Archive for January, 2006

10th planet

I just found out that a “10th Planet” was discovered in our solar
system a while back. Made me think of primary school when, as an
insult, we’d accuse people of being from “planet Smiley”…just shows
how much more kids know seeing as 10 years on scientists have finally
discovered it…except they’ve named the new planet (which is orbiting
the sun just off Pluto) XENA, as in Xena the
Warrior Princess! Nice to know they thought carefully about it. They
recently discovered that Xena now has a moon – Gabrielle (also from the
tv series) and, commenting on the newly discovered moon, Professor
Robert Brown couldn’t help but let his comic astronomy-highschool-geek
persona slip through:

“Having a moon is just
inherently cool – and it is something that most self-respecting planets
have, so it is good to see that this one does, too.”

reassuring to know that no matter how we corrupt our planet, thanks to
the moon, it will always be a self-respecting one! It’s also good to
know that new-girl Xena is a respectful addition to our solar-system…we
could do with any space-hussies tainting the atmosphere.

Isn’t it all a bit weird?


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Dream Poetry

The train is constant; it chugs through the sole of my shoe and ends its route somewhere
near a cochlea. Blind to noise, we take tea together, while teacups rain from the heavy sky
and litter the ground with broken shards, grey against the sand. “Where
do we end?” you ask Five
whilst counting dis-
located fingers (we have only just begun, but Zero already told you that).
Tears collect in the corners of my elongated mouth as I
gag, gag, gag, gag, gag
gloves on my hands like leather skin of a minotaur leading my deaf eyes ‘round each corner,
jerking muscles beneath my touch,
hoof in my hand,
horn in my hair, shattered
china underfoot.
He leaves me by a pool, yellow water, rippling red: my reflection
emerging to meet me.
It’s been a while.

We are glued, my self and me I rise from the water
and watch my habitat evolve: the serpent and the lizard making love,
and buffalo
chasing the call of a distant whale through the purple sky.
The reptiles interest me most. They want to break
apart and resign to genetic dictatorship, yet
they cannot resist: the serpent coiled
around the lizard’s scaly
back, thrusting and writhing, tongues
flicking in and out with pleasure.
They are too immersed in their reptilian tantra, oblivious
to the quicksand gradually consuming their rapt forms.
The plain unfolds itself to me and on the mountain’s tail I am met by a withered virgin,
feet bleeding at the end of cankered ankles (the Ram
and the Virgin,
each a grotesque
image of the other, mirrored mouths open in silent scream, forever forward, forward, don’t
look back).
Bones emerge from beneath my skin.
I bleed to the river, misting what we know and what we will know, cracking
cups, sipping the entrails of an oyster shell, piercing
our eyes with darts, crying and laughing as we dance back-to-
back through shifting spotlights of pink and indigo
fade to black: how
could we have managed all of this?

I have played with the form of this poem a lot but the blog with not
allow me to post some of the physical ways in which I have manipulated
it. In my opinion the line breaks also need a lot of work. Don’t let
that affect your reading though!

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‘It will even be affirmed that much learning deadens or perverts poetic sensibility.’ ~ T.S. Eliot

To Be Poetic

rain drains the grey sky deadened and hung-
over after a night full
the wind’s acute sensibility perverts
and whips the sea
waves clawing the air
for the seduction of their coveted globe
(no amount of learning or
strength of will
can change the temporality of such a lover)

centuries of love poetry have affirmed
that there is an undeniable attraction to
The Moon
(even wolves admit as much)

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Notes on Journalism

Today in our narrative non-fiction seminar we continued with our
debate of free expression. Basically, I think the line I am now drawing
with respect to free expression is between free expression itself and
the way in which people execise it. Free expression MUST
exist for a democracy to function, and must not be limited in order to
punish people who abuse that right. No matter how free expression is
limited there will always be people who insite violence or hatred in
reaction to beliefs or opinions that they disagree with. Forcing these
people underground by limiting their public expression will not solve
the matter, it will only infuse it. Instead of looking into how to
limit free speech or expression, we should look to the reasons for
people insiting hatred or violence, and also the reasons for people
feeling the need for protection from the power of words.

the second half of the seminar we had a talk and brief question-answer
discussion with foreign correspondant journalist Andrew Finckle, who
has written for many publications incluing the Time Magazine, The
Times, The Economist and various Turkish-language publications. He made
a few interesting and thought-proviking comments about journalism and
here are some of the notes I made on his talk:

Journalist as
witness: the journalist’s story is an eye witness account and therefore
presents a truth that not many others can convey.

As a
journalist you have to “struggle with yourself to represent something”
because it is you who has witnessed, judged and taken something from
the experience.

Jounalist must make people visualise
what (s)he has seen. English journalism makes the switch between micro
and macro well: start with a small instance which ultimately represents
the whole.

Like a movie maker, the journalist must “jiggle
the elements” that (s)he’s collected and formulate a logical
progression of paragraphs that flow into each other seamlessly. They
must get the read from the first to the last word without breaking the
logic so that the reader has no opportunity to stop and think. This is
how to write a convincing article – if an editor cannot find any way in
which the article can be cut without losing a vital piece in the
jigsaw, it is a convincing argument.

The most important part
of an article is the leading sentence. It attracts the reader, sets the
tone of the piece, introduces the journalist’s experience (and
therefore the reliability of their words), and makes the reader HAVE to know what comes next. It is like a seed planted in the readers mind that allows the story to grow and unfold before them.

A jounalistic insult is to be “too much of a writer” – to care more about the language than the story. BUT! Language has
to be approprated to the story to an extent so that people/editors will
take interest in stories and current affairs which they would not have
otherwise read.

We all think in terms of stereotypes and
cliches, so, to appear familiar and accessible to readership
jounralists must use stereotypes and cliches, but proceed to shatter
them apart in the body of their article. A vague exmple is that of the
Turkish PM, Tansu Ciller, shattering the stereotype of Turkish PMs
preceeding her being all male with fat black moustaches. She seemed
like a breath of fresh air with her gorgeous looks and botoxed lips, an
unlikely leader for an Islamic state. However, she turned out to be
just as stereotypically corrupt as her predecessors.

problem with the Journalist as a witness statement is that the
journalist is also a judge. Essentially you are recieving someone’s
personal truth on the situation, not necessarily the whole truth. Ontop
of that is the editor as judge. Journalists don’t decide on their
headlines, cuts to their articles, location in the paper etc so they
must write their arguments seamlessly in order to preserve them from
the red pen of their looming editors.

I will no doubt look
back on these when writing my future articles for this course. At least
I don’t have to worry about some editor chopping up what I have to say
(for now anyway!)…

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“and we all know about Iran

The other week I attended a debate on the Freedom of Speech in Britain, put forward by members of PEN,
the international organisation of writers who stand for freedom of
speech and campain, amongst other things, for the freedom of writers
who have been imprisoned for holding view deemed politically dangerous
in their countries of origin.

The debate was engaging and provoked much response and questioning from the audience. What the members of PEN
seemed to be putting forward was relatively simple: there should be
absolute free speech to the point that it is possible. Obviously there
will always be restrictions, but their case was for allowing
controvercial diologues to be had so that the public can see the
extremism of dangerous group, such as the BNP, challenged and deduce their own moral judgements.

the subject of this blog entry is not so much about the freedom of
speech. It is to make an example of a quote from one of the speakers,
Yasmin Alibhai-Brown. This quote can be used to perfectly express why
it is that I feel the need, or rather the deep want, to write about
Iran. Yasmin was talking about art and how there is a conception of
Muslims that they have no understanding or tolerance for art. To
enlighten the audience on how artistic the Islamic culture is, she used
an exmple from a recent bbc documentary on Islamic art which examined
frescoes on the walls of Iranian mosques depicting beautiful unveiled
girls dancing and drinking wine. It was not the fact that she pointed
this out that struck me, because she was quite right to do so, but the
way in which she introduced it: ‘In Iran, and we all know about Iran…’
I suddenly had a wave of defensiveness at the sarcasm of the comment
because I knew that at that point everyone in the audience would be
thinking of the veiled Isamicised Iran portrayed in our media, shocked
at how such a place could host such controvercial art. This was
Yasmin’s point, but the fact that she was sarcastically suggesting that
everyone in the audience knew all there is to know about Iran, when
really they knew relatively nothing but the modern politics of the
country, made me realise how important it is for me to write about Iran


I want to write about Iran so that
maybe, one day, Iran’s name will be mentioned and people, even if it is
only one person whose perception has changed, will think of it’s
diverse and intelligent people, it’s phenomenal historical monuments
and rich cultural heritage – not its nuclear policies and religious politics.

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The Moving Finger writes; and, having writ,
Moves on: nor all thy Piety nor Wit

Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all thy Tears wash out a Word of it.

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Cows With Guns

Writing about web page http://www.3dweb.no/galleri/stuestolbm/bilder/anim1.swf

One of the funniest animations I’ve watched on the web in a while…it
goes on a bit too long but on the whole it’s hilarious. Watch out for
seemingly docile farm animals – you never know what they’ve got stashed
in their udders.

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