Post # 37


A bat skeleton, almost entirely decomposed, on our walk through the National park this morning. It was sunken into the earth, picked over, set in points, an organic angular gesture, its coffin the forest floor. The children wanted to study it a while. We eventually walked on, back out toward the abundance of fern fronds and the suns light. Later I looked at images of vintage C19th bats. I thought of Goya’s preoccupation with bats. The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters––more like the failed light of reason to sweep away vice and corruption. Goya scenes of war ‘atrocity’ and ‘misery’ much affected art critic Robert Hughes­ who owned several of his etchings. He writes about it in his critical work on Goya. Hughes was apparently untouched by ‘real-life’ terror of war closer to home––the partial eradication of Australia’s First Nation peoples remained repressed in Hughes 1950s boyhood. He wondered: ‘“Can it be so? It can be so.”––a prolonged gasp of recognition at the sheer, blood-soaked awfulness of the world.’[1] He didn’t have to look to Europe to find the human dunghill, colonial atrocities had surely shaped an ache in the souls-eye of Australian First Peoples, continue to make graven. Jung writes in Red Book: ‘I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul, but a dead system.’[2] Hughes eventually was meant to face this too when his own son took his life and he divulged his own part in the human dunghill. And so, the failed light of reason––perhaps we could attempt an inventory of human irrationality as Goya did? Superstitious witches, satyrs, goblins, hobgoblins. A He-goat, or lustful goat, a devil, under whose watch a procuress instructs a woman in necromancy.[3] A wayward tread, a diversification from god-filled-platitudes––Goya had no truck with metaphysics. ‘Goya was a mighty celebrant of pleasure. You know he loved everything that was sensuous: the smell of an orange…the whiff of tobacco and the aftertaste of wine …’[4] The ruminant woollen coat of my dog who licks up affection in cortisol blasts. Riven bliss of sea salt encrusted skin after a swim in oceanic expanse. Afterward of sun-saturated skin, mothered-by-the-suns-light. Scent of sickly blossom, clover-ed in honey. Oiled wood wizening by light. Pungent resin of aged leather. Voodoo literature of disjuncture, gap, or rift. Not reason, not rationalism or even irrationalism, but rather breach and fissure.

[1] Hughes, R, 2003, Goya, London: Vintage, p.6.

[2] Jung, C.G. year. The Red Book.

[3] The Caprichos plates.

[4] Hughes, R, 2003, Goya, London: Vintage, p.8.