Goodbye Cool World

That’s my motto:

“What I write about is other than me. As what I write is smarter than I am. Because I can rewrite it. My books know what I once knew, fitfully, intermittently.” —Susan Sontag

“When someone between twenty and forty says, apropos of a work of art, ‘I know what I like,’ he is really saying ‘I have no taste of my own but accept the taste of my cultural milieu,’ because, between twenty and forty, the surest sign that a man has a genuine taste of his own is that he is uncertain of it.” —WH Auden

“(those who fail to re-read are obliged to read the same story everywhere)” —Roland Barthes

The already said:

“This website is an attempt to push myself into writing”

“Once upon a time I said that my ‘Pah’ isn’t dismissive—it’s more like a fifth Teletubbie—but surely all aesthetics—and ethics—start with a dismissive ‘Pah’? Nevermind; there is no normal service to be resumed; I just keeping falling off that wagon and climbing back on that horse.”

“Along with the impulse to put yourself out here, there is always the impulse to walk away. When asked about common blogger traits I forgot this one: the blank single page replacing a cornucopia, the words that never again move, the copyright notice for 1999. Sometimes the urge is strong, to go the West, the sea, beyond the Rim.”

This weblog is ten years old today. This is the last post.

This blog, this strange wordbeast, pah2. Started when this blogging malarkey was still new. Featured in the first major article on weblogs in an Australian newspaper. Here before September 11. Amongst the old ones now.

Politics, art, life. My head. From X-Men to The Third Age, from the Sydney Olympics to Kevin ’07, from longing for Carlton to two kids and a mortgage. So much said and unsaid. Resaid and reread. A record, an archive, more important to me as a reader than a writer. The silences speak to me too.

Questions. Why stop here? Why not leave the door open? I have answers.

1. Society. This blog has never been part of any blogosphere. It has always been eclectic and esoteric, wayward and whimsical. It has never become entangled in a web of relationships that might have made it so much more. It has never followed Bernstein’s Tip #5. If I have a personal blog in the future, it will endeavour to be part of a discourse.

2. Audience. This blog has never been anonymous, but in the early days it was intimate. With its journalistic outing, it became less so. And blogs have been becoming more popular and thus more public every day since they were named. I have public commitments that conflict with the stubbornness of my soul. There are things I find I can’t talk about here. Call this the Anti-Zuckerberg Principle. If I have a personal blog in the future, it will be pseudonymous and fictionalised.

3. Voice. This blog has never developed what it has to say. It is too glib, too inward, too tortured. It uses too few words. It has been said I have a poet’s way with words, but I am not Eliot, and my posts cannot bear the weight of meaning I place upon them. If I have a personal blog in the future, it will attempt to be more substantial.

4. Pah. This blog has never escaped its name. Once I thought it was cute and harmless, but now I see it is a Freudian slip. It is a symbol of cynicism, disinterest, negativity. I love so much, yet it is what I hate that others expect to hear from me. If I have a personal blog in the future, it will have to start with love.

* * *

Here is a final thought, for the blog rather than about it.

Have you ever noticed that drink tastes different when drunk from a bottle than when drunk from a cup?

[Hmm, no, let this not be my last topic. How about the following, instead?]

This morning on the tram I saw an ad for a play that sounded interesting. Then I saw the writer and director of the play, and I decided that I didn’t want to see it.

The playwright’s name was Christopher, the director’s name was Matt. I don’t know them. They are men. I am so tired of men. I bet they are white men. I am so, so tired! I do not need to hear the voices of more men.

I have a dream. I want to be successful one day in the field of art. Would I want my own prejudice turned against me when I compete for attention? I would. I do. I want to be discriminated against. I don’t deserve to be heard more than a woman.

I’m sick of animals being “he”, sick of Australians being white, sick of toilets being male or female. I want to be decentered. I want an end to being a man, being heterosexual, being white, being so much more. I want to be something that matters.

(What was I thinking before I saw the ad? Something else, something else. See how the mere presence of ads structures your thought?)

Tonight I’m going out to MasterChef judge George Calombaris’s restaurant Hellenic Republic.

* * *

Now unsubscribe while I plan my final archiving strategies.

Thank you for taking part in,,

This is not goodbye, but au revoir. I have been blogging for eleven years. I will continue blogging elsewhere (on Wednesday I’ll be starting a blog for a uni subject).

Ne pas éditer cette page.

Scott! Pilgrim!

Thursday: reread Scott Pilgrim’s Precious Little Life. Contemplate the will to experience adaptations. Friday: reread Scott Pilgrim vs the World. Look at tour and photos of Toronto. Monday: reread Scott Pilgrim and the Infinite Sadness. Realise this is wrong. Buy tickets to see movie on August 8. Tuesday: reread Scott Pilgrim Gets It Together. Understand that the change in spines reflects a change in content. Wednesday: reread Scott Pilgrim vs the Universe. Think about representations of hegemonic strength and subaltern weakness. Today: buy Scott Pilgrim’s Finest Hour FTW.

Because Scott Pilgrim is Spaced. The specificities are different: the characters are younger and Canadian. And as a comic it succeeds in the very moment that the television show failed: Series 2, Episode 1, Back, the one with the Matrix pastiche. But these are people I know, things I’ve done, cultural reference points and a sensibility that we share. For the director of Spaced to be adapting Scott Pilgrim seems too perfect to be true. You must read these books…

The Editor’s Work/Life Balance

(quotes from Jenny Lee)

You are constantly learning new things

One of the pleasures of editing is that you are constantly learning new things. Over time, editors tend to acquire a broad general knowledge, a deep humility about what they don’t know, and an abiding scepticism of authors’ claims to authoritativeness.

It’s also important to keep reading good books

While editors land up doing a lot of highly directed reading in the course of their work, it’s also important to keep reading good books. This can be difficult, especially if you’re reading manuscripts, which tend to take up your usual book-reading time. Maxwell Perkins, the doyen of American literary editors, once complained, ‘A man becomes an editor because he loves books, and then finds that he cannot possibly get time to read the books of any other publisher than the one he works for.’ Many editors would sympathise, but it can be a mistake to narrow your sights in this way. Apart from anything else, it’s refreshing to read well-written works, and it helps to remind you of what writing can be—something that you can easily forget when you’re ploughing through other people’s wobbly sentences.

Pay Less For Books

Australians, it is said, pay too much for books, though no one can say why. It is true that you can often go to Amazon and pay ten dollars less (after including shipping!) than you would pay at Borders or Readings. But is Amazon always the best place to shop?

Dan Milne wondered:

Whenever I buy books, I wonder if I’m getting the best deal—I’ve never been bothered to find a good Australian book site with good prices—it’s just so much work logging into every site and comparing them all. Then figuring out the shipping, then wondering if I should just get in the car and drive to the shops.

Then he stopped wondering and built Booko.

Booko compares prices amongst an ever-growing list of booksellers. Currently it interrogates forty booksellers, including big online stores (Amazon, Better World Books, Book Depository), Australian online stores (Booktopia, Fishpond), chain stores (ABC, Angus & Robertson, Big W, Borders, Dymocks), and independents (Abbey’s, Glee Books, Readings). It accesses data from all these booksellers, checks if the book is available from them, finds the price and cost of shipping, does any necessary currency conversions, and presents it in tabular form: Where, Price, Delivery, Total.

I did some looking. In Australia, a lot of books cost $30 in-store. On Amazon they might cost $20 shipped. Via Booko I found places that would sell them to me for a total of $10! At that price, it stops being a question of whether or not I’m going to buy it—more a question of how I’m going to store it and when I’m going to read it.

Last year I read The Atrocity Exhibition in the State Library at lunch times, because it just wasn’t available anywhere else, and it cost an arm and a leg from Amazon. I checked on Booko. Readings could order it in for $26: not bad. Amazon UK had it for $24: much better than the US, and I hadn’t thought to look there. Book Depository had it for $10: reader, I ordered it (and it arrived much quicker than it would have from Amazon).

(In fact, the Book Depository is often the best for fiction, but don’t stop using Booko. First, prices vary between Book Depository’s US and UK sites. Second, other booksellers are sometimes cheaper, especially for non-fiction. Third, there may be times when the local price may be close enough and the book is in stock right now.)

The Productivity Commission research report on Restrictions on the Parallel Importation of Books cites Amazon 29 times. It doesn’t mention Booko even once. Shows what they know.

If you’re an Australian who wants cheaper books, the solution is already at hand.

A Message

A message from the representative of Hawthorn to the people of Australia.

Follow the above link, read all of what you find there, then repeat after me:

Progress is not inevitable. It requires commitment. There are setbacks and regression. I am optimistic that in our representatives we will seek declarations and deeds that elevate hope above fear, tolerance above prejudice and that we may be proud of our laws. We each bear a responsibility to help build a fair, decent and civil society for quickly coming generations.

Find out where your candidates stand. Send a message to the representative of Werribee.

(Are you enrolled? It’s the law.)

Breastfeeding a Human

I’ve enjoyed Patricia Piccinini’s work since I saw Still Life with Stem Cells at Monash University in 2002. There is a poster from last year’s Unforced Intimacies exhibition in Abigail’s room. Now here is another reason to admire Piccinini:

A $250,000 sculpture of a life-sized ape-human hybrid breastfeeding an infant has been unveiled by the Art Gallery of South Australia.

Artist Patricia Piccinini said difficulties feeding her first-born child inspired the controversial work.

The Sierra Leone-born, Melbourne-based artist decided to give up in her failed attempts to breastfeed when her sister suggested she practise with her own six-month-old son.

“I thought, ‘I can’t do that. I’m not just an animal, and I am not a lactating animal for some other baby,’” she said. “But then this six-month-old taught me how to breastfeed, and how to breastfeed my own child.”

whisky notes

This post just to capture some whisky notes:

Old Pulteney (Highland) 12 year old
Laphroaig (Islay) Triple Wood
A milder expression: less peaty, more buttery.

I tasted the Old Pulteney in 29 May 2009, which shows (a) how slack I have been with blogging, and (b) how little new whisky I have pursued in the last year.

The Triple Wood has a nice story behind its production and a taxing story behind my importation, but it hasn’t excited me as much as I had hoped. This, of course, only in relation to the excellent Laphroaig baseline.

Sins of Blogging

Look it up.

I’ve always thought the biggest sin was to not follow up. It pains me that there are so many questions left unanswered, so many posts left unwritten, so many errors left uncorrected, so many activities left undone. It pains me that I’ll never say everything that I want to say, or even know everything that I want to say. It pains me that even when I’ve followed up, I haven’t provided a way of accessing the secondary post from the primary.

Ten years of sin.

I’ve done the best I can.

Abandoned blog is finding out, how our written existence on the internet ends: error 404.

A little over a month until July 26.


Ryan Murphy:

It’s just a room, Finn! We can redecorate if you want to!
Okay, good. Well then the first thing that needs to go is that faggy lamp. And then we need to get rid of this faggy couch cover…
(coming downstairs) Hey! What did you just call him?
Oh, no, no, I didn’t call him anything. I was just talking to the blanket.
If you use that word, you’re talking about him.
Relax, Dad. I didn’t take it that way.
Yeah, that’s because you’re sixteen and you still assume the best in people. You live a few years, you start seeing the hate in people’s hearts. Even the best people. (to Finn) You use the “N” word?
Of course not.
How about “retard”? You call that nice girl in Cheerios with Kurt, you call her a retard?
Becky—no. She’s my friend, she’s got Down syndrome. I’d never call her that. That’s cruel.
But you think it’s okay to come into my house and say “faggy”?
That’s not what I meant.
I know what you meant! What, you think I didn’t use that word when I was your age? You know, some kid gets clocked in practice, we’d tell him to stop being such a fag—shake it off. We meant it exactly the way you meant it. That being gay is wrong. That it’s some kind of punishable offence. I really thought you were different, Finn. You know, I thought that being in Glee Club and being raised by your mum meant that you were some, you know, new generation of dude who saw things differently. Who just kind of, you know, came into the world knowing what has taken me years of struggling to figure out. I guess I was wrong. I’m sorry Finn, but you can’t—you can’t stay here.

Oh, pop culture, sometimes I love you.

I always thought I was born into the new generation. I guess because I was raised on Sesame Street. (I say zee for zed too.) When I turned fifteen I realised that knowing wasn’t so easy, and I’ve been struggling with it ever since then.