Lovely title isn’t it?
I borrowed it from R. Clifton Spargo who so titled his novel about Zelda and Scott Fitzgerald … so apt. Loved every line of it. Zelda would no doubt scoff at my remark as a cliché and one lacking imaginative grace at that. I fancy the three of us would snuggle into each other’s insanities rather cosily. No longer trying to be useful anywhere in the world. Perhaps. Either that or my brain remains saturated in the lingering residue of the book I just finished. It always inhabits me for a while afterwards.
It is Saturday morning. Late winter, cold still hanging on but only just. I have seen daffodils and pink and white hyacinths swaying their delicate blooms somewhat drunkenly over the little patch of dirt by my door. Morning air still sharp and cough threatens to burst my lungs open once again. Is there anything more romantic than a slow decline from such a noble ailment as weak lungs, while writing one’s last (or first) lines confessing it all in a delicate prose … secluded in some forsaken sanatorium (or asylum), shrouded in cigarette smoke and alcohol fumes! Only dashing Scott or Earnest (perhaps less refined but more manly) is missing from that picture of the pure indulgence … oh The Life of a Fantasist! For a second I even contemplate it as a fit title for the story I am thinking of writing … as always one day. It would have to be the same day on which fantasies about life became inapt to insulate from the life itself. Or the world at large.
For the moment, however, the world at large continues to spin on axis of slaughters and sorrows everywhere, only our focus changes according to whatever is heralded most loudly. And even than for a few moments only as there is always more to be seen or heard elsewhere. And as always there is never any shortage of choices; from atrocities in Gaza to Ebola in West Africa to horrific scenes of human remains rotting across the sun drenched fields of eastern Ukraine while Putin shrugs his shoulders knowing full well that neither Obama nor Europe can (or will) do much (if anything) to stop his revival of Russian’s legendary exceptionalism and power.
Still amongst all that carnage what truly stopped me cold was the news of Robin Williams’ death. I did not need to hear the details; I knew instinctively that he ended his own life. And sea of sadness washed over me. For the man who laughed and cried with his whole being … unguarded, exposed, human, real. Open to life in all its glory and all its grime. It takes a true grit to do it. And true grit demands the highest price. It was a privilege to be in audience. Thank you Captain.
Meanwhile here, in good-old NZ investigative writer Nicky Hager wrote a book he titled; ‘Dirty politics’ and released it with razor-sharp instinct for successful marketing only weeks before the general election. Before any reader that might stumble upon this post from elsewhere gets too excited, let me clarify – elections here are rather subdued affairs. There are two major parties which swap places every few years or so. General populous is by far more pragmatic than excitable, and for the most part politicians are dull rather than colourful, larger-than-life characters.
There is a little wonder then that the book promising to reveal an ugly and destructive style of politics became breaking news within minutes of its appearance and sold virtually overnight! Large white-board placed by the door of my local book-shop announces almost the hour of the day when more copies are scheduled to arrive and a handsome young man reading a copy next to me on the bus smiled when he caught me glancing at it. He offered the book to me to have a look before his stop. He is studying law at the local University and pronounced the book to be ‘a bombshell, eh’!
I skimmed through it … leaked emails and other assorted on-line communications revealing cosy relationship between an attack-style right-wing political blogger and those in position to feed him privileged information as ammunition against their political opponents, abuse of powers, smear campaigns … in a word – a smorgasbord of well-known political tricks!
So why is everyone so shocked or at least wishes to appear so?
Because, just like in Spargo’s novel when Scott is unable to witness death of the mortally injured gamecock because for him, just like for the rest of his countrymen – ‘it does not fit with their image of themselves’ – an image of NZ as an easy-going, relaxed, friendly place where there is neither appetite nor need for any of those negative, dirty campaigning that goes on elsewhere or for underhanded attack politics that is poisoning so many other political environments has been shattered. A familiar collective fantasy carefully nurtured to insulate from the world at large suddenly exposed for what it was – purpose designed collective blindfold. And as everyone knows when long worn blindfold is suddenly ripped off – too much light causes shock!
Oh no wonder I do so love you New Zealand … such beautiful fools.