And then there we were. Left with our backs to the white walls of ACCA at the ‘New2015’, wondering what the point of it all was. What is the point of our art if its greatest notable aspiration is an act of public masturbation? Surrounded by it, engaged in its discourse, Sam spoke and we both grew disenfranchised and quietly anxious for the loss of what could be. I stood up feeling ill. We had a glass of the free water and left before the others arrived. The security guard outside was wearing a suit. ‘DEFIBRILLATOR’ was written against the brown outside panelling. I felt nauseous and my bones were aching.
We left and moved past others in the quadrangle, stupidly thrusting ourselves into a city live with the sounds of humanity in discord. Worked into an airy frenzy by our mutual disdain of the separation of art and life; of humanity and man. A protest was happening outside the NGV. They had walked down from State Library. The Refugee Action Network, Socialist Alliance, a hodge-podge bustle of a few hundred protesting the loss of Indigenous land rights. Posters about refugees being treated as slaves and this country’s contravention of the human rights convention interspersed amidst boys with top knots and girls with colourful ink sleeves. We walked on, avoiding bypassers on the nature strip. I stopped to buy a Green Left Weekly. I don’t know why. I only had $1.20. He didn’t mind. I don’t think I’ll read it but I guess I wanted to know: what’s right for the Left today? In another potentiality out there I am front and centre in that march.
A chubby white man in jeans and a t-shirt asks me for change on the bridge. Sorry. I spent it on my politically active newspaper. Next to him a man is asking $2 to see the solar sun spots. He has a white telescope. I wish I had $2.
The sun is white-gold, but it feels filtered; I am not warmed beneath it.
By the time we get to Flinders Street, Sam is telling me about his failed attempt at encouraging sustainability from a homeless man who wanted $12 to buy fried rice. ‘Why don’t you go to Hare Krishna for $6 all you can eat?’. ‘Don’t really like that food’, he responded. Then ‘beggars can’t be choosers right?’ he remarks, and proceeds to ask Sam for $12. ‘I can’t handle these people’ says Sam.
We are now crossing the chaotic soapbox of Flinders Street steps. A man stands smiling, his shirt reads ‘If you died tonight wouldn’t you rather go to heaven and be saved?’. That man of course is selling Jesus (does Jesus know that he is for sale?). His two compatriots are trying to speak to those rushing over from the crossing. The woman is scary, pacing. Her arm raised as though to say ‘all of you’. She is speaking in a voice reserved for prophecy alone.
Is the city crumbling around us? Or are we crumbling in this city? Yesterday I pleaded with a friend to see the progress in a seemingly futile plight. Today Sam and I stop walking to hold each other upon the platform. Because sometimes it is too much. The reality of the world we have reated, our submisison to a corrupt system that is keeping us sick, slow and defeated, the shells we become as we reflect the surroundings – a city in soul decay. Today was a bit too real for a pair of existential dreams.