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.


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?


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.


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

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.