Liked The production of space and the changing character of the recording studio | Popular Music | Cambridge Core (Cambridge Core)

The propagation of low-cost music production technologies changes the way recording artists experience the spatial environments and technology of the recording studio. Concomitantly dwindling recording budgets have led to large-format studio closures. Many artists are choosing do-it-yourself (DIY) recording practices with the help of a producer, or self-produced, in non-purpose-built and domestic environments. This research seeks to understand the differences in creative agency and recording experience for performers in various recording environments. I use a practice-led approach to record performers in DIY recording spaces, large-format recording studios and a hybrid combination of both environments. I then use a Lefebvrian theoretical lens to analyse participant interviews and field notes. This research suggests that artist attitudes towards the choice of recording space are variable, with each participant preferring a different aspect of large-format and domestic spaces depending on which facet of those spaces they are considering. Despite this, the participants seem to experience DIY recording as broadly positive for creativity but respond with views that emphasise freedom from time constraints, a reclamation of power, fewer economic burdens and freedom to experiment. The research indicates that the DIY studio is emerging as a new paradigm in the recording field and defines the current era of music-making.

Listened CUSTARD BUTTERCUP (BEDFORD) : CUSTARD : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive from Internet Archive

Album ripped from CD in .WAV format.CD, artwork & booklet scanned at 1200DPI.In 1992, Custard released their first self-published album titled…

I remember reading about COW (Country or Western) featuring Dave McCormack, Glenn Thompson and Robert Moore, in Andrew Stafford’s book about the Brisbane music scene, Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden.

COW was far more than the in-joke their name suggested. Intending to score a hotel residency where they could have some fun, a few drinks and pick up a little extra cash at the end of the night, the band could indeed play country ‘or’ western, albeit with a knowing smirk. But such was the improvisational flair and natural showmanship of the musicians – McCormack in particular was becoming a formidable guitarist, distilling influences from Tom Waits’ sideman Marc Ribot to the Pixies’ Joey Santiago – that COW’s scope was almost limitless.

SOURCE: Andrew Stafford – Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden

Having played on Robert Forster’s Calling from a Country Phone, Moore had imagined COW as more than a band, but a ‘musical collective’.

Robert Moore had imagined COW as a musical collective similar to the Wild Bunch behind the first Massive Attack album, where a virtual reserve bench of musicians would be on call to play gigs or recordings. Often the band would be joined on stage by backing vocalists the Sirloin Sisters, twins Maureen and Suzie Hansen; at other times, former Go-Between John Willsteed and occasional Queensland Symphony Orchestra violinist John Bone would jump up to add their own flourishes.

SOURCE: Andrew Stafford – Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden

Coming to Bedford / Buttercup, I was left wondering where the country inspiration was. Although there are moments, say on the samples and licks on Fuming Out, but instead the album felt to me like jangly pop on speed. The fact that the album does not go much beyond 30 minutes with 11 tracks highlights this. In Andrew Stafford – Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden, Stafford includes a quote from from McCormick about the use of speed:

David McCormack: That’s when the drugs really came into play, around that time . . . In 1988–89 it was all speed, acid, ecstasy had just hit. And because we had nothing to do – we’d basically finished our degrees and were on the dole, and we were white middle-class kids from Kenmore – we could just get out of it forever. That’s why Who’s Gerald? broke up. We’d be speeding for days on end.

SOURCE: Andrew Stafford – Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden

One of the odd things about jumping into a focus on a band/artist is that it creates the conditions for different listening. With Buttercup/Bedford, I could not help make comparisons, whether it be:

  • Anna Lucia’s nod to The Pixies’ Debaser.
  • The British influences behind Delerious/I Live By The River.
  • The jingle jangle of the Go-Betweens throughout.

I wonder if these ideas are actually beyond that. The initial links are with the obvious, but somehow the true inspiration is outside of our reach. Stafford makes mention of the influence of Jonathan Richman.

Like Robert Forster, David McCormack had drawn considerable early inspiration from the suburban obsessions of Jonathan Richman.

David McCormack: I was at John Swingle’s house, he was in the Melniks, and he said you’ve got to hear this . . . He played me Roadrunner and Government Centre and it just blew my mind, it was one of those life-changing experiences. Because up until then I was listening to Devo and Kraftwerk, stuff like that, which is all very alienated, but it’s not really Brisbane. Brisbane’s too hot for that!

SOURCE: Andrew Stafford – Pig City: From the Saints to Savage Garden

Personally, I have not really listened to much of Richman’s work, even after my dive into The Go-Betweens. It leaves me thinking that maybe that although ideas often have origins and references, that these are not always present. Reading Paul Carter’s Dark Writings, I cannot help but wonder if the influences are beneath the line retraced:

The line is always the trace of earlier lines. However perfectly it copies what went before, the very act of retracing it represents a new departure.
To think the line differently is not only to read — and draw — maps and plans in a new way. It is to think differently about history. To materialize the act of representation is to appreciate that the performances of everyday life can themselves produce historical change.

SOURCE: Paul Carter – Dark Writing: Geography, Performance, Design

One of the oddities of the record are the inconsistences when it comes to the vocals. There is a lot made of Australian Academy of Music’s Encouragement Award prize of $500 recording time and how the band quickly recorded about 13 songs in eight hours, marking Buttercup / Bedford. However, looking at the booklet, I assume that this was the session in October 1990.

Booklet

On first listen, I thought that tracks 4-10 was someone other than McCormick singing. However, looking at the booklet, clearly not. I am not sure if in the year between recording the initial tracks and the later tracks, McCormick had developed and changed or it was in the quality of the recording.

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Room_of_One%27s_Own
A Room of One’s Own is an extended essay by Virginia Woolf, first published in September 1929. The work is based on two lectures Woolf delivered in October 1928 at Newnham College and Girton College, women’s colleges at the University of Cambridge.

The essay dives into what is involved with being a female writer. Whether it be balancing raising a family:

Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children – no human being could stand it.

Depending upon a husband for funds:

It is only for the last forty-eight years that Mrs Seton has had a penny of her own. For all the centuries before that it would have been her husband’s property – a thought which, perhaps, may have had its share in keeping Mrs Seton and her mothers off the Stock Exchange.

Or writing in privately in public:

I wondered, would Pride and Prejudice have been a better novel if Jane Austen had not thought it necessary to hide her manuscript from visitors?

It is out of this that we get the famous quote:

A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.

Responding to these challenges, Woolf points out that nothing is known about women before the eighteenth century. With this in mind, she discusses William Shakespear’s fictitious sister Judith.

Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably – his mother was an heiress – to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin – Ovid, Virgil, and Horace – and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter – indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly, but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager – a fat, loose-lipped man – guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting – no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress.

Before then exploring what it means to write like a woman and a woman’s experience.

The book has somehow to be adapted to the body, and at a venture one would say that women’s books should be shorter, more concentrated, than those of men, and framed so that they do not need long hours of steady and uninterrupted work. For interruptions there will always be. Again, the nerves that feed the brain would seem to differ in men and women, and if you are going to make them work their best and hardest, you must find out what treatment suits them – whether these hours of lectures, for instance, which the monks devised, presumably, hundreds of years ago, suit them – what alternations of work and rest they need, interpreting rest not as doing nothing but as doing something but something that is different; and what should that difference be?

One of the things that really struck me rereading this essay was the significance of Jane Austen. I am not sure that occurred to me reading Austen growing up, let alone the work of Fanny Burney. It just makes me want to dive back in again.


I was led back to this essay via two podcast discussions: A Room of One’s Own (In Our Time) and What’s behind the anger? On Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own” (The Minefield).

Podcasts

A Room of One’s Own (In Our Time)

MP3

Melvyn Bragg speaks with Hermione Lee, Michele Barrett and Alexandra Harris about Virginia Woolf’s essay A Room of One’s Own.

What’s behind the anger? On Virginia Woolf’s “A Room of One’s Own”

Waleed Aly and Scott Stephens speak with Charlotte Wood about what Virginia Woolf’s essay tells us about the nature of power, the sentiments that feed contempt, the conditions of creative freedom, and the possibility of moral transformation.

Marginalia


Chapter 1

A Woman must have money and a room of her own if she is to write fiction; and that, as you will see, leaves the great problem of the true nature of woman and the true nature of fiction unsolved.

One can only show how one came to hold whatever opinion one does hold. One can only give one’s audience the chance of drawing their own conclusions as they observe the limitations, the prejudices, the idiosyncrasies of the speaker.

Making a fortune and bearing thirteen children – no human being could stand it.

It is only for the last forty-eight years that Mrs Seton has had a penny of her own. For all the centuries before that it would have been her husband’s property – a thought which, perhaps, may have had its share in keeping Mrs Seton and her mothers off the Stock Exchange.

At any rate, whether or not the blame rested on the old lady who was looking at the spaniel, there could be no doubt that for some reason or other our mothers had mismanaged their affairs very gravely. Not a penny could be spared for ‘amenities’; for partridges and wine, beadles and turf, books and cigars, libraries and leisure. To raise bare walls out of the bare earth was the utmost they could do.

Chapter 2

Why are women, judging from this catalogue, so much more interesting to men than men are to women?

Nobody in their senses could fail to detect the dominance of the professor. His was the power and the money and the influence. He was the proprietor of the paper and its editor and sub-editor. He was the Foreign Secretary and the Judge. He was the cricketer; he owned the racehorses and the yachts. He was the director of the company that pays two hundred per cent to its shareholders. He left millions to charities and colleges that were ruled by himself. He suspended the film actress in mid-air. He will decide if the hair on the meat axe is human; he it is who will acquit or convict the murderer, and hang him, or let him go free. With the exception of the fog he seemed to control everything. Yet he was angry

Chapter 3

fiction is like a spider’s web, attached ever so lightly perhaps, but still attached to life at all four corners. Often the attachment is scarcely perceptible; Shakespeare’s plays, for instance, seem to hang there complete by themselves. But when the web is pulled askew, hooked up at the edge, torn in the middle, one remembers that these webs are not spun in mid-air by incorporeal creatures, but are the work of suffering human beings, and are attached to grossly material things, like health and money and the houses we live in.

what I find deplorable, I continued, looking about the bookshelves again, is that nothing is known about women before the eighteenth century. I have no model in my mind to turn about this way and that. Here am I asking why women did not write poetry in the Elizabethan age, and I am not sure how they were educated; whether they were taught to write; whether they had sitting-rooms to themselves; how many women had children before they were twenty-one; what, in short, they did from eight in the morning till eight at night.

Let me imagine, since facts are so hard to come by, what would have happened had Shakespeare had a wonderfully gifted sister, called Judith, let us say. Shakespeare himself went, very probably – his mother was an heiress – to the grammar school, where he may have learnt Latin – Ovid, Virgil, and Horace – and the elements of grammar and logic. He was, it is well known, a wild boy who poached rabbits, perhaps shot a deer, and had, rather sooner than he should have done, to marry a woman in the neighbourhood, who bore him a child rather quicker than was right. That escapade sent him to seek his fortune in London. He had, it seemed, a taste for the theatre; he began by holding horses at the stage door. Very soon he got work in the theatre, became a successful actor, and lived at the hub of the universe, meeting everybody, knowing everybody, practising his art on the boards, exercising his wits in the streets, and even getting access to the palace of the queen. Meanwhile his extraordinarily gifted sister, let us suppose, remained at home. She was as adventurous, as imaginative, as agog to see the world as he was. But she was not sent to school. She had no chance of learning grammar and logic, let alone of reading Horace and Virgil. She picked up a book now and then, one of her brother’s perhaps, and read a few pages. But then her parents came in and told her to mend the stockings or mind the stew and not moon about with books and papers. They would have spoken sharply but kindly, for they were substantial people who knew the conditions of life for a woman and loved their daughter – indeed, more likely than not she was the apple of her father’s eye. Perhaps she scribbled some pages up in an apple loft on the sly, but was careful to hide them or set fire to them. Soon, however, before she was out of her teens, she was to be betrothed to the son of a neighbouring wool-stapler. She cried out that marriage was hateful to her, and for that she was severely beaten by her father. Then he ceased to scold her. He begged her instead not to hurt him, not to shame him in this matter of her marriage. He would give her a chain of beads or a fine petticoat, he said; and there were tears in his eyes. How could she disobey him? How could she break his heart? The force of her own gift alone drove her to it. She made up a small parcel of her belongings, let herself down by a rope one summer’s night and took the road to London. She was not seventeen. The birds that sang in the hedge were not more musical than she was. She had the quickest fancy, a gift like her brother’s, for the tune of words. Like him, she had a taste for the theatre. She stood at the stage door; she wanted to act, she said. Men laughed in her face. The manager – a fat, loose-lipped man – guffawed. He bellowed something about poodles dancing and women acting – no woman, he said, could possibly be an actress.

Chapter 4

Money dignifies what is frivolous if unpaid for. It might still be well to sneer at ‘blue stockings with an itch for scribbling’, but it could not be denied that they could put money in their purses. Thus, towards the end of the eighteenth century a change came about which, if I were rewriting history, I should describe more fully and think of greater importance than the Crusades or the Wars of the Roses. The middle-class woman began to write. For if Pride and Prejudice matters, and Middlemarch and Villette and Wuthering Heights matter, then it matters far more than I can prove in an hour’s discourse that women generally, and not merely the lonely aristocrat shut up in her country house among her folios and her flatterers, took to writing.

I wondered, would Pride and Prejudice have been a better novel if Jane Austen had not thought it necessary to hide her manuscript from visitors?

One could not but play for a moment with the thought of what might have happened if Charlotte Brontë had possessed say three hundred a year – but the foolish woman sold the copyright of her novels outright for fifteen hundred pounds; had somehow possessed more knowledge of the busy world and towns and regions full of life; more practical experience, and intercourse with her kind and acquaintance with a variety of character

Only Jane Austen did it and Emily Brontë. It is another feather, perhaps the finest, in their caps. They wrote as women write, not as men write. Of all the thousand women who wrote novels then, they alone entirely ignored the perpetual admonitions of the eternal pedagogue – write this, think that. They alone were deaf to that persistent voice, now grumbling, now patronizing, now domineering, now grieved, now shocked, now angry, now avuncular, that voice which cannot let women alone, but must be at them, like some too conscientious governess, adjuring them, like Sir Egerton Brydges, to be refined; dragging even into the criticism of poetry criticism of sex;* admonishing them, if they would be good and win, as I suppose, some shiny prize, to keep within certain limits which the gentleman in question thinks suitable – ‘…female novelists should only aspire to excellence by courageously acknowledging the limitations of their sex’.

The book has somehow to be adapted to the body, and at a venture one would say that women’s books should be shorter, more concentrated, than those of men, and framed so that they do not need long hours of steady and uninterrupted work. For interruptions there will always be. Again, the nerves that feed the brain would seem to differ in men and women, and if you are going to make them work their best and hardest, you must find out what treatment suits them – whether these hours of lectures, for instance, which the monks devised, presumably, hundreds of years ago, suit them – what alternations of work and rest they need, interpreting rest not as doing nothing but as doing something but something that is different; and what should that difference be?

Chapter 5

almost without exception they are shown in their relation to men. It was strange to think that all the great women of fiction were, until Jane Austen’s day, not only seen by the other sex, but seen only in relation to the other sex. And how small a part of a woman’s life is that; and how little can a man know even of that when he observes it through the black or rosy spectacles which sex puts upon his nose.

Considering that Mary Carmichael was no genius, but an unknown girl writing her first novel in a bed-sitting-room, without enough of those desirable things, time, money, and idleness, she did not do so badly, I thought.
Give her another hundred years, I concluded, reading the last chapter – people’s noses and bare shoulders showed naked against a starry sky, for someone had twitched the curtain in the drawing-room – give her a room of her own and five hundred a year, let her speak her mind and leave out half that she now puts in, and she will write a better book one of these days. She will be a poet, I said, putting Life’s Adventure, by Mary Carmichael, at the end of the shelf, in another hundred years’ time.

Chapter 6

The Fascist poem, one may fear, will be a horrid little abortion such as one sees in a glass jar in the museum of some county town. Such monsters never live long, it is said; one has never seen a prodigy of that sort cropping grass in a field. Two heads on one body do not make for length of life.

Checked into https://www.moshtix.com.au/v2/event/damian-cowell-presents-damiancowell-with-guests-burnt-sausages/157700
I was adamant that so soon after the last concert at the Corner Hotel that this might be some sort of swan song. Cowell soon squashed such rumours (clearly I was not the only one) stating that this was his last concert until he can be bothered putting on another one. He also admitted he may have duped us and that the gig was as much for the band as anything. I wonder if he felt putting it on the same night as the AFL semi final at the MCG might have missed a few punters or maybe he is a perfectionist who was really annoyed that the Cubase graphics crashed at all the gigs on the east coast. He also joked about ending Kestrel Hawk and starting another band with basically the same members was a means of moving on from one of the members. That was a bit awkward with the absence of Bek Chapman.

I was talking to the guy next to me before the concert and we were wondering why Cowell disbanded the Disco Machine. My thought was that it gave greater scope to play whatever he liked. Or as he postulated at the last concert, maybe it is about just being ‘Damian Cowell’. Regards to performance, there were none of the usual diatribes this time around, only a random discussion about a concept album involving Nosferatu and a young man who manages to escape the image of Nosferatu only to again be reacquainted old age in the nursing home.

I was actually left thinking about ‘the band’. Although there are new additions to the group, having seen the band three times now, I am left thinking that although everything is ‘Damian Cowell’, Andy Hazel, Gordon Blake, Emily Jarrett and Tony Martin are just as important to Cowell himself. They even found a spot for the ‘agent of entropy’, Will Hindmarsh, bashing away on the pads while trying to keep his headphones and glasses on. I always wondered with so much of the music being triggered by samples whether he would strip it right back. There was a glimpse of this with the three singers starting off the set with Don’t Bring Me Down, Proust. However, once the full band kicked in half way, it was clear that no one is going anywhere.

Although a different order, the songs in the setlist were pretty similar to his show on the 15th of September.

Source: Setlist.fm

I must admit, this is the first music that I have gotten into that nobody else I know gets. Well certainly much as I seem to. It was funny seeing some older fans bringing along their kids, who clearly were not as engaged. Personally, I find the music equal parts serious and silly. While I find seeing live concerts cathartic, even better when they finish around 9.

 

Read The Hacienda

Peter Hook, as co-founder of Joy Division and New Order, has been shaping the course of popular music for thirty years. He provided the propulsive …

Watching documentaries like The Hacienda – The Club that Shook Britain (BBC Documentary), one is left thinking about the ‘halycon’ days of The Hacienda. However, Peter Hook pulls back the sheet to reveal the reality of running a club. Although Hook is happy to engage with the usual talking points, such as Madonna playing there or the rise of House music, he also provides insight into the disaster it was from a business point of view and the impact it had.

The Haçienda was, as Hook says, in many ways the perfect example of how not to run a club – if you view a nightclub as a money-making business. But if, like the baggy trousered philanthropists Factory, you see it as an altruistic gift to your hometown and a breeding ground for the next generation of youth culture, it was, accidentally, purposefully, shambolically, anarchically, thrillingly, scarily, inspirationally, perfect. Hook appreciated the need to give something back but, he jokes, he didn’t realise that you had to give it all back. But then, as Wilson remarked: “Some people make money, others make history.”

Source: Review – The Haçienda: How Not to Run a Club by Peter Hook by Luke Bainbridge

This reminded me of something that Brian Eno said in a conversation with Daniel Lanois, that ‘beautiful things grow out of shit’.

Marginalia

“Now I don’t know why, but Morrissey had always hated Joy Division. Maybe Rob got it right when after a lively debate as the cameras were turned off he turned to Morrissey and said, ‘The trouble with you, Morrissey, is that you’ve never had the guts to kill yourself like Ian. You’re fucking jealous.’ You should have seen his face as he stormed off. I laughed me bollocks off.”

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/An_Imaginary_Life
I recently returned to An Imaginary Life. I vaguely remember reading this as a part of David Tacey’s Jungian class at university. It tells the story of Ovid and his journey into exile.

It tells the story of the Roman poet Ovid, during his exile in Tomis.

While there, Ovid lives with the natives, although he doesn’t understand their language, and forms a bond with a wild boy who is found living wild in nature. The relationship between Ovid and the boy, at first one of protector and protected, becomes an alliance between two people in a foreign land.

Ovid comes to Tomis enculturated with a Roman world view and through his attempts at teaching the boy language is able to free himself from the constrictions of Latin and the encompassing perception of reality that is his only barrier against transcendence.

Ovid is continually searching for the Child and what he represents to him. He goes so far as to capture him in an attempt to learn from him, and to teach him language and conventions.

Source: An Imaginary Life by David Malouf

Although I probably wrote some essay at the time about the psychological journey of awakening, I am not sure that I made the connection between Ovid and his journey into a new country with being an ‘Australian novel’ as Pema Düddul suggests:

Ovid’s great epiphany is that the untamed world is not a hostile place, but a new home where he can be free of the rigid structures of Imperial Rome. By venturing into an even further place, a greater exile, he becomes free.

An Imaginary Life is, in part, about an individual journey from a state of being cut off and apart from the environment – of wishing to tame and exploit nature, of being totally entangled in language and culture – to a state of being in intimate contact with the untrained, wild things of the world. It is also about a poet, in thrall of civilisation, realising that there are other ways to live and experience; ways that are beautiful and fulfilling.

Ovid comes to this realisation by following the example of the wild boy, someone for whom the environment is not something outside of himself but an expression of his own nature.

Source: The case for David Malouf’s An Imaginary Life by Pema Düddul

I feel this is another one of those novels that I did not fully appreciate when I first read it. Then again, maybe my reading now is simply a ‘new beginning’:

What else should our lives be but a continual series of beginnings, of painful settings out into the unknown, pushing off from the edges of consciousness into the mystery of what we have not yet become, except in dreams that blow in from out there bearing the fragrance of islands we have not yet sighted in our waking hours, as in voyaging sometimes the first blossoming branches of our next landfall come bumping against the keel, even in the dark, whole days before the real land rises to meet us.

SOURCE: An Imaginary Life by David Malouf

With the discussion of becoming, I was also left thinking about the connections between this novel and the work of Gilles Deleuze.

Continue reading “📚 An Imaginary Life (David Malouf)”

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Island_of_Doctor_Moreau

The Island of Doctor Moreau is an 1896 science fiction novel by English author H. G. Wells. The text of the novel is the narration of Edward Prendick, a shipwrecked man rescued by a passing boat. He is left on the island home of Doctor Moreau, a mad scientist who creates human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection. The novel deals with a number of themes, including pain and cruelty, moral responsibility, human identity, human interference with nature, and the effects of trauma.[2] Wells described it as “an exercise in youthful blasphemy.”[3]

The Island of Doctor Moreau is a classic work of early science fiction[4] and remains one of Wells’s best-known books. The novel is the earliest depiction of the science fiction motif “uplift” in which a more advanced race intervenes in the evolution of an animal species to bring the latter to a higher level of intelligence.[5] It has been adapted to film and other media on many occasions.

The Island of Dr Moreau, by H.G. Wells, tells the story of Edward Prendick and his experience visiting the island of Dr Moreau,  located somewhere in the Pacific. Dr Moreau is a scientist experimenting with creating human-like hybrid beings from animals via vivisection.

Was this the same Moreau? He had published some very astonishing facts in connection with the transfusion of blood, and in addition was known to be doing valuable work on morbid growths. Then suddenly his career was closed. He had to leave England. A journalist obtained access to his laboratory in the capacity of laboratory-assistant, with the deliberate intention of making sensational exposures; and by the help of a shocking accident (if it was an accident), his gruesome pamphlet became notorious. On the day of its publication a wretched dog, flayed and otherwise mutilated, escaped from Moreau’s house. It was in the silly season, and a prominent editor, a cousin of the temporary laboratory-assistant, appealed to the conscience of the nation. It was not the first time that conscience has turned against the methods of research. The doctor was simply howled out of the country.

Through Moreau’s creations, the novel explores what it means to be human, it is epitomised by the chant:

“Not to go on all-fours; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

“Not to suck up Drink; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

“Not to eat Fish or Flesh; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

“Not to claw the Bark of Trees; that is the Law. Are we not Men?

“Not to chase other Men; that is the Law. Are we not Men?”

Wells makes comparisons between Moreau’s Beast Men and those living in colonies. For example, Montgomery finds it hard to discern between Moreau’s creations and the people they trade with in the colonies.

At first I had a shivering horror of the brutes, felt all too keenly that they were still brutes; but insensibly I became a little habituated to the idea of them, and moreover I was affected by Montgomery’s attitude towards them. He had been with them so long that he had come to regard them as almost normal human beings. His London days seemed a glorious, impossible past to him. Only once in a year or so did he go to Arica to deal with Moreau’s agent, a trader in animals there. He hardly met the finest type of mankind in that seafaring village of Spanish mongrels. The men aboard-ship, he told me, seemed at first just as strange to him as the Beast Men seemed to me,—unnaturally long in the leg, flat in the face, prominent in the forehead, suspicious, dangerous, and cold-hearted. In fact, he did not like men: his heart had warmed to me, he thought, because he had saved my life. I fancied even then that he had a sneaking kindness for some of these metamorphosed brutes, a vicious sympathy with some of their ways, but that he attempted to veil it from me at first.

This is something that Andrew Cunningham and Craig Getting discuss on the Overdue podcast.  An example of such analysis is Matthew Thompson’s exploration of the tendency to racialise and the supposed journey from beast to civilised man.

In distinctly racialising the characters of the Beast People, Wells parallels the discourses of evolutionary science that use race as a means of distinguishing a narrative of human progression from primitiveness to civilisation. Such a narrative not only features to further the casting of the racialised Other as ‘primitive’, but, in the case of Moreau and other evolutionary scientists such as T. H. Huxley, to cast these subjectivities as animalistic.

Source: “The White Face of Moreau”: Race, Gender, and Animalism in the Literature of the Imperial Campaign by Matthew Thompson

The novel ends with Prendick sharing his enduring trauma from having survived the island.

My trouble took the strangest form. I could not persuade myself that the men and women I met were not also another Beast People, animals half wrought into the outward image of human souls, and that they would presently begin to revert,—to show first this bestial mark and then that. But I have confided my case to a strangely able man,—a man who had known Moreau, and seemed half to credit my story; a mental specialist,—and he has helped me mightily, though I do not expect that the terror of that island will ever altogether leave me. At most times it lies far in the back of my mind, a mere distant cloud, a memory, and a faint distrust; but there are times when the little cloud spreads until it obscures the whole sky. Then I look about me at my fellow-men; and I go in fear. I see faces, keen and bright; others dull or dangerous; others, unsteady, insincere,—none that have the calm authority of a reasonable soul. I feel as though the animal was surging up through them; that presently the degradation of the Islanders will be played over again on a larger scale. I know this is an illusion; that these seeming men and women about me are indeed men and women,—men and women for ever, perfectly reasonable creatures, full of human desires and tender solicitude, emancipated from instinct and the slaves of no fantastic Law,—beings altogether different from the Beast Folk. Yet I shrink from them, from their curious glances, their inquiries and assistance, and long to be away from them and alone. For that reason I live near the broad free downland, and can escape thither when this shadow is over my soul; and very sweet is the empty downland then, under the wind-swept sky.

This dual world where Prendick struggles to reintegrate within supposed civilised society reminded me of ending of The Heart of Darkness where the truth is surpressed in order to survive.

“‘His last word—to live with,’ she insisted. ‘Don’t you understand I loved him—I loved him—I loved him!’

“I pulled myself together and spoke slowly.

“‘The last word he pronounced was—your name.’

Source: Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Stylistically, I was also reminded of the narrative style of Thomas More’s Utopia, where we are provided a perspective of place through the eyes of a visitor.

Continue reading “📚 The Island of Doctor Moreau (H. G. Wells)”

Read The In-Between by Christos Tsiolkas

The tender, sensual and moving new novel from the award-winning and bestselling author of The Slap and Damascus. A compelling contemporary love story between two middle-aged men, told with grace, heart and wisdom.

No life is simple, and no life is without sorrow. No life is perfect.

Two middle-aged men meet on an internet date. Each has been scarred by a previous relationship; each has his own compelling reasons for giving up on the idea of finding love.

But still they both turn up for the dinner, feel the spark and the possibility of something more. Feel the fear of failing again, of being hurt and humiliated and further annihilated by love.

How can they take the risk of falling in love again. How can they not?

A tender, affecting novel of love, of hope, of forgiveness by one of our most fearless and truthful interpreters of the human heart, the acclaimed bestselling author of The Slap and Damascus.

I wrote a longer response to The In-Between here.

Commentary

Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The In-Between’ (Review)

Though of course plenty of writers can supply the smaller details, what makes Tsiolkas exceptional is his ability to show how excessive and unstable our senses are, how we never just enjoy our perceptions in some benign way, but find them turning continuously into greed, and then shame, and then greed again.

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The In-Between’ (Review) by Sean O’Beirne

What we want is always irresponsible, or immoral, or impossible.

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The In-Between’ (Review) by Sean O’Beirne

The middle-class, left-liberal, virtue-signalling people who will mostly read this book (and I include myself in this) do badly need to be told a story about how many problems won’t have a solution, exactly, and how much insane desire lies in every human heart.

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’s ‘The In-Between’ (Review) by Sean O’Beirne


Christos Tsiolkas The In-Between

There’s a trick Christos Tsiolkas does in his eighth novel, The In-Between. At several points in the action, as the central drama plays out in the foreground, the focus drifts away. Tsiolkas brings our attention instead to a passing youth on the street or the gaze of another commuter.
Despite these glances away, The In-Between is an intensely interior book with Tsiolkas’s trademark unflinching intimacy and access to the thoughts, fears, rages and lusts of his characters. It makes these other moments all the more acute when they occur. They offer us an external view of proceedings, giving us the distance to see our protagonists afresh

Source: Christos Tsiolkas
The In-Between
by Michael Williams


Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel The In-Between

An idea is louder than snoring

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel The In-Between – ABC Listen by ABC Radio Melbourne

What I want from fiction is that it sets up questions.

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel The In-Between – ABC Listen by ABC Radio Melbourne

Fiction puts you in shoes that are not comfortable.

Source: Christos Tsiolkas’ new novel The In-Between – ABC Listen by ABC Radio Melbourne

Read https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Do_Androids_Dream_of_Electric_Sheep%3F
I was inspired to read Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep by the Overdue podcast. I enjoy Andrew Cunningham and Craig Getting’s discussions, the way in which they bounce off each other. Although I had seen both the original Blade Runner (I actually studied it in Year 12) and the remake, I do not remember ever reading the book before.

Coming at the book via the film, I could not help but compare. I was particularly intrigued with the description of the ‘chicken heads’ and the androids and the idea of humanity. This reminded me of H.G. Wells comparison of the animals and the people in foreign ports in The Island of Dr Moreau.

As with the film, the book asks many questions. How do we know what is real? What does it mean to be human? How do we know who we can trust?