The knoll of an old church bell bellows through the stone corridors. A man quietly wakes. He slowly leans up into a sitting position. The man’s wet, frail feet feel the cold floor in the dark as the short hollow figure stoops out from his bed. Guiding himself with a damp wooden stick to find his desk he perches on the desk chair, striking fire to the wick of a small candle. Revealed is a frugal, scant room with a colour the same as his cheer — collapsed, bereft.
Upon his desk lie piles of parchment, he takes a blank piece and stares at it knowingly. He dips his pen in the ink and the tip begins to canter across the page –
The shout of silence is getting louder. The government is divorced from reality and has long pled insanity; if only we had signed a prenup on our freedom. The children whisper of the seditious abyss. The old men connive of their next evil trick. It is a game. But it is a game that has no known end; it never began yet was played anyway. And so is the short story of our lives…
It’s always communication which gets in the way of the communicating.
Recently I had some good, old friends come to my home for a very casual occasion. We enjoyed the topics of morality, sex and science and the familiar company which comes with such close-knit groups. Scotch and hot food on a cold night undoubtedly enhanced the evening, though. It had been a successful night, it had seemed. That was until I received a curious phone call from a dear friend asking what on earth had happened. “Happened with what?”, I thought.
You see, herein lies the trap of implicit communication. It was made very obvious – though not obvious enough, apparently – that all others in our regular circle would only add to the occasion, much like the scotch and hot food had done, only more so. Nonetheless, and as hinted, the obviousness was less apparent to those few who were now upset they hadn’t received the invitation. None were sent to them, of course, but neither to those who had attended the evening. However they were well-aware of the event taking place, and in our minds had simply chosen to be pleased with their own plans – haphazard like our own, strangely.
An informal, all-welcome, offhand and naturally occurring celebration of life, the universe and everything had catalysed bitter crisis in the meta-context of an admittedly tumultuous group. Indeed, and ironically, the group had itself been an offshoot of one larger than this and more prone to similar sorts of drab melodrama. But chaos was bound to soon ensue, and it has.
As I write this, I am occasionally worried by the creek of the floorboards, lest they be the warning-cry to the footsteps of one seriously pissed-off individual. I made the mistake of trying to communicate the issue explicitly, you see.
And that is why I am writing to warn you, or, because there can be no avoidance of the issue, to inform you, that inherent in communication – any communication, whether implicit or explicit – is the failure of communication itself. For every person who reads this there will be a separate opinion based on my perceived tone, my use or misuse of grammar, the context of my other writings or communications, the information I omitted for reasons of privacy or morality and the fact that my personal anatomy includes a penis. And that’s what we all deal with, and, at the risk of sounding sensational, perhaps that’s all we deal with.
Brian Whebe, 1904 – 1972. It’s the “-” that represents his life.
This paper belongs to four strangers (they all got off at different stations). Ink-smudged and alone, but at least it got a free ride.
Hello, you stupidly petty, insignificant speck of stardust within the incomprehensible vastness of the universe. You still matter, and I indeed say hello to you.