Fragments in the shallows: digital communication and us

iphone

Hey, saying by just while their worth truly something … huh? I’ll rewind that later and start again by going back:

Hi D, K here. I got your number from A I hope that’s ok. How are you? Do you want to go out sometime?

No-one had ever sent a text to ask me out. More than a hundred characters too. I agreed to a drink. By text. It seemed heavy-handed to expect K to lift the phone as far as her ear just to hear me say ‘friends’ and I didn’t want to say yes in case talking on the phone was misinterpreted as an escalatory signal.

Two weeks later K texted me to cancel what was, by then, our twice-rescheduled rendezvous. She was dating someone else. It is a simple fact that we haven’t spoken since we saw each other at a friend’s dinner party a few days before her first message.

The episode was like a dream where part of your life unfolds in a different reality to the one you know and you realise, when it is over, that something good in the world has died. Continue reading

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Log-off before you’re carbon dated

Chagall-Lovers of Vence 1957

Marc Chagall, Lovers of Vence, 1957

As anyone unwillingly single bites down on their resolution of getting together with someone they like this year, on-line dating sites are advertising themselves across the commercial networks.

On-line dating is, of course, an oxymoronic convenience of modern communication that debases humanity. It starts by keeping people apart, and tries to convince lonely hearts that the best way to find someone to love is sitting with a computer or that other oxymoronic convenience, the smartphone, rather than sitting with someone else.

On-line dating starts with the obvious irony, which not many see apparently, that it connects people with the one common interest that keeps them apart in the first place – the Internet.

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San Francisco – I walk and I walk

 

San Francisco

“A rose is a rose is a rose is a rose.” Gertrude Stein, born 1874 in Pittsburg, raised in Oakland.

***

I walk and I walk and I walk and I walk.

I walk on the steep carved hills. I walk to the tops of the hills and over the tops of hills. I walk down the hills. I let the busses go past. I do not get on the streetcars. I hear the cables whirring below the tracks. I cross streets of black veined tar that fills the fault lines of tired and rubbed out roads.

I walk on the pavements and pass by many people. I walk along long streets of three-storey houses, their walls conjoined, their textured and coloured facades and the shapes of their windows all different.

I walk into the cafes on Columbus Avenue that make thick syrup espressos and listen to the talk of animated men getting older. ‘Can you imagine having Eugene O’Neil as a father-in-law? Holy shit.’ The best coffee is made by quiet men in black cotton shirts.

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Australia and West New Guinea, 1957-1959

When the Menzies Cabinet decided in January 1959 to give greater weight to maintaining good neighbour relations with Jakarta over denying Indonesia control of West New Guniea (WNG), it was with the firm understanding that Australia’s regional policy was dependent on the military backing of its major allies, the United States (US) and United Kingdom (UK).

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The end of the Cuban idyll

Sunset over Havana

The BBC is running a story today that the Cuban government has removed the need for its citizens to have an exit permit to travel abroad. There are many beginnings, even to ends, but this is another because ends the Cuban idyll for all which Castro established when he won power in 1959 and restricted foreign travel.

The restriction’s lifting reminds me of Milan Kundera’s Book of Laughter and Forgetting, a stinging critique of Communist government in Czechoslovakia, first published in Czech in 1978 and in English translation in 1980. In the first section of his novel “Lost Letters”, he writes of the idyll for all:

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Jeffrey Smart and the Perspective of Time V

The Tarrawarra Museum of Art’s retrospective of Jeffrey Smart’s work from 1940-2011 shows Smart as an interpreter of solitude and the relationship between people and their built environment, and as an artist who successfully synthesised traditional perspective with the flat and abstract planes of early 20th century modernist painting that eventually destroyed it.

In almost seamlessly bringing these two bookends of western art history together, Smart subtly marries a range of contradictions or dualities on his canvasses: urban landscape and minuscule portraiture in the Portrait of Clive James, the silence of modern communications and invisible movement in the Control Tower and The Listeners, and crossed relations between the direction of perspective and light in Morning Practice, Baia and The Vacant Allotment.

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