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Good and bad, art and people

At one of our recent Thursdays QUILT sessions, we discussed the German film, “The Lives of Others”, which contained a line about whether it’s possible to be a bad person* if you spend time appreciating good art*. I’m paraphrasing slightly. By the same token, the question might be asked, what sort of person do you become, having been made to watch “Three lives and only one death”, a somewhat alternative French film that we discussed the previous week.

The critics loved it, certain audiences didn’t, namely the majority of our SameSky community. Something positive from it however: a healthy chunk of inspiration for our resident poet, Ian McKenzie.

Please take a moment to read and to appreciate what I think is his most profound, elegant and meaningful poem to date (below).

*If ever we feel like a philosophical QUILT discussion, we might address the question of whether there really is such a thing as a bad person, a good person, or indeed good or bad art; or whether these things are so subjective as to render words like good and bad meaningless.

Strange Days, Indeed! {Impressions from a French film: ‘Three lives and only one death’}

Glass shatters; splintered shards

Of perception fly off in all directions.

A cracked mirror grins back in your face

With eyes splayed wide in disconcerting,

Misshapen reflections of a wounded psyche.

But never mind, we are all multi-taskers

At heart, not confined to one single

Universe; with a subtle knife

We can casually step into other

Alternative worlds in our imaginations;

Exploring new

Tabs in parallel planes,

Simultaneously surfing the web,

Returning safely to

Home again at

The click of a mouse.

But, if the

Circuit breaks, malfunctions?

What then?

Time may pass in fits and starts, now speeding

Up! Now slowing down, twisting back

Around on itself, until you

Can see the back of your own head…

There is a room at the top of

My staircase, dull and dingy, full

Of contorted shadows; cobwebs clinging

To the door frame, while strange voices

Trapped in muffled whispers seep through

The dusty floorboards. Some days I

Don’t make it to the top of the stairs;

I retreat in panic, to come back down again…

I am becoming terribly absent

Minded these days…

Strange days, indeed!

More and more, these days, I find myself

Stepping out of one skin to slip into

Another…and sometimes, like dreams,

They merge in swirling images;

Appearing sometimes searing bright,

Other times seeming tenebrous, like cloud-

Filtered sunlight, mildewed and musty,

With the patina of old, 1940’s décor.

Whirling paisley curlicues spin,

Confounding visions in dizzying

Psychedelic patterns; or, with

Shapeshifting psychopathic shadows

Casting sickly runes on flickering

Lamp-lit walls of the attics in my mind…

Where was I, now? Ah, yes! A name…

What name? It escapes me; but it keeps

Ringing in my ears like the loud clicks

Of castanets, appallingly addictive;

I am drawn to it like a drunk moth,

But repelled all at the same time.

There are days I wish some stranger

Would come along to sort out this messy

Entanglement of loose jig-saw pieces

Lying scattered on the ground. I try

So hard to find the edges, to

Discover where my world ends, or

Where everything else begins?

And just to make matters more difficult,

The lid of the jig-saw box is missing…

And the small voices keep buzzing

Inside my head; their shrill, bitter tongues

Ignore my pleas for quietude.

The coward dies many times over,

Only the brave are one time dead…

I go in one door, come out another;

The one constant in all this clutter?

There is only one ending. But,

Which one is it? Ah! There’s the rub!

How did we get from here to there?

Where were you when I was most in need?

There are so many questions I have

To ask you, but the answers only

Spark more futile inquiries, instead

Of closure…Oh! Strange days indeed!

An empty picture frame stares stonily

At the space where your memories

Used to be…singing songs that have

No meaning… (La dee da, La de dee!)

The Jokers are missing from the pack

Of cards the fortune teller used

To show you what it was they could

Not see; it felt as though they’d smashed

A mirror, to then carefully put

The pieces back together again

Reforming your broken features in

A cruelly twisted reflection

Of what they used to be, before

The shadows entered to deform

The person that once lived within.

And nobody told you what to expect,

And no one explained how it would be;

Left to put all the broken parts

Together again. And you were lost,

Disfigured, completely re-wired…

Strange days, indeed!

IM-19thOctober 2020

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