Thursday, January 29, 2009

apart from having an awful infection of some sort, a genetically engineered virus at work in my system feels like my body is burning up and freezing at the same time, even when i'm sleeping at night the lights are far to bright and there's that awful exhaustion that permutes all muscle and flesh, there's also the terrible pain from my latest blow to the head, where i banged it last week. i think it took a few days for the bruise to show up. anyway i'm in the wars but not complaining, after all the weathers good, there's plenty of interesting things keeping me distracted like sleeping. for some strange reason i feel like sleeping all the time, it's very strange, my sleep is so deep and dreamless it's like being in a huge void of nothing, the same as being in a float tank. you know the type?
the type that just kicks in, zomp! from awareness to void.
anyways that sleep is seductive, it's calling me, beckoning like a siren, i know it's not really healthy to sleep so much but i can't help it. this virus doesn't help.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Transcript from interview with David Mitchell

This transcript was typed from a recording of the program. The ABC cannot guarantee its complete accuracy because of the possibility of mishearing and occasional difficulty in identifying speakers.

Ramona Koval: David Mitchell's first book Ghostwritten was described by AS Byatt as 'the best novel I have ever read'. His second Number 9 Dream was shortlisted for the Booker and the James Tait Black Memorial prizes, and his third Cloud Atlas was hailed as spectacular by both critics and general readers alike, another Booker nominated work.

His latest novel is Black Swan Green, the story of 13 months in the life of 13-year-old Jason Taylor, the year his parents split up. A lot happens to him that year; he survives another year in the schoolyard, and a boy with a stammer doesn't have it easy, and he emerges as a young poet, although he publishes under an assumed name. That description is really very one-dimensional and as usual this David Mitchell book is very much multi-dimensional.

At our session in Wellington at Writers and Readers Week last week David began by reading from Cloud Atlas, and those who have read the book will know that the text has a very interesting structure, with the first half of the book being the first half of a series of stories (like ABCDE), and the second half completing them in a Russian doll-like stack (EDCBA), and with each of the chapters written in a different kind of English, from the language of an 18th century shipboard journal to a projected future language. So when he sat down to talk after his reading I asked him how we went about working out what these languages might sound like, what's his system?

David Mitchell: It depends if we're in the past, the present or the future.

Ramona Koval: Take your pick.

David Mitchell: In the past, if you've got an American narrator in the 19th century then Melville is a good place to start, so I read Moby Dick and cribbed down all the things that I wouldn't say myself, antiquated terms of phrase and items of vocabulary, and just worked them into the narrative as I wrote it. We speak 21st century English, so the present is not problem, and the future is the easiest of all because you can make it up and you won't get any angry letters from Tunbridge Wells to say 'I'm disgusted by Mr Mitchell's misuse of English.' So in the far future part, English sort of gets crushes and melded. I was teaching English in Japan at that time, so I based a lot of the English that might be spoken 600 years from now on my Japanese students' mistakes of English. So I used the way...their mistakes with irregular English verbs, for example.

Ramona Koval: But is that because you think English is going to be the global language probably? Or maybe Chinese will be, but anyway at the moment it looks like it's English, so English will accommodate itself to all the mistakes that everybody who is not an English speaker will make.

David Mitchell: It will, it does, and that's a fabulous thing. It's great how language evolves. It inches forwards by mistakes. I'm into very controversial linguistic areas here, I suppose, but it does seem that something like 'long time no see', which would once have been a native Chinese-speaker's misappropriation of 'I haven't seen you for a long time', that sort of gets adopted first with a sense of irony, and then even the irony evaporates and it becomes standard English. Isn't it fantastic? We're all a part of it, a great linguistic democracy. Great. Love it. Next question.

Ramona Koval: I'm just enjoying the pleasure you have in language, and obviously why wouldn't you have pleasure in language? But not every writer has that sort of pleasure.

David Mitchell: Maybe they do, they just don't whitter on about it so incessantly. But we're so lucky. Perhaps people in all language groups have a sneaking suspicion that however egalitarian they may wish to present themselves, really their own language reaches the parts that other languages cannot reach. But English is this great central reservoir. We've got words like 'circumambulation' that I can't even pronounce without thinking. There in the depths we can kind of scoop up...but we've got more recent great American contributions coming into the language, and even from New Zealand as well. So I consider myself fortunate having English as my birthright, as a writer.

Ramona Koval: And you are interested in the building blocks of sentences as well as sentences, and I'm thinking now of the structures of your book and the engineering that goes into something like Cloud Atlas and the Dream book. So I wanted to talk to you about whether you perhaps wanted to be an engineer or an architect when you were a young man, because they seem so architectural. You can walk through these books and you can actually visualise the whole structure of them and you can actually climb on the scaffolding and look down.

David Mitchell: Thanks for the nice things you said about my writing there, Ramona. I did want to be an inventor, that was my very first thing, which is a pretty fair description of a novelist.

Ramona Koval: What did you invent?

David Mitchell: I invented spaceships. I made very elaborate cardboard spaceships and space station with UHU glue, who are not a sponsor of this festival. That smell of shouldn't smell it too much, kids! But yes, I used to invent very elaborate space stations. Then I wanted to program computer games, and I did for a while on my Sinclair 48K ZX Spectrum, which was the future for a while. They no longer exist, so they haven't sponsored me, obviously. You can see the adult vocation in childhood forms of play, and I bet when you were a kid you were one of these kids who were always asking questions and wanted to interview people.

Ramona Koval: It's true, though it's not about me today, it's about you. Black Swan Green of course is a much more conventional book, although there are hidden worlds within the story, the world of Jason Taylor who has a hidden identity as a poet and even an assumed name. Tell me about the structure of this book, because actually there are worlds in this book too. It's small on the outside and big on the inside, if you know what I mean.

David Mitchell: Like Dr Who's spaceship, the TARDIS.

Ramona Koval: I was going to say TARDIS. Because sometimes you take us off the page into a magical space, not really magic realism in a way, but a kind of thrillingly invented language world that he finds himself when he's by himself.

David Mitchell: There's a few questions in there. It is a more conventional book, but for me after the first three, that was unconventional, if that makes sense.

Ramona Koval: So this is unconventional.

David Mitchell: It was for me, even though it looks like a conventional book from the outside at least, as you say. Perhaps to my satisfaction then I had exhausted the possibilities of novels with monkeyed-about-with structures, and so in a sense a more ordinary book was a more revolutionary next step for me. His's tough when you're writing a novel narrated by a kid because unless you kind of cheat by making him a genius you're stuck between writing plausible 13-year-old but using his language and giving him a sufficiently interesting voice to retain an adult reader. Certainly when I was 13 the things I said weren't that interesting, and the idea of 300 pages of it would have sent me to sleep, certainly. However, what kids do do (and this was my way out of this fix really) is accidental poetry.

Kids of a certain age, hopefully 13, are on the cusp of acquiring an adult vocabulary but they'll still assemble and conjugate words that adults don't or that we could censor ourselves and prevent ourselves from saying. If a kid steps on a piece of crusty several-day-old snow that hasn't melted and it goes crunch, and it's very much like stepping on a Cadbury's Crunchie (who are also not sponsoring me) and we might not say that unless we are writers or eccentric or have some disorder, but a 13-year-old would; 'Wow, it's like stepping on a Crunchie.' So even though things Jason says aren't that coherent or articulate, in his own mind he's a poet, but most kids are, I think. I haven't been inside the heads of other kids, I can only speak for myself, but I suspect that that goes on.

Ramona Koval: He works at expressing himself in poetry, but he has difficulty in expressing himself aloud in the language that he loves.

David Mitchell: Yes, like me he has a stammer and I very much wanted to write about it, that was one of my motivations for the book. It's not talked about very much and well-meaning friends don't want to ask about it for fear of hurting my feelings, but this means I think it's probably much easier to find really good accounts of what it's like to be blind or deaf than it is to actually be fine but not be able to speak without an arsenal of techniques and evasions that people who stammer need to use. So I wanted to write about it and, perhaps in this area more than others, send...we're into Dr Who area again, but send a message to my 13-year-old self just containing all the things I wish someone had told me then. I think the science of speech therapy has advanced a lot since those days, and I think kids these days get a lot more useful help. But back in my day, not so great.

Ramona Koval: I was struck then by your description, equating it to blindness or deafness. Do you feel as if it is as big a disadvantage to you?

David Mitchell: No, of course not. I can see and I can hear and this allows me to interface with the world much more directly. Perhaps it isn't as major an inability as deafness or blindness, and this is why it has slipped under the radar of help and of knowledge for a long time. My book is one modest way to rectify that.

Ramona Koval: So you just talked then about strategies that you employ to get a sentence out, and if we had a tickertape of your brain going up behind us here...

David Mitchell: I'd be arrested.

Ramona Koval: ...apart from those lines, we would probably see a whole lot of instructions to yourself about the sentence that's coming up and how to negotiate it, a kind of map of what you want to say.

David Mitchell: Yes, you would.

Ramona Koval: Can you tell us a little bit about that map?

David Mitchell: It's complex. The relationship of a stammer with spoken language is very complex and it's largely beyond my understanding. Of course I have a greater understanding that a non-stammerer would, but why I can speak in front of a few hundred people and not be afflicted...dunno, I don't really know. I can draw up a general list of rules and these include...when it's really important that I don't stammer, like now, I don't. This is one rule. Rules can be broken, and they're listed in a book folks, but in terms of your question, what does happen is...I do this less now, I've come to a more useful working accommodation with my stammer and it tends not to sort of mug me as much, but what I used to do more was to examine the sentence ahead and if necessary engineer it so that I would be avoiding a word that I thought I might stammer on.

Really severe cases, if someone is asking you if you would like water or milk and you know that you tend to stammer on words beginning with 'M'...there's always one or two key consonants at any one time, and interestingly these consonants alter through life. So at the moment, say, I would have a hard time with 'Ks', hard 'Cs' and 'Ss', whereas years ago I remember being unable to say words beginning with 'Y'. I dreaded being 12 years old because then I couldn't say words beginning with 'T', say. But now I can do these fine. How come? I don't know. But water or milk, can't say words beginning with 'M', the worst thing, even if you want milk you'd ask for water because you can't say 'milk'. You live with it and you devise coping strategies. Compared to what a lot of people live with happily, it's a lucky break really.

Ramona Koval: I'm just thinking now about how it might have influenced the way you've written, the idea of...the breaking down of things, the geography of the sentences that you're about to speak, the geographies of these words that you create.

David Mitchell: Linguistically it doesn't change how I write because of course I'm totally free on the page...

Ramona Koval: No, but it changes how you think though, surely?

David Mitchell: As a kid it gives you a whacking vocabulary really early. You do need other ways to get around words. It gives you a sensitivity for language register, by which I mean if you don't think you can say 'pointless' because you're stammering on words beginning with 'P' at that point, and it's more likely you will know substitute words like 'futile', however this brings you up against the other problem whereby if you use the word 'futile' amongst 13-year-old they'll do yer bleedin' 'ead in because a 13-year-old has no right to be using a word of a higher register like 'futile'. So this is useful stuff for a writer and it's stuff that I still use now. All writers do but I was aware of it from a much earlier age, which does show what we think of as our handicaps and our inabilities can actually be teachers, they can actually have very useful functions. Would I wish my stammer away? I'd like to wish it away but I certainly wouldn't want to pay for that wish by losing what I'd learnt about language through it.

Ramona Koval: Jason develops this idea of his stammer as 'hangman' because the stammer is so pervasive that it has an ego and it has a kind of presence.

David Mitchell: It does rather feel like that. When you're a kid especially you personify abstracts in order to understand them better and in order to feel as though you're doing business with them and interacting with them. So it made sense for Jason to do that.

Ramona Koval: This is a cousin to all the books that you've written before because we have characters that reappear from the other books. They're a different age and they're referred to. This I'm going to mispronounce... Crommelynck...

David Mitchell: Unless we have any Belgians in the audience, it's Madame de Crommelynck, and if we do then they're very welcome to come up and correct me afterwards.

Ramona Koval: She's a character from that, and she's just fantastic. In one of these magical moments he goes in to see this woman who is this Belgian countess, I suppose, she's been everywhere, she knows everything...

David Mitchell: She's like you, Ramona.

Ramona Koval: She's like me, thank you. I thought she was probably about 40 years older than me.

David Mitchell: Okay, she's like how you will be in 40 years time.

Ramona Koval: We're all a bit demented in our own ways. She was very wise and she was prefect for a young poet, wasn't she, she knew what he should read and what he should listen to. She was talking straight to him. She was a gift.

David Mitchell: She was. Well, he deserves a gift after everything else I put him through. I wanted an opportunity to talk about art in the book and there wasn't one, and wasn't really one when I was a kid either. But I advertised this vacancy amongst the cast of people I'd already written, and she applied for it and she passed the interview unanimously. So bring her in and hopefully she brings with her the ontological certainty. If you read this book and believe it's real, then in theory someone from this book who then appears in this will bring that realness with them and make Black Swan Green a more real place as well. So there's a technical reason for doing it as well, but it's also just kind of fun.

Ramona Koval: But you do want everything to connect, don't you.

David Mitchell: I stand accused. Yes, I'm guilty, I suppose. Yes. Nothing more profound really. Isn't it great when things do? Doesn't it remind you to be happy that you're alive when things like this happen, when something from a long time ago that you thought would never re-enter your life, it does, hopefully not in a negative way. When you see an old friend that you haven't seen for 15 years who you never expected to see, they just pop up. Isn't that wonderful? Maybe I do a little bit...

Ramona Koval: How important is music to you for that, old songs?

David Mitchell: As everybody knows (which is a Leonard Cohen song of course), songs bring things back instantly, in as undiluted a way as smell. Songs are companions in life as well. We might have a song that we knew when we were 13 years old and if it's art it evolves as we do and we can listen to it when we're 80 and it's a touchstone, all the way back. I couldn't...I would live without music of course but I'm very glad I don't have to.

Ramona Koval: So this young poet, wrote poetry too when you were this age. You published under the name of James Bolivar.

David Mitchell: How do you know that?

Ramona Koval: I know stuff, I'm so old now, I know stuff, it's not hard. What happened to the poetry with you?

David Mitchell: Realistic assessment of my own gifts happened...

Ramona Koval: By you or others?

David Mitchell: By me. Of course when I was 15 I thought I was absolutely wonderful, and then luckily for me and posterity I read some real poets and met one or two, and realised that it is a higher art that I can't really attain. It's not where my vocation is and it's not...what gifts I may have, poetry isn't what these equip me for best. You can't make a single mistake in poetry, every last word and inflection has to be perfect. Short stories are higher than novels for this reason. Short stories are somewhere between the novel and poem.

Ramona Koval: Because the novel is more forgiving?

David Mitchell: Yes, novel comes with getaway cars. You can write a duff scene or a half-duff scene and if the next one is brilliant then the half-duff scene can still earn its keep. But a half-duff scene in a short story and the short story is dead. I've written a few, I know.

Ramona Koval: Is originality more important to you than telling a story or creating characters?

David Mitchell: What's important is a really simple question; is it good or not? Is it any good or not? If you are true to yourself then originality happens by default because every single person in the world has original a personality as their iris. It seems that it's not original when we...I haven't had this thought before and it might be a load of nonsense, so I apologise in advance if it is...but it seems that we are like other people and one book is like another book if we allow our true selves to be overly doctored or influenced by the 'other' or rather the 'others'. But I think if you (I hideously mix my metaphors)...if you mine yourself deep enough then the metals you will find will be precious and original. So originality isn't a thing, it's the absence of other things, which is great news.

Ramona Koval: It's not really a young person's book, is it?

David Mitchell: Yes, a few schools from around where I grew up have adopted it. So certainly a few hundred schoolkids in Worcestershire are reading it this year and perhaps hating me because I'm...

Ramona Koval: Have you had any communications from them?

David Mitchell: A few, yes. Luckily people who take the time to write you a letter about a book usually do it because they love it rather than they hate it. I haven't had any hate mail, no, not yet.

Ramona Koval: You've spoken before about going to live in Japan in 1994 as the beginning of your life as a proper writer. You were a foreigner with little Japanese and you say it afforded you the luxury of having no social belonging and probably no real responsibilities, I guess, and also you didn't have to talk, I suppose. What did they think about your stammer, or that was a way of presenting yourself without a problem?

David Mitchell: My evasive strategies were sufficiently developed by then for that to not really be a factor.

Ramona Koval: Did that feel like you were a different person?

David Mitchell: I went there because of wanderlust more than anything else really. I feel like a different person every few years actually, I guess we all do, we become a dad or get married or get unmarried or change your job or have a near death experience, this sort of nudges you along the great journey.

Ramona Koval: But also it probably provided you with a kind of writer's retreat, like in a bubble. You were always in a writer's retreat because you didn't have to communicate with people, you couldn't read anything, you couldn't watch television. Was that something that stimulated you towards the page, because what else were you going to do?

David Mitchell: Yes, I think so, I'm sure it helped. I've been looking for a good way to articulate this for years and you've just supplied it. Japan was my writer's retreat. That's great. Is it okay if I use that in the future?

Ramona Koval: Of course, feel free. What about in Ireland? You live in Ireland now.

David Mitchell: I'm a dad, as I've said about three times already. I've got some photos to show you later.

Ramona Koval: They're very beautiful children, I've seen them before.

David Mitchell: And of course when you become a dad everything becomes very simple; what's best for the kids? We went back to Japan last year just for a year so that our daughter could learn the language, which she did in about three weeks. I've been doing it for nine years and it's still very ugly. Then we realised that, for who we are, West Cork is the place, so we went back to Ireland.

Ramona Koval: So do you feel like an outsider there?

David Mitchell: It's good with an international marriage to live in a third country because then it's no one's fault when things go wrong, and things in Ireland do go wrong. It's not a systems society, it's a leisurely...which is a great Irish word...if you don't have much on this afternoon you say, 'I'm quite leisurely this afternoon,' and there's something very Irish about that...which does mean that if you want an electrician this afternoon, forget it. You'll get one next month maybe. But it also means that people are less stressed, I think, and it's a good place for children.

Ramona Koval: And what about a good place for writers? Because we have this idea that it's a place full of writers and they don't pay tax and everyone's a poet. Is that true?

David Mitchell: It's a place for writers...anywhere is a place for a writer. Humanity is so fascinating and our work is to put that fascinating-ness into the book. Yes, it's true that there are generous tax breaks and it's disingenuous of me to not mention that when people say, 'So why do you live in Ireland?' 'Well, the environment is great, a good place for kids,' and they're waiting for me to mention this. But it is being reduced, which is fine as well. The midwife who helped deliver my son...I don't know if I mentioned I'm a dad, by the way...but she is of more value to Irish society than I am, and if anyone deserves a tax break it's her and not me. But my principles are not that strong that I will insist on making voluntary donations to the state, I haven't gone there yet. Have I answered your question?

Ramona Koval: Yes, you have. I've got a question about the work you're working on now, and I believe we're going to Japan and we're going back in time, and we're going to a place where language is very important again.

David Mitchell: We are. It's the Napoleonic era in Europe, and while Japan was closed to the outside world for 248 years or so there was one exception that no one outside Holland really knows about which was an artificial island, very small, perhaps about the size of this theatre, in Nagasaki Harbour called Deshima, and on this for the whole of those two and a half centuries the Dutch East Indies company was permitted to trade with the Japanese, and it was staffed by about 10 or 15 Dutch guys a long way from home.

The ships would come once a year from Batavia, which is now Jakarta, and they weren't allowed off the island, and the only three categories of people who were allowed on were the merchants who did business with them, the prostitutes who also did business with them, and the interpreters who belonged to a hereditary caste, it was passed on from father to son. The Dutch officially weren't allowed to learn Japanese, although they tend to be such gifted linguists that they did, but officially they weren't allowed to. And no Japanese other then the interpreters and a few academics towards the end of the period as well were allowed to learn Dutch. So language is power, and the interpreters had it.

Ramona Koval: But then how are you going to translate that into English with all of those different kinds of languages and the importance of which language you speak?

David Mitchell: With difficulty. The other thing about originality that I didn't say earlier, the use an adjective I've just borrowed from Christian Bok the poet who's also at this festival, he talks about Sisyphean constraints, and the more Sisyphean the constraints, provided you can...just to turn Houdini into a long as you can Houdini your way out of the Sisyphean constraints then originality happens.

Ramona Koval: That was a triple somersault with pike, wasn't it!

Friday, January 23, 2009

i'm listening to the church soundtrack of shriek, so far it's awesome, space rock boogie with ambient tonal drifts and some exceptional words by the author jeff vandermeer.

heat strong enough to melt clocks these last few days and nights, i get myself into the ocean and catch waves, cooling my body and mind, i can't really move just slip into hammocks and chairs and sleep languidly like a chubby lizard. i've discovered 'acaci' a substance from the amazon that you eat frozen, just like ice cream without the cream but it's fantastic, tasty and nutritious. i'm gonna live on acaici all summer.

i meet my comrades from left as in sinister, a very nice crew of musicians, val explains things to us, apparently i'm gonna have a t- shirt although i'd prefer lingerie. vals a genius, his mind works on millions of things at once, you can see his mental process is always in hyper-drive.

in the surf i catch another wave, suddenly i feel my solar plexus charka explode. this is awakening for me, this is exactly what i require.

i'm reading john birminghams book ''without warning' it's ot something i would normally read but it's my first australian sci fi and it reads like an airport thriller, trashy and clique as if he's writing for the movie. i'm curious to see how it ends but i'm kinda already bored.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

i finish reading micheal pollens book, the omnivores dilemma, a great read for anyone interested in food. how it grows where it comes from, if it's good and i have to say the book was a revelation. he basically asks, 'what should we eat for dinner?' following the food chain he observes and participates in the process that sustains us, from industrial foods to organic. i'm particularly amused and fascinated by the trend in america where the farmers basically say they farm grass. grass is essential to the food chain, and the animals that eat it are basically turning sunlight into energy for us via their grass consumption. in the end we are all stars. or at least part of the sun.
i also just finished 'song of kali' by the tremendous writer dan simmons who captures calcutta in this modern horror novel that leaves you feeling some what haunted. the idea of kali is amazing. the goddess of time and change although in the book she is the goddess of death and destruction.
Kali's most common four armed iconographic image shows each hand carrying variously a sword, a trishul (trident), a severed head and a bowl or skull-cup (kapala) catching the blood of the severed head.
Two of these hands (usually the left) are holding a sword and a severed head. The Sword signifies Divine Knowledge and the Human Head signifies human Ego which must be slain by Divine Knowledge in order to attain Moksha. The other two hands (usually the right) are in the abhaya and varada mudras or blessings, which means her initiated devotees (or anyone worshiping her with a true heart) will be saved as she will guide them here and in the hereafter.
She has a garland consisting of human heads, variously enumerated at 108 (an auspicious number in Hinduism and the number of countable beads on a Japa Mala or rosary for repetition of Mantras) or 51, which represents Varnamala or the Garland of letters of the Sanskrit alphabet, Devanagari. Hindus believe Sanskrit is a language of dynamism, and each of these letters represents a form of energy, or a form of Kali. Therefore she is generally seen as the mother of language, and all mantras.
She is often depicted naked which symbolizes her being beyond the covering of Maya since she is pure (nirguna) being-consciousness-bliss and far above prakriti. She is shown as very dark as she is brahman in its supreme unmanifest state. She has no permanent qualities — she will continue to exist even when the universe ends. It is therefore believed that the concepts of color, light, good, bad do not apply to her — she is the pure, un-manifested energy, the Adi-shakti.

There's a deep similarity to kabalistic concepts here, i wonder if much research has been done on this.

The other book i just enjoyed was a book on the HGA which gave some interesting steps on the process.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

off to play with my brother at bondi beach, i'm chatting to his girl friend about the church and who should i see walking around the corner but the wizard of oz himself with his wonderful family, we break out into a smile at that moment of recognition, apparently they were just talking about me as they had passed a huge san pedro in the street. i display my fin and say i'll call by later. down on the beach it's throbbing with to many people but we find a nice spot and some good but small surf. two hours later i head back to the wizards place but no one seems home so i leave a real estate paper on the door step and make my way back to my brothers around the corner. it's stinking hot, everything radiates with excess heat, the girls look good, the ocean looks amazing, the trees sway with the breeze that come's through, i check out the san pedro, its magnificent. everything is perfect at this time of the evening. at bondi junction there's a meeting to support israel and i go. i get grilled by the security, my terrorist beard probably didn't help. inside i listen to a short fat jewish man talking about peace and hoping for peace and a palestinian state. i hear him ask us to hope that Gilad Shalit be returned in good health. people there all were quiet and introspective, listening to various people talk and an isreali version of simon and garfunkel.
later i went for dinner at some place in bondi, ate salad and generally watched a storm over the ocean while some lady tried vainly to flirt with me.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Dateline: January 3rd 1944

Fury continues to mount worldwide about the senseless loss of civilian life in Germany caused by England`s callous bombing of German cities including Berlin, Hamburg and Dresden.
As of today many innocent German women and children have died in these utterly brutal bombing missions. And now there are ground offensives starting on mainland Europe.
The English have claimed that they are merely retaliating against the V-1 flying bombs being launched indiscriminately by Nazis at their civilian population in London, Manchester, Liverpool, Birmingham, Coventry and other cities. The English point out that their enemy is sworn to its utter destruction and has used the missiles and flying bombs against its civilians without any regard to English loss of life. Moreover it makes the case that their own bombing missions are specifically directed to military targets that the German army has intentionally planted in the heart of civilian populations to try and deter English counter-attacks.
These points may of course be true - but they are utterly besides the point.
Of course England has a right to exist. Of course England has a right to defend itself. But it should ensure that its responses are PROPORTIONATE.
Since many more Germans are dying than English - the English should either tone down the success and accuracy of their bombing - or allow the Germans to catch up on the death count.
To be honest - if more English women and children were dying - we wouldn`t feel quite so bad about the number of Germans dying. But it`s just so UNFAIR that more Germans are dying...
Perhaps some English people could arrange to kill themselves to match the number of Germans dying as a result of the English retaliation bombing? It would be so considerate - and it might help England`s critics feel less miserable about the number of Nazis dying. Something that is causing them so much concern.
It would also put paid to that wretched proportionality argument.
Alternatively, perhaps the English could arrange to be less effective in their bombing? Or only bomb military targets that are nowhere near civilians - even though the vast majority of the V-1 rockets are intentionally being launched from the heart of civilian population centers.
Now the English will argue that the Germans have INTENTIONALLY positioned all their launch pads for the V-1 rockets in the middle of civilian populations to inhibit the English from bombing those launch sites. Well - tough noogies to the Brits! Sorry - but if the Germans are smarter or more skillful at cynically using their civilians as human shields than you - tough luck!
You can`t have it both ways. If you truly wish to save your nation from being annihilated by Nazi missiles you`d better stop looking to win a popularity contest. The Nazis are waging this war to win and to utterly destroy England. If all you Brits care about is popularity - then you may as well resign yourself to speaking German...
It`s about time that little nations who wish to defend themselves wised up to their responsibilities.
Otherwise the same stupid complaints will be made at some point in the 21st Century when some little nation finds itself under constant attack from rockets fired at its civilian population by a terrorizing enemy that has sworn to destroy it....

Saturday, January 10, 2009

i was already packed an ready to go, just checking my passport was safe and the visa details were all correct when i noticed the strange bug crawling across my ceiling, it was grasshopper green, mantis like but not quite as threatening, it seemed to be plodding along purposely on some sort of insect mission. i didn't really have time to deal with it, i don't like bugs but i'm also loath to kill them and over the years have developed various non lethal trapping devices to contain them. this bug was quite different from the usual cockroaches and spiders that i normally evict, it was well it appeared to be, quite harmless exude a kind of benevolence. anyways the taxi was here, so i locked up and left. two weeks away relaxing in italy, here we come.

on return i shuffled up the staircase, my bags heavy with the usual gifts and souvenirs, people generally expect all this nonsense and my sense of obligation was tested when i wandered along the amalfi coastline looking at trinkets and various tourist junk.
i stuck my key in the lock and pushed open the door, a waft of stale air hit me and i threw the bags on the floor and rushed to the windows. but as i walked through the rooms there was a fine layer of silk over everything. it was as if a spider web had fallen from the ceiling over the furniture, the chairs, my bed, the stereo almost everything was covered in this misty delicate substance.
jesus i thought, i'm going to have to vacuum the whole place and call the carpet cleaners in. i bent over to inspect the stuff, it was sticky and slimy, it was heavier than i first thought, not quite the silky weight.
i wandered from room the room, it was no different, this strange material was everywhere, even my bathroom was filled with it. there was one room left to check. the library. before i even opened the door i knew something was wrong, i could feel it in my guts. i turned the handle slowly and threw open the door fast.

there sitting in my leather reading chair was the green coloured bug. only it was huge, almost man size. 'fucking hell.' i said reacting to the impossible.
the bug just looked at me and in perfect english said, 'excuse me?'
i froze, rubbed my eyes, pinched myself and froze again. was this a dream, have i gone nuts?
the bug started to speak again. 'look you can't just come barging in here using that kind of language, it's quite unnecessary.'
putting down his book he said, 'now what seems to be the problem.'
i noticed he was reading martin amis. 'well,' i said self conciously, 'you are in my home.'
'no. you are in my home.' the bug retorted.
'look you're a talking bug, it's just impossible for you to even exist.'
'how dare you insult me like that.' the big gave me a fierce stare.
'what are you anyway?'
'i could ask the same thing of you.'
oh my god i thought as i noticed the bug had a cup of tea sitting on the armrest of the chair.
the bug continued, 'my name is chartuse, we may as well be civil to one another.'
'im captain mission. i'm kinda bewildered at your presence here. i mean i've never noticed you before.'
'you saw me as you were about to leave for holiday, i even waved at you.'
'that's ridiculous, you have grown so much. you were just a bug now your almost a human type bug, reading, drinking bloody tea and talking like a retired librarian.'
'and, your point...?'
'you can't stay here.'
'i live here. i've lived here all my life.'
'but these are my books, i pay the rent, i own all this stuff,' i waved my arms around.
'i have no problem with you being here, i can share.'
'i don't want to share. i want you out.'
'what are you going to do?'
i walked out of the room slamming it shut and headed to the phone. on the way i stopped at the fridge and noticed that it was filled with cacti. there were rows and rows of fat cylindrical bodies all recognisable as being from my sun room. chartuse had been feasting on my mescal supply.

i made my call and went back to him. he was half asleep, martin amis resting in his lap. 'okay chartuse, i'm giving you one last warning, leave now or face the consequences.'
'why can't you just leave me alone, we can share this space, i've enjoyed reading your books, i'm planning to listen to your music soon.'
'you also chopped up my cacti.'
'yes, and...?'
'but it's mine, for my use.'
'jeez i didn't think there were communist bugs.'
'i'm no commie. i follow a spiritual path, political constructs can only lead to chaos and unhappiness.'
'yeah i agree.'
'see we have some things in common, plus i've enjoyed reading your books.'
'you read all these?'
'almost. i enjoyed the chaos magick books especially raw and peter carroll.'
'you read the peter carroll stuff?'
'yes although i think he needs to accept the universe is an just one of many all within the realm of a supreme being.'
'you believe in god?'
'yes. how can i not. carroll seems at war with the transcendentalists whereas i think he needs to recognise he is a splinter of god himself. it's like he just can't make that leap.
'mmm, yes i think that to. have you practiced any magick? i ask.
'yes i am immersed in a magickal realm of humanity at the moment. that will explain my presence here perhaps.'
'so you are from....?'
'a different dimension maybe. physics dosn't really explain it. let's say i exist in one of the 22 aethers.'
'so did i summon you?'
'no i summoned you. really captain mission, you do need to think about this differently from your usual egocentric framework.'
'why did you summon me.'
'i was invoking our version of kali, the destroyer. it's a stage of my magickal evolution to face my fear.'
'but my fear is bugs so it's part of my evolution to.'
'mmm, that's interesting, maybe it is.'
'besides i'm hardly kali like am i?'
that's when the exterminator arrived.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

the captain is sluggish in the heat of the morning, it slows him down as his rampant thoughts start to melt like molasses dripping into salvidor dali clocks over a frying pan of hot butter. even time is slow today, dragged down by the weight of humidity and the current state of humanity. i'm immersed in a dream, it's so real i feel i lived it yet now i can't even recal any detail. it blends into the phone ringing and i'm summoned to autistic central where the heat seems even more oppressive and my time is spent slothing around avoiding any movement or work, until i take my little friend for a drive. we head of for an ice cream. it's the only reasonable thing to do and we find ourselves in a huge mass of people thinking the same thing.
malls are strange places, i don't like them, they make me uncomfortable because i stand out, i look like i don't belong there, i don't fit in at all. everyone else knows that as well.
while im wandering around looking for a decent ice cream place i notice that there's a sale on in the dvd shop and i pick up the introductory short film, the pilot to the new battlestar galactica. okay battlestar galactica is an old cheesy 80's series that i saw one episode of and gave up on. this however is a new re imagined series. it's mind blowingly good. everything about this is different, it's gritty, unpredictable, morally ambigious. it's the second best show i've seen ever. it's got robots, sex, drugs, politics, war, sex, inter species relationships, mental illness, myth, gods, humanity and space ships. but don't take my word for it, check it out on dvd.

Sunday, January 04, 2009

sun day and the sun burst forth outta blue skies and through the treetops, in golden amber liquid light, pouring into my neo cortex and diffusing the several million things into it's beautiful chaos of people and circumstance. im thinking about liberating a massive cactus plant that lives in a friends old garden, it's huge a multi fronded monument, church like in it's magnificent stance, hailing the sun, the moon like a giant tuning fork sticking from the soil, waiting for us to tune in.
saturday afternoon and i visit my friend, she takes me to a large garden center and introduces me to a friend of hers called charlie a rather aggressive and loud cockatoo who imitates people and sneezes while displaying his yellow crest. i don't like birds in cages whereas i don't mind fish in tanks. is that hypocritical, how does that work?
im thinking a lot about obtaining more cacti and enter a little daydream...
somewhere up the coast me and my mysterious girlfriend own a large farm house on a huge block of land, with a private beach. we grow hemp and ayahuscia and masses amounts of san pedro. we work together, mostly we sleep a lot, take plant medicine and have sex or make slow love. there's no one else disturbing us, it's perfect. one day a few friends come to visit and we all drink the vine, healing occurs, and there's a lot of positive energy being generated. in the mornings i write my book, a novel and semi autobiography, it's called 'revelation' and in it's pages are secrets. the secrets of life, the hidden schools, the mystery schools.
a hollywood director is interested in making a movie, i say that's okay as long as i get to play myself.

Thursday, January 01, 2009

im watching fireworks from a balcony of a luxury apartment in potts point, surrounded by my brother and his friends and our lovely host who has laid on some beautiful food and lots of drinks, everyone is smashed, there's a strange energy in the air and suddenly these amazing fireworks start lighting up the sky.
i've never really liked fireworks, i hate the noise and i hate the idea that money should be wasted like that when we could build a hospital etc but as i watched this strange ritual i realized there is a up side, millions of people watching something beautiful is a good thing, the mass reflection on the years past and the one looming is like a meditation, the release of a city of spectators just being happy for a few seconds and kissing complete strangers has to be good and the general good behaviour and mood of those who attend. i had fun. the display was like a dmt trip, patterns forming, ever changing, cascading and suddenly the skies were filled with information. but it was chaos with meaning, the pyrotechnics were re creating the creation myth of the aboriginals. thunder, lightning, rain, waterfalls, it was all there in the sky, fire reigning down on us all, like a huge mas wedding sydney was reborn into 2009.
strangely amongst all the people there i found a man who was interested in ayahuscia, he was from colombia and had a beautiful girlfriend. We spoke a bit about fear, ego, architecture and women, his name was Andreas.
Free sydney transport through the night made it easy for me to return home, safe and sound and feeling good about the future despite the fact humanity is heading for the comedown.