Thursday, July 31, 2008

Grass greener but more blurry


Patch of Grass by Pants


I expected resettlement issues when I returned to live in Australia. I also anticipated that, after a period of hysteria, I would calm down and remember that it can’t be that difficult to work out how to open a bank account and get a new driver’s licence. My projections were wildly optimistic as it happens. However, one must find ways of turning mental collapse into art as it has no other practical application as far as I’m aware.

Above, my homage to Vincent Van Gogh which I will call Patch of Grass in his honour. Reading one’s beloved Guardian online is not ideal as I prefer to curl up in bed with it and an accompaniment of crumpets and honey. The laptop does not lend itself to this level of advanced cosiness. So much did I crave a Guardian perspective that I suspended disbelief for long enough to manage the horrific out-of-bed experience of the farm’s vile Macthing. I had made my own picture some weeks ago so I was delighted to find I had been channelling the great master.

A few posts ago I wrote about the row over photographer Bill Henson’s nude child photos. This rumbles incongruously on despite new things to say on the subject having been exhausted within hours of the story … er… developing. Last weekend’s Australian carried an op-ed piece by Deborah Hope on the arts and purpose, tediously rehashing John Carey’s 2005 anti-Kant rant What Good are the Arts? The book challenges the concept that works of art have the ability to connect with us cerebrally, producing a benefit to the individual and, by extension, humanity. My copy is in a crate somewhere in the industrial wastelands of outer Melbourne so I’m unable to refer to it but I seem to remember that the main target for Carey’s ire is a perceived ‘elite’ whom he fancies conspire to enchant us with the notion that it's possible to draw joy from an object which does not innately contain it. So, love of the arts is a societal construct and appreciation of them a learned response? Who knew! I remember having quite a chuckle about that great exposé at the time. The revelation didn’t stop me from retreating to a room full of Rothkos when my angst with the world bordered on unmanageable. Funny that.

Carey hilariously attacks Jeanette Winterson as one of these wicked elite who bogusly assign inappropriate magical qualities to works of art and Hope takes a swipe at her here for the speech she gave at the opening of the Sydney Writer’s Festival recently. Winterson famously had what she describes as a ‘crummy’ childhood bare of books and other earthly pleasures. She was derided as ‘a social experiment’ when she went to Oxford as a student who excelled her way out of the grimy north. Oxford is the university at which Carey is very much part of the establishment incidentally. It’s difficult to take claims that a love of the arts mutually excludes ordinary folk seriously when you’ve lived in the same city as the Tate Modern, consistently among the most popular attractions in Britain. Admittedly it’s free, awash with comfy sofas and it’s also quite easy to lose children in a Turbine Hall installation for a couple of hours while one nips into one of the chi-chi bars for a resuscitative Sauvignon Blanc. These could be contributory factors.

Despite the entreaties of academics and journalists to convince me otherwise I am sticking with the arts as my soma for the soul of choice. Sometimes the thought of Max Ernst's Celebes is the only thing that stands between me and insanity. I do find it amusing that neo-Calvinists frequently demand mainstream education make itself more inclusive by devoting itself to real-life skills like writing CVs and changing nappies at the expense of the arts. I rather like the idea that the arts could one day find their way by default into the realm of guilty pleasures. I can just imagine kids skiving off Parenting 101 to catch a matinee of Much Ado About Nothing at Shakespeare’s Globe.

Closer to home, there are some artistic triumphs to report. Pants family member Andy Young, hugely talented jazz composer and guitarist has been nominated for an Aria Award (Australian Music Industry Awards – like a Grammy or a Brit), for Best Jazz Album for his CD Downside Up. It goes without saying that you must immediately go on-line and buy it. My old friend Katy Evans-Bush has a book of her brilliant poems out called Me and the Dead. How can you not buy a book containing a poem called As the Sun Sends the Sequins on my Handbag Scattering. Waste no time, go. While you’re about it, check out my blog pal Nasim Marie Jafry’s novel The State of Me. Your credit card never had it so good.

Finally, another little tit-bit from one’s adored and much missed Guardian. Music consumers are protesting that printed song lyrics are frequently omitted from CD packages. It’s important, apparently, to know what’s being said ... er… I guess that’s why they call it song. At the risk of descending further into fogeydom, not to mention articulating the painfully obvious, is it too much to ask singers to master the art of annunciation? I would point out that John Lydon, AKA Johnny Rotten could manage to make his meaning clearly understood. In fact, he even rolled his ‘Rs’ as I recall. Standards have certainly plummeted since the golden days of Never Mind the Bollocks...

26 comments:

Brian Hughes said...

"...my homage to Vincent Van Gogh which I will call Patch of Grass in his honour."

More like a homage to Amy Winehouse which should be entitled 'The Effects of a Kilo of Grass'.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Brian

And what are you suggesting pray?

xxx

Pants

Andrew Highriser, said...

Ah Pants, so agree about songs. They generally become less understandable each year. I DO NOT agree with crumpet crumbs and dripped honey in bed. Fortunately the chances of us sharing a bed is very slim.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Andrew

The crumpet thing - I assume you meant that as a complement... er... I mean compliment.

xxx

Pants

Dame Honoria Glossop said...

I must learn how to assign inappropriate magical qualities to works of art. I would love to create a painting with psychic powers.

I don't need to know what lyrics recording artistes are actually singing, I prefer to guess, it's more fun. 'Scuse me while I kiss this guy.

That's So Pants said...

Your Dameship

No need to take lessons in magical sprinkling, your rank alone qualifies you.

Re lyrics - yes how else do we source our Mondegreens? Always so much more interesting than the real lyric.

xxx

Pants

Reading the Signs said...

Pants, I'm going to order a copy of the Andy Young album for Son as he is so into jazz right now - and I will also get to listen to it myself thereby. The other two I will be getting for me.

I assign magical qualities to your posts sometimes. I do not think this is inappropriate.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Signs

i'm sure you will love Downside Up as will Son. And thanks for magical thinking - always appreciated.

xxx

Pants

Ms Baroque said...

Hello Ms P, and many thanks for ther mention. I'll be posting up my pictures and a brief account of the launch etc tomorrow morning my time, in response to your request.

Very exciting about Nasim's book, too, thank God it got through the cull! (I had one friend whose book didn't...) It looks gorgeous in the pictures on her blog.

Like signs, I also assign magical qualities to your blog.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Ms B

A pleasure. The stories of people whose work does get through the brambles and into the public domain make persevering with speculative industry worthwhile I think. When you know three people who've emerged from the gloom bloodied but ultimately triumphant, it starts to look distinctly possible that quality effort may some day be recognised. The system is not very efficient but it does seem to work, eventually.

xxx

Pants

Wisewebwoman said...

Ah, I needed a dose of Pants and got one, thank you.
Nothing like the big fat Guardian for lolling beside one in bed and sharing crumpets and whathaveyas.
Good to hear of your author-buds making it.
XO
WWW

That's So Pants said...

Hi WWW

Always gladdening to hear from you and I always love your news of success as well. Wouldn't it be just great if we all could succeed always?


xxx

Pants

Minx said...

With all this magick, am I to assume that you are an honorary witch? And congratulations of the drug-induced artwork - Van Earless would be proud.

That's So Pants said...

Hi Minxie

Dunno, I'm rather fond of Charmed.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

Thaz so panz
Found romanz
Wombats wiggle
Koalaz Danz.

ha ha ha!

ROBBERT!!!!!!!!

Hey, bloody post something!
This ain't a blog it's a retirement home!

-ROBBBERT!!!!!!!!!

That's So Pants said...

Hey RH

Lovely to hear from you as always. Can I get you a cup of tea and an Iced Vo-Vo.

xxx

Pants

R.H. said...

yes please.

That's So Pants said...

Five sugars, right?

R.H. said...

Five sugars? Golly, let your head go!

The police only offer two: "Milk? Two sugars?" and only if you're willing to talk.

That's So Pants said...

That's because they limit themselves to two - most would prefer five.

R.H. said...

This is true, years ago a deadbeat friend of mine went to Elsternwick police station to complain about something and found the place deserted, he went into their mess room and stole their teabags, coffee, sugar, and a glass jar with coins in it. He was so broke at the time he'd been making a cup of tea with four used teabags.

My social worker niece is coming here tomorrow (down from Sydney). I won't know how to act.
Sh expects uncouth from me, so I'll probably do that. I reserve sophist for low types.

That's So Pants said...

Sophist? They pay you to be like this? What are you, some kind of spin doctor of the demented? Respect!

R.H. said...

You've misunderstood, and I wasn't clear. It was joking. Forget about it.

That's So Pants said...

I was joking too.

xxx

Pants

Mrs Slocombe said...

You want pop singers to announce the coming of the messiah? Or just to pronounce the words proper??

That's So Pants said...

Hello Mrs Slocombe

Can they do two things at once? Perhaps someone ought to tell Bono.

xxx

Pants