Taste

The taste of arousal in my mouth is the same as inspiration. Will that even make sense to anyone? I get a taste in my mouth when I have an exciting idea for a painting and I get the same taste when I want to be fucked. Well, taste is the closest way I can describe it. It’s like a feeling of warm air inside my mouth that gets registered by my taste buds.

Another commonality in my experiences of art and sex is that they are both best when uninhibited. The best fucking happens when you are so immersed in the sensations and emotions of the experience that you don’t care about the ugly sounds of squelching and screaming, the comical faces, the abject imperfection of the body and the immense vulnerability of exposure. The best sex happens when you don’t try to tame it or make it presentable. Don’t pretend that the porn you like best is pretty.

It’s the same with art. My favourite sort of art is… the beautiful grotesque. The ugly honest. The awkward vulnerable. The spectacular perverse. I love when art tells me things I don’t want to hear but does so in magical ways. I love art that excites and confronts and challenges.

I love being slapped in the face. Literally and metaphorically. I love one hand around my throat and the other violating my cunt. That one I mean literally but I’m open to creative interpretation.

Right now, I’m way better at fucking. My art is still far too mannered. I’ll work on that.

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Old selfie taken in 2013 for a fetish website.

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Smash

Holding itself together is Life’s main job. We create ourselves out of the bits and pieces of stuff lying around and then spend the rest of our time desperately grabbing at the detritus of ourselves as time rapidly and indifferently happens and our bits and pieces crumble into dust and atoms that we can no longer grasp. It happens to us at different rates, those who have health problems in our youth perhaps witness the horror of our helplessness a little earlier than most. And sometimes there is an ugliness residing within those of us who have young broken bodies because we see the dumb bewilderment and despair on the faces of people who only experience physical suffering in their elderly years and our sympathy for them is tempered with the bitter knowledge that they never had the wisdom of experience to comprehend our own sort of agony when we needed it. So they are as alone in their pain as we are because we hate them for suffering at a slightly different frame rate to us. We are not as compassionate as we think we are and admitting that about ourselves is perhaps the most compassionate thing we can do. Hold my hand, tell me you love me, but don’t pretend you understand and I will do the same for you. Suffering is universal yet painfully solitary.

I am furious all the time. Furious at my mortality, furious because when I scream “help!” nobody can because that’s just not how it works, furious at myself for being so deeply involved in this, for not being Zen enough, Buddhist enough to rise above this. Sometimes I can sit with this. Often I can’t.

Holding oneself together is a full-time job, a hard job. Lately my edges have felt particularly crumbly and I haven’t been able to hold my consciousness above it, instead it is like I want to succumb to the violence of disintegration and in fact contribute to it, like I can no longer endure this laborious process of paddling my kayak upstream but if I paddle while going down with the current, it will be fast and glorious. But then everything will be over quicker which I don’t want because my belief systems have me close to certain that there is nothing over the waterfall but for empty oblivion and despite everything, I adore being alive. In fact, that’s what makes it so fucking hard, this goddamn mortal shell. This moronically limited mass of meat, fat, bones, genetics, electrical signals and emotional baggage. Biological machines are by their very nature imperfect, life has a desire to exist but there is no law of the universe saying it has to be easy.

Today is one of those days where I wake up sore. It’s perhaps been been months since I’ve had a proper sleep because my body is failing me again. I woke up with no fight in me, I would probably fall into one of those depressions where you sleep all day but for the fact that my body won’t allow that sort of escapism. So… I don’t know what have been doing with myself today. Drifting. Wearing my ugly grey dressing gown and filling the sink up with hot water to do the dishes. Trembling with frustrated fury.

I screamed in rage and hurled a glass at the ground.  What had been a functional object of substance, of density and mass, shattered into tiny fragments. For a beat, I felt horror and shame but one of the luxuries of being home alone is that you get to be crazy when you need to and so I started taking photos with my phone. Then I grabbed another glass, launched it at the kitchen floor and delighted in the eruption of my colourful cup from Kmart.

I luxuriated in the madness of it, of wasting resources, money, of creating the loud and ugly sort of sounds that might disturb the neighbours, of watching benign objects that I had comfortably lived with exploding into dangerous slivers that can get stuck under the skin and draw blood. It was the most fucking beautiful thing I had made in years. A moment of violent intensity glittering amongst the mundanity of domesticity. I broke two more glasses and then I stopped. A cacophony of clucking, the neighbour’s chickens must have been startled by the sounds. Maybe I smiled.

I felt better. The light and colour through the glass moved me and I took more photos, dodgy documentation that is not the actual experience. I felt better. I cleaned up. I resolved to feel no shame about this, to strive not to hide the ways in which being broken breaks me but to accept this non-acceptance as part of the price of existing. To write about these things and share these things and allow myself to fall into these things, do not be afraid of the mundane ugliness of it all but to find the poetry in the misery.

For a brief while I had a lover who used the word “catharsis” a lot. He understood something about that which has stuck with me. Broken glass is fucking beautiful.

Oh Baby!

“It’s a girl!” Exclaimed Adele Jones, a 53-year-old midwife whose hobbies were feminist yarn bombing and masturbating to the comments section of K–Pop videos on YouTube. Baby Katniss’s eyes shot open and she spoke in a voice as clear as vodka.

“Bitch, your breath reeks like a Ziploc bag full of rotten mince, you been suckin’ on corpse dick or what?

Instantly furious, Adele shot back

“How dare you, you pudge faced shit! I’ve half a mind to ram you right back up your mother’s manky pussy!”

“Go on then, mum’s shredded cunt and arsehole situation is a tropical paradise compared to your goat bukkake breath!”

Adele leaned over baby Katniss and spat on her tiny newborn face. Adele’s yellow mucus mingled with the blood and miscellaneous childbirth sludge that Baby Katniss was already coated in.

Baby Katniss grinned cheekily,  winked at the camera and screamed “I THINK I’M GONNA LIKE IT HEEEERRE!!!!”

Brenda’s Tiny Cage

One day, Brenda woke up in a tiny cage.

“Good morning Brenda, you are in a tiny cage” explained a disembodied voice.

“But why?” Brenda asked as she rubbed her bleary eyes.

“You are trapped,” the voice continued, ignoring Brenda’s question “and if there is any way of escaping, we’re not going to tell you about it.”

Brenda started to panic, her breathing quickened and she began to hurl her body against the walls of the cage.

“Let me out!” she screamed “LET ME OUT!”

The cage grew smaller.

“The cage is growing smaller,” offered the voice in a helpful tone “and it will continue to do so any time that you struggle.”

Brenda forced herself to slow her breathing. “Okay,” she thought “this isn’t so bad, I just have to keep still and accept my fate. I can live like this, there is still so much beauty in this new little world of mine” and she quietly admired a ray of sunlight that was illuminating some specks of dust as they gently danced in the cool spring air, just outside of her little cage.

For a few months, Brenda was content.

Sometimes, she even felt an incredible joy that made her feel grateful for her life. Just as often, she felt a boredom so excruciating that she wondered how she might bear it but because she knew there was no escape, she would simply bite down on her own tongue or the inside of her cheeks so that they were always covered in bloodied ulcers.

But it wasn’t such a bad life, really.

Autumn came and the cage started to shrink again.

“Why?” Brenda cried in despair as the walls pushed in so close that her organs started to squash and her spine started to snap “I played by the rules!”

The voice chuckled indulgently.

“Oh, how cute, you thought you had some control over this.”

Outback

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I need to find a way to capture some of this feeling before it dissolves in the atmosphere of the city.

It’s flat, the outback. It reminds me of the way the world felt when I was a kid, yanno, big. Big like when you stand outside at night and stare into the universe. That awestruck thing of you being so small, so insignificant, that liberating thing of some getting some goddamn perspective. Oh hey ego, shut up a tic and look at this cool shit, hey?

Over the anniversary of my 10th year living in Australia, we explored Lake Mungo, the ghost of a lake that once was. Now a dry and flat expanse covered in alien vegetation, 50, 000 years ago this place was freshwater mussels, giant marsupials and people. Some of their bones remain around the edges of the extinct lake and our guitar toting tour guide showed us ancient fire pits, fossilised fish scales, preserved footprints and freshwater mussel shells that looked as if they had been deposited on the ground just yesterday. Actually, the mussel shells were perhaps one of the most striking things – the fact that they did not look old gave me a strange sense of vertigo, a connection with the past and a palpable understanding of how recently that lake existed in the history of things.

For centuries the fossils and things have been preserved in a museum of mud and sand but now the wind is uncovering them and slowly they erode and disintegrate, blending with the dust and sand. Poetry like that is the kind of shit that puts a lump in your throat. Mortality, ephemerality, it makes you feel lonely and sad but in a good way, a poignant way. Isn’t everything just so fucking beautiful when you remember that it’s all temporary?

It’s dry, the outback. To an untrained eye it might seem hostile to life but in fact the biodiversity is astounding and you see things that are so alien and specifically evolved to the ecologies which they inhabit. Brilliantly coloured parrots screeching in voices that somehow remind me of Fran Drescher, lumpy turd shaped lizards with giant mouths, Emus that look like dinosaurs and a run like terrified but athletic nerds, beetles with markings that look tribal and might get them entangled in an online argument about cultural appropriation, weird fungus that is the texture of a pavlova filled with black nightmare weirdness and flowers with petals that feel like dry straw.

You have to stop though, you have to stop and stand still and pay attention. That’s a good rule of thumb in general when it comes to the natural world, remembering that it doesn’t exist to entertain you. The animals and plants have their own shit to do and if you take some time to tune into what that shit might be, you realise just how little you know, just how many worlds exist right before your mostly blind and ignorant eyes. It’s humbling.

“Humble” seems like an old fashioned word doesn’t it? I’d love to see a renaissance of humbleness. Can somebody bring it back into fashion? I don’t mean humble as in subservient or lacking in pride. I mean… Remembering how little any one person can ever truly know, remembering there is always more to learn. Always.

It’s bright, the outback. This part will go down as one of the great memories of my life. The part where we got out of the car and clambered up white sand dunes. When I reached the top of my first dune, I let out an involuntary and childish squeal of excitement and I started to run along it. I’m grateful for the times when I forget to be self-consciousness about what a giant dork I am.

I’ve never been on sand dunes before, not proper ones like this. They were a thing of myths, of the books I read in my childhood. It is utterly thrilling to be somewhere that just looks and feels so different from anything familiar and I swear, my heart raced with excitement as I bound down the side of the first dune in giant gravity propelled leaps! I ran through the flat valley between the dunes then up another, down another, up again. I felt a manic, brilliant joy.

When I paused for my breath to catch up on me, I realised that the white expanse seemed to be spinning and flickering just a little, as if my brain couldn’t quite take the exertion, the heat or the brightness of the sun reflecting with such intensity on the white surface. I wondered if I was going to faint and the idea seemed so hilariously pathetic that I burst into laughter. Then I stopped to breathe in the place and listen to the absence of traffic, the wind, bugs and the occasional bird or rare other tourist.

I watched him in the distance, my travel companion who is one of the great loves of my life and who has a thirst for adventure and novelty that feeds and ignites my own. I knew, through the excited grins we had shared all day, that he was finding this as magical as I, albeit in his own way. He looked up into the sky and I followed his gaze, it was a bird. The internet tells me it was probably a nankeen kestrel.

It hovered and wove silently through the sky and as it came towards me, that feeling of awe I had been experiencing all day seemed to reach a climactic peak. As it flew directly above me, I literally fell to my knees and watched it pass in front of the sun, an act which caused its feathers and much of its body to glow. Holy. Fuck.

I have a voice memo on my phone from after that moment. My voice is faint, trembling. You can barely hear it over the wind but I wanted to transcribe my words, rambling, unaltered.

“Today I saw the sun shining through a hawk while sitting on a sand dune… and I’m so glad I lived for this. I wanted to take a photo or a video for the memory and for writing about it but I thought that would be really inferior. And I thought about the shame I feel for taking photos instead of living in the moment. 
But then I thought about how we’ve always told stories, the thing that makes us human is telling stories about the things we do, that’s why we take photos of everything and try to record things… that’s something really special about us… that we… we tell each other stories about what we’ve done, what we’ve eaten, where we’ve been. It’s how we learn, it’s how we relate and I think we should tell all our stories. I don’t think there should be bad stories. I think we should tell stories about the most poignant moments in our lives, the moments when we run across sand dunes but also the time we shit our pants on the tram down Sydney Rd or the sex we had that was just so filthy or… the time we wanted to die.”

Exactly a week before I was running on the sand dunes, I wanted to die. The theme was one I had written of before, unhappiness with my health, sorrow about how significantly decreased my abilities are, chronic pain, lost potential, fears of things worsening, missing painting with the ever-present ache of lost love. I felt trapped, I had temporarily stopped seeing the colour in things. All I could see when I closed my eyes was a recent x-ray of my fucked up body and all the ways in which I cannot have the things I love.

Exactly a week afterwards, I sat in the dark where we had set up camp and though the suicidal inclinations had passed, I was still feeling tenuous. I decided to risk trusting this relatively new love of mine with the story of my sadness and he gave me the generous gift of listening and then just holding me for a little bit. Something lifted after that, it is such a fundamentally human need to have our sorrow witnessed. And our joy. One of the most meaningful things you can give another person is to listen to them when they tell you how they feel. I am tremendously grateful for the people who have loved and listened to me and I hope I do the same for them.

The next day, I was watching the sun shining through a hawk on a sand dune. Then I stood up and went to my love, we embraced and showed one another various treasures we had discovered – old fashioned glass fragments, dead bugs, bones. We both went wandering in separate directions again and I played a game with myself where I walked along the flat sand with my eyes closed until eventually I reached a dune that meant I was now climbing upwards with eyes still closed. Suddenly my foot touched air and, gasping in surprise, I fell onto my arse, I had reached the top of the dune and had fallen onto the other side of it. I laughed, filled with joy over how effective such a simple game had been at delighting me in this magical place.

I made a second voice memo.

“I can’t remember the last time I was this happy. It’s that thing… that thing where you have to tell the stories you don’t want to tell. You have to accept your vulnerabilities you have to (the wind gets too loud here and my voice is too faint to decipher for a moment) … somehow it just frees you up. It frees you up to feel good. It’s that Brené Brown thing about vulnerability it’s…oh my God I just found a little jawbone!”

A week ago I wanted to die. A week after that, I visited a place so special that it unlocked passions for the natural world which had lain relatively dormant within me since childhood. When we got back to Melbourne, my mood dropped and I cried when I walked into my house. But it was nothing dramatic, I’m feeling a lot stronger and my cat has been demanding cuddles which always helps me keep it real, yo.

It’s important to remember that the pain is real but so is the joy. It is so important to be reminded of how incredible the world is and I will hold onto that for dear life.

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Fucking AstroTurf

Fake Nature

“Lawns are nature purged of sex and death.”  – Michael Pollan

“Kitsch is the absolute denial of shit.” – Milan Kundera.

When you are in a long-term relationship with someone, you become intimately acquainted with the things that make them angry. Wes could tell you just how much I loathe AstroTurf, you know, fake grass. He could talk about the way my face screws up when we pass a yard smothered in the stuff and how I will loudly rant about how revolting I think it is, hoping that the proud homeowners might hear me and feel ashamed of themselves.

I despise AstroTurf. I abhor AstroTurf.  The fury I feel against AstroTurf is violent, animal, insane and incoherent. This is not going to be a rational bit of writing because I want to destroy AstroTurf and everything it ever loved. I want to send incriminating nude photos of AstroTurf to its boss, arsefuck its spouse, murder its children, douse its house in petrol, burn it to the ground and then take a great big shit on AstroTurf’s gormless fucking face. Seriously, fuck AstroTurf. AstroTurf is a fucking cunt.

Ahem. Breathe, Jessie. Remember your mindfulness meditation exercises. Okay. Okay I’m calm.

So, why do I hate counterfeit lawn with such a passionate intensity?

Because it is a plastic blanket of death that suffocates the life underneath it and denies even humble earthworms the potential for habitat.

Because when someone chooses to cover their entire lawn in green simulacra, they exhibit a twisted nostalgia for nature, where they long for the beauty of it but none of the hassle, so they murder it, stuff it with taxidermy foam and keep it on their mantelpiece with a fake smile sewn onto its face.

Because I believe that the desire for perfectly manicured lawns comes from the same psychotic fear of the uncontrollable aspect of nature that causes people to spray a moat of insect repellent around their entire house because God forbid they share their patch of the planet with any other living creature.

Because it is an eyesore that will only get worse as it fades, degrades but doesn’t biodegrade.

Because it feels like shit.

Because it is shit.

But most of all, because I am seeing it everywhere. Every day, when strolling around my suburban neighbourhood, I spot a new property with a sheet of synthetic green death proudly spread on the ground. I suspect it is partly a response to issues of water scarcity but I highly doubt that any serious conservationist would cry “Aha! The answer to our problems is plastic!”

Good old fashioned grass lawns are already environmentally irresponsible, they use too much water, represent the opposite of biodiversity and are a waste of land that could be planted with natives, flowering and fruiting plants, things to provide precious habitat for the critters we share this planet with. So yeah, grass lawns are bad but AstroTurf is like their evil mutant cousin that kills everything it lays on, is ugly as sin and will be around for much longer than we are.

Oh… God. Is this to be our legacy?

In 100 years, most of us who are alive right now will be gone but we will leave behind bleached coral, drowned countries and faded plastic grass.