Sunday, April 10, 1983

Individual quality decisions

Last night, Andrew and I to went out for an evening walk. Dad had brought Nanna B. for the day, and after two big meals and a drowsy afternoon rooted to the Sport and Grand National on TV she asked Dad to take her home and left without even a goodbye to Andrew and I in the dining room.

We walked down Foster Crescent and up through the river-side estates and the woods to Moxthorpe Common. It was very warm and our hair tickled and itched with sweat as we wandered over the rocks on the Common. The sky was unsullied by cloud, a clear immense bowl opening above us, fading from deep blue to a pale sunset glow over Knowlesbeck, Jupiter a bright yellow star in the west. We walked back home along the canal in the deepening gloom, having a good laugh talking about horror-filled days as kids, haunted by the fear of gangs of potential persecutors (“toughs”).

Later on I watched Polanski’s gore-filled moody version of Macbeth, which was brilliant. The soundtrack was by the Third Ear Band who appeared briefly in the film as court musicians dressed in flame-coloured garb and playing lutes and bohran-type drums. The music was a sort of primitive folk. Their records are very difficult to get hold of.

The climax of the film was dramatic, Macbeth storming around Dunsinane Castle, his attackers shrinking in fear at the approach of this insane, haunted figure who was driven by the burning belief that he could not be killed by “one born of a woman.” I thought of Max Demian telling Emil Sinclair that you can will almost anything if the idea or wish is “so deeply rooted . . . that it permeates your whole being.”

But as soon as Macduff says that he has been torn prematurely from his mother’s womb, Macbeth realises with horror that this tallies with the vision seen in the witches cauldron; he can only die at the hands of one born such as Macduff . . . Macduff runs him through and then decapitates him. The witches accurate prophecies have given Macbeth faith and strength of will to overcome all who challenge him. Fate is with him. Macduff’s statement reminds him of the witches forecast which fits exactly. He can't escape his Fate and so is overcome by the vengeful Macduff.

I had some haunted dreams. I was helping clear an old deserted house which stood back from the road. Inside it was gloomy, rooms and corridors leading off into blackness. In the first room the floor was littered with brooms and heavy blunt unidentified debris. These began to move as though someone was picking them up and was about to attack us . . . a rubber glove crawled slowly like a spider across the floor towards the broom handle. I stamped on it, bursting it fingers, but still it crawled on. . . .

The weather has changed completely: lashing rain and grey flat skies, the wind howling behind the fireplace. The prospect of work is as dulling to the mind as the weather. I hoped this would change at Uni, ‘work’ becoming pleasure etc., but no, it’s the same frustrated feeling of bridling at the thought of work. I’m so lazy. The knowledge that something is due on so-and-so date and has got to be done has a lot to do with it I think. My resentment is purely psychological.

Andrew has spent the afternoon upstairs in the ‘cell’ designing the layout for a booklet he’s hoping will published by Avon Tourist Board. I spent the afternoon in usual idleness.

Instead of calmly and “proudly” accepting the saccharine condolences of Generals, press and Thatcher, the 540 relatives of the Falklands dead should be reviling the nationalism to which their relatives were sacrificed. The whole situation makes me sick.

Both armies were sent out to kill and blow the shit out of one another, egged on by rabid nationalism at home. I always end up thinking how pathetic mankind is to always bring things down to the mindless level of war, then glorifying it and accepting that it is noble and good and commendable. The world’s problems can never be solved by these great blind govt programmes involving masses of unthinking people. Awareness must work on an individual personal level (Pirsig's “individual Quality decisions”). And I suppose that statement means that the world’s problems are insoluble.

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