Wednesday, 11 November 2009

Let the Magic Box eat Lobsters

Buzz off I'm busy. 
I'm drinking my soup. 
I'm in the middle of something. 
Go away! 

.  .  .  I'm eating soup and from wanting to understand 'everything', to wanting to explain 'everything' I see the impossibility of either and want to slough away this social responsibility and explain nothing at all. 
It is never quite enough to play footie, to only act, or be an anything, there is the expectation to be able to talk about it and have ready the 'What's it feel like to be a (racing driver)?' answer. 
My ineffectual explanations are misinterpreted at best.  I acknowledge that the fault is mine, that the confusion between idea and expression is my confusion and I see that there is nothing I can do about it. 
And I've tried, so 'Let the magic box eat lobsters'.  I'm doing my bad bit and make of it what you can, what you may, what you care to.  Make what you will of this blog, this song, that picy hanging there, here it is and that's that, you'll get no further help from me. 
I know, I know, publicity can never be a bad thing but I'm not doing the post-match interview.  Forget it, I've no more to say and I'm out of here! 
Out, away into the night and scooting back to this screen. 

I've ventured away from the virtual world and been out in public. 
Perhaps you can tell? 
FB and social networks went by the board and there was no time to tweet or for virtual musing and blog browsing.  My emails and SMS became terse and cursory and the inbox and junk files brimmed. 
It's dangerous out and about in real time.  It's unexpectedly fast.  I got into trouble very quickly. 
I got lost looking for the Jerwood Gallery.  A kind bookseller went online to point me from his screen in the right direction, and out of his life.  On from the Jerwood Drawing Prize show to 100 PLUS in Webber Street aided by a chap with map-on-iphone and another in a pub taking recourse to his laptop. 
'I'm getting to know this area,' I thought as we made our way to the London Group Opening although admittedly I was now in the capable company of a French person. 
There, I greeted a familiar face by name of a dead man.  Live-not-dead man turned out to be judging the exhibition.  I had a piece in the show and was shortlisted for a prize so, that went well. 
Fleeing from my gaffe, cursing silently, I rounded off the evening in the cellar of an occult bookshop so dark that denim glowed bright.  Surrounded by the litter of departed witches, empty glasses and a series of paintings set on black velvet depicting scenes from the Book of Revelations, I vowed never to leave the safety of my laptop screen ever again. 

I did win a prize.
'What's it feel like to be a loser?  . . /. .  to win?'

'Let the magic box eat lobsters' (Sir Terry Pratchett), is one of my all time favourite 'I'm out of here' lines.  I'm in public again this Thursday evening at the ING Discerning Eye exhibition opening at the Mall Galleries where I have a piece on show. 

Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Thursday 12 November     6:30 - 8:30 p.m.

The Mall Galleries, The Mall, LONDON SW1

Saturday, 17 October 2009

This state of affairs

I've been pondering a blog post for ten days or so. 
I haven't posted for ages and 'the pressure' is getting to me. 
Blog Blank.  No Blog.  Blog guilt! 
Can this be true?  Can I really be stressing out on this? 


'This state of affairs' I think, 'is not good.' 
Reviewing my jottings over the last weeks they reveal lists of 'to do'-s, and moans. 

Moans about avatar and atavar. 
What are they?  Which to use?  When and Why? 
Am I the only one who's confused? 

'The lure of digital.'
There's a lot of inconclusive moaning about that - is digi the revolution that the mass production of paper was?  That sort of thing. 

What happens when the power cuts off, if it will, if we let it, if we . . . but I don't want to blog moans, I'm not in a moany mood. 

I like Scarlet's refusal to raise the white flag, and N, O Bestbelovéd, the white flag .gif is the one I want. 

Wednesday, 9 September 2009


. . . and suddenly, 'it's all worth while' I tweet . . .

There is a frisson around submitting work to an open entry art exhibition.  Perhaps 'sweet' describes it, or humbling, or grim.  It could be 'blithely optimistic', desperate or just brutally professional. 
If my recent entrant number to the highly prestigious Jerwood Drawing Prize: three-thousand-four-hundred-and-something is to be taken at face value, upwards of 4,000 artists entered on average two drawings each in hope of winning one of 4 prizes, or inclusion in an exhibition that shows between 40 and 50 works. 
8,000 drawings vie for a hang in a 50 piece exhibition giving each a mathematical 1-in-160 chance. (all figures estimated)  This is as much a gamble as a punt at Epsom or Sandown Park racecourses. 
160-1 are not odds a professional gambler would contemplate, but a keen punter may put an emotional quid or two on a 160-1 shot here and there amongst the run-a-day favourites.  The average punter might, and casual flutterers, aka idiot punters lose money all the time this way. 
But I don't understand gambling.  I can't do the lottery and don't much care for playing poker for matchsticks, or Newmarket for buttons or pennies with small children. 
When it comes to considering getting into the socially essential Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, the odds-against that the entrant faces are simply staggering, so much so that it is widely whispered that the only reasonable chance is to have a nepotistic nobble running in your favour, an RA insider friend to give a nod, wave or wink.  Basically, a performance enhancing agent. 
So when trudging embarrassedly in to collect a rejected masterpiece, the artist can take comfort from the mathematics.  It was always 'odds against'. 
The rejection stems from something else; the arbitrary mood of the judges, the zeitgeist, the dynamics of the exhibition space, it was an indefinable mitigating against your inclusion; exclusion was nothing to do with you, with your work, or a reflection on the merit of your piece. 
It never was a competition and the odds were too stupid for it to have been a bet. 
Still, it is bloody galling and frays at fragile self-belief that it is worth carrying on, not least because unlike 2 quid lost on a 160-1, this 'not getting in' has come dear. 
There is the entry fee of anything up to £20 per entry.  That's per entry, not per entrant.  There is framing and the sky's the limit where framing costs are concerned. 
While most artists can make frames, few can make them with a professional touch, few have all the tools required and none the range of options a framer has, but artists just don't have the time to blunder around making frames badly.  Framing is not our trade. 
So there is a framing bill, and then there's transport. 
'Lucky those who live in London or near an exhibition's regional collection point' many artists may think with feeling, but even living in London, traipsing around on public transport lugging clumpy artwork is no picnic.  Nursing precious, delicate and heavy frames down escalators, on and off crowded buses, footslogging with it through slow shoppers, drifting tourists, brisk workers, and speedy youth is no fun. 
Driving art without a chauffeur is not an option.  Trust me on this. 
Taxis or couriers?  Yes it's the best, but see the meter cost mounting again? 
But artists get there . . .  arriving down backsteps to dingy areas to find indifferent staff and a smattering of fellow submittees, but not fellows, a grim fellowship for we're not only suffering and gambling, but competing in a game where the rules are indefinable and the odds ludicrous.  These fellow sufferers hate you as you hate them as we all hate being there gambling and competing.  They might get in, you may not.  We don't know yet and if we do get in and spot him or her at the Opening, it will be relieved grins of recognition, congratulation and 'hail-well-met's, but that's for later.  For now, we pay our money to the neutral smiles of the reception staff, often students under a gimlet-eyed professional and it's hard not to read condescension in their faces, hard not to sense a weary sympathy, or is that a hint of a contempt in their eyes of the sort we all recognise when confronted with the haplessly gullible? 
We perform the ritual, submit the forms and write a rare cheque, gather up our packing material and speed away spotting others arriving burdened and bleakly determined.  You are anonymous once more and relieved to be unencumbered and unmarked, but slope off with a sense that we're all being ripped off. 
Ripped off is one thing.  Rejection is worse altogether.  Worse because you've set yourself up for it, and collecting your rejected pieces isn't any better for knowing you are of a company of rejects.  The same students smile neutrally, glance at your slip and call up your rejecteds from the reject storage zone.  You re-use the same packing material you used before for the experienced keep it bagged-ready-waiting.  You nod coolly at fellow rejectees who hate you as you hate them for being rejected, for being seen by anyone as a rejected one even by another reject and out you go into the traffic and crowds, jostling with your unshown pictures now uselessly, and you can't help thinking, unnecessarily framed.  There are no plusses.  You are badly out of pocket and out of sorts with the world. 
A petulant 'never again' crosses your mind. 
I have seen rejected work abandoned, left leant against walls, destroyed with the glass kicked in.  A losing betting slip tossed underfoot. 
I've been tempted to do the same. 

But not NOW.  I got into the London Group, so none of the above applies. 

The London Group
Open Exhibition 2009

Menier Gallery - dates tbc (OCTOBER)

Smug smug smug & xxx all round. 

Kevin Jackson
Kevin Jackson : Original Limited Edition Prints 2009

Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Huh, short story. Huh.

I've missed a submission deadline, which considering that I hadn't actually finished the piece wasn't quite as bad as it could have been.  It is bad, but not quite as bad as having the work done and dusted and then just not getting the deed done in a collapse of admin. 
Now I wonder if I shall ever find the motivation to finish that piece at all. 
'Hey!'  On the bright side, 'I haven't written a blog for a while.'  I've been busy doing whatever it was . . . and this 'Hey! I haven't written a blog for a while,' is how I start all blog posts in behind-the-eyeballs draft form. 
Come to think about it, I start most things by thinking, Hey! I haven't written in a while, or made any prints, or . . . and there's always a reason why I haven't.  I've been busy doing something else or chasing after somebody or running away from the idea, which brings me back to here . . . there was a point beyond the above opening that I've forgotten now.  There was to be sequencing, development, a position and point, proposition or contention . . . but it has eluded me. 
And on the subject of balls : -

Sometimes, we're on a roll. 
Sometimes I catch a pretty woman looking at me for once, when almost invariably it's the other way around.  Mind you, she's probably thinking, 'OMG, that (me) should be put down out of kindness,' but I'm on a roll or was until the missed deadline deed.  How I resent 'deadlines' that escape, and how unkindly sounds the word. 
A 2000 word short story for a 2000 word short story competition, and I missed the so-and-so.  How did that happen?  Have story, know the date, drafted not honed - too long, but there-ish and drift drift drift along, and too late.  Not that I may have got it in, nor was there any prize money at stake, and no doubt there will be another short story competition. 
Truth be told, I'm more consumed by getting work ready for the London Group. 
I had better check that bossy looking .pdf lurking ominously on my desktop to make sure I haven't missed that as well. 

The London Group
Open Exhibition 2009

No, it's okay.  I've got time to miss it still. 
Can't be bothered with 'short story' anymore.  It was titled Two-thousand-and-when, so probably no loss.  Farah.Jackson

Tuesday, 9 June 2009

'Snakes alive.  Fifty five, two old guys.'

(Steve Waugh, Philip King; who they?)

Every working day brings 'retirement' closer . . . a truth universally acknowl-etc. 
That's normal, the way of things . . . as it should be.  Kids cost more, grow up and leave home, I retire and at some point later, later being the way we want it, we die a painless and peaceful death with all the trimmings. 
Retirement first though, but retirement has not been coming at a steady annual pace.  It has leapt at me in five year jumps - from 65 to 60 to a de facto 55 which is where I am now. 
In my twenties, Life Insurance and Retirement Annuity Policies projected that I would retire at 50, and the general expectation was that our life of work would end before 60. 
The policies I took up then paid out at 50 and that's another story, but retirement was not what they paid for.  I would have used the bonanza for school fees, tuition fees, or to help the graduates pay off their student loans but it was no bonanza, it went towards a few white goods and to keep the bloody car at the city kerbside paying for parking. 
As for retiring, no talk of that any longer. 
No thought of that.  Expectations were on the turn. 
Hard on the heels of racism and sexism, prefigured by feminism and universal franchise, along came ageism to mess with the retirement age and our expectation of work and who should do it and what work we variously should be doing and when we can afford us to stop work and start paying us a pension and maintain the health services to keep increasingly fit and active retired people living ever longer doing nothing. 
Even before subprime pooped the party in 2008, the life-expectancy demographics were raising awkward questions about how retirement can be paid for. 
All of a sudden it's, 'let's keep the old buggers working until 70 . . . or longer', and I agree it would make a sort of sense to work everybody until they drop and keep the young in education for as long as it takes until somewhere, anywhere, there's a job vacancy.  After all, why waste education on the old?  What's the point of providing leisure classes in The Renaissance or watercolour painting?  Why bungee jump or take up dinghy sailing or golf at 55, or 60, or 70 when it's much better to do any of those in your 20s; better when the students can walk to the lecture theatre, see to paint, can understand the technology and not need a buggy to get around 18 holes. 
Let the old alone to work in peace, don't hound the old and harangue them out of work. 
Let the young idle, let them to think and learn, let them go through the stress of education and breeding with a bit of time on their hands. 
Let the young hit balls with sticks while they have strength, reflex and flex to do it with power and style and grace and pace. 
As we had, and will still have to find the money from somewhere to keep the old idle now, give that money to the futures and keep the old busy.  Let's invest in the young. 
I have an interest here.  I'm homing in on my fifty-fifth and I'm too young to die, I mean retire.  Symbolically though, I must mark this rite of passage from aged, tolerated but still useful citizen to sage-cum-drag on the coffers.  I'm considering committing Twitter suicide (thanks C) or, I could 'retire' my blog . . . but would either be gesture enough? 

I've just rested from this to, one: fend off a mate trying to get me to accompany him to a tribute band gig somewhere in Euston, (I hate all tribute bands, and reformings, particularly tribute bands to bands I've never heard of.  Don't you?) and two: to try and work out the exact date that a 27-year-old will be 'exactly' half my age.  Mind manglingly difficult mathematics for me - far beyond my capabilities. 
Umm, approximately the eighth of July (more of a guess in fact), but - 
Q.  Given I'm 55 on 1106this and my guess is correct: what date was her 27th birthday?  (1106 is 11 June here, not November 6.)
No prizes for the answer, but purchase prize for best working out in pretty colours and / or dynamic graphics.  No cracks either, 'her' is a daughter.

FUTURES: now there's a TAG. . . but in the meanwhile, what of my retirement expectations I ask?  What of 'my rights? '
If they're mine, I intend to have them. 
Okay, cracks are fine, and will be considered. 
I want that gold-watch-gesture.  The change of the guard parade, the go away and enjoy yourself oh good and faithful, now useless, drone, drudge, slave, retainer and 'good riddance (go and die)', we need that sinecure you've been occupying for someone else promoted to incompetence. 
Wouldn't I like the 'Free at Last', go and enjoy yourself gift from society to crown the sense of achievement from a life of dutiful work (? ) and my fifty-fifth hoves . . . I was supposed by date of birth expectation to be considering retirement. 
Enjoying my work as I do and not having achieved half I want with it, I've never needed a hobby.  I could never afford a hobby, neither the time nor the money, so I've nothing to fall back on see, and I don't have the money to stop working even if I wanted to . . . which I don't.  Look, I'm just getting into my stride and life is short and quickly passing. 
It's not just presidents of the Royal Academy I miss; entire world beating cricket teams have conquered and retired unremarked. 
Retired again.  Retiring, this rite of passage that doesn't know when it is, or how we can pay for it; how tiresome it is to be burdened by birthdays. 
I've never liked birthdays much. 
Well, I've never liked mine. 
The year spins around and I've got to have one, a birthday, a token click of counting, a reflection or accounting of period passing and of survival. 
But to 'celebrate' a birthday every single year, rings hollow.  To celebrate 'me' this frequently seems an indulgence. 
Why not once a month, like Lovers do when love is new.  But not monthly for long for each year, a New Year, a Cup Final, another Christmas; one a year, every year and there's no surprise left and barely time for anticipation. 
The D Day Veterans have just had their 65th and I confess to a twinge of annoyance, not at our remembrance of the trauma of a seminal day, but irritation at the number. 
65 as a number.  2009 as a year.  Neither a decade nor a half-century.  There's no punchy zero factor to get misty eyed about - this is no millennium for sure. 
What does 65 mean to young soldiers who served and died as soldiers have always died and continue to die in old mens' wars?  Obviously the D Day survivors are thinning out, the veterans at youngest are in their 80s, but still, 'why the sixty-fifth anniversary? '
We used to retire at 65, is that it? 
In '67, McCartney sang of 64 (When I'm Sixty-four).  I guess it scanned.  Or, is it a sentiment from a bygone decade where the expectation was that men retired at 65 and their 5 year younger spouses at 60, or: was it a presentiment that by age 65 McCartney would still be working as artists never retire, while none of the rest of us has the least idea whether, or when, or if we will be able to afford to retire at all. 

(Steve Waugh, Philip King; who they?  Part 2.) 

Sunday, 26 April 2009

Recovering from Kuniyoshi

Women are wonderful. 
I'd barely, if ever, 'be honest Kev,' I'd never heard of Kuniyoshi until Nat told me and asked me to go and see the exhibition as she could not, and when I explained this to Noughty A in the studio, that is noughty with an 'o', she immediately arranged us to go together.  'That'll do,' I thought.  'This won't be so bad after all.'  The exhibition may turn out to be incomprehensible and a chore, but I shall have the company of a beautiful woman as compensation. 
Kuniyoshi at the Royal Academy. 
Oh hell!  That place again.  I know, or know of, or knew too many people there, and the knowing has never helped me get a picture into their travesty Summer Exhibition.  Not once.  I swear it's nepotism in reverse.  The RA owes me hundreds in futile entry fees and aggravation. 
Worse yet, as I slunk in across the courtyard paddling around the corny water spouts, I saw with horror that the London Original Print Fair was in mid jamboree.  No wonder half the purposeful striders through the tourists looked so familiar.  There were the print dealers betraying their nerves looking expo cocky, printmakers looking desperate, and the printers hungry as hell. 
Waiting for Noughty A, as I should wait, I mused over the London Original Print Fair flier. 
The Daily Telegraph's man Richard Dorment's quote, 'By far the best place to buy prints' headed the exhibitor list of old names, re-namings and the odd unknown.  The odd newcomer? 
I must be out of touch.  Eyestorm - and later to Safari - Google?  Oh it's Them.  Again. 
Andrew Edmunds - hmmm.  Have I forgotten?  Perhaps I never knew, perhaps Andrew Edmunds is new, but no time to dwell on Andy new or not as lovely A arrived, buoyed me to attention, buoyed me up the stairs, into the lift and we were in. 
I'd hate to admit that I could ever forget my sweet companion, but I very nearly did forget her. 
Not at first though, my spirit sank as it always does when viewing old prints and drawings in museum conditions.  I want to see these things, not peer tiringly at them glass encased in the dingy gloom of conservation lighting, scrabbling over and over to remove sunglasses I'm not wearing.  Not that I don't appreciate the necessity and not that you can't see the work, and Kuniyoshi's shone through the dusk. 
Bugger the monied grandiosity of the Print Fair below, here were prints of domestic human scale.  No spurious limitings of editions, nothing unoriginal, each a commercial production of multiples from cherry wood blocks cut to print hundreds, thousands, or none if no good.  The handcolouring is without any doubt skilled but shows endless human fallibility.  The printing blocks are small, cherry tree scale and the images are composed of several blocks set tiled together; printed and coloured separately, the variations of washes and blends don't match across the entire image, nor does the pasting together register one printing precisely to its neighbour - this might have mattered to the printers and colourists in the print shop, now, it doesn't matter a bit. 
There are lots of other printmakerly presentation tricks to enjoy: blind embossed textures, the fibrous grain of the paper giving lustre to solid colours, metalic pigments in the colour washes and inks, all good stuff of course but 'what of the images?' 
The overall impression is narrative rather than illustrative.  Noughty A, unforgotten, introduced me to Manga when we marvelled at the obvious post referencing in comic and graphic art.  There were copperplate printing influences in the uses of block textures and wash, from Dutch engravings reaching Japan, and the feeling that there is nothing new under the sun.  Standing in front of the largest pieces, tall multi-block tower block prints perhaps a meter high with slashing vertical colour marks, I overheard a man reminded of Ian Davenport's painting. 
There is a series of battledores which looked like they should be taken home and cut out to shape.  Another series, of clever, rather sinister graphic surrealism; of faces which on closer inspection are composed of contorted bodies. 
The graphic line, so labour intensive to achieve in block cutting for relief printing reminded us of brush strokes more than the marks of nib or pencil. 
But is it art?  'Probably not,' I think, but then wonder at the boldness of each composition stripped back for craft production, ease, speed and cost effectiveness, but compensated for by wild diagonals and irrational composition dominated as much by the graphic panes and seals as the pictorial content.  Many of these prints were meant to be handled, left on tables or seen askew on other people's laps, they weren't conceived to hang framed on the wall.  They look pretty good on the wall though and there's humour.  A fight on a roof almost slapstick, and a series depicting named officials under attack.  'Number 47: Loyal Retainer Nakamura Masatatsu fending off a hurled brasier' was my favourite of the day. 
I had a moment's uncertainty as I grinned.  'Was this meant to be funny?'  What do I know about Japan, next to nothing and resolving to re-read Mishima, lend Mishima to lovely A and investigate calligraphy with her, we walked out into the dazzle of spring sunshine, exhausted, reaching for shades, strolling away through teeming London exhilarated as if we were the only ones there. 

'What size are they?' asked Nat.  None bigger than imperial (76 x 56 cms), most smaller, excepting the two tower block images.  The wood block on display was approximately a foot square.  (30 x 30 cms)

Kuniyoshi is at the RA until early June. 
The London Original Print Fair finished today, Sunday.  Whether you've missed it or anything, there'll be another print fair coming along soon.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Same same, back in the blighted West

I haven't blogged for a while.  I've been away see and I've almost forgotten how to use this computer; my fingers blunder around making typos and no sense. 
So.  I don't need to tell you what's been happening: jobs gone, banks going, bankers hammered, money getting printed - you know all that and it's on and off the front pages so that's that, and we're getting used to it not being news anymore.  You know what's been happening, the sea level is rising and Barack is digging in, I suppose, because I haven't heard. 
I left on inauguration day and missed his swearing in doing the airport tango with a check in trolley.  Was it any good?  I expect it's been forgotten. 
The US Americans I met were bullish, Bushless at last.  'I never voted for him,' they said, 'now please like me,' they're saying. 
I haven't blogged for a while because I've been away, but what sort of excuse is that? 
I wasn't off the map, and if I had been I'd have been blogging non-stop: I'd have been paid to and my fingers would be razor sharp on any keyboard. 
I didn't go and do anything very exciting.  I went to work.  I can do that, I can take my work nigh anywhere and work providing a few basic conditions can be met.  I can't work on the move though; I need a table that's mine, power, light, not too cold not too hot, cheap if possible, beautiful if beautiful can be got, safe enough, secure within reason, and a constant noise level.  I can't work with bangs or slabcutters grinding.  Good music stops me working: I listen, bad music I have.  People stop me working, but I can't do without people and there were enough. 
I went to Kerala which is exciting, but I went to find all of the above in Kerala, and K provided satisfaction in an unexciting way that was ideal for working.  I ignored Kerala's excitements: its backwaters and beaches, yoga, massages and aruvedic medicines, ashrams, cheap teeth and cheap opticals, resorts and fish restaurants.  I missed out on the elephant parades and holy skewerings, fire walkers, nature reserves, dams and folk singing.  I saw some temples and mosques, and many, many new churches built along the tsunami wrecked shore. 
I took to a quiet terrace in the coconut forest with banana and jack fruit outside, with a swamp as a view; full of weed and duck and jewelled kingfishers, where the house cow went for its daily bath and into which everyone threw their trash.  I bagged mine, put it out and it was thrown into the swamp for me.  Learning the ropes and finding there is no alternative, I came to throw my own there. 
A din seemed to chant in my ear as I woke to the predator's whine; chanting as I worked.  A silent noise of frogs and crickets, crows affirming crow, nameless other shouting birds, dogs, palm fronds clacking in the wind, slap slap of flip-flop in the dirt, slapping laundry, temple bells, temple drums, a distant muezzin, and the wash of ocean surf. 
Laundry hung beside the red track that ran down the hill, past my terrace and around the swamp to Temple Road and dark little shops.  Auto-rickshaws gathered where two tiny, beautiful young women ran an internet cafe: fan cooled, stifling hot, connection fair, and full of mosquitos.  Incense and mosquito coil smoke billowed about their saris and sweet efficient smiles.  All men looked, and they had brothers and cousins at hand. 
The mossies were the drawback.  Too many: hungry and merciless. 
Big fat brown ants walked along the power wires making highways in the sky.  Little ants joined me for gin, liking the tonic best and everything else I ate except pepper and coffee.  Tiniest ants swarmed in the milk pan.  Not many spiders; not many cockroaches, surprisingly few flies and no snakes came indoors. 
The coconuts were ripe and nuts crashed down with lethal potential.  One morning, men came climbing the trunks, their bare feet bound together with tape, carrying curved edged axes to harvest the nuts in a bombardment.  They pruned the fronds which tumbled crashing, blocking my stairs and blocking the track.  Coconuts thumped, chipping masonary, denting the metal gates, ricochetting into the swamp and bounding, rolling together strewn everywhere. 
Fresh coconut flesh, rice and fresh fish - the food was fabulous, if an ordeal to eat with my landlord's family: with hands, served alone and scrutinised, eating alone, overawed and overfed.  Fair food in the tourist restaurants, I don't wish to be unfair, but not good for India, for Kerala not good, where food is of the best in the world. 
It grew too hot in the end, undermining my resilience and well being and forcing me home; here, where I can sit in the cool sun, wear clothes, wrap up warm, walk at a bracing pace and not get bitten. 
I went to work in Kerala, not to play, not for holiday; and work I did.  At what I know, to what effect I don't.  Work, 'same same' Kerala people said to people like me in Kerala.


Wednesday, 14 January 2009

Sitting Bum - Flaming Horror

I try to get up from this screen, I really do. 
I try to turn it off - surely I've finished with it: I log out of my networks, close down the applications, reopen mail to check mail one last time and shut down.  I shut the lid only to lift it again to do the very next thing .  .  .  to write this piece, as it happens. 
With a laptop I don't have to sit back down again in that room, on that chair, or go anywhere.   I don't have to find it; my laptop is with me - available, portable, wifi-ed, ethernetted if desperate, in my bag about my person - all the time. 
Women organise life by their own timetables while men have never been so tyrannised by wife as by wifi, and this, a gender-centric observation is born from desperation.  Crying for help doesn't mean you'll get any but we're all being out-competed by our computers: Mesdames, come and help here. 
Why women should bother is another matter or course, but men never really understand why women bother so much with men anyway.  Self interest, men suppose; I mean, I wouldn't bother one second about another bloke unless, (a) he supports WHU, (b) he is going to either give me a job or do one for me, or, (c ) to misquote Douglas Adams, 'absolutely nothing else'. 
My boss is a woman and she supports WHU. 
'WHU?'  I do know; it's footie - a soccer team, and I don't care even if Barack Obama does follow them, but I bother about my computer - all of the time. 
Not to mention now.  Writing this is on my laptop is symptomatic of my dependence. 
If this is breaking out of jail, tunneling back in is the best I can do.  Smart eh. 
Good moves Man.  Cool, and while I'm on it, it's online and I can shop. 
I can work and conference.  Email, what a drag - text, but far more letters and fewer fax.  No fewer phonecalls. 
My old fashioned, full blooded live chums communicate with me this way as do my parents and children. 
I have new friends online in professional networks, social nings and dating .  .  .  tempted, I join a new group and find 'friends' on arrival, linked in from other networks they're on or I am. 
I do my banking and pay my bills.  I watch my stock free-fall and this is how I'd sell, if I should sell it, or more likely when I have to .  .  .  if there's any value left there.  This is how I bought stock and should be buying more, now, as the market falls in the old faith of risings to come. 
Oh shit. 
Anyways, [adv., pl., p.t.] I bought my holidays, books and music, booked my working trips, arranged the itineraries, saw the hotel poolside, my next car or sofa or computer virtually on this very screen. 
I sell my 'art' from this self same screen, and when I've finished worrying work, assets and tax; working family and friends real and virtual, finished with that and want to do something else .  .  .  to listen to music or the radio, to watch t.v. or a movie, book a ticket, play a game, reserve a seat; I roam around a bit to stretch my legs, massage my calfs and remember I'm a biped not a sitting bum; then it's back at the screen to relax. 
Relaxed and ready to work again, I stay put to write, to draw, print, to order the gear and arrange transport. 
I'm struggling to turn off my computer and there's so little reason to.  Everything I want is on it so why turn it off, why do I want to, what else am I looking for?  Country walks?  Sex? 
Er .  .  .  yes, food too, and virtuality suddenly seems such bollocks; horseshit if you're North American.
Laptop Lunches
VirtualNora wrote to all her network friends, stricturing us, 'When there is a will there is away'. 
It's a typo of course, I stick up for my mates, even the virtual friends in social networks where we sit safe in our smug profiles; or, is it vice versa, smug in our safe profiles; okay, sit safely smug in our smuggly safe profiles and wait in hope that someone else will do something.  Even, possibly especially VirtualNora, who set up and moderates her network is waiting, but waiting for what exactly? 
It is such a thrill to get any response (!!!!!), and such a disappointment when the response is, 'Hi :)'.  You garner virtual friends with less than that - I haven't exchanged a 'Hi :)' with half of mine.  When, in the virtual whirl, do we ever 'cut to the chase'? 
Now I know there is a problem here.  There is an inbuilt resistance to being identified as you, an acknowledgment that life in the virtual is not so safe as sitting solo on one's bum should be.  Having a common name, I found my name is far commoner than I'd thought.  Getting a domain name, a mail, or blog address with your real name is no straightforward matter; and you know what's coming here: if I want a blog with my name on it, it is going to cost me. 
Life in the virtual is not so good as to come for free, so there's a surprise, but we all like 'free' even while we know that freebies are nearly always rubbish and come with a cost.  But, I'm not going into expense where 'free' is an option, indeed 'free' is the name of the game.  The cost is, and it's a challenge, is I've no free choice but to name myself atavistically as 'nogwinting.blahblog' or somesuch, and lucky me not to have to resort to numerals this time. 
Naming myself thus .  .  .  well .  .  .  what can I not say?  Who can't I pretend to be?  What profile image can I not put up? 
It's a challenge and a temptation.  It doesn't matter what I blog however weird - even I can't remember my name.  I become anonymous to myself and anonymity is a powerful tool. 
It's a temptation worthy of challenge and it's free.  Anonymous can speak without consequence, without reference to 'self'.  Pure unfettered messaging is possible, and sedition is necessary to the best of societies. 
The message can be pure, but Anonymous suffers from speaking without the conviction that consequence brings, without the certainty and impact that an 'I' bestows, and Anonymous is too easily dismissed as feeble minded, vandal, cowardly and disaffected. 

Vital or Virtual
Is the virtual profile a persona?  I cannot safely assume that my friend, VirtualNora is a 'she'.  The profile picture is a hint: looks like 'she', but who can tell?  220 by 220 random pixels at low resolution is not so many to make much of.  Have 'Photoshop', can photoshop, can do anything with 220 square and don't need to take so much trouble over it as that. 
The anonymous option opportunity is both the strength and weakness of virtual, both part of the appeal and part of the problem. 
Are people hiding something; inventing something; proclaiming a hidden side; a private side; a better side; disguising a shameful, embarrassing inadequate truth about themselves, or: is this liberation, freedom, a great unfettering outlet of a creative streak available to us all - at long last?  Or are we all taking the piss? 
Does it matter that there is no way of knowing? 
'do u have another name?'  asks VirtualUsha. 
VirtualCordelia states, 'If you have to ask, you don't want to know. '
VirtualMajlinta refuses my 'friend request'.  What's wrong with me?  And still miffed several days on, provoked to poke, maybe 'her', I reinstate my add request.  Take That!
People or atavars, name, username, virtual name: what is this identity confusion?  Is it a dilemna, or guise, or identity crisis? 
VirtualNanny guides us away from vital through the strict profile form (see Privacy conditions) to submit smart favourites, cool ones, the honest ones and the cute.  Finding the profile pic takes time; the one you like for this yourself if you have one; time to make some more; getting them onto the computer plus a bit of retouch; filling in the 'about you' box in 1000 words or 700 characters; deciding which your favourite movies, music, food, holiday destinations, sport, books and others are, and what this list of likes says about you. 
Are VirtualNora and virtual networks an identity crisis with a friendly face? 
Is there an unspoken acknowledgment that 'virtual' isn't real, (how mad is that?); that Facebook friends aren't real friends, (huh?); that social networks aren't social; that as the chase never kicks off it's not much of a network at all? 
Is this 'play'? 
Licensed Identity Crisis, guise or disguise, is this not a 'tease'? 
Naughty VirtualNannyNing letting us stip-tease like this.  It's 'fancy dress' in pretty pixels.  The Masque Ball without thrills and disappointment, and as so often under laptop tyranny, I wonder if I'm missing the whole point.  I wonder if I'm the child seeing the Emperor naked or whether I'm just missing the point of nudity. 
Still no joy with VMajlinta and I'm not going to put up with this vicarious brush off without having my virtual say. 
I'll say not .  .  .  Message to VM whatsoever you are: 'Well B'orf! Don't be my virtual friend you Precious Pongy Pile of Perfect Atavistical Pixel Dung :('  But then again, 'Hey, get a grip nogwinting why don't I?'  Like everything else, virtual may mean nothing and come to nothing, virtual is part of the vital and on that basis it's all a bit of a shrug and a bit more of the same.  Better be in the virtual than not. 

Bloody Nora
Better get this thing off my lap  .  .  .  I so know that Lap Dancing ain't sex.