Saturday, October 18, 2014

"Fragility, in everything." (The Saturday Paper)


Writer and artistic gadfly Nic Low has written a generous profile of me in today's Saturday Paper.

Instead of a series of quotes, Nic offers a story of our rambling walk from the eastern suburbs to the city--with a quick sprint and jog in between:
Single file on a narrow elevated footpath, Damon tells me that from a young age he’s been aware not of death, but of his death. Paused over chilli and garlic in Little Vietnam he says: “It’s my death: no one else can die it for me.” On a suburban kerb he recalls a trip to Wilsons Promontory when he and Ruth were students. He was swept out to sea. Some time later he struggled back in through waves and rocks, bloodied but joyous in the knowledge that his body was equal to the task. “It was awesome!” Ruth thought he’d drowned. She was so furious she wouldn’t speak to him for the rest of the day. 
Then, amid the roar of a 12-lane intersection, Damon’s exhilaration fades. Four years ago, Ruth became gravely ill. “Bad sushi, perhaps,” he says quietly, hitting the crossing button. She contracted hepatitis A and suffered acute liver failure. The doctors talked them through the possibilities, from recovery to coma and death. 
For all his willpower, Damon had to confront his own uselessness. In such situations the temptation to find someone to blame is strong. But central to the project of the self is resisting false consolation, and recognising what is and is not within your control. Damon put his head down and did what was within his control: the exhausting, messy work of caring for his wife and their two young children. There were no self-help revelations, but the experience became one of the engines of his philosophy. “It’s not just mortality,” he says. “It’s fragility, in everything.”
Read more of 'Damon Young on thinking...fast'.

(Photo: "Squeaky Beach-Wilsons Prom-Vic" by L sale.)

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