arT, DeSigN, MusIC, mOthEr, LoVE, haTE, bOOks, sTOrieS, WiND, waTEr, eArTH, skY, rAin, PaIN, fLOyd, PurPLE, lePpaRD, aRRivINg, ArRivEd, gUItar, deStiNAtioNs, mOVies, wRItiNgs, ME...a lil bit of thi...a lil bit of that...a lot of everything
Thursday, March 23, 2017
The Restraint of Beasts by Magnus Mills – A Book Review
The restraint of who?
– The restraint of beasts!
But where are the beasts?
Two workers, Tam and Ritchie, and
the foreman, the narrator, are responsible for building high tensile fences on
their clients’ farms. Their manager, Mr. Donald is a fastidious boss. So, they
drive, smoke, rest, have tea, sleep, work, visit the local pub, look for women,
have beer, get drunk, sleep. And again, and again. They need to be prodded, instigated,
Tam and Ritchie, for them to be out of their beds and do some work. If not,
they would rather have beer and sleep all day, and night of course. The fence
is finally built and it’s looking good. Oh, but the client is accidentally
killed. And buried.
So they move on to the next
assignment. They drive, smoke, rest, have tea, sleep, work, visit the local
pub, look for women, have beer, get drunk, sleep. And again, and again. The
fence is finally built and it’s looking good. Oh, but the client is
accidentally killed, and buried, yet again.
And then they move to the next
The fences are built, but there’s
no sign of no animals, and now there are no owners as they peacefully lie in
the depth of the buried earth.
I surprised myself by not getting
bored with the ludicrously trite routine of the characters; rather enjoyed
their idiosyncrasies. I grinned at their indolence as they reminded me of some
people I’ve had the misfortune to work with.
The author, Magnus Mills has
subtly and metaphorically drawn the need to restrain the two legged creature as
much as is deemed necessary for the four legged ones (Between 1979 and 1986 Magnus
Mills built high-tensile fences for a living, an experience he drew upon for this
novel). The need to be tamed, disciplined, berated, to move, to be motivated to
move to greener pastures is felt needed by both; the safety in confines is the
disposition of both. Like the beasts, we are born, live and die; we don’t give
much thought to the goat that was served for dinner, do we, except maybe to the
tenderness of the meat? Maybe, that explains the dead-pan humour (discovered
this phrase when reading about the author) in the cold (accidental) killings of
the clients. Was it sorrowful – no, was it deliberate – no, did it evoke
reproach – no, was it funny – no, why should it? Was it forgotten – easily!
Life goes on...
On another note, we feel free,
safe in our confines, don’t we? We aren’t born to be free, we are born to be
restrained – to do as we are told, do this, don’t do that, do it this way, behave, sit, stand, brush,
eat, travel, go to work, return home, sleep, ready yourselves for another day
of a mundane struggle – the more taut the string, the more effective the fence.
An introvert would feel as free in a crowded party as would a garrulous person
on a marooned island.
We are tethered by the invisible shackles
of our thoughts and imposed values and we roam around feeling free only till we
feel the tug of the chain, and then we saunter back to our safer grounds. We
are herded into the influential lives that we live; only few choose to, resolve
to break free and live in the wilderness.
As Oscar Wilde said “To define is
to limit.” But then again, was that for humans? :)