15 December 2008

Winds of change

O for a draught of that cool vintage that never mellows. That's how I feel late upon this cool summer's eve - like I could paraphrase Keats I guess. To bottle a late cool summer's eve would be the trick. I must find the recipe, my Calliope.

It must be at least a month since I blogged. That really is a horrid verb is it not? It sounds like a bodily function best undertaken behind the privacy of a locked door.

Exciting times nonetheless.

Noivedya's book Busted has been released.

The Australian Government just released an emissions trading scheme target of 5 per cent - to predictable admonishment from most quarters. It really is a win-win though. The current repositioning of the global economic climate makes radical market readjustments precipitous and ill-advised. Most importantly, the scheme will develop a workable framework that can deliver on long term goals in this area which are central to the vision that the etc. We have to start somewhere. I really can't see the Government taking a hit in the polls over this. People are pragmatic.

I worry though when I describe something as precipitous and ill-advised. Is that necessary? Am I using redundant words? Can one be pithy and succinct at the same time? Oh, it is hard, so hard.

Later.

08 November 2008

A horse! A horse!


Some weeks ago I went to see a play: Anatomy Titus, an adaptation of Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus. Check out the review. It is not the most appealing of Shakespeare's plays, considering all the mutilation, rape, beheading, evisceration and cannibalism that it contains; but the all-male cast did a bloody good job of it. I previously prepared for my outing by watc
hing the film Titus, but I only got half way through it. I do not recommend this play or film as an introduction to Shakespeare's work.

It led me to ask of man:

What brutal nest of vipers rest
Betwixt thy breast
?


Well, we just watched Richard III, starring Sir Ian McKellen.
Richard's craze for power knows no rest or limits in this story. It is a sublime pleasure to watch this great actor relishing the title role. I can not think of a more pleasing villain; what a wickedly enchanting performance.

At 100 minutes, the film is a greatly abridged version of the play and the language is easy to follow. Unfortunately, Robert Downey Jr does not last long, but most of the cast suffer his fate! Do not miss this brilliant adaptation.

Click to read








Barack Obama

"Yes, we can."

I had never witnessed the oratorical brilliance of Barack Obama until his victory speech on November 4 - Wednesday afternoon in Australia. At that moment, there were tears all over the world for America the Dream.

Read the story of Eugene Allen. I do hope he receives an invitation to the innaugaration.

America the People have a long road ahead of them now. To continue striving to reveal the lofty ideals of Thomas Jefferson et al can be the nation's only success. That is the gift of life - the audacity of hope if you will. Failure is not to try. There is no other crime.

That is the simple message universal we can take from this occasion.

*

President Kennedy's loftiest
America-illumining utterance:
"Ask not what your country
Can do for you;
Ask what you can do for your country."
The Supreme's loftiest
World-illumining utterance:
"Ask not what spirituality and I
Can give to you;
Ask what you can give
To spirituality and to Me."

Sri Chinmoy

01 November 2008

A collection of knicks and knacks

There is something about this cartoon that really speaks to me:



I found a band I will have to hear more of when their debut album debuts in December. The Welcome Wagon. Great cover. Kookarama. Listen to their version of The Smith's Half A Person.



November 4




The adjective histrionic, meaning over-theatrical or dramatically exaggerated derives from the Latin for actor histrio (ish).Below is a transcription of a speech I made to my housemates the other night. (With thanks to my amanuensis.)

This humble square of material
Coloured bold, crimson as the heart
Of the ripest Roma tomato,
Called by the Americans a washcloth,
But most properly known
To its English progenitors as a flannel,
Is for the sole exclusive use of my own -
It is not the remedy of any stain, nor the ready fix
Of abasement of tile, bench or drain.


A man has to set limits, especially in the bathroom.

Anon, I must fugitate.

29 October 2008

Beauty's Gold

The world's first statue of Sri Chinmoy, unveiled at the Eternal Peace Flame, Akerbrygge, Oslo, Norway on 27 October, 2008.





I did behold a
....mortal frame
....enfold Infinity.

An Indian bold
....full of
....Beauty's Gold.



I am 34 years old today

14 October 2008

Questions and Answer

That strength I crave,
Whence do you come?
Where do you go?
What ground do you rest upon
That standing you so often fall?

O will drest in the falsehoods
....of mind;
Truth wears the raiment
....of a beggar.


That evening after meditation, I found the following poem to satisfy me. (I have no direct link to it, as it is not found in the Sri Chinmoy Library.)


HOW TO CONQUER

Lo, how to conquer evil thoughts?
....Easy! One thing just try -
Imagine you are the ocean vast,
....You are the boundless sky.

Your evil thoughts are fish and birds
....Their lords are ocean and sky.
Fear not! The slaves are only slaves;
....Their revolt a fruitless cry.

by Sri Chinmoy

God's Autobiography

There is only one sentence
In God's entire Autobiography:
"The galaxy of stars
And the darkest night
Are inseparably one."

By Sri Chinmoy

I am full enamoured of this perfect lyric vision. I decree it shall serve as the preface to my collected poems.

I'll bravely venture then:

God's Dictionary
Does not house dichotomy!

Scintilla

The moon was kind to me this evening and gave me a verse after I left work.

O orb of wonder,
New appearing daily,
Reaching to heaven,
Calling forth night.
Is it you that
gives the glow of love
to mine eyes?
Answer supernal jewel!
I shall have reckoning
Ere the sun banishes you
once more.

30 September 2008

Googong

On Sunday 28 September, we held the Sri Chinmoy Googong Challenge.

I was quite busy and did not take many photos. Still...

A lightness of spirit o'ertakes me,
As if I rode the giddy chariot of Heaven.


ODE ON AID STATION

Refreshment for thy betterment.
Miracle of ages,
Wonder of aeons:
This clear liquid,
Life-sustaining
Since first life
Breathed not
In its self-same origin.


Not many paddlers took notice of my warning though...


Upon your ‘ware!
The rumours tell of
A giant cephalapod
Lurking in the lake’s deeps –
The famed Kraken
Being not half its measure!


I can tell there were that day numerous unexplained capsizings of craft, yet all thankfully returned to dry land.

27 September 2008

New Plastics

'The end of writing is to instruct; the end of poetry is to instruct by pleasing.'

Thus wrote Samuel Johnson in his Preface to The Plays of William Shakespeare.


I have glasses now for mild astigmatism. Putting them on is like applying Unsharp Mask to the world. I was shocked to learn they are made of plastic and not glass. I told my father that my sister paid me the ultimate compliment by declaring, "You look like Dad!" The affirmation offered by Louise Hay for this condition is, "I am now willing to see my own beauty and magnificence." I never realised it was a problem! But I'll try...


The gentleman below most definitely has The Right Stuff.


Swiss pilot Yves Rossy lands near Dover in southern England after flying across the English Channel on a jet-propelled wing. "It was perfect. Blue sky, sunny, no clouds, perfect conditions," Rossy told the Associated Press. "We prepared everything, and it was great."

Rossy jumped out of a plane at about 8,200 feet, fired up his jets and made the 22-mile trip from Calais, France.



I want one.

20 September 2008

Financial Meltdown

When I remember, there is a blog I check called A Suitable Wardrobe. The posts are short and frequent. The author could be described as a flâneur. Forgive the accusation, but he doesn't seem to do anything except spend inordinate sums of money on clothes. It is possiblee Prince Charles spends more on clothes. I don't know.

I try to think of myself as a semi-reformed dandy at the least. Anyway, there was a recent post on Silk Scarves which included the picture below:



Allow me to record a conversation from the comments section of this post:

Commenter:

"Great post, Will. And the graphic is timely too. I am assuming the figure on the right represents Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson, who is instructing the local grave digger where to bury the body of the US taxpayer, recently deceased."

Owner of the blog:

"The scarf-wearing man pays no attention to the vicissitudes of markets until he has to sell the gardens to a developer in order to pay his tailor."

Respect.

19 September 2008

Dulcify

The babe of innocent wonder
Is not complete in divinity,
Though possessed of the measures
Of heaven’s high rank,
Purity and simplicty.
Then age teaches
Our earthly sense
A convoy of thought
That conveys us to doom.
Freedom sought is hard fought,
And all travails
The passenger must learn
With joy to entertain.
So I ponder upon
The journey to perfection…


I say I have different varieties of poetry. It all comes unheeded, but some bubbles forth from the pure silence of meditation and at other times a simple word will birth transcendent thought. It is like standing before a raging river or wandering in a wood seeking a distant brook just heard. I can say the above is an example of the latter. I quite like that the earliest meaning of 'convey' was 'escort.' I found that very appealing, but I was prognosticating a prologue at the time.

O fancy, all abysm break!


There is my battle cry.

I just started reading Chronicles of Tao. I am enjoying it a lot. Perhaps it is the refreshment of not reading a dictionary! If, on the other hand you want to read a dictionary, then I recommend one of the recent abridgements of Samuel Johnson's Dictionary. Penguin do a good one. It is a lot lighter than the Oxford English Dictionary (OED) and is full of great illustrative quotes that won't strain the eyes. Lot's of Shakespeare. That is the point of reading a dictionary - the quotes. The lack of etymology in Johnson is compensated for by the historical view of English it affords and the lexicographer's infamous foibles.

Read an interview with Ammon Shea who read the whole of the OED. Since I got a year's free subscription to the OED Online it has come in handy. It's very good if you know what you want, but not so fun to browse. I hope Oxford decide to make it a bit cheaper in the future!

13 September 2008

Spring

So, forth issew'd the Seasons of the yeare;
First, lusty Spring, all dight in leaues of flowres
That freshly budded and new bloosmes did beare...

Edmund Spenser: The Faerie Queen

This morning I had the time, inclination and glorious sun to head out of doors with a camera and catch some pictures to match words.




O come verily Spring
And let the day begin to sing,
Mend all the discombobulation
Of chill Winter.

12 September 2008

Life-Energy

I rewrote the poem of my last post, so forgive me for publishing it again here (as well as updating it where it first appeared):

Cease your rule O stars of fortune.
Tremble dust!
Where I lead you do not chart!
The hest of Destiny has unwound
The trammels of my past.
From the cords of life,
Wind, Master-Weaver,
Your tapestry of beauty.
Creation shall have its reckoning
Upon this spot.
Born of breath,
Most beloved of death,
I admit no regret.

Here is a photograph of dawn in Sydney a few months ago:



In Sydney, I often stay with a friend of mine named Pranavanta. His name is Sanskrit for 'full of life energy'. He is an artist; he lives in a studio and this is his collection of brushes.



That is not even all of them, but the proof of his profession is more evident in the advice he gave me about painting: To fill a canvas, appreciate that the forms of nature all arise from necessity. It is necessary to make the subject of the work feel at home like a crab in its shell. I am just paraphrasing. He also told me about how important the corners of the canvas are. He was very specific that a drawing is fairly different to a painting. You can 'get away' with a lot more in a drawing apparently.

I will publish some shots of his nature paintings later, but here is a painting of his I really like. Pranavanta explained that the the colour spectrum develops from the edges towards its full intensity in the middle. That is obvious once you think about it, but he has employed this effect in a most subtle fashion. There is a lot going on in this work - enjoy the close-ups. (I reccomend clicking on them for a really good look.)













05 September 2008

Colossus

Not far ago, one evening, I heard an Englishman upon the radio, lauding a composer of his fancy. In reference to the musical genre, he said that this artist, "...bestrode it like a colossus."

I was so struck by the magnificence of this phrase: it gave vigour to the mind and lit the night.

I just found out that Shakespeare had Cassius speak of Julius Caesar so:

'Why, man, he doth bestride the narrow world
Like a Colossus, and we petty men
Walk under his huge legs and peep about
To find ourselves dishonourable graves.
Men at some time are masters of their fates:
The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars,
But in ourselves, that we are underlings.'

The secret message of Cassius to the brooding jealousy of Brutus is revealed by Sri Aurobindo:

'Fate can be changed by an unchanging Will.'

Cease your rule O stars of fortune.
Tremble dust!
Where I lead you do not chart!
The hest of Destiny has unwound
The trammels of my past.
From the cords of life,
Wind, Master-Weaver,
Your tapestry of beauty.
Creation shall have its reckoning
Upon this spot.
Born of breath,
Most beloved of death,
I admit no regret.

Ruth

I am sure you know the word ruthless, but it derives from the now mostly defunct word ruth, meaning compassion. Upon reminding of this, I birthed a verse:

Thine eyes of ruth
Have never left me -
I may not doubt it:
They pierce all penury
And sow smiles in woes.


It was 1374 when Chaucer wrote:

'If therewith-al in you ther be no routhe, Than is it harm ye liven.'

More recently Walt Whitman told us:

'And whoever walks a furlong without sympathy, walks to his own funeral, drest in his shroud.'

How ruthful then the advice of Sri Chinmoy:

'Be kind, be all sympathy,
For each and every human being
Is forced to fight against himself.'

01 September 2008

Flight


A sweeping deep of doubts,

I ride upon a wistful nothing.
Tight I draw the reigns of my chaos
And urge the victory-speed of forward-march:
Thy Cry is Silence-Light.


August 31, 2008

The world


What is the world

but beauty's glance,
As if the falling tear
Split into a thousand laughs.


August 28, 2008


23 August 2008

Writing upon writing



The time has come to remedy my cunctatiousness in posting.

I recently spent a few evenings, when time was spare, in copying all the poems on this blog into one book. It was a good occupation, for it has never been my discipline to write in one place. From years past there are boxes of loose pages and half used notebooks tucked in my parents cellar, up 'til the present when Word documents are scattered through my laptop. This exercise of copying served to inspire a more inclusive view of my work and gave recognition to its continuum.

The transference of words from pixel to paper was performed with ink and nib. That was half the pleasure of the task. This simple tool served Shakespeare well enough - though perhaps if he breathed today he would consent to use a typewriter.

I have of late been afflicted by bibliomania. This is not so harmful as the word portends - my disposition is no more antic than usual; largely so. Perhaps it is obvious that my reading, never of a fixed breadth, has turned to the Bard for inspiration; no death for him I pray.

Will writing in the prosaic fashion exhibited here mark me as a plain imitator? I say not, for it is the best and finest employment of words that the ordinary is viewed through the glass of beauty, and thus all may know that the ordinary is beautiful. And it joys me so to say it so.

So I have thought of late upon the writing of a play. I was recommended to, "...avoid obscure circumlocutions." Indeed that is good advice, but in truth the word obscure may be forfeit in this case.

It seems the trick will be the invention of a story to hold the audience in thrall. I have plenty of poetry I could turn to the sense of the characters. The construction of a natural dialogue may be learnt by practice. It is in keeping with the habit of other playwrights that the skeleton of the plot can be borrowed from any ready source. Some legend from antiquity may serve well when it captures me rightly.

Let time tell.

Picture by William Blake

13 August 2008

Fun & Games

I just watched Freezing on the ABC. It is so funny. The British make most excellent comedy. Check it out.

At work, the team occasionally does the quiz out of the newspaper. I got a little bored, so I wrote my own - using the dictionary of course. The team scored three out of ten, but a splendid time was guaranteed for all.

Good luck.

Questions

1. If someone is punctiliar, what are they?
2. Fattoush is a Middle-Eastern salad. Name three ingredients.
3. Fauvism is a style of painting characterised by the use of vivid colour. Its chief exponent was Henri Matisse (1869-1954). The French word 'fauve' translates literally as what?
4. In an orchestra, in which class of instruments would you find a component called a fipple?
5. The word gargantuan is derived from the large-mouthed voracious giant called Gargantua in the book of the same name by which famous French author?
6. The word interminate means? (Usage clue: "Cease thy interminate complaints, anon and forever.")
7. What is the collective noun for a company of bears?
8. What is a sparable? (Clue: This word formed by contracting 'sparrow bill.')
9. What is a superfecta? (Clue: Betting term.)
10. What is a spallywankle?



Answers


1. A punctiliar person is always on time or punctual.
2. Tomatoes, cucumbers and croutons made from toasted pita bread.
3. Fauve translates literally as wild animals.
4. The wind section. A fipple is a plug at the mouth of a wind instrument.
5. Rabelais
6. Interminate means endless or infinite.
7. A sloth of bears.
8. A sparable is a small, headless, wedge-shaped nail used for the soles or heels of shoes.
9. Picking the first four winners in a horse race. (Apparently there is another Australian term for this.)
10. By far the hardest question as I made this word up. The suggestion that spallywankle involves shaking the rain off your umbrella after using it was judged to be correct for imagination. I think I will shorten this word though, as in, "I will just spally my brolly, pet. Won't be in a minute."

Today we also learnt that the word robe, as in loose fitting garment, dates from 1275 and has the same root as the word rob, as in steal; but the robe whence you deposit your clothes is a boring abbreviation of wardrobe from the 1970's!

I hope you enjoyed this morceau of amusement.

Song

While meditating tonight, I composed a poem about my meditation teacher, Sri Chinmoy:

He who wrote
The song of my heart.
He who sings
The song of my heart.
He who is
The Song Universal
Allwhere.


On Friday, I will be in Brisbane for the Closing Ceremony of the World Harmony Run. This is good because I was there for the (unofficial) start at Uluru and otherwise only said hello at Parliament House. I will get to run some of the 47 kilometres remaining on the final day of our Odyssean journey around the continent.

Picture this

My neo-fauvistic efforts continue.

10 August 2008

Different Strokes

After the spectacle of the Opening Ceremony of The Beijing Olympics, I am firmly convinced that the use of French as an official language for the Games is a little passé. (Perhaps anachronism is a better word.) Don't tell L'Académie française, but English is now well established as the lingua franca of planet earth. In 2052, I wonder if we will still hear appellations in French ringing around the stadium. I will have to wait and see.

Lingua franca comes from Italian and translates as 'Frankish tongue.' It is a historical term for the mixed language or jargon used in the Levant, consisting mainly of Italian words deprived of their inflexions. The term now refers to any common form of communication used between people speaking different languages. Suffering is the lingua franca of hell. Light is the lingua franca of heaven. That sort of thing.



Today I did some painting. I haven't done any for years, but I got inspired to pick up some supllies on Friday and it was a very absorbing way to occupy my Sunday afternoon. It was inevitably frustrating to begin with, as there was a yawning gulf between what I imagined and what I was producing.



By playing, I learnt quite a lot, as I decided what I want to do next. I think I am developing a style, it's called fauvism without any pretensions of realism. Alas, I don't think I will ever be one of those people who can faithfully reproduce the physical criteria of their surroundings. I quickly realised that I need to buy some better brushes too.


I am confident that with a complete lack of training, anybody can produce similar results.


06 August 2008

Dances with Etymons

Am I supercilious? Well, supercilium is Latin for eyebrow. Nowabouts, the word supercilious denotes a contemptuous nature, a character that holds others and the world in disdain. I guess people like that raise their eyebrows a lot. I am pretty well endowed in the eyebrow world, as a glance to the left of this page will assure you. In fact, if my rare forays onto the stage have been successful, then this is owed to the ability of my eyebrows to convey expression at great distance. Yeah, they will cut you at 50 paces.

Have you heard of dipsas?

'...the direst of all the reptiles bred in the sand is the dipsas or thirst-snake; it is of no great size, and resembles the viper; its bite is sharp, and the venom acts at once, inducing agonies to which there is no relief. The flesh is burnt up and mortified, the victims feel as if on fire, and yell like men at the stake. But the most overpowering of their torments is that indicated by the creature's name. They have an intolerable thirst; and the remarkable thing is, the more they drink, the more they want to drink, the appetite growing with what it feeds on. You will never quench their thirst, though you give them all the water in Nile or Danube; water will be fuel, as much as if you tried to put out a fire with oil.' Lucian

What a perfect description of desire. I like the image of the mind rent by dipsomania, except this word solely refers to the pathology of alcoholics. There is no reason not to expand the territory of a word. Just get figurative.

Scrofulous is an underused term. What can you do with it? Well, scrofula is a chronic disease of the lymph glands, so it is pretty ugly. Scrofulous therefore makes a nasty adjective. Try: Devotees of taste eschew the scrofula of polyester when selecting their shirtings. Works well because the word derives from the Greek for 'like a pig's back.' Blackadder would gladly compliment Baldrick with the epithet, "scrofulous goat."



People often say, "You learn something every day." I trust we have achieved that here. I actually learnt more than one thing - I have to be careful not to overdo it in case I pull a hamstring.

'In the pursuit of knowledge, a man learns something every day.
In the pursuit of Tao, a man unlearns something every day.'
Tao Te Ching

'Do I contradict myself?
Very well then I contradict myself,
(I am large, I contain multitudes.)'
Walt Whitman

The way is never hidden from one who attempts to unlearn their ignorance. With the imperturbable soul-assurance of Walt, I am free to enjoy the dance of etymons.

It is Sunday morning. It is not just day - it is being omnipresent joyful. The summit of a single green leaf...

May the light
Of one thousand
Buddhas shine.

30 July 2008

My biggest book of words

Today, my Shorter Oxford English Dictionary arrived in the post. It didn't actually fit in the letterbox of course. The United States Postal Service had placed the box it came in into a massive sack as the box was coming apart due to its weight.

How exciting:

  • Two volumes, beautifully presented in a slipcase, with a ribbon and coloured endpapers, and each volume bound in quality Oxford-blue leather
  • Includes one year's access to the Oxford English Dictionary Online
  • Contains more than 600,000 words, phrases, and definitions, with coverage of language from the entire English-speaking world, from North America and the UK to South Africa, Australia and New Zealand, and the Caribbean
  • Contains all the vocabulary current in general English from 1700 to the present day, with senses organized chronologically, as well as earlier major literary works, including Shakespeare and the Authorized Version of the Bible
  • Fully updated with 2,500 new words and meanings based on the ongoing research programme of Oxford Dictionaries and the Oxford English Corpus
  • Draws on the latest research from the OED project including more than 4.500 antedatings and thousands of new quotations from recent writers
  • Includes a never-before-published introductory essay by David Crystal on the History of English
The ridiculous thing is that it cost about $150 on Amazon in Australian dollars and Oxford are charging 250 Pounds for it which is well over $500! The only mystery is how a used Roman bus-ticket dated 16 July 2007 ended up inside Volume 1, considering that it was brand new and still shrink wrapped. Anomalous, yet unperturbing.

I am reading a book by Simon Winchester called Bomb, Book & Compass: Joseph Needham and The Great Secrets of China. Joseph Needham was a communist, gymnosophist, Fellow of the Royal Society and the British Academy. He wrote millions of words on China's past scientific achievements. The funny part is when his peers at Cambridge describe him as 'eccentric' - practically a compliment; but also slightly 'unsound' - the worst pejorative available in such circles. Entertaining. The book doesn't answer why China's economic and technological growth stalled as the Renaissance was kicking off in the West. This was "Needham's Grand Question," and the jury is still out as to whether he managed to answer it.

Sumangali has been reminicsing recently about her time in China.

I thought I would give this book a go because I greatly enjoyed The Surgeon of Crowthorne. There is something particularly mad about the madness of Englishmen. I like that, you can quote me if you want.

Last Wednesday a friend revealed anthimeria to me. It is using words the wrong way. Shakespeare invented a few words that way as the link shows. A more contemporary example is Calvin telling Hobbes, "You are weirding me out." That's because weird is an adjective not a verb. It is hard to think of an example, perhaps, "I flummoxed down the road." Except that flummox is already a verb.

The next day I attended a course on Parliamentary Writing. My attempts to start a discussion about anthimeria fell on largely deaf minds; but I did learn that concatenation is bad writing. It means lumping verbs together unnecessarily, e.g. 'it is necessary to make a determination' is better as 'it is necessary to determine.' 'Give consideration to' should be 'consider.' The '-ion' is the giveaway. It is a real hallmark of turgid bureaucratese. Okay, the word turgid is more or less redundant in the previous sentence, but, "I turgided the answer," is pure anthimeria.

Good writing should do two things: be enjoyable and convince.

If I had my own Grand Question, what would it be I wonder?

Either "What's for dinner?" or "Why is it so hard to get an early night?"

07 July 2008

μητέρα μου

I read up on the (sacred?) mystery of the ABBA at The Independent. I have never been much of a fan, but this article is totally to blame for me listening to the song below ten times. It is such a rollicking tune, but the lyrics are so full of pathos, which is what the article is about.



Also reading The Age of The Warrior: Selected Writings by Robert Fisk. For a book on the Middle East, I am proud to have got half way through it. It gets a bit depressing for obvious reasons, but being a collection of newspaper articles is very approachable.

Waiting to read Peter Pan, after seeing it discussed on The First Tuesday Book Club recently.

I really enjoyed watching The Hollowmen the other night. If you check it out, you will see what Canberra looks like, at least in the credits. Interestingly, The Hollow Men by T.S. Eliot was my favourite poem in my final year of high school. I was a little more maudlin in those days.

Since I started keeping a note book of new words that I meet, I have been very interested in Greek. It appears to have contributed as much to the English language as Latin. For instance, psephology - the study of elections and voting trends comes from psephos which is Greek for pebble, because the Ancient Greeks used little rocks to cast their vote. Cool. It was only invented in 1952. Plutocracy, ploutokratia, ploutos meaning wealth, kratos meaning strength, therefore rule by the wealthy or elites.

It makes sense. My family come from Campania which was kicked off by the Greeks before the Romans moved in, after which the Turks had a bit of a go too. Now the region is dominated by waste. I will have to get back there and visit the relatives eventually, although they tend to drunkenly stand around belting out vaguely misogynistic folk songs. (I've seen the videos.) And they tend to feud across continents about the size of telephone bills.

01 July 2008

Happy Snappy

This is me and Leo, my sister's new dog. He is a spoodle. I think they should have called him Sooty. I don't care what colour he is.


This is me and my niece, Rachel. She is nearly one.


This is my sister, Dianna.


Here is the birthday boy, Tejaswi, with his nephew, Eli.


These are my photos.

30 June 2008

May The Force Be With You

I was just ordered to put this on my blog.



In the words of the musician:

"Me playing Star Wars on the bagpipes while wearing a Darth Vader mask from Wal-Mart (Vader was framed, btw) and wearing a green Guinness T-shirt.

Does it get any more awesome than me? No, probably not."

It may or may not surprise you that I have harboured a secret ambition to learn to play the bagpipes for many years. My perfunctory research revealed that they are a surprisingly expensive instrument. It's just that whenever I see a marching band, I feel a pressing need to grab a sword and roar into battle. Therapy would be required to determine if this desire predates my viewing of Braveheart.

Speaking of going into battle, I greatly enjoyed the article Coming out fighting about Australia's Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon.

28 June 2008

A Dictionary Too Far Away

I am in Adelaide with good company. One of the chief pleasures of the time I spend with my friends is words. It is not merely conversation, but lexical speculation which verges on bombastic. What does inchoate mean? Over dinner, we had a dad-off, with my father’s SMS reply beating a direct call to another. It is fair to say that the city of Canberra has an inchoate vibration, but is the character of Adelaide really chthonic? I think that is why I like living in Canberra now so much. Walking the streets of Adelaide, I can’t see myself living here again. Its inhabitants lack the pervasive aroma of bureaucracy that I have grown to love for one.

Cows are bovine, pigs are porcine, sheep are... ovine. As in, ‘Her actions portrayed an ovine acquiescence.’ Indeed. It is not every day that one gets to use the word panegyric either. (On reflection, speaking of myself in the third person is a foul habit I should not cultivate.) Luckily, my propensity to mispronounce obscure words provides seemingly endless amusement. The remedy advised was to always take my first instinct and then do the complete opposite.

My family is well. I bought a charming travel fragrance for mum, early birthday presents for my sister and a spectacularly sized chocolate fish for my brother. My father as always requires only kindness and respect.



Kung Fu Panda
is the best movie I have seen for years. Don't miss it!

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift. That is why it is called the present." Master Shifu

----------------
Now playing: The Dresden Dolls - Delilah
via FoxyTunes

27 June 2008

Knots

Invariably we will be treated to the inane refrain of sad misguided fashion pundits: "The tie is dead."

I don't think so!

20 June 2008

the weather

Today's precis from the Bureau of Meteorology is:

"A little rain at times."

How whimsical. Anyone could look out the window and say that.

Why aren't you people studying meteors?

17 June 2008

Don't Forget to Vote



Seriously, I am reading Inventing a Nation by Gore Vidal at the moment. I have barely started it, but I already know that the Republicans are the kin of the Anti-Federalists, who favoured states' rights over a strong central government. It is under 200 pages, so I can soon tell you how it goes.

14 June 2008

I've Got The Power

I found the video below on Crikey. I have to say that Gore Vidal totally cracks me up. He is so righteous and sharp. Years ago, I tried to read his autobiography Palimpsest, but it was torture and I gave it up half way.



This week I discovered The Thick of It. I have always been a huge fan of Yes Minister and Yes Prime Minister. The Thick of It brings the leitmotif of these shows into a new century: the relationship between government, the public service and the people. The grand illusion of power. The Thick of It is brutal and brutally funny. Be warned that it is full of language that would make Gordon Ramsey blush.

Good Day Sunshine

I had a dream. Last night to be precise. It was long and complicated, but all that remains is the quantum of desire.

A box of promise, empty of fulfilment.

Come inside, I have exactly what you want.

Hang on, it’s empty.

Too late, it’s shut.

I know that is a little bit vague, hence the quantum.

Today was one of those days: when meditating is as natural as breathing, as natural as being, as natural as nature even. Entering into the heart of love I become the life of creation.

The first and the last
Message of life:
Expect
And you will never get.
-Sri Chinmoy

This sums up much of my experience. What a breath of release; it is a lesson that bears endless repeating. Gone the bitter draft of being, welcome the laughter-life of seeing.

28 May 2008

Freedom Flies

America is about to be visited by the greatest apostasy imaginable.

No, this is unrelated to Hillary Clinton declaring that she is waiting for Obama to be assassinated - that's just par for the course.

I am talking about Brad and Angelina fleeing the promised land! I just finishing descrying the future in the entrails of a sheep.* Alas, I fear the Pax Americana will soon be broken, and the shattered remnants of a once mighty dream is all that will remain...


With 35 bedrooms, Chateau Mirival will allow Angelina to continue to adopt well into her 80's.

PS I like the word apostasy, but don't forget it rhymes with hyperbole.

*For a vegetarian, I am very committed to bringing you truth.

27 May 2008

Don't forget!

Back in the day, the Ancient Roman day, conquering Generals enjoyed a triumph. This was more or less a victory parade down the main street involving much ritual. It so happens on such occasions that the General in question had a slave standing behind him the whole time whose specific task was to whisper in his ear, "memento mori." Remember you are mortal.



Good advice and such a practical way to put paid to hubris. It is not something you see much of these days mind you. Hopefully, said slave also offered other useful reminders such as, "lactis legate," or "quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur."

I remembered 'memento mori' while I was meditating the other night. It struck the poet in me that when we are victorious in the inner world, it is the soul that observes us and proclaims, "memento vivi." Remember you are immortal.

We all know that the victory of the General is prefaced upon destruction. This is the outer world of death or mortality. How can we triumph in the inner world? To be victorious in the inner world is to travel the road to God's house. This is about opening up the heart, crying for, discovering and adoring the truth. My feeling is that it means just being there within, getting to know yourself. The inner world is the source of life or immortality.

Some notes about my Latin:
  • As 'mori' means literally you will die, i chose 'vivi,' meaning you will live to mean immortality. There is a perfectly good word, 'immortalis' that means immortality.
  • I am pretty sure that the Ancient Romans didn't use capitals, despite everything on the internet. I might be wrong.
  • I also seem to remember that the noun comes before the verb. You can probably guess what 'lactis' is, I am hopeful that 'legate' is the imperative form of the verb 'to pick up.'
  • Go Google if you want to discover the meaning 0f, 'quidquid latine dictum sit, altum sonatur.'




22 May 2008

World Harmony Run update

I love reading the World Harmony Run daily reports. Prabakhar is doing a fantastic job on the photos. Have a look at the Melbourne ceremony.

Check out Bob Randall joining the team in Canberra. I did a post about meeting Bob at Uluru previously.

It really is worth having a browse through the daily reports.

Here is a shot of me with the torch in front of Parliament House in Canberra last week.





I will be catching up with the run in Melbourne this weekend.

PS Those are not my running clothes.

20 May 2008

Living in America

It was Aristotle, who is by most accounts - discounting the views of Monty Python - considered to be pretty clever, who famously opined:

"Man is by nature a political animal."

With this in mind, I was inspired to write my first piece of serious political commentary...

I have developed quite a fondness for Alec Baldwin after enjoying NBC's 30 Rock. On this Emmy Award-winning sitcom Baldwin plays the executive Jack Donaghy. Jack is an uber-Republican, he is devoted to immaculate hair and a founding member of The Committee to Reinvade Vietnam. Sure, it is a parody, but art as they say, is fond of imitating life.

Outside of television, Alec Baldwin’s sympathies lie with the Democrats. Nearing his 50th birthday, he has given an interview proclaiming his interest in becoming an elected official. Mr Baldwin is preeminently qualified for politics having spent a lifetime devoted to the performing arts. He has also demonstrated an acerbic wit in his relationship building. When asked to comment on the description of his ex-wife's lawyer as a, "300-pound homunculus with a face like a clenched fist," he advised, "I was being kind." Yes, Paul Keating might well be impressed. It brings a sentimental tear to the eye.

Also working for him is society's unabashed obsession with celebrity and its intravenous celebration of reality television. As has been pointed out, there remain two major entry routes to a shot at election. The old-fashioned way involves working your way up from the very bottom of a party: "Nice biscuit, dearie?" The other way requires you to excel in any field whatsoever and when the time comes, simply wave a flag and wait for the offers to come in. Either way, you need to stand out from the pack, and Alec has done that.

Of course, if you are rich, you needn’t start at the bottom or sell a few million rock albums and wait for a major party to approach you. No, you just need the right slogan and a ready made media empire. If you don’t happen to own a football team in the most corrupt league on the earth, then perhaps you could start a religion to boost your finances. If your religion happens to cater for celebrities, all the better. Can you see the potential in today’s world? Gratuitous wealth and celebrity could produce the perfect candidate! Like Tom Cruise. Oh. Forget that idea.

What actually concerns me is the stump speech made by Arnold Schwarzenegger prior to him seizing the garland of gubernatorial victory in California. (Luckily I saw it on SBS - the subtitles were an invaluable aid to comprehension.) Speaking of his opponent, Arnie yelled with his uniquely ebullient sangfroid: “Gray Davis has terminated hope. He has terminated opportunity. He has terminated education and he has terminated jobs. Now it's time to terminate him!” Get it? The Terminator. It’s very subtle, so I though I would point it out.

You see, as a reformed actor, what Alec will really need to make it in American politics is the right catch phrase. It must already be ingrained in his nation’s collective psyche, but nothing comes to mind. His stint as the narrator of Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends for American audiences may not be very useful in this regard. Perhaps I am just not familiar enough with his oeuvre.

Can anyone help Alec?



Check out 30 Rock

05 May 2008

The pen is mightier than the iron man

Radical


Wildly Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film

In other news, I found a blog called The Smart Set that is full of fantastic writing, like the surreal tale of a Pakastani in New York.

It has a Journeys section is packed full of intriguing articles.

Lastly, I found an entertaining interview with the redoubtable Gore Vidal discussing the upcoming American election on my ABC.

28 April 2008

What is Art?

I read a blog about Beauty by Sumangali entitled The Eye of the Beholder and I started to reminisce about the obsessive quality - or dedication if you will - of youth and how glorious it is to be obsessed for the first time: about anything.

I must confess I was obsessed with art at the close of my teenage years. I never actually studied art, but I did share a house with a number of artists while living next door to an art school. You can't get any qualification for that, but combined with unemployment, it gave rise to a curious condition in me.

I undertook a kind of artistic study, albeit one that lacked any structure whatsoever. I drew and painted with crayons, pencils, acrylics, ink and watercolours. I baked pottery in my kitchen in the middle of the night. I made sculptures that most commonly included feathers, pine-cones, string, wire, scrap metal from construction sites and all manner of found objects. I wrote poetry and carried the Tao Te Ching with me everywhere. I wandered through my neighbourhood in dreams. My life was a gigantic collection of symbols that I was constructing and deciphering at every turn. Things took a lot of time to work out.

Yes, my lost years.

Suffice to say, I would ask strangers at parties with absolute sincerity, "Do you believe in art?" A question, which oddly, seemed to confuse the art students most of all. Actually, I don't know that I was ever not nonsensical (why can't sensical be a word?) in clarifying what on earth I was talking about. I only knew on some level that art as an act of creation was a chance to get in touch with a Higher Power.

Even now, to think of those days brings tears of mirth to my eyes. My friends would come over and sit in my room, surrounded by beach pebbles - in front of an open fire if it was winter - and we would just play. It was like kindergarten: people would take their pictures or creations home with them when their visit was over.

Anyway, only the poetry really survived.

There is no truth in history.
Truth is Eternal,
It is this moment's Grace.


Nowadays, I have developed a deeper appreciation of the fact that all action is a type of art. What matters is the intention or purity of will behind any action. This is what can take me to the Highest. If I want the supreme enjoyment of becoming an instrument of the Source then my action has to be to surrender to God's will.

This the art of beautiful living that I have come to discover through meditation.

19 April 2008

The Monster That Ate Itself

I have now read Blowback and The Sorrows of Empire by the pundit Chalmers Johnson.

It was hard! These are authoritative, scholarly books and correspondingly dense. Also, the sheer weight of the topic might bring you down. These two books are part of a trilogy and the final volume is Nemesis. You can get a feel for these books by reading an article I found at webdiary or I have posted a video to finish this post. Mr Johnson is an intellectual par excellence. I can't even pretend to summarise this stuff cogently - at least not for more than 30 seconds.

To take a break I went to fiction-land to read The Quiet American and Our Man in Havana, both by Graham Greene. What makes these both remarkable is the way they straddle the border of non-fiction and fiction. The Quiet American was a remarkably prescient work. I wouldn't describe Our Man in Havana as a comedy, but it is a good comedy of errors.

On Radio National I found an interesting speech by Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes called The Three Trillion Dollar War.

April 13

While I was meditating the other night, fragments of phrases and words were floating through the white and I tried to build a house of poetry for them.

Thy golden form of Bliss, bare, beckons...

O Prince sublime of Peace...

Scion of supernal light...

King of the Infinite...

The Mother of Love...

In vain, I sought to order analogy, metaphor, simile and symbol to feed the hunger of my adoration, until I surrendered.

He is everything, He is all,
There is no form without
That he knows not within.

31 March 2008

A candle



It was Earth Hour last weekend. I don't want to say that I single-handedly solved the environmental challenges facing Mother Earth, but that is just because I am humble. After lights out, I lit thirty candles on the coffee table and most of the available oxygen in the room was soon depleted. There in the preternatural glow, we all watched the movie State and Main. It is such a smart movie and definitely worth appreciating. One of my all time favourites.

This led me to watch The Spanish Prisoner the next day, because it is also written by David Mamet. He made this film first and a lot of actors appear in both flicks, but The Spanish Prisoner just managed to annoy me. It has a hugely clever plot, but I found the pace too slow, so the effort to create tension rankled. Maybe I just couldn't summon any sympathy for the lead character. I also think you have to be really disciplined when shooting dialogue driven work.



Earth Hour got me thinking about a future where electricity was rationed and society would have to turn off the lights regularly. It wasn't so long ago that people had no choice, we had to watch TV of an evening by candle light. Of course, it is not all doom and gloom, hot rocks really excite me, and perhaps the next person who makes it into The White House will even put the solar panels back on the roof which Carter installed so that Reagan could pull them right back down.

I have been reading a lot lately, mainly about politics and related topics. There is no one reason for this, but I come from a political family so perhaps it is congenital, although it has taken a while to manifest itself.

Ozonomics
by Andrew Charlton. An excellent introduction to economics and the Australian economy. What Hawke & Keating did and Howard & Costello failed to do. How the Reserve Bank uses interest rates to manage the inflation rate.

What Goes Up by Nicholas Stuart. What happened during the 2007 election and how it will influence Australia's political landscape. Left wing but psephologically sound.

Poll Dancing by Mungo MacCallum. What happened during the 2007 election - but brilliantly, scathingly funny. Very left wing, but I got the impression Mungo wouldn't hold back if the Labor Party deserved it. Mungo has a unique place in Australian political writing.

Dear Mr Rudd
edited by Robert Manne. Australia's Left wing intellectuals write a series of open letters to the Prime Minister about their vision of the key challenges facing the new government. I cherry picked a few of these essays. I was particularly impressed with those on the need for an Australian Republic and the public service.

Confessions of an Economic Hitman by John Perkins. Does globalisation mean that developed countries (i.e. America) use the World Bank to saddle less developed countries with astronomical debts for massive infrastructure projects that are designed entirely to reward the developed country by providing them with unfettered access to natural resources and an increased military capacity? It looks like it - the rich get richer and the poor get poorer. I am going to read some Joseph Stiglitz to get another angle on where globalisation can go, because people need hope for the future now; but Confessions is interesting for illustrating how a corporate culture that generated obscene quantities of wealth became lionised and wealth became the raison d'etre of American foreign policy...or something like that.

GETTING TO KNOW THE GENERAL : The Story of an Involvement
by Graham Greene. This is a warm and honest tale of the famous author's relationship to General Omar Torrijos. An insight into the motivation of a great leader and life in South America. The General's relationship to America was very much a David vs Goliath story. I wanted to read this because the preceding book talks about Panama and mentions the work.

I am totally getting into 30 Rock at the moment. So funny.

20 March 2008

Uncle Bob and The Rock

It is no simple task to describe Uluru. It is truly unique.


It may have an unfathomable countenance in the predominately flat landscape, but like creation itself, its sheer existence is undeniable.

What sweet mystery you have given me...

I spent an action packed day at The Rock with the World Harmony Run team on Tuesday and Wednesday, March 18-19.

We were there as guests of Bob Randall, a traditional owner of Uluru and a highly respected local elder. He is a man with a big heart and he took us straight into his community.



Listen to his story in song, My Brown Skin Baby They Take Him Away. This is one of two songs he performed for the team. I challenge you not to cry.



In 2008, starting in April, the World Harmony Run will circumnavigate Australia. Our early visit to Uluru placed at us at the geographic centre of the continent where we also found the ancient spiritual heart of Australia. Over breakfast, Bob told his dreaming of the dawn of creation, when there was just a simple vibration that recognised it was alone, and sweetly called everything to it like a magnet.

He also performed Daddy, Where Did I Come From? in a voice so sweet.



That such sorrow and joy can co-exist in a person is the life of harmony.


Read the World Harmony Run Live From The Road report.

Check out Kanyini - the film.

Thanks Bob!

Faces of Jindabyne

I spent last weekend in Jindabyne for the Sri Chinmoy Multi-Sport Classic. I didn't get much of a chance to shoot the athletes, as I was distracted manning aid stations in the grueling heat, but I took a few photos of the nature.