Nick Cave (of The Bad Seeds, The Birthday Party, Grinderman, The Dirty Three, and more) communes with his fans via The Red Hand Files. They ask him how he's doing, what he's writing, his favorite books, and general life advice as if he were some wonderful and terrifying fortune teller living on the outskirts of an already mysterious and alluring town. In one of these almost supernatural communiques (Issue #6) published in October 2018, Cynthia from Shelburne Falls, VT asked:
I have experienced the death of my father, my sister, and my first love in the past few years and feel that I have some communication with them, mostly through dreams. They are helping me. Are you and Susie feeling that your son Arthur is with you and communicating in some way?
Nick's son Arthur passed away at only 15. I, personally, cannot comprehend the agony felt by someone who already seems to feel his emotions so deeply. Three years after losing his son, Nick responded to Cynthia's question.
This is a very beautiful question and I am grateful that you have asked it. It seems to me, that if we love, we grieve. That's the deal. That's the pact. Grief and love are forever intertwined. Grief is the terrible reminder of the depths of our love and, like love, grief is non-negotiable. There is a vastness to grief that overwhelms our minuscule selves. We are tiny, trembling clusters of atoms subsumed within grief's awesome presence. It occupies the core of our being and extends through our fingers to the limits of the universe. Within that whirling gyre all manner of madnesses exist; ghosts and spirits and dream visitations, and everything else that we, in our anguish, will into existence. These are precious gifts that are as valid and as real as we need them to be. They are the spirit guides that lead us out of the darkness.
I feel the presence of my son, all around, but he may not be there. I hear him talk to me, parent me, guide me, though he may not be there. He visits Susie in her sleep regularly, speaks to her, comforts her, but he may not be there. Dread grief trails bright phantoms in its wake. These spirits are ideas, essentially. They are our stunned imaginations reawakening after the calamity. Like ideas, these spirits speak of possibility. Follow your ideas, because on the other side of the idea is change and growth and redemption. Create your spirits. Call to them. Will them alive. Speak to them. It is their impossible and ghostly hands that draw us back to the world from which we were jettisoned; better now and unimaginably changed.
With love, Nick.
While I could, doubtless, write my own love letter to everything Nick Cave has ever written, sang, spoken, or spat, other fans are bound to be captivated by his new single "Grief", especially since his project with Warren Ellis, "Carnage", was its own cathartic masterpiece, born of universal cabin-fever, pandemic-fatigue, and Nick's seemingly inexhaustible supply of personal poetry and religious imagery.