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Showing posts from December, 2017

FLIPPING THE BIRD: NOTES ON HLB

I don’t dislike Hera Lindsay Bird’s poetry – It’s worth the devotion of some solemn thinking time to it. I take it that seriously. Playa respects game, and in the kangaroo courts of social media one has felt somewhat misrepresented. It’s easy to misconstrue description as hostility when trying to unpick postmodern irony, anti-aesthetic and literary persona, when, in the space of reading Bird’s poetry, I find myself trying to match it, sarcasm for sarcasm. It’s not particularly my cup of tea, but it deserves to exist and clearly has a readership. At worst, like Bill Manhire, it’s a matter of hits and misses; the hits knock you on your arse and the misses leave you shrugging. In the spirit of Richard Rorty’s ironic pragmatism, it’s not the end that matters but the means the author chooses to try and get there.
The persona that forms the kernel about which it is constructed is evidence of Bird’s skill and talent. Some of the extended metaphors are striking enough to linger in the memory…

INTRANSITIVE GLOBAL AMNESIA: RUTH WATSON'S GEOPHAGY IN AUCKLAND AND CHRISTCHURCH

http://www.coca.org.nz/exhibitions/ruth-watson
Geophagy: the practice of eating soil, clay or chalk. In some cultures it’s a folk remedy or ritual, or driven to it out of starvation (the latter is still in practice post the 2010 quake in Haiti in the form of baked mud biscuits). The first recorded use of medicinal clay is on Mesopotamian clay tablets around 2500 BCE, while the Ebers Papyrus (circa 1550 BCE, but recording a far older tradition) prescribes ochre for stomach problems. “Lemnian earth”, as described by Pliny the Elder, was widely taken medicinally in the Classical world in the form of terra sigillata (sealed earth), and was still used well into the nineteenth century. Sometimes geophagy is associated with pica, the irrational graving to unusual or non-nutritive substances and often associated with pregnancy. Etymologically the word breaks down to “Geo” – the earth, the world, and “Phage” – to eat, perhaps suggesting an imperial-colonial devouring of the world, or an ecolog…

THE DEATH OF MARION DU FRESNE AT THE BAY OF ISLANDS, NEW ZEALAND, 12 JUNE 1772, BY CHARLES MÉRYON (1846-1848)

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Charles Meryon, The Death of Marion du Fresne at the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, 12 June 1772,
Alexander Turnbull Library, Wellington (1846-1848)
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Sometime between 1846 and 1848 drew the scene en graiselle in pencil and crayon, heightened with chalk. It’s a largish work, one metre by two metres – a heroic scale for a “heroic” subject, executed by the French artist Charles Méryon (1821-1868) and exhibited at the Paris Salon in 1848. Thence it passed on to the artist’s closest friend, Antoine-Édouard Foleÿ (the two were stationed together at the French naval base in Akaroa on Banks’ Peninsula), a member of the Paris Positivist circle of the philosopher Auguste Comte, who left it to his son. The drawing was purchased in Paris by New Zealand-born British art collector Rex Nan Kivell, who smuggled it back to London, rolled up in the leg of his trousers, as the Second World War broke out. Eventually this magnificent curiosity entered the National Library of Australia as part of the Rex Nan K…