Wednesday, February 28, 2007


Jam-packed full of well-dressed bibliophiles, the literary nightclub wasn’t what we had expected. Patrick Neate hosted the event, introducing a series of readers like Sam Wagan-Watson (Aboriginal poet) and Anthony Swofford (Jarhead etc). In between, people were supposed to take advantage of the bar and mingle. There was an older crowd. At about 10pm, and mid-way through a live singer’s performance (how rude!) the people started to head home. L and I have ordered a copy of Watson’s book and I will post up some of his clever work soon.

Uni is back. Procrastination is the temptress once again. This semester I’m doing a Victorian Lit course, Ecotexts/Nature and Technology in Writing, an Education unit and a random history unit. In terms of new faces, I sat next to a girl in education, who asked me what indoctrination meant. She also admitted that she doesn’t want to be a teacher. Come again? Surely an arts degree, and then possibly a dip-ed on top would a better pathway if you couldn’t yet envisage yourself teaching.

Reading. Bumping along on the public transport system, I devoured a gorgeous little Korean novel sent my way by Bybee. It deserves its own pocket of cyberspace (a term coined in Gibson’s Neuromancer , so I learnt in Ecotexts). I will blog it tomorrow. Yes I will. This week I must finish All The Pretty Horses . Also, I’m going to sink myself into the acerbic Edwardian wit of Hector Hugo Munro.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Acquisitionist awakes

Irregularity is the key to a student’s sleeping patterns on holidays. The luxuriating laziness fostered in me has been shattered. Today, I awoke early for an education faculty welcome. The realities of classroom teaching were brought to our attention in our instructor’s anecdotes about a troublesome student.

One ringleader of a particular naughty bunch had brought the class into waves of giggles. He had put on a show of impersonating impertinence while she had left the class on an errand. Peering through the door, she caught the student trouncing the classroom, imitating her manner. Battling with the instinctual drive to yell at the student, she commanded him to stand up and stick out his hand. After shaking his hand and commending his dramatic ability, she asked him what else was in his repertoire. He imitated the deputy principal's peculiarities splendidly. Because of the offbeat manner in which she handled the situation, he began to improve his behaviour, pulling his cohort with him. As an aside, this little boy reminded me of the irreverent Trapp of Great Expectations fame.

We had a brief tour of the education building, which is off the main campus. It’s an intimate campus with a cosy library. We also have access to 24-hour computer labs, which are under safe surveillance. This ensures that students who find themselves homeless do not move in to the labs and drown their sorrows with bottle after bottle of gin. Well, that’s another story. So, the rest of the day is ahead of me. Tonight, I’m attending a literary nightclub- supposedly cocktails, funky tunes and bookish entertainment.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Night out at the theatre------ The Lady Aoi by Mishima.

(Picture courtesy of The Sunday Times)

Yesterday evening, L and I enjoyed an exquisite dinner at an Indian restaurant, MM. The lamb dishes were delectable, and the pistachio ice-cream we finished off with was worth being late to the theatre for. We arrived just after 8pm to be told it had already started. Luckily, the show did not actually commence until 30 seconds after we were ushered to our seats.

Rather than crackling with passion as promised, The Lady Aoi fizzled with lacklustre dramatic tension. Playwright Mishima, who I adore for his fusion of the macabre with sensuality, endeavoured to explore the psychological and philosophical domain of dreams. Dialogue was sparse; the philosophical pretensions of the play superficially spread. The actors’ attempts to compensate with overblown performances did not improve the entertainment value. Aoi, hospitalized on her death-bed, is a live and tortured presence played by the convulsive embodiment of Claudia Alessi. Her pervasive pain links the past and present in the realms of memory. Rivaling the audience in her ability to sit silently through the hour-long performance, I sympathised with her plight. Somebody give the poor girl a blanket before she catches pneumonia.

Some small gripes deserve mention- unfortunately the acquisitionist is oh-so cantankerous for one so young. The voices of some of the actors were nauseatingly articulated, either as they tried to project or eschew their Australian accents. However, the costuming was meticulously crafted. Hikaru’s ornamental and oriental-style garb was eye-catching. The dark hooded figure of Madame Rokujo entering the hospital to visit Hikaru, her past lover, was also disarming. The triangular stage design provided a physical map of the love conflict that was to unfold. Special effects did give a scintillating edge to the drama at times.

The chemistry between Hikaru and Madame Rokujo was lacking. The play culminated in a foofaraw of action. Failing to command my attention earlier, all the fuss seemed to demand it. Unfortunately, the phone call revelation at the end which aims to shatter the illusory and real boundaries was about as hackneyed as the flashback boating-days scene. However, the final image of efficiency that the nurse presented was striking as she slowly scrubbed the bloodied stage clean.

Self left feeling hollow, the audience also did not appear to be enamoured with The Lady Aoi. A few snickers escaped at the ostentatiously ‘erotic’ moments in the play, and several old dears in the audience covered their ears as the loud music threatened to damage the tympanic membrane. Although not a memorable performance, I’m glad I went because I would’ve been disappointed not to have seen a Mishima offering. It was a visual feast with a nutrionally- deficient main course.

Thursday, February 8, 2007

Spring Snow

My introduction to Mishima came in the tautly composed The Sailor Who Fell From Grace with the Sea, a novel of nihilism and violence which unsettles the reader. On finishing the book of an evening, sleeplessness ensued. The bitterness of humanity glimpsed in the last pages left the stomach riddled with unease. Coming across Spring Snow in a bookstore I took it up to the counter, not knowing much about it. The young man at the counter had read it, and recommended it highly. Interestingly, he said it did not have the violent elements I expected. Violence is superseded by the piquancy of desire in the first book of the Sea of Fertility tetralogy.

Passion unfolds in a sensual frisson as the entanglement between aristocratic lovers Kiyoaki and Satoko engages the reader with its impossibility. Kiyoaki is a young man of delicate constitution. Spoilt by his family’s ascendancy and the misfortune of personal beauty he is characterized by capriciousness of feeling and action. His affection for Satoko paralyses him, and he treats her selfishly. Satoko, a beauty from an old and disempowered family receives advances of marriage from a royal suitor. Receiving no objection from Kiyoaki she pursues the elopement. Unfortunately, Kiyoaki’s lack of foresight lands the lovers in a compromising and doomed affair.

The novel left me with a desire to read more Mishima. Fortunately, I’m attending a Mishima play next week. I also plan to see a production of Pride and Prejudice. This week of theatre will be refreshing considering my lack of theatric entertainment of late.

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Lackadaisical Lady

The last week has been one of reading paralysis. Like the inevitable dilemma of the ice-cream store, I have the problem of Too Much Choice. The days are dissolving as the university semester fast approaches. The lovely blogger Bybee has sent me a Korean delight, The Other Side of Dark Remembrance by Lee Kyun-Young. I look forward to dipping into the ‘mundane yet confused life of a metropolitan salaried man.’ I also *have* to read McCarthy’s All the Pretty Horses because someone gave it to me in my philosophy class last semester. And my bookish expectations tell me that I’ll be galloping through the rest of the Border trilogy after reading the first offering.

I’m reading Jay Rubin’s biography of Murakami entitled Haruki Murakami and the Music of Words. The title notes the musical metaphors that infuse Murakami’s works. Having a keen interest in music, Murakami managed a jazz bar, where he indulged his penchant for Western literature, reading voraciously when he could. The biography captures the banality of Murakami’s career changing moment of epiphany. Beer-in-hand at a baseball game, the sun shining down, he decided he could write a novel at the age of 29. Murakami’s upbeat novels reflect the tempo of modernity. Indeed Murakami’s plots have fluidity, taking different courses of action, in rifts and fugues of improvised drama. Murakami actively disliked Yukio Mishima (p15). It’s interesting that although Murakami highlights his desire to avoid the Japanese condition, his novels have nuances and ideas that aren’t inherent in Western literature. Notably in Norwegian Wood, there seems to be a consciousness of a debt for happiness, and the sense of death as a live and pervasive presence.

In regards to my reading regime, I need a solid plan of attack. The three books I’ve just mentioned I will knock down. I also hope to review Mishima’s Spring Snow, which I finished recently. Has anyone else read this gorgeous book, or the others in the Sea of Fertility tetralogy? Tomorrow, I’ll head into uni to check out the course book offerings. One of my units is Victorian Literature, which will inevitably feature chunksters. I’m doing another course on nature and writing, which looks intriguing. Looks like a fun semester!