Living with the Truth Stranger than Fiction This Is Not About What You Think Milligan and Murphy Making Sense

Wednesday, 5 October 2016



Put away your words, dear.
Fold them neatly if you have to
or strew them across the carpet –
it's much the same –
but come to me now.

They'll all be there later.

18 August 1989
This is not a record of an actual conversation but it does record an attitude that I’m sure some of you will have encountered before, having your writing pooh-poohed. My father did it. By the time I’d written my first novel he was registered as blind although he did have some peripheral vision but not enough to read anything longer or smaller than the heading on a newspaper. I did persuade him to let me read the book to him and this took place in his small study upstairs. I don’t know if it was the first time but one time Mum wanted to know where we were going and he said, “Upstairs to listen to our Jimmy’s story.” Story. Not novel. Story. He didn’t mean any harm—that’s what he was listening to as far as he was concerned—but I can’t say it didn’t rankle me; I’d written a novel and my ego was undergoing a major growth spurt. That said had he used the word ‘novel’ it quite likely would’ve been the first time I’d ever heard him utter the word. Neither of my parents read any fiction and the only novels in the house were mine. The word really was meaningless to him. 

I’m not sure why I went for the title ‘Praxis’ here though. Broadly speaking praxis means a cyclical process of experiential learning, a term that originates with the philosopher Aristotle who held that there were three basic activities of man: theoria (thinking), poiesis (making), and praxis (doing). In that respect I think the title is actually referring to what the woman—in my head it’s a wife speaking—is asking for. To put it crudely: do me. Put aside your thinking and your poetry. It can wait; I can’t.

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