In The Bowels Of The Beast

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I am four chapters short of being 75% of the way through my novel “Johannesburg.” At current rate of writing, this means I might be there by Friday next week. That would be good. Then I have only another 12 chapters to write. But those 12 chapters are going to be interesting to say the least.

I have a plan. A structured whole that I have steadily worked my way through since starting to write in April last year. In that time my life has changed, my country has changed and the world has changed. New ideas, thoughts, points of view and memory have been poured into this document as I have moved through the days that have brought me to this point… This point where I start to ask where it is all going. Like life, there is this feeling that it must be going somewhere. But like life, this is sometimes hard to determine exactly. We know, more or less… but then we change our minds, we have accidents, we fall out with friends, we lose jobs and people die.

A lot of this novel is about how I feel about the city I live in and grew up in. Those emotions are in flux. Ten years back in the city of gold. This book has been over 3 years in the making. How will I end it? Maybe it won’t. Maybe that’s the nature of the beast and this narrative… too many branches to have closed ends.

During this process I have lost a lot of friends. Made some cool new ones and done a whole host of other, really amazing things. Films, poetry, music, shows, workshops, training and tours. How to express this in one explosive, meaningful exposition? In 12 chapters? The Spring of my book. Optimistically styled to portend new birth. Right now I am writing my way through the books winter. It’s hard to feel positive. Maybe that is where my current mood comes from… the Winter in my novel. That hard cold bleakness of the winter under the chill. As I write, this, winter is approaching in reality too. I feel the precursor of it in my morning writing.

It’ll be done soon enough, soon enough.

Today lemme leave you with an excerpt from Patty. I don’t think you’ve met her yet. She is in rehab. Happens she like disco biscuits too much, but it could be anything…

“So, what your saying is that it doesn’t matter if what I am saying is wrong or right, but rather that it is important that I acknowledge that I might be mistaken, that there could be other ways?” Patty is getting confused.
“What seems to persecute and depress you is the notion that you are RIGHT and that you need to be right. As if you are doing something that requires proof. Yet inside of you, part of you feels that what you do is wrong. If you could concede that maybe there are other options, the fight might not be as intense.”
Susan lets the silence float for a while, “As human beings it seems we are born with a hole in our souls which we feel compelled to stuff. Some of us stuff it with god, marriage, drink, sex, drugs, work, vanity, collections; travel… any number of what are essentially compulsive, repetitive behaviours. The real problem lies not in the habit… but in the compulsion to fill the whole. If we can understand that, we can understand the compulsion and start to work with its negative side effects. Like being addicted to any kind of substance that is really killing us, yet still feeling like it is giving us something that would not be there without it.”

“What do you say to people who have never done what you do?”
Patty shrugs, “That in order to understand this they need to experience it. That they cannot pass judgement until they do. “
“Exactly,” Susan smiles, “Accepting the idea that everything is always experiencable, if you just go there. But now with you, by refusing to acknowledge that other options exist, that these drugs are the only way to get what you crave, you limit your experience and then your judgements are true. Because make no mistake, you are being as judgemental as you perceive those other people to be. And then look what your judgements have brought you: anxious depression and total collapse. Is it rational therefore to hold onto your idea of the drug-induced super reality that is unique and wonderful? And unique?”
Patty tries to speak once or twice, but each time stops and slumps back in her chair.
“In the bible it says, ‘Let he who is free from sin cast the first stone.’ This is a great notion to bear in mind when it comes to judging others in ANY way. We need to realise that when we set conditions for others, we must first meet those conditions ourselves. I think in this case from your reaction, it is quite clear that you have not.”
Then Susan reaches down to the tray with coffee and tea laid out on it and picks up a plate. She offers it to Patty. On it sit 3 perfectly round, iced and fresh dough rings, “Doughnut?” She offers Patty.
An excerpt from “Johannesburg” A novel by David Chislett
© David Chislett 2013

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