Monday, September 12, 2005

intellectual melancholy

fuck it. I am sitting here trying to read stuart hall's cultural theory and prepare something for a conference. the heater is going, and my mind is jumping. I cannot concentrate. I am distracted by a million things.

if I was a lady living two hundred years ago, in england say, I would have taken to my bed weeks ago, with the vapours, unable to deal with the assault to my mind. however if I was that lady, I would be doing needle point, not reading newspapers and exposing myself to the heartache of the world. and was the heartache so enormous back then? well I'm sure the vapours ladies wouldn't have worried themselves about them. or maybe I would have been a chamber maid, with nothing to think about other than emptying bedpans and laying out clothes. or a scullery maid who only had to feed the chooks, and work her fingers to the bone all day scrubbing pots.

here are some of the thoughts that are crowding my brain space and leaving nothing for the real-life tasks at hand that I need to do:

[note these things are flicking through my mind maybe only slightly quicker than it takes for you to read the words]

[if you are time poor, or think it's too boring, PLEASE just read the bold bits, for they are the kernels of truth amongst all this rubbish]:

I should vacuum again, there's dog hair everywhere, my period was one day early this month, why is it so cold, america is trying to take over the world and nobody other than terrorists and intellectuals can see it, how expensive would petrol have to get before I just can't afford it, if everyone starts using the public transport in melbourne then they will have to improve it heaps, and when the terrorists attack melbourne, there'll be more people for them to kill if we aren't driving our cars, was that guy with the american accent and the mask in the latest video a real terrorist or is it the americans trying to keep us scared, how would we know anyway if he was an actor, what should I cook for dinner, it doesn't feel like princess' birthday today even though it really is, I guess that's because we celebrated yesterday, I hope she is having a nice day at school, this piece of cheesecake is nice, I'm glad I made the base a bit thicker this time, I should dye my roots before we leave on Friday, how am I going to fit two bikes in the car with the dog, perhaps I should get one of those bike things, gee my baby's going to be horny by Friday considering we didn't get together on the weekend, I must remember to cancel the paper delivery, I bet they fuck it up like they did at easter, and the papers kept arriving, I must ask jane to see if she could pop past to make sure, stuart hall reckoned that the postmodern age, which is now, is really a label that tells us there is only one right way, ie the american way, and that it is euro- or western-centric. of course this would then piss off non-euro or western people, he also said that postmodernism is about "how the world dreams itself to be 'american' " say what????? and this is years ago, so it's been happening under our noses, and the only reason some of us are getting it now is because there are consequences, and then the western propoganda is spinning it to suit their agenda, why can't people see it? why do people think people who talk like this are deluded or conspiracy theorists and therefore not credible? another good quote is this: samuel johnson apparently said that "patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel". think about this, it describes exactly what is happening, with howard being all "australian-values-are-best and people who are different and not aussie mates need to accept this and live by this because this is the best way and fuck anyone who has a different idea even including woman who don't use the word mate, they can't be real aussies" and why ms fits was attacked for hating australia after her post about values, what bullshit, it's the people who love[d] this country and feel [felt] proud of it and us who this sort of thing KILLS, and get this, "also post-nationalism and its accompanying disdain for the nationalist emotions of others, may be the last refuge of the cosmopolitan" [this quote is attributed to Michael Ignatieff, 1994, in Blood and Belonging] I am in the cosmopolitan camp obviously and why are we having this rise of nationalism and how bad is it going to get, and are there going to be race wars, and look at new orleans, how things descended so rapidly into lord of the flies, I think animal farm is a good allegory, how would I write a political allegory now, about what's going on in the world currently, would I use animals? I read that allegory is only necessary for writers who can't write freely, maybe we are going that way, there will be no freedom of speech, with all the new laws that have been suggested, even me writing that I think america and the west is causing so much shit in the world and that I can understand how people feel so oppressed and hopeless that they act in despicable ways, and the academics I have heard speak on the radio, saying the same things, but far far more eloquently, none of us would be allowed to say this sort of thing, without asio then coming knocking, we are moving towards a police state? is that's what's happening? the irony of us and the west supposedly being democracies, and how the politicians tell us the terrorists hate democracy, they hate our way of life, so we are fighting the war against terror to preserve our democracies, but then if democracy is slowly dismantled, and all the principles and VALUES that we hold so dear are removed, then how can we continue to live in a democracy? and some western values can be argued to be fairly disgusting and im- or amoral, how bad would it have to get for me to move to nz? or the countryside here, princess has asked me a couple of times what we would do if a war came here. what would we do? I guess I should do the dishes, no that's just avoiding your work, oh shit there's the dog's bed cover and one of her towels sitting in the washing machine, you should get them out, you can put princess' bathers and towel away, she won't be going to swimming on Friday, I hope the ink cartridges work in my printer, better test them out before I go away. can't do lunch with mum on Wednesday, she'll understand but I'll still go to meditation with her, why is my neck so sore. I feel like a hot bath. I haven't gotten the new weekly yet, must get it later, why can't I just go to bed and read, I'm really enjoying the secret history by donna tartt, but have a feeling I've read it before, or something similar, I guess it will unfold and I'll remember, why is it so hard for me to get a focus for my study, it's not a fucking phd, just keep it simple, why didn't you choose a topic such as the use of the gerund in grade 4s or something like that? because it's boring that's why, and you want to understand the big picture, and big picture work is... well, big work. what is marxism exactly, stuart hall talks about the marxist position, and what is bourgeouis exactly? I can spell it but I'm not sure what it means. should I let the dog in? she'll be wet again, and I'll need to towel her off, but it's sunny outside, she'll be ok, how on earth can I read all I need to, and write 40,000 words by the end of february? I will definitely need an extension, hope the scholarship office understands, I think I'll get the money, I can't keep up with my newspaper clippings, why do I do that? it's like an obsession, once started, I can't stop, princess will bury me and then start going through my stuff and there'll be boxes and boxes of bloody news articles and she'll probably just get rid of them. what's the point? I'll have to make sure I do something with them before I die, that poor man peter, the refugee on the news, a friend of his called up and said that he tried to kill himself on Saturday night, even though they'd urged him not to, I think he's at baxter, the woman was almost crying as she was telling john faine, then there was that other woman who rang in, from belmont, 74 years old, and she WAS crying about geelong losing. well not about them losing but about the reaction it has caused with some people, ie being critical or negative, she was pleading for people to get behind them, support them, that they tried their best, the poor woman, I've been crying a lot lately, at the lion king on Saturday, at princess' school concert a few weeks ago, how embarrassing, I just cry all the time, but it's not from sadness, I don't think. my sister said yesterday she has too, she cries about all the children who die in house fires or cars running off roads into lakes, the house fire, there was a boy from a school I taught at years and years ago, he died last week, but he wasn't a student there when I was there, little 7 year old, followed his granddad back into the house, he was intellectually disabled, and wasn't told to stay outside where he was safe. they found him on his bed. I saw the principal's name in the paper and thought about calling him, and another person I knew who I think still works there, but I haven't called, I won't, but I thought about it. why do we feel better having thought to do something, it's almost as if we have done it, so then we let ourselves off the hook, and don't actually do it, the worse thing is saying "oh I was going to [buy you a present/offer to come over and help you/lend you some money] but I thought you'd be ok." hate that.

oh and I really have to make time for half an hour every day to do the learning exercises with princess that the nice optometrist has given us, we have gotten a little slack, well we are so busy and we've been sick too, but they really are helping, her spelling has improved heaps and it's only been 6 weeks or so, we have to keep on top of it, oh that's right she said she has to type out two stories this afternoon after school, I hope there aren't too many phone calls for her for her birthday, what am I saying, I hope there are, but it's going to mean that we can't fit everything in, at least she's done her homeopathic swish for today, but it would be good for her to do it twice a day, she might want to take her bike to the park, but it's pretty wet and cold, and the dog will need a walk, and oh that's right dad said he would call tonight, do I really want to give him the chance to explain why he couldn't make it to the birthday lunch yesterday and why he called at 1.30pm to say he wasn't coming, why does he always let me down, it bothered me more than princess, and my sister was spitting about it, she was mad and wanted to call him and tell him off, and I said I was trying to workshop to myself the best way to handle it when he did call, and we were standing in the kitchen, and I said do I tell him you're a fucking cunt and a coward or do I pretend it hasn't hurt me, she was silent, I laughed and said I'll go with the second version, I think she was relieved, but it's just not fair, why does my dad always let me down, the cats losing is not enough of an excuse and those beeps on the phone make me wonder whether he was still in sydney and not at barwon heads like he said. if he was at barwon heads he'd be able to have made it. surely. now I'm steamed up again thinking about him. fuck it. and princess' father called yesterday, so that's good, they spoke briefly, I sent him an email today telling him a bit of news, including that my bf and I are planning to move in together next year, so I am waiting for a response, hope there is no response

I think my mind is a little emptier. maybe I can go back to my work.

gold star to anyone who reads this whole thing.


Adam said...

Sorry dude, I couldn't read every single word, I skimmed all over the joint, but thanks for entertaining me for a bit!

DJ said...

er, wot U said. Only with illustrations

BEVIS said...


Have some commas, left over from what your Mum got me for my birthday a little while back:


And here are some leftover full stops:


I'm keeping the curly brackets, though. (Is that wrong?)

Princess, I raise my glass of concentrated red cordial to your good health. Cheers.

Cape Man said...

I read it all and now my head is full.
Ciao bella.

MelbourneGirl said...

hi everyone

thanks bevis for special princess birthday wishes. she'll really enjoy unwrapping the punctuation though i might have to put it in a match box, then a slighly bigger box, then a shoe box all the way up to a huge box. that would be good fun. she won't notice about the curly brackets. they are exclusive and you are right to hold onto them.

and thanks cape man for taking on all my shit. if it's in your head, then it's out of mine and i can do my work. i guess you then saw me call my dad a cunt. i know you hate that word. oh well, he is sometimes. but aren't we all. sometimes.

and a big gold star to you mr cape.

Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

I'll explain Marxism and the Bourgeouis to you tomorrow (I have to go to a protest now).

My big problem with what you say in bold (quoting others) is not that I disagree with it, it's that it has this idealistic view of the past. The reality is that all of human history is about one power trying to impose it's will on others, and the use of scare tactics by governments to maintain it's power and take liberty away from people

MelbourneGirl said...

thanks aleks. happy protesting.

Larry Bonewend said...

Yikes, that is one almighty stream of consciousness!

...mj said...

Heavy duty MG. I'm too lightweight to wade through all that. But whatever clears your head ;-)

Rowena said...

a gold star for me!

however, to go right back to the beginning - I often fantasise about being a lady 200 years ago. I mean, apart from the little matter of being a second class citizen. But I think women's right to get the vapours should be reinstated pronto.

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MelbourneGirl said...

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it's fantastic and adds colour to my comments

hey rowena, here's your GOLD STAR!

Swifty said...

Hi Melbourne girl, as promised I've had a look at this post first (I'll check out the orgasmic post later :-))

I've only a quick comment to make, regarding Post-modernism. I'm not familiar with Stuart Hall's theories, but I'm rather suspicious nonetheless. As I inderstand PM, it's a reaction to Modernism, which in terms of art, primarily posited a 'high art', a kind of elitism. Since then, the emphasis has gravitated to a kind of 'anything goes' theory. A more democratic idea if you like. And I have no quarrel with this. It's totally consistent with the march of captialism and consumerism, in which the ordinary man and woman are king in determining what is good. I like it as I'm essentially an anarchist. Not in the honourable tradition, but in a personal, I'm very suspicious of any 'authority', way. For me, this is the great virtue of Post Modernism - it's fucked the elitists up the arse, and about time. But to go further with this, and to posit the notion is underpinned by American expansionism is ludicrous parnanoia. This doesn't mean that the Yanks aren't guilty as charged, but I think it's laughable to cite the already overworked concept of PM as an instrument usd in attaining that goal.

Another Outspoken Female said...

I'm so relieved that other people have so much clutter in their head like me :) Better than therapy!

Aleks - Anarcho-Syndicalist said...

Okay, as promised, an explanation of Marxism and the Bourgeouis. I am trying to remember things I studied a while back, so it may be a little off. If it is, I am sure some one will correct me.

Firstly, the Bourgeouis. Today Bourgeouis usually refers to the "middle class". For Marx however it generally meant a specific group of people. For Marx, history was a serious of class struggles; Master - Slave, Landowner - peasant/serf, and in the Industrialised age Bourgeouis - worker. The Bourgeouis were the new economic elite in the industrialised age, the factory owners and the like who made their money not through any work of their own, but through the toil and suffering of the workers (no change there in modern western capitalist society). As such, like the masters and landowners before them, they were parasites feeding off the blood of others.

As for Marxism, this can mean one of two things. Later in his life Marx was believed to have said "I am not a Marxist!".

Marx was one of, if not the first, to recognise that in capitalism the economy goes through a serious of booms and busts( or recessions/depressions). In order to overcome a recession, some bourgeouis/capitalists would reduce the number of workers in their factories and introduce newer technology to the workplace, while squeezing even more out of their existing workers/proletariat. Some bourgeouis/capitalists would go out of business during the recessionss and would thus join the growing mass of unemployed workers/proletariat. Once the economy went back into boom, some of these people would gain their jobs back, but not all. Thus as a result of these cycles, the number of unemployed workers/proletariat and former bourgeouis would grow over time, until a critical mass of unemployed would be reached, at which point, having had enough of this, they would rise up and overthrow the state. The former bourgeouis would play a prominent role in leading the revolution, though the revolution would only occur when this critical mass would occur. After the revolution a "dictatorhsip of the proletariat" would occur, where all property would be nationalised, and as a result of this common ownership and working for the common good, eventually the state would disappear.

Where Marx disagreed with "marxists" in his time (and likely with those in our time) is in the the role of "the party". Marx believed the revolution would naturally occur when the conditions were right, and as such a Marxist "party" was not only not necessary, but contradictory to the spontaneous nature of the revolution. However "Marxists" emphasised the role of the party as a "revolutionary vanguard" who would help organise the workers/proletariat and instigate the revolution. Thus for them the revolution would not be spontaneous, but would come about through the leading role of the party and their organisation of the workers/proletariat.

Dxxxx said...

oh boy, it's busy in your head!
Better out than in, as they say...

Spring is here now. And that's always a good thing.


MelbourneGirl said...

love it aleks, marx saying he's not a marxist. i have been reading more about him today. don, about your comment re pm; hall was being critical of it, and was merely providing a sort of commentary. i only mentioned it because it made me think about things in a different way. in the text i read, he didn't suggest pm was an instrument for the americans to achieve their evil ends, but rather that as it's in the post modern era that they are really trying it on. i am not being coherent. nor was i yesterday. and that's ok because it's my blog.

thanks dxxxx for visiting. my head is busy and that was only about ten minutes' worth of stuff, though there is a lot of circular movement.

Swifty said...

Melbourne Girl,

That's fair comment. I only chipped in cos it seemed no one else made reference to it, and it seemed the whole post was based around it. Anyway, I was showing off my expertise based on once reading a 'Teach yourself Modernism' book. I was on very shaky ground indeed. Anyway, after re-reading it looks like I was being hostile which I certainly didn't intend. I'll be back.

LadyCracker said...

Far out, that took some time. I hope that you feel refreshed.

And a very happy belated birthday to princess.
take care

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