A few words from our sponsors

A Few Words From Our Sponsors is a new quarterly segment brought to you by our local business sponsor,  Moustaches Are Us, suppliers of quality moustaches to existentialists and philosophers for over 150 years. Below are our favourite words for Spring.

*

Posthumous

the state of despair arrived at when you have eaten all your hummus* and have none left to dip that last bit of pita bread into. (*some spell it humus or humous – a tasty dip of Lebanese origin, made from chickpeas.) Some believe that this state can lead to questioning the very meaning of existence and that it may have been a hummus shortage that triggered the beginnings of the existentialist movement in the late 19th Century.

 

Rejected cover art for the biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

A rejected submission for the cover of a biography of Friedrich Nietzsche

Phosphorescence

a word designed for the sole purpose of having a softly soothing word to whisper quietly to yourself in the dead of night when you cannot sleep. Try it tonight! For certain success, drink a large glass of brandy and swallow a valium before you crawl into bed to begin. As a cure for insomnia, the Phosphorescence method is highly recommended by Lady Macbeth, and endorsed by Dorothy Parker.

rhythm

a word that will forever feel incomplete, because of the oversight of the powers-that-be, who did not include a silent n at the end of this word when they built the original. This author bravely attempted, back in Grade 6, when taking part in the combined primary schools spelling bee, to bring this scandalous oversight to light, but her efforts to highlight the need for an n on the end of rhythm did not get the swell of community support hoped for, so rhythm continues to always seem one (silent) letter short of its full potential.

unrequited (by request from the Department of Speculation)

A word brimming with possibilities, but mainly only if you are playing the game where you locate other words hidden within it. This author put her timer on for 3.25 minutes and located the following:

quite

quiet

quieted

it

queer

tied

diet

die

tired

tried

ride

If you can find other words, please leave these in the comments below, to go into the draw to win one of our Existential Moustaches for October.

billious

this word is the result of a dysfunctional union between two already icky words: bile and ill, but that second syllable in billious adds a whole other dimension to it, making this writer imagine a sickly, yellow hue, and think of movement in a circular direction, all of which seems to suggest very clearly the vomit that is probably churning ferociously up your intestines as you read this.

orangutang

Nietzsche famously remarked that it’s a myriad of pleasure just to pronounce the word orangutang, let alone to visit the obligingly zany creature at the zoo. (I believe Nietzsche actually confided to a friend that in fact he got even greater enjoyment from the phrase, Hubba Bubba, and had spent many delightful evenings engaged in smoking his pipe on the verandah and repeating that diverting phrase to himself, but conceded that orangutang was a strong second choice and gave him a chuckle every now and then.) The burning question is, why has no-one named a tangy orange drink Orang-u-tang? Red bulls have a drink named after them, why not orangutangs? You heard it here first.

ferocious

While we are making predictions, this word has so much presence all by itself that it is just begging to be the startling, one-word title of the next Man Booker Prize winning novel, and following that, the Hollywood film based on the novel, starring Edward Norton, Naomi Watts and Maggie Smith. (I really wanted Jake Gyllenhaal but he just wasn’t quite right for the part.)

ricochet

ricochet is fun to say. We like words that are fun to say, but we also like it when, in our imaginations at least, the word seems to convey the concept. Ric-o-chet sounds to us like the pinballs bouncing from one corner to another inside a pinball machine.

And that’s it for our words for this quarter. Stay tuned for summer when we will bring you another round, courtesy of Moustaches Are Us.

 

The history of Nietzsche’s moustache

I must begin with an apology.

It seems that I have lately been remiss in providing up-to-the-moment news for those readers who only subscribed in the first place because they need regular updates on the moustache of Mr. Freidrich Nietzsche.

Now, admittedly this blog was not originally created to be the newsletter, (dare I say, mouthpiece?) for the above-mentioned moustache, but in an unexpected turn of events, a few years ago I was undertaking some academically rigorous research on the topic of Existentialism, for a post about Samuel Beckett, and reading up on Nietzsche, when I became completely distracted by a picture of Nietzsche’s moustache, featured on the Wikipedia page about the gentleman in question. That particular picture has since been changed, but can be seen here, in a post I was immediately compelled to write about the moustache.

Little did I realise the train of events that would be put in motion with that post! (Namely, that I would go on to obtain a degree with honours in writing posts about moustaches.*)

As soon as I beheld that creature moustache, it immediately became clear to me that it deserved its own social media campaign. Perhaps not so much “deserved”, as “commanded me to create” its own social media campaign. (Whether this moustache has brain-washing powers is not for me to say).  (In fact I am forbidden to).

(I can’t help but note that his moustache looks like a living creature in its own right. I can imagine the moustache starring as a parasite in a creepy short story written by Patricia Highsmith, in which it crawls around on the face of a human by day, making a horrible high-pitched scratchy noise, and at night – slowly sucks the human’s brains out, disguising the effect so that syphilis* is diagnosed as the cause of madness).

Before we get too carried away in fantasy, let’s stop for a moment and look at this far-fetched notion of brain-washing moustaches. It’s well known that Nietzsche died in 1900, so in fact it’s unlikely that his moustache has been up to much since then. I’m almost certain that it could not be brain-washing people in 2014 via a Wikipedia page.

But, on the social media front, as we know, just because something does not exist, does not mean that there can’t be a Facebook page devoted to it.

As it happens, Nietzsche’s moustache, (much like Nietzsche himself) was very vocal about its contempt for Facebook, but the moustache (unlike the philosopher) was more open-minded when it came to the idea of being featured in a blog. Or at least, when I proposed this idea, it made a horrible, scratchy, high-pitched noise, which I could only interpret as either, “cool idea!” or, “I’m about to leap off this face and stick my hairy fangs into your neck!”

The reason for all this focus on such a hideous thing as a huge, repugnant moustache is that, after extensive analysis of the most popular search terms on my blog, it’s clear that Nietzsche’s moustache hovers consistently around 2nd or 3rd place in popularity. Clearly there is a demand out there, for huge, repugnant moustaches, and like most other commercial enterprises earning massive amounts of money, I am merely responding to demand.

(I just remembered that I’m not a commercial enterprise earning huge amounts of money. Damn that brain-washing moustache!)

Strangely enough, the most searched term on my blog indicates that people spend a lot of time looking for information on facial features of well-known people. The top searched term on my blog is for another specific facial/cranial feature, belonging to another specific and well-known person. I’m sorry to say that the second-place-getter, ie, the Nietzsche Moustache, will probably never surpass the winner, a very specific pair of celebrity ears.

To finally get to the point of this post, this entire post is, in fact, a response to a recent search term: “Nietzsche moustache history.” This search term made me realise what a glaring omission it is that, as yet, I have not presented the entire history of the infamous moustache in one post. So here it is, as gleaned from the moustache’s diary entries and the observations of commentators at the time.

15 October 1844 – Nietzsche was born early this morning, and with him – glorious me! This was disconcerting for the nurses, who had never seen a newborn with a prominent, hairy moustache, and promptly gave him a good shave, but never fear, I will be back. Humans will not hold me down.

Nietszche as a baby, in-between shaves.

Nietszche as a baby, in-between shaves.

October 1871 – well it’s taken me a while to write, but it’s hard for a moustache to get its hands on pen and paper. We are here in Basel, hanging out with some other philosophers and professors. I’m thriving in the warm Autumn we are having this year.

Nietzsche.later.years

A thriving moustache living on the face of a philosopher (no editing!)

Sometime in 1879 – I’ve been helping Nietzsche with his philosophical writing. So far I’ve been successful in causing him to be very pessimistic about humankind. This is partly aided by the fact that I am now such a massive growth on his face that no-one can understand what he is saying, which causes him to feel somewhat isolated. On the plus side, he is developing a reputation for making deep and meaningful remarks at the drop of a hat. In fact, usually all he has said is, “pardon me, you dropped your hat”, but due to my presence, his speech is so muffled that the listener hears some mumbling and interprets it as “The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. But no price is too high to pay for the privilege of owning yourself.” *

Nietzsche animatedly talks about his latest theories

Nietzsche animatedly talks about his latest theories – or the weather, it’s hard to tell.

 

1883 – Nietzsche now only has me to talk to. He has named me Zarathustra, which I consider is a suitably imposing name for a moustache the size of myself.

 

1885 – Nietzsche has published a book of my speeches – entitled Thus Spake Zarathustra! Quite rightly, I am the first moustache to have my ideas put into print for the world to read. I told you they would not keep me down.

 

1900 – Nietzsche has passed away. I have to admit, this is a slight set-back in my plans for world domination. Hopefully I can overcome it if I can just find another human face to attach myself to. That shouldn’t be hard….if I can just work out how to get out of this bloody coffin!

 

 *

* I have no such degree, in fact, I don’t think that Melbourne University even offers a degree in Moustache Analysis in the much-lauded “Melbourne Curriculum”. At time of publication, they have not returned my phone calls so I am unable to verify this.

Academics at Melbourne University converge to discuss the merits of introducing a degree in writing about moustaches.

Academics at Melbourne University held a conference to discuss the possibility of introducing a degree in writing about moustaches.

 

*It was originally thought that it was syphilis that caused Nietszche’s death but more recently this has been called into question.

*Quote from Nietszche obtained at Brainy Quote. (I didn’t have any copies of his work lying around.) More on just how misinterpreted Nietszche was during his lifetime can be read here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Curious Case of the Murderous Moustache

(To be read in a BBC announcer’s voice, circa 1950): At any given second, all around the world, people everywhere are bent over computer keyboards, feverishly typing phrases into search engines. What can so many people be searching for?

Everyone who types something into a search engine, does so in the hope of gaining some knowledge that will aid them in some way. An answer to an essay question, an opportunity to win a $2000 shopping spree on their local radio station quiz, a recipe for brussell sprouts that sounds edible, or maybe the evidence that will help them win an argument.

Here at the ACME laboratory for Mildly Advanced Scientific Research, we have studied this phenomenon for some years now, and one fact that emerged from our research has caused quite a stir in the scientific world. Our studies show that at any given second, at least one person somewhere in the world will be searching for information relating to moustaches (or, as Americans like to spell it, “mustaches”, with the emphasis on the first syllable).

Moustache - cut out if needed

Moustache – cut out if needed

Source: A Free Moustache! 

Phonetically, the American word “mustache” looks right, but I like the way that the spelling of “moustache”, originally French, derived from the Italian moustacio, and now incorporated into English, subliminally suggests “mouse.” After all, moustaches are not entirely different from mice – both are small and furry and tend to move if someone speaks.

A mouse

I am not a moustache

source: Wikimedia

According to the Oxford dictionary, a moustache is a strip of hair left to grow above the upper lip.  I can’t help but suspect that this description was written by an Oxford dictionary employee with a strong distaste for moustaches, given the phrasing. The description evokes  an out-of-date container of yogurt, forgotten in the back of the fridge, growing mould.

Ah yes, moustaches. They are, in themselves, quite absurd. That surely is the only reason they keep popping up on my blog with such frequency.

If you don’t believe that moustaches are absurd, think again. Have a look at some of the people who famously wore moustaches, and you’ll have to agree that surely they chose to wear a moustache to deliberately look eccentric, or they were too eccentric to care that they had a ridiculous growth of facial hair between their nose and lip.

Of course, one can’t think “moustaches” without thinking of eccentric Spanish surrealist artist, Salvador Dali. Naturally, there is a book of photos of Dali, called “Dali’s moustache.”

Dali   pic: www.biography.com

Dali 

Source: http://www.biography.com

The Mona Lisa has also worn a moustache, courtesy of French artist Marcel Duchamp. Duchamp clearly perceived that a moustache signified the ridiculous, when he chose to draw one on the face of (a postcard image of) the Mona Lisa in one his “found object” artworks, known as L.H.O.O.Q.

File:Marcel_Duchamp_Mona_Lisa_LHOOQ

Source: Wikipedia

Duchamp’s “readymades” always caused a stir, because he had the nerve to simply alter a ready-made object (like this postcard, or in another famous case, a latrine) and call the slightly altered version a work of art, but in this case there was added outrage because he made fun of a revered work of art. The letters allegedly stand for a phrase along the lines of “She has a hot arse.” Total disrespect – Mon Dieu! But I digress.

Back to moustaches. By way of a final example, we have this poor troubled fellow:

Behold, the inspiration for the Spicks and Specks gameshow segment, "Musician or Serial Killer?"

Behold, the inspiration for the Spicks and Specks TV gameshow segment, “Musician or Serial Killer?”

Source: The Rumpus

We’ve travelled the gamut of moustaches here from eccentrically dapper to criminally inclined. If the handlebar moustache sported by Nick Cave above is supposed to make a statement, it must be an homage to notorious Aussie criminal Chopper Read.

Yet for all their faults, and they are many, there is so far no evidence that a moustache has ever murdered anyone.

So I was intrigued by the search typed into Google recently, which transported someone across cyberspace to land on my blog page. The search term in question was, did Nietzsche die because of his moustache? 

Now before you spit tea into your own moustache in amusement at this question, stop a moment to ponder. Have you actually check out the moustache in question? If not, you can find pictures here or here. (I refuse to post yet another picture of the hideous creature (and it’s human) in my blog).

I think you’ll agree – that is no ordinary moustache. On close inspection (ugh!) it does seem possible that the moustache may be a separate, living entity. There is no doubt that a moustache of such volume and density could easily suffocate a man in his sleep. Or choke him to death. Or cause him to starve to death, by making ingestion of food impossible through that tangled wilderness of hair. Or, perhaps  its weight caused him to overbalance at an inopportune moment – while fishing at the edge of a high cliff face above the ocean on a gusty day,  for example, or perhaps while balancing precariously on a high wire in a circus tent – and topple to his death.

I have to admit that this version of events does not fit with the accounts of Nietzsche’s death on record, but we know that people’s memories are notoriously poor in recalling the details of an event, and also, that records are sometimes tampered with.

So in answer to the question about whether Nietzche’s moustache could have been the cause of his death, I offer a quote from Sherlock Holmes:

– when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth. 

My own take on Holme’s theory is: if you have not managed to eliminate the impossible, and your word count is nearly 950, simply suggest that the impossible (i.e, being killed by your own moustache) is highly probable, and then leave your reader to draw their own conclusions.

Name This Post

I’ve always been cautious about participating in group activities, but it seems I was tagged by Goldfish to play a blogging game. The rules of the game are:

1. Post these rules.
2. Post a photo of yourself and eleven random facts about you.
3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.
4. Create eleven new questions and tag new people to answer them.

5. Go to their blog/twitter and let them know they have been tagged.

(Why did rule number 5 decide to distance itself from the other rules with a gap, and distinguish itself with a lack of italics? I don’t know – apparently it has a mind of it’s own. Watch out for that rule, it’s a renegade.)

OK, so – my first thought on this blogging game is – where did 11 come from? Why 11? Wouldn’t 3 be quite enough work for anyone?

My second thought is – well this kind of does half the work for me in writing a blog post, all I have to do is fill the gaps. Sort of.

So far I’ve chosen not to respond when I’ve been nominated for any blogging awards, as I have such a tragic combination of low self-esteem and a high sense of personal privacy that I feel uncomfortable trumpeting about being nominated for an award, uncomfortable about hurting anyone’s feelings by NOT nominating them, and also don’t want to put other people who don’t even know me, in the same position!  I also worry that some people I could choose to tag, blog in a particular style or only about a particular topic, and therefore may not want to engage in answering a quiz on their blog. Hmmm, yes, years of therapy might help, it’s true.

Well, anyway, I thought I’d give this one a go. Since it’s not an award but a game, nominating other people doesn’t really mean I’m singling anyone out, leaving anyone out, or embarrassing anyone. Well that’s what my uptight brain thought before I decided to give it a go, anyway.

So here we go:

Rule 1 – done. (see above if you’re not keeping up.)

Rule 2 – a photo and 11 things about me.

A Jodie Foster Rhino

Is this Jodie Foster relaxing on a safari?

So there’s a photo that’s an approximation of me. (Explanation here.)

1. Special skill: deciphering bad hand writing.

2. Special lack of skill: can not make a custard, white sauce, or anything that needs to thicken in a saucepan while you stir it. I have followed recipes to the letter, only to end up with a gluggy, lumpy mess resembling vomit. Therefore, do not ask me, sir, to make your custard, for I will not do it!

3. Can not even write a list of 11 things about myself without turning each bullet point into a ridiculously long and rambling story.

4. Has Irish heritage (could this be the reason for no. 3?)

5. Once painted the interior of a groovy clothing store in Melbourne’s CBD, with some artist friends. This was when I was an artist. The paint job is still there, unlike my career as an artist.

7. Once went skiing. In the Rocky mountains. Where else, daaahling? I actually didn’t want to, (the idea of participating in sport and clomping around in a figure hugging bodysuit put me right off) but I ended up enjoying it.

8. I’ve never skied (is that correct past tense of ski?) again. Too many logistics, too much “gear” required, and too much cost involved. But it was fun that one time!

9. Will probably review and rewrite these 11 points about 11 times before I’m satisfied with them. Or maybe I’ll just publish them full of errors and all because I’m delirious with lack of sleep. In short, I have no idea what I’ll do.

10. I went to bed at 4.30am this morning and was awoken at 8.45am.

11. That is because I spent 10 hours last night in the Emergency Ward with my daughter, to establish that her stomach pain was “almost definitely not appendicitis, although we could be wrong.”

Ok, moving on to the next rule:

3. Answer the questions given to you in the tagger’s post.

Would you rather be a dog or a cat?

Hmmm, my priority right now would be, who sleeps more, because I’d like some of that. Maybe….a cat.

What’s your favorite song? Either of the moment or all time.

I will nominate a favourite song of the moment. That would be Six Bells Chime, by Crime and the City Solution, after seeing them play it live on Sunday!

If you were sentenced to death, what would be your last meal?

Either Nigella Lawson’s Trifle with berries and a gorgeous mascapone custard that doesn’t require any cooking (see above re cooking custard), or a really amazing cream brulee. Hell, it’s my last meal, maybe I’ll have both. 2 serves of each, thanks, skip the mains. If I’m forced to have mains, please involve scallops.

What’s your favorite holiday?

The holiday that will forever live in my memory is the week we spent down in Wilson’s Promintory, in a gorgeous little cottage, with two of my brothers,in 2009. The location was  lovely, there were eucalyptus trees and bushes and herbs growing all around the house, and beaches about a 20 minute drive away. Of course the reason it will always remain special in my memory is that it is the only holiday I can recall spending with my brother John, (there may have been others when I was a kid that I blocked from my memory) and the most concentrated period of contact I ever had with him, I guess. But it was also just a really lovely holiday – I think I’d look back fondly on it even if he hadn’t died 18 months or so later.

If you could travel to any country for free where would you go?

I’d probably go to the USA and visit San Fransisco and New York.  I’ve been to both these cities already, but I loved them both and would love to visit them again, so if the trip was free, why not?

What’s your phobia?

Responding to blog quizzes. No, I don’t really have a phobia but I inherited from my mum an amazing ability to analyse the worst that might happen in any new situation. At a lovely holiday house in the middle of gum trees and bushes? (see above) Naturally I contemplate that if a bushfire occurred, as visitors with no idea of a fire plan, we’d be sitting ducks. At a band gig with about 4000 other people inside on a 36 degree day? Naturally I contemplate that if there is an emergency and everyone runs for the door I could get trampled to death.

The difference between myself and my mother is that I don’t obsess over it to the point of being able to focus on nothing else and become highly anxious until  the cause of the anxiety is removed – but these thoughts do briefly go through my mind.

If there were no consequences, what would you do that’s illegal?

Burn dvds. No seriously, if there weren’t consequences, I’d probably drink more when I’m driving. So that wouldn’t be a good thing.

Do you play an instrument? Or; If you could play an instrument, what would it be?

I learned the piano for about 4 years but gave it up because I was sick of learning the excerpts of classical pieces required for passing exams, and wanted to learn “popular” songs. I’m sorry I never learned how to play that guitar I bought about 20 years ago, but maybe one day when I’ve got time I’ll have lessons!

What’s the nicest thing that anyone has given you?

Something they made themselves, especially for me.

Are you crafty? I don’t mean deceitful, but making things by hand.

People always think I will be crafty because I did a degree in Fine Art and used to paint, but actually I’m terrible with anything 3 dimensional. I can barely manage to wrap a present and make it look presentable. When it comes to making art, I only like the 2 dimensional world. A card is about as 3 dimensional as I get, and I don’t make those very often.

Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Option 3. What, there isn’t an option 3? Well, when it comes to sleep I’m probably closer to the sloth. I like as much sleep as possible, at both ends of the day. Unless I’m out having a great time, I am like a robot that switches into “yawn and go to bed” mode at 10.30pm. I never voluntarily arise before 7.30am, but if I’m forced to on pain of death, I’ll feel tired all day, regardless of what time I went to bed. Maybe I use up a lot of energy dreaming.

4. Create 11 new questions and tag new people to answer them.

1. How many goats does it take to fill a bath on Tuesdays, if the train from Central Station is travelling at 8 miles per hour, and all the stations are under water due to floods?

2.  If a dozen cats sit in a tree singing “Moon River”, how many cats will be left when the cheese souffle in the oven is cooked?

3. Do cows ever get bored with standing around in paddocks chewing grass? And if given the chance, would they rather be ice-skating?

4. If you had an imaginary friend, what was his/her/its name, and what did you guys get up to together? (If you didn’t, you get off one question. Pass Go, collect $200.)

5. Quote a line from a Dr Suess book and tell us what it means to you. If you have to use Google to find a line from Dr Suess, go straight to Jail and do not collect $200.

6. What other purpose can a catflap be used for, since clearly cats have no intention of using them?

7. What do you think Shakespeare meant by the line “Macbeth does murder sleep” (Answers will not necessarily be disadvantaged by not making reference to the play Macbeth.)

8. Does anyone really understand quadratic equations, or do maths teachers just grow bushy beards and wear worn out cords so that everyone thinks they do?

Image

Yeah, sure.

9. Who wins the worst moustache competition – Nietzsche or Twain?

Image

A moustache, with Nietszche attached to it.

10. Who came first, the chicken, the egg, or the cockroach? Bonus points for naming the date, time, place and name of the first arrival. (Basis in truth is not a criteria for this answer)

11. If a blogger sends 11 silly questions into cyberspace, does anyone hear them land? If so, what sound do they make – a splash, a squelch, or that noise that the office chair makes in staff meetings that sounds as though you farted?

Phew! Ok, final rule:

Select new people to answer those questions and tag them, then go to their blog to let them know you’ve tagged them.

Now this may be controversial, but I’m lazy, and it’s now after 10.30pm Thursday night and I’ve had 4 hours sleep since Wednesday morning and intended to go to bed much earlier for that reason, I’m just going to tag one blogger. I may add others later, but I’ve chosen this blogger because she seems to write about lots of different topics, with a humorous approach, so I think she may be happy to do this quiz/game and might even be willing to take on my ridiculous questions (I probably wouldn’t!). That is:

Lucky Wreck

That’s it!

You always take the weather with you

Is there anything better than beautiful weather? I’m sitting at home, on an evening that can only be described as beautiful, feeling as though nothing could be nicer. On a night like this it seems quite feasible that even being somewhere glamorous, involving hot springs, jacuzis and cocktails, would not be any nicer than just sitting here, looking out over rooftops at the pale blue evening sky, listening to birds chirping in the trees, and the intermittent chirrup of a cricket, while I sip on a glass of wine.

Sometimes I think that if it could just be light until 9pm every night, all year round, life would be constantly cheery. Even though I know that’s not true.

The silly thing is that only yesterday I wrote 3/4 of a post about how we were experiencing an early Autumn.

Ha! Welcome to Melbourne, where the temperature ranges from 40 degrees to 12 degrees within the same fortnight, and if you write a post about the weather, you’d better finish in one go or it will become useless! (Or, fiction!)

Anyway. While I’m on the topic (by the way, it’s great that you’re so keen to hear about the weather!) this Summer was predicted to be a scorcher. Last November, or thereabouts, I kept hearing rumours that “they” were saying it was going to be a stinking hot summer.

Tax_experts

After weeks of consultation, a panel of Global Warming experts in Melbourne today announced that if the weather gets any hotter, they will be forced to remove their jackets. (pic: Wikimedia)

Now, I don’t know who “they” are, but as far as I could glean from this third hand information, it sure as hell sounded like “they” knew what “they” were talking about. 

So on the basis of this relayed intelligence, I gritted my teeth, and tried to mentally prepare for an unbearably hot summer where I would feel as though I lived in an oven. I love my little house, and my bedroom with the view of the rooftops and the sky, but my room is upstairs, you see, (thus the rooftops, and sky) and on a 40 degree (Celcius) day it’s about 125 degrees upstairs.* 

But I need not have worried, for we are into our third (and, according to my scientific calculator, final) month of Summer, and so far we’ve only had to endure maybe 2 days that were a sweltering 40 degrees, and possibly another 3 that were around 38 or 39.  Yawn! We’re Australians –  that’s not a HOT summer! A HOT summer is when you cook your barbeque by just letting the cow wander out into the back yard for a while.

Photo: StickerEsq

I object to that part about cows.

I object to that part about cows.

In fact, it’s been a really nice summer – but WAIT!! How much can I say about….weather? At this rate, weather will become most used tag on this blog, possibly outranking even Nigella Lawson’s Ears, and making my blog seem uninteresting to anyone except desperate weather presenters who’ve left it till the last moment to put their report together. (Good luck!)

Well, strangely enough,  I’ve realised as I’ve been writing, that this post probably isn’t really about the weather. It’s about why the weather has been making me feel sad.

That’s because (until today),  it’s been feeling like a premature Autumn for the past week or so. So much for the long hot Summer. In the past week, temperatures at 7am have been as low as 12 degrees. 12 degrees??? Reminder – it’s still summer, and I’m in Melbourne, not in Reykjevik. After 3 ridiculously cold mornings in a row last week, I gave in and flicked the central heating on.

And even doing that made me feel sad, so I suspect that I’ve been affected by the mood that Autumn – especially a premature Autumn, arriving in the middle of bright, warm weather – brings with it: there’s a sudden coolness in the air, a different light, and a sense that things are changing, and dying, and that time is moving on. Turning on the heating reminds me of the first Autumn I spent in this house, and memories of times that are recent, but prior to September 2011, always come with the caveat that my brother was alive then. Not so long ago.

At least, that’s what I’m attributing to the fact that thoughts of my brother have been popping up a lot lately. It may just be that some more of the unconscious work of grieving has been plugging away, deep down underneath my conscious thoughts and has finally reached the surface.

It’s not new that I think about him, but lately, while I’m doing something mundane, like rinsing vegetables at the sink, his presence suddenly crosses my mind for a split second. I see him, exactly as he was the last time he was in my house, or the way he looked at the age of 14, in a photo I was gazing at 2 weeks ago at my parents house, and I can almost hear his voice, and smell his presence. At those moments, some part of me still doesn’t believe this person is dead.

Can I blame the weather for this, or is it yet another “stage of grieving” – 18 months later? Perhaps it’s a little bit of both. It doesn’t really matter. I guess I’ll weather the weather, whatever the weather, whether I like it or not.**

In other words, it’s Melbourne, so it will probably be 38 degrees again by Friday.

*

(*No formal method of measurement was used to come up with that statistic. Any resemblance to a real measurement of temperature is purely coincidental and no correspondence will be entered into on this matter)

** This is a misappropriation of a quote attributed to the poet and critic, John Ruskin, on WorldofQuotes.

***Update, written the following day. Yep, folks, I had no idea what the forecast was when I wrote this last night, but it just so happens that today it’s 38 degrees!!! Call it coincidence if you like.  I would.

Things that Nietzsche might have said

A long, long time ago, I spotted a photo of Nietzsche on the internet and was so taken aback at the size of his ridiculous moustache, that I was compelled to write at least one, if not two, posts about the topic of said moustache. It seemed as though I had got the moustache out of my system at that time, but today I found myself thinking again about the moustache and its human ecosystem.

I was thinking about the proverb, “There’s no point crying over split milk”, and how it would be expressed by someone, like Nietzsche, who questions at a philosophical level the apparent meaningless of human existence. To such a person, clearly there is no point crying over split milk, just as there is no point to any action or thought we may have. Paradoxically, therefore, crying over split milk has as much point as anything else you could do during your fundamentally pointless existence. Perhaps an existentialist would say, “There is no point observing that there is no point crying over split milk.”

Then I had a revelation that could require the re-writing of history, at least with regards to existentialism. It occurred to me that Nietzsche’s horrendous moustache must have muffled anything he said, and that perhaps he had been misinterpreted all this time.

Perhaps, for example, one morning, his housekeeper (who prefers not to be named in this article) dropped the bucket of milk he (no gender stereotyping in this story) had just brought home from the Milkbar, and began to cry in frustration, and because it had been expensive. Nietzsche pragmatically said, “Well, Socrates, there’s no point crying over split milk” – but through the wall of noise-muffling hair on his face, what the housekeeper heard was, “We believe that we know something about the things themselves when we speak of trees, colors, snow, and flowers; and yet we possess nothing but metaphors for things — metaphors which correspond in no way to the original entities.”

Could be saying anything, I can’t tell.

Another time, perhaps, Nietzsche was questioned about how he managed to keep up his academic writing at the same time as tweeting hourly and keeping up with all his followers on his popular Twitter account, @nopointtoexistence. He responded by saying briskly, “A rolling stone gathers no moss”, but again, the virtual sound-proofing of that hairy protuberance meant that the interviewer was left to interpret his muffled rumblings, and thought that he had said What then is truth? A movable host of metaphors, metonymies, and anthropomorphisms: in short, a sum of human relations which have been poetically and rhetorically intensified, transferred, and embellished, and which, after long usage, seem to a people to be fixed, canonical, and binding.”

Another day, perhaps out with friends, and wearing, as usual, his gold rings, earrings, necklaces, toe-rings, and nose-rings, Nietzsche was amused to hear for the first time, the term “bling”. He commented wryly, ” All that glitters is not gold”. But his friends interpreted his comment as “Truths are illusions which we have forgotten are illusions — they are metaphors that have become worn out and have been drained of sensuous force, coins which have lost their embossing and are now considered as metal and no longer as coins.”

So it seems that poor old Nietzsche was merely spouting a few old tried and true proverbs, but has been written up in the history books as having been an intellectual, obsessed with the nature of meaning and existence. I blame that moustache.

How it could have been, if only he’d trimmed that damned moustache!

I still haven’t found what I’m looking for

Part of the fun of a blog is that you get to observe a little snippet of what search terms people all over the world are typing into their internet browsers. It’s an insight into what really occupies people’s minds when they should be doing other things.

Take that young  investment banker over there, hair in a tight pony tail, and an extra large cafe latte next to her computer, typing away madly. Is she calculating how much interest her client’s investments are going to make? No, she’s typing “Nietzsche moustache” into her search engine (it’s in the top 50 search terms on my blog). Or that policeman, hunched at a desktop computer, frowning with concentration and typing with his index fingers. Is it an incident report that he is painfully inputting into his computer? No, he’s just typed “Nigella Lawson ears” into his browser. (that term has been searched for multiple times).

Sometimes it’s the mere fact that certain silly terms come up multiple times that is amusing. Who knew so many people were interested in cockroach costumes, dangerous yoga mats, rhino eyes, medieval beheadings, or “nick cave fake moustaches”? Not to mention Air Supply, which I won’t do, since I’ve mentioned them plenty of times before.

Then of course there are the terms that come up one time only, terms that are as unique and individual as the little grain of sand person who wrote them. Eg:

Jimble box jellyfish

rhino stumbling

horse moustache

please don’t piss on our heads and tell it’s raining (sic)

don’t feed the cockroaches

men crying on planes

avocado eyes

existentialism distracted by angst *

fuzzle webcams

are you lonely then call a meeting **

pregnant lady doing yoga and got stuck

how do I stop bleeding naturally on my amputated finger ***

being framed for hacking into facebook and my ip comes up help!!!!!

It’s a little bit mind boggling to wonder what was going on in some of those people’s heads. Or in some cases, hands.

For all the giggles I might get from the above, there are also some sad little snippets of other people’s lives, as evidenced by what they are searching for. For example:

don’t depend on anyone because even your shadow leaves you when you’re in darkness

why did my brother died suddenly (sic)

my mind has so much sadness what to do

my healthy brother suddenly stopped breathing and died

why my brother died

It is sobering, to be reminded of the sadness in the world, and that there are people out there feeling so much despair that they hope to find comfort by typing their feelings into a search engine.

Yet perhaps that in itself is not as sad as it seems. There can be comfort in knowing that other people have been through, or are going through, the same thing as you are. In this age of instant and accessible communications, that is actually one of the positive functions that so many personal blogs and websites can achieve. Sometimes you don’t want to talk to the people around you about how you feel, especially when they are not feeling the same way.

So, to those who were searching “why my brother died” – I’m so sorry for your loss.

I imagine that perhaps, like me, you hoped to hear from other people who had gone through the same thing. Perhaps, like me, you even held a deluded hope that you’d eventually locate an answer that proved that he hadn’t died at all. Or that announced that death is not as final as what we are always hearing.

But he’s been gone for 7  months now, and I haven’t found that answer yet.

*

*existentialism distracted by angst – an intriguing notion that certainly distracted me!

**be bored instead of lonely

*** I’m no first aid expert but I’d suggest that wrapping it up tightly and calling an ambulance would be more effective than using your amputated stump to type first aid questions into a computer!

%d bloggers like this: