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Climax
Violet Sharkey & Paul Marcano

I wish to have a clear walk, it may rain in a few moments
The trees now, look like a good garden
of green bouquets

and every day is different
and every day is different

I savour what it must be like
to have 40 ways
to give a message
That's ready, for all time, That's ready
for all time

I've tried and I've tried to get the part
I've tried and I've tried to get the part

Which we see as the only way to Climax
The only way to Climax

How can I keep, the area?
Which will follow, on the head of a note
She's always and always, ready with a few extra notes

Always and always, Always and always

We will leave all kinds of memories behind
We will leave all kinds of memories behind
We will leave all kinds of memories behind
We will leave all kinds of memories behind
I wish to have a clear walk, and all I've got to do
is let other places, get ready
and every day is different, there's quite a lot of liberation

I savour what it must be like, to have 40 ways to give a message

That's ready, for all time
That's ready, for all time
That's ready, for all time

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Some thoughts on this song from the "collaborator"

Climax was written almost verbatum from a couple of typed pages of text my grandmother Violet Sharkey wrote while in the progressive states of alzheimers .

The surreal nature of the lyrics are easily understood from an aesthetic perspective as the imagery provoked is somewhat unfiltered by more rational thinking processes that one develops in life.

In my opinion the disease strips away a layer of conceptual continuity that we normally think of as a more rational way to perceive the world. The disease appears to unhinge the mind and plunge one into a world of free association.

When you look at the lines right from the start you see that "I wish to have a clear walk" speaks of wishing for a walk, perhaps to clear her head however, followed by "it may rain in a few moments" it is a more specific wish to walk while it is still clear before a rain. "The trees now, look like a garden of green bouquets" made me think of Lennon's "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds" and was the line that actually inspired me to write a song from her lines, it was so surreal in terms of size proportions provoked, it is a very Magritte-like visual.

"And every day is different" is such a great observation for someone in their eighties to reveal they have never reached any kind of dull normal blending of days into routine awareness.

To "savour what it must be like to have forty ways to give a message" is also a revelation showing incredible aesthetic desire to express ideas in multiple ways which personally for me, revealed a family trait or genetic proclivity to be multi-media artists. The fact that a given message is "for all time" shows such an amazing appreciation of the importance of filtering out definitive works for posterity and acknowledging that nevertheless, all expressions are in a sense, eternally recorded for all time.

"I've tried and I've tried to get the part" is filled pretty much with frustration to grasp perhaps a key thought that might bring it all together into a climatic conclusion, a key puzzle piece that might solve a major dilemma. It is very revealing of the difficulty of dealing with the disease's affect on thought and the lack of continuity, almost schizophrenic. but needing to keep trying.

"how can I keep the area which will follow on the head of a note" - I imagine this as a "note" in music and the area free for creativity to continue expressing itself, but probably this is about "notes" as in paper and a header and perhaps the quadary of keeping the area on the paper tidy, a desire not to make mistakes, mistype something? I always imagine "she is always and always ready with a few extra notes" as being given more blank paper and some sense of trepidation at having to fill the paper with the best possible typed content.

"We will leave all kinds of memories behind" is really the hub of her sentiment. It is a most profound and obvious observation of our lives; the expressions of ourselves we leave behind in all manner of living out our days. A line like this was amazing to discover in among other, more incoherent lines. I singled it out because I felt it was a key perception at the core of her being, a centre-piece of deep understanding of how important the expressions of our lives are. Memories come in all kinds, and that is a distinct thought I had never really comprehended. Imprints, thoughts and things linger and in today's digital world, what we think and create will linger that much longer, although precariously dependent on existing technologies and the transmigration of data from one media storage form to another.

Finally the song structure returns to the first verse "I wish to have a clear walk", but the lines that follow about "all I have to do is let other places get ready" is very intriguing. It seems to reveal almost a solipsism or rather an understanding that even though we can move forward around unknown corners, we can only assume the world will be there, ready for us to perceive it. What I find interesting is the time element implied, that it may not be instantaniously 'ready' for us - also her level of patience to even imply that she will 'let other places get ready'. I also assume that there is another reference here to some kind of orderly tidiness that needs to get ready.

The last actual line, that is not a song structure repeating is "there is quite a lot of liberation" which I interpret as some appreciation for the free association and lucidity, however chaotic, of her mental state. If nothing else I think she found it interesting. I believe having a typewriter to express herself and observe more clearly her state of mind, while perhaps filled with discontinuity, was still re-assuring and a way to capture fragments of very profound thoughts.

I have heard that degenerative mental illnesses are more a problem for how we feel others think of us than for what we ourselves are going through. It must be an incredibly introspective experience of self awareness, observing a less that coherent consciousness degenerate progressively.

Further to the prospect of my own aging, I have always felt that the key to getting a handle on the aging process is to learn to associate who I am with my self-awareness and merely observe consciousness as a flow of events that I witness, not 'me' as such. Thoughts and impressions flowing through like a stream and not always a perfect one either, but rather a stream of consciousness filled with swirling eddies and small divergent rivulets of marbled thought that may not connect as conceptually continuous as one might think.

For me, consciousness seems essentially derivative of my sense impressions which will, over time, be less than reliable, with blurrier vision, softer sounds, less tactile touch sensitivity, smell and tastes. Since all these 'impressions' feed my consciousness with a quality of information about my immediate world experience it would follow that as those senses degenerate, there is simply lesser quality information to convey an accurate 'experience'. Awareness on the other hand is cumulative over a lifetime so that memories and experience can offset this lesser quality information. In other words, this does not mean in any way that we cannot be fully aware and appreciate even a clear blur. ;-)

Learning to 'be' centred in self-awareness rather than personify ourselves in relation to the integrity of our fallible senses and transient consciousness may provide a unique continuity to over-ride the possible weaknesses of mental acuity in aging.

Paul Marcano