In the Twentieth Century of my trespass on earth,
having exterminated one billion heathens,
heretics, Jews, Moslems, witches, mystical seekers,
black men, Asians, and Christian brothers,
every one of them for his own good,
a whole continent of red men for living in unnatural community
and at the same time having relations with the land,
one billion species of animals for being sub-human,
and ready to take on the bloodthirsty creatures from the other planets,
I, Christian man, groan out this testament of my last will.
I give my blood fifty parts polystyrene,
twenty-five parts benzene, twenty-five parts good old gasoline,
to the last bomber pilot aloft, that there shall be one acre
in the dull world where the kissing flower may bloom,
which kisses you so long your bones explode under its lips.
My tongue goes to the Secretary of the Dead
to tell the corpses, “I’m sorry, fellows,
the killing was just one of those things
difficult to pre-visualize–like a cow,
say, getting hit by lightning.”
My stomach, which has digested
four hundred treaties giving the Indians
eternal right to their land, I give to the Indians,
I throw in my lungs which have spent four hundred years
sucking in good faith on peace pipes.
My soul I leave to the bee
that he may sting it and die, my brain
to the fly, his back the hysterical green color of slime,
that he may suck on it and die, my flesh to the advertising man,
the anti-prostitute, who loathes human flesh for money.
I assign my crooked backbone
to the dice maker, to chop up into dice,
for casting lots as to who shall see his own blood
on his shirt front and who his brother’s,
for the race isn’t to the swift but to the crooked.
To the last man surviving on earth
I give my eyelids worn out by fear, to wear
in his long nights of radiation and silence,
so that his eyes can’t close, for regret
is like tears seeping through closed eyelids.
I give the emptiness my hand: the pinkie picks no more noses,
slag clings to the black stick of the ring finger,
a bit of flame jets from the tip of the fuck-you finger,
the first finger accuses the heart, which has vanished,
on the thumb stump wisps of smoke ask a ride into the emptiness.
In the Twentieth Century of my nightmare
on earth, I swear on my chromium testicles
to this testament
and last will
of my iron will, my fear of love, my itch for money, and my madness.
Section 4 The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible – Galway Kinnell
In 1971, Galway Kinnell published The Book of Nightmares, which the above quote is taken from. The Book of Nightmares is a lengthy visionary poem that is considered to be his masterpiece. In this poem, Kinnell addresses the harmful and destructive struggles brought on by modem man (the Vietnam Conflict and similar cases in the past), and also pulls back to address burning metaphysical questions. It’s worth giving brief consideration to both Kinnell and Comparative mythologist Joseph Campbell, author of The Hero With a Thousand Faces in light of a report that featured in the Australian press yesterday. The report authored by Natalie O’Brien and titled As 108 drowned, they cried: ‘Pray for us’ details the circumstances in which yet another 108 human beings perished while making a desperate bid for freedom, a bid that saw them not only exploited and humiliated, but finally murdered, by a cynical, greedy and ruthless Australian Government. A government aided and abetted, as usual, by Australia’s very own bovver boys in blue – the Australian Federal Police (“AFP”).
Natalie O’Brien’s report details a litany of lies, cover-ups, corruption and plain old callousness on the part of the AFP that resulted in the deaths of 108 innocent human beings. Human beings with names and faces including Fatima nek Bakht and her sons, Mujtaba, 11, and Asif, 13, Mirza Hussain Jaffari, 26, along with Mohammed and Karim and a widow, Golafroz, and her son, 17-year-old Sajjad. These and 100 more, innocents who died for what? So white Australia can continue its uninterrupted plundering of that which is stole from its rightful owners – Aboriginal Australia.
White Australia’s fear of love, itch for money, and madness
In reality The Book ofNightmares is an example of the hero’s journey, which is always, a journey into the Self. In Jungian terms, this journey is known as the individuation process. As Campbell says in The Power of Myth, every one of us is capable of being the hero. If we wish to grow more in tune with the Self, we must set off on the hero’s journey. The Book of Nightmares is but one example of the archetypical journey of the hero, but one that is especially applicable to our time. Kinnell’s message is ominous but hopeful: to survive much longer, man must learn to overcome his need for control and order. As can be seen from Natalie O’Brien’s report, we are too often caught up in differences in ideologies and beliefs, which leads us to search (often destructively) for outward solutions – solutions which in the case of Fatima nek Bakht and her sons resulted in their deaths. Fatima and her son’s deaths were unnecessary; they were brought about, in the final analysis, by white man’s greed and lust for power and control. How very Christian of them!
If people took the time to read The Book of Nightmares it will become evident that the solution to white man’s problems is not outward – it is within. The hero’s journey is the process of individuation, and if any of us hope to improve the state of the world, the journey must begin with the Self.
I have said that the soul is not more than the body, And I have said that the body is not more than the soul, And nothing, not God, is greater to one than one’s self is…
From Walt Whitman, “Song of Myself’
“The Dead Shall Be Raised Incorruptible.” The title is a direct quotation from 1 Corinthians 15:52: “the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” Paul is referring to Christ’s second coming, freeing men from their corrupt bodies. What this implies is that people in their human, embodied form are corrupt and that mortality and moral failing are intrinsically linked. Through his loathing of the body and stifling of the unconscious mind, Christian man has become dangerously divorced from nature, once divorced from nature, anything becomes permissible, no crime or slander too great for he “who loathes human flesh for money.”
The Old Testament belief that man was created with the intention of dominating lesser peoples and animals has fuelled numerous historical atrocities. “Christian man” has exterminated:
… one billion heathens, heretics, Jews, Moslems, witches, mystical seekers, black men, Asians, and Christian brothers, every one of them for his own good,
a whole continent of red men for living in unnatural community and at the same time having relations with the land, one billion species of animals for being sub-human…
In Australia the one billion heathens…etc., exterminated by “Christian man” has come to include the widow, Golafroz, and her son, 17-year-old Sajjad.
The legitimacy of white man’s rule in Australia
Here’s the scenario:
Citizen X finds himself in possession of a sum of money; he decides to invest this money in real estate. To this end he buys a parcel of land and builds a block of flats. He decides to live in one of the flats, and rent the rest out.
One day, a stranger passes bye, decides he likes Citizen X’s block of flats, shoots Citizen X in the head and occupies his flat. Not only does the stranger occupy Citizen X’s flat, but he proceeds to collect rent from the tenants.
One day, one of the tenants refuses to pay (or leave). The second ‘owner’ says: “You’re violating my property rights to this building.” The tenant says: “What property rights? You stole this property from someone else.”
If we were to change say flat to continent and Citizen X to the Gadigal we have a rather close approximation of what happened in Australia in 1788. This raises the obvious question, what gives the second ‘owner’ the right to dictate terms to anyone else? Indeed isn’t it open to all would be refugees to Australia to ask “What property rights? You stole this property from someone else.” Or “what gives you the right to prevent us from occupying land that you stole from someone else?”
If we follow this logic through, the logic of might makes right, which is the logic white Australia applied to Hussain Jaffari, 26, along with Mohammed and Karim when they tacitly sanctioned their deaths on board an Indonesian fishing boat sometime in early October, 2009, then it would be open for anybody or any country with the necessary resources at their disposal to come and shoot white Australia in the head and take possession the land, calling it theirs, because they took it from a non-rightful owner.
While the latter scenario is unlikely to happen, at least not in the foreseeable future, that’s not an excuse to ignore the obligations we as human beings have to other human beings, indeed our obligations extend beyond others of our species and extend to the “one billion species of animals for being sub-human” that white Christian male, in the words of Galway Kinnell has exterminated.
I leave readers with another poem from Galway Kinnell to reflect on.
Somewhere behind me
a small fire goes on flaring in the rain, in the desolate ashes.
no matter, now, whom it was built for,
it keeps its flames,
everyone who might wander into its radiance,
a tree, a lost animal, the stones …
The flame of existence warms everything-it does not discriminate between living and inanimate matter. Trees, lost animals, and stones are beautifully drawn together by Kinnell’s usage of the fire. They are all capable of receiving the fire’s warmth and light; they are one in the same. Life and inanimate matter are melded together; life is matter, and matter is life.
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