the view from the tower

arcite's day

Wednesday, March 31, 2004

Still Life with Teapot and Candles, 1994. Michael Smither. Oil on board
484 x 730 mm.

Everything illuminated by a warm loving light. Now the teapot shines like the sun. Christmas, Passover, Diwali.

...arcite at Wednesday, March 31, 2004...

Tuesday, March 30, 2004

don't come and go like you do

Bic Runga from the bastion of her second home in Paris, has told the Belfast Telegraph that NZ, the utopian land of milk and honey, can be quite racist if you are Maori-Chinese. No surprises there. Gita remembers many racist taunts during her childhood here and one reason for going to Zingers was to get us all out of Anglocentric NZ. (There seems to be more diversity though here than ever and despite political tensions I still have a hunch that NZ is far less racist and intolerant of difference than it was ten years ago.) I just had a long phone interview to try to get an interview that then leads to a second interview that may get you a job—and this for a corporate position. Questions: "what other specific jobs have you applied for?" (!) and "how much do you expect to get paid?" and "why have you written on autism"? I know the recruiters have their job to do but this afternoon when the American gentleman on the phone from the recruiting division was firing all these questions to me about my meandering career, I felt like saying, in my best Kevin Spacey American Beauty voice: "You know, Trent, we can't all have such wonderfully smooth career paths as yours that lead to a lifelong commitment to working in corporate recruitment."

...arcite at Tuesday, March 30, 2004...

Monday, March 29, 2004

sounds like
Is there a special word for a piece of music that sounds like another? Brittle Lemon sends me some welcomed music. Franz Ferdinand's Take Me Out sounds like The Strokes and Sophie Ellis-Bextor's Making Music sounds like Maddie's Vogue, especially the spoken catalogue and The Scissor Sisters' Laura sounds like Suede's Attitude even though as Brittle Lemon pointed out to me in person they were released at the same time. I think that the chords are similar--I know what chords are--a type of fabric, boom! boom!--but I'm never quite sure how say Bowie's Life on Mars? is really a reworking of Sinatra's My Way: it is, though, and Bowie said as much on the cover to Hunky Dory. I just picked up Rajesh from the airport and I popped into the music store there to pass the time. They wanted NZ$39.95 for the Lost in Translation soundtrack. Laugh? What do you think?

...arcite at Monday, March 29, 2004...

Saturday, March 27, 2004

overheard in the elephant's pavillion

My nephew's birthday was held this morning at Wellington Zoo. I reminded everyone, as I alway tiresomely do at the Zoo, that 23 years ago I had a summer job there which I dearly loved. There's around seven kids and a few parents. Great conversation:

Arcite: So what do you do in Te Horo?
J: My hubby works for Tranzrail; I'm taking a writing course. He had a good day at work yesterday--a big chickenfeed spill!
Arcite: Good day?
J: Yea, coz we go over there with stacks and fill as much as we can. We normally have to buy feed every few months. Only six or so chucks.
Arcite: Do you keep any other animals?
J: No, not really. Just two cows and a few sheep.

I love that "not really." That's when you're in the country all right. And she would never leave Te Horo. I explained that I was looking for work and will check the writing school she mentioned.

...arcite at Saturday, March 27, 2004...

Friday, March 26, 2004

Thanks to Ikrek for fixing the tower. And thanks to Aurora Floyd for letting me know about a special issue of journal coming up on disability. And thanks of course to my family, my mom & dad, all the prospective employers who have decided that I deserve unemployment and (rising music) of course, God. I couldn't have done all this idle blogging without you!

...arcite at Friday, March 26, 2004...
Reading the blogs, Bruce Sterling explains 'voltage rustling'--oh those cyber cowboys--and Neil Gaiman put me on to the site of the day, Word magazine. My carpal is so much better--and tonight I'm meeting an old friend, going downtown, and I'm looking forward to toasting Bob Marley for only the second time since I left The Fortress of Banality. I've finished another job application and I sort of see it as a watershed. It isn't. Must look up the word watershed anyway. What the hell is that?

...arcite at Friday, March 26, 2004...

Thursday, March 25, 2004

strength to dream

Melencolia is tied to intellectual pursuits: measurement, counting, abstraction, all variations of finding the secret harmony of shapes at work in the world or the unveiled order. The weight of contemplation and the heaviness it brings; how quickly, though, this weight turns to delight! My work races ahead fuelled by Sedgwick’s awesome book—for even though autism would seem to have nothing to do with the gay closet and even though I have long since abandoned deconstruction and the construction of labyrinths and mazes as offering the path to the grail or the keys to kingdom, yet to come, where we finally find the exit from the order of things and stand naked in our light with our beloved no longer named friends, I find that today, free to do nothing aside from picking up Naniji from the airport, I am left alone to chart territories in which autism is no longer plotted as a distant land, the province of dull-headed damned, but is shifted from the margins of the world to the centre.

...arcite at Thursday, March 25, 2004...

Wednesday, March 24, 2004

across the floors of silent seas
The morning was wet and windy, but the early afternoon was very bright so I walked to Karori Library and finished Eli Gottlieb’s superb first novel The boy who went away. I have one very minor quibble: the boy narrator, who is supposed to love science, twice refers to the sun as a 'hot planet.' Funny how I get caught on these small details, just as Elizabeth’s Knox's fine novella Paremata always bugged me because one character tells another that Rick Wakeman played piano on Bowie's Aladdin Sane, when Wakeman actually played piano on Hunky Dory. All this nicely segues into today's big news, more evidence that Mars had a salty ocean. Salty! So this means that once Mars wasn’t the red planet and had a very different atmosphere and a still ocean not pulled by a nearby moon. Aren’t you glad you live on a double planet just a little bit closer to the sun? So what happened to Mars?

...arcite at Wednesday, March 24, 2004...

Tuesday, March 23, 2004

Ah, but behind the bat the rainbow.

...arcite at Tuesday, March 23, 2004...

Monday, March 22, 2004

& robert duvall plays boo

Last night I stayed up late and watched To kill a Mockingbird. Horton Foote's script is an excellent adaption, the direction is fine and there are some spooky moments in the film which has an air of menace and terror running all the way through due to wonderful use of black and white film. But how good is Peck's acting? I have a quibble about the accent. He sounds to my ears too posh and almost a stranger or outsider to Alabama. How much more powerful would it have been to have Atticus speak as a more southern gentelman or do all southerners in American movies have to be in-bred racist maniacs? I read Atticus as part of the same culture of the southern town—he's as southern as you can get and I think this is missing a little from Peck's performance. The kids are just fantastic.

...arcite at Monday, March 22, 2004...

Sunday, March 21, 2004

Karori karnival Same street, same weather. Different year.

...arcite at Sunday, March 21, 2004...
un jour!

Well, I haven't scored a job yet, haven't felt like Cole Porter playing "You’re the tops", but now Gita's also looking for fulltime work so we're hoping to be able to make it back in Wellington. I don't feel bad about giving up my last job—you can't cling onto these positions like security blankets until the end of your days—and this morning, before we left to enjoy two lovely street fairs here in Wellington, we agreed that if we haven't scored any decent work before the start of August then we'll have to look 'further afield' which could mean anyplace from Auckland or Dunedin to Melbourne or Sydney. Now I understand again just how I ended up in Singapore though I suspect other fates played their hands. I'm not worried, I'm in less pain, my research is going well and I know that we'll be in the money again—one day!

...arcite at Sunday, March 21, 2004...

Saturday, March 20, 2004

warning sign

For the last ten days I've had a stabbing pain in the knuckles of my left arm that has now shifted to sharp jolts of pain in my left elbow—so painful that last night I could barely hold up the binoculars to gaze at Saturn in Gemini. My left shoulder is also quite stiff. I diagnose inflammed carpal tunnel, though I've never had this on my left side before. Back in 1998, my right hand basically shut down for a while and I had to wear a wrist supports and operate a very expensive joy stick mouse. That was extremely painful and debilitating: at one time I found it extremely difficult to open a car door. So I'm no stranger to this sort of pain. I instituted a strict diet and exercise regime and was able over a couple of months to get myself back to health. So this morning I woke up, exercised, took some painkillers, put a clock next to the PC (ten minute session max), made sure my feet were elevated, vowed to have a hot bath and swim at least twice a week, and crossed my fingers. Pain is a great way for the body to tell us that we're getting older. The pain isn't that bad—I swam five lengths of the pool yesterday (not all in one go) but it does jab at me sometimes and I want it to go away within three weeks. If not then I’ll think about wasting my money on a quack.

...arcite at Saturday, March 20, 2004...

Friday, March 19, 2004


After I drop the lads of at school and have a word with Roishan's teacher to clarify what she said to him about not talking to his only friend at all during class, I go for a walk in Karori park up into the small pine forest on the hill behind the cricket pitch. Here I can see all the damage of recent storms; wrecked punga trees, pine trees split and broken as if they had been stomped on by a maraudering ogre. At the top of the track I come to a lovely glen surrounded by massive pines and I wonder what this would be like on a clear night, no moon, just stars. I raise my arm to look at the time but I'm not wearing a watch this morning.

...arcite at Friday, March 19, 2004...
Tori Amos fans might be interested in Neil Gaiman's piece on Strange Little Girls. Aurora Floyd, I'm thinking of you.

...arcite at Friday, March 19, 2004...

Thursday, March 18, 2004

Reading the blogs I'm amazed that Bruce Sterling can have 600 people to a party--and yea, Chandrasutra, I also thought the reporting of the Spanish election to be frankly quite odd. I also will need a little more evidence before I blame Al Quaeda for the blast but you have to ask 'who is crazy enough to have done this?'

...arcite at Thursday, March 18, 2004...
Street Corner,C. 1960

Rita Angus Street Corner. 1960.

...arcite at Thursday, March 18, 2004...

Wednesday, March 17, 2004

If they ask you what your name is

Even though I’m of Irish descent, have traveled to Ireland and have always felt a certain affinity with Irish literature—Joyce especially, as his is a literature of exile, I’m not really celebrating St Pats aside from having a few cans of the Liffey water. I feel that celebrating it the whole hog it would just be too phony, just as I felt uncomfortable at my dad’s big St. Pat’s bash that he hosted about ten years ago. I’m a northern English New Zealander with New Zealand Indian kids. As a kid, growing up on the Lancashire/Yorkshire border, I felt very much Northern and not even that English: understandable given that my Mum is from Penrith, an exiled Scot from a few generations back, and when we visited Penrith we donned clan tartan tam-o’-shanters. And our Northern burr had nothing, then at any rate, to do with the BBC—it was a joke that made you little more than a Coronation St clown. I think my dad squashed his Irish roots for very sound reasons: his grandfather was a crook who died young and this ignoble grandad, added to the ‘no dogs and Irish’ hostility of the 60s and the IRA campaign which involved killing civilians in central Manchester in the mid 70s, did little to endear the Irish to English hearts. Anyway, so much for my whakapapa-- As a family we do Diwali, Easter and Christmas. However, thanks to Mr A Guinness & three quarks for muster mark!

...arcite at Wednesday, March 17, 2004...

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

the old soft shoe

Start from the inside of the language and work your way out and the poem is knotted, clotted, tangled, woven. Skate on the surface and the poem is fast, immediate, light, almost invisible, inconsequential: a word doodle.

...arcite at Tuesday, March 16, 2004...

Monday, March 15, 2004

the ides

I wish Roishan was happier at school, that he didn't cry and scream and wail because he has to go and deal with the other kids who are now shunning him. He wants friends but he doesn't know how to behave and he finds it all horribly stressful. The school has put in a request to special education for physio-therapy for him to help him with his handwriting. But I wish the teacher could just be a little less hard in her outlook and realise how difficult social situations are for him: the emphasis is always so much on the physical motor problems. Then Gita gets so tired and upset if he's upset. It's all part of the cycle. You cruise along and then it gets a rough and then it gets smooth again. Anyway, we finished the final proofs of the book. We'll be OK. We're just stuck in the middle of something, caught in the change, dodging the knives. When I get a job I'm buying a model waka for the altar as the mahayana is all about seafaring through the rough and the smooth.

...arcite at Monday, March 15, 2004...

Sunday, March 14, 2004


I...I am on your side but you know that like love there is no cure.

...arcite at Sunday, March 14, 2004...

Saturday, March 13, 2004

Lovely day yesterday spent with my brother Kris and cousin James. We went to The Te Marae section of Te Papa. Te Marae was buzzing! Great atmosphere as the Te Moko 'activity' meant that we could watch Maori get full-blown body tattoos. Lots of laughing and kids running around. Like most Pakeha, much to my chagrin I have never been invited onto a Marae. Te Papa is the only open marae in the country. (One day I will be invited. Oh yes). We then went for a lunch over at the Chocolate Fish cafe near Miramar popular now since becoming a Rings hangout for cast and crew

teko teko

This morning we raced into town to buy a teko teko for James as he didn’t pick one up in Rotorua. I drop my chain smoking, double shot latte (three a day), music-loving Northern brother off at the airport for his flight to Sydney. Damn the diaspora.

...arcite at Saturday, March 13, 2004...

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Such gorgeous weather today: all sun and now, in the late afternoon, as if to vex all astronomers, the clouds appear laughing in our faces. You win. I went to this stylish communications agency downtown. Lovely office reception full of artwork: just a gallery, no glittery sign proclaiming their trite corporate name. Style. We meet in an extensive library with titles covering everything from style manuals to digital culture. So refreshing to see books and art favoured over gloss & hype. I'm impressed and this sort of sensibility is exactly what is being proclaimed. I mean this company is really different from all the others I've dealt with so far. A very pleasant meeting ensued as the writer meeting me remembered me as a proof-reader at the National Business Review back in 87 when it was in Courtney Place and even quoted some of my own poetry to me—which he read online—and said how much he liked it! I've never had my poetry quoted to me and rarely hear that it is any good. (Mainly because my friends are friends who let me know what they think when they read. Interestingly enough, the poem he liked is one that a few of the same friends have said that they liked too. A real poem rather than a doodle poem, although I don’t mind doodle poems at all. Writing poems is such a pleasure for me—the point is whether it's a pleasure for the reader.)

And of course I may get work from them. Or not.

Schehezerade at 1001 nights—great handle--has written on her approach to blogging and why she blogs, all prompted by a most welcome email exchange. I still like to be able to leave either a comment or an email when I read a blog so I can let the person know that I've been walking through their lawn. I like to think that my readers are distant, offshore, away from Wellington but I know that blogging has its own uncanny, unpredictable effects. We might talk of the risk of blogging, the gamble of online identity which is always a masquerade. You've got mail also means you've got masks and with those masks the chance for invisible trysts, networks, gangs, clubs & connections, flows of the most subtle and discreet whispers and kennings especially within this city. I think it's OK, maybe, to keep these effects to a minimum by remaining in character when you feel it's appropriate and keeping mum even to certain friends. But is it? Or is it a type of deception, this not saying? Hard to say. I don’t think that your obliged to reveal your blog, or that you're a bloody blogger yourself, or that you might know a datum or name gleamed through the far from transparent skein of a blog in which are seen imperfect impressions of lived experience. But not to say is also a deceit of sorts...Discretion is fine but easily shades into not speaking as deception.

...arcite at Thursday, March 11, 2004...

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

Welcome back Scheherezhade. Thanks for the lovely email. Now I wont feel such a voyeur when I read about you and The Empress.

Just in case you think it's a joke that everyone in Wellington knows someone who has worked on The Lord of the Rings let me tell you that I suspect it may be true. I was downtown this morning touting for work at a company and I asked where S was. "Oh, he left to go and work at Weta on The Rings." Wellington is such a small place that I've actually had phone conversations with one senior person working on the film. No big deal.

This morning walking back from the bus stop I thought that it's not just the landscape here I love it's also the soundscape. Not that it was quiet: the wind was wrestling with the trees going whooosh whoosh whoosh! Then quiet. Then a birdcall. Then whoosh whoosh whoosh again. The trees were still standing but I think the wind won.

Today's music: The Bestiality of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band.

...arcite at Tuesday, March 09, 2004...

Monday, March 08, 2004

I just linked to a Buddhist blog. I'm feeling very peaceful today. Nothing to do but breathe, read proofs of the book, think about autism, write a job application letter, pick the kids up from school, pick Gita up from work, think about dinner. Meditation is the opiate of the unemployed. That and idle blogging...and poetry.

...arcite at Monday, March 08, 2004...
Reading Neil Gaiman's blog entries on the Peta pillow fight stunt at Harvard has me wondering what sort of escapades Ikrek can look forward to in Cambridge. Now that's a student body!

...arcite at Monday, March 08, 2004...

Sunday, March 07, 2004

Sunny. I get up early--good feedback from friends on some recent poems. I start re-writing Diwali from scracth. We drive up the coast and stop at the tram museum and then the car museum. Outside the car museum I bump into BD. I remember how he showed me photos of his girlfriend bathing topless on ninety-mile beach and now he's back from Madison Avenue shooting commercials and a documentary on happiness for TV 2. He's as confident as ever; so much confidence. I just wished I'd been able to find my grandad's grave at Whenua Tapu where he's buried with the other servicemen. I looked for him on the top hill and heard the distant cries of a tangi below.

...arcite at Sunday, March 07, 2004...

Saturday, March 06, 2004

Goodbye Becky at grrlmeetsworld. Sorry but you're just a little too perky for me and it's time for a change. I think it's the photos I find so off putting. Too cute. Hello NZ's No Right Turn: a good blog I'll be reading for a while as my beloved second country makes a dangerous swerve to the right.

...arcite at Saturday, March 06, 2004...

Friday, March 05, 2004

matiu island

While the Young Taranian was sent to Time Out for hopping like a bunny with Shenia--who he says egged him on to do it--I was on the 6 th floor of the State Insurance building, looking out over the harbour at Matiu Island, until the two suits came in to interview me about contract work. There's a smarminess, now, to these proceedings, a certain smile that says "we have a job and you fucking well don't." Well, OK: but I don't have to work in this glass 80s retro corporate tower serving programmers to server the servers. I'm not really impressed by them but I do pump them for advice on writing effective CVs. I'll be OK.

...arcite at Friday, March 05, 2004...

Thursday, March 04, 2004

So Mars where did all your water go?
To have water you must have had a better atmosphere, more pressure, must have been warmer. Mars just makes no sense. You have dried up ocean shores, massive impact craters, a gash through the middle of this world. I look at the Marscape and I feel spooked. Mars is creepy in the way that working with chimps, when I had that summer job at the zoo twenty odd years ago, was creepy: like us but different. Our current universe is a gothic romantic epic called earth alone. Welcome to the vast emptiness, the great desert, the radio silences. UFOs, x-files: all this points to a longing, a screaming isolation howling through early global culture: alone, alone, alone! No life. All that's left now is the prospect of Bosch-like creatures living beneath the frozen surface of Europa. Creatures that never see the sun or the sky but live in the dark heated by volcanoes. How gothic is that? Meanwhile, despite this isolation and the mounting evidence that world-systems undergo profound changes and depend heavily on their atmospheres, we kill, destroy, drive, buy and hurtle overselves towards dark futurities. Myself included. No utopias, not now! Kind of exciting though isn't it my dark, lonely kindred?

...arcite at Thursday, March 04, 2004...

Wednesday, March 03, 2004

Epitaph: "The grass is always greener."

...arcite at Wednesday, March 03, 2004...

Tuesday, March 02, 2004

Of course I'm delighted about the Oscars but Wellington will only survive as a film hub if it finally stops raining. My only predicition about the future: weather will become as important as international conflicts in terms of news coverage.

I went to see my brother, sister-in-law, nephew and mum & dad in Otaki yesterday. Mum has dislocated her shoulder after falling down on a balcony at a wedding on saturday. She had gone outside for a smoke. I was too polite to ask whether or not she was drunk--what difference does it make anyway? Her shoulder looked terrible and she's to see a surgeon in about ten days but we're confident that she'll be ok although she has to sleep in a lazy-boy recliner chair. My nephew James had chosen Te Rauparaha for a school project so I finally get to visit the Rangiatea church in Otaki. We look at the graves of children decorate with toys, flowers, rings, cherubs; we look at the the ancient lighting struck trees, the small waka at the back of the church. It's quiet and peaceful and I want to go back. Funny how I got to work with some of the church elders on that site. I'm glad that I gave my work as koha. Now I'm ringing up old clients looking for contract work. It feels good and I'm sure that I'll get something. I'm glad that the mason job was last month.

...arcite at Tuesday, March 02, 2004...