You are on page 1of 21

Monday 24/2/03.

They that go down to the sea in ships,

and do business in great waters;
These see the works of the Lord,
and his wonders in the deep.

(Psalm 107, 23-24)

The same might b said of snorkeling. I put the quote in yesterday evening (Ben, Kate, Joe & Kerry
had left after the BBQ) in anticipation of leaving this morning on a trip I do each year where I
concentrate on looking in2 water. The van is packed & I have a new pair of goggles. The idea was 2
head west perhaps ultimately 2 the Eyre Peninsula via the stretch of coast in the most southerly part
of SA between Port MacDonald & Kingston where I havent been b4 other than 4 a brief visit to
Beachport. Except Im too tired (25/2/03. when I was told tears welled up but I was overcome by
emotional exhaustion & didnt have enough energy 2 cry) having been unable 2 sleep till just b4 dawn.
Tonight Ill take a valium instead of relying solely on alcohol as Ive been doing over the last week
(since the note left under the door in Ivanhoe by the Prahran police in4ming us that Dan was in
hospital in Paris but OK) while weve been trying 2 sort out what is happening & how 2 get him home.
H is the one who has been doing all the telefoning, e-mailing (Canberra, Embassy in Paris (who
visited him in hospital & organized a cheap hotel room @ 60 euros/night since his discharge), the
hotel hes @, the modelling agency in Paris, his agency here, etc,). She has bought him a ticket on a
Qantas flight 2 Perth & then Melbourne that he is supposed 2 (& said he will though he suggested
she send more funds so he could go via south africa) pick up @ the british airways counter @ the
airport tuesday morning (Paris time). Tomorrow she is seeing Doig 2 get time off work because she is
unsafe 2 drive. In an article on Brigitte Muir (1st aussie woman 2 climb Everest) in this mornings Age
there is a quote from Stendhal that is said 2 have been an inspiration 2 her. It goes : “we must live our
dreams, not dream our life.” It seems that Dans dreams are crashing down – and with them perhaps
him also judging by the wording of a couple of his e-mails. We dont know if he can be relied on 2
catch the flight though the emergency consular service in Canberra has reassured H when she rang
just now that they will in4m the Paris embassy of our concerns & they might b able 2 accompany him
2 the airport. Despite my alcohol induced sleep Ive been waking up @ nights with the image of
bowling pins being scattered by a huge ball sent down by the hand of an unknown player. The image
is current with me from the film Bowling For Columbine that I saw a few weeks ago. But it has
assumed a new meaning – the bowling pins are my kids getting knocked down one after the other, &
sometimes, if they get up, more than once. When H @ 17 finished Heidelberg High as head prefect &
dux of school trying 2 decide which scholarship 2 take up 2 Melbourne Uni she could never have
predicted that she would spend the better part of a lifetime picking up the pieces of various members
of the family starting with me, following the collapse of their lives. Hopefully it is not that serious with
Dan. Yesterday Kate brought Lev Shestovs ‘In Job’s Balances’ which she took out on loan from the
Baillieu library 4 me 2 take on the trip. By way of preparation I am rereading ‘The Book of Job’ in the
bible. Seems appropriate.

Because of the availability of a typist (H has already done the bit before the asterisk) & because we
both are preferring 2 stay occupied (she has not gone 2 a 2 day conference in Geelong as planned) I
might as well give an impression of the month Ive spent in Melbourne since we returned from a trip
along the south coast of NSW. In my wanderings through the city I chanced 2 talk 2 the guy who
plays the dulcimer with pencil size metal rods. He was on the corner of Bourke & Swanson st. outside
Readers Feast bookshop where I am more used 2 seeing the short fat busker with the home made
drum kit. I had mentioned in the last piece I put out (see 11/11/02 – 20/11/02. p3) that after an attack
of bad conscience I had taken 2 tipping the drummer. Apparently the spot is in demand. I asked what
had happened 2 him & was told that its a case of first one there gets it. The drummer had come too
late that same morning. It transpires that they dont get on with each other & their enmity continues in
Tokyo where they also see each other. I am reconsidering who I tip but its not going 2 b the black
Elvis (@ Vic. Market in the red suit but who also doubles as an aboriginal in a loin cloth playing the
didgeridoo) who incidentally is in his 50s and hails from Hervey Bay in Qld. He recently married a cool
young chick with whom he honeymooned in Hawaii. Ill leave the tipping 2 the tourists in future &
concentrate on me kids. Another thing thats happened is the death of Vic Fleming whom I last met @
Brian Maclures 60th (see 13/2/01 – 26/2/01. p1).

It seems Alec Drummond has an interest (perhaps knowledge?) in matters pertaining 2 heaven & hell
as he once suggested 2 me that Frank Lovece might be heading down under. This was @ a time
when Frank was worrying us by talking in a way that indicated he was having premonitions of death. I
assured Alec that a guy of Franks charm was sure 2 get past the heavenly gate keeper. Last tuesday
@ the Make It Up Club I reminded Alec of his question about whether Vic (25/2/03. who had lived
alone in shabby hotel rooms without the benefit of a womans warmth ; who never allowed himself 2 b
led by the nose either by management or union ; who didnt whinge about his lot like most of the
attendants did ; who feared going deaf more than anything else & already had started 2 ; whose
burial service was conducted by a minister who knew nothing about him ; who was honest) had made
it up there & Alec claimed that what he had actually said was : “we will meet him in hell”. Memory! I
suppose its worth reporting that I took in the peace demo on friday 14th. I go more as an observer
than participator as I find it impossible 2 forgo my identity in a mass movement. The waving of
placards & 4ming of crowds seems 2 me 2 b part of the problem. I am frightened of the potential we
have 4 throwing away our minds. The speeches consisted (appropriately) of cliches & slogans. I have
gone 2 2 earlier marches. In the first one I asked a guy holding up one end of a very large placard
that read JEWS FOR A JUST PEACE what qualification was being implied by the word JUST i.e. why
not simply say FOR PEACE as was the case on another placard reading SHALOM. I am particularly
interested in the attitude of jews because the way moderate arab opinion will judge us will b by our
response to the israel/palestinian conflict (25/2/03. in which the burden of injustices has been and is
overwhelmingly borne by the palestinians. We ignore it at our peril but I suspect the US has already
made the decision 2 hold the arab world in colonial status (disguised) indefinitely. No arab state will
ever b allowed , even if they become exemplary democracies, 2 have weapons of mass destruction of
the kind routinely possessed by the large states or 4 that matter israel.) I didnt get a coherent answer
till a week or so later when George Bush made a speech in which he said america was ready 2 go 2
war 2 ensure a just peace. Then I saw someone from another organisation (international labour or
something) with a placard also demanding a just peace & when I asked him the same question,
explaining that I was a traditional, simple minded, impractical, naïve, garden variety pacifist who was
against any war (the quakers had a placard AGAINST ALL WARS) he told me I was a dupe of the
establishment. It turned out that he was only against a possible war on iraq but was very much in
favour of one on the US of A. The most numerous placard I saw said NO WAR FOR OIL. How can
people believe this is about oil? One day in Little Bourke st. I asked a couple of mormons what was
the attitude of their religion 2 the prospects of a US attack on iraq. At first they looked astonished as if
I had asked the most unexpectedly weird question but after some deliberation one of them said there
was a statement by their founder Brigham Young that said you always had 2 obey the laws of the
country. I didnt ask, but should have, what attitude they took 2 capital punishment in the situation of 2
adjoining states in the US where one practiced it but the other didnt. In the big demo on the 14th I
talked 2 a girl who had a cardboard sign attached 2 her bicycle which simply listed recent wars
without commentary. I was saying 2 her that my attitude when threatened was 2 run away as grazing
animals do from predators (turning the other cheek seems a bit much). But she was bothered by the
example of Hitler. Are there extreme situations that justify war? But in Hitlers case by the time he was
going 2 b challenged it was already too late. His capacity 2 recruit the silent majority (or at least
intimidate it) came from the humiliation all germans felt at the imposition on them of unjust reparations
after what had been a crazy politicians war where no one had held the high moral ground. The only
thing that might have prevented the rise of Hitler was fair behaviour by the victorious allies at the end
of the 1st war & there was never going 2 b a chance of that. There might be a lesson in there
somewhere for this one.

Sunday the 9th of feb. was a day 4 small ‘coincidences’. I find these kind of days slightly destabilizing
but energizing though in extreme cases they can b scary (see 7/9/00 – 16/9/00). Lev Shestov would
say that science/mathematics gets around the problem by ignoring it, assigning it 2 the realm of the
inexplicable & hence the non-existent. Frank L. says that the lady working @ Collected Works
bookshop in Flinders st. reckons you can experience too many ‘coincidences’ & if you let yourself go
down that path you get into dangerous waters. Best 2 avoid it. Ive noticed that when some young
people report it the next thing you hear is that they have had a breakdown. H says she doesnt have
the kind of unexplained & unlikely juxtaposition of events that happen 2 me, accounts of which she
types up. About november last year I had a drink with Jock (Kates x) outside his workshop in
Footscray. It was the only time I had seen him in 18 months & in the evening as me & H sat in the
window of the Bocadillo bar a beautiful girl engaged us in animated conversation & then it dawned on
me (I had drunk a few sangrias) that it was his sister Liz whom I also hadnt seen for 18 months & had
only met about 3 times altogether. I said this is amazing, I had a drink with Jock only hours ago but
she reckoned she takes that kind of thing 4 granted. The writer Paul Auster has many examples of
the kind in a collection of short stories called ‘American Tales’. It seems that in some asian cultures
unlikely events are accepted as signs of significance which is how I tend 2 react 2 them too. I wonder
if in my case they occur because I am an eccentric who travels around in an irregular unpredictable
way whereas most people are subject 2 routine & habit, in ways of thinking too? Is it possible that
when people subject themselves 2 medication 2 douse mind spin the reason they no longer have
these experiences is not so much that they dont notice them but because they become physically
inactive & spatially confined (& trapped by habits & depression & lack of spontaneity) so that
opportunities 4 them 2 occur are eliminated? Or is it that these events occur in everyones lives but
only some of us notice while the rest draw a screen 2 prevent themselves experiencing what they are
not going 2 understand? (Frank L suggest that we all know everything but prevent ourselves from
seeing.) Anyway, on sunday 9th I finished reading W.G. Sebalds book ‘Austerlitz’ just before I was
heading off 2 lunch @ litho house in Errol st. North Melb. which I dont often do & as it happened (I
read it because I had earlier read a book of his called ‘The Emigrants’, an outstanding read
recommended 2 me by Peter Murphy) for no obvious reason the very last page of it was about the 12
forts that had been built around Kaunas (2nd city of lithuania) @ the end of the 19th century by the
czarist russians & which proved totally useless during their only test in the war of 1914. Most of the
forts fell in2 disrepair but some were used as prisons & the most infamous, the 9th, became a
command post 4 the wermacht during the 2nd war. 30000 people were murdered there with the aid of
lithuanian police auxiliaries under the command of german officers. Most of the victims were jews
transported from all over europe or drawn from the Kaunas ghetto. Their bones fertilize the oat
pastures a little way outside the walls. In the middle of the afternoon I took a cold beer 2 Vaidas who
sells small ceramic bells & mobiles that he makes from a stall outside the cultural centre in St Kilda rd
(meanwhile his wife Brigitta has a stall @ the St Kilda market ; they have a gallery in High St. Kew
near the junction) and we arranged 2 meet 4 a drink @ Time Out café in Federation Square after he
packed up @ 3.30. It was a fluke that as he approached the table where I was already seated I was
reading Sebalds ‘Vertigo’ which has a promo on the front cover by Paul Auster who describes him as
“One of the most original voices to have come from Europe in recent years.” Now there is a hidden
commentary here on those very convergences Ive been talking about (4 the cognoscenti at least)
because Paul Auster has written a book called ‘Mr Vertigo’. It was published in 94 while Sebalds
‘Vertigo’ was published in 90 but since it was in german (not translated in2 english till 99) I imagine
Auster didnt know of it when his own book came out. Whats more both authors have written at length
about their jewish ancestors & both often write about strange coincidences. For Paul Auster its his
main theme. So these were my thoughts when Vaidas (who has been here 5 years) ordered the
drinks. I said, you know, its a bit strange talking 2 you here when both of us were born in lithuania on
the very opposite side of the world & earlier today I had lunch @ litho house & just b4 that 4 no
reason I could have predicted the book I read finished with some comments on the forts surrounding
Kaunas. Then Vaidas said he was born in Kaunas & I said I was too. I explained 2 him how I had a
particular interest in the events @ the 9th fort & had discussed & written about them @ length & he
told me that there was a museum & a memorial there 4 those who had perished, which I knew of
course. (25/2/03. he also told me how he corresponds with a long term friend of his who migrated 2
israel 8 years ago & who used 2 b a pacifist but now talks about arabs as if they are subhuman & how
they breed like rabbits etc. etc.) Then he said that he had been one of the 50 or 60 artists who had
worked on the memorial (a huge structure in the style of soviet gigantism popular @ the time). It was
a well paid job & he worked on it 4 2 years. I think W.G. Sebald who is always interested in
architectural history & detail would have liked 2 hear what Vaidas had 2 say. The designer of the
monument had made a plaster model of it more than head high which was sawn in2 small blocks
each of only a few centimeters by a few centimeters & Vaidas job had been 2 enlarge some of these
in2 full scale models (ie meters high) of clay over a skeletal frame which had concrete poured over
them 2 make moulds which in turn had concrete poured in2 them in the making of the final structure.
Over the 2 years he was responsible 4 making ½ doz of the clay models. I barely know Vaidas &
Brigitta & had invited them 2 yesterdays BBQ which as it turned out they werent able 2 come 2. I
mentioned 2 the kids that a couple I had recently met might turn up & that they were interesting
people leading an independent life by making beautiful things that they sell themselves 2 people who
wanted 2 buy them. & I said the bloke had been a conscript in the soviet army & no doubt had
interesting stories 2 tell. Ben said that would be Vaidas & Brigitta & that he had met them @ the
Kaspariunas place. I keep saying it – small world!

Its 10pm and Dan has just rung (reverse charge) from the airport, almost 24 hours ahead of his flight.
He sounds OK but only has 2 euros 2 his name. 10.30 rang again & this time he was rambling on.
Rang again at midnight so H told him shed b leaving the phone off the hook till 8.30 am when she
would b able 2 put some money in2 his account. He is not well.

H got 10 days off from Doig. He pointed out that Dan may not b allowed on2 a flight if hes thought 2 b
bhaving strangely. Therve been no calls from him so far (6.20 pm) so hopefully hes managed 2 get
some sleep. Steven called from FRM 2 find out what was going on. He said he had a client who
wanted Dan 4 a 2 day job in 3 weeks which would earn him more than he has done in the year in
Paris (where I suspect hes hardly earnt anything). H told him he was at the airport & sounded thought
disordered. He gets a job but loses his sanity. I drove to Miller st. 2 pick up my folders of master
copies of 3 years of writing so I could b sure 2 b making accurate references 2 past pieces. The
Canberra emergency line rang 2 say that an embassy person had gone 2 his hotel & 2 the agency in
Paris but had just missed him. Bill Woodlock the neighbour from Miller st. called 2 say he was getting
quotes 2 replace our joint fence as agreed. Chris Barnett called 2 tell H about the conference & 2
check up on her. We dont want 2 leave the phone unmanned so someone stays in the house all the
time. H spends a lot of time laying on the bed or playing free-cell on the computer. The incidence of
this kind of thing in the general population is 1 in 100 (double for pot smokers) but in our family so far
its 4 out of 7. Each event is as difficult as the previous one. Each is unique so there is hardly any
benefit from experience. I am losing emotional suppleness, the ability 2 respond. Just feel tired. For
Dan its worse.

I begin to think that somewhere

in my past lives
I have killed a chinaman
(an old wives saying
to explain a piece of
awful luck or dire consequence.)
Since I am an old wife I take these
sayings to heart, though my heart has been
for a long time.
Speaking of chinamen
there was a custom among peasants
in the olden times
never to brag about their children
or praise their beauty or intellect
because the gods would hear
and do something terrible in their jealousy.
So they said aloud how ugly their children were
or how deformed or simple-minded,
thus averting tragedy.
I wonder what fat old god I offended?
He must have been looking and listening
when I preened about mine,
letting people assume I was some
hotshot earth-mother type,
even presuming to hand out advice
and make judgments on other ways of doing things.
How he must have laughed, his belly shaking,
eyes glittering,
as he set up my downfall.
Does he watch me now as I writhe in despair
watching them as they disintegrate ?

Dan didnt ring during the night (I slept surprisingly well by drinking an xtra stubby instead of taking the
valium (which had been a 10mg tab that was about 30 years old)) so we think he got on the plane.
Earlier in the evening Egle rang & reassured us that he would get paged if he was dozing & that if he
missed it hed get on the next one with the same ticket. Theres nothing 2 do now xcept wait. H will
meet him @ the airport 2night where he is due @ 10.20 pm. Had lunch @ the local pub. Returning to
my sketch of the previous month, a major event was the suggestion made by Andrew Saniga that I
spend a few months in an apartment in the very centre of Vilnius (capital of litholand & lately dubbed
by the tourist trade as the Paris of the north) which had recently been inherited by his mum. I had
always resisted going back to the country of my birth, not being prepared 2 go 4 a short tourist trip &
not wishing 2 leave H on a longer one. Besides I enjoy what I do here. But 4 my xmas present last
year H had given me a card titled ‘IT’S TIME…’ with an enclosed cheque 4 $750 which read inside :

I had rejected her offer 4 my usual reasons though everyone I asked swore by the ‘roots’ xperience
with the exception of Frank L who says when he was in calabria it occurred 2 him that he should visit
the land his father had worked & b4 he had the chance 2 xpress the thought his uncle said I suppose
you want 2 see your fathers place. Frank says that as he was kneeling down crumbling a clod of
earth in his fist, observed from a respectful distance by his uncle, he heard a voice bhind him call out
THIS LAND NO LONGER BELONGS TO YOU. It had been said in good humoured jest by a
neighbour & then Frank, having ground the dirt into powder, flung it down (I think it would make a
good subject 4 a painting in the classical tradition) 4 he had realised that it meant nothing 2 him. I
suppose my interest would b the language which I xpect would return in full as even now if I spend a
few hours talking in it (eg 2 Vaidas) later in the evening Im liable 2 break into litho in answer 2 a
question from H. Also Id go 2 see the tree that was planted on the day of my birth in the garden of the
house on the bank of the Nemunas river in the suburb of Panemune where I spent the 1st 3 years of
my life. The 2nd offer coming on top of the 1st convinced me that 2 refuse would b 2 ignore the ‘signs’.
Bsides I didnt want 2 look a gift horse in the mouth. When I told Frank that I was worried that it would
distract me from my main task he assured me that in similar circumstances he had been @ his most
productive. Tom Fryer (Make It Up Club) claims that going 2 sweden had made him appreciate aussie
culture. After all that the offer fell through. Mayb just as well. I am pasting in some
documentation of the events of the day including the original police note.

I am quoting from the beginning of the 1 essay from Lev Shestovs ‘In Job’s Balances’ : “”Who
knows,” says Euripedes, “if life is not death and death life?” Plato in one of his dialogues puts these
words into the mouth of Socrates, the wisest of men, the very man who created the theory of general
ideas and first considered the clarity and distinctness of our judgements to be an index of their truth.
According to Plato, Socrates almost always when death is discussed says the same, or much the
same as Euripedes ----- No one knows whether life is not death and death life. Since the earliest days
the wisest of men have lived in this state of mystified ignorance ; only common men have known quite
distinctly what life is, and what death. How has it happened, how could it happen, that the wisest is in
doubt where the ordinary man can see no difficulty whatsoever, and why are the most painful and
terrible difficulties always reserved for the wisest? For what can be more terrible than not to know
whether one is alive or dead? ……. Where is the Oedipus who can resolve this question and
penetrate to the depths of this supreme mystery? “

Here I Am

@ 10.40 pm I heard a car pull up. It was Ben. ½ an hour later H & Dan turned up. Dan is fine ; loving
& beautiful. Talk about style – he looks like a parisian – you dont get style like that here. Hes OK. He
had a story. Ill tell it 2morrow. 4 most of the trip hes been asleep xcept 4 the time it took 2 eat the 5
meals hes had. Now hes gone with Ben 2 catch up with Joe & Tony. He will b back 2morrow. Its

The story he told was not xactly linear. He had thrown a potplant over the balcony from the 4th floor of
the apartment he was living in with Gregor (I had thought he had been put up by the agency or was
living with somebody called Moussa from the ivory coast) & shouted that there was a bomb in the
building. There were issues of sexual tension involved. Hed lived with Gregor who works 4 the
agency the entire time hes been in Paris. He feels Gregor is a sinister person. Gregor, who had
phoned an interior designer friend of his who was even more sinister, had locked them inside the unit
2 prevent Dan leaving. Gregor went bserk & they were both shouting from the balcony 2gether, Dan
about the bomb, & him that Dan was going 2 jump. Dan had seen the interior designers car cruising
below & the potplant had just missed it. The car left. The apartment is under camera surveillance (a
common theme that can lead 2 efforts of demolition 2 locate the devices) 2 assess the potential of
models 4 ad & film parts. It was the fire brigade who took him 2 hospital (l’Hopital Maison Blanche)
(2day he tells me he has been in hospital twice) whom he told that he was a sky marshall from
australia, much 2 their amusement. He also had claimed (perhaps in another incident) that he was
the king of germany, & again, the king of lithuania (more modest than claims 2 b jesus christ)(or
Oedipus?). Everyone had a laugh about that. He says he has sent a letter 2 litho house in Melbourne
(just desserts seeing I have been a mail artist) about us parents which should b there by the
weekend. I said Id include it in the journal if I get hold of it. He says he went 2 Paris 2 make it as a
model but in the entire stay only got 1 decent job. He does not appear 2 have learnt a word of french
having spent the days reading newspapers in english, including the Melbourne Age, on the internet.
The xtremely unin4mative & rare emails we received were there4 not due 2 lack of opportunity. He
came back @ 10 this morning & has sorted out his clothes & is getting his room shipshape. Ive
scored a couple of great shirts including an ornate african one that must have belonged 2 Moussa.
Incidentally Gregor is a racist & Moussa (who has french citizenship & cant get back 2 the ivory coast
coz of the turmoil there & coz he belongs 2 the upper caste that are bing 4ced out.) means a lover. By
this evening he will have gone virtually 24 hours without sleep & my immediate concern is that he get
some. He says he doesnt mind me writing this account since if I get it wrong people can check with
him. When I had been hyped up in like manner I lost the capacity 2 know if I needed 2 eat or sleep.
Finally I blew my fuses & everything came crashing down. I was invaded by sounds & voices that
were so overwhelming that they had me frantically ringing Prof Ball (I had his name from a shrink
friend of mine) @ the Royal Park clinic (where the athletes village 4 the commonwealth games is 2 b
bilt) pleading that I was going insane. I still dont know if it was the effect of the medication or of the
shorting of the fuses that put me in2 a dpression, the depths of which I could not have imagined,
which took years (under optimal circumstances, with the best doctors & the best wife, & without
financial problems) 2 climb out of. In these situations 1 in 8 commit suicide. I can hear Dan watching
‘The Lord of The Rings’ DVD & Im about 2 ask H if she can type this on the other computer. I am
putting off my travel plans by a week till monday so as 2 b able 2 spend the weekend with H @ Miller
st. My reward 4 having been delayed is that Im here as the 4mosa lillies start blooming in the front
yard @ the Ivanhoe house. Im putting in copies of notes Dan got from a couple of friends he made in
the hospital. My situation is that Im being made 2 watch my beautiful (& well intentioned, & without an
ounce of malice btween the lot of them) children being dstroyed (or mayb not 4 I have never nvied
anyone & wouldnt b as I am without having survived (4med by?) similar xperiences) & I am
registering a protest.

Spent the day writing, editing, pasting. Dan is mercifully showing signs of slowing down. Hes gone
with H 2 visit Vi & then theyve arranged 2 meet Kate over a coffee. H is ensuring that he is eating
properly. When she rang Kate @ teatime it was the 1st Kate knew. We hadnt wanted 2 upset her with
dramatic surmises as she is about 2 do her final teaching round & is nclined 2 overreact @ the best of
times. Ive got some way in2 ‘In Job’s Balances’. The njoyment I get from Shestovs writing doesnt
blind me 2 how confusion about the way language works makes most of his polemic meaningless.
Rang mum 2 say Dan had made it.

Its 12.15 pm. Me & H never got out of bed till 11 & Dan still hasnt surfaced. Its his 1st sleep in his
childhood bed since he got off the plane. I was reminding him yesterday of the mportance of regular
sleep & healthy eating when you are trying 2 combat xessive stress. (There is an xellent book by Kurt
Vonneguts son (who later got a medical doctorate @ Harvard) after a breakdown giving the same
advice. Unfortunately I must have lent it 2 someone who hasnt returned it & its probably no longer in
print.) Often enough these simple requirements are impossible 2 achieve with the best intentions.
Dan reckons a glass of red wine @ bedtime is the best guarantee of sleep 4 him. Yesterday evening
he had a couple with Kate & H. I agree with him & have a lifelong habit of resisting medical drugs
using them only as a last resort. I probably use fewer drugs (almost xclusively antacid for the
oesophagitis) over 10 years than the average person these days uses in a year (I notice kids use
disprin routinely now). However there are times that you can b so severely assaulted by storms of
perceptions that its handy 2 have access 2 medication just in case they require immediate dousing.
So I am glad that Dan has seen his way clear 2 a consultation with dr. Doig on monday 2 discuss if
medicine can help his efforts 2 establish a regular sleeping pattern. As parents all we can do is
provide a safe & stable base 4 him 2 find his feet. Hopefully when he wakes (was up at 2.30 pm.) he
will have distanced himself from his traumas in Paris. In the long term the issue of an income will rear
its head as it always does in these situations. At our age parents are no longer fit 4 the role of raising
children (though I notice mothers when necessary will maintain it till they drop) specially adult ones
(who might be nclined 2 sleep through the days & spend nights rearranging the furniture) whose self
esteem is damaged by the knowledge of their dpendence on the people they would most like 2
mpress. In an effort 2 protect their dignity (4ever undermined by societal attitudes & institutional
requirements) curious inversions can take place as 4 instance where the sick person convinces
himself that he is responsible 4 the welfare of the parents whose financial contribution is payment
(perhaps inadequate) 4 services rendered. Consequently he may b reluctant or unable 2 access
either unemployment or sickness benefits so perpetuating the problem. Its a vicious circle. Verbal
structures, however elaborate, are always @ the service of unarticulated needs. @ times, under
pressure of circumstances, they are an attempt 2 hide what remains mbarrassingly visible 2
everyone. This is no less the case in the general community. We are all capable of it. John Howard
did a trip around the world 2 drum up support 4 war that he called a peace effort. The toll of all the
lying has become noticeable on the faces of Hill, Downer, & Ruddock. But Johns face seems
unmarked, buoyed perhaps by the knowledge of his role as a man of destiny on the world stage. @
litho house a guy @ the bar (I notice that drinkers are smarter than professors) told me that he will no
longer vote 4 the libs as Johns relationship 2 George reminded him of Mussolinis 2 Hitler – a little
man who would b a big man.

Adding 2 my comments on the events of last month. A papal legate visited Baghdad 2 tell Hussein
that an attack on iraq was not justified. The pope might have said something of the sort 2 Tony Blair
too. How xtraordinary it is that an organization which is supposed 2 represent the teachings of the
nazarene claims 4 itself the right 2 dtermine what is or is not a just war. 4 make no mistake, these
pathetically minor admonitions serve no other purpose than 2 activate the claim. They will not retard
the march 2 war by 1 beat. If the catholic church were really serious about promoting the teachings of
the prophet it would be shouting loud & clear from every pulpit that no one who goes 2 war is a
follower of christ, & xpel them from the organization. It would 4bid its members 2 pay taxes 4 the
purpose. It would not supply pastors to the armed services. & of course, if it did all that, it would lose
the support of those who are not genuine followers & find itself persecuted by the state. No one who
reads the story of christs life in good faith (single sentences can b used 2 support any point of view) &
considers its xample as a whole can have any doubt that it is a complete perversion (the opposite of
what he represented) 2 suggest that there is room in it 4 a theory of a just war. The theory of the just
war (ie the war where god is on our side) was the invention of theologians after christianity bcame the
official religion of the roman empire (there are parallels here with the USA & also with Tony Blairs talk
of moral war) under the emperor Constantine. (By contrast Mohammed was a political leader who led
campaigns against his opponents. So we have the curious situation of muslim leaders writing letters 2
newspapers saying islam stands 4 peace @ a time when a muslim nation is about 2 b attacked by a
coalition of christian powers who claim 2 b the disciples of the original pacifist. It was like that with the
crusaders.) I notice too that the vatican has opened its archives so that it can b proven that it did not
stand idly by when europe under Hitler was murdering its jews. Apparently there are some letters
which rebuke the murderers & ncourage the bishops 2 resist them. 2 have said so little so quietly that
it has 2 b sought in archives is, under the circumstances, tantamount 2 having had condoned it – it
soothed the conscience without ndangering the privileges. I piss on the churches. I state my case
clearly so as not 2 b guilty of like equivocation. Returning 2 the present. Since getting up this arvo
Dan is perfectly normal. He is keen 2 b helpful & climbed up on the roof 2 clean the guttering & clear
the ivy off the tiles. H is dropping him of @ Joe & Bens & as he left he said hed catch up with me 4
lunch @ litho house on sunday which is convenient as I was intending 2 go there 2 see if I could get
hold of his letter from france (mayb from The White House – the l’hopital Maison Blanche?) 4 the
journal. With a bit of luck his problems are no greater than b4 he left 4 europe – ie that he cannot find
a suitable niche 4 himself in society (& come 2 think of it that he is now in debt 2 FRM (& 2 Madison
as well H says)). 2night H & me are off 2 Brunswick st & then 2 Miller st.

Read the paper @ the Errol. Ate lunch @ China Bar round the corner from Stalactites. Drank a
schooner of beer in a bar in Federation Square where there was a gathering of indian people who
belonged 2 a sect whose members seemed 2 b infatuated with the colour orange (but they werent the
‘orange’ people). The big screen was showing a film xplaining their beliefs which are centred on 5
simple truths (which I cant remember) all of which seemed self evident 2 the point of being
meaningless. As we sat drinking they led a very frail old man who appeared almost blind in2 the
restaurant – their guru I suppose. Saw the film Solaris which cost me $8 because I get a concession
for being a senior. Thats $2 less than a childs price. H had to pay $14 because being mployed she
doesnt qualify 4 a seniors card. Curiously @ the very end of the film the lead character was saying
that he did not know if he was dead or alive not unlike, if Shestov is 2 b blieved, Socrates, Euripides &
other wise men have been inclined 2 wonder. In fact the film could have been a commentary on the
Shestov passage I quoted on wednesday. I think I have 2 pass some remarks on these insanities. I
am writing @ Miller st. on a showery cold day with the aid of a glass of lambrusco. H has gone down
the street 2 get a magazine, shes sick of playing FreeCell. Lets start with the word ‘life’. How can
there b any confusion about it? If I were 2 ask an old drunk (mayb sitting in the bus shelter outside the
Royal Melbourne Hospital with a flagon of wine next 2 him) what is life he would look @ me with
incredulity & he might say, spilling some wine, as he made a large gesture : its everything, its all this,
this whole fucken mess. Hed be right too. You cant get a better definition. Id like 2 b a guru sitting on
top of a mountain looking impressive with matted hair & when a seeker of knowledge climbed up &
asked what is the meaning of it all Id turn him round & say look down there where you came from,
thats about as much as youre gunna know. Children dont even ask. Marcel Proust spent a lifetime
writing about an instant of it. Montaigne said his book was his life & he wrote about anything that
caught his fancy. Heraclitus said you cannot step in2 the same river twice. Borges said thats bcause
youre not the same person twice. I suggest that its bcause we are the river. I am one of those
common men who has no problem with knowing what death is either : its the absence of life. The
signs are obvious. When youre dead youre dead all over as the bushranger said. After a while you
bcome a worm farm (though there are xeptional circumstances. When I was about 8 in Bagnoli, a DP
camp outside Naples, I would on occasions pick off what looked like earthworms from the inside of
me thighs coming out from under the leg of me shorts. I was a dreamy sort of kid & it didnt bother me
more than that I was slightly embarrassed & didnt want anyone 2 see. When I went 4 a crap Id find
more of them. I dont know if it was me that finally twigged 2 what was happening or me parents
spotted it but, yes, you guessed it – I had bcome a living worm farm. The worms were coming out of
me arse. My next memory was that I was in hospital & too weak 2 stand up. That was one of the
several occasions when my life was saved by modern medicine. The italian hospital system (or was it
UNRRA?) is responsible 4 me having evaded my fate & being here 2 write these notes 4 you). If we
didnt agree on what words meant we wouldnt b able 2 understand each other. Even words that we
call abstract or words 4 emotions are contracts about meaning (agreements about what actions go
with them ; placing in an order ; putting in context). With the xeption of Shestovs wise men we all
know what death means just as certainly as we know what life is. The 2 words define each other. 2
ask if theres life after death is like asking whether there is life when its no longer there. You could ask
whether the possible is impossible (Shestov wrote a book titled ‘Everything is Possible’), whether
black is white, whether on is off. I dont ask questions like that. Strangely enough many do (& I know
why but this is not the place 4 an xplanation) & there is no shortage of people only too ready 2 give
answers – the wise men. So if somebody asks me if there is everlasting life I would have 2 answer
that the question makes no sense. But then most things people talk about make no sense 2 me.
Solaris made no sense even though Adrian Martin gave it 5 stars. Shestov makes no sense. I live in a
world where hardly anything makes sense. (@ the Make It Up Club Tom Fryer remarked that it was all
an illusion (that was a couple of days after me & H saw a performance of A Midsummer Nights Dream
in the botanic gardens which claims that we are the stuff that dreams are made of (wrong play –
helenz)) which may b true but its 1 that is jointly held & people can kill 2 maintain illusions). Its my
special condition & the other part of my condition is that Im surrounded by experts. Of more concern 2
me is that I could b accused of disloyalty (Montaigne says that when Origen (c.185 - c.254) was made
2 choose btween dnying his gods or submitting to a very large & ugly ethiopian 4 the latters sexual
gratification he btrayed his gods. He went on 2 bcome a famous christian theologian & Id b interested
2 know what he would have done later if he had had 2 choose btween dnying christ & nduring the
lascivious ethiopian) 2 the great teacher from nazareth who frequently talked of everlasting life. My
answer is that I could teach my parrot 2 say life is 4ever, up is down, on is off, high is low how do I
know bcause a…z…. said so. But no matter how often it said it Id get no pleasure from it. Likewise I
do not blieve that the prophet would desire a parrots loyalty from me. The churches on the other hand
dmand precisely that kind of dvotion. I had intended 2 get in2 a serious discussion of how we use &
abuse words such as life & death but Im gunna have a few more drinks instead while H does the
typing. I am feeling more inclined 2 ntertain than xplain, taking a leaf out of Montaignes book & writing
about anything that comes in2 my head. 2wards the end of his life (I think he was 59 when he died)
Montaigne was in severe pain from stones in the kidneys & urinary tract & sometimes would go 4 up2
4 days without a piss. It influenced what he wrote. He says that the emperor Tiberius used 2 have the
pricks of the condemned tied up so that they couldnt piss @ all so they died slowly in xcruciating pain.
A macedonian tyrant used 2 stretch out the death agonies of his enemies for up 2 two weeks by
skinning them alive. When a victim died under torture the emperor Nero would say : that 1 got away
from me. On the other hand the lithuanian king Witold (known as Vytautas by lithos & after whom my
father was named) was so sensitive (he had himself crowned by the pope as a christian) that rather
than make someone responsible 4 taking anothers life he made those condemned 2 death take their
own. Thats life - & death, & Im going 2 have a drink.

Sunday. H left be4 I got out of bed 2 take Michael 2 the latest Star Trek film. Read the paper @ the
Errol. @ litho house 1 of the items on the menu was a real ‘ethnic’ 1 : sausage skins stuffed with
grated spud with a sauce of spirguciai (fried diced bacon) & sour cream. It was delicious. Dan turned
up & got 2 touch base with a few people he knew. Considering what hes gone through hes doing very
well. Jule Simankevicius was telling me that her brother, whose name is also Arunas, says that once
you start noticing ‘coincidences’ you see them more & more till it gets right out of hand. I said Id send
her a copy of this piece. I spent the longest time talking 2 Algis Klimas (like us with a lot of kids) who
has been learning 2 play the guitar 4 30 years. He pays a teacher $40 / lesson & is supposed 2
spend 20 mins per day practicing. Problem is he hasnt made enough progress 2 play a single tune &
isnt sufficiently motivated 2 do the practice. Got the letter that Dan addressed to me @ litho house
from l’hopital Maison Blanche in Paris & am including it (with his permission) in miniaturized format @
the start of todays entry. Im very grateful for the sentiments it contains. Talked to Mykolas who was
working in the kitchen. He told me that he had been 1 of those involved in the work on the museum &
memorial @ the 9th fort (he is also from Kaunas). He was in charge of a group of ngineers in the
preparation of working drawings & in supervisory tasks of various aspects during the construction. Its
tea time (in Ivanhoe), H is back (shell do the typing later), & Im about 2 settle in 2 watch Collingwood
take on Hawthorn in the Wizard Cup.

Im quoting from a treatize titled ‘The Book of Questions and Answers’ by Abdisho’ Hazzaya who
probably died around 690 AD in the monastery of Maragna between the Tigris & Euphrates in central
iraq (as quoted by James Cowan in ‘Journey to the Inner Mountain’, a book I dont recommend as its
characterized by vague language & religious cliches).

“The heart of the man will be filled with the holy light of the vision of this theory (practice) to such an
extent that the mind will not even perceive and distinguish itself, because all the faculties of its
spiritual nature will at that time become absorbed in it. There will neither be thought or anything, nor
any consciousness and remembrance, nor any impulse or inward movements, but only ecstasy in
God and an ineffable rapture. Blessed is the man who has been found worthy of this gift, the workings
of which cannot be expressed with corporeal tongue. Indeed, there will then be made manifest
mysteries and revelations, which only a mind can receive spiritually from a mind, because having no
power over them a corporeal tongue is not able to express them.”
“We say that we see light in the sphere of spirituality, but this light is not a material light. We say also
that we have there a spiritual food, but that food is not like the one we have here ; we say further that
our mind will perceive there the sound of glorification of the spiritual hosts, and it will there have
speech and conversation, but that speech does not resemble the one we hold with one another. The
sound that is heard there by our mind is so fine that our senses are not able to receive it, and the
corporeal tongue is not able to utter and describe that which is made manifest there by the mind,
whether it be made through our sense of vision or through that of hearing.”
“It is this gradual ascent that raises you up and makes you participate in the holy light of the vision of
Christ. From this glorious and holy vision you will fall into ecstasy over the broad world, the benefits of
which are ineffable. From this ecstasy you will derive a flow of spiritual speech and knowledge of both
worlds : of the one that has passed and the one that shall pass, and also a consciousness of future
things, together with a holy smell and taste ; the fine sounds of spiritual intelligence (angels) : joy,
jubilation, exultation, glorification, songs, hymns and odes of magnification ; communion with the
spiritual hierarchies ; sight of Paradise ; eating from its tree of life …”

I have quoted from Abdisho’ Hazzaya (an anchorite of the eastern branch of the christian church) at
length bcause I have been visited by similar xperiences though I have not sought them through
ascetic practice or been nclined 2 xplain them in religious terms. I bring it up here bcause it was
pointed out 2 me (by Frank L) that my analysis of language undermines belief in the spiritual & in the
afterlife which so many dpend on. But I have 2 write about things as I know them. If jesus of nazareth
says whatsoever you shall ask in my name you shall receive or if he says if you ask 4 a fish shall you
b given a snake I am capable of accepting (blieve, take on faith) his claims, however unlikely, bcause
I at least understand what I am being asked 2 do. But when I am asked 2 blieve in life after death it
would b an mpty gesture 2 accept what is unintelligible. There is already enough mpty babble in the
world without me adding 2 it. Having made those qualifications I am able 2 testify that the xperiences
I have had have made me careless of death – it has lost its dominion. I recognize that bcause each of
us has something unique (not reachable by anyone) & bcause our xperience (& histories) differ what
is true 4 me may not b 4 others. However the xperiences Im speaking of were so overwhelming that I
cant imagine that others wouldnt b equally changed. Whichever way, I give an account if only 2 hold a
mirror 2 those who have glimpsed some of what I have seen.

Its been a big week. Dan seems his normal unrealistic self. Yesterday he cancelled the appointment
with Doig. I think hes OK. The xpense is ours. Ive put off my travelling plans by another week bcause
I might as well get this piece out now. Im still on my way 2 the coast.

dont follow me
along that gentle
gentle road

the sweet & heady smell
of winds
along the coast

4 I think
on just such a day as this
I will catch
an afternoon sea breeze

& drift away

in2 an aimless sea