Saturday, February 28, 2009

Important questions

Who will come into power next, the democrats or the apricots?


Why's it called a blow job when it's all about sucking?


Can a heart of a Goy be transplanted next to the lungs of a Jew? Can a shiite liver coexist with a sunni kidney? These, my friends, are some of the questions that arise when considering the issue of transplants from an halachic perspective.

eich lishaeyr ben adam bechol habalagan haze?


The big issue, the grinding suck the life out of your bones issue, at middle age, as an impractical dreamer who sold his soul to the devil mirage of creativity, is how to earn a living? And how to go on earning a living? And how to find a way of earning a living that does not opress and depress and crush with its internal contradictions and the impediments it seems to throw up to articulating a working self that is somehow connected to our deepest aspirations, our most permanent/burning/ themes?

And if such a thing, if a life enhancing way of earning a living does not exist, and those who have not dared or were not lucky or did not have the persistence or simply haven't been able to create money doing things that connect their inner and outer selves, where the available energy is not used to censor and crush the hidden and reveal the fabricated and constructed...if they have not done so by middle age, where children and mortgages and never ending bills play a muted tune of anxiety that runs under almost everything we do, then how to make one's piece with the stunted, arrested-process work situations we find ourselves in, how to trudge off day by day into situations of terminal compromise, anonymity and mediocrity??* Situations that seem to be so draining that what few sparks are left are soon submerged in the grey waters of numbing and senseless routine, of living from appearances, living from the outside in, living inauthentically...the sparks are submerged and the fear is that they will go out. Permanently. And that there is only death with no chance of birth or rebirth.

* [ Can this bleak portrait be reframed more honestly? more meaningfully? Less 'hopelessly'? ]


The secret lives of teachers. Major X was having an affair with a woman who he wanted to impregnate. Mr Y had an entirely secret existence of junk food and recreational drugs. Public lives. Private addictions.

Monday, February 23, 2009

The upside of depressions

I'm not an economist and I've never studied or read much about economic theory, but as someone who perhaps romanticises simplicity and a comfortable measure of ascetism, I can see many positives in a recession/depression. Less advertising, less eating of cancer causing junk food prepared without love and eaten without community or consciousness, less buying of unnecessary gadgets and over sized cars, more time spent with friends and family talking, making music together, more strolls along the beach, more home cooked meals, more of the "simple" (and healthy) pleasures.

(Of course addictions are also set to rise as people, trying to cope with job losses and how to pay the bills and general verwhelm and under resourcedness take refuge in alcohol or cigarettes or pornography or hunting or whatever the escape is)

Not that I'm saying that people should hoard, although it does make sense not to live beyond our means, as we have been doing and have relentlessly encouraging each other to do for the last thirty years (at least!)

Spending money - and I half heard somewhere that economists like Keynes say spending money is the way to make economies grow and presumably to make people prosperous - has lots of positives to it as well: its a letting go, and a living for the present which is admirable. Hoarding savings for some future which may never come, when it could be used to alleviate suffering or increase the opposite of suffering - is that joy? - right here and now, is not a useful value in of itself. So the question is, what could money be well spent on, right here and right now?Either way I hope we don't rush out of this depression too soon, before what we needed to learn has been learnt.

ps. Captain's log supplimental. On Friday 3rd April 2009 / 5769, in the merry month of Nisan, I took an anti-depressant for the first time in my life, half a tablet of Zoloft just before shabat. It certainly had an effect....exhausted I went to bed at 9:30 but work up at 11:30, full of anxiety, and with a funny mushy, slightly slurred blurred feeling in my head. I watched TV til 3:30 in the morning, then went back to sleep til 6:30, when my cell phone alarm - normally set for the week day - went off and woke me up. Again it took me more than an hour to get back to sleep, and I watched a preacher on tv before hiugging the wall back to bed. These symptoms are all in line with those my doctor and wife had told me there would be, so not unexpected but certainly it was yet another long night of the soul. I took another half tab this morning and the slightly post stoned, head and eyes not quite on the end of my neck (slightly higher? slightly lower?) effect has persisted - and persists as I write now. Quite enjoyable overall, and in no way sharp or invasive - very present but much to diffuse, blunt and broad ( a cloud comes to mind) to be painful or threatening.

Here in Australia almost everyone I know who has emigrated in the last two or three or four years seems to be on anti-depressants - perhaps it is something in the air, or the way the life force here is carefully modulated and socialised with a combination of 'tall poppy get back down here' disaproval, over regulation, and ?????? (other factors still to be understood. discovered or articulated)...the dizzyness is getting worse, I feel slightly nauseous and the room and laptop are tilting up slightly...will sign off here

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

What people are looking for

What people are looking for is how to create a sense of occasion, of something special. Sometimes all they have is a cigarette and a bottle of beer, or some smudged lipstick, perhaps a candlelit dinner. Sometimes their faith gives them an open page of gemara in the beis hamidrash, and the schinah all around, or chanting the names of G-d in community...the richness or poverty of a culture is the channels it offers, and how stunted or evolved those channels are...

Debate in talmud about when to begin shabat

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Nine works waiting to be written

See also comic-material-short-skits

Middle...a play about the quiet desperation of middle age, of a spreading middle, of striving to say unseen in the midle and simultaneously wanting to be seen, about the deflation of illusion and desire and hope

A science fiction story where genetic engineering goes horribly wrong, with grave ecological consequences, a paranoid scientist,

Theme: the notion of agency

Mr X was walking home from the video shop, lonely and confused and bored, when he saw a group of drunken youths laying ito a homeless man. He was wondering what to do when someone smashed into him and almost knocked hom over, and a large man burst into the fray and tried to protect the homeless man. The youths set about the stranger, one of them hitting him witha beer bottle, and soon the stranger lay nexyt to the homeless man, bleeding and concussed. Mr X waited til the youths seemed to have gone, and then called an ambulance. When he heard the ambulance siren he scuttled off, not wanting to have to go to the police station and answer questions or have to fill in endless paper work, because he had to get home and feed his cat and do some work, or perhaps have a break from work and do his course

At the moment Mr X worked as a subeditor, but the work was boring. Before being a sub-editor Mr X had worked as a tele-marketer selling "cheap holidays" where the hotels recouped their cut price room rates at meal time, and before that selling diet mik shakes..
He had got the job as a sub editor - quite by chance. Before that he had worked at a nursery but had ben fired for negligence. Mr X was not sure what he wanted to do in the long term. he had also been seeing a women, a 33 year old divorcee, but was not sure how he felt about her. Mr X wanted to feel certain about something - that was one of his biggest wants. His mother wanted him to get a profession and so he had taken her advice and registered for a course in network enginering His divorcee friend said she thought he was good at fixing thoings, so

Mr X joined in the crowd, terrified they might turn oo him. Death to Apartheid Israel he chanted, along with the crowd, death to the Jews. Hit ler was right shouted the man next to him. Hitler was right, repeated Mr X mechanically, and hoped he was saying it with enough venom.

THE PROBLEM OF THE ACTIVE PROTAGONIST. Make up your mind snapped the man, I haven't got time too stand here all day. A bad decision is much better than no decision he said, and stepped off the pier. I'l l have the vanilla he said. It turned out to have human excrement in it.

Mr X wasn't sure if he should take the bus or the train into work. Mr X wasn't sure if he should leave his girlfriend or stay with her. he liked the sex but he disliked her long rambling conversatoions about her friends and troubles at work. Mr X wasn't sure if he should discus this with her or not. Sometimes he tried to but the tears that gathered in her eyes made him retreat. Why don't you see a psychologist, said his GP, when he went to get some creme for his hemharoids, so he did. The psycholist listened politely, and then proceeded to describe a near death experience he'd once had. Mr X wasn't sure to say he didn't want to hear that or not. he wasn't sure if he should go back or not. One week he went back, one week he didn't. He missed the bus but accepted it philosophically. the chief sub berated him when he got to work.

Suddenly Mr X noiced he had a itchy chest. he couldn't locate the exact moment, it migt have been while he was looking for a clean shirt to wear to work and stopped to scratch his chest and notcied an angry weal there. Over the next few days the itch got worse and worse.

He could not stop thinking about the car. he stopped whenever he walked past oine parked in the street. he decided he had to have one. he had never been interested in cars before, but suddenly he became very interested.


A group of young people with rods and nets and bottles of beer, off to lynch a few fish. After hanging the fish, they took turns photograph its once beautiful silvery but now dead body in their arms, then took turns mutilating the body, gutting it and...
A visit to the inefficiency institute, where most South African waiters are trained. This important institute, establishd in 1962, has survived and even thrived in the post- Apartheid dispensation

A stranger comes to Sydney and must negotiate the roads and the parking. he gets to an intersection and indicates left, but his passenger points out there is a sign saying no left turn. He cancels the indicator but notices a big no entry sign on the other side of the intersection. Desperately (cars are piling up behind him) he indicates right tun, but there is a big sign saying no right turn either. Where the f%^$k am i supposed to turn? he yelps, as the cars behind honk and curse. he crosses into the street, nearly gets hit by a V6 with P plates, and then takes a small diagonal street which ends, predicatble, in a dead end, facing the sea....he turns off the engine gets out, looks at the waves


A one act play called Bemikreh, about a teacher, a troublesome student (to whom he is secretly attracted), a quarellsome neighbour, and a psychologist (the latter three all being related) - a dark comedy about the web that is woven to lay us bare

A poetry collection called Pitzaei Bagrut (literally "wounds of adolescence", denotes pimples, metaphorically the wounds of growth, almost birth pains, the pain in the resistance to coming-of-age)


'Typical' Ozzie bloke - working class, blue collar, delivery man, is sitting in the bar, sipping on his beer and telling his mates about this Jew school to which he had to deliver something to...his descriptions are intercut with visuals of what he is describing, his voice continues as VO
"they were all wearing big hats"
visuals of small children running around & screaming on the playground, some are playing cricket, all of them wear soft wide brimmed sun hats, ominous music plays on the soundtrack to underscore the sinister nature of these playground activities. Then he glimpses through a classroom some children saying prayers / making chanukiyot???? and his interpretation is again at striking variance with what we see on screen.
His mates ask him questions, which eggs him on to further invention and embroidery of the tale...

When I seek to change others or myself, I inhibit the change that is already happening effortlessly, by itself


I still think vegetarianism can make our world a better, nicer place to pass through....less blood, less disease, less methane, more celebration

Many Australian products have bovine gelatine in have to carefully read the labels, on yoghurt, for example, before you find a brand that dosn't use gelatine, such as Farmer's Union Greek Style Yoghurt

When I was young I could pass a pet shop
with small animals in small cages
and supermarkets
where people exited with loded trully fulls
in plastic packaging
without a troubling thought
about what these things mean
about the world we share