Icon and Iconoclasm

By | 1 February 2018

Lachlan Brown called, in an interview with Fiona Wright, a quote from
my essay The Suburban Problem of Evil his favourite one on
the Suburbs: saying I said, “nowhere else can the eternal
and the eternally
reversing dialectic between icon and iconoclasm be so sharply
observed,” or something like that’, and, without my referral
to source (me), that does sound accurate. I live where the lights
from the Mountains, the glittering or fog-lost Glenbrook Gap,
horizon the trees that hide the far Nepean, with a long
foreground of streets where cardboard houses orientally cling
low to the earth like children in between, like children
playing a game in a ring, aeroplaning close again,
shrilly, to the strange familiar earth. My vast veranda
creates ghosts and spirits, asks them until they answer,
but none answer the same, and in their courtly structure
function to contradict themselves and then each other,
providing fruitful conflict for the centre. Moonwild above me,
squealing with summer, the flying foxes in the rubber tree
squabble and fuck and seem to bounce their siblings
up and down the steel roof like gremlins. I am thinking
of Yeats’s ‘The centre will not hold’ and, God, mine hasn’t. I
hope I have more luck with the bowing roof, since my
chair swing is attached to it and shaking. I am at this time
uneasy anyway about the suburbs. The great religion
of overseas travel has descended on them like a filter
with picturesque colours, every concrete curb and corner
a Women’s Weekly World Discovery for Fine Writing. I do not
know how far this penetrates the core: long insurrection.What
I wrote tested innocence, violence, and they crucibled together
in perpetual furtive catalysts as rhythmic as this weather,
as unprepared. The suburbs are never plainly seen. Their reverence
– the icon –
only ornaments their experience. They change ornaments
like holy diction but to distance from their dead:
The sky is bled.
This grey roof holds alone.The moon becomes the sun.
Reversing magnets, to their caves, the river’s bed,
the flying fox spin home. __________________________

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