Weirdly moody in France

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I’m in a tiny village in the heart of the French Alps. It’s been a kind of lonely time, with my husband gone all day, working on his latest project and me not really speaking French, and kind of having so little to do.

What is boredom, anyway? I always thought boredom was something experiended by people who were too stupid to come up with any ideas….

Everyday I force myself to leave the apartment and do something…. thank God (or whoever is in charge) that today is actually sunny. I can spend most of the day walking without getting wet and miserable. Exercise really helps me to feel good.

I’ve been dwelling on the deaths of both my Mum and my Dad. I keep dreaming about them, too.

A few days ago I read about someone I once cared for who is gravely ill. I keep checking for more news, like, kind of obsessively. It’s not very healthy for me to do that. He has someone in his life to care for him so I don’t need to worry… I have to let it go.

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Contemporary Art- Dominique Ghesquiere

We saw an amazing exhibition yesterday in the beautiful city of Nice, France. I am writing all about it for my PhD… It’s heavy going, because there is not a lot written about this artist, so I have to ‘wing it’.

Other than that, I am partaking of a lot of French food and wine. Time seems tot stand still here. One day blends into the next… Eat, sleep, eat once more!

I wrote almost 400 words today… But this is my first writing in around 2 weeks. I have to lift my game!

On The Road by Jack Kerouac (book review)

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I finally finished “On the Road” and I have to say I loved it. It’s a difficult book to get your head around… The polt isn’t really a plot and the characters aren’t exactly characters, either. It’s the convoluted story of a couple of guys who travel back and forwards across America, mainly because they can.

Always there is this very anxious ambiance of not knowing why things are happening or why the characters seem to care very little about anything or anyone. They are not especially likeable or funny. What drives them…? It’s anyone’s guess. There are no real insights and ultimately nothing is revealed in this novel.

(But isn’t that exactly what youth is like? Mine was, anyway. A whole lot of stuff happens and you don’t necessarily examine it, you just live it. It’s only later that you try to make sense of things, and by then it is too late.)

The protagonist is a sedate fellow named Sal Paradise and his crazy, impulsive best friend is named Dean Moriarty. We get to know so little about them, but somehow this works. I suppose the novel is about some kind of “spiritual” emptiness… It is quite a dark book. It portrays American society as being ‘sad’ – a word that is repeatedly used by Kerouac, and to good effect.

I did feel a great sense of sadness at the emotional emptiness of the lives of the young men portrayed. It seems like the are only ever happy when they are drunk and listening to jazz.

Some of the descriptive sentences are quite beautiful… there were absolutely times during reading this novel when I had to go back and read a sentence over again, because the beauty of its poetry blew me away.

This book will not be to everyone’s taste. But if you are after something different then give it a go, because it’s not quite like anything else you will ever read.

briefly in Dubai…

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We are in Dubai, waiting for our connecting flight. I paid an unknown sum to take a shower at an airport day spa. I feel very relaxed. It seems quieter here than at Melbourne airport!

There are about fifty people opposite me dressed in a colourful national costume which consists of silken robes combined with cotton socks and thongs. A great look, believe me. (Thongs are flip-flops, for those who don’t speak Australian. You wear them on your feet…. Just usually not with socks.)

My university is requesting a form from me that I actually sent them some months ago… I am beginning to doubt the efficiency of the university! Anyway, I resent it and didn’t mention that they should already have it…it must be some kind of mix up. Best not to get on their wrong side.

Update: we are in France! It’s the middle of the night here, but I have jet lag, so I am writing this while my husband sleeps beside me.

The PhD thesis synopsis (so far)

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1. Walking in nature.

My art is influenced by my relationship with nature. I find that I return again and again to the same places, one of which is the forest which looms near my home. Walking there, I cannot deny that my whole being is transformed by feelings of connection to nature; these are feelings I want my art to allow others to experience.

I feel that poetry about nature can also produce such feelings in it’s readers and has an influence on my art.

2. The process of walking itself.

Walking has a history- it is a cultural and social activity. It is also a practical method of transporting the body through space. Walking can allow me to tune into my imagination and become more aware of the subtleties of my surroundings…. surroundings that have an effect of how I feel and therefore the path I choose to walk.

3. Deep Ecology and New Materialism.

The concept of nature has political and cultural significance. It is difficult to define exactly what nature is. Various authors and scholars, and indeed philosophers, have examined our relationship to the natural world and found it suspect.

Human beings want to dominate nature and use natural materials for their benefit, usually at the expense of a healthy planet.

A close examination of quantum physics reveals that everything is deeply connected to everything else, on a physical level, therefore, we cannot really deny that we are ‘part of nature’. By exploiting nature, we are harming ourselves.

4. Eco-Feminism.

Women have been associated with the natural world from the beginning of time. While this might seem quite lovely in many ways… historically, both women and nature have been viewed as passive, and therefore open to exploitation. In continuing to embrace nature as a living, breathing, life-force- are women limiting themselves and rendering themselves passive?

5. Material Feminism and associated theory.

Women are social, cultural, political beings who act independently within the world in myriad ways…. One of the actions women engage with is the process of making art.

Art materials themselves are not inert, as materials also enact ‘agency’, they have certain properties and capacities that allow us to interact with them, but not necessarily ‘govern’ them.

When I produce art, I engage in a social and political practice that involves reciprocal relationships between myself, my materials and the natural environment. These relationships are evolving and changeable and they ultimately express my freedom as an individual woman.

PhD Working Holiday

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In 48 hours we are off to France! It will be a working holiday for me, as I have no choice but to keep writing my PhD thesis. But I’m overjoyed to be escaping the Australian Winter to be and slumming it up in the South of France.

I really have no idea how I am going to pace myself and get the work done, but still, I guess that is a problem a lot of people would love to have!

Spent today packing and re-packing, culling items and rethinking things.

I also discovered today that Karen Barad is coming to Melbourne to give a key-note address at Deakin University’s Anthropocene Campus 2018. This is great news for me as Barad is one of the most important authors in regards to New Materialism, an area of philosophy that I am looking into right now.

You can read more about my efforts trying to understand New Materialism here and here.

(Not that you would want to read all about that… I’m getting paid for it and I don’t even want to read about it all that much.)

Anyway, I’m hoping to be able to attend the Anthropocene conference. The word ‘Anthropocene’ denotes the current age we are all living in. This is not a word I had even heard of, until last year, when I had to begin writing my research proposal…. but we are now living in this new age, an age defined by humans’ dominance of the Earth.

A dominance which has caused plenty of problems for the poor old Earth.

Feminist Dreaming

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We are everywhere! Feminists, I mean. It’s true we may not be obvious – it’s not like we are all getting around wearing overalls and sporting pixie haircuts. That’s what makes us so great… we have infiltrated society and remain unnoticed.

So now we can propagate our feminist agenda on the sly.

Only joking. It’s not like we are an organised group… although we probably should be.

Have you ever noticed how many women complain about the unfair division of domestic labor? Or how many women feel that their opinions are ‘overlooked’ at meetings where there are both men and women present?

Have you noticed how socially, women are compelled to listen to what men have to say, but when a woman speaks, listening seems ‘optional’?

Do you worry about the gender pay gap and what it might mean for future generations? What if a woman doesn’t want to get married (or else ends up divorced) – does that doom her to some kind of ‘gendered’ poverty… where no matter how hard she tries, she will only be worth 80% of a man?

If you are thinking along these lines, then my bet is that you are a feminist, only it’s just not a cool word to use, so you don’t go around identifying yourself as such.

You might just say that you ‘believe in equality’, which is lovely, but it doesn’t get us anywhere at all… because the majority of people believe we have equality already! So therefore nothing will change.

This could well be as good as it gets.

(Image borrowed from Pinterest. Thank you.)