Wednesday, 30 May 2007

The Fall, by Albert Camus

Quite awhile ago now, just before he was heading to Mongolia, Bindleys recommended The Stranger to me, thinking it would appeal to my sense of the absurd. And rightly so - it did. So I was in Folio Books the other day looking for something new and decided to try out The Fall. Interestingly, by the way, that Wikipedia article mentions that the oarsome (sic) band got their name from this book.

To be honest I wasn't overly impressed. It's a very short one, at around 90 pages, but the monologue style started to drag on me pretty early. I'm not really sure why - I think it might be more to do with my mood at the time than anything to do with the book. Ordinarily I'd have thought that I would enjoy it.

What I did enjoy was Jean-Baptiste Clamence's views on sexual relations. Here are some choice quotes:

"So true is this that even when some of them provided me with only a small degree of pleasure, I still tried to resume our relations from time to time, helped no doubt by that peculiar desire which is stimulated by absence, followed by a suddenly rediscovered intimacy; but also to make sure that the bond between us was up to me alone to revive. ... Once they would not be anyone else's, I could bring myself to break with them -- something that, otherwise, it was almost always impossible for me to do."

"You should note that, as soon as I had recovered this affection, it would weigh on me. Then, in my moments of irritation, I would tell myself that the ideal solution would have been the death of the person concerned. Death would, on the one hand, have consolidated our bond once and for all, while on the other removing its constraints. But one cannot desire the death of everyone or wish, at the extreme, to depopulate the planet in order by enjoy a freedom that would be unimaginable otherwise. That would be incompatible with my sensibility and my love of mankind."

"I could not live unless all creatures throughout the world, or the greatest possible number, were turned towards me, eternally vacant, deprived of independent life, ready to respond to my call at any moment, in short, condemned to sterility until the day when I might deign to shine my light upon them. In short, for me to live happily, all the creatures whom I chose had not to live at all. They were only to receive life, from time to time, at my good pleasure."

Anyhoo, even though I didn't enjoy it a great deal, I'd still recommend it. It's such a short read that there's really no reason not to give it a try..!

Sunday, 27 May 2007

audio book (!) - Martian Time-Slip, by Philip K Dick

Since the MF left town, I bought an IPod Nano to use while cycling. Some people go on and on debating whether listening to music while cycling is safe or not, but I've decided that for me it is fine. In fact, having headphones in my ears cuts out some of the wind noise, and I don't have the music very loud - I'm still "situationally aware". Now that I've defended myself for no real reason, let's get to the point. A few weeks ago I came across an audio book, and thought it might be a nice idea to listen to that instead of music for a change.

I've only read one Philip K Dick book before - VALIS. And I couldn't stand it. But Martian Time-Slip was written 17 years earlier and I enjoyed it very much. I'm not going to go into much detail here, you can read the wikipedia article if you're interested (but avoid the spoiler section if you want to).

One section of the story is told out of sequence, and three different times from different points of view. It makes me wonder who (and when) was the first author to use this technique? I wish I knew more. About .. stuff. Haha..


Tuesday, 22 May 2007


Me to colleague: *waves teaspoon around menacingly* I'm going to scoop yr brain out through your nose with this here spoon!
Colleague to me: *walking away* Okay. Well. In that case, I'm going this way now to make my lunch.

Lucky Jim, by Kingsley Amis

I pretty much stayed home all weekend, unless you count cycling a quick 35km each day (and I don't count that). But this gave me a chance to finish Lucky Jim, which I'd started on Monday straight after finishing The Old Devils the night before.

I've been reading so much lately! As far as Kingsley Amis goes, I've now read Stanley and The Women, The Old Devils and Lucky Jim. And this has been the best yet.

This is a comic novel written in 1954, the year my Dad was born, but it is still relevant and funny in 2007. I identified with Jim Dixon on a number of levels and it left me wishing I had the courage of such deliberate self-sabotage that brings him out of the job he hates. Although the glimpses into the world of academia are specific to this post-war period in Britain, they still ring true based on my brush with professors during my Honours year and subsequent rejection of pursuing a PhD.

I also identified very much with his inability to "escape" the relationship with Margaret, despite obviously not being in love. It rings very true with the 3-year relationship I had, trying to end it many times but never quite reaching escape velocity.

It's a very easy read, much easier than The Old Devils, and it had me laughing out loud on the couch ("a rare thing indeed", he says morosely).

highly recommended,

Sunday, 20 May 2007

(unhealthy?) musical obsession

I've been listening to the same CD almost every night while I sleep. For about 3 months now.

Whenever people ask me "what kind of music do you like?", I struggle against the impossibility of answering. All I can think is that it just has to have that special something, it has to move me or interest me or entertain me somehow. See

The CD in question here is "Ten Lives" by Melbourne band Deloris. I'd not really heard of them before this album, and it's not really the style of music that would drag me in this heavily. But somehow it has. This album is just pure brilliance. I mean it, I just can't stop listening. It really has become unhealthy, and I'm not sure what to do. Well it has tapered down a bit in the last few weeks, and I'm sure the obsession will become a dull roar very soon, but this album has become a member of an elite club:
  • Sentimental Education - Free Kitten. Back when I was a studious student, I listened to the title track (Sentimental Education, duh!) of this album over and over every day for a full week. The track in question is instrumental, long-ish and reasonably repetitive, although it changes subtly as it takes it's course. And in fact it changed subtly (but entirely) in my head after the week was over. But I will always love it.
  • Wild Love - Smog. A reasonably dark period of my life was punctuated with this. Waking up at 2 or 3am hearing Bill Callahan singing "Prince Alone In The Studio"........"it's 2am, and all the girls are gone"......"it's 3am, and prince hasn't eaten in 18 hours"....."it's 4am and he finally gets that guitar track right". I'm not sure how or why I put myself through it to be honest, but this album is superb and I can't say I regret it.
I'm a pretty light sleeper, in general. I absolutely cannot sleep in, and I wake up at the drop of a hat. So many people have told me to stop listening to music while I sleep, and I have cut back a bit lately, but I can't stop altogether.

Does anybody else do it??? Do you find that you wake up at the same point in the album over and over again????

Did I refer to myself as "Grown-Up" in the last post????? Maybe when I stop this habit I'll have finally achieved full maturity. Let's hope that never happens.

first post, frist p0st, fr0sty piss

Well, here we are. As a general rule, blogs are a bit of a wank, and I told myself for so very long that I would never have one. And here we are.

To begin the wankfest, I really just want to start with this.

Kubla Khan
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree :
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round :
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree ;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.

But oh ! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover !
A savage place ! as holy and enchanted
As e'er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover !
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced :
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher's flail :
And 'mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean :
And 'mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war !
The shadow of the dome of pleasure
Floated midway on the waves ;
Where was heard the mingled measure
From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice !
A damsel with a dulcimer
In a vision once I saw :
It was an Abyssinian maid,
And on her dulcimer she played,
Singing of Mount Abora.
Could I revive within me
Her symphony and song,
To such a deep delight 'twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome ! those caves of ice !
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware ! Beware !
His flashing eyes, his floating hair !
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread,
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

Now, we all know the guy was on Opium, which in a way makes me very jealous. Nothing inspires me to have dreams like this anymore, not now that I'm all Grown-Up. That is so sad. I'm not hugely into poetry as a rule, but there's always been something about this one that just grabs me. I've been in love with it ever since the first time I heard it read aloud - in grade 10 English class. That also, is so sad. But true. And at least I can admit to it (anonymously. on the internet. hu hu.).

I hope somebody out there enjoys it too.