Sunday, April 29, 2012

Norwegian would

If I were King of Norway, I would put a blanket ban on any reporting of the trial. I would give him name suppression and expunge any detail of the man that would lead to his identification. Of course, you can't do that, I know.
No, because you are not King of Norway; but, even if you were King of Norway you would not be able to do that, because Norway is a constitutional monarchy and has the rule of law.

Clearly, Kerre Woodham  did not wile away the long hours of the train journey from Wellington to Hamilton  with a good book.

Meanwhile in Otago, the punishment for offering a bribe is a verbal reprimand.

If I were a columnist, I would make some sort of tenuous connexion between the one and the other, just like the columnists always do. But I can't be arsed.

Here, as some sort of compensation is a brilliant review by the estimable John Gray, one of the most interesting men I have ever met.

Here are the Jefferson Airplane on a roof:


Sunday, April 22, 2012

Art and its objects

I don't think I entered an art gallery until I went to Europe as a backpacker, by which time I had enough education to understand some of the historical and cultural context of what I was seeing.
Yet you did not gain enough education to realise when you have sabotaged your own argument. You did not visit an art gallery until you were an adult, yet you want parents to stop taking their children to art galleries. Or, to put it another way, you missed out on a huge part of childhood education and experience, and so should today's children. Surely, if art galleries are a good thing, then children should experience them.

The problem with you argument is that art is not just historical and cultural context. That sort of thing can be found on the labels, in the books and in the Art History departments. The real thing about art is the experience of it. To make an analogy, one can know about architecture - one could read Pevsner's An Outline of European Architecture and similar books thoroughly, taking notes and committing images to memory. But that is not the same as experiencing the buildings. Art needs to be experienced - reproductions and explanations in books are not the same as the experiences of the objects.

The funny thing about your argument - apart from the assertion that a backpacker's helter-skelter experience of art galleries is superior to a childhood of growing up with art - is that you make it in writing. Now, presumably you did not learn to read on your OE. Presumably, you were by then a capable reader. Probably, you were taught to read by direct experience of writing (unless you learned by synthetic phonics, in which case I pity you and suggest you read Michael Rosen on the subject; better still, watch this short film he has made - it won't take long). My point is that the only way to become a writer is to be a reader. The same is true of art. Unless children see art they will never understand it or do it.

Children deserve early experiences of art. Besides, if they don't grow up with art they might grow up feeling intimidated by art galleries or thinking they are places one only visits on backpacking holidays. They might also grow up with historicist views of art - that it was done in the past, rather than something that is actual, something that continues to happen, something they can do.

Keeping children away from art until they are old enough to know the context also risks them thinking of art as no more than illustration - that, say, the value of a paining by Hogarth is in showing what life was like in the 18th century and not much else. They might also grow up to judge art works by the supposed quality of depiction - that a Hogarth is necessarily better than a Hodgkin because you can see what is going on. Worse still, they might think that non-representational art is not art, that a child could do it. They might also think that representational art is is realistic, that depictions are how things really are. This can lead to an awful lot of trouble.

Besides, what harm does it do? Some children are allowed to run wild by their ghastly middle-class parents who have just bumped into their ghastly middle-class friends and simply must tell all about how wonderfully those children are doing at their marvellous schools, while ignoring them. But the problem there, as always, is the parents. Rather than excluding the neglected offspring, it might be better to remove the parents to some place where they can natter inanely but harmlessly, such as the ubiquitous coffee shop or the inevitable atrium. The innocents could then be guided through the galleries by empathetic staff, who would show them everything their parents are missing because of their futile self-obsession and ambition. The children then might have the opportunity to grow up bohemian, breaking the cycle of middle-class ghastliness and raising the aesthetic standards of our declining civilisation.

Surely, this can only be a good thing.


Thursday, April 19, 2012

But not in the south

The people in the south are warmly hailing with national pride and honor the "appearance of extraordinary young leader" as the "rebirth of President Kim Il Sung", the father of the nation and great sage. Even at this hour an unprecedented jubilee which started in this land and is spreading to various parts of the world is turning into mankind's events replete with "worship for Kim Jong Un" and "trust in Kim Jong Un". It is only traitor Lee Myung Bak and his group that are committing such extreme provocations as chilling the festive atmosphere of fellow countrymen and daring hurt the dignity of the supreme leadership of the DPRK.
If I had to live in a totalitarian state, I would try to get a job writing propaganda like this, from the KOREAN CENTRAL NEWS AGENCY of DPRK.

 Meanwhile, in Maidstone, there be chemtrails:
The spraying begins early and by late morning the sky has been completely Geoengineered. By 11:00 the sun had been blocked.
Astonishing to think that there really are people who are so totally hatstand. Music by Portishead.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

The sixties, dans six minutes

Certains chers lecteurs say I never bring them anything. I say, I trawl le Youtube looking for des choses int√©ressantes. Voila! I bring you the great lost British psychedelic band, Kaleidoscope, in their only television performance.

I bring you frills. I bring you girls. I bring you none other than  the ever- smoking Serge Forward:

You will thank me one day. In the meantime, read all about it here. And ponder this: Kaleidoscope's only album, released in 1967,  was titled Tangerine Dream; in that same year, a certain German band was formed.

The coldest winter I ever spent

The crew was practicing yoga inside the farm's main house one day when someone spotted a herd of deer in the neighboring field. They grabbed a rifle and camera and ran outside, Dickson said. Actor Paul Manza, a 34-year-old Brooklyn yoga instructor who plays "Paul" the yoga instructor in the film and had no prior acting or hunting experience, pulled the trigger. It was unclear who owned the rifle or whether it was registered.
This is like, so real. The naive Brooklyn hipsters making the naive Brooklyn hipster movie about naive Brooklyn hipsters learning to survive in the wild after an apocalyptic event learn that they cannot just do whatever they fucken want.

"It was actually pretty horrible," said Manza. "I was forced to see what life was really made of, the weight and the value of things."

Can we just reference the final Seinfeld episode here? No? An album by Swans you've never heard? Ok, let's do that.


Saturday, April 14, 2012

I love it when you talk PoMo

"Human sexuality takes many forms. Most people who are furries have a legitimate anthropomorphic fetish," Bunny says. "The whole thing for me about being a furry is the dichotomy of intimacy and disconnect."
Furries, still unable to understand why everybody else thinks them creepy and weird.

Hatfield and the North, straight outta Canterbury:

Friday, April 13, 2012

Of note is the Japanese edition

If On a Winter's Night... is a studio album from British musician Sting.[6] It was released on 27 October 2009 in the United States[7] and 2 November 2009 in the United Kingdom.[citation needed] The album was released in several formats: vinyl LP, a single-disc CD, a limited edition CD & making-of DVD entitled "The Genesis of 'If On a Winter's Night...' in six chapters" in Hardback Book packaging, an exclusive version, as well as various import editions (of note is the Japanese edition). The limited edition and Amazon exclusive both include bonus songs; the Japanese edition include them as well but adds "The Coventry Carol." 
Mirror mirror on the wall, who is the wankiest of them all: Sting or the people who write about him on Wikipedia? Answers on a postcard to the usual address.

 On the other hand, Calvino's novel, If on a winter's night a traveller, is absolutely marvellous and very funny.

The League of Gentlemen, with Robert Fripp on guitar and cool:

Sunday, April 08, 2012

The revolution will be slightly rubbish

· If you clean the bathroom of someone that considers themselves elite or is an elite sympathiser, like a right wing professor, can you never put loo paper in their bathroom?
· If you work in a restaurant where elitists eat, can you serve the food once it is cold or cook the wrong food?
· If you are a builder repairing the house of an elitist can you also bug it and share the footage and audio online?
· If you are a pest controller and you are called to the office or home of an elitist or elitist sympathiser can you fail at destroying the pest and possibly introduce new pests?
This is what you get if you plough through to the bitter end of Elitism Leads to Tyranny, the manifesto of Trenton Oldfield, the man who swam into the Boat Race. As can be seen from his serving suggestions, the elite will be vanquished not with a bang but a whimper. The rest of his manifesto, like all calls to arms written by lone whippets begging for attention, is unreadable:
The boat race itself, with its pseudo competition, assembled around similar principles of fastest, strongest, selected ...etc, is an inconsequential backdrop for these elite educational institutions to demonstrate themselves, reboot their shared culture together in the public realm. It is also inconsequential to the performance that the overwhelming majority of the population continue to remain interested in their own lives and disinterested in the boat race. The boat race, while accessible to everyone, isn’t really advertised or promoted as something for the general public to attend, you know when it’s on because it is part of the social networking calendar. This is a public event, for and by the elites with broader social relations aims. The fact that it happens in the public realm (visible) almost exactly as it has done for the last 158 years also becomes important; the untouched; the unchanged is significant. Most standing alongside the Thames today are in fact the pumped-up though obedient administrators, managers, promoters, politicians and enforcers; functional, strategic and aspirational elites. The transnational-corpo-aristocratic ruling class (invisible) haven’t turned up today and would never consider doing so, despite the best endeavours of Bollinger, Xchange and Hammersmith and Fulham’s mayor.
Clearly this man has done Studies of some kind. According to the Guardian:
Privately educated with an MSc in contemporary urbanism from the London School of Economics, Trenton Oldfield makes an unlikely agitator against elite society.
That explains where he got his verbosity, pomposity and inability to write. But it also leaves one wondering whether the Guardian should get out more often. Privately educated with a Masters degree from a good college and a propensity for chain-linked thinking makes Mr Oldfield almost a stereotype  of an agitator against elite society. Has the Guardian never hung out with the Socialist Workers Party? A bunch of toffs in donkey jackets talking in acquired nasal drones about late capitalism, the SWP is a highly disciplined organisation, where no deviation from the party line is permitted. It has more than a whiff of the Officers' Training Corps about it.

Then there is the SWP's one true enemy - the Workers' Revolutionary Party - the red luvvies. Being thespians, they are more prone to tantrums; as an example, here is something from Chapter 12 of a  long book that you had best avoid reading:
Lacking any ideas of her own, Torrance had no objection to using Healy as a source of political advice, and at first was quite ready to go along with this. But the emerging pro-Stalinist line was challenged on the Political Committee by Richard Price, who rejected the identification of bureaucratic reforms with the political revolution, arguing that these developments were an expression of Soviet Bonapartism in crisis. At one PC meeting Price condemned Healy’s line that a section of the bureaucracy was playing a revolutionary role as ‘Pabloism’, which reduced Healy to apoplexy! Accustomed to an organisation in which his every word, however mad or mundane, was treated as the tablets from the mountain, Healy was unable to live with this kind of thing. ‘For supporting perestroika’, Vanessa Redgrave recounts indignantly, ‘Gerry and I were accused of “capitulating to Stalinism”. We realised that the split we had made before had been incomplete.’ But to carry out a further split a pretext had to be manufactured. From August 1986 onwards, therefore, Healy began to provoke a series of confrontations with the WRP leadership. First of all he demanded the expulsion of Alex Mitchell, who had departed for Australia in May and resurfaced as a journalist with the Murdoch press. Then Healy objected to a series of articles written by Athow and O’Regan (‘G. Healy: Fifty Years a Fighter for Trotskyism’), which appeared in News Line in late August. And he resumed his complaints about being excluded from the party leadership the previous January.
And so on and so on.

Sadly, the International Marxist Group (posh trots like to call themselves Marxists: the word hides the taint of Pol Pot) is no longer around - having disappeared up its own theory after its own long and historically inevitable history  of splittings and expulsions;  Tariq Ali was one of its luminaries. Joe Strummer once claimed to be a supporter.

And so it goes. The late capitalists need not worry to much and clearly they don't: if they wanted to put a stop to the inevitable tendency towards revolution, all they would need to do is cut off their children's allowances.

Wednesday, April 04, 2012

Tosh of the year

Some people argue that a beautiful site gives a project an advantage from the outset, but it also lays down a challenge to which the architects must rise, as a building that misinterprets an extraordinary site can feel like a desecration. This challenge was particularly pertinent in the Herbsts’ case as the site was so completely covered in pohutukawa that four of the trees had to be cut down to allow the home to be constructed. The owners, who live in Auckland and use the home as a weekend getaway, had a right to build there and were clear about their desire to do so, but they were equally clear that any such building was to be as sensitive as possible. The first key decision, made in conjunction with city planners, was to preserve the perimeter of pohutukawa facing the road and beach, and remove some of the trees behind this fringe to create a buildable space.
The home that rose on the site is an attempt to honour the pohutukawa that were cut down to make way for it. To achieve this, Lance Herbst says, “the building needed to have the memory of the trees.” And so the couple designed a pair of two-storeyed blocks - one containing two bedrooms, the other the main bedroom above a single garage - to represent metaphorical tree-stumps.
In the current edition of Home, Jeremy Hansen writes of the Home of the Year, a house near the beach at Piha built on a site that “was so completely covered in pohutukawa that four of the trees had to be cut down to allow the home to be constructed.

Well, yes, there is a reason for that: long before it became a site, the location of the house was a stand of pohutukawa trees. They grew there, these trees, heedless of the future needs of wealthy people who want a weekend getaway a few kilometres away from their home. But these people came, with a right to build. Thus it was that the edges of the stand became a perimeter or fringe and its centre became a buildable space. Thus it is that the choosing of words can make such a difference in the changing of meaning. And thus it came to pass that trees were felled and a house was built.

“The home that rose on the site is an attempt to honour the pohutukawa that were cut down to make way for it.” One might think this sentence circular. One might also think the best way to honour the trees would have been to build the house somewhere else, or not to build it at all. But the owners had a right to build. In order to honour the trees, the architects decided that building needed to have the memory of the trees. So they made a design and had it constructed from other trees. The whereabouts of the pohutukawa trees are not disclosed.

You can watch a film about it:

As Jeremy Hansen comments, “The use of architectural metaphor - a home being inspired by the trees around it, in this case - is fraught with peril. A promising thematic conceit can seem chunky, self-indulgent and lacking in nuance when realised in built form.”

 Such conceit can also seem glib. As the judges of Alcohol Sponsorship Press Awards remark, “architects are wankers.”

Sunday, April 01, 2012

What's the context, Kenneth?

The pressure of deadlines, and the complexity of many occurrences, means, inevitably, any report will have some superficiality about it. A more profound reading of events comes from historians with far more time to undertake research and ponder the implications of their findings. Video technology, for all its beneficial ease of recording, exaggerates that flaw. Cameras never lie, but nor do they necessarily place an event in a meaningful or, indeed, any sort of context.
Wut? Yes, it's true: everything you see is wrong. Look at the incident again:


Now, you may think you know what was going on but you are wrong. You know nothing. You see, "as context was supplied to the episode, however, a different picture emerged." Well, not quite. What emerged was not a picture at all, but a story. The Herald talked to the accused, who provided context:
Further context was added with time. This appears to have been an incident in which teenagers accustomed to using the skate park became upset when they found a competition thwarting their normal activity. Their response, according to Mr Platt, was to set him up. That may or may not be so. But history is replete with instances of cameras being used to manipulate sentiment.
Yes, the skateboarders made him do it. History is replete with instances of newspapers being used to manipulate sentiment, of people who have done something bad claiming they had some context - or what used to be called an excuse.

We can only hope that the Herald continues this liberal, tolerant approach to reporting crime.  We want to hear less from the victims, more from the villains. Instead of pictures of tearful families who claim their Christmas presents have been stolen by hoodlums, we want to hear from the thieves. Maybe they were set up, tempted by all that glitter and wrapping paper. Or perhaps we could hear from the man who broke Levi Hawken's scooter. He too has a story to tell.

And, while we are at it,  let's have no more of this editorial nonsense. What we want is an editorial feature, in which people of notoriety can pay to have their context added. Take, for example, Mr Mike Hosking:
Hosking is still refusing to discuss his close links to the casino, revealed in last week's Herald on Sunday. This week he said it was a "non-story" and he wouldn't be commenting on it as the newspaper's staff were "pond scum" and "reprobates".
Not Hosking but drowning, you might think;  but how much better do you think Mr Hosking would feel if he could pay the pond scum and reprobates to represent his context? Perhaps a suitably-funded Herald editorial could observe that Mr Hosking was recently married at great expense and that hair product does not come cheap, before going on to chide the Herald on Sunday for being too quick to condemn. Perhaps Mr Paul Henry's efforts to promote Sky City could be rewarded by his benefactor with a glowing portrait in oil in the op-ed pages.

Once context is supplied, everything looks different. The teenage skateboarders were upset; they set up Mr Platt  - a charity worker. That may or may not be so. But history is replete with instances of editorials being used to manipulate sentiment.