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Catharsis

Posted 28 March 2005, 4.19 am by firebrand

“I can’t have kids.,” she says, fiddling nervously with the ring on her right hand. “It doesn’t really bother me – I mean, I’ve always known I can’t have kids, so I’ve never really wanted them. Whenever I tell people I can’t have kids – it is just a Fact of Life, after all – they always tell me how sorry they are for me, and that Modern Science can probably solve my problems. I don’t think they understand that it’s not a problem for me. They might as well tell someone they’re sorry their eyes are blue.”

“But I wonder, sometimes, if knowing I’ll never have children has made me live differently. Have I been more irresponsible, more selfish because I won’t have to settle down and share my time, space and love with someone not of my own choosing? I don’t think I have, but I can never really know.”

Walking over to the bookshelf, she extracts a slim, dog-eared novel. She fingers the pages, smoothing each fold back. “You know, really, the thing that gets me is the future. What if I meet some wonderful, perfect guy and he dumps me because he wants kids? I mean, I’ve always been willing to adopt, but what if that’s not enough? I don’t want to find a Hagar to birth my husband’s children.”

“I hate feeling like other people think I’m incomplete. We live in a modern society! Completion shouldn’t be tied to my ability to reproduce, to bear strong sons for my husband! There is more to me than my womb!”

Suddenly, she flings the book to the floor and walks out. I suppose it bothers her after all.


"Coffee House" at the Student Lounge

Posted 25 March 2005, 7.00 am by Aqua

Honestly, I was afraid. Upon entering the student lounge, immediately the words “this definitely isn’t my scene” came into my head. “’Scene’? Did I just say that?” I took a seat at a tall round table while my roommate Lilly and her friend Jeff took a seat at a couch with their friends.

It was like walking into a room and suddenly tripping on ‘shrooms, and I’ve never had the pleasure of that experience, if that says anything. I felt so alienated. It was dark, and people were strewn about this small niche seated on couches, tall tables, and stools, all intensely gazing at the main attraction at the end of the room; the main attraction that just happened to be behind a wall of white sheets. Well, at least you could make out their shadows from the blue light… sort of. A form with what appeared to be antlers on their head hunched over an amp, a bunch of sticks in the corner, and… is that a scythe?

But that wasn’t the half of it. The music hit you like a ton of bricks over and over, repeatedly violating your ears and ravaging the innermost portions of your brain; you know, the ones that you never knew existed until that time your friend ran their fingernails mercilessly down the chalk board in 6th grade. I forgot about that area. That is, I did until now.

Then came the plastic doulble-sided axe.

Interestingly enough, it made you want to stick around if for no other reason than to see where this all was going. Sounding like a combination of an electric guitar with a serious echo effect on, some keyboard with erratic tempos and pennies in an oatmeal container, it was strangely fascinating. It rocked and scared me to the very core. I loved it.

The haunting beats disturbed you as the slow crescendo came, went, and came again to finally end with much applause. As I clapped, the lights were turned on, foreign objects were tossed out from behind the curtain (there’s the axe, a reindeer head, and… an alien?), and the artists emerged from their white womb: three guys in their plaid glory, glasses, tight pants and all. All of them upperclassmen I recognized in passing.

Slightly disoriented from this new… music… experience… I decided to get some coffee. Lilly and Jeff started setting up their instruments with three other upperclassmen and I prepared for what I had originally come for. It was fantastic. Starting with a few impromptu “poetry slams” backed by Jeff on the electric guitar, Lilly on bass, and a sweet drummer, the lead man had such enthusiasm and power in the way he sung into the magnificent old mic on his stand, you couldn’t help but like it, whatever it was he was singing. His moccasin-clad feet pounded at the table he stood upon as his whole being, not the drums, seemed to shake the very ground. These were followed up with Lilly on vocals to American Music and I Touch Myself, with a twist.

I don’t want anybody else.

After another impromptu jam, the main feature (for me) came on. The skinny drummer with the tie and the lead singer in sweat pants and a beige plaid shirt stood high on the low table and sang a version of Hey Joe. Of course this version was a bit different than Jimi Hendrix’s original version with their heavy bass of the drum and the intense sound of the electric guitar. Not to mention after the first verse the drummer declared over the music it was the only part they knew, and that they were going to continue with just the opening, revising a little along the way with their passionate screams inbetween switch-offs of "Joe", and "not Joe".

You know I caught her messin’ ’round with another man.

Followed by an original musical piece with only the drummer on electric guitar and another guy on the drums, I was blown away. I remember now, this is why I love live music.

It was perfect.

As this was the end of this group’s section I wasted no time getting out of there to head home. I needed to savor this feeling. I had to cling to it while I could. As I walked down the dark streets I knew so well, I was euphoric. Somehow I felt esoteric, enlightened, special; I had some sort of otherworldly knowledge and power endowed to me through this deafening music. I stepped and heard my footsteps with a new perception, stars seemed increasingly familiar, and smoke from a chimney was tangible, there for my use as I wished. I understand. This is why people actually make music, even if it doesn't get them anything. The adrenaline and natural high is beyond all else and somehow I forgot. And yet, this time was different. As I walked alone I reveled in the cold and the mantra flowed all around me.

If it feels good, do it.

When I think about you, I touch myself.

Antistrophe; Pissing on the Other Foot

Posted 21 March 2005, 5.58 pm by Waldo

There’s a poisonous idea still that somehow things might have a hard-and-fast meaning (truth, to be vulgar about it). There are answers! Even in art! Embedded in the piece by the creator and left for us to find, bread-crumbs to a higher order and perfect forms. “What could he have meant by ----?” and such. The puzzling out of imagery done from the perspective of that artist, forget how dead and buried he remains. The transpositioning of self for artist reveling a new world to inhabit if briefly or poorly. Such self-centeredness. “Forget the audience, I’ve a copy-right!” extending into meaning itself, likely through the magic of god and church, hm?

How can the one creature (an artist, vile in-itself) be the sole bearer of meaning? One perspective is no more powerful than another, eyes are eyes, if none so convincing as our own. Can we so easily do away with our preconceptions that we might consider slavery to be regular and moral (allowing for morals)? What of capital punishment? Supple as reeds, not so flexible as to play like that. We cannot find another’s truth. The differences between us (however slight or great you think them) prevent any real understanding from occurring, we cannot suspend ourselves such that we might pretend at being someone else (the artist or anyone). So let’s not make ourselves fools to try understand the artist’s world and instead work out our own, consciously or below that as you’d wish.

With the artist out of grasp we’ven’t any recourse but to take up the thing ourselves and make of it what we can or should like to (ego cannot be taken out of it). O, yes, we’re so very put-upon to find our own way. At least there’s always a flock should we murder Ms. (a guess) Peep.

(Speaking of egoism, how much greater can it be than supposing you might understand another’s mind well enough to predict their thoughts. Predict your own, that I’d like to see!)

So we deny an actual world and actual meaning, we lose history but as another fiction, along side biography and the novel. That is hardly a loss and what’s gained (the potential for disagreement) is interesting enough on its own to give us cause to dilute and lose what we may, should it be greater.

Let’s not make ourselves fools to try understand the artist’s world, something past and gone outside their skin. Human beings have limits. Humanity, the sum of humans, has limits. We are tiny, petty things. We should not suppose that we’re capable of flight but of fancy, we should be amazed that we walk up-right. And there’s pleasure in that. There’s joy in what we can accomplish, in the small, self-centered universes we populate with a hundred things imagined or real, found or created.

Art is narcissism. From end to beginning. We create for immortality or because we think we’ve something to say that hasn’t been heard before or, if it has, so that we might be congratulated for saying it. We want praise for our opinions, if not liked for what we make then for what we like. Sheeple, all of us. It’s a disgusting state. Welcome to the human race; we’re a mess.

Consequences, part two

Posted 16 March 2005, 10.38 am by Villager

Well, the deed is done. After days of completely ignoring me - during which time I largely moped around feeling sorry for myself - she came to see me. She said that she was sorry for shutting me out, and explained that it was because she feared I would change her mind. I confessed that I had aimed to, but by then I was resigned to the outcome. She had already had a scan to ascertain the age of the developing child and was booked in the following day to have it terminated. She wanted me to come with her. This wasn't something that I had contemplated, and I stared blankly at her whilst I thought about it. I didn't want to. I was still angry with her, and didn't want to be a part of something that I was so against. It would feel so wrong. I said yes because despite feeling a raw sense of betrayal every time I looked at her, it occurred to me that I still care for her a great deal and I didn't want her to go through it alone. Nor did I relish the prospect of sitting at home thinking about it happening. I probably would have overruled these thoughts had I not committed myself before having time to change my mind. She thanked me, and my mind began to panic as I realised what I had said.

It's strange now that I think about it, but I've never actually wondered what is physically involved in an abortion. For the uninitiated, the process varies depending upon the stage of development. For us (I want to type 'her', but feel that to do so would be dodging responsibility) it was too late for the simple chemical option. It was necessary for an invasive procedure to essentially suck out the unwanted contents. It's difficult to explain quite why, but the necessity of this option made it rather worse. Perhaps it was the idea of a body being vacuumed out of the womb, more real and more human than a pill dissolving some cells. From the time we set off from the hotel to the very last second - the point of no return - I had to bite my tongue and wrestle with myself to go along with it. Being bounced around by anger, pity, frustration, sadness, regret and guilt in quick succession is horribly draining. I was shaking. She was remarkably brave during the whole thing. I know her well enough to see the agony and suffering going on behind her soft, brown eyes, yet she composed herself remarkably well. Of this I was glad, as it meant there was less demand for me to comfort her, which I'm not sure I could have done without falling apart myself.

That was two days ago, and Kate has been in a pretty bad way since, physically shaken but psychologically rather more so. I've tried to be with her as much as I can bear but when I'm with her there's a sharp, nauseous tension between us. I know she wants me there but I can't help wondering if that's not doing more harm than good. When the dust settles it's hard to see where we can go from here, and I don't want to raise her hopes. Less obvious to me at first was that I was undergoing some sort of emotional knee-jerk reaction, scared of being let down again. Keeping distance. Avoiding accepting responsibility? So mostly we just sit together, occasionally voicing thoughts and feelings, neither of us willing to be entirely honest. I would like to reassure her in some way, to say anything positive, but I can truly think of nothing. It is too early for cathartic, brutal honesty, though the time for that may come.

The sharper emotions have subsided for now. Anger is now entirely futile, frustration faded away, leaving confused remnants of guilt and sadness but little else. What to feel towards somebody who betrays you but hates herself for doing so? It seems petty to think of forgiveness when a life has just been sacrificed, yet it seems the central issue. Do I care for her enough to forgive her? If so, do I still want her companionship? I do forgive her. I remind myself that the whole reason for the abortion was her desire to remain married - for the sake of whomever - and that a future for us seems highly unlikely even if I wanted that. I wish I could walk away. I wish I could feel unmitigated resentment towards her that I might cast the whole sorry affair into my past and blame it on her.

For some reason I wonder if I would feel worse had my first child lived before dieing. I imagine it would be worse, though the tragedy of a life denied altogether is what sits, stubbornly, upon my consciousness. It is not until I begin to think about the future that might have developed for the three of us, that tears begin to flow. I know many reading this will think it folly to mourn a life that didn't even exist, in a sense, but it's real enough for me. Just writing this, though, seems to relieve a little of the pressure upon my heart, whether by confession, a therapeutic articulation of my thoughts or something else. Whatever. I begin today with sadness at the past, and uncertainty (perhaps a little fear) at the future. I know I've learned a valuable lesson - I'll never again be so negligent as to let this happen again - but somehow that's no consolation. I forgive her, and that rests okay with me - though I couldn't explain it - but I doubt I will ever forgive myself. The knowledge that ultimately I am responsible - in the selfish pursuit of pleasure, no less - for this death weighs very heavily indeed.

Contra the Aborted Missive

Posted 10 March 2005, 11.41 am by Waldo

Before this last century, I’ve been told, there was this idea that art was a construct and one for communication. The artist with a head laden with ideas and images worked them into a piece. Intended for consumption but, more than that, to impart a world-view or a view of the world at least. The artist intended something, however trite, and the viewer and critic would piece it out. There was joy in the discovery of what was meant, same as finding a truly Roman corpse thought lost. Art has lost something.

Metaphors weren’t dirty words yet and cigars never cigars, pipes always pipes. “What could he have meant by a swaaaaaaaaan.” and such, the puzzling out of imagery was done from the perspective of that artist, forget how dead and buried he remained or the losses sustained by his culture. The transpositioning of self for artist reveling a new world to inhabit if briefly or poorly.

Now we’ve murdered the artist, rubbed them out of their picture, to make room for our selves. The art is solely in the eye of the beholder. Gone any attempt to assume the artist’s perspective in favor of ours. Egoism from then on then, what the thing means to you, with your cultural norms and prerogatives. The Venus de Milo is a chick missing her arms and, while beautiful, has surely lost something in its exposure to the pop world. There’s a missing piece when history’s discarded from the piece, when the thing is reduced from an icon to a reflection of one human’s history and psychology. Taken out of context, what can any of the great master’s works be but ‘pretty?’ Twain reduced to comedy with some ‘odd bits’ to be re-interpreted or ignored as the reader so wishes. And what of that bible!

Something is lost with subjectivity, something thought, once at least, to be vital to any artistic endeavor: Actual Meaning. And with that, any sort of emotion evoked by the artist in favor of whatever work the viewer would wish to do with the piece in their narrow, petty world. The piece is identified with the viewer rather than viewer identifying with the creator. We’re all tiny, self-centered universes.

With the personal supplanting the actual, art is an act of no more consequence than a heap of filth in an alley, being pawed by homeless and dogs (and that will certainly be called art!) so where’s the joy in creation? Where’s the artist? Dead and buried in a world of egotistical me-firsts. Surrounded by everything-everything art. Found-art and accidental art. The death of art, long live art. Rather than artists we’re made provokers now, ‘artists’ unconcerned with expressing themselves so much as playing with their audience and degrading everything to level the playing-field. Voyeurs in their own lives, every one of us.

Lovely, just lovely. And as self-important as ever.

Consequences.

Posted 9 March 2005, 9.06 pm by Villager

I hadn't planned for fatherhood just yet. In recent times I have even been inclined to take precautions against such an outcome, especially given my lack of a viable long term relationship. Nine weeks ago I began a relationship with a teacher in my English department (not one of my teachers). Cliché, I know, but when we met neither of us were aware of our common occupation. Eight years my senior, she is married, has a single child and a loveless relationship with her husband. She commutes from Newcastle (about two hours' drive), and stays over frequently. At no time has this relationship been intended to have a long term future. Her name is Kate.

Imagine my surprise when she summoned me and told me that she is pregnant. There was no prelude, no period of suspense while a test was taken, just the news, already an established and irrefutable fact. My first feelings were of surprise, as precautions had almost always been taken, and then deflation, as the inadequacy of those partial measures became apparent. We sat for some time in silence, her sullen, me mulling over the situation and all its intricacies. Despite the lacklustre state of her marriage, she made sure that I was always aware of her intent to stay married. This was not as problem for me, the nature of our relationship suiting me, at least at first. She also desperately wanted more children, though this was not a possibility with her husband if their current relationship persisted.

'What do you want to do?' I asked. Though I certainly had an opinion on the matter, I recognised that her situation was the more delicate. If she wished for an abortion, I could neither stop her nor wholeheartedly object. If she wished to keep the child, I would agree in principle but would be worried as to how we might work things out. 'I don’t know', she replied. 'I can’t give it up. I can’t. What do you think?' I told her that I was opposed to an abortion, but didn't see how we could figure out an alternative. That night, she fell asleep in tears, repeating that she didn’t care what it meant, she was having the baby. I fell asleep contemplating this most unexpected of developments, more concerned for my own situation that for the fate of the unborn child.

Over the next few days I spend a lot of time thinking about it, and came to the conclusion that, although I could ultimately do nothing if she decided to have an abortion, I would try to avert that. I wanted the child. We would work something out. After that first night, Kate became very cold with me, despite my attempts to talk about it. Eventually she called me and asked me to meet her, which I did. Expressionless and without looking directly at me, she told me that she had come to a decision, and would not go through with the pregnancy. There was no way she could pass it off as her husband's, nor would this be fair to me. She wasn’t willing to risk her marriage by having the child of another man, and so reached the conclusion that she had no choice. Somehow I was both surprised and not surprised at this change of heart. I began to tell her that I didn't want that, that I wanted us to work something out together, but she simply got up and left. That was three nights ago, and she hasn't returned my calls since.

Those of you who have read my article on abortion will be well aware of my reasons for being opposed to abortion (and those of you who haven't can find it in the archives), but it goes further than that. I want the child. It isn't a time in my life that is 'ideal' but neither is it unworkable. I believe she is wrong to put her marriage above the unborn child, especially without giving me a fair say. I feel anger at her refusal to hear my views, but sympathy because I know that it was an incredibly hard decision for her to make. Our relationship, in all probability, has come to a complete end. Whether we would, as mother and father, continue as partners will never be known. At first we both agreed that it was a short term relationship, but as time wore on I’m sure that it developed into something rather more for the both of us. Suffice it to say that I would have been happy to attempt to make it work.

So I must come to terms with the reality that my first child will be – or already has been, as she won’t speak to me – killed in the womb. I can think of little but that my future has been utterly altered, and the future of my unborn child denied altogether. I am overwhelmed with sadness and remorse, regret that I did not do more to prevent this outcome. Regret that I allowed it to occur in the first place. As for the future, I am at a loss as to whether I should pursue her further. As I sit here tonight her phone is switched off, my e-mail account receiving no reply. I could force an encounter at uni, but I doubt she would hear me even then. And yet, I feel compelled to try, and responsible for the death of an innocent child. My child.

From an Aborted Missive pt. two

Posted 2 March 2005, 5.18 am by Waldo

Before anything else, what’s written must be entertaining. Art for art’s sake is dull. Ideas themselves are dull, the same as listening to someone going on about last night’s dream. We’re all foreign bodies. Any idea not couched in an interesting form is a useless one. There are too many barriers to communication as it is. See: pill, bitter (metaphor). That’s not to suggest that it should always bring smiles but that it should always engage as best possible. If the thing won’t entertain, if not one person’s distracted or engaged by it, what more can come of it beside rot. Entertainment will always be the primary focus of art (the art that people wish to consume [and consider] in any case, the art that’s not only masturbation).

There’s nothing wrong with any sort of masturbation. Ego-pleasing forms and pieces are the mainstay of artistic endeavor. We want to feel better about ourselves either with ideals that we identify our selves with or with the freaks and scum that we sneer toward or count as outside our peers. We need shining men on pedestals and gutter-snipes to keep going through the motions. Life hasn’t goal or meaning but what we fashion for it and in that at least life is art.

Creating for the sake of creating is arrogant at best and always tedious. That said, there’s nothing wrong with any sort of masturbation. Things of that kind do serve. Placating egos and giving the rest of us something to sneer at. There’s more than just purpose there as well, there’s a beauty to be found if you screw up your face.

Art can be anything. The versatility of what we might spit and create is close to its greatest attraction. Fresh and new and a thing waiting to be tasted, yearning to feel tongues around it and grinding away until it’d fit up nose or vein and on to the mind. Morphine from Morpheus. No. Not that Morpheus. We’ll find what it means afterwards, but it’s the newness before the beauty or pleasant sight or whatever we want to make of it, assuming it’s enough of that subliminal quality that makes us keep going over it. If it’s not entertaining, why be bothered?

This might put too much on accomplishment, but even the smallest bit is enough. Piercing one eye or ear is a worthy thing. Qualities are often lost in seeking quantity. This might put too much on a thing being pleasing, but it needn’t be pleasant in doing so.

Entertainment’s the thing while that dry and uninteresting is found cast aside. To disintegrate in basement or attic without bastard children in lithographs, second printings, bootlegs inspiring care/longing. Read by no-one, remembered by no-one, worth the dust it breeds while that living and beating piece, the one trying to strangle plebs or dance for them, works if only for a night. Boring and bored and cast aside.

Boredom of course has its place. We might be entertained by that. Those dull words might be self-conscious or be thought so. They might remind of trivialities and the endless pace of unnumbered days. Not to shut away the content of whatever (or hide the whatever itself) behind stolid words or mind-numbing beats, to numb the senses and leave us aware that they are so or leave us anxious and on edge. There aren’t limits on intent. Be boring. Be dull. At least that’s what I tell myself.

As an end-note, I feel it should be said, clearly, that this is a personal thing for me. The thought that art in-itself is worthy of anything leaves me retching. The odorous self-importance of it triggers loathing but also images of scenesters and people who smoke and wear too much black being beaten to death with cinder blocks and bright red bricks. Bone splinters from compound fractures and viscera skittering across oak floors in a too-expensive loft as grey concrete takes up the red, red kroovy. Pressing in the brain stem but finding that unsatisfying. Ribs staved in until they’re showing through the other side with gobs of lung hung on the end. The murderer’s fingers torn from the exertion and the rough quality of that weapon. A victim’s face unmarked but for trails of blood to preserve a self-righteous expression captured in the moment of impact. I feel I should also mention that this is entirely a product of my self-consciousness, worrying that I’m wearing too much black.

From an Aborted Missive

Posted 25 February 2005, 6.33 am by Waldo

Before it’s anything else, whatever’s written should be clear, directness aside. Clarity before anything else, else it risks comparisons to dried feces on a neglected old man in more than one way. Without fearing obscurity of the end result, in the words or meaning, the thing must be approachable in part and must be construable as meaningful, even if not fully so. Discussion must be possible, conclusions always at hand while layers and subtlety coexist. Ideally, anyone (nevermind their education, what with dictionaries and encyclopedias all easily grasped) with a grasp of the English language, should be able to understand anything I write and while I tend towards elitism, I desire all of my words to be accessible at the level of syntax and their form. One never knows where a curious mind and a novel position lurk and any attempt at exclusion can only hamper whatever goal I put forward unless I mean to rule. To do a thing so that only x might have the chance of understanding, neverminding the most basic of hurdles in literacy rates and cover charges, is to leave the thing ill-formed and useless in the whole.

Creation itself means nothing. The most over-inflated sense of well-doing stems from the mechanical application of text or paints or the crafting of any good. Robots might do those things, so long as quality doesn’t suffer, and the world of consumers could hardly notice. That a human hand graces blank page or canvas or arranges bleeps on spools of magnetic plastic only goes as far as feeding egoism or giving a face to the pitcher. The mechanics of a painter slaving at canvas are unimportant until it is viewed, that they might be given weight then is unnecessary but possible. The mechanics of brush against canvas are as interesting as a grease monkey working away (something which can certainly inspire poetry). It’s the experience of the thing that matters, not the artist’s motions and tools. If a troupe of crabs could imitate Richard the Third.

Along those lines, anything might be taken as art or creative. The beauty of car wrecks is rarely appreciated from beside them but too many have seen in such a way for its denial to still be possible. Zapruder might be taken as masturbation material with the right disposition. The significance of a thing cannot be found at its inception; it comes at each time the piece is uniquely viewed. Meaning comes long after birth and has nothing to do with the parent until they work as a critic or plebian aficionado.

With the viewer occupying the only necessary position (the creator sidelined as machinery alone) nothing is lost. The thoughts of authors no more interesting and important than those of every beast of burden that forms his own meaning for their work. Equality of thoughts is a necessary conclusion but one impossible to be taken to heart with our selves blocking the way, opinions and assholes after all. Discarding an obsession with celebrity seems key and I’d think a clearly helpful task.

This as a whole does ignore the cyclical nature of creation. Are the thoughts and processes of the viewer any different from the creative act itself? Certainly a critical piece is comparable to a too lengthy essay of any kind. Removing the artifice of pages and typeface does little, we've admitted it is merely artifice. The objective is to ruin the importance of these trappings and find whatever's bare under it all. By the other-side there's art in artifice which should not be ignored. Limiting the roles played to only the creature experiencing is a useless task, one that is only a game of pretend. The act of creation in itself (as though we might split so fine a hair) is a base, meaningless thing and inspires contempt so long as it remains hidden and untransformed into art while the documenting of the process of creation is egotism and pornography, straddling the same line as any other human endeavor.

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In 2018 I started painting again. This was one of a series of acrylic sketches I did to relearn techniques and revisit my skills from art college.


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Props to Green Mamba for bringing the weirdness

Hmph

80s candy bars were pretty good

only because i traded it for a candy bar in the 80's.

lol we all know you don't have a soul ghoti

my soul for some carbs...

But of course!

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