Wednesday, May 25, 2011

the dust in the corners of my mind

I have been wandering around my head for the past few hours, trippped up by the ethics of the atomic bomb and women's role in revolutions. I wanted to write something about Milan Kundera, who is never far from my thoughts, and I wanted to explain how I don't have an ethnic identity but I can feel a heritage, a stereotype, a stencil fitting over my skin and self. But all that is too hard when I have no sense of bien dans sa peau, so instead, I present a joke, from Milan Kundera

A Czech requests a visa to emigrate.
The official asks him, ''Where do you want to go?''
''It doesn't matter,'' the man replies.
He is given a globe.
''Please, choose.''

The man looks at the globe, turns it slowly and says, ''Don't you have another globe?''

Well, don't you?

(joke from here)

(to clarify, because i had a gigantic freak out on the train home - this is not a racist joke. it isn't intended as such. it is an example of what Kundera calls "the Prague spirit" which is "an extraordinary sense of the real. The common man's point of view. History seen from below. A provocative simplicity. A genius for the absurd. Humour with infinite pessimism", which he explains in that interview. Got it? Good. Now, go find me a new globe)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

The Loneliness of the Long Distance House Sitter // IN THREES

So it turns out that I am a social creature. One never would have guessed it. This is something I had to hear from my brother. With only 294 words left to write on my essay on intelligentsia and state-socialism, I have realised that my thesis statement rings true for me. Just as the intelligentsia can never be separate from state-socialism, neither can I. Despite living under a democracy. Don't ruin the neatness of my intellectual epiphany.

I have been living in Leichhardt now for a month, looking after a dog and two cats. There is another five weeks to go. One of the cats, Fat Vivian, took an immediate dislike to me. The other is just a paranoid idiot. The dog eats the kitty litter, and about half an hour ago, she bit me. Hard enough to bruise, not bleed. I responded by sitting down and crying like a two year old. Unlike the two year old, my mummy couldn't come to rescue me. All that was there to comfort me was a near-complete, utterly dodgy essay and the new Wild Beasts album. Desolate and despairing, I dry heaved.

This is not quite how I imagined my year was going to be. I had plans, I had theories, I had something brilliant on the tip of my tongue. Instead, I am whinging and whining, I am moving in triplicate. I am saying "I AM I AM I AM" and spending my nights awake.

My mind races with these 'white people problems'. My mind throbs with the problem of speaking for others - I will never be a subaltern, I will never have my voice taken from me - even if it is taken, I will still have had a chance at speaking. So why should a dog bite and a dodgy essay cause me more grief than usual?

Because it is only me here. Boring little me. Little me who thinks in threes, like most people do. I read something about that the other day - I think it was AA Gill who said we speak in iambic pentameter, we think in threes. Like Roman triumvirates. Like Caesar, Pompeii, Crassus. Octavian, Antony, Lepidus. Jeremy, Claudia, Madeleine.

There are four of us in this house. A Fat Cat, a paranoid cat, a dodgy dog and me. Four, not three. That's probably why I feel so stuck in a Smiths song, devoid of Morrissey-ian humour. Why I managed to get interested briefly in Czechoslovakia, before I realised how twisted everything is, how inseparable. All I really wanted was to write about Milan Kundera turning his back on a failed socialist dream, not how they all clamoured at Novotny to give them something, anything, that tasted of pure socialism.

In class, I have a mouth that runs like a long distance runner, desperate to make noise that is heard. In class, people are confused - is she a genuine idiot, or an idiot savant? What is her deal with Kundera and Forster? In class, there is so much potential that I find slipping through my fingers. It makes me want to cry, the way I did when the dog bit me.

oh god, this is the worst thing ever. but i wanted to make some noise. any noise. white noise.

Sunday, May 8, 2011

frankenstein's maddie

At the urging of the universe, I went back to university for my final undergrad year. I promptly fell into a term long argument with Henry James*, rediscovered my interest in Indo-Anglo writing**, managed my usual schtick of writing a history essay on something that 'not really historical' *** and fell in love with Eastern Europe****.

Before that I went to Vienna, where this happened.

And then I came home, where this happened.

And now? Well now I am Frankenstein's Maddie, a patchwork of tea consumption, historical generalisations and a marked distaste for Socialist-Christian-Marxists. I am reading too many things with too many words and I am thinking alot about silences. I also work at a place patronised by retirees who have nothing better to do than tell me about how my generation is an evolutionary cul-de-sac.

*based mainly on his hatred for Germany
**and the politics surrounding Indo-Anglo writing - should people write in English? What's magic realism got to do with it? Are we all colonialist pigs?!
***I'm writing a treatise (yes, a treatise) on the importance of American Jazz in WW2 Europe. It's awesome and going to send me to an early grave.
****not really a hardship, seeing as Berlin and Vienna, and now Prague are my three favourite places ever, and grumpy intellectuals like Kundera and Milosz are my role models.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

lost relics

I love going through my computer to find photos of things I can barely remember doing. This is from last years Halloween, which has recently become a big thing in Australia. Chris is a Zombie, I'm Coraline. We have piñatas on our heads. I seem to recall that moments before this, I gave a red wine induced lecture about the gender politics of piñatas and then proceeded to belt the shit out of the poor orange thing, much to the horror of all the men there. Awesome night, despite the devil child on the jumping castle.

I have no idea what is happening here, but I suspect Chris was accidentally misogynistic at me. Serves him right.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

donnerstag delights me

Thursday. The day Arthur Dent and my mother could never get the hang of. The day when the week starts to get better because you can see the weekend and maybe also the things you've achieved this week.

Donnerstag is Deutsch for Thursday. I know this because Lizzle gave me a diary from Germany, so I'm learning middling German. I like German, and I like the word Deutsch even more. "Like" is such a funny little word, bastardized by the Valley Girls and reclaimed by the crafty indie wannabes like me, who try really hard not to say "like" every three seconds and instead restore it to the original use, which is for similes, metaphors and approval.

......I was supposed to be writing about how I'm going to make an effort to chime in on Gala Darlings "Things I Love Thursday" this year in an effort to be more positive, but I got distracted by a little word. I love doing that.

Other things I love: Running in the rain. Reading Alan Hollinghurst and Miranda July. Listening to albums that I missed when they were being super hyped - namely Lykke Li, Laura Marling and the Arcade Fire. My new Campers shoes. Being organised with my Deutsch Diary and Bitchy Calendar. Training myself to write every day in my 365 book. Finally filing all of last year's university papers - and rereading articles on Dickinson and Gaskell. Watching Stuart: A Life Backwards. Reading Stuart: A Life Backwards. Cooking cupcakes that taste like earl grey tea and eating them with a cup of earl grey tea. Plotting cinema visits in cemeteries. Attempting to go to the moonlight cinema and getting rained on. Meeting boys dressed in haute couture drag and teaching them to walk in heels. Going for long ambles with Lottie, and having conversations with her about highly cultured things. Using the word thing. The bookplate stamp Liz gave me, and stamping people with it. Floating in our pool with Pimms and a book on skinheads. Researching weird and wonderful things to do when I'm in Vienna and Berlin and Bratislava and Dresden. Clean sheets. Leopard prints. Civets, which are a weird cat-like animal. Eating Clinkers on my veranda at one am while thinking about how weird words are. Making lists. Leaving Post-it notes about that say things like "Blog about how you never really understood Eastern European history but love it anyway". Pretending I'm a Cold War Spy. Sleeping in one day, getting up super early the next.

Saturday, January 1, 2011

the first incident

Why helloooooo 2011. How nice of you to show up, all blisteringly hot and dry. I'm sorry about my dreadful hair, runny nose and blocked ear. I have caught a cold, which is just a swell thing to have in January in Sydney.

Despite my cold, I think this year will be a good one. I'm convinced of it, in a prophetic way I usually try to avoid. But how can it not be a good year when in a few days I'll be seeing one of my favourite bands, The National? When I've got my last year of undergraduate classes? When I've got a house-sitting gig that will let me play at being an adult for a few months? When my dog is totally neurotic and gorgeous? When there is roller derby once a month? When there is new Doctor Who and John le Carre movies? When i have a job?! When i am going to Vienna, Prague, Melbourne, Surfers??

it is going to be a good year. for me and you.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

just because it's over 300 years old doesn't mean it's useless

Some sanctimonious little twit wrote into the Herald a week or so ago, complaining that school hadn't taught him anything useful, just made him study Shakespeare. I wrote into the Herald, carefully illustrating how this twit was wrong. In hindsight (something I never subscribe to) I should perhaps have left out the phrase "sanctimonious little twit"


- If you have three daughters, be on your guard, and trust the good one (for reference, the good one will have the least stupid sounding name)
- Try not to fall in love with your father's mortal enemy's spawn
- If you're going to bite your thumb at someone, then commit to the action for the sake of expediency.
- If you think you kissed an ass, you're probably right
- If you are one half of a set of opposite gender twins, endeavour to have similar hair cuts and body builds. it will prove to be enormously helpful in the long run
- Don't trust a forest that wasn't there the night before
- Don't trust the political predictions of witches.
- Beware the Ides of March, which, for reference, occur on March 15, every year.
- Don't trust the timing of the almost death potion. Cosmic irony dictates that you won't wake up in time.
-Henry is a perfectly acceptable name to pass down through 8 or more generations.
-If you choose to become a playwright, people won't mind if you re-write history just please your monarch.
- You can also plagiarise from Plutarch and other sources!
-And recycle your jokes and plot lines!
- You can tell if your life is a comedy if you end up married, a tragedy if you (and everyone else) ends up dead, and a history if it is long and boring.
- Naming everyone Caesar is the cause of much unnecessary confusion. Don't do it.
- If, in your closet, he comes before you with his doublet all unlaced, then he's probably not worth it.
- If there is something suspicious happening in your family, then you can get to the bottom of it by staging a dummy show that informs everyone of your suspicions.
- Fortinbras is a good dude to call in a crisis.

I'm sure there are thousands more, but I took Shakespeare and Renaissance Drama two semesters ago, so I'm rusty.