Monthly Archives: March 2005


So I want to start watching more movies. I like movies. Before the weight of the world crushed my spirit, I was going to be a film director when I grew up. I studied cinema for a year at ANU in 2000, and subsequently for four weeks during my recent aborted BA attempt at Melbourne Uni.

Saw Alexander Payne’s Election the other night; it wasn’t as good as I remembered, but I still liked it a lot. Just arranged to go and see his recent Sideways at the Nova on Saturday.

Been thinking about joining Bigpond Movies, which is a local version of Netflix. I like the idea of racking up everything you want to see via a web interface and then having it come to you, rather than just browsing arbitrarily at a video store.

Before that though, there are a couple of movies ripped from borrowed DVDs sitting on my hard disk to be watched: The Hunger, which was my primary school best friend Toby’s favourite movie; and Alexandra’s Project by Rolf de Heer, the amazing Australian director who made Bad Boy Bubby, The Quiet Room and The Tracker, amongst others.

There’s also a video, which has been gathering dust by the teev for a while now, of Harmony Korine‘s dogme effort Julien Donkey Boy. It was never released in this country but I was able to buy it in cruddy pirated form late last year from Polyester in Carlton. Korine’s first feature Gummo is an all-time favourite; I think I’ve been putting off watching JDB because I just know it’s not going to be nearly as good.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Movies

Requiem For A Goldfish

Dead Goldfish

My goldfish Feustus, a Christmas present from my sisters, died while I was at work on Saturday. I don’t know why. He’d seemed a bit unhappy for the last few weeks, but I don’t think he was neglected in any way.

Vale Feustus.

Directly after I took his photo, the display on the camera also died, leaving it capable of taking only pictures of blackness.

I refused to interpret these occurrences as omens.

Four Leaf Clover

1 Comment

Filed under Domestica, Photos

Xulology, Buffalo Operatives & Forthcoming Melbourne Assignment

The Xul Solar 23 phenomenon continues to gather momentum, with a new blog by a Professor Anja Farber, Xulism, dedicated to investigating the shadowy spectre of Solar.

Joining Roger That, tobyesterhase and apparently non-blogging Neuroboard patron Bob the Mediocre, is a fourth new operative in Buffalo, New York: Mr. Urfe.

And the all-seeing Jojo has a scoop about the next Melbourne group assignment.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Neurocam, Weblogs

Doomed Notes Towards A Theory Of Everything

I’ve always been an atheist, although it used to depress me. Then, in my late teens, I was introduced to Richard Dawkins by my then-best friend-slash-bete-noir, the extraordinary Ms Catherine T. Coote, and became a committed secular humanist. “The Blind Watchmaker” was my bible for a while. I liked Dawkins’ style and his no-nonsense philosophical position.

It served me well for a time.

Although I remain a fan of the scientific method, Dawkins’ attitude makes me want to puke these days. He is a smug git, and in many ways every bit as bigoted and dogmatic as the religious types he so witheringly scorns.

We’re all hypocrites to some extent. But he is a hypocrite who seems aggressively blind to his own hypocrisy, and these irritate.

These days, I suppose I could be described as a profound skeptic, or possibly, with certain qualifications, a nihilist.

I have many theories, some of which I rely on to function, but I don’t fundamentally believe in anything at all. I believe in the power of belief. That’s about it.

I’m still figuring out how to exist comfortably and stably within such a framework. It’s more than likely I never will.

Here is a quote from Robert Anton Wilson, who is a very interesting fellow. One of the leading lights of Discordianism, his is a philosophy I can get behind:

I don’t believe anything, but I have many suspicions.

I strongly suspect that a world “external to,” or at least independent of, my senses exists in some sense.

I also suspect that this world shows signs of intelligent design, and I suspect that such intelligence acts via feedback from all parts to all parts and without centralized sovereignity, like [the] Internet; and that it does not function hierarchically, in the style an Oriental despotism, an American corporation or Christian theology.

I somewhat suspect that Theism and Atheism both fail to account for such decentralized intelligence, rich in circular-causal feedback.

I more-than-half suspect that all “good” writing, or all prose and poetry that one wants to read more than once, proceeds from a kind of “alteration in consciousness,” i.e. a kind of controlled schizophrenia. (Don’t become alarmed — I think good acting comes from the same place.)

I sometimes suspect that what Blake called Poetic Imagination expresses this exact thought in the language of his age, and that visits by “angels” and “gods” states it an even more archaic argot.

These suspicions have grown over 72 years, but as a rather slow and stupid fellow I do not have the chutzpah to proclaim any of them as certitudes. Give me another 72 years and maybe I’ll arrive at firmer conclusions.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Philosophica


It’s all good!

That is all.

Leave a Comment

Filed under Uncategorised

So – Now What?

Since I’m not gonna be a student any more (at least not right now – unless I think of something better to do in the interim, I’ll give it another go next year) the question arises: what will I do with myself?

On a practical level I’ll have to defer. The March 31 deadline is fast approaching.

Then, since I won’t be eligible for Austudy any more, I’ll have to get another job. I have some reserves and one casual job (which is so cruddy I’m disinclined to talk about it, even here). But that only nets me about $300 a fortnight, not nearly enough to live on. A separate post about that may be in order, I think.

First, though, I’m going home to Canberra for a visit. I haven’t been back since I moved in November, and it will be interesting to see what it feels like to go ‘home’. Also, marking this turning point with a temporary change of setting seems like the thing to do.

On a more fundamental level, what I’m going to do is FUCKING RELAX. I haven’t really been able to relax in so long. I’ve missed it so much.

If necessary, I’ll worry about practical problems as and when they emerge. But I’ve resolved to STOP worrying constantly – about the past, the future, other people, about my lack of an Identity, about the State Of My Life etc etc blah blabbity blah BLAH. To stop taking everything so excrutiatingly seriously all the time – and try enjoy just being alive as much as I can.

I’m going to keep going to the gym regularly, and learning to drive, which I started doing a few weeks ago.

I’m going to continue persuing my involvement in Neurocam, and blogging about it.

I’m going to photos with the unwanted old digital camera my sister gave me the other day.

I’m going to read books and watch movies.

I’d previously not felt as though I had time to do those last two things. I’ve been reading a bit, but at a farcically slow rate (I’m currently less that halfway through “The Magus”, which I picked up on the 15th of Feb), because of an inability to concentrate on anything so trivial as reading a book. Prior to starting school, it was because I was constantly distracted by a nagging voice in my head saying “Why are you WASTING VALUABLE TIME reading this trivial book (slash-taking this trivial bath-slash-talking to this trivial person-slash-doing this trivial grocery shopping-slash-[insert whatever I was doing here]) – YOU HAVE TO FIGURE OUT WHAT TO DO ABOUT YOUR LIFE!!” Since I started school it’s been all the uni work I should have been doing that’s distracted me instead. And when I was studying, it was all the other studying I wasn’t doing that distracted me. God it’s been horrible.

Since my epiphany, I’ve recognised this mindset for the entirely malevolent influence that it is. These sorts of thoughts may still emerge from time to time, but I feel at liberty now to tell them to fuck off. It’s incredibly liberating. I’ll be able to just, y’know, enjoy reading a book. It’s gonna be great.

A lot of my reading and movie watching, will probably revolve rediscovering material that I’ve previously loved or found important, and seeing what it means to me now, if anything.

I’m going to have fun being in the moment and doing what I want to do – but hopefully, in the process, discovering a new way (or new ways) to be. That sounds so pretentious. I’ve become very pretentious.

And, finally, I’m going to blog about all of this. This blog will be a document of my active development of a new self. Although it will serve as an outlet for reflection and the autopsying of old selves as well – in a more tangible, contained, and hopefully productive a way than just going over things in my head endlessly endlessly endlessly, as I’d been doing previously and torturously and most unproductively.

The blogging may involve a certain amount of autobiographical digging over the past, self-anal-isis and introspection, and also classically bloglike day-to-day banality about food and domestica and assorted trifles. I make no apologies for this. I hope to attract some readers – this is, after all, another reaching-out-to-the-world exercise – but I won’t be writing with the objective of pleasing an audience. Any audience who may happen to read this: consider yourself warned.

I reserve the right to change my mind about anything I may say here, and to contradict myself as much as I feel like.


Filed under Life

Introduction, Part the 5th: Epiphany

Having resolved to withdraw from my course, I felt an overwhelming sense of relief followed by a significant epiphany – I realised I’d transmuted all of my vague, amorphous angst about what I should be Doing About My Life (but wasn’t), into concrete, specific anxiety about work I should be doing for uni (but wasn’t, or at least not rigorously enough). In eliminating the latter by deciding to withdraw, I’d also, at least temporarily, eliminated the burden of the former.

I didn’t have anything to worry about anymore. I felt free, for the first time in maybe a year. I felt happy. I felt like I was existing in the present moment, rather than trapped within a suffocatingly rigid mental structure that I couldn’t possibly escape from.

I was reminded of the ultimate, liberating truth that I’d become terribly afraid of – because I saw it as being what had gotten me into this mess in the first place: all of this shit dragging me down was (just like.. whisper it.. everything else I perceive) a creation of my own mind.

My mind, which belongs to me. Mine.

I could choose to let it all go. I could relax.

Paradigm shift. Breakthrough.

The world changed.

My god it was beautiful.

Intense mental reshuffling ensued. In a wired, sleep-deprived, half-drunken state on Thursday night, I scrawled the following notes:

Nothing I do will ever be enough for what? For WHAT? You stupid boy – you have (and it’s a bit of a habit, isn’t it?) trapped YOURSELF within a recursive mental structure, which has locked your brain up almost completely, and caused you to lose sight of what life is really about – which is to say, the active, fluid, open-ended process of actually living it.

You must accept that you have been clinging desperately to the identity of a person who is dead, staring out of the eyes of a dead person. You must accept that you’ve done this to yourself. And you must stop. All you need to do this is to know that you can. And you can.

You, the person writing these words right now, is NOT DEAD. The person writing these words is 28 years old and their life is not over. It’s recognisable as still just beginning. And although that’s kind of dysfunctional, it’s a hell of a fuckload better than being dead. Isn’t it? Isn’t it? Think it fucking is.

You have a past, but it’s finished. Over and done. It’s yours and you must accept that – but it isn’t YOU. It isn’t who you are. You are a living, breathing entity. You are an open-ended system. You are an ongoing concern. You are a work in progress.

You may not have the first idea who you are, but you can start finding out, and doing that can be a fun, vital, creative endeavour. And it can begin here, now. Fucking believe it.

Okay. That’s more than enough earnest, self-indulgent, self-obsessed drivel for the moment.

Observation: there’s a personality characteristic for you right there, no-self boy: YOU ARE INSANELY SELF-OBSESSED. It’s only natural: you are recognisable as going through a second childhood, of sorts. But work on that. Persue this whole construct-a-new-identity thing, for sure. But don’t take it too goddamn seriously. And make a major plank of it a resolution to LOOK OUTWARDS MORE. For your own sake, and everyone else’s. It’s so much more interesting.

Leave a Comment

Filed under History

Introduction, Part the 4th: The Uni-Precipitated Meltdown

My course at Melbourne Uni started at the beginning of March, four weeks ago.

I’d been looking forward to it, but at the same time felt enormously uncertain. About whether I could find the self-discipline to make a go of it. About whether it was really what I wanted to be doing. And uncertain about how, given how much of my time and energy was already consumed with simply coping (after a fashion), I would manage the workload.

I wondered whether I was just kidding myself in imagining that it was a realistic thing to attempt at my present juncture.

I enjoyed the furniture of it all. Buying stationary, going to lectures. Being a Student. But my fears were well-founded; by the end of Week 3 was falling behind and starting to panic. By the middle of Week 4, I was becoming a nervous wreck.

I decided, after some soul-searching, to withdraw, or at least defer until next year.

It felt surprisingly good.

Leave a Comment

Filed under History

Introduction, Part the 3rd: Neurocam

In late December, via a thread on Metafilter, I heard about the mysterious organisation known as Neurocam. A more detailed account of this can be found here. (My Neurocam-commissioned perception assessment provides a good reflection of my headspace at around that time.)

In my response to the item in their initial questionnaire which asked “What are your expectations of Neurocam?”, I wrote:

I have no concrete expectations. The Age article was intriguing, and had me chasing down myriad online trails trying to get a better handle on the whole thing, which was entertaining and intrigued me even more.

Given the substantial number of new signups one presumes Neurocam has received recently, I reckon it’s unlikely I’ll be selected as an operative. If I am, maybe the assignments will help add some colour to my currently rather lacklustre existence. Maybe I’ll be kidnapped and horribly tortured by ruthless sociopaths, which would make for an entertaining dinner party anecdote or two. Maybe my involvement with Neurocam will help me to gain greater self-knowledge, and ultimately crack the baffling puzzlebox of my own tortured psyche. Maybe it’ll drive me hopelessly insane.

Perhaps I will discover that time, the self, physical matter, and everything else that goes into making up this shallow world of forms in which we all naively “believe” “we” “live” is nothing but an illusion, engineered by intelligent machines as a power source. Woah.

Perhaps not.

Who knows?

Although I worried (and still, in more paranoid moments, continue to worry) that they might be some kind of predatory cult, I was – and still am – inclined to believe that Neurocam is an art project, and on reflection what really attracted me to it was the suggestion that involvement in Neurocam could serve as a vehicle for self-discovery. From Marc Moncrief’s Neurocam article in The Age:

“Have you read The Magus?” he [Neurocam Operations head Charles Hastings] asked.

The Magus, originally titled The Godgame, is a novel by British author John Fowles. In it, English teacher Nicholas Urfe travels to a Greek island where he meets the mysterious, androgynous Conchis, who teaches Urfe about himself through a series of illusions – games apparently without purpose – that challenge Urfe’s perceptions of reality and ask him to commit himself completely to tasks he does not understand.

“Neurocam is an unveiling,” Hastings said. “That is all you need to know.”

An unveiling of what? “That depends on the person.”

(I was also attracted by the possibility – speculated upon by, for example, operatives Lady J and Kybalion – that they might be a recruiting front for an esoteric order. I’ve thought a lot about attempting to join such a group, having had some experience in the field, albiet primarily of the self-initiatory kind. Here, in the first of what will probably be an online purging of many old documents, is a link to the magickal diary I kept throughout the second half of 2003, documenting my third adventure into the strange and – as I’ve learned – potentially ruinous mental realm that Robert Anton Wilson calls ‘Chapel Perilous’.)

Joining Neurocam also provided an excellent excuse to start a blog of my own.

I called it “Trysting Fields”, which might not necessarily be considered significant. Derived from my traditional Favourite Movie Of All Time, Peter Greenaway‘s Drowning By Numbers, it’s a name I’ve used a lot. It’s what I’ve called every hard disk I’ve ever owned. I have an old, abandoned blog from 2002 also called this (which is still out there somewhere – I’ve lost the password and can’t delete it. Finding this is left as an exercise for the reader.) I’ve written a song called this, and it’s the name of the second album by my imaginary band, The Teigans.

But I think my use of this title so incongruously, for a blog intended to document my involvement with Neurocam, reflected the other thing I was hoping to get out of it: a sense of community. I’d previously gained a lot from my involvement in another online community (which is another story for another time) and I suppose I wanted to see if I could leverage Neurocam for a degree of social engagement. Sad, I know. But it does seem to have delivered in that regard; it’s gotten me communicating and engaging with other people to an extent that six months previously I’d never have imagined I’d be able to do again.

In a wider sense, it got me thinking about ideas and focussing with some genuine interest on things beyond the dank four walls of my own brain.

Leave a Comment

Filed under History, Neurocam

Introduction, Part the 2nd: December in Melbourne (Nothing I Could Do Would Ever Be Enough)

So – I moved to Melbourne. And the challenge and the new setting were energising. But December, my first full month, was still unremittingly awful. I felt small and alone and ripped out of context. I suspected that I was likely to go insane, in a really, really bad way.

(I’ve arguably ‘gone insane’ before, but although these periods have been enormously disruptive, and damaged some of my relationships quite badly, they’ve also been extremely powerful experiences which provided me with insights and perspectives that couldn’t have been acquired any other way. They may have contributed to my subsequent ruin, but even so I’m glad to have had them. No doubt there will be more about this at some point in the future – although it’s an area I find frustratingly difficult to talk about.)

I still felt nothing had been ‘resolved’, and that this procluded any kind of ability to live a meaningful life. The sense that what I really needed to do was bite the bullet and commit suicide followed me everywhere I went. (Jesus. It gets chirpier, I promise. Trust me, I’m going somewhere with this.) But I wasn’t allowed to do that. So there wasn’t anything I could do. Nothing I could do would ever be enough. This became my new mantra. Nothing I can do now will ever be enough. It beat being a VCR funeral of dead memory waste. But it was far from ideal.

What did I do in December? It’s a big grey blur. I took up a paid volunteer administrative position at beyondblue – partly because I’d previously been involved with them via a contract to develop their communications strategy scored by my old employer, a PR company also contracted by the byzantine beauracratic nightmare that men (and women too, naturally) call the Federal Department of Health. Partly because their CEO is a friend of my mother’s. Partly because I have, at times in the past, identified as a person ‘suffering from Depression’. Partly because they were willing to pay me $15 an hour without the responsibility of being a proper Employee.

It was crap, for all sorts of reasons. I felt dirty being there because the ‘blue is basically a cheersquad for psychiatry, an institution which I’ve come to regard with almost total skepticism and no little contempt. Being constantly surrounded by chirpy, brightly coloured promo material wittering about the eminent ‘treatability’ of depression (and just having to see the word everywhere, all the time) whilst trapped in a seemingly inescapable private hell was not much fun. Nothing was.

I did read Dave Eggers’ “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius” – lent to me with enthusiastic recommendations by a friend several months earlier – and liked it enormously. I found its theme of confessional-autobiography-as-skin-shedding-exercise inspiring, in an abstract sort of way. It seemed like a successful attempt to do what I’d tried, and failed, to convince myself I should do in the latter part of last year.

I spent most of my spare time aimlessly surfing the web. Mostly, I read blogs. I was fascinated by the opportunity they provided to peek through the window of a computer screen into other people’s lives. Feeling that I didn’t have a life of my own – didn’t know how to live – they were recognisable as a form of research. And feeling pretty much totally cut off from other people in any interactive sense, they provided me some voyeuristic relief from loneliness.

Ideas about starting one of my own were scuppered by a sense that I had nothing to say which I’d want anyone else to hear. I felt inadmissable to the world. If I’d started a blog, it would have either been a horrible, endless, angstridden whingefest, or be indistinguishable from the sort of material produced by the Apathetic Online Journal Entry Generator.

No good at all.

Leave a Comment

Filed under History

Introduction, Part the 1st: I Was A VCR Funeral Of Dead Memory Waste

Here’s a starting point. It may seem a bit melodramatic. Bear with me; I really don’t know what I’m doing here. But I’m trying to be sincere.

About eight months ago, after a strange and difficult few years – the details of which may be revealed here over time, I guess – I reached a uniquely comprehensive personal nadir. I felt psychologically disemboweled; like my entire identity had finally dissolved down to nothing. I’d seen through everything, and recognised it as illusory. I’d lost the ability to believe in anything at all. I had a sense that I’d been completely excommunicated from the world, from any tangible sense of myself, and consequently from any ability to act, form opinions, or relate meaningfully to other people.

To the extent that I was able identify with a self, it was one which horrified and disgusted me, and I wanted absolutely nothing to do with it.

I was a VCR funeral of dead memory waste.

I spend the next few months drifting like a ghost, drowning in a sea of memories retained from former selves, none of whom were me anymore. My life was over; my body and my cognitive processes just hadn’t caught up with it yet. I’ve felt lost before – indeed, historically I have felt that way to some degree more often than not, especially over the last five years – but this time it really seemed terminal.

Since I’d decided that I was not allowed to kill myself, I obsessed over what I could DO about this. I tore myself to pieces thinking about it. I considered undertaking some kind of grand autobiographical project, to help me reconstruct an integrated self-narrative, and consequently a viable sense of identity. But the prospect seemed hopelessly overwhelming. And I couldn’t convince myself that any honest account of my own history wouldn’t ultimately conclude with the protagonist being reduced to a broken, burnt-out shell.

In hindsight, I can now see that I did have a sense of self during that period, but it was an intolerable one. It consisted almost entirely of an indefinable, all-encompassing Problem trying desperately to resolve itself, coupled with an underlying awareness that this was impossible.

I ostensibly gave up on the idea that there was anything I could do about the situation. In late November, heavily coached and assisted by my family, I moved cities, from my native Canberra to Melbourne, took up digs in St. Kilda, and enrolled in a BA at the University of Melbourne.

I liked the idea of being a Student, and liked that it would enable me to give a convincing answer when queried as to what the hell I was doing with my life.

The challenge of relocating and functioning more independently, and the novelty of a new setting were good for me. But I hadn’t really moved on. My sense of being in an existential crisis devolved into a more mundane, but still hugely debilitating, depression. I was still almost totally paralysed psychologically. I was still turned almost totally inward, unable to connect with other people except on the most superficial levels. Almost all of my time and energy were still consumed by a constant, nagging, all-pervasive sense that time had stopped, and would continue to be on pause until I could figure out What The Hell To Do About Everything, along with a crushing awareness that there wasn’t, actually, Anything I Could Do.

Although I was conscious, able to sustain myself as a person in a technical sense, and had resolved at least on the surface to try and move forward and make the best of things, the subtext that My Life Was Over continued to underpin everything which I did and experienced.

It was no good at all.

Leave a Comment

Filed under History

Happy Easter

I feel like I should kick this thing off with a manifesto-type statement, or by setting the scene with a bit of a background narrative, but it’s difficult to know how or where to start.

Like VUE victim Grastled Fallusson, I have invented so much fiction about myself that it’s hard to vouch for any version of my biography.

And that, I suppose, is what this is all about.


Filed under Uncategorised