Constitutionally incapable of living together sensibly, rationally? Or is it the solar flares we are experiencing at the moment, combined with Mercury and Uranus retrograde. Or, is your star sign making you FAT?
I recently spoke with my job network support person; we talked about some of her clients who are Asberger. I said: “I’m a creative, I’m a bit Asberger”. “No”, said Sally, “you can express emotions”. I went home and thought about my saintly Jewish cardiologist, with whom I fight often, about the rat poison I must ingest daily, to thin my blood so that my artificial aortic valve won’t clot. I wonder how he can look at some of his patients, who are the sum of their years of neglect, truely self-abuse. Could he even scold these hopeless ones? When I apologised for my recent rush of rash words, he said: “Already forgotten. You must know by now I don’t let go”. Lovely man. Silly too, when he described the suburb where he lives, Belleview Hill. I stumbled over what to say. He thought that amounted to class war. But I only remember seeing his suburb from inside someone’s car, I don’t drive, and the hilly winding streets are simply interminable, more inconvenient than exclusive, sorry. Sadly, he lives in a double diaspora. Jewish and English, he remembered moments from his childhood for me, he lives here but dismissed it all with the wave of a hand.
Tonight I watched Joanna Lumley’s Travels Through Greece; so lovely that she and the production company thought to make this glowing visual poem to Greece’s glories. But with the pleasure also pain. She sat with an old man from Turkey, wrenched from his place of birth, arbitrarily dumped inside Greece; she sat with him and the tears flowed, as did mine. In tonight’s episode she stood in the main square of Thessalonika; where during German occupation fifty thousand Jews were loaded into railway trucks for Auchwitz. Stupid, stupid. W.H. Auden wrote: “we must love one another or die”.
I am currently renovating my house in an Irish working class suburb, the only place in Sydney with a Greek name, Tempe. On the nearby Cooks River two gentlemen of the Enlightenment, Banks and Greville, saw this pleasant valley and thought of the place below Mount Olympus. I have lived here since 1992, during most of that time I had the worst interaction with my Macedonian neighbour, because I am gay and part Yugoslav, from the wrong part, according to his affiliations, Slovenian or rather Croatian, which was not socialist enough. His constant label was hrvatska pedar, croatian poofter.
Well, my house was burgled one afternoon while I was at work, and neighbours across the street had sat on their front porch watching the entire event, not bothering to call the police. Good people I had thought them, but he was Bosnian, his version of what was happening to Moslem Bosnians back home was to refute the “US concocted media conspiracy”, as he termed it. Years later he died from a blood infection and loss of circulation due to a lifetime of smoking. My front door had been kicked in; my beautiful friendly black Tonkinese cat had come out to greet the intruders and was kicked in the gut for his goodwill. He slowly developed an ulcer.
My peasant neighbours live lives of vivid, expressionist harshness, violently surrealistic. They are orthodox, and probably believe that the autism of their tall, gangly grandson is a punishment from god, WOE. The boy is only fifteen and exploring his adolescent sexuality; his nasty, brutish grandfather walked in on one of those moments of exploration and reacted with harsh outrage, which I could hear clearly from the back fence.
But watching a photo of Salonika Jews quietly waiting to be railed to their deaths, I wondered whether we have ever lived together sanely. The medieval conviventia in southern Spain was one of those historical islands of peace and harmony. Ellen de Generis regularly exhorts her audience to be kind with one another.
One day, someone will come…