NOOSA – Having just spent three weeks hovering between the drug-induced world of surreal images and the body-induced pain those images sought to drive away, it was with some pleasure that I edged into my emails.
Edged into them because my focus and cognition are not quite stable just yet, weaving and wavering between some sort of comprehension of what you have written and what combination of words and voices I am able to understand.
It was with some relief, therefore, that I came upon Phil Fitzpatrick’s most recent piece on humanity and nationality and the nonsense we get served up by those who want to divide us into various categories, presumably so they can remake us in standard images which in their poor bereft minds is the way we all should be organised.
For me I just want to be categorised as human. And let me judge people from there. That’s if I feel like judging, which mostly I don’t.
Then I opened an email from my son Simon, the internet guru and singer-songwriter of talent, whose music is about humanity and the particular challenges we are capable of inventing for ourselves, including the challenge of ensuring that the differences between us are somehow meaningful rather than just plain stupid.
As Simon wrote, and I have just been able to decipher, “I hope you dig it and it helps a bit….”
AUCKLAND - It's a song I had a while ago which Dad liked - has a 50s rock, Buddy Holly-type feel to it and Dad liked the guitars.
I didn't forget, it just took me bloody ages to do and, when you went into surgery, Dad I thought I'd get it finished for you.
Now, finally the song is finished and I dedicate it to you, Dad. Not the soppy stuff, of course, but the style and production. I tried to do the vocal justice - hopefully it works OK, and gives you a little lift and a smile - even if it's just at me yowling!
I kept the instrumentation in the style of the times - a simple drum kit, double bass, Hammond organ, tambourine, the backing vocals, and of course those guitars.
Yes, Sime, I dig it. And it helps more than mere words can express at this halfway house to recovery - KJ.
TUMBY BAY - Sigmund Freud, the famous Austrian neurologist, is alleged to have said that psychoanalysis would never work on the Irish.
This observation was based on the supposed contradictions in the Irish character caused by the brutality of their colonisation by the English.
There is no evidence that Freud said any such a thing. At best it has been attributed to hearsay from one of his students.
Characterising a whole race of people with particular traits is a very dubious proposition. So too is the idea that the population of a country or region inevitably share common traits and predilections, just as they might have a common accent, has no basis in fact.
It is, however, a recurring theme in history where it has often been used as a political weapon. Jews, people of colour and the unfortunate Irish have all suffered its consequences.
At another level, common traits, predilections and beliefs are frequently ascribed to different generations.
People who grew up in the 1930s and 1940s are supposed to be conservative in outlook, cautious, frugal and reactionary while those who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, the so-called baby boomers, are supposed to be progressive and creative.
It is easy enough to look at the economic and other conditions that prevailed during these different times and attribute the mood of the people at the time to what was happening both economically and politically.
The baby boomer culture, so the story goes, evolved as a counter reaction to the conservativeness of their parents.
Hippies, free-love, all sorts of liberation movements, including feminism and black power, all happened because of what came before. A booming post-war reconstruction economy provided the perfect environment for this change.
The baby boomers are now reaching their twilight years and a new generation is taking over. If you follow the idea of generational difference it’s interesting to speculate what sorts of beliefs, predilections and mood informs these young people.
You would expect, given all the privileges and relative wealth surrounding this so-called ‘now’ generation that they would be pretty upbeat about their prospects and attitude to life.
Anecdotal evidence suggests that this is not the case however. Some brutal realisations are beginning to surface, not least that life will not be handed to them on a platter as appeared to be the case not so long ago.
Their reaction to this apparent truth, again anecdotally, is that they are retreating into the kind of conservationism that characterised their grandparents from the 1930s and 1940s.
This is being helped along by the commentariat who are now drawing comparisons between what is happening now and what happened back then.
The existence of an increasing band of despots emerging in the world and debates about whether such figures as Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are neo-fascists are contributing to the sense of doom and gloom the new generations are embracing.
There is a clear sense of a new world order emerging that looks decidedly unattractive and unfriendly.
This growing sense of an uncertain future is unearthing hitherto suppressed emotions and attitudes. The racism that was once directed at people of colour, for instance, is now turning its gaze towards people of Asian origin, particularly the Chinese.
It seems that the idea of national characterisation is alive and well. There is widespread talk of a new cold war developing between the USA and China.
The idea that the people of a nation are reflected in the mirror of their leaders and the political system in which they operate is once more gaining ground.
Politicians the world over, including our own, are feeding this furnace for their own various needs and ends. They are dressing this up as realpolitik necessary in these rapidly changing times.
There is even a hint of war on the horizon.
That humanity can tie itself into such incredible knots based on clearly erroneous suppositions is an ongoing mystery that even Freud would have trouble unravelling.