Omega and Alpha

Wow, I haven’t posted here in a while, have I?

So, this is 2020 thoughts, coronavirus, covid-19, quarantine musings. Because when you have a lot of time to do very little except spend it with yourself, you get to know yourself better and better.

I have, creatively (and perhaps emotionally, in some respects) an Alpha and an Omega. (I do not believe that this is true of everyone – I do not believe, for that matter, that I’ll still necessarily find this metaphor a useful one a week from now. But right here, right now, it works for me.)

The Alpha is the 1990 movie Pump Up The Volume, possessor of the greatest opening line of all time:

Do you ever get the feeling that everything in America is completely fucked up?

The Omega is the 1994 novel Only Forward, possessor of the greatest closing line of all time:

Everyone deserves a happy ending. Even me.

There is, obviously, more to both of these works than that, but these are the standout moments. They’re (respectively) the opening chords of Thus Spoke Zarathustra and the closing cacophony of a A Day in the Life.

I’ve recently dug back into both works for the first time in a while, and found new things (and refound old things) and learned things about myself. Art is a mirror, but it shows different things from different angles. (And, to continue the metaphor, one of the figures generating that angle is time, or if you prefer, experience.) There’s so many things in each of them that resonate with me.

But taken together, they tell me this: I have forgotten myself. I am not sure that I can again find myself, but I am sure that I can build anew,and that, for now at least, that will do.

And the most way I want to do that is creatively. Is through building things in the world. Is through positive action. So. Projects.

Right now, there’s PROJECT JEAMLAND, which is coming together like, heh, a Jeam. As in it’s going better and faster than I could possibly have hoped. JEAMLAND is reasonably finite, which is nice, and I hope to have it all finished in a reasonably short amount of time. And after spending the last three days doing little else, planning to take a break from it tomorrow.

There’s PROJECT PERIANDER, which has taken a hit from the lockdown, but continues to move forward, just more slowly. (Probably just as well – there’s some aspects of it I’ve underthought so far.) PERIANDER divides neatly into phases, and there will likely be a lacuna of sorts between phase one and phase two, and not one dictated by me. Basically, there’s everything that can be done before reaching the starting line, but the starter’s gun is the end of lockdown.

There’s PROJECT GALEN, which is never-ending, but still, is chugging along in a way that makes me happy.

There’s the marathon projects, the ones in which, so long as I take a few steps forward each week, I’m okay with right now. (Not to say they might not leap up at some point, but not until I’ve cleared my plate of these other projects at least.)

There’s the research projects, where I’m basically still just occasionally filing notes into a folder, and are likely to stay that way until a critical mass gets reached. That said, these are projects for which I do anticipate that happening at some point, and even have a bit of a road map forward, just not one I’m hurrying to follow right now. For example, PROJECT PIPER, which I am currently putting together ideas for, but not actively working on until I’ve cleared JEAMLAND and PERIANDER from my schedule.

And finally, there’s the someday-maybe projects, which may or may not also be research projects, except that they’re not necessarily ever going to cross the threshold into being full on projects. Some of them are inchoate in the extreme, some of them are waiting for the stars to come right (which may never happen). Some of them are idle fancies that it amuses me to tinker with every so often. But you never know when one might suddenly take off.

Anyway, I’m tired of keeping quiet about all these things. I’m tired of being worried that I’ll look like a fool if I talk too much about them. I’d rather aim high and miss than throw away my shot.

So, from now, on this is going to be a weekly update, posted each Wesnesday. I’ll update you on my work and my week, and I’ll be a little less cagey about things as I go along – I might even explain what the project names mean if I’m feeling particularly expansive 🙂

See you next Wednesday.

Things You Can Tell Just By Looking At His Trophy

Recently, Scott Morrison has been showing off his new office decor in all its colonialist glory. The man does love his Captain Cook memorabilia. Conspicuously missing from it was a piece that previously had pride of place. It was proudly displaying when he first took over as Prime Minister, but somehow, it seems to have gotten lost.

It’s this, of course:

This cheap piece of tat that he seemed inordinately proud of. But taking a closer look at it, certain things about this trophy reflect on the man himself. For instance:

He Bought It Himself
Otherwise, why else would it be written in first person?

He Either Bought It As Cheaply As Possible, or He Got Ripped Off
With all due respect to whoever actually made the trophy, it looks like the work experience kid knocked it out while everyone else was at lunch. How else to explain the text justification? I like to think that Scotty paid through the nose for it, because the trophy maker saw him coming, but then I realise that in all probability, Scott didn’t pay a cent for this: the taxpayer did.

He Takes Credit For The Work Of Others
Quick question: how do boats get stopped? Does it take (a) the coordination of hundreds, if not thousands, of naval personnel, intelligence agents, public servants, and police? Or (b) one narcissist in Canberra giving an order to his ministry? If you answered (a), congratulations, you see reality more clearly than Scott Morrison.

There’s No Proof It’s Accurate
Due to former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison’s refusal to discuss what he called “on water matters”, there is no way to prove that current Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s claim, as made on this trophy, is accurate. As with his assurances that he did, indeed, stop the boats (at least until it was politically convenient for them to start up again), we have to take his word for it.

And finally:

Based On All The Points I’ve Listed Above, This Is – At Best – A Participation Trophy
You know, the kind of thing that the parents of millenials insisted that their children be given, apparently so that later on, they could criticise those children for accepting them.

Our Prime Minister. How good is he?

“Something has gone horribly wrong…”

It’s just gone four in the morning as I type this, and in my home state of Victoria, there’s still ten seats left to call in the election – which doesn’t really matter because even if they won all ten of those seats (and that seems unlikely), the Coalition would still be another ten seats short of winning the election.

If you’re a member of the Liberal or National Parties, or a voter for either of them, it’s hard to disagree with the assessment of now-former Shadow Attorney-General John Pesutto, that “something has gone horribly wrong” for the party. Because it truly has. This is one of the worst defeats that the Coalition has ever suffered in Victoria. Hell, it’s one of the worst defeats any party has suffered since Victoria became a state in 1901.

And yet…
Continue reading ““Something has gone horribly wrong…””

Set This House In Order: A retrospective

Set This House In Order was the first podcast I ever created. It was an attempt to take some of the ideas I had about political reform (specifically at the Federal level) and bring them to a wider audience. However, illness, work and general life blah made it difficult to keep to the schedule I had set myself, and after playing with a revised format for a while, I eventually came to the conclusion that what I wanted was not to merely shout these ideas into the void, but to join a political party and try to work to put them into practice.

The podcast is no longer available as a subscription via RSS or assorted podcast players, but the individual episodes of it are archived on this site and downloadable from it, should you be interested in them.

Thank you to everyone who listened, who posted on here or on the Facebook group – who engaged with these ideas, and apologies to all of you that I never got around to interviewing for the show. I hope to interview some of you on other podcasts, some day.

Coming up in 2018!

Just a brief sketch of my plans for the year:

First and foremost, and most obviously, I’ve just launched my first ever podcast, Set This House In Order (click on the green and gold square on the right for more details). One week in, and feeling pretty good so far.

I’m also in the process of remodelling my other website, The Centre Cannot Hold, and making it less of a blog, more of a traditional site. It’s slow going (there’s more than 3000 posts and pages to sort through), but it is coming along. (Click on the blue jigsaw piece design on the right to go there.)

Work continues on my other other site, Reading Orders, because the real difficulty with creating reading orders for pop culture is that people don’t stop making it. (Click on the purple square to the right to go there.)

My next big project is going to be another podcast, called Look Back In Wonder, in which I plan to interview people about their favourite David Bowie songs. If that’s something you’d be interested in, drop me a line – I’m happy to interview just about anyone for this.

There will probably be some other projects along the way, but that’s definitely enough to keep me going for now 🙂