I had to have my dog put down before Christmas. There is no art in that, nothing but bathos. Orwell may have made something out of shooting an imaginary elephant, but there is no poetry or great message in the death of my cute little dog. I stayed with him as the vet went about her work, because loyalty, a dog of a virtue which excuses cover ups and mass murders, is amongst the virtues I admire most, and having made the decision that he was to die, it is not in me to simply walk away and leave the dog alone to the process. (In the waiting room, while I held him up so he wouldn’t enage in battle with animals ten times his size, he pissed blood down my shirt, his incontinence and internal bleeding a reassurance that i was doing the right thing.) He wagged his tail, happy at the attention, trusting me, and blubbering though I was, I hope I did not betray that trust. Afterwards, I reflected on my sentimentality regarding animals, and how useless I would be on a farm, unless I had some reconditioning, and my brain went into over analytical overdrive: did I do the right thing? how dare you feel like that about an animal? how dare you do what you did? do I feel enough? do I feel too little? And I was left with the knowledge, I don’t want to go through that again any time soon.
Then I awoke to the news of the murder of 20 little children and others. I cannot even begin to try to get into the imaginative head space of being able to watch those children die, let alone carry out that deed. Empathy completely fails me, though I am a broken person, filled with my own darkness. I can think about the pain a person may have, the anger, and draw a path that may lead to such a deed, but I cannot colour that picture in, cannot give it substance. I do not dare to put myself in the position of any of the parents who lost a child. For most adults who have had their fair battering from life, that is too easy an imaginative leap to make.
There is no causality between these events, they are just the order in which I experienced them. There is no other real connection either, they are an infinite degree of both kind and magnitude apart. We lurch from day to day, getting by as best we can, hoping for small joys, experiencing our small sorrows, and hear news from a distance of great horror. We hope that if nothing else, some small meaning can be taken from disaster if it leads to us changing our ways. This happened in Australia after the Port Arthur massacre, but gun ownership is less entrenched in our culture. It seems that this most recent tragedy will lead to no great change.
I am reading and very much enjoying “Unapologetic” by Francis Spufford. He is brutal on the failure of most of theodicy to reconcile a belief in/the existence of a good and powerful God with suffering. It is not my purpose to go into that here, but it contains one of my favourite recent quotes. He talks of the horrors of the world, referring to Darwin’s description of a caterpillar being devoured by larvae, and more about disease and death in general, before touching on pantheism: “To anyone inclined to think in a happy wafty muddly way, that nature is God, nature replies: have a cup of pus, Mystic Boy.”
Here are some pictures of some recent visitors, just the usual suspects, nobody special:
Pied currawongs have been hanging around. I tried to feed one by hand, but we were both a bit jumpy and I threw the bread and he took it and fled.
A juvenile King Parrot has been making a nuisance of itself, wearing its parents out as it constantly demands a feed. They are a beautiful bird.
Crimson Rosellas are not uncommon but they are a bit flighty. This one was comfortable in my backyard, as he was a bit hidden amongst the branches.
Caught this kookaburra in the morning light…
My old friend the butcher bird, still taking thrown food on the wing …
And the sulphur crested, or white, cockatoo, noisy and destructive but a true favourite of mine…
The Joe Chip Empire is in decline, there are too many other calls on my time. Over at the Joe Chip Laboratories, we have been spitting out Tall Poppy seeds as part of our investigation of the alleged Australian disease known as the Tall Poppy Syndrome. It is an interesting condition, a disease diagnosed by those who have been subject to scrutiny, not by those doing the analysis … at the 6th Proletarian Anarcho Lottery Syndicate, the writer proves the revolution is nigh. Finally advice for the lovelorn, and a bunch of other stupid stuff, over at What Would Joe Chip Do?
As the fireworks begin to see off 2012, I hope there is something on these pages to justify the moments you spent looking at them. if not, I sincerely apologise.
Until next year, I remain your faithful servant, your mate, my mate Joe Chip