Homer | Cassandra Voices

He who fights with monsters should look to it
that he himself does not become a monster…
when you look into the abyss the abyss also
gazes into you.
Friedrich Nietzsche

Day 1.

On the question of the one against the many, as opposed to the many against the one, White was decidedly with the former after having proven, to himself at least, that his poor father was a lost one without any direction having given himself to the latter and now, after spending his life among his own, was fundamentally on his own more than ever, isolated more so than White himself was, for whereas White had taken the conscious decision to oppose the many by choice, thus accepting to lead a life of solitude, whereas his poor father by accepting to choose a life among the many, sharing their so called ‘core values’, White’s father, all his life, would go on and on about shared values; now, at the end of the day, nearing his end, ironically he was perhaps more alone now than he ever was! This was something that White, to a certain degree, could take satisfaction in. The fact that no matter what way you decided to lead your life, in the end, you always ended up on your own. Solitude was, in this sense, always the end result. Of course, this is something that White had always taken into consideration. It is, you could say, the reason why he chose to accept a life of solitude in the first place. If the truth were known, White was always intensely anti-political, which is why he hated groups. He always had. So, the idea of any kind of group consensus was anathema to him. Family being the first! The first group. He had always hated being apart of it, at least since he started to see through it. That is to say when he first started to question it when he was a very young man.

Even White’s friends, some of whom were considered to be quite wild, were shocked by White’s initial coldness. White would refer to certain animals who would leave the family to fend for themselves. Why did humans insist on remaining in contact with their parents? Out of all the animals on the earth, only humans, as far as he could see, remained in such close proximity to their parents, and at what cost?

Of course, White’s whole vision of the world had been profoundly altered or shaped by the tragic death of his brother. His brother had committed suicide when White was still a very young man, and this act had such an incredible knock-on effect on everything that White would do. This act had fundamentally altered White. Utterly, you could say. It wasn’t the only act to have had such a powerful effect on him, there was another, but it was the first event rather which was to have such a radical impact on his whole worldview, if one could say that White did have such a thing, a view of the world, as it were. I should probably say what the second event was now after having already alluded to it and in this way setting out the trajectory of the present tale. Building up the horizon, as it were.

The second great event to influence White, after his brother’s suicide, was when he eventually was to separate from his wife, whom he was to eventually divorce. This was the second great event in his life. The second of the great Ds. So, first Death and secondly Divorce. Life was made up of a series of Ds, White had noticed. The 3 Ds, he called them. White being Irish, alcohol, or Drink, was the 3rd. It was a so- called coping mechanism. The results, of course, were disastrous as a man who has already been struck by two of Life’s greatest events, Death and Divorce, to then resort to Drink to get over them is simply asking for even more trouble, and of course this is what this story is all about. Stories all involve trouble, the interesting ones at least.

I’d like to get back to White’s father now, after having presented you, the Reader, with an overview of the overall substance of the narrative of the following tale, having thus fulfilled, to a certain degree, the duties of the Author – ha, dead me arse!

If there was one person in the world who was to have such a singular effect on White, apart from his late brother and former wife that is, it was the old pater familias. God, what an absolute cunt! A curse on his kind, indeed, as that is in fact what he was, White had surmised. The Patriarch! The cunt! The superlative arsehole of the Universe! The sum total of all his woes! As when it came to the Patriarch, the many were truly the One. They all conformed to the same depths of depravity. Hitler being the superlative. You had to nail your colours to the mast.

Because of the dire nature of White’s relationship with his father, to a large degree White’s relations with men in general were pretty shitty. Indeed, it was rare that he actually liked one. Though not an impossibility too, having said that. He had had great friendships with some men, over the years. But, in general, White was more a Woman’s man than he was a Man’s man and this was primarily to do with the whole very complex relationship that he had had with his parents. White’s poor mother, for example, had been a martyr to all women as she had come from that very particular generation of women in Ireland who simply stood by their men, come hell or any amount of assorted high water! High water indeed, the expression was literally true now, now that they were all expecting a biblical like deluge to submerge them all due to global warming. Patriarchy and Fossil Fuels, now how many academic papers were headed in such a way in Humanity Departments in progressive universities all around the world?

One could dream of Noah and his drunkenness. White saw again Uccello’s depiction, all cascading in glorious Rouge, or Reds….

The fact of the matter was, no matter how you wished to look at it the situation was truly awful. The man had been the worst possible fucking cunt of his kind. There were no redeemable qualities, the more he looked the more shit was uncovered. How many could say the same? These shits, shits of their kind, this kind, this kind of shit kind, the shitty fucking shit kind, the kind of shitty fucking shit that you wouldn’t want to shit next to nor sit beside mind, that kind, mind your backside! The fucking shitty shitters and their fucking shitty shitting shits! Those kind of shitty fucking shitters… That Kind!

End of Day One!

Day 2

Now White hadn’t always been an aggressive son of a gun. He had become one. His nature then was historic, you could say. Informed as it had been by the unending deluge of experience that had gone on over his time in the world. Planet Earth. What they had done to it! It was nothing short of disastrous. The so-called strong men. What a bunch of dipshits. Strong men my ass. Show me a man and I’ll show you an ass, that is what White would say. As he had lived with one. Oh yeah, he had survived him too. Mister Universe spinning around in his tight leopard skin briefs. Bikini briefs! God forbid. It was infectious. The briefs that is. “Be brief!” Puts a whole new context on it…

When he thought about his childhood, which was rare, White remembered particularly the long torturous dinners which went on in the depths of winter. The family, all six of them, surrounded the table upon which the food had been placed. Every Patriarch worthy of the name has his place at the table and mealtimes are a particular pleasure for control freaks of this nature as these events allow for a certain element of theatricality and ceremony. Placing people at the table involves a whole network of categorisation. Hierarchy within families, for example. Directors on Boards. They all involve systems of power, and so invoke a little ceremony.

White, for example, used to sit at the head of the table directly opposite his older brother who eventually committed suicide. White was the second in command, following the patriarchal hierarchy. His sister sat beside his mother on the left side, important detail, as you came in the door and then on the right- hand side sat the Father and on his right side his youngest son whom neither White’s older brother nor sister could stand. He was the porte parole while the eldest brother was the weakest link. White could see it all, how he had been set up to fail. As he was not a natural leader, White’s eldest brother. This had been his great tragedy and which was to kill him, literally, in the end. It would have been better, in many respects, if White had been the eldest as he had leadership qualities but then they had been acquired by White from a sustained practice of observation. This is how White seemed to have learned everything, from the point of observation. Seeing how Not to do something, typically then in everything in later life also the very point of departure.

White could remember the hours spent at the kitchen table listening to the voice of God drone on endlessly about some subject matter. Omnipotence. This was a key idea in the pater familias. The all seeing all knowing One, like the Sun. The King without a throne. The King looking down at his subjects, all knowing, all condescending! And oh God how he would go on and on and on and on and on and on and on…in a monotone.

Of course, the atmosphere around the table would be unbearable. I have read accounts of Hitler at the dinner table, apparently he gave these endless monologues talking for hours and hours and hours and hours. Omnipotent. All knowing, addressing all kinds of subjects. Not really knowing all of the subjects at all, and so talking absolute horse shite half of the time. Can you imagine it? One of the World’s Most Important Figures Talking Absolute Horse Shit. And for hours!

Yes. In retrospect, White had been well prepared. All his life. For his Life. LIFE. In screaming capitals. He could take great pleasure in that fact. That it had all, all the horror, all the boredom, all the manic pain and apparently pointless suffering. It all had some kind of purpose, in the end! It was preposterous, really. And for what? By what grand design had it all been arranged for?

Were there reasons for it all, after all? Some universal truth? There in the great black firmament, shot through with countless stars for millennia, in the great abstraction of the night of the cosmos was there, after all, some kind cosmic arrangement where the infinitely, infinitely small and inconsequential, most insignificant of beings finds a place after all in the great scheme of things?…

No answer. Silence. The kind of silence that could sink whole nations. A Black Hole. You are on the event horizon. Don’t fall in. Or perhaps we are already in and have come out the wrong end? That would make sense.


The people who live here will never get bored with the beautiful views
The truth is they do, and this kind of explains the whole god-awful mess.
Whether it is the young man who, having finally won over his ‘beautiful
Princess’, starts focusing now on her bad breath and tiresome habit of
Complaining already after only two years in and who will,
After breaking up with her one year later, dreams only about bottling that
Same horrendous breath and keeping it as a heady perfume
To remind him of his most cherished memories.

Loss, that great Optician, Loss, and absence its partner,
Are the great rose-coloured lenses that truly help us to SEE
The many-splendored colours of the world.
Seeing through the cracked lens offers alone true vision.

(There’s one  for SpecSavers!)

Day 3.

White never actually liked his parents, if the truth were known. How could he? His mother, after all, was not very intelligent. She was smart, and quite pretty. Actually, very beautiful when she was young, but she was also extremely subservient, not very curious, she could be a real bitch and was not at all tactile, so not prone to showing any kind of affection to White nor his siblings. This was hardly surprising considering the fact that her mother before her was a horrible woman who was hysterical, fanatically religious, cunning, cruel, malicious and spiteful. In fact, whenever White did think about her, which was rare, ugly was the word he would use to describe her. Such were his memories.

As for his father… It was even less pretty, the picture. He was a profoundly vain and ignorant man and it was this twin display of vanity and ignorance that were particularly horrendous to behold; the latter of course cancelling any reason for the former to exist, you would think! But no, the ignorance was such that it apparently clouded all judgement in the so-called thinking subject, as it had no awareness of its own faults, and what was even worse, if it did, and sometimes it seemed to show some inkling of awareness (For example, when it was eating at the dinner table, it had the habit of chewing its food with its mouth open, a truly odious habit, and then, seeing that White was actually observing it, instead of closing its mouth like any normal person would, it instead continued to masticate its food in an even more exaggerated manner like some ghoulish creature, which is why I am speaking about it as opposed to him.) but even so continued its ghoulish behaviour nonetheless. That is when White started to think of his father in terms of the mythic creature fabricated by Homer.

The Cyclops was, at least for White, the most truly amazing poetic metaphor in all of western creation. White never ceased to be amazed by Homer’s creative genius when he did think about it, which was a lot due to his particularly horrendous relationship with his father. White wondered was he alone, in this, and, by the fact that Homer’s metaphoric beast was being re-invented time and time again for generations and generations of people down through the millennia so that they too could understand the truly epic horror show that they were dealing with which was, in a word, PATRIARCHY

There it was. The bullet stopped here. This ten- letter word fell off of the pen or the tongue with all of the monumental obstinacy of the one-eyed monster himself. The cave dweller of old, horribly blinded by the clever and equally intelligent Odysseus himself. It is this twin pillar of cleverness And intelligence that had made Odysseus the truly remarkable hero that he is and again this is a further testament to Homer, or the Greeks, their incredibly astute insight into man’s nature. In other words, what it meant to be a Man. A Real Man, that is, as opposed to some One-Eyed King of some barren cave dwelling along the coast. You could of course say, perhaps must, here we have the two kinds of man, in the end. The Cyclopean Monster, or what we would call in modern parlance – The Narcissistic Toxic Male. TNT M. Nietzschean dynamite. All metaphors being carved specifically from the finite, as good old Friedrich knew.

Back at the kitchen table, White could only look upon the creature before him as the Cyclops personified. There before him, that grotesque vision of the creature masticating on the meat before him. Contemptuous, almost, of him. The beastly couldn’t give a FUCK look of him. I AM THE KING. The Cock-eyed face of power on him. Tunnel vision. Hence the voice. HMV. His Master’s Voice. Lacanian. Tripping on the Real. The lexical field filled with metaphors is far more really lasting then the mere sports field with all its associated bruises and weather stains, for they will all be memories. Whereas, the symbolism will reign eternal. Such then is the very potent power of poetry. This is why the intelligent princes feared it. Not only the Greeks but in every culture.

White saw again his Irish Master incontinent with piss- stained grey pants, his face a travesty of a man. More a Terminator in decline, his rusting member leaking out like some old oil well. Grotesquerie. For teenage boys a male mockery.

White would go home alone and strip and slip into his mother’s room would steal, like countless boys before him, tights and underclothes. Fetishes that he would take away to his cave where he would sit alone unmanned and Freudian.

Enter the imagery of Salvador Dali. The Great Masturbator. Eros and Thanatos. Sex and Death. Such were the twin pillars guarding the Exit, from the mad man’s lair. Such was the wonder of her hair. The other worldly feminine. That offered some kind of safe-haven. From IT. From Him.

Enter then the Muse.

Feature Image: The blinded Polyphemus seeks vengeance on Odysseus: Guido Reni‘s painting in the Capitoline Museums.


About Author

Peter O’Neill is the author of five collections of poetry.  The Exquisite Cadaver is taken from The Enemy – Transversions from Charles Baudelaire ( Lapwing, 2015). His sixth collection of poetry, a bilingual collection translated into French by Yan Kouton, Henry Street Arcade, is to be published by Éditions du Pont de l’Europe and will be launched on the 8th April, 2021, as part of the 200th anniversary celebrations of the birth of Charles Baudelaire which will be hosted by the Alliance Francaise in Dublin.

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