I can’t remember if it was on a Wu-Tang Clan album or one of the solo works by one of its members but I’ve always liked the line:
“..Go anywhere and live.”
It manages to sound both “throw-away” and axiomatic in a way Nietzsche would be proud of at the same time. It’s a skill the Wu-Tang possess in large amounts.
It has always seemed to me to be an admirable goal; the ability to go anywhere and live that is. It bespeaks a sense of self-reliance and competence, of strength and intelligence, of focus and adaptability (with a bit of James Bond mixed in) which is extremely attractive.
It might not be so much a desire for the possible as it is a wish to cope with the real however as it occurs to me that I have not been in the one place for very long for twenty years. The list of places I’ve lived runs like that Johnny Cash song “I’ve been everywhere” or Nick Cave’s revision of “Wanted Man”. I’ve lived in at least five countries and twenty-five “homes”.
I think you can hear it in the song, all that moving around can be exciting, educational, dangerous… but in the end it’s mostly tiring and the reason it’s tiring is the fact that you move because you have to, not because you want to.
The reason this travelling is so wearing is because it is necessitated by economics. I can say that I set off on my travels because I yearned for adventure and experience and because I wanted to get away from the Roman Catholic Taliban that were running Ireland, and to some extent still is, but the most important reason I left was to work and most of the moving I’ve done since involved finding and following work.
I encountered this idea “The Gathering” on BBC Radio 4 recently in the form of Terry Wogan being cheesier than Elvis’s lunch. I don’t think it’s a bad thing for the tourist industry to want to make a little, or even a lot, more money but I think the people who will answer the call to “The Gathering” will be those with no problem with money or visas to get back into where they are visiting from. I can see how those who left because they had to and are just hanging on where they went might find “The Gathering” (the more you say it the more it sounds like a 70’s horror movie) not just cheesy but a large measure of salt on an open wound.
“I’ve lived on nothing but dreams and train smoke”- the song goes but living like that can make you very thin and get you old fast. It’s exciting but the attrition is tremendous.
A lot of us are more than a little lost and we are hanging on to our mounts hoping they might have more of a sense of direction then us, like Mickaleen Òg O’ Flynn’s horse in “The Quiet Man” (a film with a little more dignity than “The Gathering”) that always knew to halt outside the pub regardless of its owner’s occasional foolish inclinations to go elsewhere.
“The Gathering” won’t be the pony that a lot of people need to bring them home.
Watching a television documentary on the rise of Hitler (a cliché in itself I suppose) I was genuinely shocked by the gibberish that he spouted. I didn’t expect him to rival Seneca in his erudition but really Hitler managed to make Mao and Stalin seem like verbal genii- which they were not. So how did he come to power?
Golo Mann, a German historian, suggested that the division between management and labour was the crack through which Hitler got in.
-I see the crowds in Cavan protesting for a certain Mr. Quinn with the support of senior figures from the GAA, THE Church and at least one hypocritical politician and I get worried.
-I see a nation which cannot be bothered to vote in a referendum on the rights of children because it would have meant leaving the house on a Saturday but would queue round the block to vote in a referendum on banker’s pensions even if the polls were only open on a Monday morning from 4-5 am.
-I see judges giving fines for assaults against women.
-And now it seems that a woman in the ‘care’ of one of our hospitals has been allowed to die in great pain because of our utter cowardice in facing the reality of abortion and abortion legislation.
Maybe we should give more thought to making Ireland a home to come back to and a safe place for woman and children to live in rather than a “destination” for tourists to spend money in.
What’s that I hear on the breeze coming in from over the Irish Sea, from over the Atlantic ..
“I hope my pony, I hope my pony, I hope my pony knows the way back home.”
– Tom Waits