In the deep of the night a hideous, nerve-wracking siren wailed on and on as if warning of an immanent nuclear attack, it was just some arsehole’s car alarm, waking me to the ongoing existential horror of living at Northcott Housing Complex. As always I fear an apocalyptic ending of civilization and my flat is a bunker wherein I hide and await the downfall. As I write my version of “Remembrance of Things Past and Future” I hear brain-damaged lumpen proles stumble thru the grounds shouting incoherently about their quashed hopes, frustrated desires and lost loves, they may crash thru my door or clamber over my balcony at any moment and I stay awake past dawn in trepidation.
In the early morning Department of Human Services’ bureaucrats have gathered outside my door haranguing Cursula, my neighbor, about her fire-trap apartment, overloaded with her retarded trashy treasures, they tell her for the last time if she doesn’t clean out the dump she’ll be dumped herself, onto the street. She mumbled excuses then fled to her boyfriend’s flat to continue her hoarding there, and hasn’t been back to clean out a single garbage bag. She doesn’t seem to give a dam, her trash collection more precious than cheap rent, she ignores all entreaties even after they send Security guards to rip the lock from her door and threaten forcefully to empty her flat of the hoardings piled up to the ceiling. She rushed back in the nick of time, pleaded, cajoled and somehow bamboozled them and they marched off flummoxed, so much drama over a load of crap.
She left delicious silence in her wake, one small blessing as too much shrieking comes from the other end of the verandah, like it really is the end of the world, the gay couple fighting viciously like zombies over the carcass of a dead dog, and I pray fervently one will murder the other and then be sent off to gaol; the whole building would be thankful as everybody hates them, even fears them as they’re truly beastly.
Their alcohol-soaked arguments echo up and down the stairwell and all are made privy to their nasty secrets, one blaming the other of stealing from 90 year old Dolly who lives in the flat between us. They have harassed her for years in the guise of concerned and caring friends, elder-abuse as the raison d’etre to their meaningless lives. “Oh that old whore should be put in a nursing home, she’s nothing but a useless old cunt!” snarled Dravid, the walking-dead "gay undertaker." In reply, his thieving wife, with a brain the size of a walnut due to a life-long barbiturate-addiction, accused his dead-drunk husband of burning the cars of neighbours that he felt had crossed him, their mutual antipathy then turned up a notch, the caterwauling unbearable. Oh what terrible species Human Services saddles us with, all for low-rent, and where oh where is the escape hatch?
Nogod, the dreaded local pyromaniac was living in our midst, all my fears compounded. I now suspect the gay zombie was the very source of Cursula’s blaze that engulfed her bedroom thru her open window and very nearly torched our whole apartment block. And there’s no one to go to for help, no one to demand justice of, for the gay pill-head goes often to the Front Office to befriend the gay manager, to gossip, machinate and bitch about us who do nothing but mind our own business quietly in our flats. But that’s the way of these neo-fascist times, the villains make a life of informing to the authorities, another sign of the end of days, bad people succeeding and watching with cruel smiles the meek getting dispossessed.
Still, 2011 wasn’t too bad a year for me. After a traumatic start, what with the alcoholic violence of New Years Eve and the sudden death of a friend, some wonderful experiences were yet to be had, within the fleeting but awesome moment, for all the horror of a corrupt world trying to break in. I guess another word for entropy would be corruption, and as entropy is built into the fabric of nature one just has to accept that all things will corrupt with time, but Life, with its creativity, has a way of countering it, lifting one up, for brief nirvhana moments.
And music and art explode with life and give it meaning and joy. I went to awesome concerts, Mahler’s 7th Symphony, Mozart’s Concerto for Flute and Harp and most stunning of all, Gustav Holst’s “Planets” played by the Sydney Symphony Orchestra with a movie screen above it depicting digital video from the Hubble telescope and fly-bys of the planets of our solar system with their astounding moons and rings, all really mind-blowing. And the exhibition of German expressionist painters from between the wars at the New South Wales Art Gallery, called “The Mad Square”, with works from my favourite artist, Otto Dix included, it all quite inspired me, to carry on with my own mad brushwork and scribbling, degenerate, hopeless and ignominious as I may be.
It’s hard to be an artist in these conservative state-sanctioned, fame-whore, media-witch hunt times. Satire, subversion and political critique are banished in favour of art that is more like wall-paper, matching the furniture of the middle-class living room or enhancing the emptiness of a corporate foyer without offending anybody, tracing photographs or copying and retouching other artists’ works all the fashion. My art, though censored and eventually destroyed, reflects the mad square I’m relegated to, yet holds off world entropy for me, gives me life, for a few brief infinite moments.
Yet, entropy wears me down, I think I’m getting madder and madder and constantly rail like a demented curmudgeon at the world. Old age seems an insult to the young, you’re looked through like a pane of glass, pushed out of the way, you’re ugly and taking up space, that old adage applies, “nobody wants you when you’re down and out”, it’s sung from every doorway. But I’m a warrior, I don’t take it meekly and thus, even in poverty and ignominy, I’ve had a great life, the swashbuckling life I dreamed of as a boy.
The best concert I attended this year was also at the Sydney Opera House, Nigel Westlake’s “Requiem for Eli”, where he shared his great loss at the death of his young son, with full orchestra, choir and harps and rock’n’roll bass drums and boy sopranos singing like angels, that took us down into the darkness and hopelessness of death and sorrow and then back up into the light of the sun, to life and optimism and love and courage. My depression lifted and I lost my fears, I can and will take on the world: being alive, still with brains, heart and guts, is everything. And so I run away again, to the wild, wild east, to tiger-jungles, mystic high mountains and the Arabian Sea where I will once more rub the magic lamp and set free the light of my very own genii.