Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Hoi aristoi kai hoi polloi

Friday was a typical indecisive Lower Derventio sort of day, sweeping showers chased off in the arvo by a southerly change. The clouds ran off. Replaced with a squinting sun and blue sky shy time. Pup deep sea diver footed fell cheap as poms bowled twisters and lobs. Pick pack pock puck. Lilbet street jags a cold syllogistic knife thrust from down below the water into past the townie hall and the Victorian mourning style layer cake GPO. Went on an art trail

Up the hill into the depths of the local cool scene side of town and lots of tidy little shops and cafes and wine bars commingling with the old long term time rickety shop fronts. The theme of our discussion.

For commerce and art bedded down strong in the old sleepy redneck imagined Hobart town. Diamond dogs barked by the river at the opening of the new gallery, at great cost, with an adventurous festival of art and music over the town ways. But we are not to concern ourselves with mona at the moment, for a more simple street art time was to be invented. Forty some odd shops up the mainline north south access allowagreed to allow local artists to decorate shop windows, to aerosol resolved neglected brick falling downs. Competing the smell of oil and burnt metal, of hot chip oil and curry and the grunt of internal combustion, and this afternoon sun squinty and crying. While down Bellrive Marsh and Bollinger set upon smacking a record ninth wicket partnership. A shout in the street, Stephen said, shrugging his shoulders.

It would be hard to do justice to all the various art works which were exhibited on this walk up window shopping front windows lilbet street. And with such a large amounts of work there was to be no arching narrative to unit all the works, aside from the obvious patterns created as the works are to be revealed in a serial manner. To the grand pattern making animal this is more than enough. I did not take down names, either of the artist or the works, this is only to be a collage of sights and thoughts which past as I walked the works.

So around and about hung a loss collection of punks and teddies and hipsters and bohoed and all the other cliches hurled about. The sun was warm and in the shadows it was cool. The street itself as the gallery in the laughternoon setting sun and the songs of traffic and community as a undulating background musical hall. Diving right in. Playground paintings of the memories of long gone childhood. A good crowd showed and walked and talked and made a rolling democratic community. The surrealist walking about and chance juxtaposition. Water lilies cut and shape formed plastic recycled plastic cups vast waste of bottled water while the world dies of thirst Cornell style constructions of oddment boxes. Desire and Mystery. Sleepy record shop window diorama of sleepy eyes. Installations and ease on down paintings and drawings and cartoons and found objects and murals a fat and wide range of activities all resettled in a living breathing gallery. Locals wending the blustery change crowd of maybe 40 or more art types. Central Oz scenic splashy of bold colour orange below the strength sapping sun. Skate crowd shop graffiti art works displayed thin tiny splatter of dots creating a new life under the works. Lilbeth street rises from the water line to the ramshackle tattered all but falling around old curiosity shop old buildings. And a chatter of network. The steeple of the brick dusty church thrustpoints into the skyways. Acrylic computer screens and thematic human enthronements all in one way or another auto biographic splendour it all coheres pyre epiphany what we have built all about our selves and the way in which we iterate. A common element. Photosphere. The random groupings as ideas and concerning around come to the surface. Again I think of Nadja of the walk around. Cycles of decay and rebirth. Don't follow fashion hand made dresses watch the parking meters individual. Another form of making and of communicating colour line and all such like. Kelp instruments full ghostlier church, and the found the glanced at and found in the corner of the reflected glass or best of all reflected off the shallow side of the gutter puddle. And beauty resides in the accidental. One more vine rises from the floor an auto bio tile. County woman's gift shop. Naive displays of shop keepers and the curious jumble of this and that. Fine line paintings of birds and empty phonies bulky and mute and built area rounding. Built up worlds of imaginations insubstantial as a cyclone, naive as a child. Avatars of polly chars. Turkish daylight prison head of little guys in prison. Knives and Tats. Cardboard proscenium depths of city silhouettes. Cider gum print lavish french clocks. Nature nurture destruction of tas and tanguy biomorphic and all closed in antique seller. Imagined house of impassible angles. Stairs growing out of the rock the gallery of all outdoorsy becomes the art itself. Plasticine skull reconstructions. Carpet cop it shop photoshopped images and fish feet. Rock and roll blaring jokers beer garden. Graffito wall aerosol paintings quiet back alley parking lot midnight toking spot. IDE stripped bare. Found children wild uncensored genius drawings. Postered porn images. Colonials confronting tramping the bush twelve feet tall wall. Blood shot eyed and distorted cartoon pix of hot rod dudes. Painting the same image over again and repetition is to our age and apache hair. Reflections of images the images fractal sexuality repetition as recollection to the greeks half ten years after. Chronos and Gnosis. Jewels in choc shop winda rich lush flora tas in the bottlo. Reflecting dances of shards of light dancing across the sleek and smooth parked surface of the cream appointed auto. Reused fabric painted. Parthenon collage. Edwardian PO impossible paintings earthy yellow brown. Slipping into the early evening let us get our supper bartime.

This is no more than a quick overview of a listing of the many works of art. And any emphasis put on a work or an artist, or not as the case may be has less to do with my interest or enjoyment of any pieces of work , but more has to do with my agility to get a good look at the works, chatting, not being able to hear and the like. In all it was a splendid idea and one that there should be repeated. The walk, the series of chance meetings, and of the various introductions to the pieces worked to inspire imaginings. It is always nice to see art in the community. People are more open and accepting of art and difference than one may assume from the media. There are a great many forces at work in our age that seek to create division and misunderstanding. Anything, like this art walk, which seeks to combine and create understanding should be supported in anyway that one is able.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011


English teachers that speak of 'rashness' as being the tragic flaw of Oedipus are just plain silly. I have been thinking about things, as I shovel about this coyle. I have been thinking of questions around tragedy. What is tragedy and what is the tragic? I have been forced to use, as a starting point, the fragments I can remember from high school English class. Many thoughts and points are able to be brought to the fore, to be garnished and gnawed upon. Spat out or savoured in turn. All this thinking and all these thoughts have been aided by my special circumstances. Working in a used book store gives me access to a great many interesting books, and also allows enough slow times for me to be able to read some of these books. More importantly working in a book store allows me to amuse myself with the idea of being a 'cultural worker'. A role I am sad to say is the closest I can get to calling myself qualified to make any sort of comment about the nature of tragedy being not a flaw, not a character breach or defect, but rather a manifestation of the ignorance that forms the scaffolding of everyday life.

The high school English teacher voice in my memory requires me to understand the tragic flaw of the tragic hero. I find in my traffic light waiting time that this idea of the tragic flaw may be a stumbling block to understanding. Aristotle speaks about Hamartia - the tragic flaw. The Greek New Testament uses the word to mean, among other things, sin. The Philosopher speaks of Hamartia as errors made in ignorance, or by accident. When one combines the concept of Anagnorisis (recognition, particularly self recognition) we can see that tragedy is based on the solitary actors ignorance and smallness in the face of the uncaring immensity that is the external world. It is this ignorance that makes the actors in tragedies appear to be controlled by external forces.

It is the not being able to fully grasp the external world that causes tragic characters to make their all important fall. In this way we can see Oedipus does not have a flaw of rashness, but rather he is destined to kill his father and marry his mother. When in his ignorance he thinks he is doing the right thing by fleeing, he is only hastening the inevitable. This lack of control which causes the actors to appear to be little more than playthings of fate is another expression of our ignorance.

The first idea that we should chase out of our heads is the idea of the tragic flaw as being a lack of moral fibre, as moral weakness, or sin. This seems to be mistaken, and is a typical of Christian readings. Hamartia is used in other works of Aristotle to mean an injury caused by accident or ignorance. This exposes one of the founding elements of tragedy, indeed of all of life, put bluntly - we do not know. In the case of Oedipus he is obviously ignorant of his true nature. This because his adoptive parents had lied to him from the start. How much of our lives are based on the small and large lies that our parents and our society tell us? Oedipus more than most, but very few of us can truly say that we know our own history. Even less can we say that we know what will be the outcome of our actions beforehand.

As they are meant to be performed on stage tragedies must deal with action with actors making decisions, allowing the plot to be a revealing of the consequences. To allow the ephemeral, when for a moment ignorance is pushed away. Ignorance and activity, the engine of both tragedy and real life. Agamemnon, cursed down generations for the crimes of an ancestor, ignorantly goes to embrace and is killed. Clytemnestra does not act in ignorance, in the sense that she does not have all the facts. She is trapped by a terrible set of circumstances, and is left with no alternative. Brutalised and raped by Agamemnon, forced into marriage, her first husband and infant son murdered, she must kill Agamemnon to avenge the sacrificial murder of their daughter. She must kill to allow herself to breath, to live, to put to an end to only the sharpest point of her anguish. In turn Orestes must kill his mother, who killed his father, who killed his sister. What a bloody household, all based on the crime of Tantalus, that of killing and cooking his own child to test the Gods. The gods use the House of Atreus as a warning to others not to doubt. The extravagant events control the actors, the actors do not control events. In a very real sense this is a type of ignorance, as events are moving around the actor, and the actor has no control. I think it was Heidegger who referred to time as the horizon of being, here we can amend this postulate and say that it is ignorance which is the horizon of being. As an aside I recall reading a report into work place conditions, and a conclusion was made, it not being overworked that leads to stress, it is the feeling of lack of control.

Many arguments can of course be put forward to refute my point, and I am sure that many of the arguments will be overwhelming. Including my clumsy style and inarticulate way of explaining my ideas. One can say I that cherry pick from the competing versions of the texts of the ancients, that I take parts of the story from one source and another part from a different source. This may be true, but it is not true of all human thought, even if only by accidentally mixing up of conversations or readings, indeed this blending of thoughts is one of the pathways of transmission. A solid and easy line of argument would have to wrapped in the idea that there is no simple way to describe all the stories that are called tragedy. There will always be exceptions and elements that do not fit correctly into any schema. I am happy to stand by my thought that ignorance of true events, and the lack of control of the unfolding world give rise to the tragic actor forced to make choices. Choices which are often between two compelling goods. When they make these choices they do so in an attitude of ignorance. Either they are ignorant of the true situation, or of the thoughts and plans of the other actors, or more abstractly they are ignorant of the external forces which shape and control everyday life. Marx described this buffeting by world historical forces as follows "[People] make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past. The tradition of all dead generations weighs like a nightmare on the brains of the living."


Late Afternoon approaching winter
Reddening chill slap across the face.
Low cold sunlight limp long thin shadows
Gray of pale trees swaying the wind.
Smoke rises from Yasnaya Polyana.
The cold hardens the mud and allows
Movement on the roads. And old man stands
One side of the rutted hardened track,
Watching the smoke rising, tears falling,
Anger impotent. Manuscripts torn and burnt,
Tables, chairs, beds, chopped and splintered
All burnt for warmth and contempt. The old
Man stands the side of the road, silent
Tears his hungry hut. Bodies of soldiers
Buried the clear glade desecration.
A feeling of superiority nurtured
By command. Up jumped the troopers.
In a battered ad-hoc armoured car,
Embellished death head cross.
The soldiers laughed and knocked down,
Knees down the frozen ground, the old man.
Shouting orders the old man and his wife
Could not understand. The old man
And his wife implored the invaders,
Who did not want to understand.
Only laughed and pawed the old woman.
Broke the door, chair, all the windows,
All the plates and cups in the house.
The old man cried and begged mercy
Leave us be, we are old. Pawing
The ground and he grabbed one soldier's
Knees. Think of your own gray father,
Your old grandfather, we have nothing,
We care nothing of Stalin, leave us be.
His wife was bleeding from the mouth.
And he wailed all the louder shaking
And impotent. A laughing rifle butt
Ended his talking, started blood flowing.
She flew to his side and the soldiers
Took bottles of home made wine, and two
Chickens throttled and stuffed into
A bag as dinner. Pots and pans
For cooking. The armoured car drove
Rattling and menacing away.

Down the road children huddled,
Wounded soldiers suffered,
An ancient monastery. Look here,
We shall not attack the old and pathetic
They shall soon pass, but here we find
The future, the ones who shall mature
And cut our throats while we sleep. Let us
Free ourselves of this vengeance. With cans
Of petrol and hand grenades the soldiers
Laughed and toasted the fearsome
Cries of screaming choking agony.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Where are the snows of yesteryear?

Another year over, a new one just begun. A new year of blogging and poetry.
As one gets older one gets to indulge in rounds of 'I told you so', as if
any sane person needed to be told that, for example, invading Iraq was not a good idea. And this rapidly turns into schadenfreude, or to use the term that the Philosopher would have used, epichairekakia. Yes, I do confess to a feeling of delight watching politicians and sundry hob knobs twisting in the wind of historical necessity.

Long term historical movements bring the greatest amusement, for example the turmoil of the Catholic Church, as years of abuse come to the fore. The long term 'blow back' caused by the US supporting Muslim guerrillas in Afghanistan. And then years later to see these groups fight the Amis to a standstill. This is the type of schadenfreude I enjoy. The unrolling of history.

Petty? Maybe.

Cruel and unfeeling. Never! Any feelings are always coupled with a deep sadness for the terrible loss of life. Any feelings always burn with angry at the terrible lies and distortions, the steady loss of our freedoms and rights, and the stupid complicity of all of us.

So I write poetry and do this and that about my life, working, raising children and so it goes. When a young lad I wished to be a published author. This would be a good thing, or so I thought. Now I look upon the rows of shelves in the markets, and at all the books published, I am glad I have never carried through with this dream. I can blame no one but myself for any failings, indeed I do not blame anyone for my not being a successful author. One would think that the sheer volume of works produced each year would allow for one more book of poetry, or one more small novel, and if I really wanted to go down this road I could very easily.

A half assed internet search gave me a number of over 500 000 books published in the Anglosphere, which turned out to about 1440 books a day, or one a minute! And so much just overwhelms and drowns us in a sea of market based editorial self censorship. Corralled into a particular form, typecast and constricted suffocatingly tight of mind forged manacles. Even the authors who are interesting and thoughtful, are they serving a need for the elites, acting as a 'safety value' of dissent?

Of course leads me into this blog. I have a need to write. It is almost like a disease. Even though I may not be very talented, and often I am unable to properly express the ideas bumbling around my noodle, I am still going to write. In this I want to follow a line of ephemera, which is why my external contact is via this blog and more importantly poetry (open mic) readings. This generates feelings and thoughts of immediacy and inevitable transience. The poem is written, and maybe it is read aloud and maybe deposited onto this blog, and then is forgotten as I and all things around me move, which brings us to this effort...

And so this poem is a welter of pretence and derivation. The title and first line allude to Villion, Shakespeare and Hopkins. Two sections concerning my back yard, nauseous with a sense of place. The first is daytime the second section is night time. And the two sonnets hinge on an unwobbling pivot, a half emerged quote from the Phenomenology, included in it's entirety.

Sense-certainty itself has thus to be asked: What is the This? If we take it in the two-fold form of its existence, as the Now and as the Here, the dialectic it has in it will take a form as intelligible as the This itself. To the question, What is the Now? we reply, for example, the Now is night-time. To test the truth of this certainty of sense, a simple experiment is all we need: write that truth down. A truth cannot lose anything by being written down, and just as little by our preserving and keeping it. If we look again at the truth we have written down, look at it now, at this noon-time, we shall have to say it has turned stale and become out of date.

Wo ist der Schnee vom vergangenen Jahr?

Eager morning, wide couple colored sky.
Matrix of cloud and pure sun massy blue.
Sparse white cloud tea rising morning, my eye
Scans and prowls damp landscape of dawn break dew.

Shadows of clouds and glittering sunlight
Compete and tumble across the distance.
Dull shadows of gray clouds, of middling height,
Obscure ridgeline farmland of shadow dance.

Garish sun reflects the water surface,
Bouncing, redoubling the burning glow.
Ninety two million miles of empty space
Birthing energy so that all needs grow.

Write what I see just beyond my window,
Recording can not be, to truth, a foe.

Into the dark, past split wood stacked three tonne,
High pressure clear night, bright Venus shining,
Pouring ash the turned earth garden begun.
Sea birds and lap wings calling combining

Far off single dogs bark and howl, I close
My eyes and listen to the songs of the trees.
Grand murmuring sonatas. Winds compose
Long slow songs of history and unease.

Epics written across a thousand years
Sung one thousand rustling chorus leaves.
I listen the songs my eyes fill with tears,
The outer space wind, my heart grieves.

Everything. The Earth, the Sun, the Moon moves,
As careful standing on the one spot proves.