In late '95 I moved into a house -- my sister Melanie had invited me to move in with her. It
seemed like a much better option than the cheap boarding house I had been living in,
and I had high hopes for it. On September 17th, one day after I moved in, I wrote
"After the main course Melanie told Hadrian to put the jaffas and sherbet
lollies in a bowl for us to eat. I was amazed that she could treat
lollies in such a way -- I always save them up and eat them one by
one over a number of days. And later when I asked if I could have the
chips left over from yesterday's Kentucky Fried Chicken, Melanie said
"Of course." The general impression I got was, there was such an
abundance of delicious food, I could eat as much as I liked. It was like
being in an all-you-can-eat restaurant, except a permanent state of
existence, and for the moment it was free. Later the impression was
deepened when Melanie pointed out the things I could help myself to at
breakfast and lunch tomorrow, and I couldn't help smiling at the
contrast between here and the boarding house. What a change of lifestyle."
But just five days later, on September 22nd, I was totally disillusioned:
"After 8:30 I went to my room and stayed there. Thinking about how Melanie
would blame herself if I commit suicide, and about how she and Paula depend
on my rent, I wept. Nothing is happening here -- if my life just stays like
this, it not be worth living. Everyone else gets something out of life. They
all enjoy it. Chatting with friends, laughing, playing pool, playing music. But
my silence excludes me. I'm abnormal. Mental patients who get discharged from
hospital usually end up O.K. -- they go back to normal and find a happy place
in society, at least until the next relapse. But my problem is some form of
autism, and it's permanent. People don't know how abnormal I am -- they can
only see the surface."
And the next day:
"Those normal people out there are makin' a lotta noise with their
music and pool-playing and laughter. I listened at the door a bit
before, but they're not saying anything much interesting now.
You know what I hate about this place?
You know what I really hate? It's the way I'm inferior to everyone. Back in
Larundel I was in a class above the rest, but in Souza Villa, I'm the guy
who's just coping. They don't realise it, but I'm a mental patient compared
to them. If I had moved into a flat by myself, would I have managed? I think
I would've, but it would've been a pretty low standard of managing in their
eyes. I think I'd have been happier, though a lot poorer. But no, I wouldn't have
moved into my own place unless I got a job -- and I can't get a job -- and even
if I do get one, I can't move out of this place now... Oh Melanie just leaned in
and invited me out to play pool with the others, at 23 past 12, but I didn't
want to. Can't stand pool. And I'd feel way out of place with their happy atmosphere."
It's worth mentioning that on April 29th (seven months later), I was writing
"After the house meeting I decided it was time to have another go on the
D110 sound module... by the time I dragged myself away from it, things
were getting quite strange in the familyroom. The trio [not including
Melanie] were getting stoned on their smokable substances. I heard Karen was
rolling on the floor, unable to get up. Anthony was being extra friendly --
he offered me a smoke on his -- whatever it was, and I declined. I just
organised the garbage and took it out with disgust in my head. I really needed
to take a walk in the dark.
Y'know it's funny, when I first moved in here I wrote that I felt alienated
because I felt like the inferior mental patient. Paula and Melanie and all their
friends were so mature and independent with knowledge of the world. But now I
feel nothing but contempt for all of them. THEY are inferior. THEY are a drag
to be around. And with their substance abuse, they are closer to being mental
Looking back on it now, it all seems so stupid.
You arrive at the house -- very stylish at the front, sort of art-deco -- it looks like the sort of house that's been here for quite a few decades, but it's very well maintained -- you enter by the front door and the impression is reinforced. Man, this place is like a palace! Look at that giant hi-fi in the livingroom -- someone very rich must live here. But this is your place too -- you're like a guest here. So stay as long as you want. Just be careful not to make a mess. Actually this place is already pretty messy -- there's junk all over the place. Someone very slobby must live here.
Take a right. See that room over there? That's a room where you'll be safe. No-one ever looks in there -- it's a place where you can hide out. For a while. You don't want them to know you're here -- just keep a low profile and stay out of trouble.
Once inside the room, you notice that it's very dark because the single window is covered by a piece of cardboard. Down by your feet there's a radio cassette recorder and some books. Oh good -- something to keep you amused while you're hiding out. Just keep the volume low. Stay here -- you don't want to leave -- it's a big, frightening world out there -- and this room is a safe haven, shielding you from all the dangers...
Six Hours Later...
You've been hiding out in this room all day -- stressing out pointlessly about your situation -- and you know that in the past few hours your mental state has been deteriorating. Just the fact that you're staying here makes you insane. Can this be your home? Ha! You've been pretending it is. But this is someone else's home, and you are just living here, if you could call it living.
When your enemies enter this house in just a while, you won't be able to leave this bedroom. Bedroom? Ha! Prison, more like. Just pray that the four walls are thick enough to shield you from their contamination. Until then the only sound is the soft thunder of faceless commuters on the freeway. They are all on their way to somewhere, while you are going nowhere.
For a moment there is a lull in the traffic. You raise your head to listen to the beautiful silence, and for a moment everything is clear.
But you know,
And I know,
That the first of your enemies is approaching. You can hear him now, entering the palace with defilement in his footsteps. Who is he? The evil one -- the diabolical brute who corrupts your life and plays hell with your senses. Get out -- Get out --
But he's home for the evening and there is barely a minute's pause before he starts pumping out noise-pollution. Is it music? Maybe. But it's not your own music -- it's an unwanted offensive sound. Fool! Turn it off! What can you do? You can't read -- you can't write -- you can't even -- think --
Take a deep breath. Maybe if you take your mind off it, you can just put up with it and keep hiding out. Grin and bare it. But it isn't long before the music changes.
It's getting worse. The grinding, the screaming, the violence... did this music originate from the depths of hell, or from the twisted mind of some deranged bloodthirsty lunatic?
Here comes the second of your enemies now. Maybe she will tell him to turn the music down -- maybe she needs some peace and quiet too. But as you listen to the greeting she gives him, you realise that she's in the mood to party and she actually LIKES this noise. She's turning it up. No! You've got to do something. So you turn on your own music. It's music by one of your favourite groups, written by a true artist, performed by skilled musicians, a product of the finest musical craftsmanship. Are you relaxing now? Does this new music ease the strain? No. For you can still hear the infernal noise pollution in the background. You can't possibly turn your own music up -- this music isn't designed to be played loud. It could prove to be just as annoying as the other noise. Oh what can you do? Any excess of sound is an offense to your ears.
But let's pretend it isn't music. After all, the distorted electric
guitar almost blurs into a continuous, unmusical rumble -- let's
pretend it's just an over-loud refrigerator, or a pot of boiling water,
or any one of the normal sounds that we learn to ignore each day.
But no, it can't be done. There is a melody in there, and chord
changes, imposing structure into the cacophony, like generals organising a war.
You can hear them singing along to it now in their stupid tone-deaf voices. Suddenly they increase the volume again and it nearly blows you away. Your own music is weak now -- it's like a beautiful thing being raped and violated. With trembling hands you turn it off. You are powerless and defenseless. GET OUT! You have to escape from this torture chamber, but you've got no place to go. The music is shaking the whole house
vibrating the floors
tormenting your ears
burrowing into your brain
fraying your nerves
pounding on your mind
torturing your soul
slaying your sanity
and it keeps on
coming. Relentless. It must be stopped. You've got to do something. Even if it means storming into that room with an axe or a crowbar & smashing the guts out of that stereo until it's just a lifeless pile of twisted metal and wires. You've got to do it, for the sake of eternal silence. Where's your weapon? What? What? You don't have one. Well never mind -- just go in there, raise each stereo component above your head, and smash it on the floor. And then your battle will be won.
Your hand fumbles as it opens the bedroom door. This is going to be harder than you thought -- the noise is pushing you back. Physically pushing you. With every fibre of your being you try to struggle through it, but it's too strong, and somehow you know that the noise would destroy you if you were to get too near it, anyhow. You really are trapped in here. Getting the door closed again is a battle in itself.
You sit down on the floor and cry. Someone else approaches the house now. It's the third of your enemies. And they're bringing a friend. There's a party going on. A few minutes later, more people arrive, you don't know how many. The party gets into full swing. Song after song after song. You can hear them celebrating drunkenly. There's no stopping it now. And no one knows you're here. You'll just have to wait until the party ends and they all go to bed -- then you'll be able to leave.
But the party never ends.