Thursday, December 01, 2011

Before the carpet comes up

I've been, by my modest standards, a bit of a social butterfly this week: after launching my book Feeding the Gods on Sunday, I squeezed into a room at the New Zealand Film Archive offices on Monday night to watch Tongan Ark, Paul Janman's documentary film about the 'Atenisi Institute, and to join some Tongan and palangi intellectuals and artists in a discussion about the thought of Heraclitus, the impact of globalisation on Tonga, and Okusi Mahina's ta va theory of space and time (there'll be more previews of Tongan Ark over coming weeks - I'll keep you posted).

I'd love to post a report on Paul's film and the debate which followed it, but I have to evacuate this room in a few minutes because Skyler has, out of some instinct which is alien to me (is it a sort of semi-conscious, and therefore misdirected, archaeological curiosity?), decided that the carpets in our house need to be pulled up. Hopefully, order will have been restored to our home and to our relationship by the weekend.

In the meantime, here are a few photographs from the launch of my book and Bronwyn Lloyd's collection of short stories The Second Location. A couple of the images show Paul Janman and me playing a modified form of monopoly with a map of the South Pacific and a few fragments of poetry. Working in the tradition of Jack Ross and the young Bruce Springsteen, Paul and I rolled dice and moved our tokens - he got the racing car, while I had to settle, as usual, for the thimble - over a series of landscapes which appeared in my book, moving from Antarctica, through Pig Island and Outback Australia, to Tongatapu, where the last poem in the volume ends.

As we passed through different landscapes, Paul and I asked a series of 'psychogeographic' questions of the audience, and handed people who bellowed the correct answers copies of books by Titus or, even better, CDs of interviews with such Titus-related luminaries as Ted Jenner, Richard Taylor, and Michael Arnold. I've reproduced some of our questions below.
Question: how many previously unclimbed South Island mountains did the proto-psychogeographic writer and self-confessed 'hillman' John Pascoe ascend on his weekends and holiday breaks in the 1930s?

a) 2
b) 3
c) 25

Question: Which New Zealand Prime Minister was also an enthusiastic member of the British Israelite movement?

a) William Massey
b) Keith Holyoake
c) Geoffrey Palmer Question: how many Portage Roads are there in Auckland?

a) 2
b) 3
c) 27 Question: what ancient artefact was found at Muriwai Beach two summers ago?

a) a waka tiwai
b) a flying saucer
c) a Celtic observatory
d) Allen Curnow's pipe

Question: which people introduced the camel to the Australian Outback?

a) the Dutch
b) the Barkindji
c) the Afghans

Question: when asked by Richard Taylor to name the characteristics of West Coast poetry, Leicester Kyle gave which of the following one word answers?

a) coal
b) watercress
c) homebrew

Question: which political activist and archaeologist divided his time between protesting against militarism and cataloguing World War Two-era archaeological phenomena like tank traps around Kawhia Harbour?

Question: why was Jacky Marmon reputed to have asked to be buried on top of one of the high hills overlooking the Hokianga harbour?

Question: when did the ferry service between Auckland and Paeroa end?

Question: what is the Tongan word for Hawai'iki?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

who dat dog?

1:26 pm  
Blogger Dr Jack Ross said...

The dog is Olive, Michele's seeing-eye companion ...

Great post, Scott! I particularly like that shot of you leading the little children ...

Good to have pics of Farrell & Paul & of the famous map, too.

9:30 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

biologically, all humans belong to ONE RACE—we are all descendants of Adam and Eve. (Acts 17:26; 1 Corinthians 15:45; Genesis 3:20). There is no such thing biologically as a so called ‘interracial couple’ or ‘interracial marriage.’ There is an ‘interracial’ marriage the Bible speaks against—when the two ‘SPIRITUAL races’ marry—a non-Christian and a Christian—and that’s the ONLY ‘interracial marriage’ the Bible so clearly teaches against! It is so sad when people in the church adopt such an unbilical position claiming falsely that a couple who have different shades of skin color (every human has the same color—just differing shades) and/or come from different cultures constitutes an ‘interracial relationship.’ This is nonsense. Those in the church who claim there is such a thing as a biological ‘interracial couple’ need to repent before a Holy God.”

5:03 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

10:19 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

So, with an expensively sick car, I wasn’t in a great mood for exploring, but I also did get to see some interesting sights and places.
(More anon.)

Also in New Plymouth, talking of maps, I picked up a facsimile of Cook's original map of NZ for $1 in New Plymouth op Shop.

Also in an interesting art, junk, artifacts, books and "so on" shop I found Chris Trotter's very interesting looking book 'No Left Turn' and got a good deal on it as I had a chat with the owner about politics and so on...) (I read the into down there. Chris Trotter writes very very well.)

(I also read some stories of Bronwyn's. They are indeed very good - brilliant in many cases and do bear re-reading (those I have read so far.)

10:27 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

But people really enjoyed the "quiz" you and Paul did. Once I was addicted to "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire."!

But what is the answer to this one?

Q. why was Jacky Marmon reputed to have asked to be buried on top of one of the high hills overlooking the Hokianga harbour?

I read the book about Jacky Marmon but I can't recall why he was reputed to have asked to be buried there.

His grave hasn't been found I think. It was the subject of a poem or poems by Smithyman.

10:42 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

Re camels it was Robyn Davidson's book "Tracks" I read. Fascinating book.

10:47 pm  
Anonymous floating voter said...

Hey Richard - the Anglo-Saxon language from which English is derived is a West German language related to Frisian and lasted only until Chaucer's time (12th century). We see this in Beowulf: "Hwæt! wē Gār-Dena in ġeār-dagum" (What! We of Gare-Danes in old days). This old english had cases just like other Indo-European languages

Then you have Chaucer's Middle English "Whan that Aprill, with his shoures soote, the droghte of March hath perced to the roote" until Shakespeare's Early Modern English in the 1600s and then Modern English in the late 1800s

There is a major change between Old English and Middle English -- this is due to the influence of French or rather Gallo. English lost its genders for inanimate objects and much of its cases. This was exacerbated in Early Modern English and in Modern English we've altered spellings, meanings etc.

English is changing into various English languages now.

Just for your info...

11:14 pm  
Blogger Richard said...

"floating voter" - yes I knew something of that I once read a book about the history the English language. But thanks for your amplification, very interesting.

I don't know Old English but have heard tapes and records of Chaucer and have read quite bit of his work.

In fact that line you quote I think is (or begins) [remmebering as you would know that the wh~=f]:

'Whan that April with its shours swete breath...' (from memory) and I am not sure but I think that is possibly why T S Eliot begins The Waste Land as he does:

APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering 5
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.
Summer surprised us, coming over the Starnbergersee
With a shower of rain; we stopped in the colonnade,
And went on in sunlight, into the Hofgarten,

But I can see the change you mentioned. I wish I had studied Old and Middle English more at University (I did other subjects and have studied it on my own bat since)... but I agree, all languages evolve and mutate.

As Laurie Anderson sang or wrote (and W Burroughs) and probably Kathy Acker (de facto) :

"Language it's a virus'
Is exactly like
Where you are right now
Only much much

I saw this guy on the train
And he seemed to have gotten stuck
In one of those abstract trances.
And he was going: "Ugh . . . Ugh . . . Ugh . . . "

And Fred said:
l think he's in some kind of pain.I think it's a pain cry.
And I said: "Pain cry?
Then language is a virus."

Language! It's a virus!
Language! It's a virus!

(Laurie Anderson lyrics...sung more recently by Beyonce)

Cheers, RT.

12:16 am  
Blogger Richard said...

The other reason is that Ezra Pound actually edited pages and pages out of his original poem and urged Eliot start with:

"April is the cruelest month.."

So in sense the poem was a collaboration, a co-creation: written by Eliot and Pound together - and indeed by Eliot's wife Vivian whose personal influence and inspiration to and on Eliot is much more than is presumed by many.

But our language was indeed pushed along by such as Chaucer who mixes French (old and Middle I presume) derived words, Anglo Saxon, and the Latinate.

And of course History plays a part also in this process of language development etc.

12:26 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Fucking hell look at this

12:48 pm  
Blogger Paul Janman said...

Tongan Ark will have its World Premiere as part of the New Zealand International Film Festival at Sky City Theatre on August 4th at 4.15 pm.

Included is a live performance by the 'Atenisi Foundation for Performing Arts and a free panel discussion, performance and drinks at the Civic Wintergarden afterwards. Tickets go on sale this Friday. Discounted group bookings are available.

Follow us on facebook:

See also the Tongan Ark website:

Hope to see you all there. Malo! Paul

10:09 am  

Post a Comment

<< Home