Musings

All of us have favourite books we re-read time and again. These books are places where one can hide, rest and imagine different lives, different times. They have a familiar feel to them, they smellĀ  just right and as soon as the words scroll by one is displaced and captivated.

They allow us to return to times in our lives long thought lost by recapturing vivid memories and associations we had at the time of reading them for the first, the second, the tenth time.

I, myself, have five such books. I will re-read them from time to time. I am drawn to the stories they reveal, the emotions they conjure deep within me. I am happy when I read them, content. I am transported, changed, as each reading will reveal a new detail or a forgotten connection, triggering dormant sections of my mind.

These books are, in no particular order, Healer by F. Paul Wilson, Tuf Voyaging by George R R Martin (written well before his GoT fame), What Mad Universe by Frederic Brown, Hurra, wir leben noch and Es muss nicht immer Kaviar sein, both by Johannes Mario Simmel, and, I fear, not translated into English.

The books by Simmel have the added advantage of purportedly being true stories. Simmel chronicled the events of both books, taking the point of view of the respective protagonists, Jakob Formann (not his real name), a self-made industrialist in post-war Europe, and Thomas Lieven (not his real name), whose story is too unbelievable not to be true.

The other three works are all Science Fiction, but Science Fiction with a decidedly human bend. A man displaced into an alternate reality, similar but maddeningly different from his. It is all he can do to stay alive. Another man unwittingly sharing his body with a second, invading mind, whose consciousness reaches down to the cellular level, leading to inevitable immortality and all its trappings. The final man, not so much a man, but a stylised symbol of a man, stilted, exceedingly well-spoken, philanthropic, fragile and omnipotent – an itinerant merchant without a sense for business in the possession of one of the most powerful weapons ever dreamed up by Science Fiction.

I am not entirely sure what these books say about me, but they are my favourites such as they are. I would take them on a one-way-trip to Mars, pack them in my steamer trunk as I set out to the Paleolithic and strap them to my chest as I tumble down the Einstein-Rosen bridge.

I have learned (and still am), upon reflection, much and more from those books. Mostly how to deal with the unexpected, the shocking, the new and frightening. All the protagonists are anti-heroes, they are all flawed, they are all, in the end, completely dependent upon their own wits and ingenuity to survive and carry on another day.

Maybe you can look at your favourite books anew and ask yourself what they say about you.

Really?

Once again, we find ourselves the butt of political jokes and general international disbelief. Yes, I am talking about the unfolding (unfolded by now) antipodean drama that is the Labour Party.

Really? They think it is a good idea to do this? Before an election?

Colour me cynic, but did the Labour Party bring back Rudd just to win the election and dump him again unceremoniously 6 months hence, because nobody in the caucus likes him?

I am one of those sad sobs that listens to parliamentary radio on 630 AM, almost daily. It is depressing enough most days but this comedy of errors takes the cake. Our lives are determined by people engaged in school yard popularity contests and individual opportunism.

In the immortal words of Kent Brockmann (TM):” I have said it before and I’ll say it again…democracy just doesn’t work.”

I rest my case.

On the topic of movies…

Movies – literally projected pictures that move – changed the scape of entertainment as well the shape of our civilisation. They elevated a hitherto obscure and much maligned art form to an almost godlike status and presence.

In times of traveling performers and small, underpaid troupes of actors, acting itself was not seen as a decent occupation for respectable folks. Indeed, one could watch a performance and then pay a little extra afterwards for a private performance, if you know what I mean.

Not so today. Far removed and aloof actors and actresses move in realms inaccessible to ordinary mortals.

And this is where my gripe lies. I do love movies and the entertainment they bring. But the people in the movies are actors and actresses, not gods. These people are not curing cancer or busy solving the world food crisis. They act. Period.

And get paid unbelievable amounts of money.

This tiny point is just another signpost of our civilisations steady decline into irrelevance and obscurity.

“You are putting the wrong em-PHA-sis on the wrong syl-LA-ble.”

Indeed, we are.

More

Difficult to breathe

Hard to think

Form coherent thoughts

Fingers slowly moving over keys

familiar and alien

poised over letters and symbols and spaces

seeking the ones needed to express

most succinctly

The need

the feelings

slipping into…

lack of clarity?

over the ‘W’, now the ‘O’

still meaning eludes

too many thoughts, emotions

Sadness, guilt, regret, pity, shame (a little),

how to right a lifetime of actions?

how to give and receive peace?

Lost thoughts, orphaned, drift across my mind

dissolving as morning dew at dawn.

Dawn, there will always be another dawn.

I think.