One morning I sprayed window cleaner onto my reading
glasses so that I might see better through the usual smear of finger prints and
collected grime, the build up of days of use.  That morning the fog was out thick and crusty like dirty
glasses and the air was filled with moisture, tiny invisible water droplets that
together created a grey blanket shrouding the back yard in sorrow.  Everything outside was wet to touch and
the washing on the line would take days to dry.  
This sort of moisture permeates the washing in ways a good
drenching never does.  A good
drenching is in and out in no time, but a moisture soaked fog gets into the
fibres of my sheets and stays there for far longer.  It lies like a curse and refuses to budge. 
I heard Craig Sherborne on the radio speaking of how he feels compelled to make sense of the
details of his life and relationships by including whatever comes up for him in
his writing.  
At times he thinks
this is fine.  This is art.  This is the only way he can write with
authenticity, even if it upsets some of his readers who imagine, rightly or
wrongly, that they find themselves described in his stories. 
At other times he tortures himself with the unethicality of
it all.  It is reprehensible.  He should not do it and yet he cannot
do otherwise.  It is his way of
coping with his life.  It is his
passion, his obsession, his reason for being.  
I struggle similarly to justify my writing, on the one hand
as necessary as a means of coming to some greater understanding of the meanings of my life.  
It’s all about having
greater insights into what it means to be human, as Sherborne suggests, and at
other times I thump myself internally for daring to write as I do.  
Somewhere in here the desire for
revenge pops up its head and insists on being counted, alternatively as
a reprehensible motive for which I must apologise, at other times as a valid
basis on which to build an argument.  
Perhaps it is not so much the fact of the writing itself, it is the
business of preparing that writing for public consumption.  It is the
determination to put on view to allow others to read it that both
attempts to satisfy the desire for revenge and also shifts it.  
Once the words are down on the page the
hot feelings pass.  They have entered another sphere.  Perhaps they enter into readers who can now detect those
yearnings in themselves through the vengeful one’s writing, or perhaps it transforms
into something else, some deeper understanding of the human condition.  
No wonder the reader might imagine, no
wonder the writer feels like this, I would too.  Such hurtful behaviour meted out towards them.  
I, too, want to hit out.  I, too, want to find some way of releasing that pressure as if from a cooker valve. I, too, want someone else to recognise my grief, and if in so doing I dishonour
the perpetrators of that grief, if in the process, I get behind the veil of
respectability of polite society, if in writing in this way I strip off the
masks from the faces of those who would prefer to remain hidden, even including
my own mask, then so be it.  
I can always put it back on later, when we meet for
polite conversation.  But in my
writing we are stripped bare of such false sensibilities.  
Through my writing hopefully we can approach
one another with honesty and integrity even if that experience causes one or
both of us pain.  

4 thoughts on “Fog”

  1. As they say, there is nothing truer than fiction. The writing profession is the hardest of all, for just the reasons you describe, and your friends and family will always see themselves in your stories, can't be helped as we share so many of the same memories and experiences.

    I think I'm much better with my words in private writings (get down to the dirty truth) than in public. I'm not much of a witty conversationalist in public. The true feelings, the honesty, as you say, is easier to unveil with the written word. But it's so hard to have read what we've written. Though that is the ultimate goal. Pushme, pullme.

  2. This is a brilliant post, on so many levels. It provides crucial insights, and possibly even answers, to understanding the human need for validation, questions of self identity, and why even after vengeance (or forgiveness), as a method of release, there still remains that ache. The fog as metaphor, for blindness, invisibility and the need to break free, see, understand. Which for some might mean no longer needing what lies behind it to define them. Thank you for this intriguing post.

  3. Writing is freedom. But can we always write what we truly feel?

    What would you write about 'Marine A' – found guilty of murdering a wounded Afghan insurgent?

    What would you write about his punishment? Should he be locked away for life, or should he be given a couple of years in prison?

    Or should he be freed?

    It's a tricky one. But I know what I think and maybe I'll write my thoughts down in a while.

  4. You’ve read my poetry so you know I’m capable of delving into my own life but what you also have to appreciate is you’re not—you are incapable in fact—of ever getting a true picture of the events recorded in those poems. They’re like paintings in that respect and paintings are not photos, photos are not films and films are not real life. I’ve recorded an impression, like a brass rubbing and that’s all it is; the rest rests with your imagination. When I listen to my wife talk about my childhood I realise what a bad job I’ve actually done of communicating what life was like for me as a child. By focusing on key moments I failed to stress how exceptional these were. Most of my life was fairly ordinary and boring and not particularly memorable which is probably why I don’t remember that much about it not because I’ve repressed the memories. The poem where I describe lying on the floor of my bedroom—which was directly above the living room—and trying to listen to my parents is accurate enough and I’m pretty sure I did it more than once but the comment my dad made about him being God happened many years later. When I read the poem it evokes very specific feelings but you weren’t there so all you can do is imagine and probably get it wrong which is fine; I’ve not failed because I haven’t communicated effectively because I never wrote the poem for you; that you get anything out of it at all is a bonus. If the poem works at all it’s because you’ve made it your own and that’s the nature of, the unpredictability of all writing but especially poetry. My wife takes this to what I think is an extreme in her ‘decoder ring poems’ because even when they’ve been about me I’ve needed her to provide me with the key before I could get them and I’ve always felt guilty because of that. I don’t often write in the heat of the moment. When I do the writing is usually bad but it’s served its purpose. Mostly I approach things years later and with a level head. Levelish.

    Why does grief or pain need to be shared? Do others not have enough of their own without us demanding they relive ours? Would it be so bad if we met someone who had lived a life without any pain? Impossible to imagine. We take pain as read. You live on the other side of the world to me but there’s no way you got through your sixty-odd years on this planet pain free. That’s not how life plays out. I don’t need to know the details. As I’m writing this the TV’s on with the sound down and they’re all marching past the cenotaph or being wheeled past. I’ve not met many soldiers but those I have met have never been ones to talk much about their experiences even when pressed. I can imagine two veterans running into each other, looking each other in the eye and thinking, You know, don’t you? Enough said. Who needs details? And yet, perversely, there is some comfort to be had when we learn that we’ve not been alone in our suffering. Why, I wonder, is that? Our suffering’s done and dusted. Maybe it would’ve helped when we were going through it—although it wouldn’t’ve lessened it one iota so I’m not sure why—but now? I guess it’s all to do with understanding. We want to be understood. It’s not enough for people to know us or at least to know things about us, we want people to understand us and, after coming to that understanding, still accept us. I did all these bad things and all these other bad things were done to me. Now tell me you still love me.

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