the view from the tower

arcite's day

Wednesday, June 30, 2004


I dropped off my application for teachers college to the academic registrar. It's all quite informal: you hand in the application, they check that your degrees are legitimate and chat with you about the application process. All very friendly and personal.

I looked over my poems last night: I have forty unfinished poems and about sixteen published ones not counting poems written in my late teens/early twenties published in student publications that I wished I'd never written. There are few connections or similarities in form in the poems that I can see so any book would be bereft of orchestration. And I remember Ikrek telling me "A book is not just a collection of poems!"

I'm trying to work on the book but keep getting distracted. I'm currently reading Giddens on identity. His work is highly theoretical and somewhat dry but he's trying to cover all the bases. He argues that to 'be' human involves an essential ontological awareness and concomitant anxiety. In other words, he's not a pure materialist: to be human doesn't mean that you have a brain and neurons and little flashes of electricity. It means that you know that you know that you are alive--to be human is to reflect on yourself and the world. Even if 'free willl' is an illusion--as some radical neurologists argue--the point is that to be human is to assume free-will: "We begin from the premise that to be a human being is to know, virtually all of the time, in terms of some description of another, both what one is doing and why one is doing it." We are able to provide explanations for our actions.

While Giddens does mention 'leaps of faith' and 'trust' I take his first two chapters of Modernity and Self-Identity as suggesting that to be human is to have 'faith', not in the sense of a belief-system but rather in the trust we have that the world 'exists', that we exist and that what we cannot see or touch is nonetheless still present in the world. If your lover leaves the house then you trust that she still exists even though you cannot know this--I think that this comes over from psychoanalysis and I don't have complete faith in this argument. Why is this an issue? Does my cat Canopus require faith that garden still exists when he pops through the cat door to sleep inside? And then there's always the possibility of making a distinction, as Nagarjuna does, between relative and absolute truths.

...arcite at Wednesday, June 30, 2004...

Tuesday, June 29, 2004

All the long goodbyes. Do you remember? The foodcourt light like still water in a pond. You wondered what her fingers would look like in the morning. And who would hold his cheeks in their hands? Somewhere a photograph of a wall.

...arcite at Tuesday, June 29, 2004...

Monday, June 28, 2004

Good news

Some good news this morning from the NZ Poetry Society. I've won first prize in the Open section of the Poetry Society's 2004 International Poetry Competition for 'Diwali.' Lovely nice cheque too for $500. Great. Thanks to friends on the voiddeck egroup and Wulfraed here in Wellington (who said drop 'elephantine') who helped to tweak the poem. Maybe my luck is changing. I'll keep the money but will go out with Kiran for a good lunch. And the weather is fine here this morning.

...arcite at Monday, June 28, 2004...

Sunday, June 27, 2004

Well, the room is completely trashed but nobody lost their tempers. Very good. Did I mention that Roishan sat the Australasian Computer Skills Competition and passed with distinction? This test is administered by the University of New South Wales Educational Testing Centre.

...arcite at Sunday, June 27, 2004...
The kids are in a very manic mood and have basically completely trashed the family room. And it's not even 9 AM: I see myself as blogging a lot today just to stop myself from losing it. And I know some of the readers of this blog will be only too familiar with 'blogging as a way of avoiding breakdown.' Or physical assault.

On a more upbeat note, I finished Margaret Mahy--an NZ writer of childrens books--young adult novel The Catalogue of the Universe. A fantastic novel with brilliant characters and a quirky idiosyncractic style. A marvelous novel and I will soon return to the library to get more Mahy. In this short novel Mahy creates characters that will stay with me for years to come. The novel reminded me so much of what it was like to be a teenager.

The kids are screaming and throwing books and toys around. All about Eve: "we're in for a bumpy ride!"

...arcite at Sunday, June 27, 2004...

Saturday, June 26, 2004

My sister Penelope has been staying with us for a couple of days so we've been loafing around just doing nothing much. We watched School of Rock last night and the kids loved it. It's predictable, stoopid, formulaic but also enjoyable because of the manic energy that Mr. Black brings to the part. I really enjoyed it.

During the week, I met my old friend HR who looked over a batch of recent poems. HR is an established academic and well-published poet and writer. We have a very relaxed friendship. He's painfully honest about writing so if you show him work you have to take his comments and over the years I've had some very mixed reviews. I was delighted then that he really liked the latest batch of poems. He also offered suggestions for tweaking some of the ones I've been re-writing for ever (In-flight, Tusalava). And I'm going to go round to his house with Roishan to install Acrobat as they are all computer illiterate.

...arcite at Saturday, June 26, 2004...

Tuesday, June 22, 2004

I'm beginning to notice the cost of research. I no longer have free copying services nor access to a university library and the Wellington Public Library now charges $15 for interloans--even if you have a community services card. I've had to interloan Frith's Autism: Explaining the Enigma (which I've already read)and have requested her book Autism and Asperger Syndrome which I've read but never got around to buying and now I have to request Giddens on identity to continue work on Chap 1. Alamack!

This week the Civil Union Bill comes into parliament. The bill provides a legal alternative to marriage for all couples (boy-boy, girl-girl, girl-boy etc) with the full legal rights of marriage. Last night Helen Clarke was asked "If you were getting married today would you get married or would you have a civil union?" and she replied without a flicker of hesitation "Civil Union." Helen's not doing that well in the polls here but surely this sort of stamina is worthy of respect. Of course, I think the bill's a bloody good idea.

...arcite at Tuesday, June 22, 2004...

Sunday, June 20, 2004

From Introducing Camus. Author: David Zane Mairowitz (who did Introducing Kafka). Illustration: Alain Korkos.

A masterpiece of writing and illustration. The scripting is just fantastic--we begin with Camus death and then review his life and work. The drawings are a delight. Rarely have I seen such great characterisation by an illustrator. Highly recommended even if, like me, you never have actually got around to reading any Camus.

Today's tune: Goodbye Pork Pie Hat. Mingus.

...arcite at Sunday, June 20, 2004...

Saturday, June 19, 2004

My friend Scooter over in Tokyo gave me this link to a BBC story on a company established by the Dad of an autistic that employs autistics.

Said friend asked to be transfered from his job in Tokyo to take a position in Riyadh only to withdraw his request on the same day. Moving to Riyadh? Crazy idea...glad that he wasn't lured by the money.

Songs of the day: Gotterdammerung (Wagner), A Love Supreme (Coltrane), Billie Holliday selection, 'My Life' Dido, various tunes by Bird. Flamenco Sketches (Miles Davis). Anthem by Mr. L. Cohen.

I have been depressed for months. I can see it so bloody clearly now. Make it depressed for a year. But I'm sure my luck is going to change. I know it's going to happen someday. I don't know how Kiran puts up with it.

Hey, I found 16 short chapters of a crazy novel I wrote in 1990. Yes, it's shite but it was quite funny to see it after so long. I think I might re-type it on the laptop just for fun. Then watched Labyrinth with the lads. Quite fun really. Pity about the soundtrack.

Thought about my friends Aurora Floyd and Leo who have returned to The Empire. Reminded myself that I am not the only person who has escaped from Kent Jail, Fortress Singapura, only to have to re-train and work in new fields.

All this 9/11 crap, horrible beheadings, Iraq...shitty news. But then there's always those wonderful Martian Rovers and that fantastic picture from Stardust showing a cratered comet. Oh, the Kuiper belt, hey it's all happening out there...and just think that we got most of the water on Earth from out there.

Picked two poems for the Takahe competition though they need work and need to be inflicted on long-suffering readers via email.

Tonight we're going to stay up, listen to some jazz and read through a box of old letters we found an a pile of old photos. Wish my sister had come into town. Calling Otaki is really costing me a fortune.

Arcite out.

...arcite at Saturday, June 19, 2004...

Friday, June 18, 2004

It's a wet cold day here in Wellington. I've been working on the book. I had a terrible night's sleep after Rory booted me out of bed at 12.30AM just as I had gone to sleep. So I lay in his bed tossing and turning until nearly three. Anyway, I started to think about the book and this morning did quite a lot more work fleshing out the structure. Why don't we sleep three in a bed? Well, it's a small bed and if Roishan also wakes up and gets in then we'll all get no sleep at all. Bloomin' kids. Bloomin' slack parents no good at laying down hard and fast rules. Yea, whatever.

I finished Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle
in Time
. It hasn't aged that well. Sure it's imaginative but also a little preachy in a C.S Lewis kind of way. The scene in which Meg recites the Declaration of Independence to thwart the attempts of the giant brain IT to subsume her into the collective communial blob is a riot. But, hey, I respect L'Engle's imagination. There's a certain quirky quality to the book such as calling IT's HQ "the CENTRAL central Intelligence" that overcomes the cold war ideology. What I want to explore is how to read these quirks and comment on them. And what an odd line of quirks they form: Charles' slow development and pedantic speech, the echolia of CENTRAL Central and the slurring of the speech of Mrs Who, Mrs Whatsit and Mrs Which, the vast disembodied brain of IT and the imposition of total repetition and control of every action. You know, I want to read in an exorbitant fashion and need to make this work otherwise the book will be so boring. Thanks to A. Floyd for recommending this to me.

Oh yes, I didn't even get interview for a job as a Tertiary Study Skills Tutor at a Polytechnic. I would have helped students write papers, take notes, study well. Great because I'm more sure of my current direction than ever and don't need distractions.

...arcite at Friday, June 18, 2004...

Thursday, June 17, 2004

Regular readers will know how I've been longing to be invited to a Marae. Well, today I visted with Rory's class the Ako Pai Marae. Wonderful formal powhiri including a hongi. Good welcoming atmosphere all around. The structure of the marae is explained to us and we are told the names of the facing mountain and the local stream as well after a waiata the story of Kupe and the Octopus. I imagine that I'll be doing more of this at Teachers' College.

...arcite at Thursday, June 17, 2004...
Have you seen the photo of Phoebe yet from Cassini?

...arcite at Thursday, June 17, 2004...

Wednesday, June 16, 2004

So yesterday morning I received an email from the current Head of Department at M*ssey about my query re. the vacancy for a lecturer with an interest in (de)composition. They are looking for someone with a dedicated research interest in (de)composition--which I guess my work on fan writing doesn't count for. So I read the email and was pleased that he'd been frank with me and hadn't pissed me around by encouraging me to put in an application that wouldn't stand a chance. Funny email, a little dry and reeking of power. But frank. And this guy taught me Derrida all those years ago. To be honest, do I really have a dedicated research interest in composition? No way. Dear readers, my only research interest these days is in Aspergers. But in my reply I will mention the fan research and how I think teaching students to build web sites is a worthwhile idea. English departments and post-structuralist profs, don't ya just love 'em? I'm just going to focus on the next book now.

...arcite at Wednesday, June 16, 2004...

Monday, June 14, 2004

A quiet day today as I chase up a job prospect--not in Wellington, I'm afraid, but at least in a field I'm qualified for. I sort of wish that we hadn't seen the ad coz it would mean commuting if I got the job. Anyway. One last crack before I go to teaching college. I've been looking through David's site at fiffdimension. Having your own site on Tripod strikes me as a bloody good idea so Roishan is building one for my IRL self.

...arcite at Monday, June 14, 2004...

Sunday, June 13, 2004

Fantasy. Taran. Digital Image. 2003

...arcite at Sunday, June 13, 2004...

Saturday, June 12, 2004

to image link or not to image link

Roishan, my eight year old son, was reading the blogger's creed this morning on Blogger and pointed out the warning against pulling images from other pages at other people's expense. Fair enough. I generally link only to big sites such as Amazon or to sites which might want visitors. And of course I'm doing my bit for tourism. Sure, sure. But the main reason I really don't give a thought about pulling images of the net is the same reason why there are so few cops writing traffic tickets just outside of Parongahau: low, low traffic. I mean, who cares?

...arcite at Saturday, June 12, 2004...

Friday, June 11, 2004

Drove to Otaki to see my two sisters and my new nephew. Stopped off at Paraparaumu and bought a copy a Coltrane's A Love Supreme as I've lost my old tape.

...arcite at Friday, June 11, 2004...
to kill a blackbird

Last night I was settling Rory, my youngest son, to sleep in the back bedroom. I could hear our cat Canopus, not yet eight months old, playing in the adjacent room. I imagined that he was pawing one of Rory's matchbox cars. When Rory finally settled I walked out onto a carpet of black feathers. Feathers everywhere and in the centre of the room the prize kill of a yellow-billed blackbird. Canopus looked up at me proudly and I said a few mantras over the bird, dumped it in the bin and got out the Vac.

...arcite at Friday, June 11, 2004...

Thursday, June 10, 2004

I forgot to send my sister in Otaki a birthday card. Oh shit! I must try harder to remember birthdays. Started work with Kiran on The Project. Lots of fun working together over cups of tea. I much prefer working with her than writing alone--except poetry. Got Miles' Kind of Blue and Bitches Brew out from our brilliant library. I remember thrashing Kind of Blue back in 1990 in Gainesville, Florida. Now all I can hear is Miles sucking me in and taking me far away and back again. Pop now sounds so flat and lifeless.

Expression of the day: "two hairs past a freckle." We used to say this as kids back in Delph, Lancs. If someone turned his wrist to tell the time only to discover that he'd left his watch behind then you'd quip "So what time is it then? Two hairs past a freckle!"

...arcite at Thursday, June 10, 2004...

Wednesday, June 09, 2004

I'm going to have a crack at the Takahe Poetry competition. The details are over at the NZ Society of Authors.

Watched the Miles Davis Story. Cool, stone cold, iced over, tired, lonely, hostile, vital, always making it new, haunted by something out of reach, rich, pushing it, not going to be constrained by the man, slippery. Always a bit distant and frozen. A bass player (Holland) told the story of how Miles once asked him to play. No rehearsals, no conversation before the set. That's the exciting quality to the music and at times I thought that Miles and Mark E Smith share a certain chaotic approach. The difference, though, is that Miles was actually a musician. Great documentary.

...arcite at Wednesday, June 09, 2004...

Tuesday, June 08, 2004

Finally spotted the constellation Ara over the weekend. Quite enormous really and easy to spot once you notice how it looks like the nose of the Space Shuttle.

...arcite at Tuesday, June 08, 2004...

Sunday, June 06, 2004

Funny intense dream last night. I'm exploring an Asian city alone wandering across the rooftops by a large street. The roof top also looks over an enclosed garden and courtyard. There are steps leading down from the roof that lead to an old Mall. I wander through the mall and visit a small temple dedicated to Durga. There is a clay wall on the left hand side of the temple for giving yourself a tilak before you leave. Above me the dark bronze head of a Tiger with her jaws wide open looks down upon me. I leave and visit another more colourful temple dedicated to Shiva. All of this is "god" or "enlightened mind" and I have a feeling that I am being shown something that doesn't fit into words. Not one but many but one.

Funny that back in 1980, New Delhi, I visited a temple to a god I can't remember--Durga?-- that had a pink wall of mud from which my host gave me a tikka and that this should now pop up again during sleep.

...arcite at Sunday, June 06, 2004...

Saturday, June 05, 2004

Bishop Whakahuihui Vercoe

Top bishop's vision - a world without gays. Yes, the new head of the Anglican see a world without gays. Sick or what? And this is the New Zealand Anglican Church. I'm extremely disappointed at the Church for being so bloody minded. In the end I'm sure that this bigotry will pass. But I find it abhorent that while racism is so strongly condemned the church feels that it's ok to elect a bigot to the top job. I have a funny spirituality these days that sort of wanders over all different areas. I am connected to the Anglican church in that as a kid I went to church schools and so I sort of feel that Anglicanism is a part of my heritage even though I have a Buddhist altar at home. This story pained me and I just hope that NZ isn't slowly sliding into some horrible neo-con backlash. And let's not forgot that the Dalai Lama is also another bigoted homophobe. And I reckon that homophobics are anti family despite all their whinings and bleatings about "family values." Now remind me again why organised religion is a good idea?

...arcite at Saturday, June 05, 2004...

Friday, June 04, 2004

Last night Kiran and I watched G.I. Jane.. For me this was the final nail in the coffin of Ridley Scott's claim to being an auteur. Sure, Bladerunner and Alien are brilliant, wonderful films. And Thelma & Louise has it's moments but Gladiator was overblown nonsense and this film is so wooden. You know those 'painting by numbers' sets you can get--well this is a blockbuster movie by the numbers. It's sort of a poor man's (sic) Kubrick. Watching this dross I recalled a quip Greg Ulmer made about Full Metal Jacket when he was teaching a class on invention at the University of Florida many years ago: "The first half of the film is about pedagogy." I kept wondering exactly what is being taught to these marines: how to be a robot, how to be kicked and how to kick etc. The NZ press has carried stories about how British troops have been so unhappy with the US forces in Iraq becuase those forces cruise around looking tough in their Police sunglasses and have no training in how to talk to people. And can Hollywood please stop bloody glorifying the military who are really just so boring to watch if you're not into waving the stars and stripes.

...arcite at Friday, June 04, 2004...

Thursday, June 03, 2004


My youngest sister, Victoria, has just given birth to a baby boy so I now have a new nephew in Otaki. And Penelope, my other sister, older than Victoria but younger than me by 'a year and a half' (how that half matter so when we were young!) comes from Melbourne on Saturday.

One of the PCs in the house is crashing due to some new virus...

I just finished reading Coming Here by Harry Ricketts I'd read it back in the 80s and then forgotten it because I know Harry and had worked with him on Writings. Reading these poems again I see how much I've taken Harry for granted. The poems are direct, energetic, full of family life, never too clever and benefit from not having all the gloss and polish of so much Wellington poetry of the 90s and 00s.

...arcite at Thursday, June 03, 2004...

Wednesday, June 02, 2004

song o' the day. Pulp's majestic cover of Michel Polnareff's Le Roi Des Fourmis. The band thrash it out like crazy, just hanging on to the wall by a thread. I'm surprised that some Pulp fans dislike this song coz it's been buzzing in my head all day. (Thanks to the King of Brittle Fruits for sending it to me). Crazy man crazy.

...arcite at Wednesday, June 02, 2004...

Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Another piece in the autism jigsaw?

...arcite at Tuesday, June 01, 2004...