Thursday, July 29, 2010

not dead yet

Lurching. That is the best way to describe me at present. Lurching. Possibly creaking, like my bones are made of very precariously patched together scrap metal.

This is after two weeks of university, so the thought that the first two weeks have been good fills me with a sort of British Dread, y'know the "oh dear. things are going badly well, it can only get worse" sort of feeling. Optimism does not run strongly in my family, despite my best efforts at morning affirmations, which usually go "you are alive! congratulations, special snowflake!" before I fall back to sleep and dream of giant boots chasing me while brandishing copies of the Yellow Pages.

So. Faux-Academics, the only thing we talk about here (apart from irritations vexations and agitations). I'm currently studying a course on 18th-19th Century Literature (not quite sure how Kipling's 'Kim' ended up in that one), American Literature (which, in typical American fashion, refuses to travel linearly), Women's Literature (which rants and raves) and an history course that I have renamed "Why the 20th Century is so depressing". It's all terrible fun - I have been swamped by my readings, heading to bed at 2am after writing reams on Whitman and Margaret Cavendish (who was amazing), listening to bootlegs of Ginsberg reading his poetry rushing around campus trying to be in the right place at the right time, reading the unfortunately named Northrop Frye, who name drops more than I do. It's not quite the academic dream I had in mind, because people still don't really want to talk about it, but I wear a beret on days I forget to brush my hair and think about how awesome my brain's potential is.

I spent tonight at home, ostensibly dog sitting although in reality I was reading about some guy who once met Thomas Pynchon during the 60s and has never quite recovered. I wanted to sneer at him but that would be like sneering at myself (I only do that on Tuesdays). So instead I read Tennyson, who's not even on any of my courses, but my brain was hammering out like Ginsberg the night he met Moloch and really, I have to start going out on Saturday nights.

...I went out last Saturday night. I did! My siblings took me to see Bill Bailey, who was witty and outraged and called Julia Gillard a Dalek. He's probably right, I've never seen her use a stair case (only an elevator). He played Eine Kleine Nachtmusik on clown horns. We're playing that in our quartet at the moment. His was more orderly. The best thing about Bailey's comedy, for me, was that it's a little meandering, sort of whimsical. He doesn't swear just to make people laugh. My sides hurt the next day, in a good way.

This week I have to read Pamela by Samuel Richardson, Oroonoko by Aphra Behn, Inherent Vice by Pynchon and some ghastly article about the why colonialism fell to bits. I'm seeing Inception tomorrow afternoon, and planning on eating lots of yoghurt.

Sunday, July 4, 2010


"If you were an Archibald prize entry, you'd be a perfect portrait of middle class guilt."

Jason, like me, is extra snarky when he's not being paid attention to. I figured this out about three minutes after I met him, and he probably worked out the same about me. The problem today is that I'm trying to make my bed, listen to his griping/advice, learn the entire Camera Obscura discography and re-read Moll Flanders.

It's the latter that's causing me the most grief. I've read it before, sure, but it's the first book we're supposed to read for the ominously titled "The Novel" course, and I want to make sure I've got a decent grasp on it. The fact that the book is currently lying on the floor under my phone suggests that there is no grasping. I got distracted by Jase and his rude comment about my hypothetical Archibald painting. Surely my hair's not that bad, I responded, and would his be any better? We're both from similar backgrounds, both irritated that we're hampered by class in a supposedly classless world, and are both attracted to prints over pastels.

Australia can be surprisingly class-centric. Currently our media is fixated on our new PM, a 10pound Pom (like my grandparents?) from Wales. The words "working class background" are tossed around like some sort of exotic salad. What does it mean? What if Gillard was a toff? Isn't she a toff anyway, being our PM and all? Can we say we're a classless society when we're turning people away from our country and always talking about those wretched baby boomers, who have ruined everything? How am I supposed to feel in all of that, when I'm the picture of the problem with our generation, unemployed and unrepentant? It gets under my skin and I can't express how I feel about my spot in life, except to say that I'm worried, probably for all the wrong reasons.

When I was thinking all of this, I got so worked up that I had to sit upside down for a bit. And then when I stopped being dizzy, I tried Moll Flanders again. The problem with Defoe is that he writes in first person, and I've never fully reconciled with first person, because there's always an annoying part of me that says "this isn't you. you wouldn't be doing this." The last book I can think of that was written in the first person that really grabbed me was The Elegance of the Hedgehog (I am looking forward, in my own anxious way, to seeing the movie)....oh! and A Month in the Country by J.L. Carr, which I read last week. It's a lovely little book about English summertime. But other than those two, I just don't 'get' first person. It's probably a middle class failing. I hope that my Archibald artist can capture that when they paint my portrait.

And that I can decline all telephone conversations until after midday.

When I'm not reading books, then I'm looking at them.