Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Last post for 2008

There's something sacred about the last message of the year. As if the ticking of time is more insistent that usual.

If the pundits would have their way, this will be our last year of relative comfort. In 2009 we are all going to be hit by staggering hikes in prices across the board, in gas and electricity, in all sorts of basic services. No income rises because no one will be able to afford to pay their employees more. The price of all goods, not just services, will go up.

It’s all so horrendous. Still I can’t help wondering what I will be writing here this time next year. Will 2009 be as bad as predicted or will we be expecting an even worse year to come.

The Christmas/New Year break for me is a time I use for spring-cleaning. A year, or in the case of this year, several years' accumulated unnecessary junk. We take it to the tip via a skip, a two-metre skip that can contain larger items and box load full after box load full of books and past papers. Even Bill is doing his best to discard old books, the spy thrillers of the past. Books he knows he will never read again. The print is too small even to take to Sainsbury’s secondhand books or St Vincent de Paul’s, so into the skip they go.

I try to be ruthless, but it’s not easy. I have this sense each time I discard that maybe some day the object to be discarded will come in useful to someone. I have culled the dress ups and though I’d like to get rid of them altogether I still have three large bags full. Perhaps Millie will have another Law Revue this coming year and as I said to Tessa who was visiting yesterday, I’ll keep hold of the dress ups for the next three years until Ella leaves school. By then Millie too will have graduated.
‘But Leo will be about to start primary school,’ Tessa joked, as if to say, you’ll never be able to get rid of them. Someone will always need the dress ups for plays and performances. When you need them they’re useful.
I’ve filled the dress ups bags with camphor balls, to keep the bugs away. The house reeks of it. I must also put some into Millie’s wardrobe. For some reason her cupboard attracts moths, the clothes-eating variety and her clothes are too valuable to serve as a feeding ground for insects.

I wish I could find a photograph or image to match these thoughts. The best I can offer is one of Leo, our first grandchild, taken minutes after his birth some fourteen months ago. If anything signifies new beginnings, this image does, coming as it does so close to the end of the year.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Talking to Ghosts

Yesterday I read about Avery Gordon’s ideas on hauntings, ghosts, the uncanny and wondered about the times I have felt haunted?

There were times years ago when in conjunction with a dream I felt the cold touch of my dead father’s hand on my arm in the corridor in the middle of the night as I walked to the kitchen for a drink.

Sometimes I have wondered about this house itself, which has undergone many lives since it was built in 1905. Years later it was divided into two, two rooming houses. Before then it had been a doctor’s surgery. By the time we bought it, the house was in serious disrepair, especially the two kitchen lean twos in the back section and the two bathrooms and toilets.

Bill found a wedding ring on the floor beneath the mantelpiece when he was renovating what is now our bedroom some twenty years ago. I wear it to this day. At first I felt uneasy wearing a ring that must once have been lost by a stranger. How upset she must have been, I thought. Or relieved to be spared the burden of her marital ring. The latter is less likely. She would have existed pre 1980, maybe even at the turn of the century. It must have saddened her. It must.

Avery Gordon is on about haunting and the sociological imagination and in it she includes a chapter on psychoanalysis. She re-tells the story of Sabina Spielrein who as a young woman in the early 1800s was sent by her parents, to the Burgholzli hospital. She was said to be suffering a serious nervous disorder, elsewhere and later described as schizophrenia. Within a few years it appears she was cured of her illness and was then sent off to see the great Carl Jung and the two it seems fell in love with one another, a common enough story, particularly in the early days of psychoanalysis. These days too if you are to read Esther Helfgott's account of her more recent analytic experience.

Although there is no evidence to suggest that the relationship between Jung and Spielrein was or was not consummated, it was mutual. Evidence a plenty from letters between the two. Jung called it off because the rumours were flying and Spielrein herself went on to become a psychoanalyst, and her relationship with Jung continued over a number of years. Her story ends badly, with her early death along with her daughters at the hands of the Nazis.

Gordon considers that Spielrein is a ghost hovering over the pages of analytic history. It was Spielrein who first wrote a paper alluding to the death instinct. She developed other ideas, too, that Jung and Freud borrowed. But in the end, despite initial recognition of her achievement, they soon forgot it. Not an uncommon story for those days in the history of women kind. Freud refers to her in one of his letters as the ‘little girl’.

Did I raise the specter of a ghost in my presentation to the VAPP three weeks ago? Did I cause everyone in the room to shudder under the icy chill of death’s wings? Incest, real and imagined, incest familial, professional and historical.

Why can we not find a ‘hospitable place’ in which the ghosts of our ancestors might rest? Or must we continue to blame the messenger, chastise the one who speaks because she dares to speak out against other fixed beliefs.

Sunday, November 02, 2008

Revisting past landscapes

We can only approach the past from distance, writes Alice Monro in her book, The View from Castle Rock. She can revisit the area where she was born almost daily if she wants. It is only twenty miles away from where she lives now in Ontario and although the area has changed and the house of her childhood has been pulled down and a car wrecking yard stands in its place, she can still revisit the area if she wants, but she does not. She has no such desire. Perhaps were the house still standing she might.
I think she is right. You can only approach the past from a distance. Only then can you get a broad enough perspective to capture the essence of your experience. I look back on my own childhood and my memory looks different from what I see today when I drive along Canterbury Road and up Wentworth Avenue.
I was five when we first lived in the house at 2 Wentworth Avenue in Canterbury. The house still stands, though seriously renovated, the back gutted to make way for a clean open living area and an elevated study that looks out onto a small neat garden. They have sacrificed some of the old back yard for rooms inside. I know this because a number of years ago the house came up for sale and one of my brothers and one of my sisters and I went to have a look when it was open for inspection. As we came in through the side front door, the whole place looked so different, no longer the worn carpet, no longer the dark stained wood paneled doors. The distance between the front door and the hallway and first line of bedrooms had shrunk so much I needed only a few footsteps to cross it. We used to pay marbles in that stretch of ground and the piano stood in the corner there pressed against the wall with plenty of room for the stool and a person playing the piano, room enough for people to walk up and down behind. But now the hallway too has shrunk into a narrow corridor that is no longer dark. A skylight in the ceiling sends a shaft of light that converts the hallway, changing it from a long and tedious stretch of land that I had to cross daily, many times to get from my bedroom past the lounge room into the kitchen and from there out to the back yard, into a small enough area to conquer in two or three steps.
I know this is the price we pay for growing up: that all the vast spaces of our childhood shrink to a fraction of their original size. I wish it were not so. I wish that my memories, at least the ones that relate to space and distance could be met today as they were then. But that is not to be and, although I say I wished it were so, I’m not so sure of that on further reflection. On further reflection, I revel in the surprise and sense of discovery I have when I revisit a landscape from my childhood and compare its dimensions now with those from the past.

Here's a picture from Google Earth of my old home.

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Friday, October 24, 2008


Winston pissed in the corner near the kitchen cupboards again this morning. He left a puddle deep enough for the apron ribbons to float into. The aprons ordinarily hang from the kitchen cupboard door.
Last time I washed them in similar circumstances, I told myself that I must not put them back there again or I must hang them in such a way as their ties do not reach the floor. But do you think I took my own advice?
I am ever the optimist, I hoped it would not happen again, and of course it has. So the aprons are back in the wash and another old towel has met its fate in the rubbish bin. It’s the easiest way to clean up the cat’s leakage.
I was going to say the great cat, but Winston is no longer a great cat. Winston has shrunk to half his size. I understand from our neighbors that he has kidney disease. They intend to keep him alive as long as possible. He is not their cat but they take responsibility for him. They provide a warm home for him on their veranda at night and they let him in by day. It's okay for them, Joanna is retired and spends most of her time at home. She can keep an eye on Winston and take him outside whenever he makes ready to pee.
If ever Winston sneaks inside here by day as soon as someone sees him, we throw him out, but it’s not so easy at night while we sleep. On top of which, I lock the exit cat door to keep our cats in at might and once Winston has made his way inside he can’t get out even if he wants to, without human intervention.
Why don’t I lock the cat door entrance, too, you might ask? I would, except that when I close the exit door shortly before bedtime our most intrepid cat, Anoushka is usually not yet in. I refuse to run around the back yard and neighborhood looking for her and I know that she will come in of her own accord soon, so I leave the cat door open for her.
'You should just leave Anoushka out for the night and shut the cat door both ways,’ my second daughter tells me. She is as sick of the puddles on the floor as I am. Her pink apron has already been soaked in Winston’s pee at least three times.

Winston is an orange red cat who once had a home somewhere in Beaconsfield Road nearby. He used to be fat. He traveled the neighborhood looking for food and was obviously quite successful. But then, one day it seemed, he had no home to go to. Our neighbour, Joanna, figured his owners must have left the area and abandoned him. She took Winston under her wing, scraggly cat that he is. She has a collection of Siamese cats who live permanently indoors. Now that Winston is ill and prone to peeing wherever and whenever he sees fit, he has become a burden.

‘I wish he were dead,’ I said to my daughter. I hauled the aprons into the washing machine and covered them in liquid soap. ‘He’s not fit to be alive.’
I’d be happy for Winston to live on as long as he’s not in pain, and as long as the neighbors want to take responsibility for him, but I do not want to have to deal with his pee anymore.

These days two of our daughters have been clamoring for a dog.
‘We need a dog,’ they say. Ella’s home for a few years yet, but Millie’s likely to leave soon. Rosie who always wanted a dog when she was little, such that we once gave her a gigantic toy dog for her birthday, complete with engraved dog tag, Towser, seems unfussed at the moment. She too plans to leave home soon.

I am adamant, no dog. My husband might relent. I suspect he’d love a dog. He grew up on a farm, but we cannot have a dog at the moment. Where’s the room?

We need a water tank, more than we need a dog. Where’s the room for that, a water tank that is? It’ll destroy the aesthetic balance of the back yard, but the roses under the eucalypt are water stressed, they probably won’t make it through another summer unless we do something.
Today my husband plans to install a soaker hose. They’re legitimate during this drought, but I’m hankering for a water tank, however ugly.
All this talk of financial doom and gloom, juxtaposed with the coming summer, and dams only 36.4 percent full, down on this time last year, focuses me on prevention before it’s too late, and that does not include a dog.
‘We will get a dog once the cats are all dead,’ my husband says. That includes three cats, all of whom are aged under four years, that’s at least a decade away. The girls maybe can install their own dogs in their own homes by then.

I would include a picture of one of our cats but I can't find one at the moment, nor do I have time to find one elsewhere. So here in the glory of adding images to my blog I will try to include a picture of Lotta, my oldest daughter's cat, now no longer the kitten she once was in the photo. A cat photo for effect.

The older cat is Pickles, our tabby, who died last year at seventeen years. Winston has taken on the look that Pickles developed shortly before he died, but Pickles was much loved and his passing mourned. Not so for Winston.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Landscapes and Memories

My daughter Rosie took these pictures for an assignment she's doing at the moment on cultural landscapes. Her chosen landscape is Dights Falls Park in Abbotsford. One of the photos I include here shows Dights falls, self evident, the other includes a grey eucalypt around which some one has tied a sprig of artificial orchids.
I have been haunted by this second image ever since I first came across it earlier this year when I visited the place with my husband. It is meant as a commemoration to a young woman, Lynette Phillips whose body was found in the Yarra River nearby. She was wrapped in a blue doona. The cause of her death is still unclear though it's evident she fell victim to foul play.

I have long loved the area for its haunting quality, more so now for its funereal quality. I can't go there without thinking about this young woman whom I never met. The memory of her is tied to the landscape.

Friday, October 17, 2008

Rendezvous with Nature

I am reading two books at the moment, Gerald Murnane’s Landscape with Landscape and Alice Munro’s The View from Castle Rock. Both are examples of what Gerald Murnane describes as Autobiographical fiction, both use the events of their own lives to tell a story or a series of stories. Both describe a poetical impulse in childhood that involves a passionate love of nature. There was a time when I was about the age of my daughter Ella who is currently wrangling over her negotiations with her first, practically first ever boyfriend, well before I had boyfriends, or even considered the possibility, when I fell for nature. Head over heels. I longed for green hills and wide expanses. I longed for the silence of the bush, the beauty of trees and flowers and wide open skies. Nature was my muse. She-nature must be a she-would inspire the finest thoughts and words that could flow through my poetry, if only I could find a way of losing myself in her.
By the time I was fourteen the Sunday afternoon trips we made to special places, the Maroondah Dam, Emerald Lake, the Dandenong’s, were long over. Most weekends we stayed at home hovering in corners as my father became progressively drunk, until it all climaxed on Saturday night with his worst most drunken outburst, by which time he ran out of alcohol. He could not get anymore after 6pm on Saturday and once he’d drunk the last drop it would take the last hours of Saturday night into Sunday morning before he would start to sober up. Sundays he spent in a welter of guilt and self-reproach for his appalling behaviour over the last two nights and the possibility of going out for a Sunday drive was out of the question. Even so family trips to tourist destinations were no longer what I had in mind to represent the county. I wanted to be free to roam at will among the trees and hills, hidden from others. I wanted to lose myself in nature.

The Farm Road estate which spread for miles behind the AV Jennings estate where we lived in our brick veneer, two fronted block had only been half developed. In the far corner of the estate a kilometer or two along Farm Road where the old chicken sheds were slowly falling down, were the remnants of market gardens. You can still see some remaining gardens in places like Dingley, when you travel east along Centre Dandenong Road. The gardens in Cheltenham had already been sold but it took years before the developers started to clear them to make way for roads and new house allotments. I walked along Farm Road from its beginning where it formed a T with Warrigal Road alongside the golf course with its cyclone fence that held in manicured trees and gardens. I walked along the road itself that had recently been covered with asphalt in readiness for the assault of housing that would soon take place. Where the asphalt ended and the road became once more a wide dirt track I imagined the country began. There was one lone house, a small white weatherboard, dilapidated but still occupied judging by the washing on the line and the smoke rising from the chimney. It stood on the far side of the chicken shed and I imagined that it was still occupied by the owners of the chicken business who must have given up their chickens to make way for the relentless progress of housing developments. There was never anyone around as I walked on weekends up the middle of the lonely farm road to where the countryside began and civilisation ended. There were no signs warming that trespassers would be prosecuted but I often had the sense that I was walking on land the belonged to someone else and try as I might to create the idea that this was the countryside and therefore free for all, I still worried that someone would come out of that house, shotgun in hand and threaten to evict me, if I did not go voluntarily. My sojourns through nature therefore had a dangerous quality, as if at any moment I might be sprung.
I have long felt embarrassed by my childhood love affair with nature, until now when I read that Gerald Murnane and Alice Munro share it.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Writing that never comes

Elizabeth Jolley could never settle into her writing late at night until she was assured that the family was settled, the chores were done and all was well in her small world. I have a similar sense, I cannot settle when I am preoccupied with some earthly concern generally to do with the psychological (more often the psychological than the physical health) of one of my children or Bill. If someone out there is brawling, or deeply unhappy or entangled in the vagaries of a tortured love affair, which seems to be the case at the moment for fourteen-year-old Ella, then I cannot settle into my writing.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

The 'beget' nature of academic writing

My head is full of old fashioned idioms, perhaps because last might I watched the first episode of the 1971 BBC adaptation of Honore de Balzac’s Cousin Bette. So far I am not enjoying it. It seems too stylised and twee. I cannot identify with any characters, not the way I do when I watch the BBC adaptations of Dickens, or Austen or many of the other classics I have watched adapted to the screen. BBC classics. Watching them on Friday and Saturday nights, starting late, well after dinner and whatever else needs happen on those nights, well into the wee hours, I watch these films and lose myself in these old worlds long gone, grateful that I live in the present. The lot of women in the past has been far worse than it is today, at least from my perspective. Though I’m sure for some elsewhere it may be as bad or even worse.

Now I wonder, what distinguishes good writing from bad? What is it that makes us want to read on? To some extent it must be subjective, different words and styles appeal to different people. When I read blog sites, why do some appeal to me and others not? Why am I so taken by the self conscious confessional tone of some like Artandmylife, who forever admits to feeling poorly educated, a non expert, and yet offers her thoughts and opinions regardless. For me she becomes a sort of every woman, the mother at home with her little ones imparting knowledge to them that is greater far than anything they can read in text books and yet, her knowledge is somehow diminished because it has not been formalised through the official authorised discourse. Maybe this is why I enjoy her work so much, the same with Stripeysocksstudio and Martin Edmond – was there ever a more self-effacing, yet brilliant writer, who also seems more self taught than spoon fed by the institutions? Maybe for me, too, because I have gone back to the university after thirty yeas and because I do not have a vested interest in fitting in with the academic ethos – I’m not looking for a job – I can write more freely even as I know it will not satisfy certain of the establishment.

I resent the insistence that everything said be backed up by a footnote: Who gave you this idea? Who has said this before you? How can you claim to know this? How dare you presume to say anything unless someone else presumably more learned than you has said it before.

To me that’s different from the need to acknowledge other people’s ideas. I have no problem acknowledging other people’s ideas, but sometimes I cannot remember and sometimes my own ideas have become such an amalgamation of all the ideas that I have read and heard from many other people, I cannot think to anchor the idea as someone else's specific’s property.

My supervisor talks of the 'beget' nature of much psychoanalytic writing. Someone wants to write about an area, say the notion of envy, they must always begin with what Freud said first, then move on to what Jung said or Klein, Bion or even Lacan. They seem to need to quote about five or more significant people from the past before they can move into contemporary ideas, and sometimes if they’re lucky they might have something to add for themselves, some new ideas of their own, but always it’s couched in dense theoretical terms, as if it can only be looked at from afar, like examining a precious gem under a bright light. It’s not allowed to be vague and abstract, a dim idea. It has to be sharp and clear.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

The Weird Business of Blogging

Hello Bloggers

Relatively speaking, I'm new to this blogging business. I do not know the rules, if there are rules, and I suspect there are, rules to everything. My supervisor at LaTrobe told me recently that bloggers do not like comments on their blog sites from strangers who cannot be identified from their own blogs. (I do have a blog and this is it) This might account for why when I sent a long and detailed comment to 'stripy socks' she did not publish it, or perhaps it got lost along the way and never reached her. But I am stunned at how suddenly hurt I felt, as if I had been excluded from this wonderful New Zealand group of mainly women, though there are a few male bloggers, who interact with one another so enthusiastically on all manner of things, from high art, philosophy, poetry to the domestic.

Here's me muddling on with my great long rambles of matters relevant to me, but I am not blogging 'properly', I'm sure. I have told my daughters that I am too text based. Who wants to read reams of text? I need to include images, but the only images of significance to me at this time are those in my head , or the ones I find in family photos and they feel a bit too much my children's business and not mine, so I continue to settle for text. Besides I've yet to learn the art of all this tagging and including photos and all the other wonderful things I see other people do in their blogs.

Another voice in my head says, forget it. You've too much to do already. Get on with your thesis, your serious writing. Blogging is like television watching. It's addictive. We got rid of our television fifteen years ago and now I limit myself to watching the occasional DVD on the computer screen, as do we all in this household, of mainly grown up daughters, my husband and I. But blogging is more than that. It demands an active readership, it demands a response.

I had thought to tell others in the comment sections of their blogs, the few that I read regularly that I am so concerned about these rules that I have become almost too shy to comment now. I feel like an elephant who enters a graceful dinner party conducted by gazelles. They do not want me there. Could this be true?

So many people write that they want comments and I am sure my comments are not hostile, at least I hope they do not read as hostile, but you never know. So on this self flagellatory note I leave off this posting in the hope that someone out there might tell me what if anything, I'm doing wrong.

One day down the track I might regret this message but for the time being I will let it stand. I think cyberspace is such a weird place to lose yourself.

Saturday, September 13, 2008

Written versus pictorial images

Hi fellow bloggers

Today we fly to Byron Bay, via Ballina, leaving at 5.30pm. I’m more uneasy than usual because we are leaving Ella behind. She will come up two days later, one day and a bit to be exact on the Monday morning, in order for her to compete in the National History Challenge on Sunday. We had thought the interviews were to be conducted on the following Sunday. I call that wishful thinking. You want it so badly that you don’t read the instructions.

I’m sure it will all be all right in the end. For now I am on holidays for the grand sum of one week. I need a break. My voice has gone to laryngitis and I can barely raise a shout.

For the last few days I have been haunted by dream images.

Green Tree Hill.
We are standing at the edge of a clearing, a small group, my children, my siblings. We have caught the train to Cheltenham station and we leave the platform on the cemetery side. It is the cemetery side of the station that I am looking at but it seems different somehow, as if we have arrived in the country.

The man is foreign. Puffy face, dark eyes. He holds the baby in his arms underneath a coarsely woven blanket. I know it’s a baby because I can hear it crying. He looks as though he feels trapped, standing there on the edge of the clearing as if he had had some intention before we came along but now that intention has changed.

We’ve stopped him in his tracks, he hesitates and just as I am about to offer to hold the baby for him, he throws it down onto the stony ground beside him and bolts. He is gone almost before we register the thud of the baby’s head against the hard earth and I am horrified at how close I had come to being able to save this baby. If only I had known. Why couldn’t he have put the baby down, not thrown it down so heavily.

The thud of the head on the ground and then it rolls out of the blanket. The baby’s head has been severed and rolls over with no body attached. Its eyes are open, brown berry eyes as deep in colour as a pool of blood, wild staring eyes. I can only register the severed neck and cannot bear it any longer. I wake up.

Interpret this dream as you will. I have thoughts but I won't include them here, other than to speculate that the dream says something about the severance of intellect and body that I struggle with much of the time.

Lately, I have become frustrated with my blog. It is far too text based, but unlike some of the other blogs I enjoy, , ,

I will need to find some real images to include. Then I will feel more complete, less like a head without a body. In the meantime bear with me. I will improve.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Idle thoughts on memory and fiction

Hello bloggers
The thoughts that follow emerged as I was struggling with an essay I am writing about Helen Garner and her writing. It's tough stuff critiquing this writer, but I persevere because to me she exemplifies a writer who struggles with issues of rage and the desire for revenge. It's not easy to link such emotions with creativity but that's my aim.

I cannot manufacture the sense that comes over me unbidden when someone says something that triggers a memory of a feeling, that I know is beyond words. Often it’s stirred by thoughts of things, objects from the past, the needlework, the colours of the silken threads we wound together into two thin strands to get just enough depth to our stitches. I could stitch then, the names escape me, featherstitch, hemstitch, knot stitch. The little knots we sewed in the centre of each flower as the stamens, the pure straight line of the French stitch, the outline of the eye blue cornflowers, the blood red poppies. I wanted to put together the yellow gold and purple, religious colours. If you chose them in your colouring book, they signified an unhappy childhood. I wanted people to know. The three crosses marked against the round green dome of a hill, the crucifixion. I copied this image from others, an Easter image along with the oval shapes of eggs, lined and patterned. My memory of working on colouring in: the pleasure of keeping the colours within the lines. My pleasure at making sure the spread of colour across the centre of the image was evenly spaced. I learned to tilt my pencil to one side and use the spread of the exposed lead to shade in colour. All the tricks we learned as children. All the colouring-in skills, to compensate for the knowledge that I could not draw freely. I could not create images out of nothing like my big sister and brothers. They could draw. They could paint. They were artists. I could only imitate and clumsily at that. But the feeling the sheer pleasure of trying remains with me. It rockets through my mind, like the blur of lights on the Christmas tree, blurred under my unfocussed eyes whenever I tried to create a whitewash of colour. It was a way of escaping inside my mind, every thing smudged, the outlines blurred, the details reduced. Life was less difficult that way.

The pleasure of reading out loud to the class. Sitting at my desk in grade five and six, hoping against hope that my turn would come. The joy of leaping over words, pronouncing clearly even the difficult words. This was something I could do. I could read out loud, even though I was a dullard. Why did I feel such a dullard? Did Mother Mary John tell me as much?

‘I knew you were bad at arithmetic,’ she said, peering over her wire spectacles, ‘but I didn’t think you were this bad.’ Mother Mary John once in my final year at primary school told me that I was as senseless as a wet hen. I had accidentally knocked over a flowerpot. Bill uses the expression against me whenever he considers that I’m in too much of a rush and accident-prone. Whenever I make a mistake.

To fictionalise requires a letting go. These feelings I write about, these inchoate child feelings of ecstasy and pleasure at the sheer brilliance of things, the smell of freshly ground coffee beans, the sight of diosma in spring, the smell of jasmine, the smell of a rock freshly plucked from the ground after I breathe onto it, the sight of certain colours captured at just the right moment, the sense of déjà vu, when I go over an event in my mind, exactly as if it’s happening again for another time, my dreams. All of these. I have lost my train of thought.

This is my struggle. To hold firm to a line of thought, a line of reasoning that can travel from one point through the middle to its end. Now it has come back to me. I associate Helen Garner’s difficulties with fiction, my own difficulties fictionalising with a rift between my adult self and the sensations of that little self. Helen Garner rarely seems to write about her childhood experience, at least not lately. She draws on adult hood. Where have her memories gone? Has she written them all out? Is she too fearful of the label, too self preoccupied, too narcissistic. Murray Bail probably canned her that. He’s got that male objectivity, that distance that marks one sensibility off from another. I have to keep telling myself that it’s okay to write like a woman. It’s okay to write from my autobiographical self. It’s okay to put myself on the page with all my self- preoccupations. Once down on the page they are no longer mine anyhow. Like the experiment we did in Mrs Raj’s biology class.

Twenty five year eleven girls at Vaucluse Convent for ladies. Mrs Raj our new and exotic biology teacher who speaks with an accent and wears brightly coloured saris over a cropped bodice. I can still see the line of her coffee coloured flesh between the waist of her sari and the edge of her top and I wondered two things: Why isn’t she cold and what do the nuns think? This is in the late sixties. Women do not expose their midriffs except in advertisements for bathers or those Metre Maids on the Gold Coast. The nuns are already railing against the amount of leg showing under our school dresses when we hitch them up desperate to wear a mini dress, a la Jean Shrimpton.
We are sitting on our high stools in the new science block, which was built on government funds where the old tennis courts once stood. Our arms are adjacent to the bench tops in pale pinewood. The copper taps each shaped like a swan’s neck fall into sinks along the line of bench.
‘Each of you girls take a glass.’ Mrs Raj has put out a series of clear glasses and set them on the bench top, one per girl. ‘Now I want you to spit into your glass.’
What! A murmur from the classroom that bounces off the walls. What is she saying?
‘Spit into your glass, girls, as much saliva as you can get.’
We look at her face. She is serious. We spit away. Giggles grunts and the splashing whistle of twenty-five girls spitting into glasses.
‘Now set the glass in front of you and wait.’
The puddle in the bottom of my glass of bubbly saliva is thick and sticky. My stomach roils. As if I have exposed something that should not be seen. As if I should rinse the glass under the tap for fear that others will see it too. I cannot look over at the other girls’ glasses. It is as if we have been asked to take our clothes off and we are standing naked, eyes ahead, hoping that no one will notice our vulnerability, that no one will cross our gaze.
‘Now,’ says Mrs Raj. ‘I want you all to drink it back up’
‘Yuk,’ the class calls in one voice.
‘Do as I say girls. It will not hurt you.’
Loud swallows and grunts as each girl tries to take back inside the saliva she had so eagerly parted with a few minutes ago. It is cold on my tongue, worse to swallow than medication but I get it down.
‘Now, girls, the reason I have asked you to do this is to show you the difference between the inside and the outside.’ Mrs Raj is serious. Her voice does not falter, even underneath the singsong lilt of her Indian accent. ‘When the saliva is in your mouth, as it is every minute of every day, you don’t notice it. Your saliva is you. Spit it out and it becomes not you. Drink it back and it’s like something completely foreign to you, when only minutes ago it was you.’
Mrs Raj beams a smile that shows all of her large straight teeth, white against the gleam of her skin. The red smudge of paint on her forehead matches the redness of her lips and the faint blush in her cheeks.

I could talk now about sameness and difference not only between aspects of your self but between yourself and others. I could go into an academic tirade but I’ll resist and let my anecdote stand alone for what it’s worth.

Monday, July 07, 2008

Countries and conferences

Dear Bloggers
I have just come back from the sixth International Auto/Biography Association conference that was held in Honolulu, or Waikiki, however closely you define the location of the university of Hawaii, on the island of Oahu, not the ‘big island’ of Hawaii as the locals so lovingly call it. It was summer and the temperature was tropical but not sultry, not most of the time. They overdid the air-conditioning throughout the conference to the point of protest. I thought I might have needed a cardigan for the evenings, after the sun had dropped and the air picked up the night cool, but the nights were balmy. Still I needed my cardigan for the large Keoni auditorium, which despite the presence of some 200 people seated in its core, was like an icebox. Every time I opened the large swing door to the auditorium and crossed the floor to find my usual seat at the front, the room gave off a blast of cold. It was like entering the beer fridge in Safeway.

The podium stood to one side at the front of the auditorium alongside a long narrow cloth covered table raised on a dais above which the panel members sat for each plenary. It was indeed a place for academic scholarship and I heard the words of the academy more than once. For me a new language. In many ways the whole experience was one of being inculcated into a new language, into a new mythology. Beginning with the multi tiered composition of the delegates.

To begin, there were the dignitaries, the so-called keynotes, those well published in the area of life writing, and auto/biographical theory. These also could be classified along the ranks of seniority. There were the old gods, the most famous, Philippe Lejeune and Paul John Eakin, the Frenchman and the American. The guests from the Anglophone world included the likes of Susanna Egan and Margaretta Jolley. The Americans probably occupied most of the significant positions, the famous academic twins, Julia Watson and Sidonie Smith, Nancy K Miller, though she kept in the background. She was referred to, her work at least, but she kept to herself.

On day one she sat beside me ever so briefly. I had planted myself in the front row. Why do they bother to put out chairs for a front row, no one bothers to occupy them except me? A line of chairs from one side of the room to the other, the empty chairs that signified a space between the speakers and the audience. I fractured that line and though at times I felt dwarfed by the high orange cloth covered dais that overlooked the Keoni auditorium. Like being in the front row in a picture theatre when you sit face to face with the screen.

‘I’d like to sit close to the front,’ Nancy K Miller said, muttering to herself. I gestured to the empty chair beside me. She had no choice but to sit and I introduced myself.
‘Nancy Miller,’ I repeated when she told me her name. ‘One of my favourite footnotes.’ She winced. She did not enjoy the limelight, at least not my pleasure at meeting her. ‘You coined the expression, ‘When memory fails I let language lead,’ I said.
‘Did I write that?’ she said. ‘It sounds pretty good.’ I nodded in agreement.
‘It’s a little too close to the podium for me here,’ she said.
‘Feel free to move.’
‘I’ll just go back a bit further. No offence.’
‘No offence.’
Was I offended? I asked myself? It was not meant as a snub. I recognised that the closeness to the front mountain of the front dais was overbearing but in spite of myself I felt peeved. Snubs like this happened often at the conference, but not nearly so often as the warm and friendly gestures of other people, most generally the lesser beings, the ordinary conference attendees, like Carina from Portugal who read her paper out in French and gave the audience, most of whom could not speak any French, a taste of what it is like to live in a foreign land, the foreign language like a blast of icy wind in your face and the bitter taste of exclusion, unable to understand.
She would do it differently next time, she told me afterwards. She had wanted to be understood and although many people praised her for her bravery in presenting in French, that had not been the aim of her paper.

Philippe Lejeune as the first keynote speaker spoke French but he sat alongside his adoring and competent interpreter who provided a translation of every word for the mostly ignorant audience. French became the second dominant language at the conference perhaps because Philippe and many of the Canadians speak French too. German came next and although the Chinese were reasonably well represented, not so well represented as perhaps those from other major countries, I did not hear much Chinese. There were many jokes about the hegemony of English, including the one that in ten years time, Chinese will be the dominant language simply because of the number of western students learning it.

As much as there was a cultural inclusiveness there was a cultural divisiveness. Philippe Lejeune acknowledged the odd comment from an English speaking person, he speaks English himself, but mostly he chatted with the French, including a couple of young women, perhaps his students. One had a tough look with fierce eyes and a shaved head. She hovered around Lejeune, much like a buzzing bee around a flower.

Tim Dow Adams, a footnote from America, had us in stitches much of the time. He looked so familiar to me, as if he could have been one of my brothers. We joked often throughout the conference. He spoke to everyone, and was the first to greet me when I climbed off the conference bus in front of the East West Centre at Hawaii university where the conference proceedings were held. The East West Centre consists of several floors of seminar type rooms some with open structures and desks into which translation boxes had been set. We did not use the translation boxes, nor did we use interpreters, except for on that first day with Philippe Lejeune and later at the performance on the Tuesday evening when the Hawaiians spoke and sang in their own language and the whole proceedings were presented in both English and Hawaiian.

Is this boring enough for you? I have so much to remember here, so much to try to record before it all dribbles from my memory into the trash heap of my unconscious mind.

I shall try to record some of my personal highlights.

Julie Rak from Canada, a woman of the future as one delegate told me works with popular culture and continually remarked on the need to be aware of the influence of popular culture on the field, the blogs, technology etc. Julie Rak remembered me when she and I were talking to Emily Hipchin. I had presented alongside Emily Hipchin and Susanna Egan in Mainz, Germany two years ago. Emily recalled the terrible question/comment from an Irish woman in the audience. Her Irishness had little to do with the question I suspect, maybe more the fact that she was studying at the university of Vienna were they are conceptually driven, no room there for the self reflexive). This young woman stood up after my talk and asked,
‘Is this appropriate?’ This said before suggesting she could not relate to what I had presented. And then both Craig Howes and Tom Smith (two other dignitaries) came to my rescue. They talked about how difficult it is for academics used to coming at material from a distance, from behind the interpretative façade, to deal directly with autobiography and the autobiographer.
‘I use that example with my students,’ Jule Rak said. ‘I use it all the time to try to demonstrate how it’s possible to do it, how it’s okay to do it and yet how difficult it s for the audience to receive it.’
‘That woman was hostile,’ Julie Rak told me. No wonder I had felt the floor swallow me up after she had asked the question, is this appropriate. I’d heard of academics on the attack. This was my first ever conference and this my first question during discussion time and it was an attack.

At this conference, when I presented my own autobiographical material the audience did not seem flummoxed. I was though when Alfred Hornung (a German dignitary) asked me to talk about the ways in which language makes family secrets possible. I found it hard to answer his question and then his wife’s question (she’s a professor at another German university) that followed on immediately,
‘How do I link what you have written with revenge.’
Oh dear, my paper was not to do with revenge. I wrote about empathy and the inner and outer.
I posted this blog some time ago but for reasons I have still not understood, it refused to show on the screen. This time it will, I hope and wonder, is it worth it?

Saturday, June 21, 2008

The Intimacy of the Conference

Dear Bloggers
Today I leave for Hawaii. I have prepared for the journey as best I can: a new pillow for my head, eye pads, earplugs, a lock for my suitcase. Even now an hour before I walk out the door, Bill is putting identification tags onto my suitcase and bags, so that I will hopefully recover them more easily should they go missing. It is as if my actual identity travels with these tags and I feel the anxiety, not only in me, but in others, my family, especially Bill that I may not return. The plane will fall from the sky, a tsunami in Hawaii will wash me out to sea, and I will disappear without trace, all except the tags on my suitcase, to alert others that I was once there, wherever my journey has taken me.

I will miss the Internet, the emails, my correspondence on line, but I have elected to travel without a computer, to give myself a break from my obsession, to immerse myself in the conference in the flesh and blood people I meet, some of whom I have met before, some of whom I will meet only briefly and then never see again. It is in the nature for these conferences to develop almost instant intimacies among some people and then to go home and the intimacy fades almost immediately. This saddens me, but it is understandable. Most have busy lives. After the sequestered space of a conference, three or four intense days of companionship and musing on deep issues of significance to us all, we return to our usual places, our day to day connections with the ‘real’ people in our lives and there’s no time left, or desire or whatever else it is that keeps these relationships alive. Unless of course we can keep a connection alive online. Ah, the brave new world of cyberspace. At least it's new for me. I love it.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


Dear Bloggers

This time next week I will be in Hawaii. Joan Didion’s words to describe her thoughts on Hawaii as paradise come back to me: ‘I lack all temperament for paradise, real or facsimile.’

I took these words down on my trip to Bali last year, another such paradise, real or facsimile. I would not be going to Hawaii except for the conference, another such conference where I will present a paper along with some 150 others. I will be in a panel of three that runs concurrently with four other panels. All of us addressing in some way the issue of translations and autobiography/biography. Our topic: Editing and generating the self, selves and voices. It’s the third time I’ve moved places in this conference and I’m beginning to feel as I did at the last conference at which I presented a paper in Newcastle when I was re-located at the last minute, out of place and out of time.

I went to the last such auto/bio conference in Mainz Germany in 2006, my first ever-international conference. It was a challenge then, this time less so. I’ve become a seasoned conference presenter, at least at the postgraduate level. I can’t see much difference between the postgrads and the professionals, though the postgrads have a tendency to be limited in their presentations, usually focussing on their thesis work and the graduates, the professors and senior lecturers tend to have a broader knowledge base.

Millie just rang. She is house sitting for friends in South Melbourne and has run out of money. Whether for this reason or simply because she misses us, (unlikely) or because she’d enjoy a meal out, she’s asked that we take her out for dinner tonight. We have specially bought French sausages for this evening's dinner. Millie suggested she could even tolerate the idea of eating them, (if they're special) so we still might eat in. The thought of eating in a restaurant with just the two of us, Millie joked, is ‘a bit too intimate’. What a joke, her parents all to herself. It hardly ever happens. It never happened for me, except maybe at my birth, but since then Millie, like me, has had to share. Only the oldest and the youngest ever get their parents to themselves for significant periods of time.

Stephanie Duphil told me yesterday that the idea of revenge has only a short life and I agreed with her, but I want to focus on revenge as if it were a spark, the spark that can become a fire. If you stay in the spark too long, then everything, including yourself, will burn up. If it can be a spark to creativity not to destructive flames but to radiant new ideas, it is constructive. They call the negative regression that can occur through email, ‘flaming’, from the verb to inflame I imagine, the notion that a person might hit out and attack another via words on the internet, much as my brother did to me, years ago when he told me that he forbade me to use his name or any of his activities in any of my writing anywhere, ever.

I will defy his edict. What right does he have to control my writing this way? These big brothers. They are full of hatred towards their younger siblings, especially these days when we do not do as we are meant to do, at least in their eyes. Here I am generalising, and not owning up to my own anger. I am angry with my beloved older brother. Mixed feelings are the hardest of all.

As a consequence of his inflammatory email I have written more about my brother, the one in question, than I would otherwise write, but I have simply made a point of not including his name. Given that I have five brothers, four of whom are older than me, it’s anyone’s guess, outside of the family, as to the identity of the brother so described. He will not silence me.
As my friend, the late Judith Eardley used to say, ‘silence is a crime’. I will not be silenced. Bugger my brother and all his efforts to shut me up.

Now I sound angry. I’m not so much angry but simply wanting to try out a bit of invective on the page. It feels good, to write such useless words, words like bugger, and fuck, they give me a thrill, but I imagine for a reader, they’re useless, they lack clout. I should be a more sincere and honest writer, not one given to hyperbole.

New words I have wanted to include, first in my diction and then on the page, words like peripatetic, segue (a bit hackneyed from over use on the radio) and hyperbole, as I just used it above. Hence my train of thought.

Yesterday at the basketball, I watched as the other team thrashed my daughter’s team. The other team were dressed in blue, our girls are the pink sphinx’s. The Sphinxs won their first season a year and a half ago but since then they’ve gone downhill. They have no coach, they have no proper organiser. The original organiser gave it up and her predecessor would prefer to talk about where she went for dinner the night before than to watch the game. I have a reputation for becoming overly concerned about the game. I identify with our team, my daughter. I so much want them to win. I hate having to watch. My adrenalin kicks in almost instantly. I need a water bottle to suck on no matter how determined I am to stay calm. I need to drink as though it’s me who’s playing, my anxiety rises, almost the minute we arrive at the courts. Will there be enough players, and which players? Do we have enough of the strong players? What does the other team look like? Are they all tall? Is this height significant? There are some tall players who despite the advantage of height are not so strong and some tiny players who are fast like whippets and streak across the court. Are they aggressive? Our team is not aggressive enough, all except Georgie, who’s not so much aggressive as a top player, fast and tactical. Yesterday it was as if she were playing the game alone. Fourteen year old Ella, my daughter tried hard, as did Louisa but according to Ella, the other players are all too busy being cool. Adolescence and the need to be cool and beautiful seems to have kicked in, more than the competition.
Ah life.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Dear Bloggers

I am a slave to email. The little red numbered ball that lights up on the blue stamp at the foot of my computer thrills me. I know of many people who shudder at the sight of a full inbox, but not me. I love the ping that rings out every time another email is shot across the airwaves and lands in my email box.

Yet I should be wary. I have had some wonderful news delivered by email; acceptances of papers for publication and the like, but I have received many more rejections on line.

‘So,’ you ask. ‘Why the thrill?

Is it the ease with which I can communicate with others throughout the world without even having to leave my seat? Is it, as I often reassure myself, good writing practice? A learning opportunity? I participate on seminars and on line colloquia, I receive excellent articles via email, I send out my writing via email. The email spares me the sense of isolation I might otherwise feel as a sole practitioner in therapeutic practice. It is an opportunity for tearoom chatter, the sort I always loved years ago when I worked within an organization.

The pain, however acute, is surpassed by the pleasure and I need never feel lonely.

Thursday, June 05, 2008

Dear Bloggers

The temperature has plummeted these last few days. Two degrees this morning, ice on cars and fog. The days are crisp but sunny. Autumnal weather four weeks before the midwinter solstice. Strange we are so unused to this cold. This is the cold of my childhood, frosty footpaths, frozen finger tips, cold on the tip of your nose. Bone chilling cold.

I shared a most wonderful weekend in May, at the Art of the Real conference in Newcastle. Newcastle is an industrial city on the Hunter river as it meets the sea. A struggling town, though it’s fast being re-developed. Ross Gibson from UTS spoke on his fifteen-year project. He has collected a series of crime scene photographs from the Sydney police station after they had been all but destroyed in a warehouse flood, I think.

He took the negatives each in envelopes simply marked with date and place. The original documents accompanying the photos had been lost. He looked at the negatives one after the other, about 2000 in all. He selected from the ones that stirred something inside. Those, around fifty of them, he developed and arranged into a slide show, which he presented to us that evening. The images were of street scenes and interiors. Sydney homes between the 1945 and 1960 wherein a crime had occurred, the nature of the crime is unknown, presumably a murder, though there was one shot of a man his face puffy and swollen and held together in a brace as if his jaw had been broken, as if his cheek bones might have been shattered. He was everyman, a look on his face that made him indescribable.

Ross Gibson said they did not publish the faces of victims, the photos of bodies were only of the those face down, half torso, side up, though one shot showed a man with a bullet wound, the blood running in a river down what looked like some sort of industrial complex, or maybe a boat. There were shots of kitchens and lounge rooms, one of a bedroom, a child’s chair set between two beds with two dollies tucked together side by side on the chair under a small blanket. Another of an outside toilet block, the roof not visible a shot of the sink, two taps above which was the imprint of two sets of hands walking up the wall, as if someone had tried to escape by crawling up the wall on their blood stained hands, the imprint of which stops after two rows. There was a photo of an inner city street, leafless trees over wide pathways men and women from the 1930s walking along. To this image Ross Gibson had added words, something to the effect, 'soldiers in uniform command the streets like crabs'. His text is minimal written in the form of haiku.

Gibson talked about haiku, as words that capture the essence of meaning. He talked of the significance of Zen, how important it is that we consider these photos carefully, thoughtfully. That we look for nuances of meaning, that we stay loose but not flippant. These are sacred sites you might say, scenes of tragedy and atrocity, For me they resonated with domestic violence. I thought of the police, their words to my mother, 'it’s a domestic there’s nothing we can do, unless of course he bashes you, or kills you, or one of your children'.

Gibson talked about bearing witness, which is defined by absence, irresolution and incompleteness. We are in the present moment as an outcome of historical activity, that’s sometimes deliberately made undetectable. The unwitnessed, or witnesses are no longer there. These photos form the imprint of previous activities in historical circumstances that need to be protected, interpreted, in order to understand how the past has helped to shape the present.

According to Eric Rolls, most of the things that happened, that really mattered, happened off the frame, outside of legislative procedures, eg the land grabbers, the squatters who stole the land until it became a given, when in fact it was taken, this defines a great deal of Australian reality. Unwitnessed actions have given us our present. Those actions are retrospectively documented and need to be understood. There are many modes of understanding, areas of comprehension, areas of felt grasp of everyday life that can be accessed by other techniques. The so-called aesthetics, that are perceptible by the senses.

Gibson asked the question: what are the procedures by which we might engage the senses?
Aesthetics, he answered himself, the appreciation of beauty, but more so, is a multi-modal engagement, around several senses, a stimulant as a procedure for working with the world, something to do with historical activity. How do we deal with historical activity, how do we aesthetically develop a multi modal informed sense of history? Gibson argues we should present it such that it gives access to multi modes.

We bear witness to unwitnessed phenomena from the past.

We engage a whole swathe of cultural activities, including those that exist in popular culture, eg, forensic curiosity, interest in these procedures and measures.

Each individual needs to get a grasp on one's own interpretation of the world. Received authority is not trustworthy.
The didactic trend, to shut up and listen, has been replaced by the heuristic: discovery based learning, guided by someone who knows a little more. This trend is now part of the common sense of the young, namely a forensic, heuristic, investigative mode. We need to work aesthetically and heuristically to bear witness to traces of the past to see how the past has informed our present. This investigative procedure needs to be evidence based. What means do we use to do this witness work.

Gibson allies the speculative impulse to an overwhelming sense of allegiance, our duty to the real world from which these things come. Hence he uses photos from 1945-1960 crime scenes.

There’s no way you can be absolute, there’s knowledge to be generated here eg about the décor and how people in those days organised their spaces. The way people stood and walked, got on and off vehicles, the lives of coppers. How can I bear witness, speculative, loose but not glib, narrativising, but not fictional with an eye to the real world. Interpretation of life after war time, a sense of the world that led to these pictures, the endlessness of the interpretation, all this following of hunches allied to their plausibility, at a longer view backed up by legislative. Hunches need to be tested for plausibility.

Each picture has a kind of pulse and flair. The importance of the picture can be grasped in the first five seconds.
This procedure is one of being in the archive. The surge of nervous energy related to cognition, how we take that as a cue, the aesthetic quality in the evidence, ie the pulse. The importance of brevity, minimalism, tenseness, all act as guides to description. We see it in the blink of an eye, in several blinks, in quick bursts of text, something in the aperture of a blink in the aperture of a breath, like in haiku.

Ontology of Haiku

Basis of belief about activity of the true world. There’s more than one life to understand in the Zen tradition. (Zen Buddhism teaches the attainment of enlightenment through meditation and intuition rather than through ritual worship or study of scriptures)

Condensed brevity in haiku allows for a springing, pulsing flair, a moment of access to the large pattern of relative connectedness in the cosmnos, its procedures and speculations. In aesthetic procedures all the senses are engaged, all are representative of the interpretable world.

To do this design work the pulse and the flair are important, the location if the work is screen based and active, minimalism of text is crucial.
Thomas Hoover Zen culture, definition of Haiku: ‘the mind is struck as if with a hammer bringing the senses up short and it releases a flood of associations'. seventeen sylables create the entire world of connectedness, multi sensory flooding, a relocation of engagenent to the original world, eg.
‘waves of heat at each stroke of the hoe
how the earth smells. Ranko

The starter’s gun
Echoing off hard surfaces
At the swimming pool. Seishi.

A flood of associations. Gibson's fifteen year process of working with pictures has led to a deeper understanding of the Zen tradition, ie a realist tadition, an extractive realist tradition, rather than additive, it strips back. Whittle away a great many details and come down to distillation of a few constituent elements, not simply an abstraction for itself in minimalist schools that try to be representative of experience in the real world.

Present a few elements to give access.
Pictures are somewhere between naturalism and realism, drawing on constitutive elements, this is what detectives do, minimalist rather than expressive.

Music piece of art, along with a realist object 1975.
Jamaican producer, King Tubby put together version pub, imprint of Jamaica.
See Luc Sante’s work, each picture is a ‘voice print of a scream’ taken from the world, aspects of the pictures are intrinsically etched with a synaesthesic impulse.
The overall impression is one of authentic witnessing.

Again realism as opposed to naturalism in the selection of impulses, which factors we choose.
Zen tradition is related to police procedures, related to the notion of detection, related to all your senses, integrate all to a possible interpretation..
Gibson also uses the audio-geography of Jamaica in dub music.
We hear in the dub music an attempt to present sounds of Jamaica they loved. Jamaica as a bounded piece of land, in larger wash of water, bounded by the horizon, that is also penetrable, with radio waves that drift from Texas, Miami and Cuba, influences over the oceanic environment that is a small but volatile island in which all sorts of cultures live, have moved here. The original inhabitants are no more. The African culture has moved in and the indigenous culture has been expunged in Jamaica. Gibson uses such music as a backdrop.

Thus /gibson uses the sciences of mixing and convergence, mixing process of pulling it up, like medicine work.

Work on the forensic photos is here. The photo pragmatic and practical and experimental music, their object, an allegiance to the real world, seeks out the key elements that cause the actual world to be organised, part of the realist tradition.

Photo, the imprint of a scream.

The world of experience that occurs around every moment of experience, all of this is part of the realistic tradition, part of the art of the real, a cerebral procedure that’s also sensory.

We need to be investigative detectors rather than receptors, delving into and heuristically contracting with the world and work, vitally attentive to places, faces, (the faces of the crime scenes are preoccupation), in surveillance work absence speaks loudly.

All of the above comes from Gibson's work. It has captured my imagination, may it enrich yours