Letter beggar

11/4/99

 

 

Dear Charles

 

It was lovely to receive your letter and fascinating to read you theory about human existence. I have a theory. But I wonít go into that. Quite frankly, the whole business of life and sufferingand all that is quite beyond me, especially on a Monday morning. and what S/He thought S/He was doing in creating the world is something we should really take up with The Board. After all, flippancy in the act of creation should be discouraged.

Anyway, enough of that. I had a hugely depressing conversation the other day, lasting well into the depths of a third bottle of something or other and we came to the conclusion that life would be quite simple if only we could keep ourselves to devising sensible legislation and keeping to the rules they encourage. Then that simple desire was rightly dismissed as fantastical and completely unrealistic. After all it takes genius to invent something as creatively destructive and intrinsically perverted as a human being. To destroy beautiful things by carelessness and neglect is easy, but to actively set out to destroy things is by conscious carelessness and neglect is quite a challenge.

††††††††††† Anyway, enough of that. The other day I was driving through a particularly sorry bit of Kingston, windows closed, air-conditioning on, a soft elegiac music trying to compete with the blanket of whooshing noises the AC makes, and the bodily vibrations of DJ Music on the street, when I saw a beggar. This is nothing new. Each street in Kingston is in fact defined by its beggar, or range of beggars. Just to side track for a little while: On the road back from the swimming stadium, where Thomas does his thing with breaststroke, there is an albino who is fully conscious of the repulsive effect of his hideously disfigured and burnt face. He uses that repulsion to heighten his urgent need, looking closely into your car and breathing on the window. On the way to the supermarket there is a beggar whose head lives in the sewer-pit, dangerously close to the wheels of cars whizzing by. The dasein of the rest of his body can only be assumed. He spends his days freeing himself of mental slavery looking at life in cars going by from underneath. On the way to the bank there twirls the twirler of whom I have already told you I think. He has since become a bit of a favourite of mine. Then on the way to the Dutch embassy there is a man who does not beg, but lies prostrated across the side-walk with magazine articles and batteries strapped to his arms absorbing knowledge and energy through his charcoal skin by osmosis. On the way down to University beach, at the stop lights on Mountain-view avenue, there is a naked man with sizable genitals, muscly bow legs and long, strong arms, who walks up alongthe line of waiting cars, laughing delightedly as if he is conscious of the generous hand he has been dealt and the effect he is having on the drivers of the cars. Then there is the sad little old man, as thin as a crack in the door, and as unnoticeable, whom I have never seen standing, but whom nevertheless occasionally diappears for a few hours. He leans his emaciated body against a metal fence on the way to the childrenís International school, stirring endlessly in an imaginary pot. Around him he has a highly-organised archive of smudgy bits and pieces, so that when he is away his place is so well defined that you might even miss his absence as the negative of his body is still there. Being a Rastafarian he has a huge lump of matted and thickly knotted hair bound up in a pillow-case and sits there staring vacantly into the misery of all these passing cars. Passing cars are merciless in their insulation. Then on the way to the Cinema there is a tall thin lady whose clothes are dusty, sober and long. She comes up to the window with an anxious look and asks for twenty cents with an accent that is far too well-spoken for comfort. What happened there? I could go on. There is the man who ties a red ribbon around his enormous penis and plasters his hair with and unidentifiable snotty-like substance. He spends his days searching out waste and flexing his incredibly well-strung body around the permissible edges of the shopping mall,; then there is the man who has one leg and who is so old and weak that he has to tie himself to his crutches where he keeps dirty news-papers.

††††††††††† The beggar I wanted to talk about is different. This one is tall, handsome, as black as the night, absorbing so much light that he almost appears as a hole in reality. He walks around naked in an incredibly elegant way, strutting really, more than walking and with elegant sweeping movements he will pick up an old Orange-juice carton, scoop some oily water from the gutter where we are waiting for the traffic jam to inch and dissolve. He then lifts the carton to his mouth, head up high into the sun and drinks just like I imagine a director of a Pepsi-Cola advertisement would like to have things drunk. The sight of him drinking quenches my thirst... But what is so interesting about him and many of the non-begging beggars like him, is that they are like ghosts in the town. They are invisible, black wholes of aversion. The shame of their acceptance as an unavoidable part of the street-scape leads to a paradoxical invisibility. So that the wide, otherwise pornographic and generous display of his arse and balls as he bends down to scoop his gutter water can be easily ignored by even the most respectable church-goer passing. Nobody sees him. It is a miracle. We walk over the man lying on the side walk whose articles are read by osmosis, we walk through the skin of the man drinking with the ease of walking through a wide open doorway.

 

Anyway, enough of that. How are you? By the way I mustnít forget to give you our dates. We shall be arriving in Holland on the 6th of July, staying a few days in Rotterdam then moving to Arnhem and traveling about a bit until we leave for England around the end of July. I shall again be in Holland during the last week of August, I think.

 

We are really looking forward to seeing you. I shall phone when we arrive.

 

 

Loads of love to everyone,