I did a new collage for the wall of my study. More particularly, I filtered and rearranged the pictures and cut-outs, articles and quotes that were previously on the wall and I took down the ones that are bright and sunny and positive and kept the ones that are darker, deeper, more intriguing, and with underground meanings. But don’t read anything into that. I am not at all depressed or unhappy – in fact I can’t remember a time in recent years when I had less to worry about – but I read an article in the Weekend Australian a couple of weeks ago that got me thinking, plus it is winter – even though it doesn’t feel like it. It is a natural time for thoughts to grow darker.
The article I read was about the Hillsong Church, which, for those of you who aren’t familiar, is a new and very popular kind of Christian church in Australia. It has a very upbeat style, with its own groovy songs played on electric guitars, and a strong message that God is cheering us all on to become rich and successful with perfect teeth and hair, blah blah blah. The part of the article that got me thinking was when they mentioned that Hillsong Church has revised the seven sins. They are no longer pride, envy, lust and greed etc, but have been changed to ‘having negative thoughts that hold you back’, complacency and regret. That alarmed me somewhat. To my mind, the old-style Christian church had the negative thoughts covered: sinning, damnation, eternal hellfire and so on. Somebody’s got to be thinking about that stuff, so that the rest of us can go skipping about in our sunshiny lives. And if it’s not going to be the church, then maybe it should be… me?
So on my wall I have kept up the long article about Moby Dick, torn from the newspaper quite a while ago and now well yellowed. I have kept the pictures of Ricky Swallow’s more recent works; I have kept the coffee loyalty card from Gloria Jeans with the picture on it that looks like a lino-cut; it is of a man and a woman dressed in sombre clothes, and it has a prohibition-era look about it, but not glittering pearls-wearing decadent prohibition, more like dark dirty nasty grimy deprivation prohibition. The lino cut faces are dark and shadowed, made crude in the dim light and under the effect of some kind of demon drug … what can it be that they have taken? The writing on the card says Frequent Sippers Club … and in smaller text, ‘escape the daily grind’… these people are obviously addicts. Surely they’re not just drinking coffee? I also have kept a very small (postage stamp small) picture of a figure, silhouetted, looking out onto dark, still water where an old Chinese boat sails. I have kept a slightly larger one of a faraway beach and I have kept a picture I cut from an ad for a new car; in the back seat two blond children sit, one is grinning maniacally and the other gazing strangely out the window. I have kept some different passport and ID photos of myself - representing different identities, international espionage - and I have kept one other page cut from a magazine, not because it is dark or it suggests the underworld, but because it is quite hilarious. I cut it from Marie Claire, where it was attached to a story about how reading is the latest craze amongst models. It's a photomontage of all different but gorgeous models, dressed beautifully, overly made up, sitting around waiting to go on the catwalk. Their noses are in books and their beautiful brows are furrowed in concentration, they are trying very hard to make out the words. It’s so cute.