Savages – all of us

by | Jan 29, 2016

Her father found him rather too overt for his finely tuned diplomatic sensibilities, but nevertheless agreeable. A talent to be honed. And so invitations to various functions were arranged, to see how he might fit in. It was obvious to him that he wanted to run things. He exposed him to his art, the galleries, the artists, and his patronage of it.

He touched the forelock towards it all, towards him, without ever being able to reach the same heights of appreciation. It was a dislocated admiration of someone else’s passion. He could not grasp how so generous an appreciation could be lavished on something so intangible.

‘It prevents us from becoming savages,’ said the father.

And yet there was savagery, to one degree or another, in all of it. All the artists were savages; in their own way, tortured. Glorious savagery but savagery still. On the outside they look pasty, perpetually vulnerable half-people struggling for breath, not wanting to engage, keeping their distance, never making eye contact – and when they do, sideways, or through eyelids, trumpeting their fragility.

“We are children,” they seemed to be saying. Living tortured, walking like they had all day. Souls regularly breaking, infinitely frail, a naked bird on a busted branch. Inside, a raging fire, embers through the night, anger and gentle love in one. And then, the cultured few who dress up for the evening, lounge suit respectable. Cheques written, so they can see the tortured artist come out and display himself, and his wares, explain things, his work, so that we may all understand, as if any of it can be explained, his ways.

Captains point, the intellectually subsidised laugh, guffaw with drink in hand. The artist, still struggling, still tortured, the mind still spins, throws paint, rearranges words, invents phrases, bends notes, sits and consoles himself with nothing but the voice inside that screams. The washing machine, black mud and swirling, mute, then loud, excoriating the whirlpool of ideas.

The cheque is crossed, people move away, in opposite directions, everyone goes back to where they came from, till next time.