Goodbye to All That

The title of Robert Graves’s 1929 autobiography, Goodbye to All That, it turns out in the Epilogue (1957), merely means that he had left England to live in Majorca.

I assumed it meant that the First World War had fixed a great gulf between life before and after it.

I’ve just read it again, and note here a few excerpts.

G.H. Rendall, the then Headmaster at Charterhouse, is reported to have innocently said at a Headmasters’ Conference: ‘My boys are amorous, but seldom erotic.’ … I agree with his Rendall’s distinction between ‘amorousness’ (by which he meant a sentimental falling in love with younger boys) and eroticism, or adolescent lust. The intimacy that frequently took place was very seldom between an elder boy and the object of his affection – that would have spoiled the romantic illlusion – but almost always between boys of the same age who were not in love, and used each other as convenient sex-instruments. So the atmosphere was always heavy with romance of a conventional early-Victorian type, complicated by cynicism and foulness. (Penguin, 39)

At least one in three of my generation at school died; because they all took commissions as soon as they could, most of them in the infantry and Royal Flying Corps. The average life expectancy of an infantry subaltern on the Western Front was, at some stages of the war, only about three months; by which time he had been either wounded or killed. The proportions worked out at about four wounded to every one killed. Of these four, one got wounded seriously, and the remaining three more or less lightly. The three lightly wounded returned to the front after a few weeks or months of absence, and again faced the same odds. Flying casualites were even higher. Since the war lasted for four and a half years, it is easy why most  of the survivors, if not permanently disabled, got wounded several times. (Penguin 54-55)

Professor Edgeworth, of All Souls’, avoided conversational English, persistently using words and phrases that one expects to meet only in books. One evening, [T.E.] Lawrence [of Arabia] returned from a visit to London, and Edgeworth met him at the gate. ‘Was it very caliginous in the Metropolis?’
‘Somewhat caliginous, but not altogether inspissated, ‘ Lawrence replied gravely. (Penguin, 246)

I photographed the photo of Robert Graves from the Penguin that was published in 1957, the revised edition of the book.

Freud and Me

I wrote the dissertation for my PhD in the first half of 1993 while on OSP leave (sabbatical).

This was immediately after I had coordinated (taught) a unit called Language Culture and the Unconscious in 1991 and 1992. As a result of this, I enrolled for a PhD under the supervision of Bob Hodge, who had conceived the unit. The dissertation was based on the structure and thought of said unit, and took a positive view of the continuing usefulness of some of Freud’s ideas – in fact that was its thesis.

During those same years I was in contact with a close friend who happened to  be a liberal feminist psychiatrist, Lois Achimovich, and she was continually making me aware of Freud’s feet of clay, as exposed by writers like Jeffrey Masson and Frederick Crews. As a result of her influence the dissertation came to be richer and more complex.

In two lectures I gave in 1994, I took the opportunity to say as succinctly as I could what I thought about the ‘seduction hypothesis’ in a lecture on Freud given to unsuspecting students in their first university course, the Foundation unit Structure, Thought and Reality, in April 1994. The next month, I gave a related but more complex lecture to the more sophisticated students of Literary Theory 1, which examined the way in which the ‘structure’ required by Freud for his pseudo-science of psychoanalysis meant that what he ‘thought’ came into conflict with the ‘reality’ of what he was hearing in his consulting-room. With the result that … he denied his patients’ reality.

In a 2000 publication, ‘Mind and culture: Freud and Slovakia‘, which also drew directly on my dissertation, my critique of  Freud suggested that he relied to a great extent on analogy as a rhetorical strategy, rather than, say, logic – or demonstration.

Tennis Girl

The photograph known as ‘Tennis Girl’ is one of the best known images in the world. It has been sold millions of times, and copied millions more for free.  It has its own Wikipedia page.

I used it this weekend for a bit of fun.

I donate a website to the Fremantle Workers Club. I’ve paid for and supported it for many years. (I OWN THE SITE.)

I was recently asked (not officially – only in an email from the president’s partner) to put up a daily photo of the progress of the construction of the club’s new building. I was happy to do so.

I happened to notice that a tennis club was copying the progress photo to their website.  They were doing this without asking or informing me.

Just for fun, I changed the name of the relevant image so that the ‘tennis girl’ photo would be the one seen — instead of a building — by anyone who was downloading the photo on their site. …

To their credit, it only took them a day to notice, and their president rang ‘my’ president … and I’ve put everything back.

Everyone will be pleased to know that I shall ‘cease and desist’ (their president’s phrase) from providing this free website at the end of the year.

Update. I’ve now been told that that it was agreed between the clubs that the daily progress photo would be shared. No-one thought to tell me this.

Yet another cliche

‘It is what it is’ seems to be the latest no-meaning utterance to be added to all the others.

If a speaker on the radio begins a sentence with ‘So …’ I turn it off — which means I don’t listen to the radio much.

The gestural equivalent to a no-meaning statement  is the ‘weather presenter’s gesture’, which involves beginning with the hands together in front of the body, and then opening them both out, while keeping the elbows in, and then returning the hands to the centre – before doing it again a moment later.  It has never meant anything – and yet it is done by everyone on TV.  It seemed to me that weather presenters started it, but it’s not important, as it’s done by everyone now.  The business news guys are strong supporters of this meaningless gesture.


Pentecost is significant because our current PM identifies as ‘pentecostal’.

The festival (as Shavuot) seems to start as a midsummer harvest festival, celebrating the  wheat harvest in Israel (Exodus 34:22). But after 70 AD/CE it becomes the celebration of the giving of the Torah (to Moses, as the ‘Ten Commandments’, on Mount Sinai – long story – the Charlton Heston version has nice animation of God’s handwriting).

It metamorphosises again, when the Christians take it over, in Luke, in Acts ch. 2, when it becomes the celebration of the reception of the Holy Spirit (whatever that is) by the followers of Jesus with ‘a sound like the rush of a violent wind’ and the appearance  of ‘tongues, as of fire’, when the members of the cult ‘began to speak in other languages’.
The Biblical text is quite explicit that what the devotees were saying was understandable in a number of languages – and there is a specific list of them.

That’s the few thousand years background to what Scomo does on Sundays, which is that, in the slightly adapted wording of Wikipedia, he accepts Jesus Christ as his  personal Lord and Saviour, and believes in the baptism in the Holy Spirit that enables a Christian to live a Spirit-filled and empowered life. This empowerment includes the use of spiritual gifts such as speaking in tongues and divine healing.

By definition it’s not insane, as there are millions of others who believe the same infantile nonsense, but it’s still pretty dotty.


Matthias was appointed as the new twelfth disciple to replace Judas Iscariot (the man who betrayed Jesus) after he hanged himself. I suppose the Corman parents knew that.

Machines answering

No person answers. The machine answers.

Well, that’s my experience. I guess people just don’t want to talk to me.

But that’s not my point. Which is: it’s about the power balance in the timing of communication.

If I call you, it’s because I choose this moment to do so.  I’m prepared for the exchange, probably keen for its occurrence.

If you don’t answer, the control changes with the timing.  It’s now you who will call when it suits you, and when I may not be prepared for the exchange, and perhaps not keen to talk to anyone – even you.

Classical Collection

Jenny bought the Classical Collection as CDs that came with a magazine (I think). For whatever reason, she didn’t want them any longer and passed them on to our daughter – who passed them on to me.
So I’m copying them all into my iTunes collection – all 100-odd CDs – as you do.
I’m not listening to every track. One very good reason for not doing so is that many (most?) of the performances are third-rate. They were sold – and therefore also bought by the label – cheaply, because they are not by the most sought-after artists.
So that’s one thing I’ve learnt: that better artists actually cost more.
The other things I’ve learnt is that third-rate artists actually are (unsurprisingly) not very good, even tho their performances get released for whatever reasons. They may play all the notes, but there’s more to a great – or even good – performance than just doing that.
The reason I’m writing this is that I was had the Boccherini cello concerto passing through the process, and my attention kept getting drawn to what I was half listening to. Not only was Boccherini sounding like an interesting writer, but the cellist was sounding particularly bonzer. So I had a look, and it was … Pablo Casals.  I suppose the recording was so old that it was no longer worth much in monetary terms – although it sounded like quite an acceptable ‘modern’ record (Casals died in 1973).
My point is that Casals was a particularly fine artist, and it’s quite noticeable, even if you’re only paying scant attention.
My other point is that I’m now listening to performances, as well as works. (OK, I always did, but the difference between good and ordinary is suddenly much more obvious.)

Solomon Islands

I am impressed that Scomo got the name of the country ‘Solomon Islands’ right.  No ‘the’.
Not so the journalist on ‘the’ ABC News.

Local Invasion Day

Only 2100 – and on a Sunday night – the cop chopper is noise-polluting the night. It used to be after 2200 on a Saturday. Nyoongar kids would steal a car – usually a Commodore – and play a game of chasy with the cops. I used to listen to the commentary when the cops were still using analog on their two-ways. The cops usually caught them, and I suppose they went inside to spend some time with lots of family.
Tonight is a  ‘long weekend’ (for ‘Foundation Day’, when James Stirling nearly arrived here) so I suppose Sunday = Saturday, and the cops get to play with their favourite toy, PolAir1.