Relationships: Not so difficult.

It may seem like a novel concept to some, but I treat people as they treat me. Some may speak of ‘women’s intuition’, but the reason I married to Mike was his ‘man’s intuition’ .

When we first met, he and I had very different world views. It was unlikely that we would get together, seeing as we had so little in common. He is 23 years older than I, his political philosophy was radically leftist. At the time we met, I knew little about leftist philosophy — except that it had something to do with the ideology that toppled my country. I cut off the dialogue with him a few times, but it was his tough-minded respectfulness, which after much personal reflection, brought me back.

I have friends of the sort I would hardly have expected to have, just because of this principle of reciprocation. I have very little in common with them, except this principle alone.

Many people want to make a mystery out of relationships — especially those that concern opposite sexes.

My approach is much simpler — if you cannot stand to be treated the way you are treating others, there is nothing  to build on.

Conversely, if you think that you most certainly can, well….

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forced spew

What puzzles me about some people’s psychology is the sheer predictability of it. Why do the Chrestians circle when they think they smell blood? Is it based on the same principle as blood platelets coagulating when they lose their oxygen? — I mean only one thing by this: My father’s continued, uninvited presence at our house since I informed my parents of Mike’s situation. Suddenly there is the presumption that we all need company? Or is it rather social opportunism? — the sense that humans, if brought down low, will be compelled to socialise? Is the past now to be forgotten, with the overwhelming lure of blood around?

I realise that whenever my father used to feel empty, frightened, panicky, he would try to attack my self esteem in order to break me down emotionally. He thought that this would open me up to his own sufferings and make me sympathetic and sociable. It didn’t work, then.

Mike, however, doesn’t see these same resonances in fatherly behaviour that I do.

do not contact this woman!

Yesterday, in our very miniscule backyard, I read parts of THE GOLDEN NOTEBOOK. Had my eyes been laser beams, I would have annihilated the pressed in feeling of the back asbestos fence making my situation spacially more African, but it was not to be. I read Doris Lessing’s writings whilst lying on the grass. I noticed that I preferred the latter part of her writing to the first part of the book. I may be mistaken but I sensed a slight alteration in style, which made the latter, writer’s diary part of the book much more punchy than the first section.

The parts I read depicted the psychologies of men and women in relation to each other. There is such a thing as looking too closely at these kinds of things. Artistically, this is an excellent thing to do, as it educated people. Aesthetically, this is, well, not so delightful. As the characters shifted in mood, they actually became different people. This was unsettling. It was a view of the characters from this insight out, as if on a dissecting tray. These gave the impression of characters disintegrating upon contact with others. The message is that women cannot maintain psychogical integrity under a system where the values are patriarchal.

I’d often wondered what sort of female I might have ended up being, had I stayed on in Zimbabwe, after 1984. I was around 16 when I left. My formative years had been there, but when I arrived in the first world as a new immigrant, I basically had learn everything anew, like learning a new language.

Sometimes I catch the whiff of an impression of how things might have been very different. I received an email from an old school friend, for instance, which questioned me about if I was married and had children. It threw me for an instant, that I might ever have been the kind of person who would give the impression that I had a plan to get married and have children. nonetheless, that this was one of the first things this person asked of me gave me the impression that was probably expected of me. After all, in the conservative’s mindset, gender always trumps character.

To be asked such a question by an old school friend is both unsettling and somehow consolidating and reaffirming of character. It is profoundly unsettling in one instant, because it indicates how far one must have detailed from the expected norm — hence from one’s sense of one’s culture as the bedrock of normalcy. On the other hand, it is reassuring: One isn’t after all a victim of norms, and is better for that. I am able to use this contact from an old friend to get beyond a constant replay of a certain battle — the outcome being what might have been. I might have been forced to adopt a simpering quality, much like that of my father’s sister, filling the gaps like glue in the male dominated system. I could have been resigned, happy to be led, and inclined to view things in the light of pointlessness — if I had lived out my time under the Rhodesian system. I might have taken few things seriously — happily accepting whatever came along.

Surely this would not have gone to the extremes of producing offspring, though? It’s very likely that I would have actively avoided this, leading to immense difficulties, punishment, disownership — all the things which I, in fact, experienced in a much more sophisticated environment, as it happened.

Mitigating factors within the Rhodesian situation would have been that overall the women were much more inclined to stand up to men there, than they are here. Dealing with the subtleties of practical morality was, after all, their role. Secondly, as a white person, the white herd in general would not have liked to see me debased. Efforts would have been made to prevent this, if only to preserve the appearance of racial integrity. That being said, I might have survived.

Still it was in an apparently more sophisticated environment (here) that I experienced the psychologically unmitigated murderous rage of my parents, against my choices in life. I experienced their accumulated rage regarding their loss of the previous society — this loss being the sum of what I represented to them.

Had I been one of Lessing’s women, living in Africa, would I have survived as a whole and not as a broken person; made glue for the social machinery of male dominance? In some ways, I’m sure to have survived, but without insight.

the "BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!" quotient

I’m not a stereotypical woman, I suppose. I’m led to believe this, although the only way in which I can actually gauge this as a fact is that whenever somebody is inclined to address me as such, I feel that I have no other recourse than to do very bizarre and complex marionette dances around them, as if to say, “Thought I was over there, fella? I’m really not where you think at all! Wrong Answer! BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT! Maybe I’m over here! How would you know, if you don’t ask?? BZZZZZZZZZZZZZZT!”

And from all of this, I can gather that I’m not a stereotypical woman. Some might assume that the above kind of reaction to being addressed as a little child could serve to render me in a rather deranged fashion. To that I say, “Yes, but those whose energies are focussed on finding a steretypical child-woman in our conversation will not find anything more odd, or more alienating, or more fantastical in the above performance, anyway.”If life is a revolution, then I want to dance — and at least this way I get the last laugh.

Laughing is important to me. I can’t imagine a culture which doesn’t have laughter as its main grist for the mill, its five-minutely relief process from constant stressors. This is the major reason why I have such trouble keeping the present manifestations of society in my mind’s eye. I’m simply unable to focus very much on most of the moralist’s intricate concerns, since most of these lack the larger than life grandiose potential of a cosmic joke.

I’m not even a typical woman, as the urge to bank up human flesh in my own bodily reservoir is very far from me. (I’m unpleasant in that way.) I think that having recognised my own flesh, by inch, in all of its proclivities, I desire something of the opposite — when I desire at all. An offspring of my own sounds like a terrorising prospect, to me. Having become both parents and child to myself, where would it fit in, in this overneat, hand-in-glove relationship? I can’t imagine any happiness for something springing off my genes. A child who can laugh raukously at the moon, though, I could sponsor. He or she could have my last cent. The importance in this, to me, would be to perpetuate the cosmic joke. It’s this or nothing.

A child who could laugh at the moon deserves everybody’s last cent. This, I maintain. Yet so few of these children exist any more — and those who do come into being rarely get this habituation from their parents. Where they do get it from — wide open spaces, a close encounter with threatening forces, an innate ability to pluck the universe of its abundance.

I would not expect this from serial television watchers, and I would not give up my time trying to raise them, in the hope that they could actually become the person that I hoped they would be.

To torment fate, as my parents did when they refused my right to a legitimate separation from their values, from the passivity of a female fate, is not something I could do whilst remaining standing.

Life requires responsibility.

Broodmares and Englishmen

The trip to Sydney was more serendipitous than I had dared to expect. Above all, it was a time to relax outside of the dull arena of boring Perth, for unlike Perth, Sydney might well be a real city, which exudes a real presence. My impressions are necessarily fleeting, as I only stayed east for four days. What surprised most was an opposite impression to that which I had expected…that Sydney types would automatically look and behave in a more stressed out fashion, due to their big city existence. Rather, it seemed to me, most Sydney types…and no doubt part of this was due to the holiday season timing of my stay…were superlatively self-possessed and relaxed. The underlying agitation that I sense in Perth characters, despite the surface smooth demeanour…the just below the surface troubled waters…were not there. It seems that I have made a mistake attributing a Perthian consciousness to a general “western” condition, rather than as being a product of the fragile and combustible condition of the more modest economy here. Perhaps a sort of rampant nihilism is not archetypically western, then. The looseness of the associations back here, the cut and change of others’ loyalties is probably a survival mechanism, held in common by those who experience constantly changing fortunes. The insubstantiality of the characters here reflected in the looseness of associations is a feature of putting one’s economic interests first in this economic context that offers few if any superior options.

So there I was a Perth nihilist in Sydney…and doubly so, for I had given up the only option, of conservatism, which could have economically saved me here, whilst shriveling my soul. Whilst on sojourn in big “S”, I was delighted to put temporarily aside all thoughts of my unwinnable economic situation back in Perth. In a matter of days, I managed to lose the residues of some accumulated social poisons. One advantage of empty ritual is that it offers a short reprieve from the sadomasochism of every day life…at least for the audience of, for example, a wedding. One does not need to fight or feed the psychic economy, which generates itself by backbiting. One can relax a little, endeavour to unwind.

We did play games which might have been conceded to be strange by aliens who visited from up above. The handbag weigh-in and the competition to collect clothes pegs by penalizing one of your fellow hens, for ignoring an arbitrarily imposed rule-set, were particularly deadly. The boys’ games were no better as they celebrated the last night of cock freedom. I did not manage to guess the entire contents of the bride’s handbag, just by the feel of what was in there, either. I have a feeling that jet lag intervened between my mental state and my overwhelming goals of accuracy, producing from my writing pen such rampant suggestions for bag contents as lumps of granite, an automatic weapon, and electric fuses.

The cock celebration night apparently went quite well, for Mike, with disappointment at the plasticization of sexuality and the absurdity of being back in an Okinawa-like military base setting both raining down upon his head. The sky opened up and stormed dramatically that night he walked back in a solitary fashion from the strip club.

Other highlights of the trip…besides the copious offers of champagne…were insights into the basic obstinacy of the one-time ideologically and culturally inculcated mindset of the white Rhodesian, which permeates the consciousness of those who in my family are not myself, and clouds their thinking, only without appealing to this designated name. Mike saw this superior state of being in the attitudinal posing on buck’s night and I saw it myself in the somehow subtle evocation of a brood mare in reference to my mother, during my father’s speech. (I am not sure whether he was implying that she has the spiritual quantum OR genetic material which he felt he lacked, but somehow he expressed a feeling that her own comparative lack of defects had appeared to have produced a hearty stock.)

Beyond these little facets of the experience, I received further little tokens of intrigue, when both sister and mother, after a while, remarked upon my dress so much as to excuse themselves for not having chosen a dress like the one I had. My mother: “That dress colour just doesn’t suit me. It suits you very well, but that colour does not suit me. I must wear purply pink, instead.” My sister: “I tried on a low-cut dress like that, but it didn’t look good on me. That style looks good on you, though.” The wedding celebration was an ideal time for family and friends to acknowledge those ever so slight, formal differences between us. I conceded the difference they had spotted gracefully. It must have taken quite some time for them to think how this stark difference had come about.