Why is sexism still a problem and what do we need to do to change it? Myself and a couple of others will be discussing this on 612 ABC radio on Monday morning at about 10.30am. (If you like to listen then I like to talk).
Archive for the ‘me’ Category
Here is my latest article, “Entertainment in a Hurry: On art, impatience and middle age” where I wrote about why I’ve watched so much True Blood instead of reading decent novels over the last couple of years. (Actually, it was The Wheeler Centre so I didn’t specifically admit to True Blood).
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote recently in The Atlantic that at this stage of his life he no longer prioritises ‘difficult books’. Instead, he wants to read books that make him work, not so much as a reader, but as a thinker. My refusal to finish certain books last year was less about the difficulty of those books and more about an intolerance for frustrations of all varieties. But I relate to this sentiment of Coates. I’m tired and rushed, as I imagine him to also be, but I’m still hungry for thoughts. More than ever now. I am skipping breakfast, racing to catch a train, rewriting drafts, reading reminder notices on unpaid bills and arguing with my children about cleaning their teeth – so, I’m dying for big thoughts that will weave their way through my head for weeks or months to come.
In fact, if I had to pick a difference between me in my twenties and me in my thirties I would say that this is it. When I was young I looked to the arts for ideas about everything and anything. In a way, I asked a lot of what I viewed while bringing very little myself. In my thirties, I look to everything with particular puzzles in mind, hoping to find something to excite new ways of resolving them. This is what I think Coates referred to when he said he wants to work as a thinker. And when I find these insights in someone’s creation I am awestruck, because not only do I understand the hard work involved in its realisation, but through the artist’s astute observations I am released from some of my own struggle. Frankly, I am a better audience at this age than I was in my twenties. But there’s a catch.
So, I had a birthday and I hosted a dinner party for a dozen friends. Everybody arrived late and teased me about how late I always am to everything with them and I told them you cannot outfox the fox because I loved them being late. Also, I gave everyone the wrong address and one poor friend got horribly lost before I realised what I’d done.
I have never cooked a meal for so many people and I astonished myself with the success of my dinner. Though to be honest, it does not take all that much to astonish me about me.
One of my friends gave a speech about me.. and it made me cry. They all wrote love notes to me in their birthday cards and that made me cry, too.
I had a wonderful time and I must start throwing more dinner parties again.
This is my sister’s baby, who slept pretty much the entire way through the dinner party.. like he wasn’t related to my children.
Before you ask, I did not bake my birthday cake. But I bought it myself.
Cormac, aged 3, putting on his Batman costume with built-in pectorals: Batman is like my Mum. He has big breasts.
I am being interviewed on the Breakfast Program on 3CR this Tuesday 8 January 2013 at 7.30am, if you are a Melbourne person you can listen to me… or not. We are going to be talking about women voters, both here in Australia and in the USA. It’s a topic I love.
This is Christmas in the sub-tropics in Australia..
I love to see what December looks like in your part of the world (particularly if it includes snow), so if you care to, leave a link to your own December photos in the comment section.
Lauca and Cormac meet their new cousin, my sister’s first baby.
In the hospital room with my sister and brother-in-law.
Cold Greek yoghurt and cucumber soup. Most of the ingredients were grown in the garden.
Lunch on the deck for my friend and I. (All our children screamed simultaneously the entire time in the background. We drank champagne and stopped caring).
One of the gifts my brother gave to the kids for Christmas – cardboard moneyboxes.
Lauca and my friend’s daughter talking on a picnic rug in a park.
Lauca in the local rainforest.
Bush-walking with my kids and my friend’s kids.
Tree-climbing fallen trees.
Cormac doing Christmas morning dancing.
Lauca during breakfast at home on Christmas morning. (We’re a ‘sunglasses at the table’ kind of glamour family).
Christmas lunch at my sister’s.
Counting baby toes in matching reindeer t-shirts.
Cormac on my sister’s back steps.
Boxing Day BBQ. Cool enough weather to be drinking red wine in a mug.
My aunt taught me to crack a stock whip and then she taught the kids how to use a bow and arrow.
Lauca building a bridge.
Cormac stamping in puddles.
Me, earlier this month.
The family is the cradle of the world’s misinformation. There must be something in family life that generates factual error. Over-closeness, the noise and heat of being. Perhaps even something deeper like the need to survive. Murray says we are fragile creatures surrounded by a world of hostile facts. Facts threaten our happiness and security. The deeper we delve into things, the looser our structure may seem to become. The family process works towards sealing off the world. Small errors grow heads, fictions proliferate. I tell Murray that ignorance and confusion can’t possibly be the driving forces behind family solidarity. What an idea, what a subversion. He asks me why the strongest family units exist in the least developed societies. Not to know is a weapon of survival, he says. Magic and superstition become entrenched as the powerful orthodoxy of the clan. The family is strongest where objective reality is most likely to be misinterpreted. What a heartless theory, I say. But Murray insists it’s true.
It is really difficult to choose a favourite quote from White Noise because I think it is one of the cleverest novels ever written.. it’s just full of perfect phrases. The book is written by Don DeLillo and it is absolutely one of my all-time favourites.
As Wolfi is telling his story I become more and more uneasy. When he finishes Andrea gets up without comment. She puts her book in her bag and slips the strap over her shoulder. She picks up the tray with her now empty plates.
Before she leaves she turns to me and says: Thank you for last night.
Nothing in the tone of what she says allows me to gauge whether this is meant positively or negatively. It is, in fact, goodbye. I fail to see the connection between these two incidents.
Forster’s exhortation to the novelist was that he must ‘connect’/ ‘Only connect’ he said. Forster did not say ‘he or she’. This is significant. It tells us a lot about Forster, the fact that he used the word ‘he’.
In my effort to find the connection between Wolfi’s retelling of the incident on the bus and Andrea’s enigmatic farewell, I missed, at least initially, the connection between Andrea’s presence and the conversation with Wolfi that followed.
Retrospectively then, it is not Andrea’s disappearance which is significant but the fact that she was there in the first place. And yet I’m sure the two events, Andrea’s presence and Wolfi’s subsequent conversation are, in reality, totally disconnected. Their connection is only illusory, due to something Wolfi calls “die Elision proximatischer Zufalligkeit’ [the elision of proximate coincidence].
But I resent the fact that for apparent reasons of narrative logic a real person seems to have been dropped out of my life, has, as it were, been dispensed with now that she has fulfilled the fictional role assigned to her. The thing is, I still miss her. I try to imagine her at some stage walking into a bookstore, browsing through the books on the shelves, selecting one, this one. She buys it, takes it home. As she reads is she comes to the section which begins: ‘I am sitting in the university dining room with a friend. Her name is Andrea Staiger’
Komisch, she says, ich heisse Andrea Staiger. that’s my name.
At first she is prepared to accept it as pure coincidence. But what if she had read ‘Unterestrasse’, what then?
[Ich glaub' das nicht.] I don’t believe it, she says. That was my address. I see her racking her brains, trying to remember what may have been one of many chance encounters in her past. She rereads the passage describing our love-making. Perhaps she really can’t remember. And yet there is a vague memory, a memory of a conversation one sunny morning in the market place, sitting on the window sill of the Town Hall. A photograph.
Yes, now I remember… How strange to come across oneself in a work of fiction!
Out of the Line of Fire (1988) was the first experimental novel I read written by an Australian author. (It is written by Mark Henshaw, who has hardly written anything since – where are you, Mr Henshaw?). It was very exciting as a read, particularly as I was still learning German at the time and whole sections of it are written in German. It’s difficult to find good quotes from the novel because it’s more a game of form than words. Henshaw is preoccupied with reality, story-telling, language, translation and sex. What’s not to like?
.. the prettiest and most interesting things are the very ones that cannot be known or explained..
I loved Rosshalde by Herman Hesse so much. It’s my favourite of his books. For my Christmas holidays this year I am going to flick through some favourite books and find favourite quotes for lazy blogging.