Thursday, July 31, 2008

Kate Bush and Emily Bronte

By Tracy

July 30 marks 190 years since Emily Bronte's birthday, and coincidentally it's the birthday too of Kate Bush who wrote the pop song based on Bronte's Wuthering Heights. Kate's turning 50.

I stopped listening to Kate Bush in my twenties, but she was a huge influence on me in my teens. (As John Lydon/Johnny Rotten, of all people, said, she was a "true original"!)

Emily Bronte, though, has never gone away.

Left: Emily Bronte, from a portrait by her brother Branwell Bronte.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Refusal, restoration and reading

This is a posting from both of us. It's been a really difficult few weeks with illness in the house, but we're all emerging from that now.

John had to cancel a couple of visits east to deliver papers, though he was lucky enough to have friends on the other side of the country willing to act as his proxy.

One of John's papers, delivered by David Brooks at the "Trace" poetry conference at Monash University, was entitled "Half-masts", and was another in his series of activist poetics essays.

These essays might be gathered together under the rubric of a "poetics of refusal". Both of us have decided that it's essential to cut back on our plane travel, and John was in fact supposed to make this journey by Indian-Pacific (train). He still has the tickets and will use them when he has to be in Adelaide next month. It's still using the world's resources, but reducing the amount we fly is a small step. John in particular flies too much and feels the overwhelming need to lessen and eventually stop this.

Interestingly, he's just having an email conversation with someone who took part in the conference, about the notion of complicity and distancing one's "self" or "subjectivity" in discussing these matters. Anyway, he might examine this at length in a later blog entry.

We are attempting to change our way of life by eventually going "off-grid" and powering our house with a complete solar (we hope) electricity system, and of course lessening our reliance on electricity anyway.

A composting toilet... And greywater recycling. Both are also on the cards, when we can. The time has come for us to make the step as a family... We are also looking to "restore" some damaged bush area, but more of that later.

When we were each single without children, it was easier for both of us to live without being so "plugged-in". The real challenge is to be able to do it as a family.

Weeks of flu were a bit of a challenge for our usually busy family too, but at least we could use some of the "inactive" time to catch up on reading.

John couldn't read at all for the first couple of weeks, but lately he's been reading

With Love and Fury: Selected Letters of Judith Wright

Patricia Avis's Virago title, Playing the Harlot (was never published in her lifetime, and its total flatness & lack of organisation show this, though it does have some moments)

The brilliant & inspiring Stendhal's Souvenirs d'Egotisme

He has also gone back to reading Edith Södergran's Complete Poems.

Tracy's just finished Graham Kershaw's The Home Crowd, his first novel (already read his second, Dovetail Road). In fact the main character of the second novel appears fleetingly and tangentially in the first, making me (Tracy) wonder if the author planned him already as a character at that early stage (kind of the way Balzac has people reappearing across his Comédie humaine) or if it was a later idea... I liked The Home Crowd very much: it's strong on mood and contemplation, and (like Dovetail Road, though with a completely different setting) very evocative of place and the people that spring from place.

Also partway through Amélie Nothomb's Robert des noms propres -- she irritates and fascinates in almost equal measure. As is evidenced by the fact that I put it down a while ago and haven't gone back to it, though I know I will.

And Camus's La Peste. Another universe entirely.