27/11/00 – 7/12/00

Monday 27/11/00. Left at a comfortable hour after reading the paper & a final inspection of the garden. Have parked on the Wellington River a few kilometres north of Licola. When I left Melbourne I was heading for the coast but turned north from the highway at Rosedale on a whim because I saw the sign to Glenmaggie dam where we used to go for picnics when I was a kid in Sale & I’ve never been back since. The books I’ve brought are Joseph Roth’s ‘Right & Left’; the ‘Saint Companions’ by Mausolff & Mausolff (see story ‘14/8/41’); ‘Saint of the Day’ published by St. Anthony Messenger Press in Cincinnati, Ohio which I bought at the catholic book shop to check if the saints are the same as in the ‘Saint Companions’ (which they often arent; also not every day is listed); a very short history booklet called ‘The Rise of Christianity’ put out by Marshall Cavendish Books, London W1; & the bible I keep on the dashboard (29/1/01. Thats it in the bottom left photo on the cover page) which was given to me by Ron Heatherington when he gave me a lift south from Broken Hill about 30 years ago. Todays saint is Virgilius of Salzburg (c 700-784) whose studies of ancient geographers led him to teach the opinion that the earth was a sphere & that men were also living at the antipodes – a claim which greatly startled his contemporaries. For his further belief that gnomes & elves inhabited another world with its own sun & moon he was censured by Pope Zachary. Thats from ‘Saint of the Day’, the ‘Saint Companion’ doesnt have an entry. Its mild, very still, the sun has just gone over the hill, I am looking forward to being soothed tonight by the sound of water churning over rocks. Its 6.45 pm & I’m about to make a cup of coffee. An interesting thing just happened – a branch as thick as a mans thigh came crashing down a hundred yards from where I’m sitting. I’ve seen it happen before but no more than on a half dozen occasions & each time it makes you think. Tuesday 28/11/00. Headed off about 9.30 for a stroll along the river. Put in a container of water (1 litre) besides the 3 oranges in case I decided to go up hill. Saw a large eastern water dragon on a log on the bank. Then went up to get a view of the surrounds. It was hot & sweat was pouring off; felt weak on the steep section & stopped ridiculously often. Perhaps its the accumulated effect of all the alcohol I’ve drunk over the last month. In the end it didnt take long to get to the top of the ridge on the western side of the river (incidentally this is inside the southern boundary of the Alpine National Park at the camping area where Traralgon High School have their adventure camp; both yesterday & today I am here by myself though I suspect the place is heavily used at times) after first going through eucalyptus scrub then through casuarinas in meadowy grass with many flowering everlastings. Only mad dogs & englishmen are said to go out in the noonday sun & I kept thinking that I wasnt an englishman. The urge to climb mountains when you dont have to is apparently a relatively modern phenomenon having come at the same time as the romantic age with its celebration of individualism & the age of science with its emphasis on the glory of what can be achieved. I suppose I wanted to be a conqueror & in fact from the ridge you get a very comprehensive view & understanding of the surrounds. Walking north along the ridge is easy & in the distance you can see a high mountain with an unusual peak that looks like a medieval fortification. If you left at the crack of dawn it just may be possible to get there & back in a day with the reward of having great views on both sides. Besides the everlastings there were beautiful mauve orchids that grow in clusters & several varieties of yellow orchids & the normal abundance of small blue & white flowers. I could have spent all day on the ridge except I want to write on a big topic & thought I should get back early enough to make a start today. On the way back going down off the ridge a different way my legs started to turn to jelly. Useful to know because it means there is no point in pushing hard up steep hills because it may be harder to get down. Got tangled up in scrub at the bottom before I got to the river. Had eaten the oranges & drunk my litre of water & it was hot. Lay in the water to get the core temperature down & the sting out of sunburnt shoulders (wearing a shirt when youre sweating like a pig & trying to catch the slightest breeze doesnt make sense). Back at the car at 2.15 had a lunch of two minute noodles

after another session in a deep pool. Also had some slices of salami & the second of the two strawberry mangoes I had bought yesterday. Then had a nap. Now I’m going to have another dip in the pool. Its 4.15 & I still feel dehydrated. Also I think I’m trying to put off writing about the big topic. Yes! I’m going to write about god himself or itself. (I notice that my chinese stick on tattoo, meaning ‘celestial’, on the left wrist has all but come off with the sweating). I had the idea once that I would like to write a set of short essays on 3 letter words & did write one titled ‘Art’. 3 letter words tend to be big in meaning: who, why, sex …. & of course god (though not as big as even shorter words perhaps. I have an essay by Norman Malcolm in ‘Wittgensteinian Themes’ on the meaning of ‘I’. Also the David S. Ware quartet have written a terrific tune called ‘Flight of ‘i’’) According to the census most people say they believe in god but I dont hear the topic come up for discussion among the ones I mix with. It seems we reckon it should be left to the experts such as the religious (priests, rabbis etc) & the theologians or media commentators (eg Phillip Adams) or the very rich. I dont have any of their qualifications. In fact I have no more authority than an ordinary person to broach the topic. Some of my friends probably find it uncool, others may see a desire to discuss it as an indication of impending madness (mad – another good 3 letter word). My problem is I dont know what the word means. I dont know what the people who say they believe in god mean by that unless they mean they believe in going to church when told to & listening to what priests say. Nor do I know which particular definition of god the disbelievers are referring to since there seem to be about as many different ones as there are people prepared to give one. Or do the disbelievers disbelieve in all possible gods even the ones they havent heard of or which are outside the range of their imaginations? Borges (I am embarrassed at referring to him so often) in a short essay that is called ‘Someone to Nothing’ if I remember it rightly outlines how god who in the old testament had the attributes of a human being (esp. a king) & was known to get jealous, angry & vengeful (eg. with adam & eve for eating the fruit off the tree of knowledge of good & evil) under the onslaught of two thousand years of theologians (beginning in the first century) became no more than an abstraction: principle of love, authorisation of law, immanence in all things, eternal love, evolutionary thrust, alpha & omega, beginning & ending. I am not sure that Borges isnt simplifying somewhat: the “I am that I am” that moses heard from behind the cloud sounds awfully abstract to me (& I suggest the very opposite to the even more abstract idea (but what does abstract mean?) of the buddhists all factions of which agree on the necessity for denying the ‘I’)(also worth noting here that according to Borges, Martin Buber proposes other translations into english of the hebrew words from behind the cloud). William James in his ‘Varieties of Religious Experience’ summarises interesting practices some of which involve sacrificing the incumbent god to make way for the next one. The greek gods lived elsewhere but had human proclivities in superabundance. William Blake believed that god had a human form. The japanese believed (& some still do) that their emperor is a god & the roman caesars came to believe that they were gods though not all citizens of rome agreed (especially not the christians). There are men in india & indians (& a korean) in new york whose followers believe they are gods (a former devotee of one of these wants to sue him for sexual abuse). (29/1/01. Some believe god is an architect or engineer.(30/1/01.The very notion of design is dependent on a prior knowledge that we done those things; what people point to as example of design in nature is characterized not by a similarity or analogy to our simple, clumsy & ugly constructions but by seamless continuums ie. by difference to what is designed.) Others say god is someone who made (what do they mean by the word ‘make’?) everything from nothing though it is impossible to conceive of a theory with less evidence to support it.) I used to use the word in conversations with myself. In trying to explain why I behave as I do (especially the travelling). I used to say to myself that I was searching for god (to others, so as not to appear uncool, I’d say I was searching for beauty). My inclination was to search in places where there were no people, in bushland or desert, in derelict stone churches in the wheat belt of south australia, in swamps populated by tortoises & snakes. On some still nights when the water was made brilliant with a silver sheen from the moon & with phosphorescence in the breaking waves I’d be walking (maybe between the Yerung River & Pearl Point or between Corringle & Petmans Beach in East Gippsland) along the beach at midnight thinking how inconsequential everything was by comparison. & to this perception

I’d attach the word – god! Most people who go hiking & bushwalking have similar experiences & they too are inclined to bandy the word about or to use some parallel term such as ‘the great spirit’ or ‘nature spirit’ (being influenced maybe by the language of red indian chiefs of north america). A person I met recently who has just come back after 8 years in lithuania where he claims to have set up the lithuanian national airline says that when he used to go into the forest there (with his little tent) he felt the ‘force’. I think he meant the force of his tribal ancestry. He tells me there is nothing like it & I should go to find out (& since I refuse to dismiss things outside my experience because I have had experiences which others have dismissed because they were outside their experience maybe I should). My problem with the use of the word ‘god’ to describe these intuitions is that I dont see how you add anything to the experience by adding the word. Why not keep it simple & just stick with the experience? Of course if I wanted to use my experiences as a lever to influence Helen to let me go on more trips (or to give an extra ambience to my journeys, or to make myself important), I’d say I find a sense of god in the vicinity of the dry salt lakes of central australia, or on tropical beaches north of Cape Trib. or traces of him in ruined churches around Burra in S.A. Then how could she possibly not allow me to travel as much as I wanted! I’d tell her I’m getting closer but probably need to check out places of worship in india, or rome or jerusalem or mecca or where people go on pilgrimages or where holy men are said to live. How could she refuse to let me go if it was really god I was after just as I was getting warm too? (29/1/01. Though she could say “go look in a supermarket there are 30,000 items in a large one.”) The truth is I dont know who or what god is or even who he is meant to be seeing as the experts are all in disagreement. Its tough enough looking for something that is meant to be hard to find (exercises have to be followed, indulgences bought, churches attended, booze avoided, unnecessary clothing worn) never mind trying to find something when you dont know what it is youre supposed to be looking for. So I’ve abandoned the use of the word in my conversations with myself. (Also people who read my stuff may notice I’ve got rid of the word ‘art’ from my logo. Its no longer a…z art @ but a…z @ . The reason for the change is the realization that since the sponsors have taken over the word it has become trivialized. Big business & the institutions have succeeded in cornering the meaning. You serve the one who pays you.) A bit of trivia. This morning I sprung another cockroach in the car, one of the smaller, pale kinds (american I think theyre called) that can become a nuisance. Also, the deep pool in the fold of the mountain Ive been taking dips in is gouged out in red rock of the same variety you get on the coast at Saltwater Creek & Merrimbula in N.S.W. & on the Malacoota side of Shipwreck Creek. It may be called ‘Merrimbula Formation’ & apparently is very old (whatever that means). Its reddish. Maybe I should visit those places on the trip. Its been a hot day but just now there was a flash of lightning & thunder. Some scattered big drops are hitting the car which means I have to shut the windows of the van but its still real hot inside. I seem to have lost my head-torch. How could I have done that, I hardly ever lose anything? (29/1/01. I remember now – I burnt it on my trip with Paranoia (see story ‘4/10/00 – 5/10/00’). That trip cost! but it was worth it. It shows how the meaning you assign to an event depends on how it fits in with your world view, the whole system. (Wittgensteins ‘bedrock’). If you show a person a sheet of 100 dots & tell him that 50 can be joined up to make a shape a sex maniac will draw an hour glass while a homicidal case will draw a machine gun. Science works like that too. The same piece of info can have entirely different meanings according to the theory used to explain it. We choose the theory that connects the most facts most elegantly with the least number of unknowns (ie. laws, principles, causes, forces, & other occultisms).). Wednesday 29/11/00. There was a thunderstorm last night & flashes of lightning close by & some huge claps of thunder. It reminded me that the ridge wouldnt have been a great place to be on in those conditions. Yesterday I had noticed how many large single trees along the spine of it have been burned out presumably after being hit by lightning. Now the heights are obscured by low cloud, there is an occasional drizzle here. Ive had breakfast, its 9.30 & its time to return to the expression of my confusions about the word – god.

The extraordinary thing is that the same word can be used (people have no trouble with the translation from one language to another) to group together such diverse items as an emperor in japan, a voice from a cloud, an intuition about nature, a principle of evolution (Teilhard de Chardin), a sociological abstraction (principle of love). With the meanings so varied it seems useless to try to get a grip on it by listing its varieties especially as theologians will undoubtedly supply us with increasing (& contradictory) numbers of them as they write more books. I propose however that we tackle the problem not by studying attributes & meanings but who assigns the meanings & to what purposes god is put by them. It becomes apparent that in all cases god is used to justify a status quo, a way of behaving or an assertion of power over others, especially arbitrary power. Even in a democracy where we say the laws come from the people the justification for the rule of law itself is said to come from god. The exercise of power is always there, it always comes first, & the appeal to god comes later when also his attributes are assigned to him (or it) according to the requirements of rulers. If theologians are employed by universities which are funded by the christian churches you can bet that the one, eternal, indivisible (except into 3) god will be divided into so many parts & considerations that it will take huge tomes to write them all down. (I read half a dozen by Teilhard de Chardin, tried to read Kung, more recently read a book called ‘Theology after Wittgenstein’ by Fergus Kerr which I actually found useful). Apart from the idea of god becoming totally confusing it is often also likely to sound like a scientific or sociological principle for we live in the age of science & the perspective of theologians is coloured by scientific & mathematical models. It goes without saying that obscurantism & jargon is absolutely essential for power to function because the users of power have to disguise that there is no justification for its exercise. Power is always exercised. Things only fit together in certain ways. 2000 years of christian pomp with its regal vestments in red & gold & purple, its ornate chairs that look like thrones, its preoccupation with the detail of the sexual lives & thoughts of the congregation (caused no doubt by the decision some hundreds of years after the death of jesus of nazareth to make the hierarchy of the church the exclusive domain of celibate men whose habit was to dress in black drag), its huge cathedrals that could shelter congregations of thousands, its wealth (the parson of the Wesley Mission in Melbourne is on $160,000/year!!!) has to hide by these theological obscurities that its entire structure has to source itself to a single sentence that jesus made to peter about a rock & a church. It has to throw enough sand in peoples eyes to make sure they are not able to read for themselves that according to him it is enough for 2 or 3 to meet in his name for him to be present. & that all that prayer & those ceremonies in the huge cathedrals dont sit well with the statement attributed to jesus that you should pray in secret & that its enough to say the lords prayer & then only if you must. It needs a lot of scatter to disguise the disparity between the lives of the popes & the life of peter whom they claim as the first one. Peter didnt spend years learning theological jargon, didnt drive round in popemobiles, didnt kiss tarmacs, didnt dress in spectacular costumes or wear tall hats with a cleft in the middle, or die of old age. I would think he dressed down, maybe wore sandals, & probably died by being crucified, perhaps upside down. It needs a lot of scatter to make people forget that the constituency of the preacher from nazareth consisted of the poor, the dispossessed, those who mourned, those who were searching, those who were carrying heavy burdens – in short, the underclass. That he himself was a vagrant. Above all I would think the purpose of the theological obscurantisms (which were put firmly in place in the Church Council held at Chalcedon in AD 451 with the Chalcedonian Definition & its 4 famous adjectives claiming that in jesus god & man were united: unconfusedly, unchangeably, indivisibly, & inseparately) is to invent a god who though one with the nazarene is also separate & hugely confusing so that an army of intermediaries consisting of the church hierarchies, theologians & others are needed to broker the relationship. For nothing is more at odds with the institutions & hierarchies of the churches than the example of the life of the man whose teachings they claim to be perpetuating. The nazarene said that he didnt belong anywhere. He spoke in language that was best understood by fishermen. I am not aware that he ever made a single claim to be god. The first occasion (other than john the baptists words) on which a special role was assigned to him was by peter when in answer to the question by jesus “who do you say I am?” peter replied you are the messiah (christ in greek). Nowhere in the gospels does jesus refer to himself as god. He neither confirms nor denies peters assertion but instead goes on to moot the

possibility of his execution by the authorities much to peters consternation who does not see this as the role of the messiah. He was referred to by others as teacher, rabbi, healer or master. The voice from heaven when the pigeon descended on him after johns baptism called him – son. (St. Fabian, a member of the roman nobility, was crowned pope in 236 AD after a pigeon settled on him too & it was taken as an indication of the holy spirits preference. It was the first instance of a layman being elected pope). Elsewhere jesus preached that the relationship of god to man was as father to son. The implication here, if words mean anything, is that jesus saw himself as a man & definitely not as god. Albeit with a special mission. Time & again when he is asked who he is he refuses to make that claim. His dying words were “Oh god, oh god, why hast thou forsaken me?” Once again, if words mean anything, this is a crystal clear statement by the teacher that he was not god. &, remember, it was said by a man renowned for the clarity of his language which was easily understood (best understood) by the uneducated (but others, eg the priests, heard without understanding). It was pointed out to me last saturday (when I was at litho house to sing traditional songs to mark the beginning of advent) by Andrius Vaitekunas that jesus called himself a king in answer to pontius pilates question. Later he had a crown of thorns put on his head to mock him for having said it. I pointed out to Andrius that I’ve called myself a king in a poem I wrote many years ago & that the use of the word by the nazarene would make him a poet to add to the many other titles by which he was known. He didnt have to say he was a king, he could have said he was a god, but instead he lamented later that same day that god had forsaken him.
an accident divided his brain into four parts top left a coast pounded by the sea next the forest of birds bottom right a desert next again a precipice and a vast expanse of air they talked to him about their politics and plans his ears were deafened by the singing of a thousand birds they said come here and look his eyes were blinded by the blue expanse of air they took him to a house of rest his mind was shaken with the thunder of the waves they introduced him to their friends he felt the chill wind of a desert waste he said I am a king: if you will be my slave you can walk in my forest swim in my ocean

sleep in my desert and then I will lead you to the edge of my precipice

& a poem about the prophet:
because in their cities of steel and their factories, the people were lost and bewildered they cried out for a leader the king came wearing a scarlet robe a crown of thorns on his head in his right hand he held a reed he walked among them from city to city telling them that he had been sent to bring light to make the blind see the deaf hear he said they were blind led by the blind on his back they put a wooden cross and when they had led him to the top of the mountain called the place of the skull they gave him vinegar to drink and crucified him

I’m only a few kilometres further along the road which, by the way, is sealed as is the road to Licola. There are campsites all along the river but I havent seen anyone in any of them. Some have toilets. They are all picture-postcard beautiful & the river is a classic example of the burbling mountain stream. I am back from a brief look at the immediate surroundings as I’m anxious to resume writing. Midges, mosquitoes & march flies are drawing blood from my legs & hands. It has begun to rain. It seems to me enough to be jesus of nazareth without the title of god being bestowed on him. If I saw a pigeon hovering above a mans head & a voice from the heavens announced that the man was a beloved son that would be enough to convince me to pay attention. The voice is enough. Nor can I see what is added to the voice by calling it god & attributing qualities to it to suit our purposes. & if a voice spoke to moses from a cloud & gave him the tablets that by itself would convince me to pay attention to

what was written on them. I cannot see what is added by saying that the voice which said “I am that I am” belonged to god. I would suspect that it was the same voice that spoke to jesus since voices from the sky are not a common occurrence but I would have no way of knowing. In the case of moses there were no witnesses & I have a sneaking suspicion that he might have made it up but I suppose the israelites could tell the source of the tablets from the quality of the workmanship. For mine I am sufficiently impressed by what is said on them. In the same way the words of the preacher from nazareth are sufficient by themselves. I find them so dense with meaning that my mind boggles. I find truths revealed in single phrases that have taken me a lifetime to arrive at & then I find my understanding of them changes again with time. I dont see how an abstract principle that claims god is love (among heaps of other things but is also inscrutable) adds anything to the parable of the good samaritan. The parable is clear & I am regularly faced with situations where I should heed its example. But the vague sociological principle that god is love though validated by being called a quality of the incomprehensible almighty is used everywhichway to suit the purposes of institutions & may well have been invoked by the inquisitors when they roasted people alive for having told lies about him. I would like to digress into an irrelevancy at this point. The statement “I am that I am” leads me into it. Its impressive enough even though I dont understand it (though I have an intuition) but as I said I am more impressed by the fact that it was made by a cloud. I want to comment on the less inscrutable, & better known one made by Descartes: “I think therefore I am”. If this statement has any meaning at all it postulates a dual nature in man in which thinking precedes or causes or is prior to being. At the time it was stated it conveniently reflected the belief in the division between body & soul, the soul probably sharing the part of mans nature that the rational mind did. Plato’s ideals probably sat in there too. The body, the other part of the duality, which housed these qualities was secondary & perhaps gross by comparison & able to be represented by the thinking mind & hence studied. It must have been a convenient way of putting it for someone who devoted much of his time to mathematics. In saying that the I am is secondary to the I think it adequately reflects the aspirations of science which has progressed by its capacity to represent material objects with symbols & to rearrange them by thought (or maybe more accurately by writing, mathematics etc.; see Wittgenstein). God is aligned with the rational part of this order of things & can be considered as the mind from which everything else generates. The problem with the cartesian dualism for me is that you get into awful trouble when you are not thinking. What happens when you are asleep – do you cease to exist? Or when you have been knocked unconscious? Or when you are under anaesthetic on a life support system? Or when you are a foetus? Or when you are singing or chanting or swimming or doing all the things you do thoughtlessly? Or when youre dead & gone but still mourned by your friends? For mine it seems far more intuitive (or natural)(though perhaps equally useless) to say “I am therefore I think”. That would give a subsidiary role to thinking & by allowing for it to be only one of the attributes of the I am put it in its proper place. I would still exist if I was comatose, asleep, drunk, anaesthetised, or in other peoples memories. It would allow for many other attributes to being besides those given it by thought & science. It would not have to cope with the new problem that cartesian dualism finds itself in where with the development of computers which operate in ways we see as being analogous or imitative of thinking we are forced to wonder if they have an I am in the way that we are said to have. Besides, the “I am that I am” of moses doesnt sound like an exercise in thinking! Thursday 30/11/00. I am at a site called Wellington Horse Yards from where there is a marked track to Lake Tali Karng. Was woken before dawn this morning by kookaburras who were soon joined by uncompromisingly loud wake up calls of many large birds nearby. Even an owl joined in for a final hoot. So I read ‘The Book of Daniel’ & completed reading the St. Mark gospel from yesterday evening. I was interested to check what words jesus of nazareth was reported by mark to have used to describe his own status. Its 9.15 & I’m writing this short entry while the coffee cools down. Firstly I came across the clearest statement yet of his denial to be god. When a man ran up to him & greeted him with the title ‘good master’ he told him not to use the word good as only god is good. If words mean anything (even though meaning is always changing) this is as clear a disclaimer as can be made. To the question by the

high priest “are you the christ, the son of the blessed” he replied that he was & added that they would see the son of man sitting on the right hand of power. To pilates question “are you the king of the jews” his answer was: “you said it”. Drove to the next bridge where there is a car park for the start of various walks including the Lake Tali Karng one which is17 ks & 16 river crossings away. After 8 crossings the track went to the top of a low hill with a rather good alpine view. It was the place to turn around though only about a third of the way along. My Five-Ten sandals stood up well to the crossings where the water was over knee deep & sometimes crutch deep & was flowing fast over slippery rocks. At the car park I met a family, the first people I’ve spoken to since I left Licola, who said this road which is dirt from here on is passable through to Dargo 90ks away. Might give it a go. I talked to the family before going on the walk & just now as I was about to get in the car I found a map of the high country of victoria (cost $6.95) stuck under my drivers side windscreen wiper. On it they have drawn an arrow saying “you are here” & they also left the following note: “can make it as far as Horseyard Flat camping area on gravel rd but past that it is marked as 4x4 tracks through to Dargo. That doesnt mean you can’t get through you can be the judge if you want to go further. Hava Good Holiday”. People are amazing! The scale of the map is 1:300,000 so now I can understand the view I was seeing from the ridge the day before yesterday. Does this mean I should stay in the mountains for the rest of the trip? I am at Tamboritha Saddle (1280 meters). This is one beautiful spot & I’m already elated after the map incident. There is an info board where it says the Alpine National Park is 646,000 hectares. There is a horse yard here made out of huge timbers, logs nearly a foot in diameter. The forest acoustics judging by the clarity of the bird calls are perfect. There are tracks going off in various directions (including Dingo Hill track) through beautiful high altitude forest of a kind I’m not used to. Its the place to stop. Earlier along the road there was a comprehensive view from Bennison Lookout & before that I sang in the exit gorge of the Dinner Creek Waterfall. Its amazing all these spots arent crawling with tourists – there is no one anywhere…. 4.30, checked out the near surroundings & its all beautiful. A few cars have driven by – all 4x4s. There is a sign nearby saying “beware alpine weather”. Just had a meal & a mug of coffee is cooling down. Finished the fresh bread & got a packet of corn thins & one of Vita-Wheat from under the back seat. Time to resume the biblical commentary. I once read the 4 gospels concentrating only on the statements attributed to the nazarene that described the kingdom of god or heaven. At the time the single word that best seemed to summarize these was ‘enlightenment’. To his listeners the kingdom would certainly have meant an earthly one & when peter saw jesus in the role of messiah he must have envisaged him as the saviour of the jewish people, leading them perhaps to freedom from the roman occupation & possibly going on to be king over people living in the right way. It seems to me that the prophet himself saw things in far more radical terms. If the miracles & wonders that had been witnessed by the disciples were nothing to what could be then the ‘state-of-being’(if thats a fair way of putting it) in this kingdom is beyond our imagination. In such an unimaginable state it may no longer be meaningful to wonder if this kingdom was an earthly one or as later christians came to imagine it, an afterlife. The same consideration may apply to enlightenment as preached by the buddhists. That the prophet saw himself to have a special mission & that he saw himself to have a special role in the kingdom of god is certain. Beyond that nothing is clear. Perhaps his last words on the cross indicate a realization that his mission had failed (or would).
I had a dream where I thought that god faced with eternity timelessness the impotence of omnipotent power made the world in seven days and seven nights

because he was restless and so it was that we were created in the image of god each and all a part of him and he, transformed by an act of will, into you and me now he can rest limited by time restricted by deformity he can dispense pity for he lives through the dying the wretchedness of children neglected the diseased pervert the hapless mother the blood of war we understand and we remember that fool who thought he knew god and cried out aloud “oh god! oh god! why hast thou forsaken me?” had he forgotten that we were part of him and he was part of us? didn’t he know that we wanted none of his god? we can rest because we understand he can smile because he has played this game long enough and when he wakes rested by a dream of seven days and seven nights he can return to the vacuum from where he came pray for me

It may be that he realized that his words would not be heard, or heeded, that the kingdom would not come about. The way that the nazarene says “but who do you believe I am” or his non-committal answer to pilates question, together with his inclination not to admit to a fixed role suggests to me that he may have thought (or known) that what he became & the nature of the kingdom itself depended on the extent to which his word would be believed.

Friday 1/12/00. The ‘Lords Prayer’ which could equally be named the: nazarenes, jesus’, prophets, teachers, masters, rabbis (less well perhaps), preachers, kings also indicated (if words mean anything) that the kingdom he envisaged was here for “ thy kingdom come thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven” implies that the kingdom is not in heaven itself. The God whose will the prophet believed he was acting out, who had sent him, was in heaven. After all the pigeon that had descended on him after johns baptism had come from the sky. It was the same God, the master believed, who had spoken to moses from the cloud & was the author of the commandments. It is the only prayer we know the prophet to have composed & in saying it to the man who asked how to pray he says it is unnecessary. There are hints here of the buddha who despised ritual but foresaw that men would honour his memory with excessive ritual. Simone Weil makes much of the prayer explaining line by line how she uses it as a devotional exercise. She reads a great deal into what to me seems simplicity itself. The origins of her emphasis on the upward gaze can be traced back through christian artists to the pigeon & the cloud. I have said the prayer often enough out of childhood habit, more as a mantra than with meaning. Last night I said it with more conviction, its meaning simple as it is, seemed more in evidence. I am heartened that it addresses itself to a father (it could equally be a mother, things in heaven are very different in these matters he says elsewhere). The omniscient (this term to describe god dates from the 1st century according to Borges), eternal, indivisible god (it would be interesting to trace the convergence in the meanings of ‘dominus’ & ‘deus’ in Christian writings. Dominus means head of the house (from domus – house). Domina is the female master.) of the theologians is meaningless to me & sounds suspiciously as I have said like an abstraction, scientific law or principle. Besides how could something that is indivisible have ears to hear with or a mouth to answer. The atmosphere their god lives in is too rarified for shitkickers like me. I suspect there is no alcohol served at his table: he may even be a tea-totaller (god forbid). The gods that lived at olympus, ah, thats different, they knew how to party! I do not believe for a moment that the God whose will the nazarene believed he was sent to fulfil is even distantly related to the god of the theologians who is no more than a justificatory principle; an excuse for the status quo, especially for their own existence & of the church hierarchies. I pray to the prophet & admit it here even though he said to do it in secret because in an age of scientific triumphalism some people may be frightened to say even to themselves that they are so unfashionable as to resort to it. I say to them in the hope that it gives them some confidence: look I’m pretty cool, with it, listen to leading edge music, hang out in cafes, am known to have a few too many, admire beautiful waitresses – & I pray. Because I am not talking to the high & mighty but to the nazarene who I happen to know was born in a shed I am at times bold enough to address him in remarkably intimate terms. I say: jesus I am a lost child, guide me. I ask to be guided because I am frequently tangled in scrub & am sometimes in dark places. I havent got a destination in mind as I dont know where I should be going. Once I thought I should ask that I be allowed to be a writer of some kind like Borges who has laid down so many signposts for me. That was before I came to realize his stature & how ridiculously pretentious it was to nominate such an aspiration. Now I simply put up my hand to be led as I blunder about in unstable terrain. Its 10.50 am & I’m about to head off. Last night the fog rolled in as the sun set & during the night there was a constant randomised patter of heavy drops on the roof of the van. They were falling down from the condensation on the leaves of the overhanging gum tree. I had thought twice before parking underneath it because I remembered the branch that crashed down on the first day but I realized 2 contradictory conclusions could be drawn from that: 1, not to park under trees; 2, that when your time comes it will get you anyway so there is no point trying to predict or evade it (the branch had fallen on a still day). Strangely a couple of cars drove by in the night & a couple more came in separately past the other side of the horse yards. They wouldnt have seen me. I imagine they might have been bushwalkers who had agreed on this as a meeting point. I suspect they are still camped down the track I inspected during the day because I havent seen or heard them come out. At dawn heavy rain set in for about an hour & there was even a bit of ice in it. The sun still hasnt broken through but is about to. I’m wearing a t-shirt, flanno & jacket as I sit in the car writing. Yes, this is the high country. 3.45…. I’m 28ks further among

snow gum on a bit of grassy track that goes off the road that goes off Howitt Rd. to Dimmick Lookout only a few hundred yards from the lookout itself. Half way to here I passed Lost Plain whose altitude is 1480m. I’m wearing my rain shell over everything else & found a pair of fingerless gloves to put on. But its extremely beautiful with masses of flowers & flowering bushes in the grassy patches among the gums. Ive never seen such a variety. Found a very strange fungi that looks like a red starfish. Back near Arbuckle Junction there were two roadworkers one of whom advised me not to take the Dargo road as it has a steep downward section that might test out my brakes. Instead he suggested I take a road (Marathon Rd.) from Horseyard Flats due south to Briagalong & Maffra. That settles it as we used to go picnicking at Briagalong a lot & I remember the great pools we used to swim in. By now its probably become a cute town & a tourist destination but I want to see it again. Apart from the roadworkers I havent seen any one else or a car. The last 12 or so ks of the road is closed for 4 to 5 months over winter as is the 20ks I’ll be driving tomorrow to the car park from which you can walk to the summit of Mt. Howitt (1,742 meters). I saw patches of snow among rocks on the way here & from the lookout I can see a mountain in the distance with snow in the south facing folds. Back to anti-theology. To say that 3 is identical to 1 or that 1 is the same as 2 is linguistic gibberish unless you mean it in the way that ice, water & steam have the same molecular basis. You can say that the same substance has 3 states or that 1 thing has a potential for transformation into another but you can’t say 3 is 1 or 1 is 2 in every conceivable way. The prophet certainly never invented this nonsense: it was invented by the church hierarchy. He didnt say that he & god were one & the same – he said he wasnt God. He saw himself as having a special role in that he would sit at the right hand side but that implies a difference & thats about as much as we can understand of the claim. To use language in a way that violates its basic practice is a pointless exercise because nothing is achieved by doing it except an exercise in subservience to the authority that demands it of you. To say that you have faith is a meaningless linguistic exercise so to say that you have faith in a contradiction is a waste of breath. You cannot say anything in language if you dont adhere to prior consensus of usage. If the prophet had not meant it metaphorically when he said the wine was his blood & the bread his body the disciples would have been mightily amazed because it would have been his strangest miracle yet, & they were often amazed by his deeds. I suggest he meant that he was their sustenance, or his words were their sustenance in the way a poet might say it. The nonsense game played out by the theologians justified the church in roasting countless heretics, burning books, gaining a grip over people by demanding mindlessness & of course the existence of the theologians themselves. Once it was accepted that 3 is identical to 1 you could just as easily say black is white, or dont kill means kill heathens & fry people or argue for 100 years over how many angels fit on the head of a pin. & this whole laughable spectacle was presided over by the church whose practical justification was (though not admitted) the need for an empire. The prophet on the other hand spoke in language that was understood by fishermen. If we want to know the qualities of the God he said had sent him it is enough to read his words. He said much less than the theologians. He said God could account for every hair on your head, that he knew your thoughts, that he knew what was good for you (etc.). The language is easy – believing is another matter. Saturday 2/12/00. I’m starting the day with a saint that I should have put in on the 29th but didnt open the book then. I want to make the entry because it features the Diocletian baths that were also mentioned in one of the entries in my ‘14/8/41’ story. St. Saturninus (Martyr ?-303) was an aged priest at Carthage, who fled to Rome with his deacon, Sisinius, but was arrested there and sentenced to hard labour in the construction of the huge baths of Diocletian, together with thousands of other Christians. This establishment, the most colossal of all the Roman baths, covered an area of 25 acres and could accommodate 3000 bathers at the same time. The principal building alone, with its gymnasia and cold and warm pools, measured about 470 by 800 feet, as can be seen from the numerous extant remains near the modern Rome railway station. Ss. Saturninus and Sisinius underwent untold suffering, and then were beheaded. Reflection: “They who belong to Christ have crucified their flesh with passions and desires” (Gal. 5.24).

Got up at 6.00 am. There was no condensation inside the car which means the temperature didnt drop much: it was cold all night. But the sky is clear & its warming up quickly. I suspect a northerly airflow which should make it perfect for taking in the view from the top of Mt. Howitt 20ks to the north. I’m off. 3.30. From the car park to the summit is 7ks of beautiful walking mainly through snow gum forest. I recommend it for old people as the views from the top are as good as any in the victorian alps & the walk is very easy. The alpine meadow with many flowers covers the summit but a couple told me the peak of the flowering season, the alpine spring, is not till january. I spent a few hours up there as I also walked to another peak along the main north-south long distance alpine track in a section called the razorback. I think this is the track that goes all the way to northern Australia & I imagine it must be one of the best for nature values in the world. Crossed paths with a group of about a dozen backpackers some of whom were from Geelong College. Altogether I spent quite a bit of time yarning as there were a lot of people about. What a contrast to last week! When I got back to the car park there were 9 cars there. While I was inspecting a track for a spot for the night a 4x4 came in doing the same. Bryce’s Gorge car park just near here is full of people; kids kicking a footy. So I’m back to where I was last night where I’m by myself. It was a perfect day for views which is probably unusual here. I could have spent more time walking as I’m feeling fit & the muscles which were strained a few days ago are fine, but I was anxious to get back to the writing. A topic is developing & I don’t want to let it slip. This looks like another typing job for Helen (sorry honey!) when we get back from northern coastal N.S.W. late in january. Each word in a sentence depends for its meaning on the words around it. Wittgensteins tool box example in ‘The Philosophic Investigations’ is an excellent treatment of how it works. Another way of thinking about it would be to think of each sentence in a passage (by way of analogy). No single sentence gives the whole meaning. The meaning of each affects the meaning of all the other ones. The addition of a single sentence at the end can change the whole passage even reversing its original meaning. All meanings affect each other to work as a single whole which is always changing because subsequent new events & discoveries affect all previous meanings. In this sense language & meaning can be seen to be growing organic processes (in the way that melody has waited for the flute, meaning has waited for man; or is it the other way around?). That is why I cannot accept the fundamentalist christian way of interpreting the bible literally. I respect their honesty & it may be that their good intentions more than compensate for the lack of linguistic sophistication. I however am ever conscious that all biblical meanings, & I’m concerned mainly with the teachings of the nazarene, need to be sifted through a critical process. I dont allow an organization such as a church hierarchy to do it for me because all organizations want to expand. They are self interested & not to be trusted. It seems that at every level the human organism wants to grow & the rules governing each level are unique to it & not understandable to mere individuals. So I work my meanings out for myself. Moreover as Foucault is able to show so well the relationship of man to language itself changes over the ages & is on a trajectory we cannot predict. Our relationship to metaphor & to symbolic meaning in particular is fluid & can vary from culture to culture or even between classes. I suggest that some people classified as schizophrenic have opted for a more primitive relationship to language, in particular to symbol & metaphor. Not only koori, feminist & gay lobby groups are aware of the fluid nature of words & hence the political advantage of controlling their meaning but probably all politicians intuitively are. Thats what makes them naturals at their job & always has been so. No one has understood this better than the religious organizations except perhaps the communists. In sharing this understanding they were closer to each other in essence than the doctrinal differences that separated them & made them antagonists. They were fighting for the same patch. The control of thoughts has to be backed up with terror, hence the witch hunts. There is not much to be gained at controlling language practice at the level of media if in private or small groups people can say what they like. To be really successful you must first enforce practice then get into the minds of people – only the religious institutions have succeeded. In the present age a new awareness seems to be developing of the political value of owning language practice & hence meaning. Maybe a new age is dawning where other institutions will be as effective in controlling thought as the churches of the past. It would require a huge & pervasive organization as the christian church once was – hopefully it can’t happen in a pluralist society. I’ve got carried away on my pet topic

but I am anxious to establish a firm basis for my efforts to explain my attitude to the great teacher, jesus of nazareth. I want it understood that in making my comments I’m using the language in a modern educated way without any of the jiggery pokery commonly employed by religious types. Churches have accommodated themselves to governments to such a degree that they treat a simple statement like “you will not kill” as a metaphor but the catholics claim that the bread & wine are the prophets real body & blood. I do not find it necessary to either stretch or reverse meanings to explain my point of view. I think the prophet was the greatest of men because I find more meaning in his sayings than in anyone elses. I suspend my disbelief of the miracles. I do not need them to add to the amazement I already have at what he said. I dont categorically dismiss them but I have not personally experienced even a small one of the kinds described & they run counter to the principles that have led to the development of science which I respect. Also I suspect that people have as great a capacity to collude in retrospective invention as they have in suppressing individual or group memory. In the same way I do not find it necessary to believe in the voice from the cloud to give credibility to the ten commandments. Their truth is evident to me. I pray to the prophet, the greatest of men, not because I think he is alive or is god but because he said that if we ask in his name we shall receive. The story of the resurrection on the 3rd day I find suss. It lacks credibility for if it was necessary for the prophecy to be made good then he should have stayed around for longer so that there would be confirmation of it by the roman authorities instead of the very skimpy account, even by the standard of the testaments, that is given. I am a doubting thomas – I wait to see the risen man with the wound before I suspend the suspension of my disbelief (couldnt resist it). I pray to the prophet also because of the example he set. I suspect that unlike the pope he was fallible. Besides doubting the resurrection (consequently not a single christian church would allow me membership) my reading of the testaments inclines me to think he believed the world would end (or close to it) in the lifetime of his listeners. That prophesy also did not eventuate. But his words & his example do not require for me that he be god or God. I dont think the nazarene claimed to be perfect, or even good – he insisted only God was good. Time for a couple of saints. St. Bibiana (Virgin Martyr ?-363). St Bibiana was a Christian virgin who suffered martyrdom at Rome. Beyond the historical facts we have nothing but legendary accounts of later ages, according to which her father (a prefect of the city), her mother and sister were also martyred. St Bibiana’s ancient Basilica still exists, and in it are held regular services of reparation for the vulgarities and scandals connected with the neighbouring showground. And there is another for today (these are from the Mausolff ‘Saint Companions’ - published in Allahabad 2 – Bombay). Some excerpts from the entry on Blessed John of Ruysbroeck (Confessor 1293-1381): After running away from home near Brussels at 11 he was ordained at 24 and for 26 years lived a life of austere solitude, apostolic simplicity and fervour in the company of his uncle and another Priest … John composed tracts to counteract heretical beliefs and the false mysticism which was being propagated at the time by the popular pamphlets of the Brethren of the Free Spirit. Throughout the last 32 years to his death he proved himself a remarkably forceful and lucid writer on Catholic mysticism, asceticism and the contemplative life. It was his custom to meditate on spiritual truths while wandering in the depths of the forest and to note down his inspired thoughts on a little tablet. Reflection: “God is a sea which ebbs and flows, pouring ceaselessly into all His beloved according to each one’s need and merit, and ebbing back again with all those who have thus been enriched. God desires to be loved by us in the measure of His nobility, and so all the blessed spirits constantly gather together to form a burning flame of love.” (Bl. John Ruysbroeck). Sunday 3/12/00. Last night in a state between wakefulness & sleep I caught myself using the words “my lord & my god” by way of prayer or exclamation. What does it mean? Was I addressing the nazarene or his God or both? I am prone to a variety of states on the margin of sleep & am inclined to take them seriously because at these times I’m less subject to self willing & the rational process. I put it in the record for if it contradicts what I’ve been arguing it doesnt matter since I have no claims to authority or to a handle on truth. I see myself as someone who reports his observations & confusions; a travel writer. Some miscellanea. I forgot to mention yesterday that there is still a patch of snow on the side of Mt.

Howitt. From the summit you can see a ski resort on a distant peak, I think it must be Mt. Buller. Back in my spot half a k. from Dimmicks Lookout I heard a trail bike roar by in the afternoon. Before sunset when I went for a last look at the view I came across a girl I had exchanged a few words with coming back from the summit. It was embarrassing to intrude on her solitude especially as she would have been disconcerted to see me on foot. She was spending the night at the turntable in her 4x4. She sounded like an experienced hiker. She was from Mirboo North. Late at night I was surprised by a light flashing among the branches of the snowgums & scrambled out of me sleeping bag thinking someone was driving up my track. But is was a car cruising slowly along the road casing the forest with an immensely powerful spotlight. I hate a spotlight because usually there is someone sitting next to it with a rifle. The girl at the turntable wouldnt have liked it either. A little later I saw it returning with the spot in the opposite direction (9.15). 3.30: I’m 46ks away from Dimmick Lookout down from the plateau( where everytime the sun goes behind a cloud you freeze) at Horsyard Flat in the kind of forest I’m more used to & there are swarms of mozzies here. I’ve put Rid & Aeroguard on & later I’ll spray the inside of the car with Mortein but they dont care. I might even have to leave after I’ve drunk me coffee. Earlier I spent 4 hours walking on a section of the track towards Lake Tali Karng that goes from McFarlane Saddle where there is a car park I should have remained in. Todays saint is St. Francis Xavier (Confessor 1506-1552) & I was going to transcribe quite a long entry as both my saint books have the same one for once. Also some people who went to Xavier College & might have been interested in their old school patron (Peter, Danius, Julien, Vytas?) are on my mailing list. But the mozzies are ferocious so they can get it off the net. I too went to a jesuit school, St. Pats in East Melbourne, which has since been pulled down but used to glory in being the elder of the two. Hence our patron saint was St. Ignatius of Loyola, the first jesuit. St. Francis Xavier was the second jesuit & was for awhile Loyolas secretary. So there! I grew to hate my school but not Father Quigley who was a good natured old codger & taught me religious instruction. He showed his sense of humour by a habit of awarding me top marks in spite of my contrary views & dubious reputation. I still have a book somewhere on the railways of the world with the insignia of the school (two wolves holding a big pot … what was that about?) inside the front cover saying that it was my prize for coming first in Algebra, Geometry, & Religion. I think that was in form 2. Incidentally I was a non-paying student. I’m giving in, got to leave! These chemicals dont work even though they are made by large reputable international companies. Dont get me wrong I’m not criticising: they smell great & feel beaut on the skin. I’m heading for Marathon Rd. that goes south into Briagalong …8.10 pm. Who would have thought I’d be at Marley Pt. on the Gippsland Lakes for the night. There is no-one here; its as dreamy as every other time I’ve been here. I’m 5 foot from the retaining wall against which small waves are breaking as there is quite a strong easterly blowing. What a sound to go to sleep on. It was interesting after Horseyard Flat … when I got to Marathon Rd. there was a sign saying 56ks to Briagalong, 4x4 only, steep grades. So I was in one of those classic dilemmas: do I take the advice of an individual who had looked trustworthy & as a roadworker had to know what he was talking about or do I obey the sign put up by the parks authority. I headed up the road & I was into a second gear upward slope right from the beginning. O.K. but at the top the road was really shit & there were many stones on it the size of bricks & sharp edged as if they had been loosened from a quarry with explosives. Then I got into a down hill grade: it started steep, then became extremely steep, then still steeper – & it kept going on & on. If anything the single lane road was still more shit than before & I had to cross a couple of transverse gutters or runoffs that went all the way across. It went on & on & when I thought it couldn’t go on any further it still went on. At some point I realized that I could never make it back up even if I could have turned the van around which I couldnt. I wasnt to know that I hadnt yet made it half way down the slope. Finally after what felt like 20 minutes of driving I had got on to the flat & to a spot on the saddle of a ridge with great views either side & I stopped to consider my options. I was tempted to spend the night there but I had been told by a walker earlier in the day that thunderstorms were predicted & I thought I couldnt risk creeks cutting the lower sections of the road or trees falling across (I had driven past several huge gums that had been recently cut up to clear them off the road). I looked at my speedometer to see how far I had gone – I had done 5ks, 51 to go. I headed off again because in situations like this there is a blind instinct which says go. I was composing in my head all sorts of sarcastic things I

could write about the roadworker. But the track got better & better & I was in Briagalong by 6 pm & kept on to Stratford because I realized I could go on to spend the night here at Marley Point. At Stratford I was in town for the first time in a week & what better to do when you hit civilization that to spend, spend, spend. So I bought $30 of petrol, rang Helen for $3 worth & bought 2 stubbies of Vic. Bitter & one of Invalid Stout (1st drinks in a week) for $5 ie $38 bucks in a day. Helen was home too. She is making heaps more christmas cards; Mark Maughan finally got my message on his answering machine saying that I want some work done on the West Melbourne house & I’ve got to ring back as soon as I’m home; the Walls had a street party or get together for the immediate neighbours like they once did before about 20 years ago & Helen said it was very pleasant; Dan is leaving for Sydney before I get home at the end of the week (I said by friday so I could take H out to the Bocadillo as per usual); Kate got a distinction for her essay that finishes off her honours year which is great news as I had thought it might be too good to be appreciated by academe (also I felt guilty for having put it on my mailing list before she had even submitted it); Bens been ordered to cut the grass in the back yard of the West Heidelberg house because its a fire hazard. Thats about it – what a beautiful night! Monday 4/12/00. About 30 years ago I had a one off experience. At the time I was in the middle of a distressed period in my life & was being treated for schizophrenia by doctors at Royal Park Clinic, near the zoo. Or at least I was being treated for the effects of the drugs that had been prescribed for me to control a crisis (mind spin, implosion, no sleep, one episode of auditory disturbance, all preceded by a high) for which I had gone there for help. The experience I am about to describe took place on the outskirts of Broken Hill (opposite the mining school of the N.S.W. university) when I was thumbing a lift south towards Mildura (I’ve just taken a couple of photos of myself writing by the Joni Lipsys method of holding the camera at arms length & pointing it back at yourself) (29/1/01. See front cover.) heading home from north western N.S.W. At that moment I could have been sleep deprived & affected by heavy drinking over the previous days. Maybe I was taking psychoactive drugs that had been prescribed for me but I cant remember. Certainly I was at as low a point as I had been – rock bottom (I once wanted to register ‘rock bottom’ as a name for a music group). The sky was a brilliant blue as it usually is at Broken Hill. As I was walking west I felt a distinct presence at my back to one side, somewhat above me. It was an overwhelming sensation though it didnt make me roll my eyes or blubber or even change my stride. I say overwhelming because though I had felt it as distinctly outside I also felt its glow (for want of a better word) through me. It didnt last long but I dont know if it was a matter of moments or minutes. It spoke. It said everything is O.K. I am looking after you I will always look after you walk light. When I say it spoke I dont mean audibly; there was not even a trace of an aural component. But the message was as clear as the spoken word though its effect was greater, as if I was flooded by its meaning bodily. & I felt right, at unity with the clear day around me & I walked light. Soon after I got a lift from Ron Heatherington (it ended up in the early hours of the morning at Benalla where I slept under a bridge) who gave me the small bible in the cardboard sleeve that I carry on the dashboard of the van. (I’m taking another photo to include it; I am also being bitten by an assortment of different kinds of bugs who in exchange are serenading me with a symphony of hums, whines & buzzing). A year or so later after taking advice from Alan Marshall (of ‘I Can Jump Puddles’) on how to go about writing an old mans biography I returned to Broken Hill (his house was in Argent St. two doors from the Willyama Hotel), but thats another story. The glow from the experience was with me for months & in a diminished, abstracted way for years. When I got back to Melbourne I gave a written account of it to several people & told others including Helen of course. I noted that after a period of several years of spiritual turmoil William Blake claimed that god has a human form so I surmised that he had had a similar or related experience for the notion of god had come to me at the time also for we associate it with the overwhelming. I thought that my experience gave me an insight into Blakes claim. As I said it was a one off, not to be repeated, & I date a turnaround in my distressed condition to it. I read somewhere by someone doing a survey (probably in a newspaper as I was too agitated or depressed to read anything else for some years; or even newspapers for a while) that the born again experience is quite common though not often admitted to & wondered if there might not be

some parallels with mine. Finally the interpretation (& perhaps the experience itself had intimated) I settled on was that it was of the ‘holy ghost’ as stated by john the baptist when he baptised the nazarene with water but claimed that the baptism of the prophet would be with the ‘holy ghost’. I read the testaments for references but found few however the thing that clinched it was the use of the word “comforter” by the prophet himself for what I assumed was the same thing. For if the experience was to be described by a single word comforter fitted perfectly. I hope I’m not remembering incorrectly but I think he said to his disciples that he would send the “comforter” after he was gone. Perhaps it was inevitable given the culture of my upbringing that that would be my interpretation. In a different culture the explanation would have had to be different or perhaps I would have had a different visitor. I am inclined to think many others have had it. When I’ve looked at some hard to access beach at a bottom of a cliff in some remote scrubbly location & noted that there was a rock fall that might let me climb down to it & thought “what a thrill I might be the only one to walk that beach” then when I get there I find a beaten track, or even pegs driven into the rock, to let me down. Or I’ve looked at a saddle in the Flinders Ranges wondering at the view I might get from up there & when I’ve climbed up following goat tracks & thinking “only them & me would be silly enough to do it” I’ve found the fire rings of other bushwalkers. Its always like that. But it is possible that knowledge that is quite common is suppressed because of the prevalent ideologies, tyrants of the mind (mind-forged manacles according to Blake), often self imposed. The reason I’m giving this account as fully & as accurately as I am able to is because I want other people who have been visited in the same way not to feel isolated or that they are unique. To feel isolated or unique is dangerously destabilizing & rightly so for as William Blake said (quoting Swedenborg) there is nothing new under the sun. There are all kinds of reasons why people fail to compare their experiences, shyness among them, but the main one is that they forgo the rights to components of their person by handing them over to experts, priests, theologians, & various self appointed authorities. & I assure you, my friends, the authorities fight tooth nail to maintain their exclusive control over discourse & behaviour. When I described my visitor to my doctor at Royal Park he immediately wanted to increase the dosage of my medication. To his credit he didn’t press the issue but I still wonder on what basis he made his judgement since what I had told him was not like anything I had described for which I had gone there for help. No doubt he would have megadosed every one of the prophets of all the religions & if he had been able to eavesdrop late at night to a conversation of bushwalkers round the dying embers of a fire he would have said “well that one needs medication … & him … & him too!” For, dear friends, dreamers, flakes, fellow visionaries, look closely at your doctors – some of them have led very restricted lives. Its not their fault, they spent their youths studying ; they are not to know. If that particular doctor is still inclined to medicate one off experiences (even if the patient is categorizable) I hearby lay a curse on him : that in the next life he spend the rest of eternity finding only glossy paper to wipe his arse with. I knew it would be his response beforehand but I had made a decision to tell him so that I could refuse his suggestion of an increase in the medication. There was a choice. I had decided to make an act of will, though I wouldnt have expressed it like that then, not to deny the experience. It would have been easier to keep quiet but I was & am making a statement. For already when I was visited I had promised not to deny & where appropriate to give testimony. Its 9.50 am & I have to decide whether to head for Lock Sport for beach walks or back into the high plains along the Dargo road. I havent turned the radio on for a week so I have no idea of the weather forecast, a newspaper in Sale (my home town I thought once) might help decide … Its 3.20 & I’m on the fast flowing & surprisingly large Wonnangatta River about 20ks east of Dargo. I decided to give Sale & the newspaper a miss. At Stratford I bought some more flyspray & topped up with petrol. Back at Briagalong I had a pot of beer in the pub & bought a stubby of Vic Bitter & an Abbots Stout for the road. In the pub a young woman & her daughter of about 9 were getting provisions: about 4x24 cans of beer, 6 packets of cigarettes & about 8 bags of ice were lined up on the bar. I had seen them yesterday on the final bit of the Marathon track on horseback. The young girl looked like she was born to hers as she wasnt the slightest bit put out when it pranced sideways as I inched past. She & her mother were droving cattle, some with bells, up the track. About a kilometre ahead & behind was a stationary ute each with a bloke &

a sign saying cattle on the road. Interesting to see the women do the work. I bet most of the beer & smokes is for the two blokes. They told me they were taking the cattle up to the Wellington High Plains where I had walked on the eastern part of the Tali Karng track yesterday. They planned to be at Horseyard Flat in a few days time. I should have asked them how long it would take. Didnt think to tell them that the place was buzzing with mozzies but whats the difference since they disregard chemicals anyway. I reckon I’m lucky not to have been going down the steep grade as they were pushing the cattle up it because I dont know what would have happened because there wouldnt have been enough room for them to squeeze past. Today I’m putting in a saint from each book as they are both good ones. Its the first time a saint from the american ‘Saint of the Day’ has made it into the journal. First from the ‘Saint Companions’: Saint Peter Chrysologus (Bishop Confessor, Doctor of the Church 406-450). The Deacon Peter was miraculously selected for the Bishopric of Ravenna by Pope Sixtus III after he had been shown to him in a dream. In that city, which was then the seat of the Western Roman Empire, St. Peter preached to the Emperor, his court and the faithful with such eloquence that he became surnamed Chrysologus, meaning “golden word”. He made it a point to avoid all rhetorical phrases keep his instructions short, so as not to tire his hearers. With his pen, too, he explained the faith and defended it against the Monophysite heretics, and of these homilies, 176 have come down to our times. He urged his people to receive Holy Communion frequently. In speaking against the riotous New Year celebrations, he coined his now famous quotation: “He who amuses himself with Satan cannot rejoice with Christ!” The mosaic-covered chapel which he erected in Ravenna and where he taught, is still extant. Reflection: “Clothe yourself with the garment of sanctity, gird yourself with the cincture of chastity; let Christ be the covering of your head; let the Cross of Christ be the protection for your face; instil in your breast the sacrament of divine wisdom; let the ardour of your prayers always ascend upon high” (St. Peter Chrysologus). & from ‘Saint of the Day’: John Damascene (Priest and Doctor 676? -749). John spent most of his life in the monastery of St. Sabas, near Jerusalem, and all of his life under Moslem rule, indeed, protected by it. He was born in Damascus, received a classical and theological education, and followed his father in a government position under the Arabs. After a few years he resigned and went to the monastery of St. Sabas. He is famous in three areas. First, he is know for his writings against iconoclasts, who opposed the veneration of images. Paradoxically, it was the Eastern Christian emperor Leo who forbade the practice, and it was because John lived in Moslem territory that his enemies could not injure him. Second, he is famous for his treatise, ‘Exposition of the Orthodox Faith’, a summary of the Greek Fathers (of which he became the last). It is said that this book is to Eastern schools what the ‘Summa’ of Aquinas became to the West. Thirdly, he is known as a poet, one of the greatest of the Eastern Church, the other being Romanus the Melodist. His devotion to the Blessed Mother and his sermons on her feast are well known. Comment: John defended the Churches understanding of the veneration of images and explained the faith of the Church in several other controversies. For over 30 years he combined a life of prayer with these defences and his other writings. His holiness expressed itself in putting his literary and preaching talents at the service of the Lord. Quote: “The saints must be honoured as friends of Christ and children and heirs of God, as John the theologian and evangelist says :’But as many as received him, he gave them the power to be made the sons of God …’ Let us carefully observe the manner of life of the apostles, martyrs, ascetics and just men who announced the coming of the Lord. And let us emulate their faith, charity, hope, zeal, life, patience and suffering, and perseverance unto death, so that we may also share their crowns of glory” (Exposition of the Orthodox Faith). Tuesday 5/12/00 . I’m still on the Wonnangatta River (whose water empties into the Mitchell that flows through Nicholson near Bairnsdale into the Gippsland Lakes) about 35ks from Dargo on the Crooked River Rd. I did call in at Dargo yesterday for a beer & a chat. There are two very impressive pubs that look as if they get quite a bit of tourist trade; not on week days I was told by the young blonde barmaid who was there by herself. There are shops with café signs out front. The place has a boutique look about it in a ‘how green is my valley’ setting. The most noticeable thing however were the walnut

trees which grow in every yard, by roadsides & in paddocks. It may be the walnut capital of victoria. They have a walnut festival when the place is jumping with tourists at easter to coincide with the picking season. Its 8.10 am & I return to my main task. Lets go back to the example of a passage of writing where each new sentence changes the meaning of what came before. Meaning works as a whole which is greater than the sum of the parts. History can be viewed as a book written with new chapters being added. Historians love to recreate former periods by peeling away the subsequent chapters or sentences & by immersing themselves in the writings & relics of the age they are studying. Its the stuff of historical novels & a favourite of tv drama. But we can’t imagine the past because we are made of those sentences & those chapters that we try to peel away. We only recreate through the perspectives of the present. The words we use to describe it no longer have the meanings they had then. That applies also to the sayings of the teacher gathered together in the testaments & to his use of the word god. I think if it were not for the experience I’ve described I would not have been able to attach the importance to the nazarenes teachings that I do. I am too much aware of the impossibility of history to wish to use it for present example. Experience is paramount as far as I’m concerned. Perhaps knowing that I am a sceptic is why the comforter came. It doesnt mean that I’m ready to throw away my intelligence when considering the teachers sayings but it may help to explain why I try harder to extract meaning from them. His sayings (& his example even more so) are dense with meaning. Maybe he had such knowledge of the wellsprings of behaviour that he was able to use metaphors & analogies that are at the source of it & hence less subject to the corruption of time. His claim that if you ask you receive has exerted a changing dynamic over me for years. At first you ask for everything, then you discover you already have it but didnt know, then as you become convinced of the truth of the claim you stop asking. Its like that with many of his teachings. As I wrote earlier on the trip my amazement at the depth of meaning I progressively find in them is reason enough for me to accept the prophet as the greatest of men yet if my intelligence were the only measure I wouldnt accept those sayings I dont feel I understand which is most of them. Because I am a sceptic I dont accept claims that violate my intelligence & without personal experience I would have simply put most of them in the too hard basket & forgotten them. In the same way I would have eventually put aside the prophet himself for what is the point of being told all sorts of things that dont mean anything if understanding is the measure. If you dont understand you dont know how to apply to life situations which are always immensely complex. However these days I am inclined to be accepting of confusion. Since I dont dismiss claims that are outside my experience or I cannot disprove & since I dont validate claims except through experience it means I live in an unstable world where the proportion of what I know is very tiny compared to the sea of unknown things I tread water in. I have few certainties & many questions but I am surrounded by people who know a lot & are always telling me what I should do. I have lost the habit of thinking what should be or telling others what they should do. I am happy if I am able to avoid their prescriptions. Dodging the should-dos is like negotiating a minefield. I am often in a state of amazement at the possibility of new things. Nature provides me with examples of transformation & I marvel at the thought that even if they had the intelligence of humans grubs could not know that they change into butterflies or cicadas. I marvel at the possibilities I can imagine & am grateful at the contribution to them made by great writers such as Borges, Foucault & Wittgenstein. Many people who do much good in the world are nourished by the nazarenes words without the benefit of my experiences or my privileged & spoilt lifestyle. They must have a better, more direct, simple way of understanding than is available to me. In particular I feel sure that the poor & the ill, especially in institutions, have such access. As I ride my bike past Ozanam house in North Melbourne at meal times I see crowds of derelicts who by comparison to the vacuous expressions of accountants & clergymen look as if they have stepped straight out of biblical times. I bow my head, I praise, I thank. Went back through Dargo where I talked to a guy in the pub whose great grandfather who owned a small holding next to a rich mans property somewhere near Melbourne (Scorseby?) & was the rich mans horse groom has the distinction of having unloaded a consignment of hares & sparrows for his employer which are the ancestors of the current population. He also says he was personally responsible for

surreptitiously spreading the rust that attacks blackberries to his own property before the department officially released it. Example counts …. The road rises steeply out of Dargo in a grade thats as long as the one I descended down Marathon rd. but its not as steep & its sealed. Now I’m back on the plateau (4.00 pm) in a forest of silvery gums. After a walk I might continue higher into the snow gum territory towards Hotham. Yes, the writing is definitely the purpose of this trip & perhaps the task I’m best suited to. Here is the saint of the day: St. Sabas (Abbott Confessor 439-532). Sabas was a young nobleman of Cappadocia who travelled to Jerusalem and after spending some years in the desert, settled down to a life of great austerity under the guidance of St. Euthemius. Near the brook Cedron he later established the great Laura Mar Saba, which still flourishes. Here the monks lived in separate cells somewhat like the Carthusians today. Six other houses also owe their foundation to his zeal. In 491 St. Sabas was ordained to the prieshood, and three years later made archimandrate of the hermit colonies in Palestine. By setting an example of scrupulous observance of the rule, he was able to bring about a much needed reform in their discipline. He was also famed for his charity towards the poor. A valiant champion of orthodoxy, he twice travelled to Constantinople to influence the Emperor against Monophysite, Nestorian and Origenist heresies, and as an old man of 90 interceded with Justinian on behalf of the Samaritan rebels and obtained their pardon. St. Sabas is revered as one of the founders of Eastern monasticism. His relics, which were stolen by the Venetians, are still venerated in St. Mark’s basilica at Venice. Reflection: “Man is born to labour, and birds to fly” (Job 5,7) …Now I know were Malcolm Fraser got his “life wasnt meant to be easy”. I’m skipping the walk & driving: a big black cloud has formed overhead & the grumbling of thunder is becoming constant …. 5.40: stopped for the night about 60ks north of Dargo, 11ks short of the Hotham/Bright road. The forest along the road has been particularly attractive with many inviting tracks leading into it & green parklike verges that are easy to drive onto. I’m in a patch of snow gum just near a saddle where there is a picnic table & from which you can see across valleys to Hotham ski village & snow on top of the mountain. I drove through a hail storm & its raining a bit now so I might as well settle down with Joseph Roths “Right & Left”. Wednesday 6/12/00. 9.00 am. Again went to sleep to the patter of large drops on the roof of the van from condensing fog on gum leaves as on last thursday at Wellington Horse Yards. I am in the Alpine Park again too. The sky is clear & soon I’ll drive back a few ks to walk a section of the McMillans long range alpine walking track. I was going to write this morning about the notion of ‘the other’ & how every society needs to point to its converse in order to more clearly define itself. To the classical greeks it was the barbarians who represented what was beyond the pale, chaotic, irrational, beyond law, sub-human – in short the opposite to the enlightened lives led by themselves in their city states. We use the idea of mental illness to reinforce our confidence in what is rational, sensible, scientific. It serves our self esteem. As I say I had intended to expand on this but Foucault has adequately covered the base. I wanted to explain my suspicion that the class of people we call schizophrenics use the language & relate to metaphor more like the nazarene did than the representational way that it is used by modern scientific man. I refer you to Foucault for those linguistic issues too. I wanted to outline my reasons for a premonition that the mind set that has led to science will destroy our environment & that we run the risk of turning ourselves into a mockery of what human beings have been or could be. But I can’t be bothered its too big a topic. I’ll go for a walk instead. … 2.05. For those who think that a major change in climate might be slow enough for us to have time to do something about it may be worth getting acquainted with the concept of phase transition of the complexity theorists… Both the books have the same saint for today: St. Nicholas of Bari (Bishop Confessor ?-352). Although Nicholas is doubtless one of the most beloved Saints, hardly anything is historically known about his life and death, except that he was Bishop of Myra in Asia Minor during the first half of the fourth century. His legend recounts how, on returning from a pilgimage to the Holy Land, he came to Myra, and early the next morning went to church. The local bishop having recently died, the clergy had secretly agreed that the first person to enter the church on that morning should become the new Bishop; and so Nicholas was consecrated. He suffered imprisonment during the Diocletian persecution, but was freed by the Edict of Constantine, and is known to have attended the great

Council of Nicaea in 325, which condemned the Arian heresy. God worked numerous miracles through him, and his love for children and his charity to the poor became proverbial. Whenever possible he tried to perform his charitable acts anonymously, as in the famous case of the three daughters of the impoverished nobleman for whom St. Nicholas provided dowries by throwing gold-filled purses in through the windows during the night on three separate occasions to save them from prostitution. The Myra Christians kept the memory of their beloved Bishop alive after his death by leaving surprise gifts for their children during the night before his anniversary. This custom has gradually become transferred to our Christmas, and St. Nicholas has in popular parlance become contracted to Santa Clause. But in certain parts of Europe, as in Catholic Austria for instance, the custom still prevails of giving to well behaved children a small present on December 6th , while naughty ones receive a piece of black coal and a switch. The relics of St. Nicholas were brought to Bari in southern Italy by some merchants and there they are venerated to this day for their power of healing. On the day of his feast his image is taken out to sea in a boat and returned in the evening with a torchlight procession. Being regarded as the Patron of mariners and travellers, he is honoured specially in seaport towns. He is also the Protector of the innocent and the wronged, and of all children in general. Merchants, coopers, brewers and bakers appeal to him as their Patron; so do also the pawnbrokers, their symbol of the three golden balls being in memory of the three bags of gold which Nicholas gave the three maidens for dowries. Finally, he is also the Patron Saint of Russia, Greece, Sicily, Lorraine, Limerick and Naples. Reflection: “I am come that they may have life , and may have it more abundantly” (John 10,10). …8.20 pm. I’m about 30ks west of Myrtleford perhaps not too far from Bobinawarrah. I’m driving without consulting maps in the general direction of Mansfield. The foothills of the main range are nearby to the south. I’m at the end of a lane off a minor road. There is a shed & a cattle yard across the fence & the cattle in the paddock are slowly getting nearer. Cattle are curious & sooner or later the whole mob will be a couple of hundred yards from me on the other side of the fence. One of the bullocks has a demented call: he’ll probably let go full blast in the middle of the night. I dont mind, I like company. Earlier I drove out of the high country after a detour to inspect Hotham ski resort which I found unattractive only stopping to walk on a patch of snow. I had been seeing these snow patches on my walk in the morning & wanted to look back at the ridge the McMillans track followed. In Bright I rang Helen. Dan answered the phone. He’s leaving on friday morning so I’ll miss him. I wished him the best. He’s got a return air fare that cost $240 & was no doubt taken out of the monies owing him by his management. Helen has been out every night of the week & tomorrow is meeting up with Kate for an auction of the stuff that was shown at the gallery to finish off her year. She says she’s managed to make another seven cards over the last couple of days so she’s been flat out. I had a beer at Bright & bought a couple of stubbies at Myrtleford. Some of the bullocks are within 10 yards of the fence pretending they havent noticed me. Its cooling down, very still, bird calls, time for bed. Thursday 7/12/00. The bird to whose song I woke this morning was a rufous whistler(Pachycephala rufiventris). It started well before dawn & hasnt stopped yet (7.45 am). The kookaburras, usually the first to wake, joined in much later. I’ve been laughed at most mornings. Yesterday I turned on the radio for the first time. Can’t remember what was on the news. Tomorrow I’ll be back home. Today I should be driving through some of the same country I rode a bike through in the great victoria bike ride at a similar time of year. It feels like ages but I think its only two years ago. I am grateful, most people my age complain that the years pass too quickly. I return to the beginning of my theme in an effort to close it, the usage of the word – god. The way the nazarene used the word was certainly not the way I outlined its use last wednesday, that is to legitimise power. The example of his life as a teacher & his knowledge of his impending death show the opposite. If he saw himself as a king it was in a different kind of kingdom. The possibility has to be considered that the master used it (& the word heaven) because a better expression was not available. It may be that he knew his listeners heard it differently but hoped that by giving illustrations he would change their perceptions. History proves that he didnt succeed. Another possibility is that the god whose will he believed it was his mission to fulfil lied to him. This is another way of saying that he may have only been a junior god in a hierarchy of gods

& that what are truths to the gods are tantamount to lies or at least incomprehensible to us. The nazarene may have been mistaken in believing he could communicate with his god in a meaningful way. I am not inclined to pursue that line of enquiry & even if it were so it doesnt change my attitude to the man. For me he was the greatest of men & I continue to pledge my allegiance. A single parable of his can carry more meaning than a philosophers or theologians entire output. His life was exemplary. He sends the comforter. Despite alternative possibilities I accept his descriptions of Gods attributes. The hairs on my head have been numbered – I know it. 9.00 am & that bird is still going full bore.

though we will drink your wine we cannot drink your vinegar as you hold us in your hand protect us from the nail

and suppose that one old and very wise fish as he floated slowly, suspended among the caverns of his life breathing oxygen freely given by the garden of moss and weeds, feeding on the bread that rained like manna from his fishbowl sky became aware, in the garden of his mind that every trembling, every darting fish however small, left a ripple on his soul, and the garden that fed him freely freely took the food he gave, till suddenly he knew he was only one small link in an everlasting chain and then with the glassy eye of age he saw the hand that dropped the manna from the skies what could he say to the suffering and the blind? what could he say to the dying and the dead? what could he say to the boisterous school of fish he ruled? I am old and cannot teach you how to dance I must do my rounds in the confines of the bowl the dancer dances to a song we barely hear the hand that feeds you dances in the sky

though we will drink your wine we cannot drink your vinegar as you hold us in your hand protect us from the nail

27/11/00 – 7/12/00

27/11/00 – 7/12/00