Beneath the domestic surface

Zen garden (21 May 2016)

Zen garden (21 May 2016)

“Mementos that Bird has kept for years hold the past inside them, making it tangible and permanent: clippings of Mickey’s hair, peels of the first orange they shared, a bloody tissue. They stir nostalgia but reopen its wounds, like scabs asking to be tugged back so they can bleed.” (from Sarah Gerard’s NYT review of “Bird” by Noy Holland)

On page 59: a lovely sentence that seems like a found senryū …

A swell of things:
gathered, unsortable,
gone. 

“It is here, in Holland’s subtly radiant ­details … that “Bird” shines brightest, since they so aptly mirror what’s happening beneath the domestic surface.” (another snippet from Sarah Gerard’s review)

This novel sings like
poetry; I’m obliged to 

read between the lines.

(19 May 2016)

“The writing is hallucinatory, musical and intimate.” (Sarah Gerard)


Holland, Noy. 2015. Bird. Berkeley, CA: Counterpoint Press.

Reflecting on police brutality

This brief post intends to signal that posting to |A Twisted Pair| has recommenced.

It seems not much has changed since then. My last post, on Christmas Eve 2015, carried “an uncommonly handsome view of the Central Police Station – a strong contender, I reckon, for the title of Wellington’s ugliest building.”

Less than a fortnight ago, I posted an image on my Facebook page under the title, REFLECTING ON POLICE BRUTALITY, as follows:

police brutality (19 Mar 16)

police brutality (19 Mar 16)

To my eye, the Wellington Central Police Station is one of the ugliest buildings in the city. Upon reflection (in the surfaces of the building on the opposite side of Victoria Street), it does seem more interesting. This image dates from 19 March 2016.

“Brutalist architecture is a movement in architecture that flourished from the 1950s to the mid-1970s, descending from the modernist architectural movement of the early 20th century. The term originates from the French word for “raw” in the term used by Le Corbusier to describe his choice of material béton brut (raw concrete). British architectural critic Reyner Banham adapted the term into “brutalism” (originally “New Brutalism”) to identify the emerging style.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Brutalist_architecture

Thin red line

thin red line (23 December 2015)

thin red line (23 December 2015)

“You like buildings, do you?” A mature female voice is addressing me.

I am in Victoria Street, and about to click the shutter on this image, an uncommonly handsome view of the Central Police Station – a strong contender, I reckon, for the title of Wellington’s ugliest building.

Standing at my right shoulder, the speaker is clad in a striking mauve jumpsuit. Jauntily perched on her head is a smart little summer hat. She is not someone I know.

I smile as she wishes me the compliments of the season.

“I like anything that catches my eye,” I tell her. “So be careful.”

The clock ticks three times as she registers what has been said. And then both her thumbs go up. “Nice one!” she declares.

 

 

Judith Butler

Judith Butler (posted on wordpond)

“Let’s face it. We’re undone by each other. If this seems so clearly the case with grief, it is only because it was already the case with desire. One does not always stay intact. It may be that one wants to … but it may also be that despite one’s best efforts, one is undone, in the face of the other, by the touch, by the scent, by the feel, by the prospect of the touch, by the memory of the feel.

~ Judith Butler
(Post-Structuralist Philosopher)

Summer morning

laundry (02 January 2015)

laundry (02 January 2015)

.

This summer morning …
a few honey-bees are drawn
to my lavender.

Sipping camomile
tea, I contemplate the lines
of drying laundry.


“After enlightenment, the laundry. It’s a Zen proverb,” writes Jen Zbozny in her blog piece titled After enlightenment, the laundry (24 January 2014).

Reality: too obvious to be true

Banksy and Baudrillard

untitled (Banksy and Baudrillard) (detail)

Nothing is wholly obvious without becoming enigmatic. Reality itself is too obvious to be true. (Jean Baudrillard)

In hand, a bunch of diverse quotations, most of them having at least some bearing on the nature of reality. The Baudrillard piece seems to have appointed itself chief amongst them, but Einstein can be heard muttering in the background.

Not unexpectedly – given the two words, ‘obvious’ and ‘enigmatic’ – Google Images quickly finds a picture/text version of the Baudrillard quote. But more interesting by far, I think, is this Banksy art piece with which it is teamed up on the Particulate Matters blog.

Clearly, both Banksy and “cosmicdebris” (proprietor of Particulate Matters) are saying something about the teachings of the Christian Church – particularly, it seems, in relation to the indoctrination of children. Look elsewhere on the Particulate Matters blog and you will find links to other ‘indoctrination’ stories: for example, Monsanto indoctrinating kids at the zoo.

Actually, I’m inclined to suspect that indoctrination is integral to every aspect of living – and that everyone is routinely doing it and/or having it done to them. And it wouldn’t necessarily qualify as either brainwashing or catechism. Let’s put it more simply: we’re all inclined to push our ideas on others – and we call it marketing, persuasion, instruction, education, or teaching.

Be that all as it may, it is not really the main point of my post.

A few months ago, on |cross-ties| – the blog of “The Other” – there was a bit of back-and-forth about the nature of reality. A piece titled Taking a cycle trip led one reader to discuss Derrida’s ideas, noting that in language there is a gap between words and things. I would take this further, asserting that there is a gap between what we perceive and what is actually the case.

A similar gap yawns between the words of every witness and the occurrences they describe – what we thought we saw, the way it seems to us, what we believe to be true, and everything that is ‘obvious’. (And, by the way, since it’s that obvious, why can’t everyone see it our way?)

Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus begins with the proposition that “the world is everything that is the case” and ends by reminding us that “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” Wittgenstein isn’t saying there’s stuff we can choose not to talk about; he’s actually pointing out that there are some things nobody can put into words.

Albert Einstein asserts that “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.” Elsewhere, he declares, “The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking.” He is not saying that nothing is real; what he means is that everything we experience as real is invented. “The human mind has first to construct forms, independently, before we can find them in things.” (Albert Einstein Essays in Science (1934), p27)

The way science talks about reality and truth is sounding more and more like the words of the ancient religions. For example, Geshe Rabten Rinpoche, a notable teacher of Tibetan Buddhism, says: “The ultimate truth of all conventional truths is their being void of inherent existence. Conventional truths, ie empirical phenomena, exist dependently upon causal conditions, parts and imputation; they have absolutely no existence apart from these conditioning factors.”

But “Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true,” wrote Francis Bacon (1560-1626). Called the creator of empiricism, “[Bacon] established and popularised inductive methodologies for scientific inquiry, often called the Baconian method, or simply the scientific method.” (GoodReads)

Ultimately, then, as Baudrillard says, whatever seems obvious is, in reality, the superficial manifestation of a profound mystery: the deeper you go into it, the less you are able to say about it.

In Poetry: This Death Is Incomplete (part one of an essay on poetry and death), Amy King talks about “spinning yarns to name things and claim power over them” – which, she reminds us, is not a new concept. In explication, King points us to Alice Notley’s The Book of Lies. The opening lines are especially apt: “Do you believe this stuff or is it a story? I believe every fucking word, but it is a story.”

__________

An ever-changing draft of this piece has been in my editor for months. There’s so much more I want to say, but it is long past time I got something posted. 

 

On Daffodil Day

daffodils, Te Horo (15 August 2014)

daffodils, Te Horo (15 August 2014)

Today there are phony daffodils all over the place – because, as everyone in New Zealand must surely know, this is Daffodil Day.

“Daffodil Day is the Cancer Society’s annual flagship event,” says the homepage of the Cancer Society’s web-site, which regards Daffodil Day as “one of the most important fundraising and awareness campaigns in the country. As well as providing an opportunity to raise awareness of cancer in New Zealand, Daffodil Day is a major funding source for the Cancer Society. We are proud to be regarded as one of the country’s most trusted charities and this is reflected in our fundraising practices.”

In the past, I have been only too happy to donate to the Cancer Society, and to wear a plastic daffodil. I have fond memories of carrying bunches of cut flowers around the city and – on occasion – deriving pleasure from giving them away.

Today, though, I looked at daffodils in Moore Wilson Fresh but did not buy any. Nor did I poke a twenty into any collector’s tin.

The truth is I’m feeling exploited – by commerce in general, and by the Cancer Society’s principal sponsor in particular (even though I bank with the ANZ Bank).

I’m confident that the people of the Cancer Society are well-intentioned and honourable … but I’m sorry, I’m just not in the mood to wear a fake daffodil today.

So here’s a photo of some real daffodils clustered around a tree on the lawn of friends who live in Te Horo.

Single shot

single shot (20 June 2014)

single shot (20 June 2014)

Whatever reservations one might have about the Nestlé Nespresso concept − questions of unit cost, freshness, pre-packaging, waste, recycling − the boutique is certainly eye-catching. But there was something special about the quality of the light when I passed, a few days ago, that made me grab my camera and snaffle this surreal shot.

Nespresso opened its first New Zealand boutique in Auckland (203 Broadway, Newmarket, Auckland) in August 2011. The second was launched in Wellington (215- 229 Lambton Quay) in November 2013.

By the way, Superette’s blog is quite enthusiastic about it.

Okay, maybe I’m curious enough to actually check out the products …