Monthly Archives: May 2017

Inspiration

Sticking with the subject of art and creativity, these past years I’ve been experiencing a state of confusion and inaction I’m sure many can relate to. Maybe in my case it is less acute given that advancement in age brings the ultimate excuse for doing nothing and which is that ‘it’s too late anyway and may as well just sit tight and wait to die’. Its for the most part true, my father used to say ‘if you haven’t made it by forty you may as well give up, take any job going and hope it sees you through to retirement’. He was speaking about careers in business but the art scene is not much better, ever noticed how many art competitions and support there is for ‘young and emerging artists’? In reality you can be an emerging artist at any age, even old age, but not according to the mainstream who by their insistence an emerging artist must be say under twenty-five prove two things; one that at the bottom of the mainstream indeed lies mediocrity and two, they don’t want anyone over twenty-five kneeling before them with mouth wide open. Not a joke – I knew a gallery owner in the past who got sucked by all his exhibiting artists. Therefore the shit he had hanging on the walls of his multiple galleries but I’ll stop right there. You get the picture.

The trick to success I think is to say you couldn’t give a rat’s arse if anyone reads your book or buys your painting. In fact the starting point is that you couldn’t give a rat’s if you die with the music still in you. After all, dead you don’t know you’re dead and by way of consequence, don’t know you had a good novel or groundbreaking painting buried deep in your entrails. Maybe you did suspect its existence but couldn’t be bothered writing it down and that’s fine as well, possible years of sleep deprivation and self-doubt is a high price to pay for the privilege of getting less money than a kid flipping burgers at Maccas – if you work out the hours spent in most cases – or having your ego fluffed up by a few people wanting your signature on the first edition. Maybe you are an idealist and want to make a contribution to your nation’s cultural heritage but your nation will never miss what they don’t know could have existed and the populace are probably too busy watching Big Brother or reading Cleo, Fast Fours or V8’s & Big Tits and if not are probably watching, holding chin between thumb and crocked first finger, the Bolshoi’s umpteenth repeat performance of Swan Lake. It’s not reason enough and especially if and as is increasingly the case nowadays if the work is honest, your creation could well attract more hate than admiration. I’d say and am not alone and not the last to say it – if you do it then just do it for yourself. When it’s finished you can decide whether you want to put it out there.

A reason and will to create is difficult enough but there is worse and it is the confusion over the source of so-called inspiration. For the most part the public love to believe and artists love to perpetrate the myth, and maybe believe it themselves in some sort of deluded way, that there is something metaphysical or even divine to the artist’s inspiration and they have this rare ability courtesy of Nature or God. Let me set people straight on that, near anyone can learn to do anything to a level commensurate with the amount of effort they are prepared to put in and the same applies to composing and performing music, drawing, painting and writing. Genius is as Edison said, ninety-nine percent perspiration and one percent inspiration and it’s true, no matter you roll your cigarettes, wear ripped jeans and have a ring in your nose, your work will always be crap if you don’t work hard at your trade and that before worrying about the inspiration bit of the equation.

But lets talk about that one percent which is indeed so rare. Here is a fact I found funny but which did not surprise me. Most are familiar with the works of German composer Richard Wagner and would agree he accessed the lofty ranks of genius but I didn’t and suspect most didn’t know that he reportedly could not compose if he was not wearing silk underwear. In other words – if further clarification is needed – he could not be ‘inspired’ if he was not jerking himself under the table. I have that on good source – a series of serious lectures on serious German culture called “What is German”. Thomas Mann hints at the same thing when in “Death in Venice” he writes, “It is well the public know only of a great work and not also what inspired it because knowledge of the source of the artist’s inspiration would confuse them and lead them to think less of the work” I paraphrase as too lazy to dig up Mann’s exact words but you get the idea and in Mann’s case he must have had his young boyfriend in mind, in 1942 he records,

-from the Klaus Heuser period, when I was a happy lover… Well, there it is – I have ‘lived and loved’. Dark eyes that shed tears for me, beloved lips I kissed – it all happened, to me it was given, I shall be able to tell myself this as I die.

Half his luck. Ginsberg put it differently but I guess meant pretty much the same when he said a poem rises from your guts. LOL – his gut must have been in a remarkable state of agitation when he penned, “Please Master”.

Please master can I touch your cheek
please master can I kneel at your feet
please master can I loosen your blue pants
please master can I gaze at your golden haired belly
please master can I have your thighs bare to my eyes
please master can I take off my clothes below your chair
please master can I can I kiss your ankles and soul
please master can I touch lips to your hard muscle hairless thigh
please master can I lay my ear pressed to your stomach
please master can I wrap my arms around your white ass
please master can I lick your groin gurled with blond soft fur
please master can I touch my tongue to your rosy asshole
please master may I pass my face to your balls,
please master order me down on the floor,

Well – no comment and you can read the rest on the ‘Hello Poetry’ website.

Seriously – the ability to create a notable piece of creative work involves pretty much the whole person just as does the act of making a baby. Trying to limit the exercise to the intellect will always result in at best a well-crafted mediocrity because any suppression, even the slightest, will always turn you back from artist to tradesman and if the case you may as well not bother. Or maybe and as George Orwell wrote is the only solution for an honest writer – commit suicide. I’d suggest if asked, you create for yourself, burn the result if fearing unpleasant repercussions, and generally just stick the middle finger up and say fuck youz all.

Bicycle trailer update: on route from Melbourne by courier this time so fingers crossed, I’ll be out in the wild next week.

 

Junky and still no trailer.

There’s a backpacker hostel down the road and that on top of a cliff face is held up by concrete walls which, to the local kids is canvas for their street art. So far the game has been that the artists spray their tags, paste up or scribble some derogatory statement about the local police force on the walls and then someone paints over it the next morning. I’m sure this game goes on anywhere in the world where there is youth, walls and spray cans and just like other places, the strategy here has been to designate a space where local youth ‘can express themselves’ in an appropriate and safe environment, maybe a few social workers on hand to talk about gender fluidity and breaking glass ceilings, but of course the very nature of true street art is that it is art of the street and not just art in the street. Street art is anarchistic and the mere fact of a surface and the art that will be painted or pasted on it receiving prior approval from any authority whatsoever disqualifies it from being described as street art.

Anyways, the latest attempt by either local authorities or the owners of the backpacker hostel to put an end to the nightly decorating of the concrete walls has been to paste up a sticker warning of dire consequences should anyone feel an irrestible urge to ‘express themselves’ in the wrong place. But it’s a fail as well in that it clearly indicates that the authority who issued the warning was also too busy expressing themselves on public walls to attend English class. The graffiti will be given to police?! It’s a bit like the sign at the bottom of the stairway to the upper level of London buses that states, “Dogs must be carried”. Damn it – don’t have a dog.

OK, for the smart ass at the back of the class who asked, the sticker should read “Photographs of graffiti in this area are given to police’.

Sticker on wall.

In other aspects of life, believe it or not I’m still trying to get my hands on a trailer for my mountain bike. Had I four weeks annual leave in which to do this planned bike excursion I would now be putting the trip in the ‘nice idea but…’ basket. The latest attempt was yesterday when I ordered a trailer from a mob in Sydney and which offers a similar item on eBay and boasting ‘free delivery’ I noticed at the bottom of their ‘thank you for your order’ email explanations on how to calculate the cost of shipping. The trailer hasn’t shipped and I will deal with that later today most likely by requesting a refund. I think it would be better to order straight from China where these trailers are probably made anyway. Come to think about it, Australia Post still hasn’t got back to me about how the first one just vanished. That’s the third parcel they have ‘lost’ in the past six months or so, the other two were together and from an unknown source. Auspost had left a ‘pick up from the post office’ card in our letter box but when I presented it at the counter they were unable to find the parcels nor even determine whether they had tracking numbers. I made a complaint and in that instance they fell over themselves in efforts to reassure me all things possible were been done to locate them with even a guy presenting himself as an employee of Auspost ringing weeks later to make sure I was happy with their unsuccessful efforts. Possibly making sure I would not pursue the matter any further. Whatever was in those two parcels must have been important to someone and I would encourage the person who sent them if they are reading this to hit the contact button and I’ll reply with suggestions.Anyway, so here I am not knowing when or even if, I’ll ever be able to ride my bike down the road.

I finished reading Burrough’s “Junky” which I found is for the most part just a better account of life as a drug addict than those I’ve heard a thousand times over from clients when I was a youth worker. Drugs are the sum total of their existence and try to talk about anything else and in two sentences they will bring the conversation back to their habit and most pathetic is how they expect you to be impressed with what they believe are tales of epic heroism. Aside from that the book does get better as you progress and about half way through it even begins to attain a high level of readability with about a dozen pages of outstanding writing. I liked for example his description of the patrons of a ‘fag bar’ in New Orleans,

In the French Quarter there are several queer bars so full every night the fags spill out on the side walk. A room full of fags gives me the horrors. They jerk around like puppets on invisible strings, galvanized into hideous activity that is the negation of everything living and spontaneous. The live human being has moved out of these bodies long ago. But something moved in when the original tenant moved out. Fags are ventriloquists’ dummies who have moved in and taken over the ventriloquist. The dummy sits in a queer bar nursing his beer, and uncontrollably yapping out of a rigid doll face.

I’ve seen this myself and sadly the above description is fairly accurate. Burroughs was not a homophobe and makes no secret of his own same-gender sexual adventures which in 1953, when “Junky” was published, must have raised a few eyebrows. As an example – a boy in a bar in Mexico,

I turned to get a closer look at the boy who had moved over. Now bad. “Por que triste” I asked. (“Why sad?”) Not much of a gambit, but I wasn’t there to converse.

The boy smiled, revealing very red gums and sharp teeth far apart. He shrugged and said something to the effect that he wasn’t sad or not espeially so. I looked around the room.

Vamonos a otro lugar,” I said. (Let’s go some place else.”)

The boy nodded. We walked down the street into an all-night restaurant, and sat down in a booth. The boy dropped his hand onto my leg under the table. I felt my stomach knot with excitement. I gulped my coffee and waited impatiently while the boy finished a beer and smoked a cigarette.

The boy knew a hotel. I pushed five pesos through a grill. An old man unlocked the door of a room and dropped a ragged towel on the chair. “Llevas pistola?” – (You carry a gun?”) – asked the boy. He had caught sight of my gun. I said yes.

I folded my pants and dropped them over a chair, placing the pistol on my pants. I dropped my shirt and my shorts on the pistol. I sat down naked on the edge of the bed and watched the boy undress. He folded his worn blue suit carefully. He took off his shirt and placed it around his coat on the back of a chair. His skin was smooth and copper-colored. The boy stepped out of his shorts and turned around and smiled at me. Then he came and sat beside me on the bed. I ran a hand slowly over the boy’s back, following with the other hand the curve of the chest down over the flat brown stomach. The boy smiled and lay down on the bed.

Later we smoked a cigarette, our shoulders touching under the cover. The boy said he had to go. We both dressed. I wondered if he expected money. I decided not. Outside, we separated at a corner, shaking hands.

Beautifully crafted and I wonder if it did not inspire that page in Frederique Mitterrand’s book “La Mauvaise Vie” (“The Bad Life”) in which he describes his encouter with a teenage male prostitute in Thailand and that was the cause of a scandale widely reported in international news media after Marine Le Pen said in a 2009 television interview that it proved Mitterrand had engaged in “sexual tourism”. How things have changed since 1953.

Blessings to all.

Stuck.

Stuck in F—king Katoomba because a bike trailer ordered from a store in Victoria on the 5th has gone missing. Yesterday I got a refund from eBay but now have to start again and this time I think I will get it picked up by private courier. Can’t even organise a bike ride without something going wrong and that’s item number three that has gone missing compliments of Aussie Post.

So here I am with not much to do other than continue setting people up so they send me a “thank you for your application but unfortunately” and reworking the animation which suffered a major set back when I realised that the back-up version was not the latest version after I wiped and re-installed the contents of my hard drive. All of which when not reading W. Burroughs “Junk”, saw me outside in the beautiful late autumn sun raking up leaves whilst pondering whether I should add to the to-do list: finish writing that book everyone says I should finish.

Hopefully it won’t be much longer before I can finally pedal a bike into the countryside.

Also – since my post about the eight-year-old there have been near two thousand attempted attacks on this blog. Most originating from the United States. No comment.

Also, also – the Manchester horror? What sort of sick fuck wants to die by mangling his guts with those of little girls? Nuff said about the true reason for this sort of attack.

Eight-year-old commits suicide!?

I imagine many may have heard about the suicide of an eight-year-old in Cincinnati and were as disgusted as I am. As a parent and grandparent myself I can’t imagine the agony the child’s mother is going through.

Bullied, beaten unconscious in the school toilets and just eight years old.

In the ‘old days’, boys were taught male excellence by their fathers and male teachers and were encouraged to emulate the lives of positive role models such as astronauts, great scientists, adventurers and outstanding historical figures such as Alexander the Great. Nowadays there are no teachers and no role models other than drop kicks (useless, stupid person in Australian slang) dealing with their personal issues and so, who in the end is to blame for this child’s suicide?

8_year_old_suicide

Rest in Peace little fella.

Read the news report.

Comments, Fry, God and Eckhart.

A reminder that anything that contains a link to a website does not get the tick of approval and goes straight to the spam folder. Don’t waste your and my time. Also have twice received emails asking about site protection software, worded differently and from different email addresses but most likely from the same person. My suggestion to that person is that if you genuinely want to know what works then doing a Google search would be faster than posting comments to my site.

OK. Other than deleting spam and suspicious questions from the comment folder just wanted to share a thought on Stephen Fry’s comments on God and that resulted in accusations and possible prosecution for blasphemy. Didn’t know Ireland still had that on their statutes but apparently Muslim nations are not alone in making insulting God a criminal offense. As though a God has any need of legal protection from humans but that’s not the point here – what I find amazing is that Stephen, an educated and I always thought intelligent person, has such a child-like understanding of what God whether you ‘believe’ or not, could possibly be. For those who didn’t see the interview aired on Irish television below are Steven’s thoughts on God. Taken from a news website which saved me the trouble of transcribing it from the TV footage.

Asked what he would say if he was confronted by God, Fry replied: “How dare you create in which there is such misery that is not our fault? It’s not right.

“It’s , utterly evil.

“Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid God who creates which is so full of injustice and pain?”

Questioned on how he would react if he was locked outside the pearly gates, he responded: “I would say, ‘Bone cancer in children? What’s that about?’

“Because the God who created this universe, if it was created by God, is quite clearly a maniac, utter maniac.

“Totally selfish. to spend our life on our knees thanking him? What kind of God would do that?

The childish concept here is that of a ‘personal God’, a patriarchal figure in a place outside of the Universe and that for reasons known only to itself went into a trance at a given point in infinite time and just for fun, decided to create a universe. Maybe it was bored? Who knows but what we can know is that the truth is something we cannot know anymore than we can conceptualize infinity despite it having a time/space structure with which we are familiar. German philosopher Master Eckhart already argued against the personal God concept in the fourteenth century when he wrote, I summarize, that Man is to God as a mirror is to the sun. What became known as indistinguishability. The Universe, not just ‘Man’, and God are one and the same and as pointed out by physicist Paul Davies, God does not have freewill. But we do, that’s the difference, and so to Stephen I would say that if the world is such a terrible place then it’s up to us to do something about it because God can’t.

Blessings.

Taking the mountain bike for a long ride and a few thoughts on surveillance.

In just over a week, I will be setting out on a long bicycle tour of rural New South Wales to take photos and rid myself of a few health problems including what I believe is Type 2 diabetes. A half dozen doctors can’t make up their minds and the treatment program they set made me feel like I’d soon be saying G’day to JC. Since managing things myself these past few months, I already feel better and think a sustained regime of physical exercise and a near paleo diet will do the trick. It’s going to be tough going and of course I’ll post updates and photos when I find an Internet connection. Right now I’m waiting for delivery of a trailer for the mountain bike and a ‘swag’ which is like a cross between a sleeping bag and a tent. Both should be here late next week so God willing as our Muslim friends say, I’ll set off early Saturday week.

Below are a few thoughts on surveillance and laws limiting freedom of speech and artistic expression. A bit rough but wanted to get them out there and feel free to comment and tell me what you think.

In the lead up to the 2007 I was at a meeting of GetUp which is an left-leaning organization created to campaign on issues such as climate change and gay marriage. The topic was which amongst a smörgåsbord of issues should be the focus of organizations efforts in the lead up to the upcoming federal election. I suggested state surveillance is a concern and was surprised when all sitting around the table said they didn’t have a problem with that because, well after all, we need to be protected from terrorists and the usual, if you haven’t done anything wrong then you have nothing to fear. The famous statement that people who would trade freedom for security deserve neither freedom nor security came to mind but there was no point in trying to convince people who had always lived in a secure democracy inherited rather than won at great cost in human lives. I’m not discounting the contribution made by Australia in achieving victory in World War II but am concerned that people do not appear to understand that it was a war to protect democracy as much as it was to protect our nation from invasion. As far as democracy is concerned WWII was a battle won but not the end of a war which is ongoing and today, we are losing.

Simply put, the belief long held by the far left, the far right and those who speak on behalf of God, that a perfect society can exist has not disappeared and where they have for the most part been unsuccessful in stirring the masses into revolt they have, a bit like a second best option, imported their policies into center politics. The battlefront today as far as protecting democracy is concerned is and as always when those who believe they have the perfect operating system are in position to set policy, primarily freedom of speech and the first to be targeted are again and as always, artists and writers. Here in Australia we have laws so extreme they make even a scribbled drawing or a diary entry potentially punishable by years in prison and all enacted to ‘protect society’. From what these laws protect us has never been fully explained beyond some vague reference to terrorists and other creepy people lurking in the shrubbery but does a terrorist or creepy person who sits on a park bench watching panties run about the playground, really commit to her or his diary or make a clumsy sketch of their evil intent? Is writing a line such as “I struggle with the desire to [enter offense here] and need to see a psych” a criminal offense potentially equal under Australian law to the actual commission of the [enter offense here]? What good are these laws if not to give the government the right to legislate thought and where better to start than in attacking people which even the most committed and brave of civil libertarians, the far left, the greens and or the religious or the far right would not dare to raise a whimper of protest in defense of their civil rights? Or as said above – do not believe in free speech themselves? Terrorists and pedophiles are the prefect initial target and when in place laws are much easier to apply to anyone else who might allegedly endanger law abiding people. Hitler targeted ‘decadent artists and writers’, Stalin did the same and where no proof could be produced of evil intent then a charge such as ‘endangering children by putting broken glass in Soviet butter’ did the trick. Off to the Gulag!

Intent has always been difficult to establish and even more so the ability to legislate thought. That being the ability to prosecute people not for what they actually did but rather for what they are thinking. Again the pedophile scare created the perfect opportunity to create legislation that enables prosecution not for having sex with a child nor even looking at child porn but simply for having had thoughts of doing so if such thoughts can be proven by something as innocuous as a diary entry or terms typed into a search engine. Doesn’t matter if you changed your mind and shut down the browser before anything illegal appears on screen. The thought was criminal in itself and potentially punishable by as many years in prison as would be the case had you done [terrible act] to [age and gender of victim]. Governments love pedophiles near as much as the far right love terrorists. The truth is that pedophiles of the kind who look at pictures with one hand under the table are most often people who suffer from major depression (as established by studies conducted in the United States and Australia) and who present little or no danger to children. A British study put the risk of they actually committing a contact offense at less than five percent of those arrested for illegal porn and the chances of a child becoming a victim at one in a million. Basically children have a greater chance of being run over so if their protection at all costs is the reason for these laws then let’s protect them by banning all motorized vehicles.
At great cost to the taxpayer prisons are full of people who shouldn’t be anywhere other than lying on a counselor’s couch and all that so and as was the case here in Australia, that our current prime minister when seeking state support for proposed legislation that would enable terrorists deemed dangerous to be kept in jail beyond their sentence, could say “after all – we already do it to pedophiles’.

But wait! – As the TV salesman said flashing a golden tooth – there’s more! We have the legal ability to lock up anyone with a wrong thought but relying on search terms, diary entries and picture albums is hardly sufficient to fully benefit from these new laws and if we are to avoid future terrorist attacks then we also need data retention and mass surveillance so that intelligence agencies can conduct things such as network analysis to determine what a target is possibly thinking. And potentially prosecute someone for preparing a terrorist attack not based on a ton of fertilizer found in an inner-city storage facility but simply on the pattern of their communications and therefore their thoughts. Brilliant many would say – even if pity for the sods with a porn addiction or fantasies of world domination – and I would agree that governments have a duty to protect society but not at the cost of civil and political rights and not at the cost of the freedom and rights of future generations.
Notice that none of these laws to protect us from terrorists have a sunset clause attached which means that in a century when the last terrorist has long gone to hell and when surveillance technology is beyond anything we can imagine these laws will still be enforceable giving a future dictatorship, and no society is immune from takeover by extremists, tools that Hitler and Stalin could only imagine late at night whilst experiencing involuntary ejaculation. Actually this lack of a sunset clause, and it was demanded but unsuccessfully by I can’t remember which Greens senator when data retention laws were passed, is further indication that terrorists and pedophiles are the excuse and not the reason. So the question becomes who in the future is the target? Unspecified? Then its probably you or rather your descendants.

The likely reason if we allow ourselves to make as educated a guess as possible could be contained in an address given by a Danish environment minister when he took world leaders on a tour of the disappearing glaciers of Greenland. In his welcoming address he said there are two ways to tackle climate change; the first being to do nothing in which case we most likely face a mass extinction event and, the second, would be an immediate shut down of the fossil-fuel-based world economy which he said would result in ‘blood on the streets’. Both possibilities are unthinkable but the military, intelligence and law enforcement agencies have to plan for all contingencies and civil unrest caused by mass migration away from the worst affected areas, food and water shortages and economic collapse could well be on the horizon if a delicate balance between these two extremes is not achieved. We could also assume that as time passes and nothing is done to reduce emissions, that some may get to a point where they believe the only option left is direct action including attacks on infrastructure, businesses and individuals deemed part of the climate change problem. Without declaring support for violent action, I can say I would understand if such action occurred because it is only normal people protect their children from not a potential but actual life threatening situation. I also think we should protect our right to take strong action should there be a need – can be civil disobedience – and in a first instance we need to resist attempts to prevent climate activists from organizing and people in intelligence and law enforcement will have to decide who’s interests are most important? Their children or billionaire climate change denialists whom we could suspect, believe fortune will insure their children survive.

Blessings.