LISTENING TO THE SILENCES

 

CHAPTER 1 PAGE 1

We had to destroy it to save it.

Such was the bizarre reasoning given by the U.S. Authorities to justify the annihilation of a village during that most bizarre of conflicts, the Vietnam War.

As I have begun to write, I have trawled through my own memory, and read, and come to terms with, the copious notes and correspondence that form my medical records. When you read what I shall write, I think that you may agree that the same 'justification' could be applied to the almost-achieved outcome of the treatments that were brought to bear to 'save' my malfunctioning mind. The treatments were applied with good intent, I have no doubt, by people who were established in their professions of medicine and psychiatry. In the process of being treated, my mind was almost annihilated. So what went wrong? Well, to start with, at the outset, there was nothing wrong with my mind - it was functioning well and I was in control. But something must have gone wrong and to describe it is the purpose of the first part of my tale. The path ahead may at times seem a little tortuous, but I am sure that you will find the journey interesting.

In the past, I have always enjoyed writing, although my authorship then had a different purpose in my professional rôle - reports, papers, proposals, were the offspring of my love of language, constrained by the accepted forms of technical writing. A fellow Welshman whose evocative use of language has never ceased to please me, is Dylan Thomas. When I listen to a recording of Under Milk Wood, from memories of people and places locked in my mind in my youth, I can 'see' all the exquisitely drawn characters, I can 'walk' down Cockle Row, I can 'look' through the mind's eye of blind Captain Cat. For me there is only one recording - the first made by the BBC, with Huw Gryffudd as Captain Cat; the Reverend Eli Jenkins was spoken by Philip Burton, the English master at my school, and the one who set in train my love of language. But most of all, and no matter how often I listen, guaranteed to produce the same thrill of anticipation are the opening words spoken with his unique timbre by long-ago schoolmate Richard Burton. I can do no better than to recall his voice and echo it as he speaks...


 

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