Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Britain is no longer a country for a not nearly old Scots writer called Iain Banks who, perhaps, did not go gently into that good night

Fiction writer Iain Banks, who died on June 9th was barely an old man at the age of 59.

On the 18th April I posted :

Britain is a country which will soon say "Goodbye" to a brave, barely old, Scots novelist called Iain Banks


Now, less than two months later, he's gone.

I was moved by his last tv interview with Kirsty Wark :

Apparently, Iain was 87,000 words into, what was to become his last book, with 10,000 to go when he got the news about his terminal cancer. 'The Quarry', which was published 10 days after his death, is narrated by Kit, a typically precocious and alienated Banksian teenager, who lives with his father, Guy who, and here is the irony, is dieing from cancer, in a dilapidated house on the edge of a quarry.

Guy's student-day friends, Hol the film critic, prospective MP, Paul, dot.com power couple Alison and Rob and former couple Pris and Haze, a care services manager and general drifter, all descend on the house, with the covert aim of finding a video of a film they made together at university which could compromise several careers. The ostensible reason is that their friend Guy is dying of terminal cancer.

Iain said in his last interview for the Guardian : "God, I'd nearly finished the book when I found out. It was bizarre.Guy was always going to be dying of cancer; the book was always going to be predicated on that, and nothing really changed because of my own bad news."

Iain had  followed his usual schedule of writing in the early months of this year. He went his doctor thinking his sore back was most likely due to having been sitting at a desk writing 'The Quarry' and said that on the morning of 4th March, after he had been sent for a CT scan  : "I thought everything was hunky dory except I had a sore back and my skin looked a bit funny. By the evening of the 4th I'd been told I had only a few months to live. By that time I'd written 90% of the novel; 87,000 words out of 97,000. Luckily, even though I'd done my words for the day,

I'd taken a laptop into the hospital in Kirkcaldy, and once I'd been given the prognosis, I wrote the bit where Guy says, 'I shall not be disappointed to leave all you bastards behind.' It was an exaggeration of what I was feeling, but it was me thinking: 'How can I use this to positive effect?' Because I was feeling a bit kicked in the guts at this point. So I thought, 'OK, I'll just give Guy a good old rant.' Like I say; that's reality for you, it can get away with anything."

Iain denied that he was the dieing Guy :"I'm not Guy – for example, he deeply resents that life will go on without him. I think that's a stupid point of view. Apart from anything else, I mean, what did you expect?"

However, it was the part where the characters in 'The Quarry' play the old VHS recording, which he rewrote after getting the news about his approaching death :

"Right," Guy says, from the screen. "Obviously I don't actually want to die, but I am trying to find what positives I can in the shitty circumstances, and one of those is that I shall be glad to see the back of this poxy little country and this fucked-up world and this bunch of fucking morons constituting my fellow stakeholders in the species homo so-called sapiens."

If we do, however, 'read Iain for Guy', then he shall consider himself : "well rid of this island's pathetic, grovelling population of celebrity-obsessed, superficiality-fixated wankers."

He shall  not miss :

* "the institutionalised servility that is the worship of the royals – that bunch of useless, vapid, anti-intellectual pillocks"

*  " the cringing respect accorded to the shitting out of value-bereft Ruritanian "honours" by the government of the fucking day"

*  "the hounding of the poor and disabled and the cosseting of the rich and privileged."

* "the imperially deluded belief that what we really need is a brace of aircraft-free aircraft carriers and upgraded nuclear weapons we're never going to fucking use and which would condemn us for ever in the eyes of the world if we ever fucking did. Not that we can, anyway, because we can't fire the fucking things unless the Americans let us."

He shall not have to witness :

* "the drowning or the starvation through mass-migration of the destitute of Bangladesh or
anywhere else low-lying and impoverished"

He shall not have to listen to :

* "another fuckwit climate-change denier claiming that it's all just part of some natural cycle, or down to sunspots."

He shall not have to watch :

*  "our kleptocrat-captured governments find new excuses not to close down tax havens, or tax the rich such that the fuckers actually have to pay more than they themselves or their lickspittle bean-counters deem appropriate."

He shall not miss :

* "being part of a species lamentably ready to resort to torture, rape and mass-murder just because some other poor fucker or fuckers is or are slightly different from those intent upon doing such harm, be it because"

- they happen to worship a very slightly different set of superstitious idiocies,

- possess skin occupying a non-identical position on a Pantone racial colour wheel,

- or had the fucking temerity to pop out of a womb on the other side of a river, ocean, mountain range, other major geographical feature,

- or, indeed, just a straight line drawn across the desert by some bored and ignorant bureaucrat umpteen thousand miles away and a century ago."

"None of these things shall I miss. Frankly it's a relief to be getting shot of the necessity of watching such bollocks play out. I would still rather have the choice, mark you, but, as this would appear to be being denied me, I am making the best of a bad job and looking on the bright side: I shall be free, at last, of that nagging, persistent sensation that I am, for the most part, surrounded by fucking idiots."

Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night

John Cale  :
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on that sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

No comments:

Post a Comment