Farewell from Elm Street

For a few years I've been meaning to take a photo at Leeton's Elm Street that references the horror movies that share this name with a nightmare.

Learning today that Wes Craven had died motivated me to put on my Freddy glove and wave goodbye to the horror movie director.

I remember first hearing about the Elm St movies from a friend. It wasn't until 1989 that I was 15 and old enough to see the third film in the cinema and it gave me nightmares. I saw the earlier films later and then, when studying film at university, I began to think about the 'return of the repressed' theory.

This idea suggests that at the centre of horror movies is something even more sinister. A reading of the film Psycho would conclude that Norman Bates' relationship with his mother is even more troubling than the murders attributed to her.

With the Elm Street movies it was the inference that Freddy was killed by a vigilante mob for doing something very disturbing to kids.

I don't know if I've got the Freudian-influenced film theory right, but Craven showed his understanding of the horror genre masterfully with the Scream movies. These took the 'slasher' film cliches as a textbook for explaining the genre to the audience, while thrilling them with the visceral joys of being scared shitless.

It's no surprise to learn via Craven's wikipedia page that the director also worked in porn, as the genre shares with horror a visceral reaction in viewers.

Numbered for the beast

Things don't look good when your video upload stalls at 66.6%. It came through in the end though.

Sexism in Wagga

Frightening to whom? Not only is it a bad headline but both it and the subheading are sexist. The Daily Advertiser needs to try harder.


The reach of Instagram continues to surprise me. At work our annual report this year showed a massive increase in the audience and, when I was provided with a mobile phone, I was encouraged to use the service to promote our activities.

This week I was surprised to discover the local newspaper had used a couple of images from my personal account on their website. These were attributed to my account name, yet it felt like a violation of sorts -- particularly the pic of my daughter. So I've set my account to private.

A friend tells me that Instagram's fine print for using the service includes claiming copyright of all images uploaded and potentially profiting from their use as stock photos. So I guess I'm lucky the media gave me any credit, especially since they haven't when I've sent them photos in the past. Then again, I've used their images occasionally without attribution too, which is a violation of copyright I believe.

Anyway, the practice of old media collecting material off social media to re-package as their own content is the beginning of the end for journalists. Since they've been re-writing media releases and given up researching stories, they're now going to be replaced by automated content.

The question is how long before the readers that pay for this content realise that they're also supplying it?

Richard Flanagan doco

Richard Flanagan: Life After Death from Jack Cocker on Vimeo.

My friend Anna recommended this documentary about Tasmanian author Richard Flanagan and it's beaut.

I've only read Flanagan's essay on Gunns for The Monthly, which is discussed around halfway, and it's got me interested in reading more of his work.

My burning idea

Many Burners know that empty feeling after returning from a Burn.

It’s a longing felt on return to our “real” lives, after the joy of being surrounded by people partying and embracing the 10 principles as a way of life.

It’s no wonder that “decompression” events are popular in many cities to reunite Burners but how else might we stoke the flames that are kindled with each Burn?

In the following I’ll outline a few thoughts and propose a way to promote the principles in our lives.

For many attending a Burn it is a transformative experience. Transformative experiences are sometimes described as Rites of Passage and traditionally mark a shift such as that from childhood to adulthood. The term is an Anglicisation of rite de passage, which was the title of an influential work by Arnold van Gennep.

Gennep identified three phases in a rite of passage: separation, liminality and incorporation.

Attending a Burn requires travel, which separates us from our daily lives. Liminality is often associated with an inversion of norms and I suggest that experiences at a Burn fit this description, whether it’s one of a range of activities or simply experiencing the gift economy.

For me the gift economy was a pivotal moment at my first Burn and one I’ve observed in others. That moment when you’re surprised by being given something creates good will and a desire to return the favour. Such unbalanced reciprocity is usually only is shown between people who already have a close relationship and has the effect of breaking down barriers between attendees at a Burn event.

It seems to me that Burn events would benefit from recognition of the last of the three stages: incorporation.

The traditional view of rites of passage, such as customs for recognising adulthood, saw the experience as fundamental to human growth. A child would leave their family, undergo a custom that reinforced key beliefs of their society and return to their people, who would recognise that a transformation had taken place.

The final step of incorporation is obviously not something we can expect from our “real” lives but it is one that can be promoted at a Burn event. At present those attending a Burn are greeted but often not farewelled and I think this would be a beneficial addition.

What I propose is that a group of ‘farewellers’ would encourage Burners to take the positivity of their experience back into their communities, particularly the gift economy.

I think an ideal mechanism for this would be farewellers arming each Burner with a variety of vegetable seeds and encouraging them to grow produce for a meal to share with their neighbours as a way of building their local networks and continuing to incorporate the Burner principles in our lives.

The idea would be that Burners go home, grow food and invite their neighbours over for a meal. This would encourage the growth of local communities, building trust and support among those who are geographically close to us.

This would promote some of the 10 principles in our ‘real’ lives and, I hope in doing so, keep the flame alive after the Burn.

Racism in Australia

Adam Goodes is a footballer who didn't back down when confronted with racism, so it's surprising to see the level of denial that has rippled through Australian society as a result.

I think Neel Kolhatkar has a wry perspective on this debate. I'd like to see him live but I'd want to be close enough to see his details. He's a funny guy.

Open hearts

Whenever I tell a woman I’m in an open relationship they often ask “Does your partner know this?”

It’s a weird assumption as it was my partner who initially changed our Facebook relationship status to read ‘Open’.

I remember feeling uneasy when it first happened. After she went away one weekend and I found the computer was still logged in to her account, I changed our relationship to ‘Engaged’ and was entertained by the mixture of congratulations and disbelief. She was very annoyed when she came home and changed the relationship status back to ‘Open’. It was, at the time, a minor disagreement but one completely in harmony with our relationship, which often doesn’t conform to expectations.

A bit over a decade ago, when she fell pregnant with our first child, I proposed to her and was surprised that it took a few days to get an answer. She explained that marriage would undermine her feminist principles. As a feminist myself I respected her decision and came to love her more for it, as I appreciate her perspective can be challenging at times. In fact, when we first met her views scared me. I’d never met anyone as far to the left on the political spectrum as her, despite going to a metropolitan university during the ‘90s.

During our courtship she pursued me for months and I still remember, after I was finally conquered, the electricity of brushing her smooth soft skin and knowing she was ‘the one’.

The idea there might be more than one is a reasonably popular one, judging by the number of people who have affairs. I mean, in previous relationships I’ve strayed. At one point I was juggling a few relationships, which was exciting but time-consuming and inevitably led to conflict and heartbreak.

I’m fortunate enough to be found attractive by a few people and, in part, it’s the idea that temptation can be enhanced by sneaking around that underscores her logic to make it an option to see other people.

Another attraction for her is resisting the social expectation of monogamy and it’s this non-conformity that makes my partner all the more attractive to me. She’s an original thinker and one who continues to inspire me.

Couples often quote Kahlil Gibran in their commitment vows, such as “Let there be spaces in your togetherness”.

It is clear to me now that our relationship takes a very liberal interpretation of his subsequent lines: “Fill each other's cup but drink not from one cup. Give one another of your bread but eat not from the same loaf.”

I think our love transcends the constraints expected of relationships and, in many ways, it exemplifies our belief in valuing ethics over morals.

Nothing Is Useless outside Wagga

Spent the weekend in Oura working with Realartworks on a new exhibition of their Nothing Is Useless project, which will be in the Wagga Art Gallery in October.

Last year I traveled to Lismore and experienced the Useless workshop which developed work for the first project and, in 2012, I contributed to a soundtrack that accompanied an earlier exhibition in Wagga.

There were many inspiring people involved and I really enjoyed jamming and conversing with the other musicians. This braille-writer instrument was really cool and percussive in a flatulent sorta way.

Also enjoyed this device for scanning and speaking text. It was very musical as the pitch could be adjusted to tune a heavily reverberant voice into a kind of resonator effect. When the speed was increased and the keyboard input was overloaded it glitched in a glorious way.

I'm looking forward to seeing how it all comes together with a TARDIS-like console currently under construction for exhibition visitors to explore the various pieces of hacked and surplus gadgetry, while reflecting on obsolescence and consumerism within our capitalist society.