Clouds In The Head

Ripe For The Arting
25 September, 2008, 4:56 pm
Filed under: All ideas are 1/3 truth, 1/3 lie

Inspired by this object from this site I get to wondering, like, what else is ripe for the arting?

The elements here are: iconic nature, obvious once you see it, executed vividly, pretty before and still pretty now, a dark streak of humour beneath. Although matrioshka dolls are kitsch, I don’t think that’s a necessity (in fact is anything a necessity?).

Is anything a necessity indeed? Ripeness perhaps. What makes something ripe, besides the idea, the seed, the water soil nutrients, the chance, and the fluidity or naturalness of delivery?

All comments and suggestions appreciated. Stapler, do you hear me say? Ah, clearly I haven’t left my desk for a while.


Squint & you can see Etruria
24 September, 2008, 4:31 pm
Filed under: travel versus unravel

I was recently passing 10 minutes in quiet contemplation of Umbria, inspired by the book in my lap, David Dale’s Essential Places, in particular the Orvieto chapter. I was sitting there, straining, but smug about the fact that we’d done Umbria, and loved Orvieto and Gubbio, and found our own forgotten corners, and pretended real Italians still lived in the old towns and not in the two-storey apartment blocks at their feet. Just like David. Like him, we were slightly more special than the run of the mill tourist.

We incorporated Umbria into our family mythology. Maxwell did his first drawing there, age nearly one, and had his nappy changed in St Francis’s birthplace and stopped screaming in St Francis’s basilica. Orvieto itself became one of my mum’s favourite places on her only ever OS trip.

While we were there we were reading that cross-over bestseller, the inevitable Under The Tuscan Sun (not to be confused with Under The Tucson Son – confessions of an Arizonan ex virgin). Frances Mayes’ book was about neighbouring Tuscany, but it was in our consciousness constantly. Beautiful, tasty, funny, poetic, vivid, the book was also irritating in the extreme, making me want to shriek “I know you can write, Frannie Mae, but do you have to seem so effing smug?!”

Her answer, I’m sure: that’s not smugness it’s blessedness, and anyway weren’t you just comparing your smug self to David Dale?

“Touché, FM, touché.”

Anyway, thanks to UTTS, we learned the tell-tale signs of the ancient Etruscan roads of central Italy.

A line of old cypresses, usually along a ridge.

We looked for them, and found them, everywhere (adequate builders, those Etrurians, but fantastic horticulturalists). Emblems of an early rival to the Romans, pretty remnants of a once proud tribe, thousands of years old.

Returning to Australia we found loads of Etruscan roads here as well.

“They’re pines.”

“No, I’m sure they’re cypresses.”

“You can’t tell from here.”


So, when we squint, on our own little farm, at the right time of year, preferably after a strong martini, there they are: up over near Nicky & Neil’s place; down the other side of Bernadette’s farm; over along that ridge above Dog Trap Creek Road. Ancient cypresses, marking genuine Etruscan roads, probably dating back to 600 BC at least.

Doesn’t that just make you wonder?

On Announcing One’s Blog
19 September, 2008, 10:52 am
Filed under: Nobody Loves A Thinker

It’s like a new job or the honeymoon night, in the old days. It’s like telling someone they have to see a great movie even though you know that by telling them it’s great (you have to, otherwise they won’t go) you’re almost certainly setting them up for a disappointment. It’s like having a dinner party and cooking an entire menu you’ve never made before using cooking utensils and appliances you’re not quite sure how to work: couscoussier, ramekin, blow torch, new oven with “intuitive” controls, cheese whistle. And your boss is coming. Your new boss. And that old friend you haven’t spoken to for eight years because they got counted as one of your ex’s friends and not yours. And your mother. You’re not sure any of them is going to turn up. If they do, you’re not sure whether they’re going to like what they’ll see.

And half a dozen people you’ve never met before are coming too. Critics. Judges. Professional couscoussier users. Expert blowtorch blowers. Margaret Fulton. Nigella Lawson. Your evil twin.

It’s like having a charity fundraiser and it’s on the same night as the next village’s annual rodeo and half the town’s away that weekend anyway and you’ve already booked the band. It’s like having a wedding and realising once you’ve sent the invitations out that you may have sent out the ones that were printed with the wrong address.


You know nobody’s going to turn up.

Worse, maybe they will! >

You know nobody’s going to look at your blog. You know there’s not enough material. Or too much. You know you’re committing to something you may not be able to deliver on, week after week.

But you do it anyway. Why? Because you’re a bloody-minded, ego-maniacal, cynical optimist.

Or I am anyway. I don’t know about you. You’re a figment of my imagination.

Ah. There’s the rub. Putting myself out for – for whom? – someone – anyone – to respond to. “Putting myself out” … Like a fire? Like an inconvenience? Like the garbage?

Yes, one announces one’s blog as one announces an inconvenient garbage fire. So. What do you think? I’m officially on-line. I’m trapped now. Burn, baby, burn.