the view from the tower

arcite's day

Friday, December 31, 2004

Sky tower

The movie The Incredibles featured a few scenes lit in the burning glow of bubbling lava. Last night, Kavita reminded us all that Rangitoto still counts as an active volcano. After the horrors of the tsunami, I can't help but remember that the North Island has more than a few active volcanoes and that a major quake could hit us at any time. Imagine the Sky tower toppling from a 9 point Richter scale quake.

Today's Roishan's ninth birthday. He's arranged the whole day: we're off to the Sky tower, then Denny's restaurant and then he's staying up for a midnight feast.

Funny how volcanoes gets that 'e' when plural. Another interesting word last night from Adrian Mole: chicane used in the sense of 'motor racing. a barrier placed before a dangerous corner to reduce speeds by allowing drivers through in single file only.'

...arcite at Friday, December 31, 2004...

Thursday, December 30, 2004


Rain this morning over Rangitoto. I stepped out on Kavita's balcony for a last cigarette before popping back inside and joining an online stop smoking support group. I will beat these damn addictions--especially those I can now ill-afford. Then we drove to St. Luke's to watch the The Incredibles; enjoyable enough though perhaps a tad long for Tyger who fidgetted in his seat.

...arcite at Thursday, December 30, 2004...

Wednesday, December 29, 2004

In Auckland, reading about McCahon. 'As there is a constant stream of light we are born into a pure land.' But where is this land, this promised land? Abstract and concrete nouns; abstraction as a process of arriving at the truth behind nouns, a journey across an ocean that never finds landfall. I spend the day at the rainbow's end funpark and regret watching the news. But there is nothing you can do.

...arcite at Wednesday, December 29, 2004...

Thursday, December 23, 2004

4. Credo: Atheism, if arrived at through the hard work of recognising dreams and fantasies for what they are in the cold light of reason, is often accompanied by mourning and a turning away from the very institutions that harbour no dissent; this arrival at atheism cannot be seen as an absence of belief or loss of faith as such a homecoming requires the work of right effort.

“Ah, yes. I recall from your file that you are some sort of theist,” said the Emperor. “I am an atheist, myself. A simple faith, but a great comfort to me, in these last days.”

“Yes, I have often felt the pull of it myself.”

Bujold. Shards of Honor.

Knowing me, knowing you


My insatiable one. Suede
Knowing me, knowing you. Wondermints
In every dream home a heartache. Brian Ferry & Jane Birkin
It hasn’t happened yet. Bill Shatner.
No-one like you. Strawpeople
The Andy Warhol effect. Strawpeople.
Dj. Jamelia
Summer in the city. Quincy Jones
The gospel according to Tony day. Edwyn Collins.
Hooked on radiation. Atomiser (Pet Shop Boys mix).


Art decade. Bowie
One more night. Can
On again/Off again. The Clean
Husband House. Sneaky Feelings
The love of Richard Nixon. Manics Street Preachers
It’s a hit. Rilo Kiley
How I wrote elastic man. The Fall
Free money. Patti Smith
City Sickness. Tindersticks.

...arcite at Thursday, December 23, 2004...

Wednesday, December 22, 2004

We’re going on holiday: off to Taupo on Friday with the in-laws for three days and then up to Auckland--the in-laws returning to Wellington—where we’ll spend a few days in my sister-in-law’s very small bedsit flat. So it’s going to be cosy. And then the long drive back. I’m hoping for fine weather. So I’ll be offline a little.

Hey I’ve been reading Troubled Divas blog. If only I had the time just to study this one blog in depth; oh what musical delights.

I’m writing this while frying the kids sausages for breakfast. School hols. Today Tyger sed: “Dad, I’m going on a diet!” he’s six.

Dear readers I trust you don’t find my numbered series of follies too irritating in a parole souffle sort of way. Humour me: they give me a sort of release. Don’t ask me why.

Pop over to the Cassini-link if you want to see Titan’s wondeful haze.

And here’s a quick end-of year best of list (I think I had this already back in October never mind):

Best musical event: Bowie Reality show.
Best exhibition: Fruits (Japanese street fashion) Dowse Gallery.
Best novel: (Young Adult): Feed. M. T. Anderson.
Best novel: Lord of the Flies, Golding.
Best poetry: Aztec Noon. Geoff Cochrane.
Best Film: Lost in Translation.
Best CD: ‘Are you ready to be Heartbroken?’/ ‘Why have I always been a failure?’ Brittle Lemon compilation. (I am too poor now to buy CDs).
Enjoyable new act: The Streets.
Best news: Martian rovers conclude that Mars once had oceans and was warm.
Best event that didn’t happen: Revolution in Saudi Arabia
Worst news: Bush re-election.
Best NZ news: Civil Union Bill (yea for secular society).
Personal highs: Winning NZ poetry competition, meeting up again with Wolfy and HR; being asked to review for NZ Books.
Personal lows: Long term unemployment, long, tedious and patronising classes at Teach College.
Hopes for 05: weight down to 72kg, no smoking, no binge drinking, world peace, gainful employment, total sublime enlightenment, poetry book ready for publication, start of new creative project (YA novel?), discovery of intelligent and benevolent life in the universe and the bush administration, being taken under the wing by an old man I decide help across the road who turns out to be an eccentric billionaire in disguise who showers me in cash; obedient, respectful, non-demanding children straight out of any US primetime show on Lifetime. Same old; same old.

3: the gospel according to arcite’s day. there is nothing outside text can also be thought of as there is no outside law, nothing to ground the law as absolute and this non-exteriority of the law inhabits or spooks the law from the beginning; so we’re back to seeing the frame as our own, placing jars, setting our own limits, marking the beginning and the end, counting our time. Not the gospel according to Brendan o’Lear

...arcite at Wednesday, December 22, 2004...

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

So Aurora faces a choice: Yale or Chicago? Place or a little more money, a little more prestige? Or do you go with whom called you first?

2. here, now, today. the remains of; the debris. (derrida) the iterable structure of the mark as thought. channels, flows, pathways; the first flows cut channels onto a surface. channels frame the flow. (I placed a jar in Tennessee). The frame as axis or coordinate rather than centre.

The wind came up this morning and I thought of that Sneaky Feeling's line 'And the wind blows cold from the South.'

Place or prestige, but more than prestige some hope of professional satisfaction or even recognition. The door you choose, the wave that falls.

Here, in the endzone, the sense that all our choices have been made. Small pond, small options.

...arcite at Tuesday, December 21, 2004...

Monday, December 20, 2004

Cold weather all this weekend and the forecasts are for a chilly Christmas again as the southerlies blow straight from the Antartic. Two turns without summer. Always winter and never christmas. How global warming has killed our summers while Sydney turns to desert eludes me. Roishan has been given a little electronic keyboard compelte with piano, guitar and drum sounds but no simple scores using lettered notation. So if you know of any web sites where I can get some, let me know. And fingers crossed for the Huygens probe descent on Christmas through Titan's atmosphere. Not another Beagle 2, oh no! 1:
cloak, ruse. play of the fold interior open or closed, keeping the inside in
"where was it one first heard of the truth? The the (Stevens) to start a course of action so as to cover another course, return (the turning point)
"let me show you something" to cover in order to show

...arcite at Monday, December 20, 2004...

Friday, December 17, 2004

I’m now on holiday; I’ve finished teaching the Writing for Business course for three weeks and I’ve completed all but one minor assignment for the College. So now I can potter around with the kids for a little while.

I can't remember feeling this happy. I felt overjoyed that I'd finished all my work. Wulfraed came round and we went out for a couple of beers and then we sat in the lounge with the word-girl listening to Brittle Lemon's compilation--Wulfy really liked the Bill Shatner number. I woke up this morning and all was aglow with holidayness. I just feel about ten years old. I'm going out with Tiger and Roishan to drop the assignment off and then we're going to get Playstation 2 games out and be totally idle before eating fish n chips for dinner! My holiday reading is Lois mcMaster Bujold Shards of Honor coz I want to give SF Romance a try and Bujold has almost won as many Hugos as Heinlein.

I must also add that the blogless Aurora Floydd has scored numerous job offers which she so rightly deserves. We've also decided to flag our current book project to move onto more creative writing interests. Happy daze.

...arcite at Friday, December 17, 2004...

Tuesday, December 14, 2004

I'm on this new regime which seems to be suiting me quite well. I'm in training for full-blown middle age: no instant coffee, smoking and beer only on Saturdays, all-bran for breakfast, at least two fresh fruits a day, a little more exercise. I don't have to worry so much about diet as I eat quite well. And, in case you didn't know, I never ever eat red meat. (UGH! DEAD COWS & SHEEP.)

Interesting extract from one of Derrida's last speeches:

Enlightenment past and to come
The work of philosopher Jacques Derrida, who died on 9 October, was anchored in current affairs. That is why he was invited to Le Monde diplomatique’s 50th anniversary celebrations in May, one of his last public engagements. This is an edited extract from his speech.

So, we may disagree with the pragmatism and conservatism of many Asian states--well, basically neally all Asian states--but we need to clarify our position in relationship to the Enlightenment which has past as an historical event but has always yet to come. Looking at Singapore, China, Saudi Arabia I can't help but agree: a clarification of the debt or gift of enlightenment seems in order and this clarification must mean a rejection of the facile claim that the historical event of the enlightenment merely cloaked imperialist aims. What's at stake must be a holding back or deferral of all those simplistic post-modern rejections of reason when Derrida's last speech seems to call for a return to reason or at least the accounting of reason's spectres. Our 'europeaness' lies not in race but in enlightenment's debt so that if we are told that the PAP in Singapore reflects 'Asian values' we might respond with yes, exactly and formulate a 'Eurocentric' response that clarifies our own enlightenment values. If I read Derrida closely, then, Europe here can no longer be located purely as a geo-political entity but stands rather for countries and societies that take the work of Enlightenment seriously. In this sense NZ must be European and Europe inhabits a fifth-column position as excluded other in many Asian states with these excluded others being Asian-Europeans of fully Asian descent: (the legacy of Europe not race but enligtenment. We find a similiar deconstructive turn in the first part of Derrida's Memories: For Paul de Man where Derrida makes the outlandish claim that America has always been deconstruction and deconstruction has always been America: go figure!) The world falls away, turns like leaves, a library burns, a door closes, another boy dons his kit for national service.

Poor old Tiger. He tumbled in the wild spring flowers of the bottom fields at school and returned to class from lunch with bloodhound boxer's eyes, puffed as if stung by a thousand bees. We gave him anti-hystamine and put him to bed and this morning he still looked as if he'd been in a fight. But Raju & Malika, my in-laws, will take him to the Doctor today. Both he and Roishan finish school at 1.00PM for the long summer holidays.

...arcite at Tuesday, December 14, 2004...

Sunday, December 12, 2004

I swore that last night I heard a voice, calling as if over still water, for in the dream it was dark and the night sky clear, I was looking at Taurus, and Ara and the Scales, I thought I saw bright Saturn and then the reflection of Saturn in the still dark glass when the voice, quite comical and merry, announced to the stars “the atrium will be built!” And then a scroll was in my hand which I read by the moon, shewing an opened door, a world within a hazelnut, a scroll of the law, a cloak covering a field of stars, three maids a dancing and in the centre Saturn slumped on her dreary throne.

From hacienda to atrium; now there’s a thought.

...arcite at Sunday, December 12, 2004...

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Half of this floor of the tower is empty; as if people are shifting out. The shelves of the enormous bookcase are empty except for two slim books; a slim Australian cartoon-filled volume called Tautology: I don't want to sound incredulous but I can't believe it & a collection of musical scores and exercises called A new approach to jazz improvisation. Tautology is a collection of quotes including the classic "As far as the future is concerned it depends a lot on what happens." (Syd Grange, Olympic Federation President).

Digression: the Karori Woolworths went though a troubled stage of constantly playing Billy Joel's Moving Out, much to mine and word-girl's agony & amusement. "Saving up his money for a heart AtTACKaACKACKACKACKACKACKACKACKACKACKACK---you ought to know by now!" Indeed, we surely ought.

Happy shopping.

Walking back to the tower after lunch I stop at the bookshop and glance at a book of verse by this young poet in her mid-twenties I'll call ALP I met at the Poetry Society. Strong poems, good sequence. (Is it wrong to comment on her age? Yes, in a way it sort of is because the poems aren't in any way about "yuff" or "my generationish" but she's a young attractive poet and as such she's liable to cop flack as she's also graduated from a writing programme here. Part of the Wellington poetry scene involves arguments about why 'bright young things' all seem to be published by VUP. I'm kind of sick of it all already now and I don't completely follow the theory because many of the poets are good. I mean, why shouldn't poets be attractive and why shouldn't that be a consideration for a press? These objections are based on groundless notions of 'true poetry' and idealised notions about 'publishing.') I remember what Ikrek told me all those months ago about a book not being just a collection. Yes, orchestration. As in sections and cycles, yer know? And because I'm bored, so very bored, my mind starts riffing poems, sequences, resonances so that I'm actually writing my first book of poems again when I should be completing the 'summative assessment' for my Social Studies assignment--of course, I included detailed information on assessment, as requested, but obviously didn't cut and paste said same information onto another page called, just in case you didn't read what I'd already written, summative assessment. You don't have to be a pedant to get into secondary teaching but it sure as hell seems to help. I write most when I'm bored so I have a strong hunch that '05 gonna be rockin.

...arcite at Thursday, December 09, 2004...

Wednesday, December 08, 2004


& counting

...arcite at Wednesday, December 08, 2004...
Much to my surprise I'm writing this in an office in the VZ building, Arcite in his tower, as the lang&ling have provided me with my own office and a good PC, my name on the door; all so weird as I’m here for only 6 weeks but very pleasant. I studied here as an undergraduate some years ago and so it feels good to see my name on the door, as if I’d achieved something after all, & the office is quiet and private so I can write which I’ve finally started to do but not without my usual settling in routine of checking all the drawers and all the programs on the PC before setting the radio to BBC Radio 6 which I have missed so much as I don’t have the bandwidth for it at home, shoving on the headphones and finally getting on with finishing my last Engleesh assignment which I have yet to hand-in. There a whole wall of empty shelves apart from an inch high post-it note stuck in the middle of the top shelf shouting, in pencilled capitals : “Ha ! Made you Look!”

...arcite at Wednesday, December 08, 2004...

Monday, December 06, 2004

Nandor Tanczos's Civil Union Bill Speech
Nandor Tanczos MP, Green Party Justice SpokespersonParliament - Second Reading, 2nd December 2004

The fight over the Civil Union bill is less about who can hitch up with who than who we are as a nation.
Are we a Christian nation or a pluralist state? Should law be based on morality or on rationality? Should the legislature respect equality and human rights or should we advantage some and disadvantage others?
Submitters to the select committee were civil and respectful. However, some of the opposition to the bill outside has been venomous and nasty. Civil Union supporters have been criticised for calling those opponents 'homophobic' but I think they miss the point. Maybe it isn't about fear of homo's as much as fear of losing control.
Because on the face of it, why would it upset anyone that two men or two women who love each other can make a public commitment and be recognised in law? Who does that diminish?
If being privileged above others is what makes a relationship valuable, then it will suffer from the presence of anything closely equivalent
But if its value is derived from its spiritual authority, the love that it embodies, and from the virtue of its form, then its value remains unaffected by the proximity of others.
I think that it is this genuine belief in the virtues of marriage that distinguishes Christians for Civil Unions from the predominantly Christian opposition.
The Civil Union Bill will not devalue marriage. It is not gay people who love each other that devalue marriage, but such things as radio shows and Reality TV that offer a bride as a prize.
Do opponents of the bill secretly believe that heterosexual marriage is not intrinsically advantageous, and that the presence of alternatives will make it less desirable? Do they think that good straight kids will start entering gay unions because the law now says they can? Do they think being gay is more interesting?
Or is it that they see their dominance of our social and political forms slipping away? The increasing plurality of our society is scary for those who have always paddled in the mainstream. They have not yet understood - there no longer is a mainstream. We have become a braided river.
I don't mean this unkindly. I am a man who has lived outside the mainstream for most of my life. A number of United Future MPs think that I should be disqualified from being an MP because of that, and they typify the view I am speaking of. I have an unshakeable faith which is different from theirs and which I am forbidden by law to fully practise. It would be wrong to demand that everyone else be bound by Rastafarian law. I am justified in demanding my own right to be Rasta.
That is the proper relationship between faith and State. The State should be a protector, not persecutor, of religion. But it is not the State's role to advantage one faith over another, or religion over any other philosophy.
The job of legislators is not to privilege any particular cultural practise, but to protect human rights, and cultural and ecological integrity. That does not include entrenching discrimination in the law.
The law should support committed long-term relationships because they promote health, strong communities and more happiness. There is no rational basis for excluding people from that because they are gay.
Even if it is true, as some assert, that gay and de facto relationships are less stable, why wouldn't we want to provide an opportunity for them to formally and publicly commit and have that commitment taken seriously by the law?
As it stands, the law says that a same sex couple may have casual sex, but may not have their long-term relationship recognised. I do not understand why some people see a moral imperative in maintaining that status quo.
But then I've never really understood why oppressing other people is seen as a Christian value by some.
The Bible does talk about homosexuality. It is a little unclear in places whether the problem is homosexuality per se, or promiscuity, but it certainly is condemned a few times.
I haven't counted, but probably about as many times as usury - the practise of lending money at interest. Usury is a genuinely iniquitous practise and avoidance of usury is one of the unique features of the Muslim banking system.
Consider the percentage of the average person's income spent servicing interest on debt. Interest on your mortgage (or your landlords mortgage if you pay rent), interest on bank loans to the businesses where you shop, interest on credit and on student loans. I have yet to see an MP fast to end usury.
As far as I can see, homosexuality is of insignificant concern to the Biblical prophets and to the Christ compared with their overwhelming condemnation of economic injustice and oppression of the poor. Yet while it would be unfair to say that among Christians opposition to the Civil Union Bill is inversely proportional to concern over social justice, there seems to be a rough fit.
Christianity was debased when it became the State religion of Rome, and continues to debase itself when it tries to align its interests with those of the State. This is a pluralist society, with a democratic and secular parliament. It is vital that we uphold and protect that.
In that context it was a dangerous and unwise course taken by the Catholic bishops yesterday in attempting to direct Catholics how to vote. If the Catholic Church wants to return to its past of wielding direct political power, it will find modern society considerably less malleable. And if the Catholic Church wants to intervene in the political process, it may tempt politicians to intervene in the affairs of the church.
I would like to finish by thanking the advisors to the committee and Tim Barnett for his excellent chairing. While his view has always been clear, he has made sure all sides had a go and all submitters were treated with respect. I contrast that with the chairing of his deputy, and I only make the point because of Mr Frank's public and unjustified criticism of Mr Barnett and the committee.
Mr Speaker, let us ensure that Aotearoa is a land that respects and values all its people. Let us pass this bill.
Taken from Special Knives
Taken from
Scoop Media

...arcite at Monday, December 06, 2004...

Sunday, December 05, 2004

So Wûlfræd came round last night, smokin’ (& the last of the B&H duty free), so Wulfy me & the word-girl go after sending the kids off for overnight medical experiments (someone has to try the new drugs & we need the beer money) off into town...Wulfy saddled with being the designated driver again; the plan being to have a drink at Bodega before going to Indigo—which we’ve never been to before—to see Katchafire, who are a popular roots band here, roots being the all the all at present among the crispy critters—but the Bodge is running a cover charge already so we scoot down Cuba St, forgetting until we’d exited the Bodega entrance that The Bodega was opening that cocktail lounge that Frasier has been promising for ages but it’s too late so we go to the Irish pub and have a couple of Murphy’s Stouts—the best draft you can get in word-girl’s book & I can’t argue—and then go to Midnight Expresso where I order an enormous tofu burger for only $8 and then we swing around Indigo only to find that Katchafire want $25 a pop which we immediately figure is just way to much so we swing by The Blue Note, karaoke night, and I give 'Changes' a try because while I can’t sing I need the onstage experience (no point studying performance arts if you’re not going to have a bash) and Wulfy and word-girl say it was ok, not an embarrassment and I did get applause in the empty bar so I felt pleased about that and Wulfy had to buy the beer for the take home drink I made a Stella Artois. Now we’re off to see Polar Express.

...arcite at Sunday, December 05, 2004...

Saturday, December 04, 2004

Boy, I enjoyed teaching that three hour business writing class yesterday. I’d forgot what it was like to teach at University; I’m not such a good teacher when comes to devising fantastic, well-thought through courses, or being a good grader or marker, or really having an in-depth knowledge of any one field—but I’m not a boring teacher; I don’t think my classes have ever been boring. A student stopped by after class and said “It so good not to have a boring lecturer in business.” Cheers.

Quaffed down some beer and Word-Girl read her 1993 diary to me. We used to go out all the time back in ’93 and seemed to know so many people: dinner here, drinks at this bar, parties, films, more parties, dinner. We went out like every second night. This is all BC (before children) and PD (pre-digital; I mean is the net sort of fragmenting us, isolating us)? Nah, it’s the kids...

I’m in the Wellington Public Library writing my very late English assignment on M.T. Anderson’s Feed. I’m back to being a student, today, so I’m having a break. I write in the biography section, as always, and I flick randomly through Kafka’s Diaries which is on the shelf near my workstation: 14 Nov. 1911. “In the afternoon while falling asleep. As though the solid skull-cap encircling the insensitive cranium had moved deeply inwards and left a part of the brain exposed to the free play of light of muscles.”

I think of migraine; not so much pain but the different apprehension of light from beyond the eyes. I remember Ikrek’s Kafka shirt: “Kafka didn’t have a lot of fun either” which could have said “Kafka also knew about penal colonies...

Oh yes. Flicking through Locus—how strange & wonderous are the obituaries to Derrida. A good restrained one from Delany and a zappy little number from Sterling. I’m still a little pissed at those nasty obits. given that Derrida was always harmless and playful. Well, at least the SF geeks know the value of a good read against the weight of the world.

Back to Feed which has one of my all-time favourite opening sentences: “We went to the moon to have fun, but the moon turned out to completely suck.”

And be wary of any CD saying “contains copy control technology”—this can disable your Windows Media Player from even playing CDs. Yes, I burn compilations—rarely CDs—compilations are an art. The laptop has just been bitten, via Bowie’s cursed re-issue of Diamond Dawgs, and now the Media Player is rooted. But we have other rigs, oh yes...

oh yea, i can't go--no, I'll go on....

...arcite at Saturday, December 04, 2004...

Thursday, December 02, 2004

Civil Unions Bill (NZ) - last chance
This now is your very last chance to support the Civil Unions Bill. It's going up for its second reading today. You can use an on-line emailer to email every NZ MP (or just the ones you want) and tell them the Bill must go through.
If you want to do this, you can and need to do this now. It takes six clicks.
(from Iona)

Hey, I've handed in my dreaded social studies assignment and I teach my first three hour class at Vic today. God, that is so contemporary (I prefer this word to pomo): in the morning you are a student in the afternoon a teacher. What's frightening, really frightening, is how horrible and complicated the Teachers' College approach to lesson planning is--each class takes hours to plan. But nobody in the real world would ever teach like that. I'm in my 40s and I've got about 8 years off and on teaching experience working as a tutor and assistant prof. at a variety of universtities before crashing into unemployment. See, I know it's bull but the young 20-ish students who have never taught are being given a shocking introduction to curriculum development. And you wonder why there's a teachers shortage?

Good luck to the blogless Aurora Flloyd for her job interview today. I recommend ditching the wool suit and donning a t-shirt with a bow-tie printed on the front; strictly de rigguer for today's brash young librarian.

Does riggeur have one or two rs? Never mind.

...arcite at Thursday, December 02, 2004...

Wednesday, December 01, 2004

long-haired freaky people need not apply

ode to failure allen ginsberg
knock on door
beatnik the clean
don’t let the man get you down fatboy slim
brutality black box recorder
up the hill backwards bowie
gospel according to tony day edwyn collins
underground remix sneaker pimps
nesian style (?) nesian mystic
carolyn david gray

free money patti smith
submission sex pistols
knowing you knowing me the wondermints
one more night can
how i wrote elastic man the fall
blue lady hello sailor
highway 61 revisited pj harvey
on again/ off again the clean
world of pain cream
redemption song joe strummer & the mescalinos
daddy’s speeding suede
c’mon jack allen ginsberg
ludwig the clean

...arcite at Wednesday, December 01, 2004...

And the sign said 'long haired freaky people need not apply.'
And the sign said 'long haired freaky people need not apply.'
And the sign said 'long haired freaky people need not apply.'

...arcite at Wednesday, December 01, 2004...

Whatever happened to drinking and driving?
Good old-fashioned brutality.

...arcite at Wednesday, December 01, 2004...