“True singing is a different breath, about nothing. A gust inside the god. A wind.“ Rilke, Sonnets To Orpheus.
You need to listen to this. Do you think of community as a timeless thing, with age-old issues, or a problem of your time to which you personally must address yourself? Are you aware of your underworld, or do you identify it as an antipodes inhabited by others?
Country transcends the visible. Before it can become authentic existence, life in death, empty and real, it must include its ghosts. We all have ghosts, even if we ghost them: real people we have clothed in norepinephrine, epinephrine and cortisol in our hippocampus, unreal people we have idealized, our own selves as we wish we were or hide in shame, people we have lost or never had. The visible, material world ghosts them; Indigenous country shares them, dances them. Community is not possible without ceremony which keeps them in place, in the living, breathing underworld, our world’s body. Is it better to preen and screech like one’s cockatoo, and gossip like one, or try to wing it from a tree?
Did I forget to mention that the only person who can really tell me Cessnock’s location is its representative? The episteme of the age of democracy, the belief in representation, is dissolving in instinctual dissatisfaction, and the normalizing mechanics of power, institutional propaganda addressing a shared morality which no longer exists, are only reinforcing the experience of powerlessness and a universal sense of loss of sovereignty. Country is under threat from the ghosts of its underworld (read emotions!). Passion overwhelms regularity and cause overshadows effect. Trauma relives its anniversaries.
Community, which has historically been an honourable battle against a common enemy, the forces of nature, seasonal deadlines, ignorance of the law, zombies and psychopaths, poverty, inequality etc., has in many places forgotten honour in action in order to heal, to demand dignity, to ghost its ghosts. Community means safety, and in a society terrorized by the rare disasters which dominate the news, and driving the kids to school so they don’t get abducted, at 40kph 500 metres either side of a pothole repair, it means confidence that nothing horrible is going to happen. The common enemy is now the unknown. Blessed be the ghost who walks, for the warrant on his head.
How can a person be there for you if you don’t know who they are? (Read: Indigenous Australians, do your Underworld homework,)
“Advance Australia Fair” is the epitome of anachronism as the national anthem of a modern state. What is the national character it celebrates? Who even knows the words, let alone how offensive they are? How does it promote the sense of community schools are trying to inculcate in Australian youth? Can any of us truly sing it, as a national community? What virtues do Australians distinctively and unanimously extol, which are not equally valued by every society on earth? What is the true nature of a community in which a hundred distinct cultures may coalesce? Silent respect? Empty breath? Or secret psychosis?
Is community akin to the synthetic co-existence of the agglomeration of cells and processes we call the body, the universal template which differentiates identity in terms of the incidental repercussions of time and place? Does it transcend or inhere in narrative? Can we own our different bodies without honouring universal body-consciousness? Must identity divorce personal perspective from the emptiness of country, defining the delusory as the particular?
Such are the questions which engage a consciousness which revolves in a sequence of emergent ideas, beginning afresh in the waters of Lethe to rediscover and explore in turn the corridors of responsibility, connection, disclosure and community. The geocentric conjunction of the Sun and Moon and position of the Full Moon are mathematical fictions. Can they really transcend differences in chirality and topocentric perspective of North and South and unite a community? I might laugh at any Southern astrology which divorces itself from the practice of observation which birthed it, but I seem to be the only one laughing.
The evolution of intelligence has always involved regulation in a feedback loop of consciousness and voice, law and instinct. In every utterance in the history of human thought you can hear the voice of some element of human yearning, for freedom, tolerance, immortality, victory etc., in a dialogue (we call sensibility) with accepted meanings of prior utterances in the cultural forms of the everyday. Community has never existed in law, but in the resonance of voice in the underworld.
Community will be one of the last redoubts of the unconscious to resist the inexorable march of the robotic mind. It disappears when you try to think it, turns into something else, culture, ideology, society, nationality, kinship, class, race and gender, any of which can be rationalized and is constantly redefined by the robotics of the sociological mind, but none of which comprises community or can exist without it.
We held our annual solar midnight fling in the first week of this month, lined up around the horizon, and detonated our usual tonne of fireworks. Nobody even noticed, although last night the waning Prodigal Moon made audible supplications, and we are bound by thousands of years of tradition to grant him what he wished for: community. After all, this week marks five years of the astrologer’s exile.
Back in the good old days, we used to line up across the zenith from east to west, and what parties those were! We only do that up near the Arctic Circle these days, a kind of wildling banishment it seems.
Alack, poor Orpheus, we knew him well, we who have danced our blood and conjured ghosts. Yes, 2,148 years ago communities were no masters of their underworld either. And still it is our nature to wish the other’s imperious flesh to be made of dream.
Silence cannot be the foundation of community, because silence enables secrecy, secrecy enables corruption, and corruption usurps power, which evolves to manipulate trust and destroy community. Why is there no safe passage through the Sahara? What happened to hospitality? Why are hungry Rohingya babies crying in exile? Why can’t Uighurs, Syrians, Yemeni, Sudanese, Londoners and Bavarians breathe peacefully? Because silence and submission are one, and for millenia have provided a vocation for witch-doctors.
Many undesirable things come from the underworld: wounds, illicit desire and other unsavoury instincts, bad habits, attitude, habits of any kind, evil, anger, fear, and most dangerous obedience to voice, psychosis. Never tell a psychopath they’re a psychopath, it upsets them. But that’s not the real reason. After they’ve killed you, or done to you whatever was done to them, they will do their homework, and correct the mistake by which you recognized them. You’ve made the world a more dangerous place by perfecting its mask.
So what to do? Nobody in the history of civilization has ever figured that out.
Do you have someone in your past who speaks to your anguish in the words of pop songs? Or are you someone’s ghost? Have you hurt a lot of people in the past, and even though you’re more in control of yourself now, do you find people looking sideways at you when you speak from the heart? Do you dig up graves? Do you own shares in BHP?
Do you hate people who couldn’t care less about the Great Barrier Reef, or the feminist implications of hijab, or what eighty-year-olds from other cultures get up to in the privacy of their pre-pubescent nephew’s or niece’s bedroom? Yes, you may be a psychopath, and yet belong to a community. Is community never telling anyone they’re a psychopath? Is being a psychopath any more than having a mind that’s made up? Can a community exclude? A mind can be, ought to be, aware of its thought patterns and the patterns of others as the workings of a machine which situates itself malignantly in it, but a sense of the beauty of life’s dance with the machine of the world blooms out of the change of mind. That sense is the machine personified, the world’s living, finite epitaph. Immortality is an exclamation-mark, the sarcophagus of the made up mind.
Nothing, never too little, ever too much: that is the community we enjoy here, in the underworld. When do you join us? Q was dancing at Caboolture! How satisfying it is, that the impossibility of community is embodied by its authentic existence among your dead and us ghosts-who-walk-upside-down!