Tag Archives: writing

The room without books

   They say a house without books is like a room without windows, and a room without books like a body without a soul; they being Horace Mann and Marcus Tullius Cicero respectively, or conversely Marcus Tullius Cicero and Horace Mann temporally speaking, neither of whose books I ever got around to reading by the way, nor is it likely I ever will, since a room without books–call me soulless–can’t be a room with a window and a house with books at the same time. So next time you can’t put a book down spare a thought for those of us who can’t tear ourselves away from the window.
 

Room without books

Room without books


Same spider

This spider has been my deskside companion for three summers in a row. I believe it has been the same spider since it has for three summers appeared on the same door.
 
Same spider, three summers, same door.
 
One summer I saw a spider on the door beside my desk. That was three summers ago. It couldn’t have been the same spider as this one if I had not seen it before.
 
Same spider twice, three summers, same door.
 
This summer the spider is on the door beside my desk. It couldn’t have been here three summers ago if this summer isn’t a summer ago.
 
Same spider twice, two summers, same door.
 
One summer ago I saw the same spider
that wasn’t the same one two summers ago.
This is the spider that’s been my companion
for three summers now, in a row.
 


First meditation on object-oriented philosophy

      There are two tables in this spare room at the back of my home. One is a large computer desk repurposed from what was a dining table. Along with my tower, printer, monitor, and various other peripheral objects it occupies fully the length of one wall. The other table has a smaller working area, is a couple of inches closer to the ground, and is also a repurposed dining table. It is in the centre of the room, and it serves as my indoor writing desk. When I am at my indoor writing desk the sliding glass door to the lounge room is closed in front of me and the large computer desk is at my left. I can see my coffee table through the sliding glass, and the bulk of my books and records on shelves along the wall beyond that. Half a dozen books are on the coffee table at any given time. At the end of the computer desk that isn’t in the corner is another door. This door leads to my outdoor desk when weather permits and from it when weather does not. Currently, weather permits.
 
      I saw my brother working at my indoor writing desk in the hours leading to daylight. I noticed a spider had woven a wide, thick blanket extending between my computer desk in the corner and the centre of the room at the ceiling. Before I could point the spider web problem out to my brother he’d vanished, then a large wasp with a stinger the size of my thumb flew in from outside and went for the spider. The spider dropped to the table below, ran around the edge, and went into hiding beneath it. The wasp turned on me. I had a can of Mortein at hand so I sprayed it, and sprayed it again and again until it had dropped to the floor. I started to lower the base of the can over the wasp to contain it but then its back split open like a cicada shell does when the cicada inside is emerging, and from it a glorious pair of glistening lorikeet wings unfolded. As I reached out to touch it my brother emerged from under the table holding the spider, and as he was gently returning the spider back to its blanket he told me it just goes to show you—not every thing is connected.
 


The Third Table: An open-and-shut case

Whatever we capture,
whatever table we sit at or destroy,
is not the real table.
 Graham Harman, The Third Table
 
tables-tables-tables


Radiance

   In the swift whirl of time music is a constant, reminding us of what we were and of that toward which we aspire. Art thou troubled? Music will not only calm, it will ennoble thee.
—Ralph Ellison, Living With Music

   I have been acquainting myself with my small vinyl collection of Jean-Luc Ponty this week. Of the four albums of his that I own, I had previously only listened to one of them, and that was many years ago. His name had entered my radar sometime in my early twenties, in the fledgling phase of what would become a lasting affair with the music of Frank Zappa, and so, each time I spotted a Jean-Luc Ponty album I would diligently add it to my collection, assuming that one day I would fully appreciate his music without the psychological support of Frank Zappa’s presence.

   If music has ennobled me, and I believe it has, it has nevertheless failed to equip me with the vocabulary to write about music. I have wanted for days to write you a poem about John McLaughlin’s Lotus Feet performed here with Jean-Luc Ponty and Zakir Hussain, but my desire to share the music and video has overwhelmed my patience. I will keep working on the poem, but in the meantime I would like simply to direct your gaze toward the radiance of John McLaughlin’s smile. If there is one thing I truly aspire to, it is to learn how to smile like that, again. Also, the music is painfully sublime:)


Unwinding with a good flower

29 March 2016

29 March 2016

1. Power mimics nature: power is a technology, and technology imitates nature. This is why the presenter on the left is the senior of the two.

2. Sensation is the unshakable self-assurance of matter; or a whatchamacallit is the permanent possibility of a thingamabob.

2.1. I know what it is but for the life of me I can’t recall it. A? No. B? No. C? No. d… e… f…
grevillea!

30 March 2016

30 March 2016

 

3. Certain kinds of caterpillars leave a thread of silk behind for others of their kind to follow.

4. Slow shutter bokeh shows sapphire skyglow subtly streaming through leaves.

5. The little hummingbird-like bird that fed here yesterday hasn’t returned since, and won’t return today: little birds don’t venture outdoors at this hour.

6. It’s too late to wait for the world to change now. There’s not been a hint of a breeze for three days. Let’s have a looksee at what can be done here to change it.

31 March 2016

31 March 2016


It came flooding back

This is a reblog of a post dating back to January 2011. Thanks to the National Library of Australia and the awesome Trove database, I finally found some actual newspaper evidence to support my show and tell story!
 
Indian Pacific train derailed
 
I see now that I got the month of derailment wrong (’twas January, not March), the train was going in the opposite direction to how I remembered it, and there is thus an undisclosed gap of a school year between the ‘last service centre’ and the Red Rattler back to Sydney. I wonder how many of my other distant memories are travelling in the wrong direction.

From what I can piece back together, it must be March Jan of ’78. The Indian Pacific Express from Broken Hill to Sydney Sydney to Broken Hill has been delayed at Parkes. Major flooding is threatening the stability of the main line between Parkes and Orange.

The driver probably announces that he is taking an alternate line to Sydney Broken Hill. It’s not the only explanation I can imagine for the story that develops later, but it makes sense.

The Indian Pacific Express is pushing through floodwaters. A 9 year old boy has dozed off with a can of soft drink cradled in his lap. The excitement hasn’t worn off, but it’s worn him out.

The boy is jolted awake. He is leaning into the window, or perhaps he is leaning into his mother’s shoulder. He can’t remember all of the details. He remembers the soft drink soaking his front.

The luggage has been thrown out from the overhead compartments and is strewn throughout the cabin. No one has been clobbered by it. Mum’s solid-steel make-up case has landed in an empty seat.

Water is rushing past the window on my side. The other side is pointing at the sky. People must be feeling safe enough. I can hear them laughing and chatting.

“I just moved from that seat to play cards with my mates back here,” the man from the empty seat tells my Mother.

“A woman was just walking through to the next carriage when we went over,” says another. “I hope she wasn’t still out there.”

I think it must be getting dark. We are staying where we are. I don’t know what’s happening outside the train. I don’t think anyone has come to rescue us.

We sleep on our sides through the night. Buses come in the morning to pick us up.

It is a long walk through the water to the buses up on the hill. It is a long drive through the water. Cattle are drowned and floating in the water outside the bus. I think maybe one bumps against the bus. I remember the dead cows. They are mostly black and white, and they are dead.

We have left the last service centre. I think it was an Oaks. I had a milkshake while I was there and now I am vomiting into a plastic bag on the bus. The bus stops and I am let outside to vomit in the mud.

Now we are on a train again. It is a Red Rattler and it is taking us to Sydney Central. It is very hot inside and the seats are hard and everything is rattling. I can see Dad there now on the train. I can’t see him until then. Maybe he came to meet us? I don’t know, but he is not very happy. He is annoyed and uncomfortable, and none of us are talking.

I am back at school. It is my turn for show and tell. I explain how the water washed under the tracks and lifted the sleepers. I explain how the line buckled and twisted and threw the train onto its side. I explain how the driver was given a choice to stay at Parkes or to go ahead and that he chose to go ahead on the other line. I explain how if we had gone on the main line, we probably would have been worse off.

Some of the boys and the girls in the class start laughing and telling me I am lying. Train tracks can’t buckle or twist! Sleepers can’t get washed out of the ground!

I start to get teary and angry. The teacher tells me I am lying and tells me to sit down. I demand that it is true. The teacher is annoyed now and is making me sit down.

“Your turn is over, Brad. It is a good story but that is not what show and tell is for.”