Monday, 20 October 2008

Outrageous if true

No opt-out of filtered Internet
Policy to be set after trial

Australians will be unable to opt-out of the government's pending Internet content filtering scheme, and will instead be placed on a watered-down blacklist, experts say.

Under the government's $125.8 million Plan for Cyber-Safety, users can switch between two blacklists which block content inappropriate for children, and a separate list which blocks illegal material.

 blog it

On reflection

After years of scraping together money to keep myself and family afloat(ish) I've decided to go back to my old penurious ways and devote time to reflection as I used to do. It's a hard decision in hard times but without time one cannot continue to be a poet, and if I am anything at all, that's all I am. After years of being ruled by money, in however small amounts, it's difficult to adjust to the regimen of reading and reflection and thinking without guilt about the treadmill. Reflection begins to feel 'undisciplined' - one's mind has become used to the constant distraction of activity and to the inanition of task and deadline. Instead of being the secondary offshoots of the main occupation, they can take over your entire world.

Today I am reading, thinking, writing. And tonight, when I have finished reading, I will do the necessary literary tasks.

Sunday, 19 October 2008

The Travels of Ibn Battutah

I bought Tim Mackingtosh-Smith's version of The Travels of Ibn Battutah in Dubai on the way home from Turkey and am now deep into it, following maps (and endnotes) and relating it to where I've visited in Morocco, Egypt, Jordan and Turkey. It's a strangely put together travel tale - missing the sorts of things that the contemporary travel writer would include - and including things that most contemporary travellers could/would not. He was a qadi and invited to meet sultans, kings and sometimes queens.

It's distant and impersonal but fascinating for the insight it gives you into how things operated. It's one thing to go to a today and another read of it in 1325-55. Apart from the 'I know that castle' effect, the work is interesting for the sensibility which is particular to the man and the insight to the upper ranks of the cultures though which he moved.

Some of it is plainly fabrication - famously, his description of the pyramids, but it draws you on. The mysterious people of the Darkness, questions which you know will not be answered (what happened to the wife, where to the slave girls disappear to), place names which seem to have no equivalence, the description of Baghdad which seems recent (once beautiful, rich, but now wrecked).

Ibn Battutah went to Quniyah (Konya) and to the resting place of Rumi (Jalal al-Din) - his gloss is a bit less reverent version of returning after seeking Shamsi:
Subsequently he came back to the, after many years, but he had become demented would speak only in Persian rhymed couplets which no one could understand. His disciples used to follow him and write down that poetry as it issued from him, and they collected it into a book called the Mathnawi. [Mesnevi]

I'm in Turkestan and Afghanistan now. Don't blame me if I don't answer your emails. I'm reading.

Adelaide reading

16th Reading OCTOBER 21st
Aidan Coleman
Ken Bolton
Jill Jones
Kyriaki Maragozidis
Simon Robb

9 Anster St., Adelaide
(off Waymouth at the King William end, near FAD nightclub)

7.30 for a prompt 8 PM start
Price $5