Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Danielle

I came across this remarkable little film just yesterday. I am astonished by the technical brilliance of the film maker, Anthony Cerniello, but there is more than that. The piece is a reminder that we are not things: we are, each one of us, a process. We are a particular configuration of energy which is in perpetual change; and this energy pattern had a beginning and one day will have an end. 

This film is very beautiful.  The face is beautiful and the changes wrought over the years are, to me, awe inspiring. How astonishing that the food consumed by this little girl can be reconfigured into bone and flesh and brain tissue. How amazing that a design for a human being can so relentlessly and powerfully unfold. And as I watch her change in the space of five minutes, I ask, "when does she become more, or when less beautiful?" And the answer is, "she does not". At every stage of her continuous journey from childhood to old age she is constantly and equally lovely. I think of the efforts our culture puts into fixing the ideal of beauty somewhere in the early 20s, and think of the ludicrousness of that ideal and of the constant damage it does to the 90% of us who don't fit it.

Perhaps my viewing of the film was enhanced by my visit to the doctor on Monday. Nothing was wrong, particularly, but every three months I have a blood test and, in the week following, visit my GP to be told the results and to have an injection of the gunk which keeps me alive. I have recently changed doctors, so this was my first session with the new one. I sat in his room and we chatted about the history of my various treatments. He brought up my blood test results on his computer and the gunk is obviously doing its job: my psa level has descended into the undetectable region and, so he tells me, it's likely to stay there for a very long time. He opened the elaborate little package I had brought with me, took out the syringe and the little vials, mixed the paste and injected it into my shoulder. He gave me a prescription for the next dose, weighed me and took my blood pressure. I walked out into the lightly falling snow and made, as I sometimes do, a small personal pilgrimage.

I drove up the hill to Halfway Bush and to the house my family lived in when I was a small child. There, in that little place and the tiny park behind it which was my playground, the memories of my childhood seem close enough to touch. I sat in the car with a dull ache in my upper arm reminding me of the fragility of life and of my own ending and I thought of a Hornby clockwork train set laid out on the bare boards of the lounge floor one Christmas morning, only fifty feet away in space but fifty seven years away in time. 

It all seems so close, beginning and ending. 

The little film of Danielle is captivating because it is my own story. It is the story of us all.

3 comments:

craig mclanachan said...

Great post Kelvin. Yes the film is lovely but a little disconcerting, to me at least. As a fellow inmate of Halfway Bush I really liked your memories. I was just thinking about it today, the isolation, lack of any infrastructure and feeling of being dropped onto a foreign planet. The roads were gravel tended by a horse and dray ( + man). The first few years from'57 saw roads sealed, shops , churches and a school. Winters were more severe, fogs more common but the freedom to run wild! This new suburb was a social experiment with lots of State Housing. It was to be repeated in Brockville shortly afterwards. I have good memories from there - the neighbourly friendships, the wide skies, the native birds and my own friends. I missed it so much when we had to move, I still do - I go there too!

Kelvin Wright said...

I think of the course my family life took once we left Halfway Bush, and that time in that little house seems to me a kind of Eden; it was a time of joy and innocence. The snow was deep in the winter and there were hills to climb and bush to play in and a creek to catch yabbies and swings and lots of kids my own age to do it all with. But of course the seeds of what was to come were already there, even as I was innocent of them. The old story is right - the fall from innocence comes with knowledge. My nostalgia when parked in Ashmore St. isn't for the place but for that time of harmony. I am under no illusions that things may have been better had we stayed there.

Alistair said...

Great memories of the last innocence of Childhood. Still have the remains of the clockwork trainset in my garage. I open it occasionally & reminisce back to the park you stood in before they came with Bulldozers & planted grass. The forts we built & defended dressed in cowboy suits made of sugar bags. Sitting with Craig on the mounds watching our home made boats float on the ponds beneath. Racing trollies down the hills. Then devastatingly having to leave to a time of confusion & bewilderment