I watched the old Edge of Darkness the other week with Sputnik. She didn’t really get it; it’s a bit much I suppose to expect a twelve year old to figure it all out. I remember I was about eighteen when I first watched it. My parents went to Fiji and I decided that this was the best possible time to visit them.
Up the north coast I went by train and then bus to Smithtown on the Macleay, I arrived just as heavy spring rains arrived and for most of the next week it rained and rained. Raiding my parents freezer and eating everything I could that I wouldn’t have to pay for I parked my arse in front of the television and explored my Dad’s decaying collection of betamax cassettes.
Somewhere in there was a pair of tapes with Edge of Darkness on them, they were taped off the ABC in Narromine and featured that town’s characteristically poor broadcast quality: static, fuzziness, and left side wobble (these were attributed to some vague, unmappable and unfixable, magnetic variation in which I never believed). I snuggled down and watched it through, making frozen bread toasties in the open fire, as the rain and fog rolled across the river.
At the time it completely captivated me, it was as if whole regions of dissent and disappointment were revealed to me for the first time. The questions I found myself asking were freed of the controlling binaries that politics had appeared to me to be the determining features in determining political alignment. It was a liberating moment and was probably the key factor in my not joining the Labor Party and my remaining not joined. Power is as power does, and I’d rather not.
Sitting with Sputnik on sweaty late summer evenings watching again I was reassured that it was still, just as forcefully, making a strong case for non-alignment, for not being on anyone’s side. Sputnik is not yet in the headspace that wants to avoid allegiance, quite the contrary she wants to be aligned. She wants to be in the party. But for me when Bob Peck, in Jedberg’s death scene, shouts out that he “is not on your side” my heart longs to shout it out too, to deny allegiance.
Not being on anyone’s side makes me want to call upon the deeper mysteries as being reason enough to walk away from the banalities of power broking and build some greater sense of openness within which I can find a path toward a better politics of living. It makes me want to get all hippie-ish on their arses. I imagine, possibly fantastically, that one day Sputnik will figure this out. Or she won’t. Either way, I hope she knows I’m on her side, even when I’m not on anyone else’s.