My Wooden Cutting Board

Observation Blogger

Cutting BoardJust after breakfast, I developed this fascination with my wooden cutting board. This is where I prepare nearly all my food.

The shades of stains,
the mesh of grooves,
the spread of cutting angles
how one side is more indented than the other,
the alluring smell if you snuck a whiff.
I was entranced.
I marveled at it for well over a minute.

1024px-Chopping_BoardI couldn’t bare to show off a plastic cutting board. So dull and unrefined; no style whatsoever. Even worse would be a brand new wooden cutting board. How demonstrably ugly are those. Look!

Instead in these well-used wooden boards, there is history. I use one side more than the other, slowly sculpting it to become undoubtedly my greatest work of art. The unplayable golf green.

If this bacteria ridden monstrosity doesn’t wet one’s appetite, then nothing will.

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11.00 am ANZAC day 2003

Anzac Day
My brother Jonny and I sat on two wooden chairs opposite the bed hunched over our knees. Numb. The chairs had never got so much use as they did that morning nor would they get any kind of practical use again except as features in Mum’s new bedroom. Dad’s eyelids started to rise slowly and it appeared he was looking at us. We shivered and Jonny said, “That’s a bit eerie huh?”

It was in his face too, you could tell. It wasn’t him anymore. Then we realised ‘it’ is gone altogether. It wasn’t ‘him’ gone so much, but ‘it’; the heartbeat, the rhythm, the core, the point around which the wheel of our family span. All incomprehensibly gone. The ‘something’ who always put us in front of himself as if he was of no consequence.  Other days may have passed by barely noticed, but this day, this hour, this minute would stick in our minds for the rest of our days.

I didn’t know then what I knew now – my ground of history gave way. It was a changed world. Well it would be years later when I realised how changed it was.
I remember Mum walking in, grabbing his hand, and shaking it, yelling “Come Back Colin, Come Back!”. Finally I curled up on the couch, wanting to sleep. Dad still laid in the bedroom for hours. The ringing in my ears of Mum’s plea wouldn’t go away. The replay was relentless. I would also learn that tragedy is repetitive. Offering neither the fulfillment of detachment or release from change, it would merely always be there, always terrible.

*****

Neglect was a solution I took after Dad died. I lived in a culture which turned its back on its annoying traditions. I turned my back on the family.  Family seemed a vehicle of oppression. Family was like a tapestry of characters who I belonged to but didn’t quite gel. At middle age I still felt I can’t turn back. I had learnt this in my own traditions and rituals. You are probably more self conscious, a bit more vain, a bit more brittle in your youth which scars you later.
But there is a lot in the culture which is nurturing.  Only now in a sense I felt I betrayed Mum. I kind of turned my back on her. I didn’t give her her due. My method of problem solving is avoidance. But what I know and struggle to embrace is there is so much culture in the family. I will revisit the same place because it’s me, it’s who conceived me into this world and out of that learn to recuperate from the self obsessed world I built since then.

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Tarot Suite – Mike Batt and Friends (1979)

Tarot Suite - Mike BattNo other album was played as often in our house during my youth than Tarot Suite by Mike Batt (with the London Symphony Orchestra). My father adored this album like no other. When my parents entertained new friends at our house my father was insistent that this record be played. Like my father I had this urgency to get this album out there. I played songs from Tarot Suite for school friends in the hope that they would reaffirm it’s ‘greatness’ and low and behold they did. At the time a version of Introduction (The Journey of a Fool) from Tarot Suite was used as the theme for the Sydney, Australia radio station, Triple M. Yet everyone was seemingly oblivious to its origin.

All Music Review by Dave Sleger:

Mike Batt’s second solo release on Epic, Tarot Suite, was inspired by the 22 major arcana trump cards of the tarot deck. If the listener wants to make sense of the concept of this album, the insert provides a handy description and explanation of the various cards and how they relate to the music. If not, Tarot Suite certainly holds its own as an artfully and literate collection of orchestrated rock & roll.

To this day it boggles the mind how underappreciated and unrecognized this album is. It doesn’t even have it’s own Wiki-page. It is scantily mentioned in Mike Batt’s wiki-bio.  Believe me I have read my fair share of music blog posts in my life and talked to lots of music aficionados, yet still no mention of this album. Only when I searched it on Google did I find some glowing music reviews such as the one above. Despite that, it’s as though it never existed.

I still consider Tarot Suite one the greatest albums I have heard and I don’t put that solely down to my having succumbed to unbridled nostalgia. The album’s opener ‘Introduction (The Journey of a Fool’) and Imbecile (presented below) are probably in my top 20 favorite songs. Two other standouts on this album are Lady of the Dawn and Run Like the Wind. Overall the album is a real trip when listened to in its entirety.  To me the album has a medieval-mythological movie soundtrack feel. The only other music I’ve heard which faintly resembles it is Mark Knopfler’s The Princess Bride soundtrack and Dylan’s Street Legal (which is my favourite Dylan album by the way) particularly Changing of the Guards and No Time to Think which has medieval tarot card references in it.

To give you just a small taste of the magnificence and originality of this album; below is the riveting Imbecile sung with full gusto by the much-maligned singer Roger Chapman:

I would normally put ‘Related Articles’ in this section of my post, but there just isn’t anything noteworthy available on this album. It remains perplexing to me and will continue to be so I gather until I rest my weary head.

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Blue is the Warmest Colour

Observation Blogger

blue-is-the-warmest-color-full-of-secretsYesterday, I did myself a favour and finally got round to watching Blue is the Warmest Colour last years Cannes film Palme d’Or winner. Blue is an extraordinary love story about desire; desire to eat, desire to sleep with someone, desire to dance and it is portrayed within a relationship between two women.
Blue is that gritty realism which lies at the heart of great European cinema; a similar vein to the classic works of European directors like Bergman and Bertolucci. I also noted similarities in themes and emotional complexity to that other misaligned movie  – Brokeback Mountain.  I’ll have to wait to see if Blue allures me in the same way Brokeback has after repeated viewings.

The trailer below doesn’t do it the slightest justice, but it’s the best I can do for now.

Further reading about Blue:
1. What really happened on the Blue is the…

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The Puss’ Bus is for Us

Full Metal JacketSome Navy members referred to their vocation as the ‘Puss’. Personally, I found it an ill-bred term because I was a stuck-up son a of a bitch. But I cackled when a drillie berated our whinging group, “Build a bridge people – Get over it! The Puss’ bus is for us!”
Drillies appeared to seamlessly interweave between the roles of untamed, fearless autocrat and Monty Python comedian.

One such Drillie SGT Tucker barked fatuous rhyming sayings from his verbal artillery. “Don’t panic flight mechanic” and “No danger park ranger”. The way I saw it,  parade trainers were born into this. The way you couldn’t imagine SGT Hartman in Full Metal Jacket do anything else.

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Slavoj Žižek vs Jordan Peterson debate 19-4-2019

Two great public intellectual heavyweights met last night for their much anticipated debate:  Happiness: Capitalism v Marxism. In January this year just prior to the announcement of their debate, I wrote a post about Zizek and Peterson titled: Chomsky on Žižek and Peterson’s ‘Logos’ and ‘I act as if God exists’. So if you would like a smidgen of background leading into this event, then you can read that.

Firstly, it was assumed that Peterson would be arguing for how Capitalism can bring forth the most human happiness and Zizek would argue that Marxism brings forth the most happiness. However this was not the case exactly as Peterson stated in his first rebuttal of the evening, which I will discuss shortly. Overall it was a good-natured, humorous and mature discussion which was exemplified by Zizek’s remarks after he received ravenous applause at the end of his introduction:

‘(1:12:20) Please don’t do this…I hope you Jordan agree with me why we are here engaged in this debate don’t take it as a hit (?) competition..we are desperately trying to confront serious problems.’

Jordan Peterson stated in his opening of his first rebuttal:
‘(1:14:00) I would say that Dr Zizek focused more on the problem of Capitalism and the problems of happiness than on the utility of Marxism…and that actually comes as a surprise to me.’

JP (1:39:30) ‘You’re a strange Marxist to have a conversation with…You’re a character..it’s a sign of originality and a certain amount of moral courage…you appeal to young people the way outsider intellectual rebels appeal to young people. Why is it you came to presume…that the promotion of Marxism was appropriate? There is enough originality in your body of thought and lateral thinking their isn’t any reason why you should be allied with a doctrine which is 170 years old.’

SZ (1:41:50) ‘I still admire in Marx…I think his political critique of economy and capital and so on  is a tremendous achievement.

If you want to get to the crux of the debate where they throw less caution to the wind then I recommend you watch from 1:46:00 onward. Certainly their differing world-views; namely Zizek’s propensity for Marxist critique of Capitalism and Peterson’s scathing critique of post-modernism and neo-marxist ideology are probed in some detail.

For instance Peterson’s principal concern regarding Zizek’s support of Marxism philosophy is best encapsulated here:

JP: ‘Any support for Marxism especially those directed to those who are young is likely to be read as support for the most radical and revolutionary proclivities…by trying to rescue the sheep you’ve sort of invited the dragon into the house‘.

And rhetorically Zizek puts to Peterson:

SZ: ‘You designate your enemy or what you are fighting against Post Modern neo-Marxism. Where did you find this data? I don’t know them. Give me some names or whatever. Where are the Marxist here?…. They are for equality and cultural struggle.’

Without casting my own partial opinion based on limited understanding about who I feel was the victor (which really isn’t the point of these conversations anyhow) I will leave you instead with the final words from each speaker about the ‘one thing’ they hope people take away from this debate:

JP: I hope they leave this debate with a belief in the power of communication of people with different views and they can come out of that communication improved.’

SZ: ‘I hope sincerely we made some people think and to reject this simple opposition…Please if you are a leftist don’t feel obliged to be politically correct. Don’t be afraid to think.’

Where I think this debate was most illuminating and entertaining was on each speaker’s psychological interpretation of ‘happiness’ and how its significance affects us profoundly as individuals. I hope you enjoy this discussion as much as I did.

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‘Watching (yourself) like you are a snake’

From last night’s Jordan Peterson April Q and A:

‘(1:03:00) You know yourself by watching, paying attention. That’s why the Egyptians worship the Horus, the eye as a God…..it’s watching like you’re a snake. A snake is a symbol of wisdom in part…I suppose because encounters with snakes if they are not fatal they make you wise. A snake watches cold-bloodedly with no emotional reaction just to see what’s there. Symbolically speaking it doesn’t allow what is wanted or desired to interfere with what is observed. So you watch yourself like that as if you don’t know who you are…….You also have to be willing to undertake that as an adventure. It’s a hell of a thing to bear that kind of responsibility.  It takes a person out of the ordinary. It takes them out of themselves. There’s an alienation and isolation that goes along with that and a great sorrow. But there’s deep meaning to be had in it and there isn’t anything better that you can do.’

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Murky Waters

Murky Waters
Deeper thoughts lay within
A cove of great despair
It’s sad and it’s of murky waters
Once shone a lustrous blue

Touching remains sunk deep within
Oh, time heals everything, but
Your stirring love, scarring detail
Treasure chest full, rusted and torn

I hear on the outside, sun is shining
Not in orbit am I, so trodden about
By one way memories, past engraved
A path so strict, I walk before I sleep

Swirling nature, beauty lingers
Catching tunes warrant an ear for listening
Oh, I feel more so of touching
What lay dormant in murky waters.

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The Magazine

Reader beware of the inappropriate content that ensues…

Observation Blogger

hustler.jpgI remember when I was fifteen I was given a mangled Hustler magazine in which all the women’s breasts were the size of watermelons. So I took it home and stashed it. I had heard they were stroke-books, but I couldn’t really fathom that since my mother lived under the same roof.  I did consult the magazine, mainly the plumpish New Orleans centerfold, who reminded me of my biology teacher when she sat on the lab bench dangling her legs apart, stretching her short skirt outwards.  Suffice to say, student’s fumbled their pens more than usual.

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Mornington

Observation Blogger

The crooked rocks, waves lapping my legs
Must be Mornington, feels like the beach
you popped in to say ‘hi’, your echo drew me here
To await the ferry which will cast me out

Forget those seedy districts, weirdos and bums
I mean that peacenik cafeteria, do you remember?
In the garden the sun poured down
And opportunists recited from their manic works

I want to revisit one of our earliest performances
than have another day like the one I had yesterday
Still wondering how I got here from where I started
I wasn’t born in chains.

I was fairly dismissed by you by the quay
in that jumpy district after the third bottle of wine
I have earnt this dull humourless voice
This art is cruel

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