Sunday, 27 May 2007

Who Weekly, mostly

Sorry I haven't been posting much lately. I haven't been in a very bloggy place. BUT Who Weekly assures me that Mercury is moving into my sign on 29 May (and about time too); I expect great things of it.

Also, do any of you know what's going on with the Olsen twins? Who Weekly quite often publishes photos of them out and about, but only to comment on their clothing - and of course I disdain to buy any other celebrity magazines as they are filled with nothing but scurrilous gossip. What are they doing with themselves, those Olsen twins? Are they happy? I worry about them. Often they look very tired, and they are both very thin.

Friday, 18 May 2007

That's about #248,000 in real money

Dude, they're totally auctioning the house opposite my window! I'm sitting here trying to write about satellite navigation systems in Vergil's Georgics and there's like fifty people standing in the street outside my house - a little girl is clinging to her daddy and grabbing at the trailing branches of our very own silver-birch - and a guy in a suit and tie stalking up and down in the middle doing auctioneer patter.

Four hundred and thirty! Oh, we're all going to hang back, are we? We're going to drag it out and up the drama?... I'm not going inside, guys, we are SELLING! It is definitely on the market, I mentioned it a moment ago but I'll make it clear, we are SELLING!

Bidding is now at $562,000.( Which bodes quite well for J's house, actually.)

Going once... going twice...



Going once...

$571,000... $575... $579...

I was just going to mention this to you guys and get straight back to work but I am TRANSFIXED. I originally thought I was intrigued because (it's my understanding that) in the UK, houses only go up for public auction when they're repossessed by the building society and thus auctions are ineradicably associated with public shame and humiliation in my mind, but now I'm just, well, TRANSFIXED. What a total spectacle! (Blimey! $590,000!) I think half the people in the crowd are just here to watch, too, so I don't feel too stupid about getting sucked in....

$594,000 we're all done... selling... selling... sold, congratulations! ::round of applause::

Friday, 11 May 2007


So today it felt like I got even more nowhere than usual. But I notice that 2000 new words have appeared, which is about double my previous daily best on this book.

(Admittedly a significant proportion of those words are by Lucan, rather than me. BUT THEY STILL COUNT.)

Wednesday, 9 May 2007

Writing and material labour

Hah! You know I keep saying that I'm groping towards some sort of idea about writing as material, not just as the flow of ideas from the brain via the hands onto the page with no obstruction, no resistance, no economy of loss-and-gain in translation/transcription as the ideas slip across media (brain/hand/page)? Well, it turned out I wasn't trying to formulate a thought, I was trying to remember something Hannah Arendt said. I found this today when I was looking through my notes on The Human Condition for stuff about ploughing. (Arendt draws a distinction between 'work' and 'labour', whereby work produces objects of human artifice, and labour simply reproduces life and/or the capacity for more work or labour - so you go off into your studio and whittle a statue, which is work, but in order to do so you have to cook yourself dinner, sweep up the sawdust, sharpen your tools, which is labour).

Here, the underlying tie between the laborer of the hand and the laborer of the head is again the laboring process, in one case performed by the head, in the other by some other part of the body. Thinking, however, which is presumably the activity of the head, though it is in some way like laboring - also a process which probably comes to an end only with life itself - is even less 'productive' than labor; if labor leaves no permanent trace, thinking leaves nothing tangible at all. By itself, thinking never materializes into any objects. Whenever the intellectual worker wishes to manifest his thoughts, he must use his hands and acquire manual skills just like any other worker. In other words, thinking and working are two different activities which never quite coincide; the thinker who wants the world to know the 'content' of his thought must first of all stop thinking and remember his thoughts. Remembrance in this, as in all other cases, prepares the intangible and the futile for their eventual materialization; it is the beginning of the work process, and like the craftsman's consideration of the model which will guide his work, its most immaterial stage. The work itself then always requires some material upon which it will be performed and which through fabrication, the activity of homo faber, will be transformed into a worldly object. The specific work quality of intellectual work is no less due to the 'work of our hands' than any other kind of work".

Arendt, The Human Condition, second edition, (Chicago and London, University of Chicago Press, 1998 [1958]),pp.90-91.


I am not well. I went to stay with J's brother and his gf in their stately home near Horsham last weekend, which was interesting - it's a Victorian Gothic homestead dating from 1862; I'm just starting to get a feel for how much longer-ago that is here - but clearly leaving the house was not good for me and I have been in bed for most of the last three days, alternately reading Prosthesis and school stories from the 20s and 30s.

I'm sure I remember J telling me that boys' school stories were just as soppy as girls', but so far this is Not True (and in fact she denies saying it now, so maybe I made it up): Tony Hits Out!, despite a promising title, turned out to be mostly about football, pirates and spies, while Pat's Third Term, despite sounding about as generic as it's possible to get, was entirely about Pat and Rhoda's love for each other. The best one, though, was Evelyn Finds Herself, which is pretty much a diagram of why I love school stories: I like books about people being sensible about their feelings. It's the same reason as why I love Diana Wynne Jones (and Dennis Cooper, come to think of it). By 'sensible' I mean... um, something like: turning the same attention to their feelings as they do to their work (and Evelyn Finds Herself is one of my favourite kinds of school stories in that regard, too, in that it's about work, not just sport. Also it has lesbians, so it is pretty much perfect).

Hmm, and Ruby Ferguson's Jill books have a lot of sensible feelings in them, too. Sensible feelings plus a passion for something outward-turned: magic in DWJ, violence in Dennis Cooper, botany in Evelyn Finds Herself, ponies for Jill...

But no, luckily the fact that it's too late to get anything out in time for the RAE publication deadline in December 2007 means that my lightest thought is no longer making me go Hmm, could I write an article about that? Who'd publish it? Which is lucky because I've just realized I have quite a daunting schedule for the next umyear: I'm scheduled to write three new conference papers (one on Daniel Deronda and Melissa Lukashenko's Hard Yards; one on archive fever in Lucan's De Bello Civili; and one on Agamben's Homo Sacer and the end of Vergil's Aeneid); and a book chapter (on intergenerational desire and the relationship to antiquity in Derrida's The Post Card); to write up my Queer Space paper into a book chapter (on slash, queer reading and utopia); to teach two (completely) new MA units, one new (to me) undergraduate course and a few old ones; and to organize a workshop on Teh Novel, Ancient and Modern.

Oh, and finish this book, of course.