Sunday, 15 October 2017


I am very sad today and at a loss to know what I can do to make things better. Monday tomorrow and that's a good thing because it means absorption in work and a release from other upsetting thoughts. I have worked there a year and a half now. These are peace cranes folded by children in the holiday program we ran over the last school holidays. They are beautiful don't you think?

Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Going back

Well, I went out to La Trobe. I was asked to give a paper in a research day on Jane Austen, so I did that with great pleasure. The research day part of it was all fine. Visiting La Trobe was a pretty intense experience.

The weather was beautiful. I went on my bike and I got there early on purpose so I could have a really good wander around. It's only been about three years since I left. So it was just how I thought it'd be: uncanny how much the place hadn't changed and how much it felt like I'd never left. That is such a trite little cliche but you must understand, it was a raw and very strange emotional state. I felt as if the last three years had just been a dream I'd had last night, now fading in the light of the morning.

But also, at the same time, plenty had changed and that was uncanny too. Like, this had bemusingly appeared on the bit of grass between the path to car park 7 and the loop of the moat that rolls in front of the John Scott. I pulled over and looked at it for a while.

I knew I was expecting to find the place different - by the time of my departure, the VC had already plunged La Trobe deep into a convulsive physical change - but I'm afraid it wasn't until I saw this sculpture that I understood that I was fully expecting all the changes I found to be making the place worse. 

That recognition, then and there, put the lie to what I'd thought - that I was over La Trobe, no longer emotionally entangled in it as if it was, I don't know, a lover or something and not in fact a university campus. Lately the doctor has been all like, you can't accept deprivation and loss and rejection and unavailability, because not accepting it when you were small is how you survived. And I have been thinking that this notion of hers is just a bit too textbook Freudian to be very useful to me. So that was a bit of a shit, to find myself on campus for less than three minutes and already taking the loss of things overly personally. She isn't the sort of person who ever needs to say 'I told you so'. She works it so you come to that conclusion independently. 

There's a lot of sculpture at La Trobe and it's almost all very graceful, clean, modernist - a couple of recentish additions like the upside down Charles La Trobe monument are the exceptions and they are not improvements. This is also not an improvement, indeed it is fkn horrible. It's in the "small and quirky" sculptural genre which I have invested a lot of energy and words into hating and pouring scorn upon, on this blog, over the years, only this example isn't small. Well, maybe it will be destroyed by vandals. There are precedents. Someone has vandalised the Donald Whitehead building by peeling the brown bricks off and replacing them with metallic strips, possibly of the kind that are so good at catching fire and melting, there is no way of knowing. Well, I suppose it would not be appropriate for the university to issue MBAs unless the students who receive them have learned about 360-degree feedback tools, emotional intelligence, the seven habits of highly successful people and the like by watching video lectures recorded by sessional academics working in buildings which the THE World University Rankings has verified as being appropriately clad in metallic strips. 

Change comes even to the car pool: that little hut at the end of the row used to be inhabited by James the car pool administrator who lent out cars from his place in the centre of a puddle of empty fast food packaging which rose up as high as his armpits. You cannot see it in the photo but there are overflowing bins out the front. There must have been a coup. I hope James is okay.  
The lawn behind the Thomas Cherry building has always been able to make me feel happy. I once saw a handwritten poster advertising a riot scheduled to occur on the Thomas Cherry lawn. "Bring your own weapons" it said.
The one unmitigatedly great addition to the campus to happen in the current epoch is this set of sculptures by Reko Rennie.
Can't tell you how relieved, surprised and pleased I was to find that the Leonard French glasses are still in their places under the David Myers building. Last I heard they needed extensive restoration because the black stuff between the pieces of glass had deteriorated and it was going to cost hundreds of thousands of dollars (money that needed to be spent on metallic strips, and oh my fucking god, on painting the exposed concrete surfaces of Robin Boyd's Menzies College ORANGE AND BLACK)

Also very happy to see Inge King still in the moat and has thus far escaped being painted orange and black. The corporate colours doncha know!

This was my office in La Trobe Learning and Teaching, on the ground floor of Humanities 2. In Room 101. The room containing the worst thing in the world.

My previous office was on the fifth floor of the same building. Count back five window bays from the right and there it is. I was too unsettled to actually go inside Hu 2 but now I wish I had
 The Ag.

Menzies: you can't see the orange and black bits in this photo which I took while thinking, well, they can be stupid and paint it but they can't really ruin how nice it is here.

Unfortunately this tree stump has been made into a "designated smoking area"

I was just about weeping by the time I walked through the level 2 corridor bridging Hu 2 and Hu 3. Ridiculous I know.

 ]The research day was held inside the library, which has been most assiduously cleansed of books. Even the catalogue got disappeared.

This is what you see when you are walking back to Hu 2 from the Agora. That walk, that place, is the essence of La Trobe for me. The picture, well, you will just have to take my word for it that this is a photograph of a place where I have spent years of my life on an inward exploration, and that seeing it again, just waiting there in the morning sun, same as it ever was, makes me incredibly emotional. I know the picture is so boring that this sounds ridiculous. Those trees on the left will be doing their stupendous springtime flowering right now.

the thaw

Canning St this afternoon was more or less coated in people, flopping about on the median strip's spring grass like fur seals on Chinaman's Hat, exposing all their pasty limbs to the sunlight. They were all flopping about individually however so I did not bother stopping to disturb their solitudes by cracking out the somewhat rusty moves in the Diane Arbus / Joan Didion department. A necessary exception was made for this little one, solemnly holding a private tea party on the grass, in her purple fairy dress and red sneakers. Her dad was supervising from the footpath and he gave me permission to take the picture. 

Obvs Canning St is going all out to melt my miserable hard frozen heart. Bring it on you bicycle superhighway, I am ready.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing?

Were you forced to read Mythologies in first year university? And by 'forced to read' what I mean is, was a bit of it on the reading list for one of your arts subjects, so you read that and then you went and got yourself a copy and hoovered it up so fast that you finished it then started again at the start before the bus got to your stop? I know that you did because it's a very important part of why we are friends: this capacity that you and I both have, not just to perform a semiotic reading of a cereal box as easily as breathing, but more importantly to take it entirely for granted that reading the semiotics of cereal boxes is a worthwhile, indeed necessary endeavour, core to human existence in its deepest, richest, truest form.
It's a long time now since I spent my days only with people with the same sort of education and assumptions as myself but I'm still not really used to the change. I was very startled to be asked, the other day, in the gentlest and most nonconfrontational manner imaginable, why I insist on overanalysing everything. I didn't have a good answer for that, in fact now I think about it the answer I provided probably just demonstrated the justice of the accusation. But a little later on I happened to see someone else's facebook post about nothing much, a daft bit of ephemera, but that person's friends had played so gracefully and funnily with that bit of ephemera that i thought, well, it's really ok, these are my people (they weren't actually people I knew but you see what I mean), there's nothing too wrong with them, or with me. 

Tuesday, 3 October 2017

Look away now if you do not like to read about spiders

We attempted a camping trip and it was not a success. I think you'd have to say it wasn't successful. I acquired my current bout of sickness while we were away and got home just in time for the full-blown fever. So then there was two or maybe three days in bed, and when I say 'bed' I mean the fold-out bed in the study where I retreated to quarantine myself, and on which I haven't slept before, turns out it's so uncomfortable that it must have been deliberately designed that way. Fucking hipster fold-out bed designers! Fever is gone now and I feel just enough like shit to be unable to take proper advantage of this one-in-a-billion day (nice weather, annual leave, child happily ensconced in holiday program). Well, I'm not complaining. IM NOT

When I was packing up every piece of crap we own to cram it into the car to take it camping with us I brought in a cloth bag from out of the shed. God, one day I will blog the inside of our shed and then you will really understand why I deserve nothing good in life.  Anyway, the cloth bag. It had been in the shed for maybe four years and it had some patterns in that I was going to get rid of because about four years ago I suddenly realised I was never going to sew any of those patterns. So I put the patterns back into the chest of patterns drawers and used the bag to hold the clothes I wanted to take camping.

Cut to the first morning of actual camping, I was in the tent taking my clothes out of the bag - clothes I was shortly going to put onto my body - when I saw a spider crawling with intent down the side of it. It was a horrible spider. Now, it wasn't a huntsman - I know what a frigging huntsman looks like for god's sake - but it was the same colour, ie horrifying rusty brown, and it was about the size of a half-grown huntsman, and it was pointy in the body and legs rather than kind of rounded like a huntsman. In short, a very bad looking spider. So without taking my eyes off it I slid across to the door of the tent and reached outside and picked up a couple of gum leaves. I held the leaf in the spider's path hoping it would crawl slowly onto the leaf (but not then immediately swap crawling for speed running, and run up my arm and onto my face, into my mouth etc). Of course it did not go on the leaf it went under it where I couldn't see it. Spiders suck. So I pushed the bag up to the doorway and as the red mist descended I flicked the spider out the door. It went outside which was great, but then I couldn't see where it went.

When we got home from 'camping' (I'm not going to go into the tragic details of how much a gigantic fail of a camping trip it was) I was unloading the car and I slung that bag of clothes on the couch in the study (ironically that very same piece of shit fold-out bed I mentioned earlier). A little later I was unpacking stuff and I picked up the bag to take it to my room.

On the couch where the bag had been there was a spider exactly like the one in Apollo Bay.

So what I think is that the first spider was one of a clan of about nine, that had been living in the bag in the shed, and all of them hid in the bag's corners when I picked it up and shoved my stuff in there. And the second one I saw was one of the remaining eight. And those two were were dumb enough to come out and thus got seen, but the remaining seven got into my underwear, my shoes, my bathers, and most of all, into my black trousers with six pockets. I'm still going to put them on now though.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

Get well soon

I am the one who needs to get well soon. Get well soon, me! Please accept my best wishes for a speedy recovery.

I feel like I've just smashed into a wall, or that the way I've been living - very much a matter of burning the candle at both ends, only the candle is a mingy, pallid austerity candle, not a lovely bright party candle - has finally caught up with me. The self-pity is strong all right. I guess I will feel better again and sooner rather than later. I think it's just a bad cold or maybe a mild flu, and it comes on the back of a run of badly broken sleep and some other problems which are utterly doing my head in. About which, probably more later. I am going to have to write this stuff down one way or another.

If I was a little less blah I would write about the book I've just read, Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2140. One thing I can suggest immediately is read this book when you are not weakened by fever because it is very heavy and my arms are aching. Honestly this is a great novel, I have no upper tolerance for the kind of world creation that KSR does - in the Mars books it was the willingness to imagine and write the colours of a terraforming world that did me in, in this book its the emotional mapping / excavating / skyscrapering of the city *and* overlaying it with a tidal sea that rushes up and down the city streets and morphs with the changing weather and seasons and the reality, intricacy, aliveness of his flooded New York (and planet) is a seriously awe-inspiring thing to behold, and entirely free of the morbid disaster porn quality of many lesser works of anthropocene fiction, because the ecological disaster is imagined so intensely only because it is a possible future derived from our actual disastrous present, also very carefully expounded, ie late capitalism, the ridiculous, evil, deformed menace that has the world in a brutal stranglehold and which requires nothing less than the destruction of the world in order to continue flourishing. The book imagines a string of climate disasters and abrupt sea level rises as things that have already happened. So it's like a mirror image of now: in a time of relative, if fragile stability, with awareness of disaster around the corner, it's possible to see that capitalism could be checked with a concerted movement of civil disobedience and principled political action. The book is actually as much about global finance and the crash of 2008 and the insanity of the bailout as it is about adaptations to rising oceans and New York becoming a 'supervenice'. Well, I suggest you read it especially if you haven't read anything by KSR before - he's the kind of writer who restores your faith in humanity and after the week I have had that is really saying something.

Thursday, 14 September 2017

Howard Arkley flats

I ride past this block of flats in Rathdowne St pretty regularly and sometimes I wonder if any of the residents know that Howard Arkley painted it twice: 1987, 1999

Either the real estate agents are unaware of this fact or they've been apprised of it but they don't regard it as a selling point. This is very disappointing. What is capitalism for if not for ouroborosses of reification?  

I won't be making an offer.

here again, are we? yes we are.

gone to a better place

Through a sequence of unbelievably hilarious misadventures which, were I to actually recount them, would of course display to advantage my unique personal brand of charming incompetence, I was fifteen minutes late for my session on Monday afternoon. To get to the consulting room on time I have to savagely fang it across Melbourne, and also, leave work when I need to leave and not a minute later. So I usually get there dripping with perspiration and gasping for air. The doctor obviously thinks this means I have been panic-cycling because she says, it doesn't matter if you're a little bit late sometimes. But that's not true. It clearly does matter, because when I am late, that is when we have the sessions where she just comes right out and says the harsh truths. Fifteen minutes late is a lot late in a forty-five minute session and the truths were correspondingly harsh. 

One of the volunteers at work said to me on Monday, You know that seasonal affective disorder? I reckon I get that. As he spoke he looked really, really sad. He's 89, but you would not know it. I thought, maybe that's what this is. Maybe I just need to get out from inside this bundle of coats and jumpers and scarves and gloves and feel the sun on my face and a warm breeze blowing across my bare skin.

The doctor said, you want what you cannot have and this is the only reason you want it. You want this because you have spent your entire life wanting something that was not available to you. The emotions are real but they belong to a much earlier time, not to what's happening now. You have to accept this. When you accept, there will be grief.

Easy for her to say.

Monday, 11 September 2017

Dirt heap update

Words can't express how I am feeling today but that's OK because this photograph of the dirt heap pretty much sums it up.

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Weekend is finished now. All gone.

On Friday morning I drove to Lancefield. It was a lovely day and around about Bulla I started to feel that I should make the most of the adventure of being let out alone, and do something extraordinary to challenge myself - find something that I was afraid of and do it anyway.

So I decided to get my eyebrows waxed in Romsey
The abandoned pioneer settlement of Romsey

 When I pushed open the door of the Romsey Beauty Spot I felt very frightened for just a moment but it was fine in the end, so much so that I really shouldn't have worried. I didn't so much forget to take eyebrow photos for before and purposes as I only just thought of it.  Lack of pictures aside that adventure worked out pretty much okay for me.

Here's my new shoes instead and you may also enjoy having a little think about $10 bags of horse carrots and how much fun it is to give horses carrots to eat. 

Horse carrots

 I'm hideously sleepy so in lieu of needless words here are three more pictures of Lancefield 

Last Thursday

Despite having kinda crappy health still, I did go to work last Thursday. I got very wet on my bike on the way home, thanks to the freezing cold rain that the sky insisted on throwing all over everything, but it didn't matter because I had a wonderful feeling of peacefulness, energy and optimism percolating through me. I took a photo of the dirt heap to document the moment and that is also why I'm writing this post now.

That's my shadow making an eye which is looking at you.

Wednesday, 6 September 2017

Things are going to keep on happening

Just like the white winged dove Lenny sings a whole lot of songs which either one or both of his parents appear to have taught him along with some others that he can only have learned at school and which I had to google fragments of in order to find out that they emanate from Katy Perry and other, less recognisably global multinational but equally autotuned fictional human being brands. Well, I have showed him how to go crazy dancing to Yazoo so my work is essentially done, although he does not acknowledge that my work is done and will not allow me to sit down or leave the room while he dances. Could be an only child thing, I guess. He still gets very sad when he hears a sad song, I know better now than to let him hear Sufjan Stevens but oh, there are so many other hitherto unsuspectedly sad songs in the world.

I am going to Lancefield the day after tomorrow. I have asked Yes/No Tarot many times if it might snow. Yes/No Tarot says yes/no so I am thinking the odds are good. Not terribly long after that I'm got to La Trobe for a conference, gosh, how is that going to go down?!?!? Will I have a complete nervous collapse?!?!?! I still have a key to my old office, shall I take it with me and try it out? And keys to sundry other doors there too. Well, assuming I avoid being sent to prison, a little while after that I'm going to the very edge of Victoria for work, on the train again so that will be quite an exciting thing in its own right as I will be in a position to compare the Wodonga train with the Warrnambool one. And after that I am going to Numbugga, that will unquestionably be amazing. After that there is the day of "thousands of children + unnecessary quantities of horses = ?????" coming up at work, I always look forward to these things so much, and after that I am going to a conference at VU! What a life I lead, and Vinnie is no help at all.