Sunday, August 5, 2012


I find it interesting, you might not but I find it interesting, how different authors say the same thing but each in their own way. I have just finished reading a novel given to us some years ago by an Australian friend. It is called “Loaded” by Christos Tsiolkas and, told in the first person, is all about a nineteen year old son of Greek immigrants in Melbourne. Published by Vintage it was sponsored by The Australian Council for the Arts. Its basic theme as far as I can work out is hate. His name is Ari and he hates his parents, he hates everyone in Australia, he hates himself for not having the courage to be himself, and he hates his home city of Melbourne. He would like to say ‘I adore you’ to someone he fancies like crazy but finds he simply can’t say it and every sexual encounter is, to put it mildly, short and brutal. In the course of the action which I suppose is over two or three days (not quite sure about the time scale) he takes enough drugs, alcohol and nicotine to kill a herd of elephants but doesn’t even suffer brewer’s droop, in fact just the opposite. The novel starts off with masturbation. It seems strange that not all that long ago books like “Fanny Hill” and “Lady Chatterley’s Lover” (Would you like your servants to read this?) were legally banned but today as the old Cole Porter song has it, anything goes. “In olden days a glimpse of stocking was looked on as something shocking but now, heaven knows, anything goes. Good authors too who once knew better words, now only use four letter words, writing prose, anything goes.” And, my god does Mister Tsiolkas use those four letter words ad nauseum. It would seem he can’t get enough out of them and in the end their repetition becomes simply boring. Okay, I’m not saying that’s not how Ari wouldn't speak and think but it shows a great dearth of imagination that there are no moments of escape from it. I remember on the Braemar Castle when I was working my way to England as a lowly bathroom steward all those many years ago there was another young steward who couldn’t put two words together without the f-word coming in between. But what started me off on this? Well it is how Ari describes himself at the end of the book. “My epitaph;” he writes, “he slept, he ate, he fucked, he pissed, he shat… that’s his story.” Now how does Matthew Prior say the same thing? “What trifling coil do we poor mortals keep; Wake, eat and drink, evacuate and sleep.” There is nothing new under the sun, just a different way of saying it.
Christos does make one interesting comment continuing the theme of hatred, “The Serb hates the Croat who hates the Bosnian who hates the Albanian who hates the Greek who hates the Turk who hates the Armenian who hates the Kurd who hates the Palestinian who hates the Jew who hates everybody.”

And it won’t change. “Idols of the tribe are deceptive beliefs inherent in the mind of man, and therefore belonging to the whole of the human race.” Sir Francis Bacon, and “The only real danger that exists is man himself. He is the great danger.”  Jung.

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