the dogs bark, but the caravan moves on


Life goes on, a new Mayan cycle of time begins. Whether that means anything or nothing to you, it is interesting to note the collective reaction to the possibility of yet another predicted apocalyptic event. Skeptic or believer, a lot of people were talking about it.

We have a linear view of history, or more specifically, our own history. And if it is linear, then I guess that’s why we wonder where we are going. Are there patterns of progress? Or is history random? If there are indeed patterns of progress in history, what then is the ultimate direction? What (if any) is the driving force of this progress? Philosophers such as St. Augustine and Hegel spent a lot of time thinking about eschatological matters, end points and the inevitability of humankind running its course.  
We do seem consumed by the final cadence. Whether that comes from a buddhist, christian or secular standpoint.
But ambition, competition, social rules of constraint, in the end, nobody wins. All that really matters, all there really is, is the moment. Feeling joy, even exquisite joy or something authentic in the moment. If you’re not feeling it, you must do something about that. We’re here now. This is it. Find something that works. Love, appreciate, strive to be thoughtful and good, create, don’t sit on the fence, don’t be lukewarm. Do it now.

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oh to be a writer, a real writer!

“I’m not going to tell the story the way it happened, I’m going to tell it the way I remember it.”

Narrating our lives through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, blogs…subscribing to our own myth, the myth that we have lives worthy of narrating, worthy of sharing. Seeking the best light in which to present ourselves and enjoying hipstamatic and instagram’s zany effects which help erase lines and spots and colour our experiences with the hue of faded, seventies coolness or X-Pro II style. We seek words and images that will connect us to others. We want to be heard and seen in a world where, increasingly, many feel mute and invisible. We want to leave a trace of ourselves, a scattering of breadcrumbs along the path. Follow them and find me…please.

The impetus to write is to impart certain knowledge, whether this is knowledge based in the fictional world created by the writer, or based on authentic information. Either way, the writer has an overriding idea that she or he wishes to convey. And then they seek whatever devices they can to amplify their meaning, win the reader over and get inside their soul. Although the latter is perhaps too intense a desire…

It all starts with an idea. From the initial idea, the writer commits it to paper, or in more modern terms, to the screen, arranging the work in a certain way and finding suitable material with which to express this idea. The text which ensues is an amplification or elucidation of the initial idea. Invention and intention are co-dependent elements in the craft of composition. In inventing a work, or inventing a way to relate auto-biographical adventures, the writer takes the subject matter and uses it to  meet a certain end, to fulfil her or his intention.

Authorial intention is the fundamental requirement in the act of literary creation to which all other elements are subordinate. The creation of a context, or, in other words, the selection of appropriate subject matter, the ordering of material and the use of some fancy footwork literary devices all follow on from the writer’s initial mental conception and give form to the idea.

A real writer knows what to do with an idea, or more importantly, can first of all recognise a good idea. A real writer sees the good idea, feels the potential emanating from it, picks it up, turns it over, and then seeks to convey that idea in such a way that the reader can feel the weight of it in their hands and their hearts. A real writer knows the fear of offering their newly clothed idea up to the world for the world to take from it what they will, to love it, hate it, spit it from their mouths. The real writer knows this fear and offers their ideas all the same.

Oh to be a writer, a real writer.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gLISb4_gIxA

I, animal

A visit to the zoo after hours. It’s the stuff of childhood fantasy. There was a Willy Wonka moment as the group of about 50 ‘I, Animal’ goers, all with our head phones on and a very fancy O ipod touch around our necks swarmed through the gates, not really knowing what to expect, but feeling full of anticipation nonetheless.

Guided by the voice of Zoe, we were led around the tour we chose when asked which animal we preferred: giraffe, elephant, monkey or penguin. I was on the giraffe tour. But the focus of ‘I, Animal’ was not the animals. Melbourne Zoo, instead, felt like a stunning backdrop for some introspection on a hot summer’s night. Led past hot looking lions, peccary pigs who could rip a jaguar apart and who are particularly smelly, on to the unusual tapir, which is like a cross between a rhinoceros and a horse, to the beautiful herd of zebra and finally to the majestic giraffe, Zoe then prompts you to find a quiet spot and turn your face to the sky and think deep thoughts of self-reflection—not something you expect at the zoo. The tour then ends with the opportunity to ride a beautiful old-fashioned carousel in some sort of we-are-all-children-of-the-world gesture of whimsy and letting go.

It was all a little music video-ish…walking down the central path with people peeling off into their various groups with hipster instrumentals coming through the headphones, I felt slightly manipulated in my emotions. But of course I loved it. Impeccable timing on the device, as the empty baboon pit became a lunar landscape as we were asked to reflect on the connection between Neil Armstrong’s giant leap and the baboon’s first encounter of the wide blue sky above, having only ever been enclosed, and as we turned to take in the outside enclosure, a man in a space helmet came up over the hill and with a sign told us that seeing is believing. And the music built into a meaningful crescendo.

I don’t really know why I was drawn to the giraffe in that awkward introductory moment when the ipod is making you pick an animal. How to choose? Is it an animal I’d most like to be? An animal I feel the most attachment to? Will my choice say something very profound about me? The pressure.  But I was happy with my choice. The giraffe is not only one of the most aesthetically well-designed animals around, but one of the most impressive examples of biological excellence in engineering.

Giraffes have developed special mechanisms to insure adequate blood flow up their long necks and into their heads. In addition to larger hearts and higher blood pressure than humans have, giraffes also have especially tight skin and strong muscles in their legs. The tight skin around the legs prevents the blood from pooling and the muscles help pump blood back up, so that enough blood always reaches the head and the giraffes don’t faint. NASA doctors have noticed that after astronauts have been in space they have a tendency to faint when returning to Earth and so they have carried out extensive studies to apply the principles of giraffe skin to NASA spacesuits.

The thought we were left with, as Zoe asked us to look up to the sky, is that we share this space, this planet with many other species. We are the only ones who seek to make nature adapt to our desires. We don’t appreciate how our own bodies are made and how they need to be treated with respect and nurturing, so it is hardly surprising that we crash through our surroundings to create some sort of in-the-moment comfortable state of fulfillment without a thought for sustainability and the creatures and life around us.

Cheers

Sunday morning, I prepared for Christmas Aperitif at my place in that nervous hostess way. Of course, I completely over-catered, wondered who would come and who would not and should I judge my very essence on those that didn’t come…you know, the usual. Then it got brilliantly sunny, my flat looked amazing and most people came. There was one moment when I wondered how many people my balcony could support, but they were all happy outside, exclaiming over the views and basking in the sun. I think a lot of them (from north of the river) were stunned that ‘south of the river’ was actually an ok place to be and many had to concede that yes, if south of the river meant living where I live, then it really is a pretty good place to be.

And it is.

I live a lovely, lovely life, surrounded by lovely, lovely people.

Lucky.

Whip it

Saturday night, hipster night. Although the very act of labelling it hipster negated any shred of hipster credibilty and we very quickly had to adopt the term ‘whipster’…wannabe hipster. I’m ok with that, I don’t have nearly enough ironic tattoos or 80s facial hair to really carry off hipster-ness. Nonetheless, we did wait on Mamasita’s uber cool stairs for the rite-of-passage-40-minutes to get a table and some Mexican street food. Street food is the new black. So Mexican street food, well, need I say more…? It’s the giddy heights of edginess. What Scott Eddington does to corn is nothing short of a gastronomic miracle. Very tasty.

Then it was down an alleyway past street art and dumpsters to the dead-end and The Croft Institute where they make great cocktails in a science lab ambiance. I declined the possibility of the syringe drink where you get a glass of something with a jauntily placed syringe of something else in it and you add whatever the syringe has to whatever is in the glass and then nonchalantly drink from the glass while the syringe bumps agains the side of your face. I just went normal cocktail. Normal but with a bushel of mint stuck in the top, which did end up bumping, or mintily brushing, the side of my face as I drank it. I just adopted a bored expression and I think I carried the whole thing off ok.

Then on to another bar in China town with no name on the door but it’s just known that it goes by the moniker, New Gold Mountain. Old world glamour with asian flourishes. Up rickety stairs to the first level which revels in its resplendent jade luminosity…and the poppy bar on the next level, pulsing in a sanguine cocoon-like way. And perhaps, as a result of plunging into the vermilion, I opted for a tempranillo instead of another cocktail. I easily lose interest in mixed drinks, clearly another nail in the coffin of ever aspiring to hipster-ness.
And that was the night. What sub-culture simulation is next? 

bittersweet

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I sat down on the steps with a cup of coffee and an orange, enjoying the delicious morning. I bit the orange, and let its sweet juice run into my mouth, then took a gulp of scalding black coffee and went back to the orange again. The sun warmed my hair and smoothed away the marks of the sheet on my skin. 
 Bonjour Tristesse, Francoise Sagan

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