Thursday, 12 May 2005


Too busy to blog yesterday, can you believe it? I haven't even read my email from the last two days; there could be anything at all in there, a foreign potentate eager to send me 25 million, and I just can't be bothered.

Yesterday I did what I should do every day, and would certainly do every day if early rising, clean clothesing, transporting, parcel mailing, food shopping and lap swimming could all be brought into perfect clockwork order: I took my laptop and dissertation into the State Library of Victoria and set up in the Domed Reading Room for a full day free of trivia and distractions. I cannot connect to the Internet there, and the books where I sit are damn boring, so there's nothing to do but dissertate. The imposingness of the room is very, very effective in concentrating the mind, and the work space is fabulous: a lovely big flat leather covered table with a green glass shaded lamp, and a hundred-year-old wooden swivel chair which is amazingly comfortable, having been smoothed and moulded by four generations of scholar-backsides. I spent a lot of time there last year and this year will do so again: it works really well for me at this stage where I know the material inside out and just have to arrange it on the page. If only my laptop weren't quite so bloody heavy!

At 6pm I met Dorian at Federation Square for a talk given by Bill Henson on the occasion of the big survey show of his work currently on at the NGV. (Good article & nice collection of images here.) (It's so weird how many career artists insist on dressing up in Oscar-Wildean "artist" clothes: how can they produce objects of such ravishing beauty but have not a clue how awful a brown velvet jacket is?) Henson seemed a very intelligent man who would be interesting to talk to - he began to say some good things about how he understands photography's intersection with the real - but unfortunately his on-podium interlocutor seemed hellbent on getting him to spew out as many cliches as possible. In the end it became really quite boring as she asked him what books he likes to read, musical taste, favourite movies etc. Sad. The one faintly interesting thing she asked him was why he continues to live in Australia (in Melbourne, to be precise) rather than in one of the more obvious global art scene cities: and his answer was to the effect that since he can go anywhere he likes whenever he likes, Northcote is the best place to have as "home." He added that he thinks he's at a time in life where a "walk to the corner shop" can be as interesting as any other sort of physical journey. I completely understand both these thoughts, and if I had money and leisure to travel at whim, I would not want to have my permanent home anywhere else but where I live now. Dorian, however, doesn't agree, in fact when I said this afterwards, he looked at me as if I was mad, muttering something about New York. I would like to point out that we were walking to Pellegrini's for dinner during this conversation: and if we moved to New York that would be the end forever of any possibility of decent coffee. (Not that I am a coffee wanker, oh no far from it: but I do have standards.) Where would you have your home?

After dinner we went back to Fed Square to see A Tale of Springtime screened at cinematheque as part of the Eric Rohmer retrospective that's taking place over the next few weeks. I'm very glad we did, because it was really enjoyable: serious and intelligent without being either mournful or pretentious. Amateur actors rule. The rest of the season is going to be fun, provided the cinematheque organisers can refrain from fighting in public for the duration.

We got home at 11.30 to find Basil hadn't managed to destroy the place while home alone, though he did have a touch of cabin fever. I had to literally kick him out the front door, this morning.


boynton said...

"Where would you have your home?" might be shaping up as one of the big questions?
If I could tell you, I would(n't) let you know... ;]
(given that the metro places I like are non-descript but have the charm of obscurity = cheapness)
"Anywhere in Melb" - but maybe that could be "Anywhere in Vic" when I think of Great Ocean Road or Gippsland etc.

Disappointing to read about the mode of interview. Is this dumbed-down "Interlocutor" mode taking hold in the yartz as well as The Brownlow?

Phantom Scribbler said...

I am so very ignorant, and I never go out to eat except at establishments in which crayons are offered along with the menu. But perhaps someday I will venture out again, and in that case I would like my taste buds to be educated. How does the coffee in New York offend?

Lucy Tartan said...

oh dear. You've put your finger on the weak spot Phantom; I had to come up with some way that Melbourne life is nicer than Manhattna life, & that was it.

All I can say is my coffee palate is adapted to unsweeted and viscous italian espresso made with freshly steamed milk, not too hot. The espresso I was offered in NYC was terrible strange - burned, topped with whipped cream and caramel sauce, made by the jugload & decanted into shot glasses. It freaked me out rather.