the view from the tower

arcite's day

Saturday, February 28, 2004

I just received a very speedy reply from Taiwan. It's obvious to me that I did agree two years or so ago to have these poems published and one of these was an early version of a poem that has now been, in a revised form, published online. Oh dear, call yerself a bloody professional? Don't give up your day job--when you get one! never mind coz this is all trivial stuff.

I just finished this short, economical novel as part of my reading for book 2. I've never read Joyce Carol Oates before and she writes in an engaging, lively style. This is a novel about her grandmother's self imposed retreat from society after her affair with Tyrell Thompson, a black water douser who helped to locate a spring on her farm.


God strengthen me to bear myself;
That heaviest weight of all to bear,
Inalienable weight of care.

All others are outside myself;
I lock my door and bar them out
The turmoil, tedium, gad-about.

I lock my door upon myself,
And bar them out; but who shall wall
Self from myself, most loathed of all?

If I could once lay down myself,
And start self-purged upon the race
That all must run ! Death runs apace.

If I could set aside myself,
And start with lightened heart upon
The road by all men overgone!

God harden me against myself,
This coward with pathetic voice
Who craves for ease and rest and joys

Myself, arch-traitor to myself;
My hollowest friend, my deadliest foe,
My clog whatever road I go.

Yet One there is can curb myself,
Can roll the strangling load from me
Break off the yoke and set me free.

Christina Rossetti, 1876

Dust-Jacket Blurb

People lived differently then, did things for life, they made gestures that lasted for life . . .

Whose story is I Lock My Door Upon Myself? The fiction chronicles the life of Edith Margaret Freilicht, born 1890 and called "Calla" by her mother who died birthing her. Elusive, willful, eccentric, Calla is an enigma to the town of Shaheen, Eden County, New York, to her family, her husband, her children; a flame-haired beauty who views her surroundings and circumstances as a sleepwalker moving through a dream landscape. A woman whose life comes to be defined by her association with a black itinerant water diviner, Tyrell Thompson. The fiction is told by Calla's granddaughter, in part to reach an understanding, a recognition: Because we are linked by blood, and blood is memory without language.

One of the magical things about Joyce Carol Oates's talent is her enduring ability to reinvent not only the psychological space she inhabits when writing, but herself as well, as part of her own fiction. She is one of the most talented and versatile writers of our time. This brilliant and mysterious work is the first in a series of fictions in imaginative collaboration with works of art planned by The Ecco Press.

...arcite at Saturday, February 28, 2004...
I didn't get to join the masons--but who wants to wear an apron anyway? The guy from the Agency called and told me that no one got to join as the committee, for the third time since March, failed to agree. We talked about stonewalling: a department doesn't want all research funding to be managed by the company I was seeking to join so it subverts the process by vetoing all candidates. Anyway, I no longer want to join and have made an appointment to meet the guy on Friday about the prospect of temp work.

Last night, Gita does a google search on my true name. To our horror, a Taiwanese university has published three of my poems in a crappy online version of a cheap newspaper and describes me as a 'famous New Zealand poet.' Jeeezuz! I'm horrifed: when did these poems go on the web? I remember posting them to an egroup but had I really given permission for them to go online? And one of the poems is published online elsewhere. Why wasn't I told? So I email Taiwan and explain that I am not a famous poet at all and that this is extremely embarassing especially as any potentail employee worth their salt will google me. I'd also like to swap one of the poems for another. This is all so blur.

And I'm told by a friend that if you do a search on my name at amazon then the book appears. Well, it would have been nice to be told by the publisher. Gita's name appears first which is fine by me. So I'm encountering the online uncanny.

And the weather. I worry now about the weather. Heavy rain again. Severe winds in Auckland. Potential flooding. The price of vegetables in Wellington is due to rise 200%. If this goes on.....

...arcite at Saturday, February 28, 2004...

Friday, February 27, 2004

Lovely morning catching up again with my very old friend Wulfræd. We walk his dogs--a lovely Prince Charles Spaniel called Willow and a nutty Fox Terrier called Mutley and try to catch-up on twenty odd years. So good to know someone else who has kids--and his are now teenagers! Like so many others kiwis, he's working on a novel.

Now here's an odd coincidence. Remember how I told you that I've been making compilations? Well, one track on a few of these compilations is a welcome gem from my childhood, the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band's kazoo blowing 'I'm the Urban Spaceman.' As my brother is coming from Sydney--cyclone Ivy willing--this weekend, I burnt him a cd last night featuring this refreshingly original track.

Now the cover for this cd can't be one of my meaningless collages from items that once hung on my wall in past life minus one. No, and they are weird enough anyway. So I look for an image for 'urban spaceman' and discover where Brittle Lemon's beloved Death Cab for Cutie found their name! Yes, I guess that the Brittle Pop one knows this already but even so I gasped and exclaimed like a pregnant anthropologist! More info on Bonzo Dog here. Now did I record 'urban spaceman' for him? I can't remember but I hope so.

...arcite at Friday, February 27, 2004...

Thursday, February 26, 2004

Tropical cyclone Ivy is on its way. Today it passes over Vanuatu and will hit Wellington on Sunday. I woke up at 6.30 AM to a very cloudy morning.

I'm currently recycling all the images that used to hang in my office. Here's the experiment: CD covers are made by selecting and combining images 'sort of' chosen at random from my boxes of cards and posters. The results, so far, are surreal, nonsensical and disturbing. A meaningless design that reminds me of a memory of dreams. You have to shut yourself out of the process.

Today I'll work on an application letter and maybe catch up with an old friend.

...arcite at Thursday, February 26, 2004...

Wednesday, February 25, 2004

I might also add that unemployment is pleasant in good weather. Yesterday we spent hours in Percy's reserve park and we've just got back from walking to city library which is about an hour away. Great weather.

Arcite's night. Wonderful & clear so I pack up the binocs, good tripod, cushion, laptop with Redshift cd-ROM, and chocky bar and tourch and drive down to the Makara hill road. I park the car and walk into the bush following the mountain bike road. (If I could invert the image so that Castor and Pollux appear on the right, then you'd see it from where I am at the bottom of the world.)

Perfect night for star watching. I'm keen to devote my time to Gemini. Saturn is bright and through the binocs I can make out that it's a disc shape object. The two Magellanic clouds look wonderful and Castor and Pollux lie just nicely above the horizon. Through the binocs I find what I'm looking for with ease: M35, a nice little open cluster.

Of course, M35 doesn't look that big through the binocs! But I see the shape.

The binocs though are a bit frustrating as they are not very powerful and don't pull the stars into a sharp point. Or perhaps I don't really know how to use them. Anyway, they do a great job on the Pleiades. I'm about ready to pack up with I notice the Jupiter has risen near Leo while I've been studying Gemini and I have to look at the Bright One for while. Through the binocs I can spot three tiny moons. What a massive planet.

...arcite at Wednesday, February 25, 2004...

Monday, February 23, 2004

That we are here rather than not is, as Martin Rees and so many others have noted, a matter of cosmological significance. This one universe out of all the multiverses is one in which life arises. So much is needed for this to happen.

You can choose to see all events, all life, as merely a matter of chance that is essentially insignificant. In order to cope with this insignificance and pain people make up stories. The stories form part of their lives, don't they Mr Gibson? Well, don't believe everything that daddy told you. Is there perhaps a reason for your reason?

Or you can choose to see life as a gift, the grace of god, or gods, or to translate a really clunky Buddhist term 'dependent co-orgination': all of the events and the causes came together just in this very moment that everything is shining and flicking in and out of existence/non-existence. Even though I rarely mediate now I can't stop doing puja, lighting incense and ringing bells. All the religions touch a little on this but hey it's up to you.

Gasho. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thanks. The opportunity of being in the world with others. To meet someone you like. The chance to smile at someone. To see a loved one. Just to watch the world in all its stupid beauty. The chance to get out of the taxi and say something to someone before you leave. That's my religion. I don't care if it sounds corny. I believe in that thanks and I put my faith in the warmth that carried me here. I choose not to see everything as mere chance or as pure evolutionary design. I'm sure that some morning birds enjoy singing and cats love to purr and dogs love to wag their tails. Just because they do. Enlightened shining. Merci. Amen. Om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha.

Normal depressed blogs will be resumed as quickly as possible. Got to go as the kids are fighting!

...arcite at Monday, February 23, 2004...

Sunday, February 22, 2004

Damn my laziness and moods. Got up today and just started work on the outline for the autism and representation book. I am such a lazy git when this needs to be done.

Finished the above. Disappointing, somewhat boring, exhausted and half-asleep. Songs are better.

...arcite at Sunday, February 22, 2004...

Saturday, February 21, 2004

Extreme gale force winds--over 2,000 homes in Wellington without power. Winds up to a shocking 180KPH. Mum rings me from Otaki on her mobile "Arcite, we've no power!" The winds batter the house and we all feel fed-up.

...arcite at Saturday, February 21, 2004...
Quiet, burnt away, not sleeping well and it's fucking raining again.

Finished this remarkable book by one of our best poets.

Here's a sample:


Boiled Groper-heads? O, yum! And kia ora, ehoa ma.
The globular, unblinking, fat-laden eye-balls of the
Groper are
inhabited by a chalky white marble in each eye!
An inedible kind of bonus; no problem--if you
swallow it, it will make
its own way out the back.
With a forefinger & thumb, whisk-off the
delicate bridge of bone separating the eyes
to access the grey, jelly-like brain-matter:
crack open the skull of the fish to
get at it. Indubitably

they are Tangaroa's erotic gift to us--
supremely nutritious, Love-and
Life-lengtheners! I tell you no lies.
I am a master fish-head eater. I've earned
my certificate. Behind me are three canoe-
loads of shattered (clean-licked) fish-
head bones, destined to be processed
for vegetable-garden fuel. No wastage.
Crack 'em and suck 'em, say I.
Come, fill the cup! Quaff the soupy, Groper waters of
life's well!

"Tangaroa" is marine and "kia ora", of course, is hello! But "ehoa ma" escapes me as I don't speak Te Reo and the Ngata dictionary isn't much use here.
Over in An Arbor, friends of mine are eating and drinking. How could summer be just winter when I had such hopes for the long afternoons?

...arcite at Saturday, February 21, 2004...

Friday, February 20, 2004

Well, I've been a fan of them like forever. Y'know go overseas like but where's the tongue apart from at home with the folks? Extensive information. Analysis lacking as if you could smudge out all the licks kicks and labels. Xenophobia, hostile. Trad. values. So there's absolutely no discussion of the horror, hatred, humour, intelligence and stupidity of this most remarkable, under appreciated, destructive and thoroughly unwholesome band. There is no other band like the fall. When I think of M. E Smith and his mouth I'm reminded of just all those attitudes from the North. Poor, spiteful, smart, pisshead, artist lout in clerical job at 17. Dad's a plumber yr a printhead. We spit on you for cursing our tongue. We spit on your estates and your covered ears. And white rastas from Rochdale ha ha. ("They talk of Chile while driving through Haslingdon!") But none of this venom and the politics and aesthetics of venting the spleen is given any weight here. And so there is nothing of the North, nothing of our contradictions. All info and no appreciation and no fucking guts to admit that lines such as "we'll get you/until queen victoria/ is the last black slug/ in piccadilly, manchester!" (City Hobgoblins) or that "Hate's not your enemy/Love's your enemy/ murder all bush monkies!" (Who Makes the Nazis?) are unforgetable, surreal, and suspect. Dave, it aint a question of being PC, you have to listen to the fucking music and comment on it mate. Call yerself a bloody professional?

...arcite at Friday, February 20, 2004...
Well, we weathered and survived the electrical storm. My cold has vanished, the morning is sunny and I feel, as XTC once put it, 'stupidly happy.' I'm trying not to worry about what one of my referees, not Brittle Lemon, might say about me to the bloody masons. I'm prone to insecurities and this guy is just so wholesome and squeaky clean.

I dropped Gita off at the Ministry before dropping the lads off to school. On the way into town, Gita remembers that we've forgotten to give Mr T his antibiotics in our rush to leave early. So, at the risk off dropping the lads off late again--thank the Istener the school is reasonably relaxed about time--I stop off at home, grab the bottle from the fridge and a plastic spoon, and hoon over to the school at the bottom of the far hill.

I park the car near the little bridge that passes a small gushing stream and say to T "OK, time to take the antibiotic!" But The Young Taranian tries to bury his face in the back seat. No medicine, dad, no way! So I goad him: "Ok, if you don't take it here then I'll have to give it to you in class and explain to Jade, your teacher, why you wont take the medicine."

Mr T gives in immediately without any fuss and the 5 ml of the sticky strawberry goo is taken without so much as a grimace. A drop catches on my finger which out off interest I lick and...YUK! I'm reminded of the passage in Gravity's Rainbow in which Slothrop is fed strange boiled sweets. It's a cheap jello strawberry gin flavoured aspirin with a touch of rootbeer and asthma steroid. My respect for MR T rises: no wonder he doesn't want to take it!

...arcite at Friday, February 20, 2004...

Thursday, February 19, 2004

Oh yea. Today's songs: Don't Gramsci feat. Anika Moa. (NZ). Brilliant. And Wind up working in a gas station Frank Zappa.

...arcite at Thursday, February 19, 2004...
This just in: Brittle Lemon informs me that the masons have been in touch. I still have a chance to get this bloody job. Excellent. I feel much better already.

Excite weather says 'cloudy windy": ha ha ha. The rain has started.

...arcite at Thursday, February 19, 2004...
My cold is going but a terrible new storm, from the west, is due to hit the bottom of the Island around 9PM and we are all a little tired of this weather. We have stacked up our emergency box. High winds are due (120KPH) and heavy rain. The whole storm should pass over in three hours.

Hey, I'm workin' on revamping CV. I don't think I'm gonna be asked to join the masons. So I'm all unemployed now. I'm going to apply for all the pointless civil service jobs I can find just to pass away my life.

We took Mr T to the docs because his exema is really bad--a large weeping sore on his arm. The doc just looked at it and said he needed antibiotics. Now, if we can only get the little fella to stop scractching it....

...arcite at Thursday, February 19, 2004...

Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Roishan has a cold, Mr T has a cold, Gita has a cold, Deepa has a cold; now Arcite has a sniffle. Grr! So Roishan is off school again today (Mr T sort of wanted to go to school and his cold has now gone as he got it first). I need to get well to really throw myself into book 2. Inertia, you know? The weather is cloudy but it isn't raining.

Wellington, 2020?

...arcite at Wednesday, February 18, 2004...

Tuesday, February 17, 2004

The Hungarian cover of American Gods. Such good covers! Istener....So what's the singular? Isten....

...arcite at Tuesday, February 17, 2004...

...arcite at Tuesday, February 17, 2004...
Rain, thunder, rain and floods. The lower North Island is badly hit with major flooding in the Manawatu. We are ok but I really would like the rain to stop. Both lads off school with sniffles. And I picked up an NME compilation of covers called Ruby Trax from the library that features St. Etienne covering "Stranger in Paradise." Now does Brittle Lemon have that I wonder? I have yet to post his compilation but mail deliveries are screwed by the weather anyway.

...arcite at Tuesday, February 17, 2004...

Monday, February 16, 2004

According to TV News 30,000 people attended the Bowie concert. I never knew that the stadium was that big!

Terrible weather in Wellington as we experience extreme winds. Last night the airport was closed, the trains aren't running, the trolley buses are off the roads and many schools are closed. The local paper here announces the worst Summer weather on record!

Last night I finished Alan W. Hirshfeld's Parallax: The Race to Measure the Cosmos, one of the most rewarding books on Astronomy I've read in years. Hirshfeld is a great writer. He's able to give very clear explanations of all the maths needed to measure the distance to a star and he's also a compelling storyteller who enjoys people and their foibles and knows when to linger on the details. The chapter on Herschell and his sister is a delight and makes eighteenth-century Astronomy jump to life. This is very highly recommneded.

...arcite at Monday, February 16, 2004...

Sunday, February 15, 2004

Finally, I totally agree with this article on the nipple I mean, what the hell, grovelling before the Grammies is sickening.

...arcite at Sunday, February 15, 2004...
(deleted rant)

...arcite at Sunday, February 15, 2004...
One other minor thing: I like the way Bruce Sterling writes his blog. OK, we can do the polished 'one true observation', all polished, all papa hemingway do preach; or we can cobble a blog together regardless, all sloppy and out of whack. He just blogs man and fuck the polish. And I do sort of find it refreshing like spellcheck set to off. just you know, what's on

...arcite at Sunday, February 15, 2004...
poured down with freezing rain but Bowie and the band gave a very special, totally brilliant performance. This was no tired rehashing of hits but featured all the best from the recent years and a good re-arrangement of Ziggy material. The man was cool enough to just don a raincoat for when the weather really decided to do Wellington’s worst. A very plain oilskin it looked too through my binocs. The crowd featured mainly pensioners and old bikies types and account managers as well as a few young punks in the 6,000 oddballs at the Westpac stadium.

The highs for me were stellar performances of recent material: ‘Slip away’ and the Pixies ‘Cactus’ as well as a surprising uplifting version of ‘Under Pressure’ (which I’ve never liked before) and the great instrumental ‘A New career in a New Town’ from Low. ‘I’m Afraid of Americans’, always powerful in live versions, certainly struck a chord with the crowd.

As I sat soaked with rain before the concert began I thought myself a fool for all stadium venues but I’m so glad that I wasn’t too cool to lock away the inner fan. And the band was just so superb. Everyone seemed to be having a ball.

The large plasma screen featured sometimes cheesy ‘bad art’ graphics/screensavers and at other times interesting short films, shots of the concert from diff. angles, and more video footage/samples from tv (‘slip away’).

The set list in full but not in strict order:

Total playing time: 140 exhausting mins.

Bowie joked with the crowd, is thru being cool, and must come back as quickly as possible. Horrible weather, we were soaked and cold, but he has reclaimed his mana. The last gig I saw in Wellington was terrible; a ‘serious moonlight’ travesty. This was worth the rain.

...arcite at Sunday, February 15, 2004...

Friday, February 13, 2004

Geeky Friday: I am so glad that I kept my 3D Glasses from Spy Kids II as JPL are putting 3D pics from the Rovers online. Incredible photos of Martian soil today and confirmation now that there was running fluid (water? lava?) on Mars.

Mr T was awarded a principal's certificate today for trying at handwriting. The certificate is given out before the whole school. Next week he has morning tea with the Principal herself. His handwriting, like mine, is actually not that good but he has been practicing. I'm so happy with this school. Gita has been working morning at the larger, more affluent, less Maori/Polynesian school. They don't give out awards and certificates at all and have a very staid programme. After the horrors of Singapore I appreciate the school so much: a good multicultural mix and a friendly atmosphere.

...arcite at Friday, February 13, 2004...

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Song: The Guests. L. Cohen.

Gita has just been offered part-time project management work by the Ministry of Education for two months. So we have a little more money coming in—she’s told the school that she’d need to cut back on the support work and they said "No problem." They must be many of these support teachers around.

...arcite at Thursday, February 12, 2004...

Tuesday, February 10, 2004

Does brand-switching count as dishonesty? I’m shopping with Gita before we pick the lads up from school. She tells me that she's already got the instant coffee so we move to the breads and then go to the check-out counter. There she's busted for a sneaky brand swap because after laser-swiping the item the cashier announces that "this packet of signature coffee is ripped." My usual instant coffee isn't even premium Taster's Choice but cheap old Nescafé. But Gita had swapped my brand for a cheap store endorsed budget no-frills 'signature' coffee which Woolsworth probably buy from Starbucks: do you really think that they throw all that good coffee grind out just because its been used once? And she was obviously hoping to pop this coffee quickly into the coffee jar so I wouldn't see what I was drinking. Sneaky, sneaky. Well, we are on a budget.

...arcite at Tuesday, February 10, 2004...

Monday, February 09, 2004

If you look at my links you'll see that I'm still reading Neil Gaiman's blog. He works on such interesting projects--I love the idea of him taking part in One Ring Zero--with one of the Magnet Fields--where he, along with other authors, pens a lyric. And his link to the story on scandals involving Blue Peter presenters is just so Englishman abroad. Go on, you don't need me to copy the link here, do you?

...arcite at Monday, February 09, 2004...
All I have to do is tut-tut-tut three times and Canopus, no matter where he is in the garden, comes running. Then once again inside he jumps on me and wants to be stroked. His mottled ginger underbelly,so soft, reminds me of a Leopard. I worried about letting him out in the garden lest he crossed the fences into neighbours’ lands. Yesterday, a large Persian stared at him from the vantage point of the back fence. Canopus, just out on the deck, stared back. I wanted him to dart back in, back to Daddy, but he sat there staring at the obese Persian until the cat jumped off the fence.

...arcite at Monday, February 09, 2004...

Saturday, February 07, 2004

We finished the book. No more additions, revisions, tweaks. All over and in press.

Yesterday we walked into the bush at Percy’s Reserve and climbed a thin winding track above the hill stream. You climb higher and higher until you reach a small waterfall, all the time you’re climbing you're looking into the canopy.

The Star

In my Tarot, the Star’s negative aspect is fatalism, inability to change, constant striving for new beginnings, poor reasoning…

It’s going to be a rambling, bloggy blog kind of day.

...arcite at Saturday, February 07, 2004...

Friday, February 06, 2004

Hellish, hellish interview. They fail miserably and I don’t like them but on the other hand a grilling interview means that they take you seriously. I know that.

Question: what’s the difference between computer science and information technology and e-commerce. Me: Computer science starts with Turing and Turing machines and is primarily concerned with computation…When did I ever say that I had a comp sci background? . And now I want it just to show them but I don’t really like them. But when do we ever like who we work for?

...arcite at Friday, February 06, 2004...

Thursday, February 05, 2004

I should get my suit on for my interview. Nervous? Me? Hi Iona whose 'you are a china shop, I am a bull' blog I've just linked to (bye bye 1001 nights). Hey, Iona runs her own server and hosts blogs. Now that is 'really cool': see, I can be a convincing academic intellectual and use big words like 'really cool.' Many academics hate this sort of speech. I'm rambling...;.

...arcite at Thursday, February 05, 2004...
Why are you telling me all this?

To blog, or not to blog, that is question. Whether it is nobler to suffer
The hiss and pops of outrageous dial-up or pay purse to cruise
The seas of broadband…

Another Masonic ritual this morning and I’m nervous. Please let this be the last one!

I should really empty the litter.

...arcite at Thursday, February 05, 2004...

Wednesday, February 04, 2004

Neil Gaiman's blog is still well worth visiting for all the little trivial titbits (sorry, Janet): today I learnt that, gasp, Chip Delany actually wrote a few Wonder Woman comics.

...arcite at Wednesday, February 04, 2004...

Tuesday, February 03, 2004

Oh yea, I missed Timberlake exposing Janet J's boob on TV. Well, I guess I can live without it. Now next time he duets with say Miss Eliot then she should flash him: "whoops, Justin!"

This reminds me of a silly verse I recalled when raking the garden a few days ago:

My friend Billy had a six-foot willy
He showed it to the girl next door
She thought it was a snake
So she hit it with the rake
And now it's only four feet four.

...arcite at Tuesday, February 03, 2004...
After dropping the kids off to school I ironed, cleaned the loos, played with Canopus and read Moorcock and an astronomy book. My next interview is coming up with the heads of departments (computing & maths & the humanities) because yesterday, frustrated with the slow progress of joining the Masons, I called the Agency and said basically that I needed some indication that they were keen to take me on. Anyway, this afternoon the CEO rang and said ‘sorry for the delay, I’m arranging an interview on Thursday.’ And Geeta looks set to get some consultancy work for the Ministry—she started the special education teaching job today.

The rain still falls.

...arcite at Tuesday, February 03, 2004...

Monday, February 02, 2004

Ah, the efficiency of the Institute for National Uniform Sensibility in cancelling my email is just so symptomatic of all things Zinger.

And Geeta is back to help me after my hellish Sunday managing both kids--it poured and Roishan went into meltdown a few times. Very nerve-wracking: he insisted that I tidy his room and arrange his drawings in exactly the right order.

...arcite at Monday, February 02, 2004...