“C” is for Cixous

Cixous was part of a generation of theorists on the rise during the turbulent 1960s. Her peers and colleagues at this time were Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, Roland Barthes, Julia Kristeva, and a host of others teaching in universities across France. She was especially close to Derrida, also born in Algeria of Jewish background. Cixous’s literary theory was boldly innovative, as were her fiction and drama. In all of her writings, she resists the patriarchal power behind Western philosophical and theoretical traditions. “The Laugh of the Medusa” (1975) and Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing (1990) articulate her critique of these traditions and advocate an alternative discourse form, ÉCRITURE FEMININE (feminine writing, writing the body).

References

Gregory Castle, The Blackwell Guide to Literary Theory, (Oxford; Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishers, 2007), 207-208

Merry Christmas

Christmas 2018 (17 Tevet 5779)

Matthew 2

Now when Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judaea in the days of Herod the king, behold, there came wise men from the east to Jerusalem,

Saying, Where is he that is born King of the Jews? for we have seen his star in the east, and are come to worship him.

When Herod the king had heard these things, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him.

And when he had gathered all the chief priests and scribes of the people together, he demanded of them where Christ should be born.

And they said unto him, In Bethlehem of Judaea: for thus it is written by the prophet,

And thou Bethlehem, in the land of Juda, art not the least among the princes of Juda: for out of thee shall come a Governor, that shall rule my people Israel.

Then Herod, when he had privily called the wise men, enquired of them diligently what time the star appeared.

And he sent them to Bethlehem, and said, Go and search diligently for the young child; and when ye have found him, bring me word again, that I may come and worship him also.

When they had heard the king, they departed; and, lo, the star, which they saw in the east, went before them, till it came and stood over where the young child was.

10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceeding great joy.

11 And when they were come into the house, they saw the young child with Mary his mother, and fell down, and worshipped him: and when they had opened their treasures, they presented unto him gifts; gold, and frankincense and myrrh.

12 And being warned of God in a dream that they should not return to Herod, they departed into their own country another way.

13 And when they were departed, behold, the angel of the Lord appeareth to Joseph in a dream, saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and flee into Egypt, and be thou there until I bring thee word: for Herod will seek the young child to destroy him.

14 When he arose, he took the young child and his mother by night, and departed into Egypt:

15 And was there until the death of Herod: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken of the Lord by the prophet, saying, Out of Egypt have I called my son.

16 Then Herod, when he saw that he was mocked of the wise men, was exceeding wroth, and sent forth, and slew all the children that were in Bethlehem, and in all the coasts thereof, from two years old and under, according to the time which he had diligently inquired of the wise men.

17 Then was fulfilled that which was spoken by Jeremiah the prophet, saying,

18 In Rama was there a voice heard, lamentation, and weeping, and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children, and would not be comforted, because they are not.

19 But when Herod was dead, behold, an angel of the Lord appeareth in a dream to Joseph in Egypt,

20 Saying, Arise, and take the young child and his mother, and go into the land of Israel: for they are dead which sought the young child’s life.

21 And he arose, and took the young child and his mother, and came into the land of Israel.

22 But when he heard that Archelaus did reign in Judaea in the room of his father Herod, he was afraid to go thither: notwithstanding, being warned of God in a dream, he turned aside into the parts of Galilee:

23 And he came and dwelt in a city called Nazareth: that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophets, He shall be called a Nazarene.

 

 

Peace and goodwill.

Amen.

Only Happy When It Rains, Part III: Acclimitisation and Acculturation

The last time up these ways and I came with a friend, we drove here, and visited Yeppoon, on the coast, 38 kilometres to the northeast. A Darambal Aboriginal word meaning “the place where the waters meet”, Yeppoon is gateway to the Capricorn Coast, the Southern Great Barrier Reef, and Keppel (Bay) Islands.

Eighteen years ago I may have been the type to harass a cane toad, perhaps with a golf-club, if it was handy. Nowadays I much prefer to acknowledge the Lord’s sovereignty, my own fealty, and sanctity of all life. Perhaps the humidity back then had affected my brain. It dizzies the senses, disorientates. Of course, that’s just an excuse.

But what excuse, in 1847 and on her maiden journey, the Selina; a transport schooner setting sail from Brisbane, losing her crew and her way, tracing a large loop off Victoria before drifting north and washing up on these shores, and inviting a renaming of the point?¹

Coastal view from Wreck Point Scenic Lookout, Cooee Bay, Yeppoon

The beach is resolute sands awash with ripples of teal beset amongst mangroves from which one shade of blue gently gives way to another. A mossy band separates it from quartz sand reflecting sunlight just as the sun-soaked leaves, those tilted at just such-and-such an angle.

Not lost, but somewhat waylaid, we make our way from Rocky’s north all the way to its south, to Lakes Creek and, yes, you guessed it, a cattle farm. Its well thought-out architecture invites the visitor along an elevated meandering drive just above these flood-prone plains, a kind of on-shore “shelf” for driveways. Here, the bulls are lean and the hens plump and recent rainfall plasters green shades across the parchment’s scape.

The smell of manure permeates the air but noticeably only in a few small pockets within the region or, perhaps, after a meat-work driver has hosed his truck. Only then will the smell intrude into the scenery and force a mental digression. As it does, a little past the cottage, on our way out of the property. But it is not long before we stop and stare a fine bovine, who in turn ponders us in oppositional gaze; our car’s immense swift swagger and circular “feet” have him dismayed.

Faced by a larger (and quicker) opponent: At the site of the yellow livery across our white sedan, a bull considers his options.

There is more green than I expect, for such a dry continent. More of a lush rainforest presence fills the humidified ambience and its intense panoramic hue reverberates a vibrant energy throughout this entire region.

The ground has become waterlogged so that though not soft, certainly damp in most areas.

We have had significant rainfall, over the last 3 weeks and, combined with some rain before we arrived, the tones are lively, fertile and plush. Groundwater is visible in most places. The soil soaked through.

The causeway crossing this gravel dirt road just doing its job.

The sheets of water lie stranded, as if wanting to meet, to present something far bigger than I want to imagine, though not hard to imagine, something of greater purport.

You get the feeling that it won’t take much more rainfall to flood this whole plain.

The mounds and hills settle in the near-distant gaze, corralled by a eucalypt Mexican-wave in this stiff breeze. These eucalypts are the essence of the Australian landscape and ecological niche. They seem to trap the intensely humid heat between them, like some vast proteoglycan network, if you can envisage the earth’s surface akin to a cell’s semipermeable lipid membrane.

A giant’s thimble or his helmet? Gentle sloping rock-hills undulate across the horizon and serve as a calming influence on the driver, a corrugated backdrop of green-grey on this overcast day, sticking out against the stark flatness as if a giant thimbled thumb pokes through the earth’s crust, or that of a skull-cap, the helmet of an equally giant underground miner coming up for air.
Sheets of water now gully the track.

When threatened, the cane toad doesn’t leap away, preferring to lay still and quiet and let its jungle juice, released onto its skin from glands behind its eyes, to take effect on its unsuspecting predator. Within minutes, the “pest”, usually a dog, is delirious and before long comatose. Many die. Equally, however, cane toads just sit alone on the roads, seemingly not a care in the world, until the sound of a faint “squish” accompanies a gentle give, in the suspension, as the vehicle’s tire rolls it. Driving, I try and avoid them, but I’m not sure some locals take as much care.

The temperature shot up, we hit 34 yesterday after a week of mostly overcast conditions kept temperatures under 30 degrees — a welcome reprieve. And then today, Saturday, driving west this time, along Ridgelands Road, the temperature reaches 36.5 and relative humidity 73% as the heat oppresses an already compact air with ever more rising moisture  from the damp ground.

When in Rome

To be continued …


References

  1. https://www.themorningbulletin.com.au/news/tragic-ship-wreck-inspires-new-cap-coast-attractio/3395518/#/0

Only Happy When It Rains, Part II: Gladstone and The Keppel Coast

Last we met we had reason to compare the cane toad’s skin with the tree frog’s saliva. But the image of the tree frog in that first instalment was a stock photo, a very good one mind you, from Wikipedia. To make up for it, this time, we have an authentic snap (though not very revealing) taken by myself yesterday during a work-run through the city. At a house in Koongal, we saw this critter resting quietly on the window sill high above the ground.

Clearly, tree frogs enjoy the safety that height brings; be that high up in a tree or up high on one of its by-products.

He neither creaked nor croaked. He sat there silently when we arrived and was sitting there silently still ten minutes later, when we left. But I have arrived altogether too late in season to see Rockhampton’s own Running of the Bulls, a benign variation on “the encierro held in Pamplona during the nine-day festival of Sanfermines”.[1] The Rockhampton version sees locals run between the seven bull statues collecting momentos. This way, at least nobody gets hurt.

After the fun-run its a different story, and locals tuck into hamburgers and meat pies made of local produce. Notably, even burger chain behemoth, McDonalds, minimalist in approach, source some prized export-quality beef from here.³ Making a mockery of urban tales surrounding the quality of their burgers, McDonald’s beef patties remain 100% beef.

All of our beef patties are made from 100 percent pure beef — that means no additives, preservatives or fillers — and seasoned with only a pinch of salt and pepper.[2]

The fun-run and beef-eating happen on streets just a half-hour’s drive from the quartz Keppel Coast’s shores that festoon the Pacific.

Keppel Islands seen from the mainland’s Keppel Coast, a stomping ground of James Cook.

These shores, where once Cook strove, remain the tourist’s grove in the locality, lined by salt-resistant mangrove. And the magnificent turquoise-blue only interrupted by the scatter here and there of the Keppel Islands, less hampering the view than signposting its splendour. And the splendour, if enchanting, merely a morsel of the visual delicacy on offer, a world-renowned reef of coral complexes.

For most of it’s history, the Keppel district was part of the mainland, up until the late tertiary period – 5 millions years ago. As a result, the Keppels are known as continental islands in contrast to many of the Barrier reef islands which are low-lying coral cays, formed entirely from reef sediments and never connected to other land.[3]

A creature of habit, I try to minimise my use of air conditioning, not wanting to leave a large carbon footprint. Thankfully, although the heat has come early the humidity has not, staying around 30%. (Given we are at the Tropic of Capricorn, relative humidities of 60% will soon be daily life here). Because of that, I have acclimatised rather quickly to the local environment.

But not yet fully reconciled to Rockhampton, though acclimatised, and we’re “shipped” off to Gladstone last weekend.

Approximately 550 km by road north of Brisbane and 100 km south-east of Rockhampton, situated between the Calliope and Boyne Rivers, Gladstone is home to Queensland’s largest multi-commodity shipping port.[4]

Gladstone Port lit up

I arrive in Gladstone, a mining town, late Friday evening, after a scenic drive along Mount Larcum Road and with altogether different expectations. If Rockhamptom is known for its beef, Gladstone is known for coal. And notably, and already noted, Christmas comes early in this part of the world. And not simply a day early, as might be explained by the Royal Observatory in Greenwhich. Here, locals enter the festive spirit a full month before December 25 and it energises the region’s disposition.

They really take Christmas, the spectacle, very seriously here.

One local goes to the point of creating an entire LED light show across the front of his property synchronised, what’s more, to music that passer’s by are encouraged to tune into through a local radio frequency.

Cues of cars nightly line the opposite side of the street for a chance to look at the show, and it’s only the first week of December. We took our turn, my work chaperone in Gladstone acting the perfect host and kindly taking me around to take my place in the cue and see the spectacle when work was otherwise quiet.

Mid-week, and ex-cyclone Owen was reupgraded to Tropical Cyclone Category-3 status, expected to make landfall by Sunday. But last I hear, Owen again has been downgraded.

To be continued.


REFERENCES

  1. https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saint_Fermin
  2. https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/mcdonalds-100-beef/
  3. https://greatkeppelislandhideaway.com.au/about-great-keppel-island/
  4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladstone,_Queensland