TRCH Soundstage

No Man's Audience

15 January 16 words: James Walker
"Anyone who hides books away because they might offend is only a step away from burning them"
alt text


Civilization has developed through the natural process of reproduction, through human male and female copulation. The beasts of the waters, air and forests follow the urge to procreate, to further their species. This urge is so strong it is independent of them, a source non-existent to influence. Man is different from the beasts when he needs to procreate. Because we are a society, our dignity will not allow us to behave like animals. The Gods have chosen us above all creatures. They save us from procreating indiscriminately with females which would lead to conflict and disorder. The Gods gave us the gift of love to discipline our desires, for love not only forcefully directs the affected to the cause of their craving, but also suppresses attraction to other females. The love between man and woman is the richest love. And there is maternal love, paternal, fraternal and sacred love. The evolution of social life substantiates the categories. Man loves his wife, brother, sister, niece, nephew, son, daughter, mother and father. All are uncomplicated within the whole definition of love. Love either physical or non-sexual. It does not involve assessment. As it is generally accepted that, like the beasts, our instinctive urge to procreate is independent of us, a source non-existent to influence, we must assume that any deviation from this instinct is both unnatural and detrimental. Therefore, we must also judge any such deviation as a conscious and deliberate act, an artificial desire invented for personal gratification. Man loves Woman not because she is female, but because he is helpless. Her sex is not considered a necessity, it is something taken for granted. Yet sodomites can only fall into their love by acknowledgement of a sex. To them it is a necessity, a prerequisite for the union. Sodomites do not fall in love and then concern themselves with the matter of compatibility, but fall into their love because they are sexually compatible. Yet how can man be in love with man when his sexual disposition dictates the very direction of that love? If man loves man it is proof that love serves the sexual preference. But how can love follow anything? The place that is non-existent to influence is part of the content of love; it is the egg of the life that is love, and therefore inseparable. It is the origin of itself and love cannot follow where it leads. Every man has the potential to show adoration, yet if it is to another man then he has only created an artificial source for his own benefit and no man can create what is not of him, what does not consciously exist. This evolution of perversion does not progress but only recycles familiar emotions until the lack of natural love devalues the deed to nothing more than the result of a search for compatibility. It is without purpose, has no fruition and is injurious to the health of society.      
I’d like to pick up on a few points here- 
Don’t even bother. 
I’m sorry? 
I said don’t even bother. That essay has so many talking points they could stretch for miles. It’s an essay that can either be taken apart by debate or strengthened by it. But it will probably solve nothing. It kind of justifies the reason I put it up in the first place. To get a few minds boiling with blood. Rattle a few liberal attitudes. I’ve read a little history myself and I’m aware that the Greeks had a thing about man loving man, and I don’t mean in the biblical sense, either. It seemed the perfect place to situate the topic.
Don’t you want to have the chance to put across some of your views on the opinions written here? 
No. I know some of the things mentioned in it are so predictable that homosexuals would love to take it apart. But that’s because some of them are true. But don’t expect me to verify or deny separate points within the text. It was written by a different man a long time ago. 
When you say that, do you mean you, or Aenon? 
No comment. 
Okay. So where did this leave you and Darren? Did matters in the house improve or was it just another stalemate? 
They improved for me, I guess. With the noises separated once more, Karen and I were making love again. The poor girl had lost track and given up trying to work out why I felt like it sometimes and not other times. She just did her best to make each occasion seem so special that I’d never stop again. Sex had become such a prominent part of our daily routine, with privacy its most sacred requirement, that it felt like the one, overbearing concern in our lives. Even the long intervals between noises created an atmosphere because of the constant anticipation on edge all about us. When a noise wasn’t happening we were waiting for it to happen. And I had become so obsessed with bed spring and headboard noises it never occurred to me that any other noise should be reason enough for complaint. We may well have been within our rights to tell Mr Underboy to do better to ensure the music and shouting was kept down. But considering the crazy developments since we’d moved in, noise simply as a noise nuisance didn’t seem that bad. We’d learned to adapt even without realising it. 
As I expected, chance could fall in Darren’s favour as well as mine and it seemed inevitable that it would be Karen who would trip me up. She never intended it to happen the way it did but it became almost impossible to have a carefree conversation in the house without the underlying atmosphere of distrust affecting it in some way. She walked into the kitchen one morning as Stella was making breakfast and they talked as all women who like to be friendly do, easy and incautiously. I was just returning from the toilet in the hallway when I heard them mention my name, so I put my ear to the door to listen. I seemed to do a lot of that in those days.
Gerard Byrne discusses the above extract with James Walker.
alt text


You've chosen a very controversial extract from your book...
First of all, the book is a psychological thriller, and this passage is typical of the type of mind games that are exchanged between the two main adversaries within the story.  It’s not, nor was it intended to be, a rant from someone considered blatantly homophobic. It is presented in reasoned language without hatred or passion, explained by a fictional character created by the antagonist in the book (Lester). Reading it apart from the whole is pointless: reading it as part of the story makes more sense and justifies it. It doesn’t make it right, but it would explain why he wrote it.

The 'essay' has been 'put up' to 'rattle a few liberal attitudes'. Where exactly has it been put up and why is Lester intent on antagonising people?
The essay was put up in the kitchen, very often the communal centre of shared houses, as it is the main room that everyone uses. In the book, most conversations and conflicts occur there. Lester’s confession to ‘rattle liberal attitudes’ is my way of explaining the kind of person he is. It is simply the early stages of a character that is gradually losing control. He makes comments later in the story that are far worse than this.

If he's so offended by the noise of gay people having sex, why doesn't he move out?
As for the character being ‘offended’ by the lovemaking upstairs, I would more accurately describe him as confused. An excerpt from the book explains this:

Puberty drives you on. Natural impulses. And then suddenly you hear something that is a complete deviation from that. Like an alternative to everything your body teaches you. It’s difficult to try and explain it even now. But don’t forget I was only a kid then. I didn’t have a chance in coming out with some logical conclusion that would deliver peace of mind. It’s more like discomfort. I don’t know. Disruption. You might think it was hate but it wasn’t. It was a hate of something maybe, but not necessarily of someone.
Another reason for him not leaving was his girlfriend. She didn’t want to move out. For the benefit of the story, I had to place certain circumstances for him to remain there.

What motivated you to write this story and what message are you trying to convey?
The motivation behind the book was simple and is in the title, No Man’s Audience. The character is compelled to listen to sounds he doesn’t want to hear. The noises disturb him and he doesn’t understand why. Rather than surrender to them and adapt, he prefers to rely on his own inherent feelings and accept them instead. He knows that to react violently is to lose so he is determined that this will not happen. He fails in the end, although the reasons are completely different to what most people would suppose they might be. His final words in his last interview: ‘Leave my mind alone. It belongs to me.’ describes his attitude perfectly: You can’t place restrictions on freedom of thought, however distasteful those thoughts might be to others.  

It would be the easiest accusation to make to say that what a writer writes in fiction is what he thinks in reality, but that’s a dangerous position to hold. I have to make the characters convincing and if people are offended by some of the things they say in the story then I will take that as a compliment. It means they work. I anticipated the book to be misinterpreted a long time ago. But anyone who hides books away because they might offend is only a step away from burning them.

The extract takes the form of an interview. Is this a technique you use throughout the book and if so, why?
Yes, the book is told entirely through a series of interviews. I considered it the best way for the characters to tell the story. As all are isolated from one another, they are able to express their opinions free from interruption or accusations of falsehood. Anyone who reads this book could be likened to a judge in an imaginary court case and they can pass their own judgement on whether the main character is innocent. It is also important to remember that the story in the book is set in the late seventies, when attitudes to life in general was very different. It has to be read in that context, too.

Tell us what you think

You might like this too...

100 covers book

You may also be interested in