Writing as catharsis

Broken sleep

Posted in Prose, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on August 28, 2012
M. C. Escher

M. C. Escher

Exhaustion. I can feel heavy lines carved under my eyes. My eyes are glazed and provide a constant dull ache. My neurons are only half firing, lazily and painfully operating at a reduced capacity.

Another night of broken, inadequate sleep. There have been too many lately. They drain my soul.

The feeling makes me want to disregard whatever obligations I have for the day – no matter how pleasurable – and return again to slumber. Unforunately, I cannot. I’m required to lift myself from my bed once more, ply my body with coffee, and enact a farcical and half hearted display of being a conscious human once more.

Lack of sleep has always affected me far worse than anyone else I know. I can certainly see the dangerous dance the insomiac has with madness. I’m not sure I could cope with any serious case of it. My attitudes would quickly degrade. I would likely become a particularly unpleasant human being.

I still dream of sleep and solace; solace and sleep. Maybe some other night.


Swallowed whole by banal conversation

Posted in Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on August 27, 2012
Ralph Steadman

Illustration by Ralph Steadman

What a ridiculous world this is.

It is so easy to be consumed by irrelevance and distracted by plastic. Banal conversations can swallow our lives whole.

Pettiness and self-pity are brewed in our hearts, and encourged by the heat – one of many, endless destructive cycles of the self that roar and oscillate until their screech can never be erased, and our psyche is left permanently scarred.

They chatter incessantly. No, I do not want to join you. No, what you are saying does not interest me. No, I simply do not care.

The differences between the introvert and the extrovert; one reflects, the other projects, at times spewing out so much unchecked out into the universe that one would have little hope of recovery.

Do you listen to yourself speak? Of course not. That would be uncharacteristic by definition.

The sheer amount of blackgray sludge that pours out of the mouths of humans is a wonder. I would prefer we waste not a breath and err on the side of caution. Ponder upon what might be considered truly important, and worthy of expansion. What is of value? And how would you measure it if you even knew?

How many would change their own lives if they only savoured that thought for a little while? Instead, I am surrounded by a smug sense of sureity, grounded in little more than ego-massage and self-consumption.

How many regularly taste their own seed in the belief that it might bring more power? They consume their own essence, and imagine this is somehow the way of truth. They merely feed the senses and heap self on top of self. In isolation it means nothing, and can mean nothing.

They say the distinction between humans (who allegedly have rights, value) and animals (free to be used as comodities, worthy of far lesser consideration) is the distinction between self-awareness and consciousness. I would love for neurology to perhaps examine the depths and variation of self-awareness.

Surely there are tiers.

How many purposely block out the mind’s aptitude for honest self reflection? How many listen only to the ego; the blamer; the liar; the fool; the farcial spreader of blatant untruths as their sole confidant and guide? Can they seriously be considered self-aware in the fullest and best sense?

The simple fact is we operate within a culture that screams incessantly at us, neon lights blaring. It is a rainbow whore dancing shamelessly to attract attention; face and form ever changing, from a violently vomiting handbag poodle in a rich girls arms, to yet another contest of alleged reality: “farmer wants a ladyboy”. The vapidity is enough to make one sick.

But it brings a real problem. Distraction – at all times. We can control the level of distraction; we can embrace it, or we can isolate ourselves from it. We can be consumed by nothingness and trivialities, or we can ponder, perhaps, a better way of living. A way predicated on honest self-reflection, on trying to better yourself as a human being, on understanding your own self, as well as other people. On empathy. On thoughtfulness.

Where are we at right now? At the upper echelons of humanity’s capability for humanity? Or are we more like a gaunt, skeletal addict, cramming his own lumpy, diluted essence into his face, with grand delusions that something new might dawn?

A writing experiment

Posted in Prose, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on August 25, 2012
Illustration by Harry Clarke.

Illustration by Harry Clarke.

Sheets of hail cascade, punctuating the silence on the tin roof.

I know that muted pounding. It is the drone of the electric hornet; savage creatures of steel, sharp with violence.

Their effect on my consciouisness is profound. The air of menace, severe.

My mind has misfired. The focus of my contempt has moved from the external to the internal. The dialog in my mind has taken a turn for the worst.

My stomach is sour with the taste of dust and concrete. I picture it; severely discoloured by now, spotted black with bile and hate.

I taste the bitter remnants of adrenaline; putrid off-green flavour. I gag a little.

I reflect on the days events. I sense evil mockery from all angles. All are ready to burst forth with pitying, manic laughter. Their pity is false. Their hatred of my essence runs far deeper.

The void is unbreachable. Malevolence and humiliation haunt my every secret action. Escape? But how. Wherever I run, they will be the same. Their faces might change, but they never will.

I reach for the pillbox. Try and deaden my nerves. If I take enough, I will become numb – and numbness indicates freedom from pain.

My choice is rational.

A mental lurch. My brain slurs. Groggy now. The nauesa worsens. The drone gets angier; louder; now the pitch of a dentist’s drill.

I vomit.

I fall.

Silence. Nothingness. Solace.

Why write?

Posted in Philosophy, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on August 19, 2012

I write so I’m not grasping blindly in the ether. I write so I can think; so I can edge closer to knowing myself, and to find ways to contentment and betterment.

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An experience of truth plainly spoken

Posted in Philosophy, Ranting and rambling by Lachlan R. Dale on August 17, 2012

Phurpa; a group of Russian musicologists reviving the ancient rituals of pre-Buddhist Tibet Last Friday at about 6pm, I walked out of my office in Chippendale and up towards the highway. The wind was howling. Roofs had been ripped from houses, and old trees felled by the gail. In the distance, an electrical storm brewed, it’s green-tinge haunched over the city.

Because of the weather, I was forced to hail a cab home. I glanced vaguely at my driver and exchanged pleasantries.

We spoke a few short sentences at each other. He seemed keen for conversation, but I was most certainly not in the mood.

He remarked that he had gained a deeper understanding of humanity through working in his industry. I was uninterested.

He was Nepalese, having driven cabs in Nepal, India, Malaysia and Australia. At the word Nepal, I began to take interest. I asked him: what would he say he had learnt about human nature?

He looked around. He said that Sydney was a strange place. People were afraid to make eye contact in the street, or say hello to a passer-by. Most seemed miserable. Most were drunk or high, trying to escape their lives. Everyone rushed, everyone stressed. Everyone lived inside their minds; isolated and disconnected from each other and from the world around them.

He said Sydney is a city of empty souls.

This was not what I had expected to hear. Reading these words on a page might not particularly insightful, but my experience that day was one of having truth plainly spoken to me. This man’s words cut through the noise of my life.

Over the last few months I’ve been pondering how people could be so afraid to greet one another on the street; how there can be so many bustling, inner-city socal and cultural sub-groups, but so little interaction between them. I’ve taken notice of when people advert their gaze in the street, or whether they return a greeting.

I do believe that Sydney is largely a city full of empty souls. Most have no conception of how they could edge their existence closer to contentment.

The concept of spirituality has been reduced to tedious habitual observence and empty phrases; groteque mouthings of the words of prophets and saints once uttered. The historic gulf is large, but the gulf of direct experience is even larger.

The ideas that preoccupy me – philosophy, self-actualisation, contentment in life – seem of little worry to the people around me.

I’ve known for a long time that this city is no ideal environment to resolve these preoccupations. It’s likely detrimental; I spend too much time and energy on simply staying afloat.

For a while now I’ve been planning an open-ended trip – more of a journey than a holiday. While the plans are still not concrete, I’ve been vaguely thinking about Nepal, Tibet, Mongolia, Bhutan, and (at least) the East side of India. The exact places are not of particular importance; I need a place to begin, and a vague direction to follow and adjust as necesary.

Whenever I’ve been pressed to find a time or a date for my trip, I’ve usually answered “in about two years or so.” I’ve given that answer for most of the last year.

I think now, as a result of this short conversation with a Nepalese taxi driver, that date is about to become a lot more concrete.

Let’s say January 2014.

As we pulled up in front of my house the man noticed the Tibetan prayer flags in my window. He asked my name, and I, his. He said he was called Aashutosh, after a Hindu god. Not recognising the name, I mentioned that I have a bronze cast statue of Shiva in my room. With a grin he said it was one of the many names for Shiva; the destroyer of worlds; the transformer.

The illusion of my world certainly felt a bit of fire that afternoon. I cannot deny that I’ve been slowly uncovering a path, while ignoring the fact that my feet are so far from it.