Clouds In The Head

We re-live our initiation rituals
9 May, 2014, 8:02 pm
Filed under: Nobody Loves A Thinker

I was trying to watch the beginning of the horror film Scream last night. It didn’t help that we live in a house in the middle of nowhere with large panes of glass (sliding doors mostly) facing empty bush and field. I got quickly scared. I knew what was coming. I turned off.

And then I got to thinking why this clearly cleverly contrived script would appeal, even why it would be made.

I’m not sure what the leap of logic was but this was my ponderment: perhaps we relive our initiation rituals or experiences, perhaps we seek for their re-creation in our recreation and our creations and our ceremonial re-cremations. Perhaps all those kids who did the horror thing in their teens (I was too scared to) are then searching for the occasions and proofs of their manhood/womanhood/naughty risk-taking away from parents. Perhaps that’s why indigenous societies have such formalised initiations for their early teens, because the big, frightening, age-busting, ceiling-shattering journeys punched into their early teens then provide a deep structure for later behaviour. Lacan would probably think it was way too late but he was somewhat French.

There’s something halcyon about those teen buzzes. Our friends are never closer, our future never brighter, our despair never more cutting. We dream and daydream and jump off (metaphorical and real) cliffs. Nobel prize-winners tend to have had significant mentors when they’re about 14 years old.

The script I’ve been working on for many years, Rainbird, is kind of about this moment, but from the side of a potential mentor. There’s this young fellow. Someone at the cliff edge of adolescence. Will they jump, pull back, or discover there’s a rope attached and they can abseil down?

I guess what I’ve constructed in Rainbird is an initiation ritual for the kid in question, and hope in its gizzards, instead of violence and suicide.

Perhaps he needs to be cut. I should cut him, in my script. My hero, a grieving woman age 40, should be the one to cut him.

I won’t burrow deeper for now. I’m too busy thinking.


The existential uncertainty of being somewhere else
9 May, 2014, 2:29 pm
Filed under: travel versus unravel

Or – what we think we need to do when we travel.

We observe. We make notes. We are surprised. We detect difference. We wonder. We detect similarity.

Oh, look, that’s a good half dozen water buffalo in that paddy. 

They have crofton weed here, too. And that’s a mini-lantana, I wonder how weedy it gets here.

Wow, those women have been hanging round outside our hotel room hoping to sell us stuff for hours!

The locals don’t seem fazed by all that smoke in their houses. 

Does this land ever get a drought?

They like a drink, the men round here, just like us.

We share our thoughts. But we don’t quite know what to do with them. We don’t “travel by thesis” (well we do a bit, but not in an all-engulfing manner – see future blog post “Donna and the Shovel Women” for more info) in the way Marxists of yore once did, seeing everything through the lens of oppression and wage slavery.

We meet folks and compare. Oh, we have crofton weed at home, it’s very bad for horses. 


And then we take a photo. Here is our guide. Her name was Khu. She was delightful. We sent her a photo when we left. Her command of English was amazing. She was a fine guide through the rice fields of Sapa. She had a gorgeous way of saying “I have no idea”. 

We latch onto ideas, hungry for them, seeking perhaps to legitimise our trip or to find some point of solidarity or something to “take home” to the people when we return. They’re so inspiringly energised: we can learn a thing or two from them.

And then we learn that cocktails are cheap, wine is expensive and suddenly the whole holiday begins to develop its own character and our discoveries, thoughts, notes, differences and similarities can be explored again over an easy daiquiri before bed and the next day’s discoveries can begin.