29 July 2011

This article piqued my interest:

Census won't count Jedis or pastaferians

Particularly, the following:
"It was the 1901 or 1911 census that had the question, which went something like, 'How many imbeciles or idiots do you have in your house?"'


One. I live alone.

Who withdraws money from an ATM and forgets to take it? Remembers five minutes later when they go to pay for something and is surprised to have no money. And is now waiting ten working days to see if the machine ate the money back up or it was stolen.

Of course I recorded myself as a Jedi on the last census.

Only the force was not so strong in me today.

Except it is still so wonderful to be alive and I am going to see Paul Kelly perform with Paul Grabowski tonight.

Further Reading

Cheese - A Review

Do not buy this cheese. The makers of this cheese are portraying a rich sense of irony by adorning the package with the appellation, "Tasty." It is a yellow, cheesish appearing substance with no discernible taste whatsoever. In future, if I wish to save money, I will fast one day in seven or make my own toilet paper out of leaves. This cheese imparted no discernible flavour to my baked eggs. Is it a cruel and unusual fate for an egg to be baked? I can not answer that. It is simply impossible for one man to know everything.

Coming Soon

String Theory simplified

22 July 2011

I am the breath of the smile
That whispers open
Dreaming cotyledons.

Henry David Thoreau wrote:

I would keep some book of natural history always by me as a sort of elixer, the reading of which would restore the tone of my system. To him who contemplates a trait of natural beauty no harm nor dissapointment can come. The doctrines of despair, of spiritual or political tyranny or servitude, were never taught by such as shared the serenity of nature. The spruce, the hemlock and the pine, will not countenance despair.

20 July 2011

Part 1

To see a World in a grain of sand
And a Heaven in a wild flower
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour.

William Blake

From Auguries of Innocence

With these words, for me, the poet Blake launched a hundred, million, billion, trillion sailing ships. They are found at the commencement of the book where all the keepsakes and keys to my adulthood are stored. Teeth, hair, whatnot, trinkets that count for naught, except in the formation of an organic based life form. The cage, the shell, filling for the character that inhabits this space before your eyes now.

Challenging it is to avoid the mind which creates the idea of mind. How can this be unusual? It is not. Yet, all these dancing words are testament to a life beyond mind. Writing is a dying art, some commentators upon the Internet profess. So in my composition I refuse the imposition of the instant search magician: google. Instead, I first attempt to recall this quote I read many times inside my baby album. With mixed results:

To see infinity in a grain of sand
And behold a universe in an ocean,
To know eternity in an hour

What force and joy there is in the printed word. The decision to eschew the bounds of the Internet and instead stretch the binding of paper pages is a key to developing and progressing as a writer. Books. Surround yourself with them.

One day, a library, with a trolley, regular reference shelf and a classification system of my own invention. Second-hand is the way to go. My only clue to bargains is the curio-peddler in submarine-town. Mmmm. Pick the fresh ones, they are not so mouldy. I am planning an expedition to the National Library of Australia as I have not been there yet. Better pack sandwiches, to make a breadcrumb trail and find my way back out.

Wandering from book to book, day to day and pondering the profound has coalesced this tale. When I do write using only the Internet as my reference source, cross-checking is critical and government-sponsored sources are higher on my list of authorities. This is because I am all too acquainted with red-tape and how hard public services all over the world hold to convention.

Terrible stories abound of keyword-driven writing and certainly I will never write 500 words in an hour for five dollars. Am I to live in darkness and make candles from rendered-fat? A good piece of writing, in my own judgement; what I consider an article, say 350 words, will cost me three hours.

And poetry. Can a numbered tag ever be tied to a piece of poetry?


A dream-poet
Sows gold for others
And collects silver for himself.

A reality-poet
Sows lead for others
And collects diamonds for himself.

A God-poet
Sows fulfilment-smiles for others
And collects futility-cries for himself.

Sri Chinmoy

From the Dance of Life, Part 13
In other news, after downloading over five separate programs from different Canon websites all over the globe and multiple computer restarts, I can not scan negatives as I want to. It is a sign to sell my rangefinder.

In case you didn't know, the Mac Lion OS is coming, an automatic download has prepared my computer for migration. Woah. Backup. Backup. Let's see if it costs $30 from the Australian apple-vendors. It seems pretty low key in the media, although my reading of the papers barely extends beyond a quiz, let alone the technology section nowadays.

Perhaps the media is just to busy dusting lint off Mr Murdoch's shoulders with a feather duster. Don't get me started on Australian politics. At least the ABC explained Rupert's British media interests produced revenue of $1.6 billion US last year, a touch under five percent of $32.7 billion US overall. The presenter finished by saying that the impact on the empire was significant regardless. Yes, clearly people no longer watch television, so nobody sees Fox News around the clock.

The Daily Show With Jon StewartMon - Thurs 11p / 10c
The Parent Company Trap
Daily Show Full EpisodesPolitical Humor & Satire BlogThe Daily Show on Facebook

19 July 2011


Below you can see my favourite picture in the Dolphin History of Painting Volume 6: Far Eastern Art. This painting of Daruma, as the Japanese call Bodhidharma, was made by Soga Jasoku in the latter half of the fifteenth century. According to legend, once Daruma's eyes closed during meditation; in a fury, he ripped off his own eyelids. As he chose to ever see, Bodhidharma was an incredibly popular subject of Japanese Zen painting in the fifteenth century and afterwards.

On the subject of vision, here is a poem or saying from Bodhidharma:

A deluded mind is hell.

Without delusions,
the mind is the country of the Buddhas.

When the mind creates the idea of the mind,
people are deluded and in hell.

Those established on the path to Buddhahood
don’t use the mind to create the idea
of the mind and so are always
in the country of the Buddhas.

Courtesy Poetseers.

From my scant sources, I believe this painting was made at the Yotoku-in, a temple attached to the Daitoku-ji temple complex in Kyoto and is possibly still found in the temple.

Image via Wikipedia.

Chamecyparis obtusa or Japanese cypress is a robust wood with an even grain, making it highly valued in Japan. The use of hinoki, in Japanese, for constructing temples and other ceremonial buildings means that few old growth trees remain.

Further reading:

Biography of Bodhidharma at Poetseers

Bodhidharma at Wikipedia

Daitoku-ji Temple at Japan Guide

at Rinzai-Obaku Zen

Fuji Arts - Japanese prints for sale

16 July 2011

In this house of wonder,
Wondrous wonderful miracles
Play 'neath the yearn
Of a lonely blue.

A flock of darkling birds wheel,
Their ever-turning flight
Lost in thought of night.

Taut upon the rack of bitter pang,
I own the ever-waking ache
That turns the will
Of self discovery. 

14 July 2011

Foggy Highway

Everything is white, as only the breath of a virgin's nuptial finery, sweeping past at the close of her triumphant journey's march. All the vestment and holy gown of our Earthen Queen is dyed this colour rung from the soul of her children's hopes. Sweet potion of evanescent emotion, brew hearten full. Come, sun, song, ring, sing, King, sacred ray; leaven, bring, day. Unwind the ice wound stiff round leaves of grass and hang baubles on this same yearn of trees to craft perfect mirror orbs.  By a brilliant golden effulgence; blazing, gentle and insistent as a lover's caress, cease frozen plight, gift of night, unclasp the chill dress of winter's height. 

13 July 2011

The Lord God Bird

Today I listened to The Lord God Bird by Sufjan Stevens.

Hear the story of The Lord God Bird on NPR. You can also download the song at the second link. NPR has great stories. The Republicans wanted to cut funding to the station. Because they are Republicans. They probably succeeded. Can you imagine the ABC running beer ads?

The Ivory-billed woodpecker, believed extinct, was sighted again after 60 years in Brinkley, Arkansas. When somebody sees this bird, they tend to say, "O my Lord God", or, "Great God", due to its 75 centremetre wingspan. The story examines the economic and social impacts of the bird's reappearance on Brinkley. In the 2000 Census, close to a third of the city's population lived below the poverty line. A situation that Wall Street is unlikely to have improved since.

Duck hunting is a major source of income to the town, but since the sighting there has been a conservation imperative, along with an influx of twitchers. Observing birds, particularly in flight, speaks to the ancient freedom of our soul; does it not? America has created a wonderful solution in respect of the tension between the nature-lover-artist and the hunter.

When President Hoover authorised the acquisition and preservation of wetlands as waterfowl habitat in 1929 under the Migratory Bird Conservation Act, he did not provide ongoing funding for the purchase and care of any land. To solve this conundra, President Roosevelt signed the Migratory Bird Hunting And Conservation Stamp Act in 1934. Since then, artists have painted birds to feature on stamps which the hunter buys as permit to shoot birds. The money raised has created a National Wildlife Refuge System.

The paintings are pretty cool. I was a part-time philatelist way back. Except it is hard to imagine these stamps are found on any envelopes and they are not valid unless the hunter has signed the front, preventing them from changing hands. Below are some of my favourites and here is a link to the entire Federal Duck Stamp Gallery which generously provided the images.

Join the Duck Stamp Design Competition!


The word zany comes from Italian. Zanni was a character in the ‘Commedia dell'arte’. Zanni or Zani in French was a servant cum coyote trickster, kin to Wodehouse’s Jeeves. Zanni is Venetian dialect for Gianni or John. This name often rang in the countryside surrounding Venice where peasants raised servants for a wealthy Gondola-Class. La Commedia dell'arte form of theatre, with its stock of set characters, had its heyday during the Renaissance, but regionally, similar theatre sport existed during the Roman Empire and the Ancient Greek playwrights only ever had room for three actors per play.

History holds it has always been safer to mock the elite and render the foibles of the state from behind a mask. For that matter, primitive cultures have donned the mask as talisman, token of God; symbolising at once, union, while confirming separation. The actor/actors who played Zanni, or his altar-ego, Arlecchino (Harlequin), required deep insight into politics and human nature. Certainly, the popularity of La Commedia in Renaissance Europe can be attributed to the panoply of talents evident in the extemporaneous excellence of actors who were also singing, dancing acrobats. I say, get thee to a Peking Opera School, Jackie Chan.

Across the Channel, in a kingdom built upon the ruins of camps fortified by the ancestors of these actors, the birth of Shakespeare and Marlowe coincides with the period when companies such as Gelosi Company, Zan Ganassa Company and Confidenti Company began touring the rest of Europe, often performing for the aristocracy. These two English playwrights were both to turn ten in 1574, the first time such an Italian company is recorded as performing in England. It would then be another 22 years or so before crumpled, sweat and swill stained manuscripts of The Two Gentleman of Verona, The Bard’s first play, were stuffed into the breeches and boots of English actors. Pulcinella, another character of La Commedia, begat Punchinello, who sired Punch, who married Judy. Much later, Freddie Mercury would implore, “Scaramouche, Scaramouche, will you do the Fandango?”

O how I yearn for the jongleur’s life once more...

12 July 2011

Dial L for Leela

House Hunting

What I did on My Holidays

Every medium has its challenges. With ink, keeping it off the hands, especially when writing against the inclination of the hand, i.e. right to left for a right hander. Not to mention the floor.

These were my thoughts two days ago, but having discovered my new favourite method of calligraphy or script writing is a big brush, the problem is now sufficient surface to practice. I imagine that sand served well once, or water on stone, with wind and hand to refresh the surface. Papyrus. Wax tablets. Scrolls. Vellum. Palimpsest. Codices. What and where is the sum of all invention when the heart is absent? We live in such an epoch of technological abundance and plenitude, yet it fails to quench our thirst.

The challenges of writing in Hebrew trope, Arabic and Japanese are varied. Remember I am just trying to enjoy the forms and discover their grace; English calligraphy at best is precise and has the cacpacity to represent exactitude of thought, precision and embody clarity, being as it is such a versatile tongue.

The paleo-Hebrew alphabet is itself basic, like Phoenician, but letters are not words. Arabic letters take different forms depending on their position in a word. Hieroglyphics were a brief diversion I plan to return to. The evolution of Chinese script from pictographs to characters is tremendously fascinating. Correct stroke order is critical and there are many helpful videos and still more books available at the library if required. Devanangari is the script used to write Sanskrit.

In the absence of a Writing Room, if I can work out how to integrate a small drafting table into my residence, then good. When I started spending more time at home creating, I really felt the need for a tall long bench to work standing up at. Of course, the Americans have created a wondrous motorised device that can not fail to satisfy. It has been the practice of many to work standing and research shows that sitting all day is just about the worst thing for a body to do.

Still, in the absence of space and wealth and with the provision of sufficient materials - for who is so poor in this country that they could not procure at least paper and pen with minimal effort - the most important aid to creativity is keeping the place clean and tidy. Other than constantly discovering objects again through the imposition of order, it correspondingly serves to release constrictures upon the mind in some way and allows the space a greater chance to preach in symphony with the universal harmony.

For the first time in three years, at a modest estimation, my washing basket is about to be empty. This can only serve as incontrovertible proof that I own too many clothes. The quantity of shirts I possess exceeds 40, but is less than 50. Still, as excuse, I offer this does include a limited number of the less versatile short-sleeved variety. Other than preserving a few favourites and the lighter varieties which suffer staining easily in the neck, the rest will go to charity or, once ironed, a local flea market. You see, the demands of fashion have never served to moderate the size of my wardrobe, for I hold not to false idols. Still, in many instances I have succumbed to the allure of whimsy and a well-practiced profligacy has added to the burden of my clothes rack. Anyway, I will also ditch a whole bunch of stuff no doubt.

I have exported my blog in XML format, the file opens with DreamWeaver but can probably go straight into WordPress if the upgraded design and layout features in Blogger are not satisfying. Decisions, decisions. Having successfully renounced Facebook, I am not going to join Google+, even if xkcd is right.

A roll of Chinese rice paper (xuan zhi or chih) or Japanese shoji paper is required; perhaps best obtained in a larger city, if I can't wait to buy it cheaper on the net.

11 July 2011


Astute or possibly even regular readers of thousandeye will note an absence of poetry lately, for prose has been my main occupation. Perhaps stemming to some degree from my obsession with the Jack Grapes Method Writing instruction to avoid the presonal pronoun "I" when telling a story, the following poem appeared today. True, I only had the chance to flick through some third-hand course notes once for five minutes at a friend's place in New York, but this advice from Jack really stuck in my head and has shaped my writing a great deal. Somewhere in my papers is my own nascent lesson plan for teaching Creative Writing.

Whatever is done
In my name
Marches to the tune
Of the Cosmic Dance.
They call me Shiva,
He of endless names;
I dance in the Heart of the Maker,
To every song sung and ever to be sang.
The destroyer,
Reckoner of a thousand chants;
I am the praise of the infidel
And the bane of the righteous.
Taste the burning-tongue
that lashed Sodom and Gomorrah:
I decorate the battlefields of every General,
make babies cry and mothers weep.
I own the theme to every tragedy
That Shakespeare lumed
With his pen-knife-life
Far from absent wife.
Hymnals holding happy hymns
Herald my triumph;
I held the hand of Horace,
And penned the paeans of Homer.
Bards great and small everywhere
Warm my supper each night,
Some gentle by lonely fires
Amidst wandering sheep,
Others rigid stiff at lectern
In packed electric halls.
Every tale knows my touch.
When the citizens of empires erupt,
Conjoin in blazing outrage,
I stamp the floor,
Cheer and jeer the loudest.
When magma seethes
And the very earth
Steams and fumes,
I exult ‘neath rain of rocks.
I am the aroma of the ghee
Burning in lamps on ghats
By the Ganges,
Our Great Mother Ganga,
That pours from my locks
Over cold Tibetan rocks.
My voice is a light
Of regeneration
Unto the world.

Image Source

How to make proper toast

To make superlative toast you have to burn the edges and trim them off with a katana or any other sharp cutting instrument to hand. As long as the blade is Japanese-forged, it will suffice. You can let the edges of the toast brown only, so it is ready to eat fresh popped; it may be good, but it will not be passing excellent.


The link to Lateline above has a transcript of a great story, and a video link while it lasts, which I believe was filmed just before or after this year's earthquake in Japan.

In Book 5 of Musashi, Miyomoto meets the Soul Polisher, while below, he is plainly killing a nue . I know the image below is really big, but it looks awesome, like a tattoo. (Great story on traditional Japanese tattooing, but I draw the line at displaying the stretched skin of cadavers to appreciate the artistry that marked their bodies in life. It reminds me of a Roald Dahl story called Skin.)

Image via Wikipedia Commons.

10 July 2011

seashells, a series

See sea shells sparkle
Solar shine simply splendid
Sun spirit spirals

Above, a poem, we can say, a haiku, composed by Nicki for another seashore post to accompany the scan below.

Collected Tomakin's Beach, New South Wales, 3 July 2011

Golden Silk Orb Weaver

Here is a Golden Silk Orb Weaver shot by me at the mouth of Mossy Point, New South Wales. Note the golden tinge to the silk, the spider is not golden in colour. Of the genus Nephila - according to the fossil record, the oldest surviving genus of spiders, with a fossilized specimen known from 165 million years ago. The word Nephila derives from Ancient Greek, meaning, directly, lover of spinning.

Image, 3 July 2011

Itsy Bitsy Spider

One morning, I placed great measure against a spider’s web and found my mind up to the task. A single strand of spider silk needs to be over eighty kilometres long before it will break under its own weight. It can be streched close to one third before it will snap.

This picture taken in Jindera surrounds on 26 June 2011 is not a great photograph, but it would be impossible for the human eye to plan anything so elegant in symmetry or form. From my reading, I can not determine what type of spider made this, but it is probably not an orb weaver. Certainly this web does not appear spiral throughout, but they are often not. The web is definitely damaged and spiders often eat damaged webs depending on their predeliction, even overnight, but webs can last for months.

Consider the letter D, balancing on its belly. Well, the orb-weaver spins the horizontal stroke of our supine D between two branches, jumping or relying on the grace of the wind for it to reach its second anchor point. It crosses this line to dangle a slack line 'neath it, creating the belly of the D. Reaching the other side, it anchors it still loose and then travels downward to the midpoint of the belly of our acrobat D and from there drops to spin the third of three initial anchor points.

For support, probably many spiders spin a central spiral of some description at the core of their completed radial spokes; this is separate to the greater spiral. A lot of spiders, including the orb weaver, use dry and sticky silk. The latter as a means of entrapment. Once the radial spokes are complete and the supporting core spun, an orb weaver travels out from the centre, creating a dry spiral shape. Once satisfied, it travels in reverse, creating another spiral with sticky silk and eating the dry silk as it goes.

To preserve the triangular nature of the space between the radial strands at their end points and maybe keep the radial spokes roughly equidistant, thus maintaining overall vibratory harmonics in the structure, so important to hunting, large or small supporting lines are established between the ends of some radial spokes, but not two adjacent in general. Intervening radial spokes are joined to these supporting lines maintaining the parallel nature of the lines of the spiral between radial spokes travelling outward. An example of this cuts across the bottom left corner of the picture below.

Let us suppose it to be correct that the patterns able to be woven in such a fashion are endless. Two spiders given the same frame of wood and identical conditions are ever unlikely to produce the same web. Indeed, producing an ideally shaped set of branches for web production would perhaps produce a tree that looked like a web. Visions of Escher and a million uniform webs within webs within branches within branches. Knowing the principles of patterns in nature allows the discovery of harmony between shapes.

I would really need to watch the spider that spun the pictured web to learn more about it, for even supposing some generallities between the manner all spiders spin their webs, it is a difficult process to extrapolate in the abstract given the infinite variety of leaps possible. Direct observation is required. Would an infrared camera be required to film it? Or could I sit chill with a muted head torch keeping lonely vigil, for most spiders only hunt at night. An old aquarium might do for creating an indoor micro-clime, but I suppose catching insects to feed any pet subject would serve as a major distraction first, then a chore. A still camera set to take shots at intervals by some ingenious electronic device may capture the development-sequence of construction, if any flash would not interrupt the arachnid's labour.

I am seized by the brain of science and must soon brew potions to control my manias. Love-potions, a philtre of metre, rhyme for measured sport.

To draw or paint such a thing, surely knowledge of its construction is a necessity to know the necessary stroke order and their directions, for else it would fail to convince the eye and subtle brain of art. The principles of nature teach one to acommodate the random without interruption, seamlessly, perfectly. Any invented web could therefore be valid if its creation obeyed a fixed sequence while still allowing for all external influences. Mr Squiggle on a nature-trip, driving a kombi in search of extant Wollemi Pines in their endemic environs.

My initial conjecture that the pictured web was evidence of the result of repairs, because of the mirror Y or y shapes between the majority of radial spokes is uncertain. I imagine a long-term response to prevailing wind conditions can be seen, but wonder still about the genius of design evident.

Further, let the annals note I for the first time accommodated the thought of turning on the dishwasher, before concluding it was a monument to the death of the serving-class and the manual would be too confusing, as well as lost. It was W. Stubbs, who in 1867 explained, “The difference between chronicles and annals was that the former have a continuity of subject and style, whilst the latter contain the mere jottings down of unconnected events.”

Our word silk ultimately derives from Σῆρες, Greek for oriental people, probably the Chinese who supplied the strong, soft, lustrous fibre produced by the larvæ of certain bombycine moths which feed upon mulberry leaves that in its woven form decorates so many necks.

Illustration below from How Spiders Make Their Webs by Jill Bailey.

This picture is the source of my description of web-construction and as a comparison point how I derived some of the theories above. Ideally, a large wall would be the best surface to learn how to draw webs, but as I have so few walls, it would be an extravagance, unless it is covered with paper first.


A week ago, I spent two days on the South Coast of New South Wales, staying a few hundred metres from the beach on the escarpment overlooking Guerrilla Bay. It is located a few kilometres north of Broulee. The beach is very photogenic, an endlessly fascinating subject. The sand, the rocks, the shells, the water, the waves. The waves particularly bear extended watching due to the endless patterns they produce when meeting the shore.

Early on Sunday morning, imbued with the spirit of exploration, I descended a trackless cliff-face, confident it was possible to reach the bottom safely. Contemplating the descent, I told myself that a kid would definitely do it and I would be fine if I stuck on my ass. Before descending, I mused that I could compose poetry, take still photos and film the experience along the way if I had the requisite equipment attached to my head. My mission was made a little more challenging by carrying a tripod and camera bag on my back, both with single straps, but it had to be done. Also, don't cross the straps over your chest if you are carrying such items, they can easily conspire to strangle the neck.

As it was, I was able to stop at selected points to take both photos and video, before awareness of the precarity of my situation drove me on. My ability to compose poetry was neglected amidst the experience, although my voice to camera produced such gems as, "The road less travelled is oft the ordeal less encountered." The main thing is I am not too old for such capers and it was good to feel alive as only such an adventure can make one feel.

Certainly others had taken my approach to reaching the beach as evidenced by snapped branches on dead trees and scuff marks on living ones. From a technical point of view, I am sure it was an easy climb, given the abundance of split rock face and trees. You can not go too wrong with a living tree of a sizable size. As it has managed to find purchase to reach its state, it hath the virtue of a root system to support a greater weight. My youth was spent climbing using grasses and such to manoeuvre myself.

The genius loci blessed me and I arrived safely at the bottom with limbs sound and intact; having observed new varieties of Casuarina en route. The pressing need to enter the sea naked then surged forward within me. I managed to get up to my knees - tremendously soothing after straining the joints and then spent five minutes bathing the rest of me from that position; accompanied by much vigorous yelling as my parts encountered the cold, cold water.

A local fisherman wandered around the cliff face just as I emerged and began to dress. He denied the evidence of his sight - downcast eyes ignoring my slightly quivering pale form as I pulled on my clothes - to express surprise when I told him I had been swimming. The water was 14 degrees Celsius he confidently told me with the hint of a grin and I have no reason to doubt his words, for few they were and fishermen don't waste words.

Later in the day, upon seeing the cliff and hearing of my adventures, one of my companions emphatically informed me I was a bloody idiot. That is all the praise I need or desire. If or when I learn how to edit video footage I will share a short-film of my adventures.

Plant Morphology Basics

Although this chart is illustrative of the form of cotyledons i.e. the embryonic leaf in seed-bearing plants, one or more of which are the first leaves to appear from a germinating seed, most of the terms are also used to describe leave shapes in mature plants.

The word cotyledon originates with the Greek word for cup: kotulē.

From Germination of Australian Native Plant Seed, Editor P.J. Langkamp, published 1987.

06 July 2011

Indiana Jones and the Israelites

This is quite a long story from long ago
with many ends in many far flung lands.

Over span immeasurable to the mind of man,
many poets have praised the multifarious,
multinuminous, multiluminous God
in many, many tongues.

Every morning, as the day dawns
And the sun rises,
I copy the Torah in the Holy Land.

Exploring diactritics, I remembered singing with Strange Weather Gospel Choir: "Go down, Moses, 'way down in Egypt land. Tell ole Pharaoh, let my people go!" This was the cry of the Israelites for freedom, the enchained Hebrew slaves. It makes sense that paleo-Hebrew was influenced by hieroglyphics. Of course, I am not embarassed to admit that I wrote it backwards. Hebrew is written right to left horizontally. Hey, I just really like the pictures, but I am learning.

Sunrise at Guerilla Bay, NSW

How gentle breaks the day o'er the ocean way,

Sunday, 3 July 2011 7:17 AM

No 2 gentle Japanese

The Arabic Alphabet is written from right to left, otherwise it looks funny. Traditionally, Japanese writing copies the Chinese form and is written in columns, from top to bottom, arranged right to left, but I am guessing google translate provides yokogaki, the modern horizontal left to right text English readers are familiar with.

No 5,6 and 7 gentle Arabic

The best source of An Introduction to Arabic Writing shows at 2.2. the four developing layers of the Arabic script. (Image reproduced below.)

My attempt at decorative letterforms follows. The original was in black and white. With a gradient map, there is definitely room for moons, flowers and a hanging garden in Babylon. Sad how history this era literally ere just writ today in the epoch of the Oil Age and I will prate not on politics lest I ruin a good day. Before I was loathe to draw on the black and white with other colours, for fear of ruining it, but now I can undertake further expirements.

Bizarre experience: I pressed a Japanese symbol on Google Translate and it gave me the chance to submit an alternate translation for a piece of text from a Japanese Bonsai website.

Originally reading, 'This site is a bonsai, mini bonsai is a site designed to help people to give you all the love bonsai and bonsai to spread more bonsai, etc. Pieces'.

I suggested: 'Here you will find the bonsai within the bonsai so to speak. The raison d'etre of this site is to help others discover the loving nurturing of their inner nature-heart, may all hearts well-tended grow and everyone know care like a well-loved bonsai. Peace'.

If this is a test, I wonder if I will pass. Will a computer or a person look at this? Does it confuse the hell out of them by providing French? That was fun. Writing this post, I decided that if I awoke in the year 3000, like Futurama, my fate assignment officer would tell me I have a future inventing alien languages for future Futurama shows.

Get back to the future already, Michael J. Fox.

By the time I was being asked to suggest a better translation for, 'That was supposed to taste like a bonsai speaking elderly, and recently has become a quiet boom among young people and overseas.' I gave up. Still, by the miracle of google, I have already received a tailored advertisement for a five week creative writing course in Sydney that would allow me to get published soon. Part of me feels I am too busy digging the oil well in my own backyard because I know it is really hard to get published, either on paper or electronically, but I will look into it.

04 July 2011

Sand near Mossy Point


3 July 2011

The things you see

This cute little Austin was motoring through the roundabout where Gould St meets Eloura St in Braddon when smoke from the engine suddenly surrounded the driver. Without hesitation, he pulled smoothly on to the curb to tinker under the hood. It looked like a lawnmower engine to my untrained eye.

The Austin certainly looks like a toy car and is probably the right width to motor unimpeded along many footpaths. The driver wore an appropriate woolen jumper and Donegal cap, partly obscured by my hasty shots. He was fittingly accompanied by a placid Border Collie.

She sells seashells by the seashore

Coming soon, the tale, in words and pictures, of my time at Guerilla Bay.

Here is a teaser picture.

This rather delightful composition is the result of tripping while carrying a container of shells in water out onto the balcony. The lighting is a freak combination of flash photography and the polished stainless steel on the table. I swear the shells fair leapt out of my hand for fresh air. It must have been low tide back at home.

(Okay, so I arranged four shells, three that fell on the ground and a favourite that was hidden under others.)

For the love of words and really big books

The first recorded usage of the word love in the Oxford English Dictionary is, "Posuerunt aduersum me mala pro bonis, et odium pro dilectione mea : settun wið me yfel fore godum & laeððu fore lufan minre." My approximate and probably misguided translation is, "Bear every and all adversity for my sake (the good), make well like a true altruist and all your suffering will become sweet in me, I will make your hatred into wine (delectable) : stay with love and love for the sake of all." The original text appears in The Vespasian Psalter, published in 950. It must have been an interesting book, for this portion is a combination of Latin and proto-German.

Recently, via the blessings and vagaries of the great god shuffle, I heard a selection from the talking book of Boswell's Life of Johnson and I most assuredly assure you gentlemen: Mr Samuel Johnson, author of the two volume Dictionary published in 1755 of 2,300 pages length, was a rambunctious, morose curmudgeon who prattled ceaselessly of his own superiority, quite often in taverns.

As Johnson himself quotes to illustrate the meaning of faculty:

"I'm traduc'd by tongues which neither know
My faculty nor person, yet will be
The chronicles of my doing."

(Shakespeare's Henry VIII)

Dr Johnson was a remarkable collector of illustrative quotations in his dictionary, being the first to employ quotes to demonstrate and paint the meaning of a word. It was a bold attempt to define the world, replete with all the supernalities, vicissitudes and vagaries of existence. He was even attempting to refine the world, for he was a firm beleiver that the apex of a culture is represented in its writings.

Allen Reddick, who has exhaustively studied Johnson's techniques, describes him as employing, "a rag-tag group of pre-dominantly Scottish ne'er-do-wells," to serve as scribes. This situation could be supposed to have engendered the infamously insulting definition of oats: "A grain, which in England is generally given to horses, but in Scotland supports the people." The work of the scribes must certainly have become sheer drudgery over the course of eight years, but James Boswell, his most ardent and faithful biographer was Scottish. They even visited Scotland together, so charges of anti-Scottism do not really stick.

While undoubtedly a lexical überwerk, the definitions in the Dictionary still reflect the mores of eighteenth century London. Thus, a vaudevil is, "A song common among the vulgar, and sung about the streets." I have neglected to include the diacritic Johnson employed over the letter a in vaudevil, for it is an acute accent, i.e. the reverse of the mark above the followng à, which is a grave accent. I do not know if Modern French employs acute accents on the letter a. Johnson only tells us that vaudevil comes from the French vaudeville. He is sparse on etymology and the variant spelling of vaudevil does not survive to this day in the Oxford English Dictionary (OED).

To assist with the definition of world, the following quotes have been selected by Johnson:

5. A secular life.

"Happy is she that from the world retires,
And carries with her what the world admires.
Thrice happy she, whose young thoughts fixt above,
While she is lovely, does to heav'n make love;
I need not urge your promise, ere you find
An entrance here, to leave the world behind?"


9. Mankind; an hyperbolic expression for many.

"This hath bred high terms of separation between such and the rest of the world, whereby the one sort are named the brethren, the godly; the other worldlings, time-servers, pleasers of men more than God."

Hooker (Read about him, a preaching and sermonising sort. OUP is getting into e-publishing: I would be surprised if anyone pays $50 for an electronic version of this? After pondering the concept of monetising my blog, it seems I will adopt the opposite course and anti-monetise.)

I am very comfortable using the OED as a source of quotes, history and information. Other than accessing the online version via the auspice of the ACT Library (awesome), I actually own a copy. Still, promote the state, it is disgraceful that the English Government does not further fund such august academic institutions as Oxford dictionary-makers, until the entire Sceptred Isle is overrun by tweed-wearing-professors, like an episode of The Goodies. With giant pussy-cats, gumboots and Tim's Union Jack underwear.

Searching online for words in the OED is an absolute breeze, recall with ease, that Mr Gavin Douglas, translating the Æneid of Virgil in 1513, first minted the word sceptred. Wrote Gavin, "Thys ancyent kyng dyd set hym dovn amyd The cepturyt men, as first and principall." But using the actual book is an adventure, because it requires a magnifying glass. The use of a magnifying glass is a rule of discovery in this glorious and wondrous scientific age we find ourselves in.

Shakespeare spoke through the mouth of John of Gaunt in Richard II (first printed in 1597) to say:

This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
This other Eden, demi-paradise,
This fortress built by Nature for herself
Against infection and the hand of war,
This happy breed of men, this little world,
This precious stone set in the silver sea,
Which serves it in the office of a wall
Or as a moat defensive to a house,
Against the envy of less happier lands,--
This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England.

Act 2, Scene 1, Line 40

Years ago, I was staggered when my copy of The Compact Oxford English Dictionary arrived in a box, in a sack. Especially so given it weighs over five kilogrammes and contains the entire twenty-volume Oxford English Dictionary, Second Edition. On 2424 pages. Nine pages of the original to a page through the marvel of photoreduction.

There are many affordable and portable antholgies available which contain selections from Johnson's Dictionary, including one from Penguin Classics, but my favourite is edited by Jack Lynch and is out of print. Not the same Jack Lynch who was Taoiseach of Ireland mind - now there is an interesting word to be sure.


Bungendore, 2 July 2011

02 July 2011

Rainbow Girl's Birthday

Washing sea urchins in a bowl, their every miniature movement, sounding like the waves, recalling the ocean, where we sat, brave; you the butterfly-lipped golden princess and I the knave.

There were rainbows scattered throughout the day like love's golden arrows.

Pine tree, Braidwood

On The Road
Down the hill
To Bateman's Bay
Roadworks delay

Beneath four pines
In the wind sway