The retirement from the airwaves of Alan Jones removes one of the great joys of life, the act of deliberately never listening to his gibbered broadcasts.
Now that he is no longer on air, gibbering, the joy of not listening to him loses all of its lustre. Not listening to him while he was on air (except when there was no escape, perhaps riding in a Sydney taxi or when one was at one's local barber shop or tattoo parlour) involved a deeply fulfilling act of choice.
It was like the sheer bliss of choosing never to vote Liberal, of never watching Married At First Sight, the rapture of never becoming a Roman Catholic and of never (my ideas of Hell) even thinking of going on an ocean cruise. It was the same ecstasy there is in boycotting vulgar Floriade and in politely declining invitations to join octogenarian NIMBY minority cults.
Fondness in the pandemic
What if, one day,those of us who were not tragically hit by the pandemic (by losing loved ones, say, by being impoverished) look back on these times with feelings tinged with fondness?
I find this possibility actively discussed among friends and quite a theme in the online places where I trespass. Some of us are half-enjoying the experience of quarantine, finding some consolations in coping with and adjusting to it, often in having our lives necessarily slowed from a mad dash to a meditative amble.
For my own part I know I will always remember this quarantine as a time when at last (thanks to the modern miracles of the e-book and of YouTube) I got to read some grand books and watch some ripper operas and plays that had previously eluded me. In this way my own personal quarantine has been and continues to be an educational time, with all sorts of previous ignorances swept away. Then, too, there is a strange camaraderie about all of us having the same One Big Thing on our minds. The pandemic has given us all a shared theme for our thoughts and conversations. For a stimulating discussion of this phenomenon, the discreet pluses of pandemics and other disasters, I point thinking readers to a ripper piece The Perverted Salve of Power Outages and Close Quarters that has just popped up in the online Law&Liberty. Here is a taste of it:
"Now that modern science has satisfied nearly every physical need and want ... modern man's state of malaise, in which he is alienated from the world and the people in it, can be fractured only by disaster's visceral wake-up call: you are not a ghost in a machine watching your well-fed, well-medicated body go through the motions of 21st century life. You are a real human being in a real world with real aunts and uncles and cousins and grandparents whose real-but-now-warped parquet floors need to be ripped up.
"In interrupting our normal schedules, a disaster can wake us up to the possibility of a search. This freedom from the everydayness is temporary, of course, but, at the very least, the unpredictability of a disaster serves to remind us that the world is not an ephemeral abstraction."
Is that what it is, readers, this vague pleasure these times are giving some of us? Is it a freedom from everydayness?
Meanwhile, I sometimes think this aforementioned kind of experience, this kind of use of the quarantine's forced gift of a super-abundance of time to do some learning, should be rewarded with a kind of university-style degree.
In cases like mine (for I have been predominantly studying English literature and classical music) a kind of honorary Bachelor of the Arts from the University of the Quarantine. Why not think about this, prime minister Morrison and knockabout minister for education Dan Tehan, as a way to congratulate those Australians who have productively looked for cultural beauty in these ugly times?
Stear clear, poll trolls
While one looks forward to the next God-given opportunity not to vote Liberal (the ACT election scheduled for October) those of us who LOVE voting have the happy distraction of ABC Classic radio's Classic 100: Beethoven poll.
It is the 250th anniversary of Beethoven's birth and ABC Classic is asking us to vote for our favourite work. Voting is open now but the polls close on Monday, June 1 and then the election's results will unfold across a Classic 100: Composer countdown on Saturday and Sunday, June 6-7.
Joys of this kind of election include there being no Liberals contaminating it - also the way in which, as you cast your vote, you are invited to write your reasons on your virtual ballot paper. Write anything, even if it is an exquisite anti-Liberal poem in the style of Emily Dickinson, on your ballot paper in an orthodox election and your vote becomes invalid.
Best of all, unlike a parliamentary election, with its always disappointing choice of sometimes rat-like candidates, every musical candidate in this Beethoven ballot is a thing of excellence and wonder. Of course the ABC bogan vote will ensure that one of the popular, singalong symphonies (Five or Nine probably, though the dance-along Seven is a chance) will win this election. But Beethoven boganism is the most bearable boganery there is.
Meanwhile, your columnist has just cast his vote for the towering composer's 'Waldstein' piano sonata which in its 26-or-so minutes somehow profoundly expresses more deep emotions than most of us have had hot dinners.