Saturday, December 23, 2006

Garbage Day

Over the past few months or so, a combination of apathy and self-consciousness on my part has seen me begin to write a number of posts which, either, I have never finished, or decided against posting. In the first instance, I’ve tended to get myself twisted in knots and been unable to continue, because, generally, writing coherently, does not occur all that easily for me and I’ve needed to direct my energy elsewhere. In the second instance, I’ve sometimes thought the partially composed post has become all mopey, and while I have really needed to articulate the thoughts, I’ve decided to spare you, because I don’t need to scare away the people who do actually comment on this blog, never mind those that I wish would, if only because I’ve commented on their blog.

(My excuse for posting this introduction now is that I was kept up all night and woken again in the wee hours by a party at one of my neighbours’ places. I’m tired and emotional and feeling a bit unloved.)

So, rather than waste these posts, or fool myself that I’m ever going to finish them to my satisfaction, I’ve decided to have a garage sale of never-before-loved (as opposed to pre-loved) posts. Actually, the process is probably more akin to a kerb-side collection, since I’m just putting them on the side-walk for anyone to either take or leave. In no particular order, neither chronological nor level of self-indulgence:

Great Expectations

I am interested to know what people expect from a blog.

‘Twas the Week Before Christmas...

It’s probably acceptable by now to admit that I’m winding down for the year, but really I haven’t been in work mode since the beginning of December. If there’s been any sense of purpose about the last couple of weeks, it’s arisen from the guilty awareness that I haven’t been researching my PhD as one who has the benefit of a full scholarship should approach such a task, that is, in the same manner as a full-time occupation. Instead, I’ve been haphazard: turning up late for shifts, calling in sick, lingering too long in the tea room, and going home early.

I’ve convinced myself that the nature of scholarly research is different from other kinds of employment, which, of course, it is. In the Humanities, no-one’s particularly concerned whether you’re in the office at a certain time; for all anyone knows, you could be working at home or you may have stayed up into the wee hours of the morning writing a chapter draft that will change the course of your chosen field as it is known. Heh, if only I had been doing that. No, even though I’ve realised that I can’t expect eight hours of intense intellectual work from myself per day, I’m not even meeting my own far more modest standards of productivity.

Mixed Up Confusion

I sat down to watch Big Brother on Sunday night and was presented by host, Gretel Killeen, addressing the television audience as though we had all heard rumours about the removal of two male housemates, John and Ashley, from the Big Brother house. Before that moment, I had heard no such thing. My consumption of BB is limited to the Daily Show and I occasionally visit the online news pages when my viewing of the Daily Show has fallen behind. Gretel’s announcement was news to me, so I sat and watch the Sunday night version of the Daily Show with great interest and much curiosity.

The rumours, it turns out, were true; John and Ashley had been shown the door due to an alleged sexual assault on fellow housemate, Camilla. Before John and Ashley were removed from the house, Big Brother had asked Camilla if she wanted to discuss the incident. She said that she had initially interpreted her house mates’ behaviour as a joke. When she felt they had gone too far, she asked them to stop, at which point they did. Later, John and Ashley were called to the Diary Room and from that point they were escorted from the house. Afterwards, Big Brother explained to the house mates that John and Ashley had been removed from the house due to an ‘incident’ involving them and Camilla, where they had breached the house rules.

Camilla’s immediate reaction to the removal of John and Ashley was one of guilt. Big Brother assured her she had nothing to feel bad about, that she had ‘done nothing wrong’. Some house mates seemed to find it difficult to believe that their friends, John and Ashley, wouldn’t be returning. Krystal asked if there was any possibility that they might return. Camilla volunteered to reveal what had happened to bring about John and Ashley’s removal, she explained that she hadn’t asked Big Brother to remove them from the house, but admitted that she had found their actions offensive and upsetting. In the edited footage I saw, no one suggested that Camilla was responsible for John and Ashley’s removal, they seemed to recognise that their friends had gone too far. Many hugged Camilla, others responded with silence, as in the case of David, or confusion, in the case of Jamie, who admitted he didn’t know what he was supposed to think.

After the Sunday Daily Show, I didn’t watch the Eviction Show. I really felt unable to enter into the usual pleasure of that programme. I turned over and watched Murder In Rome instead, a programme which I would otherwise have taped.

On Monday morning, I checked my email and found a Media Release from my subscription to the Office of Communication, Information Technology and the Arts. I posted a copy of Senator Coonan’s statement over at Sarsaparilla, not because I wanted to get involved in another circular debate over aspects of Big Brother, but because I thought it was important to draw attention to government intervention in commercial programming. On the topic of the alleged sexual assault itself, I still had much to process before I felt I could make any kind of comment.

I went over to Larvatus Prodeo and read Mark’s assessment. I’ll admit to not reading the comments on that site—I often get overwhelmed by the amount of comments that blog attracts—but I followed the links he provided to other blogs that had commented on the weekend’s events.

Howard is calling for the programme to be cancelled. But what does he know of the programme. Does he watch it on a regular basis and so have some sense of its history as a kind of provocation for the discussion of the issues of everyday lives, including eating disorders, body image, homosexuality, masculinity, femininity, motherhood, fatherhood...

Grey's Anatomy

When Channel 7 starts announcing that Grey's Anatomy is must-see-TV because 20 million North Americans once watched an episode, you know it's time to turn this show off for good. They're not convincing anyone. Producers know, don't they, that they're scraping the bottom of the medical drama barrel when they start introducing apocalyptic scenarios where bombs explode and chiefs of emergency medicine lose their arms in the rotor blades of helicopters?—oops! wrong show.

The Fake Doctor has long expressed his impatience with the medical veracity of Grey's Anatomy (and just re-reading that link, it's clear Australia is only now watching the episodes he was referring to six months ago). When I first read the Fake Doctor's post, I understood his comments in the context of his status as a medical student; that is, while I could appreciate his frustration with the inaccurate depiction of the lives of surgical interns, his concerns seemed not to properly account for the conventions and expectations of the medical drama genre.

There's an article by Gregory Makoul and Limor Peer, 'Dissecting the Doctor Shows', in an edited collection Cultural Sutures: Media and Medicine which, by means of a content analysis of ER and Chicago Hope, concludes that 'the primary mode of framing medicine is for its dramatic effect rather than any apparently accurate portrayal of doctors and their work'. So, in any television drama series, the question of veracity is reasonably secondary to the demands of drama.

Yet More Parallel Universe

In an effort to get my thinking back on track, so I could finish writing about the films I saw at BIFF, I went back and reviewed the previous entries in this ‘Parallel Universe’ series. Re-reading about the ‘Unveiling Islam: Women and Cinema in Iran and Turkey’ programme the festival ran, I was struck by the difference between...

TV Week: Tuesday

I can’t remember why I first began watching Oz. It was probably another one of those programmes that I discovered by scouring the post-10pm section of the TV guide. If there’s anything I’ve learnt in my years of television watching, it’s that if a programme’s scheduled when most 8.30-to-fivers would quite reasonably be heading off to bed, then it’s bound to be excellent television.

It’s in this manner that I discovered I’ll Fly Away about a white civil rights lawyer in the US during the 1960s. The lawyer was played by Sam Waterston, now of Law & Order fame, and the series was one of the first that David Chase worked on, he who is responsible for The Sopranos. I became a fan of 100 Centre Street in this way, and I also discovered the work of Tom Fontana in Homicide: Life on the Streets.

I remember the very first episode I saw of Homicide. It showed the night shift of a police homicide unit in Baltimore, on an evening when there were no murders. I was dumbfounded; what an astonishing way to begin a police drama series, without any action, indeed, without any crime. What was apparent from the first viewing, however—and it was soon confirmed in subsequent episodes—was that this programme would be character-driven.

It was a thrill to listen to the conversations these police detectives had about their everyday lives, and all the while they went about their gruesome jobs. It isn’t that the characters were inured to what they saw on a daily basis, but they were familiar with the routine of arriving at a crime scene, and so they approached without trepidation, still remembering an irritation they encountered travelling to work or the vagaries of rubbish collection, for example.

I have since discovered that Tom Fontana wrote for Hill Street Blues and after first watching Oz, it was no surprise to learn that he was the key creative force behind the series.

‘We Have A Visitor’

It’s always fascinating to discover what brings visitors to one’s humble blog over the millions of other self-published sites that they might have chosen from in the blogosphere. Perusing the list of the referral details gathered by Sitemeter is an exercise that is alternately flattering, rewarding, embarrassing and, sometimes, horrifying. Running your cursor over the referrals to reveal all of the words entered into the Google searches which have led to your blog provokes moments of self-awareness, times of reflection about the responsibility you must take for your rants and meditations, and, on some occasions, longer periods of thinking about the unforeseen uses of what you have posted.

I recently discovered that my thoughts on Smoke, a film written by Paul Auster and directed by Wayne Wang, has been listed on Paul Auster (The Definitive Website) in a drop-down menu of referrals to internet-based writing on that film. In the process of tracing back from the referral detail on Sitemeter, I revisited the website; the labour of one of Auster’s British-based fans, Stuart Pilkington. I read the ‘News’ section of the site and discovered that Auster’s new book, Travels In The Scriptorium, will be released in the UK through Faber & Faber on the 6th of October this year. Since, in Australia, we get the British covers, I’m assuming that means it will also be released here around the same time. Surely we won’t have to wait for the US release date early next year?

While I was reacquainting myself with Paul Auster, I was struck by the effort that Pilkington has put in to create and maintain the website. This is the work of a fan.

White Noise

I find myself sitting awkwardly in these debates. On the one hand I want to join in, because I have an opinion. On the other hand I find it difficult to respond to the debates in the blogosphere, because the comments pages of blogs are primarily an off the cuff medium in which I find it difficult to succinctly and comprehensively articulate a response; it’s more usual for me end up fighting for a position I don’t completely hold because I’ve been drawn in by the parameters of someone else’s framing of the issue.

Spanish Inquisition: Part Five

I am reading Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra. In order to keep myself on task and so finish this 940 page tome, I have enlisted the support that your presence will provide to urge me to continue reading. I will post a record of my progress here at irregular intervals, as well as any comments and questions that are provoked by the text along the way.

V

When I finished the first part of Don Quixote, I put the book aside and didn’t approach it again for about a month. Now I’ve begun the second part and, contrary to my earlier intimation that the continuing adventures of the knight and his squire have been a cure for my insomnia, I have in fact had many reasons to smile since Quixote and Sancho resumed their travels.

I wonder if anyone who has unreservedly enjoyed DQ has been following this reading experience? What have they thought of my criticisms of the first part? Have they refrained from commenting because they knew what was to come in the opening chapters of the second part? Have they hidden their smiles behind their hands, knowing that my concerns about the welfare of Sancho and his wife were his own?


I Hate Football

I hate football. Perhaps that isn’t quite accurate. I have no opinion one way or the other about the actual game in its various incarnations, because I have never seen a live game or even watched it much on television. I should say, I hate the culture around football.

I have much experience of the culture around football because I live a stone’s throw away from Suncorp Stadium. I have written about this before, in a sort of haphazard way, but I’ve long been storing up a well-justified diatribe against the tyranny of this game in Australia’s cultural life.

What I Have Written

I’ve been thinking about autobiographical writing. Mostly, my thoughts have been in the context of what I have lately perceived to be embarrassing public outbursts on my part, where I have come to regret revealing something about myself on this and other blogs. I have cringed with self-consciousness at the thought of those passages where I have been too confessional about the details of my relationships with my family, friends, acquaintances and colleagues.

It would be easy enough to either edit or delete the offending posts and comments—and when I discussed, in general terms, my experience of embarrassment with some acquaintances who blog, they pointed out this possibility—but there’s something in me that resists exercising that option. I feel compelled to retain the integrity of the time line of the blog. I’m not sure why, it seems terribly conservative of me. Imagine the fun, the kind of textual play you could have with a blog if you altered past posts. On the most banal level, you could go back and correct errors of fact and typography, but on a more experimental level, you could retell every story on whim or fancy. Has anyone ever had a blog that has done away with archives altogether and only ever had one post, which is always replaced? Re-visiting such a blog via something like the National Library of Australia’s Pandora Project would be fascinating, in a linear kind of way.

Another reason that I balk at editing or deleting past posts is out of a desire to exercise integrity on a personal level. I’m fairly certain that I don’t always present as the most balanced or ...

Untitled

Today I read this sentence on Biology
of The Worst Kind:
I can feel the sadness seeping up through the Prozac like slime through floorboards.
And it just triggered something in me, a rush of tears, because that's how I've been feeling for some time now.

98 Reasons For Blogging: 9

9. Every week I check my blog statistics and usually end up feeling more confused than ever. I'm not entirely sure what I'm hoping to find when I comb through the list of Google searches that have brought people to my blog for what is usually a sum total of 0.00 seconds (according to Sitemeter anyway, but something in me wonders if that's even possible.) I suppose I'm looking for some evidence that someone has spent over an hour, thoroughly fascinated with my blog.

***
Ah, now I can see the floor again.

9 comments:

Lucy said...

This is an excellent post! Although, I'm left feeling the same way I do after I read short stories, that I want to read the rest of them all.
Maybe I should've done this instead of getting people to vote on which drafts I should finish...
I'm sorry about the slime creeping up through the floorboards.

lucy tartan said...

Wow.

I agree with Lucy, this is a great post, K. I shudder to think how many blog posts I've read but this is the first time I've seen a post explicitly composed of 'garbage' and it's setting off all kinds of unexpected narratological sparks and stirrings, as quite often happens with posts on your blog. Are you feeling ok about the phd? It's a bloody rollercoaster. Don't be too hard on yourself...a bit hard, but not too hard.

dogpossum said...

homes, you give good post. give more. now.
phdshmeehachdee.
i want blog.
blog = long and boring. you're cheating if you make it too good.



(will take well thought out and clever and insightful moments from doctoral thesis as substitute)

clare said...

Well I'm glad you decided to have this garage sale. I much enjoyed reading them.

I also think you shouldn't worry too much about lulls in work - everyone has them - and in a way I think they are important. Sometimes you need a period to sort things out and let things go on at an unconscious level.

Happy Christmas, Galaxy.

Anonymous said...

Hi,

What do I expect from a blog? Blogging as an art form is quite poor, with most bloggers feeling it necessary to make obligatory contributions repeating mundane things which could be read elsewhere and, on the whole, are better left unsaid. I say this as someone who appreciates a good blog, and has subscribed to yours on a tentative basis!

What I really like in a blog is honesty, humour, and misplaced poetry, fiction, or dream journalism. Blogging isn't really very productive in terms of writing. It's not formal enough to be art and it's exposing enough to be compelling. So I basically like someone who wants to show me something interesting about themselves. http://tagplazen.livejournal.com/ is a good example.


Sorry if this was a long-winded response, I'm quite ramped up on cold medicine and alcohol on Xmas. Ho, ho, ho.

Merry Xmas,
Anon..

Ariel said...

Galaxy, let me join the chorus of 'great post'. I tried to comment on this pre-Chrissie, but blogger wasn't letting me in. I think I had something profound-ish to say then. I think you should do more on Great Expectations, which would be fascinating. Your Week before Christmas sounds a bit like mine - my brain shut down early. And I would dearly like to see more of I Hate Football (DITTO).

Galaxy said...

Thanks for all your wishes. Hope you've have all had a wonderful holiday period (if you're having one).

My brother and his wife unexpectedly turned up for Christmas from Melbourne, so I've had *days* of not worrying about thesis stuff, which has been rather good for my mental state. Plus I've been playing with my niece which has involved re-enacting The Sleeping Beauty ballet, playing Beauty and the Beast (I am always the beast. Roaar!), being served pretend white tea accompanied by pretend pink, brown and white chocolate, looking for the Snortlepig, and trying not to step on any cracks.

OTT said...

very late comment but hey - never stopped me before.

I loved this!

I too have many half started posts and even more fully written perhaps that will be a post essay/stream of consciousness in my pooter. Some get on, some don't.

btw - will you post BIFf 2006 if I do? and please please please post BIFF 2007 as I am going to be so terribly sad and sorry that I won't be there for it.

My fave of these past posts is 'Great Expectations'. It was perfect.

Oh, and I spend hours on your site. I'm still catching up!

Kirsty said...

Thanks Oanh. I think I've relaxed a lot re wondering what people expect from blogs. At the time I wrote that I was all rather anxious about things that were in retrospect paranoid and ridiculous.

I'll have a go at a BIFF 06 post, I'll have to see what made it onto the laptop at the time, because the hard drive on my desk top has since croaked it, and who knows what I backed up or where.

I will accept the BIFF 2007 Mission. Not long now, I think.