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Salient. An Organ of Student Opinion at Victoria College, Wellington, N.Z. Vol. 11, No. 6. June 3rd, 1948

Dirge for an Armidillan Absolute

Dirge for an Armidillan Absolute

"O for more scope! I could laugh eternally!"

It is not customary to laugh at funerals, but this is not an ordinary funeral and you will, I am sure, forgive me. Far sooner would I have had the more pleasant task of beating the drum at the showman's tent, of bidding you step in and see the marvels than in writing this sorrowful epicedium. To suggest that this is a real funeral with a body in the coffin is perhaps wrong, rather has the body the semblance of death, some day it may reappear, for the coffin is but a symbol and the flesh still lives.

First let me take you to the service leaving this chill autumn, sunshine to hear the mournful perorations of an old and orthodox black robed man. The padded doors smudged shut and in the dim interior I saw that the service was over. The organist had pulled out all the stops and the pagan magnificence of Verdi's "Dies Irae" defied the God for whom it was created. I stood on tip-toe and sang for joy, the coffin moved slowly down the aisle, crowds of people curiously unemotional, surrounded the church doors. The trains and buses still ran.

The organ had started on a tremendous fugue, building a structure which made us all look small and puny. I felt exhausted and soon wandered from the church to sit on a small hilltop preparing to write my dirge, which now seemed as if it would be very different and whether gay or serious, I could not tell. I felt as if I had been in a strange land, where all men slept, their minds and wills being dormant and their dreams and fancies the only reality. I felt as if I had been made to understand something which nobody understood and that I was a fool, anyway. I had been piecing together a heap of broken images and had cut my finger.

Author's Note: This is what was finally painted as a chaser in my obituary column a week later, under the heading "Disintegration of the Infinite."

"The examination of all thoughts and feelings no matter the circumstances of their birth is vital to life. But as the crystallization of an emotional experience is in the last resort dependent on eternal circumstances the deceased's experiences must have been disastrous. Could he have said along with Palinurus, "For my philosophical novel with a milligramme of nostalgia, I am taking ephidrene twice a week, opium once, with a little mescaline to loosen by imagery, and, massaging of the nape of the neck to stimulate the phalamus after the monthly orgy. I am writing two thirds standing up in the early morning, one third lying down in the afternoon. My supervisor is a Jungian." What a pity the quality of opium, ephidrene and mescaline has so deteriorated! Readers will be anxiously waiting for signs of a resurrection but it should be pointed out that as continued experiments with new means of expression sometimes lead to charictature, whether unconscious or deliberately unseen, the next issue may be insanely sensible and then where shall we be?"