Monday, March 22, 2010
Thursday, September 10, 2009
Why I still like the ending of Tim Winton's Dirt Music, no matter how inconclusive!
I have long considered Tim Winton's Dirt Music THE "great Australian novel", or at least one of the greatest Aussie novels ever.
Some readers may object to the inconclusiveness of the ending.
OK, what is happening at the end? Georgie has just found Luther Fox, and then it seems she has to administer mouth-to-mouth to revive him, or he may be lost...
Normally, such an ending would annoy me too, in most regular "love stories".
We do want to know whether it is a comedy ("happy ending"), or a tragedy.
Dirt Music, in my humble opinion, surpasses these usual literary characterisations.
Georgie, being the obsessive type she is, and desperately in search of a "meaning" to fill the void of her own life, hopes she has found it in Fox. Jim, equally obsessive and driven by will, jumps on to the bandwagon of her search, "for something to do". These are motivations which I feel sure many of us can identify with.
Luther Fox is perhaps equally obsessive in his own way, but is more obsessed with rather more transpersonal issues, of finding a "meaning" in the music (the "dirt music" of the title) welling up from the depths of his being, and indeed from the depths of the land itself, real "roots" and "grassroots" music. I feel he was in fact almost at the point of completely disappearing or blending into the landscape in a state of mystical oneness, which was perhaps the consummation he so devoutly wished. I feel that whichever way the ressuscitation eventuated, Luther at least would be "happy", either conventionally, with Georgie, or unconventionally, in death, without her. Georgie's quest might have to continue a little longer, at least if she failed to revive Fox, and she wouldn't necessarily have the affinity with "dirt music" to help her... Poor Georgie!
The point is that the vastness of the landscape (the Australian landscape, and the West Australian, in particular) completely dwarfs ALL petty human concerns! In a special sense, whether or not the wishes of the human protagonists are fulfilled, remains irrelevant. The real "love story" in this book is, I feel, Tim Winton's own love for the vastness of the landscape itself, which reduces all human characters and their necessarily petty concerns to mere dots or disappearing smudges upon that very landscape... In this, he does in fact give a new meaning to those mawkish lines of Dorothea Mackellar's, so often jingoistically or chauvinistically recited, "I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains..."
Whether or not humans and their concerns even continue to survive in this landscape is ultimately irrelevant, compared to the vast and rich landscape of fish, birds, quolls (yes, don't forget the quolls!) etc. etc., which so richly populate the book, that at times it reads like a wildlife or nature documentary! Even the indigenous people have seemingly forgotten how to live according to "the traditional ways" of closeness and oneness with the land. In "going native", Luther had almost begun to approximate their perhaps earlier experience.
It is a challenging book, I feel, and would be a challenge for most city-dwelling Australians, since our lives are normally lived between tram-stops and cappuccinos. But it does us good to escape the tiny limits of our own petty concerns and open our minds to the truly "bigger picture" of our own outback once in a while. I suggest that book clubbers could fruitfully dig around in this book, and explore their own reactions to it, and also find themselves confronted with the "bigger" questions, as well as the bigger picture, of life, the universe and their own place in it!
P.S. Recently, a brand-new copy of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations fell serendipitously into my hands, a real bonus "gift of the universe", as it were. It might also be a fruitful exercise, in a later blog post, to "compare and contrast" the lack of resolution between Pip and Estella in that, with our reactions to the lack of resolution between Luther and Georgie! Which, if any, is more satisfying, and why? I suspect, in my case, it may be the Winton version, but only because England is, after all, a lot tinier than Australia (how many maps of England CAN you fit inside a map of WA?), and therefore just does not have the "landscape" for the "bigger picture"! ;-))
Thursday, June 04, 2009
A small story from the small world of the Sims: Jacob Martin, Riverblossom Hills
On the face of it, Riverblossom Hills, where I grew up, looks like one of the more boring Sims neighbourhoods. Quiet, peaceful, rural, the residents seem to have no interests other than gardening and fishing. We have winter for eight months of the year, and the rest of the year it rains, which is why our hills are always so lush and verdant, and even the weather is boring. But Riverblossom Hills also has more than its fair share of gossips, journalists and aspiring journalists, because I guess we all really know that every house has its share of secrets, and a huge scoop lies behind every doorway!
I don't remember much about my mother Elena, although my father Andrew tells me she taught me to talk and potty-trained me, whereas he only got to teach me to walk. We were all living at the time in the huge Viejo hacienda, home of Catherine and Julio Viejo, who always wanted it to be a true "family home". Unfortunately, Julio died, so Catherine never got to have the family she always wanted, although for a while Mum, Dad and I were her "substitute family". Then my mum died, when I was still quite small. She must have been something special, because Dad went to seed after that, and hasn't looked at another woman since.
Jules O'Mackey was the first love of my life, my puppy-love and childhood sweetheart. I had my first kiss with her, and then we did the usual teenage things of going steady, and breaking up. It was never clear why we broke up, at least not to me. But Jules has been known to have a bit of a temper, so she must have flown off the handle about something one day.
Then I met, and had my first kiss with Sandra Roth, who then had dazzling platinum blonde braids, and was duly swept off my feet - talk about a coup de foudre! - and we went steady for a while...
Jules wasn't happy. She had her own troubles, you see. She had also lost her mother, Alexander, when quite young. Only Alexandra had not died; she simply up and left one day, and ran off to sea to be a pirate... I kid you not! We know she really was a pirate in those "missing years" because she has since shown us her secret hoard of rare and primitive artefacts from the south seas. Jules has since then been working on "reclaiming" her mother as a kind of friend. Alexandra now lives up the road from us, although Riverblossom Hills was once too quiet and boring for her - or maybe it was just Jules' dad, the schoolteacher Gabe, who was just too quiet and boring for her! We are not quite sure what she does, and don't want to know, because it is probably something not quite legal; she shares a house with the Japanese professional studio musician Cleo Shibiku. Jules' dad Gabe has since found love with Cleo's former housemate, the sedate brunette Patricia Wan; he loves her because she is so unlike the fiery redhead Alexandra, who has been known to have the odd affair with married men even since her return from the high seas!
But Jules wasn't happy, while I was going steady with Sandra (Sandra's dad is the high-flying International Sim of Mystery, Morty Roth, who seems to have been the original inspiration for Ian Fleming's, and Sean Connery's, James Bond, and seems set to achieve his lifetime ambition of becoming a Space Pirate before his rapidly approaching retirement; Sandra is just starting out now, but she seems to want to follow in his footsteps, and they are big footsteps to fill!). I know Jules wasn't happy at this time, because Dad tells me he met her when we dined out at the Lucky Cards Shack in my first year of college, with my college buddy Gordon Kosmokos. Sandy bumped into Jules there, and wanted to scratch Jules' eyes out, and Jules was so upset, my dad had to try and cheer her up a bit!
Sandy, Jules and I all went to the local college, the Tower Academy, known locally, and somewhat sardonically, as "The Ivory Tower". At the start of my freshman year, I tried to do the frat. boy thing, and give hilarious parties; but my attempt at a dorm. party was a huge flop, and such a fizzer, I decided to give up the party-animal thing, and knuckle down, and become a nerd instead. So had Jules. We met up again in college, fell in love all over again, made out, and I lost my virginity to her, and she to me; one thing led to another, and we became engaged, and moved into double digs, and all in my freshman year!
Jules and I both majored in philosophy, because, for all the intra-faculty jokes about it only preparing us for the fast-food industry, it also trained us to use polysyllabic words with great aplomb, and we both have journalistic, and literary, aspirations! Pascal once said that all our troubles come from the fact that we do not know how to just sit quietly in a room. I am inclined to think he was right, because sometime after I had become engaged to Jules, I had an affair with Sandra - still a dazzling blonde at the time (not all gentlemen prefer blondes, but I certainly have a thing about them!) - and even moved in with her and her room-mate Emily Lee for a short while. For days, it seemed, she would not let me leave the bedroom; I was a very happy, and contented, prisoner of love... Jules went ballistic! She had it out with Sandra, and for a while I thought she would kill her, as I looked helplessly on from the sidelines, secretly flattered that they were fighting over little old ME! I didn't want either of them to die. I didn't want to lose either of them. I still don't.
Jules won the scrag-fight, so I was "legally" now her official property, and toyboy, lock, stock and barrel. I kept my head down, my nose clean, and my occasional visits to Sandra very discreet, so Jules would not know about them. In the meantime, Sandra had abandoned her original psych. major, and started studying lit. instead (with a view to following in her hero dad's footsteps), and, on the rebound from me, became involved in an intense lesbian affair with Emily, who had just been curious about all this sex-business, and wanted to find out what all the fuss was about! When SHE sprang Sandra with me one day, she was so upset, she stormed out, back to the dorm, and spent her last senior semester separated from Sandra, and trying to get over her, but still dreaming of her, and unable to let go... Now they are living together, with Sandra's dad, and her journalist mum Stella, from whom Sandy inherited her original platinum blonde looks. Despite the fact that she graduated with honours, and showed much promise in many disciplines, it took Emily a while to find any sort of job at all, and when she did, it was only as a blog writer, a very lowly step on the journalistic career ladder. Sandy had dropped out to be with her, and she has a similarly low-ranking job (spelunking) on her dad's adventuring career ladder.
My dad had quite high ambitions for me, but none at all for himself, it seems. As I said, he never got over the death of my mum Elena, and, even while I was at college, spent some time eking out an existence as lowlife scum, a mere pickpocket. He still LOOKS like lowlife scum (or the comic-book guy on the Simpsons!) with his greasy ponytail, perpetual five o'clock shadow and morbid obesity. He absolutely NEVER works out! But at least he has "gone straight" from his life of crime, unlike Jules' mum, presumably to make some sort of better role-model for me, as if I need one (!), and has taken to the gaming career instead. When Jules and I graduated from college, he did not nag us to get jobs straight away, presumably because he was preoccupied with rising to the status of gold farmer within that!
Catherine Viejo has since moved out of the old hacienda, to start up her own little love-nest with her elderly squeeze, Betty, a Jewish legal secretary, after the model of the two old lesbian ladies of Glebe House, in Robertson Davies' The Cunning Man, so there is much more room in the old hacienda, to be filled with more Martins, although Jules and I are in no hurry to do so... I am flat out giving every appearance of being a devoted fiance to Jules. Don't ask me to be a husband and father just yet!
I worry about the obesity genes I obviously inherit from my dad. Jules has had no trouble keeping in shape, and likes the husky, muscular jock-type. Unfortunately I will NEVER be one of those! But, like Sandra, I hate fatties, and, since I see in myself my father's tendency to precisely that, I don't mind working out, occasionally, in moderation, so I at least won't be too repulsive in the rare, stolen moments I still occasionally enjoy with Sandra. I must be careful Jules does not find out; Sandra must be careful Emily does not find out, which makes our moments together all the rarer and further between. Sandy knows I can only give her half my heart, because half of it belongs to Jules; I know Sandy can only give me half her heart, because half of it belongs to Emily. What Sandy and Emily get up to is no great concern to me; it is after all every guy's favorite fantasy, and I would love to be the proverbial fly on the wall! I can do the "metrosexual" thing and share the odd dirty joke with my gay friend Mitch, but shudder to think what he and his squeeze Max must be getting up to in the privacy of their... Never mind. Double standard? I guess so. Max and Mitch are still at college, by the way, soon to return to Riverblossom. Maybe all the lesbian partnerships that have become such a part of our community will smooth the way for their "queer-as-folk"-ness.
I forgot to tell you about Jules' other friendship, with yet another lesbian, the Satanic witch, Marla Biggs, also a graduate with honours, and medical doctor! Marla lives with a much older practising black witch called Jeannie, and I simply cannot comprehend what she sees in her! Jeannie still looks like a horribly withered, and malicious, old crone to me; maybe she knows the original secret of "glamour", which is actually a spell put on someone to bewitch them, and make them think you are terribly attractive, when you are not... Nor can I understand Sandy's little brother Xander, also still at college, falling for another geriatric, the Native American medicine woman and shaman Mrs Smoke, so-called because strange-smelling smoke is ALWAYS issuing from her chimney, and wanting to live with her when HE graduates, although Mrs Smoke is mildly more attractive than Jeannie at least, since she has the smooth, polished, weathered look of an old stone, or piece of driftwood, kind of ageless, and timeless really, with her silver braids...
But these are just some of the stories of Riverblossom Hills. In the meantime, Jules and I kicked back and started our first novels until we got jobs: Jules always says mine represents a "Magian world-view", which she circumscribes with words like "phantasmagoria" and "Arabian nights", and which she says ultimately derives from Spengler; this is a good thing, because it means I have fictionalised my real inspiration and muse sufficiently that she does not recognise it as Sandra, and me joking that, if I was the one who looked pregnant already, it was because we had two "babies" on the way, only her brain-child is more clear-eyed and dispassionate than mine, and celebrates what she calls the Great Justice, which we do not dish out ourselves, but every Sim gets, in the form of what comes to them!
Do we deserve what we get coming to us? My dad and I both got struck by lightning at the same time, just after I had moved home from college; it literally scared the crap out of me, and was a horribly embarrassing little "accident"!
Jules and I now both have reasonably respectable journalistic jobs, as obituary writers. At least we don't have to start out writing horoscopes, although SOMEONE has to churn out that crap peddled by the tabloids! At least you get to research real, if dead, people, when writing obits. We know quite a bit about real, if dead, people, because we had to study "old dead guys who thought stuff" at college. And it definitely beats the ultimate spectre of getting stuck in some dead-end job in the fast food industry, which they always said at college ultimately awaited us... I am still nearly as paunchy as dad, for all my efforts to shift the flab, for Sandy's, Jules' and my own sakes. Mind you, I did maximise the cooking skill, if only because I was a couch potato who enjoyed watching the cooking channel in my spare moments between assignments, while Jules was flat out becoming uber-charismatic, and we are both uber-creative types! Maybe I should start chomping on a cigar, so I can look suitably scowly and jowly, like Orson Wells in Citizen Kane, in anticipation of the day Jules and I presumably both become media magnates together...
I love Jules to death, and can't get enough of her, especially since she dyed her hair platinum blonde (Sandy has since dyed her hair brown, and paints her face with little hippie-stars and flower-decals, to cater to Emily's tastes!).
"But why did Pip never stop yearning for Estella?" is a question that still haunts me. (From one of Sandy's last term papers, while still at college). I, perhaps more than any Sim, already know all about "great expectations", and how we can't always get we want, no matter what we do. I still want both Jules and Sandy, and that is just not going to happen.
Why do I not stop yearning for Sandra, when I have Jules?
I'll see Jules tonight, when the car pool drops us both back home.
When will I get a chance to enjoy a sweet, stolen moment with Sandy again?
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Sims2 Tarot: King of Wands
Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Sunday, June 29, 2008
Glitterati is resurrected, and back, in Yahoo games (literati)!!!
Monday, June 09, 2008
Shibboleth: a new meaning for an ancient word?
Shibboleth is a word that is often misused, and misunderstood, although in its proper English meaning it can have its uses, and I suggest one here (it went over the heads of literati gamers, but then I over-estimated the average IQ of the room? lol)
It comes from the Bible, Judges 12:6, in which the Hebrews use it as a test-word to distinguish the fleeing Ephraimites. How does this have relevance in the cyber-age, I hear you ask?
Since it denotes a word or sound which a person cannot pronounce correctly, a word used for detecting foreigners, I propose it in its proper meaning as a new word for those "word verification thingies" online, for which I had never before thought of a single descriptive word!
Alternatively, you could also use it to denote the jocular urging by Aussies of Kiwis to say "fish and chips", to betray their NZ origin! lol