Tamara Dean is the photographer who provided the cover image for the first edition of the Mary Smokes Boys. Not only is she a great photographer, but a profound thinker and fine writer. Writing a paper on Japanese religio-aesthetics I came across her again ... This from 'Ritualism'
"RITUALISM Ritual is a protocol, a guide, for that most fundamental of human needs: meaning. But when protocol loses meaning, snubbed out by the distractions of life, it is merely repetition. Baptism becomes bath, marriage a party with rings. And so on the Western world ambles, away from what was once the light, out into the secular unknown.
One wonders, in this state, if bath can become baptism – if, on meditation, the mundane can take up meaning and repetition become ritual. This is the margin I seek to explore: the contemporary quest for purpose, rite in the Australian landscape. Ritualism delves into the shared desire to understand our existence and our mortality, the purpose ritual holds in explaining moments of life, to mark them and imbue them with meaning."
This essay is about practicing a craft and the moral responsibilities that come with it. C S Lewis is best known in this country as a writer of children’s books, but his essays and the novel Until We Have Faces are amongst my favourite works. I read the following essay two or three times a year, both to remind myself of the lesson it offers and for the understated beauty of the writing
"The quest of the Inner Ring will break your hearts unless you break it. But if you break it, a surprising result will follow. If in your working hours you make the work your end, you will presently find yourself all unawares inside the only circle in your profession that really matters. You will be one of the sound craftsmen, and other sound craftsmen will know it. This group of craftsmen will by no means coincide with the Inner Ring or the Important People or the People in the Know. It will not shape that professional policy or work up that professional influence which fights for the profession as a whole against the public: nor will it lead to those periodic scandals and crises which the Inner Ring produces. But it will do those things which that profession exists to do and will in the long run be responsible for all the respect which that profession in fact enjoys and which the speeches and advertisements cannot maintain."
Here is the essay at the California C S Lewis Society
Britain has a strange ability for producing the 'last sane man in the world' type, going as far back, at least, as G.K. Chesterton, and probably to Marlowe. We have nothing like David Mitchell in Australia. We have a few fine comics: the uniquely talented John Doyle (Roy Slaven), Sam Pang and "Charles Barrington" to name three. But, like I say, we have nothing like David Mitchell ... I am a man who voted for Bob Brown every time he had the chance (and would do so again), yet it dismays me to see how predictably "left wing" and "irreverent" our artists and comics are, as though they swallow a left-wing pill every morning to make sure they don't fall out of line with the other members of the club. Mitchell is a real contrarian ... a real thinker ... and a truly funny man ... hell, a genius ... check this out!
And This ...
And this ...
And this one just for laughs ... for all the writers
A independent commission into the failure of Australian Swimming at the Olympics reported last week and decided the team had created a 'toxic culture' for itself.
What does this mean?
Things Like this:
James Magnuson (i don't know if that's the right spelling, and I'm not looking it up) whipping his cock out in front of younger female team members.
Stillnox parties. Yep. That's right, stillnox parties. Where your neighbours call to get you to turn the music up.
Red bull 'abuse'. Hi-jinx (i.e. short sheeting beds, turkey slapping each other, hitting people from behind outside bars). Late nights? (an achievement once you've gone the sillnox', racist tweets, pretending to be soldiers and taking photos of each other carrying firearms. Drinking more than one alco-pop in one sitting!
In short, the kind of brattish behaviour appropriate for a rich and spoilt 12 year old.
But why should we care? Because ultimately, in the form of new appointments, better 'services' et al ... The report recommends throwing more public money at a group of people who's one real crime, so far as I can see, is the receipt of public money. And this in a year when governments across the country have cut funding to literature, and Our Supreme Leader here in QLD cut the Premier's Awards, including the Best Emerging Author and David Unaipon Awards, which allowed young QLD authors to compete against market share monsters in order that our 'place' might have some small chance of producing it's own literary culture, thus enabling us to participate in one of chief endeavors or mankind everywhere for the last 5000 years.
I don't mind the money footballers make. It's either generated by football itself, or at worst, spreads the wealth of hobbyist billionaires a little further than would otherwise be the case. And I couldn't give a rats arse if these swimmers want to spend their inexplicable days following an underwater black line and their nights taking sleeping pills and dropping their trousers, but using public money to fund it ... Well, that's a bitch slap to every struggling artist, every person who's had to wait for a doctor or hospital bed, every student who missed out on a uni place ... and on and on
Now, I and many of my friends producing literature, something that really counts for our culture (no one remembers who the best swimmer in Tudor England was, but we all know Shakespeare) have been doing it at the mercy of market forces for up to a decade, and believe me Government, our culture is properly toxic ... I'm talking 'real' alcohol abuse - not alco--pops and redbull, whisky!, 'real' sexual profligacy - to the point of risking VD ... not the piss-ant juvenile tactics of the Australian swimming team ...
So, any funds that were earmarked to help a group of brats stay off the red bull and stillnox long enough to go splashing about in a pool for the everlasting glory of our nation (why not see who can get their swimmers on fastest, that's just as interesting)... those funds can be sent to me via the contact page on this website ... just use the subject line 'pissing it up the fucking wall' so I know that it's swimming money.
I've written on Arvo Pärt occasionally for magazines and journals. In those you are not allowed to be superlative and say things like, for me he is the greatest artist in any medium ever ... it makes you sound naive ... I remember I wrote something for Limelight in response to a BBC reviewer's misgivings re Lamentate; which comments reminded me of the ornithologist in Chesterton, who is visited by an angel and declares it an insufficient bird; and I have written on Part's intimations of Motzart, and on Kanon Pokajanen ... But never on the simple and extraordinary piece that gave birth to the tintinnabuli technique, and which I had on loop the entire time of writing The Mary Smokes Boys. But really, what can anyone say? It is still, often silent, spare, and some strange how, immense, as though the notes have been carved out of enormous ancient rock ... Fur Alina ...
David Icke played in goal for Coventry City and went on to call Match of the Day for the BBC. He ran for the British Green Party and went to a psychic in Bristol who claimed she could heal his arthritis. On their third session she had a vision of a Chinese Mandarin she called Wang Lee and the Greek philosopher Socrates standing beside Icke, informing her that he should toss the football commentary and pursue his special calling to educate the earth: for he would initiate the age of a new kind of flying machine that would make time irrelevant.
He has written best selling books and given lectures to thousands in Times Square and Oxford.
He claims that the moon is an old discarded space ship.
He says that humans descend from a reptilian race of aliens called Anunnaki, while some, of purer reptilian bloodlines, are the 'Reptilian Brotherhood' or 'Red Dresses', whose members include George W. Bush, the Queen of England, and Boxcar Willie - their ultimate goal is to insert microchips in the global populous' (sheeple's) heads and thus dominate the earth ...
He believes the collective human consciousness, our sense of reality, is beamed to us from the moon. "We are living in a dreamworld within a dreamworld," he says, "—and it is being broadcast from the Moon. Unless people force themselves to become fully conscious, their minds are the Moon's mind ... "
We await the time machine promised by Socrates ... and perhaps, after all, the arthritis persists ... but I ask you, is it possible to be a complete nit wit and cool as shit at the same time?
The recent release of Peter Carey's new novel had me thinking about titles. If I am ever capable of a title as soppy as The Chemistry of Tears I hope the people around me have the good grace to pull me up. I have no idea what's between the covers of that book, perhaps it's very good. I haven't read Carey since I was in my late teens, when for some strange reason all things quirky seemed artistic.
Once I was working with a pleasant American lady in her sixties and it was Friday afternoon. Knock off time.
'Thank God,' she said swinging back on her chair.
'Too right,' I said.
Said the American lady, 'I'm going home to put a hot water bottle under my knees, a cat on my lap and watch Midsummer Murders.'
'My God,' I thought, 'You and I have a different idea of fun.'
That is how the title of Peter Carey's book makes me feel.
While it's rare that a really great writer is capapble of a title as poor as that, good book's don't necessarily have
wonderful titles. Dostoyevsky wasn't great at it: Crime and Punishment sounds like an American TV series; Tolstoy seems
not to be even trying: War and Peace could be an undergraduate history essay - it needs only the sub-title 'in 19th Century
Ireland' to make it perfect.
Graham Greene was hit and miss, the very ordinary titles Heart of the Matter and Honorary Consul (both superb novels) are
counterweighted by the Power and the Glory, which manages to be both ironic and sincere by turns, and the subtly beautiful
and also ironic, The Quiet American.
Hemingway was superb: A Farewell to Arms, The Sun Also Rises, For Whom the Bell Tolls, Death in the Afternoon, A Moveable Feast all beautiful and strange phrases with deep resonances.
Who is making great titles today? So far as I can see, no well known writers - at least, none consistently. Just one film maker comes to mind: the director or Bottle Rocket, The Life Aquatic, Darjeeling Limited. In books and films good titles are thin on the ground.
And yet, I have noticed that composers of contemporary electronic ambient music are uncannily good at it. Take
shoegaze outfit Belong: 'Remove the Inside' from the verse that says 'Remove the outside and you find the inside, remove
the inside and you see the soul' or 'I Never Lose, Never Really' .. Or Last Days: 'Saved by a Helicopter' or 'I remember When You Were Good'. Truly for the next book of stories I write I must pinch some of these.
Pensees - spelling and punctuation mistakes and all ... I believe at least three quarters of what I say. ... And the good stuff only stays posted for an hour or two.