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.

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On Lambton Quay

two violins by Danny Andreini

two violins by Danny Andreini

On Lambton Quay, Bach
for two violins; small boy
stands captivated.

(16 May 2016)


On an autumn afternoon, unexpectedly, a vivacious counterpoint crosses Lambton Quay and stirs up in me both joy and nostalgia.

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.

 

 

Kaizen – a change for the better

kaizen

kaizen

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The Japanese term “kaizen” translates loosely as improvement or change for the better, according to the web-site of Leclair Ryan, an American firm of legal advisors. In Porirua, however, Kaizen is the café at Pataka Art + Museum.

After visiting my father at Kemp Home, Titahi Bay (21 May 2015), I met my sister for lunch at the Kaizen. The beautiful Japanese garden adjoining the café added to our experience as we ate the best spanakopita we’ve tasted in a long time … and the coffee was great!

Incidentally, kai refers to food in the Māori language, and a pataka is a place to store treasures.

Pataka houses a fine collection of sculptures, including one of Michel Tuffery’s tin-can bulls (image below).

Outside the entrance, and elsewhere in the vicinity, heaps of white sandbags – needed after mass rainfall on 14 May resulted in extensive flooding in the area. (My camera could not resist.)

 

Justin Hocking – Escapology

Captivated by this piece by Justin Hocking … it’s about authors who write with a great deal of restraint.

Bending Genre

First, you slip your arms through the overlong sleeves of a brand new white jacket. That new clothing smell: bleached cotton, crisp canvas. The discovery of curious leather straps and metal buckles, the function of which are yet unclear.

The discovery—stranger still—that the sleeves are sewn shut.

For argument’s sake, let’s say this jacket has a particularly tight fit. Let’s say that, straps cinched and buckles fastened, the snug garment pretzels your arms across your chest, left arm over the right, pressing your thumb-knuckles into your ribs, a tight vertical belt running from your navel to your coccyx.

Imagine, if you will, that you’re literally tied in a knot.

Straitjacketed.

Now, let’s say you’re hanging upside down on the stage of a vaudevillian theatre. Dim chandeliers sprout from the ceiling/floor like ornate stalagmites. Your head beats with blood-thrum; your hair hangs like single, limp wing. Stage lights hot as stove-tops…

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The Velveteen Rabbit, Reimagined with Uncommon Tenderness by Beloved Japanese Illustrator Komako Sakai | Brain Pickings

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.”

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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.