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Uncertainty and the Delmas Wimpy

Uncertainty and the Delmas Wimpy

by Brandon Edmonds, illustration by Jason Bronkhorst / 06.08.2010

Panjo was found. Lured out of a sylvan forest with hunks of raw beef. The endangered kitty ambled over to Goosey Fernandes, his keeper and one of the great names in news lately, to lovingly lick him. And scene. That’s a wrap. Who knew Tigers do endings better than the Coen brothers? Endings are hard. They either have to reduce uncertainty definitively (your average Hollywood ending) or open us up to unforeseen vistas of unknowing (try Stanley Kubrick’s 2001). Endings are notoriously hard in any medium. How to satisfactorily conclude? There’s always the dreaded “and then what?”

Some endings then. The Bible has Revelations. We’re apparently still waiting for the “end times”. We had fireworks over Soccer City. Which was predictable. Thrown plates and projectile vomiting are endings experienced in my own romantic life. There’s Kool Aid and Jonestown: the freaky mass suicide ending. The Final Solution was to be the end of Europe’s Jews. Hutu Power snuffed out 20% of Rwanda’s population in 1994. Ted Bundy. There’s the bull on its knees in bull-fighting. The macho Hemingway ending. There’s the great “Shut up and deal” line ending Billy Wilder’s corporate comedy The Apartment (1960). Kamikaze pilots gave us some of the best endings in history. There was the reign of Madame Guillotine. Shlonk! The revelation ending Bryan Singer’s The Usual Suspects (1995) – that crooked foot miraculously straightening. Those frogs in Magnolia (1999).

We got a loose tiger licking it’s prosecutable owner for an ending. Nobody was eaten. A genuine surprise given that Panjo was reported lurking “next to the Wimpy in Delmas”. (Who knew Tigers know the hot spots in Delmas?). The Delmas Wimpy manager, when asked if he’d seen the extant man-eater, said, “No I don’t think I noticed that!” Who knew Wimpy Delmas managers had the deadpan drollery of Gene Wilder? (A sentence I can now die happily for having written). All told, a good ending. The cat is back and Delmas rests easy.

A tiger though. At large. It’s too good a Blakean metaphor to waste. What a frame for the chaos of this country – this place of fearful symmetries. So cue the self-important tone of a moralist. Strike up Horror movie music. Add one of those deliriously zingy voiceovers on speed from 1950s B-movies. “Many more ‘loose tigers’ menace the land than Panjo. There’s the wild beast of joblessness. The snarling terror of crime. The growling threat of a self-serving political caste, indifferent to its base, and lost in the trees of graft. There are the sharp claws of educational lack and the sharper teeth of grinding poverty. There is the big pink tongue of despair. And the roar of a revolution betrayed.”

We might think of the roving tiger as a psychic incarnation of sexual threat. You know the numbers. Rape numbers. Violation numbers. Abuse numbers. They’re not easy to consider. They’re the kind of numbers that make runaway tigers seem tame.

Raped women often find themselves having to fight for the singularity of their ordeal. Too often the courts, prosecutors and police want to explain it away. Raped women must “prove” the violation before a conjectural sea of mitigating factors. The primal “forest of the night” is the setting for a fatal rape in Akira Kurosawa’s Rashomon (1950). The event is seen differently by everyone involved. Each person recalls the crime in their own way. A humanist take on the widely influential “uncertainty principle” in physics, the film questions the instability of memory and the slipperiness of true stories. It foresees our own era of groundless relativities. Nobody’s word is final. Nobody’s version sticks.

Which returns us to the Wimpy in Delmas and that runaway tiger. Remember what the manager said? “No I don’t think I noticed that.” What consummate uncertainty. A condition of not knowing for sure. Almost a willful blindness. Is there a more South African way to be? Think of the immensities we go on not noticing every day. The immensity of suffering on our streets. Children at robots. Old men in the cold. Whole communities on the breadline. Hunger. Violence. Beggary. Homelessness. Want. Strikes are increasing. Unrest is spreading. Protest happens daily. Not noticing is a national pastime. We’re so good at it by now that it takes a tiger to notice the whole country is burning bright.

Illustration © Jason Bronkhorst.

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RESPONSES (24)
  1. Anonymous says:

    ???

    I’ve discovered what’s been eluding me for so long! Brandon Edmonds isn’t a journalist! He’s a blogger. Probably one of the best bloggers around, but a blogger still.

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  2. Wimpy coffee says:

    If you’ve read one article by Brandon Edmonds, you’ve read them all. He just spouts out a rapid-fire litany of pop-culture and highbrow references. Literally, he has an intro — then several hundred words of him making all sorts of references — then a quick conclusion.

    Or, like in this in piece: http://www.mahala.co.za/culture/the-confounding-genius-of-r-kelly/

    He crams it all into his intro. A list of arbitrary things.

    I get this impression of Brandon Edmonds. I think he’s probably getting along in years now. And I think that all these articles, which scream ‘life-affirmation’, is his way of convincing himself and others that all the preceding years haven’t gone to waste. That he has been reading, watching, and living a little too.

    There’s my psychoanalysis for the moning, just sayin’. Am I on the money, Edmonds?

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  3. Sarah Dee says:

    Stunning.

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  4. Phumlani says:

    Wimpy Coffee you are sadly mistaken about Mr Edmonds. He is the youngest writer on the site and has been given the new toys of words so do forgive his use of vocabularistic huborous. He knows exactly what he writes and does make the fair point from time to time.

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  5. brandon edmonds says:

    References, intro, words, a conclusion – yup that’s pretty much what’s happening here.

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  6. Wimpy coffee says:

    Well, I know he’s not the youngest writer on the site, ’cause I remember him writing something about ducking conscription or something like that mebbe.

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  7. Rook says:

    jesus fuck what is wrong with the first two commentators on this story? You guys are exposing some serious prejudice towards an as yet unpolished south african literary gem. Brandon Edmonds take a bow. Is it envy that fuels the prejudice? Edmonds, pay them no mind, this is an amazing thought piece. Message to the haters: step out from behind your anonymity and point us all towards some of your own writing – and let’s judge if your output makes you worthy to criticise the writer of this piece.

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  8. Donal Davern says:

    Haters indeed. Haven’t read it yet, but know it will be a pleasure as always.

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  9. Anonymous says:

    “…an as yet unpolished south african literary gem”

    That had me in stiches. Nice one.

    The final paragraph of this, another of Mr. Edmonds nauseating diatribes, had me dropping my sadly shaking head into my hands and wondering – why?. How could any sane and thinking person seriously consider this max du preez-esque wannabe to be a golden god? Jeee-sus. Granted. He has obviously absorbed much of the select & far left literature and he knows how to use them words. But at the end – it is all horribly tainted regurgitate. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Sunday Times revealed that he was in fact a ghost writer for for deborah patta or jeremy cronin.

    “Not noticing is a national pastime.” No shit. Maybe thats why we have such a kak government. That. Or. The masses aren’t burning bright.

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  10. brandon edmonds says:

    Wow I’m really not regretting not running your article anymore, Lynsey.

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  11. Sarah Dee says:

    If Debora Patta secretly wrote like this, she’d be a far more fascinating kind of orange woman.

    I fear not though.

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  12. Anonymous says:

    honestly, if you put a gun to my head and said ‘read this’ i don’t think i would be able to make it past the first line.

    here’s a tip mahala: no-one cares about some brandon guy’s creative writing assignments. how about you actually research something, or interview someone, or actually do some work?

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  13. Anon agenda says:

    Sheesh, Anonymous, your posts are screaming a personal issue with Edmonds and Mahala in general.
    Do us all a favour and take that proverbial ‘gun to your head’ and just pull the trigger. It would be nice to think that we won’t be subjected to your vitriol again, but sadly, I doubt it.
    Here’s a tip for you: If you want researched, semi-objective articles then pick up a newspaper dickhead. I know I come to Mahala for these ‘creative writing assignments’ as you put it.

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  14. mick says:

    Edmonds is a beautiful writer. What is it with Mahala’s frequency of anal criticism? Wannabe writers whipping out the ol’ apostrophe-and-(okay, mainly ‘apostrophe’) ruler, and exploding like morose gimps that “O fokken God! Daai epposteroffie moes mos eintlik nie daar wesie!!” Followed by another ‘Anonymous’ bitching ‘bout the dubious lines ‘tween ‘actual’ and bloggo journalism; and grammar – Like some Gramma with nought to do but butt in and imagine her anal corrections will rewrite a sad, damp history of egoic failure.
    And stuff.

    Anyhoot. To join that most unfortunate Gramma-brigade, I will say this, and thusly: Edmonds’ writ only slips when he writes ‘bout something that doesn’t obviously enthrall his cranial tongue. Like awkwardly juggling social ethics and a stray tiger and Wimpy’s.

    But hey, even when he confludes the plot with the paragraph (that ‘bout Infinite seduction of sheer language), his writ pounces more than a starved tiger offered a bleeding slab of Joyce’s secret dream diaries.
    Or summink.

    Okay so that’s hyperboly. But yeah, he’s happy: Gifted an open, hungry canvass. And you – yes you, anon-one, two, three – should be happy also, gifted his dance with grammar, and, ahem, naughty twirls with Gramma.

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  15. anton says:

    excellent article.

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  16. Nick says:

    A story Blake might have written about this particular tiger. Excellent work Brandon, as always. I’m 45, and frankly nostalgic for a time when anyone who wanted to criticise your piece would have had to make an effort to do so. I think these comment threads while democratic bring out the worst in a group of people who, if they found themselves at the same party, might quite enjoy each others company. And who certainly wouldn’t have the courage of their critical convictions face to face.

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  17. bryan little says:

    great article .

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  18. word freak says:

    Brandon, feel free to use Mahala as platform. As a writer myself I understand that there is not much room anywhere else you can have such creative freedom. Use it to shape your skills and keep up with the good work.

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  19. Judith says:

    Enjoyed the piece—thoughtful and funny.But not as funny as all the critics are. Get a life, guys. There is lots of stuff to read, and if this isn’t to your taste, so what?

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  20. Storm says:

    I read Mahala becuase I love what is said by a creative soul searching group of people and I love more how they say it. I take my hat off to an editor who does not feel the need cut everyone to his ilk.

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  21. Andy says:

    Thanks Storm you just made my day

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  22. rusty says:

    anonymous and wimpy coffee -do they have personal lives of great disappointment? is someone forcing them to hook up to this site ?would be nice to hear something constructive from them but unlikely .Anonymous should have his serotonin levels checked !

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  23. Moose says:

    You never know if a considered comment is going up first on Mahala or some troll that woke up on the wrong side of bed. Great article though.

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  24. peter rondi says:

    Keep the edgy creative writing going…. Escaped tiger and a Wimpy bar..who would have thought! Mahala is a treat

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