Wednesday, May 12, 2010

anyone's ghost

My nose is always the first thing to freeze, and there was a morning where Claudia and I plotted making nose warmers out of felt and string that always makes me smile. Nowadays we talk about the Revolution, and how irritating it is that the world turns on money, not smiles.

The second thing to freeze is my toes, and I know that winter is making a valiant attempt when I wear stockings for more than a week and find myself washing them in the bathroom sink. Lottie is a jumping dog, so I've had to invest in thick stockings that she can't destroy. I caught her trying to pull them off the washing line.

And then the mornings are cold all the way through to the afternoon.


I read Coleridge and Foucault and Byron and Woolfe and Stein today, while listening to the National's new album. I ducked in and out of a greener land and tried not to think about how David Cameron might ruin my plans of studying in the UK, thinking instead about how terrible Oscar Wilde and I could have been, ripping through the young men of London before Alan dropped his Physics textbook on my leg, demanding I explain David Malouf.

The really rotten thing about being a Literature-History fanatic is that there's always this bloody wall between you and the things you love. It's beyond frustrating, trying to learn from the past when you can't ask questions of the people who wrote things. But only if you're an idiot, I might add. The thing that's so wonderful about being a Literature-History fanatic is that there's always this bloody wall between you and the things you love. I have spent the past two weeks thinking about E.M Forster and Radclyffe Hall and all the things they did in the name of love and education. I have been thinking, using my brain, doing the work for all the lazy idiots in my classes who are studying to be teachers but can't be bothered to think independently. I am a terrible snob, but one who is worried about the future of education in Australia. Not worried enough to become a teacher and force children to listen to me, but worried all the same.

There's a section in Orwell's 1984 which talks about how they're going to distill Shakespeare and Wordsworth, and all words until there's just one word. What if that happens?

I'll be a dinosaur.


i have to be careful to read things written recently otherwise the tone of my voice turns into toffery and people think i'm awful.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

sometimes, a cigar is just a cigar

I have opened a bag of Clinkers, and of the three I've eaten so far, they've all been banana flavoured. This sort of sums up my week. Banana flavoured lollies are gross.

I'm reading a biography of Oscar Wilde when I should be writing an assignment about the French Revolution, because I find procrastination to be far less stressful than actually working. Apparently Wilde took this approach also, and considering he churned out The Importance Of Being Earnest in three weeks, I feel confident that I can produce 2500 words of passable tripe on the French for Monday morning.

It's that point in the term, when suddenly there are 8 assignments, plus the looming threat of exams, and absolutely no light in the tunnel except for the glare of the computer screen as one tries to find something, anything that makes the smallest amount of sense that can be paraphrased and placed neatly within the confines of an argument that probably doesn't have a real argument at it's heart. The British election process makes more sense than I do at this point. At least they have people who may or may not be in charge. All I have is a packet of Clinkers and a worrying sense that the future will see me turning into my mother. This is not a bad thing, per se, (scads better than turning into my European History teacher, who is a moron) but means I will spend too much time worrying about my work, think that theatre that involves lots of shouting is "brave" and become addicted to True Blood.

And the Freud will come and hit me with a stick, whilst telling me about the symbolism of the stick. I will respond by saying "sometimes a Clinker is just a Clinker" and he will be incomprehensibly Austrian at me. We looked at Freud this week, and while the silent majority of my class (everyone except me. they must all have lockjaw) seemed to take a very very quiet academic approach to him, I just felt worried by reading Lecture 33, in which he discusses Feminine Sexuality. It worried me because it seems so prescriptive, like one must pass through the Oral, Anal, pre-Oedipal, and Oedipal stages in order to be considered a normal female. That we have to be normal. The most worrying thing of all was the way that the Freudian approach to Feminine Sexuality - which is to approach it in terms of way is pleasurable for a man - has remained the dominant ideology in popular culture's thinking of sex. We can talk about how modern we are until the cows come home, but pick up any woman's magazine, and Freud is there, waving his cigar at you.

I had a very loud conversation about this on the train home, and a little old woman kept giving us filthy looks. A few men looked decidedly uncomfortable, but when the conversation degenerated into cries of "a banana is just a banana!" "a newspaper is just a newspaper!" "communism is just communism!" and so on, people looked a little relieved.

Wouldn't do for one short literature fanatic and one tall physics genius to undo several decades of thought whilst on a late running train, would it?

Saturday, May 1, 2010

minor irritants

Alan is intently trying to explain the Large Hadron Collider to me, using three pencils, two cigarettes (origins unknown, neither of us smoke) a straw, a usb stick and a pencil sharpener. I have had two hours sleep and am trying desperately to understand why everyone thinks the LHC is so dangerously wonderful when he breaks off and says
"Whatever happened to that blog of yours?"'
I mutter something about Lillian Faderman and Lytton Strachley and Marston and stupid religious reforms before hurling my usb stick towards the pencil sharpener. Nothing happens except they stop moving, and we both pause. Clearly the Swiss have a better set up than we do.
"Perhaps we'd get a more realistic reaction if we used glitter."


I am growing used to Sydneysiders and their terrible behaviour on public transport. I have had my bottom pinched by lecherous old men in the crowds at peak hour, my pudgy upper arm pinched by a cranky woman who wanted to be standing where I was. I have had things thrown at me by idiot youths. I once had to endure a very smelly man providing the entire carriage with a running commentary about how bad my posture was.
But Wednesday just about had me learning to drive.
Sydney trains come in about four varieties, all dated from 1826. The train I was on had a bench seat that seated three, then an aisle, then a bench seat for two. I boarded this train at 8.42am at Ashfield. It was nearly full, and one thing people in Sydney hate is other people. Especially on trains. I agree with this line of thinking, but it was early and I wanted to sit down. So I politely squeezed past the tiny girl who was sitting on the aisle side of a three-seater. She though this was a bit rude, and let out a giant sigh. And threw her bag over the remainder of the seat.
I let out an equally huge sigh, and put my bag on top of hers, (it couldn't go in my lap, I had three chapters of Faderman to read before 10am).
It was a long journey, this time even longer because this girl would not stop sighing. Clearly I was an affront to decency by daring to sit near her.
When we got to Redfern, the two-seater across the aisle became free. She stood up and moved towards it, taking her bag. And mine.
"That is taking it a bit too far" I thought. So I politely, and loudly asked
"Sorry, do you mind if I have my bag back?"
She let out another huge sigh, as if this was a terrible thing for me to have asked her, and I snatched my bag back. I then stormed up into the vestibule, waiting for Central (next after Redfern). Idiot girl got out at Central too, and I was determined not to have to deal with her on the bus to uni.
She pushed in front of me in the bus queue.
By the time I got to university, I had calmed down a bit, grabbed a coffee and was nearly finished with my Faderman. I sat in the sun, slowly defrosting (mornings are cold here!) and ignoring my watch.
When I finally bothered to check the time, I realised I was two minutes late for my lecture, so I ambled off (past the continually sighing girl who was no doubt bitching about me to all her friends. unsw is a small small place sometimes). And was confronted with a sign that said
"Dear H.O.S. Students, in case you haven't checked your email, the lecture is cancelled today as Z is sick."

I went home, feeling curiously defeated by life. If I had checked my email, then I wouldn't have put myself and that girl in a bad mood.

But I still think Sydney public transport users should learn some manners. Its that or facing me on the roads.