Saturday, April 12, 2003

just another day in Adelaide

The sun was shining this morning. It promised to be a glorious autumn day. After an early coffee at Lucias (7.20 am), a hug at the Coles checkout counter and a big shop in the Central Market, we had a quick breakfast on the front 'porch' of the electronic cottage.

We chatted to the local councillors about quality of life issues of Adelaide city as they came by canvassing votes whilst taking phone calls about renting out the inner city electronic cottage.

Yep the big shift has started to happen. Its on. Another week and we are out of here.

The rest of the morning and early was spent painting the front fence and showing young professionals around the cottage. Then lunch, a quick glance through the Financial Review looking for blogging topics. More phone calls about renting the one bedroom cottage.

So many peoples lives in transit. Broken relationships, houses being sold under tenants, women asserting their autonomy from boy friends, students moving from hosue to house and so on. Then sealing the sandstone tiles on the porch. A passing squall and washed away the sealer. I cried.

My tears were washed away by the rain and they flowed down the gutter with the storm water, then out to the sea in the St Vincents Gulf.

More people having a squeeze at the cottage. Everyone found it cute. A quick shower then walking the dogs in the parklands amidst grey skies, swirling leaves, mild temperatures and the odd drop of rain.

Returned home to Suzanne getting dressed up for a dinner with a long-term female friend at one of those Italio-Australian New Cusine resturants where the wine starts at $50+ a bottle and the food is cutting edge.

Just another day really. Its called stark reality. Everybody was jolly and friendly. No one mentioned the war in Iraq, Israel, the woes of Australian democracy, the sources of instablity in the world of nations or Rupert Murdoch's liking for a good bombing.

In Adelaide in post-war Australia the economy is booming, house prices are rising, rents are increasing, happiness is in the air.

It is a balmy night, the Barossa chardonnay is full of flavour and the poodles are happily crunching on their bones in the back courtyard.

No more postings from Salam Pax but Chris Allberton is going great guns. I read Ralph Peters to get into the swing of things.

Thursday, April 10, 2003

Dear Doctor

I woke up this morning feeling depressed. Winter is coming.

You can feel the cold in this chill world where people talk past each other, and behind the masks there is a tacit acceptance of inhumanity.

Doctor do you think that we are losing the capacity to distinguish who has done what harm to whom.

Doctor we seem to be spending our energies disentangling ourselves from past intimacies. We accept that romance is a fragmentary collision of wary strangers full of sociability lacking appropriate objects.

I was in a pub last night doing a bit of networking over a drink and overheard a bright young professional saying that all spontaneity should be mistrusted. Only romantics let themselves go and even that was a pose they'd learned from their counseller or therapist about the advantage gained from appealing impulses.

Her companion presented herself as a victim of injustice. She had the air of someone who knew what life was like. A malignancy of hardness, hate and intolerance.

What is happening to me. My life seems to lack meaning. I no longer know why I get of the bed each morning. I no longer know how to live serenely.

Doctor, how nice of you to give me two minutes of your time to listen to my woes about the poisons of individualism for a fee.
romance in cyberspace

The form in which life's little pleasures are expressed are changing.

I thought that a bit of theory was needed after reading some of the sad comments on 'tears the heart'.

If you don't enjoy that theorizing romance, then how about a bit of social science-US style on Love on the Internet?

Bounce out of it as if you'd hit a brick wall? Cold science has nothing to do with warm desire?

Then this whimsical Chagall-like image will appeal to all those who think that romance is alive and well, even though the good men out there are entrapped in drunken dysfunctionality; or they are just plain too tired for sex. They've ended in up a place where they can be witty and clever but are no longer able to be be sensitive and romantic.

I don't think the Internet Guys are clued into romance. Of course Cyberspace provides only virtual romance. It just ain't the real thing. But maybe its all we have. Maybe then maybe my romantic feelings are transferred to the computer, now that our experience of the other person is limited to the text.

Maybe its just me and the yawning void. The poetry is pretty bleak. Shouldn't we be listening the poets now that we no longer trust?

Life's little pleasures. They are so difficult to manage.

Wednesday, April 09, 2003

Top war photos

These are some of the better photos of the war plus a commentary. But we do not see the charnel-house reality of bits of bodies.

The one that catches my eye is the one of the family leaving Basra with the little girl dressed in white frock. That face expresses terror. It says a lot about the battle for hearts and minds.
Imre's junk
I have been at the office all day; meetings phone calls, briefings etc. You know the usual stuff that people do everyday in political life. No time to read the newspapers or hear the news. Just on the go. Switching from this to that to this. You know what I mean. Its modern life.

So I have no idea what's going on in the world. Nor did I care. I feel jaded. Depressed. I feel my life is ebbing away.

Then I spied this..Its Imre Salusinszky doing his smash left intellectuals number. It evoked a memory of a hurdy gurdy song in a seedy fun fair that had seen better times. Its easy to imagine the scene.

There's a women outside Miss Lottee in 1930s swimsuit and fishnet stockings doing a very passable imitation of Australia's foreign minister singing a Beach Boys song Kokomo in a down town Japanese bar. Miss Lottee invited us inside to see the show called Spoofing the intellectuals.

Inside was a balding sort of guy in need of bit of excercise. He wore a bow tie, non-descript clothes and his shoes needing cleaning. He was standing on a bare stage reading from a text in a flat monotone. Live feeds from Fox Television were being broadcast on a tv on the right front of the stage. Left back the pianist was slumped over the keyboard. It was all very minimalist, spoiled by the huge Australian flag being used as a backdrop. That made the performance kitschy.

I couldn't hear much of what Imre was saying because of the high rev babble on the television. But it got the gist. It had something to do with lefty intellectuals barracking for the enemy in the Iraq war.

Must be a comedy act I thought. I never like comedy. The free to air networks were full of comedy shows. Soem peopel thought that you could never get too much comedy. Whole evenings were devoted to comedy from what I could judge.

My initial take on the show? A postmodern gesture to the soapbox oratory in the park I thought by an old modernist sort of guy who had seen better days as a cultural conservative. Very self-referential. But then I see postmodernsim everywhere.

Yet the vibes didn't feel too good. I looked around . A few people were standing around. It was a free show. But no one made eye contact. "Not good, not good", I mumbled to myself.

I heard this:

"The tradition of critique and scepticism among intellectuals in the West is nothing new; it stretches back nearly 3000 years to Plato's Academy. However, in the age of capitalism and of the mass culture that has arisen alongside it, that critique has in a great many cases become something quite different. As intellectuals have found themselves marginalised, critique has morphed into disgust at the habits and values of ordinary people – a disgust reflected in the title of a "progressive" tract such as Michael Moore's Stupid White Men – and has been accompanied by a wholesale rejection of the habits and values of the open society."

Yawn. God. How many times have I heard this routine. Then a variation. A bit of creative spark.

"But contexts change and what seemed like harmless wankery before September 11 seems like something else now. September 11 put a fundamental question to the intellectuals about their ultimate allegiance and whether their critique functioned within Western liberalism or was, in fact, a challenge to it."

This was no postmodernist gesture. It was the good old either routine. It completely displaced the way critique had functioned within western liberalism and was a challenge to it. Chewing gum and walking the jive.

I yelled out. 'Hey Imre, "critique is good to have around cos its the lifeblood of democracy. Even old Socrates understood that you know."

Imre stopped. It was a theatrical gesture. But he really needed to catch his breathe.

The voice of Miss Lotte drifted in filling the silence. She was singing

"Aruba, Jamaica ooo I wanna take you
To Bermuda, Bahama come on pretty mama
Key Largo, Montego baby why don't we go

Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo."

Imre started winding up on what he meant by harmless wankery ' seeming like something else now'. It took the form of a long detour by way of the moral lessons WW2 and housepainting.

"Give us a break Kokomoa ," I yelled. "Don't you know that its difficult to write poetry after Auschwitz."

I walked out. Miss Lottee smiled at me. She really did look like some guy I saw on television a lot. You know the one who is a bit of mummy's boy. She was singing.

"Ooo I wanna take you down to Kokomo
We'll get there fast
And then we'll take it slow
That's where we wanna go
Way down to Kokomo."

I plunged into the crowds bumping into an astrologist who was talking excitedly to her handbag about the stars being down to earth . I could hear an old David Bowie song being played. I stopped to listen. It was about heroes. A wounded soldier walked by.

Thats another story.

Monday, April 07, 2003

Tears the heart

This is story about romance not love; a postmodern romance.

Yep, there is such a thing. Its all about constructed identities and cyberspace.
The war party

Here is a website that is totally devoted to the photos of the Iraqi victims of the war.

It is under constant attack from hackers---from the war party. Who else?

What's wrong with this crowd that they attack the first amendment of the American constitution? Aren't they meant to be representing the good guys, the Enlightenment, in this clash of civilizations?

Are they meant to be fighting to defend the Ist Amendment?

What it shows is that the American Enlightenment has gone totalitarian, doesn't it?

Oh I know the response from listening to Fox Television. Its patriotism. Those photos support the Iraqi's political strategy to swing world opinion away from the Anglo-Americans.


American nationalism and exceptionalism have swallowed up the liberal tradition.

Lets hope it resurfaces for all our sakes.

Statute of Liberty

These are night thoughts.

I couldn't sleep. It rained all day yesterday.The plumber, who was meant to come at 9am, turned up 5.30pm. That's the time the poodles were really chafing to go their walk. The plumber was Lebanese and hated dogs.

I was depressed last night after watching 4 Corners on the ABC.

Suzanne was in Brisbane. My mind was racing. Not even a glass of wine slowed me down. And we move in 3 weeks.

This is as far as I've got in making the night thoughts coherent.

In the opening passage of Kafka's Amerika we read of a statue of liberty with a "sword" in hand. Should we accept Kafka's substitution of a sword for the actual torch?

Or should there be a torch of Enlightenment in one hand and a sword in the other.

I favour both. That gives me America as the militarised enlightenment.

No one else seems to like that idea though.

I can see historical precedents. The 'enlightened absolutist', Frederick II (the Great) of Prussia. Maybe the party of humanity can dismiss Frederick's Prussia -as a militarized, war-hungry state indifferent to individual civil and political liberties and so resembling a perversion of the true goals of the 'party of humanity' rather than their fulfilment.

But we do have the co-joining of enlightenment and military. The neo-con US is another kind of co-joining though instrumental reason.

You see it if you see the current events in MIddle East in terms of a clash of civilizations and then view the clash from the perspective of a conflict between the accelerating forces of modernity and the resistance by a faltering, defensive, traditional religion-infused Islam.

Its crude. I know. But its okay as a first cut.

What you do see is the American eagle over the Middle East.

The eagle swoops on prey. It likes babies and the innocent.
A query
'vulgar aesthetic irrationalism'

A suitable definition of that right wing tabloid network Fox Television?

Do you think that Rupert Murdoch reckons Fox News eludes rational understanding and that feeling is everything?

Well I saw a bit of Fox cable on Media Watch. One of its executives celebrates praiseworthy immediacy.

What I saw was a babbling along with the stream of media images. The primary reception response was one of consumption.
New oz blog

This is high class writing. Sets the standard.

Sunday, April 06, 2003


I am reading Paul McGeough's, Manhattan to Baghdad: Dispatches from the frontline in the War of Terror. I come across this scene.

An Egyptian man dancing alone in a nightclub a few hours before the opening fury of Operation Desert Storm in 199. He says:

"You live, you dance, you die."

No, 'you love'?

The Iraqi's in 1991 knew too well what the impact of the US bombing would be. They would become hamburger meat.
Indivdual voices

If we take multiculturalism in Australia seriously, then we need to listen to different Iraqi voices and hear what they are saying. Zainab Al-Badry is one such voice. She is an Iraqi living in Australia. She speaks here and here about the war. It is a more complex and ambivalent response than that offered by the masculine, rightwing voice of Wogblog.

Here is another voice from an Iraqi living in Britain.
Back to Iraq

Christopher is going great guns walking the mountains over the Turkish Iraq border as he makes his way back to Iraq.
War dogs

I don't know whether to laugh or cry at this. This is the history of the dogs of war.