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
A while back I posted something on how bad I thought most famous, contemporary novelists are at titles.
Proving that literature is not the exclusive property of novelists and poets, I found the above, cracking title by Linda Dahlstrom, health editor of at NBC online magazine.
I'd buy a novel with that title without knowing another thing about it.
here's the article ... CLICK ...
Few pleasures so great as discovering a new artist you know is going to matter to you. Researching a thesis on ambient art and did just that - and he's been composing right under my nose on the Room 40 label. Proving that ambient art need not only be pacifying 'furniture', here is the ferocious and beautiful 'Flowstone' by Rafael Irissari.
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
... remove the outside, there's the inside; remove the inside and you see the soul
More than once I have tried to transpose the ferocious beauty of Belong's 'Remove the Inside' onto the page ...
This is the music I hear through the penultimate scene of The Mary Smokes Boys , a boy shooting out the windows of a truck that speeds away from him in the dusk, then he goes to his sister and sees the blood ... And I hear it in The Darkest Little Room when the man sleeps and dreams of an infinite and eternal chain breaking in the dark and knows it is the girl who has accomplished this but does not know how ...
Of course I fail, but I must continually try ...
The new Arvo Part is here. It is genius. The best work since Lamentate. The pieces here have achieved what In Principio and Orient Occident attempted, a truly timeless style ... music that could have been written by Motzart, or Palestrina or someone of the 22nd C AD, but, in truth, could only have been written by Part ... He is the master among the masters ... listen to this ...
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.
The reason I've never looked at any kind of style manual or how-to-write guide is not that I don't think anyone has anything to teach me ... In fact, I'm sure every man, woman and child on earth has something they can teach me, and probably something I could use in writing a book ...
but everything I have every written - and I'm sure the experience is a common one, with the exception of the most committed genre writers - has posed such a unique set of problems, that no general manual could have helped.
I have never needed to know 'how to write dialogue' ... I have needed to know, for example in The Mary Smokes Boys, 'how to write dialogue between two young uneducated horse workers when one is in love with the other's sister' ... I have never needed to know how to describe landscape but instead, in The Darkest Little Room, 'how to describe the way Saigon is late at night on the back of a motorbike in the outskirts of the city that seem to unravel endlessly, as in a dream'.
I would happily have read How to Write The Mary Smokes Boys or How to Write The Darkest Little Room, but alas, those volumes were not available when I was writing those books. Even better, some diligent student could have read them and written the novels better than I have, and I would have been glad to see them in their proper incarnations.
And so it is with the new book ... I am seeking an entirely new language once more, I read other authors and every now and then get a flash of what I want ... a sound, an atmosphere, a rhythm ... and then I am in the dark again. Inevitably, I will almost write the book. It will almost be that book I so wish some better, more intelligent other would write properly, so I could simply read.
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 ...
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.