Sam's notebook

"Howards End" April 12th, 2004, 1PM


By Edward Morgan Forster

“To trust people is a luxury in which only the wealthy can indulge; the poor cannot afford it.” — p.35, a thought of Margaret’s. “You remember ‘rent’? It was one of father’s words – Rent to the ideal, to his own faith in human nature. You remember how be would trust strongers, and if they fooled him he would say, ‘It’s better to be fooled than to be suspicious.’ – that the confidence trick is the work of man, but the want-of-confidence trick is the work of the devil.” — p.41, Margaret again.

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Sunday in The Lab April 11th, 2004, 1PM


I have spent far too long on the computer. My mind is in quite a strange state. What am I to do?

All this coding suddenly seems pointless, and I want to stroll on the terrace, prehaps sit with a quiet cup of tea, or be warmed by the fire and Keats. Escaping the world is essential at times (I’m not totally sure it should be) and these geeky days are good for that. I don’t feel very healthy at the moment. I must get away from here.



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On Writing April 11th, 2004, 12PM


Around and aound I go as always, but now at least I am starting to see the pattern. For the last few days I have been in techno-mode, spending a lot of time on computers and ignoring the world. Predictably, this immersion in the web has resulted in my this afternoon rearranging my room and putting my computer under a dust sheet behind my desk. I do not want to feel my head buzzing so much that I am unable to think; I want to slow down. I really like it when I feel like this. That’s something worth remembering, because when I’m feeling into computers I still feel somehwere inside me that I would rather not be. Anyway, I wont go on about this now, I want to focus on poetry, space, quietness, time – things that don’t really exist within computer-space.

I ponder an interesting conundrum: I like putting my notes online in the form of a blog, because it helps me to edit them and I end up writing a lot better than I usually do. But I also want to write in a nice book with a nice pen (as I am now). Shall I do so, even though it will be only a draft? As I wrote that realised: yes. It is of vital importance that I do not get carried away with ‘doing’ and forget this moment, right now. Any tool or activity that helps me do that is good, likewise something that causes me to loose sight of the lovelyness of current time and space is not. I will type up these notes, and post them on my website, and I will remember what I have just said when I’m sitting in the computer lab. (Of course I will remember – I’ll be typing it! [I did remember.]) I like to publish my thoughts because it forces me to a) write better and b) think a lot more about what I’m writing. I don’t really do it because I expect anyone to read them; I write as though I do, but the audience has served its function as soon as I’ve written, and matters no more.

I am thinking of a series of photographs, based on the following matrix:

Made by: Of what: Where:
Human-animal Natural Nature
Human-machine Human-machined Human-made

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Another Side April 9th, 2004, 7PM


I scribbled the following, sitting on the cold hard concrete of the city:

This is the other side. This is the side that eschews all forms of pomposity, vanity, indeed any care taken over appearance or manner. This is the sleepin’ rough, carrying-little techno-savy activist. This is the only time I will listed to non-folky/classical music. I want to change the world, but this time by fuckin’ shit up, not polite conversation. This is when the code of the eco-warrior means something (though only so long as it’s a sunny day, or I’m ensconced in front of a terminal. The washing up no longer matters; I’d be happy in a tin shed with computer and bike parts sharing concrete floor space with my swag. At times like this I want never to buy anything that is not ‘essential’ – read: able to further the cause, the fight against the techno-commercial juggernaut that rules all of our spaces. I want to get lost in the perfect beauty of the code, and realise an order to the world that my body will never admit. I fit my place in this sci-fi universe (and I do not mean ‘the internet’, whatever the fuck that is), a place where there is always a precedent or recommendation to follow but where there is no control from above. I am a cog in the machine, one that does not matter, but thus we all are, all alike but recieving no commands from HQ. Each does eis own thing (including making up new pronouns), and we all work together; no-one is in charge, but everyone works towards a common goal. And that is the goal.

Afterwards went and coded for five hours.

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A small nook to call my own. April 8th, 2004, 12PM

Reading Writing

The house/room/attic that I dream of making, inhabiting and remaking — where is it? What will it seem like to strangers seeing it for the first time? Many articles I have read of poet-build abodes, and rarely have they captured any true poetic image of the space. Descriptions of construction method, natural environment, recycled materials abound, and all very accurate in their own way — but hardly ever any clue as to the loving comfort and intimacy that one has with such a place. A comment such as “I feel very at home here, in this place that I have made” tells us nothing of what it actually is like for this maker to be at home.

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Silence is my vice. April 7th, 2004, 4PM


A seminar by Ian Percival, a man who’s life embodies so much of what is wonderful about tools, making, and what might be termed ‘industrial technology’; a thoroughly inspiring talk. Then a lunch with the other post-graduate students and Ian (a usual Wednesday afternoon thing), during which the talk focused mostly around my book plans. It was nice to hear people’s thoughts – all supportive and encouraging – and apart from a little bit of me feeling funny about being the centre of attention all was useful and raises my excitement level even further. I just want to go and go and go and go; luckily for me, lots of that going will involve not going anywhere nor even doing anything! Like this morning just before the seminar, I sat and had my own little Meeting for Worship, and how nice it was! These pools of silence1 are so essential to me, and my work; this is what Wordsworth meant when he could “see into the life of things.”2

My vice, being a holdfast rather than depravity: The very act of tightening this gives me such a sense of pleasure, of love of the world even. So sure of itself, so solid and strong, with no chance of over-stressing; I feel good using this vice. Its texture, the hemp turksheads on the blackwood, the sweat and grime that are slowly turning both these black, these things make me happy. All of my senses are stimulated by the simple act of leaning forward and heaving on the handle! Every single time – no exceptions – that I come to use my vice so much is evoked, so many feelings of time, and work: My thoughts turn to my grandfather whom I never knew, and who’s vice it was that inspired me to make this one. Decades of his vice giving good service, slowly wearing and shaping itself to how it was used; centuries of this general form of vice being the centre of thousands of woodworker’s working lives. Does – can – the Record #53 evoke these kind of feelings? The handle alone of my vice comforts me and gives me confidance in life.

[As I was looking around for an image of a standard Record vice, apart from the endless advertisments for eBay I discovered the following interesting facts: Record Tools is a division of American Tools which is itself a subsidiary of Irwin Industrial Tools; both the and the domains redirect to And nowhere on the Irwin site can I find any information about Record tools. Hmph.]


“Incarnate Word,
in whom all nature lives,
Cast flame upon the earth:
raise up contemplatives
Among us, men who
walk within the fire
of ceaseless prayer
impetuous desire.
Set pools of silence
In this thirsty land”

James McAuley 1917 – 1976
© Norma McAuley

2. “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey, On Revisiting the Banks of the Wye during a Tour. July 13, 1798”, William Wordsworth (1770-1850):

“While with an eye made quiet by the power
Of harmony, and the deep power of joy,
We see into the life of things.”

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Low Brain Functionality (LBF) April 7th, 2004, 10AM


This really is dreadful! I am going around and around in circles with this image stuff! There is a promise that the next release of WordPress will include better photo functionality, so I think my best bet is to wait until then, and go now to find a nook in the library in which to read. Sitting on this computer is totally not inspiring me, and I am doing nothing useful. Agh!! Oh my poor brain, I promise you that I will go to bed at 8 o’clock tonight! :)

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O yearning Thought! April 5th, 2004, 3PM


I wonder how much of this journalling I should create? Am I to go on and on, putting down my world as it comes by me — as if it were a film and I a critic taking notes — and heedless of the reams of text, the “ocean waste and wide”, that I leave behind? Or am I to endevour towards the brevity of recording only that which I feel will be useful later on? Of course the latter requires I know what will be useful, and I clearly don’t. Thus I feel I must keep on this tack of logging each squall and seagull, each reef of the ocean and reef of the sails, until such a time as I have a clearer idea of what it all tends to. Please bear with me!

When I am reading I am obediently following the author, and thinking on ier [does anyone mind if I sometimes use Spivak pronouns here?] words and this is of itself an enjoyable exercise. It does enable though my mind to be freed on some other level, to go wandering off on fascinating asides (like this paragraph!). With one hand I’m engrossed in “The Poetics of Space”, and this engrossment is percisely what lets me, with the other hand, explore the endless other tangents that come up when I’m reading. There are so many thoughts racing around in my head, rarely caught by me for long, but it is through reading that sufficient of them are quieten’d for the others to be heard.

  • I rather suspect that I could write nothing at all if I did not read.
  • I know I could not read, not properly, if I did not intersperse times of reading with times of making.
  • I should have no chance of making with any integrity if I did not prefix all with periods of still silence.

[By the way: the weird bits in this post, if they’re not mine, are from Coleridge’s Constancy to an Ideal Object.]

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Three Things April 5th, 2004, 11AM


Shopping, Sharing, Socrates.

1. A morning of getting ready for the short, cold days ahead; as the nights grow colder and darker earlier, I find myself in need of more warmth and (some – I have none now) light: pyjamas and bike lights are in order!

2. An interesting scrabble with the university administration (what a funny beast that is) over swip-card re-validation and after-hours access. It seems they were happy to give me after-hours access to the workshop, but not to the intervening doors that stand between it and the outside world. All now is sorted.

3. A review in The Australian entitled “De Botton line on life” (author: Luke Slattery; date: April 3 2004):

How should one live? In essence it’s the Socratic project — the pursuit of an examined life — and is as old as philosophy. Perhaps the single most valuable life lesson a reader can take from de Botton is the core message of his Proust: that attention to the exact details of the everyday confers an incomparable and readily attainable richness.

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