One speed: slow?

Another gap in posts for this blog; sorry. (Not that there’s anyone reading this to say sorry to, but as they say: meh.) It’s not that I haven’t been writing lately, I have, but in places that the web doesn’t reach; I’ve been enjoying that.

But it’s four-thirty on a Thursday afternoon and I’m at work. Thus, I have a) no inclination to do any work; b) a whole host of other things that I would rather be doing; and c) some stupid compulsion to remain here until five o’clock. The latter is probably due to the boss still being here.

Oh, no he’s not, he’s just left. See ya.

(This post was going to be about singlespeed bicycles, esperanto, and how good it is to not write on the web, but that can all wait. Apologies for the remaining pointlessness.)

Where I Write

I have often thought that one of the greatest attractions for me to writing in ink, on paper, in a properly-bound book, is that where one writes the words is where they will remain, and the only place they will ever be. That’s not the case when writing on a screen: I often write a post for this blog, for example, whilst off-line, and in different editors, on different computers. Then I paste it into here, save it, and it appears in it’s final place where you’re reading it now.

That last sentence belies where I’m writing this, but had I transcribed these words from a book that I’d written in whilst sitting on the ground on Mount Ainslie being buffeted by a strong wind — how would be different? How does being exposed to the original copy of a piece of writing affect how it is read? What is the ‘original copy’ on the web?

Sometimes (this morning, for example) I’m into the fact that the web separates content from medium — the written word certainly remains, and the loss of the detail of the act of writing is good, because we then focus on what is written, and how how it was composed. Of course (like so much of the blogosphere), this does allow for this sort of introspective post that really does no one any good and is rightly ignored by the whole planet. But that doesn’t matter. The point is that I generally have in mind the final resting place of my words as I write them, and that changes what I write about and how I write it. My problem at the moment (oh, yeah, it’s a real problem!) is that I sometimes write good stuff on paper, and there it languishes forever and is never read; conversly, I (often?) write poor ramblings on screen (generally on this blog, or on my wiki) that should never have been written, let alone read. So whereto from that?

It feels more ‘pure’ to write with a fountain pen in a book, more active and engaging to tap at a keyboard on the web. A rough draft composed in pencil[1] up a tree in a disposable notebook which is then posted here with accompanying images? Or carefully-formed words in a Moleskine that are never to be seen again? Given my current desire to not encumber myself with Stuff, the former is where I’m at.

[1] The Faber-Castell ‘E-Motion’ is in my pocket always. [Back up]

Relying on, but not trusting, technology

I have been sorting through my (digital) photos lately, uploading the good ones to my website. It’s drudge-work, peaceful in its way like all drudge-work, and now and then I stumble upon a particularly nice shot, or one that evokes some pleasant memory, and so I don’t mind doing it. My idea is that this little computer is likely to one day get broken or stolen, and I don’t want to lose everything.

I’m also doing it becuase I’m keen to have fewer belongings, and boxes of photos and old journals are something of a weight (literally and figuratively, obviously). I want to simplify. A bag and a box and a backpack. A computer, three books, and a hat. Hip flask, pen, and waterbottle. Although I’m never going to get rid of my Waterman or Moleskine, I’m coming to the computer to vent that creative energy that in a more perfect world would probably be put into woodwork — and at least I don’t end up with a chair to carry with me from house to house.

It’s not that I think of the Internet as ‘simple’, or even particularly reliable. I don’t. I quite understand its utter complexity and reliance on most of the most unsustainable things in the modern world. And I don’t like that. I’d much rather have a little stone hut and a few chickens.

But here I am, in Canberra, studying I.T. I do rely on the Internet, and I’m going to continue to upload my photos and writing, and just not worry about it. I might print a few things, if I really care about them, but at the end of the day if the Internet stops I’ll be far too busy planting gardens on the freeways to worry about losing a few photos.

What I Saw From A Café In Fremantle

Spareparts Puppet Teatre; the now-ornamental crane at ‘E’ Shed; a line of billboards hiding much; and the corner of the railway station — these form the horizon of my view from here. There’s Norfolk Pines, this café’s umbrellas, and the awning above filling in most of the rest of the scene, and all framed by a big concertina window and lit with the most fierce summer sun. But were this a painting and myself an idle visitor to the gallery in which it hung, I’d think little of its subjects or composition and be more keen to investigate the trade origins of the canvas on which it was painted, or even the bricks in the wall behind it. Why? Because the puppet theatre is boring, and unknown to me; the crane, though once embodying pure utility, now is more like a beautiful tapestry chopped up and used to pack potatoes (if you follow the analogy); of the billboards nothing need be said (they were built expressly to spew simplified coarseness in to this place); and the railway station has been so much looked at that its fundamental rightness (like that of the crane) is covered with a sort of ‘observatory grime’, and little can be got from it.

These things are all just the big, dumb, human objects that we’re ‘supposed’ to look at, and that’s all it takes for them to become insignificant to a study of this place’s truth or beauty (or whatever it is that I’m looking for here). I don’t mean that these objects should be ignored. Of course they shouldn’t, they are here — and massively defining of what ‘here’ is. They must be acknowledged, and examined, and praised or defiled (as their spirit suggests), and then ignored. Look at them, and then look past them, or into them, or anywhere into a smaller field of inquest. The great sweeping vistas can be only shallowly know, and I’m here in the business of looking (and maybe knowing, though I’ll not be too presumptive) deeply.

I could look closer at any element of this scene and find in it inspiration for days of writing. It wouldn’t matter what it was: the theatre downpipe, the leaves that break up my view of the crane, one advertisment or the light fitting above it — each of these is a passkey to a whole universe of real people, far off places and strange things, if we but look hard enough. Some of these worlds stretch through time from centuries past, and all must continue into the strangely mottled future. Others occupy space barely more than what I see from here; some, the whole globe. They certainly intertwine and have, no doubt, many more points of intersection than just this place. That’s what I like to think about.

Which passkey we choose to begin our journey is almost irrelevant, and is in anycase thrust upon us if we’re only open enough (read: have time enough) to see it. Sit in one spot, let your mind and eyes drift aimlessly, and before long something will suggest itself. You need to be aware that you’re looking, but not force the thing, not have any idea of what you’re looking for.

So today I’m thinking about the steel frame of the awning above me, its shapes and bolts, history and function, the people who have looked at it, the people who never have but who have walked beneath it daily. Who tightened the last bolt in it? What is the name of the colour of the paint? What shopfronts have been beneath it, here where I’m sitting, over the years? These are all ‘facts’, and they do interest me, but there’s more: the structure, design — it’s ugly. An inelegant, clumsy, grumpy bull-nose of a thing, it’s exterior and profile of aesthetic value to the facade but giving nothing to the coffee-sippers who sit below it. This needs to be looked into also.

Another time, perhaps I will…


Where Do I Walk, Then?

Today I reinstate this weblog. I’ve shuffled files around on this server, and I’ve shuffled boxes and books around in my bedroom; it’s Spring, and time to re-organise, clear up, and start to think again. Last week I thought I was doing just so, but I wasn’t: I thought that I’d re-affirm my trust in Technology (my oh my what a foolish thing for a human to do!), and buy an ‘ergonomic’ stool. I thought it’d help me work at my computer, but it didn’t. So now is spring-cleaning; then was not.

I bought a stool, didn’t like it after a few days, so took it back. It was a journey for me, a journey from all-I-need-is-a-bit-more-Money-And-Stuff to remembering that it’s people and thinking and reading and love and simplicity that really make it — life— okay.

[ASIDE: The rain pisses down outside, it’s warm enough for bare feet and open windows, and oh! how happy it makes me.]

As I was leaving Harvey Norman (may they rot in hell), I had to go through the car-park, across some lawn and a flower bed, and up an embankment to get to the road. The Situation: people are allowed to walk out of their cars to the shop, across the car-park, and they are also allowed to walk along the road on the footpath — but there is nothing, no path, connecting the public roadway to the shop’s car-park. One must walk over the grass and through the flower bed to gain access to the road if one is on foot. Normally, or course, walking on this insulting attempt at making this horrid place beautiful wouldn’t bother me, but today there were two workmen leaning against a ute, and I had to walk past them to get to the footpath. They told me not to walk on the grass! How on Earth was I to get out of the fucking car-park?! My anger is seething, my blood boiling, and I can write no more…

People without cars are not despised by today’s urban planners, rather, their very existance is denied!