A Sketch of the Time

A Sketch of the Time 1 (June 2010)

Outcasts and heretics were buried in far off wild places – separated from people both in life and death.

The fear of death came almost constantly at that point. The news items on the bulletins seemed twice as serious, twice as awful as before. The city became three times as cold and alienating, people seemed meaner, stranger, more selfish than ever. And late at night, that was the worst time – when the fear of death, its sheer severity and finality crept into his heart like an unwelcome guest.

The elderly showed almost no wisdom – people swore loudly or were drunk in the morning on the trains. Implied violence was everywhere. And sometimes real violence. It reminded him of being back in the hospital, where a false peace would descend for a while, a kind of truce during which everyone would be waiting for the next awful event, the next violent outburst. ‘It was good training, the hospital’, he thought, ‘not so different as here outside’. Peace does not equal surrender.

If ever there was a time when people would faint from terror – this was that time.

That he had expressed this fear of death made him feel guilty, as if he had somehow effected their morale, or betrayed them all. Like a crow singing its raw, shrill song among the more harmonious, sweeter-sounding birds. He wanted to sing a healing melody, to speak of beauty, true peace and love, but it eluded him at that time. There was nothing of the kind to be observed, or else his eyes were darkened and he found only what he was seeking. Fear, violence and darkness.

A Sketch of the Time (2) Nov 2010

Outcasts and heretics were buried in far off wild places – separated from people both in life and death.

As he sat taking notes in the morning psychology lecture, the wind howled outside as it hit the side of the university building. At the front of the lecture hall, there were models of a take-apart human head with an exposed brain, a giant ear and a heart (probably from some previous medical lecture). It was an overcast day with drizzly rain. The wind seemed to mock those in the lecture theatre:

‘How is all your study going to help you survive, here, outside in the real world?
How is learning how to construct a psychology article with appropriate standardised referencing going to help you survive?’

The wind increased in volume and frequency, unnerving and irritating some students and the lecturer.

He imagined that we were all seated in Thor’s Cave – the medical models becoming fossilized bones while the wind howled outside the entrance of the cave, shouting:

‘Folly! Folly!’ Come out of your ivory cave!
In years to come what will you remember about your lecture? It will not help you to survive!’

The laughter and conversation of the students during a break drowned out the wind’s voice for a while – a sort of counter-attack against the real world of survival and grey skies and drizzly rain and howling winds which cry ‘Folly!

But when the laughter had died down the voice of the wind remained and increased in its insistence on being heard.

And he imagined that they were high up on a bleak cliff-face, hidden inside the cave – and despite the strange fossils it was a comfort, a kind of peace to be safe and warm, hidden in the crevice of the university, sheltered from winds which cry ‘Folly!’

They say that is true peace – to be sheltered, like a dove, while the storm rages all around. Rather than to be surrounded by sunshine and warmth (while the storm rages inside).

Then he went outside.

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