Outside of the Box


Sunday, 28 April 2013

In here, you feel very small and very big all at the same time. It is cramped, sometimes dark, sometimes blinding.  There really isn't very good temperature control.  This box did not seem to come equipped with a thermostat - you're either sweltering and huge, so that you're crammed up against all of the walls, or else you're curled in the corner, black on black, trying to find a way to disappear inside yourself.  Either way, you're still in this box. You bang up against the top and get what you want and down against the bottom and feel the lack-rage. You feel the height and the depth of this space. It's large enough that it's easy to believe that this is all you are. In here, your ego breathes in and out and knows itself and its boundaries. There is nothing outside of this box, nothing. Outside of this box is noth--

You step outside of the box when you remember to. It's true that it becomes easier to step outside once you've done it a couple of million times. You watch yourself from your perch rolling around inside that box in your suffering and You say to yourself, "Step out then. It's out here that you want to be. All the good stuff is here. What you need to let go is here. Here, you can breathe as deeply as you want and from here you can see yourself and other people without being disgusted by either."

And though it feels like it's going to die, yourself obeys You (because You are very beautiful) and so it steps out on to the ledge, off the end of the plank, and out into freedom.

A couple more million times, perhaps, for the hesitation to grow yet smaller between the remembrance and the dive out.

Pic by Izarbeltza (CC share-alike)

The Pit of the Pretentious Prat

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Thursday, 25 April 2013

The Luncheon on the Grass - Edouard Manet
I don't know about you, but despite the fact that I don't know a whole lot about art, I love it ~ I love looking at it and the jolt that (sometimes) comes when I get a feel for what I'm looking at.  And I also don't know about you, but I am forever fascinated by the back-story ~ what it was that drove the artist to spend all of those hours making that particular object.  I suspect lots of us are fascinated by that mysterious space where everyday people make stuff out of nothing.   That's why we pedestal artists, creators and mothers to high spaces (and why we cannot define our society as "civilised" until they are all getting paid higher than laywers).  'Tis a bit magic making something out of nothing ... but really actually very mundane, when you think about it!

If you wish to learn more about what the artist might have intended or what a piece of art might mean, then that's where art experts might come in, if you dare.  But that's also where the anxiety comes in too.  Because art experts sound pretentious often enough that it's a cliche.  And they make me feel like I shouldn't talk about art if I don't know a whole lot about it because they've done the hard yards and what do I know if I haven't studied art for 916 years like they have?  But raspberries to that, and raspberries to their formal education.  Because the problem with formal education is that it crusts up your edges and makes you unable to see other options.  And because of that, I take what resonates and leave the rest.

Learning about art can easily make you feel like you're in a classroom where all the mystery and fun about something is deconstructed into 187 different pieces so that the thing that you loved a little before you analysed it now resembles the texture of last night's used condom (sorry about that visual).  One more interesting thing whose essence is splattered by TMI.

That's why I was a little uneasy about going to see Exhibition: Great Art on Screen last night at the Nova.  This was a movie about an art exhibition - Manet: Portraying Life, which recently finished after playing  for three months at the Royal Academy in London.  But it was really ultimately just a documentary about Manet with the fact that it was filmed as part of the exhibition being a bit of a redundancy.  But that's okay.  I'm willing to give the other films in the series a shot too (especially if Weekend Notes gives me tix for nix).

And so I was worried about seeing this movie that there would be a lot of prattery and twattery but in the end there were only a couple of times in the movie that I wanted to whisper "Wanker" under my breath.  So that's a pretty good outcome in the end, I think.

Image by Sethlamden
But what does that say?  If you got 100 people in a room and said, "How many times did those people sound pompus and assey?" what would happen if 99 people said, "Twenty-six times" and I say, "Three"?  What happens if the world is getting so damn stupid on GMO food that soon we won't be able to talk about anything other than Beyonce's rack without sounding like we're up ourselves?  I don't like that idea either!

But really, I don't like pretentious prattishness.  It's vulgar.  The thought that I might come across like that to some people is ... well, it hurts a bit because what if it's true?  After all, I am the owner of an ego which wants me to look awesome to everyone at all times.  I also want to demonstrate my knowledge and my opinions about something.  And being human, that can easily translate to being a knob.  That is the sort of class they should have at school - how, if you are passionate about something, some people will think you are a twat, and how to learn to not appear like a knob.  I would sign up for that class.

I had my astrological birth profile done a few weeks ago.  For a bit of fun and out of curiosity.  But wow, you know what?  It's actually surprisingly accurate.  Like this bit, for example, apparently all because my Moon is in Capricorn:

The Capricornian part of you needs to begin by asking itself one critical question:  In the part of my life touched by the Sea-Goat, what is the highest truth I know?  The rest is simple ... at least simple to understand.  Just live it.  Keep a stiff upper lip and do what's right.  But be careful.  There's nothing wrong with expressing feelings as long as they're not doing your decision-making for you.  If you're tempted to do something wicked, don't be afraid to mention it.  Otherwise, half the world will think you're a saint while the other half thinks you're a pompous ass.  And neither half will get within a light-year of your human heart."
 So there you go.  I claim the moon as my defence.  You might think I'm a pretentious prat - but that's not within a light-year of my human heart.  My ego though, that's another story :)

River System

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Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Pic by Neil's Photography under a CC licence
Sometimes the days are good, and you want to stay there because they are good and you feel like yourself in them (even if nothing amazing is happening) and there is a river and you're flowing in it, and it's good.  Even if not-good things are happening in it.

Call it parasympathetic nervous system.

And then there are the other days.  At those times you have to lie in bed breathing before you can get out and face the day that feels doomed, and you keep rounding the corner and falling over your very own self-hatred.  Because being you is hard for certain functional reasons where your body does not behave the way you would really like it to so as to have an enjoyable life.  You are feeling anxious.  And then you start feeling anxious about feeling anxious.  A delightful, satanic swirl of round and roundness.

Call it sympathetic nervous system.

On top of that, in trying to describe this sort of stuff you're thinking, who gives a fuck about your self-indulgent griping?  Nevertheless, that thought doesn't make the situation any easier.  It just makes it as hard as it was before and like you're being judged at the same time.  Even though you're not being judged by anybody but the nasty ones in the chorus of The Cast of Thousands (and I guess anyone who is reading this who is thinking, harden the fuck up, but if you are - I'm sure there's a few other pages on the interwebs written by people who are very strong  and who are not pussies like me).

In these days, going along with the flow is hard, even though you train yourself in the good days for days like this.

So much of life is about staying in the flow.  You used to think that the problem with swimming in the river on these sorts of days was getting your foot caught in the unseen crap on the bottom of the river.  But now you think that maybe even worse than the initial problem of getting your foot caught is the expectation you have that the riverbed should be tangle-free.   And the expectation that your life should be hassle-free, or that your body should be limitation-free.

It's the expectation that is the real causes the stress.  Wisebrain says so.

Latest Weekend Notery

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Wednesday, 17 April 2013

Here are a few Weekend Notes articles I've written recently:

Melbourne Free University: Classics of Crime Fiction - a free six-part presentation and discussion covering the beginnings of crime fiction up to present day.

Clothes Swap at Chesterfield Farm Community Garden - BYO unsuitable eBay purchases and exchange them for tokens, which you can use to trade for other clothes.  $2 entry goes to the CFCG, a Transition Town in Knox.

Ramona Koval - By the Book - a lunchtime presentation by Ramona Koval, writer, journalist and broadcaster, well-known to Aussie Radio National listeners as host of  The Book Club.  What better thing to do apart from reading than to go and listen to someone else read from their own - which happens to be a book about ... well, books?

Native Plant Sale and Propagation the folks of The Australian Plants Society Yarra Yarra are big on propagating Australian natives.  Their annual sale is on, where they will be demonstrating to folks how to plant from seed, from cutting and from grafting.

If you would like to follow me on Weekend Notes so that you get an email whenever I post a new article there, you can do so here.

Ah.  Promotion. 

I've really been enjoying writing for Weekend Notes.  I did have this idea that whenever I write an article over there that I will write another one here that goes off on some sort of a tangent and then links to the Weekend Notes article.  Good idea, but I've been pressed for time and/or energy lately so it hasn't come to pass ... yet.

The thing I hate most about writing is the promotion that goes along with it.  To be honest, self-promotion makes my flesh crawl.  I just want to write the bloody thing.  I don't want to care about SEO and Google Analytics and actually sharing it with people.  I just want to write!!!!

I really can't explain just how much marketing and advertising bores the absolute stuffing out of me.  People say that writers these days need to be promoters as well and I guess it's true that they do.  That doesn't mean it doesn't make me want to spin my head around and vomit green all over the walls.

All the Love in the World


Monday, 15 April 2013

I go about in search of love; and I find it in unmeasured stores in the bosoms of others.  But when I try to ask for it, this horrible shyness strangles me;  and I stand dumb, or worse than dumb, saying meaningless things - foolish lies.  And I see the affection I am longing for given to dogs and cats and pet birds, because they come and ask for it.  It must be asked for;  it is like a ghost:  it cannot speak unless it is first spoken to.  All the love in the world is longing to speak;  only it dare not because it is shy, shy, shy.  That is the world's tragedy.

~ George Bernard Shaw



Thursday, 11 April 2013

I have been looking at country roads on Google Maps this evening.  It's something I do when I feel like going for a drive but can't be bothered getting off the chair :)

Here's a map of the deliciously-named Serpentine in country Victoria.  The church there is for sale, and I don't know about you but I've always felt it was in my future to live in a place that has its own belltower.  However, the space here feels a little crowded to me.  If I was living in the country, I'd prefer to live a few k's up the road a bit - here, say - in the middle of nowhere.  I wouldn't feel alone.

Of course, none of us are alone now we have the internet.  But even if there was a calamitous calamity and the internet broke, and I lived out here on this road with nothing around but trees and roos, I would not feel alone.

I would feel lonely sometimes, of course.  But lonely is in the middle of a crowded room just as much as it's felt in a paddock with nobody in screaming distance.  Lonely is a part of the human condition.  But I"m not so sure alone has to be.

And I wouldn't feel it here.  I would feel close.  To that whatever that makes sense of life for me, to that numinous connected-to-everyone thing.  To my Self.  And to the Land.  For me, being in the middle of seemingly nowhere makes everything feel Important and Big, like it Needs a Capital Letter, as if I have Suddenly Become German.

Space to rest my eyes.  Space and room to feel how inhabited the land is when there is not so much to distract it.

I was using Disqus here for a while, the comment system.  I liked the way it staggered comments so that you could reply directly underneath one instead of at the end.

But in the end I found it to be a little cumbersome, with some people reporting to me that it is a bit of an issue logging on, and so out she goes, cheaper than last Tuesday's fish.

In the process some of the comments from my blog.  Which makes me very sad because I so love getting comments, and I so appreciate reading things that people have stopped and taken time out of their days to say on my little crumpled corner of the blogosphere with the dust bunnies in the corner.
So I apologise to the peeps who have commented here for the last three or so posts, but yours have been eaten, like a sock in the giant washing machine of the internet.

Sorry 'bout dat.

Night Owl


Wednesday, 10 April 2013

Powerful owl by WikiWookie (cc)
I've been hearing him outside most nights lately.  Oooh, he says I don't know how many houses or streets away, and it echoes into the air, reminding us that we live on the side of a hill.

If I was going to have any sort of a totem, surely it would be him.  On rare occasions he will come sleep on the branch of a tree that we can see from the decking.  If I lean out of bed in the mornings when he is there, then hypothetically (the window is dirty) I would be able to see him.  I feel both a sense of cameraderie, but also a feeling-better-by-comparison when I see nocturnal animals asleep at the time I finally manage to haul my arse out at 9am or thereabouts (if infection persists, add an extra hour).

My mind ran ragged all day today, in some sort of a PTSD twitch, flitting from one thing to another, feeling stressed and anxious and ungrounded, unsafe.  And then this evening my mind settled and so now, suddenly, everything is much too interesting to sleep.  Why would I want to sleep?  I'm here in front of the computer working and I've still got a stack of different webpages open and I'm still flitting from one subject to another - to yoga pages to remind me why I really want to pick up my practice again even though some strange part of me doesn't, to an author whose creativity books I like, to how-to articles about internet CSS, and suddenly while they all looked interesting before, now they look even more interesting because it is the night, my body's weak, I'm on the run, no time to speak*, and the dark outside feels warm and enclosing, like black velvet, and I am inside, and the interwebs is a magic.


*This song qualifies as an earworm because:
(a) it rotates in my head; and
(b) I hate it.
Thus being the qualifications for earwormery.

The Art Gallery

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Sunday, 7 April 2013

I went and saw some Aboriginal art in a small gallery space in South Yarra yesterday. 

Disconnect 1 = Aboriginal art on South Yarra gallery walls. 

Disconnect 2 = any art on any gallery walls. 

Gallery spaces sometimes jangle so hard in my head that I have to remind myself that

the art (like dreams)  climbs off the walls

and walks out the door

with you.



Friday, 5 April 2013

Negative smoke by Dan Barak
What does the concept of forgiveness mean to you?

Does it have negative connotations?  A certain feeling of passe redundancy?  Something imposed from outside, which doesn't make a whole lot of sense on the inside?  Perhaps, if you grew up in a self-named Christian culture, that word reminds you of stuffy Sunday mornings, preached from the front of an organisation which did not practice that preaching itself.  Or does it have other connotations for you, maybe more positive ones than the ones I have listed above?  Maybe you have experienced that strange duality that comes when you find yourself in a space where you wish to forgive but you do not wish to forget.  After all, "forgive and forget" are now cliched bedfellows.  That term is so cliched that it's virtually meaningless these days.  And I wonder if it hasn't given forgiveness a bad name - giving the idea that forgiving should be equated with letting people walk all over you.

Maybe that ridiculous forgiving = forgetting idea sprang out of the fact that there is a certain weakness in forgiving.  It certainly feels weak.  But out of the other side of weakness, forgiveness bestows strength.

What comes into your mind, whether words or images, when you think of the field of forgiveness?  I would love to know your thoughts if you feel like you would like to share.

Today, for me at least, forgiveness is all about quenching that irascible child that lives on the inside.  Ill-formed and barely formed, she rails with the rage of the baby or the toddler that she was, demanding the needs that she needed to be met to survive.

Forgiving what happened on the outside is to set me free, to set her free, to become whatever it was she was meant to be but was denied.

Forgiveness does not feel like it's something that is contained inside stuffy walls.  It's far too dangerous for that.  Forgiveness needs large-sized fields that belong to Rumi.  It is strength with power-punch, hidden inside apparent weakness.  Forgiveness is spider-web tough.  It is soul retrieval, bringing new sight to a door we could not see so clearly before.  It is freedom and forward movement and very, very wise.