A Less Personal Life

He decided to live a less personal life. But what did this mean? It meant, he decided, he would live the life of an organism: one that had thoughts, emotions, habits, and many automatic digestive, reactive, visual, auditory etc. activities to conduct each day. Dreams at night would continue to be unavoidable. This would be almost no different to how it had been before, except for the tiny difference that everything would now be less personal: less labeled, less private, less owned. More ant-like. He guessed that if he really got to know an individual ant he would discover its unique personal qualities, but these would not be what mattered. What would matter with an ant was its professionalism about being an ant. Every creature he could imagine, except for humans, was a professional when it came to representing their species. They did it wholly, simply, without cessation, day after day until the end. This is what he aspired to. His wife, his children, his friends found him profoundly baffling as he proceeded to make his insect way through this less personal life. 








Professor Kevin Brophy teaches creative writing in the School of Culture and Communication at the University of Melbourne. From 1980 to 1994 he was founding editor of the national literary journal Going Down Swinging. In 2005 he was awarded the Martha Richardson Medal for poetry. In 2009 he was co-winner of the Calibre Prize for an outstanding essay.