Gentleness, Tenderness

This isn’t about my mother … this isn’t about harshness. Freud’s paper on Negation, one of the many reasons I find my jaw dropping when otherwise lucid individuals dismiss him as they would something found at the back of their fridge, suggests that my passion for gentleness and tenderness might have a strong connection to the lasting effects of my father’s ugly behaviour. Every time I find myself swooning at something like Laurie Anderson and Lou Reed’s pact to be tender (their decision not let themselves be frightened of anybody has a similar effect, but the best thing is her film with her dog playing piano) I’m in some way reminded that the brute Polish force of Dad won’t ever depart from these shores.
        I can throw my weight around, too, of course. I’m six foot two, although I think I may have shrunk a bit in the last ten years, and without my spectacles used to have no bother attracting the kinds of looks a lot of intellectual men reserve for bouncers. Once upon a time I used to open the bowling for a cricket team who called me The Shev. So perhaps there’s a security in my softer ways that I’m grateful for. I’m not averse to brute force, and have had fun with it, I just find that forcing other people to duck and dive, or scatter (I was a pretty poor batsman but on occasion I could blitz a rapid fifty) never really gets things started away from a playing field. I never liked being shouted at and can’t take someone seriously if they’re barking and we aren’t under attack.
        Force needs to be channelled and loved. If you know your inner brute be tender towards her or him, as if you might make friends with a lion, had you no other choice. Tame it with force, without love, and you’re a coward. The brute will always want to bite. Love it and it might still bite you (after all it’s a lion), but at least you’re doing your best to recognise it for what it is. Beautiful beasts: which reminds me …
If we bring ourselves together, me and my inner brute, so we’re as much one as we can be, I think that begins to work.

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