Sunday, January 31, 2010

Dear Susie,

I propose that we discuss the topic of nihilism.


Love Stacey,

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

summer books

on the plane I read John Darnielle's 'novella' about the Black Sabbath record, Master of Reality. The book is written as part of a series where current musicians write about music that inspired them. Those who aren't big fans of the Mountain Goats may not know that John Darnielle is actually quite the fan of metal/hardcore music and he keeps a blog about it called Last Plane to Jakarta. Anyway the book is about this kid who is put in a mental hospital and has to keep a journal of his feelings, which happen to mostly be about how angry he is that his walkman and Black Sabbath tape were taken away from him. He equates their music to air. Anyway then there's a gap of ten years and he reflects about his time there and how he feels about the music later in his life. I found it very compelling because it was written so authentically. I suppose an easy comparison is Holden Caulfield, you just believe in the character so much that you forget they aren't real, that somebody else has created them. It is quite a short read though, regrettably. I hope that John Darnielle writes more in the future.

I also read the autobiography of Jean Rhys, an English writer famous for writing a prequel to Jane Eyre. It's written as a series of vignettes and although it is obviously in chronological order, it's not every little detail of her life. More like interesting or significant things that I suppose are remarkable because the book is quite short. Jean Rhys actually died before she finished writing it and a friend of hers collated notes from diaries to make it novel length. I really can't find the right words to express how much I enjoyed reading this.

I've been trying to read this book called The Collected Works of TS Spivet, by Reif Larsen, which is about a 13 year old boy who is some master cartographer, but I find it very difficult to read cause there are heaps of digressions and on top of the digressions there are these arrows going off to the side that take you to MORE digressions. The premise is that he's been invited to the Smithsonian to do a speech about map drawing or something, but he can't tell his parents that he's won this privelige so he has to travel across America without their permission. The only thing that's keeping me in the story is that his brother somehow killed himself with a gun on their ranch and I need to know what happened. Nice one, Larsen.

But really the book I am totally into at the moment is The Unbearable Lightness of being by Milan Kundera. It is magnificent. You must read it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Report on Human Beings by Michael Goldman

You know about desks and noses,
proteins, mortgages, orchestras,
nationalities, contraceptives;
you have our ruins and records,
but they won't tell you
what we were like.

We were distinguished
by our interest in scenery;
we could look at things for hours
without using or breaking them--
and there was a touch of desperation, not to be found
in any other animal,
in the looks of love we directed
at our children.

We were treacherous of course.
Like anything here--
winds, dogs, the sun--
we could turn against you unexpectedly,
we could let you down.
But what was remarkable about us
and which you will not believe
is that we alone,
with the exception of a few pets
who probably learned it from us,
when betrayed
were frequently surprised.

We were one of a million species
who continually cried out
or silently wept with pain.
I am proud that we alone resented
taking part in the chorus.

Yes, some of us
like to cause pain.
Yes, most of us
liked to cause pain,
but I am proud that most of us
were ashamed

Our love of poetry would have amused you;
we were so proud of language
we thought we invented it
(and thus failed to notice
the speech of the animals,
the birds' repeated warnings,
the whispered intelligence
of mutant cells).

We did invent boredom,
a fruitful state.
It hid the size of our desires.
We were spared many murders,
many religions
because we could say, "I am bored."
A kind of clarity
came when we said it
and we could go to Paris or the movies,
give useful parties, master languages,
rather than sink our teeth in our lover's throat
and shake till things felt right again.

Out of the same pulsing world
you know,
out of gases, whorls,
fronds, feelers, jellies,
we devised hard edges,
strings of infinite tension stretched
to guide us.
The mind's pure snowflake
was our map.
Lines, angles, outlines
not to be found in rocks or seas
or living matter
or in the holes of space,
how strange these shapes must look to you,
at odds with everything,
uncanny, broken from the flow,
I think they must be for you
what we called art.

What was most wonderful about us
was our kindness,
but of this it is impossible to speak.
Only someone who knows our cruelty,
who knows the fears we always lived with,
fear of inside and outside, smooth and rough,
soft and hard, wet and dry, touch and no touch,
only someone who understands the great palace we built
on the axis of time
out of our fear and cruelty and called history,
only those who have lived in the anger
of a great modern city,
who saw the traffic in the morning
and the police at night
can know how heartbreaking
our kindness was.

Let me put it this way.
One of us said, "I think
our life is not as good
as the mind warrants,"
another, "It is hard
to be alone and alive at the same time."
To understand these statements
you would have to be human.

Our destruction as a species
was accidental.
we blamed it on ourselves,
which neither the eagle
nor the dinosaur would do.

Look closely around you,
study our instruments,
scan the night sky.
We were alien.
Nothing in the universe
resembles us.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Summer readin', had me a blast

As per Susie's request, I will talk a bit about the books I have read over the Summer. The last three books i've read are The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Gertrude by Hermann Hesse and Mary Shelley by Miranda Seymour.

For a bit about the Mary Shelley bio go to my blog:

The History of Love is one of those books that whenever you have a single spare moment, you want to pick it up and read it. One of these books only come along every so often for me, and it is a wonderful feeling to have that. Interestingly, it has some parallels to Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which is a book written by her husband, Jonathan Safran Foer. It is interesting because they had written their respective books before they even knew each other. It is about a book called The History of Love and a little girl's journey to discover the man who wrote it. The book switches between the lives of said little girl, Alma Singer and said author of the book, Leo Gursky. It is incredibly moving and I would recommend it to anyone.

I found it hard to get into 'Gertrude', but when I did, I really found that I loved and finished it in a couple of days. Our hero is Kuhn, a composer who speaks of the events of his life after the fact. I was fascinated by the character Muoth, just because he was so moody and unpredictable. It had a lot of philosophical musings which I thought rang true and gave me a few things to think about. He tells us of his relationships with various people and mainly, Gertrude. I've already bought another of his books, Steppenwolf , which I am excited to read.

As of right now, I am reading Moab is My Washpot, an autobiography by Stephen Fry and next will be the autobiography of Janet Frame, the NZ poet and writer. Good reading times ahead.


Now I am back in Australia
I can't really sum my trip overseas up & I don't really know whether people read this blog anyway, but here are a few links that are relevant to/came up during it.

1 - the cook's shop this is my aunt's shop and it's really nice, everyone who works there is nice. I worked there before & after Christmas like I did when I visited as a 16 year old. Very nostalgic.

2 - the exhibition my cousin is organising there is some other website for it that I cannot find. My cousin is Sam Perry, I think he is very cool because I made him a mixed CD when I was dumb and in high school and he made me one while I was over there because he felt bad for not making one three years ago. I was just embarrassed, but the CD I got is amazing.

3 - zine store in Affleck's palace if you ever go to Manchester, do find Affleck's Palace. It's in the Northern Quarter or something, on Queen Street. I hope I'm not making that up. Anyway it apparently used to be full of all these vintage stores that were cheap and good, but now it's kinda grungy and has stores like Thunder Egg and I dunno, those weird gothic shops with goth platform shoes and pants. Frightening, right? but if you persevere to the very top there's a whole bunch of handmade stuff, the best vintage stores are up there and there's the Good Grief zine store, where a cute boy/man (I think boyman) sat drawing. free postcards if you're not going to purchase a zine.

4 - website of pretty artwork/poetry purchased in..
5 - lik + neon, zine/quirky clothes store just off Brick Lane that is home to three kitties I have an affinity with stores that are home to real cats, like that bookstore near Windsor station. I really liked Brick Lane, I could see myself living there. But Londoners scoff at it, I have heard, because of trendsters and Vince Noir. But I'm Australian so I'm allowed to like it.

6 - guitar pedals made by a nice person *cough*

to start this collaborative blog rolling again, Stace, let's write something about the books we have read over the summer holidays. GO!