Sunday, March 16, 2014

The mound

The other night I dreamed I lived in a big old weatherboard house. I was in my room, trying to work out why it felt weird in there. I looked around and looked around and then decided it was because there was a giant grassy mound twice as tall as me filling most of it. The furniture was all pushed to the side on account of the mound. Once you noticed it you wondered how you'd missed it all this time.

I woke up and decided the mound was dispossession: a burial mound: a pile of bodies with grass grown over. I decided this was the pile of bodies that haunt everything when you live in Australia, the pile of bodies you forget about because we have a kind of unspoken agreement to talk endlessly about almost everything else except that pile of bodies. You walk around and you walk around and if you're like me you have little projects and you try to make your life better because fuck yeah life etc and then suddenly the pile haunts you and it all seems like a dream, unreal.

It's like a whole country built on sand, sand soaked in blood, blood we never talk about. Like in Poltergeist. They were all like "Why is TV so fucking weird all the time? Why every time I watch TV do I feel like my soul is getting sucked out?" and the answer was BECAUSE YOUR FUCKING HOUSE IS BUILT ON A PILE OF DEAD PEOPLE YOU DO NOT HONOUR.

And me I wonder if this is why Australians are so touchy about uninvited arrivals coming by boat. The whole notion of uninvited arrival points back at the pile of bodies, after all, at the shot, the poisoned, the hung, the willfully-infected, the displaced: the dispossessed. But thinking about that would undermine our belonging, and we have no other home. We'd have to learn some manners.

And so we have this agreement to think about other things. I call it a culture of misdirection, an endless procession of - and I do hope you'll pardon my French here - bullshit. It helps us not look at the past, and how our nation got rich through through colonising the land, dispossessing those who came before. And it helps us not think about the future, and how our nation is getting rich through colonising the atmosphere, dispossessing those who'll come after. We get to live in a present that shrinks even as the TVs in it grow larger, large enough to swallow us. The radiant ghosts on the giant screens call to us: "We're heeere.. we're heeere.." with their come-hither looks and their Gold Logies and their Voices You Can Trust.

And all the while the pile towers over us, not going anywhere. Like us it has no other home. X


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