08/01 Direct Link
The evidence of experience #4:
Memory is a false measure of intelligence, it is an unreliable tool: what memory recalls is influenced by emotions, manipulated by moods, and implies, falsely, that we can act outside our own self-interest- we tend only to remember that which supports our self-interest and ego. Schools use heavily invested in using memory to assess capability: they grade it, score it; students are ranked on the weight, measure, and performance of their memory; even in class teachers find who is listening by asking for rote responses. Because memory can be measured, does not give it credence.
08/02 Direct Link
Like a racehorse my mind would be racing ahead, leaping over hurdles not yet in sight, jumps not yet arrived at, while I make plans to introduce this or that in advance of the discussion, short stepping stones to map and direct the path to travel, the flow of ideas and thoughts, to channel the line of the central narrative, only to be thwarted as attention slips and the others are redirected, diverted to some unseen, unexpected turnoff, leading them away, and I am here, running by myself, slowing as the story halts and falters, with the ending left untold.
08/03 Direct Link

‘Talking about the weather is such a safe topic.’

We were sitting in the train on facing seats, the sun blurring my vision. I don’t know why she spoke, or why she used that flirty tone. I had not slept the night before, was unwashed, my clothes wrinkled, grumpy as all heck; I gave no indication of wanting company.

‘Lady, you got the wrong person; I’ve nothing to say.’

She laughed in a polite society way, but behind it there was some manoeuvre, a strategy, a sense that she was after something.

‘Dimples don’t do it for me,’ I responded.

08/04 Direct Link
Objects #3:
Hats are an interesting category of outerwear; they are garments useful in protecting the fragile human form from the effects of the elements and extremes of weather. Function-based design principles require hats to have a shape that mirrors the line of the body part, the head, plus various enhancements to extend coverage to other body parts. Most hats have a concave section that fits the ball of the skull; some hats have wide brims, veils, or extended flaps hanging over ears and neck; protecting and shielding the wearer from sun or rain, and in hot or cold climates.
08/05 Direct Link
‘Party of one?’ she asked. She turned quickly to scan the tables and flicking pages, checked her bookings.
I hardly needed to respond: I rarely had company and in recent months had become a regular patron, choosing to be seated away from the noise and talk, distanced from the clang and bustle of the waiters.
‘Your usual table isn’t free,’ she said. ‘There’s a full house tonight; it may be an hour’s wait. If you have no objection to sharing a table, I may be able to seat you sooner. Do you want me to ask?’
‘Please check,’ I said.
08/06 Direct Link
Stand up, take a stand, rise to the occasion: what is the merit in that? It is the first action in turning away. Sit, sit down, join us are words that have more community spirit. When you stand you stand alone, even if you stand with others, the assumption is that you are ready for action and no longer waiting for others. Why would that seem to be the most lauded and heroic stance; surely discussion and the advancing and testing ideas is where strength lies. And here again I have resorted to rhetoric, the last bastion of the bombastic.
08/07 Direct Link
Letters #4:
I would like to draw your attention to how homophones can extend the emotional impact in writing, using ‘wail’, in this sentence fragment: ‘… and the car behind wailed past, [the driver’s] hand flat on the horn, foot down hard on the accelerator’. ‘Wail’ and ‘whale’ are homophones and in this sentence, the wailing horn of the passing vehicle echoes the haunting sounds whales make at sea, it gives a sense of the car moving like a whale. These abstractions, like ghostly images, humanise the mechanical sound of the car horn, embedding therein feelings of mourning and loss.
08/08 Direct Link
It is rare in the era of computers that we have the luxury of returning to and correcting our mistakes. Even the language describing the actions of computers has a finality that is unnerving: users commit an action and committing creates a record for eternity. Saving something is not a benevolent, kind and thoughtful thing to do; not the action of a cautious, careful person: saving is an action that commits a replica to be created, imbuing what was a stateless and transitional set of artefacts with existence. The saved version of our work, with all our flaws, becomes immutable.
08/09 Direct Link
Leaning back to stretch, her fingers gently kneading the small of her back, she looked behind, sensing someone standing in the dark. It took a moment for the memory to click into place, of him standing there, watching her garden. That was his private spot, where he’d be undisturbed.
‘I have a good memory, better than most,’ she muttered, ‘but sometimes it does what it wants.’ She was tired, the soil had been wet and heavy to work. ‘There’s no relief letting random ideas fly about,’ she said. ‘Time to pack up and turn on some lights.’
The stretching helped.
08/10 Direct Link
The trowel was stuck in the garden bed close to the back door, the handle’s luminescent strip bright in the light spilling out from the kitchen window. Gardening gloves were removed and, when shaken and banged together to loosen the mud, were placed on the window sill where, in the morning she would pick them up, smacking them together again to evict any spiders sheltering overnight. She always smiled as her hand entered the gloves in the morning as she reached for the trowel, thinking that, if there was a disturbed spider, it would now be awake and very angry.
08/11 Direct Link
These saved objects that fill my life; existing around me they constantly turn to face me when I look. They resemble fireworks, trapped and immobilized in time, I find in them sparks of memories that fire up when I move toward them, wrap-up sensations carefully placed within reach just waiting to open, for the film to start its sepia drained and static filled re-run. The room surrounds me, each facet focussed on me: I am within a contained burst, a chrysanthemum flowering with the perfect petals, perfumed and painted, wrapping me tightly, changing one beat to the next, imitating immortality.
08/12 Direct Link
Standing before the panel was intimidating: even though I knew each member individually in different capacities, having them grouped on the other side of a bench was a cause of concern. For some reason I saw them pooling the list of my weaknesses and flaws, waving away and ignoring my successes and achievements. Together they had the power to bring me down with the weight of my errors; individually I believed each would see my faults against the many positive behaviours I exhibited, the multiple benefits gained through my efforts, to arrive at an overall positive decision about my suitability.
08/13 Direct Link
What handfuls of words do I have to throw out to the infinite today: of the many, I could draw on are some that are unused, dusty and diminished in their lapsed use; words cast adrift like flotsam and jetsam constantly to knock and rub in the tides, shouldering against more travelling and frequented words, hoping to be caught up and carried along with the current.
What will he choose to talk about; has he something to say? Just knowing that he was about to speak gave her comfort but she turned away and the moment passed. They drifted apart.
08/14 Direct Link
‘So, it was like five o’clock already …’
She looked over her shoulder, something she did a lot. A white rabbit habit, I called it: always being chased or always running away, usually both. The panic of urgency, her constant state of being, was so much her style that people no longer thought about it.
‘Are you in a hurry now?’ I asked.
‘Not really – but, …’ A nervous laugh.
‘You’re going to have to finish a sentence,’ I said. ‘At least if you have something to say.’
‘I do. It’s just that … nobody listens, really, and it's important.’
08/15 Direct Link
‘Five o’clock’s still early; there’re still people about and it’s not dark yet. But, you know, it’s when people start getting their things together and sit around talking. I was just walking past, not listening or anything: I heard something.’
Early in the year you look forward to these lighter evenings when there is distance and space and the horizon stretches out drawing you away. Spring is a misnomer: people start to relax now, they’re more open, it’s when tensions ease and we’re kinder to each other again.
‘Is there a problem?’
She scratched her hand; the skin looked sore.
08/16 Direct Link
‘No,’ she said. Seeing me looking at her hands, she pulled them behind her and stood up straighter. ‘It’s something I heard. I can’t stop thinking about it.’
‘Who are you worried about?’ I asked. ‘Is it a problem here at work; is someone bothering you?’
‘It’s not me. I’m not …’
‘Look, Sally, if something’s worrying you, just come out and tell me. You won’t get into trouble.’
She reached out, pulling her arm tightly across her body, and clutched her elbow. The arm looked like a physical restraint there to stop all movement, to stop herself running away.
08/17 Direct Link
‘I heard Sam laughing.’
If I laughed now, that would be the last I heard about it too. She was so tense that another direct question and she could break loose and escape.
‘Sam’s got a sense of humour,’ I said, trying to break the tension, hoping she would smile. ‘He’s a bit of a clown.’ She didn’t smile.
Sometimes students, usually the quiet ones, read deeper meanings into general high spirits. They see a hard edge, conflict and trauma, deliberation in random actions. They become sensitized to changes in atmosphere and don’t forgive or allow extreme emotions to dissipate.
08/18 Direct Link
‘I shouldn’t bother you.’
This was when I could have laughed it off, told her she was being too sensitive, and left. But, you can sometimes recognise moments like these: moments when later in life you will regret not paying attention. The balmy evening would have to wait: the cauldron of pain boiling away here needed to be lanced and dressed.
‘Come on, let’s find Sam. Where did you see him last?’
In the quadrangle a group of students were just leaving, talking loudly a few waved in my direction. ‘Have you seen Sam?’ I asked and hands pointed backwards.
08/19 Direct Link
‘Come on, it’s no bother. We’ll sort this out right now.’I took Sally’s elbow on my way past, turning her to face the building as I went past. ‘Was he in the science labs when you saw him?’
I started walking but Sally seemed to be running next to me, taking two or three tiny steps to one of mine, each step resisting, breaking hard. I slowed and let go her arm.
‘He said he was going to blow up the building, and he had this evil laugh,’ she said. Now her arm was free, she turned and ran.
08/20 Direct Link
We have processes in place to handle threats. Long planning sessions evolved our threat control and containment strategies and I remember sitting in or dreaming through these meetings, including endless planning meeting to review the plans. Having been alerted to a danger, security incident, or event that could damage people or property, there was something I needed to do. Just standing here watching Sally run through the gates, I couldn’t recall the exact order of business. In the silence there were birds, a weary pattern of random sounds from the piano in the arts building, and within me my heartbeat.
08/21 Direct Link
Among the reasons I sit, down here in the depths, comfortably wrapped in the weeds, watching small fishes glide by and the occasional hook descending with its worm that stretches out and takes on the gentle animation of these elements. I know they are dead meat: worms do not attract me and the hooks are too obvious. There are no reasons I will answer to, nothing that will call me in, make me rise to the bait. It would take a grappling hook to catch and haul me up to where the light hurts my eyes and sounds torment me.
08/22 Direct Link
Life as documentary #3:

History has embedded within it resonating chimes of every racist and bigoted opinion ever expressed. It hoards the epiphanies of the powerful and privileged: those who speak for us all, who have the ear of the public, the power to broadcast. The words of this elite, without measuring merit or worth, without validation or critiquing, sculpt our morality. Our histories bury us as they write of those who died to save our culture; history traps us in events that built our society and way of life. Every privilege we don’t question, we’ll find, hasn’t been earned. 

08/23 Direct Link

Can this be all there is? Is life just a matter of turning up?

I am standing here remembering instances of conversations recalled and debates days and weeks prior with combatants unknown and unremembered, hearing again the verbatim course of the to-and-fro, the call and response, the regret and denial, contrition and affirmations. What I am taking credit for is the action of memory, selective and self-serving as always, outside context and giving no sense of equity or fairness to any, my world view is intact and impenetrable. But, I turned up and this is what I have to give.

08/24 Direct Link

My mind is hyper-sensitive: it is not always like this, just now it is difficult for me to read past certain phrases or paragraphs. Certain words hook my attention, and I re-read and think, stop and re-read until I find I’ve spent all my reading time, all morning, on the same page, sometimes reading the same paragraph, occasionally even re-reading one phrase. My thoughts and all entanglements are important and need to be stored in a logical place in my memory, yet there is no such place: the memory will not flatten, remembering will alter this sensation, lose the connectedness.

08/25 Direct Link

The reliable friend: I'm finding this concept hard to grasp. The idea of a protector having my back, seems to shift and flay when looked at directly, yet there might be something concrete here, a slice of life I hadn’t noticed before. I’m certainly not that sort of friend, having watched many companions hit the curb, I just moved on. I’m sure I’ve never needed one either: the need reeks of alibies-on-demand, of being hauled drunk out of gutters, or from a brawl. I’ve not needed help yet, choosing to crawl away on my own, to mend my wounded pride.

08/26 Direct Link

CEW Bean is credited with crafting the persona of the Australian soldier; using second world war events, actions and documents: Bean built this myth. He edited and adjusted historical events, selected views that supported his history, focussed attention on what he wanted remembered. He eliminated alternate views, sometimes changing documents and photographs. Bean’s narrative resonated with survivors and made heroes of the man who went to war and didn’t return. The persona entertained while pandering to the nations’ pride; it made us into a fighting nation. Bean told us: “An Australian will not pocket an insult.” He excused the war.

08/27 Direct Link
As citizens are so shallow, that we are primed to respond with aggression to any action that misinterprets or misunderstands us?
An insult is a threat to selfhood, but it says more about the person who acknowledges the threat than the perpetrator. A mindless action can be cast in ignorance without malice; registering this action as an insult and then responding with aggression is both a wilful act and behaviour that can exponentially escalate any harm.
BTW: Bean’s archetype was developed during the first world war. In the second, they copied and exaggerated the model to differentiate them from others.
08/28 Direct Link
Having gone off the rails with history, let me go further, extending this minor rant, extrapolating to stretch this thought to wilder extremes, until there is a fully flared and vaulted kite of an argument upon which I stand. And, you ask, who is the argument with: it is the actions of history that make us into Frankenstein monsters; we lurch and ripple emulating life but only when all the connected tissue is sutured in place. How can we cast off a foreign limb, when the entire edifice must exist before it can move and gyrate and distract the audience.
08/29 Direct Link

Send in the dogs and let us howl at the moon and run rampant through the streets, calling out our kind to gather. The savage splendour of the night needs drama, wild and dangerous actions, events to mark this time in history as epic. We show the flame within, the eternal forces carried that makes us who we are, this is true evidence of our humanity cannot be veiled; it shines, mercurial and radiant, a transient mark of our mortality. Energy glows as if branded on us: we emit light that flares new colours, release hues unlike those seen before. 

08/30 Direct Link

Even though I know this is the only time this can happen I feels that this all had happened before. I sense here a primal pattern; I feel a residual sense of deja-vu lapping around me like waves. There is nothing left to do, but I wait: I cannot move on. It doesn’t feel complete, it doesn’t feel over. The bell has run but the echo is missing. If this is a watershed moment separating then from now, something must happen, and until it does, I’ll stand here and wait in this breathless moment in time, before everything changes forever.

08/31 Direct Link

And then there was one: looking backwards, this was not such a problem but, from this point onwards, everything could be different.

Don’t know why I use the conditional, everything in the future will be different. Our lives are like fingerprints in that we don’t repeat. At best, we are given a do-over and then, only through the generosity of others. Even in a do‑over, we see the artifice, the falsity, the lack of authenticity: it is like a winner’s a lap around the circuit after a race; there is no tension, the end foregone, the audience is already leaving.