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August 25th, 2005

The Book of Shadows

Here's some writing news: Shadowed Realms will be putting out an anthology containing the fiction from their first six issues online. It will be called The Book of Shadows and I agreed to the reprint of my piece 'Johnny Cash (a tale in questionnaire results)' which'll snag me a copy of the book and that's about all. But I'm cool with that: I got paid fifty for it originally, you all got to read it for free, and this'll give me a dead tree copy of the piece. All good. For you guys out there, if you dig the site, you can buy a copy of the book and, I'm sure, feel good that the funds will end up back in the site, paying for new fiction or funky things like southern accented phone sex operators to record it for you as a spoken word track. The book will also come with some new material, but I don't know what that will be.

It's not much writing news, sure, but things have been quiet. It's better than the rejections that'll come soon enough, but not by much.
The House (introduction).

Purely by chance, I stumbled across a movement called Mass Observation today. Born out of the surrealist and ethnography fields in Britain in 1937, it aimed, as it still does, to be a study of ourselves. Well, the British self, I guess; but still, anyone can pick it up. The Mass Observation site doesn't play much to the surrealist angle, and the current crop of questions, relating to 'The Asian Tsunami' and the royal wedding are pretty bland. But the questionnaire listed in Ben Highmore's Everyday Life and Cultural Theory is actually a lot more interesting, so I'm going to fill it in here.

There are twenty two questions, but I altered four questions (and I cleaned up the sexist language like a good politically correct human). The first (#9) dealt with home, but I changed it to country, because I thought the answers would be more interesting. The second (#13) was changed because it deals with the King marrying Mrs. Simpson, the third (#14) was the destruction of the Crystal Palace and, lastly (#16) the disestablishment of the Church of England. Neither of those are particularly relevant right now, so I've figured out some reasonable alterations that suit the tone of the original whatever interests me vaguely and fits.

The Meme.

This is a meme, basically. The Mass Observation Meme. People in Britain have been doing different ones since 1937. You want to do it, you take it, copy it into your blog, and post it round. Lets call it the Mass Observation of the Blogsphere. Or whatever you want (alternatively, you can ignore it--I'm not fussed).

Mass Observation.

1. Age?


2. Married, unmarried, divorced, other?

Unmarried. Single.

3. What are your superstitions, in order of importance?

I don't have any superstitions.

4. Do you pay attention to coincidences?

In what will appear a complete contradiction to the previous question, yes.

It's not that I believe in a specific higher power. It's not that I think the world has a karma. It's not even that I believe in fate. But shit happens, as they say, and sometimes, shit happens in an order that makes things weird, and I figure I ought to pay attention to that. It usually works out well.

5. What is your class?

Working class.

6. What is your father's profession, and your own?

My father was a customs officer. Before his death, he was actually working as a teacher for the customs officer regime. I like to think of myself as professionless, and on forms, I tick the student box. But I'm an author, also, as much as I am a student, and I earn my money teaching.

Kinda odd when you think about it.

7. Do you or did you hate your father, and if so, why?

My father died before I could decide to hate him or not. I was nine. I barely remember him, now.

8. Do you or did you hate your mother, and if so, why?


9. Do you or did you want to leave your country, and if so, why?

At the moment, I'm quite happy living in Sydney. That said, I'm pretty poorly traveled, and I'm hoping to change this after I finish the thesis, so who knows? The only thing that keeps me here is money and my friends and family. I suspect the last two are why I'll always return.

10. Do you want to have a son, or a daughter, or both?


11. Do you hate your boss; do you hate your job?

I've no real opinion about one boss, but I like the other. I like my job. I especially like teaching at University, because it allows me to teach without feeling that I'm a merely a voice spewing propaganda for the current time. Teaching creative writing at Uni, at the very least, offers the potential for seeing people find something new within themselves.

12. What is your greatest ambition?

To be free. Free of debt, obligation, government, money. To be able to do anything whenever I want without worry.

13. Did you want President Clinton impeached, and if so, why?

Not my country.

14. Were you glad or sorry when the World Trade Centre was destroyed and if so, why?

I felt nothing.

Let me preface that: I had shock, the kind of shock that comes when the image of a plane is shown to punch into a building. I felt sad when I saw images of people jump off the top of the building and to their death because there was no other choice in their mind. But of the World Trade Centre as an event itself, I felt nothing. I felt nothing just as I felt nothing when America bombed factories in Afghanistan. Just as I felt nothing when stories of suicide bombers attacking Israel were reported. It is intellectually sad to hear that people die, but because I do not know them, I ultimately feel nothing. I flip the channel. I continue in my day.

15. Do you approve of the institution of marriage as it exists in this country at present? If not, how would you wish it changed?

No, I do not approve.

Gay marriage should be legal. It should be approved. The idea that two people of the same sex who love each other cannot be married, while I can go out, pick up a sixteen year old prostitute, get wasted, and married in some sleazy chapel in Vegas and then wake up in the Jungle Hotel Room... well, come on, one of those things is stupid and should be slapped around, and the other should be respected and given all that it deserves. Don't make me tell you which is which.

16. Are you in favour of the disestablishment of the Church?

Totally. Fuck the Church. Fuck any Church. Fuck the organisation of religion.

17. Are you religious? If so, in what form?

I'm agnostic.

This, I'm sure, will come as a surprise to some. Many figure me for a card carrying atheist.

18. Do you welcome or shrink from the contact by touch or smell of your fellow humans?

It totally depends on scabs.

19. Can you believe you are going to die?


20. How do you want to die?

Quietly. Maybe like Aldous Huxley with the mescaline. Or in my sleep. Just without pain, though I fear, really, that this will be a rare thing. I'll die lucky and happy if it happens.

21. What are you most frightened of?

Escalators. Stepping out of planes and into nothing. Being cut open while wide awake. The list is long, my imagination good, and my neurosis' strong.

22. What do you mean by freedom?

That I can do and think as I please, without anyone telling me that I cannot, without circumstances preventing me, and without my own actions causing another to be prevented from doing what they wish.

Here's the list without answers so you can copy and paste for your own.Collapse )