Thursday, January 29, 2015

Last week (Why write? So as not to explode)

I write because if I don't I will explode. 

It's not my words that will change the world, instead it's the untanglying of knots that the writing down of my world into words that helps me to process and navigate it. 

It's that very process - and the weaving, in words, of my own personal tapestry - that imbues this life-thing with meaning. Because without the thinking about and grappling with of my journey - which right now is rather testing - my life would be sapped of its meaning. 

I guess it goes all the way back to those Greek words, often ascribed to Socrates, inscribed so long ago in the forecourt of the Temple of Apollo at Delphi: Know thyself. Those words - in my eyes one of the most profund of expressions - is about humankind's ancient quest for self knowledge. 

I type out streams, rivers of words every day because by the constant examination and scrutiny of my own life, I thereby imbibe my existence with meaning. Because without that meaning I would most likely be tempted to hurl myself nto the ocean from a cliff. If, of course, I wasn't as scared of heights and as squeamish as I am.

I'm also aware that it's only in solitude and silence that my mind is truly alert and connected to the universal web, that then my thinking and vision is razor-sharp and - ultimately - free of ego.

It also isn't easy; even here as I'm primed with coffee at the closest joint I could escape to from today's dreariness of work I struggle with and trip over words, and my concentration strugggles to perch for longer than a few seconds on the crumbs scattered across my mind. And over my heart. 

The sun through the smoky-glassed atrium high above me is roasting my neck and tempts me with even another excuse to chuck this putting-down-words-thing in. 

The other excuse is that my personal writing, especially here on this platform, has become so sparse that I might as well just chuck it in altogether, so as to cowardly take this constant pressure off of myself. 

Then another excuse, perhaps the toughest one of them all - if it catches me in an ungaurded moment, like now - is the who-gives-a-fuck-anyway-because-your-words-are-meaningless one, which - most of the time - is the most easy one of them all to succumb to.

Which brings me a full circle: I write because if I don't I will explode from the God-awful pressure from within. It's the pressure of the un-examined life; it's the pressure of remaining (out of choice of course) one of the living-dead (i.e. one of the majority)... i.e. a life unthinkingly spent accumulating wealth and material possessions so as to fill the void. That's mostly a life of not giving a fuck about anything or anyone but yourself. 


The summer is in full and heavy swing: It's a perfect summer's day, especially for those with luminous skins from the northern hemisphere where snowstorms are currently even shutting down the likes of Facebook and Instagram. 

If given the choice I'd much rather be there; I'm counting down to the Cape winter, which I will welcome with both arms wide open.
Outside the heat is so heavy, crushing my clothes and hair against my body and causing me to squint my eyes and to seek the shadows cast by walls so that I can have as little exposure to the scorching light as possible as I spider along them to get to anywhere that I absolutely need to. 

The moisture imediately evaporates from my eyeballs after I blink to try and save then from the summer, from the day, and from the abundance of bright light. 


As I write, as the words plop out like ill-assorted pebbles, I tend towards weightlessness. And freedom. Only, then, for the entire process to begin again when I push 'send' on my keyboard and then close the application while foolishly thinking (like I do every day) that my 'work' is done. 

Sunday, January 18, 2015

The motherland of all coffees

The manager in a clinical book store up the road said that a five-day long heatwave was arriving in the Cape tomorrow. I overheard her and my heart sank, even while savouring today's coolness.

The Minstrel's Carnival (it used to be known as the Coon Carnival, but's considered derogatory now) razzled and dazzled through the heart of the city for most of yesterday afternoon. Right now I'm sitting peacefully and contentedly not very far from where I watched it, on the edge of The Taj and across the street from St. George's Cathedral.

At Motherland Coffee it's cool and shaded by the shimmering trees along the mall; I'm plugged into their electricity so as to charge my phone, and connected to their wifi so that in turn I can connect to the world. It's a win-win moment in time: The coffee is awesome, as are their carrot cake muffins, they're relativel deserted, also I'm left in peace for hours at end.

A Zimbabwean acquaintance who I'm hoping to get to know better, even to go on a date with, is visiting his family in Bulawayo. He's just sent me pictures of Rhodes' grave in the Matopos, which he's visiting for the second weekend in a row.

His bushveld photos jangled a deep chord within me, reminding me of how inaccessible the African bushveld is from Cape Town. It was always very reachable when I lived in Johannesburg also while I distanced myself from the world for years in Mpumalanga province. Perhaps I took it for granted: I never knew that I would miss it this much, as well the Highveld's BIG SKY - so unlike here - that becomes packed with at first purple and then angry elephant-grey cumulus that's thunderous and electric almost daily, every afternoon, every summer. I miss those awesome and inspiring thunderstorms more than I miss anything else from when and where I grew up. 

I began today on a wooden bench in a quiet and shaded section of the Company's Gardens, directly in line with the SA National Art Gallery, reading Sue Monk Kidd's 'The Secret Life of Bees'. I intend to end it in not a dissimilar way. That will be in keeping with one of my new year objectives: to have enough time every day to relax in the sun or shade reading.



Friday, January 16, 2015

Why write? I'm selling yeast, not bread

My aim is to agitate and disturb people. I'm not selling bread, I'm selling yeast.
- Miguel de Unamuno

Miguel de Unamuno y Jugo was a Spanish essayist, novelist, poet, playwright, philosopher, and Greek professor and later (twice) rector at the University of Salamanca. Most of all he  was an intellectual activist.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Why write? So you don't die of shame

Renowned South African poet, Antjie Krog, most famous in my eyes for her book The Country of My Skull about this country's Truth and Reconciliation Commission, that was held not too long after the end of apartheid, stressed - according to translator André Naffis-Sahely - that a writer should not concern themselves as to whether they are read or not, since “one writes so that you don’t die of shame, that you didn't say something when a girl is cut up somewhere in a parking lot and raped … You know that a poem will achieve nothing, but at least you will get through the night.”

Don't touch me there

Okay, so I'm drunk now in a Charles Bukowski-kinda way; got home and on an empty stomach opened a chilled bottle of Cape champagne (you're not allowed to call it that anymore, the Frogs got sticky and possessive) and three medium tumblers later here you have me: I've been called a cheap date before, as a 'compliment', by someone wanting to get into my pants. "All it takes is two drinks," he said, before pouring a third. "Cheers," said I.

Jumping off the bus I was surpised to find Lower Main road so quiet and deserted, except when I passed the Old Biscuit Mill: a man reminding me of one of Shaka Zulu's impis ran past in only shorts and a backpack strapped on to him like a suicide vest, but to his back, barefoot on the tar and motoring it. It's Woodstock after all.

Without a stitch of clothing on I'm sprawled on a comfy wicker chair a friend of mine loaned me indefenitely, as part of pair, on Monday. I've got them as close up against the view of The Mountain, and amongst my plants, as I can get them. I'm as relieved to have ditched my clothes as I am to see on Google that tomorrow is going to be much cooler and overcast. 

That's a profile, one of many, but so disapointing in comparison to 'reality', of Devil's Peak, leftwards from my window where, thankfully, a  coolish breeze is caressing my skin and cock. 

I'm thankful to be home and alone. Enormously thankful.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Fire in my spirit

It's deep summer now and the heat has ramped up; today's the hottest day of the season so far, and at 36 degrees centigrade I'm expecting it to get even hotter through the next two months. 

As I type these words at in the cool and shade at the back of Motherland coffee shop in the tree-lined St. George's Mall, someone skirts my table in a short dress and reeking wonderfully of summer; it's probably the sunblock she's covered herself in. As for me, I'm dreading venturing back out into the afternoon.

It's my first and most chilled day back at work; it's also the first day I've worn long pants and more than slip-slops in five weeks. It's also my first day in weeks that I've not woken myself and immediately burrowed into a book. While most of the city appears to be back at work, Cape Town is still crawling with holidaymakers and tourists.

Friday afternoon I - in turn covered in factor 50 sunblock - spent at the Sandy Bay nudist beach (photo above) at Llandudno (view from the Hout Bay road below). I'd not been there since 1999; I'd forgotten how beautiful and remote it is, also how liberating it was to lie naked on a kaftan in the sand metres away away from the ice-line of the Atlantic Ocean; but there was no way I was swimming.

After my burnout in the last six months of 2014 I've promised myself I won't be taking on more than I can very comfortably handle: this is to be a year of much more writing, devouring novels and enjoying more poetry. It's also to be a year of much more Charles' time, alone.

I'm seeking adventure and to have fire again infuse my Spirit.