Ocean travel without a boat

Journal of Peter Greenwell

Tag: prose

Aswell, dissapointed and alot

More non-sequential musings

It kind of irritates me to see the above in text. Even in notepad++ all three come up as spelling errors, which of course they are.

It’s lazy and/or ignorant writing that leads to these horrors. I suspect that lessons learned in school were promptly forgotten amidst the madness of the Internet. Logically, I’m standing in the way of a tidal wave if I think this small homily will change either jack or shit. But it’s nice to give voice to it.

Folanae fanlo

I love putting obscure gaming references into the things I write. The title of this page is the password you need to get into the Mountainmen’s treasure room in the game Ultima Underworld 1. The heading of this section is the password you give to Illomo the Seer in the same game, who then gives you a mantra you need.

It’s not difficult to feel nostalgia for these old games, but when I load them up and look at those blocky, 8-bit graphics, of course I wonder how I ever played them at all. Well, it’s what I was accustomed to at the time. I genuinely believed back in the 90s that they were wonderful.

Incredible thing, nostalgia. I look back upon a lot of games I played 15-20 years ago with a wistful fondness. The first MMO I played to any length, Everquest, I often reflect back on with attachment. Gaming online – cooperatively – was very new then. I say cooperatively, as most of the online gaming with human interaction was with shooters such as Quake etc.

So I didn’t quite know how to react to certain people and occasions and I was a bit of a blowhard back then.

I got into it with a few people in Everquest, especially with one guy who had an interest in my wife. There was a hell of a lot of acting tough and hot-air generated threats, and I perpetrated some of it. Nowadays, people online laugh at that sort of thing – internet tough guy detected – or they make memes out of it.

So if I give that nostalgia close examination, my time in Everquest wasn’t as idyllic and fun as it initially seems. The game was also an horrific time sink requiring a major investment of time – it took a long time to do anything worthwhile in it. But that’s the allure of nostalgia. Some time ago, four of five years, I installed the game again and ran around on my wife’s wizard. Mixed feelings abound.

Cytherea alive

Random thoughts

Imagine if you will, that you get a new job somewhere…say, a baker in a bakery. You’re there for a few days and you get to meet the cast and crew of this workplace – some are new, some have been there maybe a year and others are veterans of the bread and cake making trade. Grizzled, hoary things of unenviable vintage.

One day, you turn out seventy loaves of new white bread and boy do they smell good. Your nearest workmate – let’s call her Alice – Alice has churned out ninety loaves of bread, and that’s the record she thinks a neophyte like you needs to better. But there’s another workmate – we’ll call him Gerry – Gerry points subtly to the old baker veteran up the end of the row and whispers, “But Harry there baked one hundred sixty loaves in one hit! and nobody else has ever come close to that.”

Everyone becomes reflectively silent as they take in this bit of breathless news. A quiet yet magnanimous respect for Harry descends on you and you regard him with new-found awe. One hundred and sixty mo-fucking loaves!.

160! What an unsurpassable effort! Insuperable! Harry is top dog in your smitten eyes now, big chief baker amongst bakers.

Of course, you’re no longer cognisant of the fact that before you joined the ranks of bakers, you wouldn’t have given a second’s thought about such an achievement.

I’m sure sociology has its own term for this, but I’m creative and made one up. This is a phenomenon I define as “relative heroism” and it occurs in nearly every workplace on Earth. The guy or girl who’s baked more in an hour, or arrested more criminals in a week, packed more cartons, sheared more sheep, cut more hair, served more beer, did the Kessel run quicker than Han Solo…

Elder Scrolls medals of valour

Relative heroism goes beyond the walls of the mundane workplace. It’s online too; ensconced in the virtual world. I was in a beta test for the game Elder Scrolls Online, and like most who applied to test it, I came into the beta fairly late, like a year after it commenced. Quite a few people had been accepted into the initial round of invites the developer issued, and some of these displayed the relative hero attitude. They’d been in beta for a year, therefore they were veterans; dogged, hardcore, burned-in veterans at that. So there was some condescending resentment towards the likes of myself, who was a “scrub”.

One went as far to suggest he had entitlements and perquisites with the game’s makers beyond what is probably normal in developer-tester relationship. He reasoned that the developers of the game owed him something for the time he’d put in.

He and his kith were heroes, almost of the war veteran kind, and felt they deserved some variety of reverential respect from beta-testing “scrubs” such as myself. Logically, and to the surprise of few, they didn’t get it.

Relative heroism.


A piece of a free-form doggerel

Imagine if Megan went wandering somewhere…I don’t know, she left home one day, told her mother that it was too nice a day to sit inside and surf Facebook. So I came along and gave Ms Muffet oodles and acres of curds and whey.

The text editor I’m writing this with marks “Megan” as a spelling error. None of the variants I know render as acknowledged spelling either. Well, buggeration to that.

There are lots of Megans in the world, some taller than the others. Some live in the US, some hang out in the Ust Urt (or Ustyurt if you like). I wrote a story about a Megan, which is here for your pleasure. A rather salacious kind of Megan too, maybe for reasons that are mentally and socially unhealthy. I’ll revisit the life and times of that young lady one day(™). Or soon(™).

It’s a sere day

There’s this one expression in the English language that keeps an unwanted currency – all over bar the shouting. Really? If there’s still shouting in reference to the thing allegedly over, then – wait for it – it’s not over. So, it’s an inherently absurd statement. You hear it frequently with regards to sports, at least here in Australia. A team wins a close one and it spews forth: “all over bar the shouting”.

I’d dearly love to hear a commentator with wit take this execrable trite thing apart; something like “it’s all over bar the post mortem on the slab” or “it’s all over bar the post-coital cigarette”. But unfortunately we have no commentators with wit in Australia.

In the Pyramid of Khafre (prose)

In the Pyramid of Khafre

I’m descending as fast as I can, while forty centuries look down upon me. This relentless stone claustrophobia drills inwards, oppressive and cold. There’s no heat in here and I can feel Khafre’s feet on the sandy floor as he comes for me.

Me. It’s about me. Ever since you abandoned me in this monument of the ancients, with its single interior chamber, two passageways and one sideways niche. There’s no you any more. Khufu, Khafre, Menkaure, mighty men of old, more mighty than the Nephilim, spinning about their heliocentric worlds of Ra.

So mote it be, as the skyclad wonders say. There’s nothing skyclad in here but arthropods and other non-vertebrate life. I’m dressed; I have to be. It’s cold here in Khafre’s monument to eternity, though the Black Land beyond rages with heat.

I’ve reached the innermost sanctum of Khafre’s mysterious structure, a gabled rooved space hewn from the obdurate bedrock and here too I must be obdurate. Khafre is behind me; a nebulous fetch out of megalithic history, false beard and uraeus a-flying.

I am a swine that’s been cast before diamonds, an abandoned entity in an abandonium and you are elsewhere, some place without a postcode, belirting me with your belirtings. Nothing can save me from the stout, vengeful pharaonic that slides through the gap in the old passage.

It’s a pleasant moment.

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Plan of the pyramid of Khafre. Source: Wikipedia (public domain).

Twenty minutes of free writing (prose)

A short exercise for uni

There’s a country house far from the ocean, with statues of nymphs and maenads at the gate. You walk down that gate through an overhanging avenue of old trees. The house debouches before you, a large edifice made from stone and repressed memories. Does anyone live in this rambling – wait stop there. How can houses ramble? They don’t even move, let alone speak. Perhaps this one does. If you go inside the house and sit down on the dusty floor of the floor, can you hear it? Does it know the master’s secrets, or the screams of the madwoman in the attic? Does it remember the day that guy in the leftmost bedroom gave the house elf a sock?

Is there an old man in the kitchen? Men cook the food in this old house, and if you go upstairs the east wing is blocked off – boarded up. Why? Listen to the house, maybe it knows. Look, regardez! That painting on the wall resembles the maenads out the front. Who was the bohemian muse of the artist? Did she luxuriate her svelte self in front of a fire, a glass of cognac in hand? Or did she sub-luxate? Disjoint herself? Was time out of joint in the house that night? What’s past the boarded up door in the east wing? A beast hiding a rose? Does he have a magic mirror and a crazy old Frenchman in the basement?

Ariel, Belle, rama lama ding dong. Get up from the dusty floor, and go chase your bliss in the heights and lofts of the old house. Ignore the overgrown gardens, the worn statues, the scum in the pond, the verdigris on the cupolas. Maybe one of those statues is of Weena? Or is it Fuchsia Groan? Or is it Ophelia pre-suicide? Is it a mystery or an incidence of tragicomedy? It’s life during wartime, that’s what it is. An old house with a womanless kitchen. As it should be. Women have transcended the kitchen, even in old ossified monuments to Old Europe like this venerable house. So Bob the Gardener does the cooking now though there’s not a living soul to eat it. That’s Bob the Gardener, not Bob the Builder culture jamming, and rocking the free world.

Set adrift on an endless day (prose)

This is a piece of experimental prose I did for uni.

That morning

As he stormed down the hall of the house of no reason, a thought kept going through his mind. Is it truly going to be an endless day? His lover, the great mermaid of the deep blue had warned him yesterday it was to be so. An endless day or an endless dawn, where noon never came? Alliterative assonances all arrayed, he thought. So he went out into the bright morn – that morn that putatively would always be – and saw his quarry on the rocks. So much like a Tenniel illustration, thinks he, as she sits there with webbed hands on scaly lap, her eyes fixed upon the ceaseless ocean beneath them. Perhaps she’s a Millais or a Waterhouse; a pre-Raphaelite’s dream, or a van Gogh, all ultramarine and dazzling yellows. No, she’s none of the above; she’s just a mermaid half-in and half-out of her element.

Would my mermaid mind so much if I sat with her today? Especially since today was never going to end. No, says she, you may sit with me and there will be no turning into sea foam this evening, my dear, for there will be no evening. This day is never going to progress past the zenith, the sun won’t ascend any more than a quarter up the springtime sky.

Think about this, she challenges him. Can you do the Fra Lippo Lippi without an e? With your lips, sir, can you speak sensibly with elision? Give it a good try, and make it obscure, please. With this eternal daylight upon us, some darkness is needed. So he gave it his best.

The morning progresses- the Fra Lippo Lippi Lipogram

Obscurantism is a good thing, a man thinks. What good is obscurantism without a mermaid on a rock, loving and holding us with mirth and laughs? Is it logic to call it obscurantism if said mermaid could walk tall such as womankind can? What if our happy days spiral down in a tailspin? What logic is this? Non-logic, obscurantist logic, occult logic, minor arcana, major arcana. Things that avoid common wit is what it is. Mermaid? Obscurantism? Non plus ultra! Throw a Latina into your lipogram, la!

A droll moment in this bright new world

That was superb, says the mermaid. I would say to you that this endless days begets a certain madness, what do you say? I would also say that my little friend has come to join us. See, there he is:

The redoubtable Lenny Face: ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°).

I think he finds this new and eternal day a jar to his system, but I told him to screw his sticky place to the cowardice. Or have I got that wrong?

The interpunct

When ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) walked outside to see the mermaid with the man, he shrugged, a little like this: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯. Ordinarily ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) would be happy to greet the new day, for what did Tolkien say in his epic? “Dawn is forever the hope of men”. But ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) was non-plussed that the day was never going to end. What kind of day never ends, thinks he? What sort of sun never ascends to the zenith, to never wester into a sad sunset? It’s not natural, he thinks. So what did ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) do next? Did he ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ or did he ಠ_ಠ?

To shake a spear

There is a method to my madness, says the man to the mermaid, and I’ve screwed my courage to the sticking place. It’s the better part of valour, says the mermaid, to remain full fathom five, for the world is not going to go through the winter of its discontent. Not with this endless morning; it sets my teeth on edge. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) chimes in, what’s done is done and I’d rather shuffle off this mortal coil but not while the world is my oyster. Oh phooey, says the man, ill met by moonlight, I say but let’s make a necessity of this brave new world. Slings and arrows! cries the mermaid, I think you all protest too much. We are now all masters of our fates and thereby hangs a tale.

What would we do?

It is not the road most travelled, in truth in one no man, mermaid or symbol has ever traversed before in anyone’s history. It is a strange road; the one that leads to the headland where they all sit and greet the endless dawn. If one is faced with the prospect of a last sunrise, what would one think and do? There is a feeling that madness is close by, a reaction to this great and terrible affliction of unnaturalness. One could revel in it, drink it in like it was an elixir of distilled craziness. An eternal era of unhinged abandon. It would be a peace of a kind, dropping headfirst into insanity, shedding all responsibility in one’s life. What better way to delve into that surrealism by sharing it with a mermaid? Was she not a symbol of the elusive in the workaday world? Something seen on the periphery of sanity by sailors, starved of love and health? But here she is, reclining on her rock as if she always had been part of its topology, its very shape. She is as true and solid as the frozen sun in the dawn sky. It is there forever too, no regrets, no apologies and foul is fair.

Such was the situation they faced in that never-ceasing dawn. Should they remain lucid – sophrosyne, to use a lovely and fancy Greek word? Or delve into the depths of folly? Perhaps give themselves over to the marlin part of their brains and run amok on the beach like those taken leave of their senses. Every option was full of pluses and minuses – to be or not to be in that undiscovered country. ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) felt that lunacy was their best course. After all, look at him, an indiscernible symbol that defied logical explanation. He was already halfway to being moonstruck, even if the moon was not about to strike him again. For it had set, never to rise. All three of them only had the sun for solace now.
What was this trio to do?


Sophrosyne: a word that means clear-minded, the man says to the mermaid, and if one is clear-minded then it logically follows that everything else will become clear; your health, your spirit, your animus, your psyche, all of it. This new endless day is the epitome of lucidity. Let us not devolve into a primal state of madness as I fear we will never return from its dark, far shores. Time to take a morning walk in the endless dawn. Crocuses, mat-rushes, frogs and newts all greet them at the water’s edge, where green grow the rushes and the rest is not quite silence. The burbling waters do not hiss them into madness; on the contrary they provide a calming rest, and augment the clearness that lays before them. Even ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°) is enjoying the serenity of this inevitability. He has finally come to terms with his symbolic enigma and needs neither to ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ or ಠ_ಠ .

So in that moment the house of no reason gains reason. The man glances back at his house, as real and meaningful as the eternal dawn before him. His mermaid smiles, her teeth glinting in the dawn light. Everything is clear now. Limpid. Lucid. All the murk has been swept away, the e’s have been elided, the lipids have been lipogrammed.

The house on Johnston St (prose)

A piece I did for uni

The house on Johnston Street is being renovated, by I imagine its current owners. For years, it was overgrown, a deserted weatherboard and corrugated iron wreck surrounded by poincianas and yellow oleanders, both foreign and weedy plants to the area. One could imagine the house a busy place of family activity when it was built in the 50s – the bustle of home life, kids playing, father smoking a pipe and reading a paper while the mother toiled in the kitchen and cheerfully – read or otherwise – went about her day’s endless business.

Who knows what happened? The original family moved away and on, leaving this nondescript house on the main drag to become a ghost, empty halls and empty kitchens, bedrooms that only saw daylight through small cracks in the old blinds. Floor boards shaking free of their nails, the asbestos ceilings warping under the pressure of accrued rain seeping through the roof. The lawn became a tangle, home to snakes and lizards, a wildlife refuge in rural suburbia.

But somebody has cared enough to rebuild. The old boards have born torn out and there’s new cladding now. The lawn has been mowed and many of the poincianas and tree orchids have been pruned. It’s almost liveable and the resurrection of the house is reaching finality. Shame…it looked better as an abandoned relic.