Saturday, March 25, 2017

Storytime

There's a cafe around the corner that I don't like. Never been in it. Still don't like it. It has that whitewashed wall, lots of glass, black metal shelving, slightly ... not quite hipster but sorta aesthetic. It's become, over the past few years, incredibly common. In Auckland at least.

It's not, I think (hope) that fact that it's common that bugs me. Though the level of pretentiousness that often comes associated with it is alarming. Which in turn, engenders the rather depressing statement that that generalization is, in itself, quite pretentious <sighs>. The thing that I think bothers me about it is an association with newness. More and more I find myself not liking new things. By which I mean physical things. New physical objects. I quite like doing new things, learning about how to do new things. Actual physical objects though, generally speaking, no.

I'm beginning to wonder how much of this aversion is due to the lack of a story. There's always a story for things like the new cafe, but it's so often a pat little marketing story about a person deciding to do something cool. If you sit in a cafe that been knocked around the edges a bit, you can see that the place stories, live has happened there. The little marketing story may be a story about how a place came to be, but the place itself doesn't have stories. Those styley whitewashed walls, to me the feel like they're actively trying to prevent stories from happening, they're clean, sterile.

This in turn makes me wonder about the effect of popular culture on my view of the world. I tend to read a lot of sci-fi. Movies that aren't to deep and don't make you think about the shitty things going on in the world, which paradoxically, when you think about them a bit, let you question all the shitty things going in the world. In a noticeable proportion of these things, especially the movies, the story doesn't usually take place in the clean, tidy, fashionably sterile parts of the world. Those places may be where the story climaxes, often as those places are destroyed, but the stories themselves take place out in the world, in the slums, in the wild, in the in between places.

More and more, I stop and look at the world as a story, or a bunch of intertwined stories. Polished whitewashed walls with no stories interrupt that view.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Tired, stale politics.

Jacinda Adern wins the Mt Albert by-election with a landslide. Surprise, surprise. Whilst Adern is one of the few Labour politicians that I still have a modicum of hope for (there's really not very many left), I think the landslide nature of the win is unfortunate. Not in the least surprising, but unfortunate.

In the longer term it reinforces the notion that for an MP to aspire to leadership roles, an electorate seat is required. It's one of those annoying hangovers from FPP politics that still hasn't gone a away, like the party with the largest share should automatically get to form the government even if it's less that 50%. Or that not running a candidate in a particular seat so as to not split a vote and let an allied party gin the seat is somehow underhanded rather than y'know, basically common sense. Holding an electorate seat can make elections less risky for a politician. That's not a good thing though. If you're an under performing MP, you should get the boot regardless of whether you're on the list or holding an electorate.

In the nearer term, I can see it being spun, by Labour at least, as a vindication of the current state of Labour. Which is depressing. The recent acquisition of rape apologist Willie Roast Busters Jackson* to Labours ranks suggests to me, that it's a party without ideas, with no ability to look forward.  it suggests a party that doesn't think it has anyone worthwhile coming up in the ranks, so that it has to go back to the same old tired politicians that have fucked up in the past. A by-election in a safe seat shouldn't have been used as a reward for long-service or pander to those who think an electorate seat MP is more valuable, more worthy than a list MP. It should have been used to showcase some new talent the party thought was worthwhile. Instead, as worthwhile as Adern may be, we get stuck with the same ol' same ol.


*yeah, he apologized, but seriously, do you really want someone who's dense and out of touch enough that they'd make victim blaming comments in the first place? 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Local politics

Everything is political. Even not participating in politics is a political act. To me, this is an incredibly basic concept, I look on in terror at people who refuse to acknowledge this.

I'm currently in the market for a workshop. I've spent the past year or so as part of teams building large pieces of art and I've grown quite fond of having a decently kitted out workshop within a few minutes of home. The workshop that I've been using I'm stepping back from, for a number of reasons*.
There is a community workshop a few minutes walk away in a different direction that I wandered down to have a look at a couple of weeks ago. It was closed, but there was an old codger pottering around who seemed a nice enough chap for a bit. He did have a habit of talking for a bit to long - talking about houses eventually turned into a mildly racist dig at people from China buying houses here in Auckland. And comments about the construction of a table revealed a bit of old school sexism (it was built by a woman would you believe? who's also a carpenter!) that didn't sit particularly well. Friends who know people involved in the workshop/community hub tell me that even before it's all open to the public that there's internal politics at play.

All of this I have to take into account with what I'm doing over the next year or so. I'm definitely stepping back from one thing. Do I launch myself into the maelstrom of dealing with a new bunch of people with their own foibles?

Every interaction you have with other people colors how you see the world. Every time you do something, it's political. How does one deal with people when you're trying to do small things? How does that affect the world. How does one deal with people when you're trying to make the world a better place?


*There's politics for you right there. 

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Doing things you don't know how to do.

I was recently asked to write a post for a blog about my experiences as part of and leading crews for large art projects. Something to do with the positive experiences, the camaraderie and the learning of new skills etc, to inspire people to get off their behinds and launch themselves into new and exciting projects.

I declined. There are a number of reasons, most of which I'm having trouble articulating. One of these reasons is the fact that I launched myself into the various projects I've been involved with over the past year or so, primarily because I thought they sounded cool at the time. Not from any overwhelming desire to improve myself or overcome some hurdle that I thought was stopping me. I suspect this means that I'm not entirely comfortable exhorting people to enter into large projects for these reasons.

The one problem I have when I'm turning this over in my head is that I realize, intellectually speaking, that I have a certain amount of confidence when launching myself into things that I have no idea how to do, that I will be able to learn how to do whatever it is. Maybe not to an expert level, but at least to a moderate level of competency. It's not an explicit confidence, it's more of a ... it never occurs to me that I won't be able to learn something to a moderate (or minimally sufficient) level of skill, so I just steam roll on ahead. I also realize that not everyone has this sort of confidence. I just don't get it.

As in, I understand that not everyone has that sort of confidence, but when I try to put myself in the position of someone who thinks like that, it confuses me. I'm pretty sure most people can learn the basics of a new skill if they wanted to. Despite the fact that there are almost certainly a myriad of reasons why people shrink from tasks that they don't already know how to do, from my point of view, it feels like sheer bloody mindedness on their part holding them back.


Saturday, February 4, 2017

The meaning of words

Might. As in maybe. If I say I might go to an event, don't act all surprised if I turn up, after all, I said I might be there. And don't get all disappointed if I don't turn up. After all, I only said I might be there.

I hate that people use might/maybe as a way supposedly polite way of saying no. After all, we have a number of perfectly polite ways of saying no already. Such as "no thanks" or "not today thanks"

<sighs>