February 5 – Virtual Reality
Unwrapping the doughnut
from its paper bag
and savouring its aroma
he draws it towards his mouth…
A blank screen
and green cursor blinking
Please insert $2 coin to continue
February 5 – Virtual Reality
Unwrapping the doughnut
from its paper bag
and savouring its aroma
he draws it towards his mouth…
A blank screen
and green cursor blinking
Please insert $2 coin to continue
My first exposure to, and subsequent interest in, breasts was at the impressionable age of nine, fastened to the vinyl waiting room chairs of the local doctor. A kindly old chap with more hair protruding from his ears than sprouting from his head. I was there because swallowing felt like drinking a cup of marbles, broken Weet-Bix and Sao biscuits topped with a covering of sand.
In a measure to keep the idle from making mischief, and in the hope of expanding my educational perspective, my mother handed me a dog-eared copy of National Geographic dated around the time of my birth. Boredom is the birthplace of genius yet the prospect of a bored nine year old frightens adults. To appease my mother’s insecurities more than anything else I flicked through the pages enraptured by sumptuous photography of urban landscapes, scientific phenomena and pastoral idylls.
Within the pages a tribe of African women stood with their hair matted by ochre the colour of dried blood. I was fascinated by this first glimpse of human nudity, unsullied by sexuality. The glossy brown of their naked chests was bedecked in beads of bold reds, summery yellow and horizon blue cresting above the rising and falling curvature of their breasts. I saw in their mammary tissue the topography of life: full, taut and shapely to wrinkled and deflated like a week old balloon, sagging without shape or form.
My attention was transfixed on the shape and form but lest I be caught staring intently at something that my brain believed was wrong but my groin said was right, I flipped the page, keeping a finger lodged between the appropriate sections.
Called into the doctor’s office, my attention wavered, concocting a plan to liberate the copy of National Geographic from the waiting room and into my possession. Inside the doctor’s office I opened my mouth and recited the mantra, answered the official petitions and let my mother accept the diagnosis of tonsillitis.
Returning to the waiting room I approached the receptionist’s desk, a bold request forming on my lips. “May I please have the copy of National Geographic for a school assignment?”
The receptionist nodded and I scurried to claim my prize and followed in the wake of my mother to visit the chemist for medicine. Seconded to bed rest for a couple of school days I took the opportunity to develop an understanding of my initial discovery with the benefit of the encyclopedia and a dictionary.
Perusing the article again I was drawn to the mathematical artistry and beauty of their curvature and form in space, the tone colouring of the areola and the cylindrical form of the nipple.
Upon my return to school the copy of National Geographic came with me. I thought nothing of it in terms of it containing pictures of naked breasts. At recess I was thumbing through the pages, rereading an article on spelunking. The breeze rustled the pages and opened them to the focal point of the magazine.
“Check out the tits,” said Jude Templeton over my shoulder.
I was initially non-plussed, unfamiliar with the vulgar colloquial vernacular. My ignorance made knowledge by Jude stabbing his finger at the page before flicking the pages back and forth. A small crowd flocked around, aghast and intrigued by the display of the naked female form.
I was lord of the Lunchbox, King of the Canteen. For twenty-four glorious hours I had stature and kudos but its presence was ephemeral. Until Jude Templeton smuggled his older brother’s copy of Playboy to school. A few too many leering eyes caused a commotion, whereby our teacher upon discovery, promptly confiscated it as Jude attempted to stow it under his desk.
Aiming to deflect his guilt Jude pointed in my direction, “He has one, too, Miss.”
She raised her eyebrows, folded her arms and I gambled. Withdrawing the magazine from under my desk, I held up my National Geographic. She turned and faced Jude.
“That is not a Playboy,” she said, holding her hand towards Jude for his magazine.
“But…” He was cut off by a snap of her fingers. The magazine was handed over, a guilty baton. Miss hurriedly rolled the magazine and stuffed it into her desk drawer. “I will be speaking with your parents,” she said to Jude.
I imagined the male staff sitting around the lunch table, cups of tea and coffee in hand, turning the pages, tut-tutting at the indiscretion of youth while having a good gander.
At lunch Jude tried to convince me to show him the pages again but I refused. However, I convinced him “areolas” was the name of a Spanish goalkeeper.
In the following years of developing adolescence when my friends mined the seam of hormones laid down by puberty they moved on from the simplicity of nudity to secret collections and surreptitious glances. The embarrassed indignity of being caught with masturbatory material did nothing to quell their enthusiasm. Conversations used thirty-two synonyms for genitals, male and female, with salacious intent. They snorted at vintage adult magazines, at the variation of shape and form against the homogenous shapes they ogled in contemporary glossy pages.
If I wanted nudes, I didn’t go to the magazines my friends pored over, nor to the sewerage pipeline of the internet in this modern age. I went to art galleries and studied the Reubenesque women of art books, the voluptuousness of the Renaissance, modern abstracts, Titian, Whitely, Picasso, the sculptures of the ancient world and of Rodin’s sensuality.
I pursued another learning and became a collector of National Geographic, browsing second hand bookstores, scrounging copies from relatives on the pretext of research for school assignments, random doctors’ surgeries, looking for issues from a bygone era of a different censorship. My interest in breasts was cultural, sociological, anthropological, medical, scientific, artistic, more so than simply sexual.
Even now I have an extensive collection. If you’ll excuse me, I think I hear the postman, and with him I hope, the next edition of National Geographic.
When was the last time you were bored?
I mean really really bored?
So bored that you even thought about watching cricket? A full 5 day Test Match?
So bored that sorting through paint swatches while watching episodes of Keeping Up With the Kardashians seems like a debauched party Caligula would be proud of?
I came across this tweet from Austin Kleon (Steal Like an Artist – @austinkleon): “How art works: when depressed, you draw Batman depressed. You’re still depressed, but now you have a picture of Batman.”
So, in true artistic fashion, I will steal Austin’s quote and change it slightly: “When you’re bored, you draw Batman bored. You’re still bored, but now you have a picture of Batman.”
And then appropriate it for writers: “When you’re bored, you write a paragraph about Batman cataloguing his capes and utility belts, and colour coding his socks and underwear. You’re still bored but now you have the beginning of a piece of satirical fan fiction.
The hyperconnectivity of our digital age means we never have to be bored. Connection to people or things of interest are available to us at our fingertips. We are tempted at every opportunity to fill the silent spaces of our days with something: television, radio, the internet, mobile devices.
We are bombarded with the white noise of static and information at every moment. Within the cacophony of noise, there is great value in the conversations we have with people, the information we glean about the world around us.
Yet when we are doing nothing we feel guilty about our inactivity.
We don’t allow ourselves to become bored.
For some, boredom comes in watching cricket or tennis or football or *insert your own sporting dislike* or bonnet dramas, reading vampire novels, watching the Year 2 recorder group butcher a piece of music (the recorder in the hands of a child is a tool of Satan, says my sister).
But, boredom does something.
Boredom creates stillness.
Boredom creates silence.
Boredom creates opportunities.
It allows the subconscious to pause and catch a breath.
It allows the subconscious to percolate, meditate, compost new ideas or provide new solutions to old problems.
As a teacher I see in my students an inability to be creative because they have not grown up in an environment where they have been allowed to be bored. Children are continually entertained, visually and aurally stimulated, given activities to do at the first whine emitting from their mouth, “I’m bored.”
Let your child do nothing.
When they say “I’m bored” it’s an opportunity for them to be creative and solve their own problems. Or if you have to give them something to do, limit the options. Give them a handful of textas and tell them they can only use the red, orange and purple ones.
Depth in creativity, and the depth and development of ideas comes because you’ve had time to let an idea sit and develop.
How do you let an idea sit and develop? Have you thought of a place where you can be bored?
Think of all the domestic chores you have: the washing up, the vacuuming, hanging out the washing, folding or ironing, washing the car or mowing the lawn. These are great places to be bored.
How about during your exercise workout at the gym as you run in the same spot, trampling a rotating piece of plastic under your feet, but never achieving distance. A great place to be bored.
I use the washing up as my Boredom Place. A good friend of mine, Jodi, calls it “sudspiration.” In the mundane, repetitive activity of washing the dishes, my brain is allowed space to think. I find it’s a great way to allow ideas come to the surface. It’s just a pain to stop mid way, dry your hands, find a pen and scribble down notes. I really must get a dictaphone or Dragonspeak.
Let yourself become bored.
Boredom is the new meditative mantra for creative people.
Artists, if you’re bored, doodle something.
Musicians, if you’re bored, practice scales or arpeggios.
Writers, if you’re bored, write nonsensical sentences.
Or better still: Do Nothing.
Go and be bored.
One of my all time favourite films is “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.” It’s cheeky, irreverent, sassy, the epitome of cool, and let’s face it, I want to be Ferris Bueller.
But what can this film teach us about creativity? From the words of Ferris come these words of wisdom.
Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop to look around once in a while, you could miss it.
Don’t miss opportunities to be creative. It is too easy to let life control you. Creativity allows you to control your life. It brings a new focus to your daily activities. It requires you to look around and be an active observer of the world.
Pardon my French, but Cameron is so tight that if you stuck a lump of coal up his ass, in two weeks you’d have a diamond.
Creativity cannot be forced. Relax. Initial attempts may be failures or you’re too tense to let it flow. Perhaps you’ve had a period of time when ideas feel like you’ve pulled them out of your belly button or other deeper, darker orifices. When practised regularly, creativity becomes a natural extension of your life.
Ladies and gentlemen, you are such a wonderful crowd, we’d like to play a little tune for you. It’s one of my personal favorites and I’d like to dedicate it to a young man who doesn’t think he’s seen anything good today – Cameron Frye, this one’s for you.
Nothing – wha – what do you mean nothing good? We’ve seen everything good. We’ve seen the whole city! We went to a museum, we saw priceless works of art! We ate pancreas!
Creativity is best when you open yourself to new experiences and opportunities. Tell a story using an artist’s painting or photograph. Watch a dancer and write a poem or stream of consciousness based on their movement. Visit an art gallery, the zoo, watch children play, go for a walk, sit in the food court of the shopping centre and watch people, eat something different (which potentially proves my point that all food is based on a dare). Collaborate. Make sure you see something good today.
The question isn’t “what are we going to do,” the question is “what aren’t we going to do?”
Sometimes it is good to break the rules. Use the negative space to prove 1+1= a dancing elephant fairy.
The place is like a museum. It’s very beautiful and very cold, and you’re not allowed to touch anything.
Museums are for cultural history, an encyclopaedia of learning. Creativity is about creating community. Creativity can be about creating works of art for posterity’s sake, but it is more about giving life to your creative work, from a handmade card to a quilt passed on to the next generation. Creativity is to be lived and engaged with, admired and questioned.
Grace: Oh, he’s very popular Ed. The sportos, the motorheads, geeks, sluts, bloods, wastoids, dweebies, dickheads – they all adore him. They think he’s a righteous dude.
Know your audience and cultivate your brand. But do not limit yourself to who you think is your ideal audience. Be authentic to your audience.
They bought it. One of the worst performances of my career and they never doubted it for a second.
It’s always about your audience. It’s not about how much time and effort you put into something, the audience doesn’t need to know that. The audience doesn’t need to know if you think it has the artistic merit of congealed monkey vomit smeared on glass. It’s about how your audience engages with your creativity.
Cameron: The 1961 Ferrari 250GT California. Less than a hundred were made. My father spent three years restoring this car. It is his love, it is his passion.
Know your focus and your passion. Give your creative endeavour life.
Cameron: Ferris, my father loves this car more than life itself.
Ferris: A man with priorities so far out of whack doesn’t deserve such a fine automobile.
That being said, don’t be a pillock. Being creative and artistic requires sacrifice, but not at the expense of your health, family, marriage or relationships. Creativity serves to enhance your life, not consume it.
Cameron: [Whispering to himself after hanging up from a phone call with Ferris] I’m dying.
[Phone rings, and Cameron answers]
Ferris: (over the phone) You’re not dying, you just can’t think of anything good to do.
Life without creativity is being bored to death. Creativity doesn’t mean writing a novel or painting a masterpiece. It can be a simple act of writing a story for your family Christmas letter, cooking a new recipe, planting new bulbs and seedlings, learning an instrument, taking candid photos while you’re out for a walk, writing a quick play for your kids to perform.
You CAN be creative.
Ferris Bueller, you’re my hero.
My latest effort in guerrilla literature, ironically dropped in a shoe store as I was buying new shoes.
Payless Shoes – Centro Shopping Centre, Seven Hills
“We’re staying here until we can tie our laces,” he said.
There was over and under, loops and rabbit ears, going around trees and over fences. All I saw was a tangle of black spaghetti.
My father pontificated as I struggled in the art of mimicry.
“Shoelaces are like life,” he said. “At first it’s tricky and complicated. It’s fiddly and frustrating. Sometimes, it’s the little things that trip you up.”
Looking back down to my shoes to try again, I looked at my father’s feet. He was wearing a pair of slip on work boots.
And, yes, I did put the postcard into a box of slip on shoes.
1. You can name all the members of The Wiggles AND Hi-5, past and present.
2. You cannot name a single new song on the radio, but you can know all the words to The Wiggles and Hi-5
3. Silence is when you get to go the toilet without being interrupted
4. “Legato” is not a musical term, but a means of finding pieces of Lego lost in the carpet in the middle of the night with your toes. They wedge themselves in-between your big toe and second toe, sharp edge first
5. You make a sandwich for your spouse, cut the crusts off and cut it into 4 small triangles
6. Quality time with your spouse is having a cup of tea or coffee and it doesn’t get cold and require reheating
7. You’re helping with their mathematics homework and you forget 2+2=4
8. Nudey runs from the bathroom (by you) are becoming a source of amusement and embarrassment (for your children)
9. “Bum” is still considered a rude word and is said with subtle sniggering
10. You look at their toys and wonder if any of them will ever become collectibles so you can turn a profit when they turn 21
Add your own ideas to the comments below.
You might be a failed pen monkey, a starter of stories (but not a finisher of fables), or a wit in conversation but witless with words, yet your progeny has inherited the gift of the gab and the social mores of Hunter S. Thompson.
Here are 10 signs your child is destined to be a writer (hopefully without the social mores of Hunter S. Thompson).
1. The first gift they ask for is Roget’s Thesaurus and a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary (the 20 volume hardback edition, including supplementary volumes).
2. On their birthday they receive a card and gift certificate from their local bookstore AND local stationery supply store.
3. At bed time they don’t ask for a bed-time story; they ask you to read from Roget’s Thesaurus and the Oxford English Dictionary.
4. Your child categorically states, “a red pen is not for marking, it’s for editing.”
5. Your child is editing the work of other students. In kindergarten. For a fee (usually biscuits or first turn with the toys).
6. Your child has memorised the Associated Press Style Guide.
7. Your child no longer refers to you as “mother” or “father.” Instead you are referred to as “agent” or “publisher.”
8. You spend more money on printer ink cartridges and stationery than clothes for your child. You’ve even considered buying stocks in companies producing printer ink cartridges and paper manufacturers.
9. Last week’s family argument suddenly appears in the latest edition (completely fictitious, mind you, so they say) of their weekly web serial, “Stress Family Robinson.”
10. Your child edits the family Christmas letter and sends it back to you for revisions.
Writers, we can’t have nice things. Here are 10 reasons why.
1. We believe we have a capricious muse who wanders in (rarely) and out of our head space (often at the worst possible time). We curse him or her or it (can’t be genderist) when we can’t write and praise and worship when the words flow with the viscosity and taste of honey. We are kidding ourselves when we say, “I couldn’t write today because my Muse was off at the day spa and didn’t invite me.”
2. We invent characters loosely based on the our own fears and misgivings, but make them thinly veiled caricatures of people we know (yes, you have irritated us once too often, so we made you into a character who dies a slow death by having your buttocks scrubbed with sand paper and washed with lemon juice).
3. We eavesdrop on every conversation, squirrelling away choice bits of dialogue, character traits and personality tics. Whenever the family gets together our brains melt with all the juicy tidbits. On Christmas Day we experience the high of a sugar junkie.
4. We haunt twitter and facebook and any other avenue of social media to pimp our wares. Support for one another is important, but we end up feeding the circle creating narcissistic, preening believers of our own onanism, making us grow extra digits, and probably another head. Look beyond the immediate circle and seek an audience. Do something that doesn’t involve writing.
5. We believe our ego has the tensile strength of an egg shell. And I’ve seen a raw egg thrown a fair distance only to bounce and not break. If you can handle being popped out a sphincter with no harm done, you can handle a bit of criticism and rejection. Go and play in the dirt like chickens. It builds character.
6. We can teach glaciers a thing or two about procrastination. Apply a blowtorch to the things that have frozen up, and liberally spray WD-40 as if it were a can of Lynx deodorant body spray and create your own climate change. Get it done!
7. We believe we hold the monopoly of ideas creation and generation (along with artists and musicians). Psst… look at the business world, corporate strategy, management, child care, education, health care. They have some bloody good ideas. Now, go outside and play, and learn from other areas of life.
8. We arbitrarily create rules for writing. And then change them because we anticipate the ad break to allow us to void our bladder. Rules are cultural, aesthetic and social constructs of ‘taste’ when it comes to writing. I will use adverbs summarily. Simply write to your purpose and function, not ideas of fashion and taste.
9. We complain, whinge, tweet, start flame wars, and troll about the publishing industry because it’s in a state of flux and we are afraid of the changes. When the dust settles, publishing will still be there. It will look different, but there will still be avenues to publish, even if we have to invent it.
10. We believe reading, and our words, is important and therefore require recompense. We do not have a right to make money from our art. It’s a privilege. Even if we don’t get paid, let’s use our words to reflect, question, entertain, amuse, horrify, and challenge, even in the one story.
I am about to launch on a new adventure: write my first novel. In a little over 3 weeks, I get to take leave from my work and focus on writing a literary work.
There are two things I think of when it comes to the act of committing to write a novel.
The first comes from Seinfeld.
The other comes courtesy of Family Guy and the conflict between Brian and Stewie.
Each day when I sit down to write, these will be repeated as mantras. Please note the placement of my tongue is stuck firmly in my cheek.
I’ll let you know how it’s all going.