Hey, advertising?

What the hell is your problem?

image

It’s too early in the morning and I am too grumpy for this rubbish staring across at me from the side of the train tracks.

What this ad says to me:

“Buy Calvin Klein jeans and be a creepy, exploitative, Justin-Bieber-lookalike!”

But sure. Sure, let’s pin down a half naked chick in order to sell product. Because that seems like a great and not at all screwed up idea.

Goddamnit, capitalism.

‘Emo’

Okay, I recognise that there was a legitimate ’emo’ moment in the first half of the 2000’s, but really, could there be any more of a stupid and inane description of music?

What kind of music isn’t emotional? Music made by ROBOTS?

#FridayNightInsights

#Wine

You Have The Right To Not Read This Blog Post.

You do not have the right to prevent this image from circulating:

FRANCE-ATTACKS-CHARLIE-HEBDO-MEDIA-FRONTPAGE
(I debated for a while putting a stronger warning at the top of this post, to avoid hurting religious sensibilities. But you know what, I’m not feeling overly tender towards religious sensibilities right now. They need to grow the hell up and learn how to live in the real world, which does not cater exclusively to their strange whims about ‘prophets’ and magical invisible sky-daddies).

The media reprinting this cover? Naughty naughty, they’re ‘encouraging the circle of violence’.

The Muslim groups protesting the publication of this image? Oh, they’re just exercising their right to free speech! It’s not like anyone’s going to take them seriously and firebomb news outlets or brutally massacre journalists, right? “Muslim leaders lined up to condemn Charle Hebdo for its decision to put a cartoon of the prophet on the cover and warned that it risked fuelling sectarian tensions.” … Yeah, you know what else fuels sectarian tensions? Shooting people for not agreeing with you.

Free speech does give them the right to protest, as it gives media the right to publish the images in the first place. But how can we blame one side for encouraging violence and not the other?

Should those journalists not have been drinking so late at night, wearing such short skirts, drawing so provocatively? Were they, in fact, Asking For It?

This accommodationism is gross. I don’t believe we should hold groups of people to lower humanitarian standards just because of the colour of their skin or because they believe in fairies.

So many people have been murdered for their unwillingness to treat religious beliefs as sacred and unquestionable.

The least we can do is carry on in their footsteps.

Is it just me…

… Or is the phrase ‘God is Great’ starting to sound suspiciously Orwellian?

WAR IS PEACE.

FREEDOM IS SLAVERY.

GOD IS GREAT.

“Abusive” feminists make ironic comments about a guy’s shirt, receive death threats

1. Women on twitter make politely ironic comments regarding a NASA representative’s choice of shirt and how it’s kind of a small example of science/technology’s problem with attracting women to the field.

NASA tweet

2. These women on twitter receive death threats.

3. Mainstream media publish ridiculous articles about those “abusive”, horrible, nasty feminist bitches. Because how DARE they question a man’s fashion sense? They obviously just don’t appreciate science!

… I can’t heave a sigh that is big enough to adequately express my exasperation.

The Hate-Song of Prof. Barry Spurr

I suppose Universities by their nature are almost always both hotbeds of left-wing radicalism and bastions of conservative traditionalism. Unfortunately my Alma Mater, the University of Sydney, seems to be trending more towards the latter.

One of my old English Literature lecturers, Professor Barry Spurr, has placed himself in rather a lot of hot water by using his University email address to send messages which insult practically everyone under the sun, with the possible exception of educated upper-class white gentlemen such as his distinguished self. He almost deserves a round of ironic applause for the sheer breadth of his bigotry. You can read it in all of its linguistic glory on the New Matilda website, which has released transcripts of the emails to show his quotes were not taken out of context.

Have a read, then you might want to take a shower. It’s okay, I’ll wait.

Now, from my memories of Prof. Spurr and his English lectures, he did always think he was God’s Gift to Poetry and treat his students with thinly veiled contempt, so this whole kerfuffle does have an element of schadenfreude for me. My strongest recollection is his habit of stopping his own lectures to go on a five-minute rant whenever someone showed up late and snuck in quietly through the back door. Apparently this was ‘rude’ and ‘disrespectful’. It wouldn’t have interrupted anybody’s lecture if it weren’t for the Professor’s fragile ego and his need to impress on us all just how important his analysis of T. S. Eliot was.

(Look, I very much like Eliot’s poetry despite having encountered it through Prof. Spurr’s classes, but… they did use his poetry for the libretto of Cats. I’m just sayin’.)

This probably would have resulted in a somewhat more minor embarrassment for the University of Sydney if it wasn’t for Prof. Spurr’s involvement in the National Curriculum Review. ‘Cause the guy who talks about ‘Abo’s’, ‘chinky-poos’, ‘fatties’, ‘darkies’, ‘harlots’, ‘sluts’ and ‘muzzies’ is DEFINITELY the guy you call on when you want a balanced, non-biased appraisal of Australia’s teaching Curriculum for young and impressionable school students.

… Yeah.

Spurr (and I’m going to drop the ‘Prof’, as it’s a mark of respect that he doesn’t deserve) is now playing the part of a wounded victim, saying that the emails were between himself and a close friend and his privacy’s been invaded – despite the fact that the emails clearly contradict the University’s IT terms of service and despite the fact that many emails were sent to multiple high-ranking Academics and officials of the University. The thing that really makes me mad, though, is that he’s now trying to pass the whole thing off as a ‘whimsical game’ between himself and this friend.

Excuse me, did you just say… whimsical?

Dude, there’s a difference between being ‘whimsical’ and being ‘an enormous horrible douchebag’. I should know; it’s in the title of my blog. ‘Whimsical’ is at least 50% of what I do.

Whimsical would be using Eliot’s famous ‘Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock’ to examine the life and times of Mr. Spurr:

He has measured out his life in coffee spoons – a dollop of superiority, a dollop of narcissim, and copious heaped tablespoons of racism and misogyny.

Does he dare disturb the universe? Nope, it all looks like basic run-of-the-mill ignorance and prejudice to me.

He grows old, he grows old – surely he must have been born in the 1800s to hold these views? – and he shall wear the bottoms of his trousers rolled.

 

Anyway, he’s been suspended from the University, pending ‘investigation’. I can’t really imagine him having much of a professional career after this, no matter what the ‘investigation’ turns up. Who would want to sit in a lecture theatre and look him in the face and wonder what he’s really thinking about them? Even if this was all a linguistical game to him, who’d want to be taught the importance of words by someone who thinks this kind of crap is funny?

I’d like to think that people like Spurr are a dying breed. This is the way the world ends, you see. This is the way the world ends.

This is the way the old world ends; not with a bang, but with the whimpering of washed-up, out-of-touch has-beens.

Time’s up, bigots. Welcome to the twenty-first century.

“Poetry was coming true.”

This passage is Virginia Woolf writing about moments of intensity she experienced after her mother’s death:

“I remember going into Kensington Gardens about that time. It was a hot spring evening, and we lay down – Nessa and I – in the long grass behind the Flower Walk. I had taken The Golden Treasury with me. I opened it and began to read some poem (which it was I forget). It was as if it became altogether intelligible; I had a feeling of transparency in words when they cease to be words and become so intensified that one seems to experience them; to foretell them as if they developed what one is already feeling. I was so astonished that I tried to explain the feeling. “One seems to understand what it’s about”, I said awkwardly. I suppose Nessa has forgotten; no one could have understood from what I said the queer feeling I had in the hot grass, that poetry was coming true. Nor does that give the feeling. It matches what I have sometimes felt when I write. The pen gets on the scent.

My first memory of understanding a poem was a bit like this. It was either my first or second year of high school, so I would have been about 12 years old. The teacher read the poem aloud to the class; it was ambiguous and we couldn’t figure out the context. The classroom was a sea of mildly confused faces. Then she read it out a second time, and as she reached the end of the final line (I remember what it was: “I am first to go.”) the realisation hit me with an almost physical blow. I inhaled a little “oh!” of surprise and pressed a hand to my mouth and my eyes started watering.

The context was a hospital; the ‘I’ of the poem had finally decided to obey the wishes of their loved one, and leave them to die on their own and keep their memory intact.  I realised all of this in an instantaneous moment, like a magic-eye puzzle suddenly materialising in my brain. And yes, my reaction in the dead silent classroom and everyone’s baffled eyes swinging towards me were mildly embarrassing. But the teacher – I can’t even remember her name or what she looked like – as soon as I made a sound her eyes locked on to mine like bam, a shooting laser beam of empathy and connection. A wordless understanding forged through words.

Virginia Woolf speaks to me again:

“Behind the cotton wool is hidden a pattern; that we – I mean all human beings – are connected with this; that the whole world is a work of art; that we are parts of the work of art. Hamlet or a Beethoven quartet is the truth about this vast mass that we call the world. But there  is no Shakespeare, there is no Beethoven; certainly and emphatically there is no God; we are the words; we are the music; we are the thing itself.”

… And now I have an inkling of where my love of semi-colons has come from.

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