Monday, July 07, 2008

Another Stream of Consciousness Exercise



(In memoriam Gerard Smith, B.Comm., H.Dip. Ed., 1956 - 1986 approximately)

I will always remember that morning even though so long ago and the question on your lips about the meaning of it all the seeming pointlessness of the whole project some might even say escapade that is life and the choice here to write without punctuation in keeping with Joycean principles of streaming consciousness and that refusal to censor even edit what such a flow might pour on paper or screen ah Gerry you were a nice lad so competent in your field great at economic analysis I remember your advice your knowledgeable shake of head how I remember the sadness of your friends on your untimely death so far away from friends and family oh so far away yet not for me the grief as I did not get to know you well having moved on myself but the memory still remains and touches some place in my heart of hearts you who have given me so much so much have led me on to question and to question deeper the myths we weave the way we strive to conceive and deceive and comfort one another on the way to God knows where even the words we use Christ we're entrapped within the constraints of our own language even our ability to make that a flexible tool ah Gerry so many years have passed and I wonder if I'm wiser at all at all at all but you know there were chinks of light coming through on the rare occasions floating dust in the sunbeams in the darkened room and yet Gerry it seems the only realistic option is to keep going to keep right on going even if we get it wrong and we get it wrong so often but your gentle presence is with me now as I write and still ponder your question about what it's all about I really don't know at all at all I really don't know at all and now I believe after all the sweat and toil of the years that it really does not matter at all what the whole thing is about at all and I find writing without the constraints of punctuation somewhat liberating ah boy I've tried it all theology philosophy literature Irish English French and Italian languages and even mathematics going to imaginary realms to realm after realm of imaginary and transcendental numbers and theology and spirituality playing also with transcendence then let's go into the imaginal yes there's a wonderful wondrous word imaginal  as made in images and of images rather than imaginary and then the philosophy of science not to mention the science of philosophy and philosophical theology and theological philosophy metaphysics and physics and ontology and all those concepts we weave to keep ourselves amused or is it deceived and I tire Gerry boy of the thinking of the close rational thinking in straight lines in straight vertical lines and I need to move sideways and well as upwards and downwards and I need the magic not alone of numbers but also of poems and plays and the mystery of music and the consolations of friends and what we call those little shared moments trying to map some meaning on the chaos before us oh we silly silly little people small infinitesimally small in the scheme of things who think we are so important are we no we're not Gerry boy and you were right we do not really matter that much in the scheme of things alright we matter to those who care for us but that is all that is all boy and you were right there right there sitting on the chair that morning in the staff room before we started work oh work by which we small ants define ourselves in our scheme of things in our pre-determined little systems little little systems and then Gerry I realise that all the myriads of ways of living life from hippy to bureaucrat to lawyer to priest to teacher to engineer to bin collector to singer to actor to shop assistant to doctor to philosopher to mathematician to carpenter or mechanic to taxi driver who really cares they are all little ways of passing the time of getting through whatever the mystery is whatever the project this life is and in the end Gerry in the end nothing will matter in the greater scheme of things that there once was a Tim Quinlan who wrote these words who still writes these ciphers on a page or on a screen or whatever God Bless Turing and his Machine and all those other characters who live in the neuronal nexus that is my brain or mind ah Gerry so many years have passed and I am tiring now of all the thinking too much thinking it can be a heavy load to carry Gerry you know ten years ago I woke up in a psychiatric hospital with my brain or mind reduced to a psychopharmacological morass of neurons misfiring in some synaptic soup such a mess such a mess and I wondered who I was at at all at all at all just a psychopharmacological phenomenon not a personality any more because that had somehow drained off somewhere before I woke up benumbed in a non-feeling world and after all Gerry what was I then but a mess of neurons known as a brain with my personality so easily changed by psychopharmacological interventions ah Gerry then I realised that the real me the real I the grammar does not matter any more at all because who cares anyway I realised that I am a being always in the making always a project never something already given and I Gerry am responsible as best I can given the right situation of taking the right decisions for the ongoing development or making of whatever I may become but Gerry things happen as you know like your congenitally weak heart your short time fuse which you got in your hand of cards or the unipolar disorder in my brain I inherited  and so we can just make the best of the hand of cards we get ah Gerry I need this little talk with you I remember how I was stunned and how I could not answer you then all those years ago I cannot now remember what I said but I hope I did not say anything too stupid or trite or predictably inane or predictably conservative or too glib but I did not know then how it was for you locked in my own little world in the end in the end Gerry I think it all boils down to psychology  yes psychology and I'd like to compose a Latin phrase for this Gerry let's call it a "reductio in psychologiam" really I hear all the debates between theologians and scientists and the Dawkinses of this world and I've read them all but I remain unmoved so unmoved so cold indifferent to their so-called learned words I tackled a lot of them in my master's degree for what that was worth shortly before I reached meltdown in my brain before the medication brought me back yes Gerry boy I could answer your question a little better now not that I have any answers mind you except to say that it all depends on your needs boy some people need an outside power like God or nature to give them hope to give them a star to guide their lonely ship on the seemingly infinite sea of meaninglessness others need images of hope like those available in art theatre or music and all of us need the comfort of friends some shoulder to cry on from time to time some hand to hold from time to time someone to laugh with someone to cry with while we weep for ourselves even when we weep for others oh yes we think we weep for others but we silly selfish creatures are really weeping for ourselves because we know that death will undo us too yes death will undo us too and it is so true Gerry so true the last taboo is death the last taboo is death I must say it twice I must say it twice and okay if religion gives you hope go with that but me I've outgrown the answers that religion offered me that ten years ago when my brain went into meltdown because Gerry I could no longer believe in a disembodied soul or in a disembodied personality because my personality or psyche or soul was no longer so set anymore no longer so solid anymore instead it became so fluid yet so linked to my breaking body the two body and psyche were groaning together groaning together and so the idea of Body-Soul appeals to me Gerry whether it endures or perdures beyond death I care less oh I care less because I don't believe in heaven anymore some place out there where spirits live no no no my heaven is here in the now Gerry and you live now now now in my mind in my head and in these words oh Gerry I cried some ten or twelve years ago when the Church died for me then I did not shed a tear when my disembodied soul died no no no because something else had come to live in me some reality that is me something a little solider yet not set in stone namely my Body-Self aging and dying living and dying living to die yet dying to live a reality a new Self that somehow I experience in the Body-Self yet is not as simple as the traditional idea of soul that surprises and frightens me by turns a deep and lovely thing a deep and lovely soulanimal or animalsoul or soul-in-animal or animal-in-soul inseparable so inseparable not for me the stupidity and sham of the Cartesian dualism that horrible lie that has brought us in the West very little joy at all but backed up the soul-proclaimers and the body-deniers who saw the poor body as an empty shell to be filled by fluid soul at long last I have dispelled all those old beliefs and so now what am I left with I am left with the task so responsible of making me of making me of making me into what I should love to become my own creation with the help of others of family and friends and then then then the circle of life will out out out and then begin again again and again and so I will always remember that morning...


I offer the above photograph of the sunset which I took after visiting my mother in the nurrsing home about two weeks ago as a tribute to your memory, Gerry. It was a special evening for me because I was so open that evening to all the beauty in the universe. Rest well my friend, rest well. I have never forgotten you over all those years!

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