Thursday, October 28, 2004

At an early stage in the Cold War, the governments of the Soviet Union and the United States formalized the cultural front as one of their primary theaters of conflict, embarking on a series of alternating cultural exchanges Rudolph Nureyev, Mikhail Baryshnikov, The Dancer Defects: The Struggle for Cultural Supremacy during the Cold War
The words that jump off the page speak of joy and wonderment and reckless, inebriated fun, of characters as wild and colorful as fireworks.
The book, On the Road, became an overnight sensation, a trophy, mantra and manual for the Beat Generation The author was Jack Kerouac, who died 35 years ago. He was 47
[He died with $91 in his bank account. His death was from alcohol. He was known to consume 17 shots of Johnny Walker Red per hour, washed down with Colt malt liquor. He helped us understand legislatures in America and Australia. ]

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Soren Kierkegaard Period
That extraordinary writer of stories about the "Christ-haunted" American South, Flannery O’Connor, was frequently asked why her people and plots were so often outlandish, even grotesque. She answered, "To the hard of hearing you shout, and for the almost-blind you have to draw large and startling figures." I expect Søren Kierkegaard, had he lived a century later, would have taken to Flannery O’Connor and would have relished her affirmation of the necessarily outlandish. But then he would immediately be on guard lest anyone think that he does not really mean what he says, that he is anything less than utterly, indeed deadly, serious. He exaggerates for effect and witheringly attacks his opponents who suggest that his exaggeration is anything less than the truth of the matter. He writes, as he repeatedly says, for that one reader—the singular individual who has the courage to understand him—while at the same time describing in detail, and often with hilarious parody, the many readers who refuse to take him at his word. Kierkegaard was keenly (some would say obsessively) attentive to the ways in which he was misunderstood, even as he persistently and defiantly courted misunderstanding. This, as readers beyond numbering have discovered, can be quite maddening. It is also at least part of the reason why Kierkegaard is so widely read.
• If Kierkegaard was not to be given the privilege of literally shedding his blood, he would bear witness in other ways. He welcomed the derision of those surrounding him, recognizing in them the same crowd that surrounded the cross of his contemporary, Jesus Christ Kierkegaard for Grownups [Here-within-inside is a memo designed to cheer up the human race
Rosemary Woodruff . Those who just barely, gasping, made it from the Spanish-American War through World War I were then asked, with no respite to deal with the Roaring Twenties, Communism, the Depression, Hitler, World War II, Hiroshima, Cold War, television, Lunar landings, drugs, Hustler, cloning. No one was permitted to stand still.]
• · Faiza Guene, the 19-year-old daughter of Algerians who moved to France before she was born, has taken her experiences Growing up in public housing projects outside Paris and whipped them into a confection that is tender, funny and even wise [Destiny is misery because you can do nothing about it. My mother, she says that if my father left us, it was because it was written.]
• · · Monsignor Ignazio Sanna Christians Will Need to Be Mystics, Says Theologian ; [Popieluszko was abducted and killed by secret police on Oct. 19, 1984 His body was stuffed in a sack weighed down with stones and thrown into the Vistula River ]
• · · · My Own Private Library: A love of books. Okay, it is a form of madness. But a pathology that combines history, the aesthetic, and a desire to preserve knowledge can’t be all bad These books represent the person I once aspired to be; [Manners and Morals at the Strangers Dining Room: Why You Should Not Eat the Person Sitting Next to You {PDF version}]
• · · · · It’s haunting to read through the yellowed news clippings of the 1960s. The clock was winding down and no one knew how the story would end The Other Sixties ; [ Nothing To Watch In The 210-Channel Universe]
• · · · · · Suspicion, distrust, backbiting, smear tactics, simple loathing and sometimes extremely unliterary abuse have come to characterise A struggle that has been waged until now behind the closed doors of London's literary salons
[The only thing that really changes is the writers. The profession can often be wrong about what the readers wants, but then someone will come up with something different]

Saturday, October 23, 2004

Booker Prize winner Mr Hollinghurst drew ahead only by the finest of whiskers when the chairman, Chris Smith, a master of political shepherding, proposed that the only vote for Mr Toibin be transferred to that judge's second choice.
Time, like a cold river, is a wheel of continuous movement: the present is the fruit of the past and the future is the fruit of the present. This week I exchanged an email with one of the Chinese dissidents I had a pleasure to meet at the office of the President of the NSW Legislative Council circa 1999. I am bragging again because most dissidents, unlike most novelists or politicians, tell the truth for the living ...
One of the great challenges for dissidents is to try to redress the potent cliche that history is written by the victors. Rumour has it that the Chinese censors forbid readers to access the fruits of my writing life. My escape across the Iron Curtain is considered a dangerous story - a tale that might dog totalitarians in China, Cuba or Korea. Yet, the Chinese underground is apparently learning how to live with that kind of censorship ... The Internet is an amazing creation!
Ach, Garry Maddox explains why so many Villawooders, filmmakers and actors, head to Hollywood: Aussiewood of my Villawood

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Triple Take on Kokoda Track
I am grateful to Dr George Dorman for exposing me to Fortunate Life by Facey. I am grateful to Dr James Cumes for sharing with me in the most amazing way the story of Kokoda Track. The story based on truth and nothing but the truth is entitled Haverleigh. James to me is the Antipodean Shakespearean who was born and bread in Beenleigh, a place to be found south of Brisbane. To sneak or not to sneak a place of your childhood into a title of your book was answered on the cover of James' book back in 1995. (To be or not to be - to have or not to have)
If you are a true Australian soldier you believe in compassion. James is a true Australian Soldier who now fights for Victory Over Want.
By some luck and coincident, I also came across another amazing army officer and pollie by the name Charlie Lynn in 1990s. In my fortunate exile, I even had the pleasure of having a chat over a coffee with Charlie and happened to be the first to introduce him to James. When time permits, Charlie takes restless souls on hellish walk along the Kokoda Trail. Charlie's victims include Kerry Chikarovski and my former PAC Deputy Chair, Peter Cochran. James is an amazing writer who has an ability to stir a new interest in the history of the WWII.
Over a school holidays, I read Peter FitzSimons bestselling story Kokoda and I must admit it complimented well the story written by James.
It is great to find out this week that another book on Kokoda is coming out in three weeks. The next book will have a perfect timing is it is launched on the Remembrance Day (11 November). This time Paul Ham draws his Kokoda account from diaries of both Australian as well as Japanese soldiers. As Peter FitzSimon explained the burst of interest as being due to the fact that the Australian soldiers fighting in New Guinea where fighting for Australia and won. At Gillipoli they fought for England and lost.
Australian filmmaker take a note and start knocking on James Cumes’ doors before some Austrian or American director put their hands on a story which deserves to be shot by the people living in the land so far away and down under. At Frankfurst and London book fairs James’ eyewitness story fuels great reviews. A signed copy of Haverleigh can be ordered direct from James Cumes at -

• James Cumes: The wisest and most compassionate person I know, a man who dedicates his life to helping people From page to screen: Haverleigh ; Haverleigh Links [James Cumes with Haverleigh and other titles - compliments of A9 ]
• · When the Iron Curtain came down, Europe gained more than 500 ski resorts Skiing or snowboarding in former communist countries is akin to being in a James Bond film without the technology; [If you fall in the Slovak river, nothing's gonna save you. The lower currents will pull you down, no matter what you do. I cannot swim, but what good is swimming [in such dangerous water]?; The alcohol is hard and straight, the surroundings are seductive, adventure and mayhem are on the agenda even the birth of Jozef Imrich Junior (smile); Unique Gothic River of Churches; Some Escapes are Sadder Than Others]
• · · A wealth of memories and a lifetime of reading are formed when you read with your children Writing itself is like being a 70s guitar hero, without the groupies [Paul Boutin]
• · · · Like the better known Prophecies of Nostradamus, the Prophecies of Paracelsus are exceedingly cryptic, filled with allegorical symbols and capable of being reinterpreted for any purpose It comes with 32 surreal woodcuts which seem to reveal additional details about each prophecy ; [Farther on still a bishop is shown immersed in water and surrounded by spears that prevent him from reaching the bank. Broking up all empires: Had thy pretended wisdom and understanding been thine own thou wouldst have been beyond disaster, and moreover other empires would have taken thee as a mirror ]
• · · · · I keep forgetting to link to the history of surrealism and great poster: Girls Who Say Yes 1960s anti-draft poster ; [USA Today spotlights the influence of the prizes on supporting emerging writers. Whiting Foundation program director Barbara Bristol comments: What we are trying to do is spot writers at a moment when they are at their most vulnerable, when they might give up. To say to them, 'Someone has noticed you.']
• · · · · · Emma Bovary took arsenic; Anna Karenina went under a train, Tess of the D'Urbervilles was hanged. But let's face it. These days women in modern societies don't die of adultery. It is not a hanging offence. Testing the Waters: From I Do to You Can not
• · · · · That Giant Of Reviewers, Robert Kuttner, comes up with an essay on faith, reason, terror, and democracy What Would Jefferson Do?
• · · · · · War and Evelyn Waugh His kiss was like a flash of lightning; when it was dark again she was free
[Maybe You Do not need to know, but if you do the NYT has named William Grimes as a regular nonfiction book reviewer (via a reliable source)]

Friday, October 22, 2004

All you have to do is write one true sentence. Write the truest sentence that you know.
-Ernest Hemingway, American author (1899 - 1961)

Bad politicians are like 17-year locusts: When they show up en masse, the public greets them with fascination and fear. The current prolonged infestation naturally provokes questions both analytic such as Why do they say what they say? and introspective such as Why do we let them do what they do to us?
Back in bad old Czechoslovakia I got used to seeing the rotten fruits sold at the markets by our political masters. However, even in Australia it is rare to come across fruits rich in political vitamins and democratic fibre. I was not suprised yesterday to read cynical observations in the letters section of the Sydney Morning Herald regarding federal-state-financial-dysfunctions. One bohemian writer employed hard-core irony and wrote: Bob Carr’s offer to trade power with Canberra is a step in the right direction, but why stop there. A merger of the NSW Parliament and Commonwealth parliaments would be real progress.
[Some MPs would be delighted to be called Senators...]

Julian Burnside shares with Czechoslovak born Tom Stoppard the view that we are all born with an instinct for justice. In Professional Foul, one of his characters tells of the child who in the playground cries “It’s not fair” and thus gives voice to ‘an impulse which precedes utterance’. Our perception of justice may be blunted by exposure to its processes. At the start of a career as a law student, we see law and justice as synonymous; later we fall into cynicism or despair as clients complain that Law and Justice seem unrelated. We might remember the observation of Bismarck, in a different context, saying “He who likes sausages or law should not see them in the making” be it in the NSW Parliamentary Library or the Public Accounts Committee (PAC).

Yet there are a number of MPs who have done their bit to preserve my sense of my faith in politicians on both side of the Parliament and almost one and all independent. I view the suggestion made by Miranda Devine yesterday as rather exaggerated. In her article, entitled Headaches All Around at Town Hall, (a great title for a rock song) Miranda wrote that Clover Moore is creating a royal court of servants by expanding her personal staff by a third because she is not coping with her work.

Clover is a capable politician and an amazing person as is the former chairman of the PAC Andrew Tink. As an insider’s insider’s insider I saw the stone of the fruit and I just wish we had more politicians who come to Parliament after having a real career, real family lives, real interests outside politics and real appreciation what democracy mean...

Czech out the thoughtful contribution by Andrew Tink. I gather that most library newsletters and journals in Australia and even overseas are liberal with extracts from this brilliant speech. This speech was written even before the journal New Matilda saw the light of the publishing day.
Public language is not decaying under a death sentence as proclaimed by Don Watson on the front cover of his latest book.
Rather it is being used as it always has been by those in power, those seeking
power and their critics to attack, defend and criticise.
At the very beginning of his book, Mr Watson accepts this by quoting Primo Levi’s description of public language as ‘an ancient repressive artifice, known to all churches, the typical vice of our political class, the foundation of all colonial empires.
If the title to Mr Watson’s book ‘Death Sentence The Decay of Public Language’is correct, then the decay of public language is something to celebrate: (PDF format) Attack and Defence: Public Language Across Four Centuries

Repeating History Classes: Towshend puts Lord Sydney in shadows
The fact is that few Sydneysiders know exactly who the city was named after and even fewer could tell you what was his non-aristocratic name. New South Wales parliamentarian Andrew Tink laments how little honoured is Lord Sydney in his own backyard:
'The 1780s were arguably the most important period in the history of the English speaking world and Lord Sydney was right in the middle of it. 'How many people have cities on two continents named after them and can say they directly influenced the futures of Australia, Canada and the United States as well as his own country Britain.'
Tink, who has made himself almost a lone Australian expert on Lord Sydney through painstaking archive searches, recounts his hero's achievements and the part they played in the history of the English speaking world.
In appreciation of Lord Sydney's efforts, the loyalists named Sydney in Nova Scotia after him. Tink argues that it was Lord Sydney's support for the loyalists that was a key reason why the English of Canada went on to dominate the country over the country's French settlers..
It was a grateful captain Arthur Phillip, unlike Tommy Townshend, revered by Australians of all ages, who named the new settlement after Lord Sydney.
Born in 1733 as the son of aristocrat Lord Townshend, and later to become an aristocrat in his own right as Lord Sydney, Tommy Townshend graduated from Cambridge University with a Bachelor of Arts when he was just 21.
He went almost immediately into politics, holding a number of key parliamentary posts before taking on his colonial roles

Andrew Tink: the Lover of History [Andrew Tink ]
What do Andrew Tink - historian politician, Andrew "Boy" Charlton - Swimmer, Banjo Paterson - poet/writer, David Gonski - Coca-Cola chairman, Baz Luhrman - film director and Malcolm Mackerras - Psephologist have in common SGS
• · Even Sydney's Charms Cannot Save the Politician who Angered a Poet
• · · PDF Words that Haunt Sydney
• · · · Speech can stop people being afraid or sorry; it can promote happiness and increase feelings of pity. Speech is a ‘powerful ruler’ because, though invisible, it achieves superhuman results

Monday, October 18, 2004

The Scots have confirmed what I have suspected for a long, long, time. I am right. Flamers note that I am always right. Imrigh \Im"righ\, n. [Scot.; Gael. ?un-bhrigh chicken soup.] A peculiar strong soup or broth, made in Scotland. [Written also imrich.]
Why I'm writing a book ... The Chaotic Age is upon us. We are scared. Damn right, we should be scared. But out of the terror comes the amazing opportunities for us to expand both on the material and spiritual level. The fewer safety nets there are to save us, the less choice we have to be anything other than ourselves, the less choice we have besides doing what is meaningful to us. And finding ourselves, doing what matters, becoming the person we were born to be, this is what God put on this earth to do.
We live in amazing and interesting times. I intend the book to do a damn good job proving it.

Literature & Sport Across Frontiers: My Master Plan for World Domination & Soul Soup
Since the dawn of the film industry, it has been common practice for writers to send scripts and pitch stories to movie executives and producers. And for almost as long, scores of writers have sued the studios for stealing their ideas, only to have suits, filed on hard-to-prove copyright infringement grounds, which are dismissed or quietly settled. But a recently published opinion from the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, in Jeff Grosso v. Miramax Film Corporation, may soon shift the balance of power in this age-old tug of war.
Every successful movie ever made has had a raft of crazy lawsuits.

What? We Can't Steal Your Ideas? [Is Canada Really Stealing Hollywood Productions? ; Can you win over the same folks who read People magazine without turning off the so-called serious reader? Stand-alone book magazines ride choppy seas to celebrate the promise of the written word: Bookmarks]
• · Exhibitionists who like to feel more than the wind in their hair rejoice - nude cruises are coming to Australia The Bare Necessities of the Maiden Voyage (Boat People); [ It's Maiden Book Blitz Week at Slate ! ; Maiden high-tech security: Vatican: It is home to 1.6 million books, centuries-old manuscripts and the oldest known complete Bible]
• · · A few months ago Hollie Andrew was collecting tickets at a Sydney Dendy Cinema at Circular Quay. Now she is nominated for an AFI award: her movie Somersault premiered at the Sydney Film Festival What a Somersault of Artistic Life; [Snakes hit the beach; and may Gianna’s Novel-in-progress Hit #1]
• · · · Why Authors Should Blog ; [The sexual memoir has been gaining steam (no pun intended) as a literary form in recent years, and far from being near-porn, many of the books read like throwbacks to an age when sex was allowed to be beautiful, and not simply an animal act. Literature Regains Its Sex Life: sexual writing aims... to demystify and de-emotionalize sex — to reduce it to a physical and hormonal process not much different from, say, scratching an itch ]
• · · · · Leisel Jones' and our old coach, Ken Wood, has seemingly re-opened the rift between her and Brooke Hanson by playing down the Victorian's record-breaking feats at the world shortcourse swimming championships; [The allergy is now under control thanks to her switch from an indoor pool to an outdoor one at Sutherland, where she trains under the guidance of Ian Thorpe's coach Tracey Menzies. Kirsten Thomson ]
• · · · · · Elfriede Jelinek has been pilloried in Austria as a Nestbeschmutzer, someone who fouls her own nest by exposing the seamy side of her country of birth to the outside world. She's very adventurous. She's a playwright and poet too and is always doing crazy and wonderful things with the form of the novel. While the form taken by her writing constantly shifts, however, its fundamental purpose appears to be to disturb. And she does so, in the academy's words, by demonstrating how the entertainment industry's cliches seep into people's consciousness and paralyze opposition to class injustices and gender oppression ; [Reports of the Death of the Printed Word Have Been Exaggerated]

Friday, October 08, 2004

Cold River As A Literary Metaphor

My Amazon Light and the Herald Sun suggest that politics is not the hottest game in town: Lindsay's so hot
The world still has millions of mystics, and the most mystical human beings are often among the most practical as well ... One of New York's hottest young artists portrays her circle of friends, her fellow artists and her favorite icons My Bohemia

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Publisher Encourages Students to Participate in Democratic Process by Awarding Grants
In celebration of the new book "D is for Democracy," publisher Sleeping Bear Press, a Thomson Gale imprint, is encouraging students in grades 3-8 to play an active role in our democratic process by developing their own volunteer project. Sleeping Bear Press will award five $1,000 grants to fund the winning student projects.
The Grassroots Volunteer Campaign is a way to encourage kids to develop volunteerism, one of the cornerstones of our democratic society. This election year is a great time to learn about democracy through 'D is for Democracy' and to participate in the process through the Grassroots Volunteer Campaign.

This type of activity makes learning fun, encourages creativity and will help those in need -- a winning combination [The poorest poet who could not sell words for money has given humanity far more than busloads of best sellers with private foundations All of civilization rests on symbolic giving: Real writing is a gift beyond measure - It's only the counterfeit stuff that needs to be laundered; To blog or not to blog: More authors keeping online journals ; Matt Liddy's Poll Vault Weblog: How our political leaders speak ]
• · We are endlessly caught in the movement of our desire like a fish in a net of its own making. 32 keys and their music puts the devil to flight…and he whom no force can overcome is overcome by harmony The universe is harmonious for it is the work of God and musical harmony is the human key to the divine harmony. Far from having all the best tunes, the devil abhors harmony (Simon Critchley -This essay is the text of a talk given at The Sydney Opera House on 23 August); [ Paolo Totaro reviews Giuliano Montagna’s autobiography My Father Giovannino Guareschi – from the Po to Australia chasing a dream (PDF version) The odyssey of a lost, loving son]
• · · Liz Else, Alun Anderson complaining about sloppy thinking, logical errors, fallacies and muddles Your beliefs are like your wardrobe. How dare anybody question your style? Your ideology is your own. As for evidence
• · · · Rules of debate. You have Buckleys in NY. You may not stick fingers in your mouth pretending to vomit while your opponent speaks. Do not use the terms girlie-man, frog, or bozo. Elevator shoes are strictly forbidden Mr Christopher Buckley
• · · · · The story of Czechoslovak Oskar Schindler was not something Thomas Knealley found. Rather, it found him. He was looking for a briefcase.
• · · · · · The Meander (aka Menderes) is a river in Turkey. As you might expect, it winds all over the place. But it doesn't do this out of frivolity. The path it has discovered is the most economical route to the sea. The River ; The river's algorithm is simple. At each step, flow down. For the essayist this translates to: flow interesting. Of all the places to go next, choose the most interesting. One can't have quite as little foresight as a river. I always know generally what I want to write about. But not the specific conclusions I want to reach; from paragraph to paragraph I let the ideas take their course. The Cold River [This doesn't always work. Sometimes, like a river, one runs up against a wall. Then I do the same thing the river does: backtrack. At one point in this essay I found that after following a certain thread I ran out of ideas. I had to go back seven paragraphs and start over in another direction.]

Thursday, October 07, 2004

One soulful Antipodean hits the spotlight on google searches this week as Counterpunch links to Antony Loewenstein Rupert Murdoch and the Marginals: "Personally Creating Outcomes, while another souldful Amerikan says goodbye to Google ...

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Farewell Ev! The Blogger Boy from Nebraska
Without any doubt, Ev sings in more Slavic accent the word Wooshka and with a much better gusto than Mark Latham managed during the Australian political idol policy launches (smile).
It's been almost six years now since I started working on what became the company I sold to the company we started talking to two years ago because of the product we launched five years ago.
Six years is a long time. Or a little. Depending.
For me, it's a little under 20% of this life on Earth. And it's the time when I find myself thinking a lot about a particular question: What should I do next?
I'm not sure what the answer to that question is, but I've decided it's something different than I do now. And I need some perspective to answer it. So, I've to move on. I.e.: As of this Friday, I will no longer be employed by Google.
Yes, I'm leaving my baby (or is it an adolescent by now?), in the hands of an awesome team we've compiled over the last few years. And I'm taking some time off to think. And...who knows?
Gosh, what else to say about that?
Necessarily, I must express that it's been an amazing, thrilling, life-changing, difficult, rewarding, surprising, and lucky ride I've been on. And "life-changing" is such an understatement. As I said on Blogger's fifth birthday, for doing the "same thing" for five years, it's amazing how drastically my life has changed. Not just my life, but me. I'm just a simple farm boy from Nebraska, after all.

Evan Williams The Young Godfather of the Blogger Family [Ev might care to tackle Search engines which are unreliable tools for research that aims to reconstruct the historical record ... ]
• · May the blogging wars begin! Shooting for top dragon in cyber town Dragon Digeratis
• · · : On Thursday night, the president forgot himself. After years of being protected from anyone who doesn't flatter and cajole, he let his mask slip when confronted with someone who didn't fear his childish retribution or need anything from him. Many members of the public got a good sharp look at him for the first time in two years and they were stunned. Like that black and white image, the dichotomy of the real Bush vs. the phony Bush is profoundly discomfiting Two Faces. One Public, One Private. One Phony, One Real

Monday, October 04, 2004

We are all Christ and we are all Hitler. We are trying to make Christ's message contemporary. We want Christ to win. What would he have done if he had advertisements, T.V., records, films and newspapers? The miracle today is communication. So let's use it.
-John Lennon '69

<.b>In 1969 Czechoslovak youth communicated to the world the message of our birth right through characters like Jan Palach who took a certain Slavic saying literally: If you want to set something afire, you must burn yourself. By setting himself alight in Wenceslas Square, Jan Palach ignited an unprecedented underground movement against the Communist Government of Czechoslovakia. Bohemian boys, like Balmain boys, rarely say intimate things. Although we hardly ever do; somehow under the surface we are helpless at fighting the huge iceberg of emotional energy which even rips Titanics apart. Some of us identify ourselves with courageous acts no mattter how crazy and in those rare moments we are not ashamed to be true to our man-childhood feeling. The rare moment takes place when one least expects it so you find choking your throat with anger and tears, but somehow the feelings displayed by others become a kind of badge of binding honour. Simone Weil, who like George Orwell knew what it meant to live under communism, observed in her book The Need for Roots that truth is a need of the soul. She went on to say: The need for truth is a need more sacred than any other need. Yet it is never mentioned. One feels afraid to read once one has realised the quantity and monstrousness of the material falsehoods paraded in even the books of the most reputable authors. Thereafter one reads as though one were drinking from a contaminated well. Anything we read about the reasons for Jan Palach from the poisoned pens of authors sponsored by the Secretariat was a big lie.

Do you know, my story is the saddest and the silliest you would ever hear, Alan Sheriff, the hero of Thomas Keneally's latest fiction, The Tyrant's Novel confesses to his visitor at a detention camp for refugees.

In Vienna young exile men wore cheap John Lennon’s specs and pretended leather jackets ... spent disproportionate amounts of their time looking for dreams to come true. When I first came to Australia the limited English words I possessed in my vocabulary generally came from the Beatles songs. In 1980 the roof of the world kept falling on top of me wherever I went. Just like I never forget the day I learnt about the death of Jan Palach, or the fateful crossing of the Iron Curtain, I will never forget the day I learnt about the pointless fatal shooting in New York. It was incomprehensible that the John, the one we were forbidden to admire in the Eastern parts of Europe, was gone. Unfortunately, the death of John Lennon defined not just my six months in exile, but also many decades after!

John Lennon’s song that is seared in my memory eerily opens with the words : ‘I magine there is no heaven and it is easy if you try ... Imagine there’s no countries, it is not hard to do. Nothing to kill or die for, and no religion too.’ It is not hard to feel all this confusion, all this loneliness, all this heartache, all this struggle, it's not hard to figure out how any Central European without a family feels in a city of exiles where snow never falls at Christmas or any other time. Like Lennon, I would learn that monsters exist in all our cultures not just communist so as homeless wonderers many of us just had to learn how to side step them and sometime even face them. Refugees and migrants depict the side tourists seldom see, milk-crates as furniture, eating alone tinned baked beans for brekky, lunch and dinner, second hand rags inside a broken plastic bag rather than souvenir bag. We are all like the characters in the movie Titanic who at the first seven minutes of the movies boldly proclaim: We have nothing. So we have nothing to lose!?! Unlike tourists, we dare to explore the darker streets of the Kings Cross and be fearless when it comes to embracing the waves at Bondi. There are no three or five star hostels we are all equal under the axis of exile. We are irresistably charmed by every little miracles donated to the Salvation Army and St Vincent De Paul. We learn that, for us, there is no right thing to say or write. So we write and say what others whisper in private. Tears, like water, provide the glue that turn the raw material of exile into useful concrete of collective survival. John Lennon was the strongest cement there ever was for many Czechs who felt part of this fragile universe during the Christmas of 1980.

I write fiction and I'm told it's autobiography, I write autobiography and I'm told it's fiction, so since I'm so dim and they're so smart, let them decide what it is or it isn't.
Philip Roth

The cementing for me took place inside a little remote Czech club in Campbelltown area. Just like in the Slavic pub in Cabrammatta, inside this (poor cousin of the Czech Sokolish French Forrest club) Campbeltown club most of us were without families and John Lennon was our symbolically mourned brother. The world was separated by one degree that night even the beer had a personality. It is said that beer evolves into an art form during wakes. I became a Bohemian Crocodile-Dundee who put to practice my nights behind my cousin Gejzo’s bar. As you do, I jokingly challenged the Moravian barmaid with angelic high cheekbones by saying: Call that a head? That is not a head; this is a head! Home grilled Christmas carp and Silvester mackerel are tasty miracles which represented the distilled essenceof all that is wonderful about Czech adoption of a melting pot recipe. Like most Slavs, I tend to drown my heart, one heady beer at a time, with a Janosik-Tarzan cry and a loud splash. It is amazing to discover that even in Campbeltown, at the edge of the habitable world, (irony-intended) intoxicated lifelines are impossible to resist like the unexpected and unconditional taste of Silvester night kisses layered in spine-arching poetry of Slavic folk dance! And then we went to her place to listen to John Lennon.

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: Lennon fans threaten his killer as release looms
Mark Chapman, the man who murdered John Lennon, could be released from jail next month in a move that has sparked fears of retribution from Beatles fans.
Chapman will have a parole hearing in the week beginning 4 October, officials at the New York State Parole Division said. It will be held behind closed doors. However, one official said they had 'no idea' what the outcome of the hearing would be.

My Surreal Christmas Without Snow and without John Lennon [link first seen at My Surreal Vienna]
• · Angela Bennie examines the dynamic state of the art. Our home-grown talent is winning acclaim overseas, but has acting in this country evolved into a recognisable generic style? Australian thrall
• · · Sheriff is a writer in limbo; he can neither expect adoption by his new land nor return to his homeland, an unnamed, oil-rich dictatorship The Tyrant's Novel
• · · · Philip Roth immersed himself in literature from behind the Iron Curtain. He went every week to a little college on Staten Island to attend Antonin Liehm's classes on Czech culture and edited a series of eastern European fiction for Penguin. My life in New York after Portnoy was lived in the Czech exile community - listening, listening, listening. I ate every night in Czech restaurants in Yorkville, talked to whoever wanted to talk to me and left all this Portnoy crap behind. That was idiotic, this was not idiotic. I lived up in Connecticut, where Philip Guston was my friend, and had my east European world in New York, and those were the things that saved me. I think that's why Hemingway lived in Key West; he liked to be in a world that had nothing to do with what he did all day. Fame is a worthless distraction
• · · · · Lyn Tranter and Greg Hunter will be knocking on doors of Frankfurt Book Fair promoting a biography of Ian Thorpe, the complicated swimmer (Germans love dogs and a photo of Ian and Max might stimulate an interest in a kind of Antipodean Labrador Rex imaginary - smile ) Lyn’s partner, John Tranter is the founding editor and publisher of the free quarterly Internet literary magazine Jacket
• · · · · · The board and officers of the American Nudist Research Library did not attend the 2004 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony at Harvard University this past week. None of them, apparently, could find a thing to wear. Honors for Nude Lit, Fish Tarts

Some bloggers may take a different personality on their web logs. Others may simply show their true colors ; via Brilliant Boynton

The Blog, The Press, The Media: Spread the Word Far and Wide, According to Soros Wishes
On Tuesday I delivered a speech at the National Press Club in Washington explaining why I am involved in this election. In the coming weeks, I will be traveling the country to speak with more Americans about why I believe President Bush is endangering our safety, hurting our vital interests and undermining American values. I have started this website and this blog to hear from you. I am eager to engage in a critical discussion about this election because the stakes are so high, and I welcome your opinions here and on your own blogs. I am looking forward to responding to the many comments that I have already received in the days ahead. Thank you, and I look forward to hearing from you.
• Words fail me as I never thought George Soros would ever have the time to blog. On the other hand, I never thought the Iron Curtain would come down in my LIFETIME! George Soros joins the blogosphere ; [Why We Must Not Re-elect President Bush]
• · Tim Porter: What do we need to do to move forward? How do we attract new readers? Editorial Pages: Pizza vs. Finger Bowls
• · · Tim Porter Puts stop to blogger bash thing: Carry My Notebook, Please
• · · · Lawrence Henry: Oh, the blogosphere is crowing, carrying Dan Rather's head around on a pike, as Keith Olbermann complained bitterly a couple of weeks ago What Blogs Can’t Do
• · · · · Today 2 Million People are blogging in Amerika: Before Applying, Check Out the Blogs
• · · · · · Naomi Klein: You Can't Bomb Beliefs

Saturday, October 02, 2004

There is a simple law governing the dramatization of novels: if it is worth doing, it can't be done; if it can be done, it isn't worth it. Trash can be just as trashy on the stage as in an armchair, but when an artist has conceived of something as a novel, let those who think they know a reason why his matter should not be married to his manner forever hold their peace.
John Simon, Acid Test

Literature & Art Across Frontiers: How To Lose Your Money And Waste Your Time
The Washington Post this weekend published a ridiculous article in their little How To section. Yep, it was all about How To Publish Your Own Book and the piece couldn't have held more lies and half-truths had it been written by a con artist and published on the web. How do you get your tome flying off the shelves at Borders? the article asks. Not this way!
Samizdat: Move Under Ground and Punish Yozef [ How To Publish Your Own Book ]
• · Surprised people think it's strange, my down to earth Canadian publisher knows that life on the streets feeds people's desire to escape and books are as comforting to hookers, addicts and homeless people as they are to Oprah Winfrey: Vancouver hooked on Sex Gates by DDP
• · · Welcome to New Blog and the maiden rant: Ach, the possibilities for anonymous complaining! So much to say, so little time. ; [BookBuz]
• · · · There shall not be found among you anyone that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter or a witch ...Deuteronomy 18: 10-12 J.K. Rowling: Speak of the Devil, here's Harry ; [Banned: Alice vs. Harry: Who's More Dangerous? ]
• · · · · Mary Watson reads a whole lot of responsibility into book clubs Literary criticism for dummies; [How To Make Love Like a Porn Star]
• · · · · · Thin is not in at Amazon Fat Cold River gets a bounce ; [Canadian publisher DDP has added another two imprint to its growing business with Dragon's Heart Romance (
To inspire people all over the world to fall in love, one book at a time) and Dragon Tooth Fantasy (Bringing the imagination back into your life!) Canadian Publisher Keeps On Growing in the ebook niche]