Tuesday, October 26, 2010

for the love of democracy

Last night's Q and A was some of the most thrilling television I have seen in a while. I should mention that before I watched Q and A, I watched Neighbours for the first time in a year, and anything is more riveting than that.

Former Prime Minister John Howard was on the show in order to promote his new autobiography. The show began, and looked like it was going to be as dry and often embarassing as his years in power were. But lucky for the viewers, Q and A had a few surprises in store. I will admit, I was playing Solitaire on my phone while listening and not paying close attention. Howard doesn't seem to have changed one iota in the three years he's been gone, and I guess I wasn't really that interested in what he had to say. Until Tony Jones just happened to mention that none other than David Hicks had a video question for him.

I have to admire the sheer balls of Q and A. I also have to admire our democracy. In Howard's own words (or rather, his deflection of Hicks' question) "isn't it a great country that allows this kind of exchange to occur". What a country we live in, where technology provides us with a means of holding our country's leader's to account. Now, if only they would take some responsibility for their actions, then we might really be getting somewhere. We may be some sort of progressive country that goes places and really achieves things. Sadly, this doesn't look to be the case. Howard was on the defensive again last night, and his default answer was that no matter what, he and Tony Abbott had set up the economy so well that it survived the GFC.

Well done sir! Of course, economy is important, I am well and truly past my days of pretending like it doesn't matter. My immaturity has been replaced by reality and practibility. Surely, though, human life is of equal importance? And since when does pleading guilty make it okay to be tortured and detained without charge? Howard did many great things for our country, the economy being just one of them, but there was many more than disappointing moments in his 11 years as Prime Minister. Last night, in his reasoning for not apologising for the Stolen Generation, Howard had this to say "you apologise for something for which you are responsible. I mean, you express regret or sorrow in relation to something that, you know, upset you." I wonder then about this man's humanity. Last night he clearly expressed very little regret in regards to any of the mistakes and misdemeanors by himself and his Government.

In essence, I am glad he no longer runs this country. Not to say that anyone else is going to do a better job, but after last night's informative and exciting televisual experience (let's not forget the shoe!), I am simply peaceful that the man who in the worst moment disguises his humanity is no longer running the show.

Monday, October 25, 2010

the age of procrastination

Not wanting to have this post sound boring before I even begin, but I have to begin with this. I have two assignments left to complete to finish the semester. One in particular has roused my attention, the one where our essay should lead us to becoming an expert on the topic. I chose to research UNESCO Cities of Literature because I was genuinely interested in the reasoning behind the hype. The reason why Melbourne really can now claim to be the cultural capital of Australia, not that we Melbournians didn't already know this!

The research has been interesting, preserving cultural heritage in the world (among other things) is a fine and noble pursuit if you ask me (oh wait, you didn't). I have been especially struck by one article in particular. An opinion piece, from the Age, 2008, with no specified author. Well, none that I can find. Being a proud Gen Y I'm sure I can find the author of a newspaper article on a website, but the Age has got me this time! My amazing internet scrolling skills aside, this article blabs on about the wonder that is the Melbourne's new title, and then almost unwittingly hits on a key topic that I have (now) decided to focus on in my essay.

Literacy. Oh, to be literate. And what does it really mean? I would call myself a literate person (as opposed to an ambling alliterate asshole). Although I seem to attach some snobbery to the meaning. When I think of myself, 'a literate person', what immediately comes to mind is my hardcopy, green felt and gold gilt, Wordsworth copy of the collected works of Shakespeare. Yes, I have attached literacy to Shakespeare, and perhaps rightly so? If a person reads, comprehends (to whatever extent) and actually enjoys the master of words and literature, surely they should be allowed to don the charming title of 'literate'? And yet, there is surely many fine 'literate' folk out there who either dislike or just can't figure out Shakespeare. Shed some light on your numbers, un-Shakespeareans! Allow me to see your cause and know my argument is not false.

Which brings me to my next question, can literacy change? What with the evolution of the digital age (makes me sound old and as though I wasn't raised by a computer), reading, writing and other associated tasks have altered so radically. Attention spans have, I'm sure, shortened drastically. While I'm yet to find a reliable study to support my claim, I'm sure one will show up in the next few (20) years. With the beauty of 'flicking' (I'm waiting for this one to become a verb, like Googling), the age of procrastination is upon us! This may result in a breed of Gen Y and Z's who are efficient multitaskers, but I wonder as to the future of the book. Who has the time or effort to sit and read and philosophise over the collected works of Shakespeare? Me, obviously, but I'm finding me's few and far between. So can literacy change? How will we define literacy in 50 years? Not that I've even discussed how we define literacy now, and I'm sure this entire post is full of evidence quite contrary to my earlier claim of 'literacy', but Question and Answer is on soon, and I really just wanted to ramble for a short while. Apologies if I have wasted your time, but perhaps you are looking at the future of of what it means to be literate. Enjoy!

*Impressive art, yes?

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

muse on music

I can't say I've felt many things here
Yet that words can't describe

I have often wondered if I have a slight version of obsessive compulsive disorder. Nothing of the obvious sort like rearranging my cutlery or washing my hands, none of that boring ordinary stuff for me! No, I think I have a far more interesting, but probably much more common sort of OCD.

Given, I have no idea what classifies this disorder, what symptoms you need to display in order to be given the official title. And don't get me wrong, I am most certainly not making fun of this serious disorder. I once watched a documentary (trash tv more likely) where Dr. Phil put a whole lot of people with obsessive compulsive disorder in a house together, and let me tell you, this is serious business.

For me, it is music. I get obsessed about music. And not like a 15 year old girl who falls in love with the lead singer and has poster's of him and the band plastered all over her walls. No, this is much more serious than that. I have no poster's. I have no over zealous passion for the singer/guitarist/drummer. Perhaps I don't even own any of their CD's (although in some cases...I own all of them). When I get obsessed with a band/song/album it is bad. Bad for other people around me anyway. For example, my most recent obsession has been with Dead Letter Circus, a progressive rock band from Brisbane. Sure, progressive rock is for the slightly self-righteous 'appreciator's' of music. And while I am a very large fan of The Mars Volta and Tool, progressive rock is not necessarily 'my' genre. (Although I just contradicted myself in my own sentence...) But this band....oh this band!

What can be said? Each listening of the two albums gains me access to a new level of appreciation of their music. I honestly cannot explain it. There is just something about their music that touches me so deeply. Some of their songs bring me tears. Other songs make my chest feel like it is going to explode. The interesting part is that I don't know many of the lyrics. It is not 'all about the lyrics' for me. It really is the sounds that these boys create that moves me. And each time I listen, I'm moved at a new level. And then I pick up on a particular line in a song, understand the lyrics, and am moved at an entirely new level.

This band (there are others too, don't worry, they are just the current obsession) creates something in me that I struggle to express in words (strange for me, very confusing and disorienting). I truly wish that everybody could be inside my body when I listen to them. That really is the only way of understanding what they do to me. A great friend of mine and I once had conversation where, although we couldn't really express it, we could understand that music has this effect on both of us. She simply said...do you ever listen to some songs, and you feel like your chest is going to explode and you can't breathe? All I could say was yes, of course, and we understood. It's not even the same band or music for us, but whatever it is, we are both profoundly affected by something in music, in general.

I sincerely applaud musicians. Writing, as wonderful a craft as it is, is not that hard. We are taught language from birth. Creative writing is just a talent that we hone, or it is god-given, or whatever you believe. But music...where does it come from? If I were to philosophise about anything in life, it would be music. It is honestly the one thing that gets to me, that I can't figure out, that I can't understand using either my intellectual or creative brain. I love it, and it stumps me continuously. It moves me and generates me, and I couldn't live without it.

And then I meet those people who just don't get it. I find it quite distressing. The one's who say, I'm not that interested in music. You know, I like it, but I don't need to listen to it. WHAT??!! If I don't listen to any music in a day, I go crazy. If my car's sound system died (touch wood)...I think I would actually die. Not like an over-dramatisation. As in, I believe I would either implode or self-combust. I once lived for five days without a sound system in my house, all I had was my laptop (it has one broken speaker). That was definitely the craziest I have ever been in the last five years, and not crazy in a good way, as anyone who was around me then will testify. I have never succumbed to depression, until about day three of that time. I was known to moan longingly. Like some sort of bizarre dog.
(lyrics taken from Dead Letter Circus...obviously)

The reason why may not be found

Monday, October 18, 2010

due to illness

I made a promise to myself when I began this blog. The promise was to write a post every single day. Indeed, I thought I would do it. Perhaps I don't know myself as well as I'd like to.

I have been very sick though. This is the first excuse. And a good one too, when it's impossible to get out of bed and your housemate makes you tea and toast because your mother lives 2 hours away.

But if I'm really honest with myself, this is just more of the same old, same old. BORING. I have loved the act of writing, of expressing and creating through written language, since I learnt to how to write when I was four. I wrote my first short story when I was six. Given, it definitely needs work (lots of), but this is not the point. Writing is my passion; words move me to emotional extremes far more than movies and music ever have or could (although music is not far behind).

I always 'just wrote'. Nothing was in the way. It was just something I did. Something I loved to do. But lately (since I moved out of home? since my first real relationship? since my crazy university stunts??) writing does not happen as it used to. Something changed, and I don't know what it is. I still feel myself itching inside to get a pen in my hand (or computer) and just scribble (type) away. These days, though, circumstances always seem to get in the way of this. And then I forget my fantastic sentence, or my beautifully articulate paragraph.

And then real sadness is my novel. My baby that I have been writing since I was thirteen. I started that eight years ago. And yet in the last three years I have written something in the vicinity of 1000 words. Pathetic, yes? Sad, yes? Frustrated, me? Yes.

Writing is such a natural expression for me. Why do I put things in my way? Sleep is clearly not more important when I get enough anyway. Nor is money. Nor friends and family and cat. Not that these aren't important, obviously they are, and the latter is very important to me; but why should I let them get in the way of doing what I love? It's is none of these circumstances fault, other people manage to have these circumstances and still write/do whatever it is they love. It is only my decision that gets in the way.

I look forward to the next few months. I will stop letting my nonsense (possibly it just a need to have more drama in my life?) get in my way. I'm moving away from the city for a while, so let's just see what I can pull out, hey?