Checked into
Ventured in with the children to Melbourne on the weekend for the first time post-COVID. We went to the Queen Victoria Market to buy donuts from American Donut Kitchen. In the process, we discovered that CRFT*WRK Melbourne Craft Fair was running. The girls loved looking at the different stall. Lost a whole afternoon. Eventually bought a couple of different luck dips.
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“Semantic-Linkbacks” is open source software. The following people have contributed to this plugin.

Wordfence told me that there was issues with semantic-linkbacks, so I disconnected it after seeing that Matthias Pfefferle had archived the app. However, I agree with Khürt Williams, it made my site “feel like an 8-track cassette player.” So I am reactivating it. I guess we will see.
Bookmarked When a mum breastfeeding her baby sparks outrage, we’re focusing on the wrong things by Virginia Trioli (ABC News)

What confused me was all this deeply felt concern for children, when I really hadn’t seen much anxiety similarly expressed for all the thousands of Australian kids who live in dangerous, damaging, high-risk circumstances and whose lives are being compromised and even cut short, all with our full understanding of their problems.

I guess I might take all the outrage a bit more seriously if I heard wails of anguish about the more than 15,000 children in Lyle Shelton’s state who need foster homes and can’t live safely with parents who I assume are mostly still the gender they were assigned at birth; the criticism would be easier to take if it came from people who daily expressed horror at the 1.3 million Australian children who went without enough food every day, or the more than 50,000 kids who don’t get to go to school.

State and territory child protection services responded to more than 178,800 children in 2020–21 — an increase from about 168,300 in previous years — and the issues ranged from child abuse or neglect through to care and protection orders, or placement in out-of-home care.

Virginia Trioli’s reflection on focusing on the wrong thing to me is another highlight to the challenges of having conversations in the modern world? This again has me thinking about Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens’ discussion of contempt. For me, this is all nicely captured in Tony Martin’s Sizzletown, a podcast that is hilariously funny, until you realise the truth associated with so much of the commentary. I guess here I fall back on my oft repeated quote from Peter Goldsworthy ‘Maestro’:

Cartoon descriptions? How else to describe a cartoon world?

Listened The Loveliest Time by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

The Loveliest Time is the seventh studio album by Canadian singer Carly Rae Jepsen, released on July 28, 2023, by 604, Schoolboy and Interscope Records. It serves as a companion piece to The Loneliest Time (2022), featuring songs from sessions for the original album. It was preceded by the single “Shy Boy”.

I am always intrigued by the choices made in putting an album together. I accept that there are some artists, like Tame Impala, that record the album and that is it. However, Carly Rae Jepsen has spoken quite a bit over the years how she write a lot of songs, many of which do not it onto the album. This has led to a tradition of releasing a B-side album with each of her albums.

In the course of composing her last two albums, Emotion and Dedicated, Jepsen wrote more than 200 songs. Many of her favorite works didn’t make it onto either final album, so she’s started a tradition of releasing “Side B” records on the one-year anniversary of her last release.

Source: “I’m a bit of an overwriter”: How Carly Rae Jepsen whittled 200 songs down to 12 for her new album by Charlie Harding

One of the interesting things in listening to Loveliest Times is how some of these songs would have changed the feel of The Loneliest Times. This is picked up somewhat in the title of the album ‘The Loveliest Times’ as this album does feel more upbeat to the often reflective The Loneliest Times. Maybe we might never hear ‘Disco Sweat’ in its entirety, but it definitely feels like it always has a presence, especially in the B-Sides:

I have an entire album called Disco Sweat that no one will ever hear. It was really fun to make, though. “Cut to the Feeling” is a good example of that. It was never going to come out. And then I did a voiceover for the cartoon film Ballerina, and they were like, “Do you have any tunes?” And I’m like, “Well, this one’s very theatrical. I think it could work.” So that’s sort of how I roll. [The song made the year-end best lists on Billboard, Pitchfork, Rolling Stone, and Vanity Fair.]

Source: “I’m a bit of an overwriter”: How Carly Rae Jepsen whittled 200 songs down to 12 for her new album by Charlie Harding

Listen to This Love Isn’t Crazy from Dedicated B-Sides for another possible ‘Disco Sweat’ track.

Read The New York Trilogy

The New York Trilogy is a series of novels by American writer Paul Auster. Originally published sequentially as City of Glass (1985), Ghosts (1986) and The Locked Room (1986), it has since been collected into a single volume. The Trilogy is a postmodern interpretation of detective and mystery fiction, exploring various philosophical themes.

I wrote some extended thoughts on The New York Trilogy here.


It was like watching a marionette trying to walk without strings.

For the most part his entries from this period consisted of marginal questions concerning the Stillman case. Quinn wondered, for example, why he had not bothered to look up the newspaper reports of Stillman’s arrest in 1969. He examined the problem of whether the moon landing of that same year had been connected in any way with what had happened. He asked himself why he had taken Auster’s word for it that Stillman was dead. He tried to think about eggs and wrote out such phrases as “a good egg,” “egg on his face,” “to lay an egg,” “to be as like as two eggs.” He wondered what would have happened if he had followed the second Stillman instead of the first. He asked himself why Christopher, the patron saint of travel, had been decanonized by the Pope in 1969, just at the time of the trip to the moon. He thought through the question of why Don Quixote had not simply wanted to write books like the ones he loved— instead of living out their adventures. He wondered why he had the same initials as Don Quixote. He considered whether the girl who had moved into his apartment was the same girl he had seen in Grand Central Station reading his book. He wondered if Virginia Stillman had hired another detective after he failed to get in touch with her. He asked himself why he had taken Auster’s word for it that the check had bounced. He thought about Peter Stillman and wondered if he had ever slept in the room he was in now. He wondered if the case was really over or if he was not somehow still working on it. He wondered what the map would look like of all the steps he had taken in his life and what word it would spell.

As for Quinn, it is impossible for me to say where he is now. I have followed the red notebook as closely as I could, and any inaccuracies in the story should be blamed on me. There were moments when the text was difficult to decipher, but I have done my best with it and have refrained from any interpretation.

◆ Ghosts

Two days later, when Blue receives his check in the mail, there is finally a word from White. No more funny business, it says, and though it’s not much of a word, for all that Blue is glad to have received it, happy to have cracked White’s wall of silence at last. It’s not clear to him, however, whether the message refers to the last report or to the incident in the post office. After thinking it over for a while, he decides that it makes no difference. One way or another, the key to the case is action. He must go on disrupting things wherever he can, a little here, a little there, chipping away at each conundrum until the whole structure begins to weaken, until one day the whole rotten business comes toppling to the ground.

◆ 1

I hauled the two suitcases slowly down the stairs and onto the street. Together, they were as heavy as a man.

◆ 2

In the end, each life is no more than the sum of contingent facts, a chronicle of chance intersections, of flukes, of random events that divulge nothing but their own lack of purpose.

Stories happen only to those who are able to tell them, someone once said. In the same way, perhaps, experiences present themselves only to those who are able to have them.

◆ 3

No one wants to be part of a fiction, and even less so if that fiction is real.

This was the tiny hole between self and not-self, and for the first time in my life I saw this nowhere as the exact center of the world.

◆ 5

I wandered in my mind for several weeks, looking for a way to begin. Every life is inexplicable, I kept telling myself. No matter how many facts are told, no matter how many details are given, the essential thing resists telling. To say that so and so was born here and went there, that he did this and did that, that he married this woman and had these children, that he lived, that he died, that he left behind these books or this battle or that bridge—none of that tells us very much. We all want to be told stories, and we listen to them in the same way we did when we were young. We imagine the real story inside the words, and to do this we substitute ourselves for the person in the story, pretending that we can understand him because we understand ourselves. This is a deception. We exist for ourselves, perhaps, and at times we even have a glimmer of who we are, but in the end we can never be sure, and as our lives go on, we become more and more opaque to ourselves, more and more aware of our own incoherence. No one can cross the boundary into another—for the simple reason that no one can gain access to himself.

There is also M. M. Bakhtin, the Russian critic and literary philosopher. During the German invasion of Russia in World War II, he smoked the only copy of one of his manuscripts, a book-length study of German fiction that had taken him years to write. One by one, he took the pages of his manuscript and used the paper to roll his cigarettes, each day smoking a little more of the book until it was gone. These are true stories. They are also parables, perhaps, but they mean what they mean only because they are true.

◆ 8

After all these months of trying to find him, I felt as though I was the one who had been found. Instead of looking for Fanshawe, I had actually been running away from him. The work I had contrived for myself—the false book, the endless detours—had been no more than an attempt to ward him off, a ruse to keep him as far away from me as possible. For if I could convince myself that I was looking for him, then it necessarily followed that he was somewhere else— somewhere beyond me, beyond the limits of my life. But I had been wrong. Fanshawe was exactly where I was, and he had been there since the beginning. From the moment his letter arrived, I had been struggling to imagine him, to see him as he might have been—but my mind had always conjured a blank. At best, there was one impoverished image: the door of a locked room. That was the extent of it: Fanshawe alone in that room, condemned to a mythical solitude—living perhaps, breathing perhaps, dreaming God knows what. This room, I now discovered, was located inside my skull.

The story is not in the words; it’s in the struggle.


“One,” in other words, is entirely the wrong number for a book, which is always simultaneously more than one (a multiplicity) and less than one (a part). The attempt to identify the book as one-whether it be through the attribution of an interiority, an ontology, an origin, or a destination-is a habit, an anchoring of “arborescent” thought, which for Deleuze and Guattari can be uprooted. All that’s needed, they argue, is a practice of thought that follows the model not of the tree but of the “rhizome”

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

A book is not a container, but is rather full of holes through which connections can be made to others. A book is thus both an assemblage of multiple components and a part within other assemblages.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

Nevertheless, a few points of correspondence can be found between the three stories, which could define Auster’s collection as not so much a nonidentical or uncertain trilogy as rather a trilogy about the nonidentical and the uncertain. So, although there is little continuity between genre and character, there is a certain persistence of duplicitous identities.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

In other words, that Auster’s The New York Trilogy is a trilogy is a fiction. But if that is the case, then The Red Notebook is no less a fiction, despite its claim to proffer “true stories” and despite the implication that the interviews within it present the real Paul Auster, author of The New York Trilogy and Mr Vertigo.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

Consequently, or according to Auster at least, City of Glass (and perhaps the entire Trilogy) is not the work of detective fiction that it always seems to be taken for, but rather is a work of autobiography, albeit a fictitious one.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

It becomes possible therefore that the Trilogy is not the fiction that the fictitious Paul Auster in The Red Notebook claims it to be, which is as much as to say that the story that the Trilogy is a fiction-even a fiction about the problem of identity-is yet another fiction in the endless fiction of Paul Auster. Ultimately, then, the arborescent reading of the Trilogy as a trilogy-its organization according to a system that reduces it to a work of fiction with an identifiable beginning and end, to a set of themes and intentions with an identifiable author-such a reading may well be just as fictitious as a reading that would seek to produce it as a multiplicity.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

Even though you might start off reading fiction, you can’t expect, in the end, not to find yourself writing the story of your life.

Source: Wrong Numbers: The Endless Fiction of Auster and Deleuze and Guattari and . . . by Robert Briggs

The New York Trilogy treats authorship in such a way that conflates the planes of phenomenology and fiction into one rhizomatic plane. Deleuze and Guattari argue that the nature of books is to form a rhizome with the world; books are simultaneously part of world of which they “remain the image” (6).

Source: Paul Auster’s rhizomatic fictions by Gary Matthew Varner

The inclusion and fracture of Auster’s biography in City of Glass deterritorializes Auster, and overthrows the ontology of biography, by erasing the division between phenomenology and fiction.

Source: Paul Auster’s rhizomatic fictions by Gary Matthew Varner

What makes Auster’s Trilogy endless, and rhizomatic, is that it “nullif[ies] endings” (Deleuze and Guattari 25) … Readers may not want to begin reading Auster’s book at any point in any volume, but the Trilogy nevertheless nullifies its own “endings.”

Source: Paul Auster’s rhizomatic fictions by Gary Matthew Varner

The confining within the walls of New York is very similar to the solitude of the forest found in Henry Thoreau’s Waiden, recollections of which dominate the Trilogy. In both these works, the authors achieve perfect isolation within the spaces delineated by the city or the forest that endows them with a transcending ability to observe and reflec

Source: Paul Auster’s “The New York Trilogy”: The Linguistic Construction of an Imaginary Universe by Clara Sarmento

One must understand how the universe functions before one confronts it with the force of creativity; this is the writer’s task. In citing Samuel Beckett, Auster defines his own ideological and literary bent, thereby depicting his profound critical acumen and his feeling for the mission of the artist: “To find a form that accommodates the mess, that is the task of the artist now.”

Source: Paul Auster’s “The New York Trilogy”: The Linguistic Construction of an Imaginary Universe by Clara Sarmento

The re-working of the detective story as a search for the ultimate language shows that it is not the final and speculative textualization that is most appropriate for the postmodern world, but instead, the text that is written about the text. Stories about stories and books of questions, as opposed to books of answers, are the forms that best typify the difficult reality of our times. The New York Trilogy participates in the deconstruction of the legendary tower of the ancestral city and its language, as it describes the Babel-like shattering of the contemporary metropolis at the same time that it expresses the crisis surrounding linguistic representation. Its ideological structure of a wandering through and a detachment from pre-existing principles forces the postmodern subject to question the basis of all legendary archetypes.

Source: Paul Auster’s “The New York Trilogy”: The Linguistic Construction of an Imaginary Universe by Clara Sarmento

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Listened From Little Things Big Things Grow from ABC Radio National

This is the story a song written by Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly around a campfire in 1988. What started off as a casually recorded folk number has become what Carmody calls “a kind of cultural love song”: a foundational entry in the Australian songbook.

This year’s NAIDOC Week theme is “For Our Elders”, so RN’s Rudi Bremer went to speak with Kev Carmody at his studio on Kambuwal Country to gather his recollections of From Little Things Big Things Grow as it started, the story of the Gurindji Walk Off that inspired it, and the many different iterations he’s performed and heard in the last thirty years.

Wik and South Sea Islander rapper Ziggy Ramo, Electric Fields vocalist Zaachariaha Fielding from the Anangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands and Adelaide producer Michael Ross, and Zillmere State School Year 7 Class of 2003 student Tonii-Lee Betts join Craig Tilmouth to talk about their interpretations of the song that Carmody says “belongs to everyone now”.

From Little Things Big Things Grow, as performed by:

Kev Carmody, Paul Kelly and the Tiddas from the 1993 album Bloodlines

Paul Kelly & the Messengers from the 1991 album Comedy

Kev Carmody and Paul Kelly live at the national memorial service for Gough Whitlam, 2014

The Waifs, from the 2020 album Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody

Electric Fields from the 2020 album Cannot Buy My Soul: The Songs of Kev Carmody

Ziggy Ramo, from the 2021 single From Little Things

Zillmere State School Year 7 Class of 2003

Paul Kelly & Jess Hitchcock live in 2019 on the album People

You also heard Kev Carmody’s song Thou Shalt Not Steal from the 1988 album Pillars of Society, and the opening of Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9 (‘Choral’), performed by the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra and Wilhelm Furtwängler.

Rudi Bremer speaks with Kev Carmody about writing of his track From Little Things Big Things Grow with Paul Kelly and its legacy. The two explore the many covers of the track, including:

  • Ziggy Ramo
  • Electric Fields
  • The Waifs
  • Zillmere State School
  • Paul Kelly & Jess Hitchcock

Carmody compares the various covers to “the embers coming off the fire”. This is interesting to consider alongside Walter Benjamin’s idea of ‘the translation as a tangent‘.  Carmody also says that as a song it “belongs to everyone now.”

Listened Atta by Contributors to Wikimedia projects from Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Átta (lit. ’Eight’) is the eighth studio album by Icelandic post-rock band Sigur Rós, released through Von Dur and BMG Rights Management on 16 June 2023. It is their first studio album in 10 years, following Kveikur (2013), and is their first since 2012’s Valtari to feature keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson, who rejoined the band in 2022. The seven-minute lead single “Blóðberg” was released on 12 June 2023 alongside its music video, directed by Johan Renck. Physical editions of the album are scheduled to be released on 1 September 2023. The band will embark on a tour from June 2023 backed by a 41-piece orchestra.

In Phil Mongredien’s review, he describes Átta as ‘disappointing homogeneity’. I wonder if the criticisms of the albums ‘unengaging’ nature reflects the challenges of the modern world where so much revolves around the ‘next hit’. If this is what you are after, then this album may not be it. (Maybe try Jonsi’s solo album Shiver?) However, I wonder if Sigur Rós ever really fitted that niche?

Ian Cohen suggests that the album offers ‘equisite beauty’.

While he’s never made the same album twice, either as a solo artist or a collaborator or the frontman of Sigur Rós, he’s also never made an album that turned out anything other than exquisitely beautiful, no matter how much he’s fought against it.

Source: Átta – Sigur Rós by Ian Cohen

While NPR argues that this is an album for our times. In an interview with Bob Boilen, Jónsi describes the album as heavy but hopeful.

It is interesting because when we were doing this album, there was this, I don’t know, maybe it’s just in the world we’re living now, but it’s this doom and gloom everywhere you scroll on social media and and everything kind of has this apocalyptic feel to it. The world is ending, nature is dying, climate disasters one after the other. Yeah, wildfires in Canada and a lot of wildfires in LA War in Ukraine and all this stuff. And we were kind of doing it at that time the war started and all these disasters. And I remember, yeah, there’s definitely something … not gloomy, but, I don’t know, something heavy but also hopeful [at the] same time.

Source: Jónsi explains how Sigur Rós made its first new album in a decade by @NPR

This balance allows the listener to make of it what they want.

I think what is most remarkable is that people take their own meaning from it because they don’t understand the lyrics. Or everybody makes their own meaning and interpretation in their mind. And I think that’s kind of amazing. You’re not like being spoon fed some specific lyrics, some love lyrics or something.

Source: Jónsi explains how Sigur Rós made its first new album in a decade by @NPR

I feel this album important for the moment in the same way that Mixing Colours was right for the start of the pandemic. It forces us to stop and consider.

Read Antarctica

Antarctica (1997) is a science fiction novel by American writer Kim Stanley Robinson. It deals with a variety of characters living at or visiting an Antarctic research station. It incorporates many of Robinson’s common themes, including scientific process and the importance of environmental protection.

In The Return of the Native, Thomas Hardy talks about heath to set the scene, however Antarctica for Kim Stanley Robinson feels like more than just a setting, it is both a physical place, but also political one too. With this, the book can be appreciated as an investigation into Antarctica, while being about Antarctica. Whether it be the geography, history, science, Robinson explores Antarctica in all its detail. In particular, the book attempts to go beyond the surface level of opinions on past expedition:

Everyone who joined a Footsteps expedition was an expert; it only took a half-dozen books to fill you in on the entire history of Antarctica, and after that everyone had an opinion.

Source: Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

In some ways Robinson’s intertextual approach reminded of James Mitchener and the way in which different narratives are tied together to capture a particular subject. In Robinson’s case, this includes X, an idealistic young man working as a field assistant at McMurdo; Val, a trek guide helping people to trace the steps of past explorers; Wade Norton, an aide for a Californian senator; and the ferals, the ‘native’ people of Antarctica.

(Alternatively, I was also reminded of Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. This made me think about whether Melville should be considered as a science fiction author?)

With each of the competing narratives, It is Norton who ties all these stories together. He has been sent down to Antarctica to get a picture of what is happening by Senator Phil Chase. As the novel unfolds, he relays everything back to Chase.

In some ways, this relationship is a proxy for Robinson’s relationship with us as the reader. Like Chase, we depend upon Robinson to provide an insight into all things Antarctica. One such insight relates to science.

It was not a matter of evil-doing either way; the simple truth was that science was a matter of making alliances to help you to show what you wanted to show, and to make clear also that what you were showing was important. And your own graduate students and post-docs were necessarily your closest allies in that struggle to pull together all the strings of an argument. All this became even more true when there was a controversy ongoing, when there were people on the other side publishing articles with titles like “Unstable Ice or Unstable Ideas?” and so on, so that the animus had grown a bit higher than normal.

Science was not a matter of automatons seeking Truth, but of people struggling to black-box some facts.

Source: Antarctica by Kim Stanley Robinson

As a medium, fiction allows a means of capturing various perspectives.

There are so many aspects that reminded me of The Ministry for the Future, ranging from blimps, science, politics and terrorism. I am left wondering if these are usual aspects to all of Robinson’s work.

Read science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson by Contributors to Wikimedia projects

The Mars trilogy is a series of science fiction novels by Kim Stanley Robinson that chronicles the settlement and terraforming of the planet Mars through the personal and detailed viewpoints of a wide variety of characters spanning almost two centuries. Ultimately more utopian than dystopian, the story focuses on egalitarian, sociological, and scientific advances made on Mars, while Earth suffers from overpopulation and ecological disaster.

The three novels are Red Mars (1992), Green Mars (1993), and Blue Mars (1996). The Martians (1999) is a collection of short stories set in the same fictional universe. Red Mars won the BSFA Award in 1992 and Nebula Award for Best Novel in 1993. Green Mars won the Hugo Award for Best Novel and Locus Award for Best Science Fiction Novel in 1994. Blue Mars also won the Hugo and Locus Awards in 1997.

I continued my exploration of Kim Stanley Robinson with Red Mars, the first book in the Mars trilogy. It was included as a part of the Audible membership.

Red Mars explores the colonisation of Mars. This journey begins with the First Hundred, who set up the initial settlement. (This reminded me of The 100.) One of the biggest challenges faced is that of radiation and atmosphere. This leads to significant debate around terraforming. Eventually, the debate is decided for them after someone sneaks in some algae into windmills. From there the novel explores the arrival of those coming to Mars not just to live and survive, but to exploit the environment. With this comes a change in culture, politics and conditions.

In the end, this is not The Martian. I wonder if that is because The Martian is somehow more authentic? Maybe, things have changed in the 30 years since Red Mars was published? However, I feel that sometimes Robinson’s narratives are as much about people and their consequences, as they are about the literal plausibility of everything discussed, from the burning up of ice asteroids to building a space elevator. It is interesting to consider this alongside as Antarctica, a foreign space on earth.