Friday, 25 September, 1998
Michael: I'm back again, Bivalia.
Bivalia:[a] So I see. You are doing well following my suggestion.
Michael: I almost didn't make it today. I stayed at my mother's longer
than I expected, and I can't do it there.
Bivalia: Well, I think we can make allowance for that when it happens.
Michael: I hope you're not going to want this to be regular, this daily
business. I'm going to be struggling to find interesting things to talk about
after a while. I just really don't think a relationship done through writing
works the way an ordinary friendship works.
Bivalia: I don't expect it to. You don't have to come if it really goes
against the grain on any occasion, for any reason. I strive to be
non-judgemental with you, and with everyone I encounter.
So, anything interesting today?
Michael: Not a lot. I stayed with my mother last night, as it happened,
because I was gluing together a book of hers whose pages had started falling
out, as often happens with paperbacks. Because I have many books, I have over
the years learnt how to separate the pages when a book starts to fall apart,
and glue them back into the cover. I really thought I shouldn't go until I'd
done that, because I thought my mother might be anxious to continue reading
it, and it would be difficult with pages falling out. But it was quite a
lengthy job, and I resumed it after I finished last night's session with you
(I had already started the job earlier in the evening), and it wasn't until
about 3 a.m. that I finished. Mum got up (and she said it wasn't I who had
awakened her), and said she felt bad because the job had taken me so long,
and she hadn't realized it would take so much time, and she suggested I'd
better stay the night after all.
So that's what I did; and I suppose part of my reason was that there was
another movie on the following night (the night after Jurassic Park)
which I wanted to see, but I thought I wasn't going to be able to.
Bivalia: So you're becoming a regular couch potato, are you?
Michael: Don't mention it; that's what I said to Mum. I've read that the
latest generation of that species are called vid-spuds.
Anyway, I'm back home now, and T.V.-less, so that's the end of it now.
I've probably had a decade's worth of T.V. in the last couple of days, by my
standards. I also watched The Blob a week or two earlier, which my
brother Peter had made a video of, because apparently Mum told him that I
wanted to see it. (And I suppose this was because I had mentioned The
Blob occasionally over the years.) It's a classic science-fiction horror
film about an alien blob that lands on earth in a hollow meteorite, and
unfortunately for people it absorbs flesh on contact, and grows bigger and
bigger as it eats people. It doesn't sound the best, and I suppose it isn't,
but the idea of an alien blob has a grotesque fascination, I suppose. I do
seem to have a sense of the grotesque, I guess.
Bivalia: You sound apologetic about that. Life can be grotesque, and
although (so far at least) alien blobs are not going around swallowing people up,
or dinosaurs are not rampaging around hunting people down, perhaps watching films
like this gives a kind of release for the pent-up emotions caused by the
difficulties of life itself.
Michael: Yes, the writer Stephen King has written a bit about the
positive and constructive role he thinks scary fiction can play in keeping us
Anyway, the thing I watched tonight was not of that kind. It was a
children's thing, actually - The Secret Garden, which is based on a
classic children's novel of the same name which I believe was quite famous,
although I don't know if it still is. It seems to have been set during the
Victorian era, and people go about in stage coaches and wear top hats. This
little girl's mother dies in India, where they have been living, and she is
sent to her uncle's in England, but the uncle is not there most of the time,
and she's in the charge of a rather sour old woman (well, not all that old)
called Mrs. Medlock. I'm not quite sure whether she's a relative, or just a
governess or something; but she's not nice, although I got the feeling she was
redeemed in the end (that point didn't seem entirely clear). Anyway, the
uncle's son is also there, but they don't know about each other at first. The
house is truly huge, and he's crippled with some illness and never leaves his
room. The girl finds a walled garden that his aunt kept, but she died soon
after giving birth to the boy, and the garden was locked up and neglected
after that, but the girl found it again, and made it pretty again and cared
for it (without the knowledge of Mrs. Medlock), and the crippled boy is taken
out there, and somehow learns to walk, because it seemed he wasn't as badly
crippled as it seemed, but, with typical Victorian attitude, his carers had
been so paranoid about germs and what they called "spores", and just wouldn't
let him outside. In a way, they perpetuated his illness by trying to be
Bivalia: Yes, there's quite a moral in that, isn't there?
Michael: Anyway, after various goings-on, all ends happily, the uncle
comes back and finds his son running about and playing with the girl, and
another boy they had befriended, and is delighted to see the care they've
given the garden, which he had not wanted to have anything to do with after
his wife died; he told the girl, "You've done what I thought no-one could
I guess it's pretty tame stuff by today's standards, but quite
heart-warming in a way, especially near the end. Sentimental Victoriana, I
suppose, with an "And-they-all-lived-happily-ever-after" ending, sort of too
good to be true. And I could see where Enid Blyton (whose books I read avidly
as a boy) got some of her style from. I can't quite describe it in words, but
there was just something of a similar feel to it. Blyton updated the
story-lines and settings for a later era (which is already starting to look a
bit old-fashioned), but some of the same type of style and plot runs through
her work too.
I think the aspect of this type of story that tends to be disapproved of
by modern authors and critics is the idea of the happy ending, all their
problems are solved. Real life isn't like that, so they say, and so it indeed
appears to me, although I myself do like that kind of ending.
Bivalia: We don't have to agree with the critics, or with modern trends, do
we? There's no law in the universe which says that a novel or film has to be
exactly like real life in every respect. There's room for infinite variety in
these things: and some will be like life as you know it, and some may be
dissimilar in certain ways; and the former category are not always the better
works of art.
Michael: I sometimes think the happy ending is satisfying precisely
because it gives us vicariously what we can never get (at least fully) in the
Bivalia: You are right about that; and I don't think it does any harm.
Perhaps it is a foretaste of what will come one day, but beyond the physical
world. It gives a sense of hope.
Michael: Sometimes I might read a novel of a more modern type, and it
builds up a plot, and causes you to long for a certain resolution, on behalf
of the characters, that is; but it's frustrating, because the author, being of
the more modern persuasion, denies you that, or gives you only a bit of it,
but with lots of messy unresolved details. I can't argue it's not realistic,
but I don't like it so much, and enjoy it less. However passť it may be,
however corny, however sentimental, however cloying (some of the terms that
might be used to describe it), I love the happy ending, and it makes me feel
warm all over. If I let myself, I might even be the type to cry at the
movies, or over a good book.
Bivalia: It might be good to let yourself sometimes.
Michael: Oh, it's silly to get emotionally worked up over characters and
events that are not real, and that you know are not real.
Bivalia: Is it? You said it, not me. The characters and events are
archetypes for real people and events. When you cry over a character's tragedy,
you are crying for the tragedy that exists in your world. It is made easier by
the book or film, because it personalizes it for you, and you can respond with
genuine feeling. But it's very difficult to feel that way about real situations
on the other side of the world, or the other side of town, for that matter, when
you have no connection with them.
When you feel warm all over at triumph finally coming to the central
character after many troubles, and all his dreams come true, you are in effect
cheering for the good in life, even though in degree it is sometimes qualified by
imperfection and tragedy. The happy ending in the book triggers in you that
longing you've spoken of which you associate with Spirit. It does not matter
that the actual story didn't happen. Parts of it do happen in your world, even
if the good bits are usually diluted in real life; and the full intensity of that
happiness is yet to be found, perhaps mainly in higher realms for now - but
eventually it will be realized on your planet, too. And it would be a pity to
lose sight of that. If books and stories can help you keep it in your vision,
then that's all to the good.
Michael: I'm glad you said all that. I was almost feeling like giving up
this session as a bad job. You had so little to say that I thought I was just
really writing a monologue of my own, and making a token effort at a dialogue
by punctuating it with the odd remark from you.
Bivalia: Well, that's okay. You are still judging our sessions, and I
think it would be better not to do that. Each session is right for the time in
which it occurs.
Michael: Well, that's really all for now, I think. God knows what I'll
talk about tomorrow.
Bivalia: Yes, He does know. You will know, too, when the time comes.
Don't worry about it. The freer you are with expressing your ideas, the more
abundantly they will come. You don't need to worry about exhausting your quota
of ideas (whether in music, channelling me, or anything else), and becoming
parsimonious with them as a consequence. That would be the wrong thing to do,
and it would help them dry up all the quicker.
Michael: Perhaps. Anyway, I can't save them up; they demand immediate
expression. But I will finish up now. I want to hear the repeat of
Australia Talks Back, because it will be about aspects of the current
election campaign, and I seem to want to follow it, crazy as that might seem.
I am practically certain now how I will vote, but I try to vote responsibly,
so I want to know what's going on. You never know, new developments could
cause me to change my vote.
Bivalia: I'm glad to hear you take seriously the responsibility to vote
Michael: Even if with more than a leavening of self-interest.
Bivalia: You have to look after yourself; that's not the same as being
selfish in a way that creates disharmony and separation.
Michael: So I'll say good night now.
Bivalia: Good night, until we meet again.