Sunday, 30 November 2008

Wonder if the Poet noticed? Wednesday 26 November 2008

Wonder if the Poet noticed a change on the group? I think I’m bonding, cynicism sloping away. Some of my old friends came for tea and I was telling them about the classes. They said things like, ‘are you going to be writing the next best-seller thriller?’ (hardly) and ‘what’s the difference between creative writing and writing’ (oh, I don’t know - creative, I suppose). And then someone asked if there were any constraints on what we wrote; I think they meant are we allowed to write filth. I tried to explain that it’d never come up (oh, ha ha ha ha) and there was a lot of merriment about how they’d liven us all up if they joined our group. I was absurdly defensive and blustered about how we didn’t need ‘livening up’ with their stories of infidelities or rum, bum and concertina or whatever, what we are writing is plenty interesting without their pathetic sleaze. And anyway, we’ve got sleaze if we want. I was preposterous. But I realised that I really do like what we’re writing.

I’ve finished Skating to Antarctica by Jenny Diski. She describes something she terms her daughter Chloe’s cheesecake moment. It was a mildly upsetting occurrence when Chloe was tiny and now she doesn't remember the moment or the constant retelling of the moment but she remembers the remembering. Well. Like Australian greenstone leilira blades; a lot of effort and ritual goes into the creation and distribution of the tools, but when they are delivered to their destinations they aren’t used or cherished or curated. Robert Paton (1994) in World Archaeology 26:2 reckons that the blades aren’t utilitarian items but are the vehicle of information transmission. At each ritualised stage of their production and circulation the Aboriginals involved get stories straight. Like granddads and uncles do at weddings and funerals, “remember Yambo Dwyer? And that bloody budgie? It was 1962, weren’t his mam mad!” “ It weren’t 1962, our Eckie was still alive and we buried her in June ’61, just after Arnie finished at Jacobs - and it were a parakeet”. “1961 then, but it was certainly a budgie, Type 1 yellowface, I know that much” and so on until there’s a consensus of sorts. The accord is salted away as the remembering until the next get-together; even making a remembering for accomplices who weren’t around in 1961.

I so admire Jenny Diski, she had the line, “I wished I hadn’t dicked around during physics and deprived myself of answers to most of the questions”, and didn’t use it until page 221. Would that I could exercise such restraint.; I’d have used dicked around every other page; I will now.

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