when i studied for my BA i took on a minor in philosophy. (that’s why he’s always so philosophical i hear you say to yourself. ha.) today i was driving & found myself thinking of a philosophy lecturer i had… he was a real eccentric, said a lot of strange/curious things. a few of them stuck with me but one in particular: he’d given me great marks for a couple of essays i’d written but then felt the need one day to reprimand me in front of the class for not sharing enough ideas during discussions. he said i needed to be really wary of keeping things to myself.

it was embarrassing but then i’ve always suffered from social anxiety. i get a small physical reaction even now just thinking about the situation from all those years ago. it’s ok though. i’ve gotten better with age but it’s never going to go away. i think i’m ok with it / who i am.

see i know philosophy is all about the dialogue, working things out by talking and sharing, so in one sense it doesn’t matter. i was never ever going to be a ‘philosopher’ (ie. someone who works as an academic at a uni). but what he said has stuck with me because there’s a lot to it, more generally. i work a lot with artists now & there is a sense with some of them that their ideas are their currency, & that you have to keep them close to your chest, only discussing something when it’s out there, exhibited, launched, available. i think it’s problematic. if people don’t share their ideas & plans you can’t learn from them. & conversely i hate to think about the amount of unspoken ideas & plans that simply stay inside the head, never to be realised. telling people things gives the things a certain credence. it actualises concepts. it also creates a certain air of expectation & you end up having to act or not be taken seriously. (just now as a typed ‘taken seriously’ from the tv in the other room i heard princess bubblegum say ‘take us seriously!’ weird huh? it was like, the exact same moment…)

in the spirit of this here are some things i’m thinking of that i want to do. steal them & do what you like with them.

  • there’s a quaint poetry festival in narrandera & i’ve wanted to do something to liven it up. the problem is it’s firmly ‘bush poetry’ & quite backward looking. it’s named after a really minor poet – John O’Brien – & the audiences that come for the festival are generally retiree age. i know & have met loads of great contemporary poets, so i think the simplest thing i could do is have a fringe event. i’m just going to invite a great list of poets to come & stay at my house in narrandera. we’ll do an event in a paddock or a local pub. we’ll get on the program. (tim are you reading this blog still? you have to come! march next year.)
  • i had a facebook chat with alex wisser the other night about the exhibition he curated & installed last week in dubbo. it occurred to me: why on earth don’t we have that work coming here? it did occur to me that maybe it was just the photos (they were really, really beautiful shots) & that maybe i just want to be able to photograph the light + art too, but then i don’t think so. it’s only one part of it, anyway. we need to show audiences around here good contemporary work. i should be facilitating this kind of thing.
  • another facebook chat (how good is facebook, right?) with the author alice pung. i haven’t wanted to do writing events but i’m kinda starting to think i should be… this is where my past network is & as an arts-worker your network is your currency. alice would love to come here to run a workshop & with a few messages i can make that happen. why haven’t i made it happen already?
  • while out at willandra i started talking music with rob moss. i told him about the sarah blasko gig i went to in melbourne where she played with a full orchestra. it’s the best show i’ve seen in my life. i mentioned how i’d had contact with sara’s manager before, adam yee, how he’d brought holly throsby to wagga for me for a gig/writing workshop. the discussion then became: why wouldn’t i be calling adam now & trying to get sarah blasko to play in my region? probably a small chance of making that happen but then the point is, if i don’t try to make this idea a reality it’s guaranteed not to happen. by sharing this idea here i’m putting some pressure on myself to do something about it. to live a life with at least some beautiful experiences.
  • & on a more personal writing note, someone on twitter wrote about wanting to go back to tasmania. i said i’d been once & wrote off the travel at tax time – i just organised a poetry reading while there. this discussion then becomes: why not do it again? set it up with a couple of other poets. i had a beautifully productive time in tasmania that one time. basically every word i wrote ended up here.

i’m sure there’s some more things i’ve been thinking about that i can’t remember. there’s also a few things i’m thinking about that i’m afraid i just can’t put here. my thoughts/plans on loneliness are a trifle schismatic, for example. sharing my thoughts on these notions has not gone down too well just recently. i guess some personal thoughts do need to be kept hidden. we live lives that are both practical and confessional. i remember seeing a photograph on display many years ago that had the text ‘it’s the things we keep to ourselves that make us who we are’. i’m sure i’m paraphrasing badly but it probably doesn’t matter.

now – because i’m sure you’re interested – i’m going to go out the back with my guitar. it’s 30 degrees outside & i’m trying to set up perfect summer scenario: a bbq, a cold beer, and a guitar in the backyard. i think yesterday’s fixation on music has revived something inside me, just a little bit. i sat down last night to play again & started re-working some material. have my lyrics progressed beyond ‘i walk alone, into / this dream’? not sure. i’ve studied writing a lot since those times so you’d want to hope so. i started putting words to a newer progression earlier this year, about february i think. it begins ‘i didn’t like you from the first time we laid eyes / but i think it was pretty close’. what do you think? it’s more specific, or at least gestures towards that kind of specificity… i think if i were looking at the material as a teacher i’d probably say go further with the imagery. immerse the audience in the place, the mood of the work. place them on that road over in the west, walking into the sun, give them a sense of the domed roofs, the hotted up cars & preponderance of vanity plates (noice, bae, etc), the young burly blokes wandering around everywhere, the pitbulls in every second backyard, the sudden rains, the skimpy bars, the turn of her head to look back & smile, so brief but so clear & real. idk… i ‘ll think about it while i’m out the back playing. beginning with the D chord.

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