The conscience is a funny thing.

The conscience is a funny thing.

Sep 14, 2016, 12:18:50 PM Opinion


1 Feburary, 1994

Dear S,

Hi, another working day stretches endlessly to the horizon and I’m terminally bored.  How are you?  What have you been doing?  Personally, I’ve done bugger all.  As a matter of fact I don’t even have enough spare money to do bugger all, I have to do bugger half.  I caught the first episode of the new series of Absolutely Fabulous last night.  It was the episode where Patsy bonks some MP and joins Eddie in hospital for a face-lift.  The dream sequence at the end was great, who on earth would think of putting Suzi Quattro in a comedy series?  Anyway, enough of the evil box, how’s your stomach now?  What did it actually end up being again? Gall stones or kidney stones or an ulcer?  All three?

I’m reading a William Burroughs novel at the moment  called “The Soft Machine”.  If you ever see it – run the other way! It’s crap.  It is the most unpleasant, tawdry, joyless book I have ever read.  And when I say joyless, I don’t mean that it is full of pathos, or just sad, the book is so unrelentingly foul that it is simply dismaying.  It’s a sequel to “The Naked Lunch” which was made into a film recently.  I’ve only ever heard good things about Burroughs as an author, so I saw “The Soft Machine” in a bookshop and thought “Why not?”  It’s full of brutal, unending sex and junkies, and it is one of his later novels so the language is very deconstructive and doesn’t make a lot of sense, which, far from making the book a challenge or interesting, is merely frustrating when trying to grasp the essentially non-existent plot.  So to cut a long story short, avoid this book.

Belinda came over on Sunday night to pay off some of her rent.  I answered the door and she refused to come in.  She’s really fucked up, I think her parents have really been hassling her and weakening her already rather tenuous grasp on sanity.  I mean, her eyes were hardly even looking in the same direction.  Her sentences were half finished and she kept rubbing her face ‘til it looked like the skin would come off.  She looked sick too, her face all blotchy and puffed.  I know she’s bought it all on herself, but I can’t help feeling that I should have tried harder to get her to leave her scum-bag boyfriend Captain Dodgy who’s bleeding her dry.  I know that she wouldn’t listen, she never has before, but I guess it would make me feel better knowing that I had tried.  But then knowing the effort was futile, it would really just be an exercise in bourgeoisie conscience appeasement.

The conscience is a funny thing really isn’t it?  An in-built set of self-regulating rules to set limits on ourselves.  And these limits are so often the cause of unhappiness and discontent, yet we set the boundaries ourselves.  Why?  In the end there probably is no wrong and right.  For instance, most would agree that murder is wrong.  But if one were to travel back in time and smother infant Hitler in his crib, is it still wrong?  One life for millions?  There’s no wrong and right in nature, only pleasure and pain, in fact the conscience may be the only thing which separates us from the animal kingdom at large, yet we would have to be the most morally bankrupt organism on the globe.  What other animal would try to destroy the very globe upon which its (and all other) existence depends.  If you look at it that way, it’s a form of global suicide, and in traditional Judeo-Christian beliefs, suicide is a mortal sin.  Makes that whole sect seem a bit redundant, doesn’t it?

2 February 1994

An interesting footnote to yesterday’s moral theme: this morning walking through the park, I found a Swiss Army knife on the ground.  I picked it up and brought it to work with me and showed it to a few people, and then said that I was thinking of turning it in at Park Administration (I’m sure they have a lost property bin there.)  So far, three people have told me that I would be stupid to turn it in, and the way they spoke, it was almost like they thought I was doing something wrong, like I was throwing away an opportunity I had no right to throw away, and if I didn’t want the knife, they did.  I see keeping the knife effectively as theft, I know I’ve lost things and when someone else picks them up and keeps them instead of returning them, I feel robbed.  It’s just weird, it seems its acceptable to steal someone else’s knife but put a piece of metal through your own nostril and you’re a bad person, a fucking pervert.  The world really stinks.

Two hours later

Whoa-ho! Another Wednesday Liquid Lunch at Cliques Bar, Collins Place.  Polite social chit-chat with the fellow workers, aah, it warms the cockles of my heart, I can tell you.  Well, they’re better company than my friends, and I don’t know whether that says something about me or my friends.  Maybe both.  How do you get along with people at your work?  Do you feel popular?  I really don’t know, myself.  It’s hard to know what anyone really thinks about anything anyway.  Half their opinions aren’t really their opinions, they’re just what they think they’re supposed to think.  Political correctness and all that.  Nature versus Nurture.  What do you believe in Sis, Nature or Nurture?  I’ll be boring and say that it’s a mixture of the two.  Where does individual will come from and how big a role should it play in personal culpability.  How can you be held responsible for patterns of behaviour coded into your DNA?  Sorry, that’s all a bit heavy for two o’clock in the afternoon isn’t it?  Well I guess it’s something to think about.

Oh well, I’ll write soon.

Love J


Published by S W

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