Archive for the ‘this moment’ Category

My latest column is here:

Much of the inner turmoil is displayed inside the house. That is where you really let loose. Privately. Sometimes manifesting as complete chaos and other times as an urgent desire for order. Mine was the latter. But the garden, beyond your immediate attention and yet on display to the street can betray your confidences. One day I noticed, or rather it was pointed out to me, that mine was making something of a statement. Herbs gone to seed, thirsty stalks in pots, unfinished projects and overgrown grass; it seemed to be telling the street that I did not have my life together.

At the time, I wasn’t much interested in gardens, and because I really did not have my life together what I really wanted was a new room, one that wouldn’t remind me of anything. Instead, I had a holiday and rather than going away I simply walked outside. And there in my garden I found a room, and then another, and another after that. They were quite tranquil rooms or at least, had the potential to be. Different parts of the garden offered different moods – they received varying amounts of sunshine, had a range of outlooks, provided assorted degrees of privacy or community, leant themselves to meals outside or children playing or solitude. With a little bit of work I realised they could become new living space.

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Here. (Thanks to Tedra for this link and so many other good ones).

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My article is here:

It strikes me from all of this how incredibly difficult it is to disassociate your identity from your child’s. How your child’s differences can easily be felt as rejection just as their expression of self is seen to be a reflection on you. But parenting in reply to your childhood is a conversation with the past. Just as parenting as reinvention is a conversation with an unknown future. What both these conversations lack is the present.

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For it to be a genuine encounter, we must always be able to assume that it is the beginning of a possible adventure. You cannot demand an insurance contract with whomever it is that you have encountered. Since the encounter is incalculable, if you try to reduce this insecurity then you destroy the encounter itself, that is to say, accepting someone entering into your life as a complete person. It is precisely this that distinguishes the encounter from libertinism.

This whole interview is magical. I recommend it. Alain Badiou in Verso Books.

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You have to love art that is this big with this many breasts.

ag skywhale

And maternity and breastfeeding can still alarm. From the artist, Patricia Piccinini: “I didn’t think people would react against her as much as they have, but I think that’s interesting about us. We’re suspicious of difference, and that’s interesting in itself.

I think that she’s got a very beautiful and benign presence. She’s very nurturing. She’s a maternal creature and I think that they’re qualities that are missing in the mainstream and representations in the mainstream”.


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Pour toi

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A friend who has been staying with me is about to return to France and he just cooked us all a goodbye lunch, which is quite something considering when he arrived he told me he was unable to cook. And so all this time I have been cooking for him without my usual apprehension thinking, well, what does this poor fool know about Australian cooking. For all he knows this dish is supposed to taste like this. That led to more adventurousness from me and ultimately more cooking success too. So there is a lesson somewhere there.

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I have to warn you that there is pretty much zero modesty left in me about my kitchen garden now. The combination of good growing weather this summer and lots of gardening help, plus the garden being the main recipient of both my daydreamy and my mopey attention in recent times means that it is completely thriving. And gardening is all so novel to me that I just cannot shut up about my achievements.

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The emperor—it is said—sent to you, the one apart, the wretched subject, the tiny shadow that fled far, far from the imperial sun, precisely to you he sent a message from his deathbed.

Here is a source for the full text in case you want to know how the story ends.

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..this was the road to civilisation, sure enough, but its cost was a loss of diversity, of the quiet kind of flourishing that goes where things are not being built and goals driven towards. She herself relished the early Saxon world, in which concepts of power had not yet been reconfigured; for in a way the Dark Ages were themselves a version of ‘the new reality’, were the broken pieces of the biggest plate of all, the Roman Empire. Some called it darkness, the aftermath of that megalomanical all-conquering unity, but not Mrs Lewis. She liked it, liked the untenanted wastes, liked the monasteries and the visionaries, the early religious writings, liked the women who accrued stature in those formless inchoate centuries, liked the grassroots – the personal – level on which issues of justice and belief had now to be resolved, in the absence of that great administrator civilisation.

The point was that this darkness – call it what you will – this darkness and disorganisation were not mere negation, mere absence. They were both aftermath and prelude. The etymology of the word ‘aftermath’ is ‘second mowing’, a second crop of grass that is sown and reaped after the harvest is in. Civilisation, order, meaning, belief: these were not sunlit peaks to be reached by a steady climb. They were built and then they fell, were built and fell again or were destroyed. The darkness, the disorganisation that succeeded them had their own existence, their own integrity; were betrothed to civilisation, as sleep is betrothed to activity. In the life of compartments lies the possibility of unity, just as unity contains the prospect of atomisation. Better, in Mrs Lewis’s view, to live the compartmentalised, the disorganised life and feel the dark stirrings of creativity, than to dwell in civilised unity, racked by the impulse to destroy.

I just re-read Rachel Cusk’s Aftermath: on Marriage and Separation in preparation for early next year when a group of writer/editor friends and I are meeting in Melbourne for a one-off book club to discuss this book over dinner and the reviews it received and how it was interpreted (one of the reviews even won hatchet job of the year).. and I loved this book when I first read it but I love it ten times more now.

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This year I read a lot of poetry: partly because I have never read much poetry and I was always meaning to, and partly to slow my reading down and improve the way I read (ie. less speed reading, more contemplating) and partly because it has been such a year of turmoil for me and I thought poetry might help and well, it can’t hurt.

My brother sent me this poem last night when he called to wish me a happy Christmas (and hassle me about the article we’re writing together). I love it.

Fair Weather
by Dorothy Parker

This level reach of blue is not my sea;
Here are sweet waters, pretty in the sun,
Whose quiet ripples meet obediently
A marked and measured line, one after one.
This is no sea of mine, that humbly laves
Untroubled sands, spread glittering and warm.
I have a need of wilder, crueler waves;
They sicken of the calm, who knew the storm.

So let a love beat over me again,
Loosing its million desperate breakers wide;
Sudden and terrible to rise and wane;
Roaring the heavens apart; a reckless tide
That casts upon the heart, as it recedes,
Splinters and spars and dripping, salty weeds.

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I used a random number generator to select three replies to my review of Amazing Babes, and so these people each win a copy of the book from the publisher:



Red Horse

I will email you, three, and the publisher tonight. I hate that all the rest of you don’t get a copy though.

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