The current page:
The Nall of Wallidge
SoFo archives by name:
A great long list of individual entries
Entries by category:
Boring Old News
Mad scientist storytelling
SoFo on SoFo
The cryptic crosswords:
#1, #2, #3, #4, #5
The main page:
visitors since May 12, 2002
December 29, 2001
The Sonata begins
A cello is heard, playing a wafting, cello-like sound. You know the kind.
A piano comes in. It's all very pleasant and civilised.
Then, from the dressing room, a different sound arrives. It soon becomes obvious that this is yelling. Unamplified yelling, for the moment.
The yelling gets louder and louder. The cello and piano abruptly stop playing. There is the distinctive sound of a cello being hurriedly put back into its case and a piano lid being slammed shut.
But the yelling doesn't stop.
The yelling never really stops.
March 6, 2002
So: what's the point?
Alipali writes from London to point out that there's very little here that tells you what I'm really feeling. (I admire Alipali. She's never afraid to give honest feedback.)
She raises an issue that so far I've avoided dealing with: namely, what the point of all this stuff is.
And there are different answers to that. The first is obvious: when you start something like this, no one tells you that you need a point. You just start writing, and, if you're lucky, a point appears.
The second is that I came up with the title, so I figured I should do something with it. What would you do if you came up with "Sonata for Unfinished Yelling"?
And the third reason is that I want to demonstrate, to myself as much as to anyone, that I can actually write. So some of the entries here are things that I've had floating around for some time, and which I just want to publish in some way. At this stage in my life, I just want to finish things and get them out there. Maybe one day I'll pursue some kind of journalism, and when they ask what I've already done, I can point to this page. With any luck, they'll find something they like.
So writing an online journal just seems to be something that I should be doing anyway. It's not be the be-all and end-all of my creative ambitions, but it's a useful thing to be doing along the way. I haven't been one to persevere with things, but I think I'll persevere with this.
So, to return in a roundabout way to Alipali, there isn't much here about how I'm feeling. But there might be more of that on the way. Or less. Depending on how I'm feeling.
And in the last week there's been very little of anything, because that's the way I've been feeling. And, at least for the time being, I'll be leaving the reasons for this a tantalising mystery.
That might not be much of a point, but it's still a point.
April 10, 2002
Titles that lack subtitles ... is there anything worse?
Enraged email from Stig O. Walsh. He's taken enormous offence at my remarks about notebook protectors, and is shocked that I'm "trivialising such an important topic."
In my defence, however, I would point out that trivialising notebook protectors, or trivialising anything, is not necessarily easy. In my case, it was something I had to work up to. I had to go to a special school and everything.
But, in an indirect manner, Stig has made me aware that Sonata for Unfinished Yelling is just that. It's just a title. A title that's aimlessly floating around in space. The kind of title that could mean anything to anyone. The kind of title that lacks an image, a concept, a word, to anchor it, to explain itself. It doesn't have what modern, well-designed, award-winning titles have.
It doesn't have a subtitle.
So, in what will probably turn out to be a futile bid to stave off legal action coming from the direction of Stig, this could well be the moment to try a subtitle out. How does this look to you?
Sonata for Unfinished Yelling: An Exploration of Notebook Protectors
plus occasional discussion about other, less important stuff
Or perhaps this:
Sonata for Unfinished Yelling: The Art and Science of Notebook Protectors
like, as if there's anything else worth talking about
Sonata for Unfinished Yelling: An Ongoing Tribute to Stig O. Walsh
with intermittent positive remarks about notebook protectors and Stig's legal team
April 15, 2002
Scenes from the journey here: a moment in 1982
In 1981, I achieved my academic goal: I failed HSC. It required careful planning and a steady, unswerving vigilance, but I got there.
But my initial feelings of victory and satisfaction didn't last as long as I'd expected, and only a few months later I was bored and depressed and not sure what to do. I didn't really know who I could talk to about my options, or even if I had any options, so I paid a visit to my old high school to see Glenys Nall. Glenys had valiantly tried to teach me English the year before, and had underestimated the depth of my commitment to failing HSC. Of course, midway through 1982 I was older and wiser, and didn't want to hold that against her.
"I'm bored," I said. "What should I read now?"
"Well," she said, "do you want me to write you a list?"
"Sure," I said, "that'd be great."
And she wrote out a list of maybe fifteen or twenty books.
And then something else happened; something that I've always been very, very grateful for. Glenys gave me some advice. "When you read a book," she said, "make a few notes about it. If you can, write down what you thought about it - whether you liked it, and why. And if you do nothing else, at least make a note about how long it took you to read, and what date you started and finished it." (That last one is a trick, by the way. If you can get it together to record how long it took you to read a book, it's then much more likely you'll go on to add a thought or three about it. The hard bit is picking up a pen.)
I can't be 100% certain, but I'm fairly sure that she also planted the idea that I should keep some kind of journal.
So I started one. Possibly the same day.
In the twenty years since then I've been to 36 countries, and lived in more than 40 houses, and turned up, more or less on time, to a vast range of jobs. But the only thing I've consistently worked at has been writing down what I'm thinking about.
So part of what I'm doing with SoFo is trying to convince myself that I haven't actually wasted every minute of the last twenty years.
And the other part is simply continuing something I've been doing for a long time. But there's one difference, which is that I've found a way to share what I'm doing.
And, I have to admit, that feels good. And, in case I haven't made this clear, it's great to have you here.
April 27, 2002
I've just started reading Mark Cunningham's Good Vibrations, and am already enjoying it immensely. This is my idea of a good book: it's a history of something I'm interested in, in this case record producers, and the story is told almost totally through the use of interviews. So: interesting people telling their stories, in their own words, while the author gets out of the way. I like that.
This journal file is just getting too big. Time for some administration. Time to archive some of the older stuff.
Time to scratch my head a lot while I figure out how to do that.
An hour later and I'm making very little progress.
Two minutes later and I seem to have deleted everything I've written.
Er ... is that right?
April 28, 2002
Aaaaarrrgghh: the sequel
One day later and I'm still having technical difficulties.
Mmmmm. Technical difficulties. Crunchy with a gooey centre.
Mmmmm. Technical difficulties. They taste good.
April 30, 2002
Aaaaarrrgghh: the surprise third installment
Great. A trilogy of Aaaaarrrgghh.
Now I'm sick. Some flu thing.
I blame the technical difficulties I've been having.
I'm sore all over. I feel gloomy and uninspired. And to top it all off, the house has been invaded by mice.
Well it never stop?
May 2, 2002
The self-referentiality of blogging
OK. I think I've got the template working and the archives functioning. What's really nice about this is that I can stop using the word "Aaaaarrrgghh" in my titles.
I think that's going to work, at least for me.
When I started writing this journal, I made a list of things to talk about, and a list of things not to talk about. At the top of the second list was the word "blogger."
Ahem. Time to reconsider that.
Part of the reason for not wanting to write a blogger that used the word "blogger" was to avoid self-referentiality. Avoiding self-referentiality is a leftover attitude from university days. In a lot of the arty-farty subjects I studied, self-referentiality was cool. But postmodernism was also cool, and so was writing long, impenetrable, jargon-ridden, impossible-to-understand sentences.
Just to simplify all of this, bad writing was cool. If no one could understand what you were saying, you were cool. The people at the Very Pinnacle of Cool made no sense whatsoever.
At the time, I regarded this situation with a scepticism bordering on the deafening. Many years later, incomprehensibility still seems worthless. In the world of words, incomprehensibility defines worthless.
Ooops. Getting off track here.
The problem with self-referentiality is that there are always more interesting and important things to talk about. What I like to read about are accounts of people who are engaged with the world, and who can articulate what they're thinking, or what they're feeling, as they go about their lives. That's what I was looking for when I first had a look at the links on www.blogger.com. What I found was a pile of blogs which mainly talked about other blogs, or about blogging itself.
"Oh no," I thought.
So I made a resolution: do not discuss blogging.
But recently I've made brief mentions of templates and technical difficulties and archiving my blog. Every time I've done so has been with great embarrassment - not that I've admitted that until now. But it's true: I'm embarrassed to talk about technology. Which is weird, because it's an area that I'm definitely interested in. But (and, if you'll forgive the double entendre, it's a big but) I'm extremely wary about talking about it in public.
I think part of the reason for that is that sooner or later I won't have to. Sooner or later, all the technology we use will be invisible. Blogging will just be one more medium for people to communicate with each other. And what's being said will be the important thing, not the medium being used to say it. After a while, we don't even notice the medium. Newspapers tend not to run headlines of "Shock photos of printing presses!"
But a lot of blogging is still at that sort of level.
Including, at least for the time being, mine.
July 3, 2002
The danger of true names
Guan-Ji returns from six weeks in Europe with triumphant stories of scuba diving in Greece and other such hijinks.
It seems that once he's recovered from his jet lag he'll be moving out a few days sooner than expected. To prepare myself for this I took a good look around the house to figure out what furniture will be going and what furniture will be staying. Initially I used a clipboard and a fountain pen to record the details, but this rapidly proved unnecessary.
All the furniture in the house will be going. Everything belongs to him. Even the mighty desk on which I am now writing is his. It's a fairly old, rickety desk, and it's being supported by the careful placement of a filing cabinet, but I've became rather fond of it. I therefore expressed cautious interest in, as it were, inheriting it.
"The desk?" he said. "What desk?"
Come now, I responded. The mighty desk on which I write Sonata for Unfinished Yelling. The desk of power. The desk of fame. The desk of triumph.
Pause while Guan-Ji considers this description. Nothing rings any bells. Eventually he says "I'm still not sure what desk you're talking about."
"Well," I respond, "the old brown desk with sticky tape covering one corner. The one I found gathering cobwebs in the storage shed. Under the bags of fertilizer. Behind the plough."
"Oh, that thing," he says at last. "Well, keep it if you like. But it's not actually a desk. It's a trestle table."
A sound was heard. A moist, bouncy sound. It was my heart, hitting the floor. Then another sound was heard. A moist, rickety sound. Muffled weeping.
There were other sounds, too, and all of them embarrassing.
Ladies and gentlemen, I bring you a tragic announcement. I wish to I report that the mighty, triumphal, power-accruing desk at which I sit is not actually any of these things. SoFo is coming at you from a mere trestle table. A trestle table that I rescued from oblivion, and watered with my tears.
January 12, 2003
Stumbling into a second year
All righty then. Two weeks off has turned into three weeks off, which is plenty of time for me to forget everything I ever thought I knew about whatever it is I'm talking about. Something to do with writing, perhaps, or not writing, or not something.
Hope you're still reading. I have no idea where I'm going with this.
I've just spent a couple of weeks in Fitzroy while my computer sat in a darkened room in Yackandandah. I spent the first few days without it trying to remember what I did before I got it. After failing at this, I eventually realised that I could use the time to read something, such as one of them old fashioned book things.
But then Shazamajaz lent me a Macintosh Classic. Manufactured in the early nineties, it's a sort of glorified typewriter, minus the glory. It's a very, very basic machine. The only thing it can do quickly is shut itself down. Everything else takes a while, or several whiles. I spent many hours looking at its tiny screen, hoping it would do something useful, and hoping it would do so today. Fortunately, it had an impressive selection of programs: a word processor and a screensaver. No games, no music, no distractions.
So I sat there and wrote stuff. I wrote about what I've learnt in a year of blogging, what I want to do with SoFo this year, what else I might want to do with my life. And I reflected over what I'd achieved in 2002. It was a pretty good year, at least as far as output goes. Along the way I even wrote about a compost bin, and this seemed like forward progress of some kind. But then a lot of 2002 seemed like forward progress of some kind.
Years ago I came across an interview with Gabriel Garcia Marquez, in which he said something like "if you think you can live without writing, don't write." (I think he was paraphrasing Rilke, but I'm no longer sure.) And here's the thing: I don't think I can live without writing. And the last few weeks have taught me something else: while I'm at it, I may as well use good tools. I'll be doing this for a while yet.
But not, I suspect, using a Macintosh Classic.
August 10, 2005
Dear long-suffering reader ...
Well, it seems that I'm still not sure what to do about SoFo. My gut feeling, now, is to throw everything I've got into finishing my book. I don't know how long it's going to take to do this, but SoFo is likely to be a major distraction. I've considered a sort of SoFo-lite, and just doing book reviews for a while. Nothing personal, nothing demented, and definitely no short pieces about any aspect of my life. (All that stuff, potentially, is for the book.)
For someone like me, a blog is an avenue into journalism. It's an avenue that I have mixed feelings about. It's also possible that it's an avenue that I can entirely avoid. Every journalist I've ever known and just about every journalist I've ever heard of (with very few exceptions) got into that field as a way into writing books. Thirty years later, they're still journalists, but they've mysteriously become jaded and cynical. And, somehow, incapable of writing a book.
I generalise, of course. I like to fantasise that this is somehow useful.
Journalism, especially personal journalism, seems to suck up one's entire lifetime of experience and spit it out the other end in short, easily digestible segments. It's something I can do, but it's something I no longer want to do, except in song. Even if I can't clearly explain why, I want my book to tell a longer story, of one part of my life. And, along the way, to use the image of man-falls-over-twig-and-lands-in-swamp as a way into talking about the world in which we live.
I may well be wrong, but what I'm thinking now is: this is the best use of my talents. If I put SoFo aside for a while, it's because I'm aiming higher.
Popular things on this site:
The Coaxer moustache
My war with Samoa
Movable Type vs. SoFo
Confronting a rat
Travels through Iran, Pakistan and India
Hot Soup Girl
Powered by Movable Type
Web hosting by Paul Bamber of Zen115