Archive for September, 2009

A Spotless Mind

Some recent events have got me thinking about, well, thinking.

Firstly this:

Pic shamelessly stolen from David Cauchi’s Pointless and Absurd blog

The Ian Curtis memorial wall in Wellington is no more. More about it at the afore mentioned blog (and I agree – arseholes) and on Stuff which aptly calls the council’s buff squad, the ‘killjoy division’. My problem with this is not so much that its gone, although that is sad – it will surely rise again and hopefully with some version better than this (at least get the dates right guys). It’s that this piece of graffiti has been there on and off for 28 years and has significant meaning – to those of us Joy Division fans at least. Some nice writing around Joy Division and significance can be found on Philip Matthews blog here and here and here. To me what has happened here is ‘cultural vandalism’ *- council sanctioned vandalism.

And as Component susinctly puts it:

Pic not so shamelessly stolen from Component’s website

Is this what they are aiming for – grey minds? But it got me thinking about the quote from Alexander Pope’s Eloisa to Abelard:

“Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind!
Each pray’r accepted, and each wish resign’d;”

Maybe its easier this way? Not thinking or questioning or remembering? Recently I have been finding it increasingly difficult to equate my day-to-day domesticity with my thinking and aspirations. Also with the seemingly exciting lives of various unencumbered friends seem very desireable. Maybe that’s what Valium was to the 50s/60s housewife – keeping the mind spotless, in order to keep the house the same? Maybe a certain amount of greyness is required to live this life. Maybe the art and the writing (and the ukulele playing) is simply bashing  against the bars? Or maybe its more universal and that the powers that be want everyone greyed out and drone like in every endeavour?

Lets not , eh?

* although some have accused me of cultural vandalism myself for playing ‘Love Will Tear us Apart” on the ukulele

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Stuff (NOT the website) has taken over my life. I am feeling a bit like the Junk Lady from the film Labyrinth, overwhelmed by things. Which has led to a reduction in blogging – and other writing projects.

Several interesting things have come my way though. Firstly I was sent a great MP3 of Dave Hickey speaking (audio file here – its big!) He made some excellent points and I felt they were very relevant to the New Zealand institutional art scene. [Hatip MC for the link]. One take away message though for me was that art is an elective, not a compulsory course, so to speak. Art is a luxury. As my twitter followers will know, I can be a bit whiney about my relatively comfortable middle-class existence. Art (in its broad sense) is my luxury and I should probably appreciate that more instead of moaning that I can’t get to see more exhibitions or buy more books. Deviating a bit from Hickey’s view, and whatever their state, I am very appreciative of public galleries (and libraries!) as I get to see so much at very little cost.

I have also been very lucky to meet with some extremely interesting people of late and to read some great poetry. It’s been awesome to be able to help out a little by scrounging for knitting needles for the binding of my good friend Helen Heath’s forthcoming chapbook Watching for Smoke. This is being published by another wonderful Helen (Rickerby), at Seraph Press. Its very energising to be around people who are passionate about what they are doing and how they are doing it. In this vein, I was fortunate enough to be introduced to Dean Havard at Kilmog Press, who produces beautiful handcrafted books and have had great discussions with poet Michael Steven. Kilmog has just published his chapbook Centreville Springs and its a good one!

All the literary talk prompted me to have a hunt for Fernado Pessoa books in Dunedin’s excellent 2nd hand book shops (reuse!). I had a great conversation with one ‘bookshop guy’ which went something like this:

“I am looking for anything by Pessoa”
“Oh, the Portugese chap? No sorry not at the moment”

I was so impressed that ‘bookshop guy’ knew Pessoa (and on my last visit taught me how to pronounce ‘Camus’ properly) that I ended up walking away with Rimbaud’s prose poems which was at the top limit of my budget. As this flying bookshop visit was on the way to a family outing to the Botanical Gardens I also ended up carrying Rimbaud and a copy of Edmund White’s ‘The Flaneur’  with me around the park which felt a tiny bit surreal.

The park has some interesting Peter Pan statuary. Apparently you can find these all over NZ but I found the detail in the base of this one a tad creepy. The statue is of Peter standing on a tree stump. In the tree roots are all sorts of creatures – and babies. It hadn’t occurred to me that the ‘lost boys’ were once ‘lost babies’ which I find a little disturbing and reminiscent of The Importance of Being Earnest where a baby was left in a capacious handbag “in the cloak-room of one of the larger railway stations in London.”

This baby looks quite forlorn in it’s tree root ‘cage’

On the recycle front so much has been happening but probably only of interest to me. But in the spirit of ‘recycle’ , here is a cover of Word Up – played on the ukulele. Yes, I have also been neglecting my ukulele fetish even though I am actually taking some lessons. WORD


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