(just in case this shows up in feeds - it's an old post, I've had to edit it to remove a couple of paragraphs that are going to be published elsewhere in the near future. Recycling blog posts, who knew......)
I haven't given up on my blog. I've just been really, really caught up in the end of semester and this bally conference lark (and renovating the kitchen) and that sort of stuff. Mainly the conference. There will be a massive blog coming the weekend after it (og, that's the weekend after next...shiiiit) I will need to debrief. (I need to now.) But until then I have no time, and the internet here's mostly broken just at the moment to top it all off.
But there are 39 draft posts in my Blogger account so I'm going to copy Kirsty's idea of some time ago and just dump some of them here for you do whatever you want with.
UNDER THE HOUSE
(I must have been too depressed by the lazst sentence to continue.)
My ongoing blog project - documenting Melbourne's open-air public sculpture in words and pictures. Suggestions for future episodes are more than welcome.
Dervish belongs to the Victorian Arts Centre and you can see it at the foot of the ramp which connects the front of the Concert Hall with the south bank of the Yarra underneath Princes Bridge. It is one of two sculptures in central Melbourne by Clement Meadmore, an Australian-born sculptor who spent most of his life in America, the other one being Awakening which is in the plaza on the corner of William and Bourke Streets. The plaque on Dervish says it was made in 1981, but the Clement Meadmore website gives the date as 1972. Eaither the plaque is drastically misdated or the Melbourne one's a duplicate (I have been quite surprised to learn how many of the sculptures I had previously thought of as unambiguously 'ours' actually have twins in other locations.)
Meadmore's work is very recognisable despite being so seemingly simple and basic. I think it's quite different from Greg Johns's for instance, in spite of a superficial likeness. Meadmore always makes very large objects in the form of rectangular rods that wriggle and twist, and they're generally made of corten steel left raw to oxidise.
My first thought is that what makes them recognisable is that the rod which they all seem to begin from seems to have fairly uniform proportions. In other words they all look as if the square ends of the steel rods are roughly the same size, as if they were extruded from a machine with one fixed setting. I have no idea whether this is true, what's interesting is that this is the impression they create. They certainly aren't made how they look like they were made, ie begun as a straight-sided metal beam which is then twisted.
Proportion seems like the consistent element then but on thinking about it more the quality of the twists and bends seem just as important. They
(They what? Dunno.)
You would have to eat several thousand Tim Tams in order to get even slightly drunk.
STILL HARPING ON DAUGHTERS
Yesterday and the day before I spent mostly in the library double-checking the quotations and documentation in an essay I wrote which is shortly going into a book about tragedy. I wrote it a long time ago and did not trust the footnotes because of that, also the proofs have come out quite garbled, and in general it's better to be safe before publication than sorry afterwards. Some of the footnotes were a bit bulldusty but nowhere near as many as I had expected. That kind of reference checking makes my head spin and stomach light. You start with the footnote list and get all the call numbers of books, journals etc, then you go round the library from number to number, looking up stuff and checking it for accuracy only. Because you aren't reading it for meaning or sense it just becomes a blur of words and a full fatiguing day of it is much like short-term memorising random strings of numbers and foreign words.
The essay is a feminist psychoanalytic reading of some father & daughter relationships in three of Shakespeare's tragedies. How angry the very idea of such a thing would make some of the people I've had the bad luck to come across in the past few months. The thing these people don't want to understand is that "feminism" and "psychoanalysis" are not weapons for beating up Shakespeare or for proving him to be a neurotic patriarch or whatever. It's more like an exercise in showing how the plays not only lay bare the dynamics of gender & family relations, really convincingly but they are riveting largely because of how they exploit those dynamics. Yes, it is one big praisefest and it does give Shakespeare a swelled head. I still think of this kind of thing as a more useful praisefest than the reverential starry-eyed Dead Poets Society stuff the pundits believe is the proper way to approach Shakespeare's plays. Anyway, I'm sure none of them will ever read it so it doesn't matter.
I had not looked at my essay or thought about it for ages and was very surprised to find that it made some sense. More than the actual argument of it I felt a bit envious of the confidence
(Again it looks like I stopped where it got into massive downer territory.)
HENRY JAMES THE RAIN KING
Too good not to share, from the middle of a punishing heatwave, is this passage from a book I have just begun rereading:
The day was hot and muggy, so that from the card catalogue I selected as the most cooling title The Wings of the Dove, and on the following morning, a Sunday, even hotter and muggier, I began, and by the stifling midnight had finished my first elated reading of that novel. Long before the end I knew a master had laid hands on me. The beauty of the book bore me up; I was both cool and waking; excited and effortless; nothing was any longer worthwhile and everything had become necessary. A little later, there came outside the patter and cooling of a shower of rain and I was able to go to sleep, both confident and desperate in the force of art.
The writer is R.P. Blackmur and the passage comes from his introduction to The Aspern Papers. I read it in quotation in a different book, George Toles's A House Made of Light. Toles goes on to ask a string of courageous and important questions about this passage: do we think Blackmur really underwent the revelation he describes? If so, was his experience merely "carrying forward the customary - and perhaps insidious - work of cultural construction"? If he'd had at this time some kind of carapace of theoretical sophistication to guard him from the penetrating power of the novel, would that have been better for him (and us)? Might (should) a culture arm itself against discourse that "might make the 'awakening' to art intelligible or valuable to others?" Is the critic who begins, as Blackmur does, mastered by the artwork, thereby less capable of thoughtful and illuminating interpretation of it? Does acceptance of the work's power over us impair one's "freedom to be skeptical?" (Toles, p18)
A HOUSE IS BUILT
A House Is Built is one of the books that I thought I'd lost, but gratefully rediscovered while cataloguing my book collection. In expert procrastinator style I immediately began a re-read, and it's much, much better than I remembered.
It's an Australian novel, first published in 1929, a family saga set in Sydney in the 1840s-60s.
Eddie says he did not get boned, which is good news for all concerned really, as I don't imagine it would be a particularly nice task to have to perform.