Blog description.

Accentuating the Liberal in Classical Liberal: Advocating Ascendency of the Individual & a Politick & Literature to Fight the Rise & Rise of the Tax Surveillance State.

Liberty and freedom are two proud words that have been executed from the political lexicon: they were frog marched and stood before a wall of blank minds, then forcibly blindfolded, and shot, with the whimpering staccato of ‘equality’ and ‘fairness’ resounding over and over. And not only did this atrocity go unreported by journalists in the mainstream media, they were in the firing squad.

The premise of this blog is simple: the Soviets thought they had equality, and welfare from cradle to grave, until the illusory free lunch of redistribution took its inevitable course, and cost them everything they had. First to go was their privacy, after that their freedom, then on being ground down to an equality of poverty only, for many of them their lives as they tried to escape a life behind the Iron Curtain. In the state-enforced common good, was found only slavery to the prison of each other's mind; instead of the caring state, they had imposed the surveillance state to keep them in line. So why are we accumulating a national debt to build the slave state again in the West? Where is the contrarian, uncomfortable literature to put the state experiment finally to rest?

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Monday, October 22, 2012

On Reading, Writing, and a Weekend Ramble Through Some NZ Literature I've Enjoyed.



Not counting books by every Russian author I've read, and Stephen Hawking's still unfinished History of Time, which I started over January, 2001, I'm on the longest period of time it has taken me to read a book: one month. The book is a good one, Hitch-22, the autobiography of polymath, Christopher Hitchens, however, it’s just not a fit for me currently. For some reason since hitting my 'upper' forties, I can’t stomach book length non-fiction, outside of cook books, meaning, together with his fiction news, Graham Beattie’s Book Blog is one of my most visited sites anymore. I seem to need narrative, and the relevance that literary fiction has to living a life. So I've decided to put Hitch aside, planning on coming back to him from time to time, a chapter at a time - he's dead, there's no hurry anymore - and move to a novel again. But there are so many I want to read. I thought it was going to be Emily Perkin’s The Forrests, given I enjoyed her Novel About My Wife (that’s the title, Emily didn’t write a novel about ‘my’ wife, she doesn’t know us). Though perhaps a bit soon to read her again, just yet, as I only read Wife earlier this year, and something more; it's the turn of a male voice.

The last four writers entered into my reading log have been women: Emily (above), Charlotte Grimshaw, Pat Barker (three novels, Regeneration, Double Vision, and The Eye in the Door), and the dry witted, philosophical, Jennie Erdal. I believe there is a gender distinction in the narrative voice, conscious or otherwise, and sometimes, as a bloke, I need the whiskey bass of a male voice sounding away in the back of my mind, and I need a dose of that now. Unfortunately the male voice that has given me the most value over time, a home-coming in every read, has silenced himself: Maurice Gee, who published what he called his last novel, Access Road, over 2009. It’s a great sadness there are to be no more Gee titles to add to his great ones: Going West, Live Bodies, and the Plumb trilogy. There are many other other male voices, Witi Ihimaera (The Uncle’s Story), and then the foreigners: Ian McEwan, David Lodge (brilliant – if you take nothing else from this post, read him), Nick Hornby, and many more, but none will replace Gee for me.

So – and by the by, it’s Labour Weekend Sunday, my wife and I are pleasantly imbibed of a Waipara Mt Brown Riesling over lunch – the next read has happened on me by accident, on parsing the Press's weekend supplement, and Philip Matthew’s review of father and daughter books: C K Stead’s Risk, and Charlotte Grimshaw’s Soon.  My relationship to that funny old stick, Mr Stead, is complicated. I’ve not quite forgiven him for his condescension to Keri Hulme’s Booker winner: I like the Bone People. And I will never forgive his sheer impertinence to what would be – well, outside Ayn Rand, philosophically – one of my favourite female authors, Elizabeth Knox (who might well never forgive me for mentioning her in the same breath as Ayn). Let it be said, Mr Stead most cruelly enjoys plucking the wings from fantastical angels, not realising the angel concerned, in The Vintner’s Luck and The Angels Cut, is one of the best rendered mortals in New Zealand literature. And I wonder if he has read what for me is still Knox’s crowning glory: Glamour and the Sea (again, if you take a second thing from this post, read it). Plus while quickly Googling a fact in the above, for the first time I've come across the (indirectly related, via a marriage in the previous sentence) whole Nigel Cox mess: I'm not even going there. So, Mr Stead has annoyed me at times, but none of that takes away his own skills behind the word processor – um, nor his genes, for that matter. He’s got that ugly bald sexy thing going on, like Patrick Stewart, but looking at photos in the MSM this week of daughter Charlotte, and the publisher one in England, I can only assume their mother was in her day, and currently for all I know, a stunner …

Oh Jesus. No, no, no. I can’t go there, the Hand Mirror blog might get hold of this, tar and feather in hand: I’ve already been castrated once in their comments section, and that for simply being a gentleman. Or perhaps it was trying to tell them throwing your lot in with big government would achieve feminism nothing: if you want a world without the 'isms (racism, sexism, et al), free the individual.

The last book of Mr Stead’s I read was My Name Was Judas.  I have lovely memories attached to that book, as I was reading it on a holiday in Perth, one of those holiday's that actually worked. Though it was not quite as good as his Mansfield, or his Sister Hollywood, or my favourite Stead novel, All Visitors Ashore, again associated with good life memories due to the circumstances in which I was reading it; namely, university, women - talking to them as much as anything after a country high school (work that out for yourself) - and, of course, the liberating weed.  While I can no longer remember the protagonist's name, I can still that cheeky hole in his pocket, even after all this time and inhalation - albeit the latter, mind, never in the last quarter century: I'm responsible now, damn it. So, given Carl Stead's Risk, published last week, had snuck up on me unawares, informed via Matthew’s review, it seemed like serendipity. The only issue being whether to read this, or daughter Charlotte’s Soon, also published over the week. Given I have read Soon’s predecessor, The Night Book, I was tempted to go for that first, however, I needed the male voice more,  plus I have to say, Mr Matthew’s opinion, while very generous to Mr Stead’s offering, was most ungenerous to Ms Grimshaw’s.  So I trundled onto Amazon and downloaded Risk, all the while noting, despite the bad review, one must assess a novel on one's own terms, and having enjoyed all I have read of Grimshaw in the past, will certainly be reading Soon, um, soon.

Mind you, moving to my own particular point of depression of the moment, which is the ‘thing’ I’m trying to write, Matthew’s closing critique of Soon piqued my interest. According to Matthew, Grimshaw's latest novel  is a failure – he said that, brave, stupid, call it what you will, (I call it rude) - because though well crafted, well written, it is, according to him, a novel without purpose.

Repeat, a novel without purpose.

 Well, let’s open another bottle of wine on that line.

Initially I worry his comment is the mirror image of my own project, currently at 40,000 words - meaning, according to Ian McEwan’s rules, I’ve left novella and am now into the uncharted seas of the novel. I’m worrying my novel, brimming with purpose, may not be, therefore, either well written, or crafted.

‘Purpose’ seems to be a rather dangerous reef for this soidisant dilettante. George Orwell wanted to turn political writing into art, an endeavour that might explain my own efforts, only the last Guardian essay I read stated, quite purposefully, that the best political writing was, ironically, without purpose. Apparently political writing reaches the pinnacle of art, or the precipice, in my case, when it is ambiguous and tries to say nothing. In an exchange with an actual author, who has two great adult books published, The Sound of Butterflies and Magpie Hall, plus a young adult novel, the name of which escapes me, who kindly humours this libertarian nut-job from time to time on Twitter, despite my politick would be anathema to her, I tweeted, that if the best political writing was about saying nothing, then I may as well take up market gardening. Funnily enough, unrelated to anything, on tweeting ‘market gardening’ what then happened was I almost instantly had fifteen women sign up to my twitter feed; at least, all had women’s names, but on looking at their profiles, none of them had made any tweets, and no one was following them?

Got me a bit paranoid: I blocked them.

So, returning to my problem, apparently my best novelistic advice is to write in a manner which is purposely ambiguous.

Now, really, look at my blog. You probably can groke pretty quickly the nature of my conundrum.

Actually, the author concerned gave me some very good advice, being to literature (verb), rather than lecture. And partly, I have been doing this, though I am now changing the ‘emphasis’ from one character to another as the dominant one, allowing me to kill off the character with a purpose. Or something. Writing is hard. For me it will only ever be a hobby, and that’s fine. Or perhaps like Mr Samuel Pepys, after Western civilisation has gone through the death throes of Big Brother State Keynesian socialism and fiat money, my diary might be found in the digital rubble and published as an example of how the free, decent society could have been saved. Or not. That might just be the megalomania in this Giesen 2012 Reisling speaking (and recommended, a clever wine: goes on the tongue sweet, then slips off the back dry. I’ve never tasted a wine like it. $18.05 at New World.)

In summation, because I’ve got to plant tomatoes, I’ve just written 1,500 words: pity they weren’t on my novel, which I shall struggle on with, trying to ‘write my way around impasse.' In the meantime I’ve almost finished another blog post, waste of time, call it what you will, in the form of a short note to Comrade Jacinta Adern, which is many purposeful things, ambiguous not being one of them, and broaches the topics of privacy and hypocrisy.


Postscript:

I’m publishing this Labour Monday, and unbelievably it’s snowing. One of the joys in life at the Hubbard household is the first pre-Christmas feed of baby broad beans: if this snow starts to settle, a tradition is about to be broken.



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