Isobelle's Blog

The Slipstream
  • Snapshots from a Mash Up Year.

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    it has been over a year since I took a blog break.


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     it was not meant to be so long but life has its own purposes, it seems to me, within which my will and desire are no more than receptive or resistant pawns.


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    for instance, I wanted to write about India. I had  just returned from a week that felt so full it might have been three; filled with connections, rich impressions, raw contrasts, the forging of unexpectedly deep friendships. I was looking forward to writing it out, needed to get it out of my head.


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    even now, weeks later, pieces of India are floating in my mind, floating through the present like vivid dreams.


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    travel always unsettles me when I am on the move, makes me restless when I return. Perhaps that is why, despite all the traveling I have done, I am a reluctant traveler. I have what I have come to regard as the gift of being able to be content where I am, wherever I am (mostly), which means paradoxically that any departure is a wrench, even one I chose to make.


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    it is a truth universally acknowledged that home becomes piercingly sweet on the verge abandonment. And part of me secretly fears I will never be able to come back. Yet I go. I always go…


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    (in a way this is the absolute truth- you can never … continue reading



  • Notes from Santorini.

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    Some say horsemen, some say warriors,


    Some say a fleet of ships is the loveliest


    Vision in this dark world, but I say it’s


    What you love.


    sappho


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    gazing down at the shining ocean surrounding Santorini Island, or walking through over-peopled Fira,  in between bouts of furious work, thoughts drift through my mind like untethered boats.


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    they do not drop anchor, displacing the muse. They are not visitors from Porlock to break the dreaming threads unraveling out of me.


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    no.


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    they pass through me. I feel no need to make sense of them, though some float into the current of creation, are drawn in and consumed. I am in that waking dream state most condusive to writing.


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    i am on the story road.


    the dreamtrails.


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    i hear a snatch of words, see a pose struck, a hat fly, a guide point, a feather float down, a plastic bag rise and turn itself inside out. I see all of the brides and the flowers and that brown faced dapper celebrant who always wears his immaculate cream suit over strangely brightly coloured shirts; blue or emerald green or egg yolk yellow.


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    so many weddings pass me by. Was it always like this?  I don’t remember so many in other years. Somedays five or six wedding processions pass down and then up the steps past my terrace in a single day.


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     … continue reading



  • An Icelandic Saga

    there are places that change you


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    travel is all about metamorphosis.


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    but there are places which, though you may never have been there before or even thought of going there, answer a question your soul did not know until then, that it was asking.  I felt this sense of profound recognition the first time I stepped out of a car as a young journalist on assignment, and went for a walk along the stretch of coast I now call home, near Apollo Bay.  I felt it when I was at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland.


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    it was how I felt in Iceland.


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    we did not go there directly. In truth travel is rarely direct in a real world or metaphorical sense, and people who imagine the means are divorced from the end are as wrong as those that imagine the end can justify an abhorrent means. The journey is part of the destination. We reach our destinations via means that shape and hone our seeing.


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    and of course the place you leave and how you leave it shapes you, too.


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    the day we left Prague was the last day of my daughter’s nine years of schooling in Czech. The last day of year nine, and the beginning of the end of our European sojourn. By the end of the year we will be back in Australia. Everything is tinged … continue reading



  • Taken at the Flood

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    there is a tide in the affairs of men


    Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune;


    Omitted, all the voyage of their life


    Is bound in shallows and in miseries.


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    over a decade ago, in 2002, river Vltava flooded.


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    people called it a Hundred Year Flood (some said Four Hundred Year Flood) meaning a flooding so extreme that it occurs only once in a hundred (or four hundred ) years.


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     it was a truly strange time. 


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    back then, I lived with my partner in the enormous, shabby glamour of his fifth floor family apartment. Much of Prague city center had been drowned, blacked out and evacuated. We, on the periphery of the center, were also beginning to be evacuated. In the end, as it transpired, we were not forced to leave because our apartment building was on a hump in the street, which lofted us above the high water mark.


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    when I leaned out the window before most of the street was flooded, I saw people moving and meeting in clots and singly in a slow chaotic dance that bore little resemblance to the purposeful hither and thither of normal days  Even at that distance, it was possible to see something had changed.


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    later, when we went out to try to find out if we were required to evacuate, we called into one of the cafes higher up where many continue reading



  • Wings of Desire

     


     


    one of the most beautiful, moving, poetic films I have ever seen is Wings of Desire..

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    i mean the original Wim Wenders version in German with subtitles  (German title literally translates as Wings over Berlin), with a script chiefly written by the brilliant and controversial Austrian writer Peter Handke. Not the hideous American remake starring the Nicholas Cage as an angel and dandelion haired Meg Ryan as a brain surgeon.


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    wings of Desire is one of those exquisite films you can see over and over, but not often for it is very potent.


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    everything about it is beautiful;The idea, for a start.


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    it is the story of two angels, Damiel (played by the sublimely perfect Bruno Ganz) and Cassiel (played by Otto Sander) who hover over and move about Berlin outside time, witnessing all thoughts that occur to humans. They live in a parallel black and white world, and are unable to feel or be seen or felt by humans. Then Damiel falls in love with a beautiful tightrope walker.


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    made just before the wall came down, the theme of  divided worlds permeates the film on many levels. It exploits the tension between the overlapping states of angel and human, but Wenders’ angelic realm does not conform to traditional ideas of angels.


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     having carefully watched human beings from the beginning of time, the two angels know humanity better than we know ourselves. But while their realm continue reading



  • E book – an evolutionary step or a fork in the story road?

    taking a walk around my neighbourhood in Prague one windy day last week, I found myself reflecting upon the online month long self destructing launch of my first self-published E book, Greylands, in the light of the sales figures I had just rounded up for the first time.


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    the launch took place late last year and the story of my decision to self publish the out of print Greylands as an E book is reasonably well known.


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    why did I do it?


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    i wanted to see what it would take in time and money, in expertise and stress to turn a print book into an Ebook. I wanted to find out if it was inevitable that the layouts of E books were so lousy. I wanted to find out if it was mind bogglingly time consuming or hideously expensive or requiring stunningly difficult technological knowhow. I wanted to see if I could believe that Ebooks really were taking off as all the hype suggested, and were destined to make print books (libraries, book shops, book buses, book sellers, bookshelves) obsolete. 


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    or not…


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    if you don’t know the back story, I invite you to delve into the virtual cellar of this blog and dust off the archived Greylands Launch site with its thirty fantastic essays about E books by book folk ranging from writers to publishers, editors, artists, book shop owners, teachers, government people, journalists, kids … well, you continue reading



  • Waiting for the Other Shoe to Drop

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    i like that phrase. The small perfection of it.

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    what it means:  the fraught anticipation rising from the knowledge that there is something more to come.


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    the implication is that an event- the dropping of the first shoe  – occurred and that by so doing, implied and heralded a second event –  the dropping of the second shoe, the timing, the force of its fall, beyond your control. 


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    the others in the crew might have experienced exactly this combination of  powerlessness and inexorability in the Enola Gay after Thomas obeyed the command from Tibbets.  And Tibbets, commander of a crew barely out of their teens could not surely have imagined the dreadful impact of that dropping shoe, when he allowed his saucy, insouciant, uncomprehending smile earlier in the day to be captured forever in accusatory black and white; Could not have imagined the forces that he and the rest of the crew had set in motion with their obedience, as inescapable as Daddy’s descending fat black foot.


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     one small step for man, one great and terrible boot in the face of humanity forever.


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    and how did Jacob feel, three days later, giving the same unthinkable answer again? Did he feel like the bomb dropping on Nagasaki was the other shoe? How did he justify the second drop, when the consequences of the first had been so dreadful that one of the baby-faced continue reading



  • On The Road
    (with Crow)

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    Part 1.

    Being on tour is being inside a kalidoscope.

     


    everything is turned inside out and upsidedown.  It is all bright flashes and shifty jewels. You try to work and you are being interviewed and photographed constantly for different articles and different publications. You are meeting fans and other writers, some old friends, some people whose work you have adored. You are in planes and trains and buses and cars and people are saying this way, just along here, just through there. You forget to eat or you eat too much at weird times.


    (now, as I post this, I am back in Prague. It is 4 degrees.  Yesterday in Australia, it was 33. A vivid sudden memory erupts of being in Apollo Bay that last blazing hot day, sitting in one of my favorite writing Cafes. The doors are open and a hot cross breeze tinged with a hint of the cool that is forecast flows in one door and out  the other. My hair is salt stiffened into dried medusa snakes from the dip I took an hour ago in a perfect, still, aqua sea, on the beach across from home, where I did not see another soul. Some part of me is still floating.


     


    as the memory fades, I gaze out at the slate grey sky, where snow is being purposefully stockpiled, and am reminded yet again that love Prague as I do, some part of my spirit can only be at

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  • The importance of being present

    it is important to be alert.

     


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    being alert requires us to be present in the present.


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    by this, I mean we must be aware of what is happening in the present moment; Conscious of the people and things around us now, rather than always thinking about what will happen or what did happen.


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    this thought is in my mind as I ride the tram into town to go to the hairdresser. It is very cold and it snowed on and off all night and day. The city is white and hushed and the river has a greenish, metallic  look.


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    photo by Adelaide

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    i wonder what is it about humans that our minds are so constantly yearning backwards to things that have happened in the past or forward to things that might happen in the future? Of course no matter what we think will happen, no matter how certain of it we are, something random always occurs to change our destination or to take us there by an unexpected route. The future is always out of sight which makes anything but a playful preoccupation with it almost absurd. The greatest absurdity, though, is when people spend time regretting their inattention in a moment that is now past, only to neglect attending to yet another present moment.


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    i notice the way my legs tense when I step down into the icy-slick cobbles at my stop.  … continue reading



  • On silence

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    I think a lot about silence.

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    i used to equate silence with power because for most of my life, I felt powerless and was talkative.  Silent people seemed mysteriously powerful to me, and I saw words and speech as lesser weapons for survival. They were all I had, however, so the only answer seemed to be to become very very deft at words. Still, silence trumped words every time.


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    i tended to take people’s silences personally.   I started out wondering what the silent person was thinking. Then I worried they were mad. Then I worried they were mad at me.  (Or upset. Or angry or insulted or unhappy… )  I equated silence with some form of negative response to me. (This is a weird spin on the ‘its all about me’ approach to life, if you think about it.  Because rather than it being egocentric, it is actually an expression of paranoia. )


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    silence made me nervous and when I am nervous, I  jabber. I lose my dexterity and cleverness with words. They spill and clash and clang and honk from me. They say nothing save that I am nervous.


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    i used to jabber a lot more than I do now, but being older and worn in some, I have learned a few things about myself and about silence. I no longer feel silent people are … continue reading



| Date published: Mon, 05 Jan 2015 22:42:35 +0000
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