Sunday 30 November 2008

The Australian Chinese Daily publishes pornographic material. It's not open to dispute.

This is not material that could concievably be published in a mainstream English daily newspaper in this country. Not even the bad old days of page-three girls competes with it.

On Saturday 29 November 2008, page 69, for example, in the 'Adult Entertainment' section we find this piece of eroticism.


The woman is groaning happily. Her legs are jerking in quick spasms. The cunt juice is coming from her cunt continuously and heavily. She starts shouting "Fast, fast! I want you. Again. Fucking fast!"

She feels that I do not understand my purpose. As I do not have further action, she forces me to use my mouth to lick her cunt. "Oh, my darling! Fast, fast, fast, fast. It's so good. I want your baby to go into my cunt and my body. Fast, fast!"

I haven't realized what I've done, but my legs get soft. Now she is sitting on my legs and uses her mouth to lick my penis and I feel like she swallows my penis. It seems like she's licking a sausage. She's sucking my cock happily and makes noise. I start groaning and squeezing her breasts and rub heavily. I'm waiting for her next action. She uses her mouth to suck my cock up and down, up and down, up and down. And it gets fast. She's playing with my cock with her mouth, up and down several hundred times.

I feel so comfortable and my cock is very hot and very hard. My cock is shaking with her rhythm, continually. Suddenly, she stops sucking and my cock is up very straight. At this time, she opens her legs slowly and sits on my body. Then she uses her hand to hold my cock up. The other hand is trying to open the two lips of her cunt so that her rose-coloured cunt just faces my cock.

Then suddenly she sits on my cock. I feel my cock is going into her cunt, but not very deeply. Gradually, I feel the head of my cock goes into the warmest place in her body and goes in and out, in and out. I have a very comfortable feeling.

She holds my hands so that my cock can go into he cunt deeply. My cock goes very deep and in and out, and in and out. At this time, she completely lets go of my hands and holds her knees. Her body suddenly sits down and her ass completely sits on my cock. I hear a sound. My cock is like a very hard stick, and completely goes into her cunt.

I feel my cock deeply goes into the deepest place in her body. At that moment, I feel I'm in paradise. She only sits on my body for several seconds, and then she cannot wait. She moves her bottom and her cunt up and down, up and down. She makes noises.

Thursday 27 November 2008

Readings from Paradise Lost duly commenced at 6.30pm this evening under the freckled wooden ceiling and cheese-coloured stone walls of Christ Church St Laurence, an Anglican church operating in the Anglo-Catholic tradition near Central Station in Sydney.

It is an elegant choice of venue by the organisers, mostly academics from the universities of Sydney and New South Wales. The icons and gold, the stained glass and dark wood added a kind of sympathetic aura to the clipped verbs of the readers.

Cathy Sherry as Eve stood out, being the only woman speaking in an environment where a woman's voice travels far more effectively than the hollow tones of a man's. Sherry's delivery lacked some vital spice, though. The audience may have been to blame, but it is hard to blame an audience when they are attending an event that has almost no precedent.

Beverley Sherry, an honorary associate at the University of Sydney, provided the essential glue - along with a modest amount of praise for the dead poet - in her narrative. She introduced the actors.

But here's the thing: none of them are, in fact, actors, and a work of such depth as Milton's 1667 poem requires measure and emotion - a sort of earnest pronouncement - in addition to correct diction and eagerness.

A good time was had by all. I spoke with another attendee on the steps outside, in front of the church's mesmerisingly red door, and she noted that the rarity of the occasion made it almost unnecessary for the readers to be any good.

There's no doubt that Milton is an excellent poet. Nevertheless, there's a certain perfection - verging on sterility - that is absent in Shakespeare. Where Milton finds the word most apropos, Shakespeare strikes a spark like life itself.

The deficiency in the readings underscores this coldness. We must be wary, however.

Because the fact is that nobody - almost - reads Milton nowadays. He was effectively banished from the Eden of popularity by the firm push towards a more humanist platform that took place in the 19th century.

I would welcome more of this kind of thing. An element of feedback, heard by the readers and organisers, would help them to focus. It is difficult - almost impossible - to practice any art in a vacuum. Unfortunately for them, the vash washing sound of cars on George Street outside the church, like a huge vacuum cleaner attempting to suck everything delicate and rare out of our society, is the dominant sound.

It is the sound of the streets.

And while those streets may sometimes have an awning for covering, a poet like Milton is best experienced within more substantial, protective shelter. A cloister.

The 19th century Romantics understood this. It is fitting (though not in the least surprising) that William Blake's illustrations were used by organisers to decorate an eight page pamphlet produced on the occasion.

Wednesday 26 November 2008

Freud's Dora is subtitled 'An Analysis of a Case of Hysteria' and it would be premature - this is the only Freud I've read - to say that Freud's personal obsession drives him along a narrow track.

But his logic skips at a brisk pace, hard to follow and dense with allusion to other ideas and narratives beyond the page. It's a difficult book to like until you start to think about 'Dora' with more concentration.

Dora, a pseudonym, is a complex girl who suffers from nervous disorders, and no wonder. Her father has syphyllis from his youth. Her mother is clearly depressed and secrets herself away from her husband.

In fact, it is in the boring domestic details that Dora's story becomes most lively and engaging. Indeed, Freud took pains at times to transcribe whole conversations between himself and Dora, in illustrating a point.

The complex web of intimacies and friendships that constituted Dora's adolescence attest to either an enlightened or a very disorderly family. Her father's affair with Mrs K bleeds into her own intimacies with Mr K. Freud advises that it is a transference of anxiety about her father (doing it with Mrs K) that grows into jealousy, that manifests itself as disgust at Mr K's approaches.

At 14, she is unable to process his approach, and is referred to Freud. From our perspective, however, it is clear that the family life was not supportive. Her mother didn't engage with the kids and her father was always off with his mistress.

Unfortunately for Freud, we are not so morally concerned about physical things nowadays. His high minded attack on masturbation, accompanied by proof from other doctors, is frankly ridiculous, like Marx attacking the Jews.

Freud is, at the beginning, at pains to distance himself from other physicians, so it is a bit rich to conscript their opinions at such a delicate point.

I would recommend the book, though, for its inherent interest as a document of a girl's life at the turn of the century. Few other types of literature, at that time, dealt in the same issues. So from this point of view, Freud's analysis is unique. Even in literature you'll not find so much direct observation of individual utterances and events.

As a serious piece of scholarship, I'm not really qualified, especially given that I never - or hardly ever - read literary introductions. Nevertheless, I felt a lot of impatience.

This is not surprising in light of scientific advances and modern concepts of good domestic governance and behavioral theory, which most people can use to argue with to some degree. Definitely passee, but also worth the time and effort.

Saturday 22 November 2008

Apparently George Orwell's A Clergyman's Daughter (1935), which is NOT about Jane Austen, was "an experimental novel". It is certainly uneven in quality. But Orwell is a polemicist and drama of a domestic kind did not appeal to his sense of taste.

Coming from a pioneer family, Orwell wasn't afraid of getting stuck in. The novel's best section deals with amnesic Dorothy and her mates picking hops in Kent. Orwell undertook the same task himself, one of the reasons - no doubt - why the woman Dorothy may owe something to, an East Anglian friend, rejected his marriage proposal.

Dorothy is not a complex character and none of the book's characters are, apart from the hilariously repugnant libertine Mr Warburton.

And the title is strange for the way Orwell seems to channel the many (bad) novelists of the mid 18th century who dealt in a similar theme: a lady in trouble.

Nothing is so engrossing it seems, as a lady in trouble. Austen's juvenilia attests to the many ways a lady in those days could get into trouble but Orwell reminds us that a too heavy dependence on ulterior proprieties continued to plague (especially) youth in the early part of last century.

In the beginning of the novel, Dorothy is plagued only by her supercilious father, a snob and a parson responsible for declining attendance due to a rigid adherence to old forms. At the time, Catholicism had become resurgent due to the Romantic tastes of the populace and a routine round of cleansing within the Anglican communion. But Charles Hare will have none of it.

She slaves away at the small, unrecognised tasks pertaining to the station of a young, unattached woman who nevertheless possesses a strong connection to the Church. Poor Dorothy!

Struck by amnesia one night after a meeting with Warburton, she unwittingly joins a group of street kids and decamps from London - we don't learn how she got there - to Kent to pick hops. Recovering later she is given a place at a third-rate school for girls by a rich relative.

Unluckily I lost my copy at this point. But Wikipedia blurb notes that there's little more action after the school. It also tells me that Orwell tried to impersonate Joyce. I'd got this myself but that section was so poor that I skipped most of it. Joyce's fluid conversation becomes, in Orwell, a bad silent movie.

Orwell is ultimately an ideas man and the lack in the novel's execution is less noticeable than the pleasures of A Clergyman's Daughter, especially the hops picking section.

Here Orwell picks up on the politics of agricultural labour. It comes across not dissimilarly to the drama found in Waltzing Matilda, where capital and the law (or at least its pointy end - the police) range against uneducated and transigent day labourers and Gypsies.

For this reason alone, I recommend the book to anyone interested in early Modernist fiction.

Monday 10 November 2008

Wei Liao’s funeral inside Sydney Olympic Park’s Badgery Pavilion was uneventful and oddly moving. Hundreds of mourners, mainly Chinese students, came to hear a string of speakers pay tribute to a 19 year old girl who died after falling off a Waterloo apartment block.

Wu Liping, Liao’s mother, spoke while I was outside eating a pie. The food stand underneath the awning of the Sydney Showground stood opposite.

I was also thankful for the toilets. Homebush is a good half hour’s drive from the city.

I didn’t hear Mrs Wu speak. I could hear her voice ooze from speakers mounted on the pavilion’s exterior. It echoed about the frontage where two gigantic hearses from Simplicity Funerals waited for the white casket to emerge from the dimly lit and cavernous interior.

The pie was good. I’d already stood for an hour and listened to a handful of people talk. Everyone watching was silent, respectful. I listened to Andrew Ferguson, general secretary of the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union address the dead girl’s parents. They nodded as he told them how, when a construction worker died, it was customary to pass around the hat in support of surviving family.

They nodded several times. They didn’t nod when Prof. Gang Bai spoke. Bai is a consul of the People’s Republic.

Some observers sang along when the Buddhist priest sang. Although this part was mournful, and although Prof. Bai thanked the NSW Police for catching the perpetrator, the feeling inside the pavilion, with its exposed steel struts and blue carpet squares, was slightly surreal as if a more suitable venue had not been found.

And although the pie was decent (despite being five dollars), missing Mrs Wu was a mistake, though not a deadly one.

Immediately prior to her, the head of Taylors College spoke. This no doubt decent man verged on deadly. In fact it was his nerveless delivery that brought on exhaustion and caused me to look for sustenance.

He mentioned how important it was for students to find friends. He didn’t mention how badly this incident had hurt Australia’s reputation for safety.

The press has also been silent on this issue. Or nearly silent.

Liao’s story had been in the press for a week or so before 31 October, when Dylan Welch’s The Sydney Morning Herald story appeared with accompanying photos of Mrs Wu and her husband. About the same time news of the funeral ceremony appeared in Chinese language papers.

It was at this time that we had dropped off flowers at the Macevoy Street apartment block.

It is an isolated and lonely modern block nestled against a very busy stretch of a busy road. Not a good place to live if safety is a concern. The same night, in Pyrmont, a friend’s friend had been burgled.

No harm beyond a missing passport and other discomforts, though the police invited her to the station for questions the next day.

My friend had wanted to go to the ceremony so we left the CBD at 10am on Saturday and were parking on Australia Avenue, in Homebush, half an hour later.

After feeding the meter we walked to the pavilion. But nothing here - this sterile hall with its bland carpet, people from the Buddhist society dressed in identical yellow shirts and white pants, funeral parlour employees slinging walkie-talkies and in identical black suits - could tell you how this unfortunate girl died.

The mystery at the heart of the story is whether she committed suicide or not. Having been raped twice we find her on the balcony. Her Korean boyfriend also fell but sustained only a broken hip and legs.

If Liao died escaping why did she die and not him? If she was trying to die why isn’t it in the papers?

The question is not seriously asked. Possibly it has something to do with Prof. Bai’s long retelling of the story with its silent admonishment of New South Wales society hidden in notices of “measures” taken at various institutions.

Possibly it has something to do with the fact that Mrs Wu’s new husband - Liao’s stepfather - is young and handsome.

Possibly it’s just that the shame would be too much for the Chinese community to accept. Which is a shame because it’s better to know the full truth in such cases. It will mean a lot when the time comes to writing and printing stories about the trial.

The Chinese community has come together in this instance. It’s a good thing. But too much solidarity only makes things uncertain for the future.

Sunday 9 November 2008

Ryszard Kapuscinski's Another Day of Life chronicles Angola's independence war in the spring of 1975. It's a short book that has the weariness of lost dreams about it.

South Africa's intervention constiutes the crisis. Leading up to this point, the war had the character of a camping expedition, although here you're risking your life and not just burnt sausages.

Kapuscinski talks about the dreadful smell of rotten garbage, the fear of the Portuguese colonists unlucky enough to have remained after the majority of their compatriots had escaped, and the agony of fear felt by participants at the front.

Unlike some journalists, who flew in for a few days on a privately chartered jet and then left unscathed, Kapuscinski was determined to participate. This is his strength but also his curse because he must weather storms unknown to the fly-by-night correspondent.

He gets out alive at a point when he feels his luck has reached breaking point. There is a desperation in this last communique to Poland. It's the sound of a beggar, a desperate man.

Published in 1986 in English, the book was written immediately after hostilities completed. It was published in 1976. This brevity shows a certain tinge of anxiety, too. But the vividness of his scenarios ensures they don't fade from memory.

A case in point is the anxious scene of a party approaching, and reaching, a checkpoint on one of Angola's long, dusty country roads. Both parties - those approaching and those manning the obstacles placed in the highway - are beset by fear. The guards have guns but often no radio.

For this reason, the petitioners must stay calm and alert. The guards must enforce their curfew but must not indiscriminately shoot everyone who comes near. Individual utterances are important. Kapuscinski tells us what to do and what not to do, in this fraught situation.

Do not display too much confidence, he tells us. But on the other hand, do not let fear take over. You may die but you have some discretion in the matter.

This is his life. It's a contingent, partial and event-driven life.

Whether finding water in a Luanda hotel or keeping silent in the back of an air transport, Kapuscinski keeps his head. This is why he is able, on his return, to return to the typewriter and fashion a piece of elusive and lovely literary journalism from the primary materials stored in his sensitive memory.

A wonderful read, highly recommended.