To the streets

… constitutionalism‚ accountability and the rule of law constitute the sharp and mighty sword that stands ready to chop the ugly head of impunity off its stiffened neck.

– Chief Justice Mogoeng Mogoeng

The rage burns fiercely today. Forgive these incautious words.

What does one say about last night? About the President’s speech and the slack-jawed response from Gwede Mantashe? How does one express a vision of the tentacles of corruption insinuating themselves into the body politic and squeezing the heart of our democracy until it can beat no more?

How does one say that the judicial system has been emasculated in its finest hour of wisdom?

Why should we continue when the monsters have won, when the center of power has shown itself impervious to reason and morality? How do we continue to think about this country with passion when the sophists have prostituted the very meaning of patriotism?  How do we continue to care when all signs point to our ineffectiveness in the faceless face of an uncaring ruling party?

The next national elections are too far away. If we wait until then we will have waited too long. The dream will be dead. The rotting corpse of our democracy will have been picked clean by the vultures that are now circling it.

We did not learn of our President’s corruption last night, that has been visible to anyone who has eyes to see for many years. No, what we learnt is that the darkness has enveloped the entire party and, as a consequence, the country. The automaton posing as Gwede Mantashe spewed it’s viscous effluent into our ears without a care for decency, without any aspect of the humanity we have come to associate with the real man.

We see many appealing to reason and to the law today. Like little children they stamp their feet and say, “This is wrong. This cannot be.” They are as fools who scream at the winter sun for not warming them enough. Who will hear them when the justices, those ‘humans as gods’, who guide us have been rendered impotent.

The alter of justice is cracked, the god of reason is gone. There is only one place left to go.

If we are to save our democracy we must take this to the streets. Pray we do it peacefully.

None of us are saints. We are all fallen souls of Adam and Eve’s spawn. This must not stop us. We must also allow to those we confront the same sins. We must declare an amnesty for any from the ruling party who are prepared to join us. We must not demand of them more truth than we ourselves will confess. We must not denigrate the party or it’s history. We must not allow our desire for victory to overcome the need for unity against the evil that envelopes us.

We must, however, be prepared to rip out the corruption at the root. As much as the President is the current symbol of that scourge, he is not the only source. We will uncover every secret donor to every party. We will expose to the sunlight every corporate influence. We will countenance no money that is not visible. We will destroy the vipers nest that gave us the Guptas and the Ruperts.

Fellow citizens of South Africa, get off your lazy arses a get to the streets.



Abandon all hope

I remember being told of a movie in the 1980’s where the hero enters a room with one bullet in his gun to find which of the people around him is whatever monster. Said monster will be betrayed by eyes that glow in the dark or some such nonsense. The hero turns off the lights and sees nothing but glowing eyes all around him. He raises the gun to his own head.

I can only imagine this is how Gwede Mantashe felt this weekend. The saddest ‘Amandla’ in history sufficed for the bullet.

Our country has always been and oligarchy but today the kleptocracy has asserted it’s power. Those who play by the rules have lost as they always do.

Let the media fuss and fret. It is done.

A corolally to The Theory of General Relativity

[Author’s note: I am sure this is the restatement of some basic law I have not read. I find it fascinating nonetheless.]

All energy is transmitted through mass-less or massive particles.

Energy transmitted through massive particles cannot be said to be travelling in a vacuum even if they are travelling through a vacuum.

Any mass-less particle, such as a photon or graviton, will travel at the speed of light in a waveform.

Any particle travelling at the speed of light experiences infinite time dilation and infinite space contraction. In the coordinate frame of the particle 0 time is taken to traverse 0 distance. It follows that any point on an arbitrary coordinate frame K in a vacuum would have an infinitely small effect on the particle for an infinitely short period of time.

To rephrase this: Any interaction between space time and a mass-less particle in a vacuum is infinitely small.




Yesterday creeps silently into the room and slips beneath the covers, bringing the scent of rosemary. My head turns as her fingers entwine the grey of my chest. Her hand drifts down to my belly, circling the years. Counting the conditions that have pertained since our last meeting. Her silhouette profiled in the light of night, the substance of her hip a reminder of all was lost that January when choice and chance made a man of the boy and a fool of the man.

We are older now, who once sat in the midnight grove dreaming of demons and lusting after angels. Who watched the morning break from the high places and drank of life in the low places. We are working our way to death who once danced.

We have sold our souls to the bondsmen who once pledged them to the hollow men. We have spawned life that is not ours, bound to the otherness of all the others. We have paid the bloodprice of the mundane and smiled our way through the terror of the everyday.

She hugs me and melts away.

I allow myself a moment’s remorse as the alarm rouses me to effort.

Why president Zuma must not fall

When one sits on the lawn in upper Houghton quaffing a more than adequate Merlot staring out on a large manicured garden, talk will eventually turn to the travails of the middle class. A group, apparently, that earns 10 to 200 times the national average in wages.

The invisible help, clearing away detritus with practiced ease catches one’s eye just as some dear soul rants about Woolworths’ prices. One blushes. The help, if the household has any conscience, earns closer to the real South African average income than any of the guests.

The sun sets on the electric fences wired to armed response. Black men with black shirts in black trucks slowly cruise the streets in search of undesirables, keeping cars parked on the tree-lined road safer than they would otherwise be. The black members of the party may wish to leave early or stay the night. Being black in this place at night is not a crime, but it does lead to questions. Being black and drunk leads to long and complicated questions.

The children running around the yard attend private schools or carefully chosen public schools. The lucky ones have full medical aid. The unlucky live in fear of dread disease, even if they do not know it yet.

Most of their parents do not budget too carefully – to spend only what one can afford would lead to a life of misery, a life without the right sort of friends and the best kinds of intoxicants.

Sniff the wind and you will smell the fear. At least one person here has been the victim of a violent crime. A few have had a car stolen. Almost all have broken the law is some significant way in the last month and thought nothing of it. All know that they can be taken from this life in an instant. Through crime, the loss of a job, illness or some other twist of fate, the blade of Damocles threatens to fall. The Precariat in this fair land stretches all the way from the bottom to almost the top.

Now some giggling idiot is jiggling the frayed cord.

South Africa is the land of fearful scofflaws. We have pretended to follow all the rules and it has meant nothing. We are sad cat. We are downhill dog. We have nothing left to fear but everything.

President Zuma is an odious man, of that there is no doubt. There are  good arguments why he should fall, but he is not the cause of our problems. He is not the apogee of our lawlessness, nor the nadir of our stupidity. He is nothing but a symbol of our cirrhosis, the exclamation point on the death sentence of our sanity. He too will pass and when he is gone nothing will have changed. His doom is not our panacea, his metaphorical blood will not make us whole. His abuse of power is no better or worse than the average South African would commit in his position, if that said Mr/Ms Average had the sheer balls to carry it off.

I have no doubt that Mr Zuma will fall before his allotted time. In the last few weeks he has upset the only people who matter. Those who are not precarious, those who attend his dinners and bankroll his party. You can be cavalier with the state, but do not fuck with the financiers. They will forgive almost anything, but you do not screw with predictability; you do not piss in the murky soup of the markets.

Serious men are sobering up and donning their tailored suits, men usually too busy dick-swinging and golfing against each other to pay attention will soon have a word with uncle Gwede and number 1 will be toast. Ashes to ashes, they will mutter at the cremation of his career. Then they will count out the coin to smooth their next transaction with government.


And for the majority of South African’s, from the shacks of Alexandria to the outskirts of Clifton, all will be as before. There will be a new boss, same as the old boss.

Bribes will still be payed by drunk drivers to venal cops, before the former wrap themselves around a tree or kill a kid. Unsympathetic nurses will watch babies die while helpless parents cry. We will all still be emasculated by indifferent disfunctionaries hiding behind forms and procedures; and ignored by the apparatchiks of all parties.

Everyone will bemoan everyone else’s lack of respect for the law. The upper classes will continue to pay the status taxes of excessive school fees, medical aid rates, security service subscriptions… and continue to call themselves the middle class.

Jacob Zuma must not fall, the whole system must to fall. We need a Samson that will irrevocably destroy the temple of our lassitude; a Jesus who will whip the money lenders from it’s porches. A Peter who will tell us the the supposedly unclean doctrines of socialism should be reconsidered.


Father of the groom.
I keep thinking “isn’t my father supposed to be sitting here?”

King James, the sixth of Scotland and first of England was the sponsor of the King James Bible that we all know.
He also formalized the rules for many ceremonies including the marriage.

According to this, the father of the groom should do three things:
Firstly. That he should make all the guests feel welcome. I blush to do this since it is really Anne-Marie and many others that have worked hard to create the welcome here. Let me instead thank them for the welcome.

The second requirement is that I should welcome the bride into the family. Karen, welcome to the crazy.

The last requirement is the easiest. The father should prove to the assembly that the groom is capable of blushing, this being requisite in a man of good moral standing.


I remember the day you were born, how you surprised everyone with including the nurses with the speed of you birth. In fact, the only person you did not surprise was the doctor. He wasn’t there yet.

And I will pause here to say, Karen Griffen  you were, and have since been, a good and courageous mother.

I also remember you surprising me again quite recently with a phone call. Not only were you getting married, but you had joined the church. As they say in the classics, you could have knocked me down with a feather.

Luckier men than you, Justin, have fathers who can offer words of wisdom at times like this. I had, indeed, scribbled some down a month or more ago about the challenges of marriage and my unique theory of love, but after visiting Karen’s flat I realized that they were unnecessary.

So I will instead only say that if you both approach your life together as you do that flat, you will both be blessed.

You have discovered a solid structure that is going to require a bit of work.

A lot of work, really.

Work that will require thought, effort and skill. Work that will will not always be easy, but will usually be rewarding. Most of all, work that will make your lives, and the world, more pleasant and more meaningful.

Karen, Justin, I wish you both God speed in the work ahead. In the words of the old Gaelic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your backs.
May the sun shine warm upon your faces;
the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.


I want to write a love song

Why would a nice guy like you want to kill a genius? Why? Because they told you he was crazy? The Colonel is not crazy. The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.

– Apocalypse Now


I want to write. Write until my fingers bleed. Bleed until my blood encircles the earth and fertilizes it’s soil. I want to pump out the only stuff of any import. I want to write the words.

I fight to maintain the first person. To stop the mind slipping away into the comfort of the third. To avoid the relapse into the trite contortions of ephemera.

The pain and anguish.

This is the stuff of my life. That much is left undone. That so many pages are left unwritten. That the darkness stalks me. That the embrace of lovers and friends is so often averted. That I have avoided complication. That there is not time for the thousand visions and re-visions. That my monster is not pain or principle but simply the mundane.

Death, where is you sting?

“It is in footsteps you hear behind you. It is in the fear of the average. It is in the money you do not have and in the places you will not see. It is in Bali and Borneo. It is in the eyes of the stranger you did not meet. It is in the bills unpaid and the promises broken. It is in the ever present pain in your left arm. It is in the mark of your beast.”

Second person. Again I escape the inevitable hell. Again I do not dare approach with direct eyes the moment.

Our angels. Our saints. Those gracious souls who have tended our wounded selves. What have they given us that will not be extinguished at the moment of our dying? Why have we given them the right to bind us up in chains? They have shackled us to the alter of ideal. They have killed our souls to save our rotting corpses. We have offered to them our fear and they have consumed us. They have no right but that which we conferred. We have signed away ourselves. We have committed the unpardonable sin of love everlasting.

These things cannot be said by me, even in this passive voice.

Our demons. How we love and hold them to us. The hounds that tear us, the beasts that ravish us. The famished animus lurking in the corner of the cave, awaiting our estrangement. Constant companions, they will someday be our canine companions. They know us and we know them for what they are, if only we would acknowledge them. The hound of hell a lapdog, awaiting a scratch between the ears. The beast of our burdens a pliant ass, ready to carry the weight of unrequited yearning.

“Cry ‘Havoc!’, and let slip the dogs…” of yore.

Who do we pray to? We who have no gods? Where do we go who have no souls? In the quiet of this darkness, where do we turn for our salvation?

I have been provoked to words. 1:13am intones the time. I am entangled in an ordinary life that requires attention later this morning.

Let these words stand as written. Let me no nearer.