal nuzzling my thigh was actually a probing slipper at the end of a knobbly Glands leg. I was shocked at this, or pretended to be, and immediately responded by asking Glands to explain his controversial views on feminism. Glands stared vapidly at me for a while and then proceeded to count the different species of flies resting on the windows of the Merimbula cafe. “Don’t be flippant!” I snapped, at which point Glands immediately terminated the interview, after first securing my written agreement to accompany him on a quasi-erotic sojourn through the Carpathian Mountains the following March, in return for a considerable sum of money (and all expenses paid).

So went my only formal interview with Glands, although later we had many casual conversations and disagreements, or what might pass for the same in normal society.